Frans Nielsen disappointed with yet another lopsided Wings' loss The Detroit News
Sunrise, Fla. — Florida is a nice place to visit this time of year but it wasn’t this weekend for the Red Wings.
Many locales have been unkind to the Wings this season and the Sunshine State proved equally so, with the Panthers defeating the Wings Sunday 6-1 — 24 hours after the Wings lost in Tampa.
For what it’s worth, this loss was the far uglier of the two.
And it that list of bad, bad losses the Wings have had this season — and the list has grown over the weeks and months — definitely add Sunday’s game.
The Wings were rarely in this game.
“We were just a step behind everywhere,” forward Frans Nielsen said. “I don’t really know what to say but it’s just not OK. It’s been a lot of times now this year.”
The Wings (24-35-10) continue stumbling to the finish line, having lost 10 of their last 11.
“We know we’re not going to make it (playoffs) but you want to keep building and going into the summer with a good feeling and making progress,” Nielsen said. “Right now, we’re going backward.”
Thomas Vanek (power play) scored for the Wings.
Thomas Vanek talks about the Red Wings' 6-1 loss to Florida The Detroit News
After Vanek scored, midway in the second period cutting Florida’s lead to 3-1, it appeared the Wings were right back in the game.
But a Filip Hronek tripping penalty late in the second period gave the Panthers a crucial power play, and Jonathan Huberdeau scored just 1:26 into the third.
Then, Dryden Hunt made it 5-1 at 2:51. And the rout was definitely on.
“I don’t think it was a lack of want or try, but it certainly was a lack of execution,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said of the defeat. “We need guys to step up and play their ‘A’ games.”
Huberdeau, Hunt and Aleksander Barkov scored in the first 7:44 of the third period, extending a 3-1 lead to 6-1, with goalie Jimmy Howard (37 saves) getting little assistance in front of him.
The Panthers outshot the Wings 43-20.
“I actually thought Jimmy played real well,” said Vanek, alluding to the fact the Panthers easily could have had several more goals. “When you’re chasing the game, you start turning it over and not making the plays and they just had a Grade A chance after Grade A chance.
“It was a pretty fun night for them and awful for us.”
Florida (30-27-12) — as Tampa did the night before — took a 2-0 lead on the Wings and cruised.
The Panthers outshot the Wings 15-3 in the opening 20 minutes, and like Vanek said, the Wings were chasing the game from there on.
Allowing Florida so many quality chances early, something the Wings have been doing against opponents lately, hasn’t helped.
“Right now it’s just too easy to skate through us,” Blashill said. “We have to make sure we take better angles and play through bodies and make it way harder.”
Playing without Dylan Larkin (neck strain), who missed his third consecutive game, the Wings created little offensive push for the second straight night.
Not having defensemen Mike Green (virus) for the remainder of the season has hurt, too, along with seeing forward Gustav Nyquist and defenseman Nick Jensen dealt at the trade deadline.
That’s a lot of production and experience that can’t be easily replaced.
“You can’t afford anything less than 100 percent in terms of execution and playing at a top level,” Blashill said. “We haven’t done that.”