Detroit Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde is frequently referencing the fine line his team is skating each night between victory and defeat.
Following a 4-1 loss on Saturday to the Vegas Golden Knights at Little Caesars Arena, it was again a fitting topic of conversation.
“Our margin of error is small to begin with,” Lalonde said. “It’s just who we are and where we’re at. And it’s even less against really good teams.”
Completing a five-game homestand with a 2-2-1 record, the underlying numbers were revealing for the Red Wings. They were 2-0-1 against the Nashville Predators, Arizona Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres. Detroit went 0-2 facing two top clubs, the Pacific Division-leading Golden Knights (Pacific) and the Toronto Maple Leafs, second in the Atlantic.
“It’s a little frustrating and a little bit of reality of where we’re at,” Lalonde said. “The guys compete and there’s the will and the want right now.
“If you look at the homestand, we go 2-0-1 against three teams sitting outside the playoff bubble right now and we go 0-2 versus two elite teams.”
Red Wings Making Just Enough Miscues To Lose
In Saturday’s loss, a missed defensive assignment left Jack Eichel on the edge of the Detroit goal crease for a tap-in tally on the game’s first shift. After Detroit battled back to be down 2-1 via an Oskar Sundqvist power-play goal, the Red Wings were quickly afforded another man-advantage opportunity.
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This time, Lucas Raymond fell down as he was passing the puck to the point. Nicolas Roy intercepted and fed Phil Kessel coming out of the penalty box for a breakaway goal.
“That’s on us,” Lalonde said. “That’s poor game management. We turn the puck over, we let a guy come out of the box on a breakaway.
“All this good work and momentum we’ve had for 5-6-7 minutes is right out the door.”
Close Doesn’t Count
The Red Wings clearly are an improved club in comparision to last season’s squad.
“We don’t really shoot ourselves in the foot like we have in the past,” Detroit captain Dylan Larkin said. “We were close tonight, but we can’t be close a lot. You have to find ways to get two points out of nights like this.”
Lalonde also felt that games such as this one and the loss to Toronto define the difference between analytic assessments and what really happens on the ice.
“There’s gonna be some nerd telling us we should’ve won that game on expected goals,” Lalonde said. “But that doesn’t happen against really good teams. They don’t need much for plays.
“You look at the other night and it’s eerily similar in that we gave up two chances in the first period against Toronto and both ended up in the back of our net. We get through two periods (against Vegas) and we’d only given up five or six chances in this game. Unfortunately, three end up in the back of our net.
“That’s on us. We know where we are as a team. We’ve gotta be a little bit better. Again our margin of error is very thin against anyone and it’s even less against these top teams.”
Facts And Obsverations
- Two games ago, Sundqvist had one goal on the season. Now he’s the scorer of Detroit’s last three goals
- Husso is 0-5 in five starts against the Golden Knights with a 4.69 GAA and .850 save %
- With an assist Saturday, Red Wings forward Dominik Kubalik has 12 points in the last 14 games
- Larkin is riding a three-game assist streak (0-3-3)
- That assist was moving Larkin past Marcel Dionne (228) on the Red Wings all-time list