Red Wings Wednesday Weekly: Here Comes The Sun

The Hockey Writers

Welcome back to Red Wings Wednesday Weekly! In this weekly column, we will take a look at the Red Wings’ most-recent week of play, identify any players and/or trends that stood out, and then look ahead and find out what the next week may have in store for the team from Hockeytown. As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section down below.

The Detroit Red Wings finally got an extended break after a grueling roadtrip that included stops in Columbus, Dallas, Vegas, and Arizona, and to say it was much needed is an understatement. The team was winless on the trip, and managed just one point — an overtime loss to the 4-13-2 Arizona Coyotes.

Related: Longtime Red Wings Reporter Discusses Rebuild, Blashill, and Memories

It was a disappointing stretch for the Red Wings, who had won four of their last five games before hitting the road back on Nov. 15. They were outscored 17-8 after allowing five goals in three of those four games, but return home to face the St. Louis Blues and Buffalo Sabres.

Last week’s games — against the Coyotes and Vegas Golden Knights — left much to be desired, and the team is facing another bout of adversity this season. Can the Red Wings emerge from the storm into sunnier skies? Let’s dive in.

Red Wings Fall Flat Against Golden Knights

11/18 at Vegas, 5-2 loss

It was a tough go from the start for the Red Wings, who were down 4-1 by the end of the second period. Givani Smith notched his first of the season to cut the Golden Knights’ lead to 2-1 early in the second, but Detroit ultimately let in the next three goals before ultimately losing 5-2.

Joe Veleno added a late goal, his second of the season, at 18:34 of the third.

What made the effort even more disappointing is that it came on the heels of a 5-2 loss to the Dallas Stars. Thomas Greiss allowed four goals on 22 shots in two periods, while Alex Nedeljkovic stopped nine of the 10 shots he faced after coming in for the third period.

Overall Grade vs. Vegas: D-

Offense Dries Up in the Desert

11/20 at Arizona, 2-1 Loss (OT)

Detroit finished up its road trip against the Coyotes, in what could have been the team’s last game in Gila River Arena. In some ways, the Red Wings were playing a past version of themselves, as Arizona is in year one of a “scorched earth” rebuild, and entered the game with just two wins on the year.

Things looked good early after Dylan Larkin took a loose puck in on a breakaway and scored on Coyotes goalie Scott Wedgewood, giving the Wings a 1-0 lead. Lucas Raymond recorded an assist after chipping the puck free in center ice, bringing his rookie-leading point total to 19.

Unfortunately, that’s where the good ended for the Red Wings, as they surrendered a late goal in the third period before Arizona’s Clayton Keller won it in overtime. Coach Jeff Blashill challenged the game-winning goal for goalie interference, but the tally stood up after review, sending Detroit to its fourth consecutive loss.

It was a tough loss to close out their road trip, and a dejected Raymond slammed his stick over the crossbar after Keller’s goal. It’s now up for the team to regroup on three days’ rest.

Final Grade vs. Arizona: D

3 Takeaways From Last Week

1. Dylan Larkin is Having a Bounce-Back Season

Larkin has been criticized a fair amount the past few seasons, but whatever argument those critics have is quickly going out the window. His 16 points are third-best on the team, and his nine goals through 16 games this season matches his total over 44 games last year. Moreover, Detroit’s captain has blossomed into a clear leader on the team, and has effectively helped his linemates Tyler Bertuzzi and Raymond get off to strong starts, as well.

Dylan Larkin Detroit Red Wings
Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

The 25-year-old has points in his last five games, including two two-point campaigns. Any doubt that’s been cast upon him after as 23-point season a year ago has dissipated in the early stages of 2021-22.

2. Lucas Raymond Continues to Impress

It’s becoming a broken record of sorts, but the Red Wings’ rookie forward is already having a season for the ages. As mentioned earlier, his 19 points lead all rookies this season, ahead of teammate Moritz Seider (13), New Jersey’s Dawson Mercer (12), Anaheim’s Trevor Zegras (11) and San Jose’s Jonathan Dahlen (9). His seven goals also lead all rookies.

Raymond has provided an instant spark for a team that struggled to score last season, and Detroit’s 54 goals are tied for 12th-most in the league. For the sake of comparison, the Red Wings finished 30th in the league last season in goals for, with 125.

3. The Power Play is Back on the Struggle Bus

The Red Wings have converted on just one power-play opportunity since Nov. 7, going 1-for-13 over that span. It’s a disappointing departure from earlier in the season, when the man advantage seemed to be clicking under new special teach coach Alex Tanguay. In their defense, they have still moved the puck well and generated scoring chances, but they have simply not been converting as of late.

Seider continues to look comfortable as quarterback, and always seems to make the right decision to pass, shoot, or cycle. That said, the team needs to focus on finding the lanes more, hitting bodies in front of the net less, and finally get a rhythm going.

Upcoming Matchups

vs St. Louis Blues (11/24, 7:30 PM ET)

Statistical Leaders (18 Games):
Goals – Jordan Kyrou (8)
Points – Kyrou (18)
Wins – Jordan Binnington (7)
SV% – Ville Husso (.984)

The Blues have cooled off significantly since starting the season 5-0-0, and have lost five of their last seven games. Jordan Binnington has seemingly been feast-or-famine for St. Louis this season, so if the Red Wings can break through with a few early goals they may be able to open the proverbial floodgates.

Jordan Kyrou St. Louis Blues
Jordan Kyrou is off to a solid start this season. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Blues used a balance scoring attack in Monday’s 5-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights, getting goals from five different players en route for the win. They’re a well-balanced team that can really share the puck when they’re clicking, so Detroit’s defense needs to be on its toes.

vs Buffalo Sabres (11/27, 7:00 PM ET)

Statistical Leaders (18 Games):
Goals – Tage Thompson (8)
Points – Thompson (13)
Wins – Craig Anderson (4)
SV% – Anderson (.921)

The Sabres have lost nine of their last 11 games, including a 4-3 overtime loss to the Red Wings back on Nov. 6. Saturday’s game will also be the second of back-to-back games for Buffalo, as the team faces Montreal at home on Friday night.

Though Craig Anderson leads in all statistical categories, he has not played since Nov. 2, and was labeled as week-to-week moving forward. Until then, Dustin Tokarski and Aaron Dell will share the work between the pipes, posting goals-against averages of 2.50 and 3.72, respectively.

at Boston Bruins (11/30, 5:00 PM ET)

Statistical Leaders (15 Games):
Goals – Brad Marchand (8)
Points – Marchand (20)
Wins – Jeremy Swayman (5)
SV% – Linus Ullmark & Swayman (Tied, .908)

Though the other teams are not to be overlooked, the 9-6-0 Bruins are likely to be the Red Wings’ biggest test this week. Boston has yet to lose a game in regulation, and on top of that, it’s yet to lose more than two games in a row. They were shut out 4-0 by Calgary on Sunday, and have games against Sabres, New York Rangers, and Vancouver Canucks before their Tuesday evening date with Detroit.

Brad Marchand Boston Bruins
Brad Marchand will likely pose an issue for the Red Wings again. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Marchand leads the team in almost every statistical category (including penalty minutes, surprise, surprise.), He has five points in his last five games at the time of this writing, and with a solid goalie tandem of Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman, they’re a very difficult opponent.

Players to Watch

Detroit will have its hands full this week, and for the Blues, Jordan Kyrou continues his stellar play. He hasn’t recorded a point in his last two games, so he’s got some extra motivation to score this week. For Buffalo, Tage Thompson has four points, including three goals, in his last two games. As for the Bruins, Brad Marchand’s 20 points are near the top of the league, not counting anyone with the last name Draisaitl, McDavid, or Ovechkin.

As for the Red Wings, keep your eyes on Raymond to see if he can continue his torrid rookie scoring pace, but also keep an eye on Tyler Bertuzzi, who has not recorded a point since his assist against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Nov. 15.

Final Thoughts

Things have finally settled down for Detroit, who have had three day’s rest prior to tonight’s game against the Blues. They also have two days in between each of their games for the remainder of the week, so the team certainly cannot use fatigue as an excuse, and it will be interesting to see how they respond. The Red Wings stopped a four-game losing streak earlier this season, but can they call up a repeat performance?

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