Red Wings show mature, sound defensive game on road in bouncing Bruins

Detroit News

Detroit — In the span of a little more than a week, the Red Wings finally found a recipe to have success on the road.

The Wings have had two four-game trips, each lasting over a week, and combined to go 1-6-1 in those games.

It certainly didn’t look promising for them playing Tuesday in Boston, a place where the Wings had lost 11 of 12 games.

But the Wings’ 2-1 victory was a testament to a different-looking Wings team.

“A week ago, I don’t think we played as mature as we did tonight,” said coach Jeff Blashill after the victory. “Again, some of it stems from the fact that we had a chance to practice, got a chance to get our habits back and get our structure back.

“But also, we’ve got a lot of young players in important roles, and I even as a team sometimes, veteran players have to kind of remind themselves what it takes to be a winning-type hockey team. We took steps forward that way.”

Goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic continued his recent hot streak with 41 saves, but Blashill didn’t feel many of those Bruins shots were quality scoring chances.

After a brief defensive dip on the trip through Columbus, Dallas, Vegas and Arizona — the Wings didn’t win any of those games — Detroit has rediscovered its defensive structure with some time to practice and rededicate itself to that part of the game.

“From a defensive standpoint, with the exception of a little bit in the second period when we left the puck in our zone when we should’ve got it out, we did a much better job of playing good defensively, of managing the puck at our line, and overall being pretty disciplined,” Blashill said.

Tuesday’s victory, in a tough environment and against a quality, annual playoff contender, was a positive development for a Wings team that is beginning to learn what it takes to win these kind of games.

“We did the job, we got the two points,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “It wasn’t pretty, but it was the kind of win we needed. It feels great to grind one out and get a greasy win here.”

November’s best

Forward Lucas Raymond, who led all rookies with five goals, seven assists and 12 points in 14 games, was named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for November.

Raymond, who was selected fourth overall in the 2020 NHL Draft, edged Nedeljkovic (6-2-1, 2.24 GAA, .934 SV%), Anaheim forward Trevor Zegras (four goals, five assists, nine points in 11 games), New Jersey forward Dawson Mercer (nine points in 13 games), Toronto forward Michael Bunting (nine points in 14 games) and Boston goaltender Jeremy Swayman (5-2-0, 2.30 GAA, .914 SV%).

Raymond, 19, had points in nine of 14 November games, including three, three-game point streaks.  Raymond is the only rookie who currently leads his team in scoring, and leads all rookies in goals (nine), assists (tied with 12), points (21) and power-play goals (three) through 23 games.

Raymond joins teammate defenseman Moritz Seider (October) as a Rookie of the Month winner this season.

The Red Wings are the first NHL team with different Rookie of the Month winners in consecutive months since the Toronto Maple Leafs in December (Auston Matthews) and January (Mitchell Marner) of 2016-17.

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Ice chips

Four Red Wings draft picks were selected for training camps for Team USA and Canada, ahead of the world junior championships Dec. 26 in Edmonton and Red Deer, Canada.

Forwards Carter Mazur and Red Savage were among 31 players invited for training camp at Plymouth Township’s USA Hockey Arena beginning Dec. 12.

Goaltender Sebastian Cossa and defenseman Donovan Sebrango were invited to Canada’s training camp, Dec. 9 in Calgary.

… Defenseman Marc Staal scored Tuesday’s game-winning goal, and had one of his best all-around games since returning to the lineup after missing three games with an illness.

“He played a real good game overall,” Blashill said. “He’s got great poise as a person, he’s calm. He keeps our group focused but in a good way, and he’s a big body who’s smart, knows how to defend.”

… Forward Filip Zadina opened the Wings’ scoring Tuesday, creating a neutral-zone turnover and driving through the slot and scoring on a partial breakaway.

It was the type of play Blashill wants to consistently see out of Zadina, who was dropped to the fourth line the last several games.

“For him to be a successful player in this league, he has to play extremely hard,” Blashill said. “He has to be hard on the puck, forecheck hard, win puck battles and he’s done a good job of that the last two games.”

… Tuesday’s victory was also the 3,000th in Wings’ franchise history.

Twitter: @tkulfan

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