Back in February, Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock spoke about the way his team had to play now that legendary defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom was retired.
“We have to be closer and tighter and more available and better defensively, and sometimes it’s not very pretty, but that’s just the way it is,” Babcock said.
The key, he said, was to be able to hit the opponent’s blue line with speed, which either produces an entry while maintaining possession or a dump-and-chase with a good chance of retrieval.
Veteran defenseman Ian White failed to move the puck the way his coach wanted and found himself in the press box as a result.
Lately, Babcock has really liked the way his blue-liners — including youngsters Brendan Smith, Jakub Kindl, and Danny DeKeyser (and minus White) — have played.
“We’ve really improved drastically in that area, probably the most improved part of our team,” Babcock said. “With [goalie Jimmy Howard] playing the way he is and the D able to get the puck going, we’re spending a lot less time in our zone. That allows you to be much better up front.”
Detroit finished the regular season on a four-game winning streak. (And in the two losses that preceded those four wins, they outshot their opponents by a wide margin.)
The Wings open their 22nd straight postseason Tuesday in Anaheim against a Ducks side that’s just 8-9-2 in its last 19 games.
The Arizona Coyotes have returned Dylan Strome to the Erie Otters of the OHL.
Strome, 18, was the third overall pick in the 2015 NHL draft.
The 6’3, 185 pounder was hoping to stick with the Coyotes this season, but the team decided to take the conservative approach with their top prospect.
Strome will look to build off an incredible junior season that saw him score 45 goals and 129 points in 68 games.
Strome seems to be taking the demotion in stride.
The team also announced that they’ve assigned goaltender Louis Domingue and forward Matthias Plachta to their AHL affiliate in Springfield.
Domingue, 23, had a 1-2-1 record with a 2.73 goals-against-average and a .911 save percentage in seven games last season.
Plachta, a free agent signing, will begin his first pro season in North America. The 24-year-old had 14 goals and 35 points in the German League last season.
The Red Wings have placed Pavel Datsyuk, Darren Helm, Danny DeKeyser and Alexey Marchenko on injured reserve.
Placing these players on I.R. opens up four more roster spots for Detroit.
The Red Wings have suffered an incredibe amount of injuries heading into the season.
Datsyuk (ankle) is expected to be out until November.
DeKeyser (foot) is going to miss three-to-four weeks, while Helm (concussion) and Marchenko (lower-body) are considered day-to-day.
The team also announced that they have reduced their training camp roster to 27 players on Sunday.
Top prospect Dylan Larkin remains in camp for now.
Coach Jeff Blashill told reporters that the 19-year-old has looked good, but a final decision hasn’t been made on where he will play this year.
As for Larkin, he’s just fed up of living in a hotel.
“There’s been so much speculation and so many questions, and no one really knows,” said Larkin. “Maybe the coaches know, but just to find out where I’ll be living or what’s happening — I’m kind of sick of the hotel. It would be nice to know what’s going on.”