Columbus Blue Jackets explode on power play against Detroit Red Wings
Detroit —The Red Wings solidly beat a Columbus team loaded with minor leagues last week in preseason action.
In Wednesday’s exhibition game, the Blue Jackets put up a more consistent season roster and got their revenge, beating the Red Wings 4-2 in Columbus.
“They definitely had a good training,” said forward Filip Zadina. “I don’t know if they had a full squad playing today, but we fought. We allowed a few shorthanded goals, but it was a tie game for both teams (evenly) . some mistakes, but we did a decent job. “
Riley Barber and Dan Renouf scored early in the third period for the Wings, tying the game 2-2 on Renouf’s goal at 6:39.
BOXSCORE: Blue Jackets 4, Red Wings 2
But Columbus responded with goals from Jakub Voracek and Patrik Laine (power play), regaining the advantage.
Voracek repelled a rebound from Jake Bean’s shot which bounced off the glass straight to Voracek at the post. Voracek unleashed a shot past goalkeeper Alex Nedeljkovic, who couldn’t strike fast enough.
Then Laine froze the game with Columbus’ third power play goal of the night at 3:39 pm. Laine rolled on the ice, faked Moritz Seider to skate freely on the lunge and beat Nedeljkovic.
“Mo had a really good time, he looked like he was making a difference on the ice,” said coach Jeff Blashill, stressing the importance of learning to play against a player like Laine. “That’s what the preseason is for. That’s why he plays a lot of games to gain experience and understand what the moves of a guy like Laine are, so he sees them.”
The Red Wings are 3-3-0 this exhibition season with two games to go.
Oliver Bjorkstrand and Zach Werenski (Grosse Pointe / Michigan) scored first-period power-play goals for Columbus, 3:18 apart.
Nedeljkovic stopped 33 shots but had two unfortunate rebounds that cost him dearly. Elvis Merzlikins stopped 19 shots for Columbus, including great saves on Mitchell Stephens and Lucas Raymond in the second period.
“It was a step in the right direction,” Blashill said of Nedeljkovic’s first full 60-minute game this exhibition season.
Bjorkstrand opened the scoring, fending off a rebound in front of Nedeljkovic.
Boone Jenner unleashed a shot that bounced off Nedeljkovic’s upper body and hit Bjorkstrand directly at the post. Bjorstrand quickly settled the puck and fired a shot past Nedeljkovic, who was stuck at the opposite post at 2:14 pm.
Werenski extended the lead to 2-0 with another power play goal, on a high lunge shot that went through a body maze.
“I was not happy with the first (period),” said Blashill. “We didn’t move the puck at all, we were too close to our goal, we lost a lot of runs and battles. It was similar in Chicago (Monday). We have to do a better job.
Find your way
Givani Smith’s position on the Red Wings roster is probably secure.
He’s out of options, so if the team gave him up, he would likely be picked up by another team for nothing.
Smith, 23, signed a two-year contract worth $ 1.5 million ($ 750,000 in salary cap reached) during the offseason, a sign of the Wings’ confidence in him.
He’s got the physical presence (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) and tough demeanor the Wings need on the roster.
But after three exhibition games, Smith has remained relatively silent on the ice. He has no points and a minus-3 rating, averaging 11 minutes of ice time.
Following: Red Wings’ power play under new management is buzzing in preseason
Coach Jeff Blashill has said Smith could part ways with the field among the final six forwards.
“He has to make sure he does a good job of getting the puck out on our end so he doesn’t play a ton of defensive zone coverage,” said Blashill. “He has to drive the puck deep when he enters the neutral zone, make a strong forward check and when he gets (the puck) in the attacking zone, he has to either bring it to the net or give it to someone. ‘one and get to the net and win all these battles in front of the net. “
Smith played 16 games with the Wings last season with four points (one goal, three assists), a minus-5 differential and 21 penalty minutes. He had a Gordie Howe hat trick (goal, assist, fight) in one game. His willingness to defend the little teammates has been noted by the players and Blashill.
Consistency was an issue for Smith.
“(We) spoke at the end of one last game,” Blashill said. “He has to make sure he’s sprinting all over the ice when he’s out there. Sprint and stop. If he’s doing these things, he’s efficient.
“He’s had times where he’s done a good job. He’s a big body, he’s tough, physical. Some of the physical strength hasn’t shown sometimes. It’s a preseason thing. Can he be a little better? Yes. Has he had a ton of ice time? No, but he has to learn to be efficient in the minutes he gets.… That’s probably the (number) minutes he gets at the start of the regular season.
On Wednesday against Columbus, Smith again encountered some of that inconsistency. After agitating and using his strength for most of the game, Smith was fined a double miss in the third period that led to a Blue Jackets goal.
“Smitty played really well for a lot of the game considering the role and the minutes, and (then) he took a bad penalty,” said Blashill. “While I spoke to Smitty on the bench, he has to do a good job playing whistle to whistle and not attracting attention after the whistle.
“It’s a maturing process.”
The cuts are coming
The Wings have more players in the lineup than other NHL teams. There are reasons.
The Wings have eight exhibition games this season, which requires two rosters to assess players and prepare them for the season.
The Wings also spent a little more time than usual at training camp in Traverse City.
“The way our exhibition schedule works, we spend that time at Traverse City so we don’t have exhibition games as early as some teams, even more so this year,” said Blashill. “We had an extra day at Traverse so the schedule is really condensed for us. We have to keep more body for longer (both for games and for evaluation purposes).
“We will see after the next two games where everything is. ”
Blashill has said forward Michael Rasmussen continues to be hand-to-hand and will not play on Thursday. Rasmussen has not been available for the past three games, having suffered an undisclosed injury late last week.
Forward Tyler Bertuzzi, who the Wings are gradually getting back into shape after back surgery, trained and skated alone this week.
“We’ll see where it goes from there,” said Blashill, noting that Bertuzzi was not in Columbus’ game roster.
Blashill continues to love what he sees of striker Kirill Tyutyev.
“When you watch him play, he’s strong with the puck, makes a lot of good plays and he’s got a pretty good offensive spirit,” said Blashill. “There’s stuff there, and I don’t plan on starting in Detroit, but I’ll be interested to see how he does in Grand Rapids. It wouldn’t surprise me if he could be very successful. “
… Blashill can see a roster setup where both forwards Bobby Ryan (at camp on a pro try) and rookie Lucas Raymond line up. Presumably keeping both players would be tough, but with injuries and impressive play from Ryan and Raymond, the Wings could pull it off.
“If we think both of us will help our hockey team, make us a much better hockey team, we’ll keep them,” said Blashill. “We’re not going to release or keep someone who is going to make us much better.”
Penguins at Red Wings
► Getting started: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Little Caesars Arena
►TV / radio: BSD / 97.1
►Perspectives: The Red Wings are nearing the end of the exhibition season with their penultimate preseason game. … The Penguins defeated the Red Wings 5-1 last Sunday in Pittsburgh. … The Wings’ next game at LCA will be the regular season opener Oct. 14 against Tampa.
– Ted Kulfan