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Notes: Booth, Street have made their case to make Wings

Parenteau, Witkowski get another chance in Toronto tonight

by Dana Wakiji and Art Regner @Dwakiji and @ArthurJRegner /

DETROIT - For Detroit native David Booth, he has done everything he can to prove he can help the Red Wings during his professional tryout.

Booth, 32, played in five preseason games, finishing with one assist and was plus-2.

"He's made a good case, for sure," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said after Saturday's practice at the BELFOR Training Center. "Last night was probably more typical of the type of minutes that he'd see and those are hard types of games to play. I talked about that the other day, not everybody's suited for that, to play the 8-10, depending on PK. I'm going to play our top three lines lots. I thought he did a good job. So he's made a good, strong case."

In his last game Friday against a loaded Toronto Maple Leafs team, Booth played 13 shifts for 7:25, including :57 shorthanded and was plus-1.

"I thought I did well," Booth said. "I think considering everything, I just worked hard and got my skating back. I think I just really enjoyed being here. I think that was the thing I took away the most. When you have that sense of enjoyment coming to the rink, that just kind of increases your desire to play and your success on the ice. I thought I played well with the time that I was given. I think they gave me a fair chance to show that I could play. I think it went pretty well."

Booth understands that the spot the Wings might have available for him is more of a grinding, energy-type role.

"I don't think you just come in and just go right to the first line, second line," Booth said. "They have some really good players on this team, some of the best in the world that you see when the Olympics come or the world championships. Some of the best players in the world are on this team. I don't expect to come in and be up there.

"I think you earn that spot and I think that's something where you start that. You start by bringing energy and then as you develop more confidence on the ice, I think over time as situations throughout the year happen, you're given a chance out there."

In the absence of Andreas Athanasiou, a restricted free agent who has not agreed to a contract with the Wings, Blashill said there were a couple of spots open.

Luke Witkowski, 27, has one assist in five games and is in the lineup for tonight's game in Toronto.

"To me, he's a different element than some of the other players so when you're looking at comparables, he's different," Blashill said. "What I'd say to you is I personally wanted him on the team this summer, I pushed to sign him because I thought we needed some physicality and some toughness. He brings that and I think he's done a pretty good job. He gets another chance to show today that he's going to be an element on this hockey team."

Witkowski has played most of his career on defense and said he feels comfortable doing both.

Martin Frk, who turns 24 on Thursday, appears to have earned a spot on a line with Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha. Frk has two goals and one assist in five games.

PA Parenteau, also on a professional tryout, and Ben Street, who had one assist in six games with the Wings last season, are additional candidates.

"Ben Street's had a good camp, too," Blashill said. "Ben Street's a really smart hockey player, he's done a good job. We're going to watch tonight. Tonight matters a lot and then we're going to make some decisions."

Street, 30, played Friday against Toronto, assisting on Luke Glendening's goal. In five exhibition games, Street had a goal, an assist and was even.

Parenteau, 34, will play in Toronto tonight. He has not scored in his two preseason games.

WINGS SEEK CONSISTENCY: Whenever the Wings lose a game, there is one word which seems to find its way into the team's post-game analysis - consistency.

To a man, the Wings believe if they give 100 percent effort for a full 60 minutes they will be successful.

Yet a consistent effort has been elusive for the Red Wings over the past several seasons, leading to a mad dash at the end of season to try to qualify for the playoffs.

Friday's 4-2 loss to the Maple Leafs at Little Caesars Arena epitomized Detroit's plight.

In the first period, the Wings dominated the Leafs, outshooting them 15-3, only to be outshot by Toronto 24-8 in the final two periods of play. In the third period the Wings only managed two shots on net.

"Last night, we showed ourselves when we skate we can be a really good hockey team. We obviously dominated in the first period, that showed on shots," Blashill said. "You don't outshoot a team by that much or limit that team to three shots without playing great hockey.

"I didn't think we skated as much in the second. We didn't skate in the second, we skated in the first. That was a tale of the two periods. The third we got into a lot of penalty trouble. I thought it showed us the type of team we can be. We can't afford to have periods where we can't skate like that. We got to be a team that skates all the time."   

Blashill's comments could have been made after any subpar game by Detroit. Players have echoed Blashill's thoughts, too.

As simple as it may sound, a consistent effort in an extremely competitive NHL is not easy.

"There's very little margin for error, so we can't afford to have our foot off the gas ever," Blashill said. "We got to be a team that separates ourselves by … I think every team in the league has ups and downs and nobody plays to 100 percent efficiency every night. The teams that scores easier gets away with it sometimes.

"We got to make sure we're a team that plays as close to 100 percent efficiency every single shift and every single period as much as possible."

When asked if team consistency will come together once the preseason ends since the Wings roster will be trimmed to 23 players, making it more manageable, Blashill was direct and reiterated his core belief.

"We've had a chance to have our team on the ice lots but what's going to be a separator - I talked lots about separators at camp, today is a separator for our team, it's a practice after a long two weeks and a hard game last night," he said.

"Everybody works hard when it's easy. Another separator is finding a way to be at 100 percent efficiency. Nobody does it. Some teams mask it because they have tons of talent.

"The old teams in Detroit could mask it for sure. I talked to Babs (Toronto coach Mike Babcock), (he said) they did not play their best hockey and still won lots of games. We got to make sure we're at 100 percent efficiency every night."

KRONWALL OUT, JENSEN SKATING: Back spasms limited Niklas Kronwall in training camp and a chronic knee issue limited him last season and now something else has cropped up.

"Little bit of a lower body setback, not related to his knee or his back," Blashill said. "Tweaked his groin. Day to day, so we'll see where he's at next week."

Blashill said he does not know yet whether Kronwall will be ready by Thursday's regular-season opener against the Minnesota Wild.

"At the end of the day he's going to have to practice Tuesday in order to be ready Thursday, in my mind," Blashill said. "So if he's not practicing Tuesday you guys will have your answer."

Defenseman Nick Jensen, who has a bruised right thumb, is also a question mark for Thursday.

"I expect him to be ready, my thought process is he's going to be ready," Blashill said. "We're being very precautionary right now, but I can't guarantee it."

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