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Abel to Yzerman

A Home & Home Series Times Two

from Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News,

In a scheduling quirk — thank you, pandemic-shortened and affected NHL schedule — the Wings play the Dallas Stars four consecutive games.

The Wings are in Dallas for games Monday and Tuesday, then return for games Thursday and Saturday at Little Caesars Arena.

Are these the playoffs? No, of course not.

But there’s a good best these games will have a feel of something extra, given how important they are for Dallas.

“(We’ll) treat it like first four games of a playoff series, two games there and we have two games at home,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “It’s going to be physical and going to be tight checking and we need to respond to that. It’s a great challenge.

“I know our guys will look at it like that, and we have to step up and rise to the occasion for that one.”

The defending Stanley Cup finalist Stars are three points behind Nashville (49-46) for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division. Chicago is in between with 47 points.

Dallas has played two fewer games than Chicago (45-43) and three fewer games than Nashville (46).

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19 Detroit Thoughts

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

With a nod to his number he wore, now raised to the rafters in Little Caesars Arena, here are 19 thoughts on what Yzerman has accomplished since April 19, 2019.

Trading Anthony Mantha was not an indictment on the state of the rebuild, it was an indictment on Mantha. Yzerman said early on he wanted to observe the team he took over from his predecessor, Ken Holland. Yzerman saw in Mantha what others in the organization had seen for longer: That the nights he was unnoticeable outnumbered the ones where Mantha dominated. Anyone who remembers Yzerman knows how competitive he was as a player — he played on one knee, basically, at the end of his career, and still gave it his all. Yzerman had had enough, and that’s what led to the trade.

- Since Yzerman took over, 14 NHL regulars are no longer part of the roster. In addition to shedding Mantha, Athanasiou and Abdelkader, Yzerman opted not to re-sign Jimmy Howard, Thomas Vanek, Luke Witkowski, Trevor Daley and Jonathan Ericsson. He did not issue a qualifying offer to Martin Frk, Madison Bowey and Christoffer Ehn, and also traded Mike Green and Jacob de la Rose. Niklas Kronwall retired.

- Even with holding on to Bernier, Staal, and Luke Glendening, all pending unrestricted free agents, Yzerman carries 12 picks into the 2021 draft, including five in the first two rounds. That potentially could speed up the rebuild.

- One of the most important prospects is Moritz Seider, the defenseman Yzerman drafted sixth overall in 2019. Loaning Seider to Rögle in the Swedish Hockey League meant a season-long commitment — other European leagues allowed players to be recalled once hockey started up in North America — and it has worked wonderfully. The 20-year-old has flourished, tallying seven goals and 21 assists in 41 games, and is in position to win a championship. He’s poised to join the Wings’ lineup next season.

more (paid subscription)

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Quick Recap- Wings/Blackhawks

The Wings started strong and had numerous scoring chances in the first period but could not score.

With less than 30 seconds left in the first, Chicago scored and it became an uphill battle for Detroit.

Chicago added a goal in the second and two goals (one ENG) in the third to make the final score 4-0.

Team stats

added 10:20pm, Below find post game talk and game highlights.

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A Streak Of Sorts

For the first time this season the Wings have posted three wins in a row. To many of the Wings faithful this represents a streak of sorts. Improvement with some consistency, even at a snails pace is better than none, and, the addition of the two new players seems to have sparked the team on a bit. It's the best effort we've seen this season.

Vrana scored his first goal as a Wing, which was also the game winner, on a nice feed from Lindstrom as he(Vrana) exited the penalty box, and skated in alone, ripping a nice shot into the back of net. I don't remember the last time that happened, but, it sure felt good. 

One more win against the Cawks tonight would really go a long way as far as holding the interest of 19 Wingaholics for the remainder of the season.

It's a Live Blog!

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The Mantha/Vrana Deal

from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,

Up until the Red Wings and Capitals stunned the trading floor on Monday, the best deadline deal belonged to the Islanders, who jumped out ahead by five days and added dependable ex-Devils Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac to a strong group of forwards.

But then, just as the dealin’ was nearly done, the Capitals filched the single-best talent that few knew to be available, acquiring 6-foot-5-inch right winger Anthony Mantha from the Red Wings.

“Wow!” said one front office executive, praising Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman for the deal....

The Capitals, always enamored by size and skill (why not?), surrendered slick Czech forward Jakub Vrana and Slovak right winger Richard Panik, whom Yzerman drafted for the Lightning in his Tampa GM days. They sweetened the package even further with first-round (2021) and second-round (2022) picks. Sweet haul, no doubt.

But the best player in the deal is Mantha, who pitched in with 1-1—2 in his Capitals debut Tuesday night. Few in the league have the new age Big M’s size and skill, which the Red Wings no doubt viewed to be true in November when they extended his deal for four years at a $5.7 million cap hit. Five months later, what, he’s trade bait?

The asterisk on Mantha, age 26, is his erratic consistency and motivation. He can appear maddeningly disengaged, even now seven years into his pro career. In part, that label was why, even with his size, he lasted until No. 20 in the 2013 draft (three picks after the Senators grabbed Curtis Lazar, don’t ya know?).

Vrana, 25, will be a restricted free agent in the summer, and the Capitals were concerned he might earn Mantha kind of money via salary arbitration. Now that’s Yzerman’s worry. Stevie Y is hoping Vrana (career-high 25 goals, 52 points) might find Detroit a comfortable fit with fellow Czechs Filip Hronek (D) and Filip ZadinaRW). If he’s right, that might bring some added value to the deal. Detroit is a hard sell these days.

The deal is somewhat reminiscent of the Bruins abruptly dishing Joe Thornton to the Sharks 23 games into the 2005-06 season, when no one knew the former No. 1 pick (1997) was being shopped...

more and other topics too...

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Video- Coach Blashill After The Morning Skate

5 1/2 minutes long, conference begins with a question about Lucas Raymond.

 

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Ranking The Top Prospects

Chris Peters of HockeySense does a great job with prospects.  His site is subscription only but this time of year is well worth it.  Consider a subscription if you can.

1. Owen Power, D, Michigan (Big Ten)

With his season over, there isn’t a ton more Power can do to solidify his case to be the No. 1 pick in the draft, but he’s done enough this season to earn the pole position at this point. As has been the case throughout the season, the race for No. 1 remains tight with opinions widespread on who it should be.

To me, the player with the most translatable skills to NHL impact and potential stardom remains Power. His maturity is already beyond his years and he’s taken the right approach to his development, excelling at each step without rushing the process....

2. Matty Beniers, C, Michigan (Big Ten)

Beniers does the things every team needs in a center to win games. He’s got the skill and speed to pressure teams offensively, but then he’s able to be among the best defensive centers you can throw over the boards. His work ethic on and off the puck is unrivaled in this class, which makes him both difficult to play against and a coach’s dream. He has that natural toughness that doesn’t manifest itself in big hits or over-aggressiveness, rather he’s going all out in the corners, at the net front, with one goal in mind – the puck belongs to him and it’s going to be a fight for you to try and keep it....

3. Dylan Guenther, RW, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

My, oh my, what a start for Guenther since the WHL returned. He’d been among the top scorers in the league since the puck dropped and never really looked back before leaving for Canada’s U18 camp. We should take some of the numbers with a small grain of salt just because of the way the WHL schedule is set up this season. When you remove the grueling travel and almost 40 games from the schedule, it does make for a better chance at more sustainable production in a smaller, more controlled sample. Even without that, though, you just need to look at Guenther’s skill set to see why he is among the exceptional in this draft class and averaged a WHL-best two-points per game before departing.

more on each of the above plus 42 more names...

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Lucas Raymond Signs His ELC

DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings today signed left wing Lucas Raymond to a three-year entry-level contract beginning with the 2021-22 season.

Raymond became the Red Wings' highest draft pick since they took Keith Primeau third overall in 1990 when he was drafted with the fourth-overall pick at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft last October. The 19-year-old spent the 2020-21 campaign with Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League, notching 18 points (6-12-18) and 12 penalty minutes in 34 games. Despite missing 18 games due to injury, Raymond still finished 10th on the team in points and tied for fourth in SHL scoring among junior-aged players, with fellow Red Wings prospects Moritz Seider and Albert Johansson among the group of players ahead of him. His offensive output also bested his SHL rookie-year totals of 2019-20, when he tallied 10 points (4-6-10) in 33 games. Raymond debuted professionally with Frolunda at age 16 and has skated in 77 games with the team since 2018-19, totaling 30 points (12-18-30), a plus-eight rating and 16 penalty minutes. He also won back-to-back championships with Frolunda in the Champions League tournament in 2019 and 2020.

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It Was A Very Optional Practice Today For The Wings

added 2:24pm, Videos of Jeff Blashill and Gustav Lindstron after practice are below.

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One Last Look At Detroit’s Win Over Chicago On Thursday Night

from Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News,

The Red Wings couldn’t have scripted a better evening all the way around.

Newcomer Jakub Vrana scored a goal in his debut.

Troy Stecher scored two goals in a game for the first time in his career.

And, for the first time this season, the Red Wings own a three-game win streak.

The Wings took all the positives and rolled them into a 4-1 victory over Chicago on Thursday night at Little Caesars Arena.

It wasn't perfect — the Red Wings were called for too many men on the ice twice in the second period, and that's tough to do — but it was a good 60 minutes of hockey for a team that appears to be finding itself (albeit too late in the season).

"We want to build on this as a group," Stecher said. "Everyone has something to play for, whether it's ice time, or a future contract, there's always something to play for. To string three wins in a row, we're having some fun.

"We're playing with a purpose and playing for each other. We're not getting worked up over little mistakes, mistakes are going to happen through a game. The biggest thing is confidence, and having fun."

continued

Below find extended game highlights plus more complete interviews with Troy Stecher and Jeff Blashill.

added 11:26am, Vrana post game interview is below.

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About Abel to Yzerman

Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com

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