Wings still finding their legs in exhibition play

By Gregg KrupaThe Detroit News

Detroit — Things look good for the Red Wings but it is early.

Chicago defenseman Adam Clendening and Detroit left wing Drew Miller battle for the puck in the third period. The Wings won 2-1

One squad, including a lot of young guys, officially gave the puck away against the Blackhawks only four times, Thursday. Special teams have looked good, especially a power play that lagged much of last season and some of the season before.

A young defenseman Xavier Ouellet is showing he belongs in the NHL.

Jimmy Howard played a complete game Thursday against the Blackhawks, even after a one-hour delay at the start, and looked strong.

Tomas Tatar seems in fine form already.

Some of the young forwards seemingly destined for Grand Rapids, like Andrej Nestrasil and Tomas Nosek, are proving capable of scoring.

Joakim Andersson had a hot streak in the faceoff circle for two periods against the Blackhawks, an area on which the center needs to improve, before tailing off in the third.

Trouble is how much can you tell after three preseason games, especially because it means some guys have played only one?

"It's been good," Mike Babcock said. "We've got one team that's won both games and another team that's lost in overtime. So, they've got to hold serve tomorrow."

He ran through a list, using some nicknames, for players like Andersson, Luke Glendening, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, Gustav Nyquist, Johan Franzen, Henrik Zetterberg and Stephen Weiss.

"I think Andy's been really good," Babcock said. "I think Glenie's been really good. I think Sheahan and Jurco had their best games.

"Nyke's got to get going. Mule's got to get going. Z's got to get going.

"Now, you can say all that — (but) they've played one game.

"So, it's a process to get yourself to where you feel real good. That's what they're trying to do."

Zetterberg, Franzen and Nyquist are expected to play against the Bruins, Saturday, although Babcock said he might do some mixing of the two rosters he has had in place.

"The group I'm in have played in only one game so far, Chicago away," Nyquist said. "I thought it was an OK game. It felt pretty high-paced, I think. They had a lot of good players on their team that we were up against.

"It's nice to be back in it."

Babcock said Jonas Gustavsson will start in goal, against the Bruins, who eliminated the Red Wings in five games in the first round of the playoffs, and play the whole game.

"Well, he saved our season," Babcock said of Gustavsson's performance last season. "Let's be honest, he played real good and gave us an opportunity to get going. So we rewarded him with another contract obviously, he's got to build on that.

"(Petr) Mrazek's knocking on the door, here, he wants to play too. And there's not enough room for three guys."