The Red Wings were not satisfied with Valtteri Filppula’s performance this season. He has been too inconsistent and isn’t playing with enough grit and determination.
So they’re giving young Justin Abdelkader an opportunity to assume Filppula’s role as the second-line center. Abdelkader has played on the second line, between big wingers Johan Franzen and Todd Bertuzzi, the past three games and has made a favorable impression on coach Mike Babcock.
“Abby’s played real hard,” Babcock said. “Val Filppula is a skilled guy for us that we think should probably be in that hole because to be as good as we can be, we need to be slotted right. And yet Abby’s played real well and he’s been effective for us for a couple games.”
Abdelkader likely will remain on that line for Friday’s game against Chicago at Joe Louis Arena. He hopes the experience of playing with skilled players will make him a more versatile, well-rounded player.
The Red Wings want Abdelkader to be hard to play against with his abrasiveness and physical style. They want him to get the puck in the offensive zone and be hard on the forecheck, wearing down opposing defenses.
“Lines change a lot and may still change, but it’s been a lot of fun and I just got to make the most of the opportunity and enjoy it,” Abdelkader said. “I’m just going to keep my game the same. Play well defensively, get in on the forecheck and hang onto pucks and get the puck to those guys because they can do good things with it and make plays.”
HURRICANES 3, RED WINGS 0: The Wings had mixed feelings about their performance. They were happy with their effort, feeling they matched Carolina’s urgency, and were pleased to get 42 shots on goal and many quality scoring chances. They were not pleased with their execution, however, as they committed costly turnovers. Cam Ward was outstanding in net, as Detroit was shut out for the fourth time this season. Derek Joslin and Jeff Skinner scored in the second period and Erik Cole all but sealed Detroit’s fate by scoring at 5:44 of the third period, seconds after the Hurricanes killed a four-minute high-sticking penalty.
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