Found February 19, 2013 on
Fox Sports Tennessee:
Detroit Red Wings
NASHVILLE One element was noticeably lacking when the Detroit Red Wings lost in five games in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs last year to the Nashville Predators.
Namely, it was grit.
When Predators captain Shea Weber slammed the head of the Wings' Henrik Zetterberg into the boards at the conclusion of Game 1, it fell to aging veteran Todd Bertuzzi to respond in Game 2 by challenging Weber to a fight. Truly, he was about the only one on the team capable of doing so.
So what did the Red Wings do on the first day of NHL free agency last year? They signed one of Nashville's grittiest players, fan favorite Jordin Tootoo, to a three-year, 5.7-million deal.
On Tuesday, Tootoo made his first trip back to play against the team with which he spent his first eight seasons. Fresh insights were all around. He said after inking his deal, there were no meetings with coach Mike Babcock or general manager Ken Holland.
"I think I know my role pretty well," he said. "My foundation is being physical out there and creating room for my linemates and myself and creating opportunities. This game is about mistakes and capitalizing on those. For me, it's just about keeping my feet moving and being physical."
On a Detroit team that entered the day in the uncharacteristic spot of fourth place in the Central Division and ninth in the Western Conference (though, in truth, only three points out of fourth), Tootoo finds himself one of only six Detroit forwards who is a plus player.
Babcock described Tootoo as a "physical guy on the forecheck" and then threw a compliment in the direction of the Predators and coach Barry Trotz, the only coach Nashville has had since it entered the league in 1998.
"He's been excellent for us," Babcock said. "Obviously, (he has) been in the program that they taught, knows how to play and I've known him a long time right back from junior and he's a competitive guy. Seems to be enjoying himself and we're enjoying having him."
Babcock was alluding to his final year of coaching the Western Hockey League's Spokane Chiefs in 1999-2000 when Tootoo was playing his first season of major junior in the same league for the Brandon Wheat Kings.
In Nashville, they have known Tootoo since he was a fourth-round draft pick in 2001. He left as the organization's all-time leader in penalty minutes with 725. Now, they know what he will bring to a rival a facet of the game in which the Red Wings might have lacked for a few seasons.
"Toots is a guy that brings the bang, he brings energy," Trotz said. "He likes the big hits. That's probably something they've missed a little bit. He's more in a Darren McCarty mold where you get that 'Grind Line' physicality. He obviously was popular here. Still is. He'll be popular in Detroit so he brings a lot of that to the table."
Amazingly, it's been since 2003-04 since McCarty played more than half of a regular season with Detroit. Kris Draper's last full regular season was 2009-10, which was Kirk Maltby's final season in Detroit. That Grind Line trio was hard to play against.
Incidentally, the last time the Red Wings went to the Cup final was 2009, losing to Pittsburgh in seven games.
In the years following the dissolution of Detroit's final incarnation of the Grind Line (there were others prior to McCarty, Draper and Maltby), Detroit was able to succeed with finesse and high-end skill over grit. That approach seems to have diminishing returns in the culmination of last season's first-round playoff exit.
Tootoo was in no mood to offer insights on that particular topic on Tuesday morning.
"Last year's over and done with," he said. "This is a whole new season."
Especially with the loss of seven-time Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom to retirement, Detroit is in the midst of changing its identity. Tootoo gives the Wings more crash, more bang, less finesse.
"It's great to have Toots as a teammate," Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne said on Tuesday morning, "but I'm sure it's not so much fun to play against him. You have to be ready for him."
That's exactly what the Red Wings want.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
ME AGAINST THE WORLD
Part of what makes the Detroit Red Wings’ Pavel Datsyuk so amazing to watch is how effortless he is in dominating hockey games. The three-time Selke Trophy winner is known for his excellent two-way play, but then he can turn around and make dazzling offensive moves that leave viewers stunned. Check out this goal, where Datsyuk simply splits the defense of the Nashville Predators...
For the first time since signing with rival Detroit last summer, Jordin Tootoo will be facing the Predators here in Nashville...
Pavel Datsyuk is as good of a stick-handler as you will ever see, and on Tuesday night he again proved exactly why. Check out Datsyuk’s incredible goal which included him skating past the entire Predators team and not apologizing one time. Easy candidate for goal of the year in the NHL. The goal also tied up the game 3-3 late in the third period but Nashville prevailed 4-3 in...
Red Wings GM Ken Holland's witnessed half his roster miss time due to injuries, and Detroit remains an injury-ravaged team (see: Darren Helm, Todd Bertuzzi, Johan Franzen, Jan Mursak, Carlo Colaiacovo and Brendan Smith, with Johnas Gustavsson, Mikael Samuelsson, Pavel Datsyuk, Ian White, Patrick Eaves and Jonathan Ericsson having returned to health, Valtteri FIlppula nursing...
Of Red Wings-related note in the, "These stories didn't fit into the recap, they involve Wings alumni and their business interests, and hell, they're important" category:
This isn't good news if you've enjoyed going to Cheli's Chili's Dearborn location to watch Wings games. The Detroit Free Press's Silva Rector reports that the Dearborn branch...
I spent a significant chunk of last night's recap wondering whether Valtteri Filppula's playing his way out of town given his status as an unrestricted free agent-to-be, the salary cap going down this summer while several of the Wings' top prospects are coming off their entry-level deals, given the NHL-readiness of players like Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson and Tomas...
Pavel Datsyuk’s dangles are borderline unfair. Tuesday night at Nashville with the Red Wings trailing 3-2 late in the third, Datsyuk decided that he didn’t need no stinkin’ teammates.
Pav took the puck out of the Wings’ zone, headed up the center of the ice where he met three Predators waiting at their blue line. Instead of the drop-and-chase, Datsyuk went magician-like...
Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk is simply amazing. The things he can do with a puck are absolutely astounding. He scored this incredible goal on Tuesday night against the Nashville Predators to tie the game late in the third period. Not many players have the ability to skate through five players and then beat one of the best goalies in the NHL. You could see Datsyuk...
From the Red Wings' PR department:
RED WINGS SUPPORT TROOPS THIS THURSDAY ON MILITARY APPRECIATION NIGHT PRESENTED BY APPLEBEE’S
… Team Hosts Military Members, Holds Care Package Collection on Feb. 21 …
Detroit, MI… The Detroit Red Wings will host their annual Military Appreciation Night presented by Applebee’s this Thursday, Feb. 21, when the team takes...
The Detroit Red Wings may very well look back on Tuesday night's 4-3 overtime loss to Nashville, a game which they trailed 2-0, started without Mikael Samuelsson (broken hand?), finished without Jimmy Howard (Blurry vision? Concussion?) and nearly finished without Niklas Kronwal (hit from behind) and Cory Emmerton (blocked a shot with his face), and almost lost 3-2 until Pavel...
Last night, Detroit Red Wings speedster Pavel Datsyuk might have scored the most impressive goal of the shortened NHL season so far.
It happened in the third period of the Red Wings game against the Nashville Predators as Pavel took the puck from his own end and skated past most of the Nashville defense to get a solid shot attempt against Nashville's Pekka Rinne.
The Detroit Red Wings will be one-third of the way through their regular season following Tuesday night’s game in Nashville. And, headed into that one, the Wings sit on the outside looking in at the playoff race, in ninth place in the Western Conference.
Injuries have taken their toll throughout the Wings’ lineup, forcing them to rely on many a young player up front and to make...
Just go ahead and let it fly. The vomit. Don't be embarrassed. We'll laugh, because watching adults throw up is funny. But we'll be spewing vomitus at the same time, which will ramp up the hilarity to a redolent degree.
Mikael Samuelsson is on the PP point. Tatar is the "big net front presence". Dan Cleary on the first unit.
The Wings have lost...
There is little optimism for tonight's game with the way this team has played recently, but were Red Wings fans. We know that a few bumps in the road don't spell an end to the season, and so far things have gone ok all things considered.
Click the jump for more.
Mursak is apparently healthy... And we all know what that means right?
Today’s Links The Tennessean – Nashville Predators fall to Colorado Avalanche The Tennessean – Preview: Predators vs. Detroit Red Wings The Tennessean – Postgame quotes The Tennessean – Jordin Tootoo returns to Bridgestone, as a Red Wing Smashville247 – Top moments of Preds-Wings rivalry Smashville247 – Morning Skate: Game 17 vs. Detroit Nashville City Paper – Weber’s...