I've gotten to the point where I don’t expect much when the Red Wings take a trip down to Florida. So, starting this trip with two losses isn’t tough to process. Instead, I’m looking at the positives — Detroit showed some promising moments in the 2nd-leg of their trip down south.
By Red Wings standards, the 1st period was a success. Not exactly the prettiest start, again they got pinned into their zone early. Detroit fought through it and somehow managed to gain some momentum and produce the first goal. Troy Stecher (!!!!) took a nasty hit but managed to get up and create a redirection with Adam Erne:
Carter Verhaeghe, the menace that he is, seemed to respond all by himself with a couple of chances, and then the inevitable game-tying goal. Not a bad 20 minutes of hockey from the Red Wings considering how they typically play against the Panthers early in the game.
A side note, and I’ll keep it very brief: Radko Gudas is the type of person that sits on his food before he eats it.
The game took a chippy turn in the 2nd period. No scoring to talk about, but the Red Wings managed to create a few good chances. Early on you could notice the chemistry Filip Zadina has built with Dylan Larkin and Robby Fabbri. Both teams seemed more physical, especially Detroit. The Panthers made a strong push when Detroit took a slew of penalties in the later stages, but the PK unit and goaltending really pulled them out of an ugly situation.
As you could imagine, the Red Wings decided to make the ending of this game difficult. Before we get to that, we’ll note that Anthony Mantha pulled off a ridiculous display of what he CAN do as a goal-scorer:
Frank Vatrano’s game-tying goal would be enough to send the game into extra time. That was the kiss of death for Detroit. It didn’t take long for Alex Wennburg to plunge the dagger into all of our tiny, putrid hearts. One minute at 25 seconds. That’s all it took.
Going into any game against the Panthers, it’s hard to imagine a win. That’s how this rivalry has formed. It was downhill ever since Stephen Weiss happened. I’ll hate them forever. Anyway — I look at it this way: Detroit played way better than they did previously. That doesn’t mean a lot, but we got to see Anthony Mantha toss a meatball into the net and Givani Smith try and fight everyone on the ice. Pretty good.
No break for Detroit, though... Well, not technically speaking. The team takes the short trip to Tampa for a weekend extravaganza. It’ll be a back-to-back weekend, but there’s a chance Jonathan Bernier returns. That would be good news for the big picture, of course, as the Red Wings approach another trade deadline with a big “For Sale” sign out in their front yard.