Originally written on The Detroit Sports Site  |  Last updated 10/18/14
Brunner’s quick adaptation to the NHL has been a pleasant surprise for the Red Wings. In recent months, I’ll admit, I’ve been a bit harsh on Detroit Red Wings’ general manager Ken Holland. For this, I’ve taken plenty of flack. Hey, I just ask the questions around here while constantly having an opinion, no matter how unpopular it might seem at times. We’ll take a break from all that for a second, though, and give him some credit where it’s certainly due. Though it’s early in a shortened season, Holland and his staff might have unearthed another one of their patented big discoveries overseas, even if he’s small. He’s 5’11″and from Zurich. He weighs 184 pounds (likely soaking wet) and is providing a tangible immediate impact. It’s Damien Brunner I’m speaking of, and with a hot start, he’s caught my grandmother’s eye, even if she doesn’t know how to pronounce his last name. “Who’s this new guy, Bru-en-er?” she asked me today. “You know, just watch out for him, he’s going to be a good one I think. What do you know about him?” This is the woman who literally grew up within the shadow of Olympia Stadium watching Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Sid Abel and Terry Sawchuk. Even though the game has changed, she still knows her hockey talent when she sees it. I proceeded to tell her everything I just told you, while adding in that Brunner had already scored six goals thus far this season, which was only five off the league lead pace of 11. I also made sure to inform her that at age 26, he was already skating with the likes of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg without missing much of a beat. That’s certainly good company for a young man to keep. “Zetterberg, he’s usually pretty quiet, but I heard him say Brunner was talented. That’s quite an endorsement,” grandma recanted. I told you she knows her hockey. In fact, after watching Brunner against Los Angeles this weekend, she’s right about watching out for the kid. He’s got a wicked shot, crafty speed and deft hands. Perhaps his most impressive asset is his ability to not seem overmatched just 12 games into his NHL career. Sometimes, even the most seasoned veterans or finely trained amateurs need time to adjust to the speed of the highest level. Since day one, Brunner has looked like he belongs. He’s thriving in the world’s toughest, speediest game and not getting in the way while playing alongside some of the best. His game has provided the Red Wings’ top six with some additional play making bite at exactly the right time. This rookie, though his signing didn’t make many front page headlines, is proving to be one of the most valuable pre-lockout roster maneuvers. When there’s an economic climate, teams need to hope they can get lucky and find someone outstanding for a cheap price. The Red Wings have long been masters at this, dating back to their discovery of Daysuk in Russia and Zetterberg and countless others in Sweden. Now, it’s even becoming obvious to old ladies that they have mined some serious gold from the Swiss Alps. “What about Jordin Tootoo? He’s getting into all these fights and playing dirty! He’s going to be the next Ted Lindsay, don’t you think?” Well, grandma knows her hockey most of the time. I had to set her straight. Tootoo has roughly 330 goals to go before he even threatens to skate in Lindsay’s shadow. Despite that, she’s still dead on with her assessment of Brunner. He’s Hockeytown grandma approved. Quite an early accomplishment, I’d say. Play Of The Week: Detroit’s clutch 5 on 3 kill against Edmonton. With the game on the line Saturday afternoon, the Red Wings banded together and managed to kill a terrible man advantage from their perspective. The kill featured plenty of fantastic individual efforts, great goaltending and spectacular team play. Special teams had been a problem for the Red Wings early in the year, but in both weekend games, their penalty kill and power play were dominant. Truly, momentum should have been gained from this performance and a corner turned. Game Of The Week: Anaheim at Detroit, Friday. No, this isn’t the Ducks against the Red Wings circa 2007, 2008 or 2009, but this match up should still prove very intriguing. Anaheim scored a shootout win in Chicago Tuesday night with some excellent play, and the Red Wings have been rolling along at home. It’s always fun to watch Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf and Cory Perry. Detroit will want to stay hot against their Western Conference foes, making this game another pivotal one. Stat Of The Week: 20:41, the amount of ice time that rookie defenseman Brian Lashoff registered in Sunday’s win against Los Angeles. With some steady play, Lashoff is quietly gaining the confidence of Mike Babcock and the staff, and he’s remaining on the ice during key moments as well. Though he was -1, the fact Lashoff logged this much ice time and fared well can only be seen as a positive. He’s coming along better and better as each game passes. Perhaps this number will go up even more as the weeks drag on. Dead Wings Doghouse: Nobody. Finally, we don’t have to put anyone in the doghouse after a solid week. The goaltending has been decently solid, there was plenty of scoring, special teams was excellent and the Red Wings enjoyed contributions from younger players. Temporarily, life is good. Central Charting: With 16 points, the Red Wings remain in third place behind Chicago and tied with Nashville and very much in the thick of things. The Blackhawks have 23 points while the Predators have 16. Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

World Series: Game One live blog

Lance Briggs left Bears' locker room to avoid the fighting

Could the Seahawks have gotten more for Percy Harvin?

Five storylines to watch in the 2014 World Series

Favre delays Lambeau return due to Bart Starr’s health

Cowboys release Michael Sam from practice squad

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Fan in critical condition after being beaten before Bears game

Ben Roethlisberger rips the media

Tim Tebow: Gators don't have offensive leadership, lack heart

Colts punter asks Antonio Brown not to kick him in face

NFL: Luke Kuechly should not have been ejected

Report: Okla. St. players fell asleep in drive-thru, arrested

Report: Ray Rice files grievance against Ravens

UEFA Champions League midway report: Groups E – H

PHOTO: Fans place Manning’s 509 football in Hall of Fame

Jets sign Jeremy Kerley to $16M 4-year extension

10 teams that should try to trade for Yoenis Cespedes

Lego stadiums: turning a childhood hobby into a business

Bayless: Kobe's sexual assault trial gave him 'edge' and 'sizzle'

Blackhawks make leukemia patient's dream come true

College football's post-Week 8 Playoff projection

Ortiz surprised military families with World Series tickets

NFL Power Rankings Week 7

Floyd Mayweather posts photo evidence of a lost bet

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Rice files grievance against Ravens

UEFA Champions League midway report

World Series: Game One live blog

Cowboys release Michael Sam

Bayless: Kobe's sexual assault trial gave him 'edge'

10 teams that should try to trade for Yoenis Cespedes

Five storylines to watch in the 2014 World Series

Ben Roethlisberger rips media

NFL Power Rankings Week 7

Pistorius sentenced to five years

Lane Kiffin trashed in political ad

Details of War Machine's suicide letter leaked

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.