Life without Nicklas Lidstrom might be quite an adventure for the Detroit Red Wings.
They lost their first game without him 6-0 at St. Louis. The Blues outshot them 17-2 in the first period and kept skating circles around them all night.
Goaltender Jimmy Howard allowed five goals (on 28 shots) before taking an early exit. “We really had nothing going, except for Howie in the net, he played unbelievable for us,” defenseman Nicklas Kronwall told the Detroit Free-Press. “Other than that, not a lot of good things to take from this.
“Hopefully we can learn and play a lot better on Monday.”
Here were some of particulars of this defeat:
The Red Wings went 0 for 4 on the power play and allowed the Blues to score a shorthanded goal.
Top Detroit forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg should not have been rusty. Both played in Europe and played well. But neither of this first-liners got a whiff against the Blues. (Swiss import Damien Brunner did generate a couple of scoring chances on their wing.)
Second-line stalwarts Valtteri Filppula, Johan Franzen and Mikael Samuelsson were similarly ineffective.
Detroit allowed four power-play goals in five St. Louis opportunities.
Defenseman Kyle Quincey got burned twice, badly, by rookie Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko for goals. On this night, anyway, he did not look up to his Top Four assignment.
Forward Jan Mursak suffered upper-body injury in first period and didn’t return. He joins veteran power forward Todd Bertuzzi (mononucleosis) on the injured list.
On the plus side, coach Mike Babcock believed top prospect Brendan Smith looked the part of a Top Four defenseman. So the Red Wings have that going for them.
The Detroit Red Wings have earned just two points in their last five games. As a result, they have fallen out of the Central Division lead and the potential No. 1 overall seed in the Western Conference.
Can they get back on track before it is too late? Tonight’s game at Anaheim presents another massive challenge.
The Red Wings just didn’t have it Tuesday night during their 5-2 loss at Los Angeles. Coach Mike Babcock gave reporters this assessment of his team’s play:
“Not good enough. They had a simple plan of getting the puck in and getting on the forecheck and grinding and I didn't think we had enough resistance. In the end, you can talk about the power play or the penalty kill if you want -- the whole lot of us, we never played hard enough. You're not going to win with the approach we had tonight.”
Goaltender Jimmy Howard’s return to active duty was a bright spot Tuesday night. He has an opportunity to settle back into the nets for the stretch run.
Top center Pavel Datsyuk is recovering from minor knee surgery and easing closer to active duty. He will miss at least one more game, as will injured defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom – who is hobbled by a bone bruise.
Lidstrom has missed seven games and counting. “It's still frustrating when you're not able to play,” he told the Detroit Free Press. “After a while, you get sick and tired of sitting around and watching the guys playing. You want to be a part of it and be on the ice with them.”
In Datsyuk’s absence, the Red Wings aren’t getting much offense beyond the top line of Henrik Zetterberg centering Valtteri Filppula and Jiri Hudler. Perhaps the return of power forward Todd Bertuzzi will help balance the attack.
Babcock has been shuffling support casts forwards Darren Helm, Drew Miller, Justin Abdelkader, Tomas Holmstrom, Danny Cleary and Gustav Nyquist on the other while trying to keep Johan Franzen productive.
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