If the Detroit Red Wings want to exceed expectations, they’ll need production from more than just three players.
So their 4-2 victory Thursday in Montreal was a breakthrough in more ways than one. Darren Helm scored his first goal of the season during a scramble in front of the net, and Luke Glendening scored an empty-netter.
Prior to the win — which also was Detroit’s first regulation win in Montreal in 12 seasons — Glendening was the only forward outside of the top line to find the back of the net.
The trio of Anthony Mantha, Tyler Bertuzzi and Dylan Larkin has accounted for 10 of the team’s 14 goals through four games.
“We’re going to definitely need scoring other than that top line down the road if we want to be successful long term,” Helm said. “Obviously, those guys are doing a great job right now. But it’s going to take a whole committee to win more games in the future.”
Helm is skating with Jacob de la Rose and Justin Abdelkader, and none are prolific scorers. They each played at least 60 games last season and combined for 16 goals.
‘No panic’: Dylan Larkin describes team’s identity
“I do see our line as an energy line, but maybe we can be more than that,” Helm said.
It would be highly optimistic to expect the line of Christoffer Ehn, Valtteri Filppula and Adam Erne to do more than grind out the occasion goal. The second line of Taro Hirose, Andreas Athanasiou and Glendening will need to click to take the pressure off the first line.
Athanasiou was second on the team with 30 goals last season and created some chances Thursday in his second game back from an undisclosed injury. Hirose nearly had his first goal but Canadiens goaltender Carey Price robbed him out front with a pad save.
“Any line that Andreas Athanasiou is on can score at any point,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “That line can certainly be a 1-A and can compete with that top line if they play to the best of their ability. But I also think that the other lines have the ability to score.”
Larkin believes his line has to set the tone, regardless of which is doing the scoring. He sees forechecking during line changes as the key to putting opponents on their heels.
“We want to lead the way doing that,” he said. “That’s the mental part of it. You have to bring it. You have to be on your game every night because if you’re not and we’re a little sluggish, the other lines have to work harder.”
Easing the grip
The Wings, who host Toronto on Saturday, held Montreal scoreless in the third period. They outscored Nashville in the third period 3-1 in their first road game.
Larkin sees that as a sign of maturity.
“Looking at the wins we’ve had so far, it’s a small sample size, but we’ve played some good teams,” he said. “We’ve shut them down in the third period when in the past couple of years, it’s hasn’t been easy for us to do that. Last year, when we’d get a one-goal lead going into the third or even a two-goal lead, we were gripping the stick a little tight.”
The Wings simply weren’t good enough to finish off many quality opponents in the past. Helm is hoping the first week of the season isn’t a mirage.
“I feel like the last three years it’s always been, ‘You guys worked hard, you’re in the game.’ And at the end of the day, we didn’t get the payoff,” he said. “So this early part of the season, we’ve had the payoff.”
Cholowski thinking D first
Second-year defenseman Dennis Cholowski set up Mantha’s go-ahead goal on Thursday. More importantly, Cholowski has been increasingly reliable on the defensive end.
He was demoted to Grand Rapids in February after making too many costly mistakes. He earned a spot during training camp and has a plus-1 while averaging 17:06 per game.
“I’ve kind of had to learn it the hard way,” he said. “Right now, my mindset is keep the puck out of my net first and concentrate on offense after that.”
Filip Hronek left the Canadiens’ game late in the third period with a facial injury. He’s questionable to play against the Maple Leafs.
Frans Nielsen (facial injury) didn’t practice Friday but might return for the team’s three-game road trip that starts with Tuesday’s game in Vancouver. Trevor Daley (lower body) isn’t as close to returning, according to Blashill.
Published at Fri, 11 Oct 2019 21:56:48 +0000