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Red Wings dig too deep of hole, lose 4-3 to lowly Blue Jackets

An absolutely atrocious first 22 minutes gave Detroit too big of a hole to climb out of as they fall to the last-place team in the league

Columbus Blue Jackets v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

I don’t know how I keep recapping the Red Wings games against the Blue Jackets, but I’m not gonna complain. The first two games against Columbus were victories for Detroit; both on the road. Their 6-1 win back in November was one of their best games of the season, while their 4-2 win in December was less impressive, but still got the job done.

They’ll be looking to end their three-game homestand unbeaten following impressive wins over the second-best team in the west in Winnipeg and the second-best team in the east in Toronto. They end the trip with the team dead last in the entire NHL with just 26 points in 41 games so far this season. While they aren’t quite 2019-20 Red Wings bad, the Blue Jackets injuries have put them on the same level as the tanking Chicago Blackhawks. They haven’t won a single game in regulation in the new year and don’t have a regulation win against a team not named Chicago since December 19th against Dallas.

One thing that’ll be different for the Blue Jackets this time around is the return of their number one netminder. Elvis Merzlikins didn’t play in either prior matchup and has struggled massively since his return. He allowed six goals in both his game against Washington on January 5th and against the Lightning on January 10th, and his GAA currently stands at a whopping 4.62.

Merzlikins will face off against Ville Husso who, after a rough end to December and start to January, looked fantastic against Toronto on Thursday with 32 saves on 33 shots. Getting another great start in before the Red Wings head out west would be fantastic for both him and the Red Wings and this is the perfect team to do it against. Let’s get into this game, shall we?

1st Period

The period starts out tilted toward the Detroit end as Columbus picks up the first three shots in the first minute of play. The Red Wings follow that up with a minute straight of possession in the Blue Jackets zone, but can’t generate a single good look at net. Play starts to go back and forth with neither team threatening. The Red Wings get their first chance around the 15:30 mark as the red-hot Robby Fabbri is found open in the slot, but he whiffs on the shot.

Five minutes into the period, the Blue Jackets have outshot the Red Wings 5-0. It’s a very slow start for a Detroit team that has come out fast in each prior match-up with goals in the first ten minutes of each game. They finally pick up a couple of weak shots on goal with Merzlikins making both saves, sending us to our first TV timeout.

Coming out of the break, Detroit gets more offensive control and gets two more quick shots on net. Random note, Ken Daniels just mentioned that apparently Jake Walman has a good shoe game and as a girl who likes some nice kicks (and has some nice pairs herself), I desperately need to see his shoe collection. Play stats slow over the next couple of minutes as Husso makes a pair of easy saves. While Columbus does have seven shots in the first half of the period so far, he hasn’t really been challenged yet.

Just as we cross the ten-minute mark of the period, Vladislav Gavrikov catches Tyler Bertuzzi high and picks up a roughing minor. Not sure if that’s the call I would’ve gone with, but either way, the Red Wings get their first power play of the game coming out of the second TV timeout. The power play has bounced back the last few games and went 4-for-8 in the previous two matchups, let’s see if it can keep it up.

They get a couple of good looks with the first power play unit, but Merzlikins keeps it out. The best chance of the power play was a rush up with Fabbri and David Perron as the former hit the latter with a backdoor pass, but an excellent defensive play keeps him from getting a shot off. The power play comes to an end with two shots on goal but nothing to show for it.

Shortly after the power play, the Blue Jackets get possession in their offensive end. Johnny Gaudreau cycles around the top of the right circle and finds an absolutely wide-open Patrik Laine who rips a one-time slapshot past a sprawling Husso. Absolutely no chance for Ville as someone lost their assignment there. Seider followed Gaudreau around the circle when he probably shouldn’t have and neither Ben Chiarot nor a forward switched. Either way, it’s 1-0 Blue Jackets.

Shortly after, Columbus gets another big chance after a puck ends up loose in front of the net. After a big scrum, the puck finds the stick of Gavrikov who puts it past Husso and just like that, it’s 2-0 Blue Jackets with just over six minutes to play in the first. This is not the start Detroit needed. They’re being outplayed by one of the worst teams in the league and have allowed 11 shots in 14 minutes. It’s not good enough.

Two minutes later, Columbus strikes again. In a play that looks straight out of the 2000s Red Wings playbook, Jack Roslovic fires a wrist shot wide that then bounces off the boards and finds the stick of Laine who then buries it past Husso. 3-0 Columbus and Detroit look LOST defensively. It’s a shameful performance with miscommunications, lost assignments and a three-goal deficit to the last-place team in the NHL.

The next few minutes pass, and it’s very slow. A shot on goal for each team but no offensive zone possession from either team. The Red Wings keep getting rushes but never get the advantage going forward and once it’s in the zone, they can’t hold onto it. The period comes to an end with a 3-0 lead for Columbus and a 14-8 advantage in the shot total.

The power play was solid and it looked like the Red Wings might have gained some momentum from it. Instead, they allowed three quick goals and had just two shots on goal the rest of the period and Merzlikins was never challenged. This team needs to step it up to make a comeback. They’re the better team and have made comebacks against better teams this season, but they need to look A LOT better than they did.

2nd Period

The Red Wings start with a decent chance thanks to a great cycle in the zone by Mo Seider. He finds Larkin open for a shot but it gets blocked. Shortly after, Columbus gets their first chance of the period. Laine gets found on the left side by a cross-ice pass and once again, one-times a slapshot past Husso. A hat trick for Laine and it’s 4-0 less than a minute and a half into the period.

Shortly after, the Red Wings get their second power play of the game after an errant stick from Sean Kuraly catches Michael Rasmussen in the face. However, the team can’t get anything going early and the first real chance is a breakaway from Roslovic for Columbus. Husso makes a nice save and the crowd at the game is getting really restless. Detroit finally gets a chance at the very end of the power play after a centering pass from Jonatan Berggren to Perron forces a stoppage. This was the only shot on the power play as this team continues to play just awful hockey.

Once again, Detroit’s defense has a completely missed assignment. Johnny Gaudreau is left so unbelievably open in front of Husso, but as he gets his chance and doesn’t score, Dominik Kubalik’s stick catches him up high to give the Blue Jackets their first power play. Thankfully, even the Red Wings horrific penalty kill isn’t as awful as the Blue Jackets power play and they get no shots on goal for the entire two minutes.

The Red Wings finally get their first real chance of the period after Raymond picks off a pass at the blue line. Unfortunately, the Jordan Oesterle one-timer hits Tyler Bertuzzi in front of the net. Raymond gets another great chance on a rush up the right side but can’t get a good shot off from the angle. The Red Wings finally have some momentum in this period, but they need to start scoring fast and none of their chances are really that threatening. We head to a TV timeout with Detroit having the last four shots, but nothing threatening.

Columbus gets some extended possession out of the timeout but doesn’t get any quality chances. We quickly get the second TV timeout with the score still 4-0. Right out of the break, Columbus gets the best chance of the period in a while as Roslovic receives a perfect pass back door from Laine. However, Husso gets his pad over and makes a fantastic save. They just put a graphic on the screen. Scoring chances so far? 10-2 in favor of Columbus. That’s how much of a domination this has been.

We head to the final TV timeout and at this point, it just feels like we’re hoping for a decent third period where the team shows up. I’m trying to think of a performance this season that was worse than this one. The Red Wings just look disinterested and that’s not something I’ve thought much at all this year. They have 26 minutes to turn that around.

Four minutes pass after the TV timeout and nothing really happens. There’s a lot of passing around, and a couple of blocked shots, but no shots on goal for either team or really any chances. The Red Wings finally get a chance on a Jake Walman shot from the left circle, but Merzlikins handles it. They get another chance after a Larkin cross-ice pass to Ben Chiarot leads to a shot, but nothing doing again for Detroit. The period comes to a close and it’s still 4-0 Blue Jackets. Shots were 8-8 in the period to make the total 22-16 in favor of Columbus.

This performance has been horrific. Still can’t get scoring chances, allowing wide-open chances for Columbus, it’s just been awful. This is against the last-place team in the league following great performances against two of the top teams in the league. It’s certainly possible that they can get back into it, but there needs to be a completely different version of this team coming out for the third period.

3rd Period

The first few minutes are really slow as neither team can get offensive control. The first shot for either team comes just over three minutes in as Seider rips a shot from the point that Merzlikins handles with ease. The Red Wings do get the next couple of shots but still aren’t creating any threatening chances. Merzlikins has barely had to work all game.

Past the five-minute mark and the Red Wings get an absolutely insane break. Olli Määttä puts a shot toward the net that gets redirected by a Blue Jacket and Merzlikins makes a pad save. The puck goes to Mathieu Olivier WHO ACCIDENTALLY POKES IT PAST MERZLIKINS AND INTO HIS OWN NET!!! OH BABY, WHAT A BOUNCE THAT THIS TEAM DOESN’T DESERVE BUT DEFINITELY NEEDED!!! 4-1 BLUE JACKETS!!!

Well, that’s what we needed. It’s extremely fortunate but puts the Red Wings on the board and gives them a shot. The game heads into the first TV timeout a 4-1. Right out of the timeout, Jake Walman keeps a puck in at the blue line and steps into the offensive zone. He gets to the top of the circle AND FIRES A SNAPSHOT PAST MERZLIKINS!!! WALMAN MAKES THE SCORE 4-2 AND JUST LIKE THAT, WE HAVE A GAME!!!

Two goals just 1:18 apart and the Red Wings are right in this game. They’re now leading the game’s shot total at 23-22. We reach the halfway mark of the third with momentum fully in Detroit’s favor. They start to get more chances with a Ben Chiarot shot from the point that was a bit too hot for Merzlikins to handle, but no one grabs the rebound. About a minute later, Columbus gets their first big chance of the period on a three-on-two rush, but Husso comes up with another big save.

The Red Wings spend the next couple of minutes with lots of offensive zone pressure, but can’t create any chances with it. They end up forcing a Columbus icing which is a prime opportunity with 5:48 left to try to make it a one-goal game. They keep possession for 45 seconds and still can’t get a shot on net. We finally get a TV timeout with just less than five minutes to play in regulation. The pressure is there, but they need to find some shooting lanes.

Coming out of the break, the Red Wings retain offensive pressure in the Columbus end. After a quick clear, they get back into the zone and set up. Hronek fires a pass to a streaking Raymond WHO FINDS A HOLE WITH A BACKHAND AND SCORES!!! HIS 13TH OF THE SEASON MAKES IT A ONE-GOAL GAME!!!

Assists on the goal go to Hronek and Chiarot as Raymond continues his hot stretch. So much for the sophomore slump eh? Shortly after, we get a stoppage and head to the final TV timeout with 3:05 to play and possession in the Blue Jackets defensive end. A huge opportunity to tie this game and send it to overtime after one of the worst two-period stretches I’ve seen from this team this season.

The first minute passes, and the Red Wings have the puck in the Columbus end and are struggling to get puck control. It keeps finding its way out of the end so Husso can’t come to the bench. He finally heads to the bench around the 1:30 mark. The first big chance goes to Lucas Raymond who gets a shot from the left circle but just goes wide. The Blue Jackets get a great chance to seal it, but Dylan Larkin makes a fantastic defensive play to prevent them from getting the puck They just can’t get control after that though as they just keep dumping and chasing and losing the race.

Finally, the Blue Jackets ice the puck with 2.5 seconds remaining giving Detroit one last chance to tie it. Boone Jenner eats up the puck off the draw and the Red Wings can’t get a chance. The Blue Jackets win 4-3 in a game that honestly probably shouldn’t have gotten to that point, but a great third-period performance from the Red Wings nearly salvages a point.

Final Thoughts

Look, I’m gonna be straight with you. Through two periods, I don’t know if I had seen the Red Wings look worse this season. Their play was uninspired, they couldn’t create chances, and the defensive zone coverage was lazy. However, the third period was the domination they should’ve had throughout the game. They outshot Columbus 12-3 for a final total of 28-25 Red Wings, and they managed to get two past Merzlikins (plus a gift from Olivier).

You still can’t help but feel disappointed. This was a chance to have a fantastic home stand before heading out to the west coast for a very tough road trip where they have to play the top team in the west and the reigning Stanley Cup champs. You gotta hope they can bring some momentum back as they play three road games in four days starting on Monday with Colorado.

Shoutout to Ville Husso who kept the game closer than it could’ve been. He once again is the brightest shining star for this Red Wings team even if his current stats don’t show it. Shoutout to Lucas Raymond, who now has 30 points in 41 games, on pace to hit 60 this season after a really rough start to the year. There’s not much else I can say positively about the team tonight, so let’s just wrap things up. Have a good night everyone and get ready for some late night hockey.