Articles from practice: on shot production, the hot goaltending hand and Tatar’s ‘sick move’

The Detroit Red Wings held a light practice on Thursday, hoping to build upon their win over San Jose as the Wings prepared for a two-game road trip against a pair of teams that the Wings must catch and hold off, respectively, to earn a Wild Card spot.

The Wings sit 6 points behind the Carolina Hurricanes, who will host the Montreal Canadiens this evening, and Detroit leads the Florida Panthers by 2 points (and the Panthers play in Buffalo tonight).

The Free Press’s Helene St. James reported that Henrik Zetterberg “took a maintenance day” on Thursday, but it’s assumed that Zetterberg will play on Friday; St. James also confirmed that Petr Mrazek will start against the Hurricanes.

After practice, the Red Wings posted Twitter videos in which coach Jeff Blashill and forward Tomas Tatar spoke with the media…

The Free Press’s St. James filed a practice report in which the Red Wings discuss continuing to shoot the puck after firing a season-high 44 shots against the Sharks:

“Usually when you shoot the puck, you usually get it back again and it gives you extended zone time and chaos for the team that is defending,” Frans Nielsen said after Thursday’s practice. “It’s always tough when you face a lot of shots and you have to look for the puck where it is going. We ended up with 40 shots and I don’t think we’ve done that a lot this year. So that shooting mentality is huge for us going forward.

 “If we keep generating 30-plus shots a game, I think we are going to score a lot more goals than we have been doing. That way you can trust each other, too – you know if a guy has the puck on the wall, you know you can go to the net because you know there is a good chance it’s coming there.”

The Wings have averaged 29.9 shots per game, ranking in the bottom five of the NHL (though for reference there’s not much separation — top-ranked Florida averages 34.6, the Washington Capitals rank 31st at 28.9). But given the Wings’ issues with scoring — their 2.53 goals-per-game average is third-worst in the league — getting more shots on net is a sensible focus provided it goes hand-in-hand with something else: Getting bodies to the net.

“We have to score more goals in front of the net and on rebounds,” Gustav Nyquist said. “I think at the same time, if you don’t have guys going to the net, maybe you don’t want to shoot. So it’s important for the guys to really get there, so when the d-men have it, they’re not looking to rim it around, they are looking to shoot because they feel like they have bodies in front.”

Coach Blashill told St. James that the Wings do need to put more bodies in front of the opposing goaltender…
“I had a conversation with Dino Ciccarelli about this two days ago,” Blashill said. “If the puck carrier knows there’s going to be people at the net, he’s way more apt to deliver the puck to the net. If the puck carrier thinks it’s a wasted shot because there’s nobody at the net, he’s way more apt to not give it. So we have to make sure we have people going to the net, we have to make sure we have middle drive on our entries, so that they know that of the option, they always have that good option to put it to the net.”

Among the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan’s notes:

Blashill said goaltender Petr Mrazek will get the start Friday in Carolina, with no decision yet made on Saturday’s game in Florida. So, with that Jimmy Howard sits for the third time in four games — with Howard’s only start in that span, an almost 9 minute appearance before being pulled in favor of Mrazek in the loss against Chicago. Howard understands Blashill’s decision to go with Mrazek.

“I’ve been around long enough, I realize the team needs wins and points,” said Howard, noting Mrazek has been getting those valuable victories.

Practice becomes even more vital for Howard, now that he isn’t seeing game action.

“You do your part in practice, treat practices like games, and when you’re finally called upon, you have to take the ball and run with it yourself,” Howard said. “It’s part of the job, and when the other guy is rolling you have to be ready.”

And Tomas Tatar talked about his shootout goal “going viral”:

Tomas Tatar’s goal during Wednesday’s shootout became a social media sensation, making Sharks goalie Martin Jones look helpless trying to defend the slick move. Could, or would, Tatar pull off the dazzling stickhandling during game action? Or are some moves strictly saved for the shootout?

“Hard to say,” Tatar said. “In a real game, when you have a breakaway, you don’t have that much time. It’s possible, but when you go on a shootout, you have time to think about what you’re going to do.”

Tatar was committed to the move before his shootout attempt.

“I had a feeling it might work against that goalie,” Tatar said. “I tried it and I was fortunate to put the puck in the net. I actually kind of thought about it, that I’m going to do that. Usually I don’t really think about what I’m going to do. But from watching (previous shooters that game), I thought I’m going to try that.”


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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.