Monthly Archives: October 2013

Wings feel four-game Western Canada road trip could not have come at a better time

DETROIT – Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock knows the importance of his team’s pending four-game trip to Western Canada.

“Have you ever heard that joke, if you can’t win at home you’ve got to go on the road and if can’t win on the road you’ve got to find somewhere else to play,” Babcock said after practice.

The Wings’ road trip begins Wednesday night in Vancouver and concludes Monday in Winnipeg. They’re winless in their last four games, going 0-2-2, scoring just five goals over that stretch.

“It’s a huge trip for us,” Daniel Cleary said. “We’ve got to get back to playing the way we’re supposed to play and capable of playing.”

Detroit began the season 6-2-0.

“I think sometimes you simplify your game on the road,” Cleary said. “You play a strong game, good defensively, just play a smart game. That’s what we need to do. We need to get a lot better defensively. Once we do that, grind out some low scoring games then the offense will come.”

The Wings have been outshot in eight of their first 12 games this season and have given up an average of 32.4 shot per game.

“Adversity is nothing new to NHL players and teams,” Cleary said. “Listen, we’re 6-4-2 and we haven’t played well. We have to get better in every area of the game and that’s just it.”

The road trip, which also stops in Calgary Friday and Edmonton Saturday, is something players feel will pull the team together.

“Right now home hasn’t been treating us that well,” Jimmy Howard said. “Hopefully, getting out of here, getting on the road, doing some dinners together with the guys will help put these past few games behind us.”

The Wings are 3-2-0 on the road this season.

“We’re going to enjoy it, play some good hockey and get some wins,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “Everything that happens just happens and you have to deal with it. There’s no big panic button that is pushed, but we know we got to play better. The only thing we can do is to go out and play good hockey.

“It doesn’t matter what we say, it doesn’t matter how many meetings we have, it doesn’t matter what we’re telling the other guys to do, everyone has to look at themselves and go in and do a better job,” Zetterberg continued. “If we do that we’ll come together and play better hockey as a team.”

Detroit heads into play Tuesday night fifth in the Atlantic Division.

“Frustration is something that you’re just wasting your energy being,” Niklas Kronwall said. “At the same time everyone in here thinks we’re a hell of a lot better team than what we’re showing right now. We want to get back on track and get back to playing some good hockey. We know it’s in here, now we have to show it.”

The Wings have also had issues with turnovers registering 116 giveaways through 12 games.

“A good road trip is never bad,” Kronwall said. “We’re looking at this as getting back to playing the way that we can and play like we know how to play. We know how to play out there we’re just not showing it out there.

“I don’t think there’s any point in time where it’s like, ‘Get those guys off ice,’’ Kronwall added. “No question about it. That’s not how we work. You win as a team, you lose a team. We’ve dug ourselves a little bit of a hole and the only way to get out of it is to have all the guys pull together and get going in the right direction. That’s how we’re going to solve this one.”

Franzen out Wednesday; Eaves in; Wings coach Mike Babcock: “We’re not very good right now, we’re going to be.”

DETROIT — Quick update from Wings practice.

Johan Franzen missed practice and won’t play Wednesday night against the Vancouver Canucks. His injury or length of time he will be out has yet to be revealed.

The Wings recalled Luke Glendening for their trip to Western Canada.

Drew Miller also left practice early suffering from the flu.

Darren Helm also appears won’t play Wednesday.

“I’m not even thinking about that,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said when asked about Helm’s status. “When they tell me he can play. He didn’t look like he was playing to me today.”

Babcock didn’t reveal what his lines would be against the Canucks, but did say Patrick Eaves will be in the lineup.

“Eaves will be playing,” Babcock said. “He’s smart and he shoots the puck cause we don’t shoot the puck I need someone to shoot the puck and I need someone smart. If he’s looking at the bigger picture and if he’s looking for a larger chunk of cheese there’s lots out there cause lots of guys have left it out there for him.”

Eaves has yet to play this season after suffering a sprained MCL and ankle after a collision with Jeff Hoggan at practice on Sept. 21.

He could have returned last Saturday against the New York Rangers after coming off long-term injured reserve.

Babcock had his team focusing on the basics at practice.

“You can’t continue to give up 40 shots a night and hope to win,” Babcock said. “I said it earlier when we were winning when Gus was in the net that it’s fool’s gold and that’s exactly what it is. There’s a right way to play and a wrong way to play. We’re cheating the system and we’re paying for it.

“The bottom line is the second period is the hardest period,” Babcock added. “When we’re playing good it’s where we always eat the other team alive. They can’t get their people on the ice and we wear them out. We gave up 10 scoring chances. When you think of our team, we don’t execute coming out of our own zone so we spend too much time in our own zone in the second period and that means you end up out there tired.

“We don’t spend enough time in the O-zone because we’re too light on the puck,” Babcock continued. “We don’t get enough shots because we won’t shoot the puck. We don’t get through the neutral zone good because we don’t execute. That’s not a lot of positive things there, but in saying all that when I go through all the tape, rewind it, fast forward and back and forth and go over it over and over again we’re not that far away, but we’re a million miles away if we don’t execute and that’s us right now.”

Detroit is 0-2-2 in its last four games and have scored five goals in that stretch.

“We don’t score any goals, at least not what I’ve seen so let’s not give up 40 shots, let’s give up 20 shots, let’s continue to score no goals and let’s win 2-1,” Babcock said. “How’s about that. Sound like a plan.”

Babcock ended his interview with a CliffsNotes version of how his team has been, “We’re not very good right now, we’re going to be.”

Wings fall to road-weary Rangers: “This has got nothing to do with the Rangers, it’s all about us,” Kronwall says

DETROIT – Detroit’s effort Saturday night against the road-weary New York Rangers was better than the Wings had Wednesday.

But in the end it still wasn’t good enough to pull out a victory.

Derick Brassard scored with 13 seconds left in overtime to lift the Rangers to a 3-2 win over Detroit and snapping a six-game losing streak at Joe Louis Arena in the process.

“When you look at our group there’s no consistency in our play,” said Wings coach Mike Babcock, whose squad was outshot again 40-34. “It doesn’t look like we’re wearing on the other team and at the end of the night, I look at the shot clock and it says 40. We had 34, but 40 is way too many, 28 is way too many. We have a long way to go in that area.

“We have to sort this out,” Babcock continued. “We’re facing a little bit of adversity and we have to dig in. Having a four-game road trip is perfect for us. We have to get way better defensively, way better in our own zone and way better taking care of the puck.”

The Wings, who were coming off an embarrassing 6-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators, are now 0-2-2 in their last four games and have scored a total of five goals.

“Something has to be done about it,” said Jimmy Howard, who made 37 saves. “We’ve got to figure out a way in here to just go out there and compete for each other. It’s going to be the guys in here that get the job done. I think it’s just believing in each other and not trying to do too much out there. Let guys do their jobs.

“It’s frustrating,” Howard continued. “We lost with (13) seconds left in overtime. Once again, we didn’t really play for 60 minutes and it cost us.”

The Rangers, who were playing their final of nine straight games on the road due to renovations being done at Madison Square Garden, came in with just two wins in their first eight games.

“This has got nothing to do with the Rangers, it’s all about us,” Niklas Kronwall said.

Drew Miller and Daniel Alfredsson scored for Detroit.

The Rangers, who last won at Joe Louis Arena on Jan. 30, 1999, got goals from Benoit Pouliot and Mats Zuccarello, while goalie Cam Talbot stopped 32 shots.

Taking a 2-1 lead into the third period, the Rangers got the equalizer just two minutes in when Zuccarello banged home a rebound between Howard’s legs after his original save on Dominic Moore.

Babcock had just juggled up his forward lines out of the locker room because of how poorly his team had played in the second.

“The second period obviously disappoints me,” Babcock said. “When it gets to be a theme and this is a theme. We can’t give it away in the second period, especially in your own barn, you’ve got to outplay the other team and we didn’t do that.”

In overtime, Pouliot was able to chip a puck past Danny DeKeyser to send Brassard in alone on Howard to end the game.

“It’s very disappointing,” Kronwall said. “You play hockey to win games. Right now we’re not getting the job done. We have to get back to the basics and keep it a lot more simple out there. Sometimes the best play might be off the glass and right now we’re trying to play ourselves out of each and every situation. It’s costing us a few goals right now.”

Miller opened the scoring late in the first period.

Picking up a loose puck and the Wings’ blue line, Miller rushed up ice on a 2-on-1 with Jordin Tootoo and then snapped a wrist shot to beat Talbot short side for his first goal of the season.

It was just the Wings’ second goal in a span of 194 minutes and 10 seconds over four games.

Prior to that goal they had been outscored 11-1 during that stretch.

Howard kept the Wings’ slim one-goal advantage with two huge saves before the 10-minute mark of the second period.
The first game off a shot by Ryan McDonagh, who grabbed a rebound off the end boards that Howard joisted his blocker at to stop.

Then, out of position and trying to work through a Ranger player that fell into the crease, he shot his blocker across his body to turn aside Brian Boyle.

The Rangers tied the game up with a power play goal from Pouliot late in the second period.

Pouliot found a loose puck just outside the crease and backhanded a shot past Howard, who was on his side in the crease.

The Wings answered right back, finally capitalizing on their power play, which was their third of the night, scoring with just 11 seconds left in the period.

After some good puck movement in the Rangers’ zone, Pavel Datsyuk fed Alfredsson a pass in the slot and using a Johan Franzen screen to his advantage he beat Talbot with a wrist shot.

Wings look to generate more offense tonight against well-travelled Rangers

DETROIT – As the Detroit Red Wings head into their 12th game of the regular season tonight against the New York Rangers, they’re still in search of an identity.

“We have to play well,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said Saturday after the team’s morning skate at Joe Louis Arena. “It’s just like doing your job, you have to have a blue print to know what you’re doing and you have to have the energy to come in and do it each and every day. We haven’t established a blue print enough. We don’t have an identity or whatever you want to call it.”

After going 6-3-1 in their first 10-game segment, the Wings’ 11th game was one they’d soon like to forget, a 6-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators.

“Through 10 games, you’re 6-3-1 and you think you’re off to not a bad start and then game 11 comes along and you’re wondering what the heck you’re doing,” Babcock said. “We have to regroup here today, we have to play harder as a good and better as a group.”

The Wings have scored just 25 goals this season, an average of 2.3 per game.

But they’ve scored just three goals over their last three games, going 0-2-1 in the process.

Babcock shuffled up his top two lines to try and generate more offense, breaking up Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.

Datsyuk will center Todd Bertuzzi and Daniel Alfredsson, while Zetterberg will play between Johan Franzen and Tomas Tatar.

The bottom two lines remained the same.

The Rangers’ offense has been even worse. They’ve scored just 12 goals in eight game, an average of 1.50 per game.

“Like every team you’re playing you’re going to have your hands full,” Babcock said. “They’re like us, they don’t score any goals.”

Tonight’s game is the final of a nine-game road trip to begin the season for New York. The Rangers, who are 2-6-0, also played every preseason game on the road because Madison Square Garden was being renovated.

“I thought their D-zone look the same,” Babcock said. “When I look at the Rangers it’s a lot of carry over, lots of shot blocking, I really like 27 (Ryan McDonagh), 5 (Dan Girardi) and 18 (Marc Staal). I really thought they were fantastic the other night. (Derek) Stepan is obviously a real good player for them. (Brad) Richards seems to be getting it going again. (Dan) Boyle always impresses me, I think he’s done a real good job and gone to New York and become a real good player here in the league.”

Detroit has won six in a row at home against the Rangers and are 10-1-0 in the past 11 against New York at Joe Louis Arena

The Rangers have won only twice in Detroit, which is 17-2-3 over the last 22 games against New York, since 1986.

The Rangers’ last win in Detroit was on Jan. 30, 1999 (3-2).

Babcock breaks up Zetterberg and Datsyuk; Tatar moves into top six forward spot

DETROIT – Quick update from Detroit Red Wings practice at Joe Louis Arena Friday afternoon.

Wings coach Mike Babcock answer to fixing his team’s struggling offense is by splitting up Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.

“It’s not going,” Babcock said after practice. “I told them and you guys I wasn’t going to split them up and 11 games in I’m splitting them up. It wasn’t by plan and not necessarily what I wanted to do, but we need to.”

Datsyuk will center a line with Daniel Alfredsson and Todd Bertuzzi, while Zetterberg will center Johan Franzen and Tomas Tatar.

“We think we need more going,” Babcock said. “It’s too easy to shut down one or two guys. You need a team going. Right now we need Alfie and we need Mule and a whole bunch of guys to score. We haven’t gotten that much with playing with those guys so maybe if we get them playing with those guys then we get four guys scoring and the other guys contributing more on a regular basis and then we become a better hockey team. That’s the plan.”

The Wings have scored just three goals over their last three games.

“Could be a record, what was it 10 games,” Zetterberg joked about how long he was able to stick alongside Datsyuk to start the season. “I think Babs was pretty up front about it, we will be playing together until he needs to switch it up and now it’s time. I’m pretty sure we’ll play together here at some point in time. But when we’ve been losing games like we have, haven’t been scoring much, we have to try something different.”

The two will remain on the top power play unit.

Zetterberg leads the team with 12 points, followed by Datsyuk with 11 and Alfredsson with nine. The fourth leading scoring is a defenseman, Niklas Kronwall (seven points).

“I think it’s sometimes you have to switch it up a little bit to hopefully get some more offense going,” Zetterberg said. “I’ve played with Mule many times. It’s going to be fun to play with Tats, too. He’s a skilled player and he’s got a lot of talent. He hasn’t got so many opportunities to play. It’s going to be nice to see now when he gets one.”

The biggest beneficiary is Tatar.

“We have to generate more offense,” Babcock said. “Some guys are given the opportunity because we have to generate some more offense. We need team offense, not individual offense. That comes from forechecking harder, being heavier on the puck in the O-zone, having a better net-front presence, shooting the puck and getting it back. We’d like him to be a part of all those things.”

Tatar will be in the lineup a third straight game after sitting out eight of the Wings’ first nine contests.

“We need to score more goals,” Tatar said. “Hopefully this is going to be the turning point and I can help the first two lines produce.

“This is a big opportunity to play with those guys,” Tatar continued. “It’s basically like a dream. All those guys are really good players. They’re leaders on the team. It’s going to be fun and hopefully we can build some chemistry there and score a couple of goals.”

Tatar, 22, was the American Hockey League MVP last season, scoring 16 goals to go with five assists in 24 games.

“My job will be to skate, get the pucks for the guys so they can make the plays,” Tatar said. “Be aggressive on the puck for those guys so we can stay in the offensive zone, get the puck in the corners for them. They are smart guys and make the plays so I need to get open for them and make more space.

“It’s just another game,” Tatar added. “I don’t want to be shaky. In the end I want to be the winner. That’s an important thing for me right now.”

Patrick Eaves and Darren Helm won’t play Saturday against the New York Rangers.

Helm suffered a minor groin flare up during this two-game conditioning stint in Grand Rapids.

“If that didn’t happen I felt that I had a chance for (Saturday), but the groin is feeling better, the back is feeling good,” Helm said. “The test in GR went really well and hopefully everything will be good for Canada somewhere.”

Jimmy Howard will start in goal.

Stephen Weiss off to slow start with Wings: “This falls on me.”

DETROIT – Wings coach Mike Babcock and Stephen Weiss agree on one thing, the center simply needs to relax.

Through 11 games, Weiss has just two goals and is a minus-4.

“You want to be the best player on the ice every night,” Weiss said. “And sometimes when it doesn’t happen you tighten up a little bit. Even though you’re not trying to, you’re telling yourself all the right things and try not to think too much, but when you get out there sometimes that’s all out the window.

“It’s tough battling yourself trying to get out of your own way,” Weiss added.

Weiss was the second-line center the Wings coveted in free agency when it became apparent that Valtteri Filppula had priced himself out of their plans.

Weiss signed a five-year deal on the first day of free agency at $4.9 million.

“The first thing you have to do when you come to a new place is you have to breathe, and you have to give yourself a break, and you have to spend no time thinking and spend all your time playing,” Babcock said. “That’s easy for me to say, but when you come in and get off to a good start and three bounce in off your leg, you get rolling and you relax. And when you don’t you pressure up.”

To try and jump start Weiss’ game, Babcock took him off centering the second line and added him between Daniel Cleary and Tomas Tatar on the third line over the last two games.

“Just look after defense and once he settles down the rest will come,” Babcock said.

He also took Weiss off the power play and added him to the penalty kill.

“I’m not going to worry about results,” Weiss said. “I’m just going to go out and play and try and be as loose as I can. I felt a little bit better that way. When you’re trying too hard and trying to do too much and wanting it so much sometimes that gets in your way. I think that’s been the case a little bit at the start of the season. I’m just trying to relax and not worry about results at the end of the night. That stuff will all take care of itself in the end.”

Prior to coming to Detroit, Weiss, 30, had 145 goals and 249 assists in 654 career games with the Florida Panthers.

“I haven’t felt any pressure, it’s all that I put on myself,” said Weiss, who was the fourth overall pick by the Panthers in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. “I need to handle the puck and do all those little things and it will all take care of itself.

“I’ve got a different mindset,” Weiss continued. “I’m going to try and create and all those type of things. Our line has jump and has created some scoring chances.”

Babcock’s plan heading into training camp was for Weiss to play center between Daniel Alfredsson and Johan Franzen.

The line spent little time together at camp and in preseason due to injuries at different times to Alfredsson and Franzen and therefore was unable to form chemistry.

“This falls on me,” Weiss said. “You just have to get out of your own way, not worry about the results and just go out and have fun. You have to realize you’re a good hockey player and you’re here for a reason. Just get the heck out of your own way that’s the key.”

Wings coach Mike Babcock: “We were no good here today.”

DETROIT – Ottawa’s newest captain made it a night the Senators’ former captain would soon like to forget.

And in the end it got down-right embarrassing.

Jason Spezza and Bobby Ryan scored two goals apiece to lead the Senators over Daniel Alfredsson and his new team, the Detroit Red Wings, 6-1, Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena.

Spezza was named Ottawa’s captain this season, replacing Alfredsson when he bolted for Detroit after spending his entire 17-year career with the Senators. He had been the league’s longest serving captain until the move.

“It’s a game,” Alfredsson said. “It’s disappointing for us to lose the way we did at home. I would have loved to win this one no question, but we played a good game against San Jose and now we took a step back. We have to get back with a good effort on Saturday and move it in the right direction.”

Ryan was acquired by Ottawa for two players and a first-round draft pick the same day Alfredsson agreed on a deal with the Wings.

“We were no good here today,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “It’s not like I saw it coming, it’s not like I think our play’s been falling off or anything. I didn’t see it coming. I was surprised to say the least. (I’m) disappointed for Alfie that we couldn’t have done a better job here.

“We have an off day tomorrow so I’m just talking about whether we should have an off day or not,” Babcock continued. “It’s one of those things that I don’t think you forget this very easily and you shouldn’t forget it either. That’s embarrassing to play like we did.”

Eric Gryba and Jared Cowen also scored, while goalie Craig Anderson made 31 saves for the Senators.

Todd Bertuzzi had the Wings’ lone goal.

“Tonight was too much watching the other team play, starting with myself,” said Niklas Kronwall, who returned after missing the last two games with a mild concussion. “I know I have to be better and I think a lot of guys in here feel the same way. I didn’t think that we didn’t work hard enough, we just didn’t work smart enough. You’re skating too much when you shouldn’t be skating, so to speak. You got to be a lot smarter and a lot harder to play against. We were a step behind tonight.”

Ottawa took control early with three goals on its first eight shots to chase starter Jimmy Howard from between the pipes. The Senators put three more Jonas Gustavsson, who finished with 17 saves.

“Obviously we wanted to win the game,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “We wanted to have a good game. We’re not happy. You’ve just got to forget and move on.”

Ottawa built a 3-0 lead just fourteen minutes and 14 seconds into the game.

Mika Zibanejad took advantage of a puck hopping over Danny DeKeyser’s stick behind the net. He then hold off the defenseman and drew the rest of the Wings towards him before sending a pass to Gryba for the wrist shot to beat Howard cleanly to open the scoring.

Five minutes later, Ottawa doubled its lead with a power play goal from Spezza. With all day to shoot in the faceoff dot to the right of Howard, Spezza sent a blast in that Howard had no chance on after he deflected off the inside of the leg of Brian Lashoff.

Ryan put an end to Howard’s night with the Senators’ second power play goal, this time from just outside the faceoff dot to the left of the Wings netminder. Ryan snapped a wrist shot just inside the post.

Bertuzzi ended a Wings’ goalless drought of 133:12 with a power play tally. Kronwall sent a shot in off the boards that Henrik Zetterberg picked up and one touched it to Bertuzzi, who snuck back out in front to jam it past an unsuspecting Anderson.

Spezza was a one-man show in netting his second goal, firing a shot off the end boards and then beat three Wings to it to beat Gustavsson for the lone tally of the second period.

“It was a different game, the way it turned out,” Alfredsson said. “It didn’t feel too crazy. The warm-up was what it was and once the game got going you’re really into it. The game didn’t turn into a good battle which is what I expected.”