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Weiss heading back to Detroit after suffering groin injury; Wings prepare for Carter and Kings

DETROIT >> Quick update from Red Wings’ practice at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday.

Stephen Weiss is on his way back from his brief conditioning stint in Grand Rapids after he suffered another issue with his groin in the Griffins game on Wednesday.

Wings general manager Ken Holland said that Weiss won’t play on Friday in Grand Rapids as he was expected before joining Detroit on Saturday for its three-game road trip.

Johan Franzen (groin) continued to skate and hopes to return to the lineup Sunday in Buffalo.

Detroit hosts the defending Stanley Cup champ Los Angeles Kings on Friday and have to figure out a way to slow down Jeff Carter’s line.

“He’s a real good player,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said of Carter. “I know him real good from just having him at the Olympics. He can play with and without the puck. He’s got a bomb of a shot. He scores for fun.”

Carter entered play Thursday second on the team with 12 points (five goals, seven assists).

He’s sandwiched between his linemates – Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson – for the team lead in scoring. Toffoli is first with five goals and eight assists, while Pearson has seven goals and two assists.

Drew Doughty is a distant fourth in points with five.

“I didn’t know who Toffoli was to tell you the truth, I didn’t know him that good, but every time I see him he’s shooting it,” Babcock said. “And Pearson seems to be a real good player. Those are guys I don’t know real good. I’ll get to know them better. They’re real good players, but there’s a whole bunch of other guys on that team that are real good players.”

That line has combined for 17 goals and 17 assists.

The Kings play at Pittsburgh, tonight.

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.

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.”

Datsyuk out Thursday; Babcock not ready to announce rest of lineup

DETROIT >> Quick update from Wings practice at Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday.

Pavel Datsyuk (shoulder) is officially out of the lineup for Thursday’s season opener against the Boston Bruins.

It appears Andrej Nestrasil will be in the lineup, but it’s not official.

“Why don’t we just announce the lineup tomorrow so if anything changes I don’t have to change my mind,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said.

Nestrasil was skating on a line with Darren Helm and Gustav Nyquist.

As for the sixth defenseman, it’ll be between Jakub Kindl and Brian Lashoff. Both split time at practice with Kyle Quincey.

The rest of the forward lines and D-pairing remained the same: Abdelkader-Zetterberg-Franzen; Tatar-Sheahan-Jurco; Miller-Glendening-Andersson; Kronwall-Ericsson; Smith-DeKeyser.

“When you look at our roster from opening day last year to this year, I’ve had some people say that the roster is the same, but there are six forwards different so it’s night and day different from what it was,” Babcock said. “It’s a much quicker team, a much more useful team. If we’re fortunate to have Pav and Z play, and stay healthy, we’re a better team that way.

“It’s just growth,” Babcock continued. “Now, you’ve done it once, you’ve got to do it again. There’s a whole bunch of guys that have done it one time. So time is going to tell. I know they’ve worked hard and competed in the summer to get stronger and quicker and they’re more confident now and it just has to translate on the ice.”

The Bruins, who open the season Wednesday, beat the Wings in five games in the first round of last year’s playoffs.

“They thumped us,” Babcock said. “They absolutely thumped us. We didn’t play as good as we thought and they’re a real good team. We played them twice in exhibition and five times at the end of last year. I know Claude (Julien) real well and lots of the players so we have a good understanding how we’re going to play and they have a good understanding how we’re going to play. Now we just have to see who’ll compete for the puck more and who wins.”

The teams also met twice during the preseason.

Babcock outvoted when it comes to roster decisions

DETROIT >> If Detroit coach Mike Babcock knows what the Wings’ final roster is going to look like at 5 p.m. today when it’s submitted to the league he’s not letting on.

And neither are his players.

Defenseman Xavier Ouellet and forward Andrej Nestrasil both still had no idea if they had made the 23-man roster or not when practice was over at Joe Louis Arena, Tuesday.

“You’re talking to the wrong guy,” Babcock when asked about the roster. “I think there are lots of players knocking on the door.

“I got my two cents in, so I get one vote,” Babcock continued. “He (Ken Holland) gets two. So he can win, 2-1. It’s almost exactly like that at home, I get one vote and my wife gets two, and I lose 2-1 lots.”

Babcock had Xavier Ouellet paired with Kyle Quincey for a second straight practice.

“I haven’t been told anything yet,” Ouellet said. “I come to practice every day to get ready for Thursday so we’ll see what’s going to happen.

“I do feel good,” Ouellet continued. “I think I’ve had a pretty good camp. I’ve played some good hockey. I’m really happy to be here right now. I’m going to enjoy it and try and have a little chemistry with Quincey here.”

Ouellet is battling for a spot on the roster with Jakub Kindl and Brian Lashoff.

He finished tied for the team lead with two goals this preseason.

“For sure I’ll be disappointed (if I get sent down), but at the same time I’ve got to keep working,” Ouellet said. “I’ve got to keep doing my stuff. I’ll go down there and play hockey and do my best and get ready if they need me up here.”

Last season, Gustav Nyquist was a victim of being waiver-exempt when he was sent down.

“You have to try not to under (the business side of things) actually,” Ouellet smiled. “You just have to go with the flow and see what happens. It’s a big business. There’s a lot of stuff as players that we don’t know. All you can control is your game and as players that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Nestrasil made the biggest leap from Monday’s practice, going from a gray jersey to white to skate alongside Darren Helm and Gustav Nyquist.

“I’m more than pleased,” Nestrasil said. “If you would have asked me a couple weeks before the camp I would tell you 99-percent they would send me down. I thought I was going to get two exhibition games and I ended up playing five. Camp was really and I’m glad to still be here.”

“For me when I’m thinking about it either way is going to be good,” Nestrasil added. “I think I’ve done the most I could during camp. I did even better than I expected to do. If I stay here and play with the Red Wings or if I’m going to go down and play 20 minutes a game in Grand Rapids I’m still at the age where I’ve got to get my game better. I still have to get better every year. Either way is going to fine with me.”

Nestrasil would have to be placed on waivers and clear them before being assigned to Grand Rapids.

Babcock even had Nestrasil on the second power play unit with Tomas Jurco, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan and Danny DeKeyser.

“Yesterday I was on the gray line, today I was on a power play line, we’ll see what happens tomorrow,” Nestrasil smiled. “If you try and find a sign you can find a sign in everything. If my sticks are on one side or the other it doesn’t change anything. We’ll see what happens these next couple of days and then see on Thursday if I’m going to play or not.”

Wings finally have depth on the blue line within the organization

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings always seem to find depth at forward within the organization.

That now looks to be the case on the blue line.

“I think the guys that are pushing are (Xavier) Ouellet and (Alexey) Marchenko,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said after practice Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena. “(Nick) Jensen’s been a real surprise. (Ryan) Sproul’s a good player. I thought there was four D, there’s actually five of them who look to be like they’re going to play in the league.”

Mattias Backman is the fifth defenseman Babcock referred to.

“Depth on the back end, we need it,” Babcock said. “We continually say we need to improve our D, I thought (Brendan) Smith was the best defenseman on the ice (Monday) night, bar none, on both teams, which is great. I’ve never been able to say that about Smitty in an NHL game ever. A lot of NHL players played, I thought Smitty was great.”

Detroit has seven defensemen on one-way deals this season – Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Smith, Danny DeKeyser, Kyle Quincey, Jakub Kindl and Brian Lashoff.

“We’ve got guys coming,” Babcock continued. “We want some push from the bottom. We think in Marchenko and Ouellet and Sproul and Jensen and Backman that we have that. How far is it away? Last year if you would have talked to me at this time I would have told you … (Tomas) Tatar sat out the first nine games, (Gustav) Nyquist started in the minors, (Riley) Sheahan wasn’t even on the radar screen, (Tomas) Jurco, heck, was so average at the start of the year it wasn’t even funny. So you go through, it doesn’t take long. When you’re big and fast and you know how to play, you see what happens.”

Alfredsson won’t attend Wings training camp; team won’t rush him for decision on his future

DETROIT >> Daniel Alfredsson’s future in the NHL appears to be over.

Wings general manager Ken Holland has confirmed that Alfredsson won’t be attending training camp due to his ailing back.

“His back isn’t allowing him to skate so we’re going to wait,” Holland said. “We’re going to give him time and hopefully his back gets to the point he feels better and can continue playing.”

Players report to Traverse City for physicals Thursday with their first on-ice workout set for Friday.

Alfredsson still has an issue with a nerve in his back that occurred late last season.

“He really wants to play one more year,” Holland said. “We’d really like to at least evaluate him and see where’s at for one more year.”

Alfredsson, who hasn’t taken part in any informal on-ice skates at Joe Louis Arena in over a week, was tied for the team lead with 49 points (18 goals, 31 assists) in 68 regular season games last season. He didn’t record a point in the playoffs.

“He’s been a tremendous player for a long time,” Holland said. “We’re going to give him some more time and see over the next week or two what goes on with his back. He’s earned that right.”

The Wings would like to sign Alfredsson, 41, to a one-year deal if he’s healthy, even if it’s just to play between 60-65 games.

On Monday his agent, J.P. Barry, spoke to tsn.ca.

“Daniel had a strong summer training and was feeling great while skating here but suffered a setback on his fifth day of high intensity on ice sessions,” Barry told the website. “It’s the same back issue he has been dealing with for a few years. He needs some time to let things settle and then determine whether his back is up to the rigors of another full season. He will be patient for now before making any decisions.”

Alfredsson has said if returns for another season 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 a few weeks ago. “I’m hoping that I’ll know within the next week or two weeks.”