3 Observations from Red Wings’ Loss to Pittsburgh

Ericsson Red Wings
Photo By Andy Martin Jr

The Detroit Red Wings had another long break between games, but unlike in the Feb. 5 game against Colorado where they were able to hold the Avalanche scoreless, they could not contain the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Penguins took it to the Red Wings from the opening faceoff, scoring just 1:51 into the game for a lead they would never relinquish.

The Red Wings looked out of sync, confused and exactly like how a team should look after having the past four days off. However, they finally showed some life in the third period when Jimmy Howard came in relief of Petr Mrazek.

The one goal the Red Wings scored was on the power play, as they took advantage of their one and only opportunity. Here are three observations from the Red Wings’ 4-1 loss to the Penguins on Wednesday.

Defense Fails Mrazek

Mrazek most likely played his last game in Detroit for a while, now that both Howard and Jonas Gustavsson are healthy. Mrazek probably will get the start for Grand Rapids against San Antonio on Friday.

It’s a shame that was Mrazek’s last game, because he didn’t have a bad game at all. The defense in front of him did him no favors, as turnovers, being manhandled and bad luck contributed to all four Penguins goals.

Pittsburgh’s second goal was an absolute defensive breakdown. Luke Glendening went behind the net and tried to do a no-look pass back to Niklas Kronwall. However, Patric Hornqvist intercepted the pass and found a wide-open Blake Comeau in the slot.

As you can see in the video, Jonathan Ericsson drifted below the goal line, which left Comeau in the slot by himself. Mrazek had absolutely no chance to make the save.

Pittsburgh’s third goal was much of the same. Maxim Lapierre outmuscled Brendan Smith for the puck, made a strong move to the net, which Mrazek saved, but Davie Perron was there to put home the rebound to give the Penguins a 3-0 lead.

Mrazek made the initial save, like he was supposed to, but nobody put a body on Perron, and he walked in the slot and cleaned up the garbage.

Mrazek was yanked after allowing four goals on 15 shots. He went 8-2 in 11 straight starts since Howard went down with a groin injury Jan. 10. He was fantastic to begin his starting stint, had a bad stretch in the middle and finished strong except for Wednesday’s game against Pittsburgh.

Coach Mike Babcock summed up his team’s play very simply:

Mrazek will be with the Red Wings as a full-time backup next season, but unless there is another injury to Howard or Gustavsson, I don’t think he’ll play any more games in Detroit this season. 

Howard Not Tested Much

Babcock opted to put Howard in the third period not only to give Mrazek a break, but to send a message to the rest of his team. The team got the message, allowing just four shots on Howard in the third period. The Red Wings also had a number of offensive opportunities but had shots blocked or missed the net completely.

Howard did make a nice glove save on Lapierre, but that one shot was the most he had to work all period.

It was good for Howard to get some game time against Pittsburgh, so now he will go into Saturday’s game against Winnipeg with some playing time under his belt since his injury.

Power Play Continues to Produce

The one good thing the Red Wings had going for themselves was their power play continues to be hot. Unfortunately for them, they only had one power-play opportunity, so it didn’t allow them to get back into the game.

On Stephen Weiss’ tally, they moved the puck around the zone very well. One player didn’t have the puck on his stick for more than a second, and it eventually found its way behind Marc-Andre Fleury.

It’s good to see the power play didn’t fall apart during the four-day break. They’ll need to use that as a jumping point when they face the Jets on Saturday.

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Tom Mitsos is a Detroit Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins staff writer for The Hockey Writers. You can follow him on Twitter @tom_mitsos.

8 thoughts on “3 Observations from Red Wings’ Loss to Pittsburgh”

  1. This game was living proof that Detroit will not be a serious contender for the cup this year, or any year upcoming unless they make a few roster moves. I am a Wing fan and they do need another top 6 forward and 1 defenseman. This game was embarrassing to say the least. Abby is not a top 6 guy neither is Helm. Make a trade before its too late. This team has only a few more seasons left at the Joe and then on to a new arena. Dats and Hank are only getting older and their chance left is 2 maybe 3 more season before gone. If not trades are made, the wings will be bounced out of the 1st round by either Montreal or Tampa Bay.

  2. Not that Detroit played well because they didnt, But how does the most penalized team in hockey only take 1 plenty. Since I watched the game and could see quite a few tripping and interference calls not being made I sort of figured the outcome after about the first 10 min. of the first period. Its to bad not to see the refs not, make the blatant calls. I guess thats just hockey and the boys of Detroit are going to have to learn to play though these kind of games

  3. Plus…they weren’t playing a sloutch team in the Pens. The Pens seem to play to their competition. They play really well against great teams and they did that last night. The Pens played as well as they play and the Wings didn’t.

    • Actually, for the Pens it is the other way ’round. They usually play well against the bottom feeders and lay an egg against the better teams.

  4. Penguin fan here and let me tell you, this was just one game. Detroit is a very good hockey team and will be a force to be reckoned with. I sure don’t want to see the Penguins play them in the playoffs! They usually give the Penguins lots of trouble and always have. This was just one of those games……Last game the Pens played, they lost 5-0!

    • Sure, one game definitely doesn’t determine a team’s fate, but the Penguins came ready to play and the Red Wings did not.

      It’s funny you bring up the 5-0 loss, because part of me thought the Red Wings would face a pissed off Penguins team because of that loss.

  5. The only Wing that appeared to put forth much effort was Helm and if he didn’t have stone hands, the score would have been 4-3. What is up with Datsuk? He looked bad and Z not much better. Tatar and Nyquist kind of disappeared too. Smith reverted to his giveaway routine of last year. Mrazek got brought back down to earth. Jeez that was a stinker of a game!

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