The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/04/11 at 01:28 PM ET
Updated 9x at 5:28 PM with a great article from Ken Campbell and Babcock and McLellan’s pressers: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the San Jose Sharks tonight (8 PM EDT, FSD/CSN Bay Area/TSN2/“joined in progress” by Versus after the Bruins-Flyers game, so Center Ice/GameCenter Live are unlocked), coach Mike Babcock has chosen to make only one lineup change, as the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness reports:
Kris Draper will play tonight. Still don’t know who he is replacing in the lineup, but all signs point to Drew Miller.
After not practicing Tuesday, Brian Rafalski missed the morning skate. He confirmed he was playing. He just took the extra time off to rest his knee.
Babcock confirmed to the Sporting News’s Craig Custance...
Babcock confirms that Draper is in for Miller. Only lineup change for the Red Wings.
Red Wings lines tonight - Datsyuk and Zetterberg split: 93-13-96; 44-40-11; 8-51-26; 33-43-17
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun...
Babcock confirms Draper is in for Drew Miller, says that’s his only lineup change
Babcock’s lines: 93-13-96; 44-40-11; 8-51-26; 33-43-17.
Babcock on splitting up Datsyuk and Zetterberg: “We didn’t win when they were together.” #sjsdet
DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose...
@DetroitRedWings Draper is in for Game 3, Miller is out.
The Windsor Star’s Bob Duff:
Babcock confirms Draper in for Game 3. Miller scratch. Only Detroit lineup change. #sjsdet
Draper: “I am comfirming it (that he’ll play). I’ll be out there for the anthem.” #sjsdet
NHL.com’s Dave Lozo...
Kris Draper is in for Drew Miller, Babcock confirms. #SJSDet
Babcock reveals his lines: 93-13-96, 44-40-11, 8-51-26, 33-43-17 #SJSDet
Babcock on Niemi: “We have to make him play better.” Pretty sure that was every Shark quote after Game 2 against Chicago last year.
Babcock confirms lineup changes: Draper in for Miller, Datsyuk-Zetterberg split up to start. Why? “We didn’t win when they were together.”
Red Wings social networking manager Jake Duhaime is firing off tweets from the morning skate as well:
Helmer is already looking serious and focused for tonight’s game. http://yfrog.com/h3l0fsdj
Hudler: I want it to be loud tonight. We need to help make it happen, but I want it to be loud and fun tonight.
Abby: We’ve got great fans and they’ve made the Joe tough place to play in the playoffs. I expect the same tonight. http://yfrog.com/h2wq7yzj
Babcock: Draper’s in, Miller’s out and that is my only lineup change at this time.
Babcock: We have to make him (Niemi) play better.
Babcock said that he will use the following pairings in warmups and will go from there. 93, 13, 96 / 44, 40, 11 / 8, 51, 26 / 33, 43, 17.
NHL.com’s Brian Hedger also clarifies Rafalski’s status:
OK, well that was an interesting press conference with #Redwings coach Mike Babcock
Babcock laid out his lines and the top two lines for the #Sharks, then said Rafalski skated in the optional tho nobody watching saw him
#Redwings lines: Franzen-Datsyuk-Holmstrom; Bertuzzi-Zetterberg-Cleary; Abdelkader-Filppula-Hudler; Draper-Helm-Eaves
Miller sits for Draper to play. Babcock said that was his lone lineup chaange ‘at this time.’ #Redwings #SjsDet
And Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area’s Brodie Brazil’s raising an eyebrow:
Optional skate for #redwings : http://yfrog.com/h4r63dbj
Inside the #redwings room. http://yfrog.com/gyg1rrcj
#redwings will split up Datsyuk and Zetterberg tonight vs. #sjsharks
Brian Rafalski didn’t practice yesterday or today, but Mike Babcock just told me he was ‘out there in skates today’. Hmmm #redwings
#sjsharks morning skate is optional today
The Red Wings need to be better in all areas. They need to possess the puck more. They need sustained pressure in the offensive zone (especially on the power play). That means winning the battles in the corners, getting shots through traffic to Antti Niemi and getting 2nd and 3rd opportunities. Niemi gave up 19 goals in 6 starts against Los Angeles in round 1. Niklas Kronwall told the media that the Wings need to test him more.
The Red Wings also need to stay out of the penalty box. The best way to do that is to possess and control the puck. When a team continually chases the opposition, they usually get tired and take penalties.
Detroit will have the last change at home which is an advantage. The last change will give Mike Babcock the opportunity to match his lines better against the Sharks. I’m thinking that Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg will play on different lines at times in game 3. That could cause some match-up problems for the Sharks. Jimmy Howard must continue to be solid in goal for Detroit. He’s played extremely well in all 6 playoff games this post season.
Finally, I loved the support the Red Wings fans gave the team during the Phoenix series. I can’t wait to hear the fans on Wednesday……GO WINGS!
• Via Pro Hockey Talk, Versus posted a game preview…
• MLive’s Ansar Khan posted a late-breaking game preview...
“We need more than one goal,” Detroit forward Pavel Datsyuk said. “We need to make more traffic on (Niemi). They so far have had it easy playing against us. We need to shoot the puck more and make more traffic. We’re pushing, but we’re not finishing. We’re too casual. We need more shots going to the net.”
Datsyuk has been terrific, controlling the puck like he usually does and setting up both goals. Every other forward can step up. With Johan Franzen, Danny Cleary, Todd Bertuzzi and Tomas Holmstrom, the Red Wings have enough bulky forwards with scoring ability who can make it harder on the Sharks.
“We’ve got to get some consistent pressure in the offensive zone, be good defensively,” Cleary said. “Our focus is to get back to the way we’re capable of playing. You got to at least generate more offensive opportunities, which can lead to them taking a penalty or a momentum swing.”
Babcock on Tuesday split up Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, who looked better in Game 2, his second game back after suffering a sprained knee on April 6. Zetterberg was practicing with Cleary and Bertuzzi. Datsyuk was flanked by Franzen and Holmstrom. The Red Wings also need more physical play and energy from their third and fourth lines. Kris Draper, a healthy scratch the first two games, will make his series debut in Game 3.
“We’re not playing how we have to play,” center Darren Helm said. “From top to bottom, we’re not doing a good enough job getting the puck deep, getting shots at net and being hard at the net. It’s hard scoring goals when you’re playing in you’re own zone the whole game. We’re just not playing as physical as we should be.”
• As an FYI from jmwall24:
Related: Still tix available on ticketmaster for tonight’s game. Need these all bought up. Do it Wings fans. http://www.ticketmaster.com/event/0800464D018F508A?artistid=805938&majorcatid=10004&minorcatid=9
• And Eric Furlatt and Marc Joanette will referee tonight’s game, with Greg Devorski and Brian Murphy working the lines.
• Also: Pleiness updated his article:
Wings coach Mike Babcock confirmed that Kris Draper will be in the lineup for Game 3, replacing Drew Miller.
“That’s my only lineup change at this time,” Babcock said. “
Babcock also said he would be splitting up Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Babcock’s reasoning for splitting up was simple, “We didn’t win when they were together.”
Datsyuk will center Johan Franzen and Tomas Holmstrom, while Zetterberg will be between Todd Bertuzzi and Danny Cleary. The third line will have Valterri Filppula centering Justin Abdelkader and Jiri Hudler. Draper will be paired with Darren Helm and Patrick Eaves.
The Wings are just 5-15 all-time when losing the first two games of a playoff series. The Wings are 1-11 when losing the first two games of a series on the road. Their only comeback in that scenario was in the 1963 semifinals against Chicago, when they came back to win in six games.
“We have to find a way to win a game,” Babcock said.
• And MLive’s Ansar Khan just confirmed the lineup change:
Update following today’s optional skate for the Detroit Red Wings: Coach Mike Babcock confirmed that there is only one lineup change for Game 3 tonight vs. San Jose, as Kris Draper replaces Drew Miller. Here are the lines they will start the game with:
Brian Rafalski hasn’t skated the last couple of days, but he said he’s playing tonight. On defense, it’ll be:
• More from Hedger at 11:44:
Babcock on his expectation of chess match: ‘The reason I know this is because we’ve been through this, this year already.’ #SjsDet
Babcock: ‘Once I split up Pave and Z, ‘Couture will be on the left w/Thornton and Setoguchi and Marleau will be between Clowe and Heatley.’
• The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch is at the morning skate as well:
The only lineup change will be veteran Kris Draper for Drew Miller for the Red Wings. #SJSDet
Babcock lines: 93-13-96, 44-40-11, 8-51-26, 33-43-17. Breaking up Datsyuk and Zetterberg. “We didn’t win (with them) together.”
Update #2: Via Dave Coulier of all people…
• Technically speaking, via Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski: Joe Thornton, blah blah blah;
• The Sporting News’s Custance filed a morning skate report...
“We didn’t win when [Datsyuk and Zetterberg] were together,” Babcock said.
Game 3 will be played at Joe Louis Arena. Faceoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET. Babcock then went on to describe the changes the Sharks will make to their lineup in response. “We’ve been through this,” he said of the teams that have gotten to know each other pretty well.
He said the bigger issue for the Red Wings is finding a way to match the Sharks’ level of competitiveness. The Wings need more offensive chances if they are going to get back in this series.
“Their offense isn’t one and done, their offense is one and grind,” Babcock said. “They’re wearing on you, we haven’t done that.”
For Draper, it’s a relief getting back in the lineup for the first time in the second round. Sitting wasn’t easy for the playoff veteran.
“I’ll be honest with you, it’s probably been one of the toughest things I’ve had to do in my career,” Draper said. “Like everyone else, I love this time of year.”
• Ditto for the Free Press’s Helene St. James, who focused on the fact that Babcock wants the Wings to sustain offensive pressure against Niemi…
“Their offense isn’t one-and-done,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Their offense is one-and-grind. And not that they’re getting marvelous opportunities that way, but they’re wearing on you. We haven’t done that to them at all.”
Defenseman Brian Rafalski missed Tuesday’s practice with a sore knee, but said this morning he’s good to go for tonight. He’ll help generate the offense the Wings so badly need as they seek to avoid a 3-0 deficit. So far in the series, they’ve basically only had one forward going consistently.
“I think Pavel’s been the most dangerous forward in the series,” Babcock said. “But I also think that we need more from more forwards than what we’re getting.”
To that effect, Babcock is separating Datsyuk and Zetterberg, who played together the first two games.
“This just gives us a deeper 1-2-3,” Babcock said of the depth down the middle. He also pointed out that the Sharks, of course, will respond with changes to their top six forwards Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Devin Setoguchi, Dany Heatley, Logan Couture and Ryane Clowe.
“As soon as I split up Pav and Z,” Babcock said, “that means Couture will play on the left side with Thornton and Setoguchi, and then Marleau will play in the middle of Clowe and Heatley. The reason I know this is, we’ve been through this this year already. I mean, it’s just one of those things. But to me, and I said this after Game 1, it’s not about the matchups at all. I liked the matchups in San Jose. I didn’t think that had a bearing on the game. I thought they won more 50-50 pucks and both second periods, they’ve been better than us. We need more second chances. We need more from everybody.”
Game 1 of Tampa Bay/Washington drew 724K viewers on VERSUS, while Game 1 of Detroit/San Jose drew 608K viewers.
So a Red Wings/Sharks game that didn’t air in Detroit or the Bay Area beat both games of Preds/Canucks, which did air in Nashville.
Update 2.5: Bleh, per Duff...
#sharks F Logan Couture’s parents can’t come from London, Ont. to see Game 3. Their passports have expired. #sjsdet
Todd McLellan’s response to Babcock’s suggestions for his lines: “We might do that.” #sjsdet
All the talk today: traffic in front of Niemi. #redwings wanting to generate it, #sjsharks ready to eliminate it.
McLellan on potential line changes tonight with both #redwings and #sjsharks: It’s not going to matter.
#sharks up 2-0 on #redwings with 0 goals from Thornton, Marleau, Heatley, Setoguchi, Couture, Clowe. #sjsdet
• More fun from LeBrun...
Sharks coach Todd McLellan would not confirm whether or not he’s changing his top two lines to counterract Detroit’s lines changes
• And the Sharks’ official Twitter account:
If McLellan moves Marleau to the middle on another line, he says it’s about size and strength down the middle . . . if he makes the change.
If we’re lucky enought to win 4 before they do, then great. - Todd McLellan
• MLive’s Ansar Khan also spoke to Brian Rafalski about his knee:
“There was a little swelling in the knee. I’m staying off of it as much as I can before tonight,’’ Rafalski said. “I’m 100-percent sure I’m playing tonight. We’ve got time to take advantage of it, so it’ll be better for tonight.’‘
• And the National Post’s Michael Traikos went for the low-hanging fruit by blathering on about the snow shower issue.
Update #3: the Wings’ website just posted the audio of Babcock’s presser…
As well as Drew Miller speaking with Ken Kal:
Update #4: The Mercury News’s David Pollak plays dueling pressers:
“As soon as I split up Pav and Z,” Babcock said, “that means Couture will play on the left side with Thornton and Setoguchi — I’ll just do this for you. And then marleau will play on the middle with Clowe and Heatley. And the reason I know this is that we’ve been through this already. It’s just one of those things To me,” the Detroit coach said, “it’s not about the match-ups at all. I liked the match-ups in San Jose and I didn’t think that had any bearing on the game. I thought they won more 50-50 pucks and both second periods they were better than us.”
“They were on the puck and ground our D more,” he said. “Their offense isn’t one and done. There offense is one and grind. Not that they’re getting marvelous opportunities that way, but they’re wearing on you. And we haven’t done that at all.”
About an hour later, McLellan was on the podium and the first question was basically asking for confirmation that if Datsyuk and Zetterberg were split up, he would indeed move Couture to left wing alongside Thornton and put Marleau in the middle on the second line. “We might,” was the response.
“When it comes to that, it’s not going to matter,” he said. “It’s going to be five players on the ice competing. They’re all talented, they’ve all played in these situations before. We never get exactly what we want as a coach anyhow. I think way too much is made of matches.”
“It’s not that easy. It doesn’t happen that way,” McLellan said. “Our 18 skaters are going to have to be ready to skate against their 18 skaters irregardless of how the lines are made up.”
Later, he did explain what the Sharks gain if he moves Couture to left wing. “Size down the middle,” he said. “Datsyuk and Zetterberg are very talented players, but they’re also strong on pucks. Patrick Marleau’s 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds and can skate very well. Not that Logan Couture can’t do it — and we may give him that opportunity to do it — but it’s about size and strength down the middle.”
Update 4.5: Here’s Bruce Garrioch’s game-day update:
“I can confirm I’m playing,” said Draper with a smile.
So, did Babcock a few minutes later. Draper will suit up for Drew Miller, who will be a healthy scratch. Babcock also confirmed he’s going to split up Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg to start the game.
“We haven’t won with them together. We’ve got to find a way to win a game,” said Babcock. “To me, (Datsyuk) has been the best forward in this series.”
Babcock predicted with his line changes San Jose coach Todd McLellan will adjust his trios by using Logan Couture with Devin Setoguchi and Joe Thornton, while Patrick Marleau is going to centre Dany Heatley and Joe Pavelski.
“I guess we’re done then,” said McLellan with a smile when told of Babcock’s prediction. “It’s not going to matter. Five players on the ice competing. They’re all talented. Way too much is made about matches. Our 18 skaters are going to have to be prepared to play against their 18 skaters no matter how the lines are made up.”
Update 4.75: More from Khan:
“We got to find a way to win a game. Does this change anything? I’m not certain,’’ Babcock said. “I think Pavel’s been the most dangerous forward in the series, but I also think we need more from more forwards than we’re getting. This just gives us a deeper 1-2-3.’‘
He is hoping Johan Franzen’s sore ankle will be better after two days off, but it might be something that bothers him throughout the series.
“He’s had a day off and he took minimal reps in practice (Tuesday), kind of get his hands going, didn’t test (the ankle) at all,’’ Babcock said. “He’s got to test it today. When he got mad in the third period the other night (Game 2), it wasn’t as sore. So maybe he should get mad right at the start tonight.’‘
Update #5: ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun covers Kyle Wellwood’s family coming to Detroit for the game, Dan Boyle’s renaissance and the Wings’ lineup changes in his game-day report, and he adds this about Brian Rafalski:
“Oh yeah, 100-percent sure, no question,” the veteran Red Wings blueliner said this morning. “Just a little swelling in the knee ... [making] sure it doesn’t get aggravated anymore and get ready for tonight.”
Okey dokey, so about those line changes:
“So, as soon as I split up Pav and Z, that means [Logan] Couture will play on the left side with [Joe] Thornton and [Devin] Setoguchi. [Patrick] Marleau will play in the middle with [Ryane] Clowe and [Dany] Heatley,” Babcock said, deciding tongue-in-cheek to announce San Jose’s line changes as well, igniting laughter in the press conference room at Joe Louis Arena. The reason I know this is that we’ve been through this, this year, already. It’s just one of those things. But, to me, it’s not about matchups. I liked the matchups in San Jose. I didn’t think that had a bearing on the game. I thought they won more 50-50 pucks and both second periods they’ve been better than us. They’ve been on the puck and grind our D more. They’re offense isn’t one and done, their offense is one and grind. Not that they’re getting marvelous opportunities that way, but they’re wearing on us. We haven’t done that enough.”
When told later that Babcock announced what San Jose would do with their lines because Datsyuk and Zetterberg were being split up, Sharks coach Todd McLellan smiled and said, “Guess we’re done here then,” cracking up the media gathering. He was asked specifically about Babcock’s assertion that McLellan would put Logan Couture with Joe Thornton. “We might,” said McLellan.
Then he paused, and got serious.
“You know, when it comes to that, it’s not going to matter,” said McLellan. “The five players on the ice are all talented. They’ve all played in these situations. You never get what you want exactly as a coach, anyway. I think way too much is made about matchups.”
• The Windsor Star’s Bob Duff posted this little ditty about the Newfoundlanders still active in the playoffs, via Ryane Clowe…
“We’ve still got four kicking around and actually, two are doing pretty well in the other side,” said San Jose Sharks forward Ryan Clowe of Fermeuse, Nfld. The two players he referenced are Tom Purcell of St. John’s a right-winger with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who could eliminate the Washington Capitals with a win Wednesday, and Michael Ryder of St. John’s, whose Boston Bruins hold a 2-0 edge on the Philadelphia Flyers heading to Game 3 of that series Wednesday.
“If those two play each other, we’re guaranteed one berth,” Clowe said. “One of us has got to go out here this round, same as last year.” Clowe was referring to San Jose’s second-round Western Conference set with the Detroit Red Wings, which resumes Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena with the Sharks ahead 2-0. San Jose also eliminated Detroit in the second round last spring.
The Wings suit up the one Newfoundlander with a Stanley Cup inscription, forward Dan Cleary of Carbonear, who was more interested in a rally by his team than talk of his old home. “We’ll see how it goes,” Cleary said of the chances of a second player from his province lifting the Stanley Cup. “Right now, it’s looking good.”
All four have contributed to their team’s success. Purcell has 1-8-9 totals and netted his first Stanley Cup goal against the Capitals. Ryder has two goals, including an overtime winner against Montreal in the opening round. Cleary has recorded 1-2-3 numbers for the Wings, while Clowe leads the Sharks in scoring with 4-5-9 totals.
“It’s great for the province,” Clowe said. “They’re really behind us all. There’s a lot of late nights, especially with those San Jose games, but they all stay up. I get a lot of late text messages. It’s fun.”
• As an FYI from the Wings’ Twitter account:
WHO WANTS TO RIDE THE ZAMBONI?: Tweet your Game 3 JLA seat at us for a chance to ride the Zamboni during the first intermission tonight.
• And the CBC’s series blogger spoke to Justin Abdelkader about shifting back to the wing...
“I don’t think it’s hard at all,” Abdelkader said of the change. “I’ve played wing a lot this year and maybe it’ll open up some things for me and I’ll be able to be there on the forecheck more.”
Abdelkader also planned to watch his stick work after being assessed two high-sticking penalties in San Jose.
“A couple of plays that shouldn’t happen, so I’ve got to keep my stick on the ice,” he said
And he talked to the Wings’ players about trying to match the Sharks’ effort tonight:
Wings forward Cleary thought they could continue to build on its third period in Game 2, and felt his team was getting better as the series progressed.
“They played very well and we didn’t play that well,” Cleary said of the first two games. “We believe in ourselves, we’ve got talented players and we’ve got a good team, so we’ve just got to go out and do it. We’ve got to win one game.”
Stuart admitted that San Jose’s run of success against the Wings should be cause for concern.
“They have played well against us, no doubt,” he said. “They seem to get up for us. They’ve won 10 games against us in the last two years, and that’s probably not good for us. We need to use that as maybe a bit of a wake-up call for ourselves to get better. Enough’s enough. The time is now. You don’t want to go down 3-0.”
Update 5.5: The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan just filed his game-day report:
Why split up Zetterberg and Datsyuk?
“We didn’t win when they were together,” Babcock said. “We have to find a way to win a game. This will make us deeper (through lines) 1, 2, and 3.”
Babcock is hoping that Franzen, who didn’t score a point in the first two games, can overcome a sore left ankle.
“When he got mad in the third period the other night, it wasn’t as sore,” Babcock said. “Maybe he’ll get mad at the start tonight. He’s had a day off and he had minimal reps in practice, just to get his hands going.”
Defenseman Brian Rafalski will be in the lineup after missing practice Tuesday with what he said was minor swelling in his knee.
Update 5.75: Ditto for DetroitRedWings.com’s Jeff Sanford:
“I’m looking forward to that first shift going out there,” [Kris Draper[ said. “And like I said, Game 1 and Game 2, personally it was tough. But it’s not about me. It’s not about one individual. It’s about the team and the Detroit Red Wings. Obviously, I wasn’t in the mix, but I stayed in the dressing room, I took warm up. I did everything I could to hang around with the guys and encourage the guys.”
Babcock hopes that Draper’s playoff experience will be an improvement over a shaky Miller, who has been nearly invisible in the semifinals thus far, tallying neither a point nor a shot on goal. Draper’s optimism will undoubtedly be a lift for a Detroit team that is in an 0-2 series hole against the Sharks.
“We just got to win one game,” he said. “You win Game 3, it’s 2-1, and it’s a series. We know that and we believe that.”
And he should know better than most, having been on the 2002 Red Wings team that came back from a 0-2 deficit against the Vancouver Canucks to win four straight. Draper hopes to do the same against San Jose.
“Do we believe we can beat this hockey club?” he said. “Absolutely.”
Update #6: The Wings’ website finally posted Ken Kal’s game-day conversations with Kris Draper and Jiri Hudler…
• And Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakji filed a Sharks notebook.
Update #7: NHL.com’s Brian Hedger filed a trio of stories, starting with a note about Rafalski...
None of the reporters watching Detroit’s optional skate at Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday morning noticed Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski on the ice, but Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said he did participate.
If he didn’t, it would be noteworthy because Rafalski also missed Tuesday’s practice. Rafalski, who plans to play in Game 3 on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS [JIP], TSN2, RDS [JIP]), said missing Tuesday’s workout was a maintenance day to take care of a nagging knee issue.
“Just a little swelling in the knee, getting it out and making sure it doesn’t get aggravated anymore,” he said. “Just getting ready for tonight.”
• Then Draper...
“I’ll be honest with you, [being scratched has] probably been one of the toughest things I’ve had to do in my career,” said Draper, who is playing his 20th NHL season and 17th in Detroit. “Just like everybody else, I love this time of year. I love playing playoff hockey, but with that being said, I just tried to do all the right things for Game 1 and Game 2. Tried to do everything right. It’s disappointing when you’re not playing and it’s frustrating when you lose a couple games. I guess Mike felt like there was going to be a change and I get to go tonight.”
So what was it like having to sit and watch the Wings struggle offensively?
“You feel like … helpless,” Draper said. “I try to do as much as I can to talk to the guys between periods, encourage guys, encourage the players and talk about some stuff that maybe guys saw. I just hung around the dressing room for both games. The bottom line is that everybody wants to be a part of this time of year and when you’re not playing, it bothers you because you want to be a part of it. But it’s not about me. It’s not about one individual.”
Likewise, he’s impressed with how Modano has handled sitting so far. Modano, 40, has played just one game in the playoffs thus far and has said this could be his last NHL season.
“Mo’s been unbelievable,” said Draper. “For a guy who’s going to be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer … Mike’s done so many good things at this time of year and very similar, he and I both really enjoy playing playoff hockey. But we have a lot of depth on this team, and that’s the one thing you realize.”
• And an article about the
So what was it like having to sit and watch the Wings struggle offensively? "You feel like … helpless," Draper said. "I try to do as much as I can to talk to the guys between periods, encourage guys, encourage the players and talk about some stuff that maybe guys saw. I just hung around the dressing room for both games. The bottom line is that everybody wants to be a part of this time of year and when you're not playing, it bothers you because you want to be a part of it. But it's not about me. It's not about one individual." Likewise, he's impressed with how Modano has handled sitting so far. Modano, 40, has played just one game in the playoffs thus far and has said this could be his last NHL season. "Mo's been unbelievable," said Draper. "For a guy who's going to be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer … Mike's done so many good things at this time of year and very similar, he and I both really enjoy playing playoff hockey. But we have a lot of depth on this team, and that's the one thing you realize."">Datsyuk-Zetterberg split-up
So what was it like having to sit and watch the Wings struggle offensively?
"You feel like … helpless," Draper said. "I try to do as much as I can to talk to the guys between periods, encourage guys, encourage the players and talk about some stuff that maybe guys saw. I just hung around the dressing room for both games. The bottom line is that everybody wants to be a part of this time of year and when you're not playing, it bothers you because you want to be a part of it. But it's not about me. It's not about one individual."
Likewise, he's impressed with how Modano has handled sitting so far. Modano, 40, has played just one game in the playoffs thus far and has said this could be his last NHL season.
"Mo's been unbelievable," said Draper. "For a guy who's going to be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer … Mike's done so many good things at this time of year and very similar, he and I both really enjoy playing playoff hockey. But we have a lot of depth on this team, and that's the one thing you realize."">Datsyuk-Zetterberg split-upas an issue not relating to gaining a more favorable match-up against the Sharks’ forwards…
“The reason I know this is because we’ve been through this … this year already,” said Babcock, whose team is in a 2-0 hole in the series after dropping a pair of 2-1 decisions in San Jose. “To me, it’s not about the matchup at all. I liked the matchups (for us) in San Jose. I didn’t think that had a bearing on the games. I thought they won more 50-50 pucks and both second periods they’ve been better than us.”
More specifically, Babcock was not happy with his forward lines being unable to keep the puck in the Sharks’ offensive zone for more than a shot or two at a time.
“They’ve been on the puck and ground our D more,” Babcock said. “Their offense isn’t one and done. Their offense is one and grind. Not that they’re getting marvelous opportunities that way, but they’re wearing on you and we haven’t done that to them at all.”
With Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader stating that they need to step up on the forecheck:
“It’s definitely important getting it into their zone and hanging onto the puck and wearing on their D,” Helm said. “The more time you spend in their zone the more chances you create for yourself. It’s extremely important to have our line going, creating energy and just playing well. We haven’t really done that quite as well as we’ve wanted to in this round. Tonight is a new game and we need to find a way to make sure we are doing those things.”
Within the rules, of course.
“I’m not going to change anything up,” said Abdelkader, when asked about his physical presence in the series. “I’m just going to go out there, play my game and be as physical as I can—but I’m not going to go running around and put myself out of position. There’s definitely a fine line and you want to stay within it.”
• And NHL.com’s Dave Lozo profiled Antti Niemi, who believes that his teammates will continue to keep his sight lines clear:
Niemi has stopped 57 of 59 shots against the Red Wings and hasn’t had to fight through much traffic to make his saves. His defensemen are clearing lanes when he can’t see and rebounds when he can’t control them. The Red Wings spoke at length Wednesday morning about getting more bodies in front of Niemi, something he’s fully expecting his teammates can handle.
“It’s one of the biggest things we can do there,” Niemi said of clearing out traffic so he can see shots. “Sometimes it works, but sometimes the situations come so quick that it doesn’t work because maybe our guy is in the lane. But I think they’ve been really good shots and when they’re not blocking shots, they’re not in the way, either.”
As a goal-scorer, [Devin] Setoguchi is well aware of the importance of taking away a goaltender’s vision but believes Niemi handles it better than most.
“Goalies these days, if they see it, they’re going to stop it,” Setgouchi said. “That’s just the way it is. They never really let goals in when they see it. They’re too good. Nemo battles for pucks so even if there’s guys in front of him, he’s looking around and always trying to make the save. He’s a big reason why we’re here right now.”
• Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area’s Ray Ratto also weighed in on the Babcock-McLellan spat:
McLellan reiterated the fact that individual matchups haven’t the import when two teams are so similarly constructed and have played so often.
“There are no secrets, no magic, no strategies,” he said. “I hear broadcasters and analysts all the time saying how the coach should have had such and such a player on the ice for 10 seconds, but it’s not that easy.”
And Babcock eventually confirmed that theory by saying of his changes, “We didn’t win when they (Datsyuk and Zetterberg) were together, and we gotta find a way to win a game.”
McLellan may not open the game with Couture and Thornton together, because he hasn’t messed with his top three lines in the first eight games of the playoffs, but he can go to them quickly enough if the Sharks got off their traditionally slow start. San Jose’s worst period throughout the season has been the first (they ranked 12th with 69 goals, and tied for first with 94 in the second), and the same has been true in the postseason, where they have two first period goals in their eight games but 12 in the second.
“Maybe it’s the fact that the defense has the longer change in the second period, and we’re trying to be more cognizant of our line changes in the second,” McLellan said. “But I don’t know for sure.”
But as is his postseason mantra in all things, “Maybe.” As in, “We might.”
• Via RedWingsFeed, NHL.com posted a preview/prediction from Bill Clement and John Giannone:
• And, from the Sporting News’s Craig Custance, stuff:
While the Nashville Predators and Vancouver Canucks grind it out in their Western Conference series, the San Jose Sharks have an opportunity to build a commanding 3-0 lead on the Detroit Red Wings and further fuel a team that continues to grow in confidence with each victory. The Red Wings are shuffling their lines, splitting up stars Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. Expect the Sharks to counter by moving Logan Couture to a first line with Joe Thornton.
“When it comes to that, it’s not going to matter,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “It’s going to be five players on the ice competing. They’re all talented; they’ve all played in this situation before. You never get exactly what you want anyhow. Way too much is made of the match-ups.”
It’s not just the Red Wings who face a 3-0 series deficit with a loss. The Philadelphia Flyers face the same challenge after dropping their first two games at home. The Flyers face the Boston Bruins at 7 p.m. ET in Boston. The advantage for the veteran Red Wings and Flyers players? Many of them have experienced similar playoff scenarios.
The challenge for the Bruins and Sharks will be matching the desperation of two potential powerhouses fighting for their playoff lives.
“We know we have to be desperate,” Sharks defenseman Jason Demers told Sporting News. “We have to look at this game like it’s a 0-0 series. The third win is always the most elusive, the hardest to get. That’s our mindset.”
Update: The Wings’ website posted a clip of their playoff pre-game show’s preparations…
As well as DetroitRedWings.com’s Dave Burke’s story about the Wings’ line changes...
Asked about Franzen’s health and if his injury could nag throughout the series, Babcock wasn’t sure.
“That could be, I don’t know that for sure,” he said. “He’s had a day off and took minimal reps in practice yesterday, just to try and get his hands going. I thought when he got mad in the third period the other night it wasn’t as sore, so maybe he should get mad right from the start tonight.”
Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi has played well, but the Wings think they can give him a heavier workload and that the shake-up in lines may help.
“Yeah maybe, obviously we’ve got to change something up and hopefully give us a spark and guys can get some chemistry right away and go from there,” forward Justin Abdelkader said.
Babcock then went in-depth about the way the lines will look at puck drop.
“Well, I’m going to warm them up like this, 93-13-96,” Babcock said. “That’s from left to right by the way. Then I’m going to have 44-40 and 11. Then I’m going to have 8-51 and 26. Then I’m going to have 33-43 and 17. So as soon as I split up Pav and Z, that means (Logan) Couture will play on the left side with (Joe) Thornton and (Devin) Setogucci, I’ll just do this for you. Then (Patrick) Marleau will play in the middle of (Ryane) Clowe and (Dany) Heatley. The reason I know this is we’ve been through this already this year. It’s just one of those things.”
And Michael Caples’ discussion of the difficult odds the Wings face:
“It’s really simple: just win one game,” said four-time Stanley Cup winner Kris Draper. “That’s what our mindset is, just go out, lay everything on the line tonight. I think when you lose two, you realize you just want to be a little bit better. If each player is a little bit better, then the team is going to be that much better, and you’re going to put yourself in the situation to win the hockey game.”
Detroit is 12-11 all-time in a Game 3 after beginning a playoff series in a 0-2 hole. The Wings know the statistics are not in their favor at this point in the Western Conference semifinals – they hold a 5-21 all-time mark in series where they drop the first two games. Draper, Nicklas Lidstrom, Tomas Holmstrom, and Pavel Datsyuk were members of the Wings’ roster last time they came back from the two-game hole. In 2002, the top-seeded Wings lost the first two games – at home – to the Vancouver Canucks in the opening round of the playoffs.
“One thing I’ll never forget is that we landed in Vancouver, and there were brooms,” Draper said. “There were 40 or 50 cars following our bus to the hotel, everyone walked off the bus and ‘Draper sucks’, ‘Hasek sucks’, ‘Shanahan sucks’, you know.”
The Vancouver fans didn’t bother the Wings, who rallied to win both away games by a combined score of 7-3. Detroit won four straight games to advance to the second round.
“The next thing you know, we won Game 3, and the crowd wasn’t nearly as big at the hotel, and then we came back in Game 4 and there really wasn’t too many people there at all. We came back for Game 6, and it was pretty quiet. It certainly did give us a big boost, and those are things certainly we can draw upon.”
Update #9: In the multimedia department, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun filed a 1:34 game-day report in his game-day article;
• TSN’s Jermain Franklin filed a 3:31 game-day report;
• Sportsnet filed a 59-second game-day report;
• The CC posted a 2:46 game-day preview;
• Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area posted a game-day clip of Joe Thornton speaking to the media;
• The Sharks’ website posted a game-day preview;
• If you’re interested, Mark Purdy reports that the Sharks’ players have videos of their “best work” on their laptops, via assistant coach Jay Woodcroft;
• ESPN offers several points to watch during tonight’s game:
* This year’s series is mirroring last year’s conference semifinals series between the Sharks and Red Wings with San Jose winning the first two home games by one goal. The Sharks won Game 3 in overtime last year.
* The Sharks have 12 all-time playoff wins against the Red Wings, one short of the team’s most postseason wins against a single opponent. They have 13 wins against the Avs.
* Detroit averaged 4.5 goals per game in a sweep of the Coyotes and has two total goals in the first two games against the Sharks.
* San Jose went 2-0 in Detroit during the regular season.
• The Detroit Free Press’s Keinv Bull reports that former Wings player and VP Steve Yzerman appeared on the Jim Rome show, and he answered a question about leaving the roost:
On leaving Detroit for Tampa Bay: “I put a lot of thought into the decision. The first month or two months, it was a little scary. I came down to Tampa to all new faces and a completely new challenge for me. I had mixed emotions, at first, being in Detroit for so long. I knew it was something I wanted to do. By no means are we anywhere close to where we want to be. I’m glad I made the decision, but leaving Detroit was very difficult.”
• The Mercury News’s David Pollak spoke to Ray Ferraro about the Sharks’ drive, Jamal Mayers about being a healthy scratch, he took note of the fact that Justin Abdelkader’s taken two difficult high-sticking penalties….
You might think Detroit forward Justin Abdelkader might be in Mike Babcock’s doghouse for a pair of high-sticking penalties that have proved costly – one putting the Red Wings short-handed for four minutes in overtime, the other leading to a power play goal by Ian White. But Babcock indicated this morning that’s not the case.
“I think when you take a high-sticking penalty, it isn’t a big deal. You want to be responsible for your stick, but it happened, a four-minute penalty. Then you come back the next game and right off the hop you take another one,” Babcock said. “As a young player, it probably unsettles you – I know it unsettled the coach. But,” he added, “I’m going to put him out there. We think he’s an important player for our organization. We think with his heavy body, he can cycle the puck and play well. . . .We had an off day and I had an opportunity to talk to him and I’m sure he’s talked to himself. He’s a real proud guy and he does things right.”
And he spoke to Douglas Murray about keeping Antti Niemi’s sight lines clear:
“You want to box them out so they don’t get any second chances,” he said. “Every team talks about it – most goals are scored from deflections and rebounds these days. We’ve got to make sure they don’t get any second chances.”
But is Detroit like any other team in their ability to get that done?
“It is different” with the Red Wings, he said. “They’ve got a couple guys – I’d say Holmstrom is probably the best at it now and one of the best of all time standing in front of the net. When you get guys that are willing to go there and know how to get there and know how to plant themselves, you can’t really get into wrestling matches because then you start bothering the goalie,” Murray said. “You’ve just got to let Nemo handle the first shot and make sure he doesn’t get any second whacks at it.”
• Overall, the Sharks say that they’re ready to match the wings’ intensity and take Game 3 for the second year in a row, as they told the Sharks’ website’s staff:
It’s different circumstances, but for the most part we’ve got to play a desperate game and play like it’s a 0-0 series,” Jason Demers said. “We’re not looking too far ahead, just what’s in front of us. They’re going to be desperate and we’ve got to match that.”
“It seems with them coming home, it will be the hardest one and we expect tonight will be the hardest push,” Torrey Mitchell said. “We know they don’t want to fall far behind in the series and 3-0 is a pretty big mountain to climb. We expect their best hockey.”
“It’s very difficult to come back from a 3-0 deficit. We’re expecting their top game tonight,” Joe Thornton said.
“Our mindset is to continue to play desperate hockey even though we’re not in a desperate situation,” Mitchell said. “It’s tricky because we’re not down 2-0, but we just need to come in and focus on playing desperate. Two separate years but with the experience of going through it, hopefully we can do the same thing this year.”
And the Sharks say that they’re neither worried about the Joe’s bouncy boards…
“They’re lively so you have to be ready,” Patrick Marleau said. “Any shot that goes toward the net could end up in front of the net, even if it misses. It can work to your advantage or your disadvantage, so you have to be ready at all times.”
Nor does Todd McLellan believe that either team really has an “edge”:
“I think it eliminates most of the challenges,” McLellan said. “It’s black and white. It’s the 18 skaters completing hard. There aren’t secrets or trick plays coming into play. I know Mike (Detroit Head Coach Babcock) well enough to know he’s not changing the way he plays at this point. He believes his team can play harder and I believe our team can play harder. It’s very simple. It’s easier in that sense.”
• Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner duly notes that Antti Niemi’s tended to dominate the Wings...
” In seven games, he is 5-1-0-1 with one shut out, a 1.96 GAA and .937 save percentage. Niemi’s playoff numbers versus Detroit thus far: 2-0 with a 0.95 GAA and a .966 save percentage.
Granted, it’s still early in the series and Niemi hasn’t even played 10 total games against the Red Wings. But the pattern developed so far has left me a bit uneasy.
So, I appeal to the great and powerful hockey gods. Mighty overseers of the hockey world, I ask for one small request when it comes to Antti Niemi’s playoff goaltending prowess against the Detroit Red Wings—a little less Jean-Sebastien Giguere and a lot more Ilya Bryzgalov. Thank you.
• Via RedWingsFeed, Ken Holland spoke to the Hockey News’s Ken Campbell about the Wings’ margin of defeat in this series as compared to the beginning of their rivalry with the Avs in 1995-96, when the Wings ran away with the league during the regular season:
“We were playing keep away most of that season,” Holland says of the ’95-96 team. “One night we went into Calgary and we beat them 4-0, they had 14 shots on home ice. We had the ‘Russian Five’ and nobody could get the puck from us.”
So what does that have to do with Game 3 of the Red Wings second round series against the San Jose Sharks? Well, Holland tells that tale to illustrate how slim the margin is between winning and losing. Then he takes his pen out and draws an imaginary line at the top of the wall.
“People think the difference between the team that wins
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