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Three Questions Before the Red Wings’ Final Preseason Game



Derek Lalonde, Red Wings coach

During the Detroit Red Wings 4-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs last night, Joe Veleno, Elmer Soderblom, and Simon Edvinsson all made their respective statements.

Veleno, though he has 71 games to his name in the NHL, is fighting for a spot. Soderblom scored a dazzling goal that only makes his appearance in Detroit look likely. Edvinsson kept a play alive with deft stick work and positioning that led to Detroit’s first goal.

Tonight, there are others seeking to make similar statements and force the front office and coaching staff into some tough decisions. It’s a good problem for the Red Wings to have as it signals ascension from the rebuild. Beyond that, here are three storylines heading into the final preseason game.

Where will Jonatan Berggren End Up?

Berggren has done everything asked of him and also had a dynamite season in Grand Rapids. Tonight’s roster does not feature many of the roster locks. Instead, this is a chance for Berggren to showcase his case to be on the roster.

It’s certainly a unique situation because on one hand, it seems like Berggren is ready for the NHL. But will it be on the ice or as an extra skater? If that’s the case, through no fault of his own, he may be the odd man out where they will likely send him back to Grand Rapids to continue honing his game.

But a solid game tonight will only make the coaching staff’s decision making tougher.

Can Veleno add to a Strong Performance from Friday?

Veleno lost his man on the first Toronto goal but shored that up with a stronger outing throughout the final 58 minutes. Veleno’s hard work paid off on a shot from the corner that found its way through a screen and into the net. The game winner–along with a well rounded game–earned Veleno first star of the game honors.

Today’s game will likely bump Veleno up a couple lines and give him the opportunity against many of the Maple Leafs regulars. If there’s any chance for Veleno to put the roster spot question to rest, it would be tonight.

Beyond the score, what’s a “Win” for the Red Wings tonight?

For more comfort in the gameplan. Some of the missed assignments and miscues that have been seen throughout the preseason is a natural progression of learning a new system and expectations.

There were a couple miscues last night, even from some of the core players, that seem part of the early learning process. The team does seem faster, and Lalonde has spoken specifically about their speed through the neutral zone. Maintaining a fluid rush that opens up options offensively is part of the push Lalonde and his staff have been emphasizing.

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The Red Wings tonight, then, are looking to see how they look against a Maple Leafs lineup that is very close to what opening night will look like. Specifically, defensemen like Albert Johansson and Eemil Viro have been very consistent and improving with every appearance. Adam Erne has looked more confident after a down season. Givani Smith has shown snarl and policed the ice when opposing players have started pushing his teammates around.

In short, it’s a night for bubble players to have their final audition. But the biggest win for the Detroit Red Wings is that with so many tough decisions to make, it’s another sign that the talent is swelling both in Detroit and the prospect pipeline.

After six years of missing the playoffs, it’s a good problem to have.