I spent most of the Red Wings’ 2018-19 season opener watching how the five players making their debuts looked. Mostly eye-test stuff, this is not a detailed breakdown, but here are my thoughts nonetheless.
There was a stretch in the third period where I was pleasantly surprised to see Ehn on the ice for two consecutive scheduled shifts. That’s how little ice time he got (8:09, by far the fewest minutes of any Red Wing and only beating out Sonny Milano‘s 7:30). That’s largely driven by the fact that his linemates were getting time on special teams, so it’s not his fault, but it still makes it hard to get much of a read on him.
I felt like I was looking for him and not finding him. Is that because he was invisible or because he only got 12:06 of ice time? Probably a combination of the two.
I will say that the look that I got from staff at the LCA Team Store when I asked if they had any Rasmussen jerseys was slightly hilarious. It’s rare to come across someone else with my last name, I’m going to have fun with it.
Hronek had at least three giveaways that weren’t recorded as such and on one of those I was certain it was going to turn into a goal against. He also wasn’t afraid to shoot the puck, even if those shots didn’t always end up on net. Jeff Blashill said during the preseason that Hronek needs to consistently have more positives than negatives and I don’t think he did last night.
There were a could times Sulak surprised me when he was carrying the puck on a rush and just held onto it himself, ending up in an offensive-zone corner. On one hand, these plays didn’t turn into anything so they probably weren’t the right call. On the other hand, with how predictable the Red Wings’ zone entries have been over he last several years, with over-reliance on getting too cute with the puck, it was kind of nice to see someone willing to go all Thanos on it – “Fine… I’ll do it myself.”
The goal-scorer of the bunch, Cholowski looked solid. He showed great timing on that goal, stepping up exactly when he should. But I don’t think we shouldn’t get too wrapped up in that, because I really don’t remember a lot of positives for him other than that. Kind of the inverse of Hronek, where he didn’t make many mistakes or do a whole lot, other than that goal.
That said, one thing I noticed is that, when I was shooting photos during the game, I kept coming back to him. Someone my eye was just drawn to. Not sure if that means anything.
Hicketts wasn’t one of the five players making his debut but as part of the kid contingent, I figured he deserved some thoughts. Once or twice there was a group of bodies around the Detroit net and Hicketts came screaming in to clear things out. It was this combination of awesome and hilarious to see, at his height.
It was time. Zetterberg has been playing on a bad back forever and with what it took for him to play last year, him calling it a career before the start of training camp made sense. I’ve been ready for the team to move on, to name a new captain, all of that.
But… Man… Watching him come out for the ceremonial puck drop? That was hard. I’m ready for this team to rebuild. Zetterberg’s absence opens up a roster spot for that. It comes at the cost of an icon, though.