Welcome to the third consecutive preseason recap for WIIM. The Wings welcomed Pittsburgh into town on Thursday night to see if they could improve on their 1-0-1 record in preseason. Detroit put their B-squad back out with just two lineup changes from Tuesday's loss in Chicago: Franzen came in for Svechnikov and Russo was in for Paetsch. Pittsburgh sent a pretty comparable squad themselves, featuring Patric Hornqvist and Evgeni Malkin but no Crosby or Kessel.
By the time things were all said and done, the final score favored the Wings
The Wings came out of the gate with plenty of energy and jump in their stride. Dylan Larkin made a nifty move and got a scoring chance on his first shift less than 2 minutes in. Then when Andreas Athanasiou's line came out, AA got a breakaway and drew a tripping penalty when Rob Scuderi couldn't catch him and hauled him down. The Wings continued to control a majority of the play and Larkin and Athanasiou's lines were really showing their goods. It took 13 minutes for the Wings to strike first when Tyler Bertuzzi scored from his knees. Lil Bert was on his knees when he took a shot and the puck trickled through Matthew Murray, Brendan Smith and Alexey Marchenko picked up the assists on Bert's goal and they were just getting started. Evgeni Malkin took an interference penalty off a Wings defensive zone faceoff when he decided to corkscrew Brendan Smith's leg and take him down and a minute later Ben Lovejoy tripped Tyler Bertuzzi and the WIngs had a 5 on 3 power play. Dylan Larkin put the Wings up 2-0 when he picked up a Teemu Pulkkinen rebound, Johan Franzen picked up the secondary assist. But wait, there's more. Teemu Pulkkinen sniped top corner from a difficult angle to put the Wings up 3-0 after the first period. Shots were 15-5 Red Wings and both Tyler Bertuzzi and Teemu Pulkkinen had 2 points. It was a period of the kids showing their stuff and looking really good.
Standout players: Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Bertuzzi, Teemu Pulkkinen,
Tough period: no one.
The second started with the Wings keeping the pressure on well thanks to a penalty on Ben Lovejoy just 13 seconds in. The Wings PP didn't manage to score, though the Penguins looked a bit more structured. Halfway through the period, the Pens start getting a bit more zone time and Brendan Smith takes any iffy interference call on the half-wall. Detroit kills this penalty with aplomb with some good blocking by Miller followed by o-zone work by Glendening, Ferraro, and Andersson. The shot counter creeps closer together as the period grinds on (it was 15-5 after one), but the Penguins don't get particularly close to scoring. Then, 17:28 into the period, the grinders do a good job cycling to the outside in the Pens zone to create a shot from the top for Lashoff. Miller tips it and Andersson makes sure Murray doesn't see it. 4-0 Wings to end the period. Shots 22-16 for Detroit.
Standout players: Miller, Andersson, Glendening, Howard
Tough period: I'm nitpicking to say Sproul didn't look great. Miele was kind of quiet too.
The third starts off nice as just over a minute in, the Wings get the puck in their own zone and Tyler Bertuzzi floats a pass from his own half-wall up to the opposite wing where Pulkkinen skates into it behind the defender and snaps it low to the far side to make it 5-0 Wings. A couple minutes later, Andersson goes for getting himself caught up with a Pens player and stops moving his feet, bringing the man down. Detroit kills this and then several minutes later see a Larkin goal off a beautiful short-side snipe called off due to Bertuzzi crashing the crease a bit early. It's not a terrible call, as Bert did make contact before the shot. Mantha gets a breakaway shortly after and loses it under Murray. 10:44 into the third, the Pens break the shutout as Beau Bennett gets a loose puck in front and puts it over a scrambling Howard. Just as I'm starting to think Marchenko has played a better game than on Tuesday, he takes a penalty with 5:40 left in the third. The Wings have to kill much of this penalty against six Penguins skaters, but get the job done. Just ten seconds left to go, Larkin earns back the goal taken from him on a net-side setup by Bertuzzi and a roof shot.
Standout players: Pulkkinen, Larkin, Bertuzzi
Tough period: Jensen, Marchenko, Ferraro
Larkin waved-off goal
The final score at the end of three stands, but the teams played 5 minutes of 3-on-3 to practice. here are rapid-fire thoughts:
- Smith started with Franzen and Sheahan, he defended a 2-on-1 rush against well.
- Mantha-Miele-Jensen have a decent shift, but the switch to Marchenko gets a breakaway for the Pens that misses.
- Larkin-Pulkkinen-Marchenko plays well and then gets off for Glendening to draw a penalty to make it 4-on-3.
- Sheahan-Franzen-Smith-Sproul PP1 pass around the perimeter and have a shot blocked. Pulkky comes on and blasts it into the goalie.
- On the ensuing faceoff, Pulkkinen loses the zone and then Malkin gets around him. As the ref's arm goes up to call a penalty on Pulkky, Malkin gets it over to Sundqvist to end the OT with a shorthanded goal.
- This was fun.
I know we all want all the kids up because they're new and exciting, but I'll tell you that in the two games I've seen, Joakim Andersson and Drew Miller have really played well and against more-established NHL competition than any of the other grinder-type kids.
Howard's rebound control was really on-point in this game. The defense did a good job of helping him in the few scrambles which came, but he faced quite a few good chances with the score being lopsided and handled himself very well.
Robbie Russo looked fairly polished but unspectacular in his preseason debut for the Wings. I'd easily put him above Sproul on the depth chart. He looked at least as good as Marchenko too. I like his sense on when's a good time to eat the puck behind his net rather than try to make a high-risk play.
Smith played like a veteran in this one. He's still occasionally very Brendan Smithy, but for most of this game, he was a solid puck-mover.