DETROIT – The Red Wings weren’t in the mood to point fingers or lay blame Sunday afternoon.
“To me you have no excuses this time of year, none whatsoever,” said coach Mike Babcock, after his team was thoroughly drubbed in a 7-1 defeat to the Chicago Blackhawks before a nationally televised audience on Easter.
“Ugly's an understatement, obviously. There’s no reason. There’s just no reason for it at all,” the Wings’ coach added. “I mean, it was painful to watch. There were 57 minutes of pain, that’s the way I looked at it, and they were better than us.”
Before fans could get comfortable in their seats for Sunday’s matinee, the visitors had already potted a 3-0 lead in the opening four-minutes. And though there was plenty of hockey yet to be played, it didn’t get any better for the home team.
Jimmy Howard started his 29th game of the season, but after surrendering a 4-0 lead early in the second period to the Blackhawks, he was pulled in favor of backup Jonas Gustavsson.
Unfortunately, Gustavsson didn’t fare much better, as it took the Blackhawks eight-seconds to score on the Wings’ backup.
“We didn’t do anything with it,” said Babcock, referring to the rest of the game. “We came out after – and we had a stoppage, a period – to get organized and talk about that and get re-grouped and get at her, and then they came down and shot it in our net right away again. When we changed Howie then they shot it in that very same shift. The bottom line is whatever we did today was poor. And it doesn’t reflect well on us at all as far as our preparation goes.”
It certainly didn’t help matters that the Red Wings learned that they would start the game without one of their scoring leaders. Captain Henrik Zetterberg skated in pregame warm-ups, but wasn’t in the lineup with a groin injury.
Even though Zetterberg, who has eight goals and 24 assists, missed his first game season, the Wings didn’t want to make excuses.
“He’s our captain. Our big leader,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “But other teams go through that too. We have to find a way to get through that.”
The Red Wings now have to get ready for a Monday night game against the lowly Colorado Avalanche, seated in last-place in the Western Conference. And more than likely, Detroit will be without its captain again.
“This is what I do know about groins,” Babcock said, “if you missed today you’re probably not playing tomorrow.”
Zetterberg had played in 116 consecutive games, dating back to the end of the 2010-11 season. It was in the third from final game that he was injured by a Bryan Allen hit in a game at Carolina. Zetterberg missed the final two games, as well as the opening-round playoff series against Phoenix, which the Red Wings swept in four games. Zetterberg returned for Western Conference semifinals, and produced three goals and five assists in the seven-game series, won by the San Jose Sharks.
Forward Mikael Samulesson, who was making his 2013 home debut for the Wings on Sunday, left the game in the second period with an undisclosed injury. He will have tests on Monday, but it’s believed that he is day to day.
Samuelsson skated more than nine-minutes, but had a game-high four hits against the Blackhawks.
Chicago built a 7-0 lead before Cory Emmerton ruined the shutout for Blackhawks goalie Cory Crawford with a goal at 19:27 of the third period. Defenseman Brendan Smith and Brian Lashoff were credited with assists on the Wings’ goal.
After the game, the Wings assigned Lashoff to their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids, and recalled veteran defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, who spent the weekend with the Griffins on a conditioning assignment.
Lashoff will return to Detroit on Wednesday when NHL teams are permitted to expand their rosters at the April 3 trade deadline.
THREE STARS: 3, Jonathan Toews, CHI (1 goal, 2 assists); 2, Dave Bolland, CHI (2 goals); 1, Brandon Saad, CHI (2 goals, 1 assist).
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