The Detroit Red Wings gorged on defense during the final six weeks of the 2020-21 season.
But there were some early-season stretches, caused by injuries, COVID-19 concerns, underachieving veterans (Anthony Mantha) and underperforming prospects (Mathias Brome …) that made the opening two months tough to digest at times.
While even elite teams endure a few “bad” games each season, these three collective efforts were true Red Wings lowlights:
Feb. 19, 2021: Panthers 7, Red Wings 2
Coach Jeff Blashill was clear and concise with his assessment of the Red Wings’ performance.
“We were terrible,” Blashill said during his post-game press conference streamed via Red Wings TV.
Center Frans Nielsen was just as clear, just as concise.
“This just isn’t acceptable,” he said. ”We were losing 1-on-1 battles all over the ice.”
At one of the low points of the season, the Red Wings failed to score on four man-advantage situations. It was the 11th consecutive game they failed to convert on the power play, equaling a mark from 1950-51.
The Panthers scored four times in the opening 15:15 at Little Caesars Arena, effectively clinching the match. They had a struggling team down and out.
Goalie Thomas Greiss, during his bad stretch, was pulled after yielding four goals on 13 shots.
The COVID-19 ravaged Red Wings, who were 4-12-3 at the time, had just two wins in their previous 15 outings.
The Red Wings played with heavy hearts. The team learned of the passing of longtime team masseur Sergei Tchekmarev before the opening faceoff.
March 25: Predators 7, Red Wings 1
The former Little Caesars program standout was struggling, and Rocco Grimaldi took his frustrations out on the Red Wings at Bridgestone Arena.
He scored four goals, including three during two minutes 34 seconds, establishing a Predators record for the fastest hat trick.
“I was more in shock,” Grimaldi said via Predators TV.
Grimaldi entered the game pointless in his previous 15 outings.
“We just were laughing like ‘What is going on?’ ” he said.
Greiss sure wasn’t laughing. Pulled after allowing three goals on seven shots, he was probably near a season-low point.
The Red Wings, as a team, weren’t laughing either. In their last three outings, they were outscored, 12-1.
“It’s obviously totally unacceptable,” Blashill said. “You can’t have nights where you give away easy goals like we gave away tonight.”
April 8: Predators 7, Red Wings 1
Happy birthday, Viktor Arvidsson.
He not only blew out 28 candles on his cake, but he also blew away the then-struggling Red Wings.
Arvidsson’s effort was highlighted by a penalty shot goal, capping his third career hat trick. Sidelined the previous game with an upper-body injury, Arvidsson converted his first penalty shot.
“That’s pretty good for a birthday,” Arvidsson said on Predators TV.
The Predators captured the season series, 6-2-0. It was their second six-goal loss to the Predators.
“We’ve had a few games lately where we haven’t responded well to falling behind, and that results in games like this,” Blashill said. “This was a major step backward.”