Close to rock bottom: Red Wings pounded by Maple Leafs
Detroit — Usually it’s the Lions ruining Thanksgiving around Detroit — but the Red Wings squashed the joy out of Thanksgiving Eve this year.
On the biggest bar night of the year Wednesday, the Wings gave their fans reason to drown their sorrows with a terrible 6-0 loss to Toronto.
“I don’t have a lot of words, it’s embarrassing,” Red Wings forward Luke Glendening said. “Get beat 6-0 in your own building, it’s disappointing for sure.
“It’s frustrating. I’m always proud to wear this jersey and it’s something everyone in this room is proud to wear, but we have to go out and prove we’re proud to wear it every night.”
Nothing went remotely right for the Wings.
They lost starting goaltender Jimmy Howard to a mid-body injury midway through the first period, after Howard allowed three goals on 14 shots.
Coach Jeff Blashill said Howard will not be available Friday in Philadelphia, and wouldn’t speculate to Howard’s availability after that.
The Wings will bring up goaltender Calvin Pickard from Grand Rapids.
Goalie Jonathan Bernier, who replaced Howard, had flu-like symptoms, which was a reason Bernier wasn’t even on the bench and was in the locker room when Howard was hurt.
Wings emergency goalie Josh Block was an option but Bernier — who was scheduled to start this game but came down sick — battled through and stopped 37 of 40 shots, and further earned the respect of his teammates.
“He has to get dressed after laying down and wasn’t feeling well at all, and worked his hardest,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “He does that every day. He’s a professional.”
Said Blashill: “Obviously it was up to him (Bernier) if he could go or not, and he came in and showed tons of guts coming in. He played his butt off, he played well.”
The Wings allowed a season-high 26 shots in the second period, and allowed a season-high 54 for the game.
The Leafs bunched three goals in the first period, and three in a six-minute span early in the second period, to cruise toward the win.
“Obviously we played terrible in the second,” Blashill said. “When you’re chasing people around it’s frustrating. We were chasing them around, we couldn’t create any stalls, so we played tons of defensive zone coverage.”
The tone for the evening was set when Toronto’s Travis Dermott was credited with a goal just 1 minute, 4 seconds into the game, when his shot caromed off the skate of Frans Nielsen and past Howard.
From there, it was another of those instances where the Wings simply compound their problems and the opposing team capitalizes with multiple goals.
“It’s something we have to be better at,” forward Frans Nielsen said. “They get one, then two, and it’s like we are afraid to make mistakes, throw pucks away.”
Maple Leafs fans took control of Little Caesars Arena, chanting loudly whenever goalie Frederik Andersen had to make a save (25 for the shutout).
The Wings didn’t have any power-play opportunities and rarely made life difficult for Andersen.
“We have to make it harder on the goalie,” Nielsen said. “Freddy saw a whole bunch of those shots. A good goalie like him is going to stop them. It looked like an easy night for him out there.”
Andreas Johnsson had two goals (one a power play), and Tyson Barrie, John Tavares and William Nylander added Leafs goals.
The Wings (7-17-3) are now winless in seven games (0-5-2).
“I don’t know how much further rock bottom is, but it’s got to be pretty close,” Glendening said. “We have to find a way to play a simple game and keep pushing forward.”