Red Wings notes: Zadina, Suter are healthy scratches on opening night

Detroit News

]Detroit — The “fresh start” that forward Filip Zadina was looking for isn’t going to happen at the beginning of this Red Wings season.

Coach Derek Lalonde confirmed after Thursday’s practice the 2018 first-round pick (sixth overall) will be a healthy scratch Friday against Montreal.

Zadina will be joined by forward Pius Suter, a free-agent signing a year ago, as inactive. Both were beaten out by young forwards Elmer Soderblom and Joe Veleno, at least for opening night.

“It was a tough decision,” Lalonde said. “We expect both those guys to see some time sooner than later, and kind of keep that competition going. We were hoping for tough decisions, but it’s coaching and when they do come, it was tough. We went back and forth as a staff this week.”

Zadina, 22, was expected to be a goal-scoring force similar to his junior days, when he was drafted by the Wings. But the explosiveness offensively simply hasn’t been there.

Zadina had 10 goals and 14 assists last season, gradually dropping down the lineup as the season progressed.

It was hoped around the Wings that a coaching change from former coach Jeff Blashill to Lalonde and his new staff would spark Zadina. A restricted free agent last summer, the Wings showed a semblance of faith in Zadina’s future by signing him to a three-year contract worth $5.475 million ($1.85 million per year cap hit).

But, thus far, the Wings have only seen flashes of what they’ve been looking for.

“He’s an offensive guy that judges himself on offense,” Lalonde said. “Obviously we’d love him producing offense but just managing his game, there’s some risk, there’s some turnovers in his game. All great players, and skilled guys are going to have those natural turnovers, but just limiting them.”

Lalonde has been pleased with the effort and response from Zadina this week, after being told of the lineup decision.

“He was good; he basically repeated the three or four things I had asked of him,” Lalonde said. “He’s handled it well, been a good teammate. I know it’s a little thing, but on Monday, he wasn’t in our top 12 and he ate some pucks in practice (blocked several shots). That’s him telling the coaching staff, telling his teammates that I’ll be a good teammate and I’ll watch Game 1, but I’m not going to accept it.

“That’s what you want from competitive players.”

Lalonde has mixed the lineup several times this week, and taken a look at different variations.

“There were times through the week we had him (Zadina) in (a lineup),” Lalonde said. “It (depth) is a luxury we had, which is probably different than they’ve experienced in the past, where we could have gone many different directions. Suter would be in that same boat. Those were really tough decisions. A lot went into it, but that’s the way we’ll be on Friday.”

Suter, 26, signed a two-year contract, worth $6.5 million ($3.25 million cap hit) in the summer of 2021. Suter had 15 goals and 21 assists while being used primarily as the second-line center. The Wings signed Andrew Copp this past summer to essentially replace Suter, bumping Suter down in the lineup.

Expos fan

The fact Lalonde is facing Montreal in his first game is ironic because he grew up in upstate New York, just an hour and 15 minutes from downtown Montreal.

And there may not be many bigger Montreal Expos baseball fan than Lalonde.

“Growing up, there was a passion for the Expos,” said Lalonde, whose favorite player was outfielder Tim Raines. “We had four people in a small town who had season tickets and they would rotate (the tickets) around. I went all the time as a young kid.”

Another favorite part of going to Expos games back then?

“The double-scoop ice creams,” Lalonde said. “I might be dating myself.”

Ice chips

The lineup for Friday is expected to consist of Dylan Larkin centering Tyler Bertuzzi and Lucas Raymond, Copp centering Jakub Vrana and David Perron, Michael Rasmussen between Soderblom and Oskar Sundqvist, and Veleno between Adam Erne and Dominik Kubalik.

On defense, Ben Chiarot is paired with Moritz Seider, Olli Maata with Filip Hronek, and Robert Hagg with Gustav Lindstrom. Jordan Oesterle is the healthy scratch on defense.

Lalonde hasn’t revealed whether Alex Nedeljkovic or Ville Husso will start in net against the Canadiens.

… Soderblom’s parents are in town and will attend Friday’s game, his NHL first game. Soderblom is hopeful his family and friends back in Sweden will be watching. It’ll be roughly 1 a.m. in Swedish time when the Wings’ game starts.

“Hopefully, a lot of them will watch. It’s maybe a little late, but hopefully, they can watch it. It’s Friday,” said Soderblom, adding they could sleep the next morning.

Canadiens at Red Wings

▶ Faceoff: 7 Friday, Little Caesars Arena

▶ TV/radio: BSD/97.1

▶ Outlook: The Canadiens (1-0-0) defeated Toronto Wednesday in their season opener, 4-3. The Canadiens are expected to be one of the younger teams in the NHL, but RW Cole Caufield (two goals Wednesday) and C Nick Suzuki are dangerous offensive players.

Twitter: @tkulfan

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