Physical Minnesota Wild too much for the banged-up Detroit Red Wings

The Detroit Red Wings landed in Minnesota hoping to put on a three-game winning streak, but it would be difficult without captain Dylan Larkin, who sustained a hand injury Tuesday night. Larkin took a off-hand shot against the Carolina Hurricanes, much like Tyler Bertuzzi did late in the first half. Larkin returned for the second period but did not return for the third frame. Detroit would fall 4-1 to the Savages.

In addition to Bertuzzi, the Detroit Red Wings are missing numerous top 9 forwards, including Jakub Vrana, Robby Fabbri and Filip Zadina. At the beginning of the night Detroit was without Olli Maatta due to illness. Maatta was recently placed on injured reserve (IR). It’s a tough loss for the Detroit Red Wings. Maatta had played exceptionally well with Filip Hronek this season. Hronek leads Detroit’s defense with 24 points in 29 games.

Speaking of Hronek. The first third of the game on Wednesday evening started with a bang. Literally. Power forward Ryan Reaves caught Hronek with his head down as he attempted to exit the defensive zone, leveling the 25-year-old defender. Hronek had been looking over his left shoulder when a Minnesota Wild forechecker lingered, but failed to notice the heat-seeking missile, out to seek and destroy him, falling on him.

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Filip Hronek would not return.

After the goal was scored, the four officials came together and decided that it was a legal goal and no game penalty would be assessed. It definitely wasn’t a squeaky clean hit. Reaves had Hronek set up from center ice, and the first contact was with Hronek’s head, not his shoulder or any other part of his body. The NHL, like most leagues, has a particular focus on head injuries, targeting a player’s head. I’m not sure why this wasn’t at least a two minute loading penalty. Shortly thereafter, Lucas Raymond barely touched a Wild player who fell. Raymond was called out for a trip penalty. Watching the game all you could do was giggle. The NHL has become extraordinarily inconsistent with what they call a penalty and the plays they believe warrant a suspension.

If you don’t mind the hit. It’s good. I can honestly say I was rather disappointed with the lack of reaction from the Red Wings players on the ice. Someone has to drop their fists on Reeves. Jake Walman asked what Reaves was consuming in his coffee, but no more. The game was on TNT, and commentator Eddie Olczyk quickly shared a story about Bob Probert looking to fight goaltender Ken Wregget. Olczyk mentioned he was the last player out of the zone and felt compelled to circle back and help his keeper. Olczyk admitted it wasn’t a big fight and Probert echoed him, but said sometimes a player has to step up in certain situations, even if he’s going to take his clods.

The Red Wings, already without Maatta, lost Hronek for the rest of the game. Midway through the second half, Reeves put a clean hit on Gustav Lindstrom in Detroit’s defensive zone to the left of goaltender Magnus Hellberg, prompting Ben Chiarot to confront Reaves and drop the gloves. It wasn’t a big fight, but the Detroit Red Wings needed someone to show up and respond to Reeves; Kudos to Chiarot.

The Detroit Red Wings couldn’t do anything against the physical Minnesota Wild.

As you can see from the video post above, the Savages dawned their inverted retro jerseys against the Red Wings. It almost felt like we should be watching Mike Modano, Brian Bellows, Neal Broten or Dino Ciccarelli out there changing shifts.

Detroit had no legs early on. They ended the first period with a 7-3 lead and a 1-0 deficit on the scoreboard behind a Frederick Gaudreau power-play goal. Gaudreau pulled off a small toe drag from the top of the circles and picked the top corner with a deft shot as the screen lined up in front of Hellberg. Matthew Dumba scored his third goal of the season midway through the second period to give the Wilds a 2-0 lead.

Late in the second half, the recently recalled Elmer Söderblom forced an offensive zone change with a massive check. Moments later, he was rewarded for his work with a nice give-and-go with Adam Erne. Söderblom made it 2-1 for Wild with his third goal of the season. Just 16 seconds later, Mats Zuccarello scored for Minnesota and scored his tenth goal of the season.

The third period was very uneventful. The Detroit Red Wings, two behind, couldn’t muster many offensive zone chances. Detroit pulled Hellberg back at halftime with about three minutes remaining in hopes of taking the lead from Wild. Finally, Frederick Gaudreau scored his second goal of the evening, hitting the gaping net with a try from his own zone.

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The Detroit Red Wings are having a really tough time. The Red Wings managed just 17 shots at the net Wednesday night to go 3-0 on the power play. It’s just not good enough.

Not only are they missing their captain, but Hronek and Maatta being off the ice revealed the lack of depth in Detroit’s backend. Detroit didn’t lose to Hellberg; The offense has dried up lately, as have Detroit’s wins. Next up for the Detroit Red Wings are the Ottawa Senators on Saturday at 1 p.m. Est. in Detroit; hopefully we’ll have an update on Larkin and Hronek’s health sometime on Thursday.

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