Tag Archives: henrik zetterberg

Abdelkader, Smith in Game 3; Babcock: “We have a lot more to give.”

DETROIT >> Quick update from Wings practice Monday at Joe Louis Arena.

There will be two changes made to the Wings’ lineup for Game 3, Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Justin Abdelkader and Brendan Smith will both make their series debuts.

“I just felt (Ryan) Callahan, (Alex) Killorn and (Steven) Stamkos to me got a free ride in their building just for the fact that (Tyler) Johnson was playing against Pav or we had Glennie against them and they were trying hard to keep Glennie away from guys so Stamkos played against Sheahan and to me that didn’t work out very good for us,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “It was too much free ice.”

Abdelkader, who injured his right hand when he blocked the shot of Minnesota’s Marco Scandella on April 4, will skate with Henrik Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist.

“I think my game’s really suited for the playoffs and hopefully I can help the team out,” Abdelkader said. “Be physical, be on the forecheck, be around the net and just watching the last two games it’s been tough. I’m itching to get out there and I’m excited.”

Abdelkader had a career-high 23 goals and 44 points this season.

“Putting Z back in the middle and giving him a winger, a guy that can skate and work for them helps,” Babcock said. “Abby’s a big body. He’s an everydayer. He competes hard like (Darren) Helm.

“The think I would say when you evaluate our team, we have a lot more to give,” Babcock continued. “We’re two games in and we’re 1-1, we have a lot more to give. We need everyone on deck. We can’t be one on or one off. We need everyone onboard. Abby’s a competitor. He’s a guy that’s good at the net. He plays hard. He competes hard. I’m sure he’ll be ready to go.”

Pavel Datsyuk will center Helm and Tomas Tatar.

As for Smith, who has been a healthy scratch ever since he gloved the puck intentionally from the bench against Montreal, he gives the team more speed.

“Smitty can really skate and competes,” said Babcock, who didn’t want to get into the reasoning behind Smith being a healthy scratch. “I don’t think we’re skating good enough and I don’t think we’re competing hard enough. So there are two things.”

Alexey Marchenko, Stephen Weiss, Teemu Pulkkinen and Daniel Cleary will be healthy scratches.

Zetterberg feeling much better after being reunited with on-again, off-again linemate

DETROIT >> Henrik Zetterberg was feeling kind of down after the morning skate Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena.

A goal and an assist later in the evening after being reunited with on-again, off-again linemate Pavel Datsyuk helped change his confidence level at least for one game.

“I was obviously excited to be back with Pavel,” Zetterberg said. “It’s been awhile. It’s good when we get an opportunity to play together to produce. I have to give a lot of credit to Helmer being in front of the net on both of the goals. He really created a lot of space for us and gives us a lot of time.

“It was going pretty good with Abby and Gus too, but sometimes you just need a little change to get a different feel,” Zetterberg added. “It’s no surprise we like to play together, but we haven’t played together that much lately. Today was good when we got a chance we went out and scored some goals.”

It was Zetterberg’s first goal in 13 games and just his second in the last 28.

“I just think the big thing there is he scored a big goal and set up a big goal,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said after the team’s 3-2 come-from-behind win over the Carolina Hurricanes. “You know, everyone here takes responsibility for their play and as a coach you take responsibility when your team’s not ready. But we’re all in it together. So it doesn’t go on one guy and you’re not carrying the weight of the world around on your back. That makes no sense.”

Zetterberg called himself out Tuesday morning after the morning skate about his lack of production.

“This time of year I’m supposed to be there, score goals, put up points for my team,” he said. “I haven’t done that lately. That’s something I’m not happy about.

“I think I create chances, but some games I’m not,” he continued. “It’s kind of a new position for me, going this long, this time of the year is not common. You start to think too much. When you’re supposed to pass you shoot and vice versa. It’s going back to the basics and believing in yourself, believe in yourself and work hard. If you work hard the offense will come.”

Babcock said he had a talk with the Wings captain after hearing what he had said this morning.

“I mean, Z’s a good player and he’s a proud guy and wants to play well,” Babcock said. “He’s trying. I think as long as you’re putting the effort in things are going to turn of you. Sometimes it doesn’t go the way you want it, but if you do good things, as I always say, good things will happen. Good for Z tonight. We’re proud of him. He’s got to be proud of himself and now we have to get ready for the next game.”

Babcock’s message to Cole and Zidlicky simple: “Picture the player you are and just do that.”

DETROIT >> Wings coach Mike Babcock met with both newly acquired Erik Cole and Marek Zidlicky and had the same message for both of them, “Picture the player you are and just do that. That’s why we acquired you. Here’s our structure and now you have to find a way to do the two together.”

Cole and Zidlicky took part in their first practice with their new team since being traded for prior to the NHL trade deadline.

“I don’t want them thinking when they get on the ice I want them playing,” Babcock said. “It’ll show over time. We didn’t bring them here to change them. We got them here so they could do what they do and we’ll figure out a way to make it work for them.”

Cole practiced on a line with Henrik Zetterberg, who’s excepted to action Wednesday after missing four straight games due to a head injury, and Justin Abdelkader.

Zidlicky, who’s a right-handed shot and a power-play specialist, was paired on the blue line with Brendan Smith.

“He plays with pace and can take the puck to the net,” Babcock said of Cole. “He’s having a good year. Looks to me he has some size and has the ability to be heavy on it.”

“He’s a competitor,” added Babcock on Zidlicky. “He can shoot the puck and can make plays. He’s got good offensive skill. I think he’ll be a great addition. He made some plays in practice that makes you smile which is positive.”

The two will also be inserted on power play units. Cole will be out with his two linemates, along with Stephen Weiss and Niklas Kronwall, while Zidlicky will man the point for Pavel Datsyuk, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Riley Sheahan.

“It was great to see that we as an organization were able to help our team,” Babcock said. “I think our team has done a good job and if you do a good job Kenny (Holland) has shown over the years he tries to help you.

“From an organizational standpoint, long term, we were able to do that without giving up a whole bunch so therefore we serve ourselves for now and in the future with the group we have coming,” Babcock continued. “We’re excited we have both guys. I think both can be prominent players for us. It’s going to take them some time to adjust but I think they’ll be a factor.”

This and that … Zetterberg doesn’t practice, but will play Thursday; Franzen still MIA

DETROIT >> Henrik Zetterberg was absent at practice, but will play Thursday according to Wings general manager Ken Holland.

— Petr Mrazek will start in Colorado

— Jonas Gustavsson will complete his two-game conditioning stint with Grand Rapids Wednesday in Toronto and then join the team in Denver.

— There has still been no sign of Johan Franzen in the Wings’ locker room since he was injured on Jan. 6. “I don’t think he’s doing great, but I don’t really know,” Holland said. “He doesn’t come here. Until he gets to the point where they’re telling me he’s starting to work out, he’s starting to train, we run the team like they’re not on the team.”

Are the Wings over overachieving this season? Team is a point out of the top spot in the Eastern Conference

DETROIT >> If you had taken a poll inside the Wings’ locker room prior to the start of the season and asked if the team would be a point out of first place for the top spot in the Eastern Conference by the All-Star break, a majority of the responses would have been no.

Well that’s just where Detroit is at, with 63 points in 47 games and just a point behind Tampa Bay.

“When I thought about around July 5 when not much happened this summer, I was disappointed, like a few of my veteran players who called me were disappointed, too,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I don’t think any of us would have believed we’d be at this spot, the general manager and myself included.”

The team didn’t land any of the needs it had searched for through free agency, mainly a right-handed shooting defenseman, and essentially brought back the same squad from last season.

So far it’s worked out.

The Wings (27-11-9), who will come out of the break on a five-game winning streak and tied with the New York Islanders for second overall in the Eastern Conference, have 13 more points than they did after 47 games last season.

Health has also played a major role in getting the Wings to where they’re at in the standings.

Last season Detroit had the second most man games lost according to mangameslost.com at 421 and still found a way into the playoffs. And the Wings’ two best players – Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk – were limited to 45 games each.

“The contributions of players that were out a lot last year due to injuries have been a real positive and then the continued development of the younger players,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “At the end of the day, when you’re in the playoffs 23 straight years it means a lot of picking late and we’re trying to accomplish two goals at the same time, we’re trying to make the playoffs and compete for the Stanley Cup and we’re also trying to rebuild the team on the fly.”

This year Detroit is 14th in man games lost with 111. Columbus is first with 283.

“Everyone’s been healthy and we’ve been playing well, so it’s not a huge surprise,” Darren Helm said. “It’s hard work but it’s paid off.”

The injuries last season has helped in the development of the younger players, including Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist, who lead the team in goals with 21 and 19 respectively.

“Our scouts have done a real nice job and obviously (Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill) has done a good job in developing and then we’ve done a good job here,” Babcock said.

Special teams have also contributed. The Wings rank in the top 10 in both power play (second) and penalty kill (sixth).

“We’re in a good situation and now we’ve got to get better,” Babcock said. “Our penalty kill hasn’t been near as good here lately. We’ve got to get our penalty kill back, our faceoff circle back and get everyone playing a little better. I think the big thing right now is just get guys away and get them freshened up and get ready for a push.”

Detroit also is 10th in goals per game and seventh in goals against.

“We’re doing a lot of good things,” Zetterberg said. “We’ve gotten better and got it going here. Compared to last year we’re more healthy. I think we’re a little deeper. Special teams are a little bit better.

The Wings have also taken advantage of a favorable schedule.

During the first half they’ve had a favorable home schedule and have faced teams coming off games the night before 13 times.

However, coming out of the break Detroit plays 11 of its first 14 on the road and 20 of its last 35.

“There’s a long way to go and we have to keep winning games,” Zetterberg said. “We know that. Montreal and Tampa will win games. And Boston will win games. We need to keep playing well if we want to have fun in the end.”

Wings coach Mike Babcock on Teemu Pulkkinen: “Hopefully he shoots it every time he touches it.”

TAYLOR >> Teemu Pulkkinen is known for one thing … his shot.

“It’s amazing,” Riley Sheahan said of Pulkkinen’s shot. “It’s almost like every time he shoots the puck it’s either going in or the goalie’s not going to know where it’s going and it’ll hit off him and create another scoring chance. It’s hard. It’s accurate. He gets it’s off pretty quick. Not many guys have a shot like him.”

Sheahan will center a line with Pulkkinen and Drew Miller on Saturday at Washington.

“Hopefully he shoots it every time he touches it,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said Friday after the team finished practice at the Taylor Sportsplex.

Pulkkinen, who was recalled from Grand Rapids after the Wings placed Johan Franzen on short-term injured reserve, leads the AHL in scoring with 20 goals and is tied for second with 39 points.

On Wednesday, he equaled a Griffins franchise record with a goal that extended his goal scoring streak to eight consecutive games. The mark was set by Donald MacLean in the 2005-06 season.

“Obviously he has a real good shot,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “But also he’s good at finding the open ice to be able to receive passes. He doesn’t need much.

“It’s almost like Brett Hull in a way,” Zetterberg added. “He doesn’t need a lot of room to get a shot off. It’s going to be interesting to see what he can do. Obviously he’s done a real good job down in Grand Rapids and looking forward to having him around with us.”

“I’ve heard them,” Pulkkinen laughed nervously when asked about the comparisons with Hull. “Since I was a little kid I had fun with my friends going out to shoot pucks, play different games. I enjoy shooting and I’ve been practicing that since I was a little kid.”

Pulkkinen was also see time on the Wings’ second power play unit.

“Play a good two-way game and they want me to shoot,” Pulkkinen said when asked what’s expected of him. “Of course I want to score goals and I’m feeling good right now. If I get the chance to shoot I will shoot for sure.”

Pulkkinen played three games last season with the Wings and didn’t register a point while averaging less than eight minutes of ice time per game.

“He just didn’t earn a spot,” Babcock said of Pulkkinen. “I’m just in the winning business. Can you help us or not.

“All players think they need more ice time to play better,” Babcock continued. “Coach thinks play better and you get more ice time.”

Pulkkinen also had just four shots on goal in those three games last season.

“It’s like the guys have played here so many years and they’ve been around and scored so many goals,” Pulkkinen said when asked if it was tough not to give the puck to established NHL players to shoot. “I haven’t scored any goals. So of course you sometimes think ‘Should I shoot or pass to the guys.’ I just try to shoot it and put it away and play your own game.”

Wings do move into first place in Eastern Conference

DETROIT >> The Wings will go to bed Wednesday night and wake up Thursday morning knowing the same thing.

They’re in first place overall in the Eastern Conference.

The point the Wings earned in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at Joe Louis Arena, moved them a point ahead of ideal Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh for first overall in the East.

“Getting points is good when you can get them,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “Obviously we wanted two here at home, but one point is better than no points. If you look how the game ended with a 3-on-4 there for almost a minute I think we’re going to be OK with this tomorrow and move on.”

Niklas Kronwall was sent off for goalie interference with 57 seconds left in overtime.

“I thought we played good,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “It’s over with to me. We got a point. They stole two points but I’ll take it every night. If you play like that you’re going to win.”