Red Wings are scorched 5-1 by Flames, face Oilers next
Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano and goalie David Rittich bookend Red Wing Darren Helm in front of the net during the second period on Thursday night.
Maybe the Red Wings will be able to get a true gauge of the effect of breaking up their top line in Friday night’s game in Edmonton against the Oilers (9 p.m., FSD), which concludes the Wings’ three-game Western Canada swing.
Because only one conclusion could be drawn from Detroit’s 5-1 loss to the Calgary Flames in Calgary on Thursday night: The Flames are a far better hockey team than the Red Wings, no matter what line Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi play on.
That unit, which had accounted for 11 of the Wings’ 17 goals in the first six games of the season, did not play together for the first time since late last season. Darren Helm played with Larkin and Mantha while Bertuzzi joined the second line with Andreas Athanasiou and Frans Nielsen.
And the only goal still came from the line that included Mantha and Larkin.
Helm got it with 9:47 left in the second period when he followed up Mantha’s breakaway attempt by poking the puck into the empty net as it lay in the crease. It came a little more than a minute after Calgary’s Elias Lindhom scored a power-play goal and made the score 2-1.
But from there …
Athanasiou, in particular, continues to struggle with only one assist in five games after a 30-goal campaign in 2018-19. He was thwarted on a breakaway by Flames goalie David Rittich midway through the first period and was minus-2 for the game.
So what coach Jeff Blashill said after practice on Wednesday still holds true.
“We need more out of more lines,” he told the media.
He also tried to spread the early-season effectiveness of the fourth line – which had been Helm and Justin Abdelkader centered by Jacob De la Rose – by putting
Abdelkader with Tiro Hirose and center Valtteri Filppula on the third line and de la Rose at center between Luke Glendening and Christoffer Ehn on the fourth line.
Obviously, nothing much worked, and Helm was Detroit’s only plus forward (plus-1, of course) for the game.
Clearly, the defense also played horribly.
Jimmy Howard, making his 500th career start, made 35 saves as the Flames outshot the Red Wings 19-10 in the third period. The Wings had 28 shots.
Derek Ryan had a goal and two assists for Calgary, although he was credited with the goal when Filip Hronek accidentally knocked the puck into his own net early in the third period to make it 4-1.
That’s just the kind of night it was for the Red Wings.
Forward Adam Erne did not play because of an upper-body injury.