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Articles from practice: Wings reflect on win over Jets, taking steps forward; Zetterberg’s day off

Updated 4x at 5:12 PM: The Detroit Red Wings engaged in a spirited practice the day after snapping a 7-game losing streak at the expense of the Winnipeg Jets. Henrik Zetterberg didn't take part in practice due to taking a "maintenance day."

MLive's Ansar Khan reported that coach Blashill will give both Zetterberg and the rest of the Wings Thursday off as the Wings don't play again until Saturday's matinee game against the Blues (with the Blues game kicking off a stretch of 4 games to be played over the course of 7 nights).

If you missed it, both of the Red Wings' goalies revealed their "holiday-themed masks," which are going to be auctioned off for charity after the holiday season...

And as noted last night, this is real:

After practice, the Red Wings posted several player comment videos, starting with Gustav Nyquist's off-day remarks...

And continuing with Danny DeKeyser's comments...

While MLive's Ansar Khan posted a clip of Justin Abdelkader speaking with the media:

In the land of articles, the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa penned an article about Henrik Zetterberg's days off:

“Oh, he’s fine,” Jeff Blashill said Wednesday, of the 37-year-old Zetterberg, who is immersed in the longest stretch without a goal in his career, 21 games. “Just a maintenance day today.”

Despite the goal drought, Zetterberg is fifth in scoring on the team with 16 points after picking up his 12th assist of the season against Winnipeg.

Dylan Larkin leads the team with 23 points, followed by Anthony Mantha with 22, and Justin Abdelkader and Mike Green with 18.

With practices Wednesday and Friday sandwiched around a day off before their next game against the Blues at 1 p.m. Saturday at Little Caesars Arena, the Red Wings took the opportunity to engage in “battle drills,” some physical, full-speed puck possession skirmishes with frequent contact.

Zetterberg missed what would have been a good day for him. Other players said that since Pavel Datsyuk left, their captain, with his skill, puck-handling ability and squat, low-center-of-gravity frame, makes him their best player when a puck carrier faces hard challenges.

“It was good today to be able to have a good work day and battle,” Blashill said of the three days off, a rare break in the regular season. “We’ll do a little bit of battling on Friday to get ready for Saturday, too.

“But you don’t have many days in the year when you have three days like that. Now, we’ll take tomorrow off, just because part of that is when you haven’t gone three days before a game all year, it’s harder then all of a sudden in December to throw it in. I mean, the only time we did it was out of camp. So, we’ll take tomorrow off and then get back and make sure we’re battle tested on Friday, so we come Saturday ready to go.”

The Free Press's Helene St. James penned an article about the Wings' desire to "get the details" right while they can afford to spend practice focusing on the finer points of their games:

“It was huge for us to start good, that is what we have been focusing on,” Tomas Tatar said, after he’d done a reading of ’A visit from St. Nicholas’ for team personnel. “It just feels way better when you lead. We had 16 shots after the first and they had three, and then we talked about it in the locker room, like hey, we have to continue to play some way, don’t let them get back on the horse.

“We pressured them all night and just played really good hockey. We had maybe like 18 turnovers. The one in Montreal we had 43. So that is a huge difference. We just have to play the right way, play smart, and the system will take care of us. We just have to continue to be better every day.”

It speaks to how tight the NHL is that the Wings could go through a stretch where they banked just three of a possible 14 points and still remain within two points of third place in the Atlantic Division. It speaks to the Wings’ need to bear down on what they want their identity to be and play as well as they did Tuesday, after the stupid hockey that defined last week.

“It is a little bit mind-boggling sometimes when you look around this room and see how much talent we have,” Frans Nielsen said. “We find ways to beat ourselves. We can’t stop the bleeding when it’s going on for some reason. It was good to see us show up last night and play that way for almost 60 minutes.

“We just have to realize that was only one game. We have to learn from it and keep doing that. Something has happened lately when we got scored on, but I think we kept playing yesterday. That was another thing that was good to see, that it didn’t bother us too much that they got that goal. We felt good about our game and we just kept going.”

St. James continues, and she posted a video of Tatar, Nielsen, Anthony Mantha and coach Blashill's remarks:


Also of Red Wings-related note: Dallas Drake spoke with WJR AM 760's Paul W. Smith regarding the Red Wings' most recent week of play:


Update: DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji filed a practice notebook:

"We had a good practice today, worked on a lot of the battling and two-on-two, three-on-three, five-on-five, some good skating up and down the ice," Justin Abdelkader said. "At the same, it's good, we're going to have a day off tomorrow so we'll be able to get some rest and we'll get a full day as we come up to the schedule where we're playing every other day. It's a nice little break in the schedule. Time to get refocused and get a push until Christmas."

Said Gustav Nyquist: "I think it's good for us. Those are the things that we need to get better at, to win those battles, and doing them in practice, it'll help us, I think."

While you can't replicate game conditions in practice, players often feel the battle drills are the next best thing.

"It's great," defenseman Danny DeKeyser said. "I think the down low stuff is very game-like, as in the majority of the game is played below the tops of the circles in both ends. So that's probably the most important part of the ice is winning your battles there, in the D zone, win the battles and get it up to the forwards and getting it into their end and trying to create offense that way."

One of the things that worked well for the Wings against the Jets, especially in the first period, was being harder to play against by making the Jets go through them to get where they wanted to go.

"I think the past few practices we've been working on not swinging away, less stick checks and playing more through guys," DeKeyser said. "Getting your stick in there and then kind of playing through and finishing the hits from time to time when you can, not giving them room out there to operate, easy room. So if they get room, they got to earn it. We're trying to play through guys more and make it harder on opponents to get to our net, harder for them to get the red line and chip it in, stuff like that."

Wakiji continues...

And the Wings posted a Twitter video of Abdelkader speaking with the media:


Update #2: From Abdelkader himself:


Update #3: The Wings posted a clip of Blashill's remarks:


Update #4: MLive's Ansar Khan posted a practice notebook:

After yielding too many odd-man rushes in their previous two games, the Detroit Red Wings made sure Winnipeg's big, fast and talented forwards didn't easily skate up the ice Tuesday.

They didn't just wave their sticks at puck-carries and resemble turnstiles, they played through bodies by taking away space.

"Not necessarily big hits, just making sure there were no stick-checks," coach Jeff Blashill said. "Guys had to go through us to get up the ice and that's a really important thing. It's angles, it's stopping on people, it's stopping on pucks, it's not stick-checking - what I call poke and hope."

They were harder to play against. That, along with their urgency at the start and determination to stretch their lead in the third period resulted in a 5-1 victory. That's how they must play during the final four games of this homestand, which continues Saturday afternoon against St. Louis (1 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit), another top team.

Battling drills in practice Monday paid off, and they did more of it on Wednesday.

"The past few practices we've been working on not swinging away, less stick-checks and playing more through guys," Danny DeKeyser said. "Getting your stick in there and then kind of playing through and finishing the hits from time to time when you can, not giving them room to operate, easy room. If they get room, they got to earn it. We're trying to make it harder on opponents to get to our net, harder for them to get the red line and chip it in."

Khan continues...

Update #4: From WXYZ's Brad Galli:

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.


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