Detroit Red Wings

Zidlicky drawing rave reviews from Red Wings


Throughout this season, we’ve written frequently about Detroit’s desire to land a right-handed shooting defenseman that could move the puck and man the power play.

It took a while, but the Wings finally found their guy.

Marek Zidlicky, who came over from New Jersey at the deadline for a conditional third-round pick, has seven points in his first seven games as a Red Wing, a streak punctuated by Sunday’s one-goal, two-assist effort in a 5-1 win over the Penguins.

It’s that right-handed shot that caught head coach Mike Babcock’s eye.

“He has a bomb — he can flat out shoot the puck,” Babcock said, per the Detroit News. “To the point where he has to shoot it more on the power play, and he doesn’t mind crosschecking the odd guy.

“He can move the puck, too.”

Through seven games, Babcock has foreshadowed how Zidlicky will likely be utilized for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs. The 38-year-old is hovering around 18 minutes per night, often on a pairing with Brendan Smith, but has already emerged as a fixture on the Red Wings’ power play, averaging 2:46 TOI per game (the only other blueliner to get more is Niklas Kronwall.)

Not coincidentally, Detroit’s power play has scored at least once in every game with Zidlicky in the lineup, going 7-for-25 (28 percent).

“He’s a really good defenseman,” Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg explained, per the Free Press. “He always makes the right play, and he’s so calm. It’s fun to play with him.”

What will be interesting to monitor moving forward, though, is if Zidlicky can maintain a solid clip after a good start — something last year’s trade deadline pickup, David Legwand, struggled to do. Legwand scored nine points in his first 14 games as a Red Wing after coming over from Nashville in early March, but struggled down the stretch: just two points in his final seven games, and none in Detroit’s five-game opening-round playoff loss to Boston.

Pittsburgh loses Hornqvist, ‘composure,’ game vs. Red Wings


The Detroit Red Wings needed to turn the tide after dropping four of their previous five games, including a 7-2 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday. They did just that with their 5-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins this afternoon.

Petr Mrazek did a great job when tasked with providing Jimmy Howard with a game off. The 23-year-old goalie turned aside 42 of 43 shots, including a 19 shot barrage in the second frame. Forward Teemu Pulkkinen, 23, also proved to be a big factor with two goals, including the game winner at 18:06 of the second period:

Defenseman Marek Zidlicky assisted on that marker and finished the contest with a game-high three points to extend his scoring streak to three contests. Since being acquired from the New Jersey Devils, the 38-year-old defenseman has stepped up with three goals and four assists in seven games.

As much as Detroit did a lot of things right today, this was also one that the Penguins let slip away. Pittsburgh played an undisciplined game and accumulated 64 penalty minutes to Detroit’s 14. The staggering differential was largely due to incidents between Pittsburgh and the officials themselves.

“Yesterday we lost two of our key players [Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby],” Pittsburgh coach Mike Johnston said, per the Penguins’ Twitter feed. “Today we lost our composure.”

If there was a silver lining for Pittsburgh, it’s that Crosby was able to return from an illness and went on to collect an assist in 22:02 minutes of ice time. At the same time, Pittsburgh lost forward Patric Hornqvist to an injury that Johnston felt “looked bad when he came off the ice.” He’ll need to be evaluated Monday.

Pittsburgh has now lost three of its last four games going into Tuesday’s contest against the Devils.

Penguins pull Fleury midway through second vs. Red Wings


Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury only survived 27:44 minutes against the Detroit Red Wings. Given the 4-0 score in favor of Detroit at the time Fleury was yanked, it’s hard to fault Penguins coach Mike Johnston for wanting to change things up.

It’s also hard to blame that score on Fleury.

The Penguins have played an undisciplined game, which led to the Red Wings enjoying an extended 5-on-3 advantage that Marek Zidlicky took advantage of 39 seconds into the second period. Then there’s the Henrik Zetterberg goal he was pulled for, which was arguably the result of poor defensive work rather than an error on Fleury’s part:

The first goal would have been a tough one for Fleury to stop given that it was a tip in by Riley Sheahan. Perhaps the marker that could be most pinned on Fleury was Teemu Pulkkinen’s blast late in the second period:

At the same time, this is the second straight game that Fleury has allowed four goals following Pittsburgh’s 6-4 win over Edmonton on Thursday.

NHL on NBC: Slumping Wings hope to take advantage of wounded Penguins


NBC will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Detroit Red Wings at the Consol Energy Center at 12:30 p.m. ET today. In addition to NBC, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

Any time you suffer a 7-2 loss, it’s going to be embarrassing. However Detroit’s blowout defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday was particularly humbling given that it was the Red Wings’ fourth loss in five games.

“Disappointing. That’s a good word,” captain Henrik Zetterberg told the team’s website. “It’s too many games now where the opposing team is faster, stronger from the start. We’ve talked about it. We’ve addressed it after games but you can’t just talk about it. You’ve got to go out and show it. Enough is enough.”

Zetterberg added that he hoped the team hit rock bottom.

Playing a matinee against Pittsburgh is usually not an ideal way to snap out of a rough stretch, but the Penguins might be entering this game in a vulnerable position. Although Penguins defenseman Christian Ehrhoff returned from a concussion on Saturday, captain Sidney Crosby (undisclosed) was scratched just before the start of play and Evgeni Malkin sustained a lower-body injury that prevented him from finishing the contest. With their two best players out, the Penguins suffered a 2-0 loss to the Boston Bruins.

It’s not yet known if Crosby and/or Malkin will be available Sunday, but forward Andrew Ebbett has been summoned. If Pittsburgh is forced to play without one or both of its superstar forwards, then it would naturally be a significant break for Detroit.

At the same time, Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to start for the Penguins, so barring a last-minute surprise, they’ll at least have one of the best goaltenders of the 2014-15 campaign playing between the pipes. He has a 2.17 GAA and .924 save percentage in 53 contests this season. After Jimmy Howard’s rough start on Saturday, Detroit is expected to counter today with Petr Mrazek.

Detroit and Pittsburgh are both in very strong positions as far as the battle for a playoff berth goes. However, the Red Wings’ recent struggles have put them in danger of moving out of third place in the Atlantic Division and into a Wild Card spot, so it’s critical from a seeding perspective that they stop the bleeding. Meanwhile Pittsburgh is fighting with the New York Islanders for the second spot in the Metropolitan Division and the first round home-ice advantage that comes with it.

Zetterberg hopes Red Wings have hit ‘rock bottom’


Here’s an understatement: things haven’t been going well for the Detroit Red Wings lately.

With Saturday’s embarrassing 7-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, the Red Wings have now dropped four of their last five games. In that span, Detroit has been outscored 22-13.

For a team that once looked ahead of where head coach Mike Babcock expected it to be, this has to be a troubling sign. Then again, sometimes things have to get grim before they get better.

“Hopefully we’ve hit rock bottom,” Henrik Zetterberg said, according to the Detroit Free-Press’ Helene St. James.

Zetterberg hopes that it’s as bad as things get. Babcock labels the loss as “an exclamation point.”

Will things turn around soon? That remains to be seen.

They turn around and face the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Sunday. After that, it’s a mini-road run through Florida as they take on the Panthers on Thursday and the Lightning on Friday.

(Two back-to-backs, even spread pretty far apart, aren’t necessarily ideal.)

Really, the best chance for the Red Wings to really turn around may come starting next weekend. From March 22 – April 7, eight of 10 Red Wings games take place at home.

Is that a guarantee that Detroit will rebound in late March, or that they can’t start getting it together starting tomorrow? Now, as we know with hockey, surprises could be around the corner. The Red Wings merely hope that they are positive ones.