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Wings still searching for right combinations

Only line that remains the same is Nyquist-Helm-Vanek

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

DETROIT - The Red Wings are still searching for the right chemistry among their lines and defense pairs.

The one thing that remains the same from the first two games is the line of Gustav Nyquist-Darren Helm-Thomas Vanek.

Nyquist has two assists, Helm has a goal and an assist and Vanek has two goals.

In Monday's morning skate, Frans Nielsen centered Justin Abdelkader and Riley Sheahan; Dylan Larkin centered Tomas Tatar and Henrik Zetterberg; Luke Glendening centered Andreas Athanasiou and Drew Miller.

"Obviously, that one line with Helm has been real good so far," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "I think in both games, from a point production standpoint but also their impact has been good, so kept them together and then still trying to find the right combination with the rest of the groups."

Abdelkader is a versatile player who can play on any line.

"Obviously Helmer's line's been going for us, that's been a positive," Abdelkader said. "But got to find some other lines to help out and to produce. With Nielsen, obviously he's a great player, one of the best two-way forwards in the game. With me and Riley, I think we both play similar type games where we want to be heavy on the puck and on the forecheck and skating. We'll go out there and see how it goes."

Nielsen and Vanek did not have much time to jell with their new teammates as they were playing with Tatar on Team Europe in the World Cup and only had a few practices and one preseason game with them.

It can take a while to find some chemistry.

"I think it does, especially with having some new guys, new forwards especially," Sheahan said. "You kind of find who can play with who. Two games in you're not going to find that right away. I think just seeing which guys play well with whoever, it's good to see that."

Larkin and Zetterberg had some really good chemistry last season with Zetterberg at center and Larkin on the wing. 

"He's so patient with the puck," Larkin said of Zetterberg. "He finds me well. I'm excited with being in the middle and him on the wing. I think I can get the puck out to him and fly through the middle and he'll try to find me. It's good to be back with him."

DEFENSE CHANGES: In the morning skate, Danny DeKeyser and Mike Green skated together; Brendan Smith was with Xavier Ouellet; and Jonathan Ericsson was paired with Alexey Marchenko.

"Ouellet is playing tonight," Blashill said. "I think he's played two strong games. I think him and Ericsson both have played two real strong games, so been real happy with those two guys. They need to continue to play at that level."

Some of the new pairs appeared later in the game against the Florida Panthers Saturday night.

SENATORS IN TOWN: The Ottawa Senators are off to a 2-0 start under new coach Guy Boucher.

Also new to the team is Derick Brassard, acquired this past July from the New York Rangers along with a 2017 seventh-round pick in exchange for Mika Zibanejad and a 2017 second-round pick.

"I'd say very different," Blashill said. "Just a little bit in personnel. Obviously with a new coach. Guy Boucher has done a real good job in this league in Tampa. He's unique. He does some unique things systematically that you have to be prepared for. So we'll certainly have our challenges tonight."

The Senators are the third consecutive Atlantic Division team the Wings have faced.

"They obviously have Brassard here now so it gives them a little different look but obviously we know a lot about these guys, being a division rival, we played them a number of times," Abdelkader said. "Not anything that's going to jump out at us, obviously they have a new coach, systems might be a little different but for the most part, player tendencies and that sort of thing, we know mostly about that."


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