The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/21/11 at 06:03 PM ET
If the Detroit Red Wings had planned on holding practice today, it’s highly likely that the players received a welcome day off due to the absolutely brutal driving conditions subsequent to eight-to-ten-inches of wet, fine-grain snow which is still sticking to Metro Detroit’s roads like Krazy Glue. Given the number of accidents and general insanity I witnessed while out this morning going to an appointment which couldn’t be postponed, if the Wings did hold practice, I’d suggest that there’s at least half a dozen Beemers or Land Rovers spun out or kissing a railing somewhere between Novi and Joe Louis Arena.
As such, here’s a scattershot set of updates and general wings gnus complimenting this morning’s tidbits
• First and foremost, if you didn’t notice my mention that the Sporting News’s fan poll of the greatest NHL teams ever picked the 2001-2002 Detroit Red Wings as the NHL’s best-ever team by a wide margin, the Detroit News wants you to take note of the news;
• The status of a Red Wings player who did not take part in the Wings’ 2001-2002 Cup run will determine whether Red Wings GM Ken Holland chooses to make a move at the trade deadline, as the Sports Forecaster notes…
Chris Osgood, G, Detroit Red Wings
2011/02/20: The Detroit Red Wings are expecting Chris Osgood (groin) to start practicing on Tuesday or Wednesday. Osgood has been out of action since January 7 and underwent sports hernia surgery. He has been skating and faced a few shots in goal on Friday but practicing will be a big test for the veteran goalkeeper. If things do not go well for Osgood this week, the Red Wings may be forced to deal for a backup netminder for Jimmy Howard by the Feb. 28 trade deadline. Stay tuned as Osgood will likely get into four or five games the rest of the way if he is healthy.
That’s per the Free Press’s Helene St. James.
I guess it isn’t a surprise that, after two weeks of relatively positive Wings-related comments, one Ryan Lambert chose to return to reproductive-organ-head form in saying this about the Wings in his weekly “What We Learned” grumble/grouse fest:
Detroit Red Wings: “Osgood’s status could prompt trade at deadline.” His status is that he’s terrible and the Red Wings shouldn’t rely on him at all. There, I solved the problem.
If Lambert were any more confrontational and smarmily mean-spirited, Stan Fischler would have to share his “Grandpa Simpson” title with the much-younger Lambert as both are, how shall I say this politely, a “bit off.” Either that or Adrian Dater would have to make room in the Space Canoe.
• A member of the Wings’ 2001-2002 Cup-winning team, Chris Chelios, spent part of Saturday evening signing autographs prior to the Saginaw Spirit’s game against the Sarnia Sting, and he spoke to the Midland Daily News’s Mike Spencer about pressing Sharpie to memorabilia...
“It’s been a long line of autographs,” said the 49-year-old Chelios, a veteran defenseman who played for 27 seasons and on three Stanley Cup champions, including the Red Wings in 2002 and 2008. “But it’s been nice and a piece of cake compared to being out on the ice and playing in the National Hockey League. I got a warm welcome from the people here.”
And he talked about his role with the Wings:
“I do a little bit of everything, but this is part of my ambassador role as a Red Wing,” said Chelios, a three-time winner of the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman. “I’m in good company with the others Red Wings that have already been here.”
Chelios, who has two children at Michigan State University, a son playing lacrosse at Northwestern and another youngster at home, also spend a lot of his time in Grand Rapids working with defensemen with the Wings’ farm club, the Griffins.
“Right now I’m working with Kenny Holland and I just shut my mouth and listen,” he said. “I remember Brett Hull did a lot of talking in his first year as GM and he’s not a GM anymore.”
Chelios said he might become a coach.
“I think coaching would suit me,” he said. “That’s basically what I’ve been doing in Grand Rapids lately.”
Chelios also paid Nicklas Lidstrom, who could conceivably tie or break Chelios’s all-time record of having won 175 playoff games, quite the compliment:
“Nicklas Lidstrom is the only guy really threatening (my record), and I hope he does beat it,” Chelios said. “It means I played a lot of playoff games on teams that played well when it came to crunch time.”
• Also in the statistical vein, the Globe and Mail’s Matthew Sekeres made a comment about the West-leading Vancouver Canucks which reveals a pretty spiffy Red Wings stat:
[N]one of this means anything if the Canucks bow in the second-round of the playoffs again this year. But it does speak to their spectacular season to date, and so does their goal differential (plus-60), which is twice as good as the second-place Detroit Red Wings (plus-30), and 13 better than the next-best Philadelphia Flyers (plus-47).
That’s not bad given the Wings’ difficulties in terms of playing sound defense in December and January.
• In not-so-pleasant statistical news, per RedWingsCentral’s Sarah Lindenau, an entry from her Left Wing Lock blog from way back on February 5th seems particularly pertinent given that we’re a week away from the trade deadline:
With the 2004 NHL playoffs about to start, General Manager Ken Holland expressed a desire to add a top six forward to their depth chart. The Red Wings were depleted due to injuries which forced them to use career minor league players like Mark Mowers (52 games), Darryl Bootland (22 games), and Jamie Rivers (50 games) while players like Steve Thomas, Henrik Zetterberg, Jason Williams, Derian Hatcher, Jason Woolley, and Darren McCarty were out with long term injuries.
As the trade deadline approached that season, Holland worked the phones in the hopes of improving the depth heading into another long Stanley Cup playoff run. On February 27, 2004 the Red Wings announced they had acquired forward Robert Lang from the Washington Capitals in exchange for Tomas Fleischmann, a 2004 first round draft pick and a 2006 fourth round selection. At the time, Detroit was thrilled to land Lang, who was the leading scorer in the NHL at the time of the trade, while not having to give up a player off their current roster.
The Red Wings would go on to win the President’s Trophy for the best regular season record in 2003-2004, but would eventually lose to the Calgary Flames in the Western Conference Semi-Finals. Robert Lang, who at the time of the trade still had two years remaining on his contract, remained with Detroit through the 2006-2007 season but never scored more than 20 goals for the Red Wings.
Looking back on the trade, Not only did the Red Wings gave up Fleischmann but they also traded away their 2004 first round draft pick which eventually was used to select NHL All-Star defenseman Mike Green. Fleishmann has had a decent career thus far racking up 68 goals and 159 points in 305 NHL games with the Capitals and the Colorado Avalanche. Green, who was the real prize of that trade, has been the Capitals top defenseman for the last few seasons and was a Norris Trophy Candidate in 2010 while collecting 79 goals and 244 points in 363 NHL games.
Holland has often argued that the Wings got their money’s worth for Lang thanks to their win over the San Jose Sharks in the 2007 playoffs, and Lang did have a positive influence upon Jiri Hudler, but he also left the team as one of only three players who chose to leave the Wings because of difficulties with Mike Babcock (Brendan Shanahan and Mathieu Schneider are the others), and while I’m not sure how the hell the Wings would have accommodated Green or Fleischmann’s cap hits or injuries in Fleischmann’s case…
The trade’s probably the only time during Ken Holland’s reign, signing Uwe Krupp excluded, where the long-term results of the trade were a net loss and not a net win for the Wings’ organization.
• In more positive but no less strange prospect news, the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema notes that Jordan Pearce has usurped the Griffins’ starting goaltender’s role from Joey MacDonald (now with the Wings) and the Griffins’ supposed #1 goalie-in-waiting, Thomas McCollum. When McCollum suffered a broken fingertip while practicing with the Wings, Griffins coach Curt Fraser decided to ride Pearce for a bit, and that’s become the norm to such an extreme extent that Pearce recently played in four consecutive games over the course of five nights:
“It starts in goal and for Jordan Pearce to play his fourth game in four and a half days and provide us a performance like that in the second and third periods, that’s huge for us,” Grand Rapids coach Curt Fraser said. “A good win by our hockey club.”
Not bad for someone who didn’t even start this year in Grand Rapids. Pearce opened the season with the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL, stuck behind Joey MacDonald and Thomas McCollum. But with MacDonald in Detroit and McCollum struggling in his second season, Pearce was given the chance to play. And he’s capitalizing on it.
“He’s providing us with the goaltending that we need. He only allows a couple goals every night, he gives us a chance to compete and win games and manufacture points,” Fraser said. “We had to have him go tonight, and he was exhausted. But he sucked it up and got in the net there and delivered another excellent performance and got us this win. A great job by the young man.”
Pearce leads the Griffins with a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage. He’s started 17 of the past 20 games, and is 7-4-4 in them. In eight games with Toledo, where he spent most of last season, he is 3-4-1 with a 4.13 GAA and .883 save percentage.
“Hockey is a crazy game like that,” Pearce said. “You’ve just got to make the most of your opportunities and fortunately I’ve been playing pretty well with my opportunity here. Hopefully I keep it going. It’s nice to get a lot of ice because the more you play, the more confidence you have. You gain confidence in yourself and your ability to play at this level, and I think it shows.”
I don’t think that Pearce’s play necessarily changes the Wings’ plan to bring McCollum along as Jimmy Howard’s eventual back-up, but Pearce’s play certainly throws a wrinkle into what was once a, “McCollum or bust” philosophy.
• Free advertising, part 1: DTE Energy is offering tickets to a suite on the Wings’ March 9th game against LA or 4 tickets to the Wings’ March 30th game against St. Louis if you can answer a fancy skill-testing question and post the answer in an entry form (hint: the dollar amount translates to Ysebaert Fischer dollars [3 digits] and Lidstrom Larionov cents), all as part of a promotion to encourage people to ditch their incandescent light bulbs for Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs.
As it’s my blog, I get to say this: I’m OK with CFLs, but given that they take forever to “warm up” and glow after they’re shut off, and contain a bit of mercury as well, I’m eagerly awaiting the time when LED light bulbs are finally viable alternatives to the lighting equivalent of vacuum tubes.
• Free advertising, part 2: Paul already posted this, but as part of a tie-in with Dove, the NHL posted a clip of Wings coach Mike Babcock talking about his formative years and family:
• If you want to take a look at an AP preview of tomorrow’s Wings-Sharks game, feel free to do so...
• And, finally, I’m a little confused as to why the decision of a Tampa Bay Lightning rink worker to swing an octopus for the hell of it when the Wings beat Tampa Bay 6-2 last Thursday is a big deal, but, per Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski, Mike Corocoran of Tampa Bay’s ESPN 1040 AM is furious about the incident, and hopes that the fellow is fired. How Lambertian of him…
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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.