The Detroit Red Wings needed to bounce back after dropping a Wednesday match-up with the Ottawa Senators by a 6-1 score. A Saturday meeting with a New York Rangers team that had only won two games and was starting an AHL goaltender should have been a great chance to get things back on track, but turnovers and an inability to sustain significant offensive pressure led the Red Wings to a fourth consecutive loss. With a four-game trip to the West up next, there isn’t much time for the Red Wings to figure out why they haven’t been able to do much in support of goaltender Jimmy Howard.
Howard was stellar on Saturday, making 37 saves in regulation and overtime before Derick Brassard got a fortunate bounce and a clean shot to get the Rangers the win. On the other end of the ice, Cam Talbot was solid for a second straight game in relief of Henrik Lundqvist. The young netminder is now 1-1 with a 1.94 goals-against average in two starts for the Rangers, and is making a strong case to be the backup the rest of the season once Lundqvist returns. Howard’s play was impressive, and it’s hard to fault him for his play as he received little help. He was pulled after allowing three goals on eight shots in 14 minutes of action against the Senators, but against the Rangers looked to be in the same form he was during last season’s playoffs.
Detroit’s offensive struggles are particularly puzzling, as splitting up Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg did little to ignite things, and then later reuniting them couldn’t do it either. Stephen Weiss and Johan Franzen continue to be giant disappointments and seem to be missing any kind of spark in their step. Dan Cleary‘s play continues to leave many scratching their heads as to why he was brought back. Goals from Drew Miller and Daniel Alfredsson were the lone bright spots on Saturday, and defenseman Danny DeKeyser had his best scoring chance of the year but rang one off the post. Tomas Tatar seemed to be flying on the ice compared to his linemates, and as long as he continues to create scoring chances he has earned his spot in the lineup. On the blueline, Brendan Smith‘s struggles have continued (he’s now minus-9), and against the Rangers Jakub Kindl looked better than any of his fellow d-men.
Heading into this road trip on a four-game losing streak isn’t ideal, but there are enough veteran leaders around to get things back on track. There’s a good chance Babcock isn’t done shuffling lines around either. One thing is for sure, though – in today’s NHL it will more often than not take more than two goals to win a game.