DETROIT — Red Wings fans may hold a grudge, but the team has moved on from its unsuccessful run at defenseman Ryan Suter and forward Zach Parise.
On Friday night at Joe Louis Arena, the fans booed both Suter and Parise when they were introduced as starters for the Minnesota Wild. They booed Suter nearly every time he touched the puck, which was a lot, considering he played a game-high 32:02.
Suter had an assist and Parise had two goals, but it was the Wings who got the win, 5-3, to improve to 2-2-0.
Players and coaches don’t worry about that kind of thing because the nature of their business calls for them to live in the moment.
“I didn’t start the rumors about coming here, so I can’t do anything about that,” Parise said. “Getting booed? I didn’t really even notice. That happens in this league. Oh well.”
Wings coach Mike Babcock noticed but professed not to care.
“I didn’t pay any attention to that,” Babcock said. “I just know when Toots (Jordin Tootoo) is out there running over people and Helmer (Darren Helm), they’re cheering like crazy. I like hearing that.”
Babcock isn’t concerned about players the Wings didn’t get in free agency, just as he can’t afford to care when injured players aren’t available.
But two players who weren’t available until Friday were Todd Bertuzzi and Darren Helm.
Bertuzzi, who turned out not to have mononucleosis but just a bad cold, got to play with magician Pavel Datsyuk and Valtteri Filppula and scored two goals.
“I love playing with Pav, obviously,” Bertuzzi said. “I’m very lucky at this age (37) to be playing with a world-class player like that. I enjoy it and I relish it, and I think I do help him a little bit with some room and kind of getting the puck to him as much as possible and going to the net and all of that.”
Bertuzzi’s first goal was a shot by Filppula that hit his body and went past goaltender Josh Harding. The second was a pretty passing play from his line mates.
But Datsyuk credited Bertuzzi instead.
“It looks like we play on his line,” Datsyuk said. “He’s the oldest guy on our line, and he controlled everything. He played well, had fresh legs and did well.”
Helm’s return from a back injury was critical because the Wings decided to hold a special parade to the penalty box with nine infractions in all. The Wild were 1-for-8 with the man advantage.
“The penalty kill was outstanding in the first period, obviously Howie (goaltender Jimmy Howard) was a huge part of that,” Babcock said. “(Friday night) was a game your specialty teams could have won for you real easily.”
The Wings may not have gotten Parise, but they did add Swiss sniper Damien Brunner, who developed chemistry with Henrik Zetterberg during the lockout.
It was Brunner who snapped the Wings’ 0-for-17 power-play stretch with a pretty shot to the top left corner of the net 13 seconds into the second period, the first goal of the game. Last season, the Wings started the season 0-for-18 on the power play.
Datsyuk later scored the eventual game-winner on the power play near the end of the second.
“It makes it a lot easier,” Zetterberg said. “Next time you go in you have a little more confidence to make the right plays. Now we just got to keep going. We know we’re going to get our chance on the power play. We just have to take advantage.”
Things aren’t perfect for the Wings. They need to get Jonathan Ericsson and Jonas Gustavsson healthy, they need to get better defensively, they need more from their power play and they need to improve on face-offs.
But what they don’t need is to worry about not having Suter and Parise.