Postgame Thoughts: Panthers @ Red Wings, 2/20

I’ll start with something I said via Twitter that wasn’t appreciated: I don’t like Anthony Mantha challenging Aleksander Barkov for Barkov’s hit on Dylan Larkin late in the third period today.

Part of it is that bad things happen when Mantha plays that role.  The guy’s hands are glass.  If someone needs to step up, it should not be him.

More controversially, I don’t think the hit was that bad.  I know there are a lot of people saying Barkov stuck his leg out, even saying that it was a (or was at least an attempted) knee-on-knee hit.  I see an awkward hip check.  Barkov’s hip went backwards, his leg went out sideways, and his hip is what made contact.  I’m sure we could say that he stuck his hip out to cover for the fact that he was sticking his leg out but I just don’t see it.

I could see the argument that it was late, maybe.  But I just don’t see that as one that someone should be made to answer for.

Anyway…

Going into the game I was unhappy to see the Red Wings going with 11 forwards and seven defensemen with Evgeni Svechnikov left out of the lineup.  I was going to say that, as much as I didn’t like it, much like the healthy scratch of Mantha earlier this season, it would probably work.  I should have hit send.

After so many missed chances this season, it was great to see Mathias Brome get his first career NHL goal.  It’s also funny because he’s had better chances than that one but that’s the one that went in.  I didn’t realize until he scored that goal that he didn’t even have a point yet this season.  Eye-test-wise, he’s played way better than that.

Despite the Brome goal and the outcome, this didn’t feel particularly fun to watch.  Wings games rarely have over the last couple seasons. so that’s not a surprise, but it makes it feel like wins aren’t as earned.

On the aesthetic side, man, I love those Panthers’ Reverse Retro jerseys.  I thought for sure that the Red Wings would use an opportunity when they were already wearing white at home to break out their own Reverse Retro set but they didn’t.  Part of me wonders if the Wings will try to slide through the season never wearing theirs.

Speaking of Reverse Retros, that’s what all four teams are wearing in this weekend’s Outdoor Games at Lake Tahoe.

Seeing media coverage of the event via Twitter has been difficult for me.  As I noted earlier today, it seems like there are a lot of journalists or other media personalities praising the visuals at Lake Tahoe, calling for more events like that.  And I applaud the NHL for giving this a shot, even though the first game is currently paused after one period because of ice issues, because it is a gorgeous setting.

But there are no fans there.  This season, that’s not a big deal.  But you’re going to have a hard time convincing me that, in a normal season, we should be doing made-for-TV events that only media actually get to go to live.  I get that these events (hell, even normal games) have gotten so expensive that a lot of fans are unable to attend in person.  But crossing the line to events that no fans can attend in person seems like too much.

Especially as the line between “fan” and “journalist” seems to dissolve further and further.  In the bad old days of the blogosphere, one of the knocks against bloggers was our fandom, our partiality.  Now there are credentialed media who feel a lot like cheerleaders on Twitter.  So to see those journalists calling for more events without fans, which would be open to them, while they act more and more fan-like…  It rubs me the wrong way.

Postgame Thoughts: Red Wings @ Panthers, 2/7

I’m not going to say that the Red Wings looked good in their 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers today. This is still, in general, a Not Good team. For the first time in a long time, though, they did all the things (consistently) that they needed to do to win a game, though.

Specifically, what I liked seeing today was how much Detroit was getting in the way of Florida passes, or knocking the puck off the Panthers’ sticks. It was a level of grind we haven’t seen from the Wings much. And it led directly to Detroit’s second goal, with Bobby Ryan stealing the puck and getting it to Givani Smith in front of the net.

Thomas Greiss got his first win as a Red Wing and it’s kind of funny because I don’t think he looked much better or worse than he usually does. Shows how much a goalie’s stats can be impacted by the team in front of him, which isn’t exactly surprising but is always interesting when such a strong example comes up.

Radko Gudas’ hit on Luke Glendening…  Gudas has a history of dirty stuff. I could see – if one wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt – calling the head contact incidental. I don’t see why anyone would give Gudas the benefit of the doubt. We’ll have to see what the NHL thinks.

Aside from that hit, I thought Florida’s Mackenzie Weegar was throwing his weight around in some annoying ways today. Earlier this season he bloodied Glendening without a penalty, then when Michael Rasmussen took him into the boards, Aaron Ekblad attempted to fight Rasmussen in retaliation. Today Smith hit Weegar and Ekblad again stepped in. I really don’t like it when players are willing to throw hits but can’t take one, and I really don’t like it when physical players have someone else do their fighting for them. This checks both of those boxes, so I was happy to see Weegar was the one who lost the puck on the play leading to Detroit’s empty-net goal.

As I’ve been writing this, the story behind Anthony Mantha‘s unexpected scratch was revealed: He was a healthy scratch. Look, I get that Mantha is underperforming. I thought he’d looked better over the last week than most of the team, though. I don’t get how you look at this roster and, eight games into a losing streak, say it’s time for him to sit. The Wings won, so you could say it worked, but this baffles me. It’s the first time I’ve moved strongly into the “Fire Blashill” camp. This is a rebuild. This kids are going to make mistakes. But why give Mantha the contract they gave him if this is how he’s going to be handled? I don’t get it.