Articles from Wings practice: Wings looking to shoot as depleted defense bears down for prolific Leafs; on Mantha’s confidence

The Red Wings practiced this morning at Little Caesars Arena minus Dennis Cholowski, who’s out with an upper-body injury, and with Niklas Kronwall, who hopes to make his return to the lineup when the Wings host Toronto on Thursday night.

After practice, the Red Wings talked about their emphasis on shooting the puck more regularly, as noted by the Free Press’s Helene St. James in video and then text form:

“We have been passing up too many shots in the slot where there is a grade-a scoring chance and we’re trying to look for somebody back door for a tap-in,” Gustav Nyquist said Wednesday. “It usually hits someone’s skate or someone’s stick and then it deflects in the corner and then it’s not a scoring chance any more. I think it’s a matter of when you have a good scoring chance, take it and shoot yourself. The guy who is waiting for a back door tap-in can get to the rebound.”

The Wings host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday (7 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit) at Little Caesars before heading back on the road for four games. The Leafs are one of the most talented teams in the NHL, as borne out by a five-goals per game average.

The Wings have been beset by injuries on defense to start the season, and that trend continues as rookie Dennis Cholowski is sidelined by an upper-body injury, joining veterans Trevor Daley, Jonathan Ericsson and Mike Green. Niklas Kronwall, who missed the first three games because of injury, is ready to play; he can’t skate like he used to, but he’s still a smart player.

On the front end, the only pending change appears to be Nyquist and Justin Abdelkader swapping spots, with Nyquist joining Andreas Athanasiou and Thomas Vanek, and Abdelkader playing with Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha.

Nyquist is second on the Wings with nine shots, behind Larkin’s 11. While players are shown video clips of where they could have shot instead of passed, it can be hard to implement in a game.

St. James continues, and the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan discussed the Wings’ banged-up blueline

Kronwall, 37, has been battling a lower-body injury since the end of the preseason. But after several days of “feeling good,” Kronwall is ready to go.

“It came kind of nowhere,” said Kronwall of the injury. “It’s a little frustrating at the time but you try to find a way through it and get back to work. It feels good, and I hope to be back in again. You try to make the best of it but it’s good to be back skating with the guys again. I’m at the coach’s disposal. Obviously we have a lot of injuries.”

No question about that.

Cholowski now joins Trevor Daley (upper body), Jonathan Ericsson (upper body) and Mike Green (infection), all unavailable to play, and with no real timeline for a return.

Blashill said Daley, Ericsson and Green are all out for Thursday, and in all likelihood, Saturday in Boston.

The one benefit, said Kronwall, of having so many injuries is the fact the young defensemen (Cholowski, Joe Hicketts, Filip Hronek, Libor Sulak) have had an opportunity to show what they can do at the NHL level.

“It really is crazy,” said Kronwall of all the injuries. “But in saying that we’ve been able to see the younger guys even more and they’ve done a tremendous job. It’s encouraging to see, not just in the short term but in the long-term, what you have in the organization. It’s been extremely encouraging to see.”

Kulfan also continues, and MLive’s Ansar Khan discussed the Wings-Leafs match-up in light of the banged-up blueline:

The Leafs (3-1-0) are averaging five goals per game and coming off a 7-6 overtime win in Chicago and 7-4 victory at Dallas.

This will be biggest challenge in the young careers of defensemen Joe Hicketts, Libor Sulak and Filip Hronek. They got a preseason preview on Sept. 28, when the Leafs prevailed 6-2 at Scotiabank Arena.

“We know how fast they can come at you and I think we’re better prepared having (faced them),” Blashill said. “That doesn’t mean we’ll meet that challenge. If they’re coming at us flying 100 miles an hour the whole night, it’ll be a long night. We better put the puck in behind him, grind them in their zone and make them defend as much as possible.”

Auston Matthews already has more goals (seven) as the Red Wings as a team (six), which the same number John Tavares has scored.

“Hopefully they used up all their goals in the first couple of games,” Hicketts said. “They’re definitely a high-octane team, a team that thrives on the power play. We saw it in the preseason. It’s about managing the puck, staying out of the box and limiting their Grade A chances.”

Said goaltender Jimmy Howard: “We got to make it tough on them, make them play in their own end. We’re going to have to control the puck in the offensive zone.”

Khan continues, and here are the Wings’ post-practice Twitterviews, with Niklas Kronwall…

Anthony Mantha…

Gustav Nyquist…

And Dylan Larkin…

As I was about to click the “publish entry” button, DetroitRedWings.com’s Dana Wakiji’s notebook for the day popped up as well:

Anthony Mantha has never lacked confidence. It has been well documented when the Red Wings selected Mantha as their first-round pick, 20th overall, in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, he believed he would make the Red Wings at 18.

His confidence was soaring because he was such a dominant player in junior hockey. The game came so easy to him that Mantha thought the pro level would be a breeze.

That’s why when teammate Thomas Vanek told reporters last week Mantha could blossom into the NHL’s premier power forward but he needed to have more confidence in his abilities, it caught some by surprise, except Mantha.

“It was easy to have that extra edge coming out of juniors, everything went my way. I never had an injury or a setback during junior, so yeah, I think it is confidence,” Mantha said about Vanek’s observation. “Then I came here and got injured and spent two years in the American League. It’s a hard league down there, so it’s hard to gain your confidence, gain that easy play that always works, that you’re going to score over and over again.

“I never (really) found it in the American League; then as you get to the NHL, there’s a couple of things that goes your way and you need to keep doing the same way. So, that’s just the things I’m focusing on to get things going. It’s not necessarily believing in myself, because I do believe in myself, but to find that extra edge to my game. Like that little detail that is always going to be perfect and you’re always going to be the best player you can.”

Wakiji also continues

Update: And here’s 8 minutes of today’s coach’s comments to the media:

 

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.

One thought on “Articles from Wings practice: Wings looking to shoot as depleted defense bears down for prolific Leafs; on Mantha’s confidence”

  1. EVERYONE says don’t take penalties vs Leafs. Their PP is lights out. Let us see how many penalties the Wings take, especially unforced dumb penalties

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