The Red Wings got their 2015-16 season started off by welcoming Mike Babcock and the Toronto Maple Leafs to Detroit. Toronto started things off with a loss to Montreal on Wednesday night so they've already got a chip on their shoulder.
Fortunately, it didn't matter. Detroit scored two in the first, another two in the second, and destroyed the Leafs 4-0.
The period started with an Ericsson turnover and Howard falling down. Then it leveled out as Tatar drew a penalty and Abdelkader potted the first goal of the season on a rebound off the post from a Franzen shot that the Piano-Mover slammed home. After a near-miss by Kadri immediately after, things settle and Detroit gets another PP that gets wasted early with the old troublesome too-many-men penalty.
8:20 into the period the Wings get a second goal by Abdelkader as Larkin streaks into the zone, gets things set up, and then feeds Abby in the slot for a turnaround shot past Bernier. Things went generally quiet for a while there, but about 16 minutes into the period, the Leafs got some very good chances that Howard had to come up big on and then get lucky on with a friendly goalpost and a good clear by Kyle Quincey.
The period ends with both Phaneuf and Ericsson in the box for doing mean stuff after Phaneuf tries to bully Tatar post-whistle and Riggy comes in to square up. Overall a good period for the Wings. The flurry of activity late made the shot counter closer, but Detroit controlled play for much longer.
Score: 2-0 Detroit
Shots: 9-8 Toronto
Standout Players: Abdelkader, Larkin, Quincey
Tough Period: Ericsson, Smith
Well the 2nd period started nicely. Less than a minute in, Dylan Larkin takes a pass up the left wing side and goes bar-down on Bernier for his first ever Red Wings goal to make it 3-0. This is a pants-tighteningly beauty of a shot. I'm still turgid.
Three minutes later, Justin Abdelkader nets the hat trick as he comes in carrying on a 2-on-1 with Larkin and five-holes Reimer (who had come in for Bernier after the Larkin snipe). God I love this team.
Things run calm for a while after this goal with the Leafs getting a power play thanks to Kyle Quincey pushing Brad Boyes for delivering a big clean check on Mike Green behind the Detroit bench. Drew Miller loses his stick and blocks multiple shots in killing this one off with great positional play. Nyquist takes the next penalty for tripping Hunwick behind a semi-break for Leo Komarov. Luke Glendening is the most-dangerous person on the ice for the next two minutes.
Tatar draws a tripping call at the end of the period, giving the Wings a carryover. Overall, the Wings coasted a bunch after taking a 4-0 lead in the 2nd. I suppose that could be forgiven.
Score: 4-0 Wings
Shots: Tied 16-16
Standout Players: Miller, Abelkader, Larkin, Glendening, Kindl
Tough Period: None
The Leafs seemed content to play Babcock's low-event style while the team leading by four goals didn't seem to have much of a problem with that decision. The Wings mostly mucked things up in the middle and played rope-a-dope to create a few good chances without putting themselves in danger of counter-attacks. For the most part, the Leafs looked like they wanted to leave and the Wings look like they were looking forward to the same. Dion Phaneuf took a slashing call behind the play with 7:04 left in the period because it wouldn't be a Leafs game without a dumb Phaneuf penalty.
So... a great third period!
Final Score: 4-0 Detroit
Standout Players: Kindl, Howard
Tough Period: Pulkkinen
- - -
- The Wings are a speedy team again and that is a very good thing. Larkin, Tatar, Glendening, Nyquist all get up the ice quickly. The passing out of the zone helped transition speed.
- I think the defense performed very well. They weren't without their mistakes, but for the most part, they boxed out well and limited the really stupid turnovers. We can nit-pick about half a dozen mistakes but you're not going to have a perfect game. There was way more good than bad.
- My goodness Dylan Larkin is good. Not "good for a 19-year old," but flat-out mens' league good.
- Congrats to Henrik Zetterberg for tying and passing Borje Salming for points among Swedes.
- Fox Sports Detroit is still a little in love with badly-timed camera cuts; and the intermission "live-look-ins" look more like mistakes than commercial-pacing intermission stuff. Ken and Mickey had a good night in the booth and the Mickey missing his mouth with the drink replay that showed a thousand times never stopped being funny.
- Brad Richards' first regular season game was kind of quiet, but he looked good as the experienced guy between Nyquist and Tatar. Franzen-Sheahan-Pulkkinen didn't get a great deal of time and didn't have too much impact at even strength.
- He was hardly noticeable, but Jimmy Howard had an absolutely superb game. A well-earned result for him.
- Justin Abdelkader is your Red Wings POTG.