8 Observations from the Red Wings 3-2 Win over Montreal

Nov 9, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin (71) receives congratulations from teammates after scoring in the second period against the Edmonton Oilers at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 9, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin (71) receives congratulations from teammates after scoring in the second period against the Edmonton Oilers at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

It looked like another game the Detroit Red Wings would have lost the last few seasons but instead between the timely goaltending from Alex Nedeljkovic and the goals from Dylan Larkin on bizarre angles, the Red Wings persevered and beat Montreal 3-2 in overtime Saturday night.

And about the captain..here’s eight observations from last night’s game:

1: We may very well be witnessing the Dylan Larkin Revenge Tour. Call it what you will, but the captain was for a lack of a better word, pissed at how his season ended and his opening night punch that cost him in the way of a game misconduct seemed to be the first of many moments from him this season. I picked Larkin to have a bounce back year, one that would mirror his output from 2018-19 and show that he was still a major piece of the core. In 12 games, the captain has 11 points (5-6) and has shown just how important he is to this team.

2: None of that was more obvious than when Larkin missed a stretch for personal reasons, which if your humble author may have a say, was no one’s damn business but his. His presence in the lineup is one that shows he really is the heart and soul of this team, and it continues to formulate what appears to be a very tightly knit team. From the top line to the goaltending, something special may be building before our eyes. It’s early, but there are pieces coming together that could become the foundation of the next real run at the Cup.

3: Alex Nedeljkovic may be the next big heist by Steve Yzerman that’s talked about over the years if he continues this type of play. There were a number of instances where Ned took the team on his back and nothing was bigger than his save on the two on one chance in overtime (with Filip Hronek doing an excellent job in his own right to defend the play). The trade for Ned at the time was seen as a good one, but risky in that the sample size was wrong. After another game that could be considered one that he stole, the trade looks better and better with each win.

4: Michael Rasmussen continues to polarize the fan base with some really good moments and then some baffling ones. In overtime, he takes the puck hard to the net but just can’t corral it to get a good shot off. Earlier in the third, he had a beautiful chance and again, couldn’t corral the pass to get a good shot off. Behind the net, he makes a play where he again works his body, but is knocked off the puck, killing the chance. On the other end of the ice, he makes a nice play that leads to a scoring chance. It continues to be a work in progress, but there are certainly those who think time is ticking.

5: Which only makes sense that if Mitchell Stephens is out for some time that Joe Veleno should get some real ice time in his absence. Givani Smith hasn’t been great for the Wings and was a healthy scratch last night. Stephens is due to miss some time according to the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James. Veleno seems the right choice to be the next man up. Maybe some time at center with Rasmussen on the wing–or vice versa–could help? Or maybe, give Veleno his own line? Something to watch.

6: Quietly, Jeff Blashill continues to push the right buttons though there are some who are still skeptical. This team knocked off Edmonton earlier in the week and then beat Montreal in overtime in again games they would have coughed up a few seasons ago. The Red Wings played without Stephens for nearly half the game, still getting a victory in spite of this. Are there still things that need to be cleaned up? Sure. Are some decisions puzzling? Of course. But if Steve Yzerman puts his faith in him–just as he’s done in his selections of Moritz Seider against weighted opinion–who’s to say he isn’t right again?

7 & 8: Which leads us to watching Red Wings hockey this season. I’ve shouted more this season after goals than probably the last four combined, and for good reason. They’re fun to watch. There are still stretches where it’s tough to view some of it, and they test their fanbase with lackluster play. But they’re growing. They’re improving with each game–win or loss. They show resolve and a unity not seen since the dying seasons of playoff appearances. Ask yourself: When’s the last time you remember thinking the Wings had a chance to pull it off in a game?

During those final gasps of relevance, maybe 2015 being the true last one, there was always this thought in the back of even the most diehard Red Wings fan that it was maybe a second round exit was best case scenario. As soon as Mike Babcock left for more money and the Maple Leafs, and then Pavel Datsyuk followed a season later for Russia and retirement, we all knew what was inevitable.

It led to missing the playoffs in 2017. A farewell to Tomas Tatar in 2018, and Gustav Nyquist in 2019–once the duo we thought would keep Detroit afloat and in the championship conversation. But it wasn’t until Yzerman showed up–made the tough choice, and gutted the team to its foundational level that the seeds of renewal were finally planted.

In spite of an absolutely awful 2019-20 campaign, it gave Yzerman everything he needed to see to make his next moves. The shortened 2021 season built some more as the prospects Yzerman invested in made strides.

So now, watching those prospects and the fruits of Ken Holland’s finest draft of his post cap tenure  take hold, it’s a sigh of relief. No one has a crystal ball to see how it all ends up, and nothing in sports, let alone life, is guaranteed.

Related Story. Larkin scores his 300th career point in Wings' 3-2 OT Win. light

But it doesn’t downplay the hope and excitement growing with every win this season. And dare any fan say, it could be the start of something we all hoped for the moment Stevie came home.