SUNRISE, FLA. - The Red Wings knew that the season-opening trip would be a challenge against two of the best teams in the Atlantic Division in Tampa Bay and Florida and now they know where they need to improve.
The Panthers, who won the division last year with 103 points, have not let injuries to Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad slow them down, beating the Wings 4-1 to open their season 2-0 while the Wings fell to 0-2.
1. Petr Mrazek: Despite the 6-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the season opener, Wings coach Jeff Blashill said Mrazek was not to blame. Against the Florida Panthers, Mrazek had to be pretty spectacular as the Panthers were on the attack. Florida outshot Detroit 38-22. Mrazek stopped Florida defenseman Michael Matheson five times, including a couple of good chances midway through the first. He also faced several odd-man rushes and was up to that challenge. Two of the 10 goals allowed have come when Mrazek was out of the net for the extra attacker.
Quotable: "Petr was great. He was on on Thursday as well. That's two nights he's been on that we've kind of wasted his performance a little bit. Our focus is testing ourselves against teams, measuring ourselves, getting to work and getting better, so we're going to have to get better Monday morning and be ready to play Monday night." - Wings coach Jeff Blashill
2. Darren Helm : Helm scored his first goal of the season late in the first period when he went to the front of the net and collected Gustav Nyquist's pass and buried it past Florida goaltender Roberto Luongo at 13:07. Helm's line with Nyquist and Thomas Vanek has been the most effective in the first couple of games. Helm has a goal and an assist, Nyquist has two assists and Vanek has two goals.
Quotable: "Helm I think for two games in a row has been on it for sure. I thought Nyquist was pretty good overall. I thought Vanek had moments of good. But we obviously need more than that. We need, top to bottom, to be better. some of that starts with getting out of your zone. That puts onus on us as a team to do a better job getting it out of our zone so you're not just getting it in and changing. You got to be fresh when you're playing in the O-zone." - Blashill
3. Defense: It's not just that the Wings have given up 10 goals in the first two game, two of them empty-netters, it's the way it's happened. Both the Lightning, after the first period, and the Panthers have managed to gain the Wings' zone and spend plenty of time there once they're in.
Quotable: "We've let way too many guys in behind us for no reason. We've given up opportunities, breakaways, outnumbered rushes for no reason. We got to be way smarter about being able to be on the attack and yet not give up opportunities. We're a team that's always been pretty good about having our D down the walls, keeping pucks in, keeping pucks out in the O-zone, so you have more O-zone time. But we've let so many guys behind us that I thought our D played tentative on the O-zone blue line. Our gaps were loose and then we're in our end too much. I between letting guys behind us and just as a group making some mental mistakes we got to do better." - Blashill