| Detroit Free Press
Jeff Blashill: Detroit Red Wings’ execution level ‘not good enough’
Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill speaks to the media after the 2-0 loss to the Predators on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, at Little Caesars Arena.
Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press
The Detroit Red Wings stuck to their defensive identity and played a tight, close game. It was their offensive identity that hurt them.
Their match against the Nashville Predators Tuesday at Little Caesars Arena wasn’t high in entertainment value, with no scoring until the third period. That’s when two trips to the penalty box proved costly for the Wings, who wound up losing, 2-0.
It’s the second time in four games the Wings have been shut out. They have six goals their last four games.
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The game lived up — or down, rather — to a match between the 29th and 30th ranked offenses in the NHL. Each side created about two scoring chances in the first period, maybe three each in the second. The Predators thought they had a goal in the second period but that was overturned upon review.
There was nothing to review when Filip Forsberg converted 17 seconds into their third power play, at 4:36 of the third period. Forsberg’s shot deflected in off Marc Staal’s stick. Eeli Tolvanen doubled up at 9:57, on another power play.
Even with Jonathan Bernier leaving his net with two-plus minutes to play, the offense was stagnant. The Wings were outshot, 33-24.
The Wings (5-13-3) play the Predators again Thursday.
Shakeup in goal
For the first time with both Bernier and Thomas Greiss healthy, coach Jeff Blashill veered from his goalie rotation and went with Bernier for a second straight start. It was a logical decision given Bernier’s 38-save performance in Saturday’s 2-1 victory, and given Greiss’ subpar outing in Friday’s 7-2 rout, both against the Florida Panthers. Bernier, in the last year of his contract, has provided superior goaltending again this season, consistently giving his teammates a chance to win. Bernier made nine saves in the first period, including stopping Forsberg on a tip-in attempt.
Forsberg cut across the slot and fired the puck behind Bernier with 3:06 to go in the second period. The Wings challenged the goal, because as Mikael Granlund rushed towards the crease he clipped Bernier’s left skate. Officials reviewed and judged that Granlund impaired Bernier’s ability to play his position in the crease prior to the puck entering the net, and overturned the original call. Bernier was credited with 10 saves in the second period, while the Wings only directed five shots at Pekka Rinne.
Nielsen stays in lineup
A day after he cleared waivers, Frans Nielsen was in the lineup, on a line with Vladislav Namestnikov (who missed the Florida series with an undisclosed injury) and Valtteri Filppula. Nielsen has been good defensively and has been a positive factor on the penalty kill, and the waiver move was to provide roster flexibility, facilitating the possibility of assigning Nielsen to the taxi squad. Evgeny Svechnikov, on the other hand, has been on the taxi squad since Feb. 16, but has yet to make an appearance in the lineup.
Contact Helene St. James at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.