When the Nicklas Lidstrom news about returning home broke Tuesday morning, the Detroit Red Wings were amidst the finishing up of a west coast trip. While taking on the Los Angeles Kings (L 4-0), Anaheim Ducks (SOL 4-3) and San Jose Sharks (OTL 3-2), the Red Wings finished 0-1-2 on the trip. That brings their overall record to 16-16-5, three points behind the Boston Bruins, while also having played five more games than Boston.
On the west coast trip, the Red Wings made many mistakes and did not do too many things well, beginning with slow starts. They found themselves down in all three games entering the first intermission. However, they did fight back and ended up blowing two separate 2-1 leads in the Ducks and Sharks games. Lastly, Alex Nedeljkovic continues to shine amidst the Red Wings’ struggles.
The playoff push, while still well in reach, is slowly slipping away with these losing skids the Red Wings keep finding themselves on. They find themselves back at Little Caesars Arena tonight to take on the Winnipeg Jets, another team in the wild card hunt.
Red Wings’ Sluggish First Period Efforts
While traveling to the west coast, the Red Wings found themselves coming off their first (and only) win of 2022 – a 6-2 win over the Sharks at home. They were still amid a rough streak, only 3-6 over their past nine games. Even with a little confidence built entering the trip, they were embarrassed in the first period in Los Angeles, getting outshot 27-1. The Kings proved too much for Detroit to overcome as they fell to the Kings.
With a big Calder Cup showdown between Trevor Zegras, Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond, the rookies were looking to shine. Headed into Anaheim, the Red Wings tried to right the ship and get two points. However, once again, they entered the first intermission down 1-0. After eventually taking the lead, Larkin and Bertuzzi both left the game with injuries, leaving the top line gutted and Raymond all by his lonesome.
Making it through the three-on-three overtime, the Red Wings eventually fell in a shootout. Zegras won the Calder showdown, tallying the first goal of the game on the man advantage, an assist on the third goal and scoring in the shootout. Raymond and Seider both tallied an assist.
With only one of four possible points secured, the Red Wings really needed a win in San Jose. Once again, though, they stumbled out of the gate and were down at the end of the first period. After a gritty game, the two teams dropped two skaters and headed to overtime. But it didn’t last long, as Sharks captain Logan Couture scored the game-winning goal just a minute into the extra period.
Blown Red Wings Leads in Close Games
Even with stumbling and bumbling in the first period, the Red Wings found themselves up 2-1 in both the Ducks and Sharks games. All season, the Red Wings have been playing well in close games and finding ways to pick up two points being 13-5-2 in games decided by two or fewer goals.
During the west coast trip, the tides changed, as the Red Wings blew leads in close games and managed only two of a possible four points in such games on this road trip. Hopefully this isn’t an indication of future games down the stretch, but losing two games they tend to win is not a good omen of things to come.
Nedeljkovic Continues to Shine During Red Wings’ Struggles
Relying on goaltending is not only important for every team in the NHL, but the Red Wings have especially been expecting extra help from goalkeeping all season – primarily from Nedeljkovic. With Thomas Greiss’ shaky play over the season, Nedeljkovic has positioned himself nicely as goalie one on the depth chart.
This west coast trip continued to cement his position. Facing a barrage of shots in the first period against the Kings, even though the Red Wings did not make a comeback, Nedeljkovic managed to keep the game in reach, saving 38 of the 41 shots sent his way.
Continuing this good play after a game off, Nedeljkovic made great save after great save to keep the Red Wings in the game and with a chance to win. The offense didn’t help Nedeljkovic, only scoring two goals on 19 shots in three periods. Eventually letting up an overtime goal, Nedeljkovic sent aside 37 of the 40 shots he saw. The only gripe that could come his way is the overtime goal let-up was a little weak. Even so, Nedeljkovic played outstanding on the road trip and is continuing his great season in Detroit.
Red Wings Powerplay and Nick Leddy
A couple of bright spots on the road trip occurred as well. Beginning with the power play, the Red Wings have scored a power-play goal in each of the past two games, going 2-9 overall on the road trip. (from ‘St. James Detroit Red Wings, with ‘relentless schedule,’ get hope from play in net, Power Play’ Detroit Free Press, 1/13/22). These numbers aren’t eye-popping by any means. However, it is higher than their season percentage and could be a bit of a turning point on the man advantage.
Lastly, Nick Leddy scored his first goal of the season and his first goal as a Red Wing. He fired a wrist shot from above the circles and beat the Sharks’ goalie glove side. If Leddy can provide more offense down the stretch, his trade value can increase come trade deadline time.
I first developed an interest in writing at a young age, always wanting to write and tell stories. I attended the University of Michigan where I studied economics and minored in writing. Content contributor for the Detroit Red Wings at The Hockey Writers.