Capital Loss Taxes Red Wings: Washington 3 - Red Wings 1
The Detroit Red Wings played the Washington Capitals, and lots of stuff happened.
If that sounds a little vague, it's because my dumb DVR decided to not record the first period and a bit, so I was playing catch up for most of the game. What I did see wasn't terribly inspired hockey as the Wings gave up goals in the first 2 minutes of the first and second periods, and couldn't mount a comeback after falling behind 3-0. Jonathan Ericsson scored a late second period goal to ruin Braden Holtby's shutout, but there was nothing else in the tank as the Wings fell to 2-2 on their current 6-game road trip.
- First and foremost, we await word on Jimmy Howard. The All-Star goaltender was injured very early in the first period on the Capitals' first goal. Here's the video:/
- Now obviously we're not doctors here at WIIM, but it's safe to assume that Howard sustained an "injury" to his "lower body" and will likely be out "for a little bit". We can only hope that the extent of the injury isn't that serious and that he can return at worst just after the All Star break.
- If there is an upside, it's that we get to see whether Petr Mrazek can handle full-time starting duties at the NHL level. Obviously it's not the ideal set of circumstances for Mrazek to be thrust into this role, but with Jonas Gustavsson seemingly not ready to return and Howard's injury unclear, Mrazek is now the starter.
- Looking at this game in particular, one thing that the Red Wings were unable to do was get any sort of traffic in the middle of the ice in the Caps' zone, specifically between the hashmarks. The Caps' defenders did a good job taking away space, but more importantly the Wings seemed unwilling to fight through the traffic and set up in that area, forcing the Caps to move them. When the Wings struggle to score, it becomes obvious due to watching them spend the majority of the offensive zone time on the perimeter. Tonight was a good example of that.
- Teemu Pulkkinen didn't look great in his first NHL game this season, but watching him it becomes obvious that he is still a long way from being the perennial goal threat that many hope he will become in the future. I was impressed with his willingness to shoot from anywhere, but he is going to have to learn that NHL defenders are much quicker getting in shooting lanes and taking away time to get the shot off.
- Speaking of former Griffins who didn't score, Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar both had less than stellar games, Tatar in particular. Together they combined for 4 shots and an assist by Tatar, but neither had what could be considered even close to a quality scoring chance. Such is the nature of being a goal scorer and the inconsistency that comes with that, but when neither one has a good game, the chances of the Wings earning a win drops significantly.
- Congratulations to Jonathan Ericsson on his joining the land of the scorers. His second period goal was pretty much the lone bright spot on what was otherwise a pretty dull performance by the Red Wings.
- Perhaps this is only something noticeable by this lowly blogger, but lately it seems as if the Wings' defensemen are either not noticeable at all or noticed for all the wrong reason. I find myself either saying "huh, has Ouellet even played?" or "damn it Ericsson, take your time with the puck".
- This wasn't the best game the Wings played, nor was it the worst. The Capitals brought a defensive game plan that was executed well against the Wings in limiting shots from in close and second chances. Braden Holtby made the saves he had to make, although I didn't think he had a difficult evening. Ultimately the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak, and it was just one of those games where the Wings didn't have it.