The Red Wings are still adjusting to life after Nicklas Lidstrom, the future Hall of Fame defenseman who retired after last season.
“We’re trying to be a work in progress and get better each game and help our defense be better,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said prior to Sunday’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Blackhawks. “We’re going to miss Nick. He’s a generational type player, a first ballot Hall of Famer, I think. He’s the greatest d-man since I’ve been in the league for sure. You don’t replace those people.”
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville won’t miss game-planning for Lidstrom.
“He’s one guy around the league we talked about every time we had our meetings,” Quenneville said. “He did what he did so well for so many years, you appreciated him as a player. He was a special player for many years. He was just so effortless and effective and consistent and reliable and dependable. You don’t replace a guy like him, but you appreciated him even from the other bench.”
Hawks goalie Corey Crawford wasn’t complaining that Lidstrom wasn’t patrolling the blue line on Sunday night.
“It’s kind of nice for us not to see him this year,” Crawford said.
Defenseman Michal Rozsival will likely miss a few weeks with a knee injury suffered at Dallas.
Rozsival was off to a good start with the Hawks. He was plus-2 with 2 assists in three games paired with Nick Leddy.
Rozsival is the second Hawk to be lost with a knee injury. Daniel Carcillo went down on opening day at Los Angeles with a right knee injury.
Good early impression:
Detroit coach Mike Babcock is impressed by what he sees from the Hawks’ defense.
“Their defense, they’ve got five guys who are puck movers,” Babcock said. “Their defense really gets the puck moving well. It’s fun coaching teams like that because you don’t play in your zone very often. You almost don’t know if you’re good defensively because you’re never in your zone. We were like that for a long time around here.”
After finishing 26th in the league last season, the Hawks came into Sunday’s game against Detroit tied for 10th in the NHL on the power play.
“I like the movement and the motion on it,” Joel Quenneville said. “There’s less predictability. Our entries have been better. Our puck retrieval has probably been the most significant thing, whether it’s off draws or loose pucks. We’re coming up with more pressure.”
Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson is plus-6 in the first six games with 2 assists.
“I’m not worried about offense from him,” Joel Quenneville said. “I like the way he’s playing defensively. I think he’s killing plays, making direct plays.”
Keep it going:
To no one’s surprise, Corey Crawford was back in the net on Sunday against the Red Wings.
“He’s played well this week and deserves a chance to keep it going,” Joel Quenneville said. “He’s got some momentum as well. We’re going on this road trip where we’ve got three in four nights so I’m sure that Ray (Emery) is going to get a game at least.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.