KANATA, Ontario – Some things simply can’t be explained.
Like, what magical powers does Johan Franzen receive from stepping foot inside the Canadian Tire Centre?
“I remember the night when I scored five. It was a special night, but I don’t have the answer why I did it,” said Franzen, referring to Feb. 2, 2011 when he lifted Detroit a 7-5 win over the Senators. “I’ve been fortunate most times when I’ve played in this building.”
No other visiting building in the league gives Franzen such a lift as in Ottawa, where he has collected 11 goals in five career games.
Understandably, Joe Louis Arena, the Red Wings’ home, is the only other rink in the league where Franzen produced double-digit goals during his career.
Surely, Franzen can give an answer for his incredible success on the Senators’ home ice, right?
“Nope. I can not,” the Wings’ big, power forward said, with a wry grin.
Coach Mike Babcock couldn’t find an answer either for the Mule’s capital city prosperity.
“You go around the league you get guys who score a lot, you put their numbers up against certain teams and they have teams they score on,” Babcock said. “I don’t know if it’s the feeling or the rhythm or you get in something, I don’t know the answer to that but they know who he is and he’s been off for a while so he’s starting with three games in four nights. It’s going to be a tough start for him but reality is we expect him to get better tomorrow.”
Frazen returned from a groin injury on Sunday. He had four shots on goal in 16 minutes in Detroit’s 3-2 shootout loss at Buffalo.
“It was so-so,” said Franzen of his first game back. “It wasn’t the easiest game to play, but I tried my hardest, tried to skate and tried to keep it short. I got caught out there a few times, but it was OK.”
It will likely take Franzen a few more games to get up to speed, though he did have a couple of offensives chances while playing on Darren Helm’s line opposite Gustav Nyquist.
“It’s important for him to play some hockey and get his pace back,” Babcock said. “It doesn’t matter who you are, when you have an injury like the Mule did you can’t move your legs for a while and can’t skate, when you come back you can’t move, especially if you’re a bigger guy. So it’s going to take him some time. … He’s just got to keep his shifts short and play as simple as he can.”
The last time the Wings visited Ottawa, a 6-1 win, Franzen recorded a hat trick and managed to get under the skin of some Senators, namely tough customer Chris Neil, who went after Franzen late in the game.
Though he’s a big man, Franzen prefers to let his hockey sense dictate his play and not engage in the extracurricular activities on the ice. So, if anything happens Tuesday, he said, it will have to come from the other side.
“I try to (ignore Neil), hopefully he gets a penalty and I don’t,” Franzen said. “But you never know what’s going to happen.”
As for Neil, he said Monday his plan is to take the game shift by shift and deal with things as they develop.
“We’re both competitive guys. That’s what it comes down to,” Neil said. “I don’t think there’s anything behind it. I’ll just go out, play my style and see how it goes.”
Babcock stated on Monday that Jimmy Howard will start against the Senators. Meanwhile, defenseman Kyle Quincey (ankle) skated Monday for the first time since leaving early in Friday’s win over Los Angeles. Babcock wasn’t certain of Quincey’s availability for Tuesday’s game.
Center - OTT
Goals: 2 | Assists: 2 | Pts: 4
Shots: 9 | +/-: 1
During the offseason, Detroit native David Legwand
signed with the Senators for two-years and $6 million.
Legwand, who still lives in metro Detroit during the summer months, played 21 regular-season games and the playoffs last season with the Red Wings after the team acquired him from Nashville at the trade deadline.
It scenario was bittersweet for the 34-year-old center.
“It was different. Obviously it was good. I wanted to come and help them get into the playoffs,” he said. “That’s a tradition and a history of a franchise that I grew up watching. I was excited to help that continue.”
But following the disappointment of a first-round exit from the playoffs, Legwand knew Detroit wasn’t going to be an option this season.
“I kinda of knew going in that I wasn’t going to stay very long,” he said. “It’s was something that was always in the back of my head but it was good, it was fun, and it was exciting for me while it lasted.”
This season, Legwand has two goals and four points in 10 games for the Senators, who are in sixth place in the Atlantic Division, three points behind the third-place Red Wings.
“It’s been great. This is a hockey community, it’s a hockey market, it’s a hockey city, so excited to be a part of it and to be around it,” Legwand said. “It’s not a Toronto or Montreal, but it’s a hockey market where people care and they love the game.”