Tag Archives: power play

With additions of Green and Richards, Blashill now has limitless options

DETROIT >> If Jeff Blashill wanted options heading into training camp, he’s got them now.

With the addition of free agent defenseman Mike Green and veteran forward Brad Richards on the first day of free agency Wednesday, the options are endless.

“You’d rather have more options than not enough,” Blashill said Thursday at Joe Louis Arena prior to departing for development camp in Traverse City. “Obviously by adding those two guys that gives us more options, more abilities to do different things.

“It puts a premium on guys playing great in order to earn their different spots in the lineup and I think that’s a positive thing,” Blashill continued. “We were happy with the outcome, but we also understand it’s one day. We were able to acquire a couple guys that can really help us, but we have lots of work ahead of us.”

Early on it appears that Green, who’s a right-handed shot that the Wings have coveted since last offseason, will be paired with Danny DeKeyser.

Green, who signed a three-year deal worth $6 million a season, can run a power play and will rack up the points.

He’s not air-tight defensively, but it doesn’t concern Blashill because of how the Wings’ system is set up.

“I think their skill sets matchup,” Blashill said. “I think both guys can help each other and that’s a positive. I think the other thing is the best D-zone coverage is breaking the puck out of your own end and both guys skate really well and can break the puck out so that could be a good combo.

“I thought with Mike, he’s got a unique skill set,” Blashill added. “He’s different than a lot of defensemen on our team. We have some great, great quality D, but he brings an offensive ability beyond probably most of the guys.”
Mike Knuble, who was an assistant coach last season in Grand Rapids under Blashill, knows Green, 29, well from his time in Washington with him.

“He had a lot of great things to say about him as a person and as a teammate so I think that’s a really good fit,” Blashill said.

Green is a two-time Norris Trophy finalist, awarded annually to the league’s top defenseman.

Richards, who signed a one-year deal worth $3 million and could earn an extra $1 million if he meets playoff bonuses, is a number two center ice man, but could slot up to number one if Pavel Datsyuk isn’t ready to being the season after ankle surgery.

“Throughout his career he’s proven to be a top couple line center,” Blashill said. “That’s something I thought going into free agency if we can add somebody that could give us that potential that would be a positive thing. He can do that.

“He’s been a great power play guy his whole career,” Blashill continued. “He’s run it from up top. He also has the ability to play off the half wall. It gives you opportunities to have what Detroit had last year, two real good units and if you have two real good units I think you can really be successful instead of relying on one and kind of having a half unit. That’s our goal going in is to have two real strong power play units and he’ll be a big part of that and then five-on-five I think he can really help us.”

Richards, 35, won a Stanley Cup with Chicago this season and also won one with Tampa Bay in 2004, when he also was named the playoff MVP. He won the Lady Byng for sportsmanship that same season.

Richards scored 12 goals and had 25 assists in 76 games with Chicago. He turned it up in the playoffs with three goals and 11 assists in 23 games.

“I just went back and looked at his scoring over the last number of years and in my opinion I don’t think he’s slowing down,” Blashill said. “I think he’s still got a lot of great hockey in him. He’s been a great playoff guy. This organization has a lot of Cup experience, but within our locker room that not only just won a Cup, but has won two Cups.

“This gives you flexibility with a Riley Sheahan,” Blashill continued. “Riley can play the wing, he can play center. It gives you more flexibility with a lot of those guys. It allows us an opportunity to have a couple more good players than we did before the beginning of (Wednesday).”

The Wings now have 20 players signed, 11 of which are forwards, for nearly $65 million. That leaves them just under $7 million under the $71.4 million cap.

The Wings still have restricted free agents Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Jurco, Teemu Pulkkinen and Landon Ferraro to sign this year, while factoring in the cost of re-signing Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, DeKeyser, Sheahan and Petr Mrazek in 2016.

Wings PP tops in the NHL; PK ranked second

DETROIT >> Heading into play Wednesday, the Wings have the top ranked power play and the second ranked penalty kill in the league.

“I think it’s key for us,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “All you have to do is look at the expectations for the Red Wings coming into the year. One of the reasons we’re not like that is because of our special teams. Our coaches have done a good job, our players have done a good job, our attention to detail has been good.

“The other thing about it is we didn’t get off to a good start on the power play, but I think through good teaching and guys buying in and a good plan and execution and having good players, we’ve been able to execute in both of those situations,” Babcock continued.

The power play is at 24.3 percent, scoring 34 goals on 140 chances. St. Louis has the second most power play goals in the league, 30.

“The power play didn’t start off the way we wanted to but I think we’ve been clicking here lately for a while now and that’s great,” Gustav Nyquist said. “The PK has been great all year, so that’s great to see as well.

“Special teams are a huge part of the outcome of the game and I think we’ve won a lot of games because of our special teams,” Nyquist added. “Hopefully we can keep that going and also improve a little on our 5 on 5 scoring as well.”

Nyquist leads the team with eight power play goals, which ranks him tied for second overall in the league.

The penalty kill success rate is 87.7 and that’s due in large part to the team’s fourth liners – mainly Luke Glendening and Drew Miller.

“I’m a big believer in that helps your team be better because everyone’s important,” Babcock said. “We can spread the workload out. Don’t get me wrong, Pav and Z are really good penalty killers, they’re outstanding penalty killers, but we just feel that the wear and tear on them isn’t
worth it when we can put in on Glenny and Millsy and those guys and then they contribute to the team and they feel good about themselves.”

The PK units have allowed 16 goals on 130 chances.

“Usually you kind of get the same amount of power play and PKs during the game, so with everyone playing you’re not getting a lot of guys sitting out those minutes, because if there are a lot of penalties in a game some guys who don’t play either PK or PP they get to sit a lot and it’s hard to get a rhythm in a game,” Nyquist said. “But we have so much depth so we pretty much use all players in different situations and that just helps the team get kind of a good rhythm in the game.”

Weiss misses practice due to a funeral; Abdelkader skates on own; Wings power play red hot

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

Stephen Weiss missed practice due to a funeral he attended. He’s expected to play Saturday when the Wings host the New York Rangers.

Justin Abdelkader skated for the first time on his own since injuring his shoulder on Sunday. He’s also been sick with the flu.

The Wings worked on the power play at practice which has been red hot of late.

Since starting the season 5-for-46 with the man advantage through their first 12 games, they’ve gone 19-for-58 since.

“I think the biggest thing is we’re just throwing pucks at the net,” Niklas Kronwall said. “We know we’re going to have guys there, we have guy’s net-front that are doing a great job of screening and making it hard for their goalie. The rest of us just have to make sure the puck gets there. Of course, winning face-offs is another huge area. But throwing the puck, I think that’s the biggest key.”

Detroit has at least one power play goal in six straight games.

“I think we’ve just been sticking with it, we believed in what we did,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “Obviously the puck didn’t go in for us from the beginning. I don’t think we made that big of changes to it. One thing we did is shoot a little bit more instead of looking for passes before we shoot. We shoot and then automatically it will open up for us and we can make plays. Also, once you score your confidence goes up and you’re more confident in what you do. That helps.”

Heading into play Friday, the Wings’ power play is ranked sixth best in the league.

Wings’ new found success on power play will be tested Friday against Blackhawks’ top-ranked PK

DETROIT >> We’re going to see how much the Wings’ power play has improved Friday night.

Chicago has the top ranked penalty kill in the league, allowing just four goals on 48 chances (91.7 percent).

Detroit has scored two power play goals in each of their last three games, going 6-for-13 with the man advantage.

“The power play has been working better and better here,” Gustav Nyquist said. “Obviously, we want to keep that going, so it will be a good test tomorrow, for sure.”

The Wings went 5-for-46 (10.9 percent) with the man advantage their first 12 games.

“Obviously, it was a really slow start for us on the power play and now we’ve got some goals,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “Even if we don’t score, you have to get the momentum, and we’ve done that the last couple of games.”

Detroit, which finished 18th (17.7 percent) on the power play last season, is up to 17th this year (18.6 percent, 11-for-59) with the man advantage.

“I know the power play started slow, had trouble getting into rhythm, maybe had trouble trying to find the back of the net,” assistant coach Tony Granato said on Monday. “But I think all along it’s been building. I think it’s been really big for us the last week.

“I think the confidence that group has gained certainly moving forward should be a good thing for us,” Granato added. “You put Pav back in that mix it’s going to be even better.”

The Wings’ penalty kill (90.6) is second in the league.

“We looked good for a while and maybe didn’t get the results that we maybe wanted or deserved there and no lately we’re getting pucks in,” Jonathan Ericsson said. “It’s about getting in the groove when the pucks are bouncing and things are going your way, but sometimes it’s not going to go like that.

“Like the PK, we had bounces going with us at the beginning of the season and maybe pucks have gone in a little easier lately,” Ericsson continued. “That’s how it always happens throughout the season. We’re not going to be perfect. You have to go through those things. We work on the things we need to get better at. It’s all about the confidence level and pucks are going to start dropping in.”

Babcock puts Nyquist back on the top power play unit

DETROIT >> Quick update from Wings practice Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena before they fly out to Washington for a game against the Capitals Wednesday.

Wings coach Mike Babcock kept the same lines together he ended with in the loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.

Babcock wouldn’t confirm after if that would be the lineup he would be going with or not Wednesday.

Jimmy Howard did say he was starting in goal.

Johan Franzen (groin), Stephen Weiss, Daniel Cleary each skated in gray.

The Wings made one minor change to the power play, moving Gustav Nyquist back up with the top unit and Tomas Jurco moved to the second group.

“We changed it back, just trying to switch things around,” Nyquist said. “We haven’t been scoring. My jobs are a little different on both units. Now I’m with Hank and Pav and I’m going to be the guy in the middle, trying to retrieve a lot of pucks and get the puck back to those guys for them to make plays and obviously be ready to shoot when I get in the middle.”

Babcock had moved Nyquist down with Riley Sheahan, Tomas Tatar, Andrej Nestrasil and Danny DeKeyser so he would be able to shoot the puck more.

“We all have to have different jobs on the power play, obviously, but we want to work together at the same time,” Nyquist said. “As a power play we can be interchangeable and stuff like that so right now we’re just trying to find a way to score goals ’cause we haven’t done that so hopefully it starts tomorrow.

“We’ve had a lot of chances but we’re still not getting the puck obviously in the net,” Nyquist added. “It would be nice to get one here soon, to get things going. I think we have two really good groups with a lot of skill and I think a lot of players can put the puck in the net on those two units so it should be working.”

The Wings’ power play is just 2-for-30 this season.

“But when you’re scrambling sometimes you do things,” Babcock said. “I thought it was a real good idea we took (Nyquist) away and then we haven’t got anything to go. We’ve got to attack the net so I just thought those are the guys that have been scoring for us. We put them in scoring positions and see what happens.”

Wings’ top penalty kill matches up against the Peguins’ top power play

DETROIT >> Quick update from the Wings’ morning skate Thursday prior to their game tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Coach Mike Babcock will go with the same lineup as he had Tuesday in Montreal which means Stephen Weiss, Daniel Cleary and Brian Lashoff are healthy scratches.

Jimmy Howard will start in goal.

Babcock did switch a forward on the power play units.

Tomas Jurco will play on the top unit with Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Darren Helm and Niklas Kronwall, while Gustav Nyquist will play on the second group with Riley Sheahan, Tomas Tatar, Andrej Nestrasil and Danny DeKeyser.

“We want Gus to have more touches and whenever he plays with those guys he never gets the puck,” Babcock said. “We think having him with Tats and Sheahan that gives him more opportunity to have the puck.”

Nyquist has both of the Wings’ goals this season on the power play.

The Wings’ penalty kill, which has yet to allow a goal, faces the league’s top power play.

The Penguins have scored eight goals on 19 chances with the man advantage.

“The key to tonight is don’t take penalties,” Drew Miller said. “You have to play rough and tough and match their speed and their skill out there and all of that, but we have to be smart and not take the penalties that you don’t want to kill off. That’s the biggest thing, and once we are the penalty killers got to do what we’re doing.

“I just think we’re playing our system well,” Miller continued. “I don’t know, we’re perfect right now, we want to stay that way, and we know they have a good power play, so we’re just going to stay the same way and work hard.”

Detroit is 18-for-18 on the penalty kill though six games.

“We’re happy about that and will try to keep it that way for as long as we can,” Joakim Andersson said. “It would be hard to do it for 82 games, but as long as we can we’d like to keep it this way.”

Sidney Crosby has three goals on the power play, while Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz have two each.

“They’re a great team and we have to put our best foot forward on the penalty kill, try to eliminate as much zone time as we can,” Luke Glendening said.

The Wings’ penalty kill finished last season ranked 12th, an 83-percent kill rate.

“I just think we’re being more aggressive than last year,” Glendening said. “We’ve done a pretty decent job on faceoffs, which is allowing us to clear the puck quickly. When you can get a start with the puck in their zone it’s always a plus.”

Wings still looking for success on the power play; penalty kill still has yet to allow a goal

DETROIT >> Quick update from the Wings’ off day at Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday.

Coach Mike Babcock felt his team needed a day off after getting home late from Montreal and having a meeting with Pittsburgh on home ice Thursday.

“We never got home till late, late, late,” Babcock said. “I just thought I want energy tomorrow. I didn’t know what was right for sure.

“We wanted to clear a lot up in our game so we had a meeting,” Babcock continued. “We dealt with our power play a little bit and we felt we can score a lot better by being harder, we haven’t been. We’re just trying to evolve our game so we did that.”

The Wings were 0-for-3 with the man advantage in the 2-1 overtime loss to the Canadiens, dropping them to just 2-for-24 on the season.

“I think we have to get the puck back more, that’s the biggest thing,” Babcock said. “You have to shoot it more and get it back more. There’s lots of stuff we talked about here today. There are lots of people that know what’s expected. The other thing is you have to get off the schneid, you just have to get one so everyone relaxes and makes plays instead of doing what they’re doing right now. I’m confident that will happen.”

Gustav Nyquist has both of Detroit’s power play goals this year.

“I’ve been real impressed with our look and our opportunities,” Babcock said. “Even last night, Hank (Zetterberg) had the wide open net and hit the post. We had some looks, but it hasn’t gone in for us. Once it goes in you start feeling better about yourself. We need some goals out of it.”

In those 24 power play opportunities the Wings have just 28 shots on goal.

“We keep talking about it, but we have to get some more pucks to the net,” Niklas Kronwall said. “I think that’s the bottom line. How it gets there is not always that important, just gotta make sure that it gets there and we have people there. So we’ve gotta take the shot more often.

“You want to do good out there,” Kronwall continued. “Of course sometimes I think maybe you overanalyze things and you want to do the right thing and that ends up you thinking too much. Just go back to basics and keep it simple out there usually works.”

Darren Helm has a pair of assists on the power play. Kronwall and Johan Franzen have the others.

“The scorers get lots of points on the power play,” Babcock said. “You want the power play to go well because it makes you feel good individually as well.

“I think initially you say, ‘Hey it’s going good’, and it is, but eventually it’s got to go in,” Babcock added. “We have to find a way to be better at it and be harder to play against in that situation.
The other thing is the when you look at the work ethic of our penalty kill and how hard those guys work. The power play has to work just as hard because you have to outwork the guys you’re playing against. If you don’t you have no chance.”

The Wings’ penalty kill has yet to allow a goal against on 18 chances.