For several years, the Detroit Red Wings sought out a fourth line that would prove worrisome for NHL teams and in a sense, were successful in that mission.
The only problem with the equation is that the team the line was causing the worry for was the Red Wings.
This season, it might finally be time for other NHL teams to be afraid of Detroit’s fourth-line unit. In Saturday’s NHL preseason finale at Little Caesars Arena, the trio of Joe Veleno between Christian Fischer and Klim Kostin accounted for two goals, four points and a +4 rating in a 4-3 verdict over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Just as as signficantly, the trio was creating chemistry together and in the process, finding a formula for success.
“We’d like to build an identity with that line and be hard to play against,” Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde said.
Red Wings Fourth Line Coming Together
Detroit many finally have the trio to meet that objective. In the 6-foot-2, 212-pound Fischer and the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Kostin, Detroit is sending two wingers over the boards that can punish the opposition.
“Me and Klimmie are two pretty big bodies matching up against other teams’ top lines,” Fischer said. “Obviously, situational based. But I think today was a great scenario. We score a goal, Newsie (coach Lalonde) puts us out there, I think with a minute left in the period and I think we spent the whole minute in there and Joe ended up scoring.”
Lalonde was indicating his intentions are to start the first game of the regular season on Thursday at New Jersey with this trio as his fourth unit. But this isn’t a fourth line like the ones who skated in your father’s NHL. While driving the other team to distraction, they’re also capable of driving offense.
Between them, Fischer (13), Kostin (11) and Veleno (9) accounted for 33 goals last season.
“You don’t want to say the fourth line, because the fourth line, it’s the new NHL, you got to be able to play hockey,” Fischer said. “All three of us can make plays, we can score goals.
“I think all three of us have proven in that scenario we can put up points.”
Veleno A Catalyst
While Fischer and Kostin are new to Detroit, Veleno is also looking like a new man this season. He was enjoying a stellar preseason, netting three goals in five games.
The Red Wings are hoping that the player they chose 30th overall in the 2018 NHL entry draft is ready to take a significant step forward in his all-around game. The early indications are that this might be the case.
Joe Veleno buries one in the final minute of the 2nd period to take their first lead of the night. 🚨 pic.twitter.com/bJ9OSkvwzu
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 8, 2023
“Great camp,” Lalonde said of Veleno. “Assertive with his game, confident. He scored again tonight. Really good camp for him.
“Hopefully it can leak into a really good start to the season.”