Monthly Archives: January 2014

Zetterberg, Kindl back in lineup; Cleary, Lashoff out; Wings expect an extra fired up Ovechkin

DETROIT >> Quick update from the Detroit Red Wings morning skate before hosting the Washington Capitals at Joe Louis Arena.

Henrik Zetterberg returns to the lineup after missing two games with a reoccurring back issue.

“It’s important to have him back,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Just look at Washington, (Alex Ovechkin) was hurt and suddenly he’s back for two games and he had six points. You know you need your big guys, they keep you calm, they help you stay determined. Zetterberg’s a real team leader for us so it’s important to have him. The rest of us have to play real well obviously but he’s an important piece.”

Zetterberg replaces Daniel Cleary.

Cleary was supposed to a healthy scratch last Sunday before Zetterberg was a last minute scratch due to a bad back.

Zetterberg, who leads the team with 16 goals and 28 assists, missed 11 games in December with a herniated disc.

After sitting out the last four games, Jakub Kindl returns to the lineup as well replacing Brian Lashoff.

“When you’re perceived as an offensive guy you’ve got to be an offensive guy, but in order to be an offensive guy you can’t play in your own zone,” Babcock said. “That’s the big challenge for him obviously. He’s really improved over the years and we think he can help our power play and yet our power play hasn’t generated a lot of points here in the last bit with him on it so other guys got their opportunities back in you’ve got to grab your piece and hang onto it.”

The Wings have lost two in a row, allowing nine goals in the process.

“Hopefully, we can play with a little better structure than we did there (in Philadelphia),” Zetterberg said. “We created some chances but couldn’t score. I think special teams have to be better, especially tonight. We want to stay out of the box, they got a real good power play. Our power play has to get some goals.”

The Capitals are led by Alex Ovechkin, who leads the league with 38 goals. He’s also eighth in points with 55.

Ovechkin was a minus-5 in Washington’s 5-2 loss Thursday to Columbus.

“Well I think anytime a team plays the night before you’re always hoping they go to overtime and it’s a real dog fight to the end,” Babcock said. “To be honest both teams, us and them, just finished giving up five. You go through the pre-scout on a team that gave up five, you’re not very impressed. Both of us need to bounce back and as you look at the standings, it’s not too hard to figure out how important these games are. We play them home-and-home and this is a big series for us and a big series for them. So whether they played last night or didn’t play last night it’s a huge game for us we’ve got to be ready to go.”

In nine career games against Detroit, Ovechkin has eight goals and five assists. He’s also got a plus/minus of 0.

“I think for him it’s going to be a little bit tougher to move on from a game like that because he’s a competitor and that makes it tougher on us,” Brendan Smith said. “He’s a little more fired up, he wants to redeem himself and he’s probably hearing it a lot from over there about being minus-5. So when you have competitors like that they try to prove that it was fluke or it was an off night or whatever the reason is.

“I just know it’s going to be tougher for us and that means not only is he scoring, now he’s making more plays because he was to change that plus/minus, that means he’s a little upset so you have to keep your head up,” Smith continued. “He’s dangerous in a lot of different categories so that means he might play a little tougher defensively, back-checking even more so. He might have a huge game and it’s something that we have to be aware of.”

Tonight is the first of a home-and-home series between the Wings and Capitals.

The rematch is Sunday in Washington at 12:30 p.m.

The Capitals won the only other meeting this season on Nov. 15, a 4-3 shootout.

Wings are all too familiar with their next opponent and in particular one player … Alex Ovechkin

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings are all too familiar with their next opponent and in particular one player … Alex Ovechkin.

“He knows how to play,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s a big man, can skate, shoots the puck, he loves to play hockey. He loves to score goals. He’s dangerous. He doesn’t need much room.”

Heading into play Thursday, Ovechkin leads the league with 38 goals and is seventh in points with 55 in 48 games.

“He can bull you over, shoot the puck and you look and it’s in the net,” Babcock said. “We’re going to have to be real tidy defensively. We have to execute coming out of our own zone the first time and spend time in their zone.”

Ovechkin averaged nearly 54 goals in each of his first five seasons in the league.

“He’s big,” Danny DeKeyser said. “He’s a load to handle, especially when we gets some speed going. You just have to try and keep the puck out of his hands. He shoots from everywhere. Anywhere over the blue line he’s looking to shoot. As a defenseman you just have a tight gap and not give him too much room or let him get behind you as well.”

Ovechkin, who has only averaged 34 goals in each of the last three seasons, is on pace to score 60 goals this season.

“It starts with Ovechkin,” Niklas Kronwall said.

Ovechkin’s career high for goals in a season is 65.

“You’ve got to play (Ovechkin) a little differently,” Kyle Quincey said. “A lot of times you want to take away the pass and let the goalie do his job, but he can beat goalies from pretty far out, so we’ve got to be tighter on him and almost make him pass. He’s a guy you almost try to get him to pass the puck instead of shooting it because he can score from the tops of the circles.”

Helping to try and neutralize Ovechkin could be Henrik Zetterberg, who’s expected to return to the lineup after missing the last two games with a back injury.

Zetterberg, who leads the team with 16 goals and 28 assists, missed 11 games in December with a herniated disc.

“(This time it’s) a little different, but it’s in the area,” Zetterberg said. “We just have to see. We’ve done everything we could so it doesn’t get worse and now just hopefully stay on this path and it keeps getting better.”

He added that he’s not concerned this will be a recurring problem.

Getting Zetterberg back is something the Wings need with five games left before Olympic break.

The team has given up 10 goals over the last two games.

“We know every night we’re tested,” Babcock said. “Washington has a lot of guys that can hurt you on one shift. We’re going to have to be real good. Their power play is good. We have to pay attention to detail in that area.”

Fourteen of Ovechkin’s goals have come on the power play.

“The biggest thing is we have to look after our part,” Babcock said. “As much as it is about the opposition it’s way more about yourself and how you play. We’re very capable of doing what we think is a game plan. Does that guarantee success? No, but it sure gives us a chance.”

Pavel Datsyuk is still out with an apparent leg injury.

“He was still one-leg skating today,” Babcock said.

Jimmy Howard will be back in goal after missing the last four games with a knee injury.

“It definitely wasn’t as serious as before so I knew it wasn’t going to be that long,” said Howard, who missed eight games in December with a knee injury. “It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster ride here for a little bit. We’ve just got to find a way to even out those highs and lows and find a more consistent basis. I think it’s just finding any way possible to get points each and every night.”

Franzen won’t play for Sweden at Olympics

DETROIT — Still suffering from concussion-like symptoms, Johan Franzen has withdrawn from Team Sweden for this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

His symptoms reappeared after returning Sunday.

The Wings placed him on short-term injured reserve Tuesday.

The earliest he could return to the lineup but that appears highly unlikely according to Wings general manager Ken Holland.

Franzen was one of six Wings chosen to appear for Team Sweden.

Wings hope to have Zetterberg back Friday; Datsyuk (knee) won’t play … with tout

DETROIT >> Quick update from Detroit Red Wings practice at Joe Louis Arena, Thursday.

The team could get Henrik Zetterberg back in the lineup Friday night against the Washington Capitals after missing the last two games with a back injury.

“Had a good day today, it’s fun to skate again,” Zetterberg said after practice. “I skated a little bit (Wednesday). Hopefully I’ll feel good (Friday) after the morning skate and we’ll go from there.”

Zetterberg missed 11 games in December with a herniated disc.

“(This time it’s) a little different, but it’s in the area,” Zetterberg said. “We just have to see. We’ve done everything we could so it doesn’t get worse and now just hopefully stay on this path and it keeps getting better.”

Pavel Datsyuk (lower-body injury) is out.

“He was still one leg skating today,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said.

Getting Zetterberg back is something the Wings need with five games left before Olympic break.

The team has given up 10 goals over the last two games.

“We know every night we’re tested,” Babcock said. “I don’t think it was hard to look at Philly’s lineup the other night and see that had more veteran players dressed than us. Washington has a lot of guys that can hurt you on one shift. We’re going to have to be real good. Their power play is good. We have to pay attention to detail in that area.

“The biggest thing is we have to look after our part,” Babcock continued. “As much as it is about the opposition it’s way more about yourself and how you play. We’re very capable of doing what we think is a game plan. Does that guarantee success? No, but it sure gives us a chance.”

Alex Ovechkin leads the league with 38 goals.

“He’s obviously a great player, but he plays with great players as well,” Zetterberg said. “Most of the time it’s the other players that sets Ovechkin up where he has room and space for his shot. He’s good. He can score from anywhere. You’ve got to be aware, not just of Ovie, but the other guys that play with him too. Minimize his space and it makes it a lot easier if you have the puck rather than chasing the puck.”

Ovechkin, who also has 17 assists, has 14 goals on the power play.

“He knows how to play,” Babcock said. “He’s a big man, can skate, shoots the puck, he loves to play hockey. He loves to score goals. He’s dangerous. He doesn’t need much room. He can bull you over, shoot the puck and you look and it’s in the net. We’re going to have to be real tidy defensively. We have to execute coming out of our own zone the first time and spend time in their zone.”

Jimmy Howard will be back in goal after missing the last four games with a knee injury.

“It definitely wasn’t as serious as before so I knew it wasn’t going to be that long,” said Howard, who missed eight games in December with a knee injury. “It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster ride here for a little bit. We’ve just got to find a way to even out those highs and lows and find a more consistent basis. I think it’s just finding any way possible to get points each and every night.”

Wings place Johan Frazen on short-term injured reserve after post-concussion symptoms after one game back

It was one and done for Wings forward Johan Franzen.

After returning Sunday after missing 16 straight games with a concussion, Franzen is heading back to the injured reserve after suffering a setback.

“Any time it’s a head injury, we’ve been through it a number of times, they’re hard things,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Obviously, Mule thought he was ready and then found out he wasn’t. He’ll be out a few for sure, anyways, and he continues to work with doctors at U-M, they’ll figure out when he’s available.”

Since being placed in short-term injured reserve, Franzen will miss a minimum seven days.

Franzen did make the trip to Philadelphia.

“The specialist in Ann Arbor has been in constant communication with him,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “He’s got to have a lot of days of being healthy before he plays.”

The reoccurrence of concussion-like symptoms could also put his chances of participating in the Olympics in jeopardy.

Holland didn’t know if Henrik Zetterberg (back) or Pavel Datsyuk (lower-body) would be available for Friday’s home game against the Washington Capitals.

“They’re day-to-day,” Holland said.

Along with putting Franzen on short-term injured reserve, the Wings also activated Joakim Andersson, who has missed the last six games with a sore hip flexor.

“I just think he’s a good player in the offensive zone, makes good passes,” Babcock said.

Andersson has seven goals and six assists, but it’s his minus-8 in the plus/minus category that’s worrisome.

“I don’t think we thought about him struggling last year, even evaluated him because he was a first year player and then he had such a good playoff and good second half for us in a short season that you thought things would just be easy for him,” Babcock said. “That’s not always the case. It’s important to get Andy back, he knows how to play. He’s a big body.”

Jimmy Howard will get another night off Tuesday, but will back Jonas Gustavsson in goal Tuesday.

“We’ll give Howie this week in practice and get ready to go,” Babcock said.

Howard is expected to start Friday against the Capitals.

Zetterberg, Datsyuk don’t make trip to Philly with team; Nyquist named NHL’s second star

DETROIT >> Dealing with life without Pavel Datsyuk in the lineup has been manageable for the Detroit Red Wings this season.

Add not having Henrik Zetterberg in the lineup either, and it’s not been quite as manageable.

The Wings again will be without their top two scoring threats when they play at Philadelphia, Tuesday.

Both players did not even make the trip with the team Monday according to general manager Ken Holland.

Zetterberg was a last-minute scratch Sunday when a lingering back issue flared up prior to the home game against the Florida Panthers.

After the shootout loss to the Panthers, Detroit dropped to 1-2-1 this season without both Datsyuk and Zetterberg in the lineup.

“He’s been having back issues, we knew that,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said after the game Sunday. “You come to the rink hopeful he’s going to play.”

Zetterberg, who leads the team with 44 points (16 goals, 28 assists) has not been taking part in practices this week with Detroit playing every other day since a week ago Saturday.

This will be the 11th straight game Datsyuk, who’s still tied for second on the team with 32 points (15 goals, 17 assists) will miss with a lower-body injury.

He hasn’t played since the Winter Classic on Jan. 1.

Prior to this season, Datsyuk and Zetterberg had not sat out the same game since April 18, 2006, a 6-3 loss to the Nashville Predators.

This was not the news the Wings were looking for with a pivotal game against the Flyers looming.

Detroit is just a point ahead of Philadelphia, who is 0-3-1 in its last four games, in the race for the last wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Wings have lost seven games in a row in Philadelphia, being outscored 28-13 in the process.

Detroit’s last regular season win in Philadelphia was on Jan. 25, 1997.

This is the final meeting of the regular season between the teams.

Earlier this season, the Wings beat the Flyers (5-2 on Oct. 12) and lost to them (6-3 on Dec. 4).

The Wings are expected to have Joakim Andersson back in the lineup after he missed the last six games with a lower-body injury.

Jimmy Howard will return after re-aggravating a knee injury last Monday. He’s missed a total of 11 games due to the injury that originally occurred on Dec. 11.

Howard is just 9-12-8 this season with a 2.64 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage.

With his return, the Wings sent Petr Mrazek back to Grand Rapids.

The parade of injured players returning started recently as Darren Helm, Jonathan Ericsson, Daniel Alfredsson and Johan Franzen.

With the influx of bodies returning it’s going to lead to some tough decisions for the team on who plays, who sits and who is waived or sent down to Grand Rapids.

“What we’re going to do is talk about it and the best guys are going to play,” Babcock said Sunday. “It’s not going to have anything to do with age, it’s just going to be what have you done here lately.”

Three or the young players – Riley Sheahan, Luke Glendening and Tomas Jurco – have provided quite a spark since becoming ‘everydayers.’

“They’re pushing real hard,” Babcock said.

The Wings already made a decision with one of their veterans, Mikael Samuelsson, waiving him Saturday.

“These kids have played pretty well, we’ve got good competition,” Holland said. “And now we’re starting to get healthy. We’ve got tough decisions. We’ll make them as we go.”

Before finding out that Zetterberg was a last-minute scratch Sunday, Todd Bertuzzi and Daniel Cleary were healthy scratches. Cleary took Zetterberg’s spot in the lineup.

“I don’t want the kids here if they’re not in the lineup,” Holland said.

Second star

Gustav Nyquist was named the NHL’s second star after scoring in four consecutive games last week. He also picked up two assists.

Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen was the first star and Carolina defenseman Andrej Sekera was the third star.

It’s the longest goal-scoring streak since Cleary scored in six straight games from Nov. 5 to Nov. 17, 2010.

Datsyuk did score in five straight games he participated in during the 2012-13 season, but missed a game due to injury during that streak.

Franzen will play against Panthers; Samuelsson clears waivers

DETROIT >> Quick update prior to the Wings’ game with the Florida Panthers.

Johan Franzen will be back in the lineup according to Wings GM Ken Holland.

Franzen has missed the last 16 games due to a concussion.

He was hoping to remain symptom free overnight so he could return.

“Three days now that I haven’t had any issues,” Franzen said after practice Saturday. “Hopefully I wake up (Sunday) the same way.

“I thought I was going to be out five days because it wasn’t much of a hit and that’s usually how long it takes before you get rid of the headache,” Franzen continued. “It just wouldn’t go away. Just cross my fingers now and hopefully it’s going to stay away.”

Franzen skated on a line with Darren Helm and Daniel Alfredsson at practice.

In order to make room for Franzen on the 23-man roster, the Wings placed Mikael Samuelsson on waivers.

Samuelsson was not claimed by any other NHL team and according to Holland he will be assigned to Grand Rapids.

Sending Samuelsson to Grand Rapids only clears $100,000 off the salary cap because he signed at age 35, but it does open a valuable roster spot.

“I told Mike (Babcock) ‘dress the 12 forwards you think gives us the best chance to beat Florida,’” Holland said Saturday. “That means if one of the kids isn’t in the lineup he’ll be sent to Grand Rapids instead of Samuelsson. I don’t want the kids here if they’re not in the lineup.”

The kids – Riley Sheahan, Luke Glendening and Tomas Jurco – have been impressive since being recalled from the Griffins.

“It’s great, I like the competition,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said Saturday. “The National Hockey League is about the best guys get to play and they get to play the most. These kids have come up and played hard and they’ve extended a challenge, so that’s a good thing.”

Neither Sheahan, Glendening nor Jurco will have to clear waivers in order to be sent back to Grand Rapids.

“They’re either in the top 12 or they’re in Grand Rapids,” Holland said.

Patrick Eaves and Cory Emmerton will have to clear waivers again if the Wings decide to send them back to the Griffins.

“These kids have played pretty well, we got good competition,” Holland said. “And now we’re starting to get healthy. We’ve got tough decisions. We’ll make them as we go.”

From the looks of practice, Todd Bertuzzi and Daniel Cleary could be healthy scratches Sunday.

Pavel Datsyuk (lower-body), Joakim Andersson (lower-body) and Jimmy Howard (knee) won’t play Sunday.

Holland expects Andersson and Howard back either Tuesday on the road in Philadelphia or Friday at home against Washington.

Datsyuk, who will miss his 10th consecutive game on Sunday, would like to play in a few games before the Olympics.

“At the beginning I’m thinking I’ll miss just one game but I can’t start playing,” Datsyuk said. “I (didn’t) think it’s so serious but it’s (kept) me out a few weeks. I have two weeks, (we’ll try) everything to help.”

With a win Sunday the Wings finish their longest homestand of the season at 4-1-0.

“We know how hard it is to win,” Babcock said. “Every opponent is hard for us. Florida has been difficult for us. They’re a big team that really skates and so we’ll have to be ultra-prepared.”

Detroit is 1-1-1 this season against the Panthers.

“It would be huge to get Mule back, he’s a big part of this team,” Helm said. “He has a pretty deadly shot, he’s a threat anytime he has the puck on his stick and that causes a lot of problems. Guys will be excited he’s back.”