Friend of this blog, Matt Hutter of Bleacher Report, takes a look at Stephen Weiss’ slow start, and what the Red Wings may have to do about it, if it continues.
The first thing Mike Babcock would like to see from rookie defenseman Adam Almquist might make some players happy to hear if it was asked of them.
“He has to fall in love with the gym—and eating,” Babcock said of the 5’11”, 174 pound 22 year-old. “The challenge is there for him. He has a lot of talent and he can move the puck.”
Almquist joined the Red Wings in Winnipeg to replace the injured Brendan Smith, who tweaked a shoulder in Edmonton on Saturday night.
Almquist is a puck-moving blueliner whose offensive skills impressed Babcock enough that Almquist was one of the last roster cuts in training camp.
“He doesn’t get in trouble and makes smart decisions,” leader of the defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “He’s very skilled with great hands and vision. He’s going to be good for us on the power play.”
Almquist, a Swede, was drafted in the 7th round by Detroit in the 2009 entry draft.
In Monday’s game at Winnipeg, I thought Almquist looked comfortable and more than once exhibited that trait that is so hard to teach to young players making the transition to the NHL: patience with the puck.
“They played better than we did from the start. They were the better team on the ice. We didn’t have much energy, didn’t execute well, and turned a lot of pucks over in the neutral zone. We didn’t have it tonight.”
—Coach Mike Babcock after the 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Monday night
The legs got a little tired.
The Red Wings couldn’t pull off the quadrifecta—winning all four games of their Western Canada road trip—and fell to the desperate Winnipeg Jets, 4-2 on Monday night.
The rigors of the trip seemed to sap the Red Wings as the game went on, and the Jets overcame a 2-1 deficit by scoring three unanswered goals in a span of 14 minutes in the second and third periods.
Still, a 3-1 trip is more than acceptable, even if the Red Wings (9-5-2) kind of fell off the wagon in Winnipeg defensively, surrendering a whopping 47 shots to the Jets (6-8-2), many due to odd man rushes or poor play in the defensive zone.
Danny DeKeyser’s shortie at 10:05 of the second period gave Detroit their 2-1 lead, but it didn’t come close to holding up.
The Red Wings lost their legs as the game wore on, which is understandable. Plus, the Jets were dying for a victory.
Matt Halischuk’s first goal of the season gave the Jets the lead at the 4:27 mark of the third period.
Jimmy Howard made 43 saves, so he wasn’t the problem. The Red Wings just didn’t have the same energy or grit as they showed in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton in the first three games of the trip.
Jordin Tootoo tried to give his teammates some life as he squared off with Winnipeg’s Chris Thorburn, just 16 seconds after the opening face-off. Tootoo got a couple good shots in and the Winged Wheeler deems Tootoo the winner of the scrap.
But there was just too much ice for Winnipeg all night long. Even with the brief 2-1 lead you felt like the Red Wings were playing with fire.
BOTTOM LINE: You’ll take a 3-1 road trip anytime, anywhere. And the Red Wings are done with these teams on the road this season.
THE WINGED WHEELER SAYS: Andrew Ladd, the erstwhile Chicago Blackhawk until 2010, did a great job defending Pavel Datsyuk most of the night. FSD’s Chris Osgood astutely pointed out that Ladd’s experience in Chicago, playing all those games against the Red Wings, likely had something to do with his success against Datsyuk. A 4-0 trip would have been beautiful, but it just wasn’t in the cards.