Red Wings line shake-up on the way? Zetterberg and Datsyuk split up at practice

Detroit’s had a rough go of things offensively so far in their series with the San Jose Sharks. Through two games they’ve got just two goals and while Antti Niemi’s great play in goal is part of that problem, the Wings could use a jump to all of their lines when Game 3 rolls around tomorrow night.

During practice today, coach Mike Babcock rolled out some new line combinations that very well may be the thing to help turn the Wings’ fortunes around. Babcock had Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg playing on separate lines and also had Kris Draper working with the regular lines after being a healthy scratch in the first two games of the series. Datsyuk centered Johan Franzen and Tomas Holmstrom while Zetterberg centered Todd Bertuzzi and Dan Cleary.

Those are two loaded forward lines and while Datsyuk and Zetterberg being split up is a big deal, Babcock tells Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press that all of the Wings lines need to be better.

“I want more out of our forwards,” Babcock said. “I want us to spend more time in the offensive zone and sustain pressure, and I think we can backcheck harder. We can be harder on 50-50 pucks, just all over. So that’s a challenge to all our forwards.”

Babcock then reiterated: “I haven’t decided who is playing with who for tomorrow as of yet.”

He hasn’t decided and while anything can happen, this is a pretty healthy indication that change is on the way for the Wings as they try to turn their fortunes around against the Sharks. Right now, they’ll need to find a way to break the Sharks’ pressure intensive brand of defense and get them moving around to open things up for their offense. San Jose is matching up very well with Detroit, but with the Wings getting the last change at home, we’ll see if they’re able to expose some weaknesses in what they’re able to do with potentially new lines.

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    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

    Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

    Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

    Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

    Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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    Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

    The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

    Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

    After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

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    Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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    MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

    But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

    “I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

    Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

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    All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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    SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

    Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

    The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

    Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

    Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.