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Five Takeaways: Blashill Says Red Wings Can’t Give An F

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Jeff Blashill, Detroit Red Wings coach
Coach Jeff Blashill said his Detroit Red Wings didn't bring their A or B games to Calgary.

The Detroit Red Wings should strive to bring their A game every game night. If not, at least try to arrive with their B game in tow. However, what they simply can’t do is give an F.

It was the latter performance that Detroit turned in Saturday at the Saddledome. The outcome was a 3-0 loss to the Calgary Flames that in terms of respective team performances wasn’t anywhere that close an outcome.

The Wings were missing forwards Tyler Bertuzzi (COVID-19 suspension) and Robby Fabbri (knee). They’ve accounted for 41 goals this season.

Five takeaways from yet another embarrassing Red Wings road defeat.

F Troop

Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill stopped just short of accusing his team of not showing up in Calgary.

“You can’t not show . . . you can’t not play your A game on a nightly basis,” Blashill said. And if you don’t have your A, at least have a B.

“You can’t bring your A game one game and bring your F game the next game. That doesn’t work.”

After one period, the shots were 19-1 in favor of the Flames. The Detroit shot was a weak 60-foot effort from the point by defenseman Filip Hronek that Calgary goalie Jacob Markstrom easily parried.

“It wasn’t even shots on net,” Red Wings forward Sam Gagner said. “You got to play in the other team’s end to create chances and create shots and we weren’t doing that nearly enough.”

It’s the second time this season that Markstrom has shut out the Red Wings.

“We just defended the whole time,” Blashill said. “We had no shots at all. It wasn’t like we were passing up shots. We weren’t in their end.”

Greiss Gives Red Wings A Chance

After 40 minutes the shots were 31-5 Calgary.

“The shots were very indicative of the game over the first two periods tonight,” Blashill said.

However, thanks to Detroit goalie Thomas Greiss, the scoreboard read 1-0 Calgary.

“I thought Greisser played real well and obviously kept us in the hockey game,” Blashill said. “He made some big saves when we broke down.”

Among those were breakaway stops on Tyler Toffoli and Nikita Zadorov.

“It was a real positive thing for him,” Blashill said of Greiss, who is winless since Feb. 17. “He’s a pro. It hasn’t gone great, we all know that but he’s got a way of kind of forgetting that. He’s got a good short-term memory and moving on.”

Paying The Penalty

Two of Calgary’s three goals were registered on the power play. Detroit has now surrendered nine power-play goals over the past six games. The Red Wings are 5-for-14 on the penalty kill in that span, a putrid 35.7% success rate.

“I’m sure confidence has a little bit to do with that but that’s no excuse,” Gagner said. “We have to find a way to rectify that. They scored two goals on two different plays, one off a faceoff and one off of kind of a neutral-zone entry.

“We’re getting beat in different ways on the kill. We have to find a way to stop the bleeding there and buckle down.”

Witkowski Upsizes Red Wings

While Detroit defenseman Marc Staal was skating in his 1,000th NHL game, Luke Witkowski was seeing NHL action for the first time since Nov. 1, 2019.

Called up from AHL Grand Rapids, Witkowski worked on the wing on a physical fourth line with center Michael Rasmussen and winger Givani Smith.

“I wanted some size in the lineup,” Blashill explained. “I wanted some guys that could bring some momentum with physicality, who could get to the net against a D corps that does a pretty good job of boxing out.

“Obviously we didn’t generate as much offensive zone time with that group as we would have liked but I did think they were good and they did their job.”

Dean Of Officiating

It was a milestone night for another former Red Wings defenseman as well. Dean Morton was one of the two referees who worked Saturday’s game.

Morton, 54, officiated his 1,000th NHL game earlier this season but Saturday was his farewell performance. He’s retiring his stripes. And in doing so via a Wings game at Calgary’s has come full circle as an NHLer.

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Morton played one NHL game on the Red Wings defense. He wore sweater No. 5 on Oct. 5, 1989 and scored a goal in Detroit’s 10-7 loss.

He’s one of three players in NHL history to play one game and score a goal. Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman drew an assist on Morton’s lone NHL goal.