DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 Saturday to give them three out of four points in their first two games.
The Red Wings were playing without their captain Dylan Larkin who was suspended one game by the NHL for a gloved punch at Tampa Bay Lightning player Mathieu Joseph in their opener.
Here are five takeaways from the game:
After the Alex Nedeljkovic acquisition, the fan discussion about goaltenders centered on two possibilities: either, the Red Wings would go with tandem goaltender rotation or Nedeljkovic would win the job outright.
Did anyone consider the possibility Greiss might win the job outright? Let’s not forget that Greiss played very well down the stretch last season. And we saw more of the same Saturday when he made 40 stops to shut down the Canucks, who pushed hard in the third period.
“Greiss was a big piece of it,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said.
Nobody is making any goalie decisions based on two games, but Greiss reminded everyone that he won’t be conceding playing time to the younger goalie. Meanwhile, Blashill reiterated he wants to go with a tandem.
“The time Greiss struggled last season was when (Jonathan Bernier) was out and he ended up playing too much probably,” Blashill said. “Greiss is a guy, when he gets enough rest, plays really really good hockey. He has done it throughout his career. That’s what his numbers say.”
Red Wings Showed Push-back
The aftermath of Mathieu Joseph’s hit-from-behind against Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin in the season opener has prompted fan debate about whether the team needs more toughness.
Larkin took policing matters into his own hands and ended up suspended for one game.
Against the Canucks, Detroit players seemed to be sending a message that they can take of themselves. Tyler Bertuzzi, Michael Rasmussen, Givani Smith and Filip Hronek were pushing back at the Canucks’ efforts to rough up the Red Wings.
“We have to look after each other,” Blashill said, adding “you only win when you care about each other.”
The feistier the Red Wings played the more competitive they became.
Detroit’s Power Play is 2-for-2
The Red Wings are 2-for-7 in their first two games, and have netted one power play goal in each game. That’s a 28.5% efficiency. That’s much better than last season’s 11%.
It’s a small sample size, but you can see assistant coach Alex Tanguay is having an impact. The Red Wings are gaining the zone easier and moving the puck around more. They are taking what the penalty killers give them — making quick, short passes — until a passing or shooting lane opens up.
“But we’ve got to keep proving it night after night,” Blashill said.
Seider Continues to Impress
Moritz Seider played 22.55 minutes, second to Filip Hronek for most minutes played. Seider picked up another assist, giving him three in two games. He seems to be growing stronger with each game he plays.
“He’s a gamer who wants those type of minutes,” Blashill said.
Lucas Raymond didn’t have a point, but looked good on the forecheck, forced a Canuck to pull him down for a penalty and made a couple of slick passes.
Good Red Wings Victory
The Canucks were playing for the second consecutive night, but were highly competitive in this game. They played hard, maybe good enough to expect to win. But unlike in their opener, the Red Wings managed to finish. They couldn’t close out Tampa Bay in the opener. But they closed out the Canucks.
The Red Wings were much better on faceoffs (55%) against Vancouver than they were against Tampa Bay. They also blocked 19 shots against the Canucks.