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Lucas Raymond finds the back of the net and the confidence that comes with it
Sophomore forward scores twice, Red Wings win 2-1
DETROIT — It’s amazing what confidence can do.
Lucas Raymond struggled to find the back of the net in the Detroit Red Wings first seven games, and the impact started to spill into his overall performance. He wasn’t necessarily playing poorly, but when your NHL bar was set so high at a 19-year-old, it’s easy to get disappointed as a 20-year-old.
Then you score, like Raymond did in the first period to tie the game at 1-1, and things start to feel a bit more normal. Coincidence or causation, bounces start to go your way, too, like the puck finding enough time to cross the line late in the second period to make it 2-1 before the intermission.
And if you want an isolated incident of confidence, take a look at the third period, during 4-on-4 play, when Raymond stole the puck from Frederick Gaudreau and nearly set up Dylan Larkin for an insurance marker.
As one Red Wings front office member said while walking to the locker room after the game, “The game becomes a lot easier once you finally get one.”
Overall, it was a key bounce back win for the Red Wings against the Minnesota Wild on a night where they were missing four top-six forwards.
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Some other quick notes from the 2-1 Red Wings victory.
— The Red Wings goalie rotation was altered for the first time this season, with Ville Husso getting back-to-back starts, even after allowing five goals on 33 shots on Thursday against the Boston Bruins.
Detroit coach Derek Lalonde noted on Saturday morning that both goalies had struggled in their most recent starts, and that changing the rotation could potentially help reset both netminders. He didn’t finalize a plan, but Lalonde went out of his way to note that Alex Nedjelkovic would potentially be in the net on Monday night.
Even with that nod to Nedjelkovic, there’s a clear pattern developing with Husso as the 1A in the tandem for Lalonde — I don’t like starter and backup distinctions, since most NHL teams tandems now.
The challenge for Husso, has been evening out splash games in both direction. He had a shutout on opening night, and followed it up with a five-goal loss against the Los Angeles Kings. He bounced back and only allowed one goal against the Anaheim Ducks, but that was followed by the aforementioned game against the Bruins.
On Saturday, Husso allowed the second shot he faced, a snipe by Kirill Kaprizov, and then stopped the next 29.
While Lalonde was advocating for Nedjelkovic before the game, you’d have to think Husso has a better chance of starting now on Monday in Buffalo.
— It’s Adam Erne season and it kind of has to be.
Because of injuries the winger, who’s never registered more than 20 points in a season, has been moved to the top line with Larkin and Raymond, and extended a four-game point streak with an assist on Raymond’s first period goal.
And frankly, Erne should have had even more points in the opening stanza. He was robbed on a 2-on-1 by Filip Gustavson, and he was denied an assist when Larkin later hit the post on a rush.
Erne had an eight-game point streak during the 2020-21 season, which I was stunned to discover, so it’ll be stretch for him to hit a career-high on that front. But for a player with an open opportunity he’s making the most of it right now.
— Givani Smith was recalled from the AHL and made his season debut on a line with Elmer Soderblom and Pius Suter. Smith has a lot of the tools, but to me has never been able to show enough to be more than “4A” player. He had a couple chances against Minnesota, and his shot had zip, but he missed the net.