The Detroit Red Wings played their home opener on Oct. 14th against the Tampa Bay Lightning and were able to send their fans home happy after a 6-4 victory over their division foe. With the victory, the Red Wings move to 1-1-0 on the young season after a season-opening loss to the New Jersey Devils.
Red Wings May Have Found Their Top Line
After head coach Derek Lalonde had David Perron on the first line for the season opener against the New Jersey Devils, the decision was made to give Lucas Raymond a chance on the line with Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Larkin for the matchup against Tampa Bay. That decision paid off big time, with the trio leading the way for the offense. Throughout the game, they were constantly making their presence felt in the offensive zone, whether it be on the forecheck or with their puck movement leading to numerous scoring chances.
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In total, the three players combined for 17 of the Red Wings’ 42 total shots for the game, which included three goals (one from Raymond, two from DeBrincat), and two more assists (one each for Larkin and DeBrincat). With the energy that was brought from the Red Wings top line in this game, it should be pretty clear that this combination should be the top line for the team going forward.
Offseason Additions Continue to Make Impact
Along with DeBrincat, the other offseason acquisitions that GM Steve Yzerman brought into the organization have made an impact in both games so far, albeit in different aspects of the game. On the front end, JT Compher and Daniel Sprong continued their strong starts to the season, both scoring against the Lightning. Yet, both were also impactful outside of the stat sheet. Compher showed his value at the faceoff circle (from “How J.T. Compher became faceoff dynamo for Avalanche: ‘It’s the studying”, The Denver Gazette, Jan.5, 2023) throughout the game as well as being a vital role on the Red Wings penalty kill, which was only put to the test twice in the game. Meanwhile, Sprong continued to make his presence felt on the forecheck and with his continuous movement around the offensive zone away from the puck.
Along with Compher and Sprong, fellow offseason addition Christian Fischer made his presence felt while playing on the Red Wings fourth line with Joe Veleno and Klim Kostin. Fischer was a physical presence on the ice more than an offensive force, which was much to the delight of the Red Wings fans in the crowd.
On the back end of the Red Wings lineup, Shayne Gostisbehere, Justin Holl, and Jeff Petry all performed at a higher level than they did in the season opener against the Devils. Yet, they still have some room for improvement in their defensive zone play. Petry did have a couple of big hits for the Red Wings but also had a turnover in the defensive zone that led to a quality scoring chance for the Lightning. Thankfully, Ville Husso made a solid save to keep the Red Wings lead at two. Overall, the team will need the defensive game tightened up and at a higher level to continuously have success against the top-tier offensive teams in the league.
Red Wings Play More Disciplined Game
After going to the penalty kill six times against New Jersey, the Red Wings stayed out of the penalty box for the majority of the night against Tampa Bay thanks to a more disciplined game. Playing against one of the league’s best power-play units in Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman, and Brayden Point, giving that group chances on the power play does not normally end in success.
The first penalty kill of the game for the Red Wings came towards the end of the second period when Sprong was called for holding with just over a minute left. The penalty kill was able to fend off quality chances by the Lightning’s top unit and was able to kill off the penalty to start the third period thanks to a couple of solid saves from Husso yet again. Howeverm after a scrum in front of Husso led to another shorthanded situation for the Red Wings, the Lightning were able to cash in on the powerplay thanks to some solid puck movement that ended with a point shot from Hedman that beat Husso with the help of a well-timed screen.
Overall, if the Red Wings can continue to play disciplined and stay out of the penalty box and shorthanded situations, the more successful they can be and this game was a prime example of that.
Other Game Notes
- Raymond had a big hit on Michael Eyssimont in the first period, sending Eyssimont into the Red Wings bench.
- Husso played a solid game in net, with the four goals that he allowed coming off of plays that did not leave him much chance to make a quality save on them.
What’s Next for the Red Wings?
The Red Wings will travel to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets on Monday night before returning home on Wednesday to play the Pittsburgh Penguins.