Toronto — Lucas Raymond was all the rage coming out of the previous weekend, the young forward’s three-goal game in Chicago taking the NHL by storm.
This past weekend, there’s buzz about the Wings’ other impactful rookie, defenseman Moritz Seider.
Assisting on Filip Zadina’s power-play goal Saturday stretched Seider’s point streak to five consecutive games (all assists). Seider has eight points on the season (all assists). He’s been on the scoresheet in seven of his first nine NHL games.
Seider is becoming the type of defenseman whose explosive shot can produce the type of offense the Wings haven’t seen in a long time.
“It’s something we’ve talked about,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “He does a good job that way. He knows how to get pucks through. If we can get our power play going, he and Nick Leddy and Filip Hronek will all have more points.
“Certainly it’s a big piece and he (Seider) can be a real good all-around defenseman. That’s what we’ve felt since the day he was drafted. We have to keep pushing him to make sure he can be all that he can be.”
A snippet in Saturday’s 5-4 loss to the Maple Leafs, on a Wings’ power play, showed the trials and tribulations of being a young NHL defenseman.
Early on the power play, Seider attempted a no-look pass that Toronto’s Pierre Engvall intercepted for a breakaway that goaltender Thomas Greiss stopped.
But moments later, Seider set up Filip Zadina for a goal, tying the game.
The entire sequence was a teachable moment for the coaching staff, showing the good and bad for Seider, and how he can get better.
“He’s a real good talent, there’s no doubt,” Blashill said. “I don’t want him to be a good talent, I want him to be a great player. You can’t give up a breakaway on a power play that is unforced like that, he knows what. He did a lot of other good things and that’s what he does and how we want him to minimize the unforced errors.
“You’re always going to make mistakes, that’s the reality of hockey. But you want to minimize those unforced errors. I have a lot of confidence in Moritz Seider. He has to get better at things, too, so he’s getting minutes because we think he puts us in position to win hockey games.”
In Saturday’s loss, the Wings’ future really came through. Seider had an assist. Raymond had an assist, Joe Veleno had a goal and assist. Zadina had a goal and assist, Michael Rasmussen had an assist.
All recent first-round draft picks making an impact against a quality opponent.
Blashill is pleased to see the progress, but wants to make sure those young players understand the importance of continuing to improve.
“It’s important for guys to push and show they can be impactful players,” Blashill said. “We got a lot of young guys playing important roles on our team. So they need to play good hockey because we don’t want to have guys on our team that are young and are playing and we’re losing.
“We want guys that are going to help us win hockey games whether they’re young or old.”
It wasn’t just the amount of goals the Wings allowed in Toronto, but when the Maple Leafs scored them that deflated the Wings.
Toronto scored with 14 seconds left in the first period, then with 18 seconds remaining in the second period, putting the Wings behind 1-0 and 2-1, respectively.
The Wings also allowed Toronto to score 17 seconds into the third period, giving the Leafs a 3-1 lead.
Blashill felt the Wings played too loose defensively all night, but those goals at the end and beginning of periods are a particular gut punch.
“It’s momentum and you feel like, especially the late goals, you could’ve gotten out of those periods without giving them up,” Blashill said. “We would’ve been lucky to get out (of the first period) without giving up a goal. We were right there, and we have to find a way to finish that period out, gain our feet a little bit better and get going. The one right away in the third hurts.
“Now, it’s a credit to our guys that they didn’t back down and kept fighting. But, ultimately, you can’t give up that many goals and expect to win.”
Adam Erne (undisclosed injury) was hurt blocking two shots late in Friday’s overtime loss to Florida. Erne didn’t play Saturday, and Blashill said Erne’s return is day-to-day.
… Defenseman Jordan Oesterle (Dearborn Heights/Dearborn Divine Child/Western Michigan) made his season debut Saturday and had an assist in 17:18 of ice time.
“He did a good job,” Blashill said. “It’s not easy sitting for as long as he sat (eight games). We know he’s a good player, though, just like we know Troy Stecher’s a good player, Gustav Lindstrom’s a good player (other two defensemen battling for ice time).
“We think we have eight good defensemen. What they can do is come in and play good hockey and he (Oesterle) did that.”