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I don’t often reference my own articles, but this is worth a shot. NHL 20 sim came up with a 3-2 loss to Buffalo, although it had Wings outshooting the Sabres. wings pregame
In my pregame thoughts I’d wondered if Perlini would continue to add goals to a tough season. He opted, instead, for a procedure I”m calling “Saskatoon Rhinoplasty”. Akin to Old Testament “covenant surgery”, it is risky, painful, and dangerous. Here’s hoping Perlini is ok. Luckily, it sounds like there was no damage to the eye.
So, in the realm of a lost season, this was a perfect scenario. Mantha had 2 assists and some good looks and didn’t get hurt. Helm had 2 goals for the first time in almost 4 years. Larkin showed some high end skill on a breakaway where he held Ristolainen off with one arm and got a shot off. Athanasiou and Bertuzzi got creative, and the team is in no danger of losing that sweet 11 point cushion for last place.
It is surprising how different the team looks when Mantha is in the lineup. He’s using his size to create space, and just seems to be a caffeine boost to his linemates. Unfortunately, the second line remains the cluster bomb. Blashill tried blending Bertuzzi and Athanasiou to spread out offense and they just never found a groove. I’d be more upset about Helm’s placement except that he scored both goals. In fact, his first goal was an example of staying with the play that this team desperately needs to embrace.
More apparent, though, is the fragile state of both of these teams. Momentum shifts happen for both out of nowhere. Both are either “on” or “off”. The fans in Buffalo are at the end of their rope and tens of, well, ten protestors showed up over the weekend to prove it. Interestingly, neither Eichel or McDavid have had much post season exposure.as good as both players are, neither have found the supporting cast necessary. More interestingly, Buffalo went from a team of outstanding goaltending and no goal support to shaky goaltending and high end offensive talent (Eichel specifically). With regime changes behind the bench and in the front office, the roadmap may have been shifted a bit. Skinner’s new deal looks a bit costly right now, and some of the young talent still needs to develop a bit more. Unfortunately, the fans seem to have run out of patience.
Detroit is still safe under the umbrella of meeting expectations. There’s no clear answer as to how long that will last. Zadina and Seider are both developing well, and this year’s pick could be a nice shot in the arm as well. But, it’s fair to say that the blue line and goaltending situation will still need some serious attention. This team could be a top 6 pick again next year, and it will be another unpleasant ride.
I do sympathize with the Sabres faithful. The team just can’t seem to get a foothold. Good draft picks paired with bad contracts and a lot of injuries have put another year in jeopardy. That’s opinion, not hard fact, but I feel it’s accurate.
Detroit returns to the arena of the “shite-ans” on Thursday against New Jersey. Another team that had loaded up for bear and ended up hunting squirrels. Taylor Hall has moved on and the vultures are circling. PK Subban is having a terrible year and nothing seems to have clicked. We’ll see what that competition brings.
Please continue to chime in. Maybe we should open a category of “most likely to be left behind” players as the team travels. In Boston, who do you think the Bruins would try to pull off of the plane to add for a post season run? Let me know, let’s see if you’re right!