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Five Takeaways: Caps Blank Detroit Red Wings 2-0 in goalie’s NHL debut

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Detroit Red Wings goalie Thomas Greiss made 27 saves but it wasn't enough to prevent a 2-0 loss to the Washington Capitals.

The Detroit Red Wings lost 2-0 to the Washington Capitals.

Too Easy on Rookie

The Detroit Red Wings didn’t take advantage of a rookie goalie making his first NHL start. Teams are supposed to make rookie goalies uncomfortable. They are supposed to use the goalie’s nervousness to their advantage. It’s not supposed to be an easy night for a goalie making his first NHL start.

But Zach Fucale only had to make 21 saves, and didn’t face many second-chance shots, en route to his first career shutout.

“We didn’t get bodies to the net and we didn’t get shots,” Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin said. “That’s the story of the game.”

Lost Opportunity

The Detroit Red Wings’ power play is statistically better than it was last season. But what coaches want more than anything is to know that the power play can deliver a big goal when it is needed.

In the second period, the Red Wings had a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:23 and couldn’t take advantage. They didn’t move the puck as confidently as they needed to in that situation. This season, they have scored some important power play goals. But the consistency isn’t there quite yet.

“We had a couple of looks, but not good enough,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We have to shoot the puck more on the power play for sure.  We’ve got to get more pucks around the cage and we’ve got to get people around the cage.”

Ten bad seconds

The Red Wings had a good start, outshooting the Capitals 7-1 early. They killed off a lengthy 5-on-3 Washington power play. Michael Rasmussen made a memorable block on an Alex Ovechkin shot. That should have earned them momentum.

But Washington defenseman Dmitry Orlov  scored on a shot from the point, with traffic in front at 12:43 to give Washington a 1-0 lead. Ten seconds later Lars Eller scored his first goal of the season after breaking into the clear.

That was all Washington was going to be needing. The Capitals’ defense can still be stingy, and they were probably working a little bit harder to deny second chances because they had a rookie in net. The Capitals played tighter defensively after they got the lead.

Wasted Goaltending

Thomas Greiss did his job, making 27 saves in the game. The loss was not his fault. You can’t win if you don’t score. The Red Wings have to be feeling generally pleased with their goaltending this season.

Offensive inconsistency has been a bigger concern. They have been shutout three times and only netted one goal twice.

What Needs to Change

Shooting more isn’t as easy as it sounds. Players don’t like to shoot and get their shot blocked. It’s hard to convince yourself that a blocked shot can sometimes be a good play. It’s not easy to know when you should try to make one more pass to create a better lane for someone else or when you should shoot and create a pinball effect.

“If you don’t think you have a lane and you shoot it and it gets blocked, you feel like it is the wrong play,” Blashill said. “That’s what happens sometimes. The reality is: a lot of times the block ends up with chaos. It’s OK to make them block the shot. Getting past that and having more of an attack mentality… we will work through it.”

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