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Preview: Youthful Red Wings ready to take on Lightning

Seider, Raymond to make NHL debuts as Detroit drops puck against Tampa Bay on Thursday

by Ethan Sears @ethan_sears /

Jeff Blashill brought up how strong Moritz Seider is mentally, so maybe it's not surprising that Seider was the one to bring up Patrik Laine.

Laine, the Columbus Blue Jackets forward, skated a puck into the Detroit Red Wings' zone last week and saw Seider squaring up. With some deft stickwork, he maneuvered it through the young defender, onto net, and finished a highlight-reel goal with Seider to his back.

"Obviously you play against the best players now," Seider said. "And you gotta remember what their moves are. Got exposed by Laine pretty bad in the preseason, so definitely know his moves for next time."

This can be the uglier side of what being a rookie is about. Seider, though, knows how to take positives from it.

"That's something you will learn coming in as a young player," Seider said.

On the eve of his NHL debut, which will come Thursday night when the Red Wings take on the Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 p.m., Bally Sports Detroit), the themes encompassing Seider ran parallel to those surrounding the Red Wings.

Video: Moritz Seider | Practice | 10/13

"My expectations are to get into tomorrow night and make sure that we're playing real good hockey where we're hard to play against," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "That we're gonna check really well, we're gonna be physical, we're gonna have the puck a bunch and we're gonna play with speed and energy."

The Red Wings, who finished 19-27-10 in the shortened 2020-21 season, come into the year looking to take the next step - behind Seider, Lucas Raymond, a healthy Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi, and new signings Pius Suter and Alex Nedeljkovic. After a few tough seasons, you no longer need to squint to see the outlines of a competitive team.

On defense, for example, Blashill called the eight players the Red Wings are fielding the deepest group he's had since becoming the coach. That includes Danny DeKeyser and Marc Staal, who were named alternate captains on Wednesday.

"That depth I think can really help you as you go through the season," Blashill said. "Because nobody's gonna play perfect every night, so somebody else can go in and get the job done and you're gonna have injuries, that's number one. It's not necessarily defined by one area … I think we've got little variants of everything. I think we have some skaters, we have some puck movers, we have some size."

Video: Jeff Blashill | Practice | 10/13

In Seider, who has been paired with Nick Leddy in practices since training camp, the Red Wings are hoping to see growth. Last year, Seider was one of the best defensemen in the Swedish Hockey League, but Blashill made the point throughout the preseason that the NHL features players on a level the SHL simply doesn't have.

"Certainly there is no league like the National Hockey League," Blashill said. "And the challenges are unique. You have to learn as you go. And so he'll have to learn as he goes along."

Case in point: Laine. Or, for that matter, a Tampa Bay roster that features Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point. The Lightning dropped their opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins, 6-2, on Tuesday night. But it will be a tall order facing the team that has won the last two Stanley Cup championships on Thursday.

"You look across and they have Kucherov and Point. Just on those two, you probably got two of the top-10 NHL forwards in the league," Blashill said. "I think in (Ryan) McDonagh and (Victor) Hedman, there's other good players at each of these positions. McDonagh and Hedman, you've got two of the top-10 defensemen in the league in my mind, cause I think McDonagh's probably a top two or three defender in the league.

"I think probably without a whole lot of argument, you got probably one of the best goalies in the league (Andrei Vasilevskiy). With Stamkos, you got one of the best shooters in the league. You have lots of talent."

With a capacity crowd for a regular season game at Little Caesars Arena for the first time since March 2020, there's perspective to keep in mind that goes beyond the game itself.

"It's the excitement of a new year and just a lot of energy around the building and I think it's great," Blashill said. "I think enjoy it is the number one thing. Take it in and enjoy it."

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