Swedish wing Lucas Raymond is proving the hype about his potential is not overblown. Dylan Larkin seems fully recovered from his neck injury. Robbie Fabbri is flying around like he’s the NHL’s Tasmanian Devil. The power play is clicking. The Detroit Red Wings have plenty of positives as training camp enters its final week.
But not everything has unfolded perfectly. Here are five things that have gone wrong for the Detroit Red Wings in this training camp:
Jakub Vrana’s Injury Hard to Accept
His shoulder injury was an existing injury that was aggravated during his first training camp practice. The official line is Vrana believed the rehabilitation he did would get him through this season. Blashill said surgery on injuries is usually the last resort.
That’s true. But it’s hard not to second guess, considering Vrana’s importance to the team. We don’t know exactly when Vrana was injured. But if this injury dates to last season and Vrana had immediate surgery he would be farther along in his recovery. Instead, he is looking at four to five months on the injured list starting now.
Often, these decisions are guesswork. Undoubtedly, Vrana was trying to do what he could to play the entire 2021-22 season. But this injury is particularly frustrating because Vrana was projected to be the team’s leading goal scorer.
Tyler Bertuzzi Threw the Detroit Red Wings a Curve
Tyler Bertuzzi said his decision not to vaccinate is a “life choice.” But there is anger seeping out of the Red Wings’ organization because it’s the team team that will suffer the consequences for his action.
If there is no change in the Canadian government’s approach to vaccinations, Bertuzzi will miss at least nine games in Canada. He will also miss practices. Who knows what kind of travel issues he will face catching up with his team when they leave Canada. Plus, Bertuzzi, as a non-vaccinated player, has a greater chance of becoming infected with the virus. It’s possible that a vaccinated player could become infected and bring the virus into the locker room. But it’s more likely that the non-vaccinated Bertuzzi would bring it in.
Bertuzzi is a popular with teammates and this will eventually blow over. But the Red Wings didn’t need this on top of Vrana’s injury. It also doesn’t help that Bertuzzi, recovering from back surgery, still hasn’t played in the preseason
Nedeljkovic Off to a Leaky Start
It’s preseason. The games don’t matter. Players are more in preparation mode than a competitive mode. Coach Jeff Blashill said he’s not concerned about Nedeljkovic because he works hard. He sweats the details.
But Nedeljkovic hasn’t looked like the goalie who posted a 1.90 goals-against average with a .932 save percentage. He looks leaky.
He has surrendered six goals on 42 shots. That’s an .842 save percentage. That’s not .932. It’s not even .900. The season starts in eight days. You would expect Nedeljkovic to look more buttoned up in his next start.
Givani Smith Needs to Rise Up
Does anyone remember Givani Smith making one memorable play in his three preseason games? He has a big opportunity this season. He is out of options. The Red Wings want him on the team because they need a physical presence. He has the blend of toughness and skill that earns you a place on the third line.
But he really hasn’t done anything this preseason to distinguish himself. As much as the Red Wings want him to make it, he still needs to earn it.
Jonatan Berggren Undermined by injury
Berggren never had a chance to show what he can do because he was injured in the first game of the NHL Prospects Tournament. Probably, he would not have made the team anyway.
But keep in mind that Berggren was far more successful last season in the Swedish League than Lucas Raymond was. Berggren was a top 10 scorer and showed overflowing offensive potential. He can control the puck, make plays and score.
If he starts in Grand Rapid, gets and stays healthy, you will see him up with the Red Wngs.