Red Wings add Steve Ott to power-play mix
Anaheim — In an effort to generate something on the power play, the Red Wings coaching staff have gone to the drawing boards again.
At Tuesday’s practice at Honda Center, they inserted Steve Ott onto one of the units, while having five forwards on the other unit.
The Red Wings went into Tuesday’s games ranked last (30th) in the NHL on the power play (11.7 percent).
On the road, the numbers are even more dismal. They’re a mind-boggling 2-for-53 (3.8 percent), and haven’t scored a road power play goal since Oct. 19 (Thomas Vanek against the Rangers).
“Frustration doesn’t do anybody any good,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “What you can do is find ways to be successful. We look at every which way we can find ways to where we can be successful.”
Putting Ott on net-front, with Niklas Kronwall, Anthony Mantha, Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Tatar gives the Red Wings a rugged player who will retrieve the puck, something the Red Wings have lacked.
“We don’t spend enough time in the zone and there are two reasons for that,” Blashill said. “We don’t retrieve enough pucks, so he (Ott) can certainly help with retrieving pucks, and the other is the break in. Those are two things we have to make sure we do a better job of.
“We just have to spend more time in the zone. Everybody is talking about how few shots we have, but a lot of that is spending enough zone time.”
Ott scored 19 goals (five on the power play) in 2008-09 in Dallas, and the next season had 22 goals (eight power play), and was a productive regular on the power play in Buffalo and St. Louis.
“That’s where I generated my offense is on those situations,” Ott said. “I muck and grind it and you get plays and get assists and goals. I don’t think I’ve scored above the circle in my career. It’s all grinding goals that go in.
“But throughout my career, that was my job. That went away the last couple of years when I was traded to St. Louis and we had one of the top end power plays in the league.”
Blashill had Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Tomas Vanek, Gustav Nyquist and Frans Nielsen on the other power play, feeling Larkin and Athanasiou’s speed will gain entry into the zone.
Blashill didn’t name a starter in net, but goaltender Petr Mrazek is likely to get the start Wednesday in Anaheim after Jared Coreau played the last couple games.
It’s another opportunity for Mrazek (9-8-3, 3.11 goals-against average, .896 save percentage) to turn around what has been a surprisingly subpar season.
Mrazek has allowed three or more goals his last six starts.
Blashill believes Mrazek can return to his level of the first half of last season, when Mrazek ranked statistically with the best in the league.
“For the first half of his career he was at .925 save percentage, which would put him in the elite category in the league,” Blashill said. “It hasn’t been the second half, but the first half of his career that’s where he’s been.”
Alexey Marchenko (shoulder) practiced and Blashill said Marchenko will return during this three-game West Coast trip.
Justin Abdelkader (knee) and Darren Helm (dislocated shoulder) practiced but neither appears ready to return until possibly next week.
Mike Green (upper body) didn’t skate. Blashill feels the earliest possible return for him would be Tuesday in Chicago.
Red Wings at Ducks
Faceoff: Wednesday, 10:30 p.m., Honda Center
TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit/97.1 The Ticket
Outlook: Anaheim (19-12-8, 46 points) is second in the Pacific Division, but only 4-3-3 in its last 10 games … The Ducks have the 2nd best power play (24.0 percent) in the NHL … Livonia C Ryan Kesler (15 goals, 34 assists) is having a big offensive season.