Why Derek Lalonde hated how Detroit Red Wings responded to being scored on

Detroit Free Press

There was nothing but disappointment as the Detroit Red Wings squandered a chance to feel a bit better about themselves.

They head to Philadelphia for a Saturday matinee against the Flyers ruing another loss. Falling at home, to an opponent that is headed for the draft lottery, was especially dreary because the Wings blew a two-goal lead en route to the 4-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues.

“I’m really disappointed with how we handled the goals against,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves for the next four-to-five minutes after every goal scored, go play the game right.

“It’s really tough to judge a game overall when four of their first five chances go in, but I hated the way we handled it, and I hated how we just lost momentum and energy every time a goal went in.”

Simon Edvinsson said he might feel better about his first NHL goal later, but in the immediate aftermath, all he could focus on was taking two penalties.

“It must be one of the ugliest goals in Detroit’s history for a first goal,” Edvinsson said after his shot glanced in off a Blues player. “I don’t know. I feel like for myself, I took penalties. I need to step up there.

“I think I will be happy for the goal tomorrow, but we lose today.”

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It was the 11th time in 14 games the Wings have lost, dating back a month. On Feb. 23 they had won seven of their last eight games; since then they’ve gone 3-10-1.

Magnus Hellberg was pulled after allowing three goals on 13 shots. He only started because Ville Husso is unavailable at least through the weekend with a nagging lower-body injury, and that meant Alex Nedeljkovic was called upon to clean up. It was Nedelkovic’s NHL game since Dec. 8, and the first thing the Wings did was make him face a breakaway, that Jake Neighbours converted into a 4-2 lead.

“It’s tough,” Alex Chiasson said. “I can only imagine, coming into the game cold and giving up a breakaway. I thought Ned played well the rest of the game. Good for him. He battled as much as he could. I played with him a little bit in GR, and want to see a guy like that do well. I’m cheering for him.”

Chiasson made it 4-3 with 2:16 to play, after the Wings had pulled Nedeljkovic for an extra attacker. But by then they had had to kill off penalties to Olli Määttä and Edvinsson, and even though the Blues’ power play is ranked 21st in the NHL and wasn’t much of a threat, it still meant being shorthanded and out of sync with the lines.

“In the third, I really felt we were going to have a chance to push,” Lalonde said. “We had a lot of looks. But the four minutes of penalties, that hurt. It’s four minutes that got taken away from us to potentially get back in the game.

“That game was there for the taking, and we let it get away from us. We had so much jump. A bad goal goes in — fight through it. It’s a learning lesson for our group here. I was really disappointed in our last five, six minutes of the first, when that goal goes in. And then in the second, it was a lot of the same. I think we lost 8-to-10, maybe 12 minutes of hockey for feeling sorry for ourselves because goals were going in. If we kept a good bench, if we kept good energy, we could have scored five or six.”

The Blues scored their first goal on a shot from the blue line, their second and third by being in front of the net and winning puck battles, and their fourth on a breakaway.

“I get it, it’s a little frustrating when every scoring chance goes in the net,” Lalonde said. “But it’s on us as a group to keep energy. We lost too much energy and focus from our game. I really thought if we played the right way five-on-five, we would have won. Maybe a little lesson for our guys.”

The Wings (31-31-9) are running out of time to show they’re learning: There are 11 games and three weeks left in their season.

“We were off to a good start, the bench felt energized.” Chiasson said. “It’s a tough league to let go — you give an inch, next thing you know, they grab momentum and we found ourselves chasing the game. Good lesson for our group.”

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames.

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Her latest book, “On the Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Draft,” is available from  Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.

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