Detroit — Red Wings fans weren’t happy about the thunderous hit Minnesota’s Ryan Reaves put on Filip Hronek during Wednesday’s game, knocking Hronek from the game.
And Reaves didn’t receive a penalty.
It’s likely fans’ irritation hit another level Thursday when Reaves received no hearing, no supplemental discipline, no anything, for what many analysts deemed a fair hit.
Judging from some Red Wings players’ reactions after the game, they felt the same way.
“I know Reaves was not malicious with it,” coach Derek Lalonde told reporters after the game. “I think Filip would want that play back.”
Hronek was skating the puck up ice and appeared to see Reaves, but then turned his head. Lalonde said Hronek told him the reason for turning his head was Hronek believed a delayed penalty was forthcoming and Hronek wanted to see if goaltender Magnus Hellberg was skating off the ice.
But by doing so, Hronek put himself in an extremely vulnerable position near the middle of the ice, and Reaves drove right through Hronek.
“Honestly, he locked eyes with me. Like, I saw him look at me, and then he just kind of turned his head and held on to the puck,” Reaves told the Minnesota media afterward. “I’m not sure exactly what happened. I hope he’s OK, but you’ve got to know when I’m on ice and definitely don’t skate at me like that.”
Hronek took a few moments to gather himself, but did get up under his own power and headed straight to the locker room. Hronek was put into concussion protocol, and though Lalonde told reporters after the game Hronek wanted to return to the game, the medical staff at the game felt it was best for Hronek to rest.
There was no penalty on Reaves, and the Department of Player Safety contacted Reaves, given the unavoidable head contact on the play.
“He (Hronek) had the puck but he was kind of looking back, (and) was kind of in a tough spot,” defenseman Ben Chiarot said of the hit. “Obviously, when a guy like (Reaves) is on the ice, those things can happen. Tough one to watch.”
Chiarot earned the respect and credit of his teammates when he went after Reaves in the second period after Reaves hit Gustav Lindstrom hard in the corner.
Reaves said he respected Chiarot for the decision to fight, and added that’s why Chiarot is an alternate captain for the Wings.
There was no update on Hronek’s condition Thursday, given the Wings had a complete day off, with no practice or media availability. They practice Friday, and Saturday, they host the Ottawa Senators (1 p.m., BSD/The Ticket).
Losing Hronek would be a difficult gut-punch for the Wings. Hronek is third on the Wings with 24 points (six goals, 18 assists) and is tied with Olli Maata for the team lead is plus-minus rating, at plus-11. Over the last 15 games, Hronek has 16 points and has, arguably, played some of the best hockey of his career.
Losing Hronek for any length of time would also exasperate a situation that is getting incredible for the Wings.
Dylan Larkin (hand) didn’t play against the Wild after blocking a shot during Tuesday’s loss against Carolina. Lalonde indicated there might be more information on Larkin’s availability by Friday.
Tyler Bertuzzi (hand), Filip Zadina (lower-body), Robby Fabbri (knee surgery), Jakub Vrana (NHL/NHLPA assistance program), Matt Luff (lower-body), Olli Maatta (non-COVID illness) and Robert Hagg (lower-body) are all on injured reserve, resulting in the Wings’ depth being severely tested.
The Wings only put 17 shots on Wild goaltender Filip Gustavsson and the lack of a sustained offensive attack was glaring.
One of the Wings’ lone bright spots against Minnesota was the goal scored by Elmer Soderblom, who was recalled before the game to replace Larkin.
The 6-foot-8 rookie scored his third goal of the season, and was one of the more noticeable Wings during the game.
Hellberg was 3-0-0 in his NHL career entering Wednesday’s game, having won a game for Nashivlle, Detroit and Ottawa each. No other goaltender in NHL history had ever done that.
But, as it turned out, Hellberg tasted defeat for the first time in his NHL career, though he wasn’t to blame for the final outcome.
Hellberg stopped 19 shots and likely earned himself another game, though how Lalonde handles three goalies for the foreseeable future will be interesting to watch.
Ville Husso, who has earned the majority of starts, will likely start Saturday against Ottawa. With games Monday, Wednesday and Friday before the four-day holiday break, it’s possible Husso could play all of the games, but it’s unlikely.
Hellberg essentially took Alex Nedeljkovic’s start against the Wild. Nedeljkovic has struggled, and the Wings slipping in the standings, it’s debatable how often Nedeljkovic will be used by Lalonde in the coming schedule.