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Mike Babcock Sets Lines, Defense Pairs for Training Camp

January 10th, 2013 at 5:38 PM
By Frank Vajcner

Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock has released a "depth chart" for training camp, which is basically his forward lines and defensive pairings.

While it's no surprise that Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are skating together, some might be surprised that Damien Brunner will be skating with them on the top line. Keep in mind Brunner and Zetterberg skated well together in Switzerland during the lockout.

Valtteri Filppula and Johan Franzen will be on the second line with Mikael Samuelsson.

“That gives us two Grade A top units,'' Babcock said. “Zetterberg and Datsyuk are going to be a tandem, as will Franzen and Filppula. The wingers can rotate.''

Darren Helm will keep his normal third line center spot, but will have Danny Cleary and Todd Bertuzzi skating with him. The fourth line will be made up of Justin Abdelkader at center, and Drew Miller and Jordin Tootoo on the wings.

Cory Emmerton and Jan Mursak will add depth 

Because of the depth at forward, Gustav Nyquist will likely remain in Grand Rapids for now.

“Nyquist, (Tomas) Tatar, (Joakim) Andersson and (Riley) Sheahan have been fantastic in Grand Rapids,'' Babcock said. “I know what they can do and we’ll see when we need them.''

Babcock also said that he was pleased with his offensive depth, but remains concerned about his blue line.

“We’re a way deeper team up front than we were last year; we’re not near the same on the back,'' he said. “Anytime you lose (Nicklas) Lidstrom, (Brian) Rafalski (after 2010-11) and (Brad) Stuart in that short of time, that’s three of your top four defensemen. There’s an opportunity for all these guys. You just have to grab it.''

Speaking of defensemen, Babcock said his pairings will be Niklas Kronwall-Jonathan Ericsson, Kyle Quincey-Brendan Smith, and Ian White-Jakub Kindl. Carlo Colaiacovo will eventually wind up skating with White when he returns from a shoulder injury.

None of the defensive pairings are set in stone.

“I wouldn't bet they'll be together all winter. Things are going to change. There will be injuries.'' Babcock said.

Jimmy Howard will be back between the pipes after an all-star season. Jonas Gustavsson will back up Howard.

Despite the uncertainty, Babcock believes his team will still be competitive.

“Like always, we’re going to have a hard-working team that’s going to compete. That’s our plan, and that’s why we’re excited about training camp and getting the process rolling.''

Tags: Detroit, Detroit Red Wings, Hockey, Mike Babcock, NHL

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