Right Wing - DET
Goals: 1 | Assists: 0 | Pts: 1
Shots: 2 | +/-: -3
Daniel Cleary wishes he had a bigger role this season, but he understands that he can still make an impact when necessary.
“You got to stay fit. When you’re not playing you got to make sure you’re working hard. I think it’s important you keep your game as simple as you can. You don’t try to do too much. Try to skate, be good on the forecheck, shoot when you can, Just be smart with the puck.”
That’s exactly what Cleary will seek to do tonight against the Blue Jackets in the Red Wings’ lone visit to Columbus this season.
Cleary was added to the lineup when it was determined Monday that top-line center Pavel Datsyuk (sore groin) wouldn’t accompany the team on their one-game trip. Datsyuk has missed seven games, including two of the previous four games with an injured groin. He has five goals and 11 points in 10 games.
Cleary was inserted in the lineup two weeks ago when coach Mike Babcock felt the team needed a shake-up following slow starts at Buffalo and Ottawa. A veteran leader on the ice and in the locker room, Cleary promptly responded with his first goal since last January in a 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Rangers.
“I thought he helped us,” Babcock said. “There’s lots of parts to the game. There’s the part you see, there’s the part of preparation and helping your team and being a pro, and when you’ve got young guys, veteran guys like Dan Cleary are valuable.”
Babcock decided to go with Cleary – who has a goal with a minus-3 rating in three games – over rookie forward Andrej Nestrasil.
The 35-year-old Cleary is just glad for the opportunity to get back into the lineup and contribute in more than just practice.
“A lot of different things go into playing, your timing and your conditioning, just getting a feel for the game,” he said. “It’s a lot faster and a lot tighter than practice. I played a long time so you try to use your experience to your advantage.”
In his first three games, Cleary played on Darren Helm’s line opposite Nestrasil. Tonight, Cleary is slated to skate with Helm and forward Tomas Jurco.
“These guys are good players,” Cleary said. “We got to get a lot of players going here, offensively. These guys got a lot of talent. Got to work hard to bring it out.”
Defense - DET
Goals: 2 | Assists: 2 | Pts: 4
Shots: 12 | +/-: E
Everyone in Nationwide Arena knows it’s coming, but most are still startled by the thunderous noise made by the replica Civil War cannon each time the Blue Jackets score a goal.
“It’s nice when we make sure that cannon goes off once or never,” Wings defenseman Brendan Smith said. “That’s what our goal is and I’m pretty sure we can keep them off the scoreboard.”
So loud is the cannon, it’s difficult to completely block out the distraction, but that doesn’t mean Smith doesn’t try.
“I barely even hear it. I think we’re so in tune in the game,” he said. “I think once you see the goal goes in that’s more deflating than hearing that nose from the cannon. It’s a cool thing there. They love it, so it’s cool for them. But like I said we really don’t want to hear it too much and want to make sure it doesn’t go off. We know it goes off. We’re not deaf, but it really doesn’t bother us.”
Something the Wings enjoy when they visit Ohio’s capital city is the support shown from their fans in enemy territory.
“We get a lot of fans there,” Smith said. “It’s cool to play in front of our fans in all different places. It’s the whole thing about the winged-wheel, the Motor City. A lot of people moved to Columbus and they want to hold onto their roots like Red Wing fans do. That’s why we get the fans in Phoenix and California so that’s pretty cool. We really want to have a really good game to show them that we really appreciate them coming out to watch us.”