Monthly Archives: September 2014

Quote of the day … Wings coach Mike Babcock

DETROIT >> Wings coach Mike Babcock on how different the pace is on the ice this season compared to last year.

“We were at a snail’s pace last year at the start of the year,” Babcock said. “I didn’t even like watching us practice, we were so slow. We were able to pick things up during the year and get way quicker and ideally we’ll continue to do that. We think we’re really going to be able to fly.”

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Wings coach Mike Babcock: “I can’t believe all the penalties. … Don’t know if they’re trying to get their quota during exhibition.”

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings’ special teams got a workout Monday night.

The power unit was 2-for-8, while the penalty kill was 8-for-8 as the Wings blanked the Toronto Maple Leafs, 3-0, at Joe Louis Arena.

“I couldn’t believe all the penalties,” said Wings coach Mike Babcock, whose team improved to 3-1-1 in the preseason. “We have to be more disciplined I guess. Don’t know if they’re trying to get their quota up during exhibition, don’t know what it is exactly. I don’t know if we needed that many, but obviously we got some work.”

Detroit has yet to allow a power play goal in five preseason games in 23 chances, going 8-for-8 on the penalty kill against the Leafs.

“There was no flow, zero flow,” Babcock said. “That’s the problem with it. You want to play all your guys and you can’t play them. We got good work from our guys.”

“Special teams bit us in the butt,” Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said.

Nick Jensen and Riley Sheahan each scored on the power play, while Petr Mrazek made 27 saves. Tomas Jurco added an empty-net goal.

“The penalty kill was amazing obviously, I don’t even know how many there were but there were a lot of minutes that we had to kill,” Ryan Sproul said. “We did a great job offense and defense and it was hard on us but we killed it off.”

Toronto goalie James Reimer stopped 14 shots.

“Your best penalty killer is your goaltender and I thought he was really good, solid, good plays with the puck, he gave us an opportunity,” Babcock said.

“We killed lots of penalties, so a 3-0 game, I think it was a good effort from everyone,” Mrazek said. “I felt great from the beginning of the game. We had penalty kill right away, 17 seconds, you get into the game and then continue that work.”

Mrazek is in a battle to perhaps push Jonas Gustavsson for the backup job with the Wings.

“We’ll see what happens in couple days and then go from there,” Mrazek said. “I’m trying to do my best. Work hard every practice and every game I get so I’m happy for that.”

It took a while for the Wings’ power play to get going, finally striking on their fifth chance of the night. Jensen’s blast from the point deflected off Daniel Winnik’s stick just 33 seconds into the man advantage.

The second tally came on the seventh power play of the net, when Sheahan drove home a rebound off Reimer down low early in the third period. Sproul and Xavier Ouellet each drew assists.

The Wings lost two players during the course of the game. Tomas Nosek was ejected early in the second period for hitting Toronto’s Stuart Percy from behind. In the first period, defenseman Aaron Rome left with a lower-body injury.

Wings coach Mike Babcock: “I don’t think it’s going to be my final year here. If it is, it is.”

DETROIT >> With the start of the NHL regular season fast approaching, the chances of Wings coach Mike Babcock getting a new deal done seem less and less.

“No update whatsoever,” Babcock said after the team’s morning skate at Joe Louis Arena Monday. “We talked that we would talk before the season. I imagine that we will get to that. I haven’t spent a whole lot of time worrying about it. I’m just trying to get the team ready.”

Babcock is heading into the final year of a contract that pays him roughly $2 million a season.

“I don’t think about it at all,” Babcock said when asked about getting a new deal in place. “I don’t think it’s going to be my final year here. If it is, it is. I’ve tried to live my whole life in the present, so what happened yesterday doesn’t matter, what we’re doing today does matter and we’ll get on with it tomorrow. So I’m going to do the same. I’ll get up every day and try as hard as I can as I always have, and go home and love my family and come back the next day and do the same.”

Babcock, 51, just wrapped up his ninth season.

Babcock set a franchise record last season with his 415th win, passing Scotty Bowman and Jack Adams in the process. He’s led the Wings to a Stanley Cup and a two conference championships.

He would be the hottest sought-after coach this offseason if he doesn’t get a deal done to remain in Detroit.

“My relationship with my general manager is such that the grass isn’t greener on the other side,” Babcock said. “I imagine that will get it worked out.

Babcock has also led Canada to two straight Olympic gold medals.

He has said in the past that if a new deal isn’t done prior to the start of the regular season he would not negotiate during it.

“I’m going to do everything within my power to maximize the group, whether I’m in my last year or first year,” Babcock said. “It doesn’t affect my life whatsoever. It would make way more difference to me if I was just starting in the business and I was concerned about feeding my family. I’m not.”

Niklas Kronwall doesn’t believe this will become a distraction if a deal to extend Babcock doesn’t get done prior to the season.

“Our job is to go out and perform on the ice,” Kronwall said. “His job as a coach is to get us prepared and do the things he needs to do and we have all the info that we need. So far it’s been good. We haven’t seen a change from previous years and I don’t think there will a change to that whatsoever.”

Babcock likes what he sees out of Nestrasil and Nosek thus far

DETROIT >> If Wings coach Mike Babcock is looking for something out of the guys fighting to make the team, he saw it Thursday night.

Tomas Nosek and Andrej Nestrasil each scored as Detroit skated past the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2, at Joe Louis Arena.

“Nesty’s a guy that struggled when he first started here and he’s really got himself in shape and looks like he’s going to be a player,” Babcock said. “Nosek is a player.

Tomas Tatar opened the scoring, while Justin Abdelkader collected two assists and goalie Jimmy Howard made 26 saves.

“Abby’s an important guy,” Babcock said. “They’re good players.”

Andrew Shaw and Garret Ross scored for Chicago. Blackhawks goalie Antti Raanta stopped 22 of the 21 shots he faced in the first half of the game, while Michael Leighton made 17 saves in relief.

“I think it’s going in the right direction,” Nestrasil said. “There are so many great players. Everybody wants a job. It’s good we’re all buddies off the ice, but on the ice we want the other person’s job. I think it’s been going pretty good so far. Hopefully we’ll get a couple more game in the exhibition season.

“If you work for it and you come here and you’re ready you get an opportunity then you’ll have a way better chance of making the most of it,” Nestrasil added. “If someone gives up and doesn’t do anything over the summer and he’s given the same opportunity most likely he’s not going to make the most of it.”

Nosek was a free agent signee this summer by the Wings.

“I try to enjoy every game and I try to play my best,” Nosek said. “If I stay here it’s wonderful, it’s my dream. If not, I will try to play well in Grand Rapids and try to get back here.”

Babcock has been thoroughly impressed by Nosek thus far.

“He’s a man, he’s smart, he’s confident, he’s a good player, he’s got skill, he does good things, big body, I really like him a lot,” Babcock said.

Tatar opened the scoring late in the first period as his deflection somehow squeezed between the pads of Raanta.

Jonathan Ericsson backhanded the original shot just as he gained entry into the zone and banked the puck off Tatar.

Tatar leads the team with two goals this preseason.

Nosek doubled Detroit’s advantage just 29 seconds into the third period slipping a shot between the pads of Leighton, who had lost his stick behind the net moments earlier.

“I try to talk to them a lot,” Abdelkader said. “They’ve got questions. Make sure they know where they’re going on the ice. I think the big thing for them is you’re going to make mistakes as a young guy. Systems are new. Nesty has been here for a while but Nosek, this is new for him and I think the big thing is just go out and play. Don’t worry about making mistakes. Be good with the puck and I thought both those guy splayed well in Chicago and followed it up with a good game.”

Just six minutes later, Shaw potted the Blackhawks’ lone goal beating Joakim Andersson in front of Howard to jam the loose puck over the goal line.

Later, Nestrasil found a loose puck in front of Leighton and backhanded a shot into the goal.

“I was drafted five years ago and I didn’t get to play in an exhibition game until this year,” Nestrasil said. “This is a breakthrough year for me so every time I’m on the ice I just want to make the most of it. I’m going to celebrate every single goal, even if it’s an exhibition game or even if it was a scrimmage I’m going to celebrate.”

With 49 seconds left and the extra attacker, Ross pulled the Blackhawks to within a goal.

The Wings are now 2-0-1 this preseason and host the Boston Bruins on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Datsyuk likely out start of regular season

DETROIT >> The start to the 2014-15 season is beginning to look eerily like all of last season for the Detroit Red Wings.

And the season hasn’t started.

The Wings learned Wednesday that they’ll be without talented center Pavel Datsyuk for 4-5 weeks after an MRI revealed to second degree right shoulder separation.

The length he’s out all depends on how he heals.

Detroit had the second most man games lost last season, behind the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The team has already lost ultra-talented forward Anthony Mantha to a tibia fracture.

“We’ve been hit early with injuries,” Wings GM Ken Holland said. “Luckily it’s training camp.

“It’s a good way for us to find out what other people can do,” Holland continued. “I certainly wasn’t going into the year thinking we wouldn’t have injuries. I’m hoping we don’t have the extend amount of injuries we had last season.”

Darren Helm is also out with a broken nose and Ryan Sproul out with an unspecified injury.

Holland doesn’t expect either back for Thursday’s game and lists them both as day-to-day.

Mantha’s bid to make roster has hit a six-to-eight week road bump

DETROIT >> Anthony Mantha’s bid at making the Wings’ roster out of training camp has hit a six-to-eight week road bump.

The team learned Thursday that Mantha suffered a fractured right tibia in Monday’s rookie tournament in Traverse City.

“It is what it is and there’s opportunity for other people,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “We worried more about the cartilage. Then the next morning he woke up and his knee was swollen, so obviously his body was sending a message that something’s not right. So we put him through some tests.”

The injury occurred when Mantha got his skate caught in a rut and then got hit. He however was able to finish the game.

“He couldn’t really protect himself,” Holland said. “He’s going to be in crutches for a while to take the weight off. We think somewhere around six weeks he’ll be back up and running and skating and from there back playing. In the meantime we got lots of other people looking for opportunity.”

The Wings were going to give Mantha every opportunity to make the team out of training camp, but he would have to beat out a forward in the top six.

“When we open with Boston (on Oct. 9) and the coach says to me he wants Mantha in the lineup he’s in the lineup,” Holland said over the summer. “If he’s in the lineup it’s because basically we think he’s going to be a top six forward. I don’t know we’d put him on the fourth line and play him eight minutes.”

With Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk as locks on one of the top two lines, the skaters he would have had to beaten out to make the jump from juniors to the NHL were the likes of Johan Franzen, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco.

“And does he do something special, bring some ingredients that complement the Zetterbergs and Datsyuks that the coach says to me that we need him to win the first game against Boston and I want him in the lineup,” Holland said. “If that’s not the case, he goes to Grand Rapids and we’ll go through the development process and develop him into that guy.”

Mantha was on the Team Delvecchio roster at training camp along with Datsyuk.

“I know Mike Babcock wants to give Mantha some opportunities with Datsyuk, Zetterberg, with our best players,” said Holland, who selected Mantha 20th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. “We have eight exhibition games and I know we want him to play five or six. After we’ve watched him play for three weeks and we get to the end of September or early October, he’s got to take somebody’s job.”

Mantha, who’ll turn pro this season, has done all that he could in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League totaling 107 goals and 102 assists over the last two regular seasons, while adding 29 goals and 21 assists in the playoffs.

He also received the Michel Briere Trophy as the QMJHL MVP this past season.

“It appears he can score,” Holland said. “You don’t score as much as he has over the last couple of years. Not many can score as he’s scored in his tier group and he’s produced at the world juniors.”

But playing at that level is much different than playing in the NHL.

“Lots of times in those leagues scores are 5-4 or 6-5, while we play a lot 2-1 and 3-2 games,” Holland said. “So if you don’t score what else do you bring to the table? If you don’t score can you kill a penalty, are you good defensively, can you win physical battles, can you protect the puck down low, can you forecheck and force the defense to make mistakes.

“It’s more than just can you score,” Holland continued. “Unless you can score 80 goals, and nobody scores 80 goals let alone 50 goals.”

Last year, Babcock didn’t take long to burst Mantha’s bubble of making the team out of training camp.

“I don’t want to break the news to him but he ain’t making the team,” Babcock said last training camp. “He’s got to go back to juniors and learn to be an every-dayer. When you compete every day and when you compete on every puck, get strong enough, live it every day and one day you get to play here; in the meantime you get to play juniors or the American League.”

Wings release their training camp team rosters

DETROIT >> Here’s a breakdown of the three teams that’ll compete against each other at training camp beginning Friday in Traverse City.

Team Delvecchio

Forwards: Joakim Andersson, Louis-Marc Aubry, Tyler Bertuzzi, Colin Campbell, Pavel Datsyuk, Darren Helm, Jeff Hoggan, Tomas Jurco, Anthony Mantha, Zach Nastasiuk, Kevin Porter, Teemu Pulkkinen, Jerome Verrier

Defensemen: Danny DeKeyser, Jakub Kindl, Brian Lashoff, Alexey Marchenko, Marc McNulty, Richard Nedomlel

Goaltenders: Jared Coreau, Jimmy Howard

Team Howe

Forwards: Andreas Athanasiou, Mitch Callahan, Daniel Cleary, Johan Franzen, Martin Frk, Luke Glendening, Alden Hirschfeld, Darby Llewellyn, Drew Miller, Tomas Nosek, Brandon Robinson, Marek Tvrdon, Henrik Zetterberg

Defensemen: Mattias Backman, Brennan Evans, Joe Hicketts, Xavier Ouellet, Kyle Quincey, Aaron Rome, Brendan Smith

Goaltenders: Jonas Gustavsson, Tom McCollum

Team Lindsay

Forwards: Justin Abdelkader, Tyler Barnes, Blake Clarke, Landon Ferraro, Hayden Hodgson, Andrej Nestrasil, Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Tatar, Dominic Turgeon, Stephen Weiss, Mark Zengerle

Defensemen: Jonathan Ericsson, Nick Jensen, Niklas Kronwall, Nathan Paetsch, Ryan Sproul, Ty Stanton, Mitchell Wheaton

Goaltenders: Petr Mrazek, Jake Paterson, Lucas Peressini