The start that the Detroit Red Wings have had to this season has been a surprise to many. They carried a four-game win streak into their matchup against the Calgary Flames on Oct. 22. Led by a hat trick from Alex DeBrincat and another solid showing from James Reimer in net, the Red Wings pushed their win streak to five with a 5-2 victory.
DeBrincat Continues Torrid Start
When the Red Wings acquired Alex DeBrincat from the Ottawa Senators this offseason they hoped that he would be able to come in and help the scoring output for the team. No one could have imagined a start like this though. Coming into the game against Calgary, he sat at five goals on the season and another three assists. Coming off a game against the Senators where he was held pointless, he wanted to come out and make a difference on the scoresheet, and that he did.
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DeBrincat recorded his first hat trick as a Red Wing against the Flames thanks to a goal just under two minutes into the game, and a goal a piece in the second and third periods. He also set up a goal by linemate Dylan Larkin in the second period as well. Compared to last season, DeBrincat did not score his seventh goal until his 27th game, while this season it only took him six (currently sits at eight).
When asked about the chemistry that he and DeBrincat have shown together so far, Larkin jokingly attributed it to the fact that the two played summer league together and figured it would transfer to the NHL. If these two can continue to light up the scoreboard and build more chemistry, they could continue to find themselves at the top of the points leaders as the season continues.
Backup Spot Looking Fully in the Hands of Reimer
When the Red Wings signed two goalies in the offseason in James Reimer and Alex Lyon, the expectation was that Reimer would be the backup with Lyon most likely ending up in Grand Rapids. But the team decided to keep three goalies out of training camp after both had solid preseason appearances and likely did not want to lose Lyon through a waiver pick-up by another team.
Fast forward to the regular season and Reimer has seen both games that starter Ville Husso has not played in and has looked solid in both outings. While he did not necessarily get tested a lot in the game against the Flames, he did make some solid saves when called upon. Though it’s only been two games, Reimer seems to be bouncing back from a down year with a bad San Jose Sharks team last season and is staking claim to the Red Wings’ backup goalie spot.
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It will be interesting to see how the Red Wings handle the three-goalie situation they have right now. With Sebastian Cossa and Michael Hutchinson splitting time in Grand Rapids, they may have to continue it for now.
Team Defense Steps Up
While the Red Wings’ offense has helped carry the load through six games, the team’s defense seemed to be lacking at times. Against the Flames, the defensive play stepped up while limiting the Flames’ chances in high-traffic areas of the ice. It easily was one of the best games the entire defensive group played so far this season, with seven total blocked shots, led by Olli Maatta with three. Offseason acquisition Justin Holl had his best game to date as a Red Wing as well, putting up three assists while playing a solid defensive game.
With the offense being the headline of the game, the team defense flies under the radar but will be a major X factor for the team’s success throughout the season. If they can build off a game where they controlled the pace of play and eased the workload of Reimer (quality scoring chances), it will lead to even more offensive excitement.
The Red Wings did seem to take the foot off the throttle towards the last half of the third period leading to the Flames gaining some momentum and offensive zone time. This seems to be a recurring thing to start the season and hopefully gets figured out going forward.
What’s Next for the Red Wings
The Red Wings welcome in the Seattle Kraken on Oct. 24 before heading to Winnipeg to play the Jets on Oct. 26.