Detroit — Coach Derek Lalonde has talked a lot about giving players a “fresh start” this exhibition season, given Lalonde is new and didn’t have any pre-existing opinions about them.
Lalonde watched video on players over the summer, and had conversations getting to know them.
But whatever happened in the past, that meant nothing to Lalonde.
Interestingly, the entire “fresh start” thing works also for a young player like defenseman Simon Edvinsson.
It was Edvinsson, 19, who struggled with turnovers during the Red & White intrasquad scrimmage in Traverse City. Lalonde mentioned the turnovers during his media briefing that day, and acknowledged Edvinsson needed to work on things.
The Wings quickly moved on to the preseason games portion of their schedule, and a fresh start.
Edvinsson has thrived since, and is making a spirited run at a roster spot.
“I’ve liked him through the whole camp,” Lalonde said. “That’s one player who I think it was healthy to have a fresh start. He’s big (6-foot-5), he’s got a long stick. He’s probably a little better positionally defensively than I would have anticipated.”
Edvinsson and forward Jonatan Berggren, both rookies who’ve been impressive during this preseason, have had the game slow down around them, Lalonde said, enabling them to make good, sound plays.
For Edvinsson, in particular, the difference from Traverse City to stage of preseason has been stark.
“The first couple of games, the practices, even the Red/White game, was like just so fast,” Lalonde said. “It’s slowing down for him, which is good,” Lalonde said. “He’s committed, he wants to get better. He’s seeking video out the next day. Any criticism you take to him is constructive.
“Even looking back to that Red/White game, those turnovers, I haven’t seen them in these exhibition games. Just coming off the ice real quick and Boughs (assistant coach Bob Boughner) made a comment, too, we’ve been happy with him. He’s shown very well.”
Whether Edvinsson has done enough to make the opening night roster remains to be seen. General manager Steve Yzerman wants young players, typically, to play large amounts of minutes and in every situation before graduating to the NHL.
Many fans have compared Edvinsson to defenseman Moritz Seider. But Seider, 21, had the bonus of playing one entire season with Grand Rapids, in the AHL, before ultimately winning a spot in the NHL.
“It’s where (Edvinsson) is going to be in time, what best suits him,” Lalonde said of what ultimately will be best for Edvinsson with next week’s roster decision.
Berggren, also, hasn’t looked out of place playing with any of the Wings’ best offensive players, and also looks calm playing with the puck.
“He’s a little more poised with the puck,” Lalonde said. “With the amount we’ve played him in the preseason, it’s slowing down around him a little bit. He can make plays in traffic, make little, tight plays. A couple of those plays were maybe turnovers earlier in camp and now he’s executing some of those plays.
“He fits right in. He’s a guy that skates, good stick, he’s had a good showing in camp.”
Joe Veleno is somewhat in the same boat as Edvinsson and Berggren, although Veleno is hoping to land a roster spot after playing 66 games with the Wings last season. Veleno centered a line with Berggren and Dominik Kubalik, and the line produced a goal against Pittsburgh.
“They were creating offense, creating zone time and usually the center (Veleno) is a big part of that,” Lalonde said. “He’s had two very good showings so far. I hope to get a couple more looks from him going forward.
“His last two games he’s been assertive in the defensive zone, and because he’s been assertive in the defensive zone, he spends less time in the defensive zone. He looks confident with the puck.”
… Lalonde and his staff devised an intense half-ice game after Tuesday’s practice that had the entire lineup roaring with delight with every goal, and goal allowed. It’s been typical of many practices this preseason.
“We try to end practice with a competitive game, with a purpose,” Lalonde said.
… Andrew Copp (abdominal surgery) practiced Tuesday and appears on schedule to play in the Oct. 14 season opener. There’s a chance Copp could play a preseason game this weekend, but Lalonde sounded cautious.
“My gut is, dealing with our medical staff, no, but it is a possibility,” Lalonde said of Copp playing a game this weekend. “The goal all along has been Game 1 (of the regular season) and we’re still looking at that goal.”
Red Wings at Capitals
▶ Faceoff: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
▶ TV/radio: No TV/97.1 FM
▶ Outlook: The Wings play Washington for the second time this preseason (Washington won the other game 2-0). … Expect the Wings to ice a younger, inexperienced roster against Washington, with the Wings’ potential lineup going Friday against Toronto.