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Notes: Wings have competitive practice in Montreal

Team understands fans want higher draft pick but they're still playing to win

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

MONTREAL - The Red Wings skipped most of the regular drills during Sunday's practice at Montreal's Bell Centre, instead opting for something more competitive.

It was a fairly short practice sandwiched between two games but the players seemed to enjoy it.

"I'm a big believer in small games," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "I think you can teach habits, they're meant for a purpose, but it also energizes the team, they enjoy it, they get competitive. Lot of times drills get real mundane, especially this time of year, especially in the stretch we've been in, so we wanted to bring a couple small games to bring the competitiveness up."

It was Red versus White and Team Red got the victory.

Meanwhile, Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg and alternate captain Niklas Kronwall did not skate Sunday at Bell Centre.

Blashill said both players took maintenance days and he expects them to play against Montreal.

Rookie Evgeny Svechnikov left practice a little early but said he is fine and should also be able to play.

FANS WANT HIGHER PICK, TEAM WANTS WINS: With the Wings officially eliminated from the playoffs, many fans are actually hoping for more losses so the team gets a higher draft pick in June.

Of course, that goes against everything that players and coaches have been taught to do their entire lives.

"I understand where the fanbase is coming from," Blashill said. "For us, we try not to hear it, we try not to listen, we try keep our focus on winning a hockey game, No. 1, competing like crazy, and then 2, getting better. I think part of this whole thing is we need some young guys to continue that step and that process to hopefully at some point become elite players and to do that you got to keep working on getting better. So let's try to keep winning hockey games here."

Rookie Martin Frk also understands that it's a business and fans are thinking about the future.

"You want to get the best pick in the draft, but you don't want to lose," Frk said. "We lose too many games. We won one and now we are two losses again. You want to keep winning. It just gives you a better feeling. The room is better, all the staff, fans, so you don't want to lose. You want to win. On opposite I see that better picks, it's better for the future. But we are definitely coming tomorrow to the game to win the game. That's the main goal."

Veteran defenseman Jonathan Ericsson says he does not read what is being said on social media, nor is he listening to radio and TV pundits.

"Everyone knows what's at stake a little bit," Ericsson said. "Obviously we're out of the playoffs, can't really do much about that. But every player in here didn't come to this level of playing by not having the right mentality going into a game, there's nothing that we wouldn't try in a game or anything like that. I think our effort has been there every night. We have at least as many scoring chances as the opponent every night. Blame it on the bounces but it's out of my mind how many times we've actually lost because of those (crappy) things that we don't get on our side."

When Ericsson first joined the team, his first two seasons the Wings were in the Stanley Cup Finals and he played in the 2008-09 Finals.

So these past two seasons have been especially tough, missing the playoffs.

"No one wants to end the season early April," Ericsson said. "That's the most fun we have is when the playoffs start. Hockeytown is starting to boil, the atmosphere and everything around hockey is getting so big and ramped up. That's when it's so much fun to play. The arena gets crazy, loud and that's when you want to play the most. It feels empty and sad that you're going to have to wait another year to have another go at it, but it is what it is. Good thing I have my kids. Can take things out of hockey."

PENALTY SHOT WOES: Hard-shooting Frk had his first chance at a penalty shot in the NHL Saturday in Toronto at 5:25 of the second period.

Unfortunately for Frk, Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen made the save.

"It was just tough," Frk said. "He's a good goalie, too. I remember when I was skating in on him he was still in the net and then when I cross the blue line, now is when he just came out. It surprised me too a little bit. It was a little bit different than when a lot of the goalies probably do. He made a good save. I think I could've shot better. Hopefully I get more of those."

Frk said it was not his first-ever penalty shot.

"I think I did (have one). A couple years ago, and I didn't score," Frk said.

In general, the Wings have not scored on a high percentage of their penalty shots.

In their last 11 attempts in the regular season, only Justin Abdelkader earlier this season has scored.

Jan. 3, 2018: Andreas Athanasiou - no goal vs. Ottawa (Craig Anderson)

Oct. 16, 2017: Justin Abdelkader - GOAL vs. Tampa Bay (Andrei Vasilevskiy)

Dec. 14, 2015: Tomas Jurco - no goal at New York Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist)

Nov. 5, 2014: Gustav Nyquist - no goal at Rangers (Lundqvist)

Jan. 4, 2014: Justin Abdelkader - no goal at Dallas (Dan Ellis)

Oct. 2, 2013: Cory Emmerton - no goal vs. Buffalo (Ryan Miller)

Nov. 11, 2010: Mike Modano - no goal vs. Edmonton (Nikolai Khabibulin)

Apr. 9, 2010: Darren Helm - no goal at Columbus (Steve Mason)

Oct. 13, 2009: Valtteri Filppula - no goal at Buffalo (Miller)

Dec. 15, 2007: Pavel Datsyuk - no goal vs. Florida (Tomas Vokoun)

Zetterberg had a penalty shot attempt in the playoffs against the San Jose Sharks on May 4, 2010 but goaltender Evgeni Nabokov stopped it.

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