After defeating Columbus 5-1 in their first meeting of the preseason, the Detroit Red Wings played a rematch against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Wednesday evening. Columbus played most of their NHL roster as well as top prospects and came away with a 4-2 victory.
Detroit were without 11 regulars who didn’t make the trip to Columbus.
Prior to the game, Detroit made three roster cuts bringing the preseason roster down to 51 players. Alex Cotton was reassigned to Lethbridge (WHL). T-Bone Codd and Mason Ward were released from their camp tryouts and have been returned to Saginaw (OHL) and Brandon (WHL) respectively.
The Red Wings preseason roster now has 29 forwards, 17 defensemen, and five goaltenders. Most of the players left in camp will either play in the NHL with Detroit or in the AHL with Grand Rapids.
Here are eight observations from last night’s game.
#1: Special Teams will determine the outcomes of games this year. Last year, Detroit had one of the worst power plays in the NHL. As a result, special teams assistant coach Dan Bylsma was relieved of his duties. In Columbus, the Blue Jackets went 3/4 on the power play and that was the difference in the game. Detroit went 0/2 on the power play.
#2: Playing without four regular defensemen was also a huge difference maker in the game. Moritz Seider and company were exposed by the skilled Blue Jackets forwards. Without Nick Leddy and Filip Hronek, the Red Wings had a difficult time moving the puck out of their own end.
#3: Alex Nedeljkovic is coming into form. Nedeljkovic stopped 33/37 shots on the night. Three of the four goals were on the power play. Nedeljkovic looks like he is rounding into form at the right time prior to opening night.
#4: Filip Zadina scored in the practice shootout. Zadina showed his skill as he went forehand to backhand then sniped a shot over the shoulder of Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins. Zadina should be a recurring shooter during the regular season.
#5: Winning faceoffs is going to be a struggle. Losing Luke Glendening to free agency is going to really hurt in the faceoff circle. Joe Veleno was the best in the faceoff circle with a winning percentage of 58%. Dylan Larkin (38%), Carter Rowney (38%), and Mitchell Stephens (40%), struggled to win faceoffs throughout the game. Looking simply at faceoffs, Veleno certainly should gain greater consideration for making the roster.
#6: Jonatan Berggren needs some time in Grand Rapids. After sustaining an injury in the first game of the Prospects Tournament, Berggren looks like he is behind in his conditioning. He should start the season in the AHL, get used to the smaller ice surface, and return to Detroit after he has dominated at the lower level.
#7: Lucas Raymond is special. Raymond continues to impress even though his linemates had a rough evening. He turns routine puck possession into legitimate scoring chances. He shoots the puck every chance he gets. Despite only being 5’10, Raymond wins puck battles in the corners, drives to the net and continues to show that he belongs in the NHL now.
#8: Dylan Larkin was invisible throughout the game. Larkin look tentative throughout most of the game. At one point, he had a chance to easily be first to the puck in the corner, but, looked afraid to get hit. Maybe his neck injury is still not allowing him to be 100%. Could this may be an ongoing issue for the captain?
Michael Rasmussen is still day-to-day with an undisclosed injury and did not play Wednesday and will not play tonight The injury is not expected to keep Rasmussen out of the lineup when the regular season beings next Thursday.
Although Tyler Bertuzzi has not played any preseason games, he is cleared to play and head coach Jeff Blashill indicated that he may play Thursday.
During Wednesday mornings press conference, Blashill said that Lucas Raymond and Bobby Ryan may both make the opening night roster.
Detroit will host to Pittsburgh on Thursday at LCA, game time is 7:30.