Tag Archives: Wings coach Mike Babcock

Four-day break gives Wings chance to work while resting

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings are doing what most would think a team would do during a four-day break between games … rest up.

“It’s kind of a unique opportunity for us to not have any games this week after just finishing a stretch where we had a lot of games in a short amount of days,” forward Justin Abdelkader said.

The Wings returned to practice Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena and won’t play again until hosting the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

Detroit will only have one more four-day break between games this season, at the start of February.

“It gives us a chance to do some work, it also gives the guys a chance to freshen up,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We didn’t like our game as much the last little bit. We think we can be better, so it gives us a real focal point here. We did some work here on Monday when I was away, and we’ll have a good specialty teams day (Thursday) and get some tempo in and then we play a real good Blackhawks team.”

The Wings play 13 games in the next 24 days, playing every other day beginning Friday.

“We’ll spend a lot of time working on the contact part of the game,” Babcock said. “When you play every second day you don’t get to do as much box outs and D-zone coverage and the physical part of the game.”

Eight of Detroit’s next 13 games are at home.

“I think just getting back to watching some video, looking at our segments, each segment as we go through the five-game stretches,” Abdelkader said. “These last five games we haven’t been as good defensively as we need to be, given up too many goals. We know we need to improve and what we need to do, just getting back to our work habits and our structure that takes care of us.”

The team worked mostly on battle drills, which included 3-on-3s and 2-on-2s on Tuesday.

“I think guys had a really good day off, kind of got refreshed and rejuvenated,” Abdelkader said. “Guys were energized. Guys realize what’s at hand, we haven’t played the way we’re capable of or the way we wanted to the last three, four, five games. We know we need to get better.”

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Datsyuk a game-time decision Tuesday; Franzen on short-term IR; Howard starting

DETROIT >> Quick update after Wings practice at Joe Louis Arena before they travel to Montreal for Tuesday night’s game.

Pavel Datsyuk appears to be a game-time decision.

“Say, day-to-day,” Datsyuk said afterwards. “I hope. You never know but what I’m looking (forward to it).”

Datsyuk practiced on a line with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader.

‘We had him on a line, but I had him on a line last Monday,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said.

Datsyuk was expected to miss roughly four weeks from the time he suffered a separated shoulder on Sept. 22.

Datsyuk said his shooting and stick work has been fine for some time.

“It’s only the contact still,” Datsyuk said. “But I had (it) last week. We’ll see what happens (Tuesday).”

The news isn’t so good on Johan Franzen, who was placed on short-term injured reserve with a groin injury.

Franzen, who’s tied for second in points with five, missed Saturday’s game against Toronto.

Jimmy Howard was back in goal and will start Tuesday. He was unable to back up Jonas Gustavsson Saturday due to a slight groin strain.

“It was a little sore so I just wanted to be cautious,” Howard said. “I wasn’t planning on playing from the get-go Saturday so we decided to use caution with it.

“The ice just gave out underneath my foot in Toronto there late in the game when I went to push across,” Howard continued. “So those things really can’t do anything about it. It rebounded quickly so it was nice to see. It wasn’t that bad.”

Datsyuk setting up and scoring goals in practice

DETROIT >> Pavel Datsyuk (shoulder) practiced in a gray jersey Monday, which is for players injured or healthy scratches.

“We had a little competition at the end, he set up two goals and scored one himself so it looks to me like he’s … I don’t know,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “That’s the good thing about it, I don’t get to decide.”

Datsyuk was expected to miss roughly four weeks from the time he suffered a separated shoulder on Sept. 22.

Stephen Weiss and Daniel Cleary also practiced in gray jerseys. Both were healthy scratches the first two games.

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 lock up one restricted free agent; Sheahan gets $1.9 million

DETROIT >> One down and two to go.

The Wings signed one of their three restricted free agents off last year’s roster, Riley Sheahan, to a two-year worth an average salary cap it of $950,000.

His last three-year deal had an average salary cap hit of $785,000.

Sheahan had nine goals and 15 assists in 42 regular season games last year.

However, like most of the youngsters he struggled in the playoffs. He had no points, was a minus-1 and struggled to win faceoffs.

Sheahan really caught the eye of Wings coach Mike Babcock at last year’s eight-team prospects tournament in Traverse City stating he was the best player throughout the event.

“He’s gotten better and better,” Babcock said last season. “He’s made plays for us and he’s allowed his linemates to play and not worry about the defensive side as much.”

“Your confidence grows when you know your coach feels comfortable with you,” Sheahan said last season.

Because of a rash of injuries at center last season, Sheahan got an opportunity to show how his game had developed and he really impressed.

He was recalled from Grand Rapids in mid-December and was sent back after playing four games. Not even three weeks later he was back with the team and was a fixture in it since Jan. 11.

Sheahan was Detroit’s first round selection (21st overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and was projected to be a second-line, two-way center.

“Great player, great shot, big body, smart guy,” Tomas Tatar said last season. “I think he’s one of the guys that’s got the whole package.”

With Grand Rapids the year before, Sheahan had 16 goals and 20 assists in 72 games.

“I think my offensive game maybe is leveled up a bit,” Sheahan said. “I think confidence is the biggest thing. Playing with such good players it’s sort of easy to get confidence because they’re always making plays and you always feel like you’re part of the play and then in the O-zone you’re cycling the puck and you’re always on it.”

Sheahan helped lead the Griffins to winning the Calder Cup two seasons ago.

Jimmy Howard ‘can be a lot better’

DETROIT >> Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard will be the first to admit he needs to be better.
And his coach agrees.

“We won one round in three years,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He had a real good playoff run last year. I don’t think he had as good a run this year. The bottom line is we need good goaltending like any other team in the league so the challenge for him is to really compete offseason wise.”

Howard has sandwiched two postseason clunkers between a run two years ago that saw him lead the Wings to second round, falling in overtime of Game 7 to the eventual Stanley Cup champ Chicago Blackhawks.

“You want to win more than one game over the course of the playoffs,” said Howard, who was named as one of three goalies on the USA Olympic roster. “We have a lot of time here on our hands to think about it and come back more focused next year.”

Howard played in just three of the five games in the opening round series with Boston, giving up a pair of bad goals, one each in Game 2 and 3.

“Game 2 making that mistake when the puck was rolling and sending it to poor (Brendan Smith),” Howard said. “It’s a tough one. It was in their building and it got their building alive. That’s the last thing you want heading in there. For a goalie in the playoffs you want to be stealing wins.”

In Game 3, Dougie Hamilton beat Howard over his glove to open the scoring in a 3-0 loss.

“There are 29 other teams in this league that want to win it as well,” said Howard, who missed the final two games of the series with the flu. “There is a lot of parity out there. It’s no excuse. This organization is all about winning. There needs to be more of a push from myself and everyone else as well.”

Howard finished the regular season with his worst goals-against average (2.66) and save percentage (.910) since his second season as the Wings’ starter.

“I thought it was an OK season, by no means was it a good or great season,” Howard said. “I think I can be a lot better, a lot more consistent for the guys and that’s what I’m going to work on over the course of the summer so when the puck drops here in October I’m ready and hitting the ground running.”

Howard, 30, has been Detroit’s No. 1 goalie for the last five seasons.

The Wings rewarded him last season with a six-year contract extension that pays him on average nearly $5.3 million a year.

“You have to work harder the older you get in the offseason to be that much fitter to improve your game,” Babcock said. “We’ll talk to him on what we think he needs to improve on and then we need him back better than ever.

“Whether (Petr) Mrazek plays here or (Jonas) Gustavsson plays here, Gus got half our wins this year,” Babcock continued. “The bottom line is if you’re playing every day you have to earn the right to play every day. If you’re a tandem that’s what happens but the other guy has to earn the right to make that happen so we’ll see what happens.”

Gustavsson has been Howard’s backup the last two seasons, but numerous injuries have hampered his time here. He’s an unrestricted free agent.

Mrazek will likely spend one more season in Grand Rapids before coming to Detroit fulltime.

Howard had a horrible November, which didn’t help his numbers. After winning his first start that month, he went 0-3-4 the rest of the month. Over those seven games, Howard had a 3.03 goals-against average and a .899 save percentage. He entered the month with a 2.50 GAA and .915 save percentage.

“I think I can be a lot better, across the board, just with the consistency alone,” said Howard, who ended the regular season 7-3-1. “Helping the guys go out there and get wins. It was just one of those years, statistically wise it just wasn’t very good. I think I can be a lot better. I’ve proved in the past I can be better and that’s the direction I want to move in.”

Howard was drafted by the Wings in 2003 (second round, 64th overall) and the team spent time grooming him in the minors before bringing him up when he was out of options.

In each of Howard’s first two full seasons in Detroit he recorded 37 wins, becoming the only goalie in Wings history to win at least 35 games in each of his first two seasons.

His third year he registered 35 wins.

Howard finished second to Buffalo defenseman Tyler Myers in the Calder Trophy race as the NHL’s top rookie.

Ouellet to make his NHL playoff debut in Game 5 against Boston; Howard will backup Gustavsson; Alfredsson in for Bertuzzi

Wings coach Mike Babcock is pulling out all the stops to keep Detroit’s hopes of extending its best-of-seven Eastern Conference first round series with the Boston Bruins and stretching it to a Game 6 back at Joe Louis Arena on Monday.

Rookie defenseman Xavier Ouellet will replace Jakub Kindl and Daniel Alfredsson is back in, taking Todd Bertuzzi’s spot.

“I just like that he’s a good player and we needed a change on the back, so to be honest with you we haven’t spent enough time watching him play and knowing,” Babcock said of Ouellet replacing Kindle on the blue line. “He’s been better when he’s played with us than he has been in the American League. He’s a real smart player, he’s played well when he’s been up, we like him. So, we’re making the change because we felt we needed to make the change.”

Ouellet played four regular season games with the Wings.

In 70 games with Grand Rapids, Ouellet had four goals and 13 assists and 22 penalty minutes.

Jimmy Howard will be on the bench to backup starter Jonas Gustavsson.

There were rumors on Friday that Howard was suffering from a concussion.

“(It’s) just the flu,” Babcock said.

Alfredsson has missed the last two games in the series with a back problem.

“I mean the player has to be healthy enough to skate,” Babcock said. “We talk about leadership, leadership is, I mean, saying the right things is important, but playing right is way more important. If you can’t skate you can’t play. So we’ve gone through this for a while. Any of these back injuries where they get the shooting pain down their legs it makes it hard for you to skate. And when you’re a little bit concerned and you don’t get involved it makes it hard.

“Alfie skated great yesterday in practice, probably as great as he’s skated in a long time, so we put him in,” Babcock added.