Detroit Red Wings: J.T. Compher making the most of his opportunities

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The Detroit Red Wings were able to bounce back Thursday night at home against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Detroit skated to a 5-1 victory over Connor Bedard and the Hawks a day after they suffered a tough 3-2 road loss to the Rangers in New York. Detroit was without their captain for the second straight night, but the good news is that Dylan Larkin is expected to return to the Red Wings lineup on Saturday in Montreal. In Larkin’s absence, J.T. Compher was moved up to the top unit, which paid off in a big way.

Compher primarily skated between Lucas Raymond and Alex DeBrincat. Things are expected to see a significant shake-up soon as the organization and fans impatiently await the arrival of newly signed superstar Patrick Kane to the lineup. Still, in the meantime, Compher and Raymond are enjoying their time with DeBrincat on the first unit.

Compher rewarded the Detroit Red Wings with a short-handed marker and later buried a beauty on the power play. The short-handed goal came after Andrew Copp sprung Compher with a gorgeous pass on a mini two-on-one, beating former Detroit Red Wings netminder Petr Mrazek over the glove.

J.T. Compher was excellent in an expanded role for the Detroit Red Wings.

Compher later tapped home a beautiful power-play goal set up by a tic-tac-toe sequence from Lucas Raymond, David Perron, and Compher. From the right point, Raymond sent a cross-ice pass to an open Perron waiting in his office with the man advantage at the left side of the net. Rather than shooting, the right-handed Perron quickly sent a firm pass to Compher, waiting to tap it home in front of Mrazek with his stick on the ice.

Compher won a position battle in front and put himself in a great position to accept the pass, something that probably gets overlooked. Compher now has points in eight of his last ten contests. He currently sits with six goals and 19 points over 22 games this season. Compher is a plus-8 on the season. He’s also a valuable penalty-killer and a reliable even-strength contributor. You can always count on Compher being in the correct spot in all three zones. He’s quickly become the perfect piece behind Larkin down the middle of Detroit’s lineup; it also allows Copp to play as the third center, where he’s best utilized on what will hopefully be a playoff team.

Sometimes, winning those small battles can be the difference between winning and losing. Also, execution is vital. The Detroit Red Wings power play has been hot and cold this season, but for the most part, it’s been relatively dangerous and only going to get better once they get Larkin back and Kane integrated into the first unit.

The Detroit Red Wings also received a massive game from Robby Fabbri. Fabbri, like Compher, scored a pair in their victory over Chicago. Fabbri, who is often hampered by injury, is a significant piece for this team if he can remain healthy for the duration of the season. He’s netted seven goals and totaled nine points in just ten games this season. Fabbri brings a ton of versatility to Detroit’s lineup; he can play center but has excelled on the wing. He can play up and down the lineup and proved yet again Thursday night that he’s a dynamic playmaker and constant scoring threat.

Following the game, Compher said that Fabbri’s first goal might be the nicest goal he’s seen. Check it out below.

I assume Kane will begin his Red Wings’ career on a line with Larkin and DeBrincat, but he could also easily play with Raymond and Compher or Copp and Fabbri. This recent signing gives Detroit so much scoring depth, something they’ve lacked over the past handful of years.

Ben Chiarot scored the other Red Wings goal on Thursday. Alex Lyon started in goal after Ville Husso manned the cage the night before in New York. Lyon played exceptionally well, making 34 saves and yielding just one goal. After being the odd man out early in the season, it seems that Lyon has played his way in front of James Reimer in the pecking order. In fairness, Reimer had performed well when he’s been called upon this season.

Next up for the Detroit Red Wings is a date in Montreal on Saturday night against the Canadiens.

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