The Red Wings are among the three fewest penalized teams in the league, averaging 8.6 penalty minutes per game this season. And while they’ve killed off 24-of-25 penalties in the last seven games, the Red Wings don’t want to give the Capitals a reason to fire up their potent power-play machine.
The Capitals’ power play is led by the lethal combination of Alex Ovechkin and his offensive sidekick Nicklas Backstrom. With the season nearly the end of the first quarter, Ovechkin and Backstrom are 1-2 in the league in power-play points. Ovechkin leads the NHL with seven power-play goals, while Backstrom has compiled a league-best 11 power-play assists.
“He’s just a big man of super, super skill,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He can be physical but his ability to shoot the puck makes you so nervous. He’s a great skater. When he plays the off-side he pulls it in through your legs and shoots it through a screen all the time. When he’s playing the forehand side he does that outside-in move a fair bit. He finds a way to activate himself real well and get open. He hangs out high. If you give him any space at all he can kill you that way. He’s a guy who can play big minutes. He scores goals. It’s hard to score goals in the NHL.”
A three-time Maurice Richard Trophy winner as the NHL’s top goal scorer, Ovechkin is currently two goals shy of league-leader Alexander Steen (16) of the St. Louis Blues. He’s definitely a dangerous man, as the Wings know all too well. He has registered 12 points in eight career games against Detroit, including nine points on the power play.
“You’ve just got to minimize his space and time,” Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “Obviously, he’s got a great shot and finds a way to always be open it seems. Playing with Backstrom, too, he’s a really good disher. You’ve just got to be aware of them whenever they’re out there and try to have the puck as much as possible.”
Since returning from an upper-body injury 10 days ago, Ovechkin has four goals and two assists in five games. He’s heating up and looking forward to facing the Red Wings.
“A great team, a great organization,” Ovechkin said. “It’s always fun to play against those kinds of teams, especially with those players.”
|Justin Abdelkader (right) celebrates with Johan Franzen after he scored the game-winning goal at Colorado last month. (Photo by Getty Images)|
DETROIT – After missing five of the last six games with an injury that he’s not talking about, Johan Franzen said he plans to return to the lineup Tuesday when the Red Wings host the Winnipeg Jets at Joe Louis Arena.
Franzen spoke to the Detroit media following Monday’s practice, but wouldn’t disclose his injury, which it’s believed occurred on Oct. 27, the day before the Red Wings headed to western Canada for a four-game road trip. Franzen didn’t make the trip to Vancouver, but met the team in Calgary on Oct. 31 and played in just over 9-minutes against the Flames before leaving the game with a reported “illness”.
Seemingly in good spirits Monday afternoon, Franzen, who has two goals and three assists in 13 games, led kind of a game of “20 Questions” with the Detroit media as they tried to guess the ailment that has kept Mule out for two weeks.
Here is part of the 70-second locker room exchange:
Question: What was issue?
Franzen: “I can’t say that yet.”
Question: When can you say?
Franzen: “When it’s 100 percent healed.”
Question: Did you re-injure it in the Calgary game?
Franzen: “No, I didn’t. I just couldn’t play. I wasn’t ready.”
Question: What makes you think you’re ready now?
Franzen: “The way I’ve been practicing. Feeling better.”
Franzen did laugh off speculation that he’s been dealing with a psychiatric disorder. He said he was told by a friend that a rumor made it around the Internet over the weekend that Franzen was battling anxiety issues, which he has dealt with in the past.
“I’ll tell you Monday,” Franzen said. “I thought I could tell you today, but I couldn’t.”
|Forward Anthony Mantha is off to a tremendous start, leding all scorers in the Canadian Hockey League, producing 18 goals for 33 points in 12 games in the QMJHL. (Photo by Dan Mannes/Detroit Red Wings)|
DETROIT – The Red Wings’ front office must be delighted with a few of their younger prospects who had great individual weekends for their junior teams.
Four prospects earned First Star of the game recognition for their respective junior teams.
Last week, Mantha was named Canadian Hockey League player of the week. On Sunday, the Red Wings’ prospect was the First Star scoring two goals and adding two assists for Val'd-Or Foreurs as they crushed Cape Breton, 7-3, in a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League contest. He also had an assist in Friday’s 5-2 loss at Halifax
The Wings’ first-round draft pick last summer, Mantha exploded offensively last week, recording back-to-back five-point games in a pair of victories.
Mantha, 19, leads the QMJHL in scoring with 18 goals and 15 assists in 12 games.
On Monday, Nastasiuk, the Wings first of two second-round picks in June, was named Owen Sound’s player of the week for tallying seven points in two games over the weekend. Trailing 2-1 in Sarnia, Nastasiuk scored the tying and winning goals on Friday. The next night, the 6-foot-1 winger had two goals and two assists in a win over Kingston. He has seven goals and seven assists in 12 games.
Bertuzzi had a good weekend, collecting a goal and two assists as the Guelph Storm posted wins over Niagara (5-4) and Ottawa (7-3). Bertuzzi earned the No. 1 Star in Friday’s win over the IceDogs when he scored a goal and assisted on another. In 10 games this season, Bertuzzi, the Red Wings’ second-round pick in July, has three goals and eight assists.
Athanasiou scored the game-winner and assisted on two other goals for the Barrie Colts who claimed a 4-2 win over Plymouth on Saturday.
|Already an entrepreneur in metro Detroit, former Red Wings forward Dino Ciccarelli will open his new sports bar in downtown Detroit on Wednesday. (Photo by Bill Roose/Detroit Red Wings)|
DETROIT – During the mid-1990s it wasn’t unusual to see Dino Ciccarelli and some of his Red Wings’ teammates at the Post Bar following a victory.
For hockey fans, one of the oldest bars in downtown Detroit was the epicenter for fun with many Wings among the regulars at the tavern located at 408 West Congress Street. The eclectic crowds used to fill every crevice of the long, narrow bar standing shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip from the front door to the bathrooms in the back.
Heck, the Stanley Cup was even known to drop in at the graffiti-laden bar back then too.
But that was years ago, before the place was mothballed.
Now, Ciccarelli is resurrecting it.
Ciccarelli’s Sports Bar will be an ideal spot of hockey fans before and after Wings’ home games. They will be open at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, four-hours before the Wings host the Buffalo Sabres in the season-opening game for both NHL clubs.
The Hockey Hall of Famer, who already owns a bar in Shelby Township, recently purchased the Post Bar and one of its sister locations, near the Palace of Auburn Hills.
“We’ll be open for the Red Wings’ home-opener,” said Ciccarelli, of the downtown establishment that is walking-distance to Joe Louis Arena. “It’ll be an exciting day for sure.”
Renovations have been going on at the Detroit bar for the last week. The old industrial-looking interior still features the same old wooden bar covered in graffiti and carvings from two decades ago. Together, with a fresh coat of slate gray paint on the walls, a new sound system and newly built facade above the front door, and Ciccarelli’s is ready for the hockey season.
A two-sided marquee is supposed to be installed outside on Wednesday in time for the start of the home-opener, Ciccarelli said.
If Ciccarelli’s Sports Bar is anything like the old place, Dino will have himself a hat trick.
|Five of DeKeyser's picks to win on the high school gridiron this weekend are (clockwise from upper left): Clintondale Dragons; Utica Chieftains; De La Salle Pilots; Eisenhower Eagles; and New Haven Rockets.|
DETROIT – Danny DeKeyser didn’t play high school football, but as a junior at Warren De La Salle, he and his friends enjoyed cheering on their classmates on fall Fridays.
“It was a lot of fun and it gave my buddies and me something to do on Friday nights,” the Red Wings’ rookie defenseman said. “It was always a good time.”
It’s been a few years since he rooted for the Pilots from the metal bleachers, but that didn’t stop DeKeyser from accepting a challenge this week from the Macomb Daily.
DeKeyser gladly agreed to be the newspaper’s guest prognosticator for Week 5 of the high school football season in Michigan. He was asked to pick the winners of 10 games in Macomb County this weekend.
Hopefully, DeKeyser is a better pigskin prophet than Mark Hackel, the county executive for Macomb County, who correctly selected seven of 10 games last week.
DeKeyser’s picks are BOLD, including his obvious prediction for his alma mater. “Yeah, pretty much always La Salle,” he said.
Macomb Dakota (4-0) at Utica Eisenhower (2-2), 7 p.m.
Utica (1-3) at Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse (0-4), 7 p.m.
Warren Woods-Tower (3-1) at St. Clair (4-0), 7 p.m.
Clinton Township Clintondale (4-0) at Clawson (3-1), 7 p.m.
New Haven (1-3) at Warren Lincoln (0-4), 7 p.m.
Richmond (3-1) at Armada (2-2), 7 p.m.
Warren De La Salle (2-2) at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (3-1), 7 p.m.
Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard (3-1) at Macomb Lutheran North (2-2), 7 p.m.
Auburn Hills Oakland Christian (2-2) at Sterling Heights Parkway Christian (3-1), 7 p.m.
Romeo (1-3) vs. Sterling Heights Stevenson (2-2) @ Ford Field, 12 p.m.
|Ken Holland, circa 1983 with the Adirondack Red Wings.
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – It’s been a few years since Ken Holland last dusted off his old goalie equipment.
“I've probably only had equipment on four or five times in the last 20 years,” the Red Wings general manager said on Friday.
Holland is among several Red Wings executives, scouts, coaches and former players who will play in an alumni/celebrity hockey game on Saturday night at Centre ICE Arena.
“When it's as big a part of your life, as it is for me from about 8 years old to 28 years of age, certainly hockey is my life, being able to put the equipment on and go on the ice is fun,” Holland said. “It's good exercise and it's fun.”
A former goalie, Holland played in four NHL games, including three with the Red Wings during the 1983-84 season. A 12th round draft pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Holland also played one game with the Hartford Whalers.
The Wings’ GM will share the goaltending duties with Chris Osgood on the Red Team coached by pro scout Bruce Haralson. But the test for Holland will be facing a stacked White Team with recently retired guys like Chris Chelios, Kris Draper, and Kirk Maltby.
“Draper flies around at 100 miles an hour, he's not far away from playing, so for me it's going to be all angles and protractors, just stand 'em up and cut 'em down,” Holland said. “I don't know how to do the butterfly and I'd probably pull a groin if I did do a butterfly. … We're trying to make a major trade today to level the playing field.”
In fact, Holland’s team made a trade Saturday morning, sending European scout Vladi Havlaj to the White team for defenseman Jiri Fischer.
RED TEAM WHITE TEAM
Ken Holland Jim Bedard
Chris Osgood Jeff Blashill
Hakan Andersson Eddie Ascione
Mike Babcock Spiros Anastas
Todd Beam Chris Chelios
Kevin Clark Kris Draper
Ken Daniels Kelly Harper
Andrew Dickson Ken Kal
Jeff Finley Ryan Martin
Jiri Fischer Jim Paek
Mark Howe Phil Pierce
Sam Lites Bill Peters
Keith McKittrick Len Quesnelle
Marty Stein Ari Vuori
Piet Van Zant Vladi Havlaj
Saturday night’s exhibition is sold-out.
“Lot of fun. For a good cause. Help raise money for the arena,” Holland said. “Being on the ice with Cheli, Ozzie, Draper, Malts and Fisch … it's going to be a good night.” . VIEW CHARITY ALUMNI GAME PHOTO GALLERY
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – Darren Helm’s injury saga continues as the Red Wings reported to training camp at Centre ICE Arena on Wednesday morning.
Helm will not be on the ice for the team’s first day of skating Thursday.
“I don’t think it’s in the cards right now,” said Helm, who suffered a pulled groin muscle while skating in an informal team practice last Friday at Joe Louis Arena.
The 26-year-old Helm missed all but one game last year with a sore lower back. He has spent the last few months rehabilitating the inflamed disc. Even without the groin injury, it’s likely that Helm wouldn’t be ready for the start of the season when the Wings open against the Buffalo Sabres on Oct. 2.
“It’s going to be a couple of weeks where I’m not going to be able to get the physical contact or do stuff that I wanted to do,” Helm said. “It’s kind of taken a backseat right now to this groin.”
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland doesn’t expect Helm to skate at all this week.
“I don't think he's going to skate,” Holland said. “Nothing to do with his back, he's got groin aggravation or groin strain. He's been off for a few days now, groins are 1-3 weeks, so we'll see in a few days.”
Helm’s off-ice workouts have been limited so not to aggravate either of his existing injuries.
Last week, coach Mike Babcock said he had Helm penciled in among the Wings’ top five centermen, along with Pavel Datsyuk, Stephen Weiss, Cory Emmerton and Joakim Andersson. Riley Sheahan is sixth on the Wings’ list of centers, Babcock said.
When asked if he thought that Helm would be ready for the season, Babcock said, “I have no idea. The way I look at it he hasn’t played in a year and a half basically. If we get him it’s a bonus.”
|Saginaw goalie and Red Wings prospect Jake Paterson, has been invited to Team Canada's national junior team development camp, which will be held in August. (Photo by Getty Images)|
DETROIT – Red Wings prospect Jake Paterson will be among 35 players who will participate in Canada’s national junior team summer development camp in August.
The week-long development camp is set to begin August 4 in two cities – Broussard, Quebec and Lake Placid, N.Y.
Paterson, 19, of Mississauga, Ontario, has played the last three seasons in the Ontario Hockey League with the Saginaw Spirit, which is about 1 ½ hours north of Detroit.
Paterson was the Red Wings’ third-round draft selection last June in Pittsburgh. He is one of 14 camp invitees who were drafted last summer. In three OHL seasons, he has posted 46 wins with a 3.45 goals-against average.
Paterson, who was Canada’s third goalie, but did not see action in the 2013 World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia, was one of three OHL goalies who participated in Team Canada’s Program of Excellence goaltending camp earlier this month in Calgary. Mississauga’s Spencer Martin and Sault Ste. Marie’s Matt Murray were the others in the U20 camp.
Canada’s national junior team will gather in Brossard at the Montreal Canadiens’ practice facility for two practices on Aug. 4 and 5 before travelling to Lake Placid, N.Y., for exhibition games against Finland (Aug. 7), Sweden (Aug. 8) and the United States (Aug. 10).
If Paterson makes the national team and plays in the U20 tournament this December in Malmo, Sweden, he will become just the third Red Wings’ goalie prospect to play in the World Junior Championship for Canada, and the first since Corrado Micalef did so in 1981.
The first Wings’ prospect to play between the pipes for Canada in the U20 tourney was Al Jensen, who helped Canada to a silver medal in 1977 and a bronze medal a year later.
|Fans have until Thursday, June 27 to vote for their favorite Pavel Datsyuk goal of the 2013 NHL season. CLICK on the IMAGE to vote.|
DETROIT – It’s an All-Pavel final.
While voting is open until next Thursday, Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk has already been chosen as the winner of the 2013 TSN Play of the Year Showdown.
The only thing left to decide is for which goal? That’s because the Wings’ superstar is going up against himself in the final round of fan balloting, which is currently underway on TSN.ca.
The two highlight reel goals – from Feb. 10 vs. Los Angeles and Feb. 19 at Nashville – were definitely a couple of the most spectacular plays from the lockout-shortened season.
The Russian’s coast-to-coast goal came late in the third period of the Red Wings’ overtime loss to the Predators. While it tied the game, it was the path that Datsyuk took that mesmerized fans as he dipped and doodled through and around five Nashville skaters before popping a shot off of goalie Pekka Rinne.
Fans on TSN.ca felt that Datsyuk’s Nashville gem was better than plays by New York Islanders right wing Michael Grabner (52.49%-47.51%); Florida center Shawn Matthias (51.87%-48.13%); Edmonton left wing Magnus Paajarvi (51.55%-48.45%); and Buffalo center Cody Hodgson (75.73%-24.27%).
Nine days before he dazzled in Nashville, Datsyuk showed his toughness and determination against the defending Stanley Cup champions. Early in the game he absorbed a vicious body check by Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. However, Datsyuk got the last laugh when on the next shift. He skated into the offensive zone at top speed, took a cross-ice pass from Henrik Zetterberg, cut to the middle, splitting the defense of Slava Voynov and Rob Scuderi, and fired a shot top shelf over Jonathan Quick’s glove hand.
That bit of trickery, accounting to the fan vote, was better than plays by Boston forward Nathan Horton (68.74%-31.26%); Edmonton right wing Ales Hemsky (50.18%-49.82%); Washington forward Eric Fehr (50.17%-49.83); and St. Louis goalie Jake Allen (50.5%-49.5%).
Datsyuk, Matthias, and Chicago forward Patrick Kane were represented twice in this year’s bracket. Zetterberg and goalie Jimmy Howard were also on the Internet ballot, though both Red Wings didn’t survive the first round, losing to Matthias and Allen, respectively.
Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose
|For the first time in a long time, the Blackhawks plan to use center Jonathan Toews (L) and right wing Patrick Kane together on the same forward line in Saturday's Game 5 against Detroit. (Photo by Dave Sandford)|
CHICAGO – Desperate times call for desperate measures, which is way it appears that the Blackhawks will make one big adjustment to their forward lines for tonight’s elimination game against the Red Wings at the United Center.
Throughout the Western Conference semifinals, Chicago has played its top scoring forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on separate lines. But the two will work together on a line with left wing Patrick Sharp as centers Michal Handzus and Toews switch roles for Game 5.
Handzus, the 36-year-old who was re-acquired by the Blackhawks at the April trade deadline, will center a line between Marian Hossa and Bryan Bickell.
“They’re two very skilled players,” Zetterberg said. “They’ve been playing with each other for many years, so they know each other good and it’s going to be a challenge for us to handle that.”
Kane has been responsible for a third of the Blackhawks’ offense in this series, netting two goals, while Toews, who tied for the team lead in goals during the regular season, has been held off the score sheet by the Red Wings’ defense, led by goalie Jimmy Howard, who has allowed just two goals in the last three games.
The Blackhawks are desperate, but Kane is excited at the prospect of playing alongside Chicago’s captain in a must-win game.
“We played a couple of years ago together a lot and we were hot, scoring a lot of goals,” Kane said. “You want to think about scoring chances and creating things. … As far as being a big game player, I think all of us want to be that guy.”
The ’Hawks hope the move frees Toews from the shackles of being shadowed by Zetterberg, who has done a magnificent defensive job against the Toews.
Now Zetterberg most likely must contend with a much bigger Handzus, who is 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds.
“He’s good on faceoffs, he’s strong on his stick,” said Zetterberg, of the 14-year veteran. “You have to try to move a lot, skate a lot and try to find open spots. He’s been around the league for many, many years. He’s a good player, and if that’s the case it will be a little different look for our line, but we’ll handle that in our way.”
Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose