Admit it Red Wings fans. When it was 8-7, you were going out of your mind. Lucas Raymond buries one after they’d given up a fluky goal moments earlier and suddenly they’re right back in it. Tyler Bertuzzi draws a penalty, momentum seems to be in Detroit’s end, the crowd is buzzing, and it’s a real chance to prove themselves against an NHL behemoth.
10 seconds changes it all. As luck would have it, Dylan Larkin wins the faceoff, the puck is banked off the boards, hops over Moritz Seider’s stick and David Kaupf is off to the races. A 5 on 4 is suddenly a 2-on-1 and we all know how it ends. Not even a speeding Raymond can cut off the chance.
9-7 Toronto off a shorthanded goal.
Leafs fans exhale. Wings fans drop their heads.
Red Wings (Realistic) Measure of Growth
Head coach Jeff Blashill wasn’t about to take any moral victories, calling things exactly as he saw them:
“All I’m thinking about is that it’s not good enough. And it’s great that we were finally able to start shooting the puck and the pucks went in there late. But at the end of the day, it’s fools gold. That’s not good enough. I think our guys know that. Cripe, I hope our guys know that. What happened out there tonight wasn’t good enough–period.”
He’s right. Scoring seven goals in a game, and still losing by three is certainly something. Exciting, yes but it’s the measure of a team that is still figuring things out–especially defensively.
In that same breath, though, it’s a major improvement from the team that once surrendered four goals on a five minute major to the New York Islanders. And that wasn’t even the historically bad 2019-20 squad. They still boasted some of the players Holland hoped could sneak the Red Wings into the playoffs.
Instead, it was the season where Holland admitted it was time to start selling off players and enter a rebuild–the beginning of this venture.
Contrast that with Saturday’s game and you have a young, growing team that is still figuring out how to do it. It’s another valuable learning experience for the Red Wings who one day will not only figure out how to pull even in a game like that, but also post the victory in the end.