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Five Takeaways from the Detroit Red Wings’ Seventh Preseason Game



Joe Veleno, Detroit Red Wings
Joe Veleno registered a goal and an assist to help the Detroit Red Wings down the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 Thursday in preseason hockey,

The Detroit Red Wings are expected to finalize their roster this weekend. And rookie Joe Veleno is still working to make the team. He played a big role in helping the Red Wings beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 Thursday at Little Caesars Arena.

Joe Veleno Making it Hard on Blashill

Rookie Joe Veleno had a goal and an assist against the Penguins as his stock continues to rise with the coaching staff. Veleno projects to be a dependable two-way forward. The question: How much he will score?

He added muscle in the offseason and it’s helping him win battles in front of the net that he didn’t win last season.

“You want a guys with inner drive and he has that inner drive,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said.

But it’s challenging to handicap Veleno’s chances without knowing how long Michael Rasmussen will be hurt or if Bobby Ryan will be signed. Also, is Lucas Raymond going to make the team?  That will have a factor in determining whether Veleno makes it. Raymond didn’t get a point for the second consecutive game, but he still has six points in five games.

Bertuzzi Should Be Ready For Opener

The Red Wings will have to wait and see how sore Tyler Bertuzzi is tomorrow after his first game action in nine months. But all indications are he will be ready to play in the opener against Tampa Bay on Thursday.

Bertuzzi played 17:04, more than any other forward against the Penguins. “He was totally involved in a bunch of battles,” Blashill said.

Bertuzzi scored an empty-netter in the closing minutes to go along with three shots on goal, two hits and three blocked shots. He played a Bertuzzi-style game.

“What I liked is he played without fear,” Blashill said. “It’s a hard thing psychologically when you are banged up to play without fear.”

Signing Pius Suter was an A+ Move

Suter scored the Red Wings’ first goal to give him five points in the preseason. Suter could end up helping the Red Wings more than any other offseason acquisition.

He’s helping the power play because he’s poised with the puck. On his goal against the Penguins, he paused just a half-second to assess what the goalie might do. The result was a shot into the empty side of the net.

Blashill said the difference between coaching a player and knowing him as an opponent is that when he’s on your bench “you get to know his brain.”

“And (Suter’s) brain is real good,” Blashill

Suter is helping the penalty kill. Finally, Suter and Robbie Fabbri have a potent chemistry. Both of them are on point heading into the first week of real hockey.

How good is Detroit’s goaltending?

One Red Wings’ truth heading into the regular-season is that it is impossible to know what the Red Wings’ goaltending will be like this season. Jeff Blashill has seen enough of Thomas Greiss to assume he will be solid. He did a good job for the Red Wings last season and he has 2-1 record in the preseason. He gave up two goals against the Penguins.

But it’s really difficult to project Alex Nedeljkovic’s performance level because his NHL experience is a small sample size. He’s only played 29 NHL games. Nedeljkovic was terrific last season, but it’s easy to find Nedeljkovic doubters. They point out that Carolina’s defense ran a tight ship last season. They kept a clean house.

To make Blashill’s job more difficult, Nedeljkovic has looked porous in preseason games. Greiss looked fine against the Penguins. Should we assume Blashill will want another look at Nedeljkovic before Thursday’s opener against the Lightning? The Red Wings play their final exhibition game Saturday against Buffalo.

When the deal for Nedeljkovic was made, the thought was he is the Red Wings goalie of the future and goalie of the now. That’s probably true. But really we don’t know if Nedeljkovic will be an upgrade this season over Jonathan Bernier. Maybe he will be. But it’s not a certainty. Bernier played well for the Red Wings for past couple of seasons.

One more Red Wings Injury

Blashill reported that Givani Smith has what he termed a minor injury. Apparently, Smith was supposed to play against the Penguins. Smith has had a mediocre training camp. He hasn’t distinguished himself. But he’s still likely to make the team because the Red Wings need his physical play.