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New line sparks offense at Red Wings' training camp

Sunday, 09.13.2009 / 6:47 PM ET / News
By Christy Hammond  - Community Relations Manager
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New line sparks offense at Red Wings\' training camp
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – A new line featuring Ville Leino, Valtteri Filppula and Jason Williams made its debut Sunday in an hour-long scrimmage between Team Delvecchio and Team Howe on the first day of Red Wings’ training camp at Centre Ice Arena.

The unit, which could very well be Detroit’s third line at the start of the regular-season next month, combined for a total of four goals and five assists.

The line went head-to-head against Henrik Zetterberg’s line with Todd Bertuzzi and Dan Cleary in the scrimmage. But coach Mike Babcock noted that Zetterberg’s team skated for 40 minutes before the scrimmage whereas the other team started the day with the scrimmage. Each day, Babcock says, a different group will be handicapped by having to skate beforehand.

Leino signed a one-way deal this summer, promoting the Finnish forward to full-time duty in Detroit this season. The left winger kept skating toward the net during the scrimmage and was rewarded with a pair of goals and assists to lead both teams.

“He’s a smart player and makes the right play a lot and skates well, moves the puck well, and definitely handles the puck well,” Williams said. “For me, just try to get open and shoot, shoot, shoot.”

Williams returned to Detroit for a second stint, inking a one-year deal with the Wings in August. He has more in common with his Finnish linemates than you may think as he spent the lockout playing in Finland and even competed against Filppula. His Finnish is a bit rusty, however, so he had to remind Filppula and Leino to speak English during the scrimmage.

“On the bench a few times, they were talking to each other and I told them to slow down, maybe speak a little English just so I can know what they’re thinking a little bit,” Williams said, “but like I say it’s just the first day of training camp and trying to get the cobwebs out.”

Filppula got the crowd buzzing with an impressive wraparound play in the first half that was stopped only by goalie Jimmy Howard’s stick. The Wings will look for Filppula and his linemates to make similar plays and counter the loss of 90 goals from last season due to free agency losses this summer.

Training camp allows newly formed lines to get comfortable with each other’s tendencies and strengths on the ice before the regular-season grind begins. As the players adjust to new linemates, stronger chemistry may create even more offense from the line.

“Hopefully we can sort of just keep it going and get a little feel for where each other is going to be on the ice and make it a little easier for us so we don’t have to think out there and can sort of let our instincts take over,” Williams said.

Williams has not played for the Wings since he was traded in 2007, but his previous six-year stint in Detroit should enable him to quickly fit back into the lineup.

“I think it helps that he’s been here for a lot of years before he got traded and he knows our coaching staff, he knows the system that we’re playing,” Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “He’s familiar with most of the players as well, so I think that’s going to help him just being back with us again.”

Only time will tell if this offensive output from this line will be the norm, but the three linemates certainly got off to a hot start on the opening day of training camp.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80