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If you missed my pregame thoughts, you can read themhere
In essence, I was looking to Detroit to buckle down and play hard on defense, not letting the Islanders send in a man all alone with a grade a chance. They failed that challenge 3 times in 8 minutes, 4 times in the first period. Every one of the first period goals saw someone with no coverage shoot point blank on Jimmy Howard, and then Calvin Pickard. The effort was even worse than what we saw against Buffalo.
Worse than the effort is the growing feeling that this team is finally getting lethargic about it all. Alex Biega was worked over, badly, by Brock Nelson and there was no response from the team. Luke Glendening made a very dangerous hit on Devon Toews that could easily have been more than a 2 minute penalty, but was oddly similar to an unpenalized hit from Nelson. Understanding that it’s a “new day” in the NHL, standing up for your teammates still matters. I don’t want Larkin or Bertuzzi (Fabbri or Zadina) dropping the gloves, but there are plenty of other candidates. Abdelkader makes 4.25 mil for the next 3 seasons after this debacle. He could certainly try and offset his “0” goals by trying to cowboy up and stick up for his team. Not even close.
In fact, apart from a Givanni Smith goal that probably would have been challenged by Trotz if the score wasn’t 8-2, the third period saw a bunch of slumped over players who just wanted to be done with it. That is unacceptable.
I’ve lauded Larkin, Glendening, Bertuzzi and others for digging in and trying to make a go of it. Their minds were all somewhere else with this one. Howard is embarrassingly bad, but the way he was hung out to dry was just as embarrassing. Blashill tried to peel some paint with a timeout, but 5 more goals came from the Isles.
There are usually some positives to look for, this game posed challenges I was unprepared for. The body language and overall effort were just horrible. We can only hope that Yzerman will at least give a quote or two. God knows Larkin will stand in front of reporters and admit the whole thing was awful, again. I don’t envy what that young man shoulders in front of the press.
The knee jerk is to say “something has to change”. It’s probably not going to. Unlike New Jersey, Detroit wasn’t expected to do anything this year. The many, many firings this season are related to expectation and there aren’t many in Detroit.
The all star break is coming, and if they’re smart players will turn off their twitter feeds and try to get their minds reset. If the poison of apathy sets into the “core” of this group, it can be devastating. I believe there is still a lot of character tied up in #71, but even Larkin looked bewildered a bit tonight.
There is no excuse for this effort, or the game before. The lesson you’d hoped the players had learned simply didn’t sink it at all. It’s easier to accept the loss if the team played the game for their logo and for each other. Neither one happened tonight.
We’ll see what they can pull together before facing off against Pittsburgh. Sydney Crosby is back in the lineup, and the Pens have a lot of pride and skill. Hopefully Detroit will give a better showing.
Unless there is a trade, firing, or miracle, the next post will be pregame against the Penguins. Thanks to everyone who is still hanging in there during this very difficult season. Use the comment section to vent if you need to. Otherwise, therapy is well worth the money.