Wings notes: Seider has put to rest any sophomore-jinx questions

Detroit News

Elmont, N.Y. — A reporter in Montreal likely looked at raw numbers and asked Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde an innocent-enough question.

Sure, maybe some of defenseman Moritz Seider’s statistics are down from last season’s NHL Calder Trophy-winning season as rookie of the year, and early this season, maybe the impact on the ice wasn’t as noticeable.

But, that’s all changed over the last month or so. Lately, such as Thursday’s 4-3 overtime victory in Montreal, Seider has, in fact, maybe been better than his award-winning season.

Seider had three assists, had a plus-two rating, registered three hits and two blocked shots in 25 minutes, 16 seconds of dominating hockey. Seider made a patient play near the blue line on the game-winning goal, feeding Michael Rasmussen with a pass that led to a game-winning, two-on-one-rush goal by Robby Fabbri.

The reporter asked Lalonde about a potential “sophomore jinx.”

“If you watch us every day, you probably wouldn’t be asking that question,” Lalonde said, not combatively, but matter-of-factly and directly. “He’s our best player on many given nights.”

Thursday’s game against Montreal was typical of most nights.

Seider and partner Jake Walman went up against, mostly, Montreal’s top line and helped keep the Nick Suzuki line off the scoresheet.

Then, there were Seider’s three assists, work on the penalty kill, and an assist on Jonatan Berggren’s power-play goal (along with being on the ice for a Montreal shorthanded goal).

Seider’s impact was felt in many areas.

“We ask so much of him, and probably, consistently, over the last eight-, nine- or 10-game stretch, he’s been our best player, most valuable, with everything we ask of him,” Lalonde said. “Just another good game.”

Lalonde feels it’s important to go beyond the statistics, sometimes, with a player like Seider.

“The average fan might look at the numbers, but he gets the other team’s top (line), he’s the first one out on the penalty kill, first one out on the power play, and he’s managing his game much better, with less risk,” Lalonde said.

The sophomore-jinx question, said Lalonde, is fair regarding any second-year player, and quickly added any sophomore in the NHL will find it difficult, with teams having a better handle on how to defend or attack against a young player in his second season.

But, at this point of the schedule, Seider’s play has erased any potential sophomore jinx.

“He defends the right way, the consistency in his game, the sophomore jinx, I no longer get that question,” Lalonde said. “It’s a complete game (Seider has).”

The three assists Seider had Thursday marked his fifth multi-point game of the season. Seider became the first Red Wings defenseman in franchise history with three, three-assist games at age 21 or younger.

“He’s been a leader through his action and everything on the ice,” Fabbri said. “He plays so hard, and on the penalty kill, power play, the blocked shots and big hits. All the skill he has. Everyone in here is glad he’s in a Red Wings jersey.”

Working his way back

For Fabbri, incidentally, that was his fourth goal (five points) in 11 games since he’s returned from knee surgery, but Fabbri believes there is clearly another level he needs to get to.

The knee surgery was the third Fabbri has had for torn ACLs in both knees. Jumping into this regular season, with no formal training camp and months of grueling rehabilitation hasn’t been easy.

“It’s clear I’m grinding it out right now,” Fabbri said. “It’s been 10 months (of rehab), and coming in with guys in midseason form, I did all the work possible to be ready, and the next step is getting to my game as quick as possible and getting the confidence.”

Fabbri feels he’s getting closer with each passing game. Lalonde, too, has commented on the spark and versatility Fabbri has provided since being inserted into the lineup.

“It’s coming,” Fabbri said. “We have one more game here (before the All-Star break) and get some rest, and then get back to work. I’m not satisfied. I have a long way to go, but it’s great to be back in the battles with the boys.”

Ice chips

After Thursday’s win, a large group of the European fathers on this Dads’ Trip with the Wings serenaded the team outside the locker room with soccer-like chants.

Lalonde had to pause while answering the question because the cheers were getting so loud.

“Those are the dads — that’s awesome, in itself,” Lalonde said. “They’re led by the Europeans.”

… Goaltender Ville Husso was spectacular late in the Wings’ victory in Montreal, and might be regaining his form from early in the season.

“As a goalie, you want to play at peak, high level, but there will be times it’s going be tough games,” Husso said. “Then, it’s go back to work. There’s a lot of games left, and a lot of work to do.”

Twitter: @tkulfan

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