"To be honest, it wasn't easy coming in from the World Cup and basically knew a couple guys in the room and the puck was dropped a week later in Tampa," Nielsen said. "It almost felt like getting traded, coming in and it's a completely new team.
"So absolutely, it was good, even training camp helped me a lot this year to really get away with all the guys and really get to know them. I for sure wish I had that last year. So everything is just more comfortable."
Nielsen also said he had a good offseason of preparation.
"I was healthy all summer so I didn't have to spend any time on rehab or anything," Nielsen said. "I had a couple weeks off and then kind of get right back to it. It's been a good summer, a little too long but it's been a really good, productive summer for me. I got all the work in I needed. I feel good out there."
Nielsen felt even better when he walked into Little Caesars Arena.
"It's beautiful," Nielsen said. "I can't believe how nice they made it here. Basically got everything. No issues with this room.
"It was a little tough to see when you walked around in here during construction but it was way bigger than I expected. They really did a good job with it. It's going to be fun coming down here every day and have this as your home now."
When asked what a veteran needs to accomplish in the preseason, Henrik Zetterberg interjected from the next locker: "Survive."
Nielsen laughed and said, "You'll get out there, you know it's going to be problems with the timing and everything, you kind of want to get back into it and stuff. At the same time, you kind of want to build a little bit of confidence going into when the season starts and make sure you feel good. Go out and play and you know it's going to get better and better as the time goes. It's very important to get those games in here."
SVECHNIKOV'S TIME: Evgeny Svechnikov had a taste of the NHL last season, playing in two games against the Ottawa Senators in April.
The young forward had a solid first season with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins, scoring 20 goals and 31 assists in 74 games during the regular season and five goals and seven assists in 19 playoff games.
Svechnikov definitely feels like a different player.
"More relaxed, more experienced and I know what's going on now," Svechnikov said. "More confident, obviously. I feel good, I feel relaxed and I feel calm. I feel good right now so ready for second season to start."
Now Svechnikov wants more. He wants to be on the Wings roster Oct. 5 so he knows the exhibition games are critical.
"Very important," Svechnikov said. "It's a time you want to show off yourself and do your best. I want to send a message. I'm excited for it, it's very important. The season starts, you feel obviously very good. You played with NHL guys, you practiced with them. It's huge."
Wings coach Jeff Blashill said Svechnikov has to learn the lesson that Martin Frk learned.
"Svech, ultimately to be a really good player at this level he has to make sure he plays with pace, he has to make sure he keeps his stick on the ice so he stays away from hooking penalties and he has to slow the game down a little bit for himself," Blashill said. "That's a hard challenge to play with pace, meaning move your feet, but slow the game down, meaning slow your thinking down. What happens over time when you're at a level you hope it slows down for you."
Tonight in Pittsburgh, Svechnikov will be on a line with Nielsen and Darren Helm.
"He seems like a good all-around player, good hands, good feet and he's big and strong," Nielsen said. "He feels like he's one of those guys who's tough to play against in the corners. He will come out with the puck. I'm looking forward to playing with him. You could see he competes hard and he's big and strong. He had some good games for us last year, too. I'm looking forward to playing with him."
LAST NIGHT IN BOSTON: There were good things and bad things about last night's first exhibition game in Boston.
The good was that both Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha scored.
"For the job that I sit in, I want the guys that I know are going to be on our team playing good hockey," Blashill said. "It was good for Larks to score, it was good for Mantha to score. It's good for goal scorers or offensive guys to score. I think Nyquie's (Gustav Nyquist) going to pop out a couple here tonight, I feel good about that. So we'll see how that goes. It is good for those guys to score for sure."
The bad thing was not so much the 4-2 loss but the way it happened.
"I didn't like our compete level in the second period and if you don't compete, you have no chance," Blashill said. "We've talked about out-competing people, we can't get out-competed, no chance. So we've got to be better than that. We didn't touch the puck. What's that game, Ring Around the Rosie, we just circled around our own end for the whole period."
As for the kids like Michael Rasmussen and Dennis Cholowski, playing in their first NHL exhibition game, it was a learning experience.
"They (Boston) had a pretty good lineup in with four guys that are going to be on their D corps for sure, along with (David) Krejci and (David) Pastrnak, so it's a good challenge for the young guys. I thought both of them played fine. We didn't touch the puck in the second period so it's hard to play a whole lot better than fine. I'm not saying it was just them, but as a group we get outshot bad, especially in the second period (13-4). Part of playing better than fine is putting the team into making a bunch of plays.
"I thought Cholowski showed some real good signs, but there is obviously growth there, the same with Rasmussen."
KRONWALL UPDATE: Niklas Kronwall did not skate during training camp in Traverse City due to back spasms but is doing better.
"He skated on his own here the last couple days so that's a good sign," Blashill said. "Like I've said before, there's no reason to rush it. We just got to make sure he's ready come game one against Minnesota. I know he's very eager to get back in a game, into practice-type stuff. So potentially tomorrow but I'll get a report from the trainers today."
IN PITTSBURGH: Jimmy Howard and Tom McCollum will be the goaltenders.
Forwards besides Nielsen, Svechnikov,, Helm and Nyquist are Ben Street, Tomas Tatar, Colin Campbell, Corey Elkins, Dylan Sadowy, David Booth, Axel Holmstrom and Matt Lorito. Luke Esposito is the extra forward.
Defensemen will be Danny DeKeyser, Trevor Daley, Dan Renouf, Xavier Ouellet, Joe Hicketts and Robbie Russo. Filip Hronek will be the extra defenseman.