TRAVERSE CITY – The time for chemistry building for the Wings’ second line has been put on pause for the time being.
Johan Franzen is sidelined with a hip flexor that will keep him out of Tuesday night’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
“We’re just being cautious,” Franzen said in the Wings’ locker room. “It felt bad after (Monday’s) skate. I hoped it was going to get better, but it kind of got worse.”
The Wings have a planned day off Wednesday, which they’re hoping will be all the time Franzen needs in order for the pain to subside and allow him to get back on the ice.
“All hockey players have problems with their hips a few times every year, usually gets something with your hip flexor,” Franzen said. “I didn’t tear anything or sprain anything it’s just getting a little tight so we’re going to try and get it to settle down before something really gets bad.”
A hip flexor sidelined Franzen two games last year as well.
“I wish I could play a game,” Franzen said. “You need to get these games in. We have more games coming up hopefully I can play the next one.”
Franzen was hoping to find some chemistry beginning Tuesday night with his new linemates – Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss.
The line accounted for one goal over those three games.
“It’ll be better when we start playing games,” Franzen said Monday. “All we’ve had is practices right now. We’ll see when we start playing.
“They’re good smart guys with good hands,” Franzen added. “We’ll figure it out quick.”
Wings coach Mike Babcock hasn’t liked what he has seen so far from his second line.
“Mule, Alfredsson and Weiss still are a wok-in-progress,” Babcock said on Sunday. “I might need to change that around. We’ll know that in a little while, for sure. We have a lot of players and we have to play 40 guys over the first two games and then at that time I’ll know a little bit more.”
If it doesn’t come around a juggling of lines may occur.
“They’ve got to be better than that,” Babcock said.
Alfredsson and Weiss were Detroit’s two major free agency signings.
Alfredsson, 40, is one of the more creative wingers in the league and still has a fantastic shot.
“I don’t think we’ve lit anything on fire so far,” Alfredsson said. “It’s just a process. I’m sure with a few new people, and for the coaching staff as well, (we’re) just seeing where everyone fits in.”
Weiss was the playmaking center the Wings coveted when Valtteri Filppula priced himself out of their plans.
“They’re really great players so it’s not that difficult, but trying to do it in a new system can be a little bit tough at times especially playing against your own teammates that know exactly where you’re going and what you’re trying to do,” Weiss said. “We’ll get better as we go here.”
The club was hoping those two would help Franzen become a more consistent offensive threat.
“I look to run the offense,” Weiss said. “Whether that’s driving the middle and kicking it out and going to the net or being the shooter or whatever. We have to score some goals and help out the top guys that way. Whether that’s 5-on-5 or power play, we have to find a way to be productive offensively.”