However, the Wings’ comeback fell short. They lost, and Blashill was more concerned with the smell of the first 40 minutes than with a frantic third-period rally.
When you add it all up, this wasn’t one of the Wings’ better performances.
When asked if he had mixed feelings about the final conclusion, Blashill stated, “I don’t have conflicting emotions.” “I can see things clearly now, and I know it would have been fantastic to come back and win, and it would have been thrilling and amazing, but I also know that if we achieved that, it would not be good enough. I’m concerned about making sure it’s not worse.”
The Wings’ opening two periods were particularly costly and unappealing.
The Wings took their lack of momentum into Saturday’s game against the Leafs, and it cost them dearly.
The Leafs controlled from the start, and the Wings couldn’t match their intensity.
Blashill remarked, “We lost every puck race, every puck battle, every competition battle.” “It doesn’t matter what happens if you lose those types of battles; you’re going to get scored on.”
“These games are a test for us, and you’ll see how much we have to compete, work, and sacrifice as a result.” In the third, both offensively and defensively, we finally started accomplishing that. We gave up some chances, but that’s to be expected; but, in the third, we competed, we worked, we sacrificed, and we blocked shots. We didn’t compete, work, or sacrifice in the first two.
“Our team’s only opportunity of doing anything remarkable is to be exceptional in our competition, work, and sacrifice.”
The players understood the message and were not duped.
The booing at Little Caesars Arena after the second period ended were a reminder of the Wings’ poor play.
“It was humiliating; we just didn’t have a pulse,” defenseman Marc Staal remarked. “We deserved to be in that position. We certainly did not deserve to win.
“We were out of the game, then we went on a scoring spree. To be honest, I was glad our fans stayed. They provided us a lot of energy and a significant lift there. We got off to a good start because they were hyped up. It was an incredible crowd that stayed with us.”
But what about from the standpoint of the game?
“There wasn’t much there to like,” Staal explained.
Along with terrible Maple Leafs goaltending and defence effort, the Wings merely putting the puck toward the net helped them get back into the game.
The Wings’ inability to do so, or lack of desire to do so, over the first two periods led to their 7-2 deficit.
“If I’m a player, I’m looking at how did we have success in the third (period) – we got pucks in behind them, we played in their end, and we shot pucks,” Blashill said. “We refused to shoot the puck until that moment for some reason, and we probably didn’t shoot it enough after we got it close.”
But, as Blashill put it, it was all “fool’s gold” in the end.
Yes, the Wings came back to make it a close, thrilling game, and the supporters were largely entertained.
However, the underlying themes were all of the areas in which the Wings failed, including the accumulation of defensive flaws, ineffective goaltending from Alex Nedeljkovic and Thomas Greiss (despite the defence in front of them), and a shocking lack of emotion in a big game setting.
The Wings have three more games this week against three of the greatest teams in the NHL (Carolina at home Tuesday, then road games in Tampa and Florida on Friday and Saturday, respectively).
“It’s nice that we were finally able to start shooting the puck, and pucks went in late,” Blashill said, “but at the end of the day, it’s fool’s gold.” “That’s insufficient. That is something I hope our guys are aware of. It wasn’t good enough what happened out there (Saturday).”