The Detroit Red Wings were feeling good about their playoff chances a few days ago. After a disastrous trip to Ottawa, they appear to have adopted a wait-until-next-year-or-later approach.
The Red Wings were blown out twice on back-to-back nights Monday and Tuesday by scores of 6-2 and 6-1. They’ll try to regroup when they host Seattle on Thursday, and they’ll face the Kraken without forward Tyler Bertuzzi, who was traded to the Boston Bruins on Thursday morning for two draft picks.
With the trade, which sent 2024 first-round and 2025 fourth-round picks to the Red Wings, Detroit has 26 draft picks in the next three NHL drafts, including five first-round selections and five second-round picks.
But in the present, the Red Wings enter the contest against the Kraken with a three-game losing streak, as they got blanked in their last home game by Tampa Bay. They also slid to seventh place in the Eastern Conference wild-card race and stand five points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second wild card with 22 games to play.
“We’re pretty down,” team captain Dylan Larkin said after the Ottawa debacle. “This one, both of these (games), it’s just not the way we wanted this trip to go. We’re definitely leaving with our tails between our legs. It’s a tough feeling.”
In the first matchup Monday night, the Wings led 2-1 early in the second period before giving up five unanswered goals.
In the rematch on Tuesday, Detroit’s Dominik Kubalik scored the first goal. From that point, Ottawa dominated. The Senators scored on a penalty shot, followed by a short-handed goal, another at even strength, then a power-play tally to take a 4-1 lead before the first period ended.
“We were ready to play, we had some bite to our game early, and then just the inability to execute, especially on the special team,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “We’ve taken a lot of pride all year on not allowing easy offense and the breakaways, the odd-man rushes.
“Poor Ville (Husso), that’s an impossible game for a goalie,” Lalonde added. “He never got comfortable. We never gave him a chance and it just got away from us.”
Detroit had its chances. The Red Wings had eight power plays Tuesday but came up empty, getting off only five shots.
“Our breakout wasn’t clicking, we weren’t on the same page,” forward David Perron said. “They did some adjustments. The power play ease a lot of pressure on your team and if you can get going, it doesn’t have to be goals but we didn’t provide momentum either. That was the frustrating part for me.”
The Kraken, who defeated Detroit 4-2 in the teams’ first meeting on Feb. 18, bounced back from a three-game slide by defeating St. Louis 5-3 on Tuesday. The victory came in the opener of a four-game road trip.
The win over the Blues wasn’t decided until an empty-net goal with seven seconds left.
“It’s going to be a grind every single game from now on,” Kraken center Jared McCann said. “We’ve got to go out and play like the underdogs every single game. We’ve got to bring the effort every single night. We’ve got to battle teams and out-compete teams and we should be fine.”
McCann tied his career high with his 27th goal but individual achievements carry little meaning to him.
“I really don’t care about that stuff,” McCann said. “I want to make the playoffs. I want to get us a shot at the Stanley Cup, and you know your time in this league flies by. Just ask some of our older guys. I want to compete for a Stanley Cup, that’s the main thing.”
Jordan Eberle had two goals and an assist in the first meeting with Detroit. In the rematch, Eberle will be looking for his first goal since that night.
–Field Level Media