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Toronto — When it comes to pushing players individually, coach Mike Babcock feels Tomas Tatar receives the brunt of Babcock's drive.

But there's a reason for that prodding.

"I might be harder on Tats than any other player on the team," Babcock said. "He has a chance to be a real player and we're going to hold him on that. He's capable of being good every night.

"We expect a lot from Tats and he's capable of delivering."

It's easy to see why Babcock is hard on Tatar, who has scored 19 goals in his rookie season and this season already has nine— eight in his last 11 games. He had the Wings' only goal Saturday in a 4-1 loss to Toronto.

Tatar is shooting the puck more than he was earlier this season. But also, Tatar gives credit to linemates Riley Sheahan and Justin Abdelkader, a line Babcock put together last week and has been drawing praise for their work at both ends of the ice.

"We're trying to play a simple game," said Tatar, who supplies the offensive spark to the line's success. "Chip the puck in, battle in the corner, shoot the puck. We're getting the odd bounces right now and it's fun.

"Abby is heavy on the puck and Riley is a good centerman and I'm trying to create offense. It seems like we're working well together."

Tatar has been a linemate of Sheahan's going back several years now, going back to their minor league days in Grand Rapids.

The familiarity is a key reason for their success.

"It helps a lot," said Tatar of their familiarity. "I can read Riley's route (on the ice) and I know where he's going to be on the ice. That's really helpful. He's great for us in the defensive zone, and in the offensive zone he's real heavy on the puck and he can shoot it.

"He's always in a good spot (on the ice)."

Teammates are glad to see Tatar scoring some goals, in as few players on the Red Wings are as hard on themselves when they're not producing offensively as Tatar.

"His confidence just grows, it's good to see," Johan Franzen said.

Weiss takes next step

Stephen Weiss (groin) appears on schedule to return Monday after a conditioning weekend in Grand Rapids.

Weiss scored a goal 19 seconds into the game Friday and added another goal Saturday against Lake Erie, while also appearing to come out of the back-to-back games fine physically.

"It's a positive step," general manager Ken Holland said. "He hasn't played a lot of hockey the last two and a half years. We're now (with) December on the horizon. We're trying to find ways to get him some games.

"In sports, you need to play games. We're trying to win games and compete in the division. We can't be holding tryouts during the season."

Great career

With the expected retirement of Daniel Alfredsson, be it days or weeks from now, the Red Wings are sad to see a great career end but glad to have had the opportunity to call him a teammate.

Alfredsson, 41, troubed by a bad back, could announce his retirement as early as Monday when the Senators, where Alredsson starred, visit Joe Louis Arena, or later in December.

"Just a great dad, a great husband, a great guy, he was all of the above," said Jimmy Howard, who had the unique perspective of watching Alfredsson play in Ottawa, while Howard was growing up in nearby upstate New York. "I saw a lot of his games growing up and to be able to call him my teammate is pretty special."

Ice chips

Pavel Datsyuk (groin) took part in the morning skate but didn't play, missing his third consecutive game, and his availability continues to be day to day.

... There were no other changes to the lineup.

… Henrik Zetterberg is without a point in four games and is minus-4 in that span.

… Defenseman Xavier Ouellet has been impressive in his first two games since being promoted Wednesday from Grand Rapids. Ouellet set up Tatar for his goal against Toronto, was plus-1 in 16:32, and was credited with one hit and and two blocked shots.

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/tkulfan

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