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The Breakdown: Red Wings Know They Must Eat Up Struggling Teams

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Filip Hronek, Detroit Red Wings
Red Wings defenseman Filip Hronek had 2 assists in Sunday's win at Columbus.

If the Detroit Red Wings want to be one of the lions of the NHL jungle, then they have to feast on the weakest prey in the herd.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have been overrun by injuries. They have six players on the injured list. Zach Werenski is out for the season. The Blue Jackets have been unlucky. They are 30th in the NHL standings with a .391 points percentage. Columbus owns a -28 goal-differential. They are 0-13-2 when scoring three or fewer goals. The Blue Jackets have surrendered 64 goals in 64 home games. They are second-to-last in the NHL with a goals-against of about four goals per game.

During the rebuild the Red Wings have been prey more than predator. That’s why beating teams when they are down is still a statement win for Detroit.

Coming off three consecutive losses, the Red Wings couldn’t afford to start a road trip with a loss. They got the win they needed vs. Columbus.

“Anytime you can start with a win on the road that’s what you want,” said Austin Czarnik, who scored Detroit’s first goal. “Now we go to three hard places to play who are really good teams. We just need to build off this and keep going.”

Tough Road Tour

The road trip continues with games against the Tampa Bay Lightning (Tuesday), Florida Panthers (Thursday) and Dallas Stars (Saturday). Those three teams have a combined record of 41-23-10.

“(The win was) important, especially with what we’re up against,” Detroit coach Derek Lalonde said. “In our play of late, we’ve had trouble versus the league’s elite. We’re gonna get a few opportunities in the next week at that.”

The Red Wings took charge in this game by claim a 2-0 first period lead on goals by Czarnik and Dominik Kubalik. Czarnik was called up when Tyler Bertuzzi was put on the injured list for the second time.

“That was a focus point for us. We wanted a good start,” Czarnik said. “The last couple of games we’ve fallen behind, so that was a big focus for us. To be able to get our ahead is huge and we held the lead.”

This win comes the day after the Red Wings lost 4-1 at home to the Vegas Golden Knights. The Red Wings are now 3-0 in the second game of back-to-back games. Andrew Copp and Lucas Raymond also scored against Columbus. Surging Filip Hronek had two more assists.

Facts and Observations

1.Detroit defenseman Olli Maatta posted two assists to give him nine points in 24 games. That’s one point more than he registered last season in 66 games last season for the Los Angeles Kings. He has been one of the key figures in the team’s improved defensive play. His offense has been a bonus.

  1. Jake Walman was -1 for Detroit. That was his first minus game since coming back shoulder surgery. He is +7 in nine games this season.
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3.The Jonatan Berggren-Joe Veleno-Austin Czarnik line is an effective line, and frequently looks dangerous offensively.

  1. You could almost hear Detroit fans gasp when Ben Chiarot flung his glove off after being hit by a shot in the third period. He headed immediately to the dressing room, but came back on the ice several minutes later. The Red Wings have had enough misfortune about injuries caused by shots. Ask Tyler Bertuzzi.

  2. Detroit captain Dylan Larkin lost a goal on a coaches challenge. Replay showed that David Perron was offside by maybe an inch.

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