TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – Justin Abdelkader was in midseason form as the Red Wings training camp opened on Thursday.
Abdelkader scored two goals and added an assist as Team Delvecchio posted a 4-0 win over Team Howe in an intra-squad scrimmage at Centre ICE Arena.
Skating on the right wing with center Pavel Datsyuk and left wing Henrik Zetterberg, Abdelkader looked like he did late last season when he played alongside Datsyuk and Johan Franzen.
“It felt pretty good. Playing with those two guys it’s fun,” said Abdelkader of skating with the Euro Twins in the scrimmage. “They’ll find you. You just have to ready and have your stick on the ice at all times because more than likely it’s going to end up there.
Zetterberg had a goal and three assists. Datsyuk scored once and had two assists.
Last week, coach Mike Babcock said he likes Abdelkader for his versatility as a player that he can use on the top scoring line or as a fourth-line grinder.
“He's 26 years old, it's just about time he becomes a player in the league. It takes you that long,” Babcock said. “Abby skates way better than he used to. He's got huge confidence. Being invited to Olympic camp probably didn't hurt him confidence-wise. You come here today and shoot two in the net you just start thinking that's your job. Really good for him, much better for us.”
Abdelkader worked well on Thursday and managed to get himself open in the offensive zone, but he’s not going to day one day’s results for granted.
“I figured out last year how I had to play with Pav,” he said. “If you can find your space and find where you need to be that I can bring something different to that line whether I’m there or not who knows. I’m there one day, but things change. If I am I know how I need to play.”
Veteran forward Daniel Alfredsson and center Stephen Weiss saw plenty from Datsyuk’s line on their first day of training camp as new members of the Red Wings. The two newcomers skated on Team Howe’s top line with Franzen.
“They seem to know where each other is on the ice, all three of them played really good,” Alfredsson said. “I thought we had some pretty good shifts here and there. It’s going to take some time to build some chemistry, but it was nice to get going. It was a pretty good pace.”
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