DETROIT - Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill says he's still working on which defensemen will play together but he has an idea about some offensive pairs going into the season.
"At the end of the day you want to find great chemistry between the three guys, but right now I've settled in on some pairings that I want and we'll see which guys earn the spots to play with them," Blashill said.
Blashill said he envisions newcomer Thomas Vanek playing with Darren Helm at center and Henrik Zetterberg playing with Frans Nielsen, another newcomer, at center.
"They're both veteran players, certainly Z will spend lots of time in low coverage, Z will take face-offs if needed," Blashill said. "That's the plan to start the year."
Currently, Blashill has not decided on who should play with Dylan Larkin.
One of the forwards expected to round out a top line is Tomas Tatar, who is coming off a strong showing for Team Europe in the World Cup.
"Tats is somebody that, he played with (Marian) Hossa and (Anze) Kopitar, played against everybody's best and did a great job," Blashill said. 'I think he could play in any of those spots. The one thing I want to be clear on, too, is we're going to need four lines going and we're going to need depth of scoring. We got to do a real good job as a coaching staff of not playing one line because we went into the game thinking they're a one. Who's playing the best that night, we got to do a real good job of that. I think Tats, Nyquist, Abby, those guys are going to be in good spots. Who they're going to be playing with, I don't know."
ONE LINE COULD BE ABOUT SET: There is one complete line that has played together this preseason that Blashill likes.
Luke Glendening and Drew Miller have played a lot together in the past and Steve Ott seems to have slid right in beside them.
"They're certainly making a pitch toward saying 'we're going to be a line that could really be effective,'" Blashill said. "They've done that so far in the preseason. They'll get two more chances to play together and show that they should be a line together. But they seem to have good chemistry and have done a good job."
Blashill said the three all have similar mentalities.
"They want to play north-south, chipping in, go get it, forecheck, work, work, work, grind," Blashill said. "They're good down low. They actually probably have better scoring touch than what their production has been in the last little bit. I talked to Dino Ciccarelli, he saw Ott play lots in junior, he said he has great hands and can really score. Sometimes it's the role you're put in. You got a lefty and a righty taking face-offs, they can play in the O-zone, create grind opportunities, play in the D zone and hopefully get out of your zone."
Ott scored 22 goals for the Dallas Stars in 2009-10 and had 19 the previous season.
LINEUP FOR GAME AT PITTSBURGH: The Wings held an optional morning skate for the group traveling to Pittsburgh.
Here is the lineup for the game:
4 Teemu Pulkkinen
14 Gustav Nyquist
15 Riley Sheahan
20 Drew Miller
29 Steve Ott
37 Evgeny Svechnikov
39 Anthony Mantha
41 Luke Glendening
42 Martin Frk
44 Dylan Sadowy
46 Ben Street
59 Tyler Bertuzzi
72 Andreas Athanasiou
2 Brendan Smith
3 Nick Jensen
18 Robbie Russo
23 Brian Lashoff
48 Ryan Sproul
61 Xavier Ouellet
77 Dan Renouf
30 Cal Heeter
31 Jared Coreau