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Red Wings coach Babcock tells Keating that Jimmy Howard’s hurt hip flexor; Howard says he’s fine

I have no clue what it means, but Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told Fox Sports Detroit's John Keating that Jimmy Howard "hurt himself" at the end of the Wings' 3-1 win over Los Angeles, and Babcock declared that Howard would be "out for a while." As such, Petr Mrazek will start against the Ducks on Sunday.

Fox Sports Detroit's Darren Eliot reports that it's a hip flexor injury, and as hip flexors aren't exactly groins, "out for a while" could mean one game. We'll have to wait and see.

The Wings' beat writers are confirming that Howard has a sore hip flexor, and if I may be frank, if Howard's going to be able to back up Mrazek, he's probably not going to be out for a couple of weeks here. Hip flexors are tricky--Pavel Datsyuk and I deal with hip flexor soreness of the significant variety--but when they're not chronic, a tweak is a tweak. Again, we'll have to wait and see. Which sucks, but it's the truth.

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Red Wings-Kings quick take: Howard, Sheahan and Tatar star in a hard-fought win

The Red Wings have fallen into some predictably poor habits with Jimmy Howard entrenched as the team's starter over the past couple of games--the team's bafflingly both allowing itself to be out-shot by a significant margin and it's subterfuging its puck possession game by losing faceoff battles as well.

With Daniel Alfredsson (back spasms) joining Pavel Datsyuk (lower-body?), Johan Franzen (concussion) and Darren Helm (groin) on the "not going to play this weekend" list, and with the Wings playing a team that looks more and more like the 2004 Calgary Flames as the supposed crackdown on obstruction and interference (in Saturday night's game, goaltender interference in particular) continues to erode, you had to know that the Wings and Los Angeles Kings would battle to win or loss of the one-goal, 1-0 or 2-1 variety.

On Saturday night, Howard assuaged his sub-par performance against the Sharks with a fine x-save performance, and the Red Wings received rather desperately-needed goals from their support players in the form of Riley Sheahan's first NHL goal and a clutch game-winner that Tomas Tatar very publicly dedicated to his recently-passed father en route to a slightly surprising result--a 3-1 Red Wings win over the Kings.

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Jimmy Howard Continues To Work On His Game

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

“Everyone goes through bouts like this through their career,” Howard said. “It’s frustrating when it keeps happening. You just got to find a way.”...

He continues working with goaltending coach Jim Bedard on and off the ice searching for answers.

“We’re just constantly trying to work on staying low in your crouch, getting your hands up and out, like I’ve always been.” Howard said. “Continue to hammer that home.

“We always do video. We look at the areas that have been going really well and also look at things we can do better.”

After Thursday’s game, Babcock noted his injury-depleted, offensively challenged club’s slim margin for error, which heightens the importance of strong goaltending.

“We’re not getting to four (goals), we’re getting to three, max,” Babcock said. “You got to keep them to two and under.”

Said Howard: “It’s not like I’m not working hard and not trying, it’s just that things didn’t go well,” Howard said. “It’s not like I was sitting there pointing fingers at other guys. I always take the blame when I know it’s on me.”

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Detroit’s Practice Update

St. James tweets,

Henrik Zetterberg & Daniel Alfredsson not practicing with #RedWings, but Ken Holland said he hasn't been told of injuries, so guessing rest

Pavel Datsyuk, Darren Helm & Johan Franzen all practicing for third straight day. Would think at least one plays Saturday.

Updates will continue as needed.

added 5:25pm, via Khan tweets,

Datsyuk is centering line with Tatar and Bertuzzi. Franzen centering Abdelkader and Samulelsson. Helm is not taking part in line rushes.

The other lines: Miller-Andersson-Nyquist, Cleary-Glendening-Eaves.

added 5:57pm, Beat writers update..

Babcock says Helm, Datsyuk and Franzen will not play tomorrow, Howard will start and Sheahan in for Samuelsson.

Also Zetterberg and Alfredsson had a maintenance day, both will play Saturday.

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Report- No Hearing Scheduled For Cleary Elbow

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For the moment, it doesn’t sound like Brian Rafalski’s worried about making an ‘NHL’ comeback

Paul posted DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose's conversation with former Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski about what I guess we'll call a faith-based comeback, but you'll note that Rafalski told Roose that he doesn't plan on uprooting himself from the Fort Myers-Naples area at present...

Asked if the Wings showed interest in him playing for their ECHL affiliate in Toledo, Rafalski said: “I’m not leaving (Florida). I have too many commitments here right now. There are those things that would have to be address. My family is established here with my two boys in school. They’re not going anywhere.”

And ESPN's Scott Burnside added more context as to why Rafalski's doing what he's doing...

A father of three boys, Rafalski has been active in coaching youth hockey in the Sanibel Island area, not far from where the Everblades play. He approached the team about serving as chaplain when he and his family moved to Florida after his final NHL season.

For the past two years he has met with players on a weekly basis, often taking the group to lunch, a gesture that wasn't lost on young players not making a lot of money, coach Greg Poss told ESPN.com Friday.

As well as where Rafalski goes from here:

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Placing Anthony Mantha’s scoring exploits in context

Anthony Mantha had a big return to the QMJHL after an unsuccesful-in-the-results-department World Junior Championship run with Team Canada (though he proved at least some of his detractors wrong along the way), scoring 2 goals in the Val-d'Or Foreurs' 4-1 win over Drummondville last night.

His status as the QMJHL's leading scorer (with 37 goals, 38 assists and 75 points registered over the course of all of 33 games played) and statistical milestone-setter despite a 3-plus-week absence may be put into a little perspective, however, via this video from Hockey Prospect Videos, illustrating that Mantha's status as having genuine 30-to-35-goal-scoring potential does not change the fact that he's playing major junior hockey, not professional hockey--because pro hockey doesn't allow you to wind up and wait for a picture-perfect pass on a repeated basis:

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Riley Sheahan On His Way To LA

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Bad Night For Jimmy Howard And Wings’ #1 Line

from Helene St, James of the Detroit Free Press,

"We gave up two ugly goals," coach Mike Babcock said. "Anyway you look at it, with the team we have right now, we've got to play with real good structure, we've got to work real hard, and we've got to get good goaltending. We didn't get all of that, so you have no opportunity."

Howard, who made 44 saves Saturday at Dallas, got the hook after letting in four goals on 23 shots through two periods. He made a handful of saves early in the second period, but then allowed a bad goal to Andrew Desjardins that made it 2-1. Before long Joe Pavelski had netted his second of the game, and Dan Boyle put a rally out of reach with a power play goal.

"I thought Howie had his best game of the year last game," Babcock said. "Wasn't good enough."

Howard declined to talk to media.

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Game highlights below...

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

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Red Wings-Sharks quick take: I didn’t need a concussion to know the Wings were in for a headache

I've been sidelined for the past week and may miss a bit more time as going through the spin cycle at 45 miles an hour (on my way to the Winter Classic, no less) has left me with a concussion. As such, I really didn't need to watch Thursday night/Friday morning's 4-1 Red Wings loss to the San Jose Sharks to be left with a pounding headache...But I watched anyway.

I'm just baffled as to how the Wings could've not known that they were walking into the trap they so brazenly trapised into after four full days off. You would think they had to have known that no Datsyuk, no Franzen (concussion buddies forever!), no Helm and no Ericsson meant that the team had much less margin for error than usual.

You would think that they had to have known that adding in a little rust would mean getting off to a strong start (no dice) and staying out of the penalty box (phantom calls and dives or no phantom calls or dives).

You would think that everyone from Jimmy Howard on out would know that the Sharks would work the cycle down low and try to pick the corners of the net, and you would most certainly think that the Wings of all teams would know that Joe Pavelski loves nothing more than playing teams wearing red.

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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.

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