Notebook: Young line grapples with learning curve

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Their offense is fine.

Their defense?

Well, there's a lot of work the line of Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco has to do to make Red Wings coach Mike Babcock completely happy.

"After Game 1, I really liked them," Babcock said. "After Game 2, I didn't like them as much. They still generated (offense), but they generated for both teams. I don't want them to generate for the other team. I just want them to play well offensively for us and really good without it (the puck)."

What excites Babcock and the front office is the fact all three are under the age of 24 — Tatar is 23, Sheahan 22 and Jurco 21.

So, there is plenty of time to learn.

"It's part of being a kid," Babcock said. "Veteran guys ... you don't like chasing the puck, it's way too much work. So you hang onto it when you get it.

"As a kid, you kind of flip it around and figure you'll chase it down again."

Family ties

There are more pressing issues than hockey for Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith and his brother, Bruins forward Reilly. "We talk more about fantasy football than hockey," Brendan said.

But the older brother also proved to be a good sounding board during the summer for Reilly, who was embroiled in a contract dispute.

"It's definitely frustrating when you can't come to terms, and the (salary) cap issue was the big problem there," Brendan said. "I'm glad he's back playing."

While being a good listener, Brendan also keeps up with Reilly's on-ice performance.

"I pay attention all the time, I know everything he does," Brendan said. "I watch clips of his videos and highlights and we stay in touch. It always come back to the razzing, about how we get on each other if one of us scores or if our team gets a win."

Ice chips

Increasingly, it looks as if Daniel Alfredsson (back) is headed toward retirement.

Alfredsson, 41, continues to be troubled by nerve problems in his lower back and isn't skating regularly.

General manager Ken Holland said he'll continue to give Alfredsson time.

Pavel Datsyuk (shoulder) sat out his third consecutive game. Stephen Weiss and Daniel Cleary were healthy scratches for the third consecutive game along Brian Lashoff.

…Thursday's game was the 100th of Gustav Nyquist's NHL career.