Three takeaways from the Red Wings’ 3-1 loss to the Sabers
For the most part, the Detroit Red Wings have had a positive preseason. Between the emergence of Lucas Raymond and Bobby Ryan, and feedback from Dylan Larkin and Tyler bertuzzi, there was much to celebrate with the eight-game list.
However, in Saturday’s game against the Buffalo Sabers – the last before Thursday’s regular season opener against the Tampa Bay Lightning – the Red Wings lost 3-1. Buffalo had the best of the game early on, bombarding Detroit with shots early before finally breaking through in the second period with two goals. They added the third with an empty net at the end of the third period.
Here are three takeaways.
Stephens impresses with his physique, his help
Competing for a central place on what would likely be a line of control for the Red Wings, Mitchell stephens“The ability to create opportunities with disruption erupted during the preseason.
It was no different on Saturday. Halfway through the second period, as the game picked up against Detroit, Stephens fought for the puck at the bottom of the offensive zone and won it. He spotted Sam Win skate on the ice and fed him for a shot that passed Buffalo goaltender Craig Anderson to tie the score for the Red Wings.
Video: DET @ BUF: Winning equalizes match with instant fire
“He does a lot of little things really well,” said Sam Gagner. “I think he was impressive throughout the camp. He’s one of those guys who seems to be around the game because of his speed.
On a day without a lot of highlights, that counted as one for the Red Wings. Stephens’ forward failure was still a notable feature, and he ended the game with 14 minutes of ice time, two shots and a takeaway, leaving the preseason with a good impression.
“I thought he was one of our best forwards tonight,” said Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill.
The Red Wings struggle to gain the advantage
The Red Wings will want to erase the memory of this game fairly quickly as they move into the regular season.
Even though the final score was 3-1, the Sabers had the best of the game from the start. They owned the puck with a 64.2 Corsi For percentage on the game, creating plenty of chances and winning the shootout, 38-19.
“They’ve won a lot more battles and puck races than we have,” said Blashill. “I felt like we were a slow step, a step back.”
In a preseason that has seen its ups and downs for the Red Wings, this one was on the wrong side of that big book.
Blashil said it simply. “We weren’t very good,” he said. “They were good.”
Video: Post game comments | 10/09/21 | Buffalo Sabers
Nedeljkovic stands tall, but makes a costly mistake
Saturday’s game got off to a bad start for the Red Wings.
In the first half, they allowed 17 shots on goal and rarely went out of their defensive zone. But goalkeeper Alex Nedeljkovic kept things from getting out of hand.
Despite a number of breakaways, weird precipitation, and great-quality chances, Nedeljkovic stood on his feet and stopped all of Buffalo’s early chances. According to Natural Stat Trick, that included seven high-risk chances in the first half, all of which were easily turned away by the goalkeeper.
It paid off when the Red Wings tied the game at 1-1 in the second period, despite struggling so far. But Nedeljkovic would not escape the afternoon without committing a direct fault.
With the Red Wings on the power play at the end of the second, Nedeljkovic managed a clearance. He went to give it to Moritz Seider, but miscommunication resulted in a giveaway and a shorthanded goal.
“We would like our goalies to move the puck forward when there are chances and it was probably a puck that because it was bouncing, because of what was going on, we probably should have let it sit there,” Blashill said.
On top of that, Nedeljkovic played well, stopping 35 of the 37 shots he received.
“He was tested a lot, especially in the first half of the game,” Blashill said. “I thought he was really good. I thought he could see the puck.
Video: DET Recap: Winning scores only one goal in loss