Jimmy plays his best game of the season in loss to Columbus
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Unfortunately, no other Detroit Red Wing player did much to aid their goaltender. At one point during the second period, shots were 22 - 6 Blue Jackets. The final tally was 44 -16 with an empty net goal sent to Boone Jenner with love from Jeff Blashill.
Puling the goaltender for this team feels a bit like giving them one more thing to feel bad about this year. It is an exercise in futility crowned with the further humiliation of seeing an opposing player skate as slowly as possible while the puck trickles in. So much fun.
Perhaps the most amusing quote regarding tonight’s performance comes from someone who wishes to remain anonymous. “Maybe the players wanted Jimmy to know how they felt all those other games”. Hilarious.
Jimmy’s last taste of victory was October 29th, 2019. The pain of this season hasn’t spared anyone. No player, and certainly no fan has gone through this unscathed. The carousel of injuries seemed to be in full effect again as Bowey, Daley, and Fabbri all left the game at different points. Only Bowey was kept from returning. (Fabbri may well have gotten a Newfoundland Vasectomy). It’s just that type of year.
With 26 games left, I am half expecting to see much better performances for veterans on expiring contracts. Jimmy looked good tonight, but not good enough to wash away a four month losing streak. Adam Erne could “break out” any time (as well as Perlini) but the painful less learned this year is that there is little to no carry over. Only Mantha, Larkin and Bertuzzi picked up where they left off. This is only a warning. Too many people thought there was far more talent on this team than there actually was. I wouldn’t have predicted 20 wins, but I did way that 65 points would be a shock. So far, I feel good about that prediction.
Enough on the negative, on to the positive. Gustav Lindstrom somehow looked more at home than any defenseman not named Hronek. That may be an exaggeration, but his play was really solid. He focused on his part of the ice and made a lot of good decisions. His numbers shot up from around 12 minutes to over 20 minutes due to the absence of Bowey. For only playing 2 NHL regular season games, not much seemed to phase the 21 year old. He reminded me a little bit of Brad Stuart 08-10. Not necessarily focused on offense, but the type of defender you need to have for own zone time.
To be fair, Alex Biega has shown some solid skating abilities in joining the rush. It hasn’t led to added offense, but the skill set is evident. Athanasiou continues to look more comfortable. His skating abilities certainly help him find space. There is a lot to like about his game (and potential). The longer the season goes, the less it looks like he’ll be moving on. Don’t get me wrong, anything can happen. But, A.A. probably wants a Mulligan on this one. It may well come in the form of a 1 or 2 year pact.
Fabbri’s near miss early in the game (hit the post) was actually a beautiful sequence. He got a lot on that wrist shot while in tight and skating. The more I watch him, the more I’m reminded of Zetterburg. The frame and skating are so similar. He fights above his weight class for sure. That isn’t to say he’ll have the career “Z” had, but the similarities are shocking.
I give full marks to Columbus tonight. This team is a tight knit group of battlers. There are two very different types of team in the post season. The “all star” led groups where 2/3 of the roster could easily be changed out (Pittsburgh, Chicago just a couple years ago, Edmonton if they make it) and the tight knit team. Of course there is high caliber talent, but the consistency of play from lines 1 to 4 is shocking. There is total buy in for this group, and they have the type of team Larkin and Co should take a long look at. There’s a reason Detroit didn’t get many shots on net. Columbus turned the ice into mud. Well executed and frustrating. Tortorella certainly warrants Jack Adams consideration.
As some of our prospects make their way up for a glimpse, the positives of this year’s development in Grand Rapids can be clearly seen. Lindstrom could well take a job in training camp. Seider is almost expected to. Daley, Ericsson, and Green will all likely move on. With a healthy Dekeyser, you’re seeing Deke-Hronek Seider-Lindstrom (both righty) Cholowski-Nemeth-Biega could all be in the mix as well. Yzerman could well acquire another defender via trade or free agency, time will tell. The landscape is starting to look better.
Detroit will have tomorrow off and face off against Boston on Sunday. Somehow, this is a game the team gets up for more often than not. Facing the “perfection line” of Bergeron (22 goals) Marchand (23 goals) and Pasternak (38 goals) somehow inspires this group to play better. Never mind that those three have combined for a whopping 83 goals this year. Detroit’s entire team accounts for 113. This could still be a fun game to watch.
In the feel good section of the news, Tomas Holmstrom was inducted into the Swedish Hockey Hall of Fame. Homer was a battler who donated the lower half of his body to the NHL. The sheer amount of abuse he took and still managed to keep going is humbling. Well done sir.
In the bizarre section of the news, the Corona virus has closed off 3 of 4 major hockey stick manufacturers. Only Warrior has a factory in Mexico 9(the other three in china). The virus also has Colorado’s new equipment under quarantine at it’s port of entry. While this is a shocking inconvenience, the virus is having a devastating effect on individuals. It also reminds us all that companies in Canada and the US stopped making sticks and other equipment. If someone has a lot of money, now may be a good time to fire up an assembly line. “Diversity of manufacturing” may well be a prudent topic of conversation over the summer. I wonder if a 3d printed composite stick would be truly “indestructible”. The great Yngwie Malmsteen was given a 3d printed guitar to try and destroy (made of metal) and he was unable. Some people have too much time, too much money or both.
With just under 3 weeks left until the trade deadline, GMs will have to start getting out their pricing guns and labeling players perceived value, all while hoping to spark a bidding war. The past few years have seen “Trade Deadline Day” go from bust to “Columbus is all in”. Hopefully there will be some excitement again