Quite simply, the Jackets were overrun by the Red Wings who outworked and outhustled the younger Jackets in nearly every phase of the game. Final from Nationwide...9-1.
Really, there's not much analysis that needs to be done on a game like this. Jan Hejda was -4 on the evening which really says it all. Hopefully the team will put it behind them right away and move on. However, there were a couple things that stuck out to me about this game, aside from the lopsided score.
Specifically, the Jackets seemed flat and I am growing more and more concerned about Steve Mason.
First, let's consider Mason.
I understand sophomore slumps, but he has been a shell of what he was last season and we moved Pascal Leclaire at the trading deadline betting the house on the youngster. It may be time for him to have a seat and let's see what we have in Mathieu Garon. Frankly, there were more than one or two weak goals and he just doesn't look sharp. If the idea was to bring in someone who could legitimately challenge Mason for the #1 job, then it's time to demonstrate it. And, I do not understand why Hitchcock didn't pull him for good. What's the point putting him back in? See how he responds? Punish him? Humiliate him? The jeers that rained down upon him in the third, when he actually made a save, were justified, but maybe not what we should subject him to. It will be interesting to see if Hitch gives the start to Garon against the Ducks on Friday or if he decides to see how Mason responds. But, I'd like to see Garon get more time.
Regarding the Jackets psyche, if it was fragile coming into a game against the Wings, then it's smashed now. Apparently, there were lingering doubts about whether they could compete against Detroit based on last year's playoff exit, but they really didn't even show up tonight. The Wings controlled nearly every facet of the game. Puck possession, the neutral zone, the game along the boards, the speed game. All of it came crashing down tonight.
Take a look at our Four Lines Deep game preview. The keys to the game?
- Neutralize the points. Kronwall with two goals = fail
- Remember the playoffs. Well, they did and they almost seemed afraid of the Wings = fail
- Rule the neutral zone. From what I saw, the Wings were running roughshod over the Jackets taking away space in the neutral zone, gaining puck possession and moving into the Jackets zone at will = fail
Let's call it a night. Here are your Three Stars of the Game. You might be surprised to learn they are all Red Wings.
- Danny Cleary - 1 goal, 1 assist
- Niklas Kronwall - 2 goals, 1 assist
- Henrik Zetterberg - 2 assists
Let's just turn the page and move on together. We'll have a Friday preview up shortly. I would suggest we'll see a better effort from the boys on Friday. In the meantime, Carry the Flag!