Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson were signed in the offseason to replace the departure of Damien Brunner and Valtteri Filppula. The Detroit Red Wings are one game into the 2013-2014 season and it may still be early, but the improvement is obvious.
Stephen Weiss plays a game much like Filppula, he’s a second line center that has great defensive upside. The difference? Filppula’s inconsistency in the offensive end. Weiss had three straight seasons of 20+ goals coming into the 2011-2012 season, and even last night was making plays that looked much better than I ever saw out of Flippula. Weiss has the ability to create plays in the offensive end, and back check and take the puck right back.
Weiss is only a year older than Filppula, and has proven his worth in the NHL. For the same price, Detroit got a big upgrade in the offensive end, and didn’t lose anything on the defensive side of the puck. He’s a proven goal scorer and playmaker and he brought the second line together last night and created a few opportunistic plays that were never finished.
On the other hand, Daniel Alfredsson, who’s already 40 years old, left Ottawa to come to Detroit in pursuit of a Stanley Cup filled in well in Damien Brunner’s spot. The powerplay already looks better in Detroit despite not converting on the three powerplay opportunities Buffalo gave them.
Alfredsson played on the point, where Brunner was usually stationed last season during a powerplay. The difference between the two? Alfredsson’s experience is a major factor, and his lack of hesitation to shoot the puck. Alfredsson let a couple of shots go from the point that came off of the lively boards in the Joe. Brunner often would try too many passes, or would attempt to puck handle around defenders instead of shooting on net, or dumping to the corner when defender were in pursuit.
The powerplay was sub-par for the amount of skill the Red Wings had on their roster last season, and the addition of two players who are offensive upgrades should help boost the numbers for the Wings powerplay units. With the addition of Weiss and Alfredsson there’s no reason Detroit’s special teams should be ranked outside of the top ten by the end of the regular season.
On another note, the youth on Detroit’s blue line played well, Jakub Kindl had a great opportunity early in the game when he joined in on the rush, and Danny Dekeyser played exceptionally well in the defensive zone. If the youth on the blue line can continue to play well, the Wings defensive units could be hard to deal with for opposing forwards.
Jimmy Howard was outstanding once again stopping 19 of 20 shots. The Sabres offense didn’t muster up much in the first two periods, despite having 7 powerplays, including two 5 on 3 powerplays that totaled 2 minutes and 22 seconds. Howard was spectacular in net when the puck did come his way. The lone goal Buffalo was able to get by him, was on a giveaway behind the net when Howard attempted to clear the puck around the boards and Brian Flynn jumped in front of the puck knocking it out front to Zemgus Girgensons who buries the shot.
Detroit’s stars looked to be in midseason shape, as Pavel Datsyuk netted his first of the season 36 seconds after Mikael Samuelsson scored the first of the game on a tip from Cory Emmerton. Emmerton had a good game as well, making his case to stay on the Detroit roster, but it looks as if he’ll be headed back to Grand Rapids for the time being. Henrik Zetterberg had a strong game as well despite taking two bad penalties (one of which was a bit questionable).
All in all, Detroit had a good outing in their season opener, and they got the win in the end. If Detroit can continue to play the way they did last night, they’re bound to have a successful season ahead of them.
Topics: Brian Flynn, Buffalo Sabres, Cory Emmerton, Damien Brunner, Daniel Alfredsson, Danny Dekeyser, Detroit Red Wings, Henrik Zetterberg, Jakub Kindl, Jimmy Howard, Mikael Samuelsson, Pavel Datsyuk, Stephen Weiss, Valtteri Filppula, Zemgus Girgensons