“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.
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill spoke with the Toronto Sun’s Terry Koshan regarding Thursday’s opponent, the Toronto Maple Leafs:
Wings coach Jeff Blashill on the #Leafs PP: “Fun to watch … Their weapons on the two flanks are real special. Marner is … an elite power-play player. One of the best in the league. Matthews is an elite player, Tavares is an elite player. A lot of really good there.”
Blashill asked about #Leafs being a test: “Did you guys see the Chicago game? The end of the Chicago game? It was awesome. Entertaining, for sure. Unreal. Is it a challenge for our young D? Absolutely. The good thing for us is at least we saw them in exhibition.”
More Blashill: “If they are coming at us flying 100 miles an hour the whole night, it will be a long night. We better put the puck in behind them, we better grind them in their zone, we better make them defend as much as possible. That will be the key.” #Leafs
Dennis Cholowski, DET: With an average of 22:10 per game, Cholowski leads all rookies in average ice time. The 20th-overall pick from 2016 racked up a point per game in the pre-season and an injury to Mike Green opened up a spot for some youngster to take advantage — and Cholowski hasn’t missed.
He never made any Canadian WJC squads in junior even after moving from the NCAA to the WHL last season and becoming a major contributor. A great skater with a nose for offence, the 6-foot Cholowski is the kind of defenceman who thrives in today’s NHL and he leads all Detroit defencemen in power-play ice time. When Mike Green eventually returns some of that will be shaved off, but if Cholowski keeps up this level of play, he’ll be hard to turn away from.
Boylen continues, and I’ve been impressed with Libor Sulak, Filip Hronek, Christoffer Ehn, Joe Hicketts and Michael Rasmussen as well, but I’m biased!
WALLEYE ADD A DEFENSEMAN IN TRADE WITH WICHITA
(Toledo, OH) – The Walleye have acquired defenseman Sam Thibault from the Wichita Thunder in exchange for forward Hayden Hodgson.
Thibault joins Toledo after appearing in 43 games last year with the Thunder, collecting nine assists, 29 penalty minutes and a plus 10. The 22-year-old also got into a pair of games with the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL without a point. He also skated in four playoff contests last season for the Thunder with a pair of assists.
Prior to last season, Thibault spent the three previous years in the QMJHL with Baie-Comeau Drakkar. In the 2016-17 season, the Ste. Martine, PQ native posted 21 points (6G, 15A) with 81 penalty minutes while skating as a plus ten. That season he was team captain. The 6’1”, 201 pound defenseman had 134 penalty minutes in the 2015-16 season. In total, Thibault skated in 207 games with 10 goals, 40 assists, 50 points and 284 penalty minutes in his QMJHL career.