Tag Archives: wings

Griffins boss honored

DETROIT >> Grand Rapids coach Jeff Blashill was given the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award, which is handed out to the American Hockey League’s outstanding coach each season.

“He’s been amazing,” said defenseman Ryan Sproul, who played his first game with the Wings on Sunday. “I came out of juniors pretty much pure offense and now I’ve turned into more of an all-around player, I feel like. And he’s told me that before, so that’s good to hear and I appreciate everything that he has done.”

Blashill was a Wings assistant for one season before taking over the Griffins job last year, leading them to winning the Calder Cup.

With the amount of injuries in Detroit, Blashill lost a number of his offensive threats including Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Jurco and Riley Sheahan.

Wings get Boston in first round of playoffs; series opens Thursday with Game 2 on Saturday

DETROIT >> Sunday afternoon’s game between the Wings and St. Louis Blues has a ton of meaning for one team and has little to no meaning for another.

The Blues need a win to at least jump ahead of Colorado for the second seed in the Western Conference and thus avoid opening up against the defending Stanley Cup champs, the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Avalanche play late Sunday night.

St. Louis could also still garnish the top seed if Anaheim fails to earn a point over its final two games, one of which was played late Saturday night.

Because of Columbus’ 3-2 win over Florida Saturday night and Philadelphia’s win over Pittsburgh, Detroit can’t climb any higher than the second wild card spot and thus will face the Boston Bruins, who will finish with the best record in the league after topping Buffalo on Saturday.

“Just play well,” Jimmy Howard said when asked what the team’s approach would be to the regular season finale in St. Louis. “You want to feel good about yourself going into the playoffs. It’s as simple as that.”

Had the Wings gotten the top wild card spot they would have played Pittsburgh.

“It shouldn’t be,” Niklas Kronwall said when asked if it’s hard to perhaps overlook this game. “We’ve got some things we need to work on so this would be a good time to do it.”

The Wings could have been a step closer to assuring them the top wild spot if it wasn’t for their loss Friday to the lowly Carolina Hurricanes, 2-1.

“I don’t think we played bad by any means,” Howard said. “It was one of those things where we’ve been playing playoff hockey for almost two months and we finally got a place in the playoffs and took our foot off the gas a little bit. You could see it out there.”

Detroit is 3-1-0 this season against the Bruins.

The series will begin Thursday with game two taking place Saturday. Games three and four will be April 21 and 23 at Joe Louis Arena. Times will be announced later.

“There are lots of challenges,” Brendan Smith said of the Wings’ first round opponent. “They have scoring, they have physicality, they have puck-moving (players), they have arguably one of the best goalies and they have the makeup for a Stanley Cup team.

“So does everybody else but they might have it more than any other team because of their physicality that is stronger than other teams,” Smith continued. “The only other team I might compare them to is St. Louis. So it’s going to be a challenge for us.

Boston, which also has one game left in the regular season, has 117 points, while Detroit has 91.

“We’ve played them well, we play a system that does well against Boston and it’s something that we have to stick to,” Smith said. “If we get away from that or get hindered in any sense, then we’ll struggle. We have to play our system and play them hard. I think the biggest thing for us is puck-possession, no turnovers. That’s a big thing because they will put the puck in the back of our net. You look at their top two lines with (David) Krejci’s line and (Patrice) Bergeron’s line and it’s 1A and 1B situation and we have to be able to shut them down.”

Wings can’t get over playoff clinching emotional hangover in 2-1 loss to Hurricanes

DETROIT >> Just one game after clinching a berth in this year’s playoffs, the Detroit Red Wings went back to playing how they did earlier in the season at Joe Louis Arena … poorly.

Carolina got a 28-save performance from Cam Ward and goals from Elias Lindholm and Jiri Tlusty to skate past the Wings, 2-1, Friday night.

“No question,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said when asked if the team had an emotional letdown after clinching a playoff berth a couple nights ago. “Might even expect it, but that’s not an excuse. We have a good enough team to win tonight we just have to play right.”

Detroit got a third period goal from Riley Sheahan and Jimmy Howard stopped 17 shots.

“You can’t cheat the system, it doesn’t work like that,” Babcock said. “If you do good things, good things happen. If you don’t, you turn the puck over I don’t know how many times, needlessly for no reason and in the end their goaltender was really good, we didn’t make it hard enough on them. We didn’t have enough net presence, second chances and then just intensity, we had wide open nets. If you’re focused and you’re dialed in you shoot it in the net.”

It’s the first regular season win by the Carolina franchise at JLA since a 3-0 win by the Hartford Whalers on Nov. 14, 1989.

“I think we’ve been playing playoff type hockey to get ourselves in,” Drew Miller said. “It’s not really the time we shouldn’t be playing the way we should.”

With at least a point Friday Detroit would have vaulted in front of Columbus for the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference after the Blue Jackets fell to Tampa Bay.

In order to garner that spot now, the Wings need to beat St. Louis on Sunday and have Philadelphia get no more than one point in its last two games and have the Blue Jackets do the same in their final game.

“Probably,” Johan Franzen said when asked if he thought it was a mental letdown after clinching the playoff berth. “I think so and hope so. Hopefully we can get ourselves back together here and start playing the way we want to before the playoffs.”

If Detroit is the second wild card it’s a series with Boston. If it’s the top wild card it’s Pittsburgh.

After Sheahan got the Wings on the board on the power play just four minutes into the third period, Ward stood on his head to keep Carolina in front.

Ward preserved his team’s one-goal lead after robbing Justin Abdelkader with his left pad on a one-time down low after a pass from Pavel Datsyuk.

Just moments later, Darren Helm spun John-Michael Liles to the ground to go one-on-one with Ward, but he was turned aside by his blocker this time.

“We had enough chances to win, but we didn’t really do all the small things like we’ve been doing to win all the games,” Franzen said. “We were a little loose. It happens. You don’t want to play like that. We don’t want to exchange chances like that, going up and down. We don’t want to play that type of game. It is what it is. Try to win the next one.”

But the first two period cost the Wings.

“I don’t think we had much intensity through two periods,” Babcock said. “I thought we had a good push, but the reality is we weren’t good enough. We had tons of chances. Their goaltender was good, but we didn’t play right. When you don’t play hard enough, you don’t play right, you don’t win. As a group we weren’t good enough.

“At one point we had a 4-on-3, they had a 3-on-1,” Babcock continued. “We had a 3-on-2. That’s not how we play. That’s river hockey. That’s not how we’re going to have success. I was disappointed in the fact that we didn’t stick to what we have to do to have success, but it’s a good reminder for us too.”

The Hurricanes opened the scoring on the power play eight minutes into the first period.

All alone down low, Lindholm took a pass at the side of Howard, brought it off his backhand to forehand before chipping a shot off the glove of the Wings’ netminder.

Carolina entered the game with the second worst power play in the league.

Ten minutes later, Carolina doubled its lead when Tlusty banged home a rebound off Howard’s blocker from a shot by Eric Staal. Tlusty worked his way in front of Brendan Smith entering the Wings’ zone.

In the second, Staal looked like he had given Carolina a 3-0 lead after chipping a puck over Howard’s glove, but an alert Jakub Kindl backhanded it out of the air and then out of harm’s way.

Wings coach Mike Babcock on Tomas Jurco: “He needs to be physical on the forecheck and he’s got to be physical at their net.”

DETROIT >> Offensively, Tomas Jurco is chipping in where needed.

But there’s one element to his game that Wings coach Mike Babcock wants to see on a more regular basis.

“It’s really straight forward for Tomas, he’s got to play a simple game,” Babcock said after the Wings’ morning skate prior to their game against Carolina at Joe Louis Arena. “He’s got to be physical on the forecheck and he’s got to be physical at their net. Then, everything else will happen for him. When he isn’t he’s just another player in the league.

“When he wants to get physical, wants to get involved physically, he’s got such great pace, such great strength, he’s got great hands in tight, that he’s going to be an effective player,” Babcock added.

Entering play Friday, Jurco had three goals over his last four games.

“Obviously there’s more confidence with the goals,” Jurco said. “It just started going in for me a little more than it used to. I know I’m trying to get at the net and maybe have some rebounds. I was trying to shoot more and I guess that I couldn’t score, so I just went to the net and tried to get some rebounds, so it’s going pretty well for me and hopefully it’s going to stay like this.”

Jurco found success early on with former Grand Rapids linemates Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar to form the ‘Kid Line’.

But then lapses in his game crept up and soon he found himself on the fourth line.

Now, Jurco is skating on the third line with Darren Helm and Daniel Alfredsson.

“I’m trying to get some nice goals, but there’s no reason for me to change anything now since it’s going in,” Jurco said. “Obviously, it’s nice to score some highlight reel goals, like Gus does, but I’m going to take mine, too.”

“Good speed with Helmer and Jurco on it and Alfie gets to use his skill set which is his brain,” Babcock said of the line.

Jurco, along with his other Griffin teammates, got the vote of confidence from Babcock after the Wings clinched a berth in the postseason on Wednesday.

“It helps me a lot but I’m never sure,” Jurco said. “My mind is always like I have to keep working hard otherwise I’m going to go down. I’m never good with what’s going on right now, I always want to be better, work hard to stay here. Obviously, I have more confidence now but I’m still trying to work hard.”

Jurco has one more year left on a deal that pays him $709,167 before becoming a restricted free agent.

Kids helped Wings reach playoffs a 23rd consecutive season. “They’re not going anywhere,” Babcock says.

DETROIT >> If the Detroit Red Wings have proved anything this season it’s that they can play through adversity.

And play pretty well.

With a roster filled with a bunch of youngsters, Detroit qualified for the playoffs a 23rd consecutive season after its 4-3 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Wednesday night.

“That tells a lot about them as (people) and players, but I also believe it comes from the coaching staff, from the beginning they gave them that chance, didn’t make it a big deal, it’s just ‘you can do this,’” Daniel Alfredsson said. “That gave them confidence and they definitely made the most of it. Coach gave them a chance they repaid him with solid play.”

One of the youngsters, Riley Sheahan, scored the tying goal Wednesday that guaranteed the Wings a spot in the postseason.

Another youngster, Gustav Nyquist, leads the team with 28 goals and is tied for second in points with 48. And all that came in 55 games.

Tomas Tatar is sixth on the team in scoring with 19 goals and 18 assists, which is two goals and two points ahead of world-class center Pavel Datsyuk.

“For sure, no question,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said when asked if the play of the former Grand Rapids Griffins saved their season. “We couldn’t have done it without them. They came here and took jobs, they’re not going anywhere.

“They’re real good players that keep getting better and will be part of us for a long time,” Babcock continued. “What I liked is Jimmy Nill and his staff, before Jimmy moved on, did a real good job because we have these kids. (Jeff Blashill) did a real good job in the minors with them.”

Detroit ranks second in man games lost, according to mangameslost.com, and large chunk of those missing have been top-line talent.

Henrik Zetterberg has played just 45 games this year due to a bad back. Datsyuk, who only returned recently, has dressed for 43 games.

“We knew it was going to be tough, we had similar situation in Ottawa last year when we lost (Jason) Spezza, (Erik) Karlsson, (Milan) Michalek and (Craig) Anderson for long periods of time,” Alfredsson said. “If you get something going and get a good feeling in the locker room you can accomplish a lot of things and I think that’s what we’ve done.”

Zetterberg, who underwent successful surgery on Feb. 21 to remove part of a disc that was rubbing against a nerve and caused severe back pain, is supposed to be available sometime during the first round of the playoffs.

The team also expects to have Jonathan Ericsson back during the first round as well. Ericsson had successful surgery to stabilize his fractured finger and repair a partially torn tendon on March 19.

“We’re a good group, we have fun and we know how to work for each other,” Alfredsson said. “It’s kind of contagious when you see everybody going. Everybody kind of drags along and now they pull their share as well.”

The Wings, who last missed the playoffs in the 1989-90 season, will go into the postseason as one of two wild cards and therefore will play either top-seeded Boston or the second-seeded Penguins.

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

“I’m not spending a whole lot of time worrying about this stuff,” Babcock said. “We’re just in and whoever we get we’re going to be a tough out.”

Columbus and the Wings both have 91 points, but the Blue Jackets hold the tiebreaker with more wins in regulation.

“I like the way we’re playing,” Alfredsson said. “We’re going to play Pittsburgh or Boston, two very strong teams, but we’re playing well. I don’t think we’ll go in and be the favorites but we’re going to keep doing what we’ve done all year and that’s go out there and give it everything we have.”

Philadelphia and the New York Rangers could also slip back into one of the two wild card spots. Both of those teams also hold the tiebreaker over Detroit, which close the season Friday at home against Carolina and then Sunday in St. Louis.

“I think we’ve worked extremely hard to get to this point,” Alfredsson said. “This group has overcome a lot of adversity and that makes it even more fun. I think we’ll try to finish off strong here and go into the playoffs feeling good.”

Players not focused on magic number, which is stands at three, but team is taking it one game at a time

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings have a magic number to get into the playoffs and it’s three points.

With four games left in the regular season Detroit needs just five out of a possible eight points to reach the postseason for a 23rd consecutive year.

“The job’s not done,” Justin Abdelkader said. “Things can always change within a game or two games. We’ve just got to go and take care of business and play the way we’ve been playing up until Montreal. We’ve been doing a lot of good things, getting good play out of a lot of guys. We’re close but we’re not there yet. There are important games coming up for us.”

The Wings had their four-game win streak snapped Saturday against the Canadiens.

Detroit’s magic number is also reduced when the New Jersey Devils fail to gain two points in any of their three remaining games.

New Jersey lost to Calgary on Monday, which reduced the magic number to three points.

“I think we take one game at a time here, but obviously we’re going to need a few more wins to get in,” Gustav Nyquist said. “The other teams are all playing for their playoff lives and they’re going to do their best and I’m sure they’re going to win some games down the stretch. So obviously we’re going to need some more points. How many? I don’t know, it’s tough to say but we’re taking it one game at a time and it starts here (Tuesday) in Buffalo.”

The Wings head into play Monday holding down the first wild card spot, a point ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“We have to win our games and we can’t expect other teams to lose,” Daniel Alfredsson said. “We’ve got to expect that everybody is going to win their games to close the season. So we have to win our games to get in. It’s obviously better to be in a position where you control your own destiny and that’s what we want to do.”

New Jersey and Toronto are four points back.

“I think there’s a reality of where we have to be,” Drew Miller said. “With us, the way we’ve approached the last month or so, it’s just play one game at a time. We can’t look ahead. We just approach one game and have to win that. Buffalo, as much as their record it’s not the best this year they’re playing hard. We have to look inside ourselves and be playing well so we can get into the playoffs.”

Three of Detroit’s final four games are on the road, beginning Tuesday at Buffalo and then Wednesday at Pittsburgh, which is locked in the second seed already. After hosting Carolina on Friday the Wings end the season at St. Louis on Sunday. The Blues could already have their playoff seed locked in as well when that afternoon tilt takes place.

“One game at a time starting with Buffalo,” Abdelkader said. “With four games remaining, we don’t want to be waiting until the last game, hoping teams are losing. That’s not a fun position to be in. We can take care of our own business that would be the best way to do it.”

The Devils’ next is a game at Ottawa before ending with home games against the New York Islanders and Boston.

“I would think the urgency has to be there every night,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “That doesn’t go away. When you have a shorter window it’s more obvious to everybody. These games are the same amount of points as the ones in October. There’s eight points available and we have to get some.

“Each year you want to get off to a real good start so you don’t have these types of games at the end of the year,” Babcock continued. “You’re thrilled to have them when you don’t.”

In order for the Maple Leafs, who have just three games left in the regular season, to vault past Detroit they would need a lot to happen.

Being in the fight for their playoff lives is nothing new to the Wings, who have to win their final four games of the regular season last year to reach the postseason.

“Last year we experienced we same thing,” Abdelkader said. “It was a little different where we had to win our remaining games, but I think it prepares you for the playoff type atmosphere, the pressures. We can’t take nights off. Each game is important.”

Wings will be without Datsyuk and Alfredsson as they take on red-hot Bruins

DETROIT >> There was an outside chance Pavel Datsyuk would return to the Detroit Red Wings lineup tonight against the Boston Bruins.

That isn’t happening.

The team will also be without Daniel Alfredsson, who’s listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury according to Detroit general manager Ken Holland.

Todd Bertuzzi gets back in the lineup, skating on the fourth line with Drew Miller and Luke Glendening.

Datsyuk played for Russia at the Olympics, but has only been able to play in two games with the Wings since returning. He last played on Feb. 27, leaving in the second period of a 6-1 win over Ottawa.

“Don’t know,” Datsyuk said when asked when he would return to the lineup. “Not tonight for sure.”

Asked if Friday at home against Buffalo would be when he would return Datsyuk said, “Not today.”

Right now it looks like all Datsyuk needs to do is get back in game shape.

“I need to pick up (the) pace,” Datsyuk said. “I think the two days (of practicing) helped me. I need conditioning more. I can’t do what I do.”

The Wings announced they were shutting Datsyuk down for three weeks at the trade deadline to rest his ailing left knee. Last Friday marked that three-week time frame.

“(I) feel much better,” Datsyuk said. “(I’m) happy to skate with team. Full practice, have fun, try to follow, everybody so fast.”

Datsyuk, who will miss his 16th consecutive game tonight, has 15 goals and 18 assists in 39 games this season. He’s played in just four games since the Winter Classic.

“Yeah,” Datsyuk said when asked if not being able to play is frustrating. “(I) would love to play as soon as possible but I need to be careful.”

Detroit is 7-6-2 without Datsyuk since the Olympic break and hold down the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

“They play unbelievable, but also I need to help (the) team,” Datsyuk said. “I just want to score (on) every shot, that’s what I’m missing. I feel good, but again it’s hard to say it’s 100 percent ready to go. I don’t need to be 100 percent but I need to be careful.”

The Wings face a Boston Bruins team that comes in 15-0-1 in their last 16 games.

“It looks like they’re just mowing everyone down right now,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “They’re rolling. Their good players are scoring. They’ve got good team depth and they’ve got a good team. They’ve got excellent goaltending. This will be a tough test for us tonight. It should be fun.”

Detroit is 2-1-0 this season against the leaders in the Eastern Conference.

Boston won the first meeting in the series, 4-1. Detroit won the next two 3-2 and 6-1.

“The reality is the first time we played them we didn’t touch the puck,” Babcock said. “The second time I thought we had a real close game in their building and the third time in here they weren’t that good. So, sometimes you catch a team at the right time. It doesn’t look like we caught them at the right time.”
The Bruins also are a point ahead of St. Louis for the Presidents’ Trophy.

Legwand a minus-8 since joining Wings; dropped to third line

DETROIT >> Wings coach Mike Babcock talked about needing more from his veterans after Thursday night’s loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

One of those players he was calling out is David Legwand.

“So, so,” Legwand said Friday after practice at Joe Louis Arena when asked to assess his performance since joining the Wings. “There is room to improve and be better in certain areas in the game.”

Legwand was dropped from the team’s top line in the second period Thursday to the third line, which is where he’ll begin the game Saturday night in Toronto

Legwand was also a minus-3 in the loss.

Over the last three games, Legwand has been a combined minus-6, which makes him a minus-8 with the Wings.

“We didn’t play very good so we changed things during the game,” Babcock said. “We’re just staying with what we finished with.”

Legwand will skate alongside Daniel Alfredsson and Joakim Andersson.

“You have to go out there and do what we can do to help the team out in whatever way possible,” Legwand said.

He played the fewest minutes (12:36) he’s played with the Wings since they traded for him at the deadline.

“It’s a different system and a different group of players,” said Legwand, who’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer. “It’s getting used to a few different things and things I have to adjust to, but you have to be a professional about it and do it the right way. It’s crunch time, there are nine games left and every point matters.”

In 12 games this season with the Wings, Legwand has two goals and five assists.

“I think he’s been good, I didn’t think he was great (Thursday) but he was in a club with some other veteran guys that weren’t very good either so you know we weren’t good enough any way you look at it,” Babcock said.

Babcock’s top line is now Johan Franzen, Darren Helm and Gustav Nyquist, while the Kid Line remains intact of Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco.

“(The veterans) weren’t good,” Babcock said. “You’ve just got to play better, that’s all there is to it.”

With nine games left in the regular season the Wings still control their own destiny.

“Your season pretty much boils down to nine games,” Legwand said. “We control our own destiny pretty much and it starts (Saturday) night with beating Toronto and continuing Sunday (against Tampa Bay). We can get two big wins over the weekend and move on from there and put this other stuff behind us.”

Wings’ only playoff hopes will be as a wild card

DETROIT >> Wings coach Mike Babcock said it again, “catchup hockey is losing hockey.”

And that’s just what the Wings did all Thursday night and it eventually led to a 5-4 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at Joe Louis Arena.

“When you start chasing the game like we did anything can happen,” Babcock said. “It’s entertaining for the fans, but it’s not a receipt for success whatsoever.”

Montreal led by two goals three times in the game.

“We weren’t very good in the first period, starting with myself,” Niklas Kronwall said. “We were turning the pucks over all over the ice, we weren’t skating and we weren’t working, but in saying that we were still in the game somehow. We make it 3-3, then they go up 4-3, 5-3 and we score right away again and it’s still a game, but all in all we have to be better than this.”

The loss Detroit’s first in regulation on home ice in the last 13 games.

The Wings are however now 0-2-1 in their last three after winning three in row.

“This is not good enough for sure,” Kronwall said.

“That’s two games in a row that we got behind and it’s unacceptable,” Babcock said. “(Wednesday) I gave them an optional and not many guys went on the ice. It looked like we couldn’t skate at the start of the game. You can bet it won’t be an optional (Friday).”

Tomas Tatar scored twice for Detroit and Jimmy Howard made 24 saves. Johan Franzen and Riley Sheahan also scored.

“We earned a hard W,” said Montreal goalie Carey Price, who stopped 26 shots. “It doesn’t matter if you win 1-0 or 10-9 at this point. It all adds up the same.”

Tomas Plekanec had a pair of goals for the Canadiens, who have won seven of their last eight games. David Desharnais, Max Pacioretty and Tomas Vanek also scored.

“It’s just tough,” Sheahan said. “It’s not like we were going in there with the mindset of having a slow start, but things weren’t working for us and they came out strong. We just got to regroup and get ready for the weekend.”

With just nine games left in the regular season, the loss was damaging for the Wings to qualify for the playoffs as other than a wild card. They are 11 points behind the Canadiens in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference and nine points behind Tampa Bay.

“We know we need these two points and we know we are battling for a playoff spot,” Tatar said. “There are games like this so hopefully we will recover and get ready for the next game.”

Detroit still holds down the final wild card spot with 80 points. Washington and Toronto both have 80 points as well, but the Wings hold the regulation wins tiebreaker.

“We are trying,” Tatar said. “It’s not like we don’t know what’s going on. We just didn’t start the game well. We couldn’t get them. We can’t just hope we will win after one good period so we have to be better. We know we’ve got to start from the get-go. We just have to play better.”

The teams combined for five goals in a wild third period.

The first three goals came in a span of four minutes and 24 seconds to start the third period.

Tatar pulled Detroit back to within a goal on his own, gloving down an attempted clearing pass by Subban at the Canadiens’ blue line and blasting a shot just inside the post to the right of Price.

Then, after some great work by Tomas Jurco down low, Tatar beat Price far side to tie the game.

But just 1:18 later, Pacioretty had a shot glance off the inside of Niklas Kronwall’s skate to beat Howard on a play the Wings were calling for offsides on.

Just past the midway point of the period, Vanek redirected in a shot from the point by Andrei Markov to put Montreal back in front by two goals.

Franzen quickly got one back 21 seconds later, beating Price over his glove.

Franzen had gone nine straight prior without a goal.

In the second, Sheahan cut the Wings’ deficit in half, snapping a wrist shot over Price’s right shoulder just 1:28 into the second period.

Ten minutes later, Montreal had its two-goal advantage back when Desharnais fluttered a shot past Howard, who was screened. Vanek shouldered Niklas Kronwall off the puck before feeding it to Desharnais.

The goal came moments after Detroit had killed off 29 seconds of a 5-on-3 Canadiens’ man advantage due in large part to two huge saves from Howard.

Plekanec and Subban were a one-man wrecking team in the opening period of the game.

Plekanec scored twice off feeds from the Canadiens’ defenseman to put Montreal up 2-0.

The second tally came off a pretty give-and-go pass between the two with both teams playing a man down.

Wings GM Ken Holland on Nyquist: “The pace he’s on right now is an incredible pace. He’s on a hot streak and we’re riding him.”

DETROIT >> Just like their push to reach the playoffs last season, the Detroit Red Wings need an individual player to lead the way.

That player this season appears to be Gustav Nyquist, who’s taking over the torch from Henrik Zetterberg.

Nyquist has scored goals in each of the last five games, seven in total, to give him a team-leading 23 goals in 46 games.

“Right now he’s got a hot hand,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview Monday. “The pace he’s on right now is an incredible pace. He’s on a hot streak and we’re riding him. He’s one of the guys allowing us to stay in this race.”

Nyquist has been the NHL’s top marksman since Jan. 20, totaling 18 goals in 23 games.

“He’s scoring goals,” said linemate Tomas Tatar. “I hope he will just continue. We have lots of injuries, we need goals and it’s nice to see Gus finding the way to the net.

“He’s doing everything right right now, the puck is bouncing for him and he’s skilled enough to put it in,” Tatar continued. “He’s playing great. Sometimes the puck just finds you in the right spot and the right time. Gus is smart enough and he knows where to be, he’s really skilled, so he can finish.”

Nyquist, who was named the NHL’s first star of the week with a league-high six goals and seven points, has been a bright spot in a Wings lineup decimated by injuries to many stars including Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.

Nyquist got caught in a numbers game at the start of the season and began the year in Grand Rapids where he spent the first month and a half of the season.

“I think confidence grows for every game that you’re up here, and right now, obviously, scoring a little bit it gives me more confidence with the puck,” Nyquist said.

He led the Griffins with seven goals and 14 assists in 15 games before being recalled on Nov. 20.

In his first game with the Wings he netted two goals against Carolina, playing on a line with Johan Franzen and Zetterberg.

He has since been moved to the Kid Line, replacing Tomas Jurco, to skate alongside Riley Sheahan and Tatar.

“I’ve been playing with great players so I’ve getting a lot of opportunities out there to shoot the puck in good areas and getting great passes,” Nyquist said. “So that’s the reason behind it and obviously I’m getting good deflections too. I’ve had some good bounces for some goals, so that’s fun to see.”

Nyquist averages 2.7 shots a game this season.

“He’s getting good opportunities, but the other thing he’s doing is shooting the puck,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s got to continue to shoot the puck. In the National League you score by shooting, not by passing. So he’s done a good job in that area.”

He’s totaled 17 shots over the last five games.

“We’ve been talking about (shooting the puck more) all the time I’ve been here, really,” Nyquist said. “I’ve always been more of a passing player. I’m trying to shoot the puck more. I’m getting great passes, too. Try to get it on net.

“I think whoever’s in the lineup, I have to shoot more,” Nyquist added. “That’s how you create chances, too, getting rebounds for goals. All goals aren’t going to be pretty tic-tac-toe plays for an open net, you got to put the puck on net. A couple of my goals have gone off pretty good deflections from other team’s skates. So you just got to keep putting it on net.”

Nyquist, 24, has three multi-goal games, one less than Franzen.