Monthly Archives: March 2014

Alfredsson nominated for Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

DETROIT >> Daniel Alfredsson has been named the Detroit chapter of Professional Hockey Writers’ Association candidate for this season’s Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

The annual award is given to the player that best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

Alfredsson, who is a leading advocate for mental health causes, was a finalist for the award in 2012, but lost out to Montreal’s Max Pacioretty.

Two Red Wings – defenseman Brad Park (1983-84) and center Steve Yzerman (2002-03) – are past recipients of the award.

Alfredsson has 17 goals and 28 assists in 63 games this season with the Wings.

Detroit landed the long-time Ottawa Senator on the first day of free agency, inking him for one year at $3.5 million plus $2 million in bonuses that would bring the deal up to $5.5 million.

Alfredsson spent his entire career, 17 seasons, with the Senators.

The award is named for former Minnesota North Stars center Bill Masterton, whose 1968 death was the result of a head injury suffered in an NHL game.

Babcock close to making coaching history with Wings

DETROIT >> With his win Sunday, Wings coach Mike Babcock is two wins away from tying as the all-time winningest coach in franchise history.

He moved ahead of Scotty Bowman on the list improving to 411-196-90 in Detroit.

“Scotty’s the greatest coach of all time in our business,” Babcock said. “The way the business was then and the way it is now, to have the amount of wins Scotty has is impossible and you’re not going to get to coach so many Stanley Cup champions. You’re not able to keep teams together like they used to.”

Jack Adams has 413 wins.

“Scotty should be in a class by himself,” Babcock said. “It’s not like I wanted to pass Scott Bowman, but I’m honored. He’s a good friend of my. I’m honored I get to talk about him. We haven’t been as good lately, but we’re grinding and finding ways to win games so let’s keep going.”

Nyquist’s torrid pace translates to a 45-goal full season with Wings

DETROIT >> Gustav Nyquist continues to impress.

With his highlight-reel goal Sunday against Tampa Bay, Nyquist now has 11 goals in his past nine games and 22 goals in his past 27 games.

“I feel pretty comfortable out there,” a very modest Nyquist said. “I think all the young gets are really stepping up.”

Nyquist, who had his six-game goal streak snapped last Thursday against Montreal, has at least one goal in eight of the last nine games.

“He’s feeling good about himself,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He creates space when he gets the puck. He’s faster with the puck then without it. He’s playing well for us.”

Nyquist’s team-leading 27th goal of the season was a thing of beauty Sunday.

With Lightning defenseman Matthew Carle draped all over him after taking an outlet pass at center ice from David Legwand, Nyquist missed on the breakaway, but then swung back around and on an extremely sharp angle slide the puck just inside the goal post beat Ben Bishop.

“He’s been huge I think he doesn’t want to quit on anything and takes advantage of every chance he gets and puts it in the back of the net,” said Legwand, who centers the line of Nyquist and Johan Franzen.

“I was just waiting for the refs to call a penalty,” said Justin Abdelkader, who saw the play develop from the bench. “I didn’t see him put his arm up. He finally did and Gus just found a way to get that in the net. It’s one of those years for him right now, he’s been on fire, it’s been great for us with the guys we’ve had out, seeing him carry the load offensively. Hopefully he keeps going here.”

Because he began the season in Grand Rapids, Nyquist has played in just 50 games.

At his current pace, Nyquist would have 45 goals in an 82-game schedule.

Weiss talks about ‘nightmare’ season

DETROIT >> Stephen Weiss is back skating after having what he calls a setback from sports hernia surgery.

“I skated the other day and felt good,” Weiss said. “I didn’t have the pain I was having before. I think taking those 7-10 days off and letting the re-injury settle down was good.”

Weiss last played on Dec. 10.

“It’s been a nightmare,” Weiss said. “I keep pushing and trying to make myself available because in the end if we get in (the playoffs) we’re going to need bodies to be available.”

Weiss said he was a day away from returning when he ended up straining it again

“I had to kind of go backwards there for a bit which was real tough to take,” Weiss said. “For whatever reason it’s been a tough year for me trying to get healthy.”

Weiss, who signed a five-deal deal on the first day of free agency at $4.9 million a season, has just two goals and two assists in 26 games this season with Detroit.

“I haven’t been having that sharp pain I was having before so think things have calmed down a little bit,” Weiss said. “Now it’s a matter of not getting to aggressive on it and thinking your fine and go out and do it again. You have to be somewhat smart. It’s tough to take at this point of the year. I understand the process.”

Weiss will skate on his own in Detroit Saturday and hopefully begin ramping it up after that and resume skating with the team next week.”

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.

Datsyuk skating, but still not able to skate hard to test his ailing knee

DETROIT >> The good news is Pavel Datsyuk has begun skating.

The bad news is he’s still not able to skate hard in order to test his ailing left knee.

“Nobody knows,” Datsyuk said if the time off will ultimately heal his knee. “We are just hoping and hoping and (praying) too.”

The Wings announced they were shutting Datsyuk down for three weeks at the trade deadline.

Friday marks that three-week timeframe.

“It feels OK, but I’m still not skating hard enough to check how I feel,” Datsyuk said.

Datsyuk didn’t skate Thursday morning.

He had just returned to the ice on Monday and plans to skate again Friday, but it more than likely will be on his own, before the team practices.

“I (didn’t) skate for two weeks, now I’m skating,” said Datsyuk, who tweeted on Monday that he had just started skating and hopes to play soon. “It’s big for me and I want to be positive.”

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.

“I (felt) really great, I could just do what I could do,” Datsyuk said about participating at the Olympics. “It was like, play a simple game, save my knee.

“I don’t know if I’ll make it back 100 percent but I have better chance, better percentage, to come back to be Pavel,” Datsyuk added. “We have (a) plan to be better. So it’s the beginning and it’s not very good. Now we’re planning maybe not being 100 percent but close to something.”

If Datsyuk returns he would like to do so before the playoffs.

“It’s not easy when you miss lots of games and you have to pick up pace in the playoffs, it’s a different level, different hockey,” Datsyuk said.

As for a return date, Datsyuk said, “Two thousand fourteen. Every day I hope it’s better and better and I can say anything like tomorrow can be the deadline.”

Datsyuk doesn’t know if offseason surgery will be required to get it right.

“We’ll see what happens,” Datsyuk said. “Hard to say now, (we’re doing) everything to not do surgery.”

Datsyuk has 15 goals and 18 assists in 39 games this season.

“(Trainer) Piet (Van Zant) told me that he looks like he could play, but I’ve heard that lots,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said Wednesday. “When I see him in the lineup I’ll believe it.”

Wings general manager Ken Holland still is waiting to see what the next step is for getting Datsyuk back in the lineup.

“He’s a superstar,” Holland said. “Pav at 80 percent is pretty good.”

Despite missing Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg for a bulk of the season, the Wings have been able to stay in the playoff race due in large part to the young players from Grand Rapids.

“I see what they have done and I’m happy with what they did, the whole team is sticking together and playing like a team,” Datsyuk said. “It’s fun to watch, but not fun to watch for me. They’ve done a great job and I’m very happy for this one.”

Jurco back in lineup and inserted on top line alongside Legwand and Franzen

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings’ top line will have a different look to it tonight against the Montreal Canadiens.

Wings coach Mike Babcock has inserted Tomas Jurco to skate alongside David Legwand and Johan Franzen to at least begin the game.

“He’s a big guy, good speed and good skill level,” Babcock said. “He gives us another real good player. He’s been an important guy for us, missed him when he was injured, helps on the power play. Good two-way player.”

Jurco, 21, has missed seven games with a broken rib.

“He probably thinks he’s dragging those old guys around,” Babcock said. “I can put (Gustav) Nyquist back there in a heartbeat but Nyquist on that line is flying. (Jurco) has a skill set, he makes good plays with the puck, can really skate. That line needs more tempo. We’re trying to have more balance, we need to generate on more than just one line.”

That move keeps the new Kid Line intact – Riley Sheahan, Nyquist and Tomas Tatar – and drops Daniel Alfredsson to the third line with Darren Helm and Joakim Andersson.

“The big thing with having players back that haven’t played in a while they’re trying to catch up,” Babcock said. “So you get their number back and their name on the back of the sweater but you watch them and they’re not the same. I’m hoping Helmer, now after a few games under his belt, will be Helmer and be able to contribute. Normally your first game back you’re all right and then you fall off the face of the world for a couple of games. So hopefully Jurcs can go tonight.”

Jurco has five goals and 10 points in 26 games.

“It’s a good chance for me, good opportunity for me to get back in the game quick,” Jurco said. “I know obviously the second with Shea and Tats and Gus were playing good so I understand that coach wants to keep them that way so hopefully I’m going to fit in the first line and we’re going to play good too.”

Before getting injured, Jurco was a winger on that kid line with Sheahan and Tatar.

“I just have to play my game, that means just keep being physical and try to win some battles for them and just put some pucks in the net hopefully it’s going to go in,” Jurco said.

Not doing so much with the puck is what Babcock wants from Jurco.

“He’s going to score better eventually but he’s got to be physical, he’s got to be hard guy, he’s got to get on the inside, all the dangling stuff, that doesn’t score any goals, I don’t know what all that stuff is for,” Babcock said. “Entertain your friends in practice, I guess.”

Gustav Nyquist and Brett Hull

DETROIT >> Should Gustav Nyquist score tonight against Montreal it will extend his goal-scoring streak to seven consecutive games. Brett Hull was the last Wing to score in seven straight (Nov. 26 to Dec. 8, 2003).

“I was pretty young, so not much,” Nyquist said when asked what he remembered of Hull. “I didn’t know he had the streak but I’m not surprised, he was a great player. I had no clue about the streak.”

Daniel Cleary was the last Wing to score in six-consecutive regular season games (Nov. 5-17, 2010).

“He’s been good everywhere he’s been, he’s led his leagues in scoring, he’s always been a real good player, but you never know if it’s going to translate in the NHL,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We’ve all seen tons of good players in junior or college and they come to the American League and it doesn’t happen. He’s got hockey IQ off the charts, very, very smart. He can create space, he’s competitive, he’s a real confident kid in his own abilities and he’s played well and he’s on a roll.”

Steve Yzerman holds the team record with goals in nine consecutive regular season games (Jan. 29 through Feb. 12, 1992).

Nyquist has 25 goals and 17 assists in 47 games this season.

“I can’t say that I expected to score this many goals,” Nyquist said. “Again, I think all the young guys have done a good job. Injuries have created a lot of opportunities for different players and we’ve grown more confidence from it.

“Some of the goals have been off pretty good deflections as well, so it’s nice to see the puck go in,” Nyquist added. “It’s been a crazy year with injuries, we’d like to have some key players back, but we’ve gotten an opportunity to play a lot more minutes and in different situations. That’s given us all some more confidence.”

Wings coach Mike Babcock on Datsyuk’s progress: “When I see him in the lineup I’ll believe it.”

DETROIT >> Tomas Jurco will return to lineup Thursday when the Wings host the Montreal Canadiens. Jurco has missed seven games with a broken rib.

“I’m feeling good, much better than a week ago, so every couple of days there’s big progress,” Jurco said.

Jurco, who has five goals and 10 points in 26 games, possibly could have played Tuesday, but wanted to rest his ribs a couple more days to be safe.

Justin Abdelkader will be ready to return next Wednesday from a leg laceration he suffered on March 16.

“I haven’t gone through a full practice or full drills, so we’ll see how it responds and go from there,” Abdelkader said.

Pavel Datsyuk (knee inflammation) took part in an optional skate Wednesday, but Wings coach Mike Babcock had no update on when he could return.

“(Trainer) Piet (Van Zant) told me that he looks like he could play, but I’ve heard that lots,” Babcock said. “When I see him in the lineup I’ll believe it.”