The Detroit Red Wings play what a “NBCSN Rivalry Night” game against the St. Louis Blues this evening (8:00 PM EST on NBCSN/97.1 FM).
As the Red Wings look to make a late playoff push, they’re going to find themselves in tough against a St. Louis Blues team that’s sitting one point out of a Wild Card spot in the Western Conference standings despite a very good 34-26-and-4 record.
Coach Mike Yeo angrily suggested that his Blues did not play with pride, as he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jim Thomas:
“It’s a matter of pride as far as I’m concerned,” Yeo said. “You give up eight goals, c’mon. … The turnovers that we have and the lack of respect that we have for our goaltenders and for the game of hockey, that’s ridiculous.”
A fuming Yeo mentioned Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Brayden Schenn, Jaden Schwartz, Alexander Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko, Kyle Brodziak, Scott Upshall and Dmitrij Jaskin as players he had no problem with Tuesday. Everybody else, he said, he was not happy with.
“The level of play of some players has to come up. It’s that’s simple,” he said. “Too many guys right now that aren’t giving us a chance to win hockey games.
But how do you bench, oh, six players?
“We’ve obviously got a couple extra bodies,” Yeo said. “Quality of play, caliber of play, what they can bring offensively, that’s one thing. But it’s a matter of showing that you care.”
The Blues finally ended their scoreless streak at 150 minutes, 23 seconds. They got two goals by Tarasenko and just the third goal by Pietrangelo in his last 43 games. But goalie Jake Allen looked jittery before being pulled after one period.
And the Blues’ play in the back end was looser than the slots at your favorite casino. On Monday, after the Blues traded Stastny to Winnipeg, general manager Doug Armstrong bemoaned the team’s deteriorating play on defense.
“The quality chances we give up are staggering — two-on-ones, and breakaways,” Armstrong said.
According to Thomas, the Blues haven’t won since February 9th, and their 0-6-and-1 stretch includes an ugly defensive stat, with the Blues having surrendered 16 goals over the course of their 3 most recent losses.
NHL.com’s Jessi Pierce posted a narrative recap…
The eight goals are the most scored by the Wild in their history (third time).
[Hat trick scorer Eric] Staal, who had two assists, extended his point streak to five games (seven goals, five assists). His line with Granlund and Jason Zucker combined for 14 points.
Granlund scored twice and had two assists, Zucker had a goal and four assists, and Mikko Koivu scored for Minnesota (36-20-7). The Wild are three points ahead of the Dallas Stars for third place in the Central Division and are 7-1-1 in their past nine games.
“The score is on the scoreboard and there’s not much to say about that game,” Tarasenko said. “Whatever we have now is not enough. That’s it.”
The Blues are one point behind the Los Angeles Kings for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.
St. Louis goaltender Carter Hutton replaced Jake Allen to start the second period. Allen allowed three goals on eight shots; Hutton allowed five on 25. The Blues have allowed at least four goals in five of the past seven games.
Again, Yeo chastised his team after the loss…
“It’s a matter of pride as far as I’m concerned. You give up eight goals, come on. We’ve given up 16 in the last three games. We’ve always been one of the top defensive teams. The turnovers that we have and the lack of respect that we have for our goaltenders and for the game of hockey, that’s ridiculous. We have guys that aren’t scoring and aren’t contributing defensively and are not showing nearly enough as far as what they want to bring to the table in terms of playing for their teammates and defending and being hard to play against.” — Blues coach Mike Yeo
And the Blues’ players could only shake their heads as they spoke with the Associated Press:
Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice and Alex Pietrangelo added a goal for the Blues, but Yeo pulled goalie Jake Allen for Carter Hutton after Allen gave up three goals on eight shots in the first period. The Blues have been outscored 29-10 during their skid while taking only one of the seven games to overtime.
“I don’t know what to say,” Tarasenko said. “It’s embarrassing.”
Until Pietrangelo scored just 15 seconds into the second period to cut the lead to 3-2, the Blues played a stretch of 171 minutes and 52 seconds where all they had was two goals by Tarasenko.
“We’re completely disconnected in our game,” Pietrangelo said. “It’s unacceptable.”
The Blues played without center Paul Stastny, who was sent to Winnipeg for a first-round draft pick on Monday just before the trade deadline. This has been a brutal month for a team that was on top of the Central Division or near it for most of the season until its recent slide.
Lineup-wise, StLouisBlues.com’s Chris Pinkert posted the St. Louis’ Wild-Blues lineup…
Alexander Steen – Ivan Barbashev – Vladimir Tarasenko
Jaden Schwartz – Brayden Schenn – Nikita Soshnikov
Patrik Berglund – Vladimir Sobotka – Tage Thompson
Scottie Upshall – Kyle Brodziak – Dmitrij Jaskin
NHL.com posted a Blues-Wild highlight clip…
The Associated Press’s game preview will serve as our pivot point between the Blues and Red Wings’ perspectives:
The Blues will look to turn things around when they host the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday at Scottrade Center.
“This is our group,” Blues coach Mike Yeo told NHL.com after Tuesday’s morning skate. “I think that there’s a lot of people around the league, whether it’s in the game, out of the game, I think that a lot of people are sort of ready to determine how our story ends here, but the beauty of the game is we’re the ones that get to decide that. We’ve got obviously a big stretch coming up here and every game is going to be a challenge, but we still believe we’ve got the group to do it.”
Forward Alexander Steen said the time for talk is over.
“We’re in a good division,” Steen said last week. “We’re going to play some good teams, but I think we need to find that swagger, that confidence in us again and get back to our game. There’s a lot of points on the table, but this needs to turn around next game.”
St. Louis won at Detroit 6-1 on Dec. 9 and has a seven-game points streak (3-0-4) against the Red Wings.
The Blues will face a rested Red Wings squad, which hasn’t played since beating the New York Rangers 3-2 on Sunday. Detroit comes in on a two-game winning streak.
It will be the first game for the Red Wings since the club sent forward Tomas Tatar to Vegas for a trio of draft picks.
The Red Wings have a player on the roster–but not in the lineup –who’s mildly surprised to still be a Red Wing in Mike Green, as the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa noted:
“My mind frame was always here in Detroit,” said Green, who chose the Red Wings over some other interested clubs when he arrived two seasons ago from the Capitals. Obviously, with the speculation and the talk of the situation I was in, anything could have happened. I’m happy to be here, and move forward.”
For the Capitals, Green’s early seasons were among the most successful offensively for a defenseman all-time. Despite a decline, he ranks sixth in scoring by defensemen over the past decade.
As a veteran, he said, he understands the trade deadline situation and it did not bother him.
He said that he and GM Ken Holland have informally discussed the possibility of signing a new contract in Detroit.
“Like I said before this all came about, I love it here,” said Green, a native of Calgary. My focus was always here, and always has been, and wasn’t going to change unless something was done.”
Green is still out, probably until the weekend, with a neck injury.
Minus Tomas Tatar, coach Jeff Blashill is expecting Martin Frk to step back into the lineup and Tyler Bertuzzi to step up, as he told Hockeybuzz’s Bob Duff…
Called up Dec. 23 from AHL Grand Rapids, Bertuzzi quickly established he could be a presence at the NHL level, collecting seven points in 10 games, working his way up to a spot alongside Henrik Zetterberg on Detroit’s top forward line and skating over 18 minutes a game.
Lately, though, the well had run dry. He’s minus-11 since Jan. 23 and has gone six games without a point, seeing his ice time dwindle to between 6-10 minutes per game. That situation is about to change.
“Tyler Bertuzzi will increase his minutes by a lot,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill told Mlive.com. “When Tyler first came up and there was injuries, I thought he played very very well. I thought he slipped a little bit, opened the door for some guys to take his spot and then didn’t get much of an opportunity.
“I think all Tyler needs is opportunity and he’s going to get that. He’s going to get tons of opportunity. So he’d be the one whose minutes are going to increase the most.”
It’s probable that Bertuzzi will step into the power play spot occupied by Tatar, but it is also possible that Frans Nielsen will see some power play time, as Blashill told the Free Press’s Dana Gauruder…
The deal also left a void on the power play, where Tatar scored eight of his goals. Frans Nielsen and Martin Frk will pick up those minutes.
“They’ve both spent time on it this year,” Blashill said. “They offer totally different skill sets. Nielsen’s got big-time poise under pressure. He doesn’t have unforced errors, doesn’t give the puck away, and helps you get in the zone and helps you keep it simple and push pucks to the net. Frk’s got the big shot.”
And while the Red Wings feel bad about placing themselves in a “selling” spot, losing a teammate and friend in Tomas Tatar…
“That’s a message to everyone,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “Had we played up to our potential, he’d still be here and we’d in a completely different (mode). We’d be buyers instead.”
Kronwall told Gauruder that he still believes that the Wings can make a push for a playoff spot:
Victories over the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers have moved the Wings within seven points of Columbus for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. They continue a stretch in which they play 10 of 11 games on the road at St. Louis on Wednesday.
“We’ve just got to keep plugging away here,” Kronwall said. “We’ve been playing some decent hockey but it’s about winning. We’ve been on and off. We can’t be on and off. We’ve got to be on every game.”
Dealing away Tatar and goaltender Petr Mrazek doesn’t change anything in Blashill’s mind.
Here are three videos that the Red Wings’ Twitter account posted from Tuesday’s practice, with coach Blashill, Green and Kronwall speaking with the media:
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) February 27, 2018
“I love it here, my focus is still here and always has been.”
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) February 27, 2018
“He’s been here for a long time. You get that kind of bond between guys. Definitely, his presence, will miss it for sure.”#RedWings move on from emotional day: https://t.co/85gXLTLy51 pic.twitter.com/KgKWZruupz
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) February 27, 2018
Also of Red Wings-related note: The Athletic’s Prasanth Iyer examined the statistical probability of the Wings landing prospects who may eventually play in the NHL with their 11 2018 draft picks, and the long story short is this:
Assuming Detroit keeps all of its draft picks, the Red Wings will have seven draft slots with about a 17 percent or better probability of producing a prospect who plays at least 200 games in the NHL. With Detroit owning Ottawa’s second-round pick and both teams on track to finish near the bottom of the league, the Red Wings could conceivably own four draft slots that earn them a player with a greater than 30 percent probability of reaching 200 NHL games. Only the New York Rangers, with their three first-round picks, are in a better position to restock their prospect pool.
Also in the “future Wings” category, coach Blashill spoke with the media regarding the promise that Evgeny Svechnikov, Michael Rasmussen and the rest of the Wings’ forward prospects present, as noted by CBS Detroit’s Will Burtchfield:
“I think long term for the future of this organization, we need some guys to become great, and it might be people that aren’t here yet,” Blashill said. “I’ve talked to our young players about that, too: Don’t miss your window of opportunity. Lots of people are applauding you right now. That goes away if you don’t get it done, so let’s make sure we take care of that window of opportunity.”
Svechnikov’s window is arriving soon. He got his first taste of the NHL last season, appearing in two games late in the year, and will likely get his second before this season is over. He endured an early sophomore slump in Grand Rapids on the heels of a terrific rookie campaign, but has rebounded of late, tallying seven points in his last eight games.
“I know Svech has played very well here in the last little bit. I’m sure as the season goes along here over the last 20, I would foresee him getting an opportunity to show what he’s about. He wasn’t ready earlier in the year, he went through struggles. But that’s okay, that’s part of what life’s about,” Blashill said.
Right behind Svechnikov is Rasmussen, the highly-skilled 6’6 center who impressed the Wings in training camp and then scored four goals in five preseason games. Perhaps more importantly, he quieted concerns about his skating ability. Rasmussen, currently playing in the Western Hockey League, missed six weeks earlier this season with a wrist injury, but has racked up 24 goals and 49 points in 37 games.
He could earn a spot on the Wings’ roster to start next season, likely as a winger á la Dylan Larkin in 2015-16.
“I can only speak on Rass from what I saw in training camp, and I thought he’s a guy that looks like he could help our team,” Blashill said. “He’s a big body who can really add different versatility. I was just talking to somebody today about being a unique player, and guys that are his size with his skillset are unique in this league. Come next fall, I’m hoping he’s pushing hard to make the team. I hear he’s playing real good hockey, so that’s good.”
In the FYI department, Justin Abdelkader has become an endorsee of the Burns & Wilcox insurance broker.