NHL rookie stars Raymond, Seider, Zegras on display in Anaheim
The premier rookie talent in the NHL shared the same sheet of the ice Sunday at Anaheim's Honda Center.
Red Wings teammates Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider, who have had a major hand in turning Detroit into a competitive team, were opposite Ducks forward Trevor Zegras for the first time.
Zegras has helped make the Ducks a surprise in the Western Conference. He is in the thick of the Calder Trophy (rookie of the year) discussion with Raymond and Seider.
Nearing the halfway point of the regular season, a strong case can be made for each young player.
Each have put together impressive resumes, and shown they could have long, friutful NHL careers.
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Here's a look at what the three rookies have accomplished:
►Raymond: The forward was NHL rookie of the month in November and has 29 points (10 goals, 19 assists) in 35 games.
He has slowed a bit, with no goals in the last 11 games entering Sunday. But coach Jeff Blashill isn't concerned.
"He's playing on our top line and you're generally going to get the other teams' best defensive players, both up front and on the back end," Blashill said. "He's had that all season. Are teams focusing on him more? They've focused on him all year and when you play on that top line, that's the reality of it.
"I'm not worried about where Lucas' game is at. There's ebb and flow to the season and very early in the season, he had a point total that was almost a point per game that was going to be tough to keep up. I see him still getting chances.
"At his age (19) he's not going to physically dominate games. He's going to improve in that area as he gets stronger and quicker. But he's still getting chances and using his mind and doing a good job and being a real effective two-way player."
►Seider: The defenseman was NHL rookie of the month in October and has been consistent at both ends of the ice.
In 35 games, Seider has 22 points (19 assists, three goals) with an even plus-minus rating.
Just 20 and still growing into his body (6-foot-4, 197 pounds), Seider has shown a physical style most analysts expected to develop as he'd become more comfortable in the NHL after a year or two.
"He's got a definite toughness to him, physicality side to him," Blashill said. "If you search the internet, you'll see a loop of huge Niklas Kronwall-type hits he had last year in the Swedish Hockey League. He has to get stronger and thicker to do that in the National Hockey League still, but he's got that edge to him for sure.
"He can punish people from a physical standpoint, so he definitely has that in him."
►Zegras: The Anaheim rookie played junior hockey in the Plymouth Township-based US National Development Team Program and the 2019 first-round pick has been as productive as advertised.
Zegras was December's NHL rookie of the month.
Zegras, 20, has 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) in 31 games and set the internet on fire last month with arguably the goal of the year. He sent a lacrosse-style pass over the net, with teammate Sonny Milano batting the puck into the cage against the Sabres.
Noted as a creative player, that particular sequence put Zegras' offensive mind on another level.
Last week, Blashill compared the play to what a former Red Wings' legend could have produced.
"That looked like a Pavel Datsyuk play," said Blashill, noting the former Wings' star. "It was a real nice play for a goal and it was certainly creative. It's a hard one to defend."
Road woes continue
If you didn't stay up for Saturday's 4-0 loss in Los Angeles, consider yourself lucky.
The Wings were out-shot 27-2 in the first period, trailed 2-0, and that set the tone for the remainder of the evening.
The Wings fell to 4-11-1 on the road with the dismal loss.
"One thing that jumps out is that we haven't put 60 minutes of hockey together in a long time on the road," forward Dylan Larkin said. "We have to find a way to do that, start to finish."
Larkin said veteran defenseman Marc Staal made an accurate assessment in the locker room after the game.
“Sometimes on the road we go into games and we wait to see what happens,” Larkin said. “We can’t play like that on the road. You have to bring your game to the other team. We come in here and tip our toe in the water."