The season opener for the Detroit Red Wings has come to a close, and it went about as well as expected for the Hockeytown faithful. The Red Wings were shutout by their former netminder, Petr Mrazek, in a 3-0 defeat to the Carolina Hurricanes, where their shots on goal were 43-14. It’s hard to find too much positive to take away from this game. It was an abysmal performance by a team that was playing its first competitive game in ten months. With that in mind, here are three takeaways that the Red Wings had in the opener that will impact the rest of the season.
Greiss and Bernier Can Steal Some Games
Believe it or not, the Detroit Red Wings will not go 0-56-0. It sounds crazy, but they will win some games, and a big reason for that will be the Red Wings netminders’ play. Thomas Greiss played phenomenally in his first game donning the red and white. He made 40 saves on 42 shots and the second goal was off a deflection on a shot going wide. It was reminiscent of how Jonathan Bernier kept them in games last season.
As bad as the offense was during the opener, they won’t be this bad every game. Carolina has a great group of defensemen and plays with an aggressive forecheck that caused the Red Wings plenty of issues. Even playing average as a team can win you games if your netminder plays the way Greiss did tonight, but tonight was not that night. If there is a positive takeaway from this game, it’s to expect more of those performances from both Greiss and Bernier going forward.
What’s a Breakout?
Oh boy, where to begin here. As mentioned earlier, the Hurricanes are a tremendous forechecking team and have one of the best bluelines in all of hockey. They demonstrated that fully against the Red Wings, who looked overwhelmed all night. The most apparent showing of this was when handling the puck in their end. They looked lost out there. Some of their breakouts looked like they were mini-mites just chucking the puck up the boards. It led to the Red Wings committing 16 giveaways in the game to Carolina’s eight. The 16 giveaways were also more than the number of shots (14) by the Red Wings for the entire game.
Not only did they struggle with breaking out at even strength, but they even struggled when on the power play. Because of this, they managed just one shot on two power plays during the game. Again, the Hurricanes are one of the best forechecking teams in the league. However, most teams won’t struggle to this extent to get the puck out of their own end successfully, and that’s something that’ll need to change.
Ten Months is a Long Time
Let’s face it; the Red Wings looked rusty. They looked like a team that hadn’t played in ten months, or 310 days to be specific. They also looked like a very different team than the one that last suited up in Detroit against this same Carolina Hurricanes team on March 10th, 2020. Only two of the defensemen on the roster for the 2021 opener played in the final game of 2019-20. That much was very clear watching this team miss breakout pass after breakout pass.
Even the first line, which is supposed to be reliable, wasn’t. Anthony Mantha, who averaged over three shots per game last season, had just one all game. New captain Dylan Larkin had a turnover that led to the first goal and a penalty that indirectly led to the second. The first line also combined for five giveaways. It was just an overall awful performance by a team expected to be near the league’s bottom. The bigger question is how low do they have to go before a change has is made? That might be the biggest takeaway of them all in the future.
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