True to the term, the Detroit Red Wings’ special teams have made the start of the season special. Detroit will try to maintain its momentum when the New Jersey Devils visit on Tuesday.
The Red Wings have not allowed a power play goal in their first five games. Not coincidentally, they have yet to suffer a regulation loss.
In their 5-1 victory over Anaheim on Sunday, they even prevented a goal when the Ducks had a two-man advantage in the first period.
“It was a huge kill for us, and that gives you energy for sure when you go into the locker room and it’s still (Detroit leading) 2-1,” goaltender Ville Husso said. “Guys are doing a great job on the PK keeping the puck on the outside and making our game easy.”
The power play got off to a slow start this season and even allowed a short-handed goal at Chicago on Friday. Detroit took advantage of its power plays on Sunday, scoring three times with the man advantage.
“We call this in the profession ‘an assistant coach win,’ because of the special teams,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “They were dynamite.”
Under Lalonde — Tampa Bay’s top assistant in recent years — and his staff, special teams play has shown dramatic improvement. That’s part of the reason why the Red Wings have recorded points in each of the first five games for the first time since the 2011-12 season.
Detroit was 27th in power play goals scored last season and gave up the fourth-most power play goals (along with Nashville).
Dylan Larkin, David Perron and Dominik Kubalik scored the power play goals against Anaheim. Kubalik recorded assists on the goals by Larkin and Perron.
“We did a good job of putting guys in places to succeed and it cashed in,” Lalonde said.
The Red Wings have already beaten New Jersey this season. Larkin had a goal and two assists in Detroit’s 5-2 road victory on Oct. 15.
Tyler Bertuzzi suffered an upper-body injury in that game, which will keep him out at least a month. The Wings are also playing without two of their other top forwards.
“That’s going to hurt anyone, and it’s hurting us,” Lalonde said. “But because of that depth, we have a competitive lineup.”
The Devils will be finishing a back-to-back, after their three-game winning streak ended against visiting Washington on Monday. New Jersey gave up four goals in the second period in the 6-3 defeat.
“We should know if you don’t play 60 minutes, it’s hard to win in this league,” center Nico Hischier said. “We had a hard time finding our legs, and they made us pay. Move on and tomorrow’s a new one.”
Head coach Lindy Ruff was critical of star 21-year-old forward Jack Hughes, who was a minus-3 against the Capitals.
“I thought Jack had a rough game,” Ruff said. “There’s certain situations where you can end up over-handling, there’s certain situations where the puck’s got to get deep. … we lost some discipline with our defensive zone play; he was part of that.
“It’s just the details,” Ruff added. “He’s getting the chances. In the first five games, he probably led our team in the number of chances. But in a game where you’re not getting much, maybe you don’t have your A-game. Then you’ve got to go to your B-game.”
–Field Level Media