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The Breakdown: Red Wings Special Teams Struggle in 5-1 Loss

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Filip Zadina, Detroit Red Wings

It was expected to be a tough final preseason game for the Detroit Red Wings against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Facing a roster versus Toronto that was close to what will be the opening night lines, it was going to be tough sledding. It would also be a final evaluation for some players on the bubble after Detroit recorded a 4-2 victory Friday night.

Pius Suter opened the scoring with a snipe from inside the left circle but the Red Wings would surrender two goals after that, heading into the third period with a power play while chasing a goal. The penalty expired, the Red Wings took one of their own, and Auston Matthews fired a one-timer into the net just eight seconds into the advantage.

William Nylander would add his second of the night, giving Toronto a 4-1 lead on another power play goal. Matthews would notch another power play goal in the dying minutes of the game, giving Toronto a 5-1 lead with his second goal of the night.

The outcome wasn’t surprising, and Detroit kept it within a goal deficit until the three third period power play tallies. But it was a tough night for the Red Wings special teams.

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Red Wings Facts and Observations

  1. Filip Zadina had a grade A chance on a Detroit power play midway through the third period. Inexplicably, he was unable to finish what should have been an easy goal. Later on another power play opportunity, Zadina looked timid with an opportunity to feed Jakub Vrana for a chance on the doorstep. In a contest where the 2018 sixth overall pick was one of the players with a secure spot playing, the same nagging bewilderment on the inability to finish.
  2. Zadina has contract security and it’s only a preseason game. But the frustration that often suffocated him on the ice last year seemed evident again during missed opportunities Saturday night.
  3. The penalty kill was abysmal, struggling to keep the Maple Leafs attack from registering goals. The final three goals were all on the man advantage and each one didn’t take much time to find the back of the net. Toronto’s PP conversion was a gaudy 75%.
  4. Detroit’s power play had five chances and all five came up empty. There were chances, but the inability to set things up along with the lack of a sustained attack doomed the man advantage all night long.
  5. After a strong showing Friday night, Joe Veleno had his hands full with the best of the Maple Leafs players. He had nearly seven minutes on the power play and nearly two on the short handed unit.
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