8 Observations after the Red Wings’ 6-3 Win over Chicago

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Oh yes, it was a good one. The Detroit Red Wings jumped out to a 4-1 lead and used a Lucas Raymond hat trick to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-3. Today’s observations will obviously focus on Raymond, but also some other moments–and players–that stood out:

1: Whoever had any doubt that Lucas Raymond belonged in the NHL saw those thoughts vanquished last night. Not only did Raymond have four points, he scored a hat trick, and should now absolutely be in the conversation for the Calder. It’s humorous that he wasn’t mentioned more–now the young sniper is letting his scoring do the talking. Raymond is only one of two teenagers to ever have a hat trick with the Wings–of course the man who drafted him is the other. Maybe now, Steve Yzerman, whose first two first round picks are major parts of the roster, will get the benefit of the doubt when he doesn’t take who the pundits think he should.

2: Filip Hronek sat out another night and inquiring minds want to know why. Though head coach Jeff Blashill wouldn’t elaborate, something is certainly amiss that Hronek is on the outside looking in. While Danny DeKeyser is a left hand shot, it’s becoming evident that he’s trending into Jonathan Ericsson territory–through no fault of his own. It appears his body is just betraying him and he can’t be faulted for that. But Hronek, who seemed to bolster the pairings as a top four defenseman, has done or said something that has put him in Blashill’s doghouse.

3: Tyler Bertuzzi may divide the fanbase due to his stance on vaccination, but he’s the straw that stirs the Red Wings drink right now. There is a noticeable jump in the Wings’ game when he’s on the ice, and he was involved in so many of the Red Wings scoring chances, and goals Sunday evening. Losing him for eight more games stings, but regardless of what Yzerman chooses to do with him, there’s no doubt Detroit is a better team with Bertuzzi in the fold. It’s a selling point should Yzerman opt to deal him that Bertuzzi adds major punch. On the other side of the argument, Bertuzzi is clearly a strong piece in the Wings’ core.

4: Nick Leddy is so good for this team. On Raymond’s second goal, it was Leddy who started the play with a smart breakup of what could have been a Blackhawk rush the other way. He waited to make his pass and then when he did, Raymond took it into the Hawks’ zone, Bertuzzi picked up the puck, and made a pass to Larkin in the slot, who ripped a shot that caused a rebound. Raymond was there to finish it off and get his second goal of the night. Leddy is a calming presence on the blue line–stellar, smooth, and providing a good stable voice for Moritz Seider.

5: Seider and Raymond are slowly bringing back the pride that was felt when wearing the Winged Wheel. Seider is afraid of no one and mixes it up constantly, last night with Alex Debrincat which reminded me of the Zdeno Chara-Brendan Smith dust up where Chara essentially laughed at Smith engaging him. Seider did the same with DeBrincat, all but daring him to take a swing. This is what Detroit missed in the last few years. It’s been vanilla for a long while, and between Seider having an offensive dimension with the physical and Raymond finding the scoresheet, happier times are ahead.

6: Alex Nedeljkovic’s robbery of DeBrincat’s shot on an open net may just be what he needs to add some more swag to the team. “Ned” made what analyst Ed Olczyk called the save of the year, and while he’s certainly adjusting to a weaker team that what he’s used to, he displays a confidence that shows what he could be for Detroit between the pipes: a stellar presence that can steal games from time to time. The save slammed the door on any comeback Chicago still had a chance to pull off.

7: Adding to the Blackhawks misery certainly is a fun for a Red Wings fanbase that lived through the torture of the 2013 playoff series. But it’s also another cautionary tale for teams sitting in a purgatory between a one-time contender to needing a full rebuild. The Blackhawks were apparently in a rebuild until they traded for Seth Jones, Tyler Johnson and Marc-Andre Fleury. Supposedly making a hard push for another Cup, they’re still winless and have a fanbase screaming for heads just six games into the season. It wasn’t too long ago that the Red Wings were in a similar situation, and it’s nice to know that after most likely hitting bottom two seasons ago, they’re on the rise while a similar situation Wings fans know all too well seems to be brewing in Chicago.

8: Larkin was cross checked again in the neck area, and again, didn’t take kindly to it. He was whistled for a holding the stick penalty, which appeared to be his way to prevent the repeated cross checks.  A frustrated Larkin chirped the ref, and  a few Hawks on his way to the box, while also dishing out a few shoves. Though it’s understandable for what he did, it’s obvious that opponents know this is a trigger for Larkin. They’re looking for him to retaliate or to get under his skin so he–or another Red Wing–retaliates. There isn’t an easy answer to this, but it goes back to what I wrote before: either the league stands by what it said about cracking down on cross checks, or the Wings really have no choice but to continue to strike back when hit.

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