DETROIT – Quick update from the Wings’ optional morning skate at Joe Louis Arena.
Daniel Cleary will indeed by a healthy scratch tonight against the Winnipeg Jets.
“I’ve just got to work hard, stay positive and be professional about it,” Cleary said. “There’s a lot of hockey left.
“Frustrating is normal,” Cleary added. “You can’t dwell on the negatives, you have to be positive, you have to work hard, that’s it. Hockey is a game of confidence, you have to have a lot of confidence and you have to be good defensively. Bring different things to the table so you just have to continue doing that you’ve been doing.”
Cleary has a goal and two assists in 18 games. He’s a plus-1.
“I imagine he’s very pissed off today,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said.
Babcock would not say how long Cleary would be a healthy scratch.
“Maybe (I need to) focus a little more on offense,” Cleary said. “We need to score more as a team. Defensively we’re pretty good. I’m good defensively. We need to help out Pav and Z a little more.”
Cleary’s lone goal came on Oct. 14 at Boston.
Cleary got a one-year deal worth $1.75 million from the Wings a day into training camp after turning down a professional tryout by the Philadelphia Flyers.
Johan Franzen will return to the lineup, after missing five of the last six games with an upper-body injury.
“The first game is usually a bit easier than the second back because you have more adrenaline going, but still you have to keep your shifts short and really try and be smart out there and not try and do too much,” Franzen said.
Darren Helm will center the second line with Franzen and Daniel Alfredsson.
“The big thing is the guy’s been hurt, so I don’t know what we’re supposed to do about that,” Babcock said. “He’s kind of like Helmer. Their shifts better be about 30 seconds long otherwise you just can’t keep the tempo. Winnipeg skates well. We need two groups to play against them.
“I really felt over the last while, when we lost (Stephen) Weiss and then Mule, that we’ve been, it’s not as much on the road you notice, but at home when you’re supposed to match up, the other coach runs your bench because you don’t have enough depth. Today we should be able to rotate a few people and make it easier for us to get what we want.”
It’s the second game in a row that Helm will center the second line.
“We just have to find a way to keep up with Helms in the middle,” Franzen said. “I’m going to look really slow next to him. He’s a great athlete. He just flies out there. To our eyes his legs look like the same like they were before, but he’s still the quickest and we need him.”
Helm will also play on the Wings’ second power play unit tonight.
“I’m penciled in there right now,” Helm said. “We’ll see how it goes. If I get pretty sloppy I’m sure it’s not going to last too long. It’s a position I want to embrace and want to stay in a little longer so hopefully I’ll do well.”
Helm tried to recall the last time he played regularly on the power play and he came up with 2007 or 2008.
“I got 40 seconds last game, everyone was getting tired so they had to throw someone out there,” Helm said.
He’ll be the net-front presence on the unit.
“That’s where I’m at right now, I’ve never really played net front,” Helm said. “I’ve gotten a few tips from the guys in the room (Franzen and Justin Abdelkader) that have played. Get knocked around a little bit and maybe tip a few pucks.”