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Mule scores twice in scrimmage win

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – Following an incredible five-goal outburst last February in Ottawa, scoring came at a premium for Johan Franzen. After posting his personal-best NHL performance, the Red Wings’ power forward was held to just two goals in the final 27 games of the regular-season.

On top of it, an injury sustained in the first round of the playoffs, also limited the Mule’s effectiveness in the postseason.

So scoring two-goals Monday afternoon – albeit in the team’s intra-squad scrimmage at Centre I.C.E. Arena – was viewed as a positive foot forward by coach Mike Babcock.

“It was good to see him score,” Babcock said. “The Mule can shoot the puck. We all know that. The more he skates, the better we’ll all be.

“We need him to be a big time player, but he’s very capable and he understands that. The big thing for Mule is if he skates every day, the rest will look after itself. … I know that it’s just the training camp, whatever, goals make you feel good. So good for him.”

Skating on a line with Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula Monday afternoon, Franzen’s two goals helped lift Team Howe to a 6-3 comeback scrimmage victory over Team Lindsay. Tomas Tatar, Chris Conner, Doug Janik and Ian White also scored for Team Howe.

Last week, Babcock indicated that Franzen’s among a trio of Wings that need to have
“bounce-back” seasons for the Wings to continue to be successful. He’s a high-end forward, who has made a career out of scoring in bunches. But following Monday’s two-goals, Franzen didn’t see what all of the fuss was about.

“I just want to play good hockey, and if I score, I score,” said Franzen, who despite the late-season drought, led the Wings with 28 goals. “If I play good, I usually score. It’s not like I’m counting goals, or anything like that. … I’m well-prepared and in good shape.”

Zetterberg, who probably knows Franzen better than anyone else in the Wings’ dressing room, said that getting the Mule back on track is vital to the offense.

“You want him happy, and he’s happy when he scored goals,” Zetterberg said. “He’s good at finding the open spots. Right now it’s mine and Fil’s job to get him the puck. And I think we have good chemistry with Fil and me working in the corners and Mule either in front of the net, or finding the open spot.”

Franzen will likely play more of a net-presence this season, something that he got away from last season, Zetterberg said.

“I think he’ll have more of a role that he had two years ago, and I think that’s when he’s at his best, like he did today with the two goals,” Zetterberg said. “When you go into a little slump, sometimes it’s hard to get out of. I think he just needs to go out and just play. Instead of going around and thinking about what is going wrong, just play your game, go to the tough areas, and the puck will go in.”

Goals by forwards Todd Bertuzzi and Nick Oslund, Team Lindsay built a 2-0 lead in its scrimmage Monday afternoon against Team Howe. However, goals by Franzen and Tatar tied the score, 2-2, prior to the intermission. Center Zach Franko finished the scoring for Team Lindsay with a goal in the second period.

The Red Wings trimmed their training camp roster to 56 players by releasing one player and returning nine others to their junior clubs. Forwards Brooks Macek, Zach Franko, Alan Quine, and Marek Tvrdon; defensemen Xavier Ouellet, Artem Sergeev, Richard Nedomlel, and Ryan Sproul; and goalie Petr Mrazek were cut. Goalie Adam Mosher was released.

RED & WHITE ROSTERS: The coaching staff selected the players, who will play in Tuesday’s Red & White scrimmage at Centre I.C.E. Arena.

RED: Forwards – Danny Cleary, Pavel Datsyuk, Patrick Eaves, Drew Miller, Cory Emmerton, Tomas Holmstrom, Jiri Hudler, Ryan Johnson, Fabian Brunnstrom, Tomas Tatar, Chris Conner and Jan Mursak. Defensemen – Niklas Kronwall, Brad Stuart, Brendan Smith, Mike Commodore, Garnet Exelby, Logan Pyett. Goalies – Jimmy Howard and Joey MacDonald

WHITE: Forwards – Valtteri Filppula, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, Todd Bertuzzi, Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, Willie Coetzee, Tomas Jurco, Brent Raedeke, and Francis Pare. Defensemen – Nicklas Lidstrom, Ian White, Jonathan Ericsson, Jakub Kindl, Brian Lashoff, Doug Janik, and Travis Ehrhardt. Goalies – Ty Conklin and Jordan Pearce.

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill
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