The Red Wings took the first of a home-and-home matchup versus the Chicago Blackhawks Tuesday night. Now, the two original six franchises meet again, only this time, with much different lineups. For the first game, each team deployed some NHL regulars, but mainly featured bubble prospects or AHLers.
Things get a little more exciting this time around. Top prospects Filip Zadina, Joe Veleno, and Moritz Seider are expected to make their preseason debut. There are no official lines out yet, but I’d imagine we see some other prospects as well. Regulars like Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, and Andreas Athanasiou will most likely play their first game at home.
On Chicago’s end, they’ve got some big names penciled in.
#Blackhawks morning skate lines at the UC:
Nylander – Toews – Kane
D. Sikura – Highmore – Saarela
Saad – Kampf – Kubalik
Hakkarainen – T. Sikura – Hagel
Keith – Boqvist
Maatta – Seabrook
Gilbert – Holm
— Carter Baum (@CarterBaum) September 18, 2019
Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Alex Nylander form a dangerous top line. Whether they actually compete hard or not, we’ll have to wait and see, considering all three have got NHL spots guaranteed. Nylander might have something to prove, after recently being traded to the Blackhawks from the Sabres.
Here are some of the keys of the game to keep in mind:
1. Can Joe Veleno keep the hot streak going
The 2018 first rounder impressed many at the prospect tournament in Traverse City. He scored 7 goals in 4 games, leading the Detroit prospects to the championship. He established himself as a goal scorer, which was the concern from NHL scouts on why his upside may not be as high as his point totals would suggest.
But does it mean anything? At the end of the day, no. It is these games that matter most. Veleno is fighting for a spot on the opening night lineup, but with such a crowded forward group that includes Michael Rasmussen, Evgeny Svechnikov, and Zadina all vying for one of thirteen spots, he by default is on the outside looking in.
A big preseason could vault him past some of the aforementioned names and earn him a spot in Detroit. As we saw last year, Dennis Cholowski banged down the door and forced his way on to the NHL roster to start the year.
Carrying over some of that momentum he gained from Traverse City will only increase his odds of landing in Detroit.
2. How will Moritz Seider do defending NHL talent
The big German defensemen was also impressive in Traverse City. He made a name for himself as an aggressive kid, after going back-and-forth with Kirby Dach all night to start the tournament off. Dach won’t dress tonight, but as mentioned before, Chicago is playing some of their best.
Aside from a few games at the World Championships, Seider has never matched up with a player as talented as Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews. How he approaches defending them will be quite interesting. Does he look to make a statement and get in their face, or does he play it safe and back off?
That will be a story line to follow for sure.
Whats important to remember, however, is Seider is just 18 years old, with very little experience against super star talent. Throw in the fact that this game will be played on North American ice sheets, which are smaller than what he played on in Germany and the World Championships. If things don’t go his way, don’t panic, it’s all apart of the process. Getting the reps and experience is what really matters here.
3. Will the legs be there all game
Not only is this the first real action for most of these players this season, buts it’s also the second half of a back-to-back. While the majority of these players did not participate on Tuesday, the team was still back in Detroit. Take a glance at the Red Wings social media pages and you’ll see the team was also having their morning skate in Detroit. Meaning they most likely arrived in Chicago with a few hours to spare before puck drop.
I’d keep an eye on how head coach Jeff Blashill decides to divide up the minutes. He is not usually one to tolerate a lack of energy during the game.