Hockey is back! Well- not on local television just yet, but the Detroit Red Wings have opened up their September scrimmages with a strong 4-1 win in Pittsburgh.
Couldn’t find a video feed to watch your Red Wings? Don’t worry, I got you covered.
Here are my takeaways from the “first game of the season.”
Tatar making his case
After a sluggish start in which the Wings struggled to find their legs, Tomas Tatar found himself an empty net and put home the first goal of the game 12:56 into the 1st period. The goal itself was an easy tap-in setup by a wrap-around from Landon Ferraro, but Tatar did a great job coming back off the boards to get in the front of the net for the goal. Then, in the second period, Tatar picked up an assist on a power play goal by Adam Almqvist.
Tatar will make the Red Wings’ roster this season because he would have to pass through waivers in order to return to Grand Rapids, and he’s too talented to give up. But the problem is finding him playing time on a roster loaded with forwards.
Today he made another stride in the right direction. Come opening night, I see no reason why Tomas Tatar won’t get regular playing time if he continues playing like he did today.
Special teams dominate
The power play scored two goals from slap shots out by the blue line from defenseman Adam Almqvist; this earned him the first star of the game. Although small in stature, Almqvist had tremendous power and accuracy on both of his goals. He is unlikely to make the team but should be a great asset in Grand Rapids. The main takeaway was the relative ease the team had in creating chances on the power play. The puck was rotated well and the chemistry between the players was solid. For example, Mikael Samuelsson had a nifty no look back pass to assist Almqvist on his second goal.
The penalty killing was just as impressive. Pittsburgh went 0 for 5 on the power play with very limited chances at goal. Jimmy Howard didn’t have much to deal with as the defense blocked the passing lanes and stepped in front of shots. They did, however, struggle to get the puck out of the zone so there is something that needs to be worked on.
Datsyuk is ready
The final goal of the night came from Pavel Datsyuk late in the 2nd period, and it was of the “Datsyukian” variety. The magic man beat three Penguins on a solo rush in from the blue line. Tomas Vokoun saved the first shot by Datsyuk but he skated right past the defenders to pick up the puck on the rebound and backhanded it home. It looked so effortless, yet he went through half of their team to get the goal. He also picked up an assist on the second goal by Almqvist.
Datsyuk was rather quiet despite getting those two points. He didn’t get too many minutes as expected but he still looked in mid-season form from the few times he was on the ice, a great sign.
The Red Wings will take on the Chicago Blackhawks tomorrow, September 17, at 8:00 PM eastern time. Their first televised game will be on Thursday at home against the Boston Bruins, at 7:00 PM eastern time.