Younger Red Wings struggling on offense

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — It's been an offensive struggle for some of the young Red Wings forwards. Through seven games, including Thursday's 4-3 overtime victory over the Penguins, Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar have combined for three points.


Tatar has the lone goal.

And for the Red Wings to be successful, that has to change.

"It's hard to pinpoint," Sheahan said of the lack of offense. "If you look at the last game in Montreal, we played pretty well. We had a bunch of shots (he had a team-high five) and spent a lot of time in the offensive zone.

"It's early in the season and there's no reason to get worried about point production."

But with the return of Pavel Datsyuk, and the idea to maintain balance throughout the lines, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock separated the three young, struggling players.

Jurco was to play with Darren Helm and Andrej Nestrasil against the Penguins on Thursday, and Gustav Nyquist was inserted on a line with Sheahan and Tatar.

During Thursday's morning skate, Babcock also switched the power-play units involving Nyquist and Jurco.

Nyquist, who has the two Red Wings power-play goals this season, was moved to a unit with Sheahan, Tatar, Nestrasil and Danny DeKeyser. Jurco moved to the top unit with Henrik Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Darren Helm and Niklas Kronwall.

"We want Gus to have more touches and whenever he plays with those guys (top unit), he never gets the puck," Babcock said. "We think having him with Tats and Sheahan gives him more opportunity to have the puck."

Babcock also liked the idea of Jurco, with his size (6-foot-2, 193 pounds), to retrieve pucks for Zetterberg and Datsyuk.

"You have to earn your goals, they don't give them to you for free," Babcock said. "If you get off to a great start, you don't have to worry about confidence. When you don't, you've got to worry about confidence. The game is the same for everybody.

"The other thing is, when you arrive for the first year in the league, everything is rosy. You think it's going to be like that for the next 15 years. But the Guide and Record book shows that's not how it works. You have to bring it every day, every year. You have to keep getting better and better."