Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill sends a message in 3-2 loss to Florida Panthers

Detroit Free Press

Helene St. James
| Detroit Free Press

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The Detroit Red Wings looked better at even strength, but their power play continues to be a massive blemish.

They hosted the Florida Panthers on Saturday in the first of two weekend matchups at Little Caesars Arena, a brief respite sandwiched between road trips. The Wings pushed the game to overtime before losing, 3-2, extending their winless streak to five.

“We outplayed them 5-on-5,” Dylan Larkin said. “We played a solid game and that’s what we wanted coming home.”

Tyler Bertuzzi scored his fifth goal of the season, but left the game after two periods with an upper-body injury. Coach Jeff Blashill did not have a status update on Bertuzzi immediately following the game other than that he is questionable for Sunday’s rematch.

Anthony Mantha broke a five-game drought and scored his second goal of the season.

Detroit Red Wings take step back during road trip: ‘Now we’re fighting against ourselves’ ]

Bertuzzi’s goal gave the Wings the lead, but they let the momentum slip away, as Keith Yandle converted on a power play with .5 seconds remaining in the first period.

The Wings didn’t generate much in the way of offensive-zone time the first half of the second period, but Thomas Greiss came through in net. It didn’t help when they had man advantages, which has been a challenge since the season began. Blashill sent a message to two of his most talented players, leaving Mantha and Dylan Larkin off the first two power plays.

“It’s something that for the team, we have to take a look at. It wasn’t working so try other guys, next man up,” Larkin said. “We haven’t been good enough so it was time to switch things up. I think just watching from the bench, it definitely was a good lesson for me.”

Aleksi Heponiemi scored midway through overtime to drop the Wings to 2-5-2.On the whole, though, it was an improvement over how poorly the Wings played in their previous game, when they gave up seven goals at Dallas.

“That’s the response we needed,” Larkin said. “That’s how we have to play. We played good.”

Wings score twice in first

Mantha scored with five minutes to play in the first period, striding to the net and popping a loose puck after Sergei Bobrovsky made a save on Taro Hirose. Mantha has had a rough start to the season, with just four points and minus-10 rating coming into the game. Hirose, called up from the taxi squad because Robby Fabbri and Filip Zadina are in COVID-19 protocol, earned his second assist in three games. Bertuzzi made it 2-1 when he got a hold of Larkin’s shot and found a near-open net.

Sending a message

After going 1-for-7 on the power play Thursday, Blashill reassigned personnel among the two units. Saturday he made significant changes on the first two power plays, leaving off Larkin and Mantha. Mantha has had a rough start, with one goal in eight games, but he and Larkin are two of the team’s best offensive players. On the first power plays, one unit had Hirose with Bobby Ryan with Michael Rasmussen, Christian Djoos and Filip Hronek. The other unit had Vladislav Namestnikov, Valtteri Filppula, Danny DeKeyser, Brome and Bertuzzi. Larkin and Mantha were used on later power plays.

“Our power play hasn’t been good enough, and I think what is the definition of insanity – it’s doing the same thing over and over again,” Blashill said. “We felt like we’d try a couple other guys to give them an opportunity to see how they’d do. And when they weren’t getting it done, we went back to Larkin and Mantha to see what they’d do. Ultimately, power plays aren’t a whole bunch of schematics, it’s about  going out and executing and making plays. Somebody has to step up and play better in those situations. If It’s Larks and Mantha, great. If it’s somebody else, great. I’m not sure how you find out if it’s somebody else if you don’t try other people.”


Jeff Blashill breaks down Detroit Red Wings’ 3-2 OT loss to Florida

Jeff Blashill interview following Red Wings’ 3-2 OT loss to Florida. Jan. 30, 2021

Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press

Panthers power up

The Wings faced a shorthanded situation two minutes into the game when Mathias Brome was called for holding. Aleksander Barkov stuck 66 seconds in, one of three shots on net during the Panthers’ man advantage. When the Wings went on a power play at 5:19, they barely managed to get set up, and directed one shot at Bobrovsky. The Panthers went 2-for-2 on power plays in the period, with Yandle showing why it’s a good idea not to give up on the puck until the horn sounds.

Contact Helene St. James at Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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