Mike Green Jersey

Green is still looking for his first point of the 2019-20 campaign.

Green hasn’t garnered a point through five games to start the season. It certainly doesn’t help that he’s been bumped down to the second defensive pair with Patrik Nemeth, and the supplemental forward corps of Taro Hirose, Andreas Athanasiou and Luke Glendening looks completely lost in the attacking zone. Green’s track record speaks for itself — he’s only 10 points away from 500 — but he’ll have to start making better use of his power-play opportunities. Unless you have a super short bench, it’s probably worth weathering the storm in regards to Green.

Frans Nielsen Jersey

What Brendan Perlini sees with the Red Wings is an opportunity, which is all he can ask for, and all he wants.

Perlini didn’t have much of a chance in Chicago, leading to Monday’s trade, Perlini coming to the Wings and prospect Alec Regula headed to the Blackhawks.

At his first practice Thursday, Perlini was on a line with Taro Hirose and Frans Nielsen, was on a power play unit, and was securely in the Wings’ lineup.

Perlini was excited about the opportunity ahead.

“For me, I haven’t played too much this year,” said Perlini, who played in one of the Blackhawks’ 11 games. “I’m excited to get back in and show these guys hwere what I can do with my speed and shot. I’m excited for a fresh start and opportunity here.

“It seems like everyone is a good guy here and it’s a good group, so it’s going to be fun.”

Perlini was the first-round pick of Arizona in 2014 — chosen three picks ahead of his friend and former Belle Tire teammate Dylan Larkin — and had seasons of 14 and 17 goals scored.

Both Arizona, and to a lesser extent Chicago, are situations similar to the Wings, rebuilding with younger lineups, which Perlini, 23, is familiar with.

“I’ve been in this situation before in Arizona, where we had some good young guys and I know what to expet that way,” Perlini said. “It was different in Chicago where we had a few young guys and a mix of older guys who had won.

“I’m very familiar with this situation and I’m going to try to fit in right away with the guys and get to know everyone and hopefully it translate onto the ice.”

The fact Perlini — whose family has maintained a residence in the Detroit area since moving to Michigan in 2010 (his brother Brett played for Michigan State then, while Brendan played youth hockey) — is reunited with Larkin makes him smile.

“We grew up together, played together when we were 14 or 15, bantam and midget, it’s funny to almost 10 years later be back at it,” Perlini said. “It’s pretty unreal.”

Blashill believes the fact Perlini has gone through some tough times in the NHL, in terms of trade and not being in lineups, can help him in Detroit.

“When you’ve been through hard experiences, it makes you better in the end, and he recognizes that,” Blashill said. “It’ll be good to get him into some games. I’m not going to be judgmental after one or two games, let’s watch him after a number of games.

“He’s big, fast and he can shoot it.”

Perlini has scored 45 goals in the NHL in 200 career games, so he has proven he can be a respectable goal scorer.

“We think there’s a chance he can still blossom into a real good NHL goal scorer and player,” Blashill said. “His first year in Arizona he had real good number for a young guy and it’s dwindled since. That can happen for numerous reasons. A lot of that is on him and he and I talked about that.

“He has a clean slate here and an opportunity and he has to make the most of it.”

Blashill sees a good fit for Perlini with Hirose and Nielsen, two players who like to pass the puck and should benefit with a shooter like Perlini.

“He likes to shoot and he’s a good skater, and both Nielsen and Hirose are good at setting people up,” coach Jeff Blashill said.

“I’m hoping that’s a real good match and makes another dangerous line for us.”

Larkin sits

Larkin wasn’t on the ice for Perlini’s debut practice Thursday, taking what Blashill called “a maintenance day.

“I anticipate Dylan playing tomorrow (Friday),” Blashill said.

Christoffer Ehn took Larkin’s place between Tyler Bertuzzi and Darren Helm at practice.
Ice chips

Blashill intends to keep defenseman Joe Hicketts in the lineup, ahead of Dennis Cholowski. “We’ll stay with Hicketts, he played real well (Tuesday),” Blashill said.

… Justin Abdelkader, who has missed the last three games, should be cleared to play in time for Friday’s game in Carolina. Abdekader was skating on a fourth line with Jacob de la Rose and Adam Erne at practice.
Red Wings at Hurricanes

Faceoff: 7:30 Friday, PNC Arena, Raleigh, N.C.

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Outlook: The Hurricanes (8-3-1) are leading off where they ended last season in the playoffs, with a fast start. … They’ve been tough at home (5-1-0). … D Dougie Hamilton (13 points) and RW Andrei Svechnikov (12 points) lead a balanced offensive attack…Former Wings G Petr Mrazek (6-1-1, .917 SVS) has been real good.

Dylan Larkin Jersey

Jeff Blashill pushed back against the Detroit Red Wings needing to show desperation because he doesn’t like what the word implies.

“When you’re desperate in life,” he said, “you do stupid things. When you have no money, you go rob a bank because you’re desperate. I always try to be real careful with that.”

Blashill prefers the word urgency. Whatever verbiage is applied, the Wings want to redefine their season, want to prove they are better than the team that is on a seven-game losing skid heading into Sunday’s contest at Little Caesars Arena against the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues.

“We need to get our confidence back as a team,” Dylan Larkin said after Friday’s 2-0 loss to the Buffalo Sabres. “We’ve played good. We haven’t played good consistently. We just need to get two points and grind out a win and pick up from there. We need it in the worst way. Luckily in November there is a game every other day, so we are going to have chances. We are going to have to figure this out pretty quick or else it’s going to get ugly.”

One might argue the 29-9 goal differential during the losing streak already is ugly. The Wings played well against the Sabres, created chances start to finish. Same result, though, as their poor outing at Ottawa on Wednesday: another loss.

The Wings are 3-8, their 3-1 start fading into memory. Larkin, who sounds like a captain every time he speaks, isn’t happy to be at two goals and seven points.

“I haven’t been good enough offensively or defensively,” he said. “You want to point fingers, point them right at me. I have to be way better for this team and carry the load up front and put the puck in the net.”

Larkin admitted that “you start thinking about it, you take it home with you.” He sounded very much like former teammate Thomas Vanek, who, when he wasn’t scoring last season, said he was losing sleep over it.

Larkin wants to lead by example, wants to be a scorer. He knows there’s attention on himself and Andreas Athanasiou because they’re coming off 30-goal seasons.

“We need to score big goals for our club and we need to find a way to contribute more offensively and be a better impact for our team,” Larkin said.

Larkin directed eight shots on net Friday and went 19-for-24 on faceoffs. He has, as he was last season, been one of the team’s best players most games, if not the best. That’s his inner drive coming through.

“He has to do it at 23 years old as the perceived guy who is kind of leading the franchise and he has to stand in front of everybody every night and that’s a hard thing,” Blashill said. “But I think he is growing. What makes Dylan special is he has great self-recognition.”

Larkin, Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi had a fabulous opening weekend, combining for 16 points. But there aren’t enough other forwards contributing — Athanasiou has two assists and is a team-worst minus-11 in nine games; Valtteri Filppula has two points in 11 games, and Frans Nielsen, no points in eight games.

Blashill has tried various combinations in hopes of finding at least two lines that can score. Against the Sabres, he moved Mantha to play with Athanasiou and Filppula.

“Mantha is one guy whose production hasn’t dropped off when he hasn’t played with Larkin,” Blashill said. “Everybody else’s production drops off when they don’t play with Larkin. Mantha and AA had some good history together in the AHL — let’s see if we can get another line going. The one thing we have to look at with that Filppula, Athanasiou, Mantha line — they have to skate for themselves and go get the puck. If they want to be a line together, someone has to forecheck. They have to forecheck harder.”

Athanasiou has the skill set to be a game changer because of his explosive speed and ability to finish around the net. Blashill described him as “kind of a home-run hitter — he gets big chances. He doesn’t necessarily produce tons of those dirty-type chances. He looks for those big chances because of his speed.

“Last year, a lot of the home runs went out of the ballpark. Right now they are staying in the ballpark,” he said. “He has to find a way to start finishing on the chances he has and he has to find a way (to) bring that second element to your game, which is scoring dirty when you’re not scoring pretty.”

The Wings don’t need to rob a bank, but as this losing streak has ballooned, there’s a growing urgency to bank points to restore their confidence.

Nick Jensen Jersey

It’s time for a new Capitals Mailbag! You can read Wednesday’s Part 1 here.

Check out Part 2 below.

Have a Caps question you want to be answered in the next mailbag? Send it on Twitter using #CapsMailNBC or by email to CapitalsMailbag@gmail.com.

Please note, some questions have been edited for clarity.

@sports_god1 on Twitter writes: I know Todd has the Defense pinching more this year to jump up in the offense but that also leaves you exposed to odd-man breaks vs. highly skilled/fast teams like we saw vs. the Oilers. Do you see an adjustment vs. highly skilled/fast teams?

The only adjustment I anticipate is just being more aware of it when you play those teams.

For those who may not know what we are talking about here, I wrote an article on this. Basically, the defense has the green light to be more involved in the offense. When a defenseman sees an opening, he can pinch up deep in the offensive zone to join the attack. John Carlson has certainly taken advantage, Michal Kmepny is definitely shooting more and has three goals already this season (he had 11 career goals coming into this season) and you are even seeing Jonas Siegenthaler joining the attack.

When the defense moves up, however, you are vulnerable defensively and a forward has to drop back to account for it. Fast teams can take advantage of this by launching quick counter-attacks. Maybe you catch the Caps mid-transition when the forward is out of position and there is only one defenseman ready to defend. Even if you don’t, a fast transition is going to leave a defenseman deep in the offensive zone sprinting to catch up and the Caps’ having to defend the rush with one defenseman and one forward. Not ideal.

As you mentioned, Edmonton really exposed the weaknesses of this and had multiple odd-man breaks throughout the game. I doubt Reirden is going to suddenly tell the defense not to pinch against fast teams, but just to be aware of who they are playing and who is on the ice at any given time.

Lisa D. writes: Do you permanently move Nick Jensen to the third line so he doesn’t drag Dmitry Orlov down like Matt Niskanen did last season? Is Jensen a case of being a good D on a mediocre team and now being a mediocre D on a good team?

@BelleLegacy on Twitter writes: Would you play Nick Jensen or Radko Gudas with Dmitry Orlov? I’m starting to feel a bit concerned that Jensen ins’t the 2nd pair D that management thought. What are your thought on his play some 30+ games into his Caps tenure?

The transition has been really difficult for Jensen. In Detroit, he played a defense that primarily kept to one side. He’s a right shot, he would play on the right in both the offensive and defensive zones and just stay in his lane. In Washington, the defense is much more fluid and mobile. It switches in the offensive zone to give players better shots and then they are supposed to return to their own side on defense. This has been hard on Jensen. While he looks more comfortable on the left than he did last season (when he was really, really bad on the left), it’s clear he’s not all the way there yet.

Switching Jensen and Gudas in the lineup is the right move and one that Todd Reirden has already made. Let’s see how Gudas looks with Orlov. I see Gudas as a high-end third pair guy so I like him better there, but someone has to play on the second pair. See how it looks because I think Jensen can be fine on the bottom pair.

Siegenthaler likes to pinch so there would be less reason for Jensen and Siegenthaler to switch sides in the offensive end. It would allow Jensen to stay primarily on the right and focus strictly on defense and it takes some of the pressure off of him that comes with being a top-four guy.

If Gudas doesn’t work on the second pair…then this team has a big hole it needs to fill.

@sports_god1 on Twitter writes: What’s the rope like for Nick Jensen? How bad south does it have to go for Martin Fehervary to get run?

I don’t think we are anywhere close to Jensen getting benched. Even if he is not as good as originally thought, I still like him in a third pair role. If you don’t, then consider that he is a right-shot defenseman while Fehervary is a lefty. That does not seem to bother Europeans like it does North Americans, but you also have to consider what the pairs are. Do you want a Fehervary, Jonas Siegenthaler pair? That’s a really green pair and my concern with that would be how much would Reirden actually use it, especially in important situations? This team already relies a lot on John Carlson. Having a third pair that you don’t trust in the big moments would put even more on Carlson’s shoulders. Do you keep Gudas on the third pair and move either Siegenthaler or Fehervary to the second pair? If second-pair right defenseman is a hole, is putting a rookie or second-year player on his off-side really the solution? Probably not.

Katie J. writes: What are the odds that we could keep Radko Gudas for a few more years? He seems to be a great fit!

The sense I get from the team is that they really like him, plus he is a righty and those are not as easy to find as lefties so I would not be surprised. But there are a few things to consider. First, if Gudas does not fit on the second pair, that means you have two right-shot, third-pair defensemen and one of them, Jensen, is under contract. What do you do about that? What do you do about a right defenseman on the second pair which is a significant position?

Price is also a consideration. Gudas costs only $2.345 million against Washington’s cap, but that’s not his total cap hit. His total cap hit is $3.35 million including the salary Philadelphia retained. At only 29 years old, Gudas may not be as cheap next year. If Braden Holtby leaves in free agency like I believe he will, the cap situation won’t be as tight, but cap hit is never not a consideration.

Phillip M. writes: As we have no top 4 right shot defensive prospects are there any teams with top four right shot defensive talent who might make a trade for Braden Holtby? I love Holtby, but he has to know the GM is not going to deconstruct the team to keep him so as Holtby can be a difference-maker on a near playoff team and if need be we may even include Dmitry Orlov with Holtby. What then would it take to get a high-end, young right shot defender and who do you think might be available?

You are right in that I do not believe general manager Brian MacLellan will deconstruct the team to keep Holtby, but I also do not think he will deconstruct the team to trade him.

The prospect pool is indeed devoid of any right-shot top-four defensemen. That is certainly an area of need. If we are strictly talking a prospect, this is not a move you make during the season unless the Caps fall apart and go into complete rebuild mode. Regardless of what anyone thinks about Holtby, whether you are a staunch supporter or one of those people who feels the need to tweet me every time a goal is scored as if you have somehow proven your point despite neglecting the fact that I have zero say in what this team does or thinks about its goaltenders, they are not going to trade him during the season. They are not going to make Ilya Samsonov, a goalie whose career-high games played is 37, the No. 1 in November and they are not going to get rid of a goalie who rebounded from the worst stretch of his career to play lights out in the playoffs and win a Stanley Cup unless he completely falls apart in which case his value would plummet.

It’s. Not. Going. To. Happen.

I don’t know how else to explain this and add in the fact that you would consider packaging Orlov in the deal? Put yourself in MacLellan’s shoes. How do you trade the starting goalie and a top-four defenseman for a prospect and go to your team and say “we are all-in on the Stanley Cup this year, I still believe in you”? You can’t.

So this would not happen in the regular season. What about after the season? This is the last year of Holtby’s contract. Perhaps there would be a team out there willing to cough up an asset to acquire his rights, but it would not be a for a top-four defenseman. We are talking like a mid-round draft pick.

There are no possible targets to consider because this scenario is unrealistic.

Mike L. writes: Can you ask Garny if he wants to come over with some of the boys and yourself for a lobstah bake. Ok you can bring Rob.

That sounds like a wicked rippah. I can stop by Dunks, maybe pick up som grindahs and tonic. As long as there’s no johnnies, I’ll bang a uey and meet you in the pahlah.

FYI, my dad grew up in Rhode Island and most of his family still lives in New England. I try not to talk football with any of them…ever.

Justin Abdelkader Jersey

It started during training camp and has continued through the first month of the regular season. The Detroit Red Wings organization continues to clean the dust on the top shelf of their roster. You know, ridding themselves of the players that have seen better days.

As training camp opened, players became a bit skeptical, maybe uneasy because they just weren’t sure what their new general manager Steve Yzerman would expect of them. Yzerman, so calm, cool, and collected, paced through the arena introducing himself as Steve shaking all his players’ hands. The players understood with this new regime in the Detroit Red Wings front office, production, and production alone will be the only thing that guarantee’s them a roster spot.

Just ask Jonathan Ericsson. Ericsson never lived up to his size. Without appearing in a single game this season, Yzerman decided to place the Swedish defenseman on waivers. He’d been sidelined with an injury described as ‘general pain,’ meaning we are putting you on IR, so you don’t take up a roster spot until we decide what to do.

Yzerman made the move that the loyal Ken Holland was very reluctant to do, place him on waivers. A move that should have been made a few years ago. There is no trade market for a 7th or 8th defenseman making $4.25 million even if he’s in the final year of his deal. I will say one thing about loyalty, Steve Yzerman may not be as loyal as Ken Holland, but he will undoubtedly be loyal to some as his time wears on as the Wings GM. The expectation is he won’t be as loyal as Holland was–nobody is.
This causes me to wonder. Perhaps, forward Justin Abdelkader is next up on Steve’s chopping block?

The forward went 60 or so games last season between goals. The former top-nine forward posted career numbers playing alongside the great Pavel Datsyuk. If you are reading this, I’m convinced you could record points in the NHL playing on a line with Pavel during his prime.

Abdelkader has been a minus player over each of his last four seasons. That may not be such a critical statistic as it once was in today’s game, but it’s another indication of what playing with a great player can do. It doesn’t just inflate an average player’s stats; it can also boost their analytics. I mean Abdelkader’s Corsi For Percentage has settled in at 51.2% or about league average. So far this season, it’s 48.2% and dropping.

Last year Justin recorded 6 goals totaling 19 points. He’s taken on a leadership role wearing an ‘A’ on his sweater, but that won’t save him as it would have with Holland at the reins. Yzerman wants results; he has an agenda, and if you can prove you are valuable in some way or another to this team, you will stay. The ‘A’ is an honor, but there are plenty of other players on the Detroit Red Wings such as Valtteri Filppula who are more than capable of stepping into that role filling the void if Abdelkader is moved.

On the season, Justin has 3 assists in his first 10 games, averaging 13:09 TOI per game as he nears his 33rd birthday. With four years left at 4.25 million per season, I, for one, don’t expect Abby to finish that contract in Detroit. If Detroit is unable to find a trade partner, the veteran forward could find himself in Grand Rapids playing alongside Jonathan Ericsson once again.

Gustav Nyquist Jersey

If anybody on the Blue Jackets understood how Gustav Nyquist felt during training camp last month, it was Riley Nash.

Like Nyquist, who signed with Columbus as an unrestricted free agent July 1, Nash joined the Jackets through free agency — only a year earlier. Nash, like Nyquist, was given prior notice about how physically demanding training camp would be under the direction of coach John Tortorella — who believes that getting through a grueling couple of weeks pays dividends for players all season.

Still, Nash and Nyquist — and every other player who has never gone through “Camp Torts” — needed to experience it firsthand before they fully understood how tough it would be.

“It’s just the amount,” Nash said of the conditioning work. “It just seems like you never stop. There’s like three or four days where we just skate so much and it’s hard, and guys are pushing for it and guys are pushing them, so it’s quite tough.”

How tough?

Tough enough that Nash knows now that it’s OK to come home from one of those workouts and just lay on the couch. Tough enough to know he will need massages and ice baths to get through it. It’s almost as tough as the grueling development camps he endured as a prospect with the Edmonton Oilers and Carolina Hurricanes — back when those type of camps could last up to four or five hours at a time on the ice.

“I remember those being the hardest, but Torts’ camp?” Nash said. “I remember last year … I was in a dark place for a couple of days.”

Nyquist didn’t go that far in describing his first Tortorella camp, after signing a five-year contract, but he clearly felt the effects. He also said it was probably the toughest NHL camp he’s ever had.

“You work hard,” said Nyquist, who spent the first eight years of his NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings. “You come to work every day and you do it as a team. You get through it and you get ready for the season, so … no complaints.”

If his legs could speak, they might have a different story.

They have recovered by now, five games into the regular season, but it definitely took some time. It might have played a role in a subdued preseason for the 30-year-old, who had a career-high 60 points on 22 goals and 38 assists last season for the Red Wings and San Jose Sharks.