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Lessons Abound in Frustrating Loss for the Red Wings

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There’s no doubt the Detroit Red Wings should have won the game against the Chicago Blackhawks Friday night. The Blackhawks, all but shouting to the league and their fans that they’re tanking, rallied twice from a pair of two-goal deficits to win in overtime.

But games like this will happen. The glitz and glamour from a thorough domination of Montreal last Friday in Detroit melted into a puddle of frustration exactly a week later.

Contrast it with the loss on Wednesday where the Red Wings rallied only to lose in overtime. The former is at least encouraging. The latter is troubling to some.

But maybe it isn’t troubling at all. Maybe, as captain Dylan Larkin put it, the Red Wings are just trying too hard.

“Newsy came in after the game and said we looked like we wanted it too much,” Larkin said. “I think he’s partially right there. We’re just squeezing the stick. We get chances, we’re hitting posts and then looking to the sky. Whatever happens, you’ve gotta show up to the next shift and play as hard as you can.”

Missed Chances for the Young Red Wings

When asked about the team potentially trying too hard, head coach Derek Lalonde agreed.

“The gripping the stick–three goals on the road–should be enough, especially a two goal lead in the third,” Lalonde said. “Do we maybe grip it a little bit on some of those chances to get the fourth goal? Obviously we had a lot of looks.”

None bigger, of course, than Filip Zadina’s breakaway where his shot was turned away. It was 3-2 and nearly halfway through the period. An errant pass exited the Red Wings zone and Zadina raced to it, having a clear a path to the net.

Much as it’s been during most of his time in Detroit, it didn’t result in goal and Chicago would come back to tie it. This coming after the Blackhawks scored shorthanded following another lost draw, another tough truth for Detroit on the evening.

“Even before the faceoff, we had a lack of urgency on the powerplay to put us into that faceoff position,” Lalonde said. “Painful. We got exactly what we deserved tonight in the third. I’m interested to see how this team will respond.”

Little Lessons From the Loss Will Add Up Later

Against Los Angeles, the Red Wings fought their way to a hard earned point. Conversely with Chicago, it was a contest that should been two points instead of one that left a bad taste in the mouth of the the players and staff.

It’s a part of the learning process. Something that will be used to teach and move forward.

But the key is that it cannot be habitual.

They have yet to have a regulation loss, but the tougher part of the October schedule is on the horizon. Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider haven’t had the output initially expected. Larkin spoke to his own struggles during his second year, and it’s wrong to think there will be an adjustment period.

Detroit started last season 2-2-1, including a 6-1 loss to Montreal. The Red Wings have kept things closer while also having depth scoring, which includes players like Olli Määttä being tied for the team lead in points (5) so far. It’s not likely to hold up, but general manager Steve Yzerman is rounding out the depth. They’re missing two big pieces in Tyler Bertuzzi and Jakub Vrana.

It essentially boils down to what Larkin said postgame.

“We have to learn from this,” Larkin said. “We can’t sit back in third periods. Can’t just defend a full twenty minutes, no matter what the score is. Teams are too good–players are too good. We have to come up with a strategy. We did it well against Montreal there on opening night.

We’ve played with leads so far. It’s still early in the season but a couple chances in the the third we gotta capitalize on. We most certainly can’t give up three straight goals.”

All that remains is to see how the Red Wings, as Lalonde wonders himself, will respond next.

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