Dear Red Wings: Wrong direction

Detroit struggles without topline players, shows little depth on offense during road trip

Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) knocks the puck away from Detroit Red Wings center Michael Rasmussen (27) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) (Charles Krupa, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The fun has come to a halt for this team. But can they get it back?

4-game skid

Michael Rasmussen went to school Thursday night. His professor was Mr. Patrice Bergeron, who taught him lessons in faceoffs, passing, shooting, tracking, and more. Oh, and how to bag a natural hat trick, then a fourth goal, in front of the home crowd, like the legend he has become. Bergeron is ageless. Rasmussen, 22, will hopefully benefit from this on-the-job lesson.

A week ago I was writing about how much “fun!” this team was. Well, I’ve returned to Earth after watching the Red Wings on this road trip.

It started with the loss of Tyler Bertuzzi on the Canada trip. The team’s leading goal scorer with endless energy can’t play in Canada due to his unvaccinated status, as we are reminded so often. The Wings have six more regular season games across the border.

A game without a banged-up Adam Erne did not help matters in Toronto either. Joe Veleno’s call-up made for a nice sidestory, but the tough loss to a deep Leafs team was the beginning of an unwanted trend. The Wings were getting outmatched.

Then Dylan Larkin, Detroit’s only answer to other teams’ topline centers, mysteriously exited the lineup before the game in Montreal, and the Red Wings fell into despair. They were a mess at Le Centre Bell and flat out could not find any offense against the Habs, and that issue continued into the next game in Boston.

The Red Wings had just 6 shots against the Bruins through two periods. I had seen enough by then. The third period was much of the same, except for a bonus Lucas Raymond power play goal. At least the kid got a goal after taking that puck to the face earlier in the game.

Full game recap: Patrice Bergeron scores 4, Bruins beat Red Wings 5-1

The Red Wings failed to match up against their divisional, Original Six, rivals. The depth we thought we saw a week or two ago was not there when they’ve needed it the most. And just like that they’re in a four-game skid.

The good news is the trip isn’t over. The Wings head to Buffalo for a game Saturday night. Who knows if Larkin will be available to play then, as there is no update on his status. All we know is he has been unavailable due to “personal reasons.”

Either way, with or without their captain, hopefully the Red Wings can snap the skid before returning home Sunday. This will be what they call a “character win” if they can get it done. It’s the final game of a road trip for a younger group that has a lot to prove.

Note: Rasmussen was shifted to topline center in Larkin’s absence. Pius Suter may get the call next. Suter has 1 goal and 1 assist through 11 games played. Remember he had 27 points in 55 games played with the Chicago Blackhawks this past season, his first in the NHL. I really hope this isn’t another Mathias Brome case for the Red Wings.

Coming up:


About the Author:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.