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Wings prepare for 3-on-3 overtime

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Gustav Nyquist could be one of the Red Wings' forward to prosper in the NHL's new 3-on-3 overtime format. He has two OT goals in 176 career regular-season games. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings)

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – A wide smile suddenly emerged across Gustav Nyquist’s face when he was asked about the NHL’s new overtime format for the upcoming season.

“It’s fun hockey,” the Red Wings’ winger said. “A lot of open space out there.”

More open ice means a couple of things. First, fewer games will need to be decided by shootout, which was first introduced to the league in 2005-06. Secondly, more ice will create room for crafty skaters like Nyquist to pad their offensive statistics.

Nyquist has just two OT goals in 179 NHL regular-season games.

“There will be a lot of chances created,” he said. “I don’t think the same amount of games will go to a shootout that’s for sure. I think they’ll be over in overtime. It’ll be fun to try it out.”

The Red Wings will get a chance to test out the new 3-on-3 format in three designated games during the preseason. Their first look at it will be in this Tuesday’s exhibition opener at Chicago’s United Center.

“If the game goes into overtime it is what it is,” general manager Ken Holland said Sunday. “But if it doesn’t go into overtime then when the game is over we’re going to do five minutes of 3 on 3. It could be 6-1, it doesn’t matter, we’ll do 3 on 3. It’s an opportunity for the players and the coaches to get a feel of what 3 on 3 is like. We’re doing it now here in Traverse City at training camp in the last five minutes of each half of our scrimmages because obviously they’re going to be big, big points. It’s an opportunity for the players to get a sense for lots of space.”

Detroit will also play in pre-determined 3-on-3 overtime periods against Pittsburgh this Thursday at Joe Louis Arena, and in the preseason finale at Toronto on Oct. 3.

The league has marked 45 preseason games that will feature the five-minute, 3 on 3 sudden-death overtime period. However, the designated test games that are not tied at the end of regulation will not have a shootout following 3-on-3 play.

Holland has been a big proponent of 3-on-3 overtime, though, last March before he voted for it at the GM meetings he approached the club’s core leadership group for their take on the matter.

“I talked to Nyquist, (Niklas) Kronwall and (Henrik) Zetterberg to get their thoughts,” Holland said. “I didn’t want to try to start to push something without getting their input. They all thought it would be fun to play in and exciting and entertaining for the fans.”

Last season, Jeff Blashill saw two OT variations as the head coach of the club’s American Hockey League affiliate in Grand Rapids. The AHL implemented a seven-minute OT, starting with 4 on 4 before switching to 3 on 3 after three minutes.

“My first thought is it’s incredibly exciting from what I’ve observed so far,” Blashill said. “The action is back and forth. Every chance one way leads to a chance coming back the other way, if it’s not in the net. I wanted to watch and see just in terms of strategy, is there anything we want to implement beyond what we did a year ago? To me it’s a lot of observation and just getting a good feel for it.”

While some skaters will see an increase in offensive productivity, goalies’ numbers will suffer. Though superb puck-handlers like Petr Mrazek could become offensive weapons.

“Both Petr and Tommy (McCollum) last year in our experiences did a real good job when they made the save, just moving the puck up,” Blashill said. “It doesn’t take a big-time ability to get wood on it, just needs to quickly bump it up to the next guy and then get moving. Petr was good at it. I think it’s a learned thing, and I think Jimmy (Howard) can be good at it. I think it’s something that can be important.”

DAY 3 SCRIMMAGE: In the third scrimmage of camp, Team Delvecchio faced off with Team Howe.

Team Delvecchio's Tomas Tatar continued to display his offensive prowess, opening the scoring with a goal assisted by Brad Richards in the first period.

Later in the first, Richards scored in 3-on-3 action to give Team Delvecchio a 2-0 lead. Mike Green and Tatar assisted on the goal.

In the second period, Team Howe finally got on the board when Teemu Pulkkinen scored late during 3-on-3 time. Xavier Ouellet assisted.

Team Delvecchio's 2-1 win was its first of camp.

Team Lindsay beat both Team Delvecchio and Team Howe in earlier scrimmages.

Blashill has been encouraged by Richards and Green, both free-agent signings in July.

“I think both of them have done a real good job," Blashill said. "The thing I’m most pleased with and the thing that excites me most is their approach. I talked to both of them over the last couple of days, they’ve been great at coming in and working hard and paying attention to detail and doing everything right. I think that’s the biggest thing. If that’s the approach they have they’re going to be real successful here add to what is already a real good culture."

Justin Abdelkader
Left Wing  - DET
Goals: 23 | Assists: 21 | Pts: 44
Shots: 154| +/-: 3
CONTRACT YEAR: The Red Wings have seven players who can become unrestricted free agents next July. But the one that they can least afford to lose is Justin Abdelkader, who is coming into his own following a break-out season last year.

According to Abdelkader, he and the team haven’t really sat down to any meaningful negotiations.

“We’ll see as we go through camp here and into the season,” Abdelkader said. “My focus right now while we’re up here is to get myself prepared for the season. We’ve got pre-season games coming up, we’ve got a red and white game to finish tomorrow. Just kind of build each day to get myself ready for opening night.”

Abdelakder is entering his seventh full NHL season, all with the Red Wings. The former Michigan State standout has produced 61 goals and 132 points in 398 career regular-season games. Last season was his best, registering new single-season bests for goals (23), assists (21), points (44), shots (154), power-play goals (8) and game-winning goals (5).

RED & WHITE GAME: The Red Wings annual red and white game on Monday will bring closure to the team’s northern Michigan portion of training camp. The plan is for players and coaches to return to Detroit immediately following the scrimmage at Centre Ice Arena.

Here are the line combinations and defensive pairings for Monday’s game:

WHITE TEAM
Forwards
Tomas Jurco – Brad Richards – Tomas Tatar
Johan Franzen – Riley Sheahan – Luke Glendening
Andy Miele – Dylan Larkin – Teemu Pulkkinen
Eric Tangradi – Louis-Marc Aubry – Evgeni Svechnikov

Defensemen
Danny DeKeyser – Mike Green
Brendan Smith – Jakub Kindl
Brian Lashoff – Ryan Sproul

Goalies
Petr Mrazek
Tom McCollum

RED TEAM
Forwards
Justin Abdelkader – Henrik Zetterberg – Gustav Nyquist
Drew Miller – Joakim Andersson – Landon Ferraro
Tyler Bertuzzi – Andreas Athanasiou – Anthony Mantha
Jeff Hoggan – Tomas Nosek – Mitch Callahan

Defensemen
Niklas Kronwall – Jonathan Ericsson
Kyle Quincey – Alexey Marchenko
Xavier Ouellet – Nick Jensen
Robbie Russo

Goalies
Jimmy Howard
Jared Coreau

DetroitRedWings.com editor Dana Wakiji contributed to this report.

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