Tuesday evening’s Red-White scrimmage game gave more than 4,000 fans in Plymouth, Mich. a chance to see their favorite Detroit Red Wings stars paired with members of the Grand Rapids Griffins. The game highlighted some strengths of the team heading into the 2013 NHL season and gave coach Mike Babcock a chance to look at line combinations and defense pairings.
Newcomer Damien Brunner showed that he could be every bit as good as advertised, creating consistent scoring chances and showcasing a chemistry with new Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg. Drew Miller appears to be playing with a lot of confidence and should be poised for a good season. Valtteri Filppula played well and appears to have made a full recovery from his knee injury that he suffered Finland. Carlo Colaiacovo also played the full game and should be ready to go Saturday and Patrick Eaves skated as well but is still awaiting game clearance.
Every time a power play was awarded, Johan Franzen would switch jerseys and plant himself in front of the net, taking on the role of retired Tomas Holmstrom. Several Griffins players made big contributions and will be looked to in case of injuries with the parent club this season.
Trevor Parkes, Jeff Hoggan, Louis-Marc Aubry and Nathan Paetsch were among the Griffins scoring goals while Zetterberg and Miller each scored as well. Jonas Gustavsson outplayed Jimmy Howard for the win, but Howard stood tall in the shootout that followed, allowing no goals on six attempts. Filppula, Todd Bertuzzi and Brendan Smith all beat Gustavsson in their shootout attempts.
It seems the new additions to the Red Wings’ lineup will fit very well, with Brunner, Jordin Tootoo and Gustavsson all adding a spark to the team. With only two practice days left before games begin, hopefully Babcock got a good look at his team and will have them ready for Saturday’s season opener against the St. Louis Blues.