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.


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