Joakim Andersson has a minus-3 rating while averaging 15:52 minutes of ice time through three games. (David Guralnick / Detroit News)
Detroit -- Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was asked about the lack of offensive production out of his third line -- Joakim Andersson centering Daniel Cleary and Todd Bertuzzi.
Babcock, as he usually does, went straight to the matter.
"I actually thought they were OK in Boston," Babcock said about Saturday night’s game. "Are you saying, ‘Are they ever going to get a point?' Yeah, me too."
Through the first three games of this young season, none of the three players has a point. Combined, the line has a minus-8 rating, further illustrating its problems at both ends of the ice.
Babcock doesn't sound like he's about to shuffle players around just yet. He's willing to be patient, noting other players' slow starts through the years.
"Every year we get excited about Pav never scoring (the first weeks) and you look at the record book at the end of the year and he has 80 points every year,” Babcock said about Pavel Datsyuk. "Let things evolve here and it'll work out. They've played pretty hard."
The Andersson line is the biggest physically of the Red Wings' four lines and has the ability to control the puck down low. But right now, they're not in possession of the puck enough.
"I want to shoot as much as I can (but) we just have to find more opportunities to shoot the puck," Andersson said. "If we get down low, in their end, more often we're going to get chances to shoot the puck. We have to start getting in their end more.
"The last two games, it's been kind of like ping-pong, back and forth too often. That's not the game our line wants to play too much."
If the line uses its size, gets in on the forecheck and plays hard around the net, said Babcock, positive things will happen.
"Do all those things and good things will happen," Babcock said. "Bert and Cleary have played on the power play most nights, too. They've had opportunities."
Babcock gave the Red Wings a day off Tuesday. They'll resume practice Wednesday -- expecting to match the intensity they showed during Monday's workout – ahead of their next game Thursday at home against the Coyotes.
It's been a good start for the Red Wings' minor-league affiliate in Grand Rapids. The defending Calder Cup champion Griffins are 1-0-1 through two games last weekend, scoring an AHL-high 11 goals.
Sent to the minors because of the Red Wings’ salary-cap issues, Gustav Nyquist hasn't sulked. He leads the Griffins with four points (one goal, three assists).