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My Three Thoughts on Red Wings-Canadiens
Fun overtime tilt in Detroit.
The Detroit Red Wings returned home on Thursday and lost 3-2 against the Montreal Canadiens.
Here are my quick thoughts following the game.
1. Detroit is getting way too good at digging in and out of ditches.
The Red Wings have allowed the first goal in seven straight games.
It’s a stat that’s been frustrating for Detroit, as they’ve had to chase game after game and it’s been exhausting.
On Tuesday, against the Rangers, the Red Wings dug such a big hole that a third period comeback was too little, too late.
On Thursday, Detroit was able to manage the early damage. It was only 1-0 in first period, and responded to 1-0 and 2-1 deficit to eventually force overtime and gain at least a point.
This is pretty simple, I know, but Detroit needs to figure out how to start games much faster and actually finish chances in the first period.
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2. Detroit misses Shayne Gostisbehere on the power play
Shayne Gostisbehere was a healthy scratch on Thursday, becoming the latest Red Wing veteran defenseman to join the scratch rotation.
It was surprising and it wasn’t at the same time.
Gostisbehere has nine points (three goals, six assists) in his first seven games, but went cold offensively in his past six games. Even when Gostisbehere was clicking offensively, Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde had been careful to mention that Gostisbehere was still a potential healthy scratch.
Without Gostisbehere the Red Wings power play, which was also 0-for-6 on Tuesday, was missing an element.
Detroit still went with a two-defender look, putting Moritz Seider and Jake Walman on the top unit, but instead of a multi-faceted look on the flank, which Gostisbehere provides, Walman is more of a pure shooter from that position and more predictable.
It can work, Seider and Walman combined for a power play goal last week when on the second unit, but in general when Gostisbehere is scratched the Red Wings are slightly neutering themselves offensively.
3. Ville Husso was asked to watch this game from above.
Ville Husso struggled earlier this week, allowing five goals in a loss to the New York Rangers.
In nine games the Red Wings No. 1 goalie has a .890 save percentage and 3.57 goals against average. And Husso’s “No. 1 goalie” label may also be slipping after Lalonde said earlier this week that Detroit needed to re-evaluate its goaltending.
On Thursday, Husso was a healthy scratch while Alex Lyon dressed as the backup behind James Reimer who got his fifth start and made XXX saves.
Reimer has put up strong traditional numbers, he had a .944 save percentage heading into Thursday’s start, and has been praised for “ungodly” numbers by Lalonde.
He also let up a howler in a 2-0 loss against the Florida Panthers, a goal that effectively cost the Red Wings a point and would probably be classified as an own goal if hockey did such things.
It might not be pretty, but Reimer has typically been effective on shots along the ice. It’s when opponents elevate against the goaltender that holes start to develop.
Here’s his shot chart against by spots on the goalie courtesy of InStat coming into Thursday’s game.
On Thursday, true to form, Montreal’s first goal came on an elevated shot, high blocker, where Reimer was beaten after a wonky turn of events in front of him.
For Husso, watching from above is a two-fold tactic.
First it’s emotional — not dressing for the game, effectively being dropped to No. 3 on the depth chart for night, could force the goalie to re-set and fight back for his job.
Second, and more constructive, watching from above could help Husso take a step back and better diagnose his own play, potentially before starting against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.
Either way, the Red Wings are trying to find a way to get Husso back on track. In the meantime, Reimer is actually pushing, in Lalonde’s mind, for the No. 1 job.
The Red Wings are also reaching a critical point where they’ll have to make a decision on whether Lyon is part of a potential solution or not. It wouldn’t surprise me if Lyon had an AHL conditioning stint after the Red Wings return from Sweden.