The Detroit Red Wings had a lot of nice debuts Friday night in their season opener. They will look to duplicate those performances when they visit the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night.
Detroit began its season with a 3-0 shutout of Montreal on Friday. Rookie Elmer Söderblom made a splashy NHL debut, breaking a scoreless deadlock on a rebound early in the third period.
Söderblom, the tallest player in Red Wings history at 6-foot-8, has played in the Swedish Hockey League the past two seasons.
“He handled tonight a lot better than I ever expected,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “As you saw, I trust him in every situation. He was a lot more responsible with the puck. He didn’t get lost in coverage sometimes, either in the neutral zone or the D-zone, which he did a little bit in our exhibitions. So obviously he became awarded with the goal.”
Lalonde made his head coaching debut after serving as the top assistant in Tampa Bay.
“The important thing is not just to get the first win but to get it the right way,” he said. “We played a complete game tonight. You worry a little about the psyche of playing well and not being rewarded with the result. Tonight everything came through for us.”
Ville Husso, acquired in a trade with St. Louis in the offseason, recorded his fourth career shutout by making 29 saves.
“It was nice to get a win right away. A lot of work to do,” he said. “I’ve got to get better but it helps a lot to come in and win. I didn’t win a single game in the preseason, so it was nice to get that tonight.”
The Wings didn’t have much time to celebrate as they headed to the East Coast after the win.
“Quick turnaround,” Lalonde said. “Very good team who lost their home opener. This will be a huge challenge for us.”
The Devils lost on Thursday against Philadelphia 5-2. New Jersey outshot the Flyers 37-25 but Philadelphia recorded 28 blocks.
“They put a lot of people around the front of the net,” Devils head coach Lindy Ruff said. “There were some perimeters where we missed the net. It’s important you get them on the net and fight for second chances.”
Alexander Holtz scored a power play goal in the first period but the Flyers tied the game 23 seconds later and went on to score three more unanswered goals.
It was the first career goal for the 20-year-old winger, who appeared in nine games last season. Holtz was the 7th overall pick of the 2020 draft.
“I’ve put in so much work to get to this point,” he said. “I was really happy, but unfortunately we didn’t win..”
Jesper Bratt assisted on both of New Jersey’s goals but the Devils gave up too many quality chances despite the shot advantage.
“We didn’t play well enough defensively,” Ruff said. “We got on the wrong side of the puck a couple of times. We know we have to play better defensively. That’s our focus.”
Although both teams missed the playoffs last season, there was a clear winner in the head-to-head matchups. The Wings swept the season series by three games, although two of those victories came in April when both clubs played out the string.
–Field Level Media