Newcomers Cole, Zidlicky eager to get Cup run underway

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Defenseman Marek Zidlicky, left, and forward Erik Cole participate in their first practice as Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday.

Detroit – The weather certainly could have been better, but Erik Cole and Marek Zidlicky were excited to get their first practices completed and get their Red Wings careers underway.

"It wasn't easy drive," said Zidlicky, an offensive defenseman who'll be paired with Brendan Smith and play the point on the power play. "But it was nice, it was good to have the first practice."

Both players were acquired in the final 48 hours before Monday's trade deadline and they are thrilled to be part of a potential playoff run.

Both are expected to play Wednesday against the New York Rangers.

"The first time I came here, it was unbelievable, you saw the pictures on the walls, you could feel the history," Zidlicky said. "The whole rink. That's why I'm here. I really wanted to enjoy the game (here)."

Cole was part of the Carolina Hurricanes when the Red Wings defeated the Hurricanes for the 2002 Stanley Cup.

"I've seen what this city can be like and what this building can be like in the playoffs," said Cole, who'll start on a line with Justin Abdelkader and Henrik Zetterberg (who practiced Tuesday and should be cleared Wednesday to play). "It's a great atmosphere and just so much fun. It's the best time of year to be playing hockey, into the spring time and playing your best and getting on a roll.

"Those types of runs, Stanley Cup playoff runs, are so much fun and memorable. A lot of these guys have been through those experiences, and this organization, year in and year out, they're always in the playoffs competing and I'm excited to be part of it."

Red Wings players and coach Mike Babcock all felt it was a reaffirmation from the front office of the way the Red Wings have played recently and their playoff potential, while adding the two valuable veterans.

"I like this group," Babcock said. "As I've said a number of times, this is the best group I've had since 2009 and we're getting better and they seem to enjoy being around each other."

Just a rumor?

Brendan Smith's name was involved the rumors Monday as the Red Wings tried to acquire Dion Phaneuf from the Maple Leafs.

But Smith, a Toronto native, insists he didn't receive any texts or calls.

"My phone wasn't blowing up, I didn't even think about it once," Smith said. "No texts from the little brother (Reilly Smith, Bruins). You just go about how things happen and nothing happened, so I don't even know."

Rangers on rise

The Red Wings entertain a Rangers team that made one significant acquisition, getting defenseman Keith Yandle from the Coyotes.

The Rangers were on quite a roll before getting Yandle, going 8-1-1 and moving into first in the Metropolitan Division.

"They're a real good team," Babcock said. "They're explosive, their defense is all over the rink, they're playing well."

Ice chips

Detroit's March 15 game in Pittsburgh will start at 12:30 p.m. to accommodate national television.

… Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg (concussion symptoms) and defenseman Kyle Quincey (ankle) practiced Tuesday and could play Wednesday if they're cleared after the morning skate.

… Red Wings forward Darren Helm and defenseman Alexey Marchenko (oblique strains) didn't practice.

… Forward Teemu Pulkkinen was assigned to Grand Rapids.

Rangers at Red Wings

Faceoff: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Joe Louis Arena, Detroit

TV/radio: NBCSN/97.1

Outlook: The Red Wings are 1-0-1 against the Rangers. ... The Rangers are on an 8-1-1 run. ... The Rangers are 10th on the power play (18.6 percent) and ninth on the penalty kill (83.0 percent). ... Rangers LW Rick Nash (59 points, 38 goals) is having an MVP-caliber season.