The Malik Report
Red Wings off-day news: Fake Henrik Zetterberg’s hard at work; Joey ‘Mac’ and more Wings-Blues stuff
by George Malik on 12/07/11 at 05:14 PM ET
Updated 4x at 5:15 PM with angry Blues: The Red Wings received their first “off day” in a little over a week today, but the gents behind Fake Henrik Zetterberg, Jacob Hawkins and Greg DeLisio, kept Henrik Zetterberg busy by asking his doppelganger—and his nemesis—to endure a little automotive trouble:
You can follow Jacob, Greg and Fake Henrik on Facebook and Twitter, and their characterization of a hockey-gear-wearing office worker who’s just trying to find his niche in the big city left a smile on my face. I don’t know how they got “earnestly Swedish” down, but they’ve done it.
A little closer to home, and sticking with a little identity-establishing promotional news, Grand Rapids Griffins goaltender Joey MacDonald unveiled a pretty awesome goalie mask today, as noted by the Griffins’ website...
One has been an iconic Michigan landmark since 1957; the other, a goaltending standout in the state since 2002. Now, these two institutions have come together in a new mask worn by Grand Rapids Griffins goalie Joey MacDonald that prominently features the Mackinac Bridge and the pair’s shared nickname, “Mighty Mac.”
The brainchild of MacDonald and Griffins equipment manager Brad “Dogg” Thompson, the design showcases a painting of the bridge atop the mask, beneath the “Mighty Mac” moniker. The sides of MacDonald’s mask feature the Detroit skyline and a depiction of Chris Osgood’s mask – honoring his former teammate’s 401 career wins – while the back displays the names of MacDonald’s two children, Camden and Kendall.
MacDonald, who has been sidelined with a concussion since Nov. 5, is expected to return to the Griffins’ lineup and debut his new mask this weekend during the team’s three-game road trip to Milwaukee (Friday at 8 p.m. EST), Rockford (Saturday at 8:05 p.m. EST) and Chicago (Sunday at 4 p.m. EST).
“I’ve spent so much time in Michigan, so instead of focusing on just Detroit or the Red Wings for this mask’s design, I thought I would do something that involved the whole state. I think it turned out pretty well,” said MacDonald, a native of Pictou, Nova Scotia. “The Mackinac Bridge reminds me of some long bridges that we have back home, and I think it’s a nice little tribute to Michigan. This is a great place to live.”
The Griffins’ website also posted a Flikr photo gallery of the unique design…
And MacDonald spoke to the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema about his imminent return from a concussion:
MacDonald was cleared to resume skating with Red Wings goaltending development coach Chris Osgood late last week, and returned to practice with the Griffins on Monday . He’s aiming to be back in the lineup Friday night at Milwaukee.
“You can practice out here all you want, but getting into games is the only way to get game-conditioned,” MacDonald said. “You get in there, they get power plays and you’re in your crouch for two or three minutes at a time or whatever, that’s the only way to get that. Practice is about timing. You get that timing back, your hands come back, feet come back and things take care of itself during games.”
Before he was sidelined by the concussion, MacDonald was off to a strong start with a .930 save percentage and 2.17 goals-against average through nine games. He also had two shutouts. The Red Wings also want MacDonald to be ready should either Jimmy Howard or Ty Conklin be unavailable.
Grand Rapids coach Curt Fraser said the team has not decided whether Tom McCollum or Jordan Pearce would be sent to Toledo of the ECHL when MacDonald returns. McCollum would seem to have the advantage. Since being recalled Nov. 7, he has gone 4-3-0 with 3.17 GAA and won his past three starts. Pearce, meanwhile, is 1-5-0 this season with a 3.81 GAA. Either way, Fraser said the Griffins will look forward to having MacDonald back.
“I think that will be a big lift for our team,” Fraser said. “The kids have been doing a pretty good job in goal, Tommy has won the past three and that’s a big step in the right direction for him. But we need Joey back.”
Shifting focus back to the big club, and getting into more substantive stuff, the Wings’ 3-2 loss against the Blues was something of a self-inflicted wound, and both Fox Sports Midwest and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeff Gordon kick a little salt the Wings’ way, with Gordon suggesting that the Blues’ win marks their official arrival to an elite, Red Wings-like team status…
The Red Wings are still a powerhouse. They are highly skilled, playoff-tested and committed to playing the “200-foot game” every single night. Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg and Co. still set the standard on this side of the league.
Now the Blues appear equipped to reach that very high bar, as a national TV audience saw Tuesday night.The Red Wings came out flying at the Blues at Scottrade Center. The Note responded hit for hit and won 3-2, holding off a late referee-aided Detroit surge.
(Goaltender interference on David Perron for getting checked into the net, but no roughing penalty on Jimmy Howard for throwing retaliatory punches? What was that all about? Did Little Caesars make a delivery to the officials room?)
The Blues have defeated the Red Wings twice on coach Ken Hitchcock’s watch. These high-level victories validate the Note as an emerging power. Believe it, people: The Blues have arrived.
“When you play Detroit, you decide you’re either all-in, because if you’re just a little bit in, they push you right out,” Hitchcock told reporters after the game. “The thing that has impressed me is that for two games now, we’ve had an all-in mentality and we’ve been competitive against them and that’s a really good sign.”
DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose offers a slightly different take on the game, via the Wings coach Mike Babcock and defenseman Brad Stuart, who felt that the Wings’ personnel gave the Blues more than a little hand in terms of digging holes:
“The mental mistakes can’t happen; those are free goals that we just gave away,” said Wings coach Mike Babcock, referring to the Blues’ power play that was 2-for-8 Tuesday. “I would have liked to see our power play play better as well, but in saying that the penalty kill has to be better than that.”
The eight penalty-kills equaled the most for the Wings this season. The other time came in a 2-1 overtime loss to Minnesota on Nov. 1
[T]he Wings gave the lead back when the Blues scored their first power-play goal just two-minutes later when Alex Steen scored off a deep zone face-off with Jakub Kindl serving a tripping minor. Jason Arnott beat Justin Abdelkader on the draw to the right of Howard. The puck went right to Steen at the top of the slot and he fired a slap shot that found its way through Howard’s legs at 9:20.
“I thought the second period was really cooking and a real good period of hockey,” Babcock said. “Obviously, I’m disappointed in the back-to-back goals that we gave up in the third. I thought everything was going our way, we had it setup perfect for ourselves, but you can’t make those mistakes.”
The Blues scored two quick goals to start the third. They took a 2-1 lead when Backes added a pretty power-play goal just 45-seconds into the period following a Niklas Kronwall penalty for delay of game 11-seconds in. Moments later, a turnover deep in the Blues’ zone and a breakout capped by Patrik Berglund’s blast from the left face-off dot gave St. Louis a 3-1 lead at 2:38.
“We made big errors and we made a mistake on the face-off and got picked in on the first one, that’s basically a mental mistake,” Babcock said. “I thought on the second one it was an easy read and we misread (it) and as one guy goes we all go. We were standing there flat-footed, and even on the third goal, (it) was a two-on-two and we played it like a two-on-one. So those are some critical mistakes, and in saying that it was a pretty good hockey game. I thought both teams played hard and we gave ourselves an opportunity and didn’t get it done.”
The game’s only real highlight involved Stuart making a fantastic diving save in Jimmy Howard’s stead…
And Stuart displayed equally deft thinking when a St. Louis reporter suggested that the Wings got away with an obvious, penalty-shot-worthy infraction in Stuart closing his hand on the puck in the crease:
“They took the puck to the net and I fell down,” Stuart said. “I saw the puck was heading over the line, so it was one of those reaction things, just a split second and you just react, and luckily I was able to get it before it went over. If I was to close my hand on it or even partially throw it or cover it, then they could have gotten a penalty shot. I just swept it out and didn’t close my hand on it, it was a good play.”
Sticking with potentially sore spots, the Red Wings’ coaches, players and brass have reacted very favorably to the NHL’s major realignment, but the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa isn’t necessarily a fan—or he at least think that Wings fans received what they’d hoped for because the Wings remained in a Midwestern-based “conference” instead of joining their Original Six rivals in the East—and the Windsor Star’s Mike Mouat sees few positives in an arrangement which still leaves Detroit and Columbus as the only teams in a Central Time Zone arrangement:
So every NHL team will visit Detroit every season, but beyond that what did the Red Wings fans gain? Only one other team in the conference is in the same time zone, so how does that improve the television viewing schedule for the fans. Too many games will start later than wanted.
Six of the teams in the conference are boring. Beyond Chicago who are you excited to see five or six more times a season? Nashville, Columbus, St. Louis, no thanks I’ve seen enough of those teams under the previous format.
“The Board voted for the four-conference format,” Detroit general manager Ken Holland told the Detroit Free Press. “When we talked internally in the organization six months ago, our thoughts were that we wanted to go to the Eastern Conference, but after seeing the presentation for this proposal, it was a good compromise. We get every team in the league once in our building, the first two rounds are within the conference, and we only have to go to California and Western Canada once a season. We think it’s a good situation for us.”
The key words in Holland’s comments are, “we wanted to go to the Eastern Conference.” Yeah, so did all the fans of Red Wings. And any time the word compromise is used in a quote, it isn’t a ringing endorsement of what has been decided.
Sure it is an improvement in travel for the players, but so would have travelling in the Eastern conferences. So all in all the Red Wings fans still get a crappy TV schedule with too many games against boring hockey teams, and I think that stinks.
What do you think?
I’m going to take a stronger stance on this little ditty by the Fourth Period—as in saying, “Um, NO”...
Following another loss to a bottom-feeder team last night, the whispers surrounding the Montreal Canadiens and possible changes got a little louder.
It’s believed Canadiens ownership is seriously considering the possibility of a major shakeup, which could affect both GM Pierre Gauthier and head coach Jacques Martin.
Former Canadiens GM Bob Gainey, now a special advisor to the general manager, has been speaking with President and CEO Geoff Molson about making some significant moves off the ice.
It’s unclear, at this point, whom the Habs are seriously considering to replace Martin, or Gauthier, despite speculation suggesting the likes of Patrick Roy, Gerard Gallant and Randy Carlyle could come in behind the bench, while Red Wings VP and assistant GM Jim Nill could become a candidate to replace Gauthier.
No way. Nill’s got a non-compete clause in his contract to begin with, so the Wings can block him from going anywhere, and…This is just rumor-mongering.
Going back to the promotional well, DetroitRedWings.com’s Christy Hammond has firmed up the details of the Wings’ bell-ringing charitable appearance for the Salvation Army on Friday—which is encouraging a little charitably-based competition…
The Detroit Red Wings will compete for bragging rights this Friday, December 9, to see which duo can raise the most money for The Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign, as four teams bell ring between 4-6 p.m. at different Metro Detroit retail locations.
Head coach Mike Babcock will join Executive Vice President and General Manager Ken Holland, who is serving as Honorary Chairman of the 2011 Red Kettle Campaign for the sixth straight year, at Hiller’s Market in downtown Northville. Six players will pair up at three area stores: the Kroger in Plymouth (Valtteri Filppula & Drew Miller), Hockeytown Authentics in Troy (Justin Abdelkader & Darren Helm) and the Kroger in Birmingham (Cory Emmerton & Jakub Kindl).
Fans visiting Hockeytown Authentics between 4-6 p.m. on Friday can obtain an autograph from both forwards Abdelkader and Helm by making a $10 donation per player to The Salvation Army. Last year, Abdelkader and Helm became the first player tandem to beat Babcock and Holland in the annual bell ringing competition and hope to successfully defend their title.
This season marks the sixth consecutive year the Detroit Red Wings and The Salvation Army are teaming up through the “Red Wings for Red Kettles” initiative to help the nonprofit reach its $8.2 million Red Kettle Campaign goal.
“Both the players and staff have embraced The Salvation Army and have remained committed to helping people in need in our community,” Holland said. “We’re proud to support The Salvation Army again this year, and celebrate their 125th year of serving the people of Metro Detroit.”
In addition to the bell ringing competition, The Salvation Army will have its famous red kettles at Joe Louis Arena for the Wings’ first four home games this month (Dec. 8, 10, 17 and 27). A four-piece brass band from The Salvation Army will play holiday songs on the concourse inside the main Gordie Howe Entrance from 6:00 p.m. until the puck drops to start the game.
WHO: Justin Abdelkader, Mike Babcock, Cory Emmerton, Valtteri Filppula, Darren Helm, Ken Holland, Jakub Kindl and Drew Miller
WHEN: 4-6 p.m. on Friday, December 9, 2011
WHERE: Help fill the Red Wings’ kettles at the following locations:
Hiller’s Market – Mike Babcock and Ken Holland (3:30-5:30 p.m.)
425 N. Center St. Northville, MI 48167
Hockeytown Authentics – Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm
1845 E. Big Beaver Troy, MI 48083
Kroger (Birmingham) – Cory Emmerton and Jakub Kindl
685 E Maple Rd. Birmingham, MI 48009
Kroger (Plymouth) – Valtteri Filppula & Drew Miller
44525 Ann Arbor Rd. Plymouth, MI 48170
In slightly less charitable news, WRIF’s Meltdown is still making the rounds at various Metro Detroit locations with a frickin’ bus promoting Jimmy Howard’s candidacy as a write-in-vote candiate for the NHL’s All-Star Game, and he’s at the Hard Rock Cafe in Downtown Detroit presently…
And finally, for now, anyway, just because Wings prospects fail to pan out as NHL’ers doesn’t necessary mean that they struggle to find professional employment. Of the Wings’ prospects that I recall meeting at my first real “prospect camp,” which the Wings held at the Troy Sports Arena way back in 2004, the vast majority of its participants are still playing professional hockey at some level.
Guys like Drew MacIntyre, Eric Himelfarb, Evan McGrath, Tyler Haskins and European prospects like Miroslav Blatak, Andreas Jamtin, the infamous Igor Grigorenko, ANton (not Dick) Aexelsson and Mikael Johansson aren’t household names, but they are playing hockey either in the AHL or abroad, and according to NHL.com’s Bill Meltzer, Haskins is playing for Wolfsberg in the German league. Not earth-shattering news, but interesting nonetheless.
Update: The IIHF is confirming the presences of Red Wings prospect Teemu Pulkkinen (Finland), Petr Mrazek (Ottawa) and Mattias Backman (Sweden) on their countries’ respective 2012 World Junior Championship teams, but Marek Tvrdon and Tomas Jurco are not listed on Slovakia’s rosteras the Slovaks are apparently going with their country’s in-house Under-20 team for the vast majority of their team’s roster.
This is no less than shocking, as was the Czech Republic’s decision to “blacklist” Mrazek last season, and the Hockey News’s Ryan Kennedy mentions Mrazek’s situation last year while noting that Team USA of all organizations also tends to “blacklist” players:
Last year, Ottawa 67’s goaltender Petr Mrazek was left off the roster, despite being a Detroit Red Wings draft pick and one of the better netminders in the Ontario League, particularly in the playoffs the year prior. He’s there this year, but I have to wonder if it’s because the Czechs are in very serious danger of actually getting relegated and that would be worse than proving a point to a teenage eloper. The Czechs did, however, leave Patrik Bartosak off their preliminary roster. Bartosak happens to be one of the better netminders in the Western League this season and was even named Canadian League goaltender of the week in mid-October. Maybe the Czechs felt they only needed Mrazek for the tournament and Bartosak will get his shot next year. But wouldn’t Bartosak benefit from just being at the tournament? Curious.
Update #2: Thomas McCollum played particularly well for the Grand Rapids Griffins in Joey MacDonald’s stead, but the Griffins have still chosen to send McCollum to the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye instead of Jordan Pearce.
Update #3: I’d like to thank the Hockey News/KK’s Lyle “Spector” Richardson for attempting to quash those silly Alex Semin rumors while weighing in on the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman’s suggestion that the WIngs will spend some of their cap space in an effort to bolster their size and strength up front, possibly by grabbing Carolina’s Tuomo “I’m the sane brother” Ruutu. Here’s what Richardson suggests in his Hockey News rumor roundup:
The Red Wings have been linked by Internet-generated rumors to Washington’s Alexander Semin, but their preference is a physical winger with a decent scoring touch, such as Carolina Hurricanes right winger Tuomo Ruutu.
Veteran Wing Todd Bertuzzi has seen his skills decline to the point where this could be his final year as an NHL player. With only seven points in 20 games so far, the 36-year-old Bertuzzi is on pace for only 25 points this season.
Ruutu, 28, had eight goals and 14 points in 29 games on a thin Hurricanes roster, putting him on pace for 22 goals and 38 points and making him an attractive replacement for Bertuzzi in the short and long term.
Bert’s gotten back to his old “new” self since recovering from a sinus infection—and he’s probably going to put up 35-40 points again, as usual (I’m not worried about Henrik Zetterberg, either: he’s taking longer than Pavel Datsyuk to adjust to being one of “the” guys in the room, and I think he had a broken hand at one point as he was wearing this big chunk of plastic on his left glove when the Wings played the Bruins the day after Thanksgiving)—but I’m among the camp of Wings fans who believes that the team needs one more big body up front to get through the Sharks and Canucks, so I really do hope that the Wings make some sort of move to get bigger…
• Via RedWingsFeed, WXYT’s Eric Thomas joins the Krupa camp by suggesting that Wings fans should “quit whining” aout the NHL’s realignment compromise as it applies to the Wings, while the Free Press’s Jamie Samuelssen offers a more thoughtful take on the situation:
Seriously, if you have a problem with the new NHL, I’d love to know a realistic way that it could be better. And please save the talk about contracting teams and returning to the good old days of the Original Six. Let’s at least have this conversation in 2011 where there are teams in Miami and Phoenix and Nashville. We can’t go backwards (although the Atlanta to Winnipeg move was a nice start.) The challenge was to take the new NHL and make it appealing to the hard core fans and the potential new fans. And they did as well as they could.
The first and most obvious benefit is the placement in teams in the new “conferences”. For the record, I don’t understand why they can’t be divisions. They look like divisions. They sound like divisions. They ARE divisions. But regardless of what you call them, they have grouped them pretty well from a geographic standpoint. The Wings will still head West on occasion. But at least we know that they won’t head West until the third round of the playoffs at the earliest. For as much as people complained about travel, the bigger issue was always time zones. When the Ducks or the Sharks play here, it’s 4:30 on their body clocks. When the Red Wing play in California, it’s 10:30 on their body clocks. That is a distinct advantage for the West Coast team and that fact was always glossed over by people who defended the Wings in the Western Conference.
The new format also is a nod to the traditionalists who get a return of the divisional (oops…sorry “conference”) playoff format. Maybe you’re tired of seeing the Preds and the Blue Jackets four or five times a year. But the thought of building rivalries and then manifesting those rivalries in the postseason is a really good idea. Let’s face it — baseball feasts on the thought of the Yankees playing the Red Sox in the postseason. The NBA loved the Lakers-Kings rivalry a decade ago. The NHL is going for the same thing here. Not only is it less travel, but it’s also the chance for a simmering feud to really explode in a seven-game series. And you have the chance for that every season. I’ve long contended that the NHL would be better off catering to its longtime, hardcore fans rather than going after fans it will never get. This new playoff format seems like a step in that direction — kind of throwback to the days of the division playoffs.
The other great thing that this ensures is that every market gets to see every player every season. The NBA does this. MLB does this. The NFL tries to do this now on a rotating basis. For Wings fans, that means the guarantee that the Leafs, Canadiens and Bruins come to the Joe every year which placates the traditionalists. For the rest of the league, it means that Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin make at least one visit a year. It may not seem like much, but if you’re trying to grow fans, it helps to have the games biggest stars available to see live every year. It’s an event when the Lakers play at the Palace regardless of how good or bad the Pistons are. Hockey is trying to create that same “event-like” atmosphere.
Update #4: Via On the Wings’ Matt Saler, uh, wow, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy rutherford:
According the Blues, Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard got away with throwing a few punches at David Perron Tuesday night. With 2:43 left in the third period of the Blues’ 3-2 win over the Red Wings, a game that was 3-1 at the time, Perron was pushed into Howard by Detroit defenseman Brad Stuart. Howard angrily jumped to his feet and went after Perron, eventually landing on top of him and tossing some jabs.
“It’s a quick play, bang-bang, and I tipped it on goal,” Perron said. “(Howard) slides across. I think at least half of his body was outside the crease. I’m trying to avoid him but (Stuart) pushed me into him. I understand the goalies want to have that security in the net, not to get hit, but when you get pushed in, it’s tough to avoid contact.”
Perron was playing only his second game back after 10 1/2 months off with a concussion, and like fans who winced when Howard was throwing punches, so was No. 57.
“I was just trying to protect myself because obviously I didn’t want to get one in the head or something,” Perron said.
That drew more players over, but there were no fights. When the dust settled, Perron skated to the penalty box with the lone penalty. He couldn’t believe that Howard was penalized.
“To be honest, I’m surprised he didn’t get an extra penalty for that,” Perron said. “Because their d-man pushed me in, and then he jumps on me. At the end of the game, it should at least be even. It’s tough because they scored a big goal. If it’s only 2-1 for us, and they tie it up, then we have to fight back from a call like that. But in the end, we move on.”
At the other end of the ice, Blues goalie Brian Elliott said he watched the situation in amazement. Earlier in the period, Elliott was knocked in the head by Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader, who received a charging penalty.
“Howard jumps on and doesn’t get a penalty for it?” Elliott said. “I asked the ref on the ice if I could do the same thing if I got hit again. I don’t know ... that’s why I think you need to keep fighting in the game because you almost need to police yourself out there.”
Also: On the bright side of Howard, via RedWingsFeed, here’s a clip of WRIF’s Meltdown’s Vote for Jimmy campaign:
And Nick on Sports’ Nick Barnowski wrote a suerb post about the Wings’ WJC particpants-to-be, as far as we know, anyway, in Teemu Pulkkinen (Finland), Petr Mrazek (Czech Republic), Mattias Backman (Sweden) and probably Marek Tvrdon and Tomas Jurco (Slovakia), assuming that they haven’t been blacklisted by the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation.
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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.