Joe Veleno looks to make most of opportunity on Red Wings' power play

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Joe Veleno is getting another chance to show he's ready to stay in the NHL.

Veleno, who has been attempting to carve out a role among the bottom-six forwards since being recalled from Grand Rapids in mid-November, was put on the power play Monday in an effort to spark the slumping unit.

Red Wings center Joe Veleno has been moved to the power-play unit.

The opportunity excited Veleno, who has been looking to cement a regular NHL spot the last two seasons.

"I’ve got to make the most of it with the opportunity they’re giving me," Veleno said. "Take advantage of every situation, every game, every day that I get to come to the rink, and not give them a reason to not put me in the lineup or to send me back down.

"That’s up to me and my work ethic, my compete and my urgency. If I set my expectations high, and I do those things and I come to the rink every day and I apply those things, my chances of sticking around will be pretty good.”

Veleno has had power-play success in Grand Rapids. Six of the 15 goals Veleno scored in the American League were on the power play.  

With the Wings, Veleno's first NHL goal last season was on the power play.

"We still have to make a decision on it," coach Jeff Blashill said of using Veleno on the specialty team. "We'll see if that is how it works out in a game or not. Joe is a guy, who ultimately, we would like to see get opportunities on the power play to see if he can be a good power-play player at the NHL level."

A prolific offensive player in junior hockey, Veleno has played in a variety spots on the unit.

“I’ve played mostly everywhere on the power play the last couple of years," Veleno said. "I’ve had some looks on the bumper, I’ve had some looks on the strong-side flank. My off-wing flank.

"Wherever (Blashill) puts me, I’m going to have to do the most with that position.”

With the Wings' power play slumping, Blashill put Veleno in and removed Filip Zadina in an effort for a different look.

“It's a balance,” Blashill said. “You can get yourself in trouble if you change too much. All the sudden you’re changing, you’re changing, you have no hope for chemistry. We really haven’t changed much. We’ve kind of stayed the course.

“Lack of execution certainly tries your patience, but so does lack of success. Sometimes the best thing is to stick with it and grind through it and sometimes the best thing is to make a change.”

Blashill made it clear he doesn't want players feeling "entitled" to being on the power play.

"But you can't just whip guys on and off and expect you are going to have success, either," Blashill said. "We're getting some guys some opportunities. I can't tell you there is a magic formula to it. Hopefully, we rely on our experience, all of us in the room, and try to make the decision that we think is best."

More: Red Wings stressing the need to match opponents' physicality

Shooting mentality

Blashill wants to see the Wings put more pucks on net. 

The Wings only had 20 shots Friday against Washington, and 24 two days later against Boston.

Specifically against Boston, the Wings seemed to pass on quality shots.

“We had three two-on-ones the first four minutes of the game, and we didn’t get a shot off," Blashill said. "That can change the whole story of the game if you score on those. We have to shoot more when we have the opportunities to shoot, make sure we cross in front of the goalie’s eyes, and that we’re hard at the net.”

Ice chips

Filip Zadina was a scratch for Tuesday's game. Zadina has gone without a goal in the last nine games, and has one goal in the last 14 games.

...The Wings' game against Philadelphia on Jan. 18 will be postponed to a rescheduled date announced at a later time.

...The Wings' broadcast booth has been hit with COVID-19. Mickey Redmond and Chris Osgood were unavailable Tuesday, with Larry Murphy joining Ken Daniels telecasting the game. Both Redmond and Osgood are feeling fine, said John Keating, Bally Sports Detroit host.

... Given the COVID-impacted seasons, and the way the regular season schedules were set up, Tuesday's game was the first between the Wings and San Jose since Dec. 31, 2019.

... The Wings have one of the hardest schedules remaining in the NHL, and that definitely shows in the next couple of weeks.

Over the next five games, the Wings are set to play four teams with winning records Anaheim (17-11-7), Los Angeles (16-12-5), Winnipeg (15-11-5) and two games against San Jose (17-15-1).

"We've got to show that we're a team that belongs in the win column as the games get harder and harder," Blashill said.

Twitter: @tkulfan