TRAVERSE CITY -- It's common knowledge that if you have a potent power play, your chances of winning a hockey game significantly increase.
Such was the case Saturday afternoon as Detroit's prospects connected on three power-play goals to defeat the St. Louis Blues prospects, 7-3, before a standing-room crowd at Traverse City's Centre Ice Arena.
The Blues, who lost 6-2 on Friday to Toronto, gave the Red Wings eight opportunities -- including three lengthy 5-on-3 chances -- with the man-advantage and the Wings made St. Louis pay for its unruly play.
Joe Veleno scored two power-play goals; Ryan Kuffner (power play), Gustav Lindstrom, Givani Smith and Chase Pearson all lit the lamp for Detroit.
Filip Zadina doled out three assists and also fired three shots on goal.
Free agent invitee Sean Romeo was in the Wings net and played a solid game, making several key saves when the Blues were their most dangerous in the first period.
After dropping a tough 5-4 overtime decision on Friday night to Chicago, the Wings were able to build off their sound effort against the Blackhawks.
In two games thus far, the Red Wings have notched six power-play goals and have been stingy on the penalty kill. The Blues scored once on their four power-play chances.
With the victory, the Wings improve to 1-0-1, good for second place in the Howe Division. If they defeat the Maple Leafs in regulation on Monday night, they'll win their division and play for the tournament championship against the victor of the Lindsay Division on Tuesday evening.
1. Filip Zadina: Zadina is a pure goal scorer, but he is not a one-dimensional player. He spent the summer in Detroit training with Veleno and a handful of other Wings prospects and he has developed a chemistry with Veleno. He assisted on both of Veleno's power-play goals and also on Lindstrom's tally. It's apparent Zadina is tough on himself and when he finally made the scoresheet, you could sense the self-imposed weight on his shoulders was much lighter by his body language.
Quotable: "I always want to play for the team and play for the other players because it's probably the last year for some of us to play together (in this event), so we just want to win the games, it doesn't matter if I score or pass, I just want to win this tournament and that's why I'm here and trying to help the team. It's tough because I want to be a goal-scorer and score the goals but sometimes it doesn't go the way I want right now, but at least I'm passing the puck well and Joey (Veleno) is taking my part of the job and he's scoring the goals right now. I love to play with him. We're playing good together and it's fun." -- Zadina
Quotable II: "The No. 1 thing, (when) you hear his name (Zadina) you think shooter but his playmaking is really underrated. Playing against him in Halifax, he was both a threat to shoot or pass the puck, five on five or power play, so I've always looked at him as a two-way threat offensively, pass, shoot. He's turning out to be a real good two-way player." -- Veleno
Quotable III: "When Z is playing a simple hockey game and he's not getting frustrated, he's an effective player. He just has to make sure that he's playing a mature game on a consistent basis. He has all the talent in the world. He has a tremendous work ethic. He just has to make sure that he's channeling it in the right direction. He's a young kid. A lot of these young kids get frustrated very easily. It's not easy to play in this tournament, and it's not easy to play in the National Hockey League. It's not easy for an 18, 19-year-old to play in the American Hockey League. Hopefully he's going to use what he learned last year for better or for worse and apply that to moving forward." -- Ben Simon, Grand Rapids Griffins coach and Wings prospect tournament coach
2. Joe Veleno: When Veleno was drafted in the first round, 30th overall, in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, a knock against him was he didn't have an NHL-caliber shot. It was characterized as an accurate shot, but it wasn't hard and the release needed to be quicker. Whether Veleno took the criticism to heart is debatable, but he has shown in the first two games his release is quick and his shot is hard and accurate. He has scored four power-play goals in two games and when the Wings needed a player to emerge against the Blackhawks and Blues, Veleno has been that player. Veleno is determined to make the Red Wings out of training camp and he's making a strong case for himself.
Quotable: "I don't want to say they're (the critics) wrong. I think I've come a long way with my shot. It wasn't something I was terrible at, I just never really shot the puck as often as I do now. So I guess they've never really seen my shot, how hard or how accurate it could be at times. I have more of a shooting mentality and I think that's what I have to do now. I think I've always had a pretty good shot. I don't think it was something I was terrible at. I never really shot the puck, always looked for the passes. As I realize you got to shoot the puck when you get to the next level. You're not always going to make those pretty plays, so just put the puck on net and see what happens." -- Veleno
Quotable II: "Joe's a good player. There's a reason why he was drafted where he was. And there's a reason why he had exceptional status in the Q. And there's a reason why he's on the trajectory of becoming an elite player. He brings a little bit of everything. It's just good for him to have the confidence to play well here so hopefully he brings that into camp and really does a good job in camp using this. He's a student of the game. He cares. He wants to get better. He's made a commitment to himself and his career. He doesn't have a big ego and I think that's a huge thing. He works hard, he goes about his business and he wants to get better every day. You're kind of seeing that. He put in the time in the summer like we said yesterday and it's showing." -- Simon
3. Gustav Lindstrom: This a gigantic year for Lindstrom, the Red Wings second-round pick, 38th overall, in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. A Swede who plays defense with an edge, Lindstrom is playing in North America this upcoming season, which means he'll need to adjust his game to the smaller North American ice surface. But Lindstrom has shown a comfort level in his limited action on the smaller ice. In Saturday's game versus St. Louis, he scored a goal and appeared more at ease than he did Friday against the Blackhawks. With Detroit's blueline corps about to enter a full rebuilding stage, Lindstrom will be counted on to compete for a roster spot in the near future. He does have the talent to be a Red Wing.
Quotable: "I think I played better today than yesterday. This was the two first games of the season, so it's getting better and better. Yesterday was my first game since the World Juniors finals (on smaller ice), so it was kind of long time ago I played on the smaller ice. It's fun to be back on it. I think it fits me well. The timing maybe is not there yet but it's coming. It's getting better. I want to use my body as much as I can. If I have a chance, I want to hit people but I want to make some plays with the puck. I think I'm a two-way defenseman that can play at both ends. Here you have to be a little more faster with the puck and more quick with the puck to make plays. You don't have that much time with the puck that you have in Europe. I got to be faster with the puck. It's easier to play physical here, on the smaller ice." -- Lindstrom
Quotable II: "He can skate. He's a solid hockey player. Again, I've only seen him for three days and two games but again, they've done a great job of drafting here and done a great job of getting some talent in here. Based on what I've seen so far, if he does end up in Grand Rapids, we're going have to grow him as a defenseman on the defensive side of the game and hopefully he'll get some confidence on the offensive side of the game." -- Simon