Red Wings Drop Season Opener But Show Signs of Hope

The Hockey Writers

The Detroit Red Wings opened their 2023-24 season in New Jersey against the Devils on Oct. 13, coming up short against one of the league’s top teams 4-3. Even in the loss, the team gave fans a glimpse of what they can look forward to this season and there are also a couple things that stuck out in a negative aspect, albeit only being one game into the season.

Red Wings’ Offense Was Buzzing

The Red Wings came out of the gates hot, showing an up-tempo game, and were able to control the play of the first period, but came up empty on numerous chances against goaltender Vitek Vanecek who played a solid game making 32 saves on the night. The chemistry in the offensive zone was evident as well, with good puck movement that led to the quality scoring chances that the Red Wings had, which will only get better as the season goes along with the offseason acquisitions getting more acquainted with the rest of the team.

Related: Grading the Red Wings’ 2023 Offseason

Out of those quality scoring chances, the Red Wings hit two posts in the first period (Klim Kostin and Daniel Sprong) but could not get the puck luck off the opportunities. They eventually got their fortunes to turn in their favor in the second period when Sprong got some puck luck on a bounce in front of the net to get the Red Wings on the board.

The only downfalls for the offensive game were that they did not cash in on some of the high-quality chances and were unable to keep the momentum from the first period going into the second. If they can straighten out both of these, the Red Wings’ offensive game will be a sight to see this season.

Daniel Sprong Stands Out

One of the Red Wings’ numerous offseason acquisitions, Sprong stood out in a positive way in his first regular season game with the team. His offensive game was on display throughout the game, having a few high-quality scoring chances. But he made an impact in off-puck play as well, getting to the net and causing chaos with screens on Vanecek and moving himself into position for teammates to find him with the puck.

Daniel Sprong Seattle Kraken
Daniel Sprong had a solid showing in his first regular season action as a Red Wing. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Coming off last season where he was able to score 21 goals with the Seattle Kraken and a strong preseason this season, Sprong could be a steal for the Red Wings and make a major impact on the lineup throughout the season.

Red Wings Defensemen Stand Out

Not on a positive note, the Red Wings defensemen stood out on the backend of the ice. Outside of the top pairing of Moritz Seider and Jake Walman, the defensive core did not have the greatest games. The team had Olli Maata as a healthy scratch with Ben Chiarot and Jeff Petry paired together and Shayne Gostisbehere and Justin Holl paired up together.

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The top pairing of Seider and Walman looked solid yet again, with both making impacts on two of the Red Wings’ goals, one with Seider making a huge slide on his stomach to keep the puck in on the powerplay that led to Alex DeBrincat’s first goal as a Red Wing. Walman played a solid and steady game on the backend for the team as well and has been viewed as a player who could have a breakout season.

The pairing of Chiarot and the newly acquired Petry struggled throughout the game, seemingly being a step behind the play at both ends of the ice; Petry ending up in the penalty box twice in the game did not make things any better. The third pairing of Gostisbehere and Holl was not much better in the opener. Holl only tallied just over 14 minutes of ice time in the game. Gostisbehere played on the top powerplay unit and was able to show what he could bring to that for the Red Wings.

Overall on the backend of the ice, the Red Wings will need the bottom two pairings to be able to step up and not leave the pressure and burden on Seider and Walman to carry the load all season.

Other Game Notes

  • The Red Wings struggled to stay out of the penalty box throughout the night, leading to six shorthanded situations, but were able to kill off all but one of them.
  • Goaltender Ville Husso looked solid in the loss, making numerous big stops throughout the game to keep the Red Wings alive.
  • The Red Wings climbed within one in the last minute thanks to Robby Fabbri’s first goal of the season but were unable to tie the game.

On To the Next One

The Red Wings return to Detroit for their home opener on Saturday night (Oct. 14) against the Tampa Bay Lightning. With the way the offense looked in the opener, it gives fans some hope for the season, although it has been only one game and no one wants to overreact to it.

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