Detroit — Derek Lalonde saw a lot of defenseman Moritz Seider when Lalonde was an assistant coach in Tampa, and the Lightning faced the Red Wings four times.
Lalonde saw the characteristics and talent that led Seider to win the Calder Trophy for NHL rookie of the year.
But, now, as Lalonde has taken over as the Red Wings’ head coach, he gets to see Seider every day in practice and every game.
Basically, Lalonde knew Seider was good, but now there’s an even greater appreciation.
“He made such an impact on our league, and he’s one of those players when you have him every day, it’s probably better than advertised,” Lalonde said. “It’s seven days into the process, but his energy, the aura about him, it gets me really excited. He needs to keep growing. You can forget he’s such a young defenseman, and still making mistakes.
“But, it’s exciting where that can lead.”
Seider is only 21, and there’s, without question, seemingly much room to develop and grow his overall game. Lalonde would like to eliminate some of the risk in Seider’s game, without losing the instinctive edge Seider has.
“We want Mo playing on his toes,” Lalonde said. “He gaps unbelievable. He’s assertive with the puck. That’s why he’s such a special player and he’s the reigning Calder winner for a reason. But it’s our job to take some risk out of his game.
“When you see some odd-man (rushes) coming back at you, hence the two-on-0 (during Wednesday’s game against Chicago), Mo’s fingerprints will be on that, which is fine. We’d rather have him on his toes than playing on his heels. The balance is letting him be who he is, the special, on-his-toes instinctive player, at the same time taking some risk out of his game.”
Lalonde will continue to rotate defensive pairings during the remaining six exhibition games. But it’s becoming apparent the duo of Seider and Ben Chiarot could likely begin the season.
The skill sets complement each other, both have a physical side to them, and Chiarot’s veteran presence could benefit the younger Seider.
“If you played that game back, our analytics team would tell us they did well (Wednesday) as a pair,” Lalonde said. “We’re going to re-evaluate where that’s at, but Ben’s good for Mo. They’ve had some good reps together.”
Tyler Bertuzzi returned to practice Thursday and could be in an exhibition game by the end of the weekend. Bertuzzi had been out since Saturday, after something “flared up.”
“He went a full practice today, with contact, regular jersey,” Lalonde said. “He had some good, hard reps. I want to see how he responded from practice, but I would expect to see him in one of the next two games.”
The Wings also received positive news on Andrew Copp, who is recovering from offseason abdominal surgery. Copp is slated to be ready for the start of the regular season on Oct. 14. Copp also practiced, in a non-contact jersey, though Copp’s definition of non-contact leaves something to be desired.
“We’ll probably tomorrow have to define what a non-contact jersey is for him, because he got really engaged,” Lalonde said. “But that’s who he is, that’s how he knows to play the game.”
Jakub Vrana practiced, after missing a game Monday. Oskar Sundqvist, who has yet to participate in a full practice, has begun skating with the Wings’ skills coaches before practice.
Robert Hagg, who was hit in the head/ear area Sunday with a puck, has yet to return to the ice.
“Obviously, we’d like all these guys (to be available) for Game 1 but conditioning is a reality,” Lalonde said. “It’s going to be a process for those guys, but they’re taking steps forward.”
Hronek’s fresh start
Lalonde has talked often this opening week about giving some players who struggled or were inconsistent last season “fresh starts” heading into this season.
Another player who seemingly has one is defenseman Filip Hronek, who arguably wasn’t as consistent or effective as the season before.
“I’ve been happy with Fil,” Lalonde said. “Again, that mentality of a fresh start for everyone. He’s had a good camp, played very well (Monday) in Pittsburgh, he’s been good in practice. He’s come to work every day. He seems to be in a good spot with some confidence and excited about his game. I’m happy with where he’s at and hopefully, we can keep building off that.”
Lalonde felt it was important to begin with a clean slate with players.
“I’m a coach and I watched video this summer, but I was very cautious and I wouldn’t say I threw it out, I wanted to get a feel or impression for some players, but I wanted it to be a fresh start and giving a feel of a fresh start,” Lalonde said.
Capitals at Red Wings
Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Little Caesars Arena.
TV/radio: BSD-plus/950 WWJ.
Outlook: The Red Wings play the third of eight exhibition games.Both teams have split two exhibition games thus far this preseason.