UM-Notre Dame matchup stokes rivalry among Wings
Detroit — There has been increasing speculation that Red Berenson, 76, will call it a career with Michigan after this NCAA tournament run, which begins Friday for the Wolverines, when they play Notre Dame.
That matchup is for bragging rights in the Red Wings’ locker room, as well, with Luke Glendening and Dylan Larkin of Michigan against Riley Sheahan of Notre Dame.
But for Glendening, seeing Berenson go out successful, trumps all.
“You want to win for that guy, whether it’s his last year or not,” said Glendening, who played for Berenson from 2009-12.
Glendening isn’t convinced, at all, that Berenson is retiring, given the fact there were rumors about that when Glendening was still playing in Ann Arbor.
“That guy defies time, age,” Glendening said. “When I was there, I heard he was leaving and he’s still there. I don’t know when his last year is.
“Obviously, he’s still doing a great job there.”
For Glendening and Larkin, a victory on the ice would take some of the sting away from the basketball team losing to Notre Dame last week in the opening round of the men’s basketball tournament.
And the way the Wolverines have been playing, with three Hobey Baker (player of the year) finalists, UM could be a dangerous team.
Linemates JT Compher, Tyler Motte and Kyle Connor form a dangerous offensive line, and in a unique situation, finalists for the Hobey Baker.
“It’s an impressive group of talent,” Glendening said. “This will be their first time in the tournament, so it’s an exciting time for them.”
Sheahan’s line, with wings Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, needs to be effective these final two weeks of the regular season for the Red Wings to win games.
Nyquist hadn’t scored in eight games (he had three assists) entering Thursday’s game against Montreal, while Tatar has four goals in his last 20 games (though Tatar did have three in the last eight).
Sheahan hadn’t scored in nine games, and only has nine goals this season.
Despite the struggles of each player, coach Jeff Blashill believes the line can be offensively productive.
“They’ve got every ingredient to be a top line themselves,” Blashill said. “If they’re drawing the other team’s best defenders, then they need to be productive.
“They can be a swing line for us for sure.”
Teams such as Montreal, out of the playoff chase, are dangerous this time of season said Blashill.
“They have young, eager guys in the lineup who want to show they’re NHL players,” Blashill said. “(They’re) without the pressure of having to win, but we also know there’s such a fine line in the NHL between teams that whether you’re in or out of the playoffs, you’re a real good hockey team.
“We played in Columbus (last week), they’re out (of the playoffs), and they’ve been as good as any team we’ve played.”
… Goaltender Petr Mrazek got the start against Montreal after missing two games late last week with an illness. Mrazek replaced Jimmy Howard in the second period Tuesday in Tampa Bay.
… Continuing the current 24-year of making the playoffs is important, said Blashill, but the team’s ultimate goal is winning the Stanley Cup.
“That’s what this team wants to do,” Blashill said. “The streak is a great testament to the work that’s been put in here before, but our ultimate goal this year — we never talked about anything except our ultimate goal, to win the Stanley Cup, and to do that, you’ve got to gain entrance into the playoffs and that’s what our goal is right now.”