Pittsburgh – Madison Bowey credits many of the Red Wings veterans with helping him adjust to the team since arriving in late February in a trade.
But Trevor Daley, in particular, has been a huge help. In fact, Bowey has been living in Daley’s house the last several weeks, keeping Bowey out of a hotel.
Daley and Bowey did have to talk about a curfew the other day.
“We actually joked around about that,” Bowey said after Thursday’s morning skate. “Now, he’s pretty good what that.”
Daley has been out with a lower-body injury since March 14 but he’s been able to help Bowey – who’ll be 24 on April 22 – with many parts of the game, on and off the ice.
“It’s just the little things I can take away,” said Bowey. “You can learn a lot. I’m just picking a lot from guys, and as I go on, hopefully it helps me become a complete player and professional.”
Bowey appreciated Daley’s offer to move in.
“That was cool,” Bowey said. “When you’re stuck in a hotel and not knowing any of the guys, it was kind of tough. For him and his family to take me in, it’s been great and helping me feel welcome, and on the ice, just talking to the older veterans, they’re helping you with the systems, it’s reassuring.
“It’s just been that much easier to kind of develop my game here and fit right in.”
Bowey has played over 20 minutes in five of the last 10 games heading into Thursday’s game, and largely looked like a player who could land with a spot on the Wings’ roster going forward.
At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, Bowey has good size and skating ability, which gives him a sound foundation to build around.
Coach Jeff Blashill has been impressed with Bowey’s growth since arriving in a trade for Nick Jensen, with draft picks going both ways in the deal with the Capitals.
“I don’t know if it’s been one area, per se; I would say it would be in a lot of little areas,” said Blashill, of where Bowey has progressed. “Consistency – he’s not made the big mistakes that he had early when he got here. His confidence is really growing. He’s a big body who can skate well and get in people’s way, and he can play against other teams’ best players.”
With the Wings’ situation in the standings, Bowey has been able to get consistent playing time and remain in the lineup on a game-to-game basis, something that wasn’t happening in Washington’s deep defensive corps.
“It’s a huge thing – not having to look over your shoulder when you make a mistake. It’s a hard way to play,” Blashill said. “We’ve had the luxury of living with his mistakes because we’re out of it and hopefully he grows, and I’ve seen huge growth.
“He looks like a guy who can be a good NHL defenseman. There are a lot of tests ahead for him. Hopefully he’ll continue to grow.”
Sure, the Wings would rather be battling for a playoff berth or getting ready for the postseason next week.
But they’re not, although with this current win streak and the way they’ve played, it’s made this end part of the schedule much more enjoyable.
There were plenty of smiles during the morning skate Thursday, players staying late on the ice, and enjoying the time together.
Blashill said this recent stretch has been an important learning tool.
“Every single day you get a chance to coach or play in the NHL, it should be a special moment,” Blashill said. “We should never take that for granted and we should enjoy it, and our guys are having fun doing it right now. They want to come to the rink and have fun.”
Blashill said the only injured player who might return in time for Saturday’s season finale would be defenseman Danny DeKeyser (lower body).
… Defenseman Niklas Kronwall hasn’t said if he’ll return next season or retire. Blashill, though, thinks Kronwall can definitely help the Wings next season.
“I’d love to make a pitch,” Blashill said. “There’s no question. He’s at a level, he’s a real good defenseman in the league right now. He has to decide what is right for him and his body and his family. I respect any decision he makes.
“But he is a guy that can help you win.”