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Red Wings-Lightning Game 1 game-day articles: Wings hope Eurotwins will spark offense

Updated 7x at 2:31 PM: There were no surprises at the Red WIngs or Lightning's morning skates ahead of tonight's Game 1 (7 PM EDT on FSD/FS Florida/NBCSN/CBC/TVA Sports/97.1 FM).

It appears that Tyler Johnson will play for the Bolts, as the Tampa Bay Times' Joe Smith noted...

Lightning center Tyler Johnson felt pretty good after skating with the team for the second straight day.

And while Johnson said they'll decide tonight if he'll play in Game 1 against the Red Wings, it appears there's a good chance he will. Johnson suffered an upper body injury in Saturday's game in Montreal, hitting his head/shoulders into the boards.

Johnson is used to playing through pain, having battled through a broken wrist during the Stanley Cup Final against the Blackhawks. It's the playoffs, as he said.

"I think you go through the lockerooms of both teams, or any team in the playoffs, guys are going to be (banged up) at this point in the season," Johnson said. "As long as you can do your job."

If Johnson can't go, look for Jonathan Marchessault to slot in for him. Otherwise Marchessault, Erik Condra and Matt Taormina appear to be the healthy scratches.

Vladislav Namestnikov is in the lineup, playing on the fourth line with Brian Boyle and Mike Blunden. Namestnikov has seemingly played with every forward this season, from the top line to fourth. Namestnikov said it's tough, but he makes the most of it.

"It's more mentally," he said. "As I said, a couple shifts and you get used to it."

The Bolts coach Jon Cooper was in full compliment-the-enemy mode, as noted by the Free Press's Helene St. James...

Speaking after the Lightning's morning skate, Cooper had a vivid description of how tight he expects the series to be.

"They're really, really good," he said. "With the coaching change, nothing has really changed. They made the playoffs again. They won the big games they had to. They play the same system.

"It's just a no-space game, like playing the game in a closet. You really have to fight for every inch out there. I know it's going to be one of those series."

Based on Tuesday's practice, it appears that the Wings will play Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg together. Cooper said the Lightning can't get caught up in that.

"They're phenomenal players," Cooper said. "They've been impact players in this league for a long time. Does it change matchups? Maybe. But you can't think it that, 'Oh, my God, those two guys are on the ice together, the world is going to cave in.' Guys have to do their jobs and respect the opponent. But you can't change the way you play."

According to TampaBayLightning.com's Bryan Burns, the Bolts held an optional skate, so we should probably look at Tuesday's Tweets as a best guess as to who the Lightning will dress in front of Ben Bishop:

The Wings "won't make any lineup decisions until after warm-ups," but here's their likely lineup from MLive's Ansar Khan:

On the Red Wings' side of the ice, WDIV's David Bartkowiak, Jr. penned a column about Brad Richards' Tuesday comments to the media (non-embeddable video included)...

"Anytime you play the playoffs in a place you grew up at ... I love it. I relish it. I love this city, so it's good to be back," he said Tuesday as he spoke to media members in Tampa.

Richards played against the Lightning in the finals last year.

"The one thing they have now is they have experienced a run. I know how it is coming off a Stanley Cup (finals) and losing. The regular season is tough mentally to get yourself back into that grind. They've probably been looking forward to starting the playoffs for a long time, so you know they're going to be hungry," said Richards. "They have that taste and they want to get back there."

So what's the key to winning in the playoffs?

"Composure and poise is huge, you know, in the playoffs you might go 60 minutes without getting a scoring chance. But the one you get in the last minute might be the reason you win a game, and end up winning a series, which ends up putting you on a big run," said Richards.

And these quips from Bartkowiak, Jr. are also from Tuesday:

"We talk about getting the best from everybody, nothing more, nothing less. We don't need Superman efforts. We just need everybody's best," he said as he spoke to media members Tuesday in Tampa.

This is Blashill's first year as a NHL head coach and, of course, his first trip to the postseason as such. However, the majority of his Red Wings squad are not new to the playoffs. Moreover, they are very familiar with the Lightning, who beat them in seven games last year.

lashill said turnovers could be a key to beating Tampa this time around.

"There's no question that we're at our best when we're managing the puck, and we're certainly going to have to do a good job of it against Tampa. They do a real good job of putting pressure on you and creating turnovers, and I'd say they feed on turnovers lots of times. We're going to have to manage the puck for certain," he said.

The Wings' Wednesday media availability is just wrapping up presently...

And in the interim, our friends at NBCSN, in this case Pro Hockey Talk's Jason Brough, has penned a list of "reasons why your team(s) won't win the Stanley Cup":

Detroit Red Wings: This team hasn’t been a legitimate contender since Nicklas Lidstrom retired, and it sure isn’t now. The Wings qualified for the playoffs with a minus-13 goal differential. The only other team that qualified with a negative number was the aforementioned Flyers, at minus-4. Newsflash: it wasn’t just the money that convinced Mike Babcock to leave last summer. He saw the future in Detroit, and it wasn’t bright without Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, and Henrik Zetterberg. Yes, Dylan Larkin has franchise-player potential, but he’s the only one, and you need more than one franchise player to win the Cup.

Here's St. James' Wings morning skate article:

When the Wings played at Amalie last month, they were run out of the building in a 6-2 loss because of numerous turnovers. Blashill sees less chance of that happening now.

"I like our confidence, defensively, now better," he said. "I think confidence is a big thing in managing the puck. You don't want to, obviously, turn pucks over, but you also don't want to just throw the puck away all night. Because if you do that, it's the equivalent, really, of turning the puck over. When you're confident, you tend to do a better job in those situations."

Blashill wouldn't confirm the lineup, but based on the morning skate, Pavel Datsyuk is with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader, Riley Sheahan with Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist, Brad Richards with Darren Helm and Dylan Larkin, and Luke Glendening with Andreas Athanasiou and Joakim Andersson.

The defense had Mike Green with Jonathan Ericsson, Danny DeKeyser with Kyle Quincey, and Niklas Kronwall with Alexey Marchenko. That would leave Brendan Smith, Tomas Jurco and Teemu Pulkkinen as scratches.

MLive's Ansar Khan focused on the Datsyuk-Zetterberg reunion:

Zetterberg had no goals in six assists in the final 11 games of the regular season and just one goal and nine points in the last 24 games. He still led the team with 50 points.

"It would be nice to get a few," Zetterberg said. "I've been getting some chances, you just got to put the puck behind the goaltender. That's the big issue so far."

Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Justin Abdelkader will play together in Game 1 tonight at Amalie Arena (7 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit), a switch coach Jeff Blashill made following the regular season.

"Who doesn't want to play with Pavel Datsyuk?" Zetterberg said. "We've been together our whole career on the same team. We want to do the same things out there and we think the same on the ice. It's fun every time we have a chance to play (together). It's pretty exciting."

They have played mostly apart this season but did find some immediate chemistry when reunited for a stretch in early February. They should be able to create some space for each other.

"We'll see, but it will be tight," Zetterberg said. "It was a tight series last year, too. Those two coaches probably want to coach similar. The mistakes will be few. Both teams want to be cautious with the puck and don't give the other team turnovers. So I don't think there will be much space, but that's the playoffs."

"When we have put them together ... they do seem to provide a spark," Blashill said. "I think in the end those two guys play well off of each other. They think the game very similar. They play the game very similar. I think today's hockey has become very much north-south, but they're two guys who still like to play east to west. So when they're together, it might accentuate their positives a little better."


Update: Via RedWingsFeed, Pro Hockey Talk's Mike Halford notes that Jimmy Howard has a good record against Tampa Bay...

If there is optimism for Howard, though, it could come from his history against the Lightning. He went 2-1-0 with a 2.14 GAA and .925 save percentage versus the Bolts this season — granted, the two victories came in October and November.

And you may do with this information from the Free Press's Brian Manzullo as you wish:

It's not too late to get to the Joe this spring.

And though Detroit Red Wings home-game tickets are a little hiked up for Games 3 and 4 against the Tampa Bay Lightning (it's the Stanley Cup playoffs, what do you expect?), prices aren't astronomical on the secondary market.

You can purchase upper-bowl Game 3 tickets for as low as $78 apiece on StubHub and $86 on VividSeats, the Red Wings' home playoff opener (7 p.m. Sunday at Joe Louis Arena). Those prices are as of 1:30 p.m. this afternoon.

Tickets for Game 4 are lower; you can get them for as low as $65 on StubHub and $57 on VividSeats.

Lower-bowl seats for both games will obviously run you a little more, to the tune of about at least $175-200 for Game 3 and $125-150 for Game 4. If you're looking for tickets right near the ice, we found a few for a little more than $400 a pop, if you're interested.


Update #2: Among the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan's notes:

The Red Wings decided to keep Andersson and sent Anthony Mantha back to Grand Rapids after the regular season concluded, mainly due to Andersson’s experience and defensive abilities.

Andersson has been a regular in the lineup the last two playoff seasons. His penalty killing and safe, sound game are pluses on his side.

“He knows how to play the game,” coach Jeff Blashill said.

Andersson didn’t take the demotion to Grand Rapids at midseason as a complete disappointment.

“I needed to play,” said Andersson, who got that chance in the American League playing in all situations. “I needed to play to be able to come back at this time of year and be successful. I was in and out of the lineup and I didn’t play much when I was in the lineup (with the Red Wings earlier in the season). I needed to get minutes under my legs and get skating again.”


Update #3: Among the Lightning's game-day videos:

1. Here's the "Bolts report"...

2. Here's Ryan Johnson on Game 1...

3. Here's Braydon Coburn...

4. And here are Jon Cooper's game-day remarks:


Update #4: The Free Press's Helene St. James posted a clip of Henrik Zetterberg, Justin Abdelkader and Jeff Blashill discussing the tasks at hand:


Update #5: Among the Windsor Star's Bob Duff's notes:

Gustav Nyquist knows that it’s time for him to step up. He needs to stand and deliver some goals in the playoffs if the Detroit Red Wings hope to get past the Tampa Bay Lightning in their opening-round series.

“For sure,” he said. “The last couple of years I think the whole team has had trouble scoring but obviously we’re a big part of that, so we’ve got to be better,” Nyquist added of his forward unit with Tomas Tatar and Riley Sheahan. “We’ve had those years of experience now, this year I think coming in, our line especially, we’ve just got to be real solid in our own end. That’s where our offense starts, so we can be fast through the neutral zone. She’s been hot lately and hopefully me and Tats can catch on some of that.”

Tatar tallied three times and Sheahan scored twice in last spring’s seven-game opening-round playoff series loss to the Lightning, but Nyquist was held to a solitary goal. He’s scored one goal in his last 17 playoffs games and only twice in his last 24 games of Stanley Cup action.

Nyquist is hopeful that the close checking down the stretch as Detroit battled for a playoff spot will harden him to the battle that needs to be waged in order to score in the playoffs.

“It’s tight, but for us, the last few years, at least the last 10 or 20 games it’s been kind of the playoffs,” Nyquist said. “We’ve had to crawl our way into the playoffs. Same thing this year. Down the stretch here it’s been playoff-type games, so you kind of get used to it gradually coming in. But for sure it’s a lot tighter out there. You have to fight for every inch of your ice. You can’t take a shift off or anything like that. Everything is on the line, that’s why it’s the best time of the year to play hockey, so just go leave it all out there. It’s going to be tight but we’re excited for this challenge.”


Update #6: Of charitable note:


Update #7: Among TampaBayLightning.com's Bryan Burns' notes:

The Lightning host the Detroit Red Wings in Game 1 of a First Round Stanley Cup Playoffs series tonight, a rematch of last year’s opening round battle that went the distance. Detroit snuck out of Amalie Arena with a victory in Game 1 last season, forcing the Bolts to play catchup the rest of the series.

Tampa Bay, in fact, has struggled historically in Game 1s, going 1-7 in the opening game of a First Round playoff series. The Bolts are 6-11 in the opening game of all playoff series.

“I’ve been a part of five playoff series, and have won one Game 1,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “It’s not ideal because you think, we lost Game 1 to Detroit last year, we lost Game 1 to the Rangers, now looking at the big picture, you’ve got to win four out of the next six, which seems a little bit more daunting. It’s obviously not the end of the world to lose Game 1, but I’m just going to say for the record, we really want to win Game 1.”

The Lightning hope to use lessons learned against the Red Wings last season to better prepare for Game 1 this season.

“The first series I saw personally was against Montreal (in 2014), and I thought we were mentally prepared but we just weren’t,” Tyler Johnson said. “Last year, coming into the Detroit series, Detroit kind of took it to us at the beginning, and we had to kind of wake up even more so. I think that series against Detroit last year was the series that really helped us throughout the rest of the playoffs.”

The Lightning are in the postseason for the third-straight season. Cooper said the experience of the prior two seasons has made him more playoff savvy. He knows what’s happening a little more. There’s no fear of the unexpected.

“I’m really looking forward to tonight,” he said. “You can just tell the mood is different. There’s a much different mood between game 82 and game 83, and we’re definitely feeling it now. It’s exciting, a really exciting time.”

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Hootinani's avatar

Wings hope Eurotwins will spark offense

Yeah, I wish it was 2008 again, too

Posted by Hootinani from the parade following Babs out of town on 04/13/16 at 01:38 PM ET

SYF's avatar


Swap AA for Helm and have Helm center that fourth line.  Boom.  Ya gots your defensive shutdown line.  Not quite The Grind Line, but close enough.

Posted by SYF from A tall cool pint of Guinness on 04/13/16 at 03:49 PM ET

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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.