The Red Wings are approaching the end of their preseason schedule, and tonight they took on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first of a home-and-home set to close out the exhibition games.
The Red Wings trotted out a lineup consisting almost entirely of AHL players (and the OMG line, which took the role of first line for the evening), and the Leafs responded with a similar roster, so the fans in Hamilton were treated to some decent hockey by guys they may see playing for minor league teams this season.
What we saw (for those that could watch the game) wasn’t the greatest hockey, but it was hockey, and it means that we’re another day closer to the games that actually count.
The star of the game from the Red Wings’ perspective was easily Evgeni Svechnikov. The Russian first rounder, who is probably going to be sent down to Grand Rapids to play for the Griffins this year, was the most noticeable Red Wing all night, and the best player on the ice. He scored both Wing goals, the first off a rush after a nice pass from.....Drew Miller (checks replay, confirms this is the case). The second came after a Robbie Russo point shot made it to the front of the net, and Svech put home the rebound. The Leafs got a goal from Mark Leipsic, but otherwise the Red Wings held the Leafs in check.
There was a very scary moment in the game when Wings’ prospect Ben Street took a Justin Holl skate to the face. He immediately rushed off the ice, and went to the hospital. Reports are that he is in stable condition, but we don’t have much more information than that. We’re all hoping that it’s not too bad and that he can return as soon as possible.
Ultimately tonight’s game was meaningless in the grand scheme of things. For the players that were playing, they worked as hard as they could to try and impress the coaching staff, but the reality is that 90% of the players playing for the Wings tonight will not be on the team when final rosters are set later this week. Tomorrow night is the game that counts, as most of the team will be regulars. However, to see players like Svechnikov, Bertuzzi and Russo have good nights, even against AHL competition, is encouraging. Tyler Bertuzzi has made another strong case for being the first call up should injuries happen, and Svechnikov looks like a player who should have a very successful first professional season.
We will likely see a number of moves made tomorrow, as rosters have to be set by Tuesday, so if the Wings are going to try and sneak a few players through waivers (looking at you, Ryan Sproul and Martin Frk), tomorrow may be the best time to do it while other teams are wrapping up their preseason schedules and still making their final decisions. If the Wings wait too long, then we could see a situation where some of these players possibly get claimed, and the anger from the fanbase should that happen would be something to behold.
Update on Wings' Ben Street,who was cut on neck by a skate tonight:Released from hospital.Will overnight in Hamilton.To Detroit tomorrow.— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) October 8, 2016