WINGS POSTGAME: WHY NOW

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Photo Credit: Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY SPORTS

The Tampa Bay loss earlier this week got ugly fast. But we composed ourselves and thought, well, at least giving up six doesn’t happen too often. The optimist in me saw it as an opportunity for the team to get it out of their system, retool, and move forward down the stretch. Yet here we are only two games later seeing seven goals on the board for the first time all year in yet another loss.

THE RUNDOWN

Both teams came out flying for this Saturday afternoon game. I thought to myself for a second that this might be the best start I’ve seen the team put together in a while. Both teams were skating, exchanging chances, forcing turnovers and getting good looks. Sheahan seemed to be continuing his great play from the Montreal game as the Nyquist-Sheahan-Tatar line came out with noticeable fire and grit. 

The Wings jumped out early, netting the first goal now in back-to-back games, as Richards fed a great pass to Athanasiou coming in hot from the bench. A perfectly placed shot on a fast break and the Wings found themselves up 1-0 going into the first intermission.


Wow can things ever go downhill fast. The second period was a slaughter, plain and simple. The Penguins have a stellar +33 goal differential in the second period now thanks to this afternoon. It took Kunitz 20 seconds to put one in the net. Tough bounce for sure, but that’s the way things would go today. Letang then put one home on one of Pittsburgh’s seven power plays on the day. He might have had enough time to pick up the puck, give it a good wipe-down and set it back on the ice tenderly before firing it home. Let’s all take a look real quick:


The dominance of the Hagelin-Bonino-Kessel line started it’s assault soon after. Hagelin and Kessel went on to score a goal each respectively before the second period came to an end, ending Mrazek’s night early. Four goals in the second period for a team who is 33-0 when leading after two. If only it could have stopped there. 

Detroit took to an early power play in the third where a Mike Green floater managed to bounce its way into the net and send flashes of the 4-3 loss to Philly through every Wings fans mind. The hopes of a comeback lasted about 1:30 before Eric Fehr decided to make this game a 5-2 affair. Soon after Hagelin decided he was good for another and Bonino figured he’d really ice things and spring for the Pens 7th goal of the game. Count that as a season best for Pittsburgh and a worst for Detroit. Howard’s luck proved to be similar to Mrazek’s

Let’s get a quick look at a vintage Kessel goal in this game because he went off today. The Thrill was good for 1G and 4A setting a new career best. Yes, that’s Phil Kessel getting 4 assists. The saucer he dished on Hagelin’s 2nd of the game had me thinking Backstrom or Toews was suiting up for the Pens now. What a crazy world we live in now. How about that snipe:


This was a pretty easy one to break down. The Wings were losing battles in all three zones, they were coughing up the puck, and they were squandering their own chances. They were their own worst enemy today. It’s tough to win when your best players aren’t your best players. Zetterberg never seemed to get going, losing the handle on great chances and searching for pucks in his feet. Kronwall had another subpar showing after that atrocious third period vs Montreal last game. There was no leadership, there was a lack of urgency and things never really got going again after that first period. 

THE STATS

This chart seems pretty damning:

chart

15 Red Wings had a CF% of 40% or less this game. Yikes. 

MOTOR CITY MVP

It’s tough to give this to anyone right now. Tatar and Nyquist both showed an intensity and step to their stride I hadn’t seen in a little bit but ultimately they couldn’t get anything going. This one has to go to Athanasiou. He scored a great goal, put together some solid penalty kills and I still wonder how things could have went had he netted that short-handed break just before the Hagelin goal early in the 2nd. Hats off to Kessel and Bonino who combined for 10 points this afternoon. 

UP NEXT

The Wings finish off their home stand on Monday against the Sabres. Everything seems to be a must win at this point. Their fate is in the hands of some others right now.