The Detroit Red Wings will tell you that even the ugliest, most grotesque type of win is a better outcome than the alternative.
Friday’s 7-6 shootout victory over the Philadelphia Flyers qualified as ugly.
Detroit would race to a 5-1 first-period lead. Wth five minutes left in regulation, the Red Wings were trailing 6-5. But they would tie it on a goal by captain Dylan Larkin and get the victory after Lucas Raymond and Patrick Kane scored in the shootout.
Shootout W. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/vQuqxcv3or
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) December 23, 2023
For a team that hadn’t held a lead, let alone post a win over the previous four games and was 1-6-1 in the past eight outings, any serving of success was going to be a tasty outcome.
“Obviously, we’ve been fighting it a little bit,” Red Wings forward Alex DeBrincat said. “To get the win is huge for us.”
That doesn’t mean there still aren’t issues to be resolved. Many, many issues.
Red Wings Failing Many Tests
On a positive note, it was the first time the club scored five goals in the first period of a game since a 5-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Dec. 8, 2011.
“Obviously in this league, to outscore anyone 5-1 in a period was certainly a positive,” Detroit coach Derek Lalonde said.
Then again, it was the second time in 15 days that Detroit blew a four-goal lead. On Dec. 7, the San Jose Sharks came charging back from a 4-0 deficit to down the Wings 6-5 in overtime.
At least this time, Detroit got the win.
“A much, much needed win for the group,” Lalonde said.
That doesn’t mean the coach isn’t finding their inability to protect sizeable leafs to be a significant problem.
“There is a way to manage our game, especially where we are,” Lalonde said. “We got two goalies on IR. We got a third goalie that is battling in there. You’d like to think we could manage our game a little better.
“It’s a little bit of the DNA of our team, the DNA of our current lineup and that has to change to be successful going forward.”
December was figuring to be a problematic month for the Red Wings. There’s 15 games on the calendar, basically one every other day. To compound that, they are currently without injured goalies Ville Huso and Alex Lyon. Captain Dylan Larkin and J.T. Compher, the club’s top two centers, were also out for much of the month. Veteran forward David Perron sat out a six-game NHL suspension.
Though he’s only been around the scene officially for nine games, Kane also sees reason to be worried about the way the team is performing.
“I think sometimes you go down with some injuries and you got to find a way to make it a little bit simpler game when you’re missing some key guys,” Kane said. “That was probably a test we failed.”
Goaltending A Major Concern
Lalonde surprisingly sought praise goalie James Reimer, who allowed a few suspect goals during Friday’s game.
“I wouldn’t put it on James,” Lalonde said. “I give him a ton of credit. He was obviously fighting it.
“You go through these games, you have feel that anything might go in. And for him to battle like he did in the end through the overtime to win the shootout for us, great on him. Very competitive.”
In this assessment, certainly Lalonde will in the minority. How could anyone watch pucks consistently leaking through Reimer and not be concerened about Detroit’s netminding?
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) December 23, 2023
Husso is listed as week to week. Lyon is done until after the holidays. That leaves the Red Wings goalie chores in the fumbling hands of the suddenly-erratic Reimer, who’s 6-18 in his last 24 decisions, and journeyman Michael Hutchinson, who is 5-14 over his last 19 verdcits.
Yes, a win is a win.
“You gotta find a way to get points and tonight we did,” Lalonde said. “We found a way to get two.”
It’s also reminiscent of that old axiom about putting earrings and makeup on a pig.
In the end, it’s still a pig.