Bad Habits Will Get You In The End: Lightning 5 - Red Wings 1
Well that sucked. Let's just get to it, ok?
A choppy start to the game meant there a lot of whistles. Riley Sheahan looked to clear the puck, but a blatant hook prevented him from getting the puck out, and Cedric Paquette was initially robbed by Petr Mrazek, but scored on the rebound to give the Lightning an early 1-0 lead. The Wings were given their first power play of the night when Kyle Quincey laid out J.T. Brown with a very clean check, but gigantic baby Brett Connolly didn't like that and came to the defense of his teammate and earned himself an extra penalty. The Wings didn't convert, but they got some momentum and carried the play through the middle of the period. That good work resulted in a tie game as Darren Helm came out in front untouched and scored top shelf on Ben Bishop. Detroit looked to get out of the period tied, but Paquette ripped a shot over a screened Mrazek's shoulder for his second of the game. The Lightning led 2-1 after the first, with the shots even at 8-8.
Tampa came out with purpose in the second period, carrying the play and spending more time in the Wings' zone. Detroit had a couple of chances but nothing close to a true scoring chance. The refs spent the first 30 minutes letting virtually everything go, but Joakim Andersson was unable to escape the watchful of eye of the officials, taking a holding penalty. The Lightning power play hasn't been great lately, but neither has the Wings' penalty kill. Steven Stamkos got free and took an unscreened slap shot that Mrazek should have had, but he missed it and the Bolts took a 2-goal lead. Tampa got another power play but Ryan Callahan went dum-dum and ran Quincey from behind. Unfortunately, the suck that is the Wings' penalty kill extended to their power play, and Paquette completed the hat trick when he beat Mrazek on a 2-on-1. Tampa got another when Mark Barberio scored his first goal of the season and the rout was on. That was it for Mrazek, who allowed 5 goals on 15 shots in an utterly forgettable performance.
Thomas McCollum started the third period for the Red Wings. He was good. The Wings were not. Good night.
POINTS OF OBSERVATION
Petr Mrazek may well be the goalie of the future for the Red Wings, but lately he's good for at least one soft goal a night, and that's not good enough for a goalie who has a save percentage below league average. We were all excited to see what he can do, and he hasn't been terrible, but games like this remind you that he's still got a ways to go before he's ready to assume full-time starting duties.
Maybe it's just me, but tonight seemed like the kind of game that Johan Franzen would have helped with.
Tampa's overall team speed is downright terrifying. The Wings aren't exactly slow, but they were getting beat to pucks all night.
Hey, don't look now, but Teemu Pulkkinen had a hat trick for Grand Rapids tonight (I said don't look!)
There were very few Red Wings who looked good tonight. Tomas Tatar was probably the best Wing on the ice not named Thomas McCollum, who was outstanding in the third period.
This was one of those games where the Wings just didn't have it, and they ran into an opponent who wanted to make a statement and earn first place in the division back. For those paying attention the last week or so, the Wings haven't been playing very strong hockey even though they were winning. Tonight, all of the bad habits they picked up since the Buffalo game were evident, and the Lightning took full advantage and exposed the Wings' flaws. It would have been great to see the Wings show up and increase their lead in the division, but this game was a long time coming for everyone on the team, from Petr Mrazek on out. They won't have time to dwell on it because the East-leading Islanders come to the Joe for a matinee game on Saturday. Another effort like tonight and we could see a similar result.