The Detroit Red Wings offense had an excellent bounce back game against the San Jose Sharks, netting six goals on route to a 6-2 victory. Let’s extract some observations from the impressive win.
#1: The top-line is still elite. Tyler Bertuzzi netted two goals and Dylan Larkin scored one, as Detroit’s top three forwards continue to illustrate their offensive capabilities. The trio’s chemistry is almost palpable; when the unit is deployed, they seem to be dangerous from any spot of the ice. The lethal playmaking ability was best exemplified in Larkin’s goal, where he collected a nifty through-the-legs pass from Lucas Raymond, blitzed the net and sniped it in. The three forwards can pounce on opposing mistakes with surprising speed and they seem to have an innate ability to tilt the ice towards the offensive zone.
#2: The second line was impressive. Let’s not give all the glory to Detroit’s top three forwards. Half of the six goals were scored by the second line (Pius Suter with two and Robby Fabbri with one). We all know how good the Wings top line is, but when the second line also shows up, this forward room is legitimately good.
#3: Suter breakout game? Suter has been by no means bad this season, but he hasn’t been special centering the second line. However, he was excellent against the Sharks, securing two goals (one of them shorthanded). He’s starting to really thrive on the penalty kill unit and he’s developing chemistry with the rest of the forward room. Is Suter’s performance against San Jose a flash in the pan, or has the center taken stride in his development with the team?
#4: Michael Rasmussen was good. When asked what his New Year’s resolution was heading into 2022, he simply said “be better at hockey”. Well, five days into the new year, it seems he’s holding true to his word. Big ‘Ras was effective on both sides of the ice against San Jose, notching on assist on one of Suter’s goals with a great high-danger pass and winning puck battles more consistently. After a downright brutal start of the season, Rasmussen has really been stepping up of late.
#5: The penalty kill was stellar. Typically, the most one can ask of a penalty kill unit is that they successfully stifle an opposing power play – scoring goals really isn’t the intent. The Red Wings PK unit went above and beyond in the win, stopping all three of San Jose’s power play attempts and netting two shorthanded goals. It’s still a below average unit compared to the rest of the league, but Detroit’s penalty kill has shown flashes of brilliance.
#6: The woes on the power play continue. Well, the other special teams unit didn’t look nearly as good. Detroit had three opportunities to convert on the power play. They failed each time. The unit didn’t look terrible tonight; puck movement was solid, with Moritz Seider and Nick Leddy looking more than capable as power play quarterbacks. But the team just can’t seem to pull the trigger, content to sling around the puck and settle for a mediocre one-timer or an ill-advised wrister from the blue line.
#7: Alex Nedeljkovic had a strong night. Neddy had a rough go against the Boston Bruins this past weekend, but he looked great against the Sharks. Detroit’s goaltender made 24 saves on the night, finishing with a .923 save percentage.
#8: Time for a winning streak? Throughout the season, the Red Wings have been an extremely inconsistent team. For stretches, they look like a legit playoff contender, guided by an elite top line, good goaltending and depth scoring. But then they have a couple of stinkers and make the success look like a mirage.