Daniel Cleary, Justin Abdelkader, Drew Miller, Cory Emmerton and Jordin Tootoo have combined for no goals and one assist for the Red Wings in eight games. Having the third and fourth lines devoid of offensive contributions puts more pressure on the top-two lines to produce. It hasn't helped that third-line center Darren Helm has been missing for seven of those games. "We need some balance, some support," coach Mike Babcock said. "I think the whole group there, six guys, has got one assist. I mean, c'mon." Cleary was at a loss to explain why the third and fourth lines have been unproductive. "Gotta be better," Cleary said. "Gotta produce offense, momentum, energy. That's the only way to win in this league." Asked about his play, Cleary said: "Gotta be better. You know, just gotta be better." Babcock said it's not an issue of effort. "Cleary's No. 1 skill is skating," Babcock said. "The better he skates, the better he plays. You know, we're using him in lots of different situations: power play, penalty kill, regular shift. He's working hard." Cleary and Abdelkader were among the players who did not go overseas to play during the NHL lockout. "There's no one more committed to being in shape than Abby," Babcock said. "But you're not as in game shape as you could be and it affects your cycle grind game, because that's heavy lifting with guys on your back." Abdelkader said he's starting to get his legs under him. "I knew it was going to be hard, but there's only so much we could do when we were practicing," Abdelkader said of the informal skates players organized in Troy during the lockout.
Where's the punch in Red Wings' attack?
Detroit Free Press | Feb 4