Detroit — Everybody is beginning to notice the depth the Red Wings possess and the fact there are more players capable of getting on the scoreboard than there has been in recent years.
Another good example?
After Monday’s 5-4 overtime loss to Los Angeles, a staggering 10 different players have scored goals, led by David Perron’s team-leading three.
General manager Steve Yzerman’s decision to sign free agents such as Perron, Dominik Kubalik and Andrew Copp have broadened the offense over four lines and given the Wings threats to score throughout the lineup.
“Obviously you need depth scoring to go deep into any season or playoff, so it’s good to see early on,” Perron said. “Everybody is going to keep adding to our game. We’re starting to play the right way more and more. It was great to see that fight in the third period (Monday) to get that one (goal) back and get a big point.”
All four lines have contributed, at various parts in the three games, on offense. Even without Tyler Bertuzzi (upper body, out four to six weeks) and Jakub Vrana (personal reasons) in the lineup against Los Angeles, the Wings were able to field a lineup that was potent and supply offense against a good defensive Kings team.
Defensemen Ben Chiarot and Olli Maatta have chipped in offensively as well, maybe somewhat surprisingly, with Maatta tied with Perron with four points after three games (one goal, three assists).
“We trust every line, every line has produced some offense,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “We’re getting it from our defense, and that’s good. You talk about depth. We have basically three of our top six forwards out in Bertuzzi, Vrana and (Robby) Fabbri (recovering from knee surgery), and we still have a deep lineup with offense throughout. That’s a real good sign. You have to have depth.
“We’re experiencing it right now and the depth came through.”
Power play threat
One of Perron’s goals Monday came on the power play, the Wings’ first after 10 failed attempts. One of the reasons the Wings were attracted to Perron was the fact he has always been a threat on the power play, with a strong, accurate shot and the ability to find open players.
Thus far, the Wings are seeing that, especially the desire to shoot the puck.
“Shoot-first mentality,” Lalonde said of what has stood out about Perron. “The goal he scored (Monday), he walked in with a purpose. If you shoot first and there’s some deception with passing second, that’s a good skill. Watching him in St. Louis, I’ve appreciated him on the half-wall and he was a big part of that success. He has the ability to recover pucks and keep the play alive on the power play, which is an overlooked skill.”
Lalonde was noticing some frustration on the lack of power play success, but he was confident it was going to turn.
“We were getting chances. It was just a matter of time,” Lalonde said. “You go through stretches on the power play when you’re struggling and not getting looks. That wasn’t the case the first three games, and it finally caught up.”
The Wings completed a three-game, four-night stretch Monday to begin their schedule and now are off again until Friday.
But Lalonde isn’t complaining.
“I don’t mind it. It feels like we’re back to the regular NHL schedule pre-COVID where you’re going to have these breaks,” Lalonde said. “We had three out of four out of the get-go, and I don’t mind the three days in between games. There will be a little more of this. It just felt the past couple of years it was go, go, go and back-to-back (games) and three in four, and no time to practice. You’re kind of going on the fly.
“Now, this is a little more traditional, pre-COVID, where you will have some pockets like this. We were able to detail things in practice (Tuesday) and it was a little slower (paced) and you don’t usually have that luxury.”
The difficult scheduling quirk to open the season, said Lalonde, did provide a lesson.
“Fighting through things and playing through tired,” Lalonde said. “For example, Saturday we were tired in that second period and it was understandable. We’re playing back-to-back and the travel (playing in New Jersey) and we were on our heels in the second period. So how are you going to handle it? Fighting through it, which is what we did and we got rewarded.
“Then (Monday) third game in four nights, you saw moments in the game we didn’t have the same pop we did in the first two games. Probably a little tired legs and that can lead to mental fatigue and mistakes.
“I give our guys a lot of credit for fighting through it.”
Vrana did not practice Tuesday after not playing the night before.
“Still out, personal reasons. That’s all I’ve been told,” Lalonde said. “I don’t have a timeline for anything; just told personal reasons and he’s out.”
Adam Erne and Robert Hagg both didn’t practice for maintenance reasons.
“Couple blocked shots,” Lalonde said. “We should have them for Thursday’s practice (the Wings are off the ice Wednesday).”