The Malik Report
Join me in wishing George a Happy Birthday and I will let him announce his age if he so chooses.
It is a pleasure having George around and nobody covers the Detroit Red Wings like George does.
The Red Wings Fathers' Trip begins as the Red Wings play a "rivalry game" of sorts against the Colorado Avalanche this evening (9 PM EST on FSD/NBCSN/Sportsnet 360/97.1 FM), and this one's not a trap game--but it's a deceptively difficult one.
The Avalanche rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Dallas Stars 3-2 in an 11-round shootout on Tuesday, and the Avs have won 3 of their past 4 games (2 shootout wins) while building a 3-0-and-1 record, but Colorado also finds itself in a messy battle to earn one of the Western Conference's wild card spots and/or sneak back into the Central Division's playoff picture.
Teemu Pulkkinen is probably going to spend the balance of the 2014-15 season in Grand Rapids (barring Wings injuries), but that's not necessarily a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination.
On a busy day for Red Wings prospects (see: Dylan Larkin was named the NCAA Division I hockey rookie of the month and Jake Paterson was named the OHL's goalie of the month, both for January), Pulkkinen's 2-goal performance in the Grand Rapids Griffins' 4-1 win over the Toronto Marlies gave Pulkkinen 26 goals and 24 assists for 50 points--registered over the course of only 39 games played--and helping Pulkkinen hang on to the title of the AHL's leading scorer despite having played anywhere from 1-6 fewer games than the AHL's other top scorers.
Jonas Gustavsson also stopped 30 of 31 shots in his second and final "conditioning stint" start (Gustavsson and Xavier Ouellet were recalled after the game, with Tom McCollum heading back to GR), as the Griffins website's game recap notes:
The Wings have made it official (the Free Press's Helene St. James reported this several hours ago)
DETROIT RECALLS OUELLET AND GUSTAVSSON
… Goaltender Tom McCollum Assigned to Grand Rapids …
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings today recalled defenseman Xavier Ouellet from the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins and recalled goaltender Jonas Gustavsson from his conditioning loan with the Griffins. Additionally, the Red Wings assigned goaltender Tom McCollum to the Griffins.
Ouellet, 21, has played 21 games for the Red Wings this season, notching three points (2-1-3), including his first NHL goal on Nov. 28 versus New Jersey. He has also appeared in 24 games with Grand Rapids, recording eight points (1-7-8) and a plus-seven rating. The Bayonne, France, native has totaled 94 career AHL games over the past two seasons, logging 25 points (5-20-25), a plus-10 rating and 40 penalty minutes. Originally drafted by Detroit in the second round (48th overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Ouellet skated in 223 games with the QMJHL’s Montreal Juniors and Blainville-Boisbriand Armada from 2009-13, recording 160 points (41-119-160) and capturing a spot on the QMJHL First All-Star Team in back-to-back seasons (2012 and 2013).
The Red Wings got into Denver a little late due to the sloppy weather that ended up making Metro Detroit's roads a slush-fest on Wednesday afternoon, so their delayed practice + no super exciting news save Xavier Ouellet and Jonas Gustavsson joining the Fathers' Trip + Tom McCollum heading back to GR = it appears that the beat writers chose to incorporate their write-ups into their night-time news cycle stories.
MLive's Ansar Khan bucked the trend to note that Henrik Zetterberg's about a year removed from having to undergo back surgery after losing his year-long battle against a herniated disc at the 2014 Olympics, and both Zetterberg and his teammates agree that the 2014-15 season has been an entirely different animal for the surgically-repaired captain:
Zetterberg, 34, hasn't missed a game this season. He leads the team with 46 points in 50 games, tied for 13th in the NHL before Wednesday's game. He has 10 points (five goals, five assists) in the past six games, clicking on a line with Gustav Nyquist and Justin Abdelkader. The Red Wings are 7-1 in their past eight games.
"He's captain for a reason, he's our engine," Kronwall said. "I think right now he's probably playing the best he ever has."
Zetterberg practiced Wednesday at the Pepsi Center, after taking a maintenance day Tuesday for an issue he said wasn't related to his back. He said he'll be in the lineup Thursday against the Colorado Avalanche (9 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit).
"It's been good, it's been fun to be playing," Zetterberg said. "Last year I just want to scratch from the memory bank. This year coming in I didn't really know how to feel. I've been skating well. I've been feeling good health-wise. Also been playing with some fun linemates, young guys that kind of keep me feeling a little younger."
Khan continues, and Zetterberg certainly looks like someone who's going to be wearing the "C" when the Wings' new rink opens in 2017-18. I'm not sure you could suggest that with any certainty a year ago at this time.
Lost amidst the remarkable stories about Gordie Howe's recovery from his stroke via adult stem cell therapy and his imminent trip to Saskatoon to make a public appearance at the Kinsmen Club's dinner--something that will serve as both a charitable event and a family reunion--was the news that Gordie's brother Vic passed away last Saturday.
There's no small irony in the fact that Vic was apparently suffering from dementia, and Gordie's sister spoke with the Canadian Press about her brother's passing:
Howe's sister, Helen Cummine, said the 85-year-old had dementia and suffered a cardiac arrest.
"It was very, very hard," she said.
Cummine, who lives in Saskatoon, said family members coming to the city to celebrate Gordie Howe's career at a celebrity sports dinner on Friday will probably gather to remember Vic. She added that Gordie and Vic were particularly close and when Gordie was told about his brother's death "there were quite a few tears shed."
"He must have understood," she said. "We're all up in age, so every day is a blessing."
She also said this about Gordie's visit to his hometown:
"When they get off the plane (tomorrow), instead of going to the hotel, Gord wants to come right here," she said. "You go along thinking all these years thinking he's just a brother, and then you see all this outpour of love and support that people have shown. It makes your heart grow a little bigger."
The Ontario Hockey League today announced the Top OHL Performers of the Month for January 2015, including Kitchener Rangers goaltender Jake Paterson.
Paterson has been named the Vaughn OHL Goaltender of the Month for January. The Detroit Red Wings prospect had a memorable month, going 7-2-1-0 between the Saginaw Spirit and his new club posting a 2.27 goals-against-average and a .929 save percentage. Paterson made instant headlines in Kitchener, recording a 29-save shutout in his first appearance with the Rangers on January 9 to blank the Belleville Bulls 5-0. The Mississauga, ON, native stymied the Kingston Frontenacs at The Aud on January 23, making 39 saves in a 2-1 win to earn first star of the game honours. Paterson's final outing of the month saw him lead the Rangers over the Guelph Storm 4-1 on January 31, turning aside 49 of the 50 shots he faced. The overage veteran set the Spirit franchise wins record by a goaltender earlier this season before joining the Rangers.
Paterson was named the OHL's goaltender of the month, Dylan Larkin was named NCAA Division I hockey's rookie of the month, and today, Teemu Pulkkinen's pair of goals in the Grand Rapids Griffins' 3-1 win over the Toronto Marlies gave Pulkkinen 26 goals and 50 points in 39 games played--and those numbers lead the AHL in scoring.
Also of quick prospect-related note, and related to Saturday's Great Skate:
Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika penned a wonderful article about Red Wings coach Mike Babcock and his desire to emulate Bill Belichik and the New England Patriots' winning machine. This part of the article is as good as any as a "where to start," though it's not at the beginning:
Let’s pause here to make something clear: The Red Wings have a multi-year deal on the table to make Babcock the highest-paid coach in the league, and it’s up to him, as it has been for months. Only he knows what he’s thinking. There are a lot of variables. Read the tea leaves at your peril.
But wherever Babcock is coaching, he won’t be content just to make the playoffs every year. And in Detroit right now, he has been encouraged by the Wings’ progress and intrigued by what the Patriots have done.
“I want to win the Cup, period,” he said. “Now, are we as a group willing to do it?”
What does he mean by that? Make the sacrifices necessary?
“Yes,” he said. “And not just that. You’ve got to build your assets, and in the end, you’ve got to make some decisions, too, right? We’ve been in the process of building our assets. Now we think we’ve taken some good steps. … So here we are now. We’re in a better situation.”
Babcock has been part of the process of building the team, putting in the work, grinding every day. He said his job is to develop assets. He admires the way Belichick developed one in Malcolm Butler, the undrafted rookie corner who made the game-saving interception on the goal line Sunday. He added: “Our asset management has been crucial to where we’re at.”
Cotsonika continues, and this is a must-read....
Edit/update: Larkin happened to appear on the NHL Live, and you can listen him speaking about the Hockey City Classic below (via RedWingsFeed):
From Michigan Hockey's Stefan Kubus:
University of Michigan standout freshman Dylan Larkin has been named the Hockey Commissioners’ Association Division I Rookie of the Month for January.
After returning from leading the United States in scoring at the 2014 World Junior Championship, the Red Wings’ 2014 first-round pick showed no signs of slowing down.
The Waterford native led all college hockey freshmen with seven goals and 14 points in six January games and was second only to teammate Zach Hyman in points-per-game average at 2.33. Larkin’s 1.43 points-per-game average on the season ranks No. 2 in the last 60 years among Michigan freshmen, behind only Bruno Baseotto’s 2.0 in 1979-80.
Larkin impressively notched a point in every January contest to extend his current eight-game point streak, in which he has recorded eight goals and 10 assists. It began on Jan. 9 with a two-point performance, including an assist on the overtime game-winner against Minnesota. The next night, he scored a pair, including the game-winner himself, to pull off an impressive sweep of the Gophers and earn himself the weekly Big Ten Second Star honor.
Plus Zetterberg says he is good to go tomorrow.
added 5:26pm, via Helene St. James tweet,
As I said earlier, Xavier Ouellet joining Red Wings Thursday. Team will carry 8 defensemen through this trip, then send someone down Sunday.
About The Malik Report
The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.