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Notes: Red Wings adjusting to new slashing rule

Daley and Ericsson realize inconsistency is the norm on interpretation of slashing crackdown

by Arthur J. Regner @arthurjregner /

DETROIT -- Every year, the NHL tinkers with its rules to make the game better and more importantly, to try to increase scoring.

This season, face-offs and slashing are the two areas of the game the league has decided to focus on, and the views from the players' perspective have been mixed.

Most Red Wings are not big fans of the face-off crackdown, but when it comes to the new slashing rule, depending on which Detroit player you ask, you could get two entirely different answers.

During Detroit's season opener against the Wild, the Wings took zero slashing penalties. However, on Saturday in Ottawa, Detroit was whistled four times for slashing, while the Senators took three slashing penalties.

"I don't know. I'm kind of frustrated because I never thought there was a big issue with it. A slash is a slash," said Wings defenseman Trevor Daley, who celebrated his 34th birthday on Monday. "There's some little ones that you question. I think it's tough to get rhythm in the game when all you're doing is killing penalties or on the power play.

"People pay a lot of money to come watch some players play that just sit on the bench because they don't kill penalties, or they're not on the power play. I don't know, it's kind of counter productive. I don't know what they're trying to get out of it."

Daley was whistled for a slash on Saturday, as was fellow defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, who thinks the onus is on the player to figure out the way slashing is now called.

"It's going to be pretty inconsistent, especially in the beginning, how the refs are going to kind of call that, if they have a feel for it, slash or not," Ericsson said. "They have kind of like these increments on the stick. The first part is going to be always a penalty, then some part is maybe a penalty. That's kind of the info we got.

"My second penalty (a slash on Saturday), that's just a reflex from my side, I've always done that. I kind of hit him there (middle of the stick), that's a little bit on the side to have him go a certain way.

"I don't want him to go inside of me so I show him that I'm there. It's not to hurt him or anything. They want those out of the game and in my mind, that's just a very stupid penalty."

Ericsson emphasized taking the penalty was stupid on his part. He must adapt to the rule regardless of whether he agrees with it or not.

"We just have to play with our sticks down and make them not call it," he said. "If we have our sticks down all the time, they're not going to be able to call anything. That's the thing, it's going to be a more offensive game because forwards are going to be able to protect the puck way easier than before."

Which makes Ericsson's and Daley's job of trying to impede the progress of an opposing player rather difficult.

"It is going to be challenging. You used to always whack a little bit up there on their sticks," Ericsson said. "When they're going to pass it, you kind of want to meet their stick in the air because you can't reach the puck, it's too far away.

"You want to meet him up there so you can screw up the pass or the puck doesn't go as quick and it can get taken away by someone else.

"We just have to (have our) stick on the ice all the time. It's going to be challenging but we just have to get used to it."

Daley is somewhat confused as to why the league is so adamant about calling slashing penalties. NHL referees already have a tough task, why keep adding to what is already a demanding job.

"Everybody is going to be different. Everybody slashes different, too. It's tough for them (the referees)," Daley said. "It just adds so much more, you put so much more emphasis on the refs to make calls like that. I don't see what the point of doing it is.

"I thought the game was good, and it slows down the game. You're killing penalties and on the power play and killing penalties. There's not flow to the game."

Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill thinks the league has been consistent with the slashing calls. Like Ericsson, he feels the Wings players must accept the rule and play accordingly.

"Couple things I'd say -- one, we have to control what we can control. We deserved those slashing penalties, so make sure we keep our stick on the ice, make sure we keep stick on puck. It does no good to be slashing around the hands," Blashill said. "I didn't think we had a huge issue with it through the preseason, but it obviously was a huge issue the other night (in Ottawa). We got to do a way better job with it. That's my message to the players.

"The other thing that happens with it, from game to game, every ref is a little different and they're going to have a little different feel for it. I can't say we didn't have some of those slashes against Minnesota, but they chose (not to call it).

"Again, every ref's standard is going to be slightly different. There are going to be times where the standard was what it was the other night, you simply can't put yourself in that position."

DALEY PUMPED FOR DALLAS RETURN: Daley spent the first 11 years of his career as a member of the Dallas Stars. He is fifth on the Stars' list of game played at 756 and second among Dallas defensemen in games played. Sergei Zubov is first with 839 games played on the Stars' blueline.

For the past three seasons, Daley has spent a year with the Chicago Blackhawks and two years with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but he has never played in Dallas as an opposing player, until Tuesday night when the Stars host the Red Wings.

"I've never played there (as a visitor), so I'm really excited to go back," Daley said. "Never played in Pittsburgh, I was injured when I was in Chicago and I got traded before we went there, so I've never been back there. I'm ready to go back."

He was aware the game in Dallas was Detroit's third game of the year and he's thankful it is being played so early.

"I was trying to get these two games out of the way, so I can make sure I'm still healthy to get back there," Daley said. "I spent a lot of time there. That's where I first started. I'm real excited to get back there."

KRONWALL HOPEFUL: Defenseman Niklas Kronwall practiced on Monday with the Wings, rotating in and out of Detroit's second and third defensive pair units.

"Hopefully by the end of the week. Thursday or Friday. It's exciting. Getting closer," Kronwall said after Monday's practice. "That's my hope. Things have been, as far as the knees goes, feeling pretty good. It's just these other minor, nagging things that have been going on.

"That's something that hopefully I won't aggravate again. The next few skates are going to be key to build up the stamina, the cardio, that part. Once I get back in, I'd like to stay back in, for sure."

Kronwall's competitive nature always has him leaning towards returning as soon as possible, but he knows he must remain patient.

"That's been the biggest challenge the last few years but it is what it is," Kronwall said. "It's a fine line and of course there's been times when you've stepped on the wrong side and it comes back to bite you right away.

"Knowing when to go after it and knowing when to sit back a little bit. When you were younger, a lot of times you could just go through it, work your way through it, work your way out of it. Now it's a little bit different."

Blashill was encouraged to see Kronwall skating with his teammates again, but he was cautious when asked to give a specific date for his return to Detroit's lineup.

"I don't think he's ever been far off, I think he's been close throughout the whole training camp, just been little nagging injuries that have kept him out, so I don't think he's been far off at all," he said. "But for me, it's still day to day. Let's see tomorrow, let's see Wednesday and let's keep tracking from there."

WINGS HIT THE ROAD: Get used to seeing the Red Wings wearing their road whites for the next month. Beginning with Tuesday's game in Dallas, the Wings will play 11 of their next 15 games in the opposition's barn.

"I think there's a benefit to being on the road and it's a really good bonding experience," Blashill said. "Everyone's got busy lives when they're at home and you're on the road so much that when you do get home, you don't hang out much with everyone. So being on the road gives you a chance to bond."

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