The morning came with some peculiar news for the Wings. Kronwall was ready to return to the lineup which meant someone had to come off the roster. To the surprise of many, the Red Wings opted to waive perennial healthy scratch Drew Miller as opposed to returning someone to the AHL. It gave every Wings fan a bit of a boost. Maybe, just maybe, the franchise was starting to trend in the right direction.
The Wings were coming in hot with a chance to pounce on a struggling Lundqvist and a Rangers team that had been bleeding goals. Sadly, this was the game Hank decided he’d have his bounce back.
Real sluggish start here. Icing after icing, whistles, pucks out of play, all around just no momentum going for anyone. Shots were 1-1 for a good portion of the opening frame but things quickly started to turn. This was one of the Red Wings best periods in a long time. They were skating, pressuring hard and just getting bodies and pucks towards a struggling Henrik Lundqvist. They put together some great chances and had Vanek once again leading the charge for the team. When his vision and playmaking skills are on display you begin to understand how this star from a previous area has managed to thrive in the new speed-based NHL. His 31 points in 35 games has been a huge asset for the Wings.
A great penalty kill by the Wings was followed up by another subpar power-play. The lines are really starting to settle in and having Helm and Abdelkader rolling on that 4th line has given the Wings a consistent offensive attack for the first time all year.
The Wings managed to outshoot the Rangers 7-3 and were excellent in the dot all period. Coreau has looked solid in net but the period closed with Vanek taking an Athansiou clapper in the groin/stomach area. He wouldn’t be on the bench to start the second. 200 man games lost already this season for the Wings.
Here’s the Vanek injury. pic.twitter.com/epeIX7CHd7
— Nick (@nickseguin19) January 22, 2017
More of the same in the second period but less dominance from the Wings side. The Rangers were moving the puck a lot better and set up so as to clog the neutral zone at every opportunity. Again though, very few dangerous looks for either team. Detroit actually seemed to be better playing shorthanded for stretches and wasted two more power-play opportunities in the first half of the frame. Darren Helm’s return to that penalty kill over Ott or Miller is a huge, huge improvement. Athanasiou also saw some PK minutes and these new formations turned a flailing kill into a legitimate threat this afternoon.
A late breakaway from the Rangers leading scorer Grabner had fans on edge but a big stop by Coreau settled things down for the last few minutes. Good thing the Leafs let Grabner go to make room for Matt Martin.
The second looked like two teams out there just trying to survive. The Rangers outshot the Wings 10-7 in the frame to bring the totals to a close 14-13 in favour of the Wings.
A review of the first two periods of play: pic.twitter.com/MrRgceefoc
— Wings Nation (@thewingsnation) January 22, 2017
Well the chess match continued. Neither team willing to bleed these points thus giving us some classic game 40-50 action. One man deep for each team and lots of regrouping. When a still goalless Riley Sheahan is on the ice with a minute left you can sort of get an idea of what these teams were trying to do.
The shots finish an astonishing 21-18 in favour of the Wings after three. Detroit’s PK was really solid, stoping all four chances but the floundering PP was bad again, 0/3 on the night. Off to overtime.
With the loss of Vanek, one of the teams best shootout performers, they really want to end this thing in OT if possible. But of course the Wings just can’t seem to learn when to change in the extra frame. Zetterberg and Larkin again got caught on a massively long shift accentuated by a bad choice to step up in the o-zone by Larkin who should have peeled back. With all three Wings completely gassed, this easy 2-on-0 put the game to rest:
— Nick (@nickseguin19) January 22, 2017
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
The Wings have a massive back-to-back this week before the all-star break. They play both the Leafs and the Bruins. They absolutely need four points in those games and both to end in regulation. These are by far the two most important games of the year thus far for the team.