5 Keys to Red Wings’ 2019-20 Season Opener

In just a few short days, the Detroit Red Wings will take the ice against the Nashville Predators for their 2019-20 season opener. After a grueling preseason, the Red Wings are poised to face off against a powerhouse Predators team that’s bound for big things. Newest Nashville signee Matt Duchene will go head-to-head against Detroit’s Dylan Larkin on Saturday, Oct. 5 at the Bridgestone Arena.

The first game of the season will serve as a closer look at how the Red Wings will fare against some of the toughest teams in the NHL. Today, we’ll be looking at the biggest difference-makers on the Red Wings’ roster, fresh faces that have joined the team, and the keys to success the team needs to make their season debut start off strong.

1. The Top Line’s Peak Efficiency

Larkin, Anthony Mantha, and Tyler Bertuzzi’s chemistry became quite apparent during the last quarter of the season, where the trio put up career highs, with hat tricks from Bertuzzi and Mantha. The Red Wings’ top line is fast, efficient, and incredibly lethal in the offensive end.

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With Bertuzzi’s aggressive play on the boards, Larkin’s all-situations play style, and Mantha’s deadly shot, the trio is a veritable Swiss Army knife of offense. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see one or all three of them appear on the score sheet during the season’s opener.

2. New (and Not So New) Faces

General manager Steve Yzerman added a few new faces to the Red Wings’ roster. Former Red Wing Valtteri Filppula made his return alongside Colorado Avalanche defenseman Patrik Nemeth. The duo is bound to serve specialized roles on the team’s roster, with Filppula slotting in as the team’s second-line center and Nemeth anchoring the bottom-four defensive pairings.

Valtteri Filppula - Islanders
Valtteri Filppula is the Red Wings’ newest center. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Additionally, former Tampa Bay Lightning Adam Erne is slotted on the team’s second power play unit. His ability as a bottom-six player, coupled with his net-front presence, should make him well-known right away in Detroit.

3. Taro Hirose’s Emergence

Last year, Michigan State alumni Hirose made his name known on the Red Wings’ roster, scoring 7 points in just 10 games. The energetic winger will look to continue this impressive momentum with his first full season, playing on the second line alongside players like Andreas Athanasiou and Filppula. If he can keep his momentum up, an opportunity to earn a longer contract seems like an inevitability.

4. Dennis Cholowski’s Audition

Last year, Cholowski played with the Red Wings for 52 games, putting up 16 points before serving the remainder of the season with the Grand Rapids Griffins. Last year’s demotion sparked a fire within the talented blueliner, motivating him to fight for a spot on the Red Wings’ roster.

Dennis Cholowski - Red Wings
Dennis Cholowski, Detroit Red Wings – Dec. 18, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Fortunately, his hard work paid off; he’s penciled in for the foreseeable future. If he can start the season off strong in Nashville, he’ll have the opportunity to prove he’s ready for the rigor of a full NHL season.

5. 60 Minutes of Hell

Last year, head coach Jeff Blashill, recognizing the team’s position as a rebuilding roster, coined the term “60 minutes of hell” as the team’s motto for the 2018-19 season. Since then, he’s instilled a competitive drive with the Red Wings through the highs and lows of the season.

Blashill Bylsma Red Wings bench
Coaches Blashill and Bylsma, Detroit Red Wings – Dec. 18, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Whether they’re winning by a wide margin or getting chased out of the building, the team has dedicated themselves to giving each team their all. Through good and bad, the Predators will have 60 minutes of hell to contend with on Saturday.