Detroit Red Wings like goalie mix with Jonathan Bernier, Thomas Greiss
Detroit – One position the Red Wings feel fairly confident in is their goalkeeper.
With veterans Jonathan Bernier and Thomas Greiss, the wings may have the ability to have a steady goalkeeping brand that gives them the chance to win games.
It’s a quirky position, and optimism can quickly turn into despair.
But with the early camp workouts, the reviews are good and the optimism real.
“Two really good goalkeepers and both of them are really good professionals,” said coach Jeff Blashill.
The Wings have had something similar to Bernier and longtime Red Wing Jimmy Howard for the past two seasons.
But Howard had the worst season of his career last season, 2-23-2, and the Wings understandably, given Howard’s performance and age, 36, decided to go in a different direction this summer than giving Howard a Free Became agent.
General Manager Steve Yzerman signed a two-year deal with Greiss, an unrestricted free agent, worth $ 7.2 million in October to replace Howard.
The 34-year-old Greiss fits in well with how the wings were built this season.
“He’s a great professional. He’s working, ”said coach Jeff Blashill. “He does whatever. He does all the work, he stays out with the guys and takes pictures. Both he and Bernier looked good.
“Getting both of you going at a high level helps your depth.”
Greiss and Bernier did not know each other during the season, but had a few mutual acquaintances.
You begin to develop a working relationship, which is always helpful with two NHL goalkeepers on any roster.
“It always makes it a lot easier,” said Greiss. “He’s a great guy and I’m looking forward to playing with him.”
Bernier spoke about being out of the game for a long time and the difficulty of being able to work through traffic and find shots in front of a goalkeeper again.
Greiss agreed and saw the last two intrasquad scrimmages as an opportunity to do valuable work.
“I’m looking forward to playing two games again and getting my game,” said Greiss. “Getting the readings back and improving the timing, but overall I feel fine and ready to go.”
Given the shortened 56 game schedule and numerous consecutive sets, most analysts have assumed that most teams will use a definitive goalkeeper tandem.
But Blashill spoke on Thursday about how a greater number of teams relied heavily on a goalkeeper during the shortened lockout season of 48 games, and in college hockey – which uses a similar shortened schedule – a goalkeeper is often used extensively.
And if one goalkeeper breaks up with his game, Blashill is likely to stick with the hot goalkeeper.
Currently, the combination of Bernier and Greiss appears to make the position a strength.
“We have two people who are really good,” said Blashill.
Forward the only update Evgeny Svechnikov Thursday continued to sound similar to Tuesday.
Blashill said Svechnikov was “unable to play,” the new umbrella term to include either illness or injury, and became the norm for the NHL while returning to play that summer.
Svechnikov was injured during Tuesday’s scrimmage when he was hit behind the net during a scrum and immediately appeared to favor his right arm.
Darren Helm (not playable) is still off the ice and no schedule for Helm’s return is given.
Forward Turner Elson, a key player at Grand Rapids Griffins, the Wings subsidiary in the minor league, was also injured on Tuesday but attended training on Thursday.
The Wings have their second scheduled fight on Friday, this one on the practice track, and Blashill hopes his players will take another step towards the regular January 14th season opener.
“The intensity has to be high,” said Blashill, who felt the intensity was a little missing on Tuesday. “We want to lose the bad summer habits and create good, winning habits. Make it as real as possible.”
Blashill said there will be special work on specialist teams, with lineups to fill those potential power games and penalty shootouts.
Players know the importance of putting together a consistent, high-level scrimmage that doesn’t have exhibition games this season.
“There’s always a next level to step up the intensity and prepare for NHL games,” said Defender Jon Merrill said. “In practice you cannot imitate the level of combat. We do our best in practice and we give everything we have, but we have to ramp it up and prepare for Carolina (for the season opener).”
Hopeful power game
The Wings had their 29th power play last season – it was the 31st and final for most of the season – and it has been a source of frustration and disappointment for several seasons.
But with the depth created this off-season, Blashill is confident the Wings can bring two competent and dangerous power games to the ice.
“Our power play was not good enough, nor was a player productive enough in the power play,” said Blashill. “I want to do two units and I hope they are very competitive and I hope they both play great.”
For now, Blashill has Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Bobby Ryan, Tyler Bertuzzi and Danny DeKeyser on a unit while Sam Win, Filip Zadina, Robby Fabbri, Merrill and Filip Hronek are on the other unit.
Firmly determined not to call one or the other power play # 1 or # 2, Blashill wants to create chemistry in those remaining days while leaving the option to make changes to either unit.
“We have to find out who will be in our line-up and then who will be the best people to lead these units,” said Blashill.