Justin Abdelkader

Abdelkader makes strong case for top line role


Detroit Red wings coach Mike Babcock decided to enter the 2013-14 campaign with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk playing together, but the big question going into training camp was who would round out that first line.

The initial idea was to give different players a chance to compete for that spot, but so far Justin Abdelkader has taken a clear lead. For example, during Sunday’s scrimmage Abdelkader had a goal and two assists while playing alongside the Red Wings’ stars, according to the Detroit News.

Getting points on a line with Zetterberg and Datsyuk might not sound like a hard task, but Zetterberg would argue otherwise because when he plays with Datsyuk, their other linemate doesn’t usually get the puck much.

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock agrees that Abdelkader’s strong showing so far in the preseason isn’t merely the byproduct of him playing on the top line.

“I think confidence is the hardest thing to get,” Babcock told the Detroit Free Press. “You’ve got to earn it. No one can give it to you. He’s an every-dayer. He took advantage of an opportunity last year, and now he’s making more plays for those guys and he understands that when they give him the puck, to give it back to them.”

Babcock hasn’t ruled out the possibility of giving Daniel Cleary a shot on the first line, but for now he feels that Abdelkader is doing what’s needed to secure his current role.

Dropping like flies: Johnson, Killorn hurt in Bolts’ exhibition

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game One
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You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.

We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.

“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.

These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.

Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.

It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.

Raffi Torres gets match penalty for being Raffi Torres

Raffi Torres

With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.

It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:

It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).

As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.

Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:

This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.

Update: Bullet dodged?