DETROIT – The Red Wings’ top line in the preseason has zero points after skating together for three of the six exhibition games.
But there’s no sense of urgency in the Detroit locker room.
“You can’t be frustrated in preseason,” center Henrik Zetterberg said. “It’s way too long of a season.”
Confidence still remains with Zetterberg and his linemates, Johan Franzen and Gustav Nyquist. The opportunities are prevalent and their presence has been felt throughout preseason and training camp. They’ve just been unable to get pucks past the opposing goalies, like Pittsburgh veteran Marc-Andre Fleury, who stopped 25 shots in shutting out the Red Wings, 2-0, at Joe Louis Arena Wednesday night.
“I thought they were good tonight,” coach Mike Babcock said of his top line. “They had multiple, multiple opportunities. I thought those guys played pretty good. I’ve got no issue with them.”
The line controlled much of the play throughout the game and while some key players may have been absent on both side – Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk and Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin – the Wings’ top line spent the majority of the night opposite Sidney Crosby’s line with wingers Chris Kunitz and Patric Hornqvist.
“I think every game we’ve been playing, we’ve been playing against pretty good lineups in Chicago, they had some decent guys,” Zetterberg said. “Boston had some good guys here and tonight too. It’s been some good games and we’ve had to play against veteran guys.”
Zetterberg and Franzen both had scoring chances in the first and third periods by beating defensemen wide and getting shots from in close. Those opportunities – as well as others – were the direct result of Zetterberg’s ability to set up several entry plays into the offensive zone with give-and-goes to his wingers and bank passes off the half-wall to avoid defenders. Nyquist also had room to carry the puck through the neutral zone on multiple occasions and was able to establish possession offensively.
In addition to controlling even strength-play, the line bears the brunt of the power play, which at times resembled a shooting gallery peppering Fleury with shots on the man-advantage.
“I think we’re doing something new this year and I like it,” Zetterberg said. “I think all the guys that’s on (the power play) like it. Unfortunately, we haven’t scored yet but the other team we’re playing hasn’t scored. We’re doing a lot of good things, you know, you don’t win the Cup in the preseason.”
Blake Comeau scored first, giving the Penguins a 1-0 lead at 7:04 of the second period. For Comeau, who signed with Pittsburgh in the offseason, it was his first goal of the preseason to go with his team-leading three assists.
Oskar Sundqvist finished the scoring with an even-strength tally at 5:53 of the final period.
The Wings have two more preseason games remaining, both on the road as they travel, beginning in Toronto on Friday and finishing in Boston on Saturday.