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The Breakdown: Red Wings’ Improved Depth Keys 5-1 Against Anaheim



Dominik Kubalik, Red Wings

DETROIT — When 232-pound Detroit Red Wings defenseman Ben Chiarot delivered heavy megaton checks to Ryan Strome along the boards  in the second period, he may have left players on both teams wide-eyed.

“I was just lucky that I was watching,” said Red Wings forward Dominik Kubalik “I was waiting with my D Man there. I was watching when he was running around and killing people. That was kind of nice. I caught myself laughing. I was like ‘oh my god, he’s doing it again.’ I just remember when I play against him,
he’s obviously hard to play against.”

Obviously, Kubalik exaggerated a bit. Chiarot wasn’t even penalized. But Chiarot was a beastly presence in Detroit’s 5-1 win against the Anaheim. He was irritated at what he considered an untoward hit against him. His response was a couple of hits against Strome.

“I think he felt he got hit from behind there,” Detroit coach Derek Lalonde said. “He joked after the second (period), he said a few years ago that probably would have been 15 minutes of penalties after taking a hit like that but he felt he did it the right way. He went physical, basically won the shift, so it was a positive.”

Chiarot played 22 hard minutes, serving as a symbol of new coach Lalonde’s emphasis on the Red Wings always being hard to play against. The Red Wings out-hit Anaheim 27-19 as they raised their record to 3-0-2.

This is the first time since 2011-12 that the Red Wings have started a season with points in five consecutive games. Derek Lalonde cautions against becoming too excited about this five-game surge.

But the Red Wings look improved, and GM Steve Yzerman’s offseason acquisitions are playing a significant role. It’s been about improved depth. Chiarot and Olli Maatta have solidified the defense. They have helped the team’s penalty kill go from last in the NHL in 2021-22 to 17-for-17 in these five games.

Kubalik registered a goal and two assists to pace an offensive attack that looks more dangerous, even though they are dealing with three players missing from their top six forwards (Robby Fabbri, Tyler Bertuzzi and Jakub Vrana).

“Someone like Kubalik starts on ourfourth line and ends up on our top line,” Lalonde said. “(Filip) Zadina went from a healthy scratch to in our top six. Both guys are important parts of the powerplay now. It’s good, it’s a good sign for our depth.

Kubalik has three consecutive multiple-point games and leads Detroit with eight points. The last Red Wing to record more points through their first five career contests with the franchise was Paul Coffey (2-8-10 in 5 games ) in 1992-93.

After struggling last season in Chicago, he didn’t come to Detroit believing he would be playing with Dylan Larkin or being crucial to the power play.

“But I was kind of looking to getting back where I was when I came (to Chicago) and get back to my game, because I know that last year pretty much all season I just didn’t feel like myself,” Kubalik said. “I wasn’t getting scoring chances. I didn’t even shoot, so my mindset before the season was ‘how would I get back where I think I can be, and where I can improve my game?'”

Another newcomer, goalie Ville Husso, raised his record to 2-0-1. He made 31 saves. He was another Yzerman “find.”

Said Lalonde: “He was the reason we got out of that second period up two goals.”

Facts and Observations

  1. Red Wings fourth-line center Joe Veleno delivered three hits on John Klingberg on one shift. Veleno played with added confidence after scoring his first goal of the season.
  2. Dylan Larkin’s first-period power-play tally was the 150th goal of his career. This is his eighth season. That’s better than 20 goals per season. Among players to debut with the franchise, only four skaters have reached the mark in fewer games over the past 25 years: Henrik Zetterberg (350 games on March 25, 2008), Vyacheslav Kozlov (440 games on Feb. 21, 1999), Johan Franzen (472 games on April 7, 2012) and Pavel Datsyuk (477 games on Dec. 20, 2008).
  3. Detroit was 3-for-5 on the power play. That’s the first time the Red Wings have netted three-or-more power play goals in a single game since scoring four times on the man advantage on Nov. 15, 2017 vs. the Calgary Flames.
  4. Moritz Seider recorded his first point of the season with an assist in Larkin’s power-play goal. Seider paced the Red Wings with 21 power play points (2-19-21) in 2021-22
  5. With goals from Kubalik, David Perron and Elmer Soderblom against Anaheim, Detroit has 11 goals from new players. That leads the NHL. The Florida Panthers are second with eight.