There was something ridiculously frustrating about the Red Wings' regular season-ending 3-0 win over the St. Louis Blues on Sunday: The question of "Where was this team on Friday?"
Two days after dropping a 2-1 decision to the lottery-bound Carolina Hurricanes, the Red Wings - minus the resting Daniel Alfredsson, Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall, and Danny DeKeyser and starting third-string goalie Petr Mrazek - smacked down the Blues in a game in which St. Louis could have claimed the Central Division.
Okay, some of that is the Blues' complete implosion. They had maybe two good scoring chances all game. Without Ryan Miller, it would have been even worse. In fact, Detroit's goals required a bit of luck (two deflections by Justin Abdelkader and a snipe by Riley Sheahan that redirected off former Red Wing Carlo Colaiacovo), so it's not like the Wings' offense was entirely clicking. Detroit carried the play, though, and did it missing some big names.
And if they'd gotten a single point against Carolina, they'd be playing the Pittsburgh Penguins this week instead of the Boston Bruins.
But speaking of missing big names, defenseman Ryan Sproul did a fantastic job of stepping up in his NHL debut. I feel like I heard his name every minute or so. Aside from a rookie mistake early and maybe committing early on a St. Louis three-on-one, he looked like he belonged. Moved the puck well on the power play, good positionally, even threw a big hit. Based on one game, I'd say put him in instead of Brian Lashoff, but it's too small of a sample size to actually make that call.
I didn't hear Xavier Ouellet's name as much but in that good way that means he didn't make any mistakes. Sproul got the flashy power play time, Ouellet got the penalty-kill time.
Of the other fill-ins, we may have seen Todd Bertuzzi and Joakim Andersson as Red Wings for the last time. Bertuzzi is a free agent who probably won't be brought back this summer and Andersson has been replaced by Luke Glendening, making him a tradeable asset (not that I expect him to actually be dealt).
Mrazek ends up with a strange stat line this season, as both of his wins were by shutout (and were both on the road, against teams wearing blue). He looked confident, coming out to cut down angles. He made a big stop on the three-on-one I mentioned earlier, where Sproul may have gone down early, getting his leg up to knock down a shot after sprawling out to take away the bottom of the net.
Now it's on to Boston.
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