Detroit took on Toronto at Joe Louis Arena last night in the first of a back-to-back weekend matchup. Leafs fans came in droves to see the first of many heated contests between the two teams. “Always when you play Toronto, it’s going to be a little bit more high-paced than other teams, Zetterberg would say following the game.”
Before the game even started, a “Go-Leafs-Go” chant resounded throughout the stands. It was countered by a “Let’s-Go-Red-Wings” chant at the same time. It wasn’t until about the second period that it sounded more organized than the “Let’s-Go-Leafs-Wings-Go…” mess.
The atmosphere made it seem as if this pre-season game was more than just a meaningless matchup. Both teams iced a lineup of players that will closely resemble their regular season teams.
On his first shift, Daniel Alfredsson, playing against his old rival Toronto for the first time in a Red Wing uniform, was booed loudly by Leafs fans. He would look to silence those same fans later in the game.
The first goal belonged to Detroit, as Joakim Andersson was able to re-direct a shot from defenseman Xavier Ouellet while Daniel Cleary screened Toronto netminder Jonathan Bernier.
A few minutes later, star Leaf Nazem Kadri would tie the game up with a glove-side goal on Jimmy Howard. Mason Raymond and Jake Gardiner assisted.
After Dave Bolland got called for slashing, Detroit nearly scored as a Kronwall-to-Zetterberg-to-Franzen passing sequence fooled Bernier. Franzen parked himself in the crease and was able to put the puck past Bernier, but not quite past the goal line. The Maple Leafs’ defense swept it out of danger just in time.
Alfredsson would have himself a scoring chance late in the first period, but he would miss high on a hard shot.
Todd Bertuzzi and Andersson showed good chemistry in the game, converting tape-to-tape passes and receiving scoring opportunities in return.
The Red Wings, led by Pavel Datsyuk (86%), won 75% of their 16 draws in the first period.
In the first half of the second period, Luke Glendening (who won the Calder Cup with Grand Rapids last season and was recently signed by Detroit) took a big hit from towering defenseman Mark Fraser. However the hit enabled Glendening to then get in position to take a pass and snap it home to make it 2-1. He would earn the praise of his coach Mike Babcock after his strong performance. “Well he’s a good player. He’s smart, he’s another guy like [Joakim Andersson]. You trust him, you don’t worry about him, had him out there every penalty kill right off the get-go. He’ll play for the Red Wings. He’s smart enough and competitive enough and knows how to play good enough. He’ll find a way to play in the NHL.”
Midway through the game, Joffrey Lupul’s skate tied the game on a Nikolai Kulemin shot. Lupul would receive credit for the goal later in the game after it was initially crtedited to Kulemin.
Alfie would have his second chance to burn Bernier soon after. He one-timed a hard slapshot that Bernier somehow snagged in his glove.
David Clarkson, who will begin his 10 game suspension for leaving the bench in a brawl when the regular season kicks off next week , took a big hit by Glendening and was clearly not happy about it. He would later take his anger out in an even fight between him and Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson in the third period.
Detroit would score three more goals that all came on the man-advantage. Their power play quickly became the story of the game. The third goal came on a textbook passing play: Datsyuk to Franzen to Zetterberg to twine. Zetterberg fired a wrister that whizzed right past Bernier with just 42 seconds left in the second.
Alfredsson would get his third chance to drive one home on a third period power play opportunity. While playing the point on the Franzen-Datsyuk-Zetterberg-Alfie-Kronwall team, he blasted a feed from countryman Zetterberg right past the Toronto goalie.
Clarkson would be called for slashing at 12:22, and he would only spend 15 seconds in the box as a result of a Detroit goal. Kronwall shot the puck and Franzen tipped it while once again successfully screening Jonathan Bernier. Alfredsson assisted for his second point of the game.
Zetterberg had nothing but good things to say about Alfie after the game. “He’s been playing so long. He knows where to be. He knows where to shoot. He’s a fun guy to play with.”
Alfredsson, who returned last night from a groin injury that set him back a week and a half, said he felt really good. It was also the first time playing with his linemates Stephen Weiss and Johan Franzen. “I think we all did a good job of getting open and wanting the puck and that’s so important in today’s game,” said Alfredsson. “If you have the puck, the game is so much easier.”
Detroit will play their final pre-season game tonight in Toronto. Game time is 7:00 ET.
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