The Detroit Red Wings tangled with the pesky Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday evening, with the game streamed by the Columbus Blue Jackets (hey, it’s better than nothing).
The Red Wings managed to rally in the 3rd period from a 2-0 deficit, thanks to goals from Riley Barber and Dan Renouf, but Detroit was mostly manhandled by an NHL-ready Columbus Blue Jackets roster on Wednesday night, and while Alex Nedeljkovic was excellent in the Wings’ crease, stopping 33 of 37 shots and 69 Blue Jackets attempts…
Columbus was easily able to regain their lead only 35 seconds after Renouf’s goal, thanks to a lucky bounce-and-chip-in by Jakub Voracek, and Patrik Laine schooled Moritz Seider, teammates Joe Veleno, Dan Renouf and Mitchell Stephens on what was a gorgeous-to-watch goal to push the final score to 4-2.
Regrettably, the Wings’ players got caught watching far too often on Wednesday night, Givani Smith was undisciplined at best, and the Wings’ “B Team” roster needs to salvage some pride for the 4-and-4 Wings as they host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday evening (7:30 PM EDT on Bally Sports Detroit/97.1 FM)
In the 1st period: Detroit started the Raymond-Larkin-Zadina line with Renouf and Seider, and Nedeljkovic started in goal opposite Merzlikins, but this lineup was definitely the Wings’ “B Team” vs. the Blue Jackets’ “A Team.”
The first five minutes’ worth of play were “tennis hockey,” where both teams charged the puck up and down the ice, but neither team generated a ton of scoring chances, though Detroit was being out-shot 3-1;
Some seven-and-a-half minutes in, Columbus had a great, dominant shift opposite the Raymond-Larkin-Zadina line, but Nedeljkovic, Lashoff and Lindstrom did a good job defending;
Honestly, the Red Wings’ first scoring chance of the game was a long, unobstructed shot from the blueline from Moritz Seider, skating alongside Donovan Sebrango, with the Stephens line (i.e. the fourth line) working on the forecheck;
Detroit honestly looked to be playing rope-a-dope hockey as the halfway point of the first period hit, and the Laine-Voraceck-Texier line and Zach Werenski seemed to be having their way with the Wings.
Columbus played looser and looser, and Detroit got tighter and tighter, with more turnovers committed by the road team, and less offensive flow displayed by the road team, so Columbus amassed a 7-2 shot lead as Detroit went to the penalty-kill at 13:01, with Adam Erne sitting for hooking.
On the PK, Stephens, Rowney, Lashoff and Lindstrom constituted the first PK unit…
But Boone Jenner and Oliver Bjorkstrand were afforded a 2-on-1 advantage in front of the Wings’ net, and the rebound of Jenner’s shot went off Bjorkstrand’s stick, to his stick, and he chipped the 1-0 goal past a helpless Nedeljkovic.
new power play who dis? pic.twitter.com/UmkpaCW7SR— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) October 6, 2021
Columbus made it 1-0 @ 14:14 from Jenner and Voracek.
Then Eric Robinson took a swat at a bouncing puck that Nedeljkovic stopped, and Gustav Lindstrom headed to the penalty box at 16:38 for cross-checking a Blue Jacket into his goalie.
On the 2nd Blue Jackets PP, Veleno, Erne, Renouf and Seider worked the 2nd PK unit, and Detroit was much more aggressive…
But Patrik Laine set up Zach Werenski through a DOUBLE screen, and Alex Nedeljkovic had no chance on what became a 2-0, top shelf, power play goal.
Expect anything less from Z? pic.twitter.com/6hXapYjC68— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) October 6, 2021
Zach Werenski scored from Patrik Laine and Jakub Voracek at 17:32, making it 2-0 Columbus.
Detroit just looked out of sync and out-manned to out-classed, so, when Joe Veleno was able to poke a puck into Merzlikins at one end, it was no surprise that Columbus raced back up the other way, with Nedeljkovic having to make a superior stop on Jack Roslovic.
Givani Smith tried to fight Vladislav Gavrikov, and then Cole Sillinger, and then Gregory Hoffman, in the last minute of the 3rd period, but he found no takers, and the 1st period ended with Columbus in Detroit’s zone.
Columbus led Detroit 16-6 in shots after the 1st period, and the attempts were 28-13 Columbus; the giveaways were 3-1 Columbus, takeaways 3-1 Columbus, and Detroit was 7-and-11 (39%) on faceoffs.
In the 2nd period: Detroit came out with some sort of semblance of a forecheck, some pressure through the neutral zone, and more efficient puck movement and pass/shot blockage in their own zone, all to the good…
But Gustav Nyquist’s line still managed to get a fine scoring chance off as Nyquist’s second attempt was stifled by Nedeljkovic around 2 minutes into the 2nd.
Nedeljkovic had to make a couple of good stops on Eric Robinson and then another Blue Jacket some 2-and-a-half minutes in, and the Wings really played the rope-a-dope hard as Columbus hit the 20-shot mark, with Givani Smith looking to fight more than he was looking to actually play hockey…
The Dylan Larkin line at least looked passable, with Lucas Raymond giving the line hard-working effort and Filip Zadina playing sneaky, smart hockey, but they were alone in their efforts, and without support, Detroit could only do so much.
Off a good shift by Moritz Seider, Bobby Ryan found Mitchell Stephens on a breakaway, and Merzlikins had to stop Stephens TWICE on a BREAKAWAY opportunity, but stop him, Merzlikins did.
Detroit at least settled down defensively in the 2nd period, stifling Columbus chances with good sticks in passing lanes and decent clearing attempts.
To the good, Filip Zadina went into Columbus’ zone and found Lucas Raymond in alone in the slot, but Merzlikins made another big stop to stifle the Wings’ second scoring chance of the night.
9:03 into the 3rd, the shots were 4-4, and that was at least an improvement over a pretty terrible first period.
The Larkin line also got some good nastiness going against Columbus in the Blue Jackets’ zone, but Detroit could not hold the puck in, and a diving Dan Renouf had to block a 2-on-1 pass in the slot.
Lucas Raymond managed to fire a shot off the crossbar before a fine shift ended for Detroit’s top line.
Regrettably, Columbus also hit the crossbar off the ensuing faceoff, as Gregory Hoffman ripped one off the bar and out, opposite the Wings’ 2nd line of Erne, Veleno and Ryan.
To be very honest, the first time I noticed Jonatan Berggren was almost 13 minutes into the 2nd period, when Berggren was run by a Blue Jackets forward after attempting to clear the puck himself. Berggren was quiet in his return to action.
The Wings seemed to pick up a little bit as the 2nd period progressed, generating a few more shots of the difficult variety on Merzlikins, and Gustav Lindstrom helped Larkin, Zadina and Raymond cycle very, very well in Columbus’ end…
But the Laine line would retake the puck, generate their own scoring chance, and cycle the puck down low in the Wings’ zone. Detroit had to ice the puck with 4:50 remaining in the 2nd…
So the Larkin line was hemmed into its own zone, and Nedeljkovic had to make three huge stops to spare the gassed Larkin line a goal against. Nedeljkovic’s one-on-one save against Jack Roslovic was excellent.
Ultimately, the line of Carter Rowney, Jonathan Berggren and Givani Smith just wasn’t very good over the first 38 minutes’ worth of play, and, given Rowney’s excellent training camp and Smith’s desperate status as needing to earn a roster spot, lest he face the waiver wire…It was a bummer to see both players struggle. I knew Berggren would have hiccups; I didn’t think that Rowney or Smith would have the same issues.
Detroit did earn a late 2nd-period power play as Yegor Chinakov sat for a bench minor with 46.2 remaining in the 2nd, but nothing came of it, so Detroit headed into the 3rd period with 1:14 of PP time.
In the 3rd period: Detroit began the 3rd period on the power play, and Detroit started with Larkin, Erne, Ryan, Seider and Raymond working together.
Detroit actually got a solid scoring chance off early as Moritz Seider chipped the puck through a Bobby Ryan screen, and after Columbus got an odd-man rush stifled by Nedeljkovic, Merzlikins answered with a masterful stop on Bobby Ryan on a 3-on-2 with Erne and Larkin.
THANKFULLY, Troy Stecher and Filip Zadina set up Riley Barber for a breakaway, and Barber made no mistake, firing the puck over Merzlikins to give Detroit a 2-1 disadvantage.
Riley Barber scored the Wings’ first goal, from Zadina and Stecher, at 1:58.
Detroit mostly got chased around their own zone early in the 3rd period, though they did sustain puck possession for the most part.
To be honest, Alex Nedeljkovic was by far the Red Wings’ busiest player throughout the early part of the 3rd period, as Columbus kept the nexus of play in the Wings’ zone.
Even better, Columbus could not clear the zone, and Givani Smith and Turner Elson fed Dan Renouf at the bottom of the faceoff circle.
Renouf made no mistake, and suddenly, it was 2-2 at 6:39 (from Elson and Smith)…
But on the bump-up shift, the puck came off the glass, hit the ice, and Jakub Voracek took the hop and chipped it past Nedeljkovic before he could get set, giving Columbus a 3-2 lead.
Voracek scored from Jake Bean and Alexandre Texier at 6:42, making it 3-2 Columbus.
After the exchange of goals, play calmed down significantly, with Columbus establishing possession and control of the puck, and, as the halfway point of the 3rd period passed, Columbus looked like it was going to nurse its lead to a victory.
Nedeljkovic remained excellent in the Wings’ crease, but there was little that he could do about the Voracek goal, and he couldn’t score goals himself, nor help the Wings’ spotty possession game.
Joe Veleno got off a very solid scoring chance on a one-man rush with 7:07 remaining, but that was pretty much the highlight of the mid-3rd period.
Regrettably, Mr. Givani Smith punctuated the 3rd period by taking a cross-checking penalty with only 5:34 remaining, affording Columbus the opportunity to put the game away on the power play.
On the penalty kill, Columbus pretty much had its way with moving the puck around the Wings’ zone as Detroit’s penalty-killers played a passive game, but Nedeljkovic was solid…
But Detroit’s penalty-killers afforded Patrik Laine a 1-on-3 breakaway, Joe Veleno, Mitchell Stephens, Moritz Seider and Dan Renouf were all walked through, and Nedeljkovic had no chance on the 4-2 marker.
Laine scored from Werenski at 15:39, making it 4-2.
Riley Barber then took a high-sticking minor with 2:36 remaining, and Columbus did not score, but it “killed” the majority of the remaining part of the 3rd period.
That was the game…