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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.”

Babcock happy where team is at, but says the problems Wednesday were just ‘mental’

DETROIT >> Three games into the 2014-15 NHL season and we’ve already seen how good the Wings can play and how bad they can play.

In Wednesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Boston Bruins, it all started with faceoffs and went downhill from there.

“With four minutes left in the first we had won two faceoffs,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said after practice Thursday at University Liggett. “They win the faceoff, they get it in, they get on top of you, so they’re on top of you hard, you don’t execute right away, spend too much time in your zone, by the time you get it out of your zone and in their zone you change, they get a free breakout, they come down, they put it in, they grind the crap out of you again, it’s just a sequence of events that never, ever changes. All night long, they won the races, they won the battles.”

That was a far cry from how the first meeting with the Bruins went this season that the Wings won 2-1. However, Boston had played the night before.

“If you win battles, you’re on them quicker,” Babcock said. “It’s interesting in hockey we always want to fix everything structurally. Two kids on the carpet, one ball, one kid has it. It’s that simple. They wanted it more, they had it more. They were engaged.”

Babcock went back and looked at his team’s week of preparation. After a day off Sunday, they practiced hard Monday, had a good tempo 35-mintue practice Tuesday and then had a short pre-game skate Wednesday.

Boston came in after losing with less than a second on the clock Monday, had a 90-minute practice Tuesday and went hard in the pre-game skate.

“They’re fresher and got better jump,” Babcock said. “How can that possibly be? It’s called mental.”

Babcock admitted he felt his team has played well in two of the first three games.

“I don’t think there’s anything to fix,” said Babcock, whose squad takes a 1-1-1 record into Friday’s game at Toronto. “We deserve to be exactly where we are.

“I’m pumped,” Babcock continued. “I think we’ve got a team that has a chance to get better. I like where we’re at. We just played Boston twice and Anaheim. You guys all think they’re good. That’s what I read anyway. I like that we’ve played good teams and we’re off to a decent start.”

This and that

DETROIT >> Justin Abdelkader didn’t practice Thursday. Wings general manager Ken Holland said he was given a maintenance day and should be fine to go Friday.

Stephen Weiss filled in on his line with Darren Helm and Andrej Nestrasil.

Pavel Datsyuk (shoulder) and Daniel Cleary (healthy) were in gray.

Jimmy Howard will start Friday and Jonas Gustavsson will start in the rematch against the Leafs Saturday at home.

Why wasn’t Nyquist on ice in OT Wednesday? “It drove me crazy that I did that,” Babcock sayd

DETROIT >> Wings coach Mike Babcock still can’t explain why the team’s leading scorer, Gustav Nyquist, watched from the bench most of overtime against the Bruins.

“It drove me crazy that I did that,” Babcock said. “Even though we worked with those other guys, how the heck was I dumb enough to let that happen? We even talked about it and I still did it.”

Nyquist, who has a goal in each game this season, had one shift in OT and wasn’t on the ice during the Wings’ 4-on-3 power play in the final minute. Instead Babcock went with the unit they practiced that scenario with the day before, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Riley Sheahan and Niklas Kronwall.

“We thought that was the best chance to score,” Babcock said. “But then when we scored another goal in that game on the power play wouldn’t you just put him on the ice?

Wings coach Mike Babcock: ‘Howie was good, that’s about it; netminder earns Detroit a point in loss to Bruins

DETROIT >> It didn’t take long for Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock to sum up Wednesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Boston Bruins at Joe Louis Arena.

“Howie was good, that’s about it,” Babcock said.

Jimmy Howard stood on his head stopping 37 shots.

“Howie stole us a point,” Babcock said. “We felt we got ripped off the other (Saturday) night, but Howie stole one back for us tonight.”

Howard stopped all 11 shots he faced in the third period and then four more in overtime.

“He saved us big time,” Henrik Zetterberg said of his netminder. “Without him we wouldn’t have that point.”

“He was great, he was great for us,” Tomas Tatar said. “He made lots of unreal saves. We can be really happy for the one point because he was holding us most of the game, just a good job from him.”

Howard has started all three games this season for the Wings and has been quite good. He’s got a 1.95 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage.

Albeit just three games into the season, but those are out of this world for the Wings netminder.

“I thought he was fantastic all game through,” Niklas Kronwall said. “After two periods, he’d stopped them quite a few times there. I thought singlehandedly he got us a point.”

“He was phenomenal,” said Gustav Nyquist, who netted his third goal in as many games in a losing effort. “He was the one that kept us in the game and saved a point for us there. Obviously, the last minute there, minute and a half there, he made some real nice stops. And all the way throughout the game he was our best player I thought. He played a real nice game.”

Howard was named the second start of the game.

And with the Wings’ offense struggling to score goals, potting a total of six goals, two in each of the first three games, getting these type of performances out of Howard are key.

“Jimmy played a great game and kept them in it,” said Boston goalie Tuukka Rask, who made 18 saves.

Datsyuk likely out through weekend

DETROIT >> Pavel Datsyuk looks like he’s out through the weekend according to Wings general manager Ken Holland.

“I don’t think he’ll play Friday,” Holland said. “Realistic time frame is Tuesday, Thursday or (next) Saturday. But he’s day-to-day.”

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

He’s missed all three games to begin the season.

“He’s getting closer,” Holland said. “He feels good. We want to make sure he’s not one hit away from being out two weeks.”