The Detroit Red Wings had a lot of nice debuts Friday night in their season opener. They’ll try 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 Soderblom made a splashy NHL debut, breaking a scoreless deadlock on a rebound early in the third period.
Soderblom, the tallest player in Red Wings history at 6-foot-8, played in the Swedish Hockey League the past two seasons.
“He handled tonight way 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 at times, either in the neutral zone or the D zone, which he did a little bit in our exhibitions. So obviously he got rewarded with the goal.”
Lalonde was making his head coaching debut after being the top assistant in Tampa Bay.
“The important thing is not only getting the first win but getting it the right way,” he said. “We played a complete game tonight. You worry a little about the psyche of playing well and not getting rewarded with the outcome. Tonight, it all came through for us.”
Ville Husso, acquired in a trade with St. Louis during 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 still,” he said. “I need to get better but it helps a lot to come in and get a win. I didn’t win a single game in the preseason, so it was nice to get it tonight.”
The Wings didn’t have much time to celebrate as they headed to the East Coast after the victory.
“Quick turnaround,” Lalonde said. “Very good team coming off a loss with their home opener. This is going to be a huge challenge for us.”
The Devils lost on Thursday to 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 perimeter ones where we missed the net. It’s important you get those on net and battle for second opportunities.”
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 wing, who appeared in nine games last season. Holtz was the No. 7 overall pick of the 2020 draft.
“I put in so much work to get to this point,” he said. “I was really happy, but unfortunately we didn’t get the win..”
Jesper Bratt assisted on both of New Jersey’s goals but the Devils gave up too many quality chances despite the shots 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.”
Though both teams missed the playoffs last season, there was a clearcut winner in head-to-head matchups. The Wings swept the three-game season series, though two of those victories came in April when both clubs were playing out the string.
–Field Level Media