Updated at 5:48 PM: Red Wings assistant coach Jared Nightengale has consistently sprayed orange paint on the ice at Centre ICE Arena before every Red Wings practice, spraying a square that encompasses the close-to-the-net halves of the faceoff dots out to the tops of the faceoff circles, and then a square that encompasses the goal crease and the interior hash marks.
The Red Wings have Nightengale do that to send a message: 80% of NHL goals are scored within the outer perimeter, and 40% of NHL goals are scored within the inner perimeter. That’s a bit of fuzzy math thanks to the fact that the squares overlap, but the point is clear: you’ve got to get to the net to score in today’s NHL.
After today’s Red vs. White Game, Filip Zadina first spoke with the media, and then coach Jeff Blashill followed a slightly shy and demurring Zadina, with Blashill emphasizing to DetroitRedWings.com’s Dana Wakiji that that Zadina is not going to earn a spot on the Red Wings posting the kinds of assist-only game that he did during the prospect tournament:
“He’s got to score. He’s a goal scorer,” Blashill said. “Now he can’t do it cheating. If you cheat for offense you don’t have any chance to win so you got to be able to score without cheating. I don’t want to put undue pressure on him. You don’t have to score every game but you gotta have opportunities to score every game and then you gotta score. That’s what he does best. He’ll have to do that while balancing being a complete player.
“If I were to say to him what would drive his performance, 40 percent of the NHL goals get scored in that little square we have drawn on the ice. I think he can score from that other square which is 80 percent of the goals get scored but he needs to get to the 40 percent in order to really score. I talked about that with Mantha a couple years ago on net-front power play, that’s where easy goals are. So get to that area, whether it’s by dragging it in yourself or most likely, getting there on rebounds and stuff like that while still being a complete player.”
Zadina told Wakiji that he believes his status as a sophomore professional player pushes him that much further ahead of where he was at the start of last season:
With a year in the American Hockey League under his belt and nine games with the Wings, Zadina gained invaluable experience that he expects to translate on the ice this coming season, whether that is back in Grand Rapids or in Detroit.
“The game is going to be a little bit slower for me this year because I know what it’s going to like,” Zadina said. “It’s about the space I guess but it’s about the patience. Then if you get a puck, you just gotta skate and that’s it I guess. Be smart and a good skater and I think the game will be easier.”
Update: Here’s more from MLive’s Ansar Khan:
General manager Steve Yzerman said Zadina was dangerous and had numerous great scoring chances during the four games of the Prospects Tournament last week despite not scoring a goal (he had five assists).
“He can really shoot the puck, he’s got an instinct for getting open,” Yzerman said. “He’s only 19, was eligible to play junior last year. He did very well in the American Hockey League, it’s just adjusting to the pro game. He’ll continue to get physically stronger and gain experience. With that strength and experience he’ll get more accustomed to the speed of the pro game.
“Not knowing him very well but talking with a lot of people on the staff that know him, he’s got a good attitude, he’s open-minded and wants to improve, and with a good attitude and open mind and work ethic, he will improve. I think he’s projecting in the right direction. I was really encouraged by the week he had.”
Zadina’s primary role is to shoot and score, but he is glad to contribute as a playmaker, too.
“I think anytime you get to where you’re one-dimensional, it’s hard. You want to provide more than that,” Blashill said. “When I watched Filip Zadina in juniors, he made plays. That’s what I liked when I saw him on tape that it was more than just the pure scoring.”
Wise words here:
“He can’t get frustrated when he doesn’t score, he’s just got to keep playing,” Blashill said. “Part of this process of becoming an NHL player and getting to the top of the pyramid is mental toughness and you have to find a way to keep your own confidence when things aren’t going great.”