As the Detroit Red Wings audition their way through an eight-game exhibition slate, it was goalie Ville Husso’s turn to get a look.
Friday’s exhibition outing against the Washington Capitals at Little Caesars Arena was a slog at times, but it allowed the Wings to see more of prospects including Simon Edvinsson and Jonatan Berggren.
Veteran Capitals defenseman John Carlson broke a scoreless tie with a goal midway through the second period en route to handing the Wings a 2-0 loss. For the second straight game, they gave up an empty net goal late in the third period, this time to Lars Eller.
“I kind of liked some of the things we did,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “We gave up one goal. We didn’t give up a lot of chances. I think they are starting to appreciate some things in our game — being above puck-play, gapping. So I think there are some positives. Would we have liked to create more offense? Yes. But the reality of camp, certain lineups, where you are in the camp, you’re going to have nights like that.”
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Typical of exhibition season, the game lacked in entertainment. The Capitals had Alex Ovechkin in the lineup but not Anthony Mantha, the former Wings draft pick who was shipped to Washington at the 2021 trade deadline in the deal that brought Jakub Vrana to Detroit. (He didn’t play, either.)
Husso, acquired in a trade and signed in the offseason for three years and $14.25 million, made 13 saves in 31:30 of ice time, ceding the net as planned during a timeout in the second period to Victor Brattstrom. There weren’t many quality scoring chances, though, but it was a chance for Husso to get acclimated to playing at LCA and with new teammates. Husso is likely to get into at least two more preseason games, and to play one of them in its entirety. Husso was brought in to strengthen the Wings’ goaltending, working in tandem with Alex Nedeljkovic.
“It was nice to get out there and play an actual game,” Husso said. “It’s always a little different than practice or scrimmage, so it was nice. For me as a goalie, you just want to go out there and try to get the timing back and feel the puck and atmosphere. It was nice to be out there.”
Lalonde said it was a “comfortable 32 minutes for Husso. Probably only faced two or three chances against, maybe one or two grade-As.”
Brattstrom had been in the net two minutes when Carlson finished a cross-crease setup by Lucas Johansen.
Chiarot changes partner
Coach Derek Lalonde made good on his talk of seeing different pairings on defense, playing newcomer Ben Chiarot with Filip Hronek. Chiarot looked good with Moritz Seider through the first week of camp and one exhibition game. Chiarot has added offense from the back end, too, getting involved in plays and getting looks on power play units. “He’s got a better stick than I anticipated,” Lalonde said. “The first practice in camp, when we finished practice with a small-ice game, there were three goals and he had two of them — and they were legit, heavy shots, five-hole finish. We’re not going to lean on him or expect offense from him, but obviously anyone can chip in and his stick is better, his overall skill set is better, than I thought.”
So much Soderblom
Elmer Soderblom, the 6-foot-8 forward out of Sweden, was in the lineup for the third straight exhibition matchup. He showed his inexperience with North American hockey at times, exposing the puck during a power play that led to a turnover and play going the other way down the ice. On the whole, though, through three games Soderblom has looked like a guy who can become a factor for the Wings.
“I give the kid a lot of credit,” Lalonde said. “That was a grind. We want to get some of those kids plenty of games, plenty of opportunity, and he’s one of those guys. It’s a hard ask for him, and I think he’s done pretty good. You can see some tired in his game at times. He was involved in the goal against. But these are all experiences that are valuable to go through.”
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