The Detroit Red Wings are gearing up for the 2013 season.  Practices are being held this week at Compuware Arena in Plymouth and at Joe Louis Arena later this week.  Below are some observations from Monday’s practice at Compuware.

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Who looked ready:  Forward Patrick Eaves looked fast and ready to go after missing much of last season with a concussion.  No word if he will be officially cleared to start the regular season.  Henrik Zetterberg looks ready to have a big season.  He was all over the ice and ready to take more of a leadership role on the team (captain announcement coming soon!).  Ian White looks like he will see increased minutes on the power play as the Wings are still going to have to figure out how to divvy up minutes on the blue line with no Nick Lidstrom.  Damien Brunner looked like he may have a roll on this team.  He played fast and looked like a good fit with the other European players on the team.

Who looked out of place:  Newly acquired enforcer Jordin Tootoo looked lost at times during Monday’s practice.  He didn’t seem to socialize with many of the core players and looked confused on some drills.  It remains to be seen what kind of playing time he will see once the season gets underway, but he will be a factor due to his physical style of play.  I don’t think it will take fans very long to jump on the Tootoo train.  (Just no whistles please).  With Thomas Holmstrom retired, it appeared that Dan Cleary will try and move into Homer’s office in front of the net.  He was working on hand-eye coordination for a good portion of practice.  It will take time for Cleary to adjust his game if this is the roll he is looking to play.

Who wasn’t there:  Pavel Datsyuk reportedly was to arrive in Detroit from Russia on Monday.  He didn’t arrive in time for practice.  No word on if he’ll play in tomorrow’s scheduled scrimmage against Grand Rapids.  Mikael Samulesson sat out of practice with a slight groin pull, (I was looking forward to hearing more pucks slam off the glass).  And Darren Helm was also held out of practice due to a back injury.  The Wings will need Helm to fill a huge roll this season, as his speed and defensive play will likely see him matching up against one of the opposing teams top two centers on a nightly basis.

Although I didn’t get an exact count, I would say that there were around 500 people at Compuware to watch the practice on Monday.  (Not bad for a Monday at noon)  The players honored fans at the end of practice by acknowledging them by raising their sticks and slapping them on the ice.  The players got a standing ovation.  The Red Wings and the  Grand Rapids Griffins will play in the Red-White scrimmage before traveling to St. Louis to take on the Blues on Saturday.  The scrimmage starts Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Compuware Arena and is free of charge to fans.  Below is some video from Monday’s practice.

Sam Plymale

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