The Detroit Red Wings’ regular season has yet to begin, but the team has already given fans a lot to look forward to.
Petr Mrazek has looked solid in goal; the line of Henrik Zetterberg, Justin Abdelkader and Gustav Nyquist appears to be in mid-season form; Johan Franzen has been cleared to play; and Tomas Tatar looks like he picked up right where he left off last season.
Tatar, who led the team with 29 goals last year, recorded a hat trick in Wednesday’s 4-1 victory over Chicago.
But after a successful 2014-15 season, Tatar’s offensive production is almost expected. The surprising part of the game was the obvious chemistry between Tatar and one of his new linemates: newcomer Brad Richards.
Richards assisted on all three of Tatar’s goals, and the two appear to be meshing well early in the preseason schedule.
“He’s a really smart player,” Tatar said of Richards. “I knew I’m going to have fun with him, and I hope we stay healthy and play together.”
So far, Richards is having fun playing with Tatar. The 11-year difference between the two players doesn’t seem to be an issue. As a veteran, Richards knows it’s not possible for players to score just from the perimeter anymore, and he admires Tatar’s ability to get to the net and make plays in a variety of situations.
“He knows how to score, I like that,” Richards said. “He finds ways to score.”
Tatar scored his first goal on a give-and-go from Richards. Tatar, 24, scored his second goal going to the net and scooping up a rebound on Richards’ shot. The third goal came after the Blackhawks pulled their goaltender with just 1:34 remaining in the game.
While it was exciting to see the chemistry built between the two teammates, it’s uncertain whether Tatar and Richards will continue to skate on the same line. Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill will keep juggling lines and combinations throughout the preseason as he builds his new team.
“They seem to be playing good,” Blashill said. “They’re two real skilled players, and they like to play a skilled game. They like to make plays, which I’m good with as long as we’re limiting the turnovers. There’s definitely chemistry developing there.”
As one of the new players in the dressing room, Richards is just happy he’s been able to make quality plays while transitioning into the Red Wings organization.
“Anytime you put a jersey on, it’s important,” Richards said. “You have to build yourself up so you don’t get injured. You gotta build chemistry. Being new here you want to get out and try to be on a good note going into the season.”
If Tatar and Richards continue working together like they did in Wednesday’s victory over the Blackhawks, there’s no doubt that they’ll be a duo to watch this season.