The Detroit Red Wings’ 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks was an odd one. Detroit was out-shot 41-21, out-attempted 71-39, Vancouver dangled and danced with the puck in the Red Wings’ zone for the majority of the game, and yet, the team with less possession, fewer chances and less seeming energy (than a team that was playing its 3rd game in 4 nights) managed to win the affair.
There was no doubt that Thomas Greiss’s 40-save performance aided the Red Wings’ effort significantly, but, for a team playing rope-a-dope hockey, Detroit managed to not only withstand the Canucks’ fury, but also raise their ire.
This game was mean, and Detroit was not always the victim of Vancouver’s derision, with an ornery Red Wings team often seeking out physical contact and after-the-whistle instigation against a Canucks team that was more than willing to help the game go off the rails.
What resulted was a wild, raucous affair that was fun to watch, a little terrifying to experience, and I suppose a little surprising to those who might have expected the Red Wings to ultimately roll over and play dead without captain Dylan Larkin in the lineup.
As the Vancouver Province’s Patrick Johnston noted, the Canucks weren’t exactly certain why they lost given their furious, 23-shot 3rd period…
“We had the pedal down,” captain Bo Horvat said after the game. He was one of several Canucks who had some glorious chances in the third period. “Those go in, it’s a different hockey game.”
The Canucks out-shot-attempted the Redwings 22-6 in the third period.
“Sometimes those nights happen for us, we’ve got to find a way,” Horvat added. “T he power play has got to step up.”
The Canucks were 0-for-3 on the man advantage in the game, getting just five shots on target.
The Canucks’ Conor Garland also had a very different take one his hit on Filip Zadina, which was a bit of a “reverse hit” that yielded Zadina taking Garland’s back and elbow to the head:
[Garland] certainly showed that physical part of his game in the third period when he knocked Zadina on his rear with a borderline hit in the corner. The referees initially said it was a major penalty but on review down graded the call to a minor.
It probably didn’t deserve a penalty at all, as it looked like Garland was more bracing for contact to control the puck rather than looking to throw a hit, while Zadina didn’t seem to think contact was coming.
“I hit the brakes trying to create space,” Garland said of the collision post-game. He was obviously agitated that it was a penalty at all. “It’s not my job to comment,” he responded about whether it should have been a penalty.
The Canucks very simply felt that they should have won the game, as they told the Associated Press…
”We’re trying to win the game,” said Vancouver forward Bo Horvat, ”but we just couldn’t get it done. We kept the pedal down and we had opportunities, but we hit a post, we had the goaltender interference call, and he made some big saves on us from the slot. [Greiss is] an elite goaltender and he kept them in the game with some huge saves. In a situation like that, we need the power play to step up (the Canucks were 0-for-3 with a man advantage).”
Greiss made sure the Red Wings stayed ahead shortly after [Garland’s] goal. He went down to make a quick pad save before smothering the rebound with his glove.
”Their goalie was pretty good,” said Vancouver coach Travis Green. ”We had a lot of chances. We probably with this game eight out of 10 times.”
It was a spirited contest that featured several scrums and penalties for fisticuffs.
”It felt like a playoff game out there,” said Horvat. ”It was heated.”
And they continued while speaking to NHL.com’s Dave Hogg, whose recap will serve as our pivot point between the Canucks and Red Wings’ perspectives:
“I thought we played a pretty good game, especially in the third period, and probably deserved a point or two,” Vancouver coach Travis Green said. “Their goalie was just really good.”
The Canucks outshot the Red Wings 23-6 in the third period and had 37 shot attempts to Detroit’s eight.
“I thought we really made a push in the third period, but it was probably too late,” Garland said. “This one stings a little.”
Instead, the Wings were able to boast about Greiss’s performance…
“He was excellent, especially in the third period,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said of Greiss, who was making his season debut. “I thought the chances were even in the first two periods, we might have even been a little ahead, but they really took it to us in the third.”
“We played pretty well in the first game, but we didn’t get the win, so we were really focused on getting this one,” Zadina said. “I thought we played really well as a team for the whole 60 minutes.”
And Zadina issued quite the chirp, too:
Filip Zadina STRAIGHT UP calls Colin Garland out for his hit on him. 👀
“He just reverse hit me like the midget like he is. I don’t think he’s strong enough to just battle me in the corner 1-on-1. It is the person that he is on the ice.”https://t.co/XYrlPGWqXS pic.twitter.com/hjHXOZHMT2— Jeanna Trotman (@JeannaTrotmanTV) October 17, 2021
Zadina on the Red Wings coming to his defense: “I appreciate what the boys did for me. They stood up for me & we got each other’s back, which makes them the best teammates & makes us a really good team. That’s why we won we were the better team & better teammates than Vancouver.” https://t.co/mhqKIpX91O— Jeanna Trotman (@JeannaTrotmanTV) October 17, 2021
“The Midget” is listed at 5’10” and 165 pounds…He also scored the Canucks’ only goal on Saturday night.
Anyway, coach Blashill did feel that the Red Wings did a good job of responding to the Canucks’ “midget” army, as he told the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan…
“We have to look after each other and stick up for each other and do that within the context of winning the hockey game,” Blashill said.
Garland scored Vancouver’s goal, as the Canucks often came close, only to be frustrated by Greiss.
“They played excellent hockey, I was impressed with the way they played with the back to back (winning Friday in Philadelphia),” Blashill said, noting the Wings had to match that competitiveness and did.
Ultimately, as Kulfan noted, the Red Wings needed to bear down and battle on special teams to take Vancouver out:
The Wings killed all three Vancouver power plays after an ineffective night of penalty killing Thursday against Tampa.
After seeing two three-goal leads slip away against Tampa, the Wings did a much better job putting Vancouver away late in the game.
“It’s not something we wanted to repeat,” [Marc] Staal said. “We were smarter with the puck, more composed with it, and did things to win the hockey game. It’s something we’ll have to do if we want to close them out.”
Ultimately, Greiss earns credit for the win, as Detroit Hockey Now’s Kevin Allen noted in his “Five Takeaways”…
Nobody is making any goalie decisions based on two games, but Greiss reminded everyone that he won’t be conceding playing time to the younger goalie. Meanwhile, Blashill reiterated he wants to go with a tandem.
“The time Greiss struggled last season was when (Jonathan Bernier) was out and he ended up playing too much probably,” Blashill said. “Greiss is a guy, when he gets enough rest, plays really really good hockey. He has done it throughout his career. That’s what his numbers say.”
And again, the Wings were happy to get rough when things got tough:
The aftermath of Mathieu Joseph’s hit-from-behind against Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin in the season opener has prompted fan debate about whether the team needs more toughness. Larkin took policing matters into his own hands and ended up suspended for one game.
Against the Canucks, Detroit players seemed to be sending a message that they can take of themselves. Tyler Bertuzzi, Michael Rasmussen, Givani Smith and Filip Hronek were pushing back at the Canucks’ efforts to rough up the Red Wings.
“We have to look after each other,” Blashill said, adding “you only win when you care about each other.”
Highlights: Sportsnet posted a 7:56 highlight clip:
And NHL.com posted a 9:10 highlight clip:
Post-game: The Canucks’ Twitter account posted post-game comments from Conor Garland…
Captain Bo Horvat…
“No matter how many shots you take, you don’t always get the win. It’s about how you bounce back in the next one.”— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) October 17, 2021
🗣 Horvat gives his take on the team’s performance#Canucks | @theprovince pic.twitter.com/xIznNQ5SVp
And coach Travis Green:
Bally Sports Detroit posted Trevor Thompson’s post-game interview with Thomas Greiss…
And a bit ‘o Mickey Redmond:
The Free Press posted a 3:15 clip of Filip Zadina’s post-game comments…
And an 8:46 clip of coach Jeff Blashill’s post-game remarks:
The Red Wings posted a 2:22 clip of comments from Marc Staal, Zadina and Blashill:
Photos: The Free Press posted a 24-image gallery;
The Detroit News posted a 16-image gallery;
And NHL.com posted a 63-image gallery.