The Detroit Red Wings dropped 4 of their last 5 preseason games by falling to the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday. No need to panic though, the Red Wings have been experimenting with different line combinations and sitting a majority of the starting roster during these games. It’s the preseason, that’s what they are supposed to be doing.
Trimming the roster down to 23 players, under the NHL cap restriction, is the last step for the Red Wings to complete in order to be ready for the regular season. They have until Monday night to make that decision. I expect their roster to look something like this, depending on what they decide to do with Gustav Nyquist.
While we wait for the roster situation to be sorted out, here is a preview of the Red Wings’ opening week schedule with my predictions:
October 2: Vs. Buffalo Sabres
8:00 PM EST on NBC Sports
2012-13 Buffalo Sabres Review
Record: 21-21-6 (48 Points)
Playoffs: Didn’t qualify
Last Meeting against the Red Wings: Jan. 16, 2012 at Detroit/Red Wings 5 – Sabres 0
The Red Wings get divisional play started right away as the Buffalo Sabres make their way to the Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday. On paper this a great first game to have on the schedule.
The Sabres haven’t beat the Red Wing in Detroit since October 13, 2006, back when going to the Stanley Cup finals was more of an expectation than a dream for Buffalo. The Sabres are no longer that team even though they still have Ryan Miller between the pipes.
I expect the Wings to come out strong and look dominating for most of the game. The first line should have no problems running circles around Thomas Vanek, Cody Hodgson, and Ville Leino. But perhaps their biggest advantage is the depth on the other three lines. Detroit will be comfortable having their second line and even third youth line matching up with Buffalo’s first line.
The Sabres are outmatched talent-wise and the only way I can see them standing a chance is if Ryan Miller shuts down the Wings offense and shuts up the rocking Hockeytown fans.
Prediction: Opening night at Joe Louis Arena, I’ll take my Red Wings without hesitation. Red Wings 4 – Sabres 1.
October 4: @ Carolina Hurricanes
7:00 PM EST on Fox Sports Detroit
2012-13 Carolina Hurricanes Review
Record: 19-25-4 (42 Points)
Playoffs: Didn’t qualify
Last Meeting against the Red Wings: Mar. 24, 2012 at Detroit/Red Wings 5 – Hurricanes 4
The Hurricanes are basically in the same boat as the Sabres; both are in store for a long season ahead. Carolina’s future is a little more optimistic with the return of goaltender Cam Ward from a knee injury, the development of hopefully elite forward Elias Lindholm, and a complete overhaul of their defense.
I still don’t think it’s enough for them to be a threat in the Metropolitan division. They are still a year or two away from returning to playoff contention. Like Buffalo, they just don’t have enough talent to compete in a stacked Eastern conference.
I expect the Hurricanes to show flashes of what they can be in the future but the Red Wings will quickly correct their mistakes and take over the game. The Canes, again just like Buffalo, will need their goalie Cam Ward to be the first star if they stand any chance of preventing the Wings from going 2-0.
Prediction: The Wings fly right into the eye of the Hurricane and leave Carolina in ruins. Red Wings 5 – Hurricanes 2.
October 5: @ Boston Bruins
7:00 PM EST on Fox Sports Detroit (or NHL Network)
2012-13 Boston Bruins Review
Record: 28-13-6 (62 Points)
Playoffs: Lost in Stanley Cup Finals to Chicago Blackhawks in 6 games
Last Meeting against the Red Wings: Nov. 25, 2011 at Boston/Red Wings 3 – Bruins 2 in a Shootout
The third game of the season will finally be the first real test to see how good these Red Wings actually are, as they face the Boston Bruins, the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.
They bring a majority of their 2012-13 roster back after inking Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask to long-term deals. Although, Tyler Seguin was shipped out to Dallas for Loui Eriksson and Jarome Iginla found his way back to Boston. If you ask me, that’s an improvement for a team seeking revenge after 17 seconds cost them their 2012-13 season.
Both teams are very evenly matched so expected a great game. Detroit, as I have predicted, should be firing on all cylinders with two easy victories to start the season. I also could easily see Boston being undefeated as they play the Tampa Bay Lightning at home to set them up for this game.
I’m hoping this game lights the match for a new original six rivalry. The Wings and Bruins already have one thing in common: hatred of the Chicago Blackhawks. Regardless, expect a bruising game plan for the Bruins while the Red Wings will try and match that with speed and skill, making it a clash of two different styles. It will be interesting to see which one prevails as the teams have to meet three more times this season. Then, I would bet, once more in the playoffs to ultimately determine the best team in the Atlantic division.
Prediction: I hate to predict against any of my favorite teams but I have no choice here. They are in Boston on a Saturday night coming off a game the night before; the odds aren’t in their favor. Hopefully they rise to occasion but I feel it’s too early into the season for that to happen. Bruins 3 – Red Wings 2.
There you go; my opening week preview and predictions. By the end of next week I expect the Red Wings to have 4 points and be well on their way to making their 23rd straight playoff appearance.