Tag Archives: sports

DeKeyser confident he’ll be ready for opener; Tootoo still ailing

DETROIT – Detroit Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser (knee) is confident he’ll be ready for Wednesday’s season opener at home against the Buffalo Sabres.

“I feel good,” DeKeyser said. “I kind of twisted it a little bit in the last game but it’s kind of precautionary, a little sore after that. Make sure it was 100 percent before I get out there again.”

DeKeyser’s foot got caught in a rut against (Sidney) Crosby in the third period of Wednesday’s loss to Pittsburgh. He fell and twisted his knee a little.

DeKeyser hasn’t skated since the incident.

“I might try to get on the ice tomorrow a little bit,” DeKeyser said. “See how it feels then, after that take it day by day.

Jordin Tootoo took part in his first practice since injuring his shoulder against Boston on Sept. 21.

“It feels good but shoulder injuries and the way I play, I just want to make sure it’s 100 percent and not 85-90,” Tootoo said. “I want to mentally be comfortable and be from there.”

The injury occurred on his second shift against the Bruins.

“I just kept playing through it and didn’t realize the severity of it until the next day,” Tootoo said. “I just want to make sure I get it fixed because I know I did the same thing to my right shoulder and it almost took three years to heal. Making sure everything’s on the right track right now.”

Tootoo has been in a battle all training camp to find a spot on one of the Wings’ four forward lines so this setback doesn’t help.

“I can only control my mentality,” Tootoo said. “I’ve just got to bring it every day. Obviously, injuries are going to be a part of the game. It’s how you recover from that. Mentally, just being focused every day and making sure I’m at all the team meetings and doing all the right things.”

Wings coach Mike Babcock on second line: “You don’t do anything and then things change.”

DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings’ second line of forwards will indeed play together for the first time this preseason.

Daniel Alfredsson will skate with Johan Franzen and Stephen Weiss tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Joe Louis Arena.

This will just be Alfredsson’s second preseason game and first at home.

“It feels good to get into a game,” Alfredsson said. “It’s going to be exciting to play in this building for the first time. We’re going to have a good lineup, looking to have a good effort.”

Alfredsson had been bothered by a tender groin of late.

“Weissie and I have been here for a little bit,” Alfredsson said. “They know the systems, feel more comfortable overall. As far as the game goes, we just want to get going where you don’t think too much out there. In and out and just focus on playing. That’s what we’re trying to do today.”

The length of time this line, which didn’t win over Wings coach Mike Babcock, will all depend on how quickly they can build chemistry.

“They did nothing,” Babcock said of their time together in training camp. “That’s what gives you pause, you don’t do anything and then things change. Now they haven’t got a chance to play together so that’s an unfair assessment, but we need an assessment because we need production out of every group.

“To me it should be set up good,” Babcock continued. “I think Weiss has turned himself into a really good two-way player, he understands what’s going on. Alfie can shoot the puck and Mule’s a big, big man that can skate and win battles down low and can find people with the puck. He should be finding Alfie and Alfie should be shooting it. To me it has all the ingredients of a line, but you have to become one.”

Weiss and Alfredsson were the Wings’ two big signings this offseason.

“I’m sure there will be corrections from the coaches here and there but overall I got a pretty good understanding of what they’re doing here,” Alfredsson said.

HBO begins filming for 24/7 series

DETROIT – The HBO cameras were at practice for the first time, preparing to start filming for the series “24/7”.

“I really liked (the show), it was pretty cool,” Brendan Smith said. “What I’ve told people is it’s interesting to see some of these tough guys or goons or chippy kind of players and then they’re kind of soft hearted sweethearts back home with their families. It’s cool to see other people’s sides and what they’re like on different teams and how they hold themselves, so it’s a pretty cool experience and it’ll be cool for people to see what our team is like.”

Wings coach Mike Babcock isn’t a big fan, but he’ll do his part.

“I just know my kids, I remember a few years back, thought it was awesome,” Babcock said. “To be honest with you I can go without it totally, but doesn’t have anything to do with me. I’m just hoping someone else is first star.”

Babcock recalled players tending to shy away during the taping of Nicklas Lidstrom 360.

“No one would go near him,” Babcock said. “I assume since these guys are around here for so long you become immune to it a little bit. Obviously, just like in your own life do you want everything on TV or YouTube, or is there anything you do that you don’t want it to be (broadcast). It’s the same for these guys. That’s part of promoting the sport so they feel it’s a good thing for the sport.”

Red Wings injury updates

DETROIT — Justin Abdelkader appears ready to go despite needing stiches after a tussle late in the 5-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

“I should be fine, I just got cut open during the fight,” said Abdelkader, who got two stiches on his left index finger. “Holding the stick can be tough, it’s on my bottom hand. Trainers did a good job of patching it up, protecting it.”

Defensemen Jakub Kindl (hip flexor) and Jonathan Ericsson (groin) also appear ready to return.

“I will be playing for sure,” Kindl said. “We decided I needed a couple of more skates before getting into the game so it was a smart decision, so I’ll be playing tomorrow.”

Defenseman Brendan Smith fell awkwardly into the boards after being hit by Gustav Nyquist and left the ice early. He said he would available for Friday.

Defenseman Danny DeKeyser didn’t skate after “bumping his knee” in the loss to the Penguins.

“His foot got caught in a rut against (Sidney) Crosby and fell down,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “That’s when he bumped his knee. I don’t think it’s very serious, but once again it’s this time of the year.”

Wings hope to have second line playing together Friday against Maple Leafs

DETROIT – Quick update from the Detroit Red Wings practice Thursday at Joe Louis Arena.

It looks like the team will have its second forward unit – Daniel Alfredsson, Stephen Weiss, Johan Franzen – playing together its first preseason game of the year.

“I’m hoping so, but I can’t guarantee anything,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “It’s all based on health.”

Alfredsson, who has played just one preseason game, has been sidelined of late with a groin.

“I would love to play a couple more,” Alfredsson said. “But it is what it is and you got to be smart, especially now when you have the time but I’m hoping to play Friday and get a game in here before we start for real.”

Franzen missed some time with a hip flexor.

“We’re looking to get just get the first one,” Weiss said. “It is what it is this time of the year, guys go down with stuff and they work other guys into the lineup and kind of work with what you’ve got.

“For me it’s been kind of tough cause I’ve had new guys every night and working with that has been a bit of a challenge, but hopefully tomorrow we can that line together and try to at least get one game in before we get going for real here,” Weiss added.

Babcock would love to dress an “NHL lineup” for Friday’s home preseason game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“When you play eight exhibition games, your lineup is spread out big time,” Babcock said. “You have to just to keep guys alive. Obviously we dressed a pretty good lineup there in Boston, that happened because a few guys got dinged and we had to move a few guys around. Since that time I’ve had full intention to … Pittsburgh came here with an NHL team and wanted to play an NHL team. And they got here, maybe they got something out of it, but they would have got way more out of it had they played against an NHL team.

“I don’t know what to do about that,” Babcock continued. “We can play two less exhibition games and we can have more guys in the lineup or we can continue to do what we’ve done and that’s the way it is.”

Wings younger players “need more time” to development according to Babcock

DETROIT – If we learned anything from Detroit’s 5-1 loss to Pittsburgh Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena, it’s that the Penguins appear ready for the regular season and the Wings do not.

Chris Kunitz scored a pair of goals and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury needed to make just 16 saves to hand Detroit its third setback on home ice.

Jussi Jokinen, Pascal Dupuis and Craig Adams also had goals for the Penguins, who scored twice on the power play.

Drew Miller had the Wings’ lone goal and Petr Mrazek made 32 saves.

“Well you have to have the puck more than we did if you’re going to have any fun out there I’ll tell you that,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “They came in here with an NHL looking team and we didn’t have one. We still have to play so many games we have to spread our lineup out and we have so many guys hurt. We weren’t deep enough and we didn’t have the puck enough so that’s what I took from it.”

Detroit was playing without a few of their main pieces, including Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel Alfredsson, Niklas Kronwall and Jimmy Howard, while the Penguins had close to their opening night lineup on display.

“Without the leadership of Kronwall, Datsyuk and Zetterberg it doesn’t appear we have much driving the bus either,” Babcock said. “You saw guys you were hoping for, but it’s pretty clear a few of the things we thought might work aren’t going to work for us didn’t because they’re not good enough players yet. They need more time that’s just the way it is.”

This was Pittsburgh’s last preseason game, while Detroit has two more left.

The Wings have scored one or fewer goals in three of their last five preseason games.

“I think it starts with defense,” Stephen Weiss said. “We had a tough time getting out of our zone clean and getting through the neutral zone clean and when you’re having a tough time with that you’re turning pucks over and they’re coming back at you, so it’s tough to generate offense a lot of times. By the time you get in their zone you’re either changing and you can’t sustain anything.”

The Wings drop to 2-4-0 in the preseason.

Jokinen opened the scoring with 11 seconds left on the Penguins’ first power play.

Jokinen took a nice outlet pass from blue line to blue line from Matt Niskanen to get behind the Wings and into their zone all alone before putting his backhand shot top shelf past Mrazek.

Just over four minutes later Pittsburgh went up 2-0.

Sidney Crosby raced onto a puck chipped out of the Penguins’ zone past Wings defenseman Brendan Smith. He then spotted a wide open Dupuis cutting through the center of the ice and he beat Mrazek stick side.

After the Wings were unable to generate much on their first power play of the game, the Penguins came right back down and struck just after Evgeni Malkin got out of the box. Malkin took a pass from Rob Scuderi and calmly flung it on net where it was redirected in by Adams just three minutes into the second period.

Miller spoiled Fleury’s hopes of a shutout past the midway point of the contest, getting to a puck dumped in between the two faceoff dots in Pittsburgh’s zone and chipping it over a sprawling Pens netminder, who had come out to try and play the puck.

Kuntiz built Pittsburgh’s lead back to three, stripping the puck off Xavier Ouellet’s stick at the Wings blue line and rifling a shot past Mrazek.

Kunitz capped the scoring on the power play, getting a feed in front of Mrazek and after making the keeper make the first move, he stuffed the puck into the short side.

Alfredsson, Ericsson out against Penguins; Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Kronwall healthy, but won’t play

DETROIT — Daniel Alfredsson (groin), Jonathan Ericsson (contusion), Jakub Kindl (hip flexor) won’t play tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Alfredsson didn’t practice and has played one game this preseason.

Patrick Eaves (sprained MCL and ankle) and Jordin Tootoo (shoulder) are also out.

Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall will also sit.

The team had to bring back Riley Sheahan and Xavier Ouellet from Grand Rapids to fill the lineup.

“Every year I have this fantasy that this game and the on Friday night was supposed to be a full roster,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Obviously that can’t happen, plus we can’t play guys three games in four nights. That doesn’t make a lot of sense unless you’re a kid. So we’ll have to figure out a way to get a lot of Grand Rapids guys back for a couple of days.”

So the lines will be Stephen Weiss centering Johan Franzen and Justin Abdelkader; Riley Sheahan centering Todd Bertuzzi and Daniel Cleary; Joakim Andersson centering Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar; Cory Emmerton will center Drew Miller and Mikael Samuelsson.

The defensemen pairings will be Kyle Quincey and Brendan Smith; Danny DeKeyser and Ouellet; Brian Lashoff and Adam Almquist.

Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Kronwall will all return Friday.

“I want to watch guys compete,” Babcock said. “We’ve got to make decisions. We’ve got three games left. Let’s compete, let’s do what we’re supposed to do. Focus on our details and continue to get better as a team. We haven’t scored any goals with the exception of one game. We don’t shoot the puck. We’re averaging 23 shots a game. We got to shoot the puck, we got to get to the net.”

Helm ‘very unlikely’ to play this preseason

DETROIT – Darren Helm took another step in the right direction Wednesday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.

Helm took part in a morning skate with teammates for the first time since injuring his groin on Sept. 6.

“I feel a lot better, pretty good,” Helm said afterwards. “Today was the first time I’ve skated with the team. Feels pretty good to get out there, I felt good, so good progress.

“Still working on the groin, I still wasn’t going 100 percent out there,” Helm continued. “I was going pretty good, but it’s something that I still need to monitor, keep an eye on and just keep rehabbing and getting better.”

Helm says it’s the best he’s felt in a couple of weeks.

He has yet to be cleared for contact due to his back, but he feels that could come soon.

“I think it’s probably around the corner,” Helm said. “I haven’t had a real test yet. You know how I work now, there’s no date. I’ll be ready when I’m ready.”

Asked if there’s a chance he could play in one of the two final preseason games this weekend Helm said, “Never say never, but I would say very unlikely.”

Helm was unable to take part in any of the Wings’ week-long training camp in Traverse City.

Helm had just begun ramping up his workouts on and off the ice since returning from having a slightly torn disc in his back that never required surgery when the groin injury occurred.

Helm played just one game last season.

“He’s missed two years of playoffs and one full season,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said Wednesday. “It is what it is.”

Helm, whose back issues began before training camp began last season, has been on the wrong end of a rash of injuries of late.

He was hit by a puck on Nov. 2 during an informal skate in Troy, breaking an orbital bone.

On March 17, he missed the final 10 regular-season games with a sprained MCL. Then, in his first game back, the playoff opener against Nashville, he had tendons in his forearm sliced by a skate.

Wings coach Mike Babcock on Petr Mrazek: “He wins, that’s it.”

DETROIT – Petr Mrazek’s journey to the NHL was a pretty quick one.

With backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson sidelined with a groin injury, Mrazek again finds himself as the Wings’ backup behind starting netminder Jimmy Howard.

“It’s a break, but you earn the right to get the break,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said after practice Tuesday. “He gets a chance, so do good with what you get and see what happens.”

Gustavsson is expected to miss three to four weeks.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for me,” Mrazek said. “We’ll see how the season starts and be there for the home opener probably. I’m really excited for that.”

Mrazek was also thrust into action last season because of another groin injury to Gustavsson and went 1-1-0 with a 2.02 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage over his first two NHL starts.

He then went back to Grand Rapids and led them to the Calder Cup.

“He wins, that’s it,” Babcock said. “He’s got to get stronger and as he gets stronger he’ll have better rebound control and better push. Those are all just part of growing up. The more time in pro hockey you settle down. I think he’s a real competitor and has a bright future.”

Mrazek will start Wednesday’s preseason game at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

With the Wings wanting to “over-ripen” their prospects, Mrazek has caught the attention of many in the organization.

“He’s a very unique personality, he doesn’t come off as being cocky but he comes off as being very confident,” Wings goalie coach Jim Bedard said. “As a goaltender you pretty much go through your whole life from the time you’re eight or nine years old with everyone telling you you’re not good enough at this, you can’t do that. If you keep listening to that little guy on your shoulder you’re not going to have a very long career at a high level. He just seems to go and go and go. If something happens that’s not favorable, he just pushes it off and it doesn’t seem to have a hangover effect, he goes right back in practice and attacks it. His demeanor doesn’t change, that’s what his teammates like to see every day.”

The Wings kept Howard in the minors until he ran out of options. He did play a total of nine games over three seasons with Detroit while in Grand Rapids.

Mrazek quickly leapfrogged every goalie in the Wings’ system to become the third in line for th starting job.

“I look back at the World Juniors, when he came out of nowhere,” Bedard said. “Obviously we knew who he is because we watched him on a daily basis when he was with the Ottawa 67s. On a stage as big as the World Juniors, being played in Canada he was such a big part of their team’s success. They basically rode him just like the Griffins rode him. He really got put on the map.

“It’s not a surprise for anybody that he is where he is,” Bedard continued. “He doesn’t look out of place one single bit. Every time I looked down the pucks were being stopped and the play kept moving. He’s got what you can’t teach and that’s a heck of a lot of talent and the right mix of confidence and swagger. He enjoys playing the game. Him and Howie both challenge each other in the drills after. At the end they give each other high fives. It reminds me of the same relationship Ozzie (Chris Osgood) had with Howie when he first came here. Until Gus gets healthy this is a great opportunity for him to get more days in the National Hockey League.”

Gustavsson pulled his groin after playing only 19 minutes of relief of Howard in the season opener last year.

“It’s tough to say how long it’s going to be,” Gustavsson said. “They took some pictures, but you never really know with groins how long it’s going to take, could be a few days or longer than that. You never know how quick they heal. I’m just going to do whatever I can to get back as soon as possible.”

Gustavsson, 28, appeared in just seven of the 48 games during the lockout-shortened year last season, making just four starts. He didn’t play over the final 27 games of the season, which included the playoffs.

“I want to be on the ice, I want to be out there, help the team,” Gustavsson said. “But that’s the way it goes. In your career you’re going to have some steps back, setbacks, you can’t be too low about that. Just got to do whatever you can to get back as soon as possible. That’s just the approach I have. I can’t get too down.”

“With groins, especially for a goalie, you got to be 100 percent,” Gustavsson added. “You use them a lot. If I was a defenseman or forward it would be something else because you don’t put as much pressure on it. That’s the tough part, to know exactly how long that’s going to take. That’s why I can’t give you a number or days or weeks I’ll be back. I’m just going to be positive and do everything I can to make it heal as quick as possible.”

Gustavsson could be sidelined 3-4 weeks

DETROIT – It appears backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson could be sidelined three to four weeks with an injured groin he suffered on Saturday according to Wings general manager Ken Holland.

“It’s tough to say how long it’s going to be,” Gustavsson said. “They took some pictures, but you never really know with groins how long it’s going to take, could be a few days or longer than that. You never know how quick they heal. I’m just going to do whatever I can to get back as soon as possible.”

Gustavsson pulled his groin after playing only 19 minutes of relief of Jimmy Howard in the season opener last year.

“I want to be on the ice, I want to be out there, help the team,” Gustavsson said. “But that’s the way it goes. In your career you’re going to have some steps back, setbacks, you can’t be too low about that. Just got to do whatever you can to get back as soon as possible. That’s just the approach I have. I can’t get too down.”

Gustavsson, 28, appeared in just seven of the 48 games during the lockout-shortened year last season, making just four starts. He didn’t play over the final 27 games of the season, which included the playoffs.

“With groins, especially for a goalie, you got to be 100 percent,” Gustavsson said. “You use them a lot. If I was a defenseman or forward it would be something else because you don’t put as much pressure on it. That’s the tough part, to know exactly how long that’s going to take. That’s why I can’t give you a number or days or weeks I’ll be back. I’m just going to be positive and do everything I can to make it heal as quick as possible.”

Wings coach Mike Babcock plans to start Petr Mrazek in goal against the Penguins and start Howard on Friday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.