Wings' DeKeyser discovers he can score, too

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

San Jose, Calif. — On New Year’s Eve against the Penguins, Danny DeKeyser had the perfect opportunity.

He pinched in from the point and looked at an open net — and shot wide.

“It hit the goalie’s knob or something,” DeKeyser said. “I had quite a bit of room there to put that one home. I just missed the net. I hit the knob and that’s how it goes sometimes.”

That, however, wasn’t the case Thursday against the Sharks.

He joined the rush, took a pass from Henrik Zetterberg, and roofed a shot past goaltender Martin Jones from the circle. It helped the Red Wings win 2-1.

“I just went for it, tried to be the forward down the ice, and it worked out,” DeKeyser said. “It felt good to get that one, especially after missing that tap-in against Pittsburgh. That was weighing on me a bit, so it was nice to put one home.”

There’s never been any question about his defensive game.

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DeKeyser (6-foot-3, 191 pounds) always has had tremendous defensive instincts and positioning — and has only refined those strengths.

It’s on offense where he appears to be gradually evolving.

“That’s what I’m trying to do,” said DeKeyser, who has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) with a plus-6 rating. “I try to get better and better every season. I want to take that next step and improve on what I did before.”

DeKeyser’s learning when to join the rush, judging when it’s acceptable to pinch, and taking an aggressive approach the Red Wings staff has been preaching.

Detroit Red Wings' Danny DeKeyser (65) scores past San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones (31) during the first period.

“Any time we can get that fourth guy into the rush, that’s how you produce a lot of offense,” he said. “The late guy, and hitting him behind you.”

Said Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill: “He’s got ability, and we think there’s offense there. We don’t want to ever detract it from his defense. That’s what he does best. But we think there’s offense there.”

Blashill believes DeKeyser’s goal against the Sharks was the template on how he wants the defensemen to be aggressive.

“That’s what we’ve been trying to do with our defense all year, add reward without risk and have them be active,” Blashill said. “I dnn’t think it increases your risk if you do it at the right time. It can add reward.

“Danny is real smart about it. He jumped at the right time and was able to to finish there and that’s something we have to continue to do a good job of.”