You know, since the first game.. I had been asking myself: was that the real Detroit Red Wings, or was that the Detroit Red Wings just trying to get the gears going after 10 months without hockey. Saturday night’s tilt with Carolina gave us some evidence that this team has improved greatly compared to last season. They’re not on the same level as Carolina, but you get the sense that players are fitting into roles better so far.
It wasn’t a pretty win, but a win is a win. Especially when it’s against a damn good team.
The Red Wings had a way better start than they did in the season opener. They weren’t getting themselves hemmed in quite like before, they seem a little less stiff on the ice. What really impressed me was special teams, more specifically the penalty kill. They basically had to play down a man for four minutes straight, and not only did they kill it off, they actually generated some scoring chances. The power play was not as impressive. The team struggled to get the puck “settled down” and once they did, it was a little too late.
Despite falling short on the power play, Detroit was able to get on the board first, and it came from none other than Bobby Ryan in his first game as a Red Wing. It was a pure goal-scorer’s goal, but the real gem was Filip Zadina’s excellent play to make it all happen:
Right before the 3rd period, Fox Sports Detroit used a stat saying Dylan Larkin had skated a total of some 2-point-something miles, and I don’t know if that is a lot or a little. I officially do not know what to do with that stat.
The scoring opened up in the final 20 minutes of regulation — Carolina started playing with a new tempo that seemed to overwhelm the Detroit defense. It didn’t help that they Red Wings started the period down a man. Andrei Svechnikov ripped one off Vincent Trochek to tie it up, but Detroit would answer shortly after, with Dylan Larking getting his first goal as captain:
There is something to be said about the way Vlad Namestnikov is playing. He managed to get two huge scoring chances via breakaway in the 1st and 3rd period. His hands kind of stoned up, but he was speedy. He very much reminds me of a young Darren Helm. There’s a lot to like about having him on the team.
It’s awfully hard to keep up with a team like the Carolina Hurricanes. They have a ton of talent, such as Andrei Svechnikov, who was a complete pain in the ass all game long for the Wings. He notched the game-tying goal midway through the 3rd following an incredible individual effort:
The turning point came later when Robby Fabbri picked up the go-ahead goal, and again, all thanks to a slick play from Filip Zadina:
Detroit would lock up the win with an empty-net goal from Dylan Larkin.. And I gotta say, this was a completely different showing than the season opener. There’s plenty of credit to go around, but my pick for player of the game has to be Filip Zadina. It was because of him that two goals happened. A close pick would have been Jonathan Bernier, but I think the Red Wings played a very underrated defensive game against a potent Carolina offense.
This was a statement game for fans.
The team opened up the season pretty shaky, but this game was an obvious improvement, and perhaps a better testament as to the work Steve Yzerman has done in his short tenure. You have to love seeing Dylan Larkin pick up a couple goals. I had the feeling he started a little slow out of the gate this season.
Pick apart the game however you want, it’s just good to get a win again. It’s been a dismal stretch in terms of Detroit sports, and this was a nice display of talent and teamwork that we haven’t seen much in the past umpteen months.
Anyhow — Not much time for rest. The Columbus Blue Jackets are in town Monday for a rare noon puck drop. We’ll see what happens with the prospect of Darren Helm returning to the lineup, but either way you look at it, this was an encouraging win.