Detroit — Ten games into his NHL career, there's not as much thinking and Andrej Nestrasil is relying more on his instincts.
The nerves, if there were any, are gone. Nestrasil is comfortable in the locker room, with his teammates, many with whom he played in Grand Rapids.
But it's on the ice where Nestrasil's adaptation to the NHL is beginning to take hold the most.
"It's so much different from the first game," he said. "Now I'm way more comfortable on the ice, and getting used to the system way more, I don't have to think twice. I just do it now, and that's good."
Nestrasil was somewhat of a surprise in making the Red Wings roster out of the exhibition season. He was still looking for his first NHL goal heading into Friday's game and had one assist, playing a little more than 11 minutes a game but creating enough offensive chances where he's shown promise.
"I could be a little more patient," he said of his overall offense. "I'd like to get one (a goal) so I could calm myself a little bit. I've had some chances. But you don't want to want it too much, because when you want it too much, that's when you're not going to get it.
"Just have to be patient."
Coach Mike Babcock has been a fan of Nestrasil's size (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) and skill since seeing more of him in the exhibition season and feels he's progressing well.
"He's strong on the puck, good with the puck, he just has nothing to show for it (offensively)," Babcock said. "He's been good defensively. He's been smart.
"He hasn't hurt us.
"It's a hard league and your second time around is tougher than the first. But for a lot of us, the first time is real tough."
Up to speed
Babcock coached Washington forward Jason Chimera in juniors. Chimera is a big, physical winger who isn't a natural goal-scorer but is a player who can score some dirty goals in close around the net.
Chimera has developed more of a touch the more years he's played in the league.
Babcock likens Justin Abdelkader to Chimera.
"In the first few years in the league, you move around (lines) because the league is going so fast and you're not up to speed yet," Babcock said. "That's what happens to all of these kids. We even go so far sometimes as to say they have no hockey sense. Well, they have hockey sense. It's just the league is going so fast and you're not ready for it.
"That's how good this league is and how hard it is.
"Abby is becoming the player he probably was in college (Michigan State), or in the American League. It just takes a while to catch up. That's doesn't happen overnight."
Johan Franzen (groin) skated Friday during the morning skate and should be ready to play Sunday in Buffalo. Franzen hasn't played since Oct. 17.
… Brian Lashoff and Daniel Cleary were healthy scratches, and have yet to play this season.
… Both of the Red Wings' assistant coaches, Tony Granato (1989-96) and Jim Hiller (1992-93), were former Los Angeles Kings players.
… Defensemen Matt Greene (Grand Ledge) and Alex Martinez (Rochester Hills) were in the Kings' lineup Friday. Martinez scored the winning overtime goal against Chicago in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals, then scored the Game 5 Stanley Cup-clinching goal against the New York Rangers in overtime.