Datsyuk Zetterberg

Detroit to ice top line of Datsyuk, Zetterberg and…Damien Brunner


If fortune favors the bold, then Mike Babcock could be in for a big year.

On Thursday, the Detroit head coach announced he’d be starting the season with his two best players, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, playing together on the No. 1 line with Damien Brunner — an undrafted free agent signed out of the Swiss league.

It’s an interesting decision to say the least.

Datsyuk enjoyed great success last year with Johan Franzen and Todd Bertuzzi, while Zetterberg played strongly with Valtteri Filppula (who had a career year) and Jiri Hudler, now in Calgary.

But Datsyuk and Zetterberg have played together in the past, something Babcock alluded to when announcing the line.

“They’ve been playing [in Europe] and they’re in shape,” Babcock told MLive.com. “They play good together. Last year they started out slow, never got going.”

As for Brunner — well, talk about your golden opportunities.

The 26-year-old played on a line with Zetterberg during the lockout with EV Zug and led the Swiss league in scoring (25G-32A).

The soon-to-be Wings captain raved about Brunner’s skill and ability.

“He’s obviously a goal-scorer, but he’s got more qualities than that,” Zetterberg said. “He’s a good skater, sees the ice very well and he wants to win. That’s a good quality to have.”

As for Detroit’s other lines, it’s expected the second unit will consist of Filppula, Franzen and Mikael Samuelsson.

Darren Helm will center the third line between Bertuzzi and Dan Cleary, while the fourth line will be made up of Justin Abdelkader, Drew Miller and Jordin Tootoo.


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Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky
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Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan

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Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?