Detroit hosted the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night. The Wings were coming off an overtime loss at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers from Tuesday.
The Hawks came out strong to start the game, scoring three times in the first period.
First up, Alex DeBrincat scored on the Blackhawks’ first shot, beating goalie Jimmy Howard. The goal came 3:19 into the first period.
Just over two minutes later, Anthony Duclair (who had the secondary assist on the first goal) scored from the slot, as he wristed a shot inside the post. Duclair was not covered by anyone. This was followed by a goal by Vinnie Hinostroza on a 2-on-1 break. It was a very bad turnover near the blueline by Detroit defenseman Xavier Ouellet. Hinostroza chose to shoot rather than pass, and Howard could not read the shot.
Detroit would finish with a seemingly normal 15 giveaways on the night.
“On the third goal, I don’t know if it was a bad change; it was a bad decision with the puck,” said coach Jeff Blashill. “Like real bad. Put the puck way down the wall…What I would say to categorize it (the game as a whole), we had too many guys that weren’t good enough. Some guys have to learn what ‘every night’ means.”
This was all before the midway mark of the period.
Howard was pulled after facing only nine shots and Petr Mrazek entered in relief, to a wave of sarcastic cheers from the home fans.
“I thought Petr obviously deserved the start the other night. I thought he played fine the other night,” said Blashill when asked why Mrazek (who has been hot of late) did not receive the start. “If I thought he had played great, he would have had the start. If you take the season in total, Jimmy’s outplayed him. I hope they ultimately both play great. As I said before, we need great goaltending.”
In the second, DeBrincat scored again, assisted by Jonathan Toews.
Detroit was able to end the shutout by goalie Anton Forsberg. Anthony Mantha made it 4-1, with resounding applause from the LCA crowd.
With this newfound energy, Mrazek was pulled, and shortly after…Chicago scored in the empty net, allowing DeBrincat his second hat trick of the season.
After the game, Blashill noted that Mantha and defenseman Danny DeKeyser have impressed him over the past few weeks, while young forward Tyler Bertuzzi needed to be more ready to play on Thursday.
“I’ve been in development [of players] my whole life, including now,” said Blashill. “I think some people think development is just ‘go play.’ Have whoever just go play. That is 100% [wrong]. Because part of learning is having to sit sometimes. Part of learning is getting understanding, getting rewarded for effort and things like that. We’re going to play to win against San Jose, and in the process of that, my job is to have our team develop through the course of the year, so we’re better at the end of the year individually than we were at the beginning of the year. Now sometimes that means, somebody sits. Sometimes that means I show video…All those things that change the habit of the player.”
Detroit is now tied for 7th worst in the NHL at 19-21-8 (46 points), yet somehow they are still 4th in the Atlantic Division, ahead of Montreal, Florida, Ottawa, and Buffalo.
The All-Star break is now upon us, meaning Detroit does not play until next Wednesday (vs. San Jose; 8:00 ET). Next week also will see them travel to Carolina on Friday (7:00) and Florida on Saturday (7:00).