The Red Wings played a great game in Raleigh last Thursday and looked like the team that we were all happy with earlier in the season. It gave some hope that they might be able to contend in the games over Easter weekend but it was not to be.
Over the two games played back to back on Easter weekend the Red Wings were outscored 10-1 over the two games and did not look like the team that shutout the Hurricanes on Thursday.
With the Wings playing two tough teams in a row on Easter weekend, I thought I was being realistic thinking that they may be able to win one of the games and at the very least be competitive in both games. After they played a good game against Carolina on Thursday with an insane performance by Alex Nedeljkovic, I was optimism that they could put up a good fight in both of their Easter weekend games. Sadly, a good game was not to be had in either contest.
To make sure I wasn’t mistaken in my memory of the season I checked the stats for earlier season games at NHL.com against the weekend opponents. In games played against both the Rangers and the Panthers earlier in the season the Red Wings were able to pick up an overtime victory and two overtime losses along with the loss in Florida on 3/5.
Considering where the Wings are and where New York and Florida are at, I think that those games are decent showings and it would be realistic to expect a halfway decent game on both days. Getting blown out by both teams was certainly also a realistic expectation based on some recent performances from the team. I always try to be optimistic when it comes to the Red Wings so I was holding onto some hope.
The game against the Rangers on Saturday was the best chance of the two games for the Red Wings to pick up a win. Instead they left Madison Square Garden without a single goal scored.
In both previous games against the Rangers the Red Wings pushed the game to overtime with a win in New York in February and a loss at home in March. Based on the earlier games I thought that this game was where the Wings could at least pick up one point if not get the win.
The Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin has been a brick wall this year with a .935 SV%, 5 shutouts, and a 34-11-4 record coming into the game. However, last time the Red Wings faced him in New York they beat him in a shootout. In the overtime loss at home they faced the Ranger’s backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev and were able to put 4 pucks in the net that night.
At least the game wasn’t a total blowout and they didn’t just get destroyed, they just let the game slip away from them one goal at a time and were not able to score at all. As was the case in many of the games this year they were badly outshot with a final game total of 20 shots to New York’s 37 shots. With only one power play chance the special teams didn’t get much of a chance, although power plays are not guaranteed to help.
Even with a lineup depleted by injuries and trades, they should be able to score at least two goals in a game like this. If they could have scored one goal after the second from New York or at least after their third goal, it could have built some momentum to get them back in the game. When your sitting at a 3 or 4 goal deficit and you haven’t scored at all, it’s really hard to fight back.
Playing the Florida Panthers on the second day of a back to back was definitely a tall order for the Red Wings, however, they should have been able to do better than a 6-1 loss at home.
The first period of the game on Sunday got off to a good start and I was feeling hopeful that the Wings were fired up after the loss in New York and were going to give the Panthers a run for their money. The boys had some jump in their step and played a solid first. Dylan Larkin was on fire and almost put the first goal of the game in the net a couple of times.
Unfortunately, the second period is where the game fell apart. The Wings proceeded to give up four goals in the second period. Usually the team that is on the second game of a back to back comes up strong in the first period of the second game so I thought the second period would not go as well as the first. I did not expect for them to dig such a big hole in one period. The Panthers had a feeding frenzy on Nedeljkovic.
A team doesn’t get 4 goals scored on them in a period without some serious defensive breakdowns to allow that many scoring chances in a period. Now Ned has to take some of the blame on this as he could have come up better on some saves to keep this a 2 goal period and keep the team in the game. This kind of period of play can simply not happen if their is any expectations of a better future.
Letting Florida score a fifth unanswered goal in the third period put the nail in the coffin for this game. Finally, the Wings got on the board when Pius Suter scored a goal afterwards to keep this game from being the second straight shutout. However, giving up the sixth goal of the game later in the period officially put the game into blowout territory.
The one positive from the game is that they were only outshot in this game by a total of 39-34 so at least they were able to generate some more chances, but the downside to this is that they were unable to cash in on any of the 3 power play chances that they had. Even though Florida has been on quite the winning streak, it doesn’t mean that the Wings couldn’t stop it this Easter weekend.
What are some thoughts that you have on what went wrong in these two games and what do the Wings need to do to come up with a win in Tampa?
In the comments section below let me know what you think. The Wings have another tough game coming up next taking on Tampa Bay at home. Last time they played in Tampa they kept the game close and it was a decent game. What will it take for them to compete better and possibly grab their 30th win of the season?