Obvious frustration for Red Wings’ Thomas Greiss during tough season
Thomas Greiss snapped his stick in half against the goal post, then smashed what was left on the crossbar for good measure.
The Detroit Red Wings goaltender had every right to be frustrated after the Chicago Blackhawks’ fifth goal of 13:51 in a blast in the third period that led to a 7-2 loss on Sunday at United Center.
Granted, Greiss didn’t perform as well as the Red Wings expected when they signed him to a two-year, $ 7 million free agency deal. His numbers are unsightly (1-11-3, 3.46 goals against average, 0.882 save percentage).
But most of the Red Wings’ worst defensive performances have come with Greiss in goal – losses to Dallas (7-3), Tampa Bay (5-1), Florida (7-2) before that last effort.
The Red Wings performed well for two periods, trailing 2-1 but generating chances and putting pucks on Kevin Lankinen (a season high with 46 shots). But their structure collapsed in the third period, leading to a five-goal explosion.
“We lost a few and we were pushing for the attack, but we can’t let go of the weird men rushes and leave our goalie running dry, we have to find a way to wrap it up defensively,” said Sam Gain. “The only way we can create and come back in this game is to make sure we’re strong defensively. “
Winning said it was disappointing because Greiss fought hard for the team.
“He made a lot of big saves early on and when you give a team like that a chance to rush they are going to charge you,” said Gagner. “It’s not fair to Greisser. We have to do a better job playing hard in front of him and limiting their chances. “
The Red Wings were in the right direction defensively, with solid structure in 11 of their last 12 games.
“I thought our track and our line were as bad as they’ve been all year and it’s been pretty good all season,” said coach Jeff Blashill. “They do a good job in a rush, so they make it difficult for you, but we did a terrible job sorting them out on the (blue) line. A lot of them weren’t really that difficult. We had numbers back and we didn’t pick the right people, gave too many free looks. “
This team, on the whole, is still struggling to score and their special teams have been formidable. But goals against is one area the Red Wings have improved, dropping from 3.73, the league’s worst of 2019-20, to 3.25, which was inflated due to a few bad nights.
“You push for the attack at the end, the guys do what they can to create, but it can’t come at the expense of our defensive structure,” said Gagner. “That’s where we are successful, that’s what drives him. We have to make sure that we respect our identity no matter what happens in the game. In the end, you live with the results.
The results were difficult for Greiss. He appeared to come out of training camp slightly ahead of Jonathan Bernier in the goalie competition, winning the start in the season opener while Blashill, as expected, stuck to strict rotation.
Bernier, since returning on February 13 after being out for two weeks with injury, has been the better of the two and has won most starts. Opportunities for Greiss to step into a groove figure to be scarce the rest of the way, as long as Bernier continues his solid playing.
“I thought (Greiss) was actually good for a long part of the game,” Blashill said. “When you give up so many high-quality scoring opportunities, through back doors, you’re going to get stuck in your net a bit. He may have been frustrated, but it will be behind him and he will attack again the next time he gets a chance to play.