Wings leave town after a weekend jaunt over the backs of the Blue Jackets and head to Florida to take on a Panthers team who just lost Aaron Ekblad to an injury that I was told not to watch replays of and happily obliged.
It’s the last game of Fox Sports Detroit. Finally we’ll stop seeing the reminders of the name change (no we won’t).
Lineup notes: Ryan and Gagner out for Smith and Nielsen.
Ah let’s get settled in and watch some aaaaaaand we’re losing. Detroit ices off the opening faceoff. Florida steals in our zone off a Glendening faceoff win and Huberdeau gets the puck alone in front just 17 seconds in. 1-0 Panthers.
That’s John Merrill and Marc Staal miscommunicating on the breakdown. More on Staal for losing his check off the faceoff but Merril’s little sweep there didn’t do any good either.
The Wings’ top two lines get out and play a little, but it’s not even those two full shifts before Huberdeau gets robbed trying to extend the lead. Then Christian Djoos lost a skate blade in our zone and everything feels like quicksand (including the Florida ice, apparently).
Merril gets walked by Carter Verhaeghe but Pickard makes the stop.
Glendening trips Huberdeau in the Florida zone and the Panthers get the first power play of the game (moments after a missed high stick that would have put them on a PP earlier).
Fortunately, the PK and the PP had about even chances. Larkin and Rasmussen put shots on net before the Panthers did, but Florida clanged the post and then just missed the rebound on that late in the advantage. Still 1-0 though.
11:27 in, the Panthers do manage to make it 2-0. Anthony Duclair streaks into the Wings zone outside the dot and pulls up to throw a little backhand into the slot where Carter Verhaeghe finds the area between three Red Wings defenders (Hronek, Rasmussen, Svechnikov) to snap it past Pickard’s blocker.
Larkin sets up Fabbri for a bunt-in attempt in front of Bobrovsky on the next shift, but he hits the netminder and the puck comes back into the Wings’ end where Brett Connolly tips in a point shot for a 3-0 Panthers lead.
Greiss comes in with 7:35 remaining in the first. He’s welcomed with the same kind of defense the Wings have been playing, but also with a couple dangerous chances at the other end, with Mantha and Givani Smith on an odd-man and then Svechnikov hitting the post. Horseshoes and hand grenades here though, folks. Close don’t count.
2:24 left, the Panthers get their second power play as John Merrill hooks Jonathan Huberdeau to prevent a breakaway. It’s a dive by Huberdeau but Merrill certainly did hook him.
54 seconds into this penalty, Danny DeKeyser makes a superb centering pass to Alex Wennberg, who seasoned Red Wings fans will recognize is not on his damn team. Greiss stops the point-blank attempt and the rest of the penalty time and first period passes without rage.
The Score: 3-0 Panthers
The Shots: 11-8 Panthers
Standout Players: I dunno... Greiss I guess?
Sit-in Players: Take your pick
The Period All Summed up: The only real structure the team showed was when they were on the PK.
The Wings jump out of the gate in the first minute and put a couple chances on the same net that’s seen all the pucks so far, but they can’t figure out Bobrovsky. The pace keeps up for about the first four minutes, but evens out a bit after the initial flurry. We get the first real break when Larkin takes a high stick from Verhaeghe and the Wings go up a man.
The power play sets up nicely and twice gets Bobrovsky swimming off shots he has to stop but can’t put it together. At least now they’re outshooting Florida 15-14!
Coming out of the first television timeout, Darren Helm gets hugged by Markus Nutivaara and we get another shot with the man advantage. This time it works out with Larkin and Rasmussen combining for a zone entry and then Dylan hitting Filip Zadina with the royal road from behind the Panthers’ goal line. Zaddy goes top shelf and it’s 3-1 now.
From here the game turns into a slog and the Panthers slowly recover the upper hand thanks to a series of bad zone entry decisions. It bites them at 12:11 as Verhaeghe bursts behind the Detroit net with speed, puts it off the stick of DeKeyser, off the shoulder of Greiss and finally off the blade of Hronek’s stick for the marker that makes it 4-1 Panthers.
Fox Bally’s Sports Detroit got a good overhead angle on replay that showed Luostarinen did not touch it).
Florida builds off the goal with continued pressure and generally controls play, save for Svechnikov helping spring Rasmussen in for a chance all alone that Bobrovsky pokes off his stick. Just after that, the Florida goalie makes a last-second leg-sweep to deny Luke Glendening a rebound chance on the doorstep following a point shot.
Mackenzie Weegar gifts Detroit their third PP of the period thanks to his cheating ways. This powerplay sucks though so I am once again typing while angry.
Detroit fails on a chance after the PP ends, Florida pushes back and draws a penalty at the very end of the period on Greiss for tripping up Anthony Duclair, who goes heavy into the boards and skates off with a shoulder injury.
The Score: 4-1 Panthers
The Shots: 28-20 Red Wings
Standout Players: Zadina, Rasmussen, Svechnikov
Sit-in Players: Namestnikov
The Period All Summed up: I like that Ken and Mick dislike Radko Gudas as much as I do.
Detroit starts with a man (Mantha serving for Greiss) in the box and the Panthers start with Duclair missing from their bench. The scariest chance to start is on a 3-on-1 that Frans Nielsen feeds to Marc Staal for (unsurprisingly) not a goal. The Panthers get a decent chance after that, but Mantha steps free and Detroit starts the comeback attempt.
15 minutes left to go. Comeback pace: need one goal every five minutes.
12 minutes remaining: Gotta go one every four now.
(Brief interlude as Florida puts a puck into the net on an intent-to-blow that makes it not count and then Svechnikov takes a penalty for chasing down Huberdeau with a series of cross-checks for a neutral zone hit he didn’t like.)
9 minutes - Down to having only three minutes per goal.
(Penalty to Florida for a faceoff violation/playing it with the glove)
6 minutes: Uh oh, we’re down to 2:00/1. Starting to worry.
3 minutes remaining. Needing to score 1 goal every minute remaining, we start to wonder whether Blashill with bother pulling Greiss.
(He comes off with about 2:15 left)
90 seconds: Ok, you’ve got 30 seconds per goal to pull even.
30 seconds: Starting to worry the 10-second splits between goals is going to be hard.
3 seconds: It’s not funny anymore, J.J. It never was.
The Score: 4-1 Panthers
The Shots: 36-33 Detroit
Standout Players: Nah
Sit-in Players: Mantha, Hronek
The Period All Summed up: It was boring, just like Florida wanted.
A good coach and a good team wouldn’t blame the Florida ice for even a little part of their woes, but Detroit doesn’t have either of those and I don’t play for them anyway so I’m going to go ahead and say the team not being prepared for how much slower the puck plays across the BB&T Center was something the Wings should have been better prepared for and should have adjusted to sooner.
That’s not the only reason they couldn’t complete passes and often skated away with the puck behind them. It’s not the reason they didn’t cover guys in high-danger areas either. It’s just an observation.
Generally, the team lacked cohesion. I don’t think it was missing Bobby Ryan or Sam Gagner that did it, and I generally liked how Givani Smith skated. In fact, I was pretty happy with the kids in Svechnikov, Rasmussen and Smith. Larkin’s line was mostly invisible and the Helm-Glendening-Erne line that had at least done solid forechecking of late was missing. I’m told that Frans Nielsen actually played, but you can’t prove that to me.
Rematch is on Thursday. See you then.