Skip to main content
The Official Site of the Detroit Red Wings

Notes: Wings getting healthy, some veterans expected to play this week

Zetterberg, Kronwall and Abdelkader all practiced fully, including special teams

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

DETROIT - The Red Wings are starting to get their health, their team and their power play back together again.

Everyone currently expected to be on the final roster skated in the lengthy practice Wednesday with the exception of defenseman Nick Jensen.

Jensen has a bruised right thumb after going into the boards so he is limited in practice in terms of contact.

Captain Henrik Zetterberg (neck), Justin Abdelkader (groin) and Niklas Kronwall (back) all skated fully, including during the special teams portion.

"It was great," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "I think the very first power-play practice up in Traverse City, we had the same (group) and then we haven't been able to really have that group together until today. So we tried to take advantage of it. I think we spent a good 15-20, actually 20 minutes on it. You try to get a little PK work in as well but I thought both units looked good.

"There's chemistry that was built a year ago that I think was in place today. But I also think even the other unit with Frky (Martin Frk) being on it, they seem to have chemistry developed real fast and (Frans) Nielsen's been a great man in the middle so it looks like it could be a real good power play."

Although they finished 27th in the league last season, in the last 25 games or so the Wings were in the top 10 with the man advantage.

"I think we had more consistency within our groups and also I think we kept it a little bit more simple," Zetterberg said. "We weren't focusing so much about different options and basically took what was given to us. I think power plays, you're one more guy than the other team and you just have to figure out where the open spots are and put the pucks there and also get the puck to the net a little bit more. I thought we did that. It wasn't that we shot more but we just delivered the puck to the net more and we got some ugly goals. Once you get that, the confidence gets going and the pretty plays come."

Zetterberg had a kink in his neck last week but is now doing much better.

"I'm feeling pretty good," Zetterberg said. "It's a little setback last week but back to normal again now. Looking forward to play a game here soon."

The current plan is for Zetterberg to play one preseason game.

"Right now it's one. And I think that's going to be against Toronto here at home," Zetterberg said. "We're going to have a little discussion here after today but I think that's still the plan."

Blashill said the Wings will have more veterans in the lineup on Friday.

Kronwall also feels he's ready to go in a game and wants to play in two exhibitions.

"You can practice until you're blue in the face," Kronwall said. "I think just getting out there in real games is the only thing that's going to get you back into game shape really."

Blashill said the plan is to play Kronwall Thursday at home against the Chicago Blackhawks and Saturday in Toronto.

Abdelkader has been pushing himself this week and was skating with Nielsen and PA Parenteau, plus worked on the power play as the net-front presence.

Blashill said Abdelkader might play Thursday.

RASMUSSEN REMAINS: Michael Rasmussen stands out because he's 6-foot-6 but he's also standing out because he continues to practice with the group of mostly Wings.

"We're keeping him to just give him a little more exposure at this level and to continue to put him in different situations so it gives you a better idea what you have as an organization," Blashill said. "So I'd like to get him into two more games."

Rasmussen got a chance to skate with Zetterberg Wednesday.

"He takes one stride, I take two, so a little jealous there," Zetterberg said. "But he looks good. He's a big kid, strong on his feet and the puck and can make plays. It's a great addition this summer and I think we're going to see a lot of him in upcoming years."

The Wings obviously expected a lot with Rasmussen as they chose him with their first-round pick, ninth overall, in this past summer's draft.

So far, they like what they've seen.

"He's real big, he's real coordinated, he's smooth, he's smart, both defensively and offensively," Blashill said. "He's got a good sense to him offensively. In the D zone he's so big that as a support player he kills lots of plays with his stick. He can skate up the ice. Nyquie (Gustav Nyquist) gave him an area pass and he was able to skate it and backhand it over to Tats (Tomas Tatar), which would have been a real good chance. I think he's been real good at both ends of the ice. I see him, can he become that real hard to play against center that's real good at both ends of the ice? That's what he looks like right now."

ENJOYING THE NEW PLACE: Little Caesars Arena has already impressed fans and it is also impressing those who spend a lot of time there.

"I can put it like this, we had a wish list of what we can have in our facilities and we didn't get one no," Zetterberg said. "We have everything that we asked for and as a player that's been around for a few years, it's pretty cool to have everything you need in one facility. It's going to help us to get ready for games. If you're a little banged up, we have everything here to get yourself healthy again. For me, I wish it was 15 years ago but the young guys here are going to enjoy this facility for their careers."

Because of the amenities, the Grand Rapids Griffins have stayed in town, something that Zetterberg has liked.

"Even though we have over 60 guys here, it runs smoothly," Zetterberg said. "I think it's pretty cool to have Grand Rapids guys here, too and some of the prospects. You will spend more time with them because of exhibition games and you're playing with different lineups every night. It means that you're practicing with all different guys. I think that's good for chemistry, you get to know them a lot better and once they get the call-up later in the season, I think it will be easier for them."

Goaltender Jimmy Howard has said unlike the boards at Joe Louis Arena, these boards offer more of a predictable bounce.

Through two games, Blashill hasn't seen any problems with them.

"I didn't see any issues out there," Blashill said. "I don't know that any rimmed pucks popped out. Those are the little things. Al Sobotka's great, he's been around forever as you guys know, and when there's issues, we say, hey, we saw something here and he goes out and does his best to fix it. He's the best in the business."

LAST CHANCES TO SHINE: These last three exhibition games will offer a few players a final chance to audition for a spot.

"I've said this from the first day of camp, if you don't like the position you're in, change it with your play," Blashill said. "That doesn't necessarily mean it changes day one, it might change two weeks from now. Anthony Mantha didn't start on our team last year, he finished on our team. That's the way it works sometimes. You're making a statement every time you go on the ice as a player. You can make it a good statement or a bad statement. You can make a positive statement or a negative statement. It's up to you.

"So every time you go on the ice, you have a chance to make that statement. I think some guys have made real good statements. I think David Booth's behind me, he's played well, we've talked about Frky, he's played really well, Ben Street's played well. We've had guys that have made real positive statements and then we'll evaluate as we move along."

View More