Patience pays off for Red Wings' Evgeny Svechnikov with big offensive night
Evgeny Svechnikov could have done a number of things.
Get angry, pout about being demoted again, ask about possibly moving to another team.
After being waived — no team claimed Svechnikov — and ultimately sent to minor league affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins, the 2015 first-round pick probably had reason to be disappointed.
Would Svechnikov ever get another chance in the Red Wings’ organization?
Svechnikov took a “patient” approach.
“I stuck with it and I was hoping and I knew the chance would come,” said Svechnikov late Saturday night, after scoring a goal and assisting on another, in the Wings’ 5-3 victory in Chicago. “I was getting ready.”
Svechnikov’s first game in the NHL this season couldn’t have been scripted better. Svechnikov provided needed offense, the Wings’ won their second consecutive game for the first time this season, and all this occurred just a week after the death of Svechnikov’s good friend, Wings’ masseur Sergei Tchekmarev.
“He was close to Cheekah (Tchekmarev),” coach Jeff Blashill said. “It meant a lot to him. It was important to him.”
Blashill has often talked about prospects, when they arrive on the NHL scene, to grab hold of an opportunity when it arrives.
Saturday, Svechnikov certainly earned another look, to be sure.
“He did a good job,” Blashill said. “I have a lot of time for him as a person, he’s a great human being. He works so hard.”
There was obviously a chance the Wings were going to lose Svechnikov for nothing in return when they placed him on waivers in January.
But the Wings gambled, correctly as it turned out, that Svechnikov’s injury history — most recently losing the 2018-19 season entirely to a torn ACL — would scare off teams.
Svechnikov would have accepted anything that came his way but was pleased to remain a Wing.
“Anything can happen, it was not in my control or their control,” said Svechnikov about the waiver process. “But I’m happy I (remained) here and I went down there (Grand Rapids) for a couple weeks and it was tough, but I stayed patient and played well.
“I did not know about it (being inserted into Saturday’s lineup) but as a hockey player you just stay ready. I was preparing myself every day for any chance.”
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Linemate Frans Nielsen, who assisted on Svechnikov’s goal and then saw Svechnikov set Nielsen up for a goal, was happy to see Svechnikov earn success.
“He’s such a good kid, he comes in every day and works so hard,” Nielsen said. “He deserves everything. I’m so happy for him, and hopefully, this is a little breakthrough for him so he can stick around a little bit.
“I see first-hand how hard he works in the summer. I don’t think anyone in here works harder than he does and wants this more than him. To see him come into camps and get injured and lose long times (to injury), I’m just so happy for him to see him back.
“He does have a lot of skill. He has one of the best shots on the team for sure, it's very quick and reminds me of his brother (Carolina’s Andrei Svechnikov) so he has a lot of tools. Hopefully, this is a confidence builder for him”
Long time coming
Nielsen was another unexpected feel-good story during Saturday's victory.
The goal and assist from Nielsen, against the Blackhawks came approximately a week since Nielsen, too, was waived and went unclaimed, and the veteran has found himself in and out of the lineup.
The Wings waived Nielsen more for the flexibility to place him on the taxi squad, when needed. But in all, this hasn't been an easy season for Nielsen, an alternate captain and of the unquestioned leaders on this roster.
"You want to play as much as you can, but I've had talks with Blash this season and he's been honest with me," Nielsen said. "I kind of knew I wouldn't play every single game this year, so be to be honest, I'm coming in every day and just trying to work hard as I can and be a great teammate and be positive. Every time you play, you just go out there and work your best, and hopefully, it's good enough to stay in the lineup.
"It's always nice (to score goals). A little longer between (goals, a full calendar year), but it's always fun. I know I have to do different things to stay in the lineup and be solid in different ways. But you need goals from everyone throughout the lineup, that's been an issue, so it's always nice when you get one (a goal)."
The Wings were without forward Dylan Larkin (upper body) for a second consecutive game. Larkin was hurt on a collision Thursday with Nashville's Ben Harpur.
... Larkin joined forward, and linemate, Tyler Betuzzi (upper body) as unavailable to play. Bertuzzi last played on Jan. 30 in Florida, and missed the entire month of February to the undisclosed injury.
...The back-to-back five-goal games (Thursday, Saturday) were the first time the Wings scored five or more goals in consecutive games since Dec. 4 and Dec. 6, 2018.