The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/23/12 at 01:37 PM ET
Updated 6x with Bertuzzi, Eaves, Datsyuk and Quincey news at 2:01 PM: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the Vancouver Canucks tonight (7:30 PM EST, FSD/Sportsnet West/NHL Network U.S./97.1 FM), I’m going to jump the gun a little bit and note that the Todd Bertuzzi contract signing was confirmed by the Wings. who announced contract terms for the first time…ever?
The Red Wings re-signed veteran forward Todd Bertuzzi to a new two-year contract extension Thursday morning at Joe Louis Arena. Bertuzzi, in his 16th NHL season, and fourth with the Wings, agreed to a two-year deal worth $2.25 million per season.
The 37-year-old Bertuzzi has had a career rebirth, of sort, with the Wings, finding a home on the team’s top forward line along with Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen. Bertuzzi has 12 goals and 29 points in 54 games this season and has become an incredible shootout threat for the team.
GM Ken Holland also issued a brief statement to the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan...
As expected, forward Todd Bertuzzi has signed a two-year contract with the Red Wings; he would have been a free agent at the end of the season.
“We’re very happy to keep Todd in Detroit for another two years,” Wings GM Ken said Holland. “He’s played a big role on the team this season as one of our top six forwards and has really worked hard to become a dependable two-way player for us. He fits in really well with our group, both on the ice and in the locker room.”
Bertuzzi, 37, has 12 goals and 17 assists in 54 games this season. He is seventh on the team in points and fourth with a plus-21 rating.
But we’ve got something of a numerical disparity from MLive’s Ansar Khan:
The Detroit Red Wings officially announced today that they have signed forward Todd Bertuzzi to a two-year contract extension.
The deal is worth $1.975 million in 2012-13 and $2.175 million in 2013-14, for a salary-cap hit of $2.075 million. That’s slightly more than his current deal, which has a cap hit of $1.937 million.
The contract also has a no-trade clause.
–G Jimmy Howard made 27 saves and kept his team in the game with some key stops. He returned after missing eight games with a broken right index finger Feb. 2. The workhorse Howard figures to see a lot of action the rest of the season as he attempts to get back into a groove for the playoffs.
–RW Dan Cleary returned after missing five games with a sore knee, which needed to be drained twice and required two cortisone shots. Cleary struggled, with one shot on goal and no points in 14:48. It will take him a few games to get comfortable.
–C Valtteri Filppula, moved to center in place of the injured Pavel Datsyuk, scored the only goal for the Wings, on the power play, at 2:22 of the first period. It was his 17th goal, two short of his career high set in 2007-08. Filppula had just one goal in his previous 17 games.
Joey Mac has won the hearts of Hockey Town after winning six straight games in downtown Detroit, games of course that helped the Wings set the all time NHL record for the most consecutive wins on home ice. MacDonald was phenomenal preserving the home winning streak, and it wasn’t one of those situations where he only had to be average because the forwards and defensemen around him were so good. Nope! On multiple occasions Joey was hung out to dry but made save after save to keep the electricity and atmosphere top notch at the Joe as the winning streak continued. MacDonald allowed just one goal in three of the six games that he played at home and allowed two goals two other times. The bottom line is MacDonald was GREAT; so does he deserve the chance to try to make it 7 in a row for him and 24 overall? During the winning, MacDonald also moved ahead of Ty Conklin as the backup goalie. Conklin has been waived and since been sent back to Grand Rapids, while Joey gets to stick around for the remainder of the season.
So who should it be?
I say it’s got to be Howard!
Sure MacDonald is trustworthy and is now a part of history, however we can’t forget that while the 6 straight games that he won is amazing, Howard won 17 in a row. It was one thing to continue to start MacDonald because there was no other option and Jimmy needed to heal, but now times have changed and it’s time for Howard to get full reps and get ready for the second season.
As hard as it is to believe, the streak is not the most important thing going on with this team right now.
In case you haven’t checked out the Western Conference race lately, let me help you out… It’s close! Detroit not only needs 2 points every single night but they also have to continue to gel as the playoffs are right around the corner with the conference being so tight. Howard is the best man for that job. I know MacDonald gives fans the optimism of that “diamond in the rough!” A guy that has all of a sudden has come into his own and is a force to be reckoned with. And he could be that guy eventually, but Jimmy is that guy right now.
As good as MacDonald has been, Howard has continued to improve season after season and if he is not in net come the postseason, the Wings will not advance very far no matter who the backup is.
I also think psychology has something to do with Babcock’s decision come later this evening. What kind of message does it send to Howard if MacDonald gets the nod against the Canucks? I know for a fact that Jimmy wanted to play in that Sunday afternoon game against the Sharks but was passed over because Joey was playing so well and his finger could use the extra couple days to heal. But now that Howard is healthy, how can you not start him? Jimmy has proven it over the course of a long season already while Joey has put together 6 very good starts. I say go with the track record!
I know a goalie controversy doesn’t exist in Hockey town currently, however if Joey Mac gets the nod later tonight, I believe one will be created and could wreak havoc on all involved.
Goaltending is not an issue for the Red Wings. Jimmy Howard is just starting. For all the angst about the position in the past, Howard has overcome the notion no Detroit goaltender will ever be good enough in the eyes of the fans and media. Howard is good enough. Should the Red Wings not capture the Stanley Cup title this spring, it is doubtful it will be because Howard was shaky.
While positing the following theory:
The Red Wings are the ultimate example, as many stars as they have, of the great benefit of the team concept. It’s why they have made the playoffs for two decades straight. It’s why they’ve won championships. It’s why they are arguably the most consistent and best team currently in professional team sports.
I’m not sure if you’d agree with MLive’s Josh Slaghter’s suggestion that Mike Babcock’s the 5th-best coach in Detroit sports history, behind one Scotty Bowman at the top of the heap…
And in terms of actual morning skate updates, here’s what we’ve got thus far from the Red Wings’ Twitter account...
NEWS: The Red Wings have signed Todd Bertuzzi to a two-year contract extension. Per club policy, terms of the deal are not disclosed.
GM Ken Holland on Todd Bertuzzi: “We’re very happy to keep Todd in Detroit for another two years.”
More from Holland: “He (Todd Bertuzzi) fits in really well with our group, both on the ice and in the locker room.”
The Wings have just finished their morning skate at JLA. New addition Kyle Quincey skated alongside Jonathan Ericsson.
As well as these from MLive’s Ansar Khan...
Wings on ice for morning skate. Quincey, as expected, skating with Ericsson.
Datsyuk said he hopes to start skating Friday and is confident he can return in two weeks.
Babcock said he’ll use same lines and D pairs, with Quincey in for Kindl, as last game, in warmups, but hinted he will mix it up afterward.
And some very interesting quips from the Free Press’s Helene St. James:
From morning skate here at the Joe: Quincey practicing on power play opposite fellow point man Ian White. #redwings
Also, #redwings officially announce Todd Bertuzzi extension this morning.
Spoke to Patrick Eaves this morning - he has started skating on his own but no estimate on when able to practice. Dealing with headaches.
Quincey wearing 27
Spoke with Pavel Datsyuk this morning. Was limping a bit, but worked out, said he hopes to be back on ice soon. Still 2-3 weeks (knee).
Update #1: Per the Vancouver Province’s Gordon McIntyre:
Bitz hits the ice for optional morning skate.
Bitz joined by Alberts, Sulzer, Schneider
Here’s a game set-up from the Vancouver Province’s Jason Botchford...
The Canucks [set-up]: So much for a couple of weekend blowouts against the Oilers and Leafs. The Canucks started strong, but fizzled badly in Nashville on Tuesday, losing their first game in regulation in a month.
Roberto Luongo hasn’t lost in regulation in back-to-back games all year.
The Red Wings [set-up]: The 23-game record home streak is alive, but how long can it last without Detroit’s best player? Pavel Datsyuk is out two to three weeks after knee surgery, leaving a hole in Detroit’s lineup the size of Lake Michigan.
Three things to watch
1 Ryan Kesler. He’s has been good in Detroit (four goals, five assists in 12 games), and he could have the most to gain with Datsyuk out of the lineup. Whichever defensive matchup Wings head coach Mike Babcock chases, it should be advantage Kesler.
2 The end boards. The old boards in Joe Jouis arena have a lot more bounce than just about any in the NHL. Nick Lidstrom is an expert at taking advantage. A lot of times, his point shots miss the net on purpose. He hits the boards instead, and when the puck leap frogs into the slot, the Wings get excellent scoring chances.
3 The Wings’ second line. Without Datsyuk, Zetterberg will play on the Wings’ first line with Johan Franzen and Todd Bertuzzi. It means Daniel Cleary moves to the second line to play with Jiri Hudler and Filppula. Cleary has just missed five games with a knee injury. Looking for places the Wings will be exposed without Datsyuk? Start here.
By the numbers
23 vs 20: The 23 is where the Wing’s home streak sits. It’s an NHL record. The 20 is the number of road wins for the Canucks this season. By far the best in the West. This is a clash of the titans. The best road team vs. the best home team in the NHL.
• If you’re keeping score at home, ESPN Dallas’s Mark Stepenski reports that the Wings and Blues are tied in regulation or OT wins with 34 apiece;
• The CBC’s Tim Wharnsby just happened to profile Shelby Township’s David Booth;
• The CBC’s Glenn Healy answered a reader question about the Wings’ home-ice record...
4. The Detroit Red Wings currently hold a great home-ice advantage. What is it about playing at home that gives the team that one up on its opponent?
From Jace Smythe
These are a few of the advantages of being at home versus playing on the road. The home team gets last change so they have the ability after faceoffs to put the players on the ice that they think will neutralize or take advantage of their opponent. The rink at home has a certain amount of familiarity and in some cases like Detroit it can be an intimidating place to play if you are a visitor. The home fans in some rinks are a factor and can act as a seventh man on the ice to create momentum. It is the visiting team that has to put a stick down on faceoffs first and this gives the home team a strategic advantage to win more draws. The biggest advantage, through, is that you never want to play poorly in front of friends and family so if you’re going to stink then stink on the road.
• As an FYI, Wings prospect Riley Sheahan will finish the regular season portion of his junior year playing back-to-back games for Notre Dame against Michigan State University;
And here are more tidbits from Khan...
Patrick Eaves skated lightly by himself before practice, for about the 5th time, but isn’t anywhere close to returning.
Eaves, on if he thinks he’ll be back this season: “I really don’t know. It’s been slow. I’d love to come back but we’ll see what happens.’‘
Eaves on shot: “I had to watch it again so see what happened. I didn’t remember. I saw it (puck) go on the side, so I turned my head.’‘
Datsyuk on injury: “I felt it after San Jose game. Maybe it was bothering me a little bit (before), but not like what happened in (SJ) game.
Datsyuk, on when he can start skating: “Tomorrow. ... No. Maybe not. We’ll see.’‘
ESPN’s Craig Custance...
DRW and Bertuzzi talked about a 1-year deal for more money but Holland said he’s comfortable w/2: “It’s a cap number we thought was good.”
And St. James:
Pavel Datsyuk (knee) on why he worked out off ice today: “No time to relax. And I check, no free tickets to Florida.” #RedWings
Update #1.5: From Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy:
Not expecting any changes in #canucks line-up. Byron Bitz skated for a 2nd straight day but its unlikely he’ll play. Luongo starts.
The Free Press’s Helene St. James just posited her morning skate report as well, and she notes that Kyle Quincey doesn’t want to jinx the Wings’ winning streak:
“I was thinking about that,” he said this morning. “A lot of people were asking me about Colorado Saturday night, but trust me, I’m really focused on tonight. I don’t want to be the guy that messes that up. These guys aren’t talking about that. They’re just trying to get the win. It’s a big game.”
Coach Mike Babcock said he will use Quincey at even strength with Jonathan Ericsson. Quincey practiced opposite Ian White during the morning skate’s power play stretches.
Up front, Babcock said he’ll start with the same lines as at Chicago:
The Wings have just a two-point lead on the Canucks for the top spot in the Western Conference.
“I like playing Vancouver,” Babcock said. “I like the way they play, I like their depth. It’s going to be a fun game. We’ve got to hold up to our end of the bargain. That’s how you get better as a team. It’ll be a good test for us.”
Update #2: More from St. James:
Kyle Quincey on being waived by Wings: “At the time, it was actually awesome, because it gave me an opportunity to play.” #RedWings
• If you’re interested, part 3: the Grand Rapids Press’s Peter J. Wallner reports that the Grand Rapids Griffins’ $1 beer promotion remains incredibly controversial;
• And the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness’s morning skate reports include a conversation with Todd Bertuzzi about his extension…
“It’s pretty awesome,” said Bertuzzi, who will earn $1.975 the first year and $2.175 million in the second year. “When it was brought up to me to stay here it was a no brainier. I wanted to stay here. It’s fun to come down to this rink every night. I’ve always enjoyed, even as a visitor, coming in and playing in this arena,” Bertuzzi added. “I was just fortunate the second go around to get a call back from Kenny (Holland) and to comeback and play. It’s been a really good fit for myself.”
The Wings first got Bertuzzi, who just turned 37, prior to the trade deadline in 2007. After that season, he signed a two-year deal with Anaheim before returning back to Detroit after that contract ran out.
“He’s been a real good player for us, has scored in the mid-40s every year, he gives us a presence of size,” Holland said. “He’s obviously a guy who has found good chemistry for the last couple of months with Pavel and Mule. I think he’s training harder now then he did earlier in his career like a lot of players do. He’s happy here and at the end of the day, we had talked about a one-year deal at a higher number or a two-year deal at a lower number, I think the way he skates and the way he trains the two years didn’t bother me because it was a cap number that we thought was good for our team and he liked the term.”
Bertuzzi, who was in the final year of a deal that paid him just under $2 million, has played on the Wings’ top line, along with Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen, after missing six games earlier this season with a back injury. He has 12 goals and 17 assists in 54 games this season and is a plus-21, which is the second best plus-minus rating amongst the forwards. Franzen leads the forwards at a plus-26.
“The body feels good, obviously playing with Pav and Franzen has given me some jump in my step,” Bertuzzi said. “It’s nice to get done now the main focus is get ready for the playoffs and winning a Cup. It’s the place I want to stay and play,” Bertuzzi added. “When Kenny and Pat (Morris) figured out two years was doable it was an easy decision for myself to accept. I like flying under the radar here, with the amount of talent we have and the emergence of (Valtteri) Filppula and the play of (Jiri) Hudler it’s an easy fit. Just go out do your job, work hard and try and get as much as you can. Just get to the corners and get the puck to them and let them do their thing.”
And Kyle Quicney about jumping in with both feet, if you will:
As Wings coach Mike Babcock put it, “Nick Lidstrom will either play with (Niklas) Kronwall or (Ian) White so that means (Kyle) Quincey will either play with Kronwall or White. That’s how the Wings’ blue line with look after they traded for Quincey on Tuesday.
“Getting a chance on the power play to play with these great players is a huge opportunity for me,” Quincey said. “I’m really excited for tonight. I was fortunate to be here for the Stanley Cup run, watching these guys and learning from guys like Cheli and Schneids and Nick and Kronner, all those guys, it meant so much to me, and getting an opportunity to come back was so awesome and I’m looking forward to it,” Quincey said.
Quincey will be paired with Jonathan Ericsson for 5 on 5.
“I’ve played with Big E in Grand Rapids,” Quincey said. “Hopefully it’s a pretty seamless transition.”
Babcock also said Quincey will be getting time killing penalties.
Update #3: The Free Press’s Helene St. James posted a Eaves/Datsyuk update…
“I’m doing a little better,”[Eaves] said. “I can skate by myself, but it’s nothing serious. I think it’s more therapeutic. It hasn’t been fun, but, I’ve been with my family and my daughter, so I’m trying to make the best of it.”
Eaves said he’s “day-to-day. Symptoms come and go. It’s a slow process.”
As for playing again this season, Eaves had no answer. “I really don’t know. The way things are going, it’s been slow. I’d love to come back, but we’ll see what happens. I have good days and bad days.” Eaves said he has a headache, “every day. It just depends how bad it is, and then all the stuff that comes with it.”
Datsyuk was in much better spirits, as he faces a far shorter and surer recovery time. He underwent surgery Tuesday morning after complaining of pain Monday evening. An MRI revealed an old fragment, so doctors cleaned up the knee. Datsyuk is expected to be back by mid-March at the latest.
“I feel something,” Datsyuk said. “I can’t move my leg. We need do surgery. I feel it after Sunday game.”
Asked how soon he can skate again, Datsyuk said, “tomorrow,” then smiled and said, “maybe not.” He stuck to working out off ice today. “No time to relax. And I check, no free tickets to Florida.”
As well as a pair of quips from Ken Holland via Twitter:
#RedWings GM Holland on approach to trade deadline: I watch closely. Do I root against other teams? No. I root for the Red Wings.
More #RedWings GM Ken Holland on trade deadline: If we do nothing between now and Monday, I’m OK with it.
• Here’s MLive’s Ansar Khan’s morning skate report…
“A lot of people were asking me about (playing) Colorado (his previous team) on Saturday night, but trust me I’m really focused on tonight,’’ Quincey said. “I don’t want to be the guy who messes that (streak) up. But these guys aren’t talking about that, they’re just trying to get the win. And I know (Vancouver) is pretty close behind us (trailing by two points). It’ll be a big game, exciting game to watch.’‘
Quincey worked with Ian White on the second power-play unit. Coach Mike Babcock said he hadn’t decided if he’ll keep Nicklas Lidstrom and White together on the top power-play unit or use Lidstrom with Niklas Kronwall. Quincey said he was the “last to find out’’ about the three-way trade between Colorado, Tampa Bay and Detroit.
“I was in the dentist’s chair and I had about 50 messages when I got out,’’ Quincey said. “The trade was already made with Detroit before I found out, so that was kind of nice.’‘
Babcock said he’ll start the game with the same lines he used in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss at Chicago, but things might change quickly, like before the drop of the puck.
“We weren’t very good last game,’’ Babcock said. “We moved lots of people around.’‘
And Khan filed an Eaves report...
“Symptoms kind of come and go, it’s a slow process,’’ Eaves said. “I have (a headache) every day and it just depends how bad it is.’‘
He said he is “a ways’’ away from being able to practice and isn’t sure if he’ll be able to return this season. It appears doubtful.
“The way things are going, it’s been slow,’’ Eaves said. “I’d love to come back, but we’ll see what happens. It’s taking a lot longer than I would like. Of course I’m optimistic about the season. I’m a pretty optimistic person. I’d love to play this year, but I also have to get this looked after.’‘
Asked if he remembers anything from the play, he said, “Not really. I had to watch it again to see what happened. I didn’t remember. I saw (the puck) go on the side, so I turned my head, I still didn’t think it would get up that high.’‘
Said coach Mike Babcock about Eaves: “Relative to where he was he’s doing fantastic, but relative to where he was before blocking the shot he’s not doing very good. In saying that, he comes in on a regular basis, skates and shoots the puck around. Patty is going through something that’s not very pleasant, but he’s going in the right direction and that’s what’s most important for us.’‘
And a Datsyuk update:
“I felt it after San Jose game (Sunday),’’ Datsyuk said. “Maybe it was bothering me a little bit (before), but not like what happened in San Jose game.’‘
Asked when he will resume skating, Datsyuk said, “Tomorrow.’‘
“No. Maybe not. We’ll see,’’ he said.
Asked about his off-ice workouts, he said. “No time to relax. No free tickets to Florida, I need to work out.’‘
• Here’s Ted Kulfan’s morning skate report...
“No time to relax,” said Datsyuk, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Tuesday. “I checked (my locker) and there was no free tickets to Florida, so I have to work out.”
Datsyuk agreed with original estimates that he will be out 2-3 weeks.
“I think so,” Datsyuk said. “Two weeks, I hope so. … I feel good. Everything was good (with the surgery).”
The pain in Datsyuk’s knee became intense during Sunday’s victory over San Jose.
“I felt something and I couldn’t move my leg,” said Datsyuk, who added he was fine before playing Sunday’s game. “I needed surgery. Maybe it (the pain) was bothering me a little bit but not like it was in the San Jose game. I felt it after the game and I checked and it was better to do it now,” while there’s plenty of time to recover before the start of the playoffs.
Datsyuk joked he might even go on the ice for a skate Friday. Then he paused, for effect.
“Maybe not,” he said.
Here are some Twitter comments from Kulfan, too:
Busy day in Red Wings’ world….let’s recap and analyze….1) Bertuzzi re-signed for 2-years, $4.15 million - Would u have believed it?
I mean seriously, would u have believed Todd Bertuzzi would still be an integral part of the Wings’ into age 38 or 39? Surprising. Then 2)
Good to see Patrick Eaves (concussion) at the morning skate. He’s dealing with headaches almost daily but more visible around JLA lately.
Doesn’t sound as if Eaves will return this season. But that’s not as important as his health. 3) Strange to see Kyle Quincey back in Wings’
room but felt as if Quincey had never left. He’s paired with Ericsson; the 2 played together in GR. Seemless transition to say the least.
And 4) Datsyuk said he feels fine, knee began hurting Sunday’s Sharks game, and 2-3 weeks sounds about right..newsy day indeed around JLA.
• On the Canucks’ side of things, Iain MacIntyre is reporting that Roberto Luongo will officially start for Vancouver tonight, and Gordon McIntyre says that Byron Bitz probably won’t play, and, from “The White Towel...
Province Sports columnist Ed Willes delivers the morning Hat Trick before the somewhat important Canucks-Red Wings game Thursday …
1. Every now and then, the essence of a game boils down to one simple point. This is one of those games. Canucks win in regulation and they’re tied for first in the West, with a game in hand over the Wings. First place means home-ice advantage in the playoffs. It means drawing the eighth seed in the first round. It means a huge psychological advantage going forward. That’s a lot riding on one game.
2. Whose best players will be their team’s best players? The diabolical Pavel Datsyuk is out for the Wings but they still have considerable firepower. The Sedins, for their part, broke out of a stupor in a big way against Toronto and Edmonton on the weekend, then disappeared against Nashville, which leads us to our third point . . .
3. It’s a homecoming for a pair of Michigan boys on the Canucks – Ryan Kesler and David Booth – and they have to be difference-makers on this team. The Sedins are about skill and finesse. Kesler and Booth are about speed and power, and those attributes tend to stand out in playoff-type games.
• And it’s not that they’re being presumptuous or anything, but the Vancouver Province posted a 23-image gallery of the Wings’ home winning streak, given the Canucks’ desire to end it and all.
Update #3.5: The Canucks’ website’s Derek Jory tossed off another Booth story;
• Here are a few Twitter updates from WXYZ’s Tom Leyden...
Warm handshake between Kyle Quincey & Ken Holland this morning at #RedWings skate. Seemed like it was first time they’d connected since deal
RedWings Holland basically said you can never guarantee a first round pick will play in NHL for 10 years. He says Quincey will. Done deal
#RedWings Patrick Eaves was at the Joe today - told me he’s still suffering from sporadic headaches. No problem with jaw at all.
• The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan filed a Quincey report...
Quincey says his new teammates aren’t talking about the streak: “They’re just trying to get the win, and I know (Vancouver) is right behind us.”
The Canucks enter Thursday’s game two points behind the Wings in the Western Conference.
Quincey had five goals and 18 assists in 54 games with the Avalanche, with 60 penalty minutes. Quincey was originally dealt to Tampa Bay Tuesday before he was immediately flipped by Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman to the Wings for a 2012 first-round draft pick and prospect Sebastien Piche.
“I was the last to find out,” Quincey said of Tuesday’s deals. “I was in a dentist chair and had 50 messages when I got out of there.”
The Wings waived Quincey before the start of the 2008 season, deciding to keep Derek Meech. Quincey landed with Los Angeles, which eventually traded him to the Avalanche. Coach Mike Babcock was glad for the opportunity to add Quincey into his defensive mix.
“Anytime you make a decision to keep veterans and let kids go, it always has a chance to come back to bite you,” Babcock said. “But he’s played real well. We think it’s great for now (to get Quincey) and good for the future of our team.”
• And Fox Sports Detroit’s art Renger spoke about Datsyuk‘s situation:
Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk was feeling good and in his usual playful mood Thursday. He told reporters the arthroscopic knee surgery he underwent Tuesday to remove fragments and clean up the ligament went well and that he hopes to be back in the lineup in early March.
“I feel good, yeah, everything good, thank you,” Datsyuk said when asked about his surgery.
Datsyuk said he discovered something was wrong with his knee when he couldn’t move his leg Sunday after Detroit’s victory over San Jose.
“It may have bothered me a bit before, but nothing like after Sunday’s game,” he said.
Datsyuk said he would begin skating again Friday, but even he couldn’t keep a straight face afterward, saying, “Maybe not.” He said that he’ll do off-ice work in Detroit for the time being because he checked and “there are no free tickets to Florida. I need to work out.”
Asked if the two-week timeline for his recovery was accurate, Datsyuk replied, “Yeah, I think so. Two weeks, I hope. We hope. It’s better to do it now (the surgery).”
Update #4: Here’s the Vancouver Province’s Gordon McIntyre’s text game-day update:
BITZ UPDATE: Byron Bitz skated this morning, but is unlikely to play tonight. There were no coaches around to confirm tonight’s lineup.
Chris Higgins is expected back after missing practice on Wednesday in Nashville because of a couple of stitches he required on his thumb after he blocked a shot in the third period Tuesday against the Predators.
Roberto Luongo again starts in goal, while Andrew Alberts and Alex Sulzer will be healthy scratches.
BIG BERT EXTENDS: He’ll probably be just as grumpy as ever, but Todd Bertuzzi has a reason to smile tonight, four million of them.
The former Canuck has signed a two-year contract extension with the Red Wings that pays him $4.15 million over the term.
• Ken Holland was just as chipper as could be while talking to ESPN’s Craig Custance about re-signing Bertuzzi...
“The way he skates, the way he trains, two years didn’t bother me because it’s a cap number we thought was good for our team and he liked the term,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said.
“He gives us a presence of size (6-foot-3, 235 pounds). He’s a guy that’s found good chemistry the last couple months with (Pavel Datsyuk) and (Johan Franzen). I think he’s training harder now than he did earlier in his career, like a lot of players do.”
• As was Bertuzzi when he spoke to DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose:
“You have to [evolve] if you want to play and play in situations out there,” said Bertuzzi of his recently adapted role with Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen. “You have to be responsible in both ends. Fortunately, I get to play with one of the best in the league at stealing pucks and being responsible that way. You don’t want to be the one dragging them down. You have to make sure to keep your end of the bargain up.”
Keeping up his end of the deal hasn’t been a problem for Bertuzzi. Actually, it even landed him a shiny new two-year contract extension worth a reported $2.075 million her season. And as irony would have it, Bertuzzi’s deal was announced on the same day that a bobblehead with his likeness will be distributed among fans at the Wings’ game Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena.
“I think it just worked out that way,” he said. “It’s nice to get a bobblehead, being appreciated and all that and I want to thank the fans for voting.”
The 37-year-old Bertuzzi has had a career rebirth, of sort, with the Wings, finding a home on the team’s top forward line. He has 12 goals and 29 points in 54 games this season and has become an incredibly creative shootout threat for the team. He leads the Wings with a 66.7 percent scoring rate and three game-deciding goals in shootouts this season. He’s also among a long line of veteran players whom the Wings have picked off the NHL trash heap and revitalized their careers with the likes of Danny Cleary and Mikael Samuelsson, to name a few. Veteran players migrate to the Wings for the ever-present opportunity to win a Stanley Cup each spring. But general manager Ken Holland would also like to believe that there is an established leadership consistency in the team’s locker room with captain Nicklas Lidstrom, and Steve Yzerman before him, that helps refine the careers for some older players.
“Then it’s up to the player and Bert’s worked real hard on his conditioning,” Holland said. “I think he’s happy for a lot of reasons. He’s close to his home in Ontario, I know his family’s happy, he likes the hockey program, he’s bought into Mike Babcock’s system. I think he’s really committed to playing a two-way game, when he’s on the third line he’s accepted a lesser role. What is it? I don’t know. he other thing is that he’s older. When you’re 20, the way you look at life when you’re 20 to 24 and the way you look at life when you’re 35 to 39, those experiences that you went through effect the way we all look at life. I think we get a lot of guys in their early 30s and their late 20s and their perspective on life is different than it was earlier in their career.”
• Did somebody say a pre-pre-game video from the Canucks’ website is what you’ve been ordering? Well here you go:
Update #5: Remember how awesome the Larry Murphy trade turned out? 2 Cups, a post-hockey career as an overenthusiastic FSD analyst and that magical love for meat in tube form? TSN wants you to remember what may have been the Wings’ best deadline deal this side of Brad Stuart.
Update #5.5: More Bert from the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:
Isn’t it fitting that Todd Bertuzzi finalized a two-year contract extension with the Red Wings on Thursday — on Todd Bertuzzi Bobblehead Night? Bertuzzi says it’s just a coincidence.
“It just came all together like that, but it’s nice to get a bobblehead and be appreciated like that.”
Bertuzzi, who signed a two-year extension worth $4.15 million, and the Wings host Vancouver on Thursday night, when the bobbleheads will be given away. Bertuzzi, 37, has enjoyed a renaissance season, of sorts, with 12 goals and 17 assists in 54 games, a plus-21, and 54 penalty minutes. Bertuzzi could have been an unrestricted free agent this summer, but that wasn’t on his mind.
“This is where I wanted to stay and where I wanted to play,” Bertuzzi said. “It’s nice to get it done, and now the main focus is to get ready for the playoffs and go after the Cup.”
“I like playing under the radar here with the amount of talent we have,” said Bertuzzi, who was an elite power forward earlier in his career with Vancouver. “The emergence of (Valtteri) Filppula, the play of (Jiri) Hudler — it’s just easy to go out and do your job and work hard and try to get as much done as you can. You try to be a crutch for the guys and go into the corner and get the puck, get it to them, and let them do their things.”
Said coach Mike Babcock: “(Bertuzzi) has been a real reliable guy for us defensively. He’s changed his game so that he doesn’t have to produce offensively all the time, so he can just be a good player on your team. We like him to be big and he’s big every shift, a good skater, and he’s a good team guy.”
Update #6: Here’s a fantastic story on Kyle Quincey from WXYZ’s Tom Leyden...
“We left obviously on good terms,” said Quincey [about meeting Ken Holland]. “I was so fortunate to be here for that Stanley Cup and just watching those guys and learning from guys like Cheli and Schneids and Nick and Kronner and all those guys. It just meant so much to me. Getting the opportunity to come back is so awesome and I’m just looking forward to it.”
“Quince will play on the power play and the penalty kill for us,” said head coach Mike Babcock. “We’ll figure things out over time, who eventually ends up his partner and all that stuff, but him and Ericcson will give us a real good pair and will start tonight together.”
During the morning skate, Ericsson was chatting a lot with Quincey, trying to rekindle the connection they once shared in when they played together in Grand Rapids.
“He’s been a top-four defenseman with the teams he’s been playing with, LA and Colorado,” said Ericsson. “He’s done a good job there, both on the power play and on the penalty kill so he can play in pretty much any situation out there. He’ll be good for us. Even more depth in the back here.”
Also making news today was the official announcement of Todd Bertuzzi’s two-year contract extension.
“We don’t have a lot of big guys, with skill,” said Holland. “He’s a big guy with skill. We’ve got some players coming, but they’re not ready to make the team next year, so we like him and we’re doing it for two more years.”
Bold that and frame that quote: “We’ve got some players coming, but they’re not ready to make the team next year, so we like [Bertuzzi] and we’re doing it for two more years.. Like I said yesterday, the Wings do have bigger, stronger and nastier players in the pipeline, but Sheahan, Parkes, Callahan, Lashoff, Aubry, Andersson, etc. need another year or two to mature…
As for tonight’s game?
“I like playing Vancouver,” said Babcock. “I like the way they play. I like their depth. it’s gonna be a fun game and we gotta hold up to our end of the bargain. That’s how you get better as a team and it will be a good test for us.”
Here’s the video which accompanies the story…
• And here’s the Globe and Mail’s David Ebner’s game preview:
As the Vancouver Canucks arrive at the fortress of the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, giddy with the chance to snap the Red Wings’ record run of 23 wins on home ice, the No 1 position in the NHL at stake, it is the second period that could be the decisive frame of the game.
The Canucks are 1-1-1 versus the Wings this season but in the second are terrible, outshot 55-23 and outscored 4-0. It’s the same problem Vancouver generally has had this year. The team is one of the league’s best in the first and third period, but in the second the Canucks have been outscored 65-57 this season and outshot 656-616.
The oddity of a weak middle frame flanked by strong first and third periods has a parallel in the Red Wings’ results. Detroit is a near-perfect 26-2-1 at home - the last 23 wins rung up consecutively, of course - yet on the road the Wings are a whole other team, 15-16-1.
Unlike Detroit this season, Vancouver brings it on the road. With 20 wins, the Canucks have the most points while travelling in the league, a feat that is a testament to the team’s sturdiness, given their often-gruelling itinerary. (Just consider the current six games in 10 nights, Edmonton, east and south to Nashville, north to Detroit, east again to New Jersey, way back southwest to Dallas, over to Phoenix, and home.)
Henrik Sedin says Thursday’s game generates a rare excitement.
“If you have a team that has won that many games in a row, you want to be the ones to beat them,” the Vancouver captain said this week.
If Vancouver wins in regulation it will take the No 1 spot in the league, tied at 84 points with Detroit with a game in hand. (The New York Rangers are close behind, three points back, and have several more games in hand.) Some wags and cranks like to dismiss the value of the No 1 standing in the regular season, happily asserting that achievements such as the Presidents’ Trophy don’t matter much when it’s really only the Stanley Cup that counts. And yes, sure, that’s true, in one sense. But come the Western Conference finals in May, should the Canucks and Wings meet, both sides would crave home-ice advantage with a trip to the final on the line.
• One more thing, from Michigan Hockey:
Former Red Wing Shawn Burr is taking on a fight away from the ice next month. Burr was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) in 2011, and in the final stages of his recovery, he has been working hard ever since to raise money and awareness for the cause. On March 17, The Shawn Burr Foundation will host the “Hockey Cancer Classic” at Great Lakes Sports City rink in Fraser.
Now cancer-free, Burr is spending much of his time helping others with their fight with AML. The money earned at the event will be donated to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Michigan and the University of Michigan medical center’s research center for AML.
The game will feature Detroit Red Wings alumni taking on the SBF (Shawn Burr Foundation) All-Stars followed by a special VIP party at Andiamo restaurant in Warren. Fans interested in participating in the event or donating money can either attend the game (tickets are a $10 donation to the Sean Burr Foundation), or stop by the post-game VIP party at Andiamo.
For more information regarding the event, please visit the Shawn Burr Foundation website at www.shawnburrfoundation.org.
With that, I must step out shortly: I have to take my mom to her orthopedist as her back is particularly troublesome of late, and she very badly needs to get some medical attention here. I probably won’t be back till 5-ish, but I’ve got to place her ahead of the blog.
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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.