Young Detroit Red Wings continue to make plays as decisions loom

Detroit — Organizations, or coaching staffs, like the idea of ​​having to make difficult lineup or roster choices.

Often, it means there are more quality players than there are spots in the lineup.

The Wings, it appears, are going to have to make some awfully tough ones in the days ahead.

It’s going to be difficult because young players such as Jonatan Berggren, Elmer Soderblom and Joe Veleno are showing by the game they deserve to be in the NHL. All three were noticeable and were on the scoresheet during Saturday’s 4-2 victory over Ottawa.

But veterans such as Jakub Vrana (NHL/NHLPA players assistance program) and Robby Fabbri (knee surgery) could be ready to return to the lineup as early as Wednesday. Tyler Bertuzzi (hand) and Filip Zadina (foot) both will not be far behind, maybe in another week or two.

All are good players. But not necessarily everyone, obviously, can play. There are only so many roster and lineup spots.

All of which makes the decisions even more difficult for general manager Steve Yzerman and coach Derek Lalonde at some point this week.

Soderblom, set up by Veleno, scored the eventual game-winning goal. Both have, rather quietly, strung together point streaks of six games (Soderblom with three goals and three assists, Veleno with two goals and four assists). Soderblom supplies some size to the lineup, while Veleno is adding some consistent offense to steady defense.

More: With injured Red Wings returning, difficult roster decisions looming

Berggren assisted on Lucas Raymond’s game-tying goal, and has four points (one goal, three assists) in the last five games. Berggren has 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in his 22 games, and has shown the ability to make plays from his first NHL game.

“Those guys made big plays,” Lalonde said. “Berggren made a really sneaky play on the half-wall on Razor’s (Raymond) goal to get the puck to the point. Obviously Elmer finishing (on Soderblom’s goal). When those guys are going it felt like we had four lines going. It felt deep tonight. Very impressive.”

Michael Rasmussen, who ended the three-goal barrage in 1 minute 55 seconds in the third period, stripping goaltender Cam Talbot of the puck behind the net for an easy wraparound, has been impressed by the Wings’ youth brigade.

“Those guys have been playing really hard for us and have really made some big plays in the last little bit here,” Rasmussen said.

But it’s not just offensively, Rasmussen said.

“Everyone wants to contribute (offensively), but it’s good to see those guys contributing away from the puck, in the defensive zone, they’re blocking shots,” Rasmussen said. “Joe had a big block in the third. Berggy’s winning battles all over the place, and Sodes gets a big goal.”

Soderblom, Berggren and Veleno, any of the three, can be sent to Grand Rapids without threat of losing them on waivers.

Vrana, incidentally, ended his three-game conditioning stint Saturday in Grand Rapids in a 4-2 loss to Milwaukee. Vrana didn’t register a point during the three games, but Saturday he did have seven shots on net.

Eventful night

For Raymond, Saturday’s game had all sorts of emotions attached to it.

Raymond had family in town from Sweden, so that was fun.

“They don’t get to watch a lot of games back home (because of the time difference),” said Raymond, who added his mother, who was in Detroit also, usually doesn’t like watching on television anyway. “My mom’s too scared to watch.”

What they all saw was Raymond scoring on a nifty deflection of Olli Maatta‘s point shot, tying the game, and just after Raymond spent nearly six minutes in the penalty box late in the second period, including a four-minute high-sticking penalty.

“Tough spot,” Raymond said of sitting in the penalty box. “We got our PK (penalty kill) to thank a lot for that. It’s never fun to sit in that box, (but it was a) huge kill. We built momentum from that.”

Lalonde felt Raymond was “unlucky” with the penalties.

“They were penalties, but those weren’t bad penalties, something as a staff that we’d be upset at,” Lalonde said.

Ice chips

Saturday’s victory was the Wings’ third multi-goal comeback win this season. Only Los Angeles and Chicago have more, with four each.

It was also the Wings’ first victory against Ottawa since Jan. 10, 2020, ending a five-game winless streak (0-4-1).

… With his assist on Raymond’s goal, Maatta has 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) this season in 31 games. In his last two seasons with Los Angeles, Maatta had one goal and 11 assists (12 points) in 107 games.

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Twitter: @tkulfan

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