Skate Update: Beware the Red Wings' power play

Skate Update: Beware the Red Wings' power play
December 4, 2013, 1:45 pm
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Nicklas Kronwall had a three-point night Oct. 12 against the Flyers. (USA Today Images)

DETROIT – They already saw the video.
They saw all their mistakes on the penalty kill.
And why the Flyers gave the Red Wings three power play goals to ruin what was otherwise a solid effort back in October at Joe Louis Arena.
Tonight, when the Red Wings' power play hits the ice, it won’t have Henrik Zetterberg (herniated disk) or Pavel Datsyuk (concussion), but it will still have their top gun on the point in Niklas Kronwall and its accurate tip-man in front, Johan Franzen.
And that has to concern the Flyers if they are to have any chance to win game three games on this six-game road trip. The Flyers are 1-1 so far on the 12-day excursion through North America.
“A couple times that [last] game we could have cleared the puck,” Sean Couturier said. “We missed or fanned on chances and they capitalized right after. Those little details hunt you down when you make too many mistakes.”
Couturier knows. He plays more shorthanded minutes a game - 3:18 - than any other Flyers forward.
Among healthy Red Wings who will play tonight, Kronwall leads Detroit with 10 power-play points. Franzen is next with eight.
The key is to stop Kronwall’s canon shot from the point and make sure Franzen doesn’t gave good position near the net for tips.
“Kronwall is a quarterback back there,” said Nick Grossmann, who’s seen a lot of him over the years. “He plays a lot of minutes, he’s a good all-around defensemen. He defends well, he is physical when the opportunity is there. He is good offensively and good with the puck.”
It all begins with taking away his shot at the blue line. Kronwall had a three-point night against the Flyers on Oct. 12 during that 5-2 Detroit victory.
“All of those guys have big shots who see the ice well,” said Adam Hall, who like Couturier and Grossmann, logs more than three minutes of PK duty every night. “Not just their shots, either. They can pass. They make plays and they have big, strong bodies. You try to get a sense of what they are going to do as much as possible.
“Put them into low percentage areas where they can’t get off the kind of shots they want. Bother them. Be as aggressive as you can so they can’t set up in comfort zones.”
Flyers coach Craig Berube said the overall key is “be ready to play.”
As for his penalty kill units, he said they need to challenge Kronwall before he even gets into the Flyers' zone to set up.
“Their power play has a lot of movement,” Berube said. “They move around well, they support each other, they got highly skilled guys on it. With Kronwall, you really got to watch him. He kind of does everything well. Skates well, shoots the puck well, makes plays. Up ice, we have to take him away. Put pressure on him right away, slow it down a bit.
“In the zone, we have to take away his shot. That’s the key. He shoots the puck very well. Make sure our forwards do a good job on him with first man pressure. Take his shot away. Make them move [the puck].”
Loose pucks
Vinny Lecavalier remains out with back spasms. This will be his second game missed on the trip. Lecavalier rode the stationary bike at the morning skate, but appeared very stiff in his back after getting off it. The earliest he can play now is Saturday in Dallas. … Steve Mason will be in goal against Detroit. In 20 games lifetime, Mason is 8-10-2 with a 2.84 goals-against average and .917 save percentage. ... No forward or defensive changes for the Flyers from the loss in Minnesota.