He logged a total of 16:36 minutes of mostly sheltered time against the Avalanches 3rd and 4th lines, but he played the penalty kill with Kyle Quincey, as well. Regardless of who he played against he had a solid first game in the Winged Wheel.
Once the puck was on his stick he made quick, smart decisions. Instead of making the high risk, high reward passes other Red Wings defenseman can make, he decided to make quick, short passes which helped the Wings break out of their zone. He did have a few errant passes which led to turnovers, but those could to happened to anyone and he did not let it get to him.
The only real knock I can put on DeKeyser right now is that he isn’t as strong as I would expect. He seemed to get muscled around a bit and was not able to move his man away from his net or pin him to the boards. He tries to follow in the footsteps of Nicklas Lidstrom, but he will have to get stronger and become more physical.
Helene St. James was able to pick up this quote from Mike Babcock.
“I liked him. He’s going to be a good player in the league for a long time. Obviously, he’s got to get a lot stronger. But he skates so good and he passes the puck so good, and he’s smart and it’s pretty easy to like him. He just did a nice job, period.”
In the first period DeKeyser looked a little nervous on the ice, which can be a good thing for a rookie defenseman. He was cautious with the puck and his positioning, but might have been thinking too much. He didn’t pinch in at all in the first or second periods, which was the right decision most of the time and he covered for Ian White very well when he decided to pinch.
In the third period, DeKeyser became more comfortable and confident on the ice. In the offensive zone he pinched in a couple of times, stopped a breakout, and carried the puck deep into the zone. In the defensive zone he became more aware of what was going on around him. He was heading for a line change when he saw the puck get turned over and raced back in order to steal it, which stopped the Avalanche’s rush. He finished the game with 2 giveaways and 3 takeaways, which is quality work by a defensman in his first game.
I, like many other Wing fans, am looking forward to seeing more of DeKeyser this season and in the future.