Many fans felt the Detroit Red Wings were cheated in 2020 when the team finished with the worst record and wound up with the fourth pick in the draft. They’re not complaining now.
Detroit selected Swedish forward Lucas Raymond and the 19-year-old not only made the team this season, he’s on the first line. Raymond delivered his first NHL goal and added an assist in the Red Wings’ 4-1 win over Columbus on Tuesday.
The Red Wings have collected five of a possible six points this season and will try to keep the momentum going when they host the Calgary Flames on Thursday. The game will complete Detroit’s four-game homestand.
Raymond broke a scoreless deadlock in the third period and linemate Tyler Bertuzzi followed with his fifth goal this season. Center Dylan Larkin assisted on the goals.
“It felt great. I had some looks tonight and it was nice (to score),” Raymond said. “I will save the puck. It’s a special one.”
Coach Jeff Blashill chose Raymond to play on the first line after Jakub Vrana required shoulder surgery that will sideline him for several months.
“I like the dynamic between the three of them,” Blashill said. “(Bertuzzi) is real gritty and go gets the pucks and Larks has the speed and Lucas is a cerebral player. It’s a good combination between the three of them. We’ve had a strong four-line presence and we’ll need to do that moving forward.”
Raymond was slammed into the boards shortly after Bertuzzi’s goal. He retreated to the locker room due to concussion protocols, but passed all tests.
If not for a late three-goal flurry by Tampa Bay in the opener, the Red Wings would have three victories to start the season.
“We have to have a really strong work ethic and competitiveness in all the games,” Blashill said. “Those are two things that have really stood out.”
Calgary will be seeking its first victory. The Flames lost to Edmonton 5-2 in their opener and 3-2 in overtime to Anaheim on Monday.
The offensive output has been modest even though they’ve had a combined 89 shots on goal during regulation in those games.
“I think we can be better around the net, for sure,” Flames coach Darryl Sutter told the Calgary Herald. “Still, that emphasis has to be on around the goalie more, and the second and thirds. There are very few goals that are highlight goals, when you look at it. Most of them are a screen or a flash play or a tip or a rebound or something like that. And I think, as a group, we can be better at that.”
The Flames begin a five-game, eight-night road trip, which also includes stops in Washington, New York, New Jersey and Pittsburgh.
Sutter believes his team needs to play smarter and tougher to have a successful journey.
“You have to accentuate the positive things and clean up little areas,” Sutter said. “We have some guys that have to be better players for us. Even after the two games, just in the little details of the game, they have to be better. For the type of team we have, they have to be better players in order for us to win games.”