With a month to go in the season, the Detroit Red Wings endured another rout.
Several mistakes cost them Thursday at Little Caesars Arena, just as they seemed to be building a bit of steam. It was close for the first 30 minutes or so, but then the Wings deteriorated, left to rue a 7-1 loss to the Nashville Predators for the second time in two weeks.
Jonathan Bernier and Sam Gagner returned to the lineup, but Bobby Ryan, Robby Fabbri and Patrik Nemeth were unavailable because of injuries.
The Wings (13-23-6) came into the game having lost in a shootout Tuesday, and having played well in weekend games against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
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Darren Helm built a lead in the second period, but it lasted only 40 seconds until Viktor Arvidsson scored. Blown defensive coverage left the Wings trailing by two goals in the second period; first it was Erik Haula who had time and space to score, and then it was Nick Cousins who took advantage of too many Wings playing below the goal line.
The third period was ugly: Arvidsson scored twice, and Yakov Trenin piled on.
The Wings went 2-5-1 in the season series. It ended with some bad blood, as both sides were upset with hits. Officials spent a couple minutes huddling up in the second period after Adam Erne crunched Matt Benning into the boards, which prompted Mathieu Olivier to jump Erne and land several punches. Erne ended up with two minutes for boards and five for fighting; Olivier got two for instigating, five for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct. The Predators bench also was assessed a penalty, leaving the Wings with a man advantage. In Tuesday’s game, Luke Glendening fought Jeremy Davies after his cheapshot on Valtteri Filppula, whom Davies hit into the boards even though Filppula no longer had the puck.
A strong case could have been made for Thomas Greiss to start since he has played his best four-game stretch of the season, but with Bernier recovered from a lower–body injury suffered March 18, he got the nod. It was an opportunity to showcase Bernier to potential trade deadline suitors. He has been the team’s MVP, steadily giving them a chance to win most nights. This wasn’t his finest. Bernier was hung out to dry on the second and third goals, but he should have had Mikael Granlund’s goal at 7:06 of the third period.
Helm is, like Bernier, a pending unrestricted free agent and a possible trade target for contenders. He scored his third goal of the season early in the second period, redirecting Troy Stecher’s shot in front of the net. Helm is a good skater, can play wing or center, is sound defensively and brings a wealth of experience as a penalty killer. He also has played in 82 playoff games, including the trips to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2008-09.
Finding a spot
Dylan Larkin said after Tuesday’s game that he liked having Svechnikov on his line because the big Russian winger likes to get Larkin the puck. Svechnikov was back in that spot for a second game. Svechnikov also sees time as the net-front guy on one of the power play units. That could be a role Svechnikov could carve out for himself — he’s not a great skater but he hustles, and he has the size (6-foot-3, 208 pounds) to screen goaltenders and dig for rebounds.
Contact Helene St. James at email@example.com. 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.