The Detroit Red Wings needed to win this game. It wasn’t a “would be nice”. It was vital. Win in regulation and you’re five points clear of the Flyers. Lose, and you add to their hot streak and get them within leapfrog distance with two games in hand.
The boys with the Winged Wheels on their chest played well enough for forty minutes and kept this game vaguely interesting. But a first period where they may as well have not have shown up decided the team’s fate in what became a 4-3 loss.
Let’s just be upfront with it: the first period was one of the single worst twenty minute stretches the Red Wings have played in decades. It was an affront to everything that the team stands for, both in terms of philosophy and results. Michael Raffl opened the scoring by outmuscling Kyle Quincey and dangling Petr Mrazek out just five minutes in, and Wayne Simmonds picked up Brayden Schenn’s rebound a few minutes later to make it 2-0. The shots?
11-1. It was that bad, and it only got worse. While Mrazek kept the rest of the period’s traffic out, the shot clock read 23-3 after twenty minutes; nothing short of embarrassing for a team playing a must-win game. The Wings admittedly began to push back in the second, though. Andreas Athanasiou used his speed to dart past the Flyers defenders and tuck a pass past Steve Mason to get his team on the board, and while Raffl responded with his second of the game shortly after, Pavel Datsyuk put the Wings back within one again with a wrist shot with six minutes remaining in the period.
It wasn’t all good news, though. Shayne Gostisbehere’s attempt at a pass late in the period bounced off of Danny DeKeyser and into the net, and that 4-2 lead was all the Flyers needed to stay on top. Tomas Tatar added a bit of excitement by rebounding a Datsyuk slapper with three and a half minutes to go, but despite Detroit’s best efforts, they couldn’t add an equalizer before the final buzzer.
Motor City MVP
Being a good possession player in your first NHL game isn’t an easy feat, but Anthony Mantha was 64% in his debut; more than respectable given how badly some of his teammates got hemmed in. (Luke Glendening playing 16 minutes on a 14% night? Woof). Mantha also took four shots on goal, threw a hit, and had a takeaway; all good signs for the future ahead. If you haven’t given Brad’s post about him a read yet, you should.
See You Next Time
No remorse from this point up. Straight up. Every game is “Playoffs against the Avalanche” levels of important for the rest of the year; even Thursday’s game against the Blue Jackets. Heck, especially that game; another loss to a team of that calibre would be suicidal. Puck drop is at 7:00 PM.