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Power play looks good, but must produce

Wings hope addition of Alfredsson, Samuelsson to point will spark power play

Friday, 09.27.2013 / 4:20 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  -
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Power play looks good, but must produce
Mikael Samuelsson has scored 23 power-play goals in 282 career games with the Red Wings. Coach Mike Babcock hopes the veteran forward can help the power play create offense with his hard shot from the point. (Photo by Dave Reginek)

DETROIT – On paper, the Red Wings’ power play seems ripe for a comeback.

The special teams unit has struggled the last two seasons – there was some improvement last year – though captain Henrik Zetterberg sees brighter days ahead.

Zetterberg’s optimism stems from offseason acquisitions of forward Daniel Alfredsson and center Stephen Weiss. Both are expected to be big contributors to the power play with the right-handed shooting Alfredsson positioned on the right point of the first unit opposite defenseman Niklas Kronwall.

Detroit coach Mike Babcock will finally get a first-look at the units, which he hopes to deploy in the regular season, when the Red Wings host the Toronto Maple Leafs at Joe Louis Arena tonight.

“We haven’t played a game yet together. So tonight will be the first game with Alf and Kronner behind us, so I think we need a lot of practice on it,” Zetterberg said. “Power play wasn’t our best spot last year and we really have to improve on it, but you have to practice. If you don’t practice it’s tough to win games.”

Early preseason injuries to Alfredsson (groin) and Johan Franzen (hip flexor) prevented the power play from gaining steam in the exhibition games. But the Wings’ conventional formation should get ice time against the Leafs tonight.

The top unit will have Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk on the flanks with Justin Abdelkader at the net-front. The second unit will use Weiss and Johan Franzen on the outside with Daniel Cleary in front of the crease and Jakub Kindl and Mikael Samuelsson on the point.

Adding hard-shooting right-handers like Alfredsson and Samuelsson to the point is intriguing with a potential to create increased offense.

“I think it’s going to help big time,” Kronwall said. “Now we have guys back there that can shoot the puck. For us on top we have to make sure that the puck gets through to the net. We’ve spent too much time passing it around and not really getting the pucks to the net. We know we have guys in front of the net who are doing great jobs, but we have to make sure the puck gets there.”

Having a right-handed shot to the back-end spots is a luxury that regularly eluded the Wings, who primarily used two lefties on the point, last season. Now that they have right-handers available for point duty, it should make life easier for lefties Kronwall and Kindl.

“Obviously when the puck is coming from the other side it’s hard for a lefty to shoot a one-timer,” Kronwall said. “But there are other options where you can flip-flop and go on one side or the other side. Now you can have a one-timer from a different position, so it gives us another option.”

Last season the Wings’ power play was No. 15 in the league, finishing at 18.4 percent (34-of-185). They were 0-for-36 through the first 10 road games in 2013. Statistically, the Wings were worse in 2011-12. However, in the last 14 seasons, the Wings have annually produced one of the top power plays in the league, finishing in the top five nine times since 1999-2000. In that time, no other NHL team has more than six top-five finishes.

Babcock hopes Alfredsson and Samuelsson can be the power play the high-powered weaponry that has been missing from the right point.

“We want to score some goals and they have that ability,” Babcock said. “We didn’t think we had a bomb from the point at all last year. (Damien) Brunner played on it. He wasn’t a stationary shooter, if that makes any sense. Alfredsson and Samuelsson both are. We planned on playing Sammy there last year and he never played so we’ll see what happens.”

Alfredsson is no stranger to playing the point on the power play, having played opposite of Jason Spezza or Kyle Turris in recent seasons.

“I feel comfortable there,” said Alfredsson, who has 131 career power-play goals. “For me, I like to shoot the one-timers. You get a lot more chances that way. I think the zones are a little bit bigger now when they moved the blue lines, as a pointman it gives you room there. You have more time in space to create things, but I think with me being a right-handed shot with the group that they have me with should work well.”

What the Wings don’t want is to become too predictable.

“You have to take what’s there,” Samuelsson said. “Every night is different. If the one-timer is there though, you have to take it. But if it’s not there you have to throw something else at them. … It’s like any sport, you have to throw different things at them.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose




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


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
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80