Tag Archives: wings

Jimmy Howard has a target date for his return … Feb. 11 in Pittsburgh

DETROIT >> As far as recovering from an injury goes, everything is right on track for Wings goalie Jimmy Howard.

Howard took part in his first practice with the team Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena, albeit splitting time with Tom McCollum, since injuring his groin in the first period Jan. 10 in Washington.

“Even though it was just spot duty it felt great to be back out there,” Howard said. “I was out there before on my own with (goalie coach) Jimmy (Bedard) and then came out and did all the goalie drills at the beginning and stayed out for about 30 minutes in practice. It was good, didn’t really feel anything, so we’re just going to continue to push it.”

The best news is he has a target date to return, a week from Wednesday on the road against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“I think we’re right on schedule of where we want to be,” Howard said. “We don’t want to push it too soon, but we also don’t want to be out longer than I have to be, so we’re doing everything I think at the right pace.

“Hopefully against Pittsburgh I’ll be back out there,” Howard continued. “That’s what we’re shooting for. At first we had Phoenix circled, but we thought that would probably be just rushing it a little too much and Pitt will allow me a couple more practices to push it.”

Howard will gradually increase the intensity at practices during the Wings’ trip to Colorado and Arizona.

“Basically I bag myself out there so the legs and lungs are ready to go,” Howard said.

Howard was injured after he gave the puck away behind the net and then lunged his left leg backwards to try and reach the post before Washington’s Troy Brouwer scored just 1:53 into the first period.

He was carted off on a stretcher.

“I think I definitely escaped series injury,” Howard said. “When it happened I was really nervous, not being able to put any pressure on the leg or basically walk. I was on crutches for 24-48 hours. It responded well after a couple of days of being off of it.”

Howard is in the midst of having one of his best seasons in Detroit, posting a 16-7-7 record, with a 2.11 goals-against average and .920 save percentage.

He was also the Wings’ lone All-Star choice, but could not participate at the event because of the injury.

Despite his absence Detroit has gone 7-1-0 with Petr Mrazek getting the bulk of the workload.

“It’s progressed every single day, so it’s good,” Howard said. “We haven’t had any setbacks, knock on wood. Hopefully we can just keep pushing it.”

Wings’ five-game win streak means nothing according to Babcock as team embarks to play 11 of next 14 on road

TAYLOR >> The Detroit Red Wings come out of the All-Star break winners of five games in a row.

That means nothing to coach Mike Babcock after the team returned to practice Monday at Taylor Sportsplex.

“That’s over with,” Babcock said after the 40-mintue practice. “To me, we’ve got a new game. It’s like starting all over. We’ve got a 35-game push here and let’s get started. These next five games for us are real important. If I’m not mistaken four of them are on the road, so let’s get off to a good start and do well.”

The Wings embark on a pretty tough schedule off a five-day break playing 11 of their next 14 on the road starting Tuesday night at Florida. That’s followed with a game at Tampa Bay Thursday before returning home to face the New York Islanders.

“It’s always a challenge to go on the road, but you’ve got to stick with what you do,” Niklas Kronwall said. “We’ve had a lot of games on the road just after Christmas and I thought we did a fairly good job of sticking with it. We’ve got to get back to work here and do the right things.”

All three teams of the Wings’ next opponents have given them trouble in recent years.

Florida has won both meetings this season against Detroit, both played at Joe Louis Arena. The Panthers are also 5-2-0 since the start of last season against the Wings. Three of those wins were in a shootout.

Tampa Bay is 5-1-0 against Detroit since the start of last season, while the Islanders are 7-1-0 in their past eight against the Wings.

“You’ve got to win games,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “If you look at our division, the teams ahead of us are winning games and the teams behind us are winning games so you have to keep winning if you want to be in the hunt.”

The Wings have 63 points through 47 games and are just a point behind Tampa Bay for the overall lead in the Eastern Conference.

“I feel we’ve won some games, but I don’t think we’ve played our best hockey in these last few at all,” Babcock said. “I feel we’re a confident group that has a pretty good understanding of how we have to play and now we got to get back and do that again. I don’t get all hung up on where all the games are, we’ve got a game in Florida (Tuesday) and we’re going to get there and try to play well.”

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.”

Pulkkinen has yet to register a point with Wings; he’s not pressing and just happy team is winning

DETROIT >> Teemu Pulkkinen went from being a team’s leading scorer to having difficulty finding room to shoot the puck.

Heading into play Tuesday, Pulkkinen has no goals and no assists in five games, while averaging a little over 12 minutes a game.

He also has just eight shots on goal.

“There’s no space,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “It’s the NHL, so there’s no space. In the American League or in Europe you swing by something or you cruise around, big shot, if you’re not in the right spot you never get the puck and then if your feet aren’t turned right so you can release it on the one-touch you never getting a shot. It’s just coming in and getting used to the league and understanding. It usually takes guys, unless you’re an absolute superstar, more than one try.”

Prior to being called up from Grand Rapids, Pulkkinen led the AHL in scoring with 20 goals and was tied for second with 39 points.

He had also equaled a Griffins franchise record prior to joining the Wings with goals in eight consecutive games. The mark was set by Donald MacLean in the 2005-06 season.

“I feel pretty good, unfortunately I haven’t scored any goals or gotten any points,” Pulkkinen said. “For me this is good experience and I now I know I can play here and compete against these guys and battle hard against stronger and bigger guys.”

Pulkkinen was moved to the top power play unit for tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild.

“When you try harder to score you never score,” Pulkkinen said. “You just have to keep going, feel calm and relaxed and just play the way you play. When you start pushing it too much it’s not going to be good. I just go out and play. Of course I want to score, but it’s not easy. It’ll come.”

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.

“It’s hard here,” Pulkkinen said. “The game is faster, players are aggressive, stronger. The game is better here. The D knows how to block the shots, where to be when guys are shooting.

“I want to score goals, get some points, but I don’t want to get frustrated that I haven’t scored,” Pulkkinen continued. “The team is winning right now so that’s perfect. Everything is good here. I just try and push hard and play better every night.”

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

“It’s been good,” Pulkkinen said. “We’ve won the last four games so it’s good for the team. The team is playing really good. It’s good right now.”

Pulkkinen, along with Xavier Ouellet, was selected to the AHL All-Star game, which takes place on Jan. 26.
He wasn’t sure if he’ll be playing in it or not.

“I think I’m going there,” Pulkkinen said. “We’ll see after the game to see what for sure is going on. They’re going to decide what’s going on.”

According to Wings GM Ken Holland, Tomas Jurco could be out through All Star break; Kindl improving

TAYLOR >> Tomas Jurco (back) and Johan Franzen didn’t practice Friday.

Wings general manager Ken Holland said that Jurco is out at least a week and could possibly be shut down until after the All Star break.

“He’s got a back issue, a little bit of a disc issue,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He’ll be shut down for a bit, hopefully for not long.”

Babcock had no update on Franzen, who was placed on short-term injured reserve.

Jakub Kindl practiced and said his elbow is getting better.

“It’s in a bad spot where if I get caught out there, I don’t want to get it worse,” Kindl said. “It’s just got to heal properly.

“I can skate finally, I can shoot finally,” Kindl added. “I’m just trying to get into contact more and more but obviously I’m trying to be careful. I don’t want to jam it or twist it again.”

Wings GM Ken Holland on Teemu Pulkkinen: “He’s got a weapon. His shot is his weapon.”

DETROIT >> Teemu Pulkkinen has been lighting up the American Hockey League this season.

Now he’ll get another chance to see what he can do against the best of the best.

The Wings recalled Pulkkinen from Grand Rapids after placing Johan Franzen on short-term injured reserve.

Pulkkinen leads the AHL in scoring with 20 goals and is tied for second with 39 points.

“I think the thing we like about Pulkkinen is he’s got a tremendous shot,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview Thursday. “He’s got a weapon. His shot is his weapon. He likes to use it and he seems like he knows how to get open.”

Pulkkinen equaled a Grand Rapids franchise record Wednesday with a goal to extend his goal scoring streak to eight consecutive games. The mark was set by Donald MacLean in the 2005-06 season.

“We felt he deserves to come up here,” Holland said. “Mike Babcock and I had been talking the last little while that if we had an opportunity along the way to see what he could do we would. He certainly deserves to be rewarded with an opportunity.”

Tomas Jurco is also sidelined with back spasms.

“It’s an opportunity for him,” Holland said. “He’ll play in Washington. He’ll be in the lineup. I’m not sure how much he’ll play, Mike Babcock will figure that out as they go.

“He’s been a talented offensive guy,” Holland continued.

Holland wasn’t sure what line Babcock would put Pulkkinen on, but one thing’s almost certain is he’ll play on the power play with his right-handed shot.

Pulkkinen played in three games last season with the Wings and didn’t register a point and had just four shots on goal.

“He had a real good rookie year last year with 31 goals,” Holland said. “He came to camp this year, played some preseason games and played pretty well. He’s picked up where he left off last year and continues to get better. Certainly we’re aware of how he’s doing there.”

Pulkkinen slipped in the entry draft after injuring his shoulder and the Wings were able to get him in the fourth round, 111th overall, in 2010.

The year he was drafted he set a record for assists (36) by a rookie in the Finnish Elite League, breaking the mark set by Teemu Selanne.

“We’ll see what he can do,” Holland said.

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.”