Detroit — The Red Wings want Lucas Raymond to be noticeable, make an impact, and be one of the best players on the ice when he is playing these exhibition games.
If Raymond does that, he’ll be on the opening-night roster.
One game in, Raymond was very noticeable.
Raymond scored a goal in his exhibition season debut, helping the Red Wings to a 6-2 victory over Buffalo at Little Caesars Arena.
“It’s a great for a guy like that to come in and be as confident as he is,” said linemate Robby Fabbri, who scored two goals. “It’s important that he’s making those plays and playing his game and you can see that tonight. It makes our job easier when he’s playing his game.”
Fabbri (two goals, including an empty netter), Troy Stecher, Luke Witkowski and Jon Martin added the other goals, but it was Raymond who the fans came to see — along with defenseman Moritz Seider — and fans likely went home happy.
“Like I said (during in training camp in Traverse City), he looks good,” said Pius Suter, who had three assists. “He shoots the puck and has a nice shot.”
With the news Thursday that Jakub Vrana will miss at least four months due to shoulder surgery, the Wings will need goal-scoring ability from someone.
Raymond is beginning to show it could be from him.
In the second period, just 23 seconds after Robby Fabbri got the Wings on the scoreboard tying the game, Raymond gathered a loose puck near the dot, skated into the slot, and whistled a shot past Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.
“He did a good job, he’s a smart player,” said coach Jeff Blashill. “He has a good two way game and those types of players are guys who are transferable (from offense to defense.”
Raymond, who also had an assist on Fabbri’s empty net goal, talked after Thursday’s morning skate about how excited he was playing at Little Caesars Arena.
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“It’ll be a lot of fun playing here,” said Raymond, Thursday morning. “It’s something I dreamt of since I was drafted. To finally be here, to be able to play (Thursday) will be an incredible feeling.
“Of course, there’s nerves the first game of the season, but just trying to treat it like every game and be calm. To be in this arena in a Red Wings jersey is really special.”
As with most young players arriving from Europe, the smaller rink in North America has been a challenge.
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“It’s a huge tempo difference, which I’m getting used to,” Raymond said. “I like the playing style. It’s fun, fast hockey, lots of shooting. You can be a threat almost anywhere in the zone.”
Fabbri, who also had a fine game, Raymond and Stecher scored three goals in a span of 3 minutes 22 seconds to erase a 1-0 Buffalo lead.
After seeing his season marred by a case of the coronavirus early on, then a concussion late in the season, Fabbri has come into this camp healthy and looked as sharp as any player.
“I had a great summer, felt good coming out of the summer and into training camp, and I’m trying to pick up where I left off,” Fabbri said. “That starts with confidence. I felt good skating out there, and little plays here and there that I can work on and get better with some games here in the preseason, and I felt good.”
Fabbri and Suter, who were teammates in junior hockey, appear to have some of that chemistry in the early going of the exhibition season.
“It’s one game, but you saw he does it all, and any team would love to have a guy like that,” said Fabbri of Suter. “He’ll be big for us.”
Suter played on both specialty teams, was good defensively, and looked effective beween Fabbri and Raymond.
“It’s the first game, but it went all right,” Suter said. “We scored some goals, so that’s always fun. Every time we play it helps us for the regular season, getting to know where everybody goes and how they react in certain situations.”
Blashill has liked the sound type of game that Suter has displayed during the preseason.
“He’s had a good camp,” Blashill said. “He’s been in every practice, in the red and white game, and tonight. He’s smart, a playmaker, he has a lot of attributes.”
The Wings split the goaltending between Alex Nedeljkovic and Victor Brattstrom.
BOX SCORE: Red Wings 6, Sabres 2
Nedeljkovic stopped 17 of 19 shots, allowing goals to Rasmus Asplund — Nedeljkovic got beat five-hole, one he’d likely want back — and Arttu Ruotsalainen (power play).
Brattstrom stopped all 13 shots he faced.