Newcomers made favorable impressions for the Detroit Red Wings as they continued to thrive in exhibition season.
Lucas Raymond scored and had an assist, and Pius Suter contributed three assists Thursday in the Wings’ 6-2 victory against the Buffalo Sabres at Little Caesars Arena.
Suter was a free-agent signing brought in to boost the offense, and while it was only an exhibition game, he looked like he’ll stabilize the top six forwards and boost the power play.
“It’s preseason, so you take everything with a grain of salt, but he’s had a really good camp,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “He’s been good in every practice, he was good in the Red and White game, he was good in the game tonight. He’s smart. He’s a playmaker. He’s strong on his stick for a guy who’s a little bit undersized. He can obviously play power play, play penalty kill. He’s got a lot of attributes. He’s looked good so far.”
Raymond, a 2020 first-round pick, didn’t look out of place while making plays with the puck and playing well in his own zone.
“He did a good job,” Blashill said. “He’s a smart player. He’s got a really good two-way game, so those types of players are guys that are transferable because they know how to create efficient offense. He’s a real good player.”
Defenseman Moritz Seider, a 2019 first-round pick, looked like he was trying to do too much at times, but on the whole had a solid game.
Robby Fabbri scored twice, and Troy Stecher and Jonathan Martin also found the back of the net as the Wings improved to 2-0-0 in the preseason.
“We got a good feeling, got some details right,” Suter said. “It was a fun game to play, we scored quite a few goals.”
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The power play has been one of the Wings’ worst areas the past couple seasons, but this year, new assistant coach Alex Tanguay has taken charge. The engagement level was noticeable: Though there was no conversion, Suter especially looked dangerous when he tried to stuff Filip Zadina’s rebound off a one-timer from Nick Leddy. Suter earned an assist in the second period when Fabbri turned Suter’s shot on net into a rebound goal. Suter earned a second assist when he won the draw that led to Luke Witkowski’s goal. Suter assisted again on Fabbri’s second goal, an empty-netter with 2:18 left in the third period.
“It’s one game, but you saw — power play, penalty kill, defensive zone, making plays in the o-zone — he kind of does it all,” Fabbri said. “Any team would love to have a guy like that. He’s a 200-foot player, and that’s going to be big for us.”
Suter centered Raymond and Fabbri. Blashill will want to give other wingers a look, but it sure looks like Fabbri and Suter will be a pairing going forward, and these exhibition games are great for building chemistry.
“Every minute we play together helps us for the regular season,” Suter said. “We kind of know where everybody goes. Fabbs, Raymond, just to know how they react in certain situations — with every shift, that will grow and will help.”
Jeff Blashill joked earlier this week that in order for Raymond to be on the opening roster, he has to play so well during exhibition that it’ll be obvious to Blashill’s wife. On Thursday morning, Blashill followed up, saying he told Raymond, “my wife will be watching.” Raymond started the game on a line with Suter. Raymond, “is a really smart player, good with the puck,” Blashill said. “He has to make sure he has the puck a lot — you work to get open or you work to get it, and then you play good defense to make sure you’re not defending all night.” Raymond scored to make it 2-1 in the second period.
Raymond played on a line with Suter and Fabbri.
“For a guy like that to come in and be as confident as he is is important, because that’s when he’s making those plays and he’s playing his game,” Fabbri said. “It makes our job easier when he’s playing his game.”
New goalie Alex Nedeljkovic was acquired in an offseason trade with the Carolina Hurricanes in the hopes he could strengthen the Wings in net for years to come. He’d probably like to have back Rasmus Asplund’s goal, scored with 1:29 left in the first period. Asplund eluded a defender and fired a clean shot on net that hit Nedeljkovic and went into the net. Arttu Ruotsalainen made it 3-2 midway through the second period.
Contact Helene St. James at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.