Detroit Red Wings: The growing pains continue while in Chicago

Jan 22, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; The Chicago Blackhawks react after defeating the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 22, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; The Chicago Blackhawks react after defeating the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Red Wings (2-4) can’t use COVID-19 as an excuse for their embarrassing loss to the Chicago Blackhawks (2-3-1) Sunday afternoon.

Sometimes you win some, sometimes you lose some, and sometimes you get utterly embarrassed.  Well, Sunday, the Detroit Red Wings were utterly embarrassed while losing their second straight game to the Chicago Blackhawks.  This comes after Friday’s 4-1 shellacking on Friday.

The Red Wings didn’t only allow Pius Suter to score his first NHL goal; the rookie forward scored three.  Before starting the game, I mentioned that forward Anthony Mantha might not be performing up to our standards. Still, his possession stats indicate he’s close to breaking out on the scoresheet despite his three points in five games entering the day.

Well, it did not take long before I needed to eat crow on that notion.  Mantha was simply atrocious for the Red Wings Sunday.  The 6-foot-5 power forward is solely to blame for two of Chicago’s six goals Sunday.

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Mantha errantly tried to clear a puck through the middle of his own zone.  Mantha just flipped a loose puck softly to the point without even looking, hoping that it exited the zone.  Instead, Chicago’s Connor Murphy intercepted the weak clearing attempt and deposited it into the Red Wings’ goal.

Later, to start the third period, Mantha failed to tie-up former Detroit Red Wings draft pick forward Mattias Janmark in front of goaltender Jonathan Bernier, and star winger Patrick Kane found him for an easy tap-in goal.

After that, Mantha found himself riding the pine as he often did earlier in his career with the Detroit Red Wings rather than being involved much on the ice.

Many looking for an excuse will be quick to point out that the downfall of the 2021 Red Wings is due to the coronavirus pandemic that’s held an abundance of the teams’ players out early on to start the season.

The Red Wings started the year without Darren Helm, and newly claimed Christian Djoos and now are without Jon Merrill,  Sam Gagner, Robby Fabbri, and Filip Zadina.  But I hope you realize that the Blackhawks are without their captain Jonathan Toews and young surging center Kirby Dach, but still, put the boots to the Red Wings in two straight contests.  Being forced to field a COVID-19 lineup sucks, but every team faces the same challenges.

Head coach, Jeff Blashill’s line juggling continues as he’s forced to insert the names into a blender to see where they land before creating a gameday lineup.  Detroit inserted Taro Hirose and Givani Smith into the lineup Sunday, but it’s a group similar to last year, with far too many role players forced to play in Detroit’s top-nine.

The Wings won’t win many games with Luke Glendening playing as the second-line center or with Valtteri Filppula anchoring the third line.  Oh, and not to mention, having Frans Nielsen anywhere in an NHL lineup.

It’s ugly, folks, but this is what we call growing pains, but we need to trust the ‘Yzer-Plan’ and hope to see some light at the end of the tunnel.

One bright observation to note; the Red Wings recorded both of their goals Sunday while on the power play.  Both came from Tyler Bertuzzi, and Dylan Larkin played a vital role on both.  It’s a Red Wings power play that converted on just 8% of their opportunities entering Sunday, scoring just one goal on 12 chances.  The league average is nearly 22%.

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Detroit’s power play will jump from a touch over 8% to 17.6% behind a two for five day in Chicago.  That is something to be optimistic about moving forward.