What Detroit Red Wings’ newcomers showed in team’s first scrimmage of 2021

Detroit Free Press

Helene St. James
| Detroit Free Press

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The new guys scored, the atmosphere was as cool as it was weird, and ultimately, the Detroit Red Wings were happy to have simulated a game.

With little more than a week left before they host the Carolina Panthers Jan. 14 to open the season, every scrimmage matters. Tuesday’s affair was highlighted by goals from newcomers Vladislav Namestnikov and Marc Staal, and a goal from Mathias Brome, who is trying to make the team.

“To add scoring from different people, I think it’s huge,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “It’s a scrimmage, we’ll take it with a grain of salt, but they still scored.”

Considering how beat up the Wings were last season — when they finished 31st — that grain of salt is worth pocketing. To see players besides Tyler Bertuzzi, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha producing is encouraging.

Of course, that trio clicked as usual. In helping Team Red rally from a two down to a 6-4 victory, Bertuzzi scored twice. His first was a typical Bertuzzi goal: get to the net, and tap in Mantha’s blast from the right circle. 

“Mo has that big, heavy shot and I’m just trying to create traffic in front,” Bertuzzi said. “Whether his goes in or creates a rebound, we need to have someone there.”

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It was a tough outing for Wings hopeful Evgeny Svechnikov, who left with four minutes to go, appearing to favor his right arm. Blashill did not have an update. Nor did he have one on Turner Elson, who had to be helped off the ice after a collision in the second period.

Arena personnel were working despite the fact games will be played without fan attendance because of the pandemic. Announcements were made over the loudspeaker. Music blared during whistles and timeouts. The game was broadcast on the Jumbotron.

“The camera crew did a great job, the sounds, everything was pretty cool,” Bertuzzi said. “It felt like a game. It wasn’t honestly that weird.

“We love our fans, but with what’s going on, we can’t have them.”

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Goaltender Jonathan Bernier described it as “kind of weird, but I think we will get used to it.”

Bernier and Thomas Greiss benefited from the scrimmage because they faced much more traffic in front of their nets than during practices. Upfront, Bobby Ryan got more familiar with linemates Robby Fabbri and Filip Zadina — although it was during overtime that Ryan showed off, helping set up Danny DeKeyser with a between-the-legs pass across the slot.

Namestnikov, another one of general manager Steve Yzerman’s free agent signings, scored on a deflection near the net.


What Jeff Blashill saw lacking in Detroit Red Wings first scrimmage

Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill speaks to the media after the team’s first scrimmage on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021.

Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press

Staal, a defenseman Yzerman acquired via trade in September, scored in overtime on a drive to the net.

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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