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Hank, Pav split up; Hope for more offense

It wasn't the move Red Wings' Babcock wanted to make, but offense needs a boost

Friday, 10.25.2013 / 1:49 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Hank, Pav split up; Hope for more offense
Through 11 games as linemates, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg were again 1-2 in Red Wings' scoring this season. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT – Following this week’s 6-1 drubbing at the hands of the Ottawa Senators, the Red Wings used Thursday’s off day to wipe the slate clean.

Detroit has managed just three goals in the last three games, so coach Mike Babcock has decided to re-shuffle the deck by separating Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg in hopes of simulating more offense throughout the lineup.

Splitting up Datsyuk and Zetterberg is a last resort, Babcock said, and something he didn’t want to do, but the lack of offense kind of dictated the move.

“It’s not going. I told them and you guys I wasn’t going to split them up and 11 games in I’m splitting them up,” Babcock said. “It wasn’t my plan and not necessarily what I wanted to do, but we need to.”

In Friday’s practice at Joe Louis Arena, Datsyuk worked with wingers Todd Bertuzzi and Daniel Alfredsson, while Zetterberg centered the second line between Johan Franzen and Tomas Tatar.

“We think we need more going. It’s too easy to shut down one or two guys. You need a team going,” Babcock said. “Right now we need Alfie, and we need Mule and a whole bunch of guys to score. We haven’t gotten that much with playing with those guys so maybe if we get them playing with those guys as well. Then we get four guys scoring and the other guys contributing more on a regular basis and then we become a better hockey team. That’s the plan.”

The Red Wings finish up a three-game homestand on Saturday before taking a journey to Western Canada next week. The New York Rangers conclude their nine-game road trip to start the season Saturday at Joe Louis Arena.

Detroit has managed just one goal – Bertuzzi’s power-play goal against the Senators – in the last eight periods, plus an overtime and a shootout.

“I think the last game we can hit the delete button because I don’t think we did a lot of good things,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “The game before that, San Jose, was a well-played game by both teams. That was two scoring teams that went at each other, but we played real good defense, didn’t give each other a lot of opportunity to score goals. Saying that, I think we have to find ways to spend more time in their end.”

The one constant this season has been that Dastyuk and Zetterberg have played together on the same line, first with Justin Abdelkader and more recently Bertuzzi. But the Euro Twins have also accounted for 44 percent (11-of-25) of the Red Wings’ goals, which isn’t an ideal methodology. By switching up the line combinations, the hope is that they can spread out the scoring to become more balanced and more difficult to slow down.

“I think Babs was pretty up front about it, we will be playing together until he needs to switch it up and now it’s time,” Zetterberg said. “I’m pretty sure we’ll play together here at some point in time, but when we’ve been losing games like we have, haven’t been scoring much, we have to try something different.’’

The third line should remain the same – with Stephen Weiss centering wingers Daniel Cleary and Abdelkader – though it wasn’t clear Friday who would skate in the fourth line with center Joakim Andersson and winger Drew Miller. Jordin Tootoo has played the last two games, but he, Mikael Samuelsson and Patrick Eaves took turns on the right wing in Friday’s practice.

EAVES UPDATE: Eaves (MCL, ankle sprain) was cleared this week to return to action, and while he’s eligible to come off of long-term injured reserve, Babcock said the veteran grinder will not be in Saturday’s lineup against the Rangers.

GETTING TO KNOW YOU: Wednesday was the first time for Niklas Kronwall and Brendan Smith to play any significant minutes together as defensive partners. While Smith is much more offensive-minded than Jonathan Ericsson – Kronwall’s usual D-partner – it will take some time getting use to.

“I thought there were things that worked and some things we need to work on a lot more,” Kronwall said. “That’s like that the first few times you play with each other. We haven’t played with each other for some time now. So it’s going to take some time to adjust to each other. The more you communicate out there the better it’s going to be. We just need to play with each other, get out there as much as possible so we can get a better read off each other.”

Ericsson is out for 2-3 weeks with a partial dislocation of his left shoulder joint.

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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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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