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Wings hope Tatar can spark power play

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Center - DET
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 4

SOG: 16 | +/-: 0
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Red Wings’ lifeless power play needs a shot in the arm, and the hope is that speedy rookie Tomas Tatar can administer it against the Predators tonight.

Last Friday, Tatar played more than two-minutes on the power play, and he was rewarded with a goal – the Wings’ only power-play tally in the last three games.

“Our power play hasn’t been great for us and we’re always looking for ways to make it better,” coach Mike Babcock said following the team’s Tuesday morning skate at Bridgestone Arena. “We’ve had some guys with significant power-play time and have no power-play points. In the end you just can’t keep going with it.”

Babcock hopes the adjustment can lead to the Wings’ first road power-play goal of the season. Detroit is the only team in the league without a PP goal on the road. The Wings’ power play units are 0-for-26 away from Joe Louis Arena, registering just 31 shots in 46:53 of special teams ice-time on the road.

“He just generates offense,” Babcock said of Tatar, who has two goals and two assists in seven games since being call up from Grand Rapids.

Babcock likes when he sees in the 5-foot-10 Tatar, who had 19 goals and 20 assists with the Griffins.

“He’s got himself four points, got himself three points in the last five games,” Babcock added. “When I go and watch the opposition I always circle the guys that got three points or more in the last five games as a significant player. So that must mean if he’s doing it for us, he must be a significant player.”

Tatar played meaningful minutes on the Griffins’ power play this season, but usually on the wall or in the middle. However, in the last two Red Wings’ practices, he’s been adjusting to a new power-play role – as a net-front presence.

“It's kind of new thing for me,” Tatar said. “I'm not used to playing there, but I'm feeling pretty good around the net, so I just got to get used to it because I think this might be my role for my future with Red Wings. It's kind of nice to practice there.”

Tatar will likely start with the second power-play unit with forwards Damien Brunner and Valtteri Filppula, defenseman Ian White on the right point and either Jakub Kindl or Kyle Quincey on the left.

Tatar has the attributes that can help the power-play. He’s steady on the puck and is consistent on puck-retrieval, and he’s quicker than Babcock first thought.

“I don’t know how long it’s going to last,” said Babcock, of the Tatar experiment. “But as long as it lasts, we’ll keep riding it. Maybe he’s one of those guys that just decides that he wants to be a Red Wing (and) he’s going to take someone’s job.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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