On what he’s seen recently from Tanner Pearson who has four goals in his last six games:
We think his pursuit of the puck’s been a lot stronger here lately. He’s winning a lot of puck races and a lot of puck battles. I think it’s leading to some good opportunities for him. It just seems to us like he’s got a lot more jump in his step. Both he and Ty, I think their games have really rounded into form again. We expect him to be a good 200-foot player, but if we put the finger on it, his urgency and his loose puck races and his loose puck battles have really made a difference in his game.
On whether Jeff Carter appears to be fresh, as if he was starting a new season in October:
I’m not sure if that’s the comparison I’d use. I think it’s very difficult for a guy to be off that long coming back at this point of the season. I think his presence in our lineup has been very important. I think his production has been very helpful to us. He’s another guy that can play in all situations. There’s a lot of experience in all parts of the game. I do think it’s a grind for Jeff. I think the schedule, the way it is, is a grind. We’ve tried to manage his minutes depending on the situation, but all things considered, being off that long with that type of an injury, I think he deserves a lot of credit for coming back and having the impact that he has.
On anything different in Detroit’s game from the last time the teams met:
In terms of style of play, very similar. I think there are some things they do that are kind of unique to them, the way they really try and push people out of the zone and look for the second layer of speed coming underneath. I think their D, they’re probably as mobile now as they’ve been. I think they’ve had some injuries on the back end at different times during the year, but I think they’ve got really good speed on their team. They’re a really good rush attack team and I think they’ve always been a team that’s extremely strong on the puck, led by Zetterberg. He plays kind of a Kopitar-type game where he likes to put people on your back. In terms of style of play, I think they’re very similar to what we saw earlier in the year where they’re a real speed team and they can come at you in layers. They’ve obviously gone through some different ups and downs during the year where they’ve got things going for a while and then haven’t had much success. But, in terms of what we expect from them, style of play and game plan, I think it’s very similar.
On whether he’s employing more of a game-to-game or longer-term focus:
Well, we still look at segments, and we still look at our success in segments, and we’ve been kind of hovering just below the number of points we’d like to get. If you look at the game the other night, we didn’t give up a lot in that game, but it was tough creating anything. We ended up getting a point, and that point puts us in a playoff spot right now, so it’s a big point. But, that segment’s over, and moving on we’d like to get more than five points in a segment. We scored three goals in four of the last five games. We’ve got to get our goals-against down. It’s cost us. Obviously, the St. Louis game is an outlier. You can get rid of that one. That was a total write-off for us. The Chicago game we kind of had some self-inflicted wounds there, and the PK let us down, and the other night, I actually thought we had a good start, but again, you give up four goals, counting the shootout goal, you need five to win. That’s not the way we need to play. But, we scored three. I think we’ve done a good job of cutting down the opportunities against, we just have to make sure that we manage the puck, especially early in hockey games so we don’t start chasing games. But, to get back to your question, it’s about how we’re playing, continuing to get our team game stronger, making sure everyone’s committed to the same plan here, and I think our guys have done a good job of that.
On whether Detroit is more dangerous as a team with “nothing to lose”:
I don’t know. I just see every team is dangerous in its own way. I think every team in the league is very well coached, and I would include Detroit in that. I think they’ve got some really established veteran guys that have great leadership that have won before, and I think they have some young kids that are trying to take a step. That makes them a dangerous team. I mean, any given night, they can beat any team in the league. We’re just trying to make sure we’re ready, and we always prepare for the other team’s best team.
-Two quotes withheld for today’s practice notes
-Lead photo via Harry How/Getty Images