Wings looking at next week for return of Tatar, Nielsen, Vanek
Traverse City – There will be some rooting interest among the Red Wings for this week’s World Cup of Hockey finals.
Forwards Tomas Tatar, Frans Nielsen and Thomas Vanek are all on the Team Europe squad that’ll face Canada Tuesday in Game 1 of the best-of-three series.
Tatar scored two goals Sunday, including the overtime winner against Sweden, putting the diverse Team Europe – eight countries are represented on the roster – into the championship.
“For Tats to score, it’s great, great for him,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “It’s kind of what type of player he is; he finds his way to the net and finds ways to score goals.
“He’s a competitive player and obviously they (European coaching staff) think a lot of him to put him on a line with (Anze) Kopitar and (Marian) Hossa.”
The possible downside for the Red Wings is that both Nielsen and Vanek are free agents who signed on July 1 and there is benefit to having both in training camp and getting familiar with new teammates and systems.
Blashill is giving all the returning World Cup players approximately five days off, which means Nielsen and Vanek may not be at Joe Louis Arena until early in next week.
But Blashill feels there’s a definite positive for the two players.
“Sure we’d like to have them here integrating, but the other side is they get to play high, high level of hockey,” Blashill said. “I can only think it’s going to help them a ton as they come back here.”
Blashill has talked often this camp about wanting to play a speed game, emphasizing playing the game at a faster pace.
“We’ve talked about our identity being relentless and being fast, being competitive and detailed,” Blashill said. “Speed’s a big factor. It’s not everything. It’s a mentality – not just how fast the guy is skating but how fast you are playing.
“We’re trying to play as fast as we can in transition. That’s our best chance to have success based on the team we have.”
The NHL, as a whole, is trending toward more of a speed game, but Blashill feels individual teams have to play to their strengths.
“When Los Angeles won two Cups (2012, 2014), it was them being big and strong,” Blashill said. “You have to play to your best asset. Pittsburgh was fast (this past season, winning the Cup), but that’s kind of their team makeup.
“We’ve got a team that if we’re going north, we’re going to be better, and we have a defense corps that can get up in the play and skate. We have a group of forwards that have some high-end speed and can make plays at high speed.
“To me, it’s just playing to our strengths.”
Team White defeated Team Red 6-5 on Monday in the annual camp-ending scrimmage in Traverse City.
Riley Sheahan, Louis-Marc Aubry, Eric Tangradi, Ryan Sproul, Ben Street and Evgeny Svechnikov scored for the White.
Matt Lorito scored two goals (both during the 3-on-3 part of the scrimmage), while Dylan Sadowy, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha added the other Red goals.
Goalie Jared Coreau stopped 20 shots for Team White before being replaced for the second period (the teams played two 25-minute periods).
“For six weeks I’ve been ready to play,” said Coreau, who’ll be the No. 1 goalie in Grand Rapids. “I’ve been saying to guys I work out with, I wish the season would start already and get going.”
Lorito (5-foot-9, 181-pounds), a free agent signed out of the New Jersey organization, adds to the speed and quickness in Grand Rapids.
“It was a good pace out there, good speed, not a lot of room,” Lorito said.
Blashill liked what he saw overall.
“The intensity level was good, speed was good,” Blashill said. “We’ve made adjustments in our defensive zone (coverage) and continue to teach that, but overall we can still get better at sprinting out of our own end and putting teams on their heels.
“But I did think our transition was pretty fast.”
Tomas Nosek (knee) is day-to-day, said Blashill, after colliding with Steve Ott during the scrimmage.
Penguins at Red Wings
What: Red Wings’ preseason opener
When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Joe Louis Arena
TV / radio: No TV / WWJ 950
Notable: With many players still unavailable because of the World Cup, the Red Wings will play a prospect-dominated lineup. … Coach Jeff Blashill said he'll play the line of Andreas Athanasiou, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha on Wednesday in Boston, meaning they're unlikely to play Tuesday.