Detroit Red Wings Lose Home Opener 3-0 to Carolina Hurricanes

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DETROIT, MICHIGAN - OCTOBER 25: Dylan Larkin #71 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Buffalo Sabres at Little Caesars Arena on October 25, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

After 310 days, the Detroit Red Wings returned to Little Caesars Arena’s ice to face the Carolina Hurricanes. It happened the day after the team named Dylan Larkin, the 37th captain, in its history.

The 2019-2020 season was one to forget for the Red Wings. The team only won 17 of the 70 games played before the season was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic. General manager Steve Yzerman knew that the team could not compete on the ice and thus hid the team’s top prospects in the AHL all of last season.

So, what are things that Red Wings fans can overreact to after one game against a team that went to the playoffs last season?

Filip Zadina Needs to Prove He Belongs in the Red Wings Lineup

Filip Zadina is coming off of a 2019-2020 season in which he scored eight goals and added seven assists for a total of 15 points. This will be Zadina’s first “full season” in the NHL. Zadina will do well playing with “NHL talent” for a season. Yes, this is NHL talent on a Red Wings roster that only had 17 points last season.

Zadina needs to adjust to the NHL game’s speed faster if the Red Wings are going to contend for a playoff spot soon. Zadina said that after the Montreal Canadiens draft passed him on, he would “fill their nets with pucks.” This is something that he needs to do to make sure that he is part of Detroit’s long-term plan.

Dylan Larkin Needs to Grow into Role as Captain

Larkin has always held a leadership role on the Red Wings. Yesterday, the team made it official. Larkin will need to lean on his alternate captains on the ice and past Red Wings captains such as Yzerman and Henrik Zetterberg. He said yesterday that this is what he will do. Larkin certainly has plenty of illustrious captains to choose from if he wants advice on leading the current Red Wings roster.

Yzerman was named captain of the Red Wings at just 19-years-old. Yzerman knew that Larkin could not handle the pressure of being named captain previously. The roster’s lack of talent may put too much pressure on the new captain and hurt his long-term confidence.

Anthony Mantha is the Most Talented Player on the Red Wings Roster

Anthony Mantha is the Most Talented Player on the Red Wings Roster

Anthony Mantha needs to stay healthy throughout the entire 56 game season. Mantha has had a slew of strange injuries, including a punctured lung after being slew-footed by Jake Muzzin of the Toronto Maple Leafs. This is not the role that Mantha should play on the Red Wings roster.

If the team is really serious about a rebuild, they should look to trade Mantha before the deadline. The 26-year-old is easily the most talented player on the Red Wings current roster. He has a reputation of “coasting” from time to time, though.

Mantha did open the 2019-2020 season with a hat trick against the Dallas Stars. This was a far cry from the performance the 26-year-old had against the Hurricanes.

Unrestricted Free Agents Revamp Roster

Yzerman brought in many unrestricted free agents in the 2020 offseason. These players will probably be moved before the 2021 trade deadline on April 12th. This is so the team can acquire more draft picks as they begin to rebuild. The most important of these, Bobby Ryan, will be in the lineup for the Red Wings on Saturday after missing the home opener with an undisclosed injury.

Cynics will say that the rebuild was not the fault of Yzerman as former general manager Ken Holland tried to continue the streak of making the playoffs 25 years in a row at the future expense.

Goaltending Needed a Fresh Start

Jimmy Howard was not brought back after the 2019-2020 season. He finished his career with the Red Wings after 14 seasons. He was why the Red Wings could make the playoffs in some seasons after defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski both retired.

Howard was not the only reason the team was historically bad last season. Bad PDO (shooting percentage plus save percentage at 5-on-5) was named for PDO, a commenter on the now-defunct Irrelevant Oiler Fans. PDO is a statistic used to show how lucky or unlucky a team is. The Red Wings ranked 30th of the 31 NHL teams in PDO at 0.967, only ahead of the Los Angeles Kings.

Thomas Greiss made 40 saves against the Hurricanes. Greiss and Jonathan Bernier will split games throughout the 2021 season. Greiss will be challenged behind a defense corps that has to be rebuilt. This is not the same situation that Greiss was used to with the New York Islanders.

Conclusion

The Hurricanes and Red Wings will face each other again on Saturday night as the 2021 NHL schedule will provide for many of these kinds of “quirks.” The fact that these two teams faced each other in the game before the coronavirus pause and then in the first game of the new season is proof of this. The Red Wings need to bounce back after a strong defensive showing with not much in the way of offense.

The two teams will meet seven more times during the 2021 NHL season. The Red Wings proved that they do not have the offensive firepower to compete with the other Central Division teams.

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