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The overnight report: Red Wings-Senators wrap-up; ‘home opener’ fought for and won

The Detroit Red Wings earned their curly fries via Mike Green's hat trick in Detroit's 4-1 win over the Ottawa Senators on Monday night, but the Wings were most satisfied with having earned their first win of the 2016-17 season.

Detroit now stands at 1-and-2 heading into Wednesday night's game against the Rangers, and the Wings want to build upon the positives of Monday night's game while continuing to improve their defensive play, and that's quite reasonable; the Senators plain old want to throw Monday's effort in the garbage, as they told the Ottawa Citizen's Wayne Scanlan:

The Senators never recovered after yielding three first-period goals in a 5:34 span — two from Mike Green and one from Darren Helm.

Green capped his hat-trick performance to put the game away late in the third period. Helm then added a second goal himself, turning the game into a romp.

“You want to start out with a win and a good game and we didn’t really have either of those,” said [Andrew] Hammond, making his first start of the season. “Obviously, individually, I didn’t either, so it’s unfortunate.”

It all marked for a wonderful home opener for the Red Wings and their fans as they celebrated the final home in the arena’s storied history. Fans were relishing the moment and the flashbacks to former Red Wings greats.

The three-goal first period outburst came only moments after a tribute to the late, great Gordie Howe on the video scoreboard. Fans were holding up No. 9 posters, chanting “Gord-ee, Gord-ee!”

Senators coach Guy Boucher says the Senators collapsed after the Red Wings opened the scoring.

“That first goal, for some reason, just deflated us,” he said. “There’s no reason why it should deflate us. It’s just one goal. After that goal, they seemed to get momentum, but the reality is we let them get momemtum. We weren’t first on the puck anymore.”

The Senators weren't surprised by Mike Green's scoring exploits, as they told the Associated Press...

The 31-year-old defenseman entered the game with 120 goals in his career, which began during the 2005-06 season with the Washington Capitals and included a 31-goal season three years later.

"He certainly showed that he's still has a lot of ability from a few years ago," Andrew Hammond said after stopping 20 shots in his first start of the season for Ottawa. "He was the difference."

The Red Wings signed Green last year and he had a relatively quiet season with seven goals and 28 assists.

"He's coming into this season much more comfortable," Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. "He spent a whole career with another team and then he switched teams. It takes a little while as a human sometimes to adjust."

Helm scored on a breakaway in between Green's goals in the first period and added a second goal with 2:56 left in the third, giving the Red Wings three goals in a 5:34 stretch.

"That first goal just deflated us and there's no way that one goal should deflate us," Senators coach Guy Boucher said. "You're asking for trouble when you react that way to one goal."

Ryan Dzingel's short-handed goal midway through the second period pulled the Senators within two goals.

"We tried to come back in the second period, but you can't start out that way in the first period," he said.

The Ottawa Sun's Don Brennan also weighed in from the "cheapseats"...

It actually looked like the Senators might score a power-play goal when they had a two-minute opportunity in the first period and Mike Hoffman, Kyle Turris and Dion Phaneuf all had good chances. And then, mystifyingly, Phaneuf decided to get into his second fight wearing the centurion (remember, he went with Colin Greening last season) with 35 seconds left in the man-advantage. There appeared to be no significant reason for Phaneuf dropping the gloves with Jonathan Ericsson as the two were slowly skating out of the Detroit zone, and if he really was trying to get his team going that was not the right time to do it …

If anything, the Red Wings gained some momentum when Ericsson scored a decision over the Senators veteran. But no, TSN analyst Jamie McLennan was right when he said the real early turning point was Mike Green’s first goal, a wrist shot from the point that went through Andrew Hammond. Stated Noodles: “Andrew Hammond needs to make that save. Immediately after that you could see the momentum shift and the wind come out the sails of the Ottawa Senators.” …

The Senators were deflated to the tune of 3-0 before the first period was over, at least allowing their fans to turn over to the Blue Jays game without feeling guilty.

And we'll transition from the Senators' perspectives to those of the Red Wings via NHL.com's Dave Hogg's recap, and Hogg begins with a quote from Mike Green:

"Walking the red carpet with all those fans led right into the opening ceremony and right into the start of the game, you couldn't help but feed off that energy."

Green scored twice in the first period, then drew a sea of hats with 6:36 remaining when he took a pass from Luke Glendening and put a high wrist shot past Senators goalie Andrew Hammond.

"I've never had a hat trick before, so that was a lot of fun," Green said.

He was asked about a potential three-goal game before he joined the NHL a decade ago, but Green his head.

"Never," he said. "Not anywhere."

It was the first hat trick by a Detroit defenseman since Nicklas Lidstrom on Dec. 15, 2010.

"Three goals from Mike Green," Hammond said. "He certainly showed that he still has a lot of the ability from a few years ago. He was the difference in the game."

Detroit (1-2-0) lost its first two games to the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning on the road. Ottawa (2-1-0) opened with home wins against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens.

The Red Wings told the Windsor Star's Bob Duff that they were looking forward to Monday night's game...

“I think as a team we kind of have to play better,” Detroit forward Riley Sheahan acknowledged. “All of us have to be better. We were looking forward to (Monday night) to prove that.”

Certainly, it went better for Detroit than the first game ever played at the JLA, a 3-2- loss to the St. Louis Blues on Dec. 27, 1979, or in their first home opener in the building, a 6-4 setback to the New York Islanders on Oct. 16, 1980. Well, maybe there is something to this tradition talk after all, because something conspired to turn the Wings into a more cohesive hockey club.

“We always look forward to the home opener,” Detroit left-winger Justin Abdelkader said. “Obviously, with it being last year at the Joe it’s extra special. It’s nice to be back home. Obviously the road trip isn’t the way we wanted to start. We were looking forward to being a lot better here on home ice.”

The last of the old-school barns, unlike the modern multi-purpose facilities that dot the map and that Detroit’s new home at Little Caesars Arena will most definitely be, Joe Louis Arena was constructed with one purpose in mind – to be a hockey rink.

From the outside, it’s more eyesore than eye catching but for anyone who was raised watching the Wings, especially the Detroit players who hail from Michigan, it will always be home.

“It’s everything in terms of the Red Wings and watching an NHL game,” said Detroit centre Dylan Larkin, who hails from Southfield, Mich. “I grew up coming here and it’s all I’ve known, so it’s pretty crazy that this is the last year but I’m excited to be able to be on the ice.”

And Mike Green played the way he needs to play on Monday night, as USA Today's Kevin Allen suggested:

“We saw (Green) do some pretty amazing things when he was in Washington,” Detroit center Darren Helm said. “And we saw him do some pretty amazing things tonight with a hat trick and some nice goals. Hopefully he could build off that and keep things rolling.”

Green, 31, has the ability to do more in his second season with the Red Wings than he did in his first. In 2015-16, Green was average by his standards. He netted seven goals and generated 35 points after signing as a free agent. He possesses the offensive gifts to produce 10 or more goals and 50-plus points. He once scored 68 goals over a three-season span with the Capitals. In his last season in Washington, Green totaled 10 goals and 45 points.

“(This season) he has played the way he has to play to be successful,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “He’s attacked the game.”

Green says his only adjustment has been “a little more commitment” on his shot. His point blast can seem like a laser-guided missile. With five points in Detroit’s first three games, Green has shown he can be the offensive difference-maker on the blue line that the Red Wings seem to be lacking.

“I think Greener has played well all the way through the preseason,” Blashill said.

Blashill said that because Green spent his entire career in another organization, he went through an adjustment period last season in Detroit.

“He’s come into this season much more comfortable,” Blashill said.

Green told the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan that he was simply playing inspired...

“It started with the red carpet walk before the game,” said Mike Green, who starred scoring three goals — his first career hat trick.  “You could feel the energy with the fans and that led right into the opening ceremony and through the intros and to the start of the game. We were excited and we wanted to put on a good show.”

That, the Red Wings did, after two opening losses in a road trip through Tampa Bay and Florida.

Darren Helm added two goals, Thomas Vanek assisted on three goals, and Petr Mrazek stopped 31 shots for the victory.

“We didn’t get the outcomes we wanted on the road, which is two tough games,” Green said. “But sometimes it takes a couple of games to get your feel and the guys played real well.”

Green scored two goals in the first period, one on the power play, and the Red Wings jumped out to a 3-0 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

“Got lucky,” said Green of his three-goal game. “Outstanding plays by Vanek there, and Tats (Tomas Tatar) and Glennie (Luke Glendening). Just kept trying to get more (of) the mentality of shooting. The team played great. We put pressure on them and we didn’t set back. That’s why we kind of were able to finish it off, there.”

And as Blashill paid Green compliments, Green paid compliments to Petr Mrazek, who was stout in the Wings' goal, as Michigan Hockey's Stefan Kubus noted:

“I think Greener’s played well all the way through the preseason, even the games down in Florida,” Blashill said. “I think he’s played the way he’s got to to be successful. He’s attacked the game, he’s been shooting, I think he’s got a real good shoot-first mentality. I think he’s come into this year much more memorable. I think you spend a while career with another team and then you switch teams, it takes a while as human to adjust and I think he’s looked real comfortable and I think he’s attacking the game.”

Green’s hat trick marked the second home-opening hat trick in as many seasons, as Justin Abdelkader did so last year against Toronto. In the game, with 8:17 to play in the opening frame, Green potted his first of the season from Vanek, as Hammond couldn’t handle the wrist shot and the puck bounced off his glove and over the goal line.

Just minutes later, Zetterberg sent Helm in on a breakaway with a terrific stretch pass, and Helm buried his second of the young season to put the Wings up by a deuce.

Before the period ended, Green potted his second of the game and fourth point of the season, as he blasted home a saucer pass from Tomas Tatar on a Red Wings power play.

At 8:51 of the middle frame, Kyle Turris found the back of the net, capping off a great 2-on-1 feed from Ryan Dzingel. Erik Karlsson threw a tremendous stretch pass from his own zone to ultimately set up the 2-on-1.

The Red Wings carried their two-goal lead into the dressing room after 40 minutes. Thanks to Mrazek, it stayed that way the rest of the game.

“He was outstanding,” Green said. “He was composed, he made some big saves. Pucks were bouncing out there and he had to get across the net a couple times and he was there, so he kept us in it, he kept our energy up, so kudos to him tonight.”

The Wings got a little scrappy as well, as the Free Press's Helene St. James noted (via RedWingsFeed)...

[W]who had the Wings down for four fighting majors before the season is even a week old? The stat humors a team not known for fighting.

“We’re the new Bruise Brothers,” coach Jeff Blashill said with a smile, referring the nickname earned by the hard-punching duo of Joe Kocur and Bob Probert. “We lead the league in majors, I like it.”

The Wings had eight majors all of last season.

Turning serious, Blashill said that, “the one thing we talked about is making sure we look after each other, stick up for each other. Jonny jumped in and we ended up on the penalty against Tampa, but I was OK with that. You have to have a feeling amongst your group that you want to look after each other. That doesn’t mean we’re going to lead the league at the end of the year, but it means that it's a real positive trend that we’re looking after each other.

Justin Abdelkader also fought Monday, and Brendan Smith had a fight in the season opener at Tampa Bay. Riley Sheahan jumped on Mark Borowiecki after he knocked over Frans Nielsen Monday, though not fight ensued.

“That’s what we talked about before the year,” Thomas Vanek said. “It’s not just about fighting, but about caring for the guy next to each other, and we’re showing that right now.”

In her "trending" recap, DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji took note of Darren Helm's superb start...

Darren Helm : Wings coach Jeff Blashill has had different lines for each of the first three games with one exception - Helm's line with Vanek and Gustav Nyquist. Helm got free for a breakaway at 14:15 of the first and Henrik Zetterberg got him the puck. Helm scored the final goal of the game, a power-play tally just five seconds into the man-advantage on a pass from Vanek. Helm has three goals and one assist in three games.

Quotable: "It's been big so far. It kind of gives me the ability to go out and play and not force things. I've never really a guy that's been too focused on getting points but when they're not going in, it definitely makes it a little harder on you. Right now it seems to be working and I'm still focusing on things away from the puck that I need to be doing to be successful." - Helm

And Helm praised the fans while speaking with the Windsor Star's Duff:

As part of the opening-night ceremonies for the final home opener at the Joe – the Wings will move into Little Caesars Arena next season – the players walked a red carpet and through a gauntlet of fans into the rink.

“It was a great day today,” said Detroit forward Darren Helm, who scored twice. “Coming out on the red carpet there with all the fans there, it was pretty incredible. I didn’t really expect anything like that.

“I thought there’d be a small little lineup of people but they came out in full force, cheering loud."

In the "spirit of the thing," there were two routes to take, and both were explored: the Detroit News's Bob Wojnowski wondered whether the Wings can "rebuild on the fly" during the final season of a spartan building for hockey-watching...

The Wings will try to make the big move without making the big moves, try to sustain without tearing anything apart. It’s a noble effort, but fraught with danger. GM Ken Holland’s offseason acquisitions were underwhelming, and fans (and media) rightly still crave a bold deal. If the Wings fall out of playoff contention, there might yet be a rebuild at the trade deadline.

But if you make the playoffs 25 straight seasons, it’s what you do and it’s all you know. The night of the home opener was not the time to prematurely bury anything, and Holland had a quick answer to a common question: Why not just start fresh with new, young faces?

“Because a rebuild could take 6-8 years, and there’s no guarantee it’ll work,” Holland said. “Other teams have done it for 10 years and made the playoffs once or twice. There are no guarantees in anything.”

There has been only one guarantee — the Wings making the playoffs. It has seemed like a weight at times, another long trudge to a first-round elimination. I’m fairly certain the streak is one reason the Ilitches haven’t ordered a rebuild by now. But it’s not the only one.

To a certain degree, the Wings constructed their successful history with the funds of the future. They have good prospects waiting, such as Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi, but not prime prospects who demand to be used. Jeff Blashill reiterated Monday that if the Wings’ youngsters were ready to play in the NHL, they’d be here. And if the team saw great promise in Teemu Pulkinnen and Martin Frk, they wouldn’t have been released.

People shriek for promising young talent, another Dylan Larkin or two. It’s not here and not easily attainable, so Holland delivered veteran free agents Frans Nielsen, Thomas Vanek and Steve Ott, and Ott already has sat two of the three games. It was a disappointing haul, but the notion of tanking to finally land a high draft pick is fanciful, not logical. Missing the playoffs for a spot in the lottery doesn’t assure the top pick, and there’s no one as enticing as the wonder guy the Maple Leafs happily grabbed, Auston Matthews.

That’s why Holland uttered the inconvenient truth over the summer when he said there were only five or six legitimate Stanley Cup contenders, and the Wings were in the next group with about 20 other teams. It’s true, but it’s also a telling admission that Holland has been reluctant to make — just getting into the playoffs doesn’t give the Wings as decent a shot as they once had.

The Oakland Press's Pat Caputo took a similar route...

It can be a nightmare to cover a game at Joe Louis Arena. They forgot to be build a press box initially, so they just set up a row at the top of the stands.

But in truth, there is no place in sports I’d rather be because it is a hockey mecca. It may be lacking fancy suites, but there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Anybody who has been anything in hockey not only has played at JLA since 1980, but in important games.

You look on the ice and you see Steve Yzerman beating the Blues’ Jon Casey with the slap shot for the ages in overtime. Or Darren McCarty pounding Claude Lemieux as he turtled. Or Nicklas Lidstrom or Sergei Fedorov or Brendan Shanahan or Pavel Datsyuk, at least when the latter was still interested. One of my favorite JLA moments was Scotty Bowman skating around the ice, Stanley Cup raised above his head, after coaching his final game

It was so long ago, it’s sometimes forgotten the Red Wings were a bad hockey team when they moved into the Joe.

It was a good decade before it became Hockeytown.

It wasn’t like Lidstrom wasn’t appreciated when he played for the Red Wings, but it’s doubly so last season and so far this one. It’s painful watching the Red Wings try to retrieve the puck and move it out of their own zone.

There is some promise on the current team, particularly Petr Mrazek and Dylan Larkin, but it is definitely lacking star power compared to the majority of the Red Wings’ stint at The Joe.

We’ll always have our memories of its place, but ideally it won’t be just about the past because the present pales so much in comparison.

And the Free Press's Jeff Seidel looked forward:

Danny DeKeyser came down the red carpet and hugged his mother, Linda.

“There is so much rich history,” Linda DeKeyser said.  “There is no arena like this.  It’s old; it’s a little dated. But it’s like family here. The fans are amazing, the Ilitch family, the staff is unbelievable.”

DeKeyser’s parents showed up at the Joe at 2 o’clock, more than 5 hours before the start of the game, walking around, taking it all in.

Danny DeKeyser played here when he was 10-years-old for Little Caesars. And now he’s a Wing. It’s unbelievable when you think about it.

“But it’s time to move on,” said his father, Mick DeKeyser. “I’m excited about a new arena, too.”

As the players walked down the red carpet, several stopped to sign autographs.

"It was unbelievable seeing how that many people showed up that early," Thomas Vanek told reporters after the game. "I think every guy walking through that line knew that we owed them a good showing tonight."

Multimedia:

Highlights: NHL.com posted a 6:15 highlight clip:

There's a 3:15 narrative recap as well:

Hockeyfights posted clips of Ericsson and Abdelkader's fights with Phaneuf and Neil, respectively:

 

Post-game: Fox Sports Detroit posted post-game remarks from Mike Green...

Petr Mrazek...

Darren Helm...

And Jeff Blashill's post-game presser:

Fox 2 filed a 1:12 post-game report:

The Free Press posted a clip of Helene St. James and Drew Sharp discussing the game:

The Red Wings posted post-game clips of Helm...

Green...

Vanek...

Mrazek...

And coach Blashill's post-game comments:

Photos: The Detroit News posted a 45-image gallery;

The Free Press posted a 24-image game-opening gallery and a 6-image game gallery;

MLive posted a 25-image gallery and a 25-image opening night gallery;

Michigan Hockey posted a HTML5 gallery;

The Ottawa Citizen posted a 13-image gallery;

ESPN posted a 9-image gallery;

And NHL.com posted a 38-image gallery.

Statistics: Here's the Game Summary:

And here's the scoresheet:

 

 

Red Wings notebooks and also of Red Wings-related note: Here are the videos the Wings showed during JLA's opening-night ceremonies. The first one is narrated by Jeff Daniels:

The second involves alumni discussing their memories of the Joe:

The Free Press's Brian Manzullo penned a list of Joe Louis Arena's "most unforgettable moments" via YouTube clips;

The Ottawa Citizen's Ken Warren asked members of the Wings and Senators to weigh in on Joe Louis Arena's legacy:

“I grew up here, it’s all I have known,” said 20-year-old Red Wings centre Dylan Larkin, who was born a year before Detroit won its first of four NHL titles in the building. “It’s kind of crazy it’s the last season.”

Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill, also a Michigan native, labels it an “iconic building” because of all the Red Wings success, all the big names who skated here, and all the bad blood that was spilled here over the years.

“I just think of the Bruise Brothers (Bob Probert and Joey Kocur), I think of the Colorado series and the fights in the building, and the Cups.”

When Red Wings checker Drew Miller played for Michigan State, the opportunity to play here was a dream, the highlight of every season.

“I think about my first game here, of the home winning streak (the Red Wings established an NHL mark by winning 23 straight in 2011-12), of all the fun memories,” Miller said. “It’s going to be weird not having the Joe.”

Even those who have played the role of enemy in the building pay the Joe Louis respect. Senators winger Bobby Ryan, who was in the middle of a couple of tough playoff series here while playing for the Anaheim Ducks, can’t say enough about the atmosphere of the rink.

“The way (the fans) are right on top of you here, I will miss that,” Ryan said. “I really enjoy playing here. It’s a little bit darker. It’s got that old school vibe and the bright lights (at the new arena) aren’t going to be quite the same.”

MLive's Ansar Khan also asked the Wings about the Joe:

"There's so many memories, so many of my heroes growing up played here," Grand Rapids native Luke Glendening said. "To be a part of the last season is obviously special for all of us.

"I came down here with my Dad and I watched a lot on TV, but to be in the same locker room with those guys you grew up idolizing is pretty special. We're obviously excited for the new building, but the things that happened here are special and will always be special to us."

The Red Wings will move into Little Caesars Arena at the start of next season.

Asked if he's thought much about the final season at JLA, Muskegon native Justin Abdelkader said: "Maybe throughout the season you will as you're spending the last year here and looking around, enjoying the experience and everything. I think more than anything, just kind of trying to focus on winning games, obviously, and sending the Joe out on hopefully a good note here."

Dylan Larkin, who grew up in Waterford, spent a lot of nights in the stands as a fan.

"It's everything in terms of the Red Wings and watching an NHL game," Larkin said. "I grew up coming here and it's all I've known, so it's pretty crazy that this is the last year, but I'm excited to be able to be on the ice."

The Free Press's Helene St. James happens to have spoken with Mike Green regarding his desire to shoot the puck before the game:

With Niklas Kronwall nursing a bad knee, Green is cast into a greater offensive role. He was signed in the summer of 2015 because of his history of producing (he had 45 points for Washington in 2014-15) and because he shoots right. He had seven goals and 28 assists in his first season in Detroit.

“That is something I’m going to try do do more of this year, create those opportunities to get shots and then when you do have those opportunities, make sure that you bear down,” Green said. “It creates confusion, you can get a garbage goal. We need more of those.”

Asked about having Green shoot more, Blashill said that, “I think with Greener, certainly shooting the puck is a driver of his game. When he is shooting, he is attacking and when he is attacking he is good. I think he’s done a real good job of using his forward-skating, which is excellent, to defend. Gapping in the neutral zone by forward-skating, closing down time and space.

“Mike has been an elite defenseman in this league and so he’s got that type of ability.”

Of historic note from the Windsor Star's Bob Duff:

Was this a coincidence, or do the NHL schedule makers have an eye on the history of the league when they make plans?

The Ottawa Senators were given the honour of providing the opposition Monday for the farewell Detroit Red Wings home opener at Joe Louis Arena, just as the Senators did 89 years ago at the first NHL game ever played at Detroit’s Olympia Stadium on Nov. 22, 1927.

Those Senators were a powerhouse club, the defending Stanley Cup champions from 1926-27, led by future Hall of Famers including goalie Alex Connell, defenceman King Clancy and centre Frank Nighbor.

Jack Adams was part of that Ottawa Cup winner but had retired to take over as coach and general manager of the Detroit club, then known as the Cougars. His lineup that night also featured such Hall of Famers as goalie Hap Holmes, centre Duke Keats and defenceman Reg Noble.

The University of Michigan band played the national anthems prior to the game and provided musical interludes for the 16,000 fans in attendance during stoppages. The intermission breaks featured a display of what was in those days known as fancy skating from legendary Canadian skaters Norval Baptie and Gladys Lamb.

Forward Johnny Sheppard, the first Detroit player to wear No. 9, opened the scoring in the first period. Nighbor tied it for Ottawa in the second period, and then he set up Frank Finnigan for the game winner in the third as Ottawa took a 2-1 decision.

The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa penned a feature article about Xavier Ouellet:

[T]he 23-year-old seeks to stake his claim on a permanent roster spot, but he also needs to help lift the team, in the absence of the Niklas Kronwall, amid clear growing pains on the blue line.

“I think I am playing well,” said Ouellet, a native of Bayonne, France, who grew up in Terrebonne, Quebec. “I think I’m doing what I’ve got to do. I want to make sure that I gain the coach’s confidence. I want to play smart. I want to play hard. I want to be good defensively and go from there."

After playing 21 games for the Red Wings in 2014-15, the mere handful of opportunities last season was a harsh reality, Ouellet said.

“It was tough mentally,” he said. “But you need to accept it and keep working and not quit. I wanted to be here. I’m getting the opportunity now, and I want to do something about it.”

Coach Jeff Blashill said he has noted Ouellet’s efforts.

“I think he’s played two strong games,” said Blashill, who is looking for more assertiveness from his defensive corps in their own zone, quicker exits and a better push on the transition through the neutral zone. I think him and (Jonathan) Ericsson have both played two real strong games.”

 

Update: Jonathan Ericsson spoke with Expressen's Gunnar Nordstrom regarding the bouts (and what follows is roughly translated)...

Ericsson in a fight when the Red Wings won

Los Angeles. He won two fights in the first three games.

Jonathan Ericsson, 32, is the toughest Swede in the NHL this fall.

When Detroit defeated Ottawa 5-1 overnight, Swedish time, he was challenged by Senators defenseman Dion Phaneuf and emerged victorious from the brawl.

"It was a brief fight, which isn't much to say about it," says Jonte.

On the site hockeyfights.com 87% of the voters two hours after the final whistle said that the Swede won the brawl over Phaneuf.

 

This was not any game for the players of the Red Wings or their fans.

It was the last home opener in the venerable Joe Louis Arena, which has been the team's castle since 1979. Next fall they will move into a new giant stadium in downtown Detroit.

"We stepped up today"

After two losses away against Tampa Bay and Florida during a series run, Jonathan Ericsson and company chased a victory tonight.

"We felt that we played close to what we could in the previous two games. We needed to step up and play a lot better today," says Jonte.

And Aftonbladet's Per Bjurman spoke with Henrik Zetterberg:

Detroit's first victory in a special game

First hat trick since "Lidas"

Bull's eye. In the last home premiere ever at the old Joe Louis Arena the Detroit Red Wings managed to finally salvage the season's first victory--and defenseman Mike Green contributed quite significantly with a hat trick.

"Nice to win finally after a couple of losses, and good to start so when it's the last season we play in this particular arena," says Henrik Zetterberg to Sportbladet after the 5-1 triumph vs. Ottawa.

After 37 years the Detroit Red Wings will leave the classic, but very worn, Joe Louis Arena when this season is over.

Next year they move instead to the new building Little Caesars Arena in the middle of downtown Detroit.

So the premiere night at home against the Ottawa Senators was the last of the venerable "Joe."

Ever.

"Yes, it feels a little strange and sad that this is the last season we'll play there," says Henrik Zetterberg from his home in Michigan.

"It is a very special arena and it's been our home for a long time. There will be great things in the new rink, but first, we want to, of ccourse, end the era of 'the Joe' in a good way."

Yes, it started nicely, anyway. After two straight losses in Florida during the season's start--against the Lightning and Panthers--the Red Wings defeated the Senators 5-1.

"Yes, it ws nice. It always feels a little heavy when you lose two straight at the start, but now it looks a lot better," continues "Zata."

"I think we played okay even against the Lightning in the first game, but today we were more resolute and looked to cash in on our chances."

This applies particularly to Mike Green

The 31-year-old veteran defenseman, formerly from Washington, completed his first hat trick.

"Very fun for him. He's a very good guy, an important player for us and still a cruel defenseman," said captain Zetterberg.

Which, like Gustav Nyquist, had an assist himself, and thinks he's starting to feel better after the knee injury that prevented him from participating in the World Cup.

"Yes, I have four games in the legs and it begins to get into it now. I'm making progress all the time."

Jonathan Ericsson had less fun at the home premiere. He was hit by a shot in the face and had to leave the ice, bleeding profusely.

"He got a few stitches, but there's no danger. He'll be looking stylish, that's guaranteed and important," chuckles teammate Zetterberg, jokingly.

Erik Karlsson had, of course, assists in Ottawa's consolation and is now up already up to five points in three games.

The game's most emotional moment came during a timeout in the first period, when team icon gordie Howe, who died last summer, was honored with a video on the jumbotron. At the same time fans held up signs with #9, and chanted, "Gordie, Gordie!"

Update #2: Here's the Sens' post-game clip:

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Comments

Slumpy's avatar

Happy for Green. He had me worried after watching those first two games in Flori-duh.
Keep shooting Green.

Vanek has pride I can see wasting no time through three games with 5 pts and Helm, is this the season he finally has a career season? He’s off to a good start too.

The fighting keeps the team engaged that’s for sure cool grin  as much as the suits in the front office of the NHL hate it.

Hopefully Vanek stays hellbent to return to his 30 goal+ playing days.

Posted by Slumpy from Under My Wheels on 10/18/16 at 06:46 AM ET

joedaiceman's avatar

KH has been getting a lot of negative press, but so far this season, his acquisition of Vanek, Green and Nielson are paying off. Just saying.

Posted by joedaiceman on 10/18/16 at 07:24 AM ET

Hootinani's avatar

The fights were ridiculous.  You’ve got 2 fights for no real reason at all, and then Sheahan gets speared and no one does anything about it, especially not the refs (go figure).  It’s time to start making teams pay on the PP again instead of this nonsensical tough guy routine.

Posted by Hootinani from the parade following Babs out of town on 10/18/16 at 08:31 AM ET

Colin's avatar

Wow, I was honestly blown away by last night’s performance. Granted, Ottawa is a middling team like us, but the Red Wings team that played last night could’ve done that to anybody.

It was truly great to see Green hitting his stride and seeing what he can really do. On his third goal especially, he did exactly what we want him to do. Get that puck at the point, drag the D over towards the middle, and use the screen to go back the other way on the right side as Hammond slid over. Great, patient, veteran offensive D play.

Helm is making me eat a big bowl of my own words, and it’s delicious. I couldn’t be happier about that.

Vanek is making me feel both excited and vindicated as I wanted to sign/trade for him when he left Buffalo. I’ll take him at the previous failure discount any day though.

Our powerplay looked night/day difference from last year. We were actually moving and cycling, and getting their D to shift and become unsettled. If there is going to be a saving grace for this team, it’s going to be our powerplay. We’re stacked with talent and we’re finally MOVING.

Still waiting to see a goal from someone not named Green, Vanek, or Helm, but the season is young. Who’da thunk THEY would be our leading scorers? LOL. I swear Helm spent all offseason training in an underground bunker with Datsyuk or something.

Posted by Colin from Ken Holland's new yacht, "Incompetence" on 10/18/16 at 08:43 AM ET

Avatar

Great effort = great game

Helm is also making me eat some humble pie.  It’s great to see him back at center.  Never liked him much as a winger last season.  Now imagine if he were playing like this as our 4C.  I think that would be a sign that we’d be back to true contender status.  It’s still early, but I’m wondering if this year’s Helm will be Sheahan.  He just doesn’t look good on the wing at all over the first three games.  He’s been out of position a few times and it almost looks like he thinks he’s still the center out there.

Some other thoughts:  How great was it to see our top PP unit dominate like they did last night?  Who woulda thunk, that putting a bunch of highly skilled guys together would result in highly skilled hockey.  Putting guys like Abby and Sheahan (or Helm last year) on the PP even if it’s net front stuff is never a good idea imho.  And FINALLY Green gets to play on the top PP unit (like many of us were asking for last year) and the results couldn’t have been better. 

Our D was mostly solid last night.  Smith was mostly invisible which is my way of complementing the guy.  Green was obviously a monster offensively and he and DDK only had two or three lazy plays in the second.  Marchenko was much better than he was in the first two games, which was nice to see.  This might be the best three game stretch Ericsson has played in years, imo, and once again, aside from Green, Ouellet may have been our best D of the night.

Now for my annoyance of the night.  I felt like the game started to tilt towards the Sens in the second and from what I remember, it was exactly the same time that Friendly Babs started given Glendening way more ice time.  It almost felt like the Vanek-Helm-Nyquist line was missing shifts and Miller and Glendening were seeing more time.  Why?  I just don’t get it.  And there was one offensive zone shift where Friendly Babs had Glendening-Miller paired with Helm instead of AA.  Once again I ask, why???  Glendening and Miller were pretty terrible again, and although AA made some obvious mistakes, he still made some plays that Glendening and Miller are just not capable of making. 

One last thought.  It was good to see Z look like Z from the start of last year instead of the broken down Z that we’ve come to expect.

All in all, win or lose, I’ll be a happy fan with efforts like that.

LGRW!

Posted by Wise1 on 10/18/16 at 09:14 AM ET

Avatar

When Helm scores on a breakaway, you know things are going well for us. And the way he shot the puck for his second goal, I honestly did not even know he can shoot the puck like that.  So far based on Helm’s first 3 games, KH 1 - Red Wings fans 0.

PP looks absolutely fabulous. Passing, shots from all angles, we are not settling for one timer from a blue line. Great coaching on that front so far.

Nice to see that Green can shoot the puck.

Vanek’s backchecking in the second period when Ottawa guy was going one on one - I could not believe that was Vanek coming back with that speed and effort. Happy to see him do well, but KH has to be careful here and not offer him 5 years at $5 mil just yet:)

Only 2 negatives for me yesterday:

1) In a typical Babcock/Blashill fashion we sat on the lead. It seemed like Glen and Miller were on the ice every second shift in the third period and no surprise were spending all the time in their own zone.
2) Abby/Shehan + a skilled center does not work. Hope Blashill understands it sooner than later,

Posted by VPalmer on 10/18/16 at 09:31 AM ET

Avatar

Glendening led the team in even strength ice time.  Blashill prefers to try and sit on a lead instead of trying to expand the lead.  Same as last year.  Maybe he hasn’t learned from his mistakes.  The funny thing is that the Wings never have the puck when Glendening is on the ice.  The other team gets shot after shot against that line.  Thank God for Mrazek so far this year.

Posted by jb61973 on 10/18/16 at 09:59 AM ET

Avatar

Sometimes you just have to be happy for a win.

Posted by BarryKlob on 10/18/16 at 10:19 AM ET

Avatar

Not when that win will lead the coach to believe he made the right move and will continue to employ that strategy that doesn’t work over the course of the season.  Does nobody remember that a huge problem for the Wings last year was giving up leads?  Most of those leads were lost with Glendening and his linemates on the ice. When you do not and cannot possess the puck and generate shot attempts, the other team trying to come back in a game will.

Posted by jb61973 on 10/18/16 at 10:26 AM ET

Avatar

We actually won the game 5-1.

Posted by wingsrul91 on 10/18/16 at 10:48 AM ET

Avatar

So that means it is the right way to manage the team?  Keep doing it and see what happens.  It happened all of last year.

Posted by jb61973 on 10/18/16 at 10:59 AM ET

DocF's avatar

All you who raised hell about signing Vanek, leave the room.  All you who raised hell about resigning Helm, leave the room.  All you who wanted to bench Green, leave the room.  What I’m saying, boys and girls, is that some of the people you had great spewage of hate for are playing very fine hockey, even in the two losses.

I think AA will work out very well with Miller and Glendening.  The two defensive guys seem to relish having a genuine offensive player with them.  Plus, AA is not a weak defender either. 

Now I do not know where the fighting is coming from, but fact is this team has enough guys who are able to hold their own that teams will be challenged and will challenge them. 

Anyway, Vanek, Helm and Green had outstanding games.

Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 10/18/16 at 11:12 AM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

“I think as a team we kind of have to play better,” Detroit forward Riley Sheahan acknowledged.

And so far, the guy who most needs to play better is Riley. He’s been a complete non-factor so far. Hopefully it’s just an “adjustment period” as he settles into his new role on the wing.

And there was one offensive zone shift where Friendly Babs had Glendening-Miller paired with Helm instead of AA.  Once again I ask, why???  Glendening and Miller were pretty terrible again, and although AA made some obvious mistakes, he still made some plays that Glendening and Miller are just not capable of making.

Posted by Wise1 on 10/18/16 at 09:14 AM ET

My take was that AA was being punished for not being hard enough on the puck and for not fitting in as a 4th-line grinder. He’s still trying to be a skilled guy with breakaway speed and great hands. But don’t worry, Blah-hill will break him of that eventually.  confused

Helm is making me eat a big bowl of my own words, and it’s delicious. I couldn’t be happier about that.

Posted by Colin on 10/18/16 at 08:43 AM ET

Pass the milk, Colin, and I’ll join you. Where Helm suddenly found “hands” is a mystery, but I like it.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 10/18/16 at 11:33 AM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

All you who raised hell about signing Vanek, leave the room.  All you who raised hell about resigning Helm, leave the room.  All you who wanted to bench Green, leave the room.

Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL

I only “raised hell” about the Helm signing, Doc. So can I at least stand in the doorway and watch from the hall?  grin

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 10/18/16 at 11:37 AM ET

Colin's avatar

Pass the milk, Colin, and I’ll join you. Where Helm suddenly found “hands” is a mystery, but I like it.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 10/18/16 at 11:33 AM ET

I would but I’m all out. There were a lot of words to eat.

Only 2 negatives for me yesterday:

1) In a typical Babcock/Blashill fashion we sat on the lead. It seemed like Glen and Miller were on the ice every second shift in the third period and no surprise were spending all the time in their own zone.
2) Abby/Shehan + a skilled center does not work. Hope Blashill understands it sooner than later,

Posted by VPalmer on 10/18/16 at 09:31 AM ETGlendening led the team in even strength ice time.

And so far, the guy who most needs to play better is Riley. He’s been a complete non-factor so far. Hopefully it’s just an “adjustment period” as he settles into his new role on the wing.

My take was that AA was being punished for not being hard enough on the puck and for not fitting in as a 4th-line grinder. He’s still trying to be a skilled guy with breakaway speed and great hands. But don’t worry, Blah-hill will break him of that eventually.

And these are my negative takeaways for the game.

Sheahan, after being nonexistent in the first 2 games, was rewarded by playing top line with Nielsen and Abdelkader.

Athanasiou, after doing what he does best but being held off the score sheet against Florida, gets buried on the 4th line again.

Jeff. Jeffrey. Jeffathon. Jeffard. Jefferius. Jeffwell…

Play your players TO THEIR STRENGTHS. Athanasiou IS NOT AND NEVER WILL BE a 4th line energy/grinder guy, and honestly you don’t really want to be the coach that breaks him and makes him into yet another vapid depth guy, do you? The kid has raw talent oozing from every pore. He has the speed of Larkin and damn-near the balance of Z in his prime. He has hands like Tatar and isn’t a bad shot either. This kid NEEDS to be in our top-6. Sheahan, on the other hand, is starting to look like the odd man out. He might still get going, but in the meantime it hurts his development a lot less to play 4th line minutes than it does Athanasiou because he is actually built for it and can play that style. Athanasiou has no business being on that line. Either play him where he should be, alongside Nielsen and Abdelkader, or ship him back to GR so he can grow into his skills. If you want to play a budding NHL talent on your 4th line, I’m sure Mitch Callahan would be VERY happy to oblige.

Posted by Colin from Ken Holland's new yacht, "Incompetence" on 10/18/16 at 12:06 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

Athanasiou has no business being on that line. Either play him where he should be, alongside Nielsen and Abdelkader, or ship him back to GR so he can grow into his skills.

Posted by Colin on 10/18/16 at 12:06 PM ET

Mantha and Callahan are playing very well in GR right now, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see AA sent down and one of those two brought up, depending on which line Blah-hill wants to tinker with.

Can anyone tell me what the deal with Callahan and waivers is right now. He cleared going down, so is he exempt if he’s brought back up? And if he is, is there a limit to the number of games he can play in Detroit before he has to clear waivers again if he’s sent down?

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 10/18/16 at 12:26 PM ET

Alan's avatar

If we put together a good, consistent effort like this every game, we’ll have far fewer losses like we had in Florida and Tampa. Those were a one two punch of disappointment.

See you guys Wednesday.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 10/18/16 at 12:58 PM ET

bigfrog's avatar

One last thought.  It was good to see Z look like Z from the start of last year instead of the broken down Z that we’ve come to expect.

Z has the smarts and knows how to use them. Have to limit his ice time, and keep him on the wing. cheese

Posted by bigfrog on 10/18/16 at 08:40 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.