Today saw a pretty quick start for practice and drills. Head coach Mike Babcock continued with his drills on move the puck out of their zone, and into the opposing zone.
"No questions about analytics, please."
This is a direct quote from Babs during his time with the media today. I suspect he's just trying to keep hush-hush over the analytics front for Detroit. He did, however, comment on how they are tracking zone entries during drills and scrimmages. So yes, advanced analytics have made their way into the Red Wings organization very much so.
"It's been going on forever, but there's a real emphasis to do more. We're gonna make sure we do our part to make sure that we are cutting edge, and saying all that though... Is.. It's kinda like a catch phrase, it's sexy for a while but then you get on to the next one, so I'm looking forward to the next one."
If you aren't sure what Babs is talking about, I'll tell ya.. It's analytics. So there you have it.
Babcock spoke a bit on Brendan Smith as well as other defensemen during his time with us, and he also revealed that he is going to be giving Brendan Smith a real shot to be on the power-play.
"The greatest skill that Nick Lidstrom had was patience.. Most of us are so busy forcing things that we end up turning [the puck] over. So, I'm hoping the growth for [Smith] allows him to become confident enough to be patient and let the play come to him."
"[Quincey & Smith] were a pair here [at camp], and a couple of days ago I posted a lineup, and to be honest with you I'm not sure if they are now. Time will tell."
"In order for [Kindl] to become the player that he was in 2013, he needs to get to the puck first. If he's second to the puck then he spends too much time defending."
Babcock went on to reveal that Joakim Andersson hasn't lost his job, and is looking much better. I agree with him, Joker looked great in the Red vs White game today, putting up a goal and the game-winner in a shoot out:
Brendan Smith has looked quite good so far this camp, and you can tell not only by the way he plays, but his overall attitude.
"I want to take the 'risky' plays out, I want them to be more well-timed. I've been learning and watching. It's easy to watch Niklas Kronwall and learn. I'm trying to act like a sponge with him and absorb everything that I can learn. He's a great skater, and I think I'm a pretty good skater, so I just need to learn how he positions himself."
As I said before, Smitty will see time on the power-play in the preseason and will earn his time if he shows promise to the coaching staff. We have been calling for this for quite some time, so I'm hoping he can seize the opportunity and become a regular on the point. Seriously, Smith-Kronwall pairing on the blue-line for the PP? Yes please. Kyle Quincey took some time to speak to the media, but he didn't say much that interested me. He cited how the first half of last season was probably the worst hockey he's ever played, and he wasn't too sure how to figure it out. When I asked him why his production was so much higher in his early years with Colorado and Los Angeles, he said that it was mostly because he was the go-to PP guy there. Makes sense. He also commented on how last season he had the most even-strength points he has ever had in his career.. Seeing as he put up 13 points in 82 games, I'm not too sure how optimistic he should be about that. Anyways, I digress.. Kyle Quincey looked much better at the end of last season, and I believe that he will carry on that trend. If he doesn't, Babcock will make the necessary adjustments.
Onto some of the prospect stuff...
We got some face-time with Ken Holland today.. I asked him mostly about 2014 first round pick Dylan Larkin, and if he is concerned about the defense and making a trade at all after having such a rough offseason with UFA negotiations...
"He's a great player, a great kid.. He's a classic two-way center who has magnificent speed for a guy his size. I think he'll end up along the lines like Darren Helm, but the chances of him becoming a better player are in his favor on a count of the fact that he is going to be a part of such a great organization with the University of Michigan. He impressed us all at development camp, and I'm sure he will continue to impress us as he gets older."
"I don't have any concerns about the defense... You know, Danny DeKeyser was a rookie last year, I guess you always worry about the 'sophomore slump' as they say, but he's not 19 or 20 years old, you know.. He's older and more matured. I think Brendan Smith took a real step after the Olympic Break after Jonathan Ericsson went down, so as I look at our defense.. It's evolving. I think the depth that we have at defense is as good as it has been in some time.. Ryan Sproul just had a great first year as a pro, Mattias Backman had a great year in the Swedish Elite League, Xavier Ouellet has played a year of pro and saw time for us in the playoffs against Boston, and Alexei Marchenko was looking real good before he got hurt. Some of those players.. Can they play 80 games? Can they crack our roster? Do they need another half-year in the AHL? That's what we're going to figure out here within the next two weeks."
Detroit's 2014 3rd round pick, Dominic Turgeon, had a somewhat pedestrian outing at the Prospects Tournament. Having said that, he looked pretty good in camp, and is looking forward to taking what he has learned this summer back to Portland, and developing himself into a better player:
"The pace is higher here, the skill-level is way higher. But I feel more confident now."
"It's really an honor playing for both [Babcock and Blashill], and having Keith McKittrick in Portland, he's brought a lot of stuff from Detroit to Portland which could be something that could really help me as well."
"I think [Babcock] is an amazing coach, and I've heard so many great things with him, but I feel like we run a pretty high-tempo practice environment in Portland so it works really well for me."
After speaking with Turgeon, I sat and waited extra time after all the diggers and other media had left.. Just to get a little chat in with one of my favorite prospects, Teemu Pulkkinen. What a pleasant young man to speak to. I swear, every time I see the kid he has put on more muscle and is more cut into shape. He's like a mini diesel engine. He's shown great strides towards an improvement in his game, his explosiveness and speed has improved, and it's quite noticeable:
"I feel great, I'm in great shape. I didn't work too much on skating in Finland, I worked more on my lifting and running a lot. That's what I usually do."
When I told Pulky that he was Detroit's first rookie prospect to score 30 goals in his rookie season, he had no idea:
"I didn't know that. It doesn't matter, like, uh.. We had a good season there with the team and we went into the playoffs and lost to Texas.. They won the cup, so it doesn't matter. Of course you want to score goals but it's more about the team and the other good players on the team."
"Of course I want to shoot, so I want to play in good spots on power play so I can shoot the puck, that's kind of my game."
Pulkkinen told us he didn't spend the summer training with Jokerit, but with a team from the 2nd highest league in Finland. He skated with them for five to six weeks. He did a lot of lifting during the season not to increase strength, but his explosiveness. Lots of jumps, one-leg squats, tennis, and running. He said many times that he was in great shape, and it shows. His body is shaped like a V. All lean muscle. I have high hopes for him, he's focusing on becoming a better two-way player, as well as utilizing the incredible gift he has with shooting the puck. Even as a sheltered winger, he could make an impact in the NHL.. But if he keeps shaping up like he has been, he'll be an NHL workhorse in no-time.
Teemu Pulkkinen had a great summer. The kid is practically all muscle. Quotes up later. pic.twitter.com/LJyGXF0j2m— Kyle (@KyleWIIM) September 21, 2014
With all that, a couple of quick notes:
- Tomas Jurco looked a lot better today. Carrying the puck through the zone quickly. I think he's getting in the swing of things.
- Stephen Weiss continues to look good, skating very well.. Making plays during drills, and even burying the puck from time-to-time.
- Luke Glendening scored during the Red vs White game. How about that..
- I saw Danny DeKeyser and Drew Miller in a shootout... To your surprise, they didn't score.
Oh, and if you've been under a rock the past week.. Preseason starts tomorrow against the Pittsburgh Penguins! Here is your tentative lineup from coach:
Darren Helm - Pavel Datsyuk - Tomas Tatar
Tomas Jurco - Riley Sheahan - Daniel Cleary
Drew Miller - Joakim Andersson - Martin Frk
Jeff Hoggan - Andreas Athanasiou - Collin Campbell
Niklas Kronwall - Jonathan Ericsson
Xavier Ouellet - Alexei Marchenko
Mattias Backman - Ryan Sproul
Jimmy Howard (1st period, 2nd period)
Petr Mrazek (3rd period)