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.


Pens to audition linemates for Malkin and Neal

Norris winner Karlsson has a new partner on defense

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One
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Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara

Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.