We have risen again, but just one day later. What can I say? We’re getting more efficient.
Wings/Bolts on tap for an early national tilt. The Lightning are playing a guy off the Witness Protection Program in net. There’s also an NHL debut for Ben Thomas, a 2014 4th rounder for Tampa. Fabbri is out and Djoos back in as the Wings go 11-7.
Things start with jump from both sides but not too much in terms of flow. Just five shots on goal in the first five minutes; four of those are for the Lightning, but none are dangerous.
The pace picks up out of the first TV timeout as the teams start testing the seams. Mantha gets sprung by a nice saucer from Zadina that gets stopped and Nielsen does a good job positioning himself to stop a net-front pass attempt to keep it at zeroes.
Tyler Johnson and Brayden Point combine for the first real A+ setup of the game that slides wide of the short side that Greiss is sliding off to square to the cross-ice pass.
Minutes later, Filip Hronek takes the game’s first penalty as Tyler Johnson turns the jets on to the outside and Hronek grabs him to prevent the cross-crease move. Tampa takes a minute to set up the first shot, a one-timer by Hedman that Greiss kicks aside. DeKeyser makes two good plays to prevent zone entries late on the advantage. Hronek emerges.
On the shift following the line changes, the Wings’ top line creates a power play. Larkin backchecks in the neutral zone, springing Mantha in to pass to Zadina for a chance that forces Luke Schenn into a slashing penalty.
The Wings’ PP gets set up and has a little trouble with the aggressive PK, but once they get in, a couple key plays by Larkin to knock a clearing attempt out of midair and then a steal along the boards by Filip Zadina keep the play alive. These both pay off as Hronek throws a pass that Erne tips from the top of the circles to Larkin on the edge. Larkin takes the room he has to step into the circle and snap a wrister through the goalie to make it 1-0 Detroit with just 13 seconds to go.
The Score: 1-0 Detroit
The Shots: 7-5 Lightning
Standout Players: Dylan Larkin, Frans Nielsen, Filip Zadina, Danny DeKeyser, Luke Glendening
Sit-in Players: Patrik Nemeth, Christian Djoos
The Period All Summed up: A lot of feeling out, and Detroit definitely didn’t feel outclassed.
Tampa starts the second with a chance, Detroit answers with Zadina getting around Hedman. Cal Foote chops Dylan Larkin for daring to try to put the rebound in. Let’s see how things heat up in the 2nd.
Again, doing the five-minute check in, the hitting is maybe a bit harder, but the sides seem more interested in finishing the simple checks, but not chasing physicality for fear of having that throw one out of position. Quite a bit of back-and-forth but not a lot getting near the middle.
Right after I type that, the Wings give up a 3-on-1 rush thanks to Marc Staal jumping into a rush and running into the forward who recognizes he needs to get back, taking them both out. Stamkos gets the shot off on a cross-ice pass but Greiss gets his blocker over and redirects it harmlessly out of play.
This save pumps some more energy into the game, as the Wings go shell-and-counter in their own and and the Bolts play puck-optional defense in their own zone.
Merrill gets tripped, nearly leading to a goal and apparently my whole thing now is just being mad about the reffing. I’m sorry.
Something good to talk about! The Wings get a rush up ice with Glendening coming deep on the right wing boards before throwing a pass all the way across and back to Filppula on the back door for an immediate snap top shelf into the goal for a 2-0 Red Wings lead.
That’s a beauty pass. Less than 30 seconds later, Detroit gets a 3-0 lead. The puck comes off the end boards oddly, rolls under Gibsons glove and onto the backhand of Michael Rasmussen who, inspired by Luke Glendening, backhands it into the net.
Gibson gets an opportunity to get his feet under him as on the very next shift, Adam Erne floats a puck to the net-front that Helm tries to shovel over the glove for yet another quality chance.
Brayden Point clangs one off the post a minute later, but those don’t count on the scoreboard. What does count is Marc Staal’s point shot getting through traffic past Gibson for a 4-0 Red Wings lead.
The Score: 4-0 Red Wings
The Shots: 14-14
Standout Players: Staal, Rasmussen, Larkin, Glendening, Filppula, Hronek, Greiss
Sit-in Players: Nope
The Period All Summed up: Three goals in 3 minutes. That’s scoring… lightning-fast.
The third period starts with a wrestling promo, which is way cooler than a horse-racing promo (at least until they get a horse to do some badass overacting). It also starts with a full two minutes of pressure in the Detroit end. I hope all 20 aren’t like this. At one point the puck was sitting on top of the net and bounced down into the crease in front of Greiss.
The Wings do get a clear and a brief push, but just over four minutes in, Stamkos makes a fancy backhand pass to Hedman to get to the middle and fire it past Greiss through a screen to make it 4-1 Wings.
The Wings seem to wake up from here and at least aren’t shell-shocked through play to the first TV timeout, getting a few counter-attacks in on the aggressive Tampa press. Gibson has to make a save on a streaking Luke Glendening as Mantha springs him with a backhand pass while the Tampa D is changing.
The play to the next break in coverage is mostly in favor of the Wings. When play resumes, Tampa puts a shot wide but then Stamkos runs over Greiss and sits for interference. Edzo ignores the “pushed in” argument and goes straight to implying that Greiss’ positioning at the top of his crease makes him eligible to be checked.
Detroit plays their PP defensively because wasting two minutes is apparently more valuable than increasing the lead (it isn’t). The PP ends and Tampa pulls the goalie down three with 6:15 left.
This pays off for Detroit, as Darren Helm gets the puck up ice off a shot block by Merrill that goes through Nielsen and Namestnikov before Helm gets it and pots it with 5:41 on the clock. 5-1 Wings.
5:10 left and Danny DeKeyser sits for taking down Mathieu Joseph. Tampa plays it 6-on-4 and NBC goes without the clock so we don’t get distracted by silly things like knowing how much penalty time is left.
Greiss freezes a puck and Anthony Cirelli loses his shit on Filip Hronek.
Nielsen misses the empty net from distance. That would have been painfully funny.
DK escapes the box and heads right back 15 seconds later for putting it over the glass. Somebody’s got to be the bad guy… Still 6-on-4 PP. Nothing doing on this one either.
The Score: 5-1 Detroit
The Shots: 28-18 Lightning
Standout Players: Helm, Nielsen, Glendening, Erne, Greiss
Sit-in Players: DeKeyser
The Period All Summed up: A fine 20 minutes to cap off the other good 40.
Filip Zadina has been impressive in the offensive zone and in creating transition through the neutral zone, but I think he’s really shined in the defensive zone as well. This kid’s got a real good sense for positioning and the kind of hustle he needs.
I really liked the patience of the team. They had to make a few clears that were really just getting the pressure off, but for the most part, they’ve gotten better at recognizing where lanes have closed and are trusting each other better to position for how best to handle the defenseman having to eat the puck at the boards.
I also like how they recognized defensemen stepping up on wingers trying to exit and several times bounced the puck off the boards to themselves to spring a chance. Helm doing it to Hedman was the most-memorable, but there were a few other plays just like it in this one.
Wings back home to play the Predators on Tuesday.