The Wings won their first game of the 2015 NHL Prospect Tournament, beating the Carolina Hurricanes by a score of 1-0. It definitely felt like the first game, but it was great to watch hockey again. Here's what you need to know about the Wings win.
Anthony Mantha - Dylan Larkin - Zach Nastasiuk
Tyler Bertuzzi - Andreas Athanasiou - Evgeny Svechnikov
Evan Polei - Tomas Nosek - Jerome Verrier
Nick Betz - Dominic Turgeon - Kurt Etchegary
Ty Stanton - Vili Saarijarvi
Joe Hicketts - Justin Lemcke
Andrew Prochno - Robbie Russo
Zach Nastasiuk -Tyler Bertuzzi (net front) - Anthony Mantha
Robbie Russo - Dylan Larkin Played high mostly, Russo played both points well.
Tomas Nosek - Andreas Athanasiou - Evgeny Svechnikov
Joe Hicketts - Vili Saarijarvi
Tyler Bertuzzi - Dyaln Larkin
Ty Stanton - Joe Hicketts
Zach Nastasiuk - Tomas Nosek
Andrew Prochno - Robbie Russo
The Wings first game of the 2015 tournament was a pretty typical first game, with both teams needing some time to settle in and really get into the swing of things. There weren't many notable events in the first period other than Jake Paterson coming up big for the Wings while the skaters got their heads and legs into game mode and got accustomed to their linemates. The Wings outshot the Hurricanes 9-8 in a back and forth first period that was scoreless. Roland McKeown took a tripping penalty at the end of the 1st period so the Wings started the 2nd with 30 seconds of power play left.
Just 7 seconds after the penalty to McKeown expired, Tomas Nosek scored the Wings only goal of the game. The play started when Andreas Athanasiou went streaking into the Hurricanes zone and let a shot fly. The puck came back out in front of the net to Evgeny Svechnikov who took another shot that Hurricanes goalie Rasmus Tirronen though he had. The puck went through his legs though and Tomas Nosek was right there on the post to scoop the puck in and give the Wings the lead. The Wings outshot the Hurricanes 11-7 in the 2nd period. Late in the period the wings lost camp invite defenseman Justin Lemke when he was taken hard into the boards. So for roughly half the game the Wings played with 5 defensemen, and the very rookie blueline handled their task very well.
As the game went on, the pace, physicality, and intensity increased greatly and the 3rd period featured a little more roughness and animosity between the teams as several on ice disagreements were broken up by the ECHL referees who are working the tournament. The Wings outshot the Hurricanes 8-7 in the 3rd period and 28-22 in the game. Jake Paterson earned the shutout, stopping all 22 shots he faced and the wings earned their first victory.
The Tournament scoring is 3 points for a regulation win, 2 for an overtime win, and 1 for an overtime loss. With each team playing only 4 games, you pretty much have to win every game in order to win the tournament.
Please keep in mind these are impressions from a single game, and the 1st game of this magnitude most of these guys have played in several months. For the most part, the players we expect to be the best, were the best. Here are a few players who really stood out.
Dylan Larkin was the best player on the ice, pushing the pace every shift. Larkin is always on, he's always focused, dialed in, and has his game face on. It doesn't matter if it's practice or a game he's always "giving 100%" as we like to say in hockey and if a pass or shot isn't exactly where he wanted he's... well it appears he's either pissed or disgusted with himself. He has very high standards and expectations for himself and he hold to them. It's so satisfying to watch him play because he has the skill, the drive, the determination, the work ethic, and I believe the ability to will things to happen through sheer determination. I feel like he can do anything. I get a lot of the same feeling about Larkin that I have about Zetterberg, they both have that drive and determination and can shoulder a lot of responsibility and you just know they're going to accomplish their task. Dylan Larkin is a very special player, and he's going to be a special player for a long time to come. For someone his age to possess all the characteristics I just raved about, plus be steady, reliable, dependable, and consistent, that's pretty incredible.
Anthony Mantha had a decent game. He had moments when he looked quick, strong, and was driving the net like a power forward. But other times he looked meh and was throwing puck away, making foolish passes to no one, or tossing the puck somewhere without even looking to see if a teammate was there (hint: they usually weren't). Mantha can be so good when he's "on" but he has to be on all the time and he still hasn't figured out how to do that. He does things that make me ooh and aah, the the next shift makes me want to shake him.
This is the first real game I've seen Evgeny Svechnikov play since the Wings drafted him and I liked what I saw. He's strong, physical, very skilled, was excellent in puck battles and in the corners, and he looked pretty quick on the ice as well. He's a sneaky player, in that he's go quiet for a stretch and you may even forget he's on the ice while you're focused on his mates, then suddenly he appears with a force and you have a "holy sh** where did that come from" moment. Kind of like walking down the street and having someone jump out of the bushes at you.... but in a really good way. I'm excited for the maturation of Chevy, because I see a lot of potential in him even at this young age.
Andreas Athanasiou had a quiet gamy be his standards, but he's also playing for the first time since being injured in the playoffs with the Griffins, and wasn't able to skate in development camp either. Despite having a quiet game, he still had several streaks up ice and did assist on Nosek's goal. His hands looked rusty, metaphorically of course, and he uncharacteristically fumbled the puck a couple times. For guys like Athanasiou and Nosek who were hurt in the playoffs last Spring, this tournament will be a huge help to get them back up to speed before training camp and the start of the regular season.
Speaking of Tomas Nosek, he was the Griffins top line center for most of last season, so being the 3rd line center and being asked to play more of checking role was a little different than what he's used to. No matter to him though, he did it wonderfully and scored the Wings only goal.
My first impression of Robbie Russo very good. He was smart and patient, very mobile good skater, and an excellent puck mover.
Jake Paterson player one of the best games I've seen him play. He was calm, focused, and had good rebound control. When the goalie is on and in position and making all the saves they should it doesn't make for a sexy highlight reel, but Patty had some great saves and kept the team going early on while they got their poop in a group.
If you want to know about anyone I didn't mention, just ask in the comments.
Today's game against the Chicago Blackhawks starts at 4:00 PM!