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Alfredsson’s agent says client will take time after recent setback before deciding on future

DETROIT >> Daniel Alfredsson’s future in the NHL appears pretty bleak.

With the Wings scheduled to hit the ice Friday in Traverse City to opening training camp, Alfredsson has not taken part in any informal on-ice workouts at Joe Louis Arena in more than a week.

“I’m not sure he’s going to be at camp,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview Monday. “His back isn’t to where he feels like he can play and practice every day.”

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

Alfredsson’s 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 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.

“We’re going to give him all the time he needs to make his decision,” Holland said. “We’re going to be patient. He wants to do what’s right for himself but also what’s right for the Red Wings.”

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.

“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.”

Howard doesn’t have a concussion

DETROIT >> Wings goalie Jimmy Howard knew the question was coming and he was ready to answer it.

Howard missed the final two games of Detroit’s opening round series with the Boston Bruins, suffering from the flu.

Reports surfaced he had suffered a concussion on a previous game.
“No,” Howard said when asked if he had a concussion during the team’s locker clean out at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday. “There was nothing. That was the weird part everyone was saying concussion, concussion and it actually got my mom pretty nervous. She heard it on the radio back in her own town. There was no concussion, just the flu.”

Howard said the flu hit him around 1 p.m. the day of Game 4 last Thursday. He led the team out for the pre-game skate and left before it was over.

“It progressively got worse,” Howard said. “Training and medical staff tried to give me all the medication so I could go out there and play for the guys, but as I got out there things just got worse and worse. I missed most of the game because I was too busy in the toilet area. It’s tough to go out that way, to not play again because of the flu. For me, I wanted to be out there for the guys in the worst way. We really tried, it just didn’t work out.”

Babcock not worried about getting a contract extension; Holland says that’s something he wants to discuss with him

DETROIT >> Another quick update on Wings coach Mike Babcock’s contract status.

Babcock is in the final of a contract that pays him about $2 million a season.

“No priority whatsoever,” Babcock said Tuesday during the Wings’ locker cleanout at Joe Louis Arena when asked if getting an extension was a priority. “I’m real comfortable with the owner and the manager. That’s not a concern for me one bit.

“When you’re at the stage of my career that I am, I’m real comfortable with whatever they want,” Babcock continued. “I want them to be happy. If they’re not happy then I’m not happy. I have no problem. I can go year to year.”

Babcock this season moved into first place on the all-time Wings list amongst coaching, passing Scotty Bowman and Jack Adams.

Asked if he thought he would talk contract extension over the summer Babcock said, “I doubt it.

“I just told you I’m comfortable,” he continued. “If I was uncomfortable, if this was my gig I’d want an extension, it’s not, I’m good.”

There had been rumors circulating awhile back that Babcock could eventually take over for Red Berenson as the head coach at the University of Michigan.

“I never even thought about it,” Babcock said when asked if he had a few more years in him to coach in Detroit. “My daughter’s going into her grade 12 year. I’m either going to be the coach of the Red Wings or the assistant coach, I haven’t had a talk with Red Berenson yet, either that or I’ll be Red’s assistant coach for a year.

“For sure I’m staying in Detroit,” Babcock added. “I haven’t thought about going anywhere else. I’m real comfortable. I know Scotty Bowman went year to year sometime here and I’m real comfortable with that. I can get a job. I’m not worried about that. The owner has been better than great to me. They do things right. They treat people right. The GM is a driven guy who can’t stand losing and I like to be around ultracompetitive people.”

Wings general manager Ken Holland said talking extension is a priority of his to keep Babcock.

“I’m going to talk to him,” Holland said. “I thought he did a tremendous job. From the time a team gets eliminated from the playoffs until early August, these are the times for big decisions. I want to talk to Mike here in the next couple of months and we’ll see what comes of it.

“I want him back behind the bench,” Holland added. “I respect the job he does for us. I respect his work ethic. I respect the job he job putting the young players into our system and sticking with them. I think if you put down a list of the best coaches in the National Hockey League he’s on that short list. I think many would have him on that list.”

Ouellet to make his NHL playoff debut in Game 5 against Boston; Howard will backup Gustavsson; Alfredsson in for Bertuzzi

Wings coach Mike Babcock is pulling out all the stops to keep Detroit’s hopes of extending its best-of-seven Eastern Conference first round series with the Boston Bruins and stretching it to a Game 6 back at Joe Louis Arena on Monday.

Rookie defenseman Xavier Ouellet will replace Jakub Kindl and Daniel Alfredsson is back in, taking Todd Bertuzzi’s spot.

“I just like that he’s a good player and we needed a change on the back, so to be honest with you we haven’t spent enough time watching him play and knowing,” Babcock said of Ouellet replacing Kindle on the blue line. “He’s been better when he’s played with us than he has been in the American League. He’s a real smart player, he’s played well when he’s been up, we like him. So, we’re making the change because we felt we needed to make the change.”

Ouellet played four regular season games with the Wings.

In 70 games with Grand Rapids, Ouellet had four goals and 13 assists and 22 penalty minutes.

Jimmy Howard will be on the bench to backup starter Jonas Gustavsson.

There were rumors on Friday that Howard was suffering from a concussion.

“(It’s) just the flu,” Babcock said.

Alfredsson has missed the last two games in the series with a back problem.

“I mean the player has to be healthy enough to skate,” Babcock said. “We talk about leadership, leadership is, I mean, saying the right things is important, but playing right is way more important. If you can’t skate you can’t play. So we’ve gone through this for a while. Any of these back injuries where they get the shooting pain down their legs it makes it hard for you to skate. And when you’re a little bit concerned and you don’t get involved it makes it hard.

“Alfie skated great yesterday in practice, probably as great as he’s skated in a long time, so we put him in,” Babcock added.

Wings coach Mike Babcock: “We give them two goals no matter how you look at it.”

DETROIT >> All in a span of just less than seven minutes in the opening period, the Detroit Red Wings’ lost their home-ice advantage over the Boston Bruins.

And all because of one bad goal and one bad line change.

Boston took back home ice after a 3-0 victory over Detroit in Game 3 of their first round Eastern Conference best-of-seven playoff series Tuesday night at Joe Louis Arena.

“We give them two goals no matter how you look at it,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “It was like the energy in the building, the excitement, whatever it was we didn’t handle it to good. We were off kilter from the get-go. We fumbled the puck around.”

Boston, which dropped Game 1 of the series 1-0, has outscored Detroit 7-1 over the last two games.

Dougie Hamilton, Jordan Caron and Patrice Bergeron scored for the Bruins, who last won a game at Joe Louis Arena on March 11, 2007. Tuukka Rask made 23 saves.

Jimmy Howard stopped 31 shots.

“We made some uncharacteristic mistakes there in the first and it gave them some life,” Danny DeKeyser said. “They put home a couple goals right away there that took some life out of our sails.

“It’s always tough to get into a 2-0 hole, especially at the start of the game,” DeKeyser continued. “It’s hard any part of the season, but it’s harder at playoff time. They buckled down and played some solid D.”

Hamilton scored first on the power play, one that Howard would want back, wristing a shot over his glove hand.

It was Hamilton’s first career playoff goal.

The Wings were penalized for too many men on the ice.

“It’s probably one I should have had,” Howard said.

The Bruins are now 3-for-8 of the power play in the series.

“That goal can’t go in,” Babcock said.

Earlier in the period, Hamilton rang a shot off the goal post to the right of Howard just three minutes into the game, intercepting an attempted backhand clearing attempt by Pavel Datsyuk.

The Bruins doubled their lead seven minutes later taking advantage of a horrible line change by the Wings. Shawn Thornton picked up the puck at center ice to go alone in on Howard, who made the save, but it was followed up by Caron blasting it home.

“I didn’t think we played very well from the start,” Niklas Kronwall said. “I didn’t think we took care of the puck well enough, and again, I have to be better in those areas, help our team better. We made some mistakes. The second one was just a bad change by me. And those are freebies we can’t afford.”

Bergeron added an empty-net goal with two minutes left to play.

The Wings, who had won both regular season meetings at home be a combined score of 9-3, were 0-for-3 with the man advantage, making them 0-for-6 in the series.

“I thought the power play was a little bit better,” DeKeyser said. “It doesn’t really matter if it looks good. The purpose of the power play is to score goals and that’s not happening right now. We’ll look at the tape and try and change some things.”

The winner of this series will face Montreal after the Canadiens eliminated Tampa Bay in four straight games with their 4-3 win Tuesday night.

The Wings best chance to get back in the game came midway through the second period with 35 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play, but like all series long they were unable to beat Rask with the man advantage.

Then on a power play in the third, Johan Franzen feathered a pass to the front of the Bruins net that David Legwand was unable to redirect past Rask.

“It’s tough coming out of a 2-0 hole early in the first like that,” DeKeyser said. “We put ourselves in a bad position. They make it hard to score goals.”

Boston had back-to-back power plays to begin the second period that the Wings were able to kill off. The best scoring chance was by Darren Helm, who dinged one off the post to the left of Rask.

“They’re a veteran team,” Howard said. “They’ve been in situations playing with a lead. They played in the Stanley Cup Finals last year. They know what they’re doing out there. We’ve got to find a way to have a lot better start, get our young legs going and just skate and find ways of crashing the net, just getting in there and make him a little more uncomfortable.”

Game 4 is Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena.

“I think they’re a good team,” Howard said. “There’s a reason why they won the Presidents’ Trophy this year. They know what they’re doing. They play their systems really well, they box out and make it really hard to get free to get to the net. We’re just going to have to, all of us, get a little bit better.”

Babcock not worried about a suddenly cooled-off Nyquist

DETROIT >> Gustav Nyquist was the hottest goal scorer in the league in the month of March.

Once April hit, he cooled off.

He’s gone eight straight games without a goal.

“I need to try and use my speed a little more, shoot the puck and get on the inside,” Nyquist said Monday at Joe Louis Arena. “I’ve got to spin off those big guys, get in front of the net because that’s where the goals are going to be scored. That’s something I have to improve on for sure.”

Nyquist has one goal in April, which was the game winner against Boston on April 2.

“I need to shoot the puck more,” Nyquist said. “I haven’t shot the puck as much and that’s something I need to change.”
Nyquist has a total of 20 shots over his last eight games, four of which came in Sunday’s 4-1 loss in Boston that evened the best-of-seven first round series.
“It’s a tight game out there,” Nyquist said. “There aren’t many scoring chances.”

Despite playing in just 57 regular season games, Nyquist led the team with 28 goals.

“It’s not even scoring, you’ve got to compete, you’ve got to get playing like you can,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Anytime you’ve been through it, and now suddenly instead of being a guy nobody ever heard of, like last year in the playoffs, you’re a guy they’ve heard of.

“His space is probably a little harder to come by,” Babcock continued. “You’ve just got to find your game.”

Tomas Tatar was second in goals with 19.

“The thing I know about Nyquie is he always seems to find his game,” Babcock said. “I’m not concerned. I had a chat with him (Sunday) night on the plane. I expect him to be very good.”

Johan Franzen: “We want to keep winning.”

DETROIT >> Quick update from the Wings’ morning skate prior to hosting the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at Joe Louis Arena in their final regular season home game.

Coach Mike Babcock will keep with the same lineup he’s had the last two games, sitting Joakim Andersson and Todd Bertuzzi.

“We have to get better as a team,” Babcock said after the skate. “It’s so important to get better as a team. Every year we have a system review as soon as we get in, in other words we look at the details in our game so we’re ready going in.

“We play four lines,” Babcock continued. “We roll you out the door. We don’t know who’s first or who’s fourth until the game’s over because whoever plays good gets to play and we’re going to do the same thing tonight. We have to tighten up details.”

Jimmy Howard will start.

The Wings host a Carolina team that has just 79 points on the year.

“There’s not really going to be any change,” Riley Sheahan said. “Obviously we’re comfortable with the spot we’re in, but we’ve still got to play and we’ve still got to stay focused and keep winning. We’re not going to change anything and we’re going to keep going in with the same attitude.”

If the season ended prior to tonight’s game, the Wings would face Boston in the opening round. If they’re able to climb into that first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference they would open with Pittsburgh.

“We just want to be playing well,” Justin Abdelkader said. “Any team that gets in they just want to be playing well. We’re not worried about we’re going to play. Everything will sort itself out.”

Detroit went 3-0-1 against the Bruins this year and ended the year 1-1-1 against the Penguins.

“We want to keep winning,” Johan Franzen said. “We want to win these last two games and maybe climb up a spot. So, that’s our focus right now.

“I think it’s more we want to keep the winning going and come into the playoffs with a good feeling,” Franzen continued when asked if it mattered who they played in the first round. “Even if you say a loss like that doesn’t matter, it’s still a loss and we all want to win all the time. You feel worse after you lose than after a win, so we want to keep building our confidence and keep playing good.”

Detroit ends the regular season Sunday in St. Louis.

Columbus and Philadelphia also have 91 points and both have two games left in the regular season. Both teams hold the tiebreaker on the Wings, wins in regulation.

“You want to go on the playoffs on a roll and play good these last two games so we feel good about ourselves going in,” Abdelkader said.

Petr Mrazek is being recalled to backup Howard tonight.