After a 1-2-1 week, the Red Wings faced one of their most demanding road trips of the year. Any of these three teams could easily raise the Stanley Cup at the end of the season. Tampa Bay, Florida, and Dallas on the road is a difficult stretch.
The Detroit Red Wings were clear underdogs in all three games. If we remember, this was the point in the season last year where the wheels started to come off, and they never recovered. A 1-1-1 week against these teams is a good result for any team. The wheels are still comfortably attached.
A Look at the Detroit Red Wings’ Twenty-Fifth Game of the Season: Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay is one of the top teams in the league, but they only have two more points than the Red Wings at this point in the season. The first two periods were fantastic defensive periods. The puck appeared to be bouncing more in this game than others, making a coherent offense tricky.
Yet, the consistent defensive pressure had something to do with that. Husso continued to be very good, but this win was a complete team effort. The Lightning pulled the goalie with five minutes left and got on the board.
They tried it again with three minutes left, and this time Adam Erne fired a 180-foot shot into the empty net. And again, with two minutes remaining and the Lightning pulled within one without a goalie. Then another empty net goal by David Perron to seal the deal. Four goals were scored with an empty net. But eventually, a win. An excellent, high-energy all-around defensive effort.
Detroit Red Wings: Game Twenty-Five Individual Reports
Ben Chiarot – Grade B. The first pairing has been the weakest of the three pairings over the last three weeks. Playing every night against the league’s superstars is among the most challenging tasks in hockey. We know who Chiarot is, a hard player to play against but limited. Chiarot seems like he wants to be an offensive defenseman but has a stay-at-home defenseman skillset. When he plays within himself, he is a major contributor.
Moritz Seider – Grade B. Too bad that advanced scouting has deprived us of the tremendous reverse hits we saw last year. Players don’t challenge him the same way anymore. But when Seider makes a big hit early, he tends to have a great game. This was a solid and hard-hitting game. The first pairing was strong.
Filip Hronek—Grade A-. Another assist and terrific defensive play headlined Hronek’s performance. The second pairing has been the strength of the team this season. Their ice time has increased to the point that Maatta and Hronek may be the first pairing now.
Olli Maatta—Grade A. A quality game. Maatta is great with the puck in his own end. He is perfectly positioned all the time. And he earned another assist. The second pair has been great all season, but this was his best game in a Red Wings uniform.
Jordan Oesterle—Grade B. The third line has been strong. Their ice time has increased accordingly. The Red Wings are closer to having three equal pairs. Having a dominant first pairing is often an essential characteristic of a winning team, but three quality pairs are not bad. Oesterle has blossomed in his pairing with Walman. They looked strong.
Jake Walman—Grade B+. Walman has solidified the third pairing. He does not simply hold down the fort until the first pair is ready. Walman has the confidence to step into the offensive zone, a good shot to be a threat, and the skating skill to hustle back. Walman has dramatically strengthened the blue line.