Neither the Detroit Red Wings, nor the Los Angeles Kings, have qualified for the playoffs in a while. The Kings have missed three consecutive seasons and the Red Wings have been out five.
If you compared the two teams in Wednesday’s meeting, you would conclude the Kings will get there sooner, maybe this season.
The Kings won more puck battles and cashed in on scoring opportunities to grind out a 5-3 against the Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena.
The Red Wings turned in a strong defensive effort, giving up just 15 shots in beating the Anaheim Ducks Monday. They gave up 45 shot to the Los Angeles Kings.
“I thought we would end up winning after the game we played last game,” Red Wings alternate captain Marc Staal said.
But the Red Wings struggle to maintain a high level of play from one game to the next. That happens often with rebuilding teams.
“We weren’t very good (against Los Angeles),” Marc Staal said. “The first two periods I thought we were slow and didn’t win many one-on-ones and loose pucks. We just didn’t really have much of a push back in those first two. That was kind of it. We had some chances in the third and we tied it up.”
The Kings came into this meeting with a great deal of confidence. They thumped the Red Wings 4-0 in LA earlier in the season. They are playing well of late, finding the consistency that has thus far has eluded the Red Wings. Los Angeles was 4-0-2 on the six-game road trip that ended in snowy Detroit.
The Kings have moved into second place in the Pacific Division and are competing like they plan to hold that position.
“Obviously you’re never gonna outplay a team for 60 minutes,” Staal said. “It’s just not the case. When the other team gets the momentum, we gotta learn to manage it, to manage the puck and manage the way we play as a team. Kind of build some shifts and get the momentum back. We’re still a team learning to do that.”
Blashill Speaks Truth
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said his team’s “battle level” wasn’t close to good enough.
“For the most part this season our compete and battle level has been really good, ” Blashill said. “I thought tonight they won the stick battles, they were harder on their sticks, they were stopping on pucks better than us. To me that’s the biggest difference in the game.”
Blashill wasn’t done expressing his disappointment.
“I thought we had too many guys who had their B game and their C game maybe, and we can’t afford that,” he said. “We need guys to have their A game.”
Dearborn Heights native Jordan Oesterle was the hero with an overtime goal to beat Anaheim Ducks Monday. But Wednesday he didn’t win a third period puck battle at the blue line in a 2-2 game. That lost battle resulted in a Kings’ 2-on-1 break. Phillip Danualt cashed in with his second goal of the game to give Kings a 3-2 lead.
“We gave up a two-on-one goal and it crushes you,” Blashill said. “I actually thought we were carrying the play at that point. I thought we had urgency as the third period went along. The goal they took the lead on ultimately was us in their zone and we didn’t do a good enough job of getting above them and it’s a two-on-one.”
Rookie Joe Veleno had some quality shifts and scored his fourth goal of the season. Also, Filip Zadina had a good game, making a memorable defensive play and contributing an assist. He has three points in his past four games. The Red Wings are hoping those two players take a leap in their development in the second half of ths season.