8 Observations on the Red Wings 7-4 Loss to Toronto

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So close. And yet so damn far still for the Detroit Red Wings. The 7-4 loss to Toronto showed many things, which will be highlighted in this piece. After a strong showing versus Pittsburgh, things regressed back to what we have seen often this season. But to hold their own against the mighty Maple Leafs for over 40 minutes and hold a two goal lead twice? Any Wings fan would have taken that if proposed it back in October.

#1: The only appropriate way to start this:

2: As to be expected, the OT Twitter feed was filled with grumbling over Jeff Blashill and how he is the reason for not only tonight’s loss, but is just not up to the job. I openly questioned Blashill’s decision making in the Red Wings loss to Dallas. I don’t expect the man to be infallible nor do I expect him to lead the Red Wings to a Stanley Cup this season. But at 19-20-6, not one fan can deny that he has improved the team from where they started but also, from what was expected this season. I still have a lot of questions of where they’re going from here–especially with a power play that has not been what it should be along with some questionable deployment. Fan how you want, but it’s tired energy focusing on him. He’s not going anywhere unless this team goes to hell in the next three months. Expect Yzerman’s decision in the offseason again.

3.  It was quite the night for Dylan Larkin, who ripped two goals propelling him to 22 on the season. 30 goals now seems like not only a reasonable goal, but a foregone conclusion. Ditto for Tyler Bertuzzi, who roofed his 21st goal off a beautiful feed from Robby Fabbri. Jakub Vrana’s return is going to certainly inject some more life into the offense–be it that he is completely healthy. While that time is still unknown, it will give Detroit about two-and-a-half lines of scoring, and open things up even more near the end of the season.

4. Filip Zadina stood out several times defensively, a couple of the chances opening up scoring opportunities for Detroit. On a few of those same chances, Zadina was maybe a stick flick or puck bounce away from getting his second goal in as many nights. Of course, this has seemingly been the same “tired” argument for him according to some fans, but tonight showed that glimmer of hope that Zadina still provides. He was noticeable on the ice–in good ways–and it’s what Blashill has asked for. Could the goals come later on? Sure. But at least in some small way, his confidence might be improving.

5. Joe Veleno didn’t have one of his best nights, highlighted by Mickey Redmond during the Red Wings Live postgame show on the winning Toronto goal. Veleno drifted to the side of the net to help out defensively, but didn’t look to see two Leaf defenseman gliding into scoring position. All it took was a quick pass to a wide open Rasmus Sandin and he made sure to bury that one. Veleno’s a kid. He’ll watch film and learn. But it showed again the hard knocks and growing pains of the rebuild.

6. Alex Nedeljkovic bounced back well, and though the scoresheet wouldn’t appear as such, Ned kept the team in the game across many points. Slamming his stick into the net to end the game seemed an appropriate response, and one that many Red Wings fans agreed with. 30 saves on 35 shots against the high powered Leafs is nothing to be upset with–especially since three of them he really had no chance on.

7. I’m really not sure what the Red Wings will do with Vlad Namestnikov but he’s really played into the hearts of the fanbase. His celebration following his 12th goal of the season was a fun one, and he just seems a good piece to hold onto for another year. It seems that Yzerman will add some more pieces this summer and he would round out that top nine well, especially already working well with his other linemates. Could some of it be the boost playing on a line with Larkin and Raymond? Sure. Might Yzerman be better served getting a team desperate for secondary scoring to cough up a decent prospect or higher pick (at best a second rounder) for him?

Regardless, he’s played himself into a good place for both himself and the organization, no matter what happens from here.

8. Moritz Seider is a dandy. These last two games against some of the best the NHL has to offer has shown that not only can he log the minutes as a top flite defenseman, but he can do so against the league’s best. The snarl, the skill, and the IQ just grows the hope that when guys like Alfred Johansson and Simon Edvinsson arrive (among others), this blue line is going to cement this team’s presumed dominance for years to come. I’ll leave you with this:

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