Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill is clear that Sunday’s 11-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins was the NHL’s version of a TKO. The Red Wings were on the canvas.
“It felt like we got slapped so hard Sunday that we had to look in the mirror, all of us together, ” Blashill said. “(You think), Is this how we are going to go down?”
For the previous two days, Blashill and players have talked out the embarrassment of that loss and why this season has gone so wrong. That led to an improved effort against the New York Rangers. But the result was still a 5-4 overtime loss, lowlighted by giving up the tying goal on the power play late in the third period.
The Red Wings showed more resiliency, passion and pushback. But there were still too many defensive lapses. They gave up a goal to Ryan Reaves at 3:29 into the game. He’s not known for his scoring ability. Defenseman Filip Hronek lost the puck at an inopportune time. Hronek finished the game -3.
The Red Wings gave up the tying power play goal by Chris Kreider with 3:38 left in regulation. All told, the Red Wings gained and lost the lead three times.
In overtime, Michigan native Andrew Copp scored the game-winner after Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi blew his defensive assignment.
“We gave up four in regulation,” Blashill said. “So that’s not perfect but I thought we were better in a lot of ways defensively. Sunday is Sunday. That was obviously no good but I thought we were way better in a lot of ways. I thought in the third period especially that (Alex Nedeljkovic) was great.”
Considering the Red Wings have scored two or fewer goals in five of their last six games, getting four against the Rangers was noteworthy. They were two-for-three on the power play. That’s only the fourth time the Detroit Red Wings have scored multiple power play goals in a game this season.
“If you go back over the last almost couple of months, I think the power play’s been around 20+ percent, 23ish percent, so I think it’s been working at a fairly good rate,” Blashill said. “Even on a good night, if you’re at 23, 24, 25 percent, you’re about one of every four or every five. So I think there’s things that just because it goes in doesn’t mean that it was light years better than some nights where it does go in. Some games you have chances and it doesn’t go in. I think ultimately we found ways to execute plays. I think we won some faceoffs, which is a big factor in it. We kept pucks in the zone and spent more time in the zone ”
The German and the Swede
New game, new milestones for Detroit rookie Moritz Seider. His point production has cooled off a bit. Coming into the game, Seider only had one point in his past 11 games. But Seider assisted on both Detroit power play goals against the Rangers for his eighth multi-assist game. His 39 assists tie him with Dale McCourt (39 in 1977-78) for the seventh-most assists by a Detroit rookie.
Seider continues to lead all NHL rookie defensemen in assists (39), points (44) and power play points (19).
Meanwhile, Lucas Raymond notched his 50th NHL point with an assist on Bertuzzi’s power play goal. Raymond is the first Red Wings rookie to reach the 50-point mark in a season since Nicklas Lidström (11-49-60 in 80 games) in 1991-92, and the first Detroit rookie since Sergei Fedorov in 1990-91 (31-48-79 in 77 games) to record both 20 goals and 30 assists in a season.
Lucas Raymond (20-30—50 in 67 GP) became the first @DetroitRedWings rookie since Sergei Fedorov in 1990-91 (31-48—79 in 77 GP) to record both 20 goals and 30 assists in a season.#NHLStats: https://t.co/KpOFzGdzhb pic.twitter.com/P6rFSrp3aZ
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 31, 2022
When Danny DeKeyser was waived and then placed on injured reserve, it seemed possible, maybe probable, that he had played his last game in a Detroit Red Wings jersey.
But given the defensive struggles the team has had, the Red Wings were happy to have veterans Marc Staal and DeKeyser healthy enough to play against the Rangers.
“Danny I thought played very well,” Blashill said. “Danny’s skating isn’t what Danny’s skating once was. That’s the reality of the toll his body has taken. But Danny is still a smart hockey player and makes real good decisions. We missed him over the last stretch. There’s a lot of things I can point to as a difference (tonight), but having those types of players in your lineup, that are smart, that can kind of calm chaos down, and I think Danny and Staalsie both can do that.”
More Trade Dividends
Jakub Vrana scored again for the Red Wings. He gave Detroit a 2-1 lead with his seventh goal and third power play goal of the season. Vrana has nine points (7-2-9) in 11 games since coming back from shoulder surgery.
Since coming from the Washington Capitals in the Anthony Mantha trade last April, Vrana has 20 points (15-5-20) in 22 contests.