Welcome to the first edition of the Detroit Red Wings’ 3 Up, 3 Down series for the 2022-23 season. This column will be published each week and will discuss both the highs and lows from the previous seven days.
The Detroit Red Wings’ latest week started horrendously, but boy, did they turn things around as it progressed. At the time of this writing, they now sport a 7-3-2 record and are just four points behind the first-place Boston Bruins in the Atlantic Division. Overall, Red Wings fans can classify last week as a win for the club, but that doesn’t mean that everything was perfect. Let’s now discuss the highs and lows of it.
Plus 1: Ville Husso’s Spectacular Week
Ville Husso is continuing to show the Red Wings that they made the right call signing him. The 27-year-old netminder appeared in two games for Detroit during the week and was easily the main reason why they won both of them. On Thursday night (Nov. 3) against the Washington Capitals, he helped the Red Wings bounce back from their horrible game against the Buffalo Sabres by saving 33 out of 34 shots. He then managed to top that performance by putting together a 24-save shutout against the New York Islanders. Due to his excellent play, he now sports a 5-1-1 record, 1.86 goals-against average (GAA), and .941 save percentage (SV%).
It’s becoming clearer that Husso’s breakout season with the St. Louis Blues in 2021-22 was not a fluke. If he continues to play this magnificently from here, there’s no question that he will emerge as the club’s number-one netminder moving forward.
Minus 1: Blowout Loss to Sabres
Although the Red Wings ended up having a great week, one simply cannot ignore their 8-3 loss to the Sabres on Halloween. They were outclassed immensely, and it naturally made fans wonder if Detroit was destined for another season near the bottom of the NHL standings. Alex Nedeljkovic struggled significantly during the game, as he made just 38 saves on 46 shots (.826 SV%). Husso, surprisingly, did not come in for relief.
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The Red Wings do not have to wait too long to play the Sabres again, as they are set to play on Nov. 30. They will be aiming to redeem themselves from their truly disastrous showing and show the Sabres that they are plenty good enough to compete with them. When looking at the way they responded to this loss, I’d even argue that they are favorites to defeat Buffalo next time around.
Plus 2: Red Wings Win 3-Straight Games
Following their blowout loss to the Sabres, the Red Wings could not have responded any better. They went on to beat the Capitals, Islanders, and New York Rangers on their way to forming an impressive three-game winning streak. This is exactly what the doctor ordered for the Red Wings, as it helped them rise in the standings significantly. Now, they are right back in the playoff hunt, and they will be aiming to maintain their spot in the standings from here.
What’s so wonderful about this winning streak is that all three of the teams they beat are good and expected to compete for playoff spots. With that, Detroit played wonderfully defensively, as they have allowed just three goals over their winning streak. Lastly, it’s very encouraging that Nedeljkovic bounced back from his horrible start against the Sabres, as he made 27 saves on 29 shots in the Red Wings’ win over the Rangers. Overall, what a way to end the week, and now we will have to see if Detroit can continue this kind of play heading into the new week.
Minus 2: Filip Zadina Suffers Long-Term Injury
During Saturday’s win against the Rangers, Filip Zadina left the game injured after blocking a shot. Since then, an update has been provided by Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde, and it’s a pretty horrible one. Lalonde noted that Zadina broke something and will be out for months instead of weeks. Therefore, we will not be seeing the 2018 sixth-overall pick back on the ice for a long time.
The 2022-23 season is a big one for Zadina, too, as he is trying to prove to the Red Wings that he can still reach his full potential. So far this campaign, the former top prospect has yet to record a point in nine contests, but he also was showing signs of improvement before his injury. However, now his bounce-back campaign bid will have to be, unfortunately, put on pause. Here’s to hoping he has a speedy recovery and can thrive once he’s back on the ice.
Plus 3: Dominik Kubalik Stays Hot
Chicago Blackhawks general manager (GM) Kyle Davidson must be full of regret after letting Dominik Kubalik walk through free agency. The Red Wings appear to have a complete and utter steal in Kubalik, as he has been off to a truly magnificent start to the season. He only continued that during this past week as well, as he had two goals and two assists during the Red Wings’ four contests. Most notably, however, he scored the overtime-winning goal against the heavily-favored Rangers on Sunday. Needless to say, the 27-year-old winger just cannot be stopped right now.
If the Red Wings want to maintain their excellent start and cement themselves a playoff spot this season, they will need players like Kubalik to continue to contribute regularly. Although Detroit made major splashes during free agency by signing skaters like Andrew Copp, David Perron, and Ben Chiarot, Kubalik has easily been the most impressive thus far. Let’s see if he can keep this going from here.
Minus 3: Givani Smith Struggles During Call-Up
When Michael Rasmussen received a two-game suspension, it opened the door for Givani Smith to get his first call-up of the season. Many view the 24-year-old forward as a very solid option for Detroit’s bottom six and wonder why he is not on their roster permanently. Therefore, this was a big opportunity for the Toronto native to show Red Wings management that he belongs in the NHL. Unfortunately, he did not make much of an impact. During his two games, he had zero points, a minus-3 rating, and four hits. That wasn’t enough for him to stay following Rasmussen’s return, and now he is back with the Grand Rapids Griffins because of it.
Although Smith struggled during his call-up, this is unlikely the last time we will see him with the Red Wings this season. With Zadina’s long-term injury, we could even see him called up shortly because he also plays left wing. This will definitely be something to keep an eye on.
Nevertheless, it was a very eventful week for the Red Wings. Although that blowout loss will not be forgotten, their response to it deserves immense praise. With Detroit playing the Montreal Canadiens, Rangers, and Los Angeles Kings this week, we will need to see if their three-game winning streak changes to a six-game winning streak by the end of it. Until then, see you next week.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, & Detroit Red Wings for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he’s written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHL Trade Rumors.