With three Hall of Famers on hand to celebrate the 85th birthday of a Detroit Red Wings legend, the Chicago Blackhawks came into Joe Louis Arena on Sunday and exposed every flaw the Red Wings have while rolling to a 7-1 victory. The Red Wings honored Gordie Howe during warmups and during the game, and Ted Lindsay and Alex Delvecchio were on hand but no doubt disappointed by the lackluster effort from the home team. The Blackhawks struck early and often, abusing Red Wings goaltenders Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson. It was the worst loss the Red Wings have suffered this season since a season-opening 6-0 defeat at the hands of the St. Louis Blues.
A goal by Cory Emmerton in the final minute of play was the only thing that kept the Red Wings from being shut out for a second straight game. They had trouble gaining the zone for too long against a Blackhawks defense that seemed more than prepared for Pavel Datsyuk and the res of their offense. The Red Wings seemed to sorely miss captain Henrik Zetterberg, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Now clinging to the seventh spot in the Western Conference standings, the Red Wings have many questions to answer heading into Monday night’s game against the Colorado Avalanche.
Of particular concern for the team is the poor performance of two off-season free-agent acquisitions. Mikael Samuelsson returned to the lineup after missing more than a month, but left the game with an injury, and has already been ruled out of Monday’s game. He has only managed to play in four games this season, and has one assist. Gustavsson was forced into action after Howard allowed four goals, but allowed three of his own on only 12 shots (including the first one he faced). An injury early in the season has limited him to only six games, and with the exception of one game against the San Jose Sharks his performance at best has been unimpressive.
The Red Wings need to find a way to win in the final month of the season, and Monday’s game against a struggling Avalanche team should provide a great opportunity to bounce back.