The Red Wings took on the Calgary Flames tonight, looking to keep the offense rolling, and play more complete games like they did Tuesday in Columbus. The hottest hand continues to belong to Tyler Bertuzzi with 6 points through 3 games this season. But the rookies are showing what they’re worth with Raymond scoring his first of many NHL goals the other night while he and Moritz Seider each have 3 points through 3 games. Only Hronek outpaces Seider so far in TOI with Hronek tallying 23:55 per game and Seider 21:34 including some difficult matchups. In net, after playing the opener against Tampa Bay, Nedeljkovic returned to the crease looking to show what made him a Calder contender last year, ironically being in the running for it again this year.
Detroit’s opponent, the Flames, began a five game road trip tonight at Little Caesars. Led by Matthew Tkachuk who is in a contract year, and Johnny Gaudreau, the Flames have enough talent to be dangerous if the Red Wings allowed them to be. Calgary is off to a tough start losing 5-2 to the Oilers and 3-2 in OT to the Ducks to start the season. On the back end Calgary lost their leader Giordano in the offseason expansion draft. Now they rely heavily on the likes of players like Noah Hanifin and Rasmus Andersson to eat minutes. Chris Tanev is the elder statesman of the group. Another player to watch for, as in watch your back, Milan Lucic, who is a long ways from the goal scorer he was in Boston, but remains a physical danger on the ice.
Between the pipes for the Flames was Jacob Markstrom, their shiny new goaltender with a large contract. Markstrom has struggled out of the gate with an .881 SV% through two games. The Red Wings looked to take advantage of the goalie’s tough start before the rust wore off.
Could the Wings manage to stay red hot as the season continues?
Detroit had a chance moments in when Rasmussen sent a backhander to the net and Markstrom kicked the rebound right out to Erne who couldn’t quite get a stick on it as he was tied up with a defender, otherwise Markstrom may have been in trouble. Minutes later Marsktrom made a well-positioned glove save on Zadina as Suter worked the puck from behind the net out to the winger in the low slot. Detroit had the pressure going early.
At the 17:26 mark after a faceoff in the Calgary end, Givani Smith and Milan Lucic squared off in a tilt between two heavyweights, one a grizzled veteran who has done this a few times, and Smith looking to make a name for himself. Smith was able to get a few punches in before Lucic landed a blow and scored the takedown. Not many fireworks in a short one, but Smith held his own, and Lucic likely obliged him in a request for the fight.
Raymond had a good scoring chance when he stole the puck from a Calgary defender and quickly turned in alone on Markstrom, but the goaltender did a good job of cutting down the angle and making the stop. Seconds later Nedeljkovic faced his first test on a quick one timer from low to high on his left side followed by a glove save on a point shot later in the play. Calgary began to turn the pressure for a few minutes after Detroit carried it early.
Raymond got another chance on a play from the side of the net. As he skated back up ice he received a solid slash from Tkachuk (directly in front of a ref) and he gave a slash back to the pot stirrer. Raymond also got dumped at the boards earlier in the period as Calgary had a clear message to try and get under the youngster’s skin.
Near the midway point of the period, Fabbri blocked a Gudbranson point shot, and then limped around for the remainder of the shift. Unfortunately Calgary used this to create a lengthy cycle of the puck before Gaudreau sent a pass from behind the net to Lindholm in the slot, who Zadina had strayed too far from, and Lindholm put it past Nedeljkovic before he had much time to react, 1-0 Flames.
Fabbri went to the room following the blocked shot. Calgary had some clear momentum from the goal as the ice started to tilt more heavily towards the Red Wings end afterwards. With 5:27 left in the period, on a goalmouth scramble in front of Nedeljkovic, it was a Calgary stick that eventually found the puck. The stick belonged to Mangiapane who whacked the puck past the Detroit goaltender, 2-0 Flames. Hronek whiffed a bit on a hit along the boards just before Calgary gained the zone, and lost position on his man briefly which led to the shot before the scramble.
The next chance after the goal to put the Flames up two went to Suter, who had an odd man break with Namestnikov. Suter cut across the top of the circle before putting a shot on Markstrom who was able to make the save. Late in the period, the crowd got a shot of excitement as Seider dumped Lucic at the Detroit blueline. Seider once again showed he fears nobody, including the heavyweights.
The Red Wings finished the period with a 12-11 shot advantage but not a lot of chances to show for it, and looked somewhat flat after the first few minutes. Some thoughts on the period include that Zadina, while showing to have grown as a two-way player can’t have the type of lapses that led to the Lindholm goal, but something he can learn from. Raymond seemed to be targeted early and Blashill may have even taken him out for a couple of shifts midway through the period while he was either tended to after the Tkachuk slash or to shield him briefly. But he came back later in the period undeterred which was good to see.
It was Seider who got things going for Detroit early as he pushed up the right sidewall with the puck and put a shot on goal, before circling around behind the net and ending up with puck on the left side and putting another shot into traffic. On the ensuing pressure, the Red Wings had their best chance of the game to this point, when Raymond skated in through the right circle, threatening to shoot, before sliding the puck through the hashes to Leddy who couldn’t quite beat an outstretched Markstrom. As the pressure on the shift continued, Larkin made a good play to keep the puck in at the point. He worked it down to Raymond who hit Seider driving to the slot. Seider wound up a big wrist shot but put it into Markstrom’s chest. It was four quick shots for Detroit to open the period.
A couple of minutes later, Calgary took the first penalty of the game as Ritchie slashed the stick out of Smith’s hand at center ice as he reached for the puck. On the powerplay, Detroit looked disjointed throughout, struggling to gain the zone, let alone get a scoring chance. A disappointing opportunity for the new look Tanguay led unit.
The period slowed after the Detroit powerplay. The next chance game on a brutal turnover by Calgary as a defender threw the puck in front of the net from behind the goal, landing on Fabbri’s stick. Fabbri tried to slide a backhand pass back across the crease area but it didn’t find the intended target before Markstrom covered it.
Calgary then picked up another penalty when Dube shoved Staal over as the defender was backing up as Calgary pressure was coming. A bit of an unnecessary penalty by the Flames, but Detroit looked to do better with this chance than the previous powerplay. But again the powerplay wasn’t clicking and Detroit failed to generate a chance. That one stung more because you knew a Calgary powerplay had to be coming soon.
Calgary didn’t get their first shot in the period until around this time midway through the period. On an interesting exchange in the Calgary end, Zadina was knocked into the boards by Kylington, and moments later as the puck came back behind the net, Zadina took out his frustration on Tanev knocking the defender over.
The teams traded a couple of shots each through the first few shifts following the Wings powerplays. The most notable of which for Detroit was one by the Rasmussen line where they generated a couple of shots off of the rush. Then Fabbri had a couple of good shots, both from the right side, one from the top of the circle and another from the side of the crease with Markstrom stopping both.
As expected the next penalty went to Detroit when Smith picked up an offensive zone slashing penalty. A little bit of a sloppy play by Smith, a bit of a soft call, but a careless play with the stick. On the Calgary man advantage, Tkachuk used the between the legs move from the side of the crease to try and find an opening. He flipped the puck up and it came flopping down on top of the net, narrowly avoiding a 3-0 Flames lead. The Red Wings did a good job through the rest of the penalty kill, hounding the puck, including Stephens at one point pinning the puck on the boards in the Calgary end for a few seconds.
Late in the period, Seider showed a taste of what makes him so good as a defender as he pinched off Coleman on a rush up the left side. As Coleman tried to cut across in front of him as the defender pivoted, he deftly knocked the puck away, clearing the zone in the process.
The Wings owned the period, with a 14-4 shot advantage, but had no goals resulting from it. With the exception of the poor powerplay, the Wings looked good in this frame. They were thwarted a bit by Markstrom who evidently found his form in this game. If the Wings could carry that play into the 3rd period, the dam was set to break for Markstrom eventually.
The Wings were the beneficiary of an early penalty call as Backlund tripped Suter as he circled in with the puck in his own end. Detroit wanted to show much better on this powerplay compared to their previous two. But the best chance went to Calgary’s Dube who had a break in on Nedeljkovic and drew a hooking call from Raymond in the process negating the remainder of the Red Wings powerplay. On the ensuing 4 on 4 play, Detroit carried the possession but didn’t manage any shots. Calgary’s shortened powerplay passed without any significant opportunities.
Calgary nearly ended the game on a shot wide of the net that came out the other side. Nedeljkovic dove to get in position but luckily Seider was able to knock the puck away before the crashing Gaudreau could get a stick on it. Calgary had the bulk of the shots in the early section of the final period. Suter tried to create a chance when he picked off a Markstrom attempt pass behind the net. He put it out front but the pass didn’t find a Red Wings stick as Markstrom scrambled back to the goal. Just after, Monahan had a partial break where Nedeljkovic snapped the shot out of the air, making the glove save look easy.
The middle section of the period ticked away without many shots or chances either way, a lot of broken plays through the neutral zone, which sorted the Flames just fine. Detroit really lacked push when they needed it here.
A scrum took place in front of Nedeljkovic after Larkin took exception to how close some of the Flames players were getting to his netminder. Perhaps the captain also sense his team needed a spark to get going. There were no penalties on the play. The Wings did indeed show some life afterwards but were still having trouble getting much through to Markstrom other than distance shots.
It was the Detroit fourth line with Stephens, Smith, and Gagner that finally generated some sustained pressure with under 5:00 to play. They put a couple of shots on net and were buzzing for a bit, but again came up empty.
With 2:40 to play, Blashill seen enough and pulled Nedeljkovic to try and get more going. But Tkachuk picked up the puck high in the Calgary zone off of Fabbri’s stick. He sent it the length of the ice and into the empty net, 3-0 Flames.
Detroit laid down for the remainder of the game and didn’t generate nearly enough in the final period to mount a comeback.
After a very eventful first three games, this one lacked a lot of the excitement of the other games. A couple of brief skirmishes, and the Lucic-Smith tilt early on were all there was for physicality really. Also, the team didn’t make much of a push after getting down two goals. Calgary went into full shutdown mode in the 3rd period and Detroit couldn’t find a way through.
However the two players who seemed to lead the way, were rookies Raymond and Seider. Seider made some notable defensive plays throughout and even jumped in offensively a few times, picking his spots well. Raymond looked like one of the only forwards generating much of anything. Bertuzzi appeared to have a down game, but his previous pace obviously wasn’t sustainable, but he wasn’t very noticeable throughout. The other three lines honestly didn’t generate highlights either way. Zadina did bear the brunt of responsibility on the first goal after losing his man, but it was a long shift stuck in their own end, which is when those lapses tend to happen, even to well-seasoned veterans.
A special shout out to Everett (@borntodanhard) as a lot of the clips above came from him tonight.
All in all this was a game that will soon be easily forgotten because of how uneventful it was. The Wings carried the play early, but couldn’t takeover in the 3rd when they needed to, which isn’t necessarily surprising. They got goalied a little bit by Markstrom, but it wasn’t like he stole the game.
The Larkin line really was led by Raymond tonight and was dangerous at times. The Suter, Fabbri, Zadina line also had their moments, albeit with long gaps between chances. The bottom six outside of one shift each, didn’t seem to do much of anything. Defensively, Seider had a great game as noted. Leddy seemed to maintain his level of play. The rest were just so-so. Nedeljkovic also played adequately, nothing to be upset about with his play.
But it’s on to Montreal to take on the Habs Saturday. Detroit will try to pile on the reeling Canadiens who are off to a brutal start. Better to toss them an anchor than a buoy, we’ll see what the Wings decide to do.