Rebuilding teams, like the Detroit Red Wings, often measure themselves against the league’s top teams. Coaches of rebuilding teams want to see their teams, especially younger teams, show competitiveness and pushback in those games.
But games against non-playoff teams can also say a lot about rebuilding teams.
The Detroit Red Wings lost their third game against the Ottawa Senators over the past 11 days. The Senators, ranked 26th out of 32 NHL teams, beat Detroit 4-1. The Red Wings only managed five goals in their three losses against Ottawa.
“I think we’ve had our chances,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “I don’t know if it’s a lack of that. In their PK, they pressure extremely hard in the D zone. I think what happens in those situations is you don’t have sustained time but you’re gonna get like big looks. I think we’ve had those. In some cases, we missed the net and in some cases we didn’t shoot and in some cases the goalie made a save. I can’t look back at the games and say that we didn’t generate chances.”
It’s Elementary, Watson
Every goal only counts one, but some goals feel like they count more. Giving up the Austin Watson goal with five seconds left in the first period seemed like a microcosm of Detroit’s 2021-22 season.
How many goals have the Red Wings given up late in a period this season?
“You can’t give those up,” Blashill said. “That to me, it’s one thing when they lean on us. They leaned on us a bit in the third. If they would have scored in some of those situations, you tip your hat a little bit to them. In this case it wasn’t that. It was they stretched three guys and we didn’t stay above. We still had opportunities to win the puck and we had poor support over our line and just gave up the goal too easily.”
This was Blashill’s overall assessment of the Detroit Red Wings in the loss:
“I thought we were bad with the puck it the first in our own end, either just lack of execution or hitting a guy’s stick and it blowing up, or poor decisions at our blueline,” he said. “We had enough chances in the first to have scored. Then you give up the late goal that’s certainly disappointing. The second, I thought we probably had the better of the shifts. In the third, (the Senators) ground us down. In the third was where I through territorially we played too much D zone coverage. Up until that I can’t really say that but definitely in the third I thought we ended up in that spot. So then you’re not creating enough.”
Wasted PP Goal
The Red Wings tied the game 1-1 on Tyler Bertuzzi’s power play goal. The Red Wings pushed to get back in the game. But the game was only tied 3:05 before the Red Wings gave back a goal (to Drake Batherson) through defensive lapses.
“They score a faceoff goal with missed assignments,” Blashill said. “That’s too easy of a goal to give up. They gotta earn it more than that. We lost the puck race on that and then we lost our assignments. Again, if you’re not gonna score lots, and we’ve been in this stretch where we haven’t scored nearly as much as we did at one point in the year, you have to make sure that you’re better defensively. You have to make sure you manage the puck better.”
After losing to non-playoff teams Columbus and Ottawa, the Red Wings now play six games in a row against contenders. They play at Carolina Thursday and then at Madison Square Garden Saturday against the New York Rangers.
The following afternoon, the Red Wings are then home for a matinee against the Florida Panthers.
After that, it’s another challenging Florida double trip against the Lightning and Panthers. Then, home to face Sidney Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins.
“It’s going to be tough no question,” Red Wings defenseman Marc Staal said. “That’s part of playing in the NHL. You got to show up every day and be consistent and have the same work ethic, same preparation no matter who you’re playing or when you’re playing and that’s our job. We’re going to come tomorrow to work, then go to Carolina and try to get the job done.”
If you are a devoted Red Wings fan, it’s discouraging to look at the Red Wings this season and know they are still a couple of years away from being truly competitive.
But the encouraging aspect of the Red Wings reality is that they have a young No. 1 defenseman to build around. No. 1 defensemen are tough to find. Moritz Seider had four shots on goal, four hits, two blocked shots and one assist in almost 23 minutes of playing time against Ottawa. He will play 25+ minutes next season.
Seider’s 41st assist ties him with Reed Larson (41 in 1977-78) for the second highest single-season total by a Red Wings rookie defenseman. Nicklas Lidstrom (49 in 1991-92) holds the team record.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) April 12, 2022