By @StefanKubus –
It was the big day.
And the home team breaking it in gave it the perfect christening.
The Red Wings exploded for four goals in the second period to ultimately propel them to a 5-1 victory over the Boston Bruins in the first-ever game at Little Caesars Arena Saturday night.
Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill sat down for his first post-game press conference in a room dedicated just to that. Before addressing his team’s game, Blashill started off with a brief thought on the new building.
“This is way better.”
As for his team’s performance, Blashill’s statement on the new building also qualifies compared to his team’s effort Thursday in Chicago.
“I thought the first was just OK, but I thought in the second – we talked about being relentless with our pressure and if we’re gonna make mistakes just make them out of pressure, and I thought we did a great job of that,” Blashill said. “Obviously we dressed a real strong lineup. They’re obviously missing some real good player, so that’s always something you’ve got to take into account.
“We’re trying to cement a foundation and an identity. Part of that identity is being relentless and part of that identity is being fast. And I thought we were both those things in the second. I thought we were on top of them and then coming out of our zone we were real fast, we got in behind them.”
Frans Nielsen scored twice and Darren Helm added one, but despite it being a preseason game, it’s Martin Frk who will go down as the answer to the trivia question, “Who scored the Red Wings’ first goal at Little Caesars Arena?”
Frk finished off a passing play with Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin at 14:29 of the second period to even the game up at one aside.
“I know I score quite a lot of goals in Grand Rapids, but I don’t think it’s just about that,” Frk said. “I think it’s about what I can do when I’m not with the puck, when they lock us in our zone. I need to know what I have to do there, which that will help me to make this team, so overall to be very good, pay attention, do every details Coach Blashill wants me to do, do it great and hopefully I will have some chance to make it.”
“It’s still a lot of games, a couple guys are out with injury right now so we will see when they get healthy and how it goes.”
Blashill said there are a couple roster spots still available and that Frk’s efforts Saturday night made a strong impression.
“It’s a good shot, eh? He’s got a weapon, it’s a flat-out weapon,” Blashill said of Frk. “I thought he really found his comfort level in the second, especially on the power play. I thought he was just much more confident and comfortable and it’s an absolute weapon. When he hits the net, one of two things happen: it’s either a great rebound chance or it’s in the net. It’s a good a shot as there is out there I believe. So he did the things he needs to do to show he wants the job. I think there’s a spot open and he certainly made a good case for himself tonight.”
Washington Township, Mich. native Austin Czarnik scored the game’s first goal – and the arena’s first goal – in the opening frame for his Bruins.
Nielsen then scored his pair to give the Wings a two-goal advantage. The Danish forward then assisted on Helm’s second of the preseason to make it a 4-1 game.
Frk added his second of the game early in the third period to cap off the scoring on a full, two-minute 5-on-3 power play.
Howard remained steady in the crease to help lift the Wings to the win in their new home.