I said before the game that it wasn’t going to be a good one and it certainly turned out to be true.
The morning after, I’m trying to think of a single time where the Red Wings had sustained pressure in the Chicago zone, excluding their power plays. I can’t remember any.
I’m not going to directly blame that on injuries. There may not have been a lot of pressure but the kids called up from Grand Rapids were moving well. Cory Emmerton scored his first NHL goal (on a bit of a lucky bounce) just hours after being called up. The problem wasn’t so much a lack of talent out there for the Wings. It was a lack of energy.
Maybe that’s the ultimate effect of the injuries, but what we saw yesterday was a very tired Detroit team against a very rested Blackhawks squad. Aside from the fourth line, I didn’t see any jump from anyone.
You’re not going to win many games where you can’t get anything done in the offensive end but I think defense might have lost this game for the Wings. They’re relatively healthy on the blue line so there’s no excuse for Ruslan Salei backing off Bolland in the slot for Chicago’s first goal or the awful miscommunication that left both Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall going behind the net on the fourth goal, leaving the slot open.
That first goal still bothers me for another reason, though. I don’t agree with Salei backing off Bolland but I can see why he did it. Bolland got away with whacking the hell out of him in their battle in front of the net. I think that was why Salei backed off, and the minute he did the puck got there. Bolland then scored and hit Salei one more time for good measure.
It’s a common thing for Red Wings fans to say but I don’t think there’s a chance in hell that Tomas Holmstrom would get away with doing the same thing without a penalty.
Just to pile on the refs, I thought the Henrik Zetterberg non-goal was a quick whistle. We’ve been through that one before. Yes, the ref lost sight of the puck. Yes, the play is dead as soon as he intends to blow the whistle. As I’ve always said, that’s not an absolute. The ref loses sight of the puck when he blinks but he assumes it’s still in play. In this case, the ref assumed Corey Crawford had control when he didn’t. I think he made that assumption too quickly.
I don’t think there’s much to take from this except for the All-Star break is coming exactly when the Red Wings need it. One game in the next eleven days, with many of the team’s injuries expected to return at the end of the break. Things should turn around.