Detroit — Nearly two weeks ago the Red Wings visited Chicago and soundly defeated the Blackhawks, who seemed more concerned about their impending five days off for a bye week.
Thursday, the Red Wings returned the favor.
With the All-Star break beginning Friday, the Red Wings appeared mentally on vacation in a 5-1 loss to Chicago.
This one will sting for a while — until the hockey season resumes early next week.
Just not enough Red Wings seemed into it for all 60 minutes, and it was noticeable.
“I would categorize it we had too many guys who weren’t good enough,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Guys have to learn what ‘every night’ means. We had too many guys who weren’t good enough. With that said, we have to capitalize on our chances.”
Blashill did single out one young player who needed to be better.
Tyler Bertuzzi had a minus-4 rating in over 15 minutes of ice time, and for the second consecutive game missed on prime scoring chances.
Jeff Blashill talks about the Wings not being ready to go, and the bad start against the Blackhawks. Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
“I can’t answer that part,” Blashill said when asked whether Bertuzzi was overthinking. “I can answer the fact he needed to be more ready to play tonight.”
Captain Henrik Zetterberg took some blame himself for some players not being ready.
“Really, really bad start for us,” Zetterberg said. “Too many guys not ready to go when the puck drops. That’s unacceptable, and that’s on me. I’ve got to get guys ready.
“We’ve been playing decent hockey here lately, even though we haven’t gotten decent results. Then we are not ready when we have four days off afterward.”
Anthony Mantha averted a shutout with his team-leading 16th goal at 16:09 of the third period.
Petr Mrazek talks about the Red Wings' poor start in the loss to the Blackhawks. Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
“Anthony for three games in a row has played very good,” Blashill said. “He skated on a consistent basis for three games in a row. Danny DeKeyser has been very good for the last month and a half.
“Those are two real important pieces for us to be a good team.”
Chicago chased goaltender Jimmy Howard with three goals on nine shots in just 8:47 of work — the shortest start in Howard’s NHL career.
Petr Mrazek replaced Howard, allowed one goal on 18 shots, but the damage was already done.
Farmington Hills native Alex DeBrincat had an exceptional homecoming, scoring three goals — an empty netter with 18.5 seconds left brought on a slew of hats — and assisting on another Blackhawks goal.
Vinnie Hinostroza and Anthony Duclair added Blackhawks goals, while goalie Anton Forsberg stopped 23 shots.
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill talks about his decision to start Jimmy Howard, rather than Petr Mrazek, against the Blackhawks. Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
“We hit a few posts and had some chances, we definitely felt this was a team we could score three against and come back,” forward Frans Nielsen said. “We can’t get outworked at home. We have to be better than that.
“We felt right away they came out and played the right way and played hard. You could see they wanted this one. We have to respond to that.”
If there was any further doubt whether the Red Wings would be buyers or sellers leading to the Feb. 26 trade deadline, it’s being decided clearly by the game.
The Red Wings (19-21-8) aren’t making up any ground in the standings, and mainly are going in reverse.
They’ve only won two of their last eight games (2-5-1), and play a road-heavy schedule the final two full months of the season.
“You look at the standings, we definitely need to win,” Nielsen said.