I’m a little late to this party, and some of the following things to watch have been mentioned by our friends at Nightmare on Helm Street, but the roster has been set for tonight’s pre-season game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Per Khan:
Johan Franzen — Pavel Datsyuk — Tomas Holmstrom
Kris Draper — Justin Abdelkader — Patrick Eaves
Mattias Ritola — Kris Newbury — Jan Mursak*
Johan Ryno — Cory Emmerton — Jeremy Williams
*Jan Mursak was a late scratch. He was replaced by Jamie Tardif.
Derek Meech — Brian Rafalski
Jonathan Ericsson — Andy Delmore
Yeah, it’s just the pre-season, but there is plenty at stake. Things to keep in mind:
1. It should be interesting to see how that new top line clicks.
2. Justin Abdelkader is the assumed replacement until Darren Helm can get back into the lineup, but it’s clear that there’s a battle for fourth line minutes once the regular season starts. Maltby, Helm, Draper, and Eaves have been the de-facto guys at the bottom of the roster on everyone’s depth chart, but there are whispers that Kris Newbury and Jeremy Williams might make themselves factors. We’ll see about that…
3. Speaking of Abdelkader, this is his best shot to make it difficult for the Wings to demote him…
4. Speaking of EAVES, this is our first chance to see where his confidence is and how wearing the winged wheel will boost it.
5. Mattias Ritola is expected to get some calls during the season, so I assume they’ll be giving him a good look.
6. Ryno is beginning to ascent back up the depth chart, after nearly making the team a few seasons ago.
7. Jan Mursak disappointed last season in Grand Rapids. He’s got a long climb ahead of him, but a good showing in pre-season could go a long way.
8. What does it say about Jakub Kindl if Uncle Mike is pairing him with Nick Lidstrom? Even just for the pre-season? They expect huge things from him in the future.
9. Mike Mouat of the Detroit Examiner claimed there might be a spot on the team for Andy Delmore – in lieu of Derek Meech. I’m not so sure, but no one can argue they won’t be watched shift-by-shift tonight. Important time for Meech.
10. Make no mistake: the goaltending should be the focus tonight. Howard and Larsson are set to split time this evening and exactly zero people are excited about Jimmy Howard. I feel like Daniel Larsson could position himself to make the Red Wings think twice about their goaltending situation heading into the season. And you heard it here first: I think Daniel Larsson gets in one of the Sweden games to open the regular season. Just sayin’…