‘The new Bruise Brothers’: Wings vow to protect each other

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Ottawa Senators right wing Chris Neil and Detroit left wing Justin Abdelkader get into a fight in the third period Oct. 17.

Detroit – Is this Bruise Brothers II with these current Red Wings?

The two fights Monday against Ottawa gave the Red Wings four fighting majors over the first three games.

They had eight all of last year.

“The new Bruise Brothers,” said coach Jeff Blashill after Monday’s victory over Ottawa. “Lead the league in majors, I like it.”

The physicality actually has more to do with the Red Wings wanting to protect their own, a sense of sticking up for each other that was lacking at times last season.

“We didn’t do it enough last year,” said Blashill, who has talked to his team about it. “It’s not something that’s been part of this room for probably a long time. Just some of that is personalities in the room, but I do think it was a point of emphasis.

“We talked about the fact we have to win as a team -- we can’t win as individual players – and part of winning as a team is having that feeling of camaraderie that you want to look after each other.

“We want to be a team that looks after each other and sticks up for each other. You want to have a feeling in your locker room that you care enough about the guy who sits next to you that you want to look after him for sure, and no opponent will take liberties with our guys.

“We’ve done a good job of that so far and I expect us to continue to do a good job with that.”

Blashill understands that with these occasional fights, an injury could occur.

“I’ve never in my career told a guy that he has to fight, but I definitely want to emphasize that we have to look after each other and sometimes that’s fighting and sometimes that’s part of the game of hockey,” Blashill said. “Certainly there are consequences that can happen on the negative side but there are also a lot of positive consequences as well.”

Justin Abdelkader and Jonathan Ericsson both had fighting majors against Ottawa. Abdelkader, incidentally, didn’t practice Monday because of a “maintenance day,” though Blashill said Abdelkader will play Wednesday against the New York Rangers.

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Ericsson now has two fighting majors this season.

“Absolutely that’s what we want to strive for, and we talked about it before the season, we want to be a real tight group,” Ericsson said. “There’s a real good feeling with one another and hopefully that’s a thing that will stick for the rest of the season.”

Of his two fights Ericsson said it’s not something that’s planned: “You make a decision in a couple of seconds and that was the decision I made.”

Good start

It’s been a good start for defenseman Xavier Ouellet, who has one assist in three games, averaging over 15 minutes of ice time, with a plus-2 rating.

Ouellet says he’s trying to avoid negative thoughts.

“It (mistakes) does cross your mind, but it’s something you don’t want to focus on,” Ouellet said. “You want to make the best plays possible. You’re going to make mistakes and it’s going to be part of the game. I try not to let it affect me during the game, and when the game is over, then I focus on what I’ve done wrong and what I can do better.”

Blashill likes the fact Ouellet has stayed within himself.

“He’s managed the puck real well, and he has real good poise,” Blashill said. “I’ve talked to him about making sure he doesn’t over-handle the puck and force plays and he’s managed the puck great.”

No visor

Ericsson needed 20 stitches for a cut near his eye, taking a deflected puck off his face Monday.

Ericsson and Steve Ott are the lone two Red Wings who don’t wear visors – and in Ericsson’s case, that’s not going to change.

“When I played in Grand Rapids in the American League and everyone has to wear a visor, that visor cut me all the time,” Ericsson said. “Nose, or lips, coming down when you go into the corner and you’re bumping into someone. That visor comes down and it has pretty sharp edges. I got way more cuts on my face wearing a visor for two years that I have had cuts without wearing one for eight years.”

Ericsson saw the puck coming at his face but didn’t have time to react.

“I saw the puck coming, it was wobbling coming off the stick,” Ericsson said. “I braced myself before the impact.”

Red Wings at Rangers

Faceoff: Wednesday, 8 p.m., Madison Square Garden.

TV / radio: NBC Sports Network / 97.1 FM.

Notable: The Rangers are 2-1-0 and have outscored opponents 14-10. … LW Chris Kreider is off to a hot start (three goals, three assists). … G Henrik Lundqvist is expected to start.

Twitter @tkulfan