The final game of the season.
To some, it’s music to their ears, to others, it’s a sad milestone that means no more Red Wings hockey. Expectations have always been low, given how banged up the team is, and how bad the Blue Jackets have been. Somehow, both teams, who are fighting in the basement, managed to churn out an entertaining way to cap off a hellish 56 games.
Before puck drop, we learned that Calvin Pickard would get the start, and Joe Veleno, despite scoring his 1st goal Friday night, would be a health scratch — a clear sign that the team wasn’t looking for a win.
Both teams took a few minutes to get their legs underneath them in the opening period, but it was Detroit to open the scoring, and who other than the red-hot Jakub Vrana to pick up his 19th of the season and his 8th as a Red Wing. In the words of Mickey Redmond, it was a “goal-scorer’s goal.”
The Blue Jackets answered quickly with a goal from Cam Atkinson. I can’t explain why every single goal Atkinson has scored has been against the Red Wings, but it’s true. No need to fact check me on that. There wasn’t anymore scoring in the first 20, but you could tell the Red Wings were playing loose and trying to open up the ice. Filip Zadina, Rich Panik, Sam Gagner, and Jakub Vrana all stood out. Columbus edged out Detroit in both shots and scoring chances in the 1st.
It was almost like the 2nd period was a mirror image of the 1st period. Both teams spent about 10 minutes dicking around before one connected on a goal — and who other than another red-hot Red Wing, Danny DeKeyser let off an absolute howitzer for his 2nd goal in as many nights. Big assists coming from Michael Rasmussen and Evgeny Svechnikov.
It only took about 2 minutes for CBJ to ruin the fun. Oliver Bjorkstrand wired the puck high-corner on Calvin Pickard, who really had no chance of stopping the shot. We head into the 3rd all tied at 2, CBJ still holding the lead in shots and chances.
In a season that was frustrating, boring, and often times pointless.. Both Columbus and Detroit wrapped up their 56-game season with a thrilling 3rd period. Before we get to what happened, let’s take the time to let Mickey Redmond serenade us once more:
The 3rd period brought a surge of offense from both teams. Detroit and CBJ went back-and-forth with scoring about 7 minutes in. Eric Robinson picked up a short-handed goal which would be answered by a power-play goal from Sam Gagner just seconds later:
This was the only power play chance between both teams.
Minutes later, the tie was broken again by CBJ on a goal from Jack Roslovic. That Pierre-Luc Dubois trade is looking real good for Columbus in this game, but the Red Wings weren’t going out quietly. They tied the game AGAIN, thanks to Valtteri Filppula, who closed out his final 2 games of the season with 4 points.
That drove the final game of the season to overtime, of course, because that’s what we all need on a Saturday night.
Max Domi would eventually put a ribbon on the final game of the Red Wings wretched season. A final of 5-4, something that I did NOT anticipate.
That’s a wrap. Let’s never do it again.
I’m not going to get into a long-winded explanation of how this season transpired, but I will say that I am pleased to see how the team pulled itself together with so many injuries coming down the final stretch. They lost some of their best players, and others stood up to the task. Michael Rasmussen, who I have been highly critical of due to where we drafted him, has really grown into a promising player for the future. Not a ton of point production, but he filled the spot for Dylan Larkin. In addition to that, Jakub Vrana came in and blossomed into one of, if not the team’s best offensive player. There’s a lot to like about this team going forward — especially with prospects like Joe Veleno, Jonatan Berggren, Moritz Seider, ready to make the jump next season. There’s still a lot of work to be done.
This was a tough season for all of us. Fans, players, broadcasters… You name it. Next season will be tough, and the season after that.. What’s important to remember is that we’re all in it together. We have no idea how long this rebuild will take, or if the Red Wings will ever return to the status they once were at, but I think most of us can agree that the organization is headed in the right direction. All eyes now shift on Steve Yzerman, who has a long list of chores to take care of this summer. We’ll be here through all of it. The bad and the good.