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Cole expects butterflies before debut

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Erik Cole has been part of two previous trade-deadline deals. Each time he has produced offensively for his new club. (Photo by Dan Mannes/Detroit Red Wings)
DETROIT Erik Cole expects a few anxious moments before he makes his Red Wings debut tonight at Joe Louis Arena.

“For sure. Absolutely,” said Cole when asked if he’ll be nervous before puck drop. “It’s an exciting moment for me to play for this organization. It’s just a great opportunity.”

One of the newest members of the team, Cole is familiar with joining a new team for the stretch run to the regular season. The 36-year-old Cole was part of two deadline deals since 2008-09 – first from Edmonton back to Carolina – the team that originally drafted him in 1998 – and to Dallas from Montreal.

“You know a bit more about what to expect, so that helps for sure,” Cole said. “Just being an older player and being comfortable with my surroundings, wherever that may be, you find your way and deal with it as it comes. When you get to the rink, lots of times that’s the easy part.”

Cole and right-handed shooting defenseman Marek Zidlicky will be in the lineup against the visiting New York Rangers for the first time with their new team when the Red Wings play in front of their home fans for the first time in 16 days.

Zidlicky has been skating with new partner Brendan Smith on the Wings’ third defensive pairing. Both Zidlicky and Cole are expected to also get some time on the league’s top power play tonight. The Wings have 55 power-play goals this season – eight more than Washington and Philadelphia who are tied with the second-most in the NHL.

In the past, Cole has been quite beneficial to teams that acquired him down the stretch, as he produced a combined eight goals and 22 points in 45 games for the Hurricanes and Stars.

“It takes a little bit of time to development some familiarity with your linemates and guys on the power play,” said Cole, who will skate on a line with center Henrik Zetterberg and forward Justin Abdelkader. “You get a general sense of what we’re trying to do with the system here. It’s just picking up on guy’s movements, if he’s disguising a pass or he’s going to shoot, his tendencies on the ice, where he is – things like that. It’s all just

communication, talking to your teammates on the ice. As it goes on it gets better and better.”

Abdelkader agrees, communication will be a factor for Cole as he learns to develop chemistry with his new linemates.

“We’ll do a lot of talking out there,” Abdelkader said. “I think we know how he plays. He’s similar to me in the way that he gets in on the forecheck and goes to net. He’s had a good season in Dallas so hopefully he can pick up where he left off there.”

While his shots per game totals (1.72) are among the lowest of his career, Cole has produced at better than a ½ point per game through 57 contests in Dallas this season. He’s only two goals short of reaching the 20-goal plateau for the sixth time in his 13-season career.

“He’s a proven point producer in this league,” Abdelkader said. “He goes to the net. He’s physical. He’s been in a number of playoff series, so I think that’s big for us going forward. He still skates real well, so I’m looking forward to the addition and I think he’ll fit in nicely.”

Zetterberg, who has missed the past four games with concussion-like symptoms, was cleared Wednesday afternoon by the team’s medical staff to return to action tonight. Zetterberg has 15 goals and 49 points in 57 games this season.

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