Wings seek offensive thrust from newly minted line

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — They can't do it alone.

Henrik Zetterberg's line with Dylan Larkin and Justin Abdelkader on the wings has been the Red Wings' lone, consistent offensive threat.

Some other players, another line, has to help.

Coach Jeff Blashill is banking on his newly constructed second line of Riley Sheahan between Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist.

The Red Wings had high hopes for all three heading into this season, and with the club stuck in the mud currently, now would be a good time for the line to help get the team moving in the right direction.

"They'll get a lot of opportunity and now they'll have to be difference makers in the game," said Blashill of his expectations for Sheahan's line. "It's going to fall equally on their shoulders, as it does other lines.

"But in the role they're going to play, they're going to have to be real impactful players."

Helm joins growing list of Wings trying to groove back

All three have spent time on other lines and maybe didn't have the spotlight or expectations squarely on them.

Now, grouped together, the expectations are different.

"When they're together, they have to prove it on their own merit," Blashill said. "Not on a line with Zetterberg or (Pavel) Datsyuk, so they're going to have to step up and prove they're elite players in this league."

Blashill had the three together last week in Edmonton and the line produced several quality scoring chances.

But after forward Brad Richards (back) exited the lineup, Blashill had to reshuffle the lines for balance.

The shuffle produced little offense, though, and now Blashill has reunited Tatar, Sheahan and Nyquist.

"They can be real good together," Blashill said. "In fact, I spoke to them and said I believe they either have been or are going to be elite players in this league.

"But they have to prove it."

Division rival

Blashill and the Red Wings will see plenty of Ottawa in a span of 48 hours with back-to-back games against the Senators.

Ottawa stormed into the playoffs last season on the strength of an amazing 23-4-4 run, qualifying for the postseason on the final day of the regular season.

Primarily a young team that's another year older, the Senators appear to be capable of contending for a playoff spot again.

"They're extremely well coached and they don't give you anything easy," Blashill said. "They have lots of talent. It's a great hockey team."

Leading the way for Ottawa is two-time Norris Trophy-winning Erik Karlsson.

"Karlsson is obviously one of the best offensive defensemen in the league for sure," Blashill said. "He'll make you pay if you're not doing your job."

Ice chips

With Jimmy Howard starting Friday, goaltender Petr Mrazek is scheduled to get the start Saturday in Ottawa.

Kyle Quincey (concussion) expects to have an update on his condition early next week.

Counting Saturday's game, Quincey will have missed four consecutive games since getting hit high Oct. 23 in Calgary by the Flames' Sam Bennett.

Red Wings at Senators

Faceoff: 7 p.m., Saturday, Canadian Tire Center.

TV/radio: FSD; 97.1, 1270 AM.

Outlook: The teams play for the second time in two nights….The Senators are 1-2-2 at home, the Red Wings a mediocre 2-2-1 on the road…Ottawa has one of the worst power plays in the NHL at home (1-for-18, 5.6 percent).

Riley Sheahan is centering a line with Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, which coach Jeff Blashill is counting on for more production.