Detroit — Moritz Seider tested some new skates Saturday morning and liked how they felt. So the rookie wore them for that night’s game against the New York Islanders.
“I just tried them out and they felt pretty good, so I was feeling it a little bit,” said Seider, who whirled around the ice in overtime, found an open spot and whistled a one-timer for the game-winning goal that sealed the Wings’ 4-3 victory over the Islanders.
Seider has three goals, and two of them have been overtime game winners. The overtime 3-on-3 session seems made for Seider, with its open ice and emphasis on skills.
“Nobody wants to go to overtime,” Seider said. “But it’s always nice to get a little more time and space on the ice and you play against the best players. It’s always a treat to be out there.”
In 25 games, Seider has already etched some impressive statistics.
He became the first rookie defenseman in Wings’ history, and the fifth rookie blueliner in the NHL, to net multiple overtime goals in a single season. Brent Seabrook (two with Chicago in 2005-06), Cam Fowler (two with Anaheim in 2010-11), P.K.Subban (two with Montreal in 2010-11) and Shayne Gostisbehere (four with Philadelphia in 2015-16) are the others.
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Seider is the first Wings rookie with multiple overtime goals since Anthony Mantha had two in 2016-17. And Seider is the only rookie in the NHL this season with multiple overtime winners. He’s one of two rookie defensemen with multiple game-winning goals, along with Colorado’s Bowen Byram.
Seider plays with confidence in OT. Anyone who has watched has seen a player who could be a force in the NHL.
“He’s a realty talented player,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Poise, swagger, those things are important on any kind of player that aspires to be an elite player. You have to have swagger and he’s got it.
“I also think part of the reason he has a belief in himself is he’s got a really good skill-set. He’s been a big piece of the infusion of the talent here and that’s been a big reason we’ve been able to find ways to win games.”
One of the things the Wings wanted Seider to work on playing last season in Sweden was his one-timer.
The effort Seider put in was rewarded Saturday, and numerous other times, showing improved accuracy and velocity.
“One of the things we would have said he needed to get better at the past couple of years would be his one-timer,” Blashill said. “He shoots a pretty good wrist shot, but we felt the one-timer is something that definitely needs to get better. He’s worked at it. That’s what the really good players do, they work and get rewarded.”
Seider and fellow rookies forward Lucas Raymond and goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic have keyed the Wings’ turnaround this season. They have been instrumental during this five-game win streak.
Seider talked about how the close-knit roster has bonded.
“It’s easy to gain confidence if you know your teammates got your back,” Seider said. “Not just one game, every single game. That gives you a little bit more edge against the opponent to try a move or go the extra mile.”
And that word “swagger.” It doesn’t just fit Seider. It’s beginning to describe this entire Wings’ roster, as the points pile up in the standings.
“We have that swagger now and that confidence in our abilities to stick together and win those (close) games somehow,” Seider said.
Some numbers are beginning to stand out.
The Wings are 13-9-3. As of Sunday they sat in the No. 1 wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. They are 9-2-2 at Little Caesars Arena, a rink that is becoming a formidable home ice advantage.
The Wings are 9-0-2 when leading after two periods, and 6-3 in overtime.
“Our guys understand that we have to keep getting better and they’re not satisfied that our game isn’t nearly perfect,” Blashill said. “We need to keep striving for that perfection. But with that said, I do think you can work and can compete yourself past mistakes. We have done that. That’s part of grinding out wins. Part of it is staying with it, part of it is guys stepping up to big moments and we’ve had all those things.”
Impactful playing time
Forward Givani Smith played less than eight minutes against the Islanders, but was noticeable in that time.
His biggest play was blocking Scott Mayfield’s shot from the point, gathering the puck, racing down the ice and snapping a shot past goaltender Ilya Sorokin.
It was a highlight-type of goal, and showed the strengths of Smith’s game.
The Wings and Blashill just need to see it more consistently.
“When you defend well, you’re rewarded with offense and that’s what Givani was,” Blashill said. “He came back, stopped in the right spot and didn’t drift, came right out in the lane and blocked the shot and goes down and scores.
“That’s what we want to aspire to be as a team that wins the right way. When you defend, you get your chances to score.”