Red Wings: 8 Takeaways From Detroit’s Loss to Pittsburgh

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Well, that loss brought Detroit Red Wings fans back to Earth. After winning three straight preseason games, fans were riding high on some fantastic performances from some of the team’s most important pieces heading into Sundays matchup. Here are a few observations from the first exhibition loss.

#1: Pius Suter is a perfect fit for the team. Let’s start by extrapolating something positive from Sunday’s game. The lone scorer in the loss was also probably best player for Detroit. Suter continues to illustrate his skills as a two-way forward; there were offensive possessions kept alive singlehandedly by Suter, or he’d create another opportunity with a steal or strong defensive presence. Simply put, he’s a perfect fit in Jeff Blashill’s scheme.

#2: Robby Fabbri and Suter have some legit chemistry. Fabbri and Suter were two of the three Red Wings that earned a point on the stat sheet. In a game where the offense looked choppy and out of rhythm, the team’s best moments came when these two were on the ice. It’s only fitting that the only score of the day was Suter burying a slick pass from Fabbri at the front of the net.

#3: The penalty kill is a work in progress. Last year, the penalty kill wasn’t anything special – it finished at 78.7 percent, putting them at 22nd in the league. However, it certainly improved as the season went on, thanks almost entirely to the bottom-six. But with Luke Glendening and Darren Helm gone (don’t laugh – these two were actually solid on the pk), Detroit is going to have to play with some new combinations. The pk wasn’t great Sunday (the Penguins went one for three on the man advantage), so expect to see a few more combinations in the last of the exhibition games.

#4: The play play struggles weren’t a result of coaching. When Jordan Oestrle and Alex Cotton are your go-to power play quarterbacks, it’s hard to generate offense. That’s not a shot at either of them, it’s just not their ideal defensive roles. The power play struggled to gain zone entry whatsoever, let alone maintain offensive possession. But again, the players active on Sunday were just not great power play options. The power play unit was only effective in five-on-three  and they failed to get good looks on the other three chances

#5: Berggren didn’t do much. Not much to say here. Jonatan Berggren just didn’t do much. That’s not an indictment of the player; he’s young and it was his first preseason game. His play wasn’t too noticeable throughout the game.

#6: It’s only the preseason, but Nedeljkovic hasn’t been great. I don’t think I can stress this enough: IT IS THE PRESEASON. IN THE LONG RUN, THESE PERFORMANCES DO NOT MATTER. With that being said, Nedeljkovic’s two starts in the preseason haven’t been exactly reassuring, especially Sunday. Sure, the Red Wings were outshot and outplayed for a majority of the game, but Nedeljkovic let some odd ones in, finishing with a .826 save percentage before Victor Brattstrom stepped in. But again, it is just exhibition games, just a way to shake off some ring rust before the real stuff starts. Hopefully Nedeljkovic returns to form once October 14th rolls around.

#7: Givani Smith is going to be a great fourth liner this year. Smith didn’t manage to appear on the offensive stat sheet against the Penguins, but he continues to be one of the hardest working forwards of the preseason. Whether it be through physicality, solid offensive drive or high motor defending, Smith has been a presence in the exhibition thus far.

#8: Lucas Raymond should make the main roster. Yeah, he didn’t play Sunday. I don’t care. He should be a day one starter in Detroit.

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