Game 18: Red Wings-Tampa Bay Enotes

One too many turnover, one too many broken coverage, one too many point blank scoring chance surrendered.

One more loss at home.

The Red Wings, playing yet another sloppy, care-free game at JLA, fell to the more determined, more present Tampa Bay Lightning, 3-2, in overtime.

That’s five straight games without a win on home ice for the Red Wings (9-5-4).

Teddy Purcell scored with 1:09 left in OT, as a breakdown by Detroit in their own zone left Purcell wide open in front of Jimmy Howard. Purcell took a pass from Richard Panik, who harassed Kyle Quincey off the puck behind the Red Wings net, and buried a wrist shot over Howard’s right shoulder.

The Lightning are now 12-4.

The Red Wings, unlike against Dallas on Thursday, when they might have deserved a better fate than an OT loss, deserved to lose this game. They were fortunate to get a point, frankly.

Countless turnovers—both in neutral ice and in their own zone. Too many quality scoring chances for TB. Not enough pressure on Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, who at 6’7″ makes Ken Dryden look like Jimmy Rutherford.

The Red Wings didn’t crash the net. They didn’t forecheck. They weren’t “hard to play against,” which is what coach Mike Babcock complained about during the last home stand.

Detroit came out of the gate like they were shot out of a cannon, pinning the Bolts in their own zone for the game’s first minute. There was a definite sense of urgency. It reminded me of a prize fighter looking to knock his opponent out in the first round.

After that, it was a game filled with TB blocking shots, disrupting passing lanes, and basically making the Red Wings looking frustrated and very average.

The Wings need to figure out why they play so much differently at home, and they’d better figure it out quick. Five of the next six games are at The Joe.

BOTTOM LINE: The Red Wings were playing with fire all night, and they finally got burned.

THE WINGED WHEELER SAYS: Watch Danny DeKeyser closely. He’s suffering from a bout of sophomore jinx. He isn’t playing with the same confidence he had last year before getting injured. Once again, the no. 1 line of Henrik Zetterberg-Pavel Datsyuk-Todd Bertuzzi was the best on the ice for Detroit, and there was little if any contribution from anyone else, though Darren Helm, centering the second line, looked more like the Helm of old, as he continues to get his legs under him.

Spotlight on the Opponent: Coach Jon Cooper

What: Tampa Bay at Detroit
When: Saturday, November 9, 7:00pm (TV: FSD)

Jon Cooper

These aren’t last season’s Tampa Bay Lightning—at least not so far.

The Lightning are striking, sitting atop the Atlantic Division with a nifty 11-4-0 record. They have scored 51 goals, ranking 7th in the NHL in goals for.

Early on, it’s looking as if GM Steve Yzerman’s decision to strip coach Jon Cooper of his interim tag from last season is paying off. Cooper coached the Lightning for the final 13 games after replacing Guy Boucher, going 5-8. Still, Cooper showed enough to warrant a promotion—no more “interim” for him.

Cooper is no stranger to winning. Guiding the Norfolk Admirals in 2011-12, Cooper won the AHL’s Calder Cup. After that, Cooper went to the Syracuse Crunch, the Lightning’s AHL affiliate, and that’s where he was when Yzerman tabbed him to coach in the NHL for the first time.

Cooper certainly is one of the few former attorneys to ever coach in the NHL. He’s 46 now, and was practicing law until 10 years ago. In fact, he used to be a public defender in Lansing, MI.

Cooper, in a story that ran on Grantland.com last month, spoke of the whirlwind moments after Yzerman hired him to coach the Lightning last March.

“The whirlwind is getting the call from Steve Yzerman, and just in that moment you’re like Wow, my life’s about to change here,” he said. “But the one holy shit moment wasn’t flying in, and it wasn’t doing the press conference, and it wasn’t seeing or watching the game. It was at about quarter to eleven at night, when I walked into that room to the silence of 24 players and the entire staff and everybody was waiting to hear what I had to say. That was the one moment where if you could just stop it in time you’d go Ooh, wow, I wonder what everyone’s thinking right now.”

Right now, Jon Cooper is pressing all the right buttons. And, to borrow a phrase from his former profession, no one is raising an objection.

To read more of Grantland.com’s profile of Cooper, dated October 8, 2013, click HERE.