DETROIT -- Usually during the dog days of the preseason, teams are looking at players that are on the cusp of making the roster.
A few veterans are sprinkled in the lineup, but most players are fighting to make one lasting impression on their management team and coaching staffs.
Friday night at Little Caesars Arena, the Red Wings and Maple Leafs dressed many of their best players, which resulted in a competitive hockey game with a regular season vibe.
A few weeks ago, Detroit coach Jeff Blashill and Toronto coach Mike Babcock made the decision to have many of their best players go head-to-head against each other to get a barometer of where each team stood going against top notch competition.
Toronto defeated the Wings 4-2, with Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and Leo Komarov (empty net) scoring for Toronto. Gustav Nyquist and Luke Glendening scored for Detroit. Nyquist's goal was set up on a nifty pass from Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg.
With the loss, the Wings drop to 2-4-1 on the preseason. Detroit will close out its preseason schedule Saturday night in Toronto against the Leafs at the Ricoh Coliseum.
1. Joe Hicketts: Defenseman Joe Hicketts played in his third preseason game on Friday and was second on the Wings in total ice time behind Mike Green, logging 20:14. He led Detroit in shots with five and in hits with five. In his three preseason games, the 5-foot-8, 180 pound Hicketts has three assists and is an even player. Since training camp in Traverse City, Hicketts has continued to play a solid game at both ends of the ice, which has impressed Detroit's hierarchy.
Quotable: "I thought once I settled in after the first couple of shifts, I was good. We had a really veteran lineup in here that was kind of helping me along and playing with X (Xavier Ouellet) was really easy to try and make that transition to NHL pace and NHL games. I'm happy with how I performed and hopefully it's enough to keep me here for a bit. The first shift I forgot what side I was playing so I was all over the place. Once I kind of figured it out, it's not necessarily guys are faster, guys are in position and guys are on you quicker. I think at that point things were starting to come a little more comfortable to me and I thought that's when I really found my game." - Hicketts
2. Luke Glendening: If the Red Wings are going to reverse their fortunes of last season, they will need to find secondary scoring from their forward corps. Glendening is a player known to be a pest on the ice, but if he can chip in the odd goal or two, it would improve the Wings' chances to once again be in the mix for a playoff berth. Against the Leafs, Glendening scored a nice goal, following up his own shot and firing the puck past Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen. Glendening is never going to win the Art Ross Trophy, but the Wings are counting on him to occasionally contribute offensively.
Quotable: "We've talked lots about scoring dirty and Luke can do that. He's done it in the NHL, I've seen him do it in the American League. It was good for him to score. Anytime you score you feel good about yourself. It's a grind-type way that he's going to score, it's not going to necessarily be pretty, Luke's got a pretty good ability to handle (his) minutes and find a way to be impactful and I think every preseason game he's been impactful, either with physicality, forechecking pressure, grind and then on the penalty kill." - Blashill
3. Mike Babcock on Little Caesars Arena: For 10 years Babcock was Detroit's bench boss at Joe Louis Arena. Many times over the course of his tenure with the Wings you could find Babcock jogging along the Detroit River, soaking up the Motown environment. Babcock enjoyed his time in Detroit and was a big fan of the Joe, despite some of its deficiencies. On Friday, Babcock coached his first game at Little Caesars Arena and his impressions of the Wings new home were a bit incomplete.
Quotable: "Obviously outstanding. I came down here a few times near the end of summer, so I had a chance to look around the building. When we play here during the year and come in for a morning skate, I'll get a chance to look around but it looks spectacular. Mr. I (Mike Ilitch), anybody who knows him, everything he did in his life was first class. It was all about Detroit and making Detroit a better place to live. I'm glad to see a lot of people from the old building over here working. The town has been revitalized. Between him and Dan Gilbert, they've done an unbelievable job." - Babcock
Quotable II: "It's a fantastic facility. But there sure is a lot of red." - Matthews