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Cleary hopes to restore confidence soon

Babcock bumps Cleary to first line with thought that Datsyuk can help end slump

Saturday, 11.23.2013 / 1:46 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - DetroitRedWings.com
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Cleary hopes to restore confidence soon

Daniel Cleary
Right Wing  - DET
Goals: 1 | Assists: 2 | Pts: 3
Shots: 29 | +/-: 1
DETROIT – Superstar athletes like Pavel Datsyuk have an uncanny ability to make those around them better players. Daniel Cleary hopes some of that magic rubs off on him.

For the second straight game, Cleary will be on Datsyuk’s line along with veteran winger Todd Bertuzzi, when the Red Wings host the Ottawa Senators for the second time this season at Joe Louis Arena.

The Sens handed the Red Wings a 6-1 defeat on Oct. 23.

Unfortunately, Cleary’s slump predates the Wings’ worst loss of the season. He’s been slumping for more than a month, something he says he’s not experienced in his nine seasons in Detroit. He has one goal and three points in 22 games, but he’s produced just one point in his last 16 games.

“Got to go out and do it.” Cleary said. “You just got to be good defensively, do the little things and we’ve always believed your game will come out of it.”

Cleary knows his confidence isn’t where it needs to be, saying Saturday morning that “It’s in the middle.”

By moving Cleary up from the third line, coach Mike Babcock sees an opportunity to help the veteran forward shake out of his offensive recession.

“The bottom line is confidence is a tough thing in the league,” Babcock said. “We’re hoping ideally that playing with Pav might help him. Pav’s a pretty good player and yet we need Pav to be going big-time for us to have success and helping him in some ways is probably more important than helping Cleary. That’s our though process right now. We’ll see what happens.”

In Thursday’s 4-3 victory over Carolina – in the first game that the Red Wings split up Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg – Datsyuk was on the ice for all three of the Hurricanes’ goals and finished with a minus-3 rating.

But the win snapped a seven-game winless streak for the Red Wings, who will host a team tonight that has dropped three straight in regulation.

“I read the other day that they’re the most desperate team in hockey that they needed a win so bad the other day,” Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said. “I was like, ‘Wow! They have lots of wins.’ I though that was ours. But anytime you come here to play the Red Wings, no matter how good you’re playing or how bad you’re playing, or them, it’s always a fun night. I think we’re looking forward to the opportunity again. We had some success in here last year (2011-12), all that’s going to do is make them a little more prepared for the game and we have to make sure we’re ready to play.”

Being prepared to play along side Datsyuk is a big challenge for Cleary, but also gives him a golden opportunity to snap out of his slump.

“When you play with Pavel, you’re out there a lot more, you also have to get yourself open and be ready to shoot, be ready to go to the net, be ready for the unexpected,” Cleary said. “You have to stay positive, have to stay confident. That’s the only way to get through it.”

INJURY UPDATES: Both Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss, who are recovering from sore groins, have told team trainers Friday that they are ready to return to the lineup.

Neither forward is slated to play against Ottawa, it’s possible one or both could play tonight if necessary, though Babcock was non-committal.

Robin Lehner
ROBIN LEHNER
Goalie  - OTT
Record: 3-3-2
GAA: 2.37 | Sv%: .939
LEHNER STARTS: Though starter Craig Anderson made 31 saves in a 6-1 win the last time the Senators came to Detroit, MacLean has decided to go with backup goalie Robin Lehner.

For the 22-year-old Swedish netminder, tonight will be his first time playing at Joe Louis Arena, but it’s not the first time he’s faced the Red Wings. He was pulled midway through the second period after allowing four goals on 19 shots in his first home start.

“(Johan) Franzen was on fire, I think he scored five goals,” Lehner said of the Wings’ 7-5 win on Feb. 2, 2011. “He scored two on me and then three more when I was pulled. Hopefully, he’s not on fire today.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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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