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.”

Weiss knows a job on one of the four forward lines won’t be handed to him

DETROIT >> Three games into the 2014-15 season and the Detroit Red Wings’ replacement for Valtteri Filppula has been a healthy scratch.

And he knew after how things went last season he wasn’t going to be handed an everyday job just like that.

Stephen Weiss, 31, managed to play just 26 games last season totaling two goals, two assists and a minus-4. He had sport hernia surgery on Dec. 23 and then a second procedure on April 21 to repair an issue with scar tissue.

“I knew with the way things went last year and the end of the year meetings I had with Mike (Babcock) and Kenny (Holland) that I was going to have to be real special in the preseason to get a chance here early,” Weiss said. “Especially with the way our young kids played last year. The lines were kind of set together. It was going to be tough to get in the lineup and I knew that.”

Weiss had a rough preseason, registering just an assist and was a minus-4 in six games.

“I did my best throughout the preseason to do what I could to get in the lineup and it wasn’t good enough,” Weiss said. “But it’s a long season. I’ve just got to keep working hard and keep trying to get better and when I get my chance to go I’ve got to be ready to go.

“I’m hungry to get back in the lineup,” Weiss continued. “It’s always a surprise and a shock when you’re not playing. It wasn’t just going to be handed to me on a silver platter.”

The Wings targeted Weiss on the first day of free agency two off-seasons ago and landed the center for a hefty five-year deal worth $24.5 million.

Filppula, who the Wings decided not to pursue, had a career-high 25 goals in his first season in Tampa Bay with 33 assists in 75 games.

Injuries have been a common occurrence for Weiss, who had scored 20 or more goals four times in his last seven seasons in Florida. He missed the final 26 games of the 2012-13 season with a wrist injury.

“You don’t just snap your fingers and go out and score five goals in six games (during the preseason),” Weiss said. “It doesn’t happen like that. It’s a process. I’ve been working real hard in practice to be scoring goals and getting sharp again in those situations. It’s coming. It’s just a matter of getting a chance now and hopefully getting a bounce here or there in a game to get on the board and things start to snowball in your direction and away you go.”

Wings haven’t heard from Alfredsson in a couple weeks; he’s not practicing leads to retirement speculation

DETROIT >> Daniel Alfredsson isn’t ready to start practicing with the Detroit Red Wings.

And that’s pretty much all the Wings know.

“I don’t really know what’s going on,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. “I talked to him a week ago and nothing had changed in the last month. He feels OK, but doesn’t feel as good as he wants to feel to play.

“I told him to take more time, but nothing has changed from my perspective, like there’s no news,” Holland continued. “It’s the same news as it was last week and the week before and the week before and week before that.”

Alfredsson, who’ll turn 42 this season, still has an issue with a nerve in his back that occurred late last season. He didn’t attend training camp and suffered a setback in early September.

“I don’t know if he’s skating,” Holland said. “I don’t know if he’s working out or not working out. I don’t know if he’s in Detroit, I don’t know if he’s in Sweden. I simply don’t know.”

Despite playing in just 68 games in his first season in Detroit, Alfredsson finished tied for the team lead in points.

The team would like to have Alfredsson back on the team if he’s healthy to play 60-to-65 games since he provides a right-handed shot at the point on the power play.

But another part of the Wings’ decision could be if they’re playing well or not at the time Alfredsson decides if his back will allow him to play more one season.

The team won’t jump at signing him to a one-year deal until they see him practice a couple weeks to make sure he suffers no other setbacks.

“The bottom line is nothing has changed since early September,” Holland said “Nothing has changed. How’s he doing? I think he’s doing OK, but he’s not doing well enough to reach out to the general manager to figure out where we go from here.”

Alfredsson said after the Wings were eliminated from the playoffs last season that if returns for another year of hockey it would be with the Wings.

“I would love to play, there’s no question, but at the same time you have to listen to your body,” Alfredsson said. “I’m hoping that I’ll know within the next week or two weeks.”

Alfredsson came to Detroit had spending his entire career with the Ottawa Senators.

“He understands we’re running a hockey team and what goes on with our team affects our day-to-day decisions,” Holland said. “That doesn’t have anything to do with Alfredsson until he calls and says he wants to discuss his next move.”

Wings coach Mike Babcock: “We need it big time.”

DETROIT >> Having a possible two points and for sure one slip away from them Saturday night, the Detroit Red Wings view Wednesday’s home against the Boston Bruins as a crucial one.

“We need it big time,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “All you’ve got to do is look at the standings. As soon as you’re below the line you’re not in a good spot. We’re below the line.”

The line Babcock is talking about is the playoff cutoff line. The Wings are currently 10th in the Eastern Conference, two points out of the eighth and final playoffs spot.

The Bruins are in worse shape, dipping to 1-3-0 after allowing a last-second goal against Colorado on home ice, Monday.

Detroit beat Boston, 2-1, in the season opener and the lost, 3-2 to Anaheim on Saturday after allowing a goal in the final minute of regulation.

“Our work ethic, speed, tenacity and depth up front,” Babcock said when asked about what he’s liked about his team thus far. “I thought we played pretty well (Saturday), but you don’t get any moral victories in this league. Boston and us have both lost games in the last second recently. Both teams really need wins.”

Boston has also been outscored 9-4 through four games.

Babcock will keep his lines intact he’s went with in practice all week, which moves Gustav Nyquist to the top line with Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen, while dropping Justin Abdelkader down to the third line with Darren Helm and Andrej Nestrasil.

Nyquist has half of the Wings’ goals this season, while Franzen has three assists. Abdelkader is the only other multi point player on the roster with a goal and an assist.

One line Babcock needs more out of is Riley Sheahan, who centers Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco.

“After game one I really liked them, after game two I didn’t like them as much,” Babcock said. “They still generated, but they generated for both teams. I don’t want them to generate for the other team.”

Sheahan and his linemate were unable to get the job done Saturday against the Ducks’ Ryan Kesler.

“I just want them to play well offensively for us and really good without it,” Babcock said. “Every shift in the game great things aren’t going to happen. Some are 50-50. You’ve got to pick your spots, but you’ve got to be heavy on the puck. You can’t be turning pucks over.”

Pavel Datsyuk will miss his third straight game with a shoulder injury. Stephen Weiss, Daniel Cleary and Brian Lashoff are healthy scratches.

Datsyuk, who was expected to miss roughly four weeks from the time he suffered a separated shoulder on Sept. 22, doesn’t seem like he’ll be available for the home-and-home series with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday and Saturday.

Wings know they’re going to face a desperate Bruins team Wednesday

DETROIT >> Boston is coming in a desperate team after falling to 1-3-0 on a last-second goal allowed against Colorado on Monday.

“They’ll come out flying I’m sure,” Niklas Kronwall said. “We have to play with the same pace we have in the first two games. Stay with the same structure. So far it’s looked pretty good.”

The Bruins have been outscored 9-4 through four games.

“That team has thrived on scoring a lot of goals and I think they’re probably at that point where they’re pretty desperate right now,” Brendan Smith said. “So we definitely in the first little bit have to weather the storm or match it or better it and then get back and keep playing our game and take it to them. For sure they’re going to be coming. They need these points after a few of these losses. They’ll be pressing a little bit and we got to make sure we make good plays.”

Detroit is 8-1-0 in the last nine regular season meetings against Boston.

“The biggest key is just doing it over and over, shift after shift,” Kronwall said. “It might sound like a cliché but especially against Boston, they’re a well-structured team. They do the same things for 60 minutes every game. That’s how you have to play to beat them, and obviously play with a high pace as well.”

The Bruins knocked the Wings’ out of the playoffs last season in five games.

“We don’t think about records,” Nyquist said. “This is the first time I’ve heard we’re 8-1-0 against them in regular season. It’s a new game. They’re going to come in here and have lost a couple now in a row so they’re going to come in hungry. We lost a tough one against Anaheim in the final seconds so we’re hungry as well. I’m expecting a real hard, tough fought match.”

The Bruins also have David Krejci back and signed Simon Gagne to a contract on Tuesday.

“We’re not tricking Boston and they’re not tricking us,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We’re just going to go out and do what we do and do it the best we can. Because of the way they play we’re going to do things different just like we do every night depending on the opposition.”

Datsyuk out Wednesday and most likely through the weekend; Nyquist remains on top line

DETROIT >> Quick update from Wings’ practice Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena.

Pavel Datsyuk has ruled himself out for Wednesday’s home game against the Boston Bruins and it doesn’t seem look like, at least from his response, he’ll be available for the home-and-home series with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday and Saturday.

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

He skated in gray with Stephen Weiss and Daniel Cleary, both of whom were healthy scratches the first two games.

Wings coach Mike Babcock kept his lines intact from Monday’s practice, which meant Gustav Nyquist will be skating on the top line with Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen.

“If you score goals it gives you confidence so that’s a nice start, but it doesn’t really matter who scores,” said Nyquist, who has tallied two of the Wings’ goal goals thus far. “We’re playing as a team and as a team I think we’ve started pretty good.”

Franzen has three assists.