Wings working well in front
The Detroit Red Wings are down with being in front, both on the scoreboard and around the enemy net.
The former carried them to a 3-1 victory Thursday at Columbus, while the latter served them well during a 5-3 rally to topple the Panthers in Florida on Saturday.
Detroit’s net-front presence was strong all game long and if those players crowding the crease weren’t deflecting pucks past Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo, they were obstructing his sightlines and giving him fits.
“I think the most important is make the shot through and then they're trying all the time to get there and we have fortunate bounces right now, which is great,” Detroit left-winger Tomas Tatar said. “We need those.”
The necessity to obstruct figures to be even more important Tuesday at Tampa Bay against 6-7 Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, the tallest netminder in the league.
“I think anyone in this league, the goalies are all good, they all present different challenges,” Detroit forward Justin Abdelkader said. “I think a lot of times on goalies you’re not going to score on the first shot so you’ve got to have that net front presence and make it hard on them to see the puck or to be able to play it.”
Speaking of goalies, Detroit’s Petr Mrazek is feeling much better and was able to practice Tuesday for the first time since he was overcome by illness while the Wings were in Columbus last week.
I feel physically well, way better than Saturday when I skated for 15 minutes,” Mrazek said. “I had a little cough on the ice from the beginning when you don’t skate for a while.
“I’m glad for first time I skated. I felt pretty good.”
He was feeling exactly the opposite while left bedridden for a few days, running a temperature of 103.1 degrees Fahrenheit.
“I had a rough couple days, like three days I couldn’t do anything,” Mrazek said. “I was so cold I had the room up to 80 degrees and I felt like it was 20. It was tough.
“I’m glad it’s over.”
Mrazek doesn’t know what the plans are in terms of him returning to the net for some game action.
“We’ll see what happens,” Mrazek said. “Coach will decide who’ll play.
“I was really happy I could skate for first time today and get back the net.”
Detroit coach Jeff Blashill confirmed that he’d stay with Jimmy Howard in goal against the Lightning, but later Monday, Jared Coreau was returned to AHL Grand Rapids and Mrazek will dress as Howard’s back up.
Nik Of Time
The Wings were pleased to get defenseman Niklas Kronwall back for Saturday’s win at Florida and he registered two assists in his return from a week’s absence due to a knee injury.
“Kronwall is the ultimate teammate, the ultimate warrior, ultimate competitor,” Blashill said. “He’s an elite leader. He’s been a big leader for this organization for a long time.
“It was great to have him in the lineup, assists or no assists.”
Forward Eric Tangradi, who has served a couple of brief stints with Detroit this season, agreed to terms on a two-year, two-way contract with the Wings on Monday.
The 6-4, 233-pound Tangradi was signed to a one-year free-agent deal by the Wings last July. He ranks among the top scorers for Detroit’s Grand Rapids AHL farm club, posting career highs with 24-25-49 totals thus far this season.
“He’s had a very good year,” Detroit GM Ken Holland said. “He was motivated to stay and I think he can come up and play for us if we needed him.”
Tangradi, 27, became the 899th player to wear a Red Wings sweater when he debuted with the team during Detroit’s 4-2 victory at the New York Islanders on Jan. 25. He did not record a point in 6:55 of ice time.
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