Tag Archives: playoff games

Wings staying hitched to the Mule

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings know what they have in Johan Franzen and they’re not willing to part with what’s already been invested in him.

“I just think Mule has been a streaky scorer,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “When he gets into a groove, he rides the wave. When it’s not going, it’s not going in.”

It wasn’t going for Franzen over the last part of the regular season and five playoff games the Wings played.

After a stretch of six goals over four games from late February to early March, Franzen had just one goal over the final 18 games of the regular season and none in the postseason.

“He had 16 goals in 54 games,” Holland said. “I know he didn’t score down the stretch, he didn’t score in the playoffs. We had a lot of guys that didn’t score in the playoffs. I look around the league and I kind of hear this talk about players in other teams a year ago and this year those players are scoring. It’s a hard league every year to score come playoff time.”

“Mule’s a big body,” Holland continued. “Coming out of the Olympic break, he was on a hot streak and I think that hot streak is part of the reason why we were able to play our way into the (playoffs). To go on the open market, I think there’s this perception that July 1 free agents, there’s this hockey store, there’s this fantasy hockey league that I’m running, they’re playing in, where you can go get superstars. Those days are over.”

Franzen, who still has six years left on a deal that has an average annual salary cap hit of just under $4 million, had just two assists in the five-game series with the Boston Bruins and 14 shots on goal.

In his last 23 games, playoffs and regular season, he had one goal, eight assists and a minus-8 rating. In the previous 23 games, he had 13 goals, 16 assists and a plus-14.

“It’s hard league to score,” Holland said. “You score 20-25 goals now, it’s a lot of goals. Other than superstars, we don’t have 60-goal scorers anymore. I don’t even know 50, but obviously (Alex) Ovechkin. What we need, we need six or seven or eight guys that score 25. Mule is a guy that has the potential to score 25. We need more players that can score 25. I think that’s the way to be successful.

“Mule can score 20 goals,” Holland added. “We need more Mules. We need more players who can score 20 goals. If you had nine forwards who could score 20 goals, you could go into a playoff series, you’re not sure who’s going to score. But you feel you’re going to score because you’ve got lots of people who have scored over the course of the year.”

In Franzen’s last 32 playoff games since the start of 2011, he has seven goals (one game winner), five assists and a minus-11.

In his previous 51 playoff games from 2008-2010, he had 31 goals (nine game winners), 28 assists and a plus-29.

“I like Mule,” Holland said. “When he gets on a roll, he can carry a team. He’s a streaky scorer. We’ve had other streaky scorers. We’ve had streaky scorers here that are in the Hall of Fame that I’ve gone to Toronto for a Hall of Fame ceremony. This is a league where there’s 30 teams and most of them think they’re going to be a playoff team as we head into this offseason. I don’t have any plans to buy Mule out. I don’t know where you go replace these people.”

Perhaps the best example of how streaky of a goal scorer Franzen is game in the 2010-11 season. After a five-goal game against Ottawa, he went on a 14-game goalless drought and ended the regular season with just two goals over his last 27 games.

“You don’t really go into a game, ‘Oh, I’ve got to score, I’ve got to score,’” Franzen said after the Wings lost in Game 5 to the Bruins. “You go out there and try to do your job. I always want to play defense first and make sure I don’t (make) any mistakes in my own end and try to help out the D. When the goals are coming, they’re coming. You get confidence and it’s easy to score. You can only go out there and do your best and try to battle as hard as you can.”

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Advice for Franzen: “Get on the inside.”

DETROIT >> Wings coach Mike Babcock made one simple statement when asked about Franzen’s struggles,” Get on the inside.”

In his last 21 games, playoffs and regular season, he has one goal, seven assists and a minus-5 rating. In the previous 23 games, he had 13 goals, 16 assists and a plus-14.

Franzen is third on the team in shots on goal through three games with eight.

“Even if I’m not scoring that’s not what I’m doing for this team,” Franzen said on the eve of the first round series with Boston. “It’s not why I go out and play games to score goals. I’ve got a lot of things to do before that. It’s not even fifth on the list, probably, when you go out to a game.”

In his last 30 playoff games since the start of 2011, he has seven goals (one game winner), four assists and a minus-8.

In his previous 51 playoff games from 2008-2010, he had 31 goals (nine game winners), 28 assists and a plus-29.

Nyquist ‘excited’ to get two-year deal to stay in Detroit

DETROIT – It may have taken a bit longer than expected, but the excitement was still the same for Gustav Nyquist.

Nyquist, who was the last restricted free agent the Wings had to sign, received a two-year deal with an annual cap hit of $950,000.

“I’m real excited to know that I’ll be a part of the organization for two more years,” Nyquist said in a phone interview Tuesday. “It’s such a great organization to be a part of. I’ve learned so much from all the guys there over the last couple of years so it’s a great feeling for sure.”

Nyquist, 23, will earn $850,000 next season and $1,050,000 in the final year of the deal.

“It feels great,” Nyquist said. “I’m real happy to be here for two more years. The negotiations went well and it all worked out.”
Nyquist will still be a restricted free agent when the deal expires.

Nyquist played in 22 games during the regular season last year and had three goals and three assists. He played in all 14 of the Wings’ playoff games where he contributed two goals and three assists.

He really blossomed playing on the third line along with Joakim Andersson and Damien Brunner.

“We had a lot of young guys last year that developed throughout the year and it was a real good learning experience for us all,” Nyquist said. “For us to be around the guys, especially in the playoffs, they all know what it takes to win. You really learned a lot. It’s a great experience for us young guys to be able to learn through the experience of playing in it. A lot of these guys have been through it all and won the Stanley Cup.”

Andersson, who was also a restricted free agent, signed a two-year deal last month, while Brunner was not re-signed.

“It was a real exciting year last year being able to play with Brunner and Andersson there on the third line and I think that went well,” Nyquist said. “We have added some great additions to our team (this offseason). The whole thing is looking great and it’s real exciting that we got (Daniel) Alfredsson and (Stephen) Weiss as well.”

Nyquist is still in Sweden and attended the Olympic team camp.

“The Olympics would be something special, but I’m real excited to get the season started,” Nyquist said. “It would be an unbelievable experience to be a part of an Olympics. We have such a great team in Sweden, so it all depends on how you start the season, obviously. It’s going to be tough, but I’m going to try to make the team, for sure.”

With Nyquist signed it puts the Wings two players over the 23-man roster limit and close to $4 million over the salary cap. Teams can go 10-percent over the salary cap during the offseason.

The Wings do have a bit of flexibility with this year’s cap if they choose to apply nearly $3 million in potential bonuses to next season’s number since it’s expected to rise.

There is some concern about the health of Darren Helm, who was limited to playing just one game last season due to a slightly torn disc in his back.

If Helm is unable to start the season the Wings could place him on long-term injured reserve and thus create a roster spot there. It would also allow his $1.75 in salary to not count against the salary cap.

If he’s healthy the list of players that could be trimmed from the roster via trades or being waived include Jordin Tootoo, Mikael Samuelsson and Patrick Eaves.

Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement teams receive only limited cap relief ($100,000 for players who signed at age 35 or over and a maximum of $925,000 for others) for players who clear waivers.

Eaves’ game is comparable to that of Drew Miller.

Cory Emmerton appears safe on the roster if Helm is unable to regain his pre-injury form to center the Wings’ third line.

If they’re unable to trim or trade players to get down to 23, the Wings could send Nyquist and defenseman Danny DeKeyser to Grand Rapids since they both are exempt from waivers.

Rosters are due two days before the start of the regular season on Oct. 2.