Detroit Red Wings stock watch: Both goalies finally playing well together

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Red Wings head into the penultimate week of their season buoyed by top-notch goaltending.

Four games are on the slate, starting with Tuesday at the Columbus Blue Jackets, followed by Thursday at the Carolina Hurricanes and then a pair of weekend matinees against the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning. The variety makes a nice change from last week, when the Wings played the Dallas Stars again and again and again, going 1-1-2. The series was marred by a season-ending injury to captain Dylan Larkin.

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On the whole the Wings performed well against last season’s Stanley Cup runner up. The 5-2 loss to Dallas on April 20 was blemished by egregious defensive lapses and a season-ending injury to Larkin. The Wings responded with a 7-3 rout, and bookending those games with a 3-2 shootout loss and 2-1 overtime loss.

Jonathan Bernier leads off this week’s stock watch because of what he did Saturday.

Stock up

Jonathan Bernier

What a performance he delivered in the overtime loss, making 50 saves. The shot disparity through 40 minutes was comical — 21-3 in the first period; 20-3 in the second. And at that point the Wings had a 1-0 lead. Bernier’s save percentage Saturday was .962. He also started the April 20th game, but was pulled, out of mercy when the Stars went up 4-0 less than four minutes into the second period. That wasn’t Bernier’s fault, though, given the grade-A chances his teammates gave up.

Jakub Vrana

What a performance he delivered in the rout, scoring four times in a 7-3 victory.  Allwere critical goals, stomping on the opponents’ momentum: The Stars made it 3-1, Vrana made it 4-1. The Stars made it 4-2, Vrana made it 5-2. The Stars made it 5-3, Vrana made it 6-3. Vrana showed off his versatility, scoring on a breakaway and on a backhand. He’s only played five games since being acquired at the April 12 trade deadline, and the 25-year-old already has six points.

Thomas Greiss

It’s the first time Greiss and Bernier have both been on the good side of this list. Greiss posted a .946 save percentage and 1.88 goals-against average in two starts, three appearances, stopping 88 of 93 shots. Greiss struggled through February and March but he’s rebounded with his best goaltending, an encouraging sign as he’s signed through next season.

Luke Glendening

He scored twice in the April 19 game, helping the Wings earn a point. He scored his third goal of the week three nights later, helping set the tone for what would end with the Wings’ most productive outing of the season. He was his usual steady self on faceoffs, winning 53.4% of his draws, and average three minutes per game killing penalties.

Stock down

Filip Hronek

He bears the burden of being out against the opponent’s top line, and he’s the team work horse, averaging around 23 minutes per game, logging time on both the power play and penalty kill. To that end, it’s expected he’ll rack up a some minus ratings. But his error in overtime Saturday was awful — he gave the puck to Jamie Benn in the neutral zone, and Benn burned the Wings with a goal. Hronek rushed to amend for his lapse, sliding to the ice to block the lane, but Benn just fired over Hronek, and Hronek had a ice-level look at the puck going bar down on Bernier.

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Vladislav Namestnikov

He seemed determined to engage with every Stars skater, earning three trips to the penalty box. One of those was offset by officials also calling a penalty on the Dallas player, but leaving his team shorthanded twice without contributing anything offensively isn’t a good look. Namestnikov didn’t distinguish himself in the 5-2 loss when he was one of the players who quit defending Jamie Oleksiak on the goal that made it 4-0.

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.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 AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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