Three Questions: Wings-Canadiens
DRW.com's Michael Caples analyzes the Wings' preseason opener
The additions of forward Marian Hossa and goalie Ty Conklin made headlines this summer, but bringing in Finnish left wing Ville Leino may pay large dividends for the Red Wings. Leino looked more like a veteran NHL forward then a European league player getting his first taste of the North American brand of hockey. He showed poise and skill from all areas of the rink, from creating a scoring chance for linemate Justin Abdelkader while behind the net in the first period, to nearly splitting the Montreal defense with his stickhandling skills multiple times throughout the game. The 24-year-old racked up more than 14 minutes of ice time, recorded three shots, and finished with one assist. Most importantly, Leino got the ball rolling on the Red Wings’ second goal, playing catch with defenseman Jonathan Ericsson to set up a clear shot and a rebound goal for Abdelkader. He also showed that he wasn’t afraid of the physical style of play, skating through checks and fighting for loose pucks in the corners and in front of the net – the two roughest areas of ice.
Will Ty Conklin be able to hold onto the role as Chris Osgood’s back-up?
It’s no secret that newly-acquired Conklin has Wings prospect Jimmy Howard breathing down his neck in the fight for a regular spot on the Detroit roster. And to be perfectly honest, Conklin didn’t get a chance to prove himself in his first game wearing the winged wheel. The former Penguin split the opening pre-season game with Howard, which means he only played 29 minutes, and 29 minutes behind the Red Wings defense doesn’t mean a lot of shots. Conklin faced only five shots in the first period, and only three in his half of the second, with only a few being quality shots on goal. His lone goal against won’t be held against him, either. Montreal created a 4-2 opportunity coming in on Conklin, and with a nice display of passing set up a one-timer for Matt D’Agostini that would give any goaltender trouble.
How did Marian Hossa look with new linemates, Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom?
Just because I didn’t pick Hossa as the standout newcomer doesn’t mean he didn’t impress in his first game donning Red Wings’ colors. The superstar right winger looked right at home on the Wings’ top line for the preseason opener, creating multiple scoring chances and moving the puck in the creative ways expected when playing with the likes of Datsyuk and Holmstrom. The trio headed up the top power play unit, and posted the first goal of the contest while with the man-advantage. Hossa showed off his rocket of a shot in the first period, nearly beating goaltender Carey Price high glove side, and kept good control of the puck in high traffic areas.