Hawks Thrash Wings In Season's First Meeting - Chicago 5 Detroit 2
After outlasting the Dallas Stars in overtime, the Detroit Red Wings shifted their focus to their old arch nemesis, the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks appear primed for another Stanley Cup run, having added Andrew Ladd, Christian Ehrhoff, Dale Weise, and Tomas Fleischmann. Would the Red Wings be able to keep up, or would the Blackhawks continue on their quest for their 4th Stanley Cup in the last 7 years? Here's how it went down.
The Red Wings came out and on their very first shift, I thought they were going to set the tone for the period as the Pavel Datsyuk-Henrik Zetterberg-Justin Abdelkader line had a great first shift. Unfortunately, the Wings tried to press too hard in the offensive zone and just three minutes into the game, Blackhawks' defenseman Brent Seabrook scored on a 5-on-2 rush. Couldn't tell how well Petr Mrazek was screened on the play, but on first glance it didn't appear to be an overly difficult shot. Ultimately, this goal was created by the Brad Richards-Andreas Athanasiou-Dylan Larkin line being a little overzealous and getting trapped below the goal line.
You can see in this image that you've got four Red Wings players below the faceoff dots without clear possession of the puck. This is fine on a powerplay, but as soon as you lose possession of the puck, you're out of luck.
The end-to-end action continued for a majority of the first period, with the Blackhawks getting the significantly better chances. Fortunately, the Wings collapsed very well and were able to block a majority of these chances from reaching Mrazek. Ultimately, the Wings were fortunate to escape down only 1-0. The Blackhawks forecheck created problems for the Red Wings, but the big difference maker was how well the Blackhawks counteracted the Red Wings forecheck. They took advantage of the Red Wings' tendency to get overaggressive on the forecheck. The Hawks quickly advanced the puck out of the zone to create 3-on-2's. The Wings will need to be careful of this the rest of the game (hint: they were not).
Score: 1-0 Chicago
Shots: 9-8 Chicago
Strong Period: Datsyuk, Zetterberg
Tough Period: Abdelkader, Kyle Quincey, Jonathan Ericsson
The second period started with the Wings pushing hard. The Wings generated several great chances early and eventually drew the first powerplay chance on an Andrew Shaw penalty. The Wings powerplay looked deadly, but unfortunately it was cut short after 50 seconds when Dylan Larkin took a hooking penalty, his 20th minor penalty of the season. The Wings survived the 4-on-4 and continued to generate great chances.
Midway through the second, Ericsson laid a huge hit on the Blackhawks' Desjardins. While technically "legal", I didn't like the hit because it didn't have to be made and it had a high likelihood of injuring the other player. Nonetheless, the Wings got a powerplay out of it, thanks to Desjardins making a beeline for Ericsson and trying to start a fight. Once again, the Wings powerplay looked very dangerous, but Crawford had all the answers.
Then, with just under 7 minutes to go, Zetterberg was called for a penalty behind the play. The Wings killed off the first part of the powerplay, but off of a faceoff, Kronwall took a bad hooking penalty, putting the Wings on a 5-on-3 for 1:13. The Red Wings completely unraveled over the next 2 minutes. First, the Wings covered the 5-on-3 horrendously, using 2 forwards who both ended up coming out high to defend, which left 3 Blackhawks forwards down low against DeKeyser. Goal, Panarin - 2-0 Hawks. Then, just as the 5-on-4 penalty kill was wrapping up, Abdelkader took himself out of the play by trying to throw a hit in the neutral zone. Not only was the hit unnecessary as the puck was gone, he was going off on a line change! His hit delayed Riley Sheahan from being able to come on. Patrick Kane picked up the puck and wired a wrist shot past Mrazek - 3-0 Hawks.
After that, I lost all hope as the rest of the period became a tirefire.
Score: 3-0 Chicago
Shots: 23-22 Chicago
Strong Period: Datsyuk
Tough Period: Everyone Else (look familiar?)
Just 30 seconds into the third period, the Wings had an opportunity to get back into the game as Hjalmarsson took a delay of game penalty, The 1st unit continued to generate excellent chances while the 2nd unit looked like a pile of wet dog doo. There is no chemistry at all on the 2nd powerplay unit, the zone exits are atrocious, and there is very little movement. It's not pretty to watch. Needless to say, that powerplay failed. However, the Wings kept pushing but Crawford just would not break.
Later in the period, Quincey drew a penalty as his stick was slashed by Kane. This time, the Wings started the powerplay with the 2nd unit, and Brad Richards fired a seeing eye shot through a LUKE GLENDENING screen to get the Wings on the board, 3-1. Just when I thought the Wings might have a chance, they brought me back to reality. I complained all night about how the Larkin-Athanasiou-Richards line needs to be broken up because they have been abysmal defensively. Well, it was no different tonight. That line has played together just over 20 minutes at 5v5, and has been on the ice for 0 goals for and 3 goals against while being significantly outshot. It's not pretty and it needs to stop. Ok back to the play. The Hawks fired a shot on net and Ladd got 3 or 4 good whacks at the puck before he finally beat Mrazek, Embarrassing defensive coverage.
Don't worry everyone, Larkin's controller must've just disconnected pic.twitter.com/DDAcolVHVE— Prashanth Iyer (@iyer_prashanth) March 3, 2016
Now that the score is 4-1, wait just kidding it's 5-1. Kane and Panarin connect on a beautifully executed 3-on-2 to increase the lead. Interesting trivia fact - that was the 782nd odd-man rush given up by the Red Wings tonight. The more you know. At this point I stopped following the game and started violently slamming my head into a wall. Apparently Gus Nyquist scored which is nice as that now gives him two goals in his last three games. Whatever, I'm pissed off.
Score: 5-2 Chicago
Strong Period: None
Tough Period: Everyone
- Player of the Game: Pavel Datsyuk - only because I have to pick one. I was trying to copy and paste a flaming dog turd, but it wouldn't work.
- This was abysmal to watch. The Wings decided to open up the game and play Chicago's game and got schooled. Three forwards got caught below the faceoff dots multiple times this game, leading to numerous 3-on-2s for Chicago. The line that was particularly bad about this was the Larkin-Athanasiou-Richards line. That line has NOT been good and while the thought behind them is nice, they need to be split up
- The 1st PP unit looks back to normal from last year. The exits are cleaner, the movement is crisp, and the chances are plentiful. The goals will follow, but that was nice to see. The second unit on the other hand looks like a trainwreck. Of course, the 2nd unit scored the PP goal just to screw with everyone.
- Again, crisp breakouts from the defensive zone were a big issue. Over the last 3 games, the Wings have now given up 101 shots against. That is a ridiculous amount. I'm not even going to say it but you all know my feelings on this. /