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5 Thoughts on Red Wings-Capitals
Ville Husso was great and Red Wings warmed up with weird circumstances
DETROIT — The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Washington Capitals 3-1 on Thursday.
Lucas Raymond, Andrew Copp, and Dylan Larkin scored for Detroit, which rebounded from a lopsided loss to the Buffalo Sabres earlier this week.
Of note, Alexander Ovechkin scored his 786th career goal for Washington, tying Gordie Howe’s NHL record for goals with one NHL franchise.
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1. I’ve been slow to use the word starter and backup for the Red Wings, because aside from a select few, most NHL teams deploy goalie tandems with 1A and 1B (or 2A and 2B….).
But Ville Husso’s play this season, combined with Alex Nedjelkovic’s struggles, have created a clear divide on the Red Wings goalie depth chart.
That trend continued Thursday when Husso stopped 33 shots, and he bailed the Red Wings defense out on a couple key occasions.
In the first period Connor McMichael turned Robert Hag inside out and Husso was forced into a stretching pad save. In the second period another Detroit turnover led to a Capitals odd-man break where he made another pad stop.
Husso’s composure has stood out to me recently. In the third period, for example, he didn’t over commit or get caught swimming on a wrap-around chance by Trevor van Riemsdyk. It was a simple looking save, but the fact it looked simple told the story.
2. Lucas Raymond doesn’t fit typical net-front build. He’s 5-foot-11 and 176 pounds, but Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde said on Thursday morning that Raymond’s net-front role was more based on his hands than his size.
And what better example of that then his power play goal in the second period.
The key to Raymond having success in that role, beyond quick hands, is his understanding of how to manipulate space despite his smaller frame (by professional athlete standards, of course).
3. Moritz Seider had one of those games that physically test a defenseman.
Washington targeted Seider when he carried the puck, he was hit a lot, and other circumstances added to the bumps and bruises the defenseman endured.
In the second period he was hobbled at one point blocking an Ovechkin one-timer on the power play. I actually got decent video of that from my perch in the press box.
Later Ovechkin connected with Seider on hit near the blue line that was ruled a trip by officials, but looked a lot like kneeing to me from up in the press box.
Seider has been going through a slow start to the season offensively and he’s been adjusting to the league learning him. It can sometimes be easier as a rookie than a sophomore player, especially after winning the Calder, because internal and external expectations skyrocket and every team now has you circled on the pre-scout.
Fighting through games like the one against Washington are part of the development path for Seider. He’ll be better for it in the long run, and the way he helped close the game out in the final minutes for Detroit is strong evidence of that.
4. Because of an anniversary celebration for the 1997 Stanley Cup Championship team, the Capitals and Red Wings warmed up on the practice rink inside Little Caesars Arena.
It was weird. It felt like the warmup setup for a preseason prospect tournament, but instead of random undrafted free agents and prospects taking line rushes, it was Ovechkin and company.
There was a DJ playing in an attempt to create some normalcy, Dylan Larkin actually motioned to the DJ to turn up the volume after Detroit took the ice so it would be more similar to the scene on the main ice.
Players are also weird creatures of habit, and Adam Erne tossed a puck over the glass, as his routine, to where fans would have been.
Erne later had the assist on Andrew Copp’s game-winning goal in the third period, so routine works, apparently.
5. Some other notes and thoughts.
— I didn’t watch the pre-game ceremony, instead I went to warmups. But it was a cool event the Red Wings put together to honor an important part of franchise history. You can read more about it at various others places, I’m sure.
— Mark Pysyk has started skating with the Red Wings, even though he’s not expected to be back into the lineup until at least January because of an achilles injury suffered in training. Pysyk and I crossed paths briefly in Dallas, but because of the COVID-19 media rules at the time, we’d never actually met in person. On Thursday morning we remedied that, just in case anyone was worried (I know you weren’t).
— The Red Wings goal that was called back for goalie interference in the second period was a classic reminder that no one knows what goalie interference is. You could have argued either way, and someone would have told you that you were wrong.
— On a programming note, I’ve had too much press box coffee tonight. I’m gonna stay up and also write off the Dallas Stars-Arizona Coyotes game that’s about to start.
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