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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.

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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