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Babcock puts Nyquist back on the top power play unit

DETROIT >> Quick update from Wings practice Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena before they fly out to Washington for a game against the Capitals Wednesday.

Wings coach Mike Babcock kept the same lines together he ended with in the loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.

Babcock wouldn’t confirm after if that would be the lineup he would be going with or not Wednesday.

Jimmy Howard did say he was starting in goal.

Johan Franzen (groin), Stephen Weiss, Daniel Cleary each skated in gray.

The Wings made one minor change to the power play, moving Gustav Nyquist back up with the top unit and Tomas Jurco moved to the second group.

“We changed it back, just trying to switch things around,” Nyquist said. “We haven’t been scoring. My jobs are a little different on both units. Now I’m with Hank and Pav and I’m going to be the guy in the middle, trying to retrieve a lot of pucks and get the puck back to those guys for them to make plays and obviously be ready to shoot when I get in the middle.”

Babcock had moved Nyquist down with Riley Sheahan, Tomas Tatar, Andrej Nestrasil and Danny DeKeyser so he would be able to shoot the puck more.

“We all have to have different jobs on the power play, obviously, but we want to work together at the same time,” Nyquist said. “As a power play we can be interchangeable and stuff like that so right now we’re just trying to find a way to score goals ’cause we haven’t done that so hopefully it starts tomorrow.

“We’ve had a lot of chances but we’re still not getting the puck obviously in the net,” Nyquist added. “It would be nice to get one here soon, to get things going. I think we have two really good groups with a lot of skill and I think a lot of players can put the puck in the net on those two units so it should be working.”

The Wings’ power play is just 2-for-30 this season.

“But when you’re scrambling sometimes you do things,” Babcock said. “I thought it was a real good idea we took (Nyquist) away and then we haven’t got anything to go. We’ve got to attack the net so I just thought those are the guys that have been scoring for us. We put them in scoring positions and see what happens.”

Franzen skates with team, but still not close to returning to lineup

DETROIT >> Johan Franzen participated in practice for the first time since injuring his groin on Oct. 17 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“It wasn’t great, but it was a first time skating with the team so that’s a good thing,” Franzen said. “I felt pretty good. I’m going to skate again tomorrow.”

Franzen will make the trip to Washington and take part in the morning skate.

“I’ve just been trying (to skate on my own), cruising around in shorts, seeing if it’s still there,” Franzen said. “Today was a step forward.

“I tried a few strides at 100 percent or close to it,” Franzen continued. “It didn’t feel great doing that so I backed off. I’m going to start a little slower.”

Wings coach Mike Babcock said he expected Franzen back in a couple days, but the forward was less optimistic.

“The big thing is anytime you’ve been out, and I say this all the time, it doesn’t matter who you are, it’s tough getting back in,” Babcock said. “The Mule has trained like crazy. But when you get back in your fitness isn’t the same and there isn’t anything you can do about that. It was good to see him out there today.”

Franzen has two goals and three assists in four games this season.

“I was feeling great,” Franzen said. “I’ve never had a groin issue before. I don’t know if it happened after I fell after that goal or what. I never really noticed it happened, but yeah it sucks. I’ve got to skate a little more and see where I’m at.”

Wings’ top penalty kill matches up against the Peguins’ top power play

DETROIT >> Quick update from the Wings’ morning skate Thursday prior to their game tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Coach Mike Babcock will go with the same lineup as he had Tuesday in Montreal which means Stephen Weiss, Daniel Cleary and Brian Lashoff are healthy scratches.

Jimmy Howard will start in goal.

Babcock did switch a forward on the power play units.

Tomas Jurco will play on the top unit with Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Darren Helm and Niklas Kronwall, while Gustav Nyquist will play on the second group with Riley Sheahan, Tomas Tatar, Andrej Nestrasil and Danny DeKeyser.

“We want Gus to have more touches and whenever he plays with those guys he never gets the puck,” Babcock said. “We think having him with Tats and Sheahan that gives him more opportunity to have the puck.”

Nyquist has both of the Wings’ goals this season on the power play.

The Wings’ penalty kill, which has yet to allow a goal, faces the league’s top power play.

The Penguins have scored eight goals on 19 chances with the man advantage.

“The key to tonight is don’t take penalties,” Drew Miller said. “You have to play rough and tough and match their speed and their skill out there and all of that, but we have to be smart and not take the penalties that you don’t want to kill off. That’s the biggest thing, and once we are the penalty killers got to do what we’re doing.

“I just think we’re playing our system well,” Miller continued. “I don’t know, we’re perfect right now, we want to stay that way, and we know they have a good power play, so we’re just going to stay the same way and work hard.”

Detroit is 18-for-18 on the penalty kill though six games.

“We’re happy about that and will try to keep it that way for as long as we can,” Joakim Andersson said. “It would be hard to do it for 82 games, but as long as we can we’d like to keep it this way.”

Sidney Crosby has three goals on the power play, while Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz have two each.

“They’re a great team and we have to put our best foot forward on the penalty kill, try to eliminate as much zone time as we can,” Luke Glendening said.

The Wings’ penalty kill finished last season ranked 12th, an 83-percent kill rate.

“I just think we’re being more aggressive than last year,” Glendening said. “We’ve done a pretty decent job on faceoffs, which is allowing us to clear the puck quickly. When you can get a start with the puck in their zone it’s always a plus.”

Pav feeling OK; no ‘great emotion’ on disallowed goal

DETROIT >> Pavel Datsyuk logged 18:05 in ice time and had a goal disallowed in his first action of the season.

“I thought I could have had better play, (been) stronger on the puck,” said Datsyuk, who has been out since Sept. 22. “I think every game will be much better and I’ll feel more comfortable.”

“No, it was fine, no shots,” Datsyuk said when asked if he had taken a hit on his shoulder Wednesday. “No shots on net either.”

His disallowed goal came from a spectacular backhand midway through the third period that would have given the Wings a 2-0 lead. It was ruled that Justin Abdelkader had interfered with the Canadiens’ goalie.

“I don’t have great emotion,” Datsyuk said. “I see right away they stop, they say no goal. I think sometimes they make good call, bad call, it’s his job.”

Wings still looking for success on the power play; penalty kill still has yet to allow a goal

DETROIT >> Quick update from the Wings’ off day at Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday.

Coach Mike Babcock felt his team needed a day off after getting home late from Montreal and having a meeting with Pittsburgh on home ice Thursday.

“We never got home till late, late, late,” Babcock said. “I just thought I want energy tomorrow. I didn’t know what was right for sure.

“We wanted to clear a lot up in our game so we had a meeting,” Babcock continued. “We dealt with our power play a little bit and we felt we can score a lot better by being harder, we haven’t been. We’re just trying to evolve our game so we did that.”

The Wings were 0-for-3 with the man advantage in the 2-1 overtime loss to the Canadiens, dropping them to just 2-for-24 on the season.

“I think we have to get the puck back more, that’s the biggest thing,” Babcock said. “You have to shoot it more and get it back more. There’s lots of stuff we talked about here today. There are lots of people that know what’s expected. The other thing is you have to get off the schneid, you just have to get one so everyone relaxes and makes plays instead of doing what they’re doing right now. I’m confident that will happen.”

Gustav Nyquist has both of Detroit’s power play goals this year.

“I’ve been real impressed with our look and our opportunities,” Babcock said. “Even last night, Hank (Zetterberg) had the wide open net and hit the post. We had some looks, but it hasn’t gone in for us. Once it goes in you start feeling better about yourself. We need some goals out of it.”

In those 24 power play opportunities the Wings have just 28 shots on goal.

“We keep talking about it, but we have to get some more pucks to the net,” Niklas Kronwall said. “I think that’s the bottom line. How it gets there is not always that important, just gotta make sure that it gets there and we have people there. So we’ve gotta take the shot more often.

“You want to do good out there,” Kronwall continued. “Of course sometimes I think maybe you overanalyze things and you want to do the right thing and that ends up you thinking too much. Just go back to basics and keep it simple out there usually works.”

Darren Helm has a pair of assists on the power play. Kronwall and Johan Franzen have the others.

“The scorers get lots of points on the power play,” Babcock said. “You want the power play to go well because it makes you feel good individually as well.

“I think initially you say, ‘Hey it’s going good’, and it is, but eventually it’s got to go in,” Babcock added. “We have to find a way to be better at it and be harder to play against in that situation.
The other thing is the when you look at the work ethic of our penalty kill and how hard those guys work. The power play has to work just as hard because you have to outwork the guys you’re playing against. If you don’t you have no chance.”

The Wings’ penalty kill has yet to allow a goal against on 18 chances.

With Datsyuk possibly returning, Nyquist added to second line with Sheahan and Tatar

DETROIT >> With Pavel Datsyuk working on a regular line with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader that meat Wings coach Mike Babcock had to shake up two other lines.

Gustav Nyquist bumped down to play alongside Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar, while Tomas Jurco was on a line with Darren Helm and Andrej Nestrasil.

“Just trying to get that line to generate more,” Babcock said of Sheahan’s line. “(Nyquist has) been playing real well, if I’m going to play Pav and Z together they need a bigger body to be at the net for them. I want (Nyquist) to have as many touches as he can so Sheahan’s a big body to be at the net for him and Tatar. Then, I’ll go the way with Helmer, Nesty and Jurco. We need Jurc’s to get going too. It’s an opportunity for those guys.”

The fourth line there was no change to.

“I think having a real good player around is positive,” Babcock said about the possibility of getting Datsyuk in the lineup for the first time this season. “We don’t want to defer to Pav, we’ve been doing fine without him. We just want everyone to play and do their part. It’s going to take Pav a while to get going too.”

Datsyuk a game-time decision Tuesday; Franzen on short-term IR; Howard starting

DETROIT >> Quick update after Wings practice at Joe Louis Arena before they travel to Montreal for Tuesday night’s game.

Pavel Datsyuk appears to be a game-time decision.

“Say, day-to-day,” Datsyuk said afterwards. “I hope. You never know but what I’m looking (forward to it).”

Datsyuk practiced on a line with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader.

‘We had him on a line, but I had him on a line last Monday,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said.

Datsyuk was expected to miss roughly four weeks from the time he suffered a separated shoulder on Sept. 22.

Datsyuk said his shooting and stick work has been fine for some time.

“It’s only the contact still,” Datsyuk said. “But I had (it) last week. We’ll see what happens (Tuesday).”

The news isn’t so good on Johan Franzen, who was placed on short-term injured reserve with a groin injury.

Franzen, who’s tied for second in points with five, missed Saturday’s game against Toronto.

Jimmy Howard was back in goal and will start Tuesday. He was unable to back up Jonas Gustavsson Saturday due to a slight groin strain.

“It was a little sore so I just wanted to be cautious,” Howard said. “I wasn’t planning on playing from the get-go Saturday so we decided to use caution with it.

“The ice just gave out underneath my foot in Toronto there late in the game when I went to push across,” Howard continued. “So those things really can’t do anything about it. It rebounded quickly so it was nice to see. It wasn’t that bad.”