Red Wings-Blue Jackets wrap-up: Wings’ OT loss part of the learning curve

The Detroit Red Wings dropped a 3-2 OT decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday, and Detroit’s seventh straight loss to the Blue Jackets included surrendering 6 power plays to Columbus, 16 3rd period shots to Columbus, and, despite the enthusiasm, pluck and jam of the Wings’ young defenders, a crapton of giveaways in the Wings’ own zone, affording the Blue Jackets tons of zone time and lots of chances on Jimmy Howard.

The Wings’ youth movement showed both positives and negatives in terms of effort and execution, but the excitement and grit they displayed was at least a bright spot.

On an evening that Henrik Zetterberg dropped a ceremonial puck, and the number of scratches due to injury and coaches’ decisions (Kronwall, Ericsson, Green, Jensen, Luke Witkowski, Evgeny Svechnikov and Martin Frk were all out for the sake of injuries and youth), the Red Wings’ “kids” most certainly held their own, but some discipline was lacking, and details…

Are going to be a work in progress, as will the team.

Our friends from Columbus were delighted to head back to Ohio with a win under their belts, as they told the Columbus Dispatch’s Brian Hedger:

“I don’t know if there’s any better way to start the season,” said goalie Joonas Korpisalo, who started instead of Sergei Bobrobsky and made three big saves in the first minute of overtime. “It feels good for everyone just to get the first win in the first game. It’s a great game to build on.”

Other positives included goals by Cam Atkinson and Josh Anderson, a solid night for Korpisalo (18 saves), Anthony Duclair’s first point as a Blue Jacket and defenseman Zach Werenski logging 28:27 of ice time — a game-high amount played in front of his family and friends.

Ryan Murray played too, returning from a groin injury, and the Jackets outshot the Red Wings 39-20 — going 1 of 6 on power plays.

The negatives were constrained mostly to the blown leads, against a team with five rookies making their NHL debuts. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good overall.

The Blue Jackets jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Atkinson’s goal 5:12 into the game, which turned out to be their only power-play goal.

His one-timer was a rocket from the right face-off dot, created by Panarin and center Pierre-Luc Dubois — who fed the pass to him from behind the net.

The shot beat Howard short side, reminiscent of the trio’s play during the stretch run last season to earn a playoff spot — when Atkinson had 18 goals and 33 points in 33 games following a broken foot.

“It’s nice to get the first one out of the way,” Atkinson said. “I had a lot of shot attempts. Not sure how many I got on net, but as long as I’m shooting, I’m creating. So, that’s my game.”’s Craig Merz also poke with the Blue Jackets regarding their victory

When you have one of the most dynamic players in the NHL, you never want to see him leave the ice.

That’s how it was for Artemi Panarin, who capped an extended shift in overtime with the winning goal at 2:11 to give the Blue Jackets a 3-2 victory against the Detroit Red Wings in the season opener for both teams at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Thursday.

Panarin’s only shift of OT lasted 1:23, long enough for him to collect a pass from Nick Foligno, who was coming on after a line change and had a shift of “only” 21 seconds, and snapped a shot from the right circle to give the Blue Jacket their seventh straight win over the Red Wings.

“He doesn’t seem to get tired, so we might as well keep him out there the whole five minutes,” Cam Atkinson said of his linemate Panarin. “That’s what he does, he’s a game-changer. That’s the Bread Man.”

For Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, Panarin’s shift was high-risk, high-reward.

“In situations like that when you’re in your offensive zone it’s risky because if you don’t make something happen offensively and you shoot the puck wide, he has no juice getting back,” he said. “It is what it is. I’m not going to get in his way. I’ll allow him to figure that stuff out because he’s a game-breaker. I need to respect that and stay out of his way.”

And the AP’s Larry Lage’s recap will serve as our pivot point between Columbus and Detroit’s perspectives:

Atkinson and Josh Anderson gave Columbus the lead over the first two periods. Rookie Dennis Cholowski and Tyler Bertuzzi pulled the Red Wings into a tie with goals in the second period.

Joonas Korpisalo stopped 18 shots for the Blue Jackets. Detroit’s Jimmy Howard made 36 saves, helping the team send the game past regulation.

“We got outshot by a lot and we were outplayed territorially, but Jimmy gave us a chance at two points,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “We got one of them, and he was a big part of that.”

The rebuilding Red Wings honoured Henrik Zetterberg, whose career is over because of a back ailment, before the game. Then, the team put five players on the ice who were playing for the first time in the NHL.

Cholowski, Christoffer Ehn, Michael Rasmussen, Filip Hronek and Libor Sulak all made their debut.

“With experience and games, they’re only going to get better and better,” Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader said. “With experience and work, they can really grow.”

The last time an NHL team had that many rookies playing in their first game together was Detroit in 1985. It has happened just two other times in the league since the 1979, with the Colorado Rockies and Vancouver Canucks in 1981.

The Red Wings were well aware of the reasons why they lost the game, as coach Blashill suggested to Michigan Hockey’s Stefan Kubus. Six power plays against, and a 3rd period in which you’re out-shot 16-3? Yep, that’ll do it:

“We’ve got to stay out of the box, I thought it killed us in a lot of different ways,” Blashill said. “We didn’t establish much of a forecheck throughout the game, but I thought we actually had a forecheck early, had a little bit of momentum, took a penalty, they score and then after that I thought they had the momentum. And when we crawled back into it or started to build up a little momentum, we took another penalty.”

Cam Atkinson made the Wings pay, as he opened the scoring at 5:12 of the first period with a power-play marker, beating Howard on a one-timer from the right circle.

At 7:46 of the middle frame, Cholowski struck to put the Wings on the board.

“It was kind of just a blur, I hardly remember it to be honest,” Cholowski said. “It just kind of happened so fast, just a wave of excitement. I saw (Larkin) look over his shoulder, I just yelled as loud as I could for the puck. I was wide open, he made a great pass, thankful that he made the pass.”

Josh Anderson gave his team the lead once again minutes later after Cholowski got caught in the Columbus zone looking for the perfect shot. But it was simply part of the learning curve according to his head coach. Blashill said he felt Cholowski played a strong game overall.

“To me, it’s a little bit of a young mistake,” Blashill said. “It’s just not understanding the clock, the guy’s coming out of the box. And a little bit of what we tried to do too much tonight where we were trying to look for a better shot. I mean he had a shot, I thought he should’ve taken the shot he had, but that’s just part of the reality of growth of young players. I think mental toughness is a big deal, and it didn’t affect him. He just kept going.”

The Wings ran out of steam in the 3rd period, and in overtime, Luke Glendening, Trevor Daley and Anthony Mantha got caught out for over a minute of time vs. Panarin and company, which was lethal, as the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan noted:

“Once they get possession there, it’s hard to get possession back,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Generally it’s not the biggest deal, you kind of call switches and protect the inside ice. You don’t want the best player in this game tonight, in Panarin, to get a shot from there. You have to make sure to identify him and he’s not the one beating you. We made a bit of a mistake there.”

The Wings were outshot 39-20, paraded to the penalty box (they killed 5 of 6 Columbus power plays) and spent too much time defending in a game they probably were lucky to get a point in the standings.

“We definitely have to stay out of the box,” forward Justin Abdelkader said. “Stay disciplined. It’s tough when you’re in the box for a lot of the night.”

The Jackets had the puck in the Wings’ zone for long stretches, snuffing whatever momentum the Wings could muster.

“The ice got tilted too much the wrong way,” Blashill said. “When you’re in defensive zone coverage, it’s hard to establish a forecheck. We spent way too much time in D-Zone coverage. We had chances to get it out, and we didn’t get it out, so we have to be able to get it out smoother than that. We have to stay out of the box. That killed us in a lot of different ways.”

To his credit, Jimmy Howard played very strongly, stopping 36 shots…

“Opening night you want to come out better and give your fans a great show,” Howard said. “It was a good hockey game and there were some good things to take out of it. We bent but we didn’t break.”

The Wings used four defensemen — three making their NHL debuts, and Joe Hicketts, who played in five NHL games last season — with little NHL experience, but they held their own.

“All of them had moments of good and not great,” said Blashill, who felt Filip Hronek and Cholowski had the two better games. “Let’s get better tomorrow.”

In that sense, there are both positives and negatives to emphasize regarding Thursday night’s game.

The Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa focused on Cholowski and Michael Rasmussen, who he believes must develop into stars for the Wings’ “rebuild” to keep building…

“I thought Dennis played a pretty good game,” Blashill said. “The goal was nice. He did a pretty good job of jumping into the play. I thought he showed real good poise. He made a mistake that resulted in a goal, but it didn’t affect him. He just kept playing. To me, it’s a young mistake, and a little bit of what we tried to do too much tonight, where we were trying to look for a better shot. I mean, he had a shot. I thought he should have taken the shot.”

As for Rasmussen, Blashill thought he played well, considering the big forward, with the potentially dominating net-front presence, had only 1:32 of power play time.

“We didn’t get tons of power play time, where I think he can be really effective,” Blashill said. “I thought overall he was physical, he was big, he was strong. I thought he had a good game. I like his game. I think it is a pro game.”

With one overtime loss under their belts, Cholowski and Rasmussen move on. A season and more of development are ahead of them, and mistakes will no doubt come.

But, the question is, how much glory? On that, and more, rest the future hopes of the Red Wings.

And the Oakland Press’s Pat Caputo suggested that the Red Wings’ speed and quickness with the puck did not yield puck possession, and as a result, they looked like a learning team:

The Red Wings were stellar for an extended period of time mostly because of an uncanny ability to possess the puck. Primary in that matter was defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom. Columbus dominated possession Thursday because defenseman Zach Werenski controlled it from the point as if playing a video game. It was weird, because the former University of Michigan star and native of Grosse Pointe had no points, but seven shots while playing more than 28 minutes.

“Too many penalties,” Red Wings’ coach Jeff Blashill said. “We have to stay out of the box. There was too much time in D-Zone coverage. The ice was tilted too much one way.”

Columbus is one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference, far ahead of the Red Wings at this stage.

But there were a few factors that were encouraging for the Red Wings.

In a sense, to borrow a line from late NFL football coach Dennis Green, they were what we thought they were.

We’ll see if the Red Wings can figure out how to turn that speed into puck possession from here.

All things considered, this summary of “the other guys'” play from’s Dana Wakiji is as good a place to finish as any other:

Michael Rasmussen/Filip Hronek/Libor Sulak/Christoffer Ehn: Detroit’s four other rookies who made their NHL debuts on Thursday acquitted themselves fairly well by all accounts. On the back end, defensemen Hronek and Sulak were steady, though it appeared Sulak began to tire as the game wore on. Sulak’s total ice time was 18:26, including 2:43 on the penalty kill. He registered one shot on net, delivered five hits and had two turnovers. Hronek’s ice time was 16:03, with 1:41 coming on the power play. He took one minor penalty for holding and had two blocked shots. Forward Michael Rasmussen used his big frame to position himself in front of the net and showed poise. Rasmussen’s ice time was 12:06, with 1:32 on the power play. He had a shot on net, delivered two hits and gave the puck away twice. Ehn’s ice time was 8:09 and he didn’t hurt the Wings with his limited ice time. He had four hits, one takeaway and won 2-of-7 face-offs.

Quotable: “Whenever you can gain experience it’s good. I think it was great for us, we all enjoyed it. It was good. As a group we’ve got to stay out of the box a little better, that kind of killed our momentum a little bit, but overall like I said, gaining experience was good, it was positive. The speed and stuff was pretty similar, everyone has such great sticks and such great gaps, so in that regard it was different.” — Rasmussen

Quotable II: “They did good. They did really well in front of me. Obviously, they’re young, there’s going to be times where mistakes happen but for the most part, I thought they did a really good job.” – Howard on Detroit’s rookie defensemen.

Howard’s statement may summarize the season to come for the Wings’ youth movement–there are going to be some learning mistakes that cost the Wings games from time to time…

But the competitiveness, verve and edge shown by the Wings’ youngsters was encouraging to see, and for one night, it was almost enough to win a game against a stacked opponent.

Highlights: Sportsnet posted a 4:56 highlight clip:

And AWood40 posted a clip of Dennis Cholowski’s first NHL goal:

Post-game: Fox Sports Ohio posted clips of post-game comments from Josh Anderson, Brandon Dubinsky and coach John Tortorella;

The Blue Jackets posted comments from Joonas Korpisalo, Cam Atkinson and coach Tortorella;

Fox 2 Detroit posted an 18-minute clip of Jimmy Howard, Justin Abdelkader, Dennis Cholowski and coach Jeff Blashill’s post-game remarks:

The Free Press’s Helene St. James posted a combined clip of comments from Howard, Abdelkader, Cholowski, Howard and Blashill:

MLive’s Ansar Khan posted a clip of Cholowski’s remarks…

And Howard’s remarks…


And the Red Wings posted a short clip of comments from Abdelkader, Howard, Michael Rasmussen, Cholowski and Blashill:


Photos: The Free Press posted a 51-image gallery;

The Detroit News posted a 45-image gallery;

MLive posted a 30-image gallery;

And posted a 110-image gallery.


Here’s the Game Summary

And the Event Summary:

The shot attempts were 76-45 Columbus.

Red Wings notebooks and also of Red Wings-related note: 97.1 the Ticket’s Will Burtchfield took note of some of the comments Ken Holland made regarding Filip Zadina’s development during Holland’s appearance on the Jamie and Stoney Show:

“I’m worried about what Zadina looks like at 22,” Holland said. “I’m not looking at what Zadina looks like on Friday night or Thursday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets. For us to be a Cup contender — and that’s my goal, is to make the decisions that are in the best interests of this organization so that down the road we can compete with the elite teams and we can be a Cup contender — Zadina’s a big part of it. But not today when he’s 18. Hopefully when he’s 21, 22.”

Zadina turns 19 next month. He played professionally in his native Czech Republic two years ago, but he spent all of last season in Quebec Major Junior. While he lit it up, finishing third in the league and first among rookies with 44 goals, the NHL represents a significant jump.

For starters, Holland said Zadina needs to get stronger. He’s a lean 6’0, and he was pushed off the puck rather easily against top competition in the preseason. More importantly, he needs to adjust to a different style of hockey, one where time and space is limited.

“He’s used to more space,” said Holland. “When you play junior hockey there’s more space, and I thought early in preseason, the first game, he really struggled with figuring out space. As preseason wore on he started to understand making quicker decisions.”

Hockeybuzz’s Bob Duff took note of Christoffer Ehn’s presence on the Wings’ opening-night roster, as one of 5 rookies:

Ehn is among five Wings who will make their NHL debuts Thursday, defensemen Filip Hronek, Libor Sulak and Dennis Cholowski and forward Michael Rasmussen being the others.

“It’s different for each guy,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “I think every time you move up the pyramid, those steps can be greater and greater. Certainly guys that had time in the American League, the step a lot of times from junior and college to the American League is a heck of a step, more than they realize, and the step from the American League to the NHL isn’t quite as bit.

“We have guys that will be coming directly, in Cholowski’s case (also Rasmussen’s) directly from junior. I think part of making it, being an elite athlete, is mental toughness and the reality in humans is there’s going to be nerves. There should be. But managing it is focusing on the task at hand, especially shift by shift, so hopefully our guys do a real good job of it.

“One thing that’s good is I don’t think there’s a guy who’s playing tonight who’s afraid to make a mistake. We realize there’s going to be mistakes, let’s just make sure our positives outweigh our negatives.”

And the Free Press’s Helene St. James and USA Today’s Kevin Allen discussed the Red Wings’ season-to-come in a Free Press video:


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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.

One thought on “Red Wings-Blue Jackets wrap-up: Wings’ OT loss part of the learning curve”

  1. There were a few mistakes but they didn’t send me into a Rage. The kids were pretty good, enjoyed watching them do things I haven’t seen from a Red Wing for awhile.

    If Ras is going to only play mostly during a PP and net front, then something is wrong. Glendenning had an awful game, trying to hard to stay on the team. 2 minuses didn’t help, other players with a minus Helm and Daley. All Vets.

    I liked the D pairings, fun to watch.

    I actually enjoyed the game aside from a L instead of a W. Rookies looked big and fast for the most part. No one backed down. Fun again!!

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