8 observations from the Red Wings 5-2 win over New Jersey

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - NOVEMBER 09: Dylan Larkin #71 of the Detroit Red Wings celebrates his second period goal with Tyler Bertuzzi #59 and Gustav Lindstrom #28 of the Detroit Red Wings while playing the Edmonton Oilers at Little Caesars Arena on November 09, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won the game 4-2. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - NOVEMBER 09: Dylan Larkin #71 of the Detroit Red Wings celebrates his second period goal with Tyler Bertuzzi #59 and Gustav Lindstrom #28 of the Detroit Red Wings while playing the Edmonton Oilers at Little Caesars Arena on November 09, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won the game 4-2. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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The Detroit Red Wings sent the New Jersey Devils back home with a loss Saturday night, overcoming missing players and a missing head coach (COVID-19 protocol) with a resounding 5-2 victory. Let’s extract a few observations from the win.

#1: Dylan Larkin is elite this year. Larkin may not show up next to Connor McDavid or Alex Ovechkin in points, but he’s been fantastic this season. He’s been the clear leader of the team this year, not only on the ice but in the locker room. With his hat trick against New Jersey, Larkin now leads the roster in points and goals. As COVID continues to ravage the league and injuries pile up, Larkin is going to be the anchor for this Red Wings squad. If they make a push to the playoffs, Larkin will be the driving force (along with the rookies).

#2: The top line is also elite. Detroit’s top line scored all five goals against the Devils. To anyone that has watched the Red Wings regularly, it’s no surprise. The top line has been essential every night for Detroit; when they don’t show up in the stat sheet, it often means a loss. According to moneypuck.com, the Bertuzzi-Larkin-Raymond line has the second highest xGoals for, with 12.3.

#3: Tyler Bertuzzi seems to be out of that scoring slump. After an electric start to the year, Bertuzzi cooled off in the following weeks (missing games in Canada and ending up on COVID protocols for a stretch certainly didn’t help). He’s now scored goals in back-to-back games, netting two against the Devils Saturday night. Two games might be a small sample, but for now Bert seems to be back.

#4: The team was extremely aggressive on the forecheck. All throughout Saturday’s game, the Red Wings harassed the Devils on nearly every portion of the ice, especially in the offensive zone. There were multiple occasions where a forward stole the puck and created a new offensive series out of nothing. I’m not quite sure who to give credit to for the change. It could just be that, with gaps in the lineup, the team knew they would have to be at their best to win. Or, it could be the shakeup in the coaching staff. Griffins Head Coach Ben Simon replaced Jeff Blashill (COVID protocol) behind the bench.

#5: Moritz Seider is still doing Moritz Seider things. Seider had another play that looked like it was done by a veteran of the league. Calmly handling the puck, the young defender managed to maintain possession on the offensive zone, eventually flicking it off to Bertuzzi for a goal. Seider is Detroit’s best defenseman, and a serious contender for the Calder Trophy.

#6: Thomas Greiss had one of his better starts. Greiss entered Saturday night’s game with something to prove. He has a sub .900 save percentage, a losing record and some rough starts under his belt. Against the Devils, Greiss made 33 saves, ending with a save percentage of .939. With Alex Nedeljkovic out for a bit, it’s important that Greiss has kicked things off well, as he’ll likely be the starter for a bit.

#7: Makes up for the loss in Carolina. With all the COVID cases and cancellations, the season is starting to get a bit crazy. A few days ago, the Red Wings lost to the COVID-ridden Carolina Hurricanes, who were missing some of their most important players. Against the Devils, Detroit was missing the head coach, assistant coach and some players, yet they still found a way to win. My point is, this season is about to get weird for a bit. It’s heartening to see that the team can overcome something like this, especially just a few days after losing to a similarly affected team.

#8: This team has some fight in them. Circumstances considered, it’s just crazy that the Red Wings came away with a win, especially considering the dominating fashion in which they did. Outside of the first period, Detroit firmly controlled the game. Mind you, that’s without a head coach and a collection of players – the bottom line was essentially made up of Grand Rapids Griffins. But they overcome the situation and secured an important win as the league seemingly falls apart. The Red Wings of the past few years probably don’t win this game – there’s just a certain swagger on the team right now, something that’s been missing for a while.

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