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Notes: Red Wings won't take Coyotes lightly

Arizona has one of the top rookies in Clayton Keller

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

DETROIT - The Red Wings can't afford to look at the Arizona Coyotes record.

They would see a team that has gone 1-10-1 and needed overtime in Philadelphia to secure its first victory of the season Monday night.

"We've talked lots about making sure we out-compete, outwork and out-detail our opponents and certainly that's going to be critical tonight," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "I had a chance to watch these guys last night against Philadelphia and talking to Mark Howe (director of pro scouting), he says they've done a great job of pressuring other teams. They certainly carried the play for three-quarters of the game last night, so we'll have our hands full that way, so we got to outwork, out-compete, out-detail, and I'd also say two things we want to be - we want to pressure teams and we want to play fast."

With Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou on the same line with Anthony Mantha, the Wings certainly have the ability to play fast.

"They're in a desperate situation, obviously, haven't been playing too, too great but it's such a tough league," Athanasiou said. "They can come out and be flying, they were skating really well last night. You never know. You can't take any team lightly in this league, you got to treat every game with a lot of importance towards the standings for your own team. It's a big game tonight for us for sure."

While Athanasiou acknowledged that NHL players are in great shape and can play well in back-to-back games, Larkin said they can still try to wear them down.

"These guys played last night," Larkin said. "We've got to come out fast to start. The first goal tonight is going to be huge. I think playing in Philadelphia, it's tough travel. They probably got in late, after an emotional win for them, so they're gonna be tired. We gotta makes sure they have no life."

The Coyotes are accustomed to starting fast, having scored the first goal in nine of their 12 games this season.

Their 11 first-period goals are 10th in the league.

By contrast, the Wings have not found much puck luck in the opening period, scoring just five goals to their opponents' 10.

"I don't think it's reflected the way we started," Blashill said. "A shining example would be the Toronto game, I thought we came out and carried the play the majority of the first 10 minutes and then the puck started going in the net the wrong way. It wasn't because of chances. We've looked at chances for, chances against in the first, there's no huge (discrepancy).

"Obviously if it continues on for 20 more games or 10 more games, you continue to look at it, but I think out play has been very good. We got to make sure we find ways to score. We've done that a little bit here in the last couple of games."

ROOKIE SENSATION: One player the Wings will be sure to keep an eye or two on is rookie Clayton Keller, who leads the Coyotes with eight goals among 13 points.

Blashill had Keller on the Team USA in the world championships last spring.

"Two things are important to have success at a young age, one is opportunity, he's getting great opportunity, playing with (Derek) Stepan, a real good centerman," Blashill said. "(Max) Domi has been a good player a couple years in this league already. And the other thing is he's got great ability, he's really really smart, really crafty, he's kind of Johnny Gaudreau-ish in some ways, he's got some Patrick Kane abilities in him some ways. What he becomes in totality, we'll see, but he's creating tons of offense. He's got a real smart offensive sense about him, he can make tons of plays."

Keller is in the midst of a six-game point streak, with five goals and four assists in that span.

He leads NHL rookies in goals with eight, in shots with 47, in points with 13 and is second in average time on ice at 19:51.

Larkin played with Keller on Team USA. They both played for the U.S. National Team Development Program, but not at the same time.

"It's awesome," Larkin said. "I'm happy for him. He's a great player. He can put up a lot of points. He did a great job in college and in the world junior. It's awesome to see his success and I wish him more success, except for tonight."

ERICSSON SETTLING IN WITH DALEY: The Wings know that they'll be without Danny DeKeyser for an extended period of time with a lower-body injury, leaving Jonathan Ericsson and Trevor Daley as the top pair.

"I think it's been pretty good," Ericsson said. "I like being matched up against the top lines, it's fun, it's challenging. Obviously, you get a little bit more ice time, too, although we're not happy with where we're at right now with one win in seven games. We got to find a way to be even better."

Ericsson said he prefers playing on the left side, which he does with Daley.

He also said the two veterans are able to communicate well.

"You're never going to be perfect with a partner but we're always talking about situations on the ice," Ericsson said. "Every partnership does that. He's more offensive-minded than I am. We're just trying to complement each other's weaknesses and strengths. I know he's a really good skater, smooth skater that can handle the puck well. That's why he gets some time on the power play as well. He's got the offensive abilities and I'm pretty much the stay at home guy."

The Wings don't have a dominant defenseman like they did when Nick Lidstrom was patrolling the blue line but Blashill feels the defense has been fairly effective.

"(Ericsson) and Trevor Daley have been out against the other team's best players every single night and I think they've done a very, very good job overall," Blashill said. "I think five on five, we've done a pretty good job. We didn't give up much to Tampa. Their plus rating five on five is huge. They scored on the power play unfortunately. Buff(alo) didn't get much. Obviously we gave up a little bit too much to Florida but they're an explosive team as well. I think they scored five last night. I wouldn't say there's glaring, glaring issues. I think our back end has done a pretty good job.

"The one area I would say is something we're going to have to take care of is when we're going to make a hard play, like meaning we're going to get it out of the zone, we're not going to make a tape to tape pass, we gotta make hard plays harder. We gotta get it out of the zone. The worst thing you can do is leave it in the zone on a turnover. So that's one area for sure that we've met on. We met yesterday on our D zone coverage, showed a couple of clips. But it was as much the forwards as it was the D."

LINEUP: Jimmy Howard was in the starter's net during the morning skate.

In 17 career games against the Coyotes, Howard is 10-4-3 with a 2.48 goals-against average and .919 save percentage.

Forward lines:

Tomas Tatar-Henrik Zetterberg-Gustav Nyquist


Darren Helm-Frans Nielsen-Justin Abdelkader

Scott Wilson-Luke Glendening-Martin Frk

Defense pairs: Ericsson-Daley

Niklas Kronwall-Mike Green

Xavier Ouellet-Nick Jensen

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