Tag Archives: wings

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.

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.”

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.

Nyquist comes through with another timely goal; PP gets one

DETROIT >> Gustav Nyquist scored some timely goals for the Detroit Red Wings last season.

He was back at it Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena.

Nyquist scored the Wings’ lone power play goal on four chances to lead them over the Boston Bruins, 2-1.

“That obviously feels real nice for the power play,” Nyquist said. “I thought (the power play) was OK tonight. I thought we could have done some things better but we still got some chances, I think. I think it worked a little better than it had in the preseason.”

The goal also helped get a power play going that limped along on its first two chances of the game.

On each of their first two man advantages, the Wings cleared the puck out of Boston’s zone with passes back to the point where no one was at.

“I think we’re getting a little more on the inside right now,” said Nyquist, who had 28 goals in 57 regular season games last year. “I thought our breakouts didn’t really work the way we wanted, but that’s something we can improve. But in zone, we’re getting a lot of bodies in front and I think that’s where we’re going to score a lot of goals so I like that.”

Nyquist had no goals over his last 11 games, including playoffs. His lost goal came on April 2, coincidently against the Bruins.

“No surprise,” Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said when asked about Nyquist’s ability to score big time goals. “He’s a great player. He’s a hard worker in practice. He stays after and works on his game. It’s not surprise. He’s got that knack, nose for the net. He’s always in the right place at the right time.”

But back to the Wings’ new and improved power play.

“Our breakout was so bad early we couldn’t get into the zone,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We had no deception, so we talked about deception. Go back to our power play goal, (Niklas Kronwall) did a real good job of bring it up one side, looking everybody off and then going to (Henrik) Zetterberg who had easy access.”

Detroit’s power play began last season going 0-for-10 through four games.

“We weren’t getting any control (on the power play),” Babcock said. “When you think about their power play, except the four on three, they didn’t have a ton of control. That’s what good penalty kill teams do, they make you chase it around the whole time and they keep you on the wall. So we were finally able to make a play.”

The Wings’ penalty kill, which was stellar in the preseason, was 4-for-4.

The last kill was late in the third period as Detroit clung to a one-goal lead after Johan Franzen was sent off for elbowing. The Bruins pulled their goalie to make it a 6-on-4 advantage. And then Luke Glendening lost his stick early in the two-minute infraction.

“I’m pretty confident in the penalty kill, so I thought let’s just kill it off,” Babcock said. “We came out for the third like a young group, I didn’t think we were as assertive as we should have been, so having the penalty kill, you can be really aggressive. The part that really hurt us was when Glenny lost his stick and then broke his stick.”

Wings hope youthful experience carries over to 2014-15 season

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings’ roster for the 2014-15 season may look eerily like last year’s squad that squeaked its way into the playoffs.

But it’s different due mainly to the fact that the youngsters who helped extend that playoff streak are a year older.

“I’ve had some people say that the roster is the same, but there are six forwards different (from last opening night) so it’s night and day different from what it was,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “It’s a much quicker team, a much more useful team.

“We were at a snail’s pace last year at the start of the year,” Babcock added. “I didn’t even like watching us practice, we were so slow. We were able to pick things up during the year and get way quicker and ideally we’ll continue to do that. We think we’re really going to be able to fly.”

The Wings’ youngsters filled in when stars like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, who both played just 45 regular season games, sat with injuries.

“If we’re fortunate to have Pav and Z play, and stay healthy, we’re a better team that way,” Babcock said. “It’s about growth. You’ve done it once, but 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.”

Darren Helm, Johan Franzen, Stephen Weiss and Jonathan Ericsson also missed considerable time that led to Detroit having the second most man games lost a season ago.

“The young guys took a huge step for us last year and they got a good taste of what the playoffs are like,” Niklas Kronwall said. “They gained a lot of experience that way. With them taking another step and the health of our big guys, Hank, Pav and E, hopefully he can stay healthy too. We’re very familiar with all the players. We know the system so I think we should be in good shape.”

The Wings don’t ever want to say they’re rebuilding, but the need to thrust the youngsters into key roles last season has allowed them to at least stay in contention to qualify for one of the eight playoff spots.

“It’s interesting to me that we’re getting better again now, but we’re not getting better with old guys, we’re getting better with young guys,” Babcock said. “Last year was a breakthrough year for us. When you’re on the outside looking in you might not see it, but to me, since ’09 we’ve still been a good team. We’re a Cup team. You could say the whole league is a Cup team because it’s so tight.”

Babcock admits the Cup contenders continue to be the same as the last few seasons – Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Pittsburgh.

“The rest of us are fighting to be in that pool,” Babcock said. “We’ve crawled into the playoffs two years in a row. Last year we crawled in with kids though, the year before we did it with unbelievable goaltending down the stretch. I like the direction that we’re going. The issue is always, to win the Cup you need some stars, and we have stars, but they have to be healthy. But we eventually have to have guys to replace those stars because they are 35 and 34 (years old).”

Not being a favorite to win the Cup is nothing new to Zetterberg.

“I think it’s been like that since Nick (Lidstrom) retired,” Zetterberg said. “Ever since then we haven’t been a sure thing for the playoffs. Somehow we’ve found a way to make it there and we’re going to do the same this year.”

“When I look at our group, we’re a group that’s going to have to earn our way and earn our confidence,” Babcock said. “I don’t think anyone has got us pegged to win the President’s Trophy, so we’re going to have to grind.”

The Wings have reached the playoffs 23 consecutive seasons.

“It’s about making the playoffs and about being healthy and playing your best hockey at the right time,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “It’s a league that’s got balance and parity. We need a little better luck with health with the continued development.”

“The young guys did a tremendous job for us last year helping us keep the playoff streak alive,” Jimmy Howard said. “I think a lot of veterans are a lot healthier than compared to most years. It’s just going to be going out there and proving people wrong.”

Wings still in a holding pattern on Alfredsson

DETROIT >> The Wings are just waiting on word from forward Daniel Alfredsson on how his rehab is going.

“I haven’t heard from Alfie in a week,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview Tuesday. “What was told to me from Alfie’s agent is he’s going to take time to rehab and when he gets to a point where he’s ready to make a decision he’s going to give me a shout.”

The Wings would like to get 60-to-65 games out of Alfredsson, who was tied for the team lead in points last season, 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.

Alfredsson, who did not attend training camp, still has an issue with a nerve in his back that occurred late last season.

He suffered a setback in early September.

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.”