The Red Wings open the season against Stanley Cup Champion and opening day losers Tampa Bay Lightning
The 2021-22 season begins tonight at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit when a new-look Red Wings squad faces the back-to-back Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning. The Red Wings have eight new faces on the roster. Of these new players, two are first-round picks making their NHL debut.
All eyes will be on the sixth pick of the 2019 draft Moritz Seider and the 2020 4th pick Lucas Raymond as they make their NHL debuts. While Seider was expected to be in the lineup, Raymond earned his spot with a strong performance during preseason.
The young guns will face a tough test as the Lightning come to town after losing their opening night, banner raising, and ESPN returning game to the Pittsburgh Penguins. They will look to return to form and come out storming as they hope to ruin the Red Wings opening night.
Here are the projected lineups:
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning are 11-16-1 all-time in road openers and are hoping to avoid starting the season with two straight losses. Unfortunately, a reunion of brothers will have to wait as Gemel Smith, brother of Red Wings forward Givani, is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury.
The team is without Cal Foote on the defense as he had surgery to repair a tendon in his finger. The Salary Cap, Expansion Draft, and Free Agency have made the Lightning roster a little different. That being said, they still are stacked with some of the best talents in every position. They can be deadly at any moment and will put the Red Wings to the test from the start.
Ondrej Palat – Brayden Point – Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn – Anthony Cirelli – Steven Stamkos
Pat Maroon – Ross Colton –Corey Perry
Mathieu Joseph – Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Taylor Raddysh
Victor Hedman –Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh – Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev – Zach Bogosian
Detroit Red Wings
It’s the newcomers that take center stage tonight with the rookies leading the way. The excitement of Raymond and Seider is warranted, but what might be lost in the excitement is how much of a difference the likes of Pius Suter, Mitchell Stephens, Nick Leddy, and Alex Nedeljkovic might make.
After what seemed like a long action-packed offseason, we finally get to see this team in a game. The forward lines have been set since preseason began apart from the fourth line and Raymond earning a top-line role in the absence of Jakub Vrana who is out for four months due to shoulder surgery.
Givani Smith and Sam Gagner were able to beat out a number of competitors to round out the lineup, with Stephens providing a strong two-way presence at center. The success of the team will likely come down to the middle six. Robby Fabbri, Pius Suter, and Filip Zadina need to provide scoring. While Vladislav Namestnikov, Michael Rasmussen, and Adam Erne look to grind by providing solid physical play, preferably in the offensive zone.
Tyler Bertuzzi – Dylan Larkin – Lucas Raymond
Robby Fabbri – Pius Suter – Filip Zadina
Vladislav Namestnikov – Michael Rasmussen – Adam Erne
Givani Smith – Mitchell Stephens – Sam Gagner
On the back end, the Red Wings have plenty of familiar faces returning to the lineup but the new faces are likely to change the roles for everyone. The addition of Leddy and Seider dramatically changes the workload for all three pairs and even changes the style of play. Both have the ability to win puck battles, move the puck up the ice quickly, and pass with remarkable efficiency.
Hopefully, the downstream effect is that the remaining defenseman will have more room to add teams. Teams will not be able to pressure the defense down low as much if the forwards can spread out and be more effective with outlet passes.
Danny DeKeyser – Filip Hronek
Nick Leddy – Moritz Seider
Marc Staal – Troy Stecher
General Manager Steve Yzerman made the decision to go with eight defensemen on the roster, which will make projecting the lineups very difficult. However, Jordan Oesterle and Gustav Lindstrom have had their preseason moments that make it likely to be in a rotation on the third pair.
By all indications, the Red Wings will go with a platoon approach rotating each goalie. Getting equal time will take place until one takes hold of the starter spot. This also allows for each goalie to stay fresh if one gets injured. Calvin Pickard is currently in Grand Rapids and would likely be the backup in the event that happens.
Nedeljikovic was the first goalie off the ice this morning which indicates he is the starter for the home opener tonight.
The Red Wings open the season with a formidable and likely angry opponent tonight. It’s a great way to get a first look at this new and hopefully improved roster. Puck drop will take place at 6:30 pm central time and can be seen on ESPN plus.