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Red Wings Tuesday practice post II: on Datsyuk, Emmerton and Alfredsson

Updated 4x at 3:22 PM: I had a feeling that all the Tweets from the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association luncheon which Ken Holland, Kris Draper and Ryan Martin attended would max out the first practice post, and they did, so here's Part II.

MLive's Ansar Khan posted today's practice lines...

Here are the lines and defense pairings the Red Wings skated with on Tuesday:

Henrik Zetterberg-Pavel Datsyuk-Justin Abdelkader

Johan Franzen-Stephen Weiss-Daniel Alfredsson

Daniel Cleary-Joakim Andersson-Todd Bertuzzi

Drew Miller-Cory Emmerton-Mikael Samuelsson

Tomas Tatar and Jordin Tootoo and Darren Helm, both on injured reserve) are the extras.

Niklas Kronwall-Jonathan Ericsson

Danny DeKeyser-Jakub Kindl

Kyle Quincey-Brendan Smith

Brian Ladhoff-Xavier Ouellet (extras)

Jimmy Howard

Jared Coreau

Khan reports that Pavel Datsyuk was in fine form after practice today:

"Right now I'm like oldest player on the team,'' Datsyuk said.

Not quite. Datsyuk is 35, still younger than Daniel Alfredsson, 40; Todd Bertuzzi, 38; and Mikael Samuelsson, 36.

“Some days it hit me, but I don't want to start thinking about age,'' Datsyuk said. “I'm thinking about how I change my card (driver's license?) to be younger. I'm sitting around two young guys (Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm) to keep me younger.''

Datsyuk isn't showing any signs of age. He still is one of the best two-way players in the NHL, someone whose skills and wizardry with the puck make him a nightmare for the opposition.

This is a particularly exciting season for him. He was encouraged by the team's strong finish last season, taking the eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks to overtime in Game 7 of the second round before losing. He believes the additions of Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss give the club more depth and scoring ability.

“It's a little bit similar team, we just changed a few players, not much change but now we're a little bit more offensive,'' Datsyuk said. “I'm looking forward to start new season.''

He is looking forward to dazzling a new set of opponents in the Eastern Conference and playing in the Jan. 1 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium against the Toronto Maple Leafs. And he's eagerly anticipating the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, where he might even be named captain of the home team.

“This is why season is so exciting, too many important things,'' Datsyuk said. “We need to prepare for a long season. It'll be interesting season, lots of fun.''

The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan spoke with Cory Emmerton about his somewhat surprising status as a Wing after being waived on Sunday...

"Probably the most eventful, uneventful 36 hours ever," said Emmerton of the experience. "To end up here, it seemed like a lot was going on but there was nothing really. It was obviously pretty stressful, but you become stronger as a person and player by going through something like that."

The Red Wings had been over the salary cap throughout the exhibition season, and they also had been carrying too many forwards. With forward Darren Helm (back) on the long-term injured list -- he’s one of the Red Wings’ natural centers -- it appeared Emmerton was safe with regard to a roster spot.

"Everyone knew what was going on; there's too many players and no cap space -- something had to give," Emmerton said. "Maybe it was a little surprising just for the fact we're already down a centerman. I couldn't have told you either way if it was expecting it or not."

Once Emmerton cleared waivers, he was glad to be returning to the Red Wings.

"They made it pretty clear to me they really wanted me to clear and stay here and be part of this," Emmerton said.

When Eaves needed more time to recover from a sprained ankle and knee, the decision was made to bring back Emmerton, who is anxious to stay in the NHL.

"I worked even harder this summer to be ready and I have an opportunity to prove I can be -- should be -- on this team and help the team," Emmerton said. "It's up to me, and how I play, and it starts (Wednesday). I want to play hockey, that's the only mindset I have. I've done everything I could to improve myself to become a better player and more useful, and now it's just time to show it."

The Free Press's Helene St. James posted a practice video...

And the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness posted a slate of practice videos:

Pleiness also spoke with Alfredsson about his "shocking" signing with the Wings...

“The reason people say that is because it happened so quick,” said Alfredsson, who’ll also get $2 million bonus if he plays 10 games. “There was no talk before, me leaving and I wasn’t even thinking about it either. My negotiations really didn’t go where I wanted and we got to the point where there was a two-day window where teams could talk to other players and I still hadn’t explored in my own head the idea of going somewhere else. My agent called me and said there are several teams that wanted to talk to me and I told him I would to see what they had to say.”

Alfredsson had a lengthy conversation with Wings coach Mike Babcock and general manager Ken Holland and it was there he was sold on coming to Detroit.

“That’s when I really started thinking about trying something different,” Alfredsson said. “I’m at the end of my career and I won’t have too many opportunities like this again. That’s how it started. I myself can’t say I was shocked, but it was a decision I wouldn’t have thought would have been in the works a week earlier.”

Alfredsson plays a two-way game and provides a right-handed shot on the power play. He can also kill penalties.

“I expect myself to contribute offensively and be a player that’s dependable in all situations,” Alfredsson said. “If I had to rate myself I’d say I’m not good at anything and I’m not bad at anything. I can do it all, but I’m not the best in the world at anything.”

...

“You have to prove yourself again,” Alfredsson said. “I was extremely comfortable and taking good care of in Ottawa. We were set. We led a great life. I look at this as a challenge for me personally and professionally, but also for us as a family. You make a change and you have to adapt and grow as people.”

And Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji penned a Wings-NHL preview which focuses on the team's move to the East...

"We're going to do less traveling," defenseman Jonathan Ericsson said. "I think everyone in here is really excited about it, playing some new teams, too. I think that's really good for all the fans. Good for us, too, because it's not that fun to play the same team over and over and over again. I think everyone's looking forward to it."

...

There's some belief that the Wings will have a hard time adjusting to the Eastern Conference because those teams play a more physical style. Or do they?

"It’s tough to compare," said Daniel Alfredsson, who spent his entire career with the Ottawa Senators before coming to Detroit. "A lot of people think the East is more physical, and I thought the West was more physical. So I don’t know what’s true. It’s pretty even then, I guess. This team will do well in the East. It’s way better travel schedule, puck possession, a different style and a lot of teams haven’t seen them as much. Hopefully, especially early on when people haven’t scouted us as much, we can take advantage of that."

Their new additions in Stephen Weiss and Alfredsson...

"We knew they were great players," Ericsson said. "Alfredsson's going to be huge for us on the power play. He's been showing that in the preseason games, how well he plays in those situations. Weiss also brings great depth to us. He's a leader on the ice when he's out there. He's always working hard, and he's got some really good skills, too. They're great additions. That's exactly what we need."

And the team's short and long-term goals:

"We got a big game on Wednesday (vs. Buffalo at Joe Louis Arena)," he said. "Most important game is the one you're playing. We talk about it every single year. We're gonna have 82 of those days this year. Let's get after it and see where we're at."

...

"We want to compete for the division, we want to make the playoffs," Wings general manager Ken Holland said. "It's a parity league, and I don't know that there's many teams dramatically better than any other teams. There's so many teams that are so close. You know, with 10 games to go in the season, it's going to be a race for the division, a race to make the playoffs, a race for home ice. We want to be in the thick of those races."

FTR:

Update: Amongst the CBC's Tim Wharnsby's stories to watch...

Alfie's absence: Even after a full training camp it is still strange to see Daniel Alfredsson in a Detroit Red Wings sweater. The hockey world was shocked when Alfredsson decided to sever his long-term ties with the Ottawa Senators three months ago. He returns to Ottawa on Dec. 1.

Sidebar: The Red Wings and Senators just happen to be in the same division with the realignment. Which team will have more points in the end?

LEMME TELL YA:

DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose's practice story involves Cory Emmerton...

“Maybe it was a little bit surprising just for the fact that we’re already down a centerman, but other than that they’re trying to figure out what to do here,” Emmerton said. “I couldn’t have told you either way whether I expected it or not.”

Emmerton, 25, is now expected to be in Wednesday’s season-opening lineup against Buffalo, centering a line with forwards Drew Miller and Mikael Samuelsson. However, life with the Wings isn’t secure for Emmerton, who has to produce every night to maintain his role on the fourth line.

“He’s a good penalty kill, he skates good and he’s getting better,” coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s still in the growth point of this career. He’s going to be better this year because he’s a lot stronger than he was last year. And yet he’s another guy that has to grab his piece if you don’t want to play in the minors. You have to grab your piece.”

Emmerton knew his situation coming into last month’s training camp. He dedicated himself to weight-training program so he could become stronger on the puck, particularly in the corners.

“I worked all summer, I worked my whole life to get to the NHL and I worked even harder this summer to be ready for this year,” he said. “Now I have an opportunity to prove that I can be, should be on this team and help the team. It’s totally up to me how I play. It just starts tomorrow.”

The hard part for a player in Emmerton’s situation is knowing he can be sent to the minors without warning, but he’s trying not to think about it.

“I just play hockey, so that’s what I’m here to do and that’s what I’ll do,” Emmerton said. “The rest of it will take care of itself as long as you can do what you can do personally. Stuff has a way of figuring itself out and that’s all you can hope for.”

Michigan Hockey's Nick Barnowski and Michael Caples, via RedWingsFeed, penned a "Know Your Foe" Atlantic Division scouting report...

And the Hockey News's Ryan Kennedy added an obvious name to his prospect "Hot List":

Anthony Mantha, LW – Val-d’Or Foreurs (QMJHL): Tied for the lead in the ‘Q’ in scoring with eight goals and 14 points in just five games, Mantha has picked up where he left off last season in the offense department. The message he heard at the draft combine was to round out his game and with two of his tallies coming shorthanded, perhaps that’s how the explosive winger will get it done. Drafted 20th overall by Detroit in 2013.

 

Update #2: Here are the National Post's writers' Cup picks:

Who will win the Stanley Cup?

Bruce Arthur: The Detroit Red Wings, freed of the burdens of Western travel, with near-elite goaltending (and also Jonas Gustavssson) and one more run in Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg’s newly freshened legs.

Sean Fitz-Gerald: The Boston Bruins are deep up front, with elite skill on defence and experience goal. Plus, if there is any justice in the world, Jarome Iginla will finally get a summer’s day with the Stanley Cup.

Noah Love: Detroit gets to the final in its first year in the East and defeats Los Angeles in the final. Love Chicago, but the Blackhawks traditional post-Cup depth selloff is a worry.

Micahel Traikos:  John Tortorella stifled the New York Rangers’ offence and locked Brad Richards in the press box. New head coach Alain Vigneault could bring the culture change the Rangers need to win it all.

 

Update #3: Via Paul, here's Grantland's Sean McIndoe's take on the Wings:

Detroit Red Wings

Last season: 24-16-8, 56 points, seventh in the West, lost in the second round

Offseason report: Detroit handed a steel chair to Daniel Alfredsson, then celebrated when he waffled the Ottawa Senators organization over the head with it.

Outlook: Everyone assumes the Red Wings will be good, because the Red Wings are always good. And there's lots of reason for optimism heading into 2013-14. Don't forget, this is the team that had the invincible Blackhawks on the ropes in last year's playoffs before somehow letting the series slip away. Goalie Jimmy Howard has developed into a star who could push for a starting role on the U.S. Olympic team. And the move to the East should help, both in terms of travel and quality of competition.

But there are warning signs. The core is an old one, with players like Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Johan Franzen all in their 30s. Adding Alfredsson doesn't make them any younger, obviously, so the potential for major drop-offs and/or injuries is significant.

Suggested slogan: "The Detroit Red Wings, presented by Amway." (No, really, that was their actual slogan. I couldn't make up anything funnier than that.)

Best case: They face the Senators in the first round and win on their way to another deep playoff run.

Worst case: They face the Senators in the first round and lose. Seriously, that matchup is happening. Don't even try to deny us, hockey gods.

Update #4: SI's "New Faces in New Places" gallery includes one Daniel Alfredsson:

Daniel Alfredsson, Detroit Red Wings: The former Senators captain broke plenty of hearts in Ottawa when he signed a one-year deal with the Red Wings during the offseason. The smooth Swede. who has twice posted 40-goal campaigns and eclipsed the 20-goal mark 13 times in 17 seasons, hopes that donning the winged wheel in Detroit will help him to finally add a Stanley Cup to his impressive hockey resume. But mark December 1 on your calendar: he returns to Ottawa as an enemy that night and is likely to get a rude reception.

Update #4.5: A "Kid" to watch, also from SI:

Danny DeKeyser, Defenseman, Detroit Red Wings: Last season's most prized college free agent stunned observers with his effortless transition to the NHL pace. Joining the Wings with 11 games left in the season, he assumed a shutdown role, playing a smart, calm style that stabilized a struggling blueline down the stretch. DeKeyser earned coach Mike Babcock's trust in the playoffs before breaking his thumb in Detroit's first round series vs. Anaheim. He only notched one assist, but brings a high skill level that should reveal itself as he plays top-four minutes this year.

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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.