GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Overcoming a depleted roster that dressed only 14 skaters – four shy of a full lineup – due to COVID protocols, injuries and NHL callups, the Grand Rapids Griffins gritted their way to a 5-4 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals on Friday in their 24th annual New Year’s Eve celebration at Van Andel Arena.
Victor Brattstrom earned his first AHL win, stopping 29 of 33 Admirals shots, for a Grand Rapids team that played just its second game since Dec. 11 due to a string of recent postponements. Seth Barton and Josh Dickinson netted their first goals as Griffins, helping the home team improve to 12-10-1-1 all time on New Year’s Eve.
The Detroit Red Wings hoped to ring in the New Year on a happy note, taking on the offensive powerhouse known as the Washington Capitals at Little Caesars Arena on New Year’s Eve.
The Red Wings got screwed by disjointed play and they got screwed by the refs, who afforded Washington a late 3rd period power play which resulted in an Ovechkin goal. Ultimately, Detroit did not do enough to continue their excellent start, and they lost 3-1 to the pesky, talented Capitals. See below for more:
1. Lucas Raymond, Moritz Seider Arrive: General manager Steve Yzerman’s first two first-round picks made the big club this fall and had instant impact. These two players are the foundation blocks of Detroit’s rebuild. Seider is already the team’s No. 1 defenseman and Raymond is the team’s most dangerous goal scorer.
Neither player was ranked No. 1 in their draft year, but both could end up as the best players from their draft class.
When Seider is fully developed, he will be a beastly force offensively and defensively. He can hit, defend, lead, create offense and score goals. Watch him closely: you will see a smart player who helps his team win in a variety of ways.
Raymond has a Brett Hull-quick shot release. But long-time Red Wings executive Jim Devellano told Detroit Hockey Now that Raymond reminds him “a little bit” of Yzerman.
2. Yzerman Drafts Simon Edvinsson: Yzerman did it again last summer. He drafted defenseman Edvinsson sixth overall and the player has a chance to become the best player selected in the draft. He is having a memorable season in Sweden’s top league. He’s 6-foot-4 and can skate magnificently. He takes more offensive risks than Seider.
Before the recent World Junior Championship was postponed, Seider scored a coast-to-coast shorthanded goal against Russia that put his skating on display. He created a takeaway at his blue line and then flew up the ice.
Edvinsson is still a raw teenager. But rival teams believe Edvinsson will end up playing for the Red Wings next season, even if he starts the season in Grand Rapids.
Blashill has been pleased with the way rookie defenseman Moritz Seider has learned when to rush up the ice, and when to lay back, basically knowing when there is a prime scoring opportunity and when there isn’t.
“He has great hockey instincts,” Blashill said. “The goal against New Jersey (last game before the break), it was the (Tyler) Bertuzzi goal, when he (Seider) stood up in the neutral zone to pick off the pass. He’s done that a number of times. He’s like a safety in football, he reads where the puck is going and he’s able to meet the puck and pick it off and go up the ice and make a play.
“He’s definitely made some real good players, maybe they are subtle, but they are elite-level plays.”
… With all the Wings’ forwards now back and healthy, there will be a question of what to do with Joe Veleno. Unless Veleno can carve out a regular spot in the lineup, it’s doubtful the Wings will let him sit or play few minutes, when he can play big, meaningful minutes in Grand Rapids.
“That’s a conversation between myself and (general manager) Steve (Yzerman),” Blashill said. “Steve would ask me where I’d have him and then ultimately if Steve thinks it’s best for him to develop with more ice, depending on where I have him and what roles I have him slotted in, then certainly he might make that decision to say, ‘If that’s the case then I want to send him down.’
“Ultimately, we want Joe to develop. So whatever is best for Joe’s development is what we’ll ultimately decide and that’s for further conversation.”
Detroit Red Wings: Forward Filip Zadina will lead the Red Wings in goals from Jan. 1, 2022 to the end of the regular season and finish with their most SOG by season’s end, surpassing center Dylan Larkin.
Continued; I’d be as happy as a clam if Zadina blossomed offensively, but this is really out there.
Ovechkin tries again for power-play goals record: Alex Ovechkin will try again to set the NHL record for most power-play goals when the Washington Capitals (19-6-7) visit the Detroit Red Wings (7:30 p.m. ET; BSDET, NBCSWA, ESPN+, NHL LIVE). It is the fourth attempt to break the record for the Capitals forward, who tied Dave Andreychuk with 274 power-play goals in a 5-4 overtime loss at the Chicago Blackhawks on Dec. 15. Ovechkin is also looking to become the third player this season to score 50 points, joining Edmonton Oilers teammates Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, each of whom has 50. Ovechkin has scored 48 points (22 goals, 26 assists) in 36 games. Dylan Larkin and the Red Wings (15-13-3) have not played since a 5-2 win against the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 18, but the forward has scored five goals in his past three games, including a hat trick against the Devils. — Shawn P. Roarke, Senior Director of Editorial
2. The Red Wings did post a very late game preview as well, with DetroitRedWings.com’s Jonathan Mills discussing the Wings’ aim to win their first game in nearly two weeks opposite a stacked Capitals team:
Ovechkin, at age 36, is showing no signs of slowing down. He is second in the NHL with 22 goals and third with 48 points. In his 17th NHL season, Ovechkin continues to possess one of the best one-time shots in the league.
“If you haven’t seen Alex Ovechkin play live you don’t understand how big he is,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “He’s a huge, huge man. That was one of the biggest things I realized when I was first behind the bench and you see him at ice level. He’s just wide, he’s strong, he’s big. That allows him such great strength to be able to fight people off and still shoot. He’s got such a great release and he can shoot it really from anywhere. A lot of guys need a really good pass to shoot one-timers. He can shoot it in any kind of sphere around his body. It’s really amazing.”
Washington’s 2-0 victory at Detroit on Nov. 11 is the only game this season in which Ovechkin did not record a shot on a goal, just the second game over the past two seasons in which he’s failed to register a shot.
The nine-time winner of the Rocket Richard Trophy for most goals in the league leads the NHL with 149 shots.
Ovechkin ranks fourth all-time with 752 goals, trailing Wayne Gretzky (894), Gordie Howe (801) and Jaromir Jagr (766). If he stays healthy, there is a good chance he will pass Gretzky in about four years at age 40.