After getting trounced by the Blackhawks Tuesday evening, the Wings got back on the ice in Pittsburgh with a slightly more experienced lineup. The biggest takeaway from this one: the Wings had their legs tonight. This showed at 5v5 mainly, where the Wings really set the pace despite the Pens being one of the quicker teams in the league. This speed was complimented by a power-play that (mostly) was on point when it went to work. With roughly half a dozen players fighting for only a few spots, a couple hopefuls really made an impression tonight. 

Tyler Bertuzzi

Far and away one of the best players in this game. As a few players struggled with the speed of the game, Bertuzzi found himself in full control all evening. His short, concise passes led not only to goals but to many successful breakouts and more importantly, the calming down of the Pens hectic forecheck. On more than one occasion the Wings PP was settled, composed and initiated by Bertuzzi’s smooth play under an aggressive shorthanded attack. In a game full of errand passes and assignment confusion, Bertuzzi looked like a real pro out there. We got to see more of his skill game that has reared its head over the last two seasons as well which was refreshing: 

Another PPG of his own:

While 2016/2017 likely isn’t Bertuzzi’s year to crack the squad, all eyes are going to be on him in Grand Rapids. If he keeps up this pace he should be pushing hard next year for a full-time spot. 

Jared Coreau

Coreau is such an interesting case in Detroit. After seemingly securing the net in Grand Rapids, his game has grown exponentially over the last two seasons to the point where former 1st round pick Thomas McCollum left the team to try his chances elsewhere in the league. If a Howard deal was ever able to happen, not only would the cap relief go a long way, but there’s a seemingly fully competent NHL backup goaltender in Coreau. He made some big saves tonight and had little chance/luck on the two goals he allowed. He definitely had to posts working for him tonight but as much as it seems like a lucky break, that also comes from excellent positioning and his monstrous frame. 

Gustav Nyquist

A favourite here around The Wings Nation, the Goose managed to get loose tonight. Not even a full 24 hours after these head scratching comments by head coach Jeff Blashill, Nyquist came to play:

His first goal came off of consistent pressure, a turnover he generated with his physicality and a net front presence with the hands to actually finish:

He had speed, he had fire, he had great looks all game and lifted the play of everyone out there skating with him. Riley Sheahan also had some great looks alongside Nyquist as both skated with more confidence and poise than we’ve seen previously. While Nyqvist’s spot is secured on this team he is fighting desperately for the top-six minutes he deserves. 

Where Things Stand

None of the three defensive hopefuls (Sproul, Ouellet, Jensen) really stood out. Sproul had a ton of shots in the game but had some real breakdowns in his own end and at times found himself on opposite wavelengths with his partners. Couple that with a few weak minor penalty calls and his game never fully got going. This weekend vs. Toronto carries a lot of weight for these guys and we’ll see who steps up and who is potentially lost to waivers.