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The art of the ‘tweak’

The Windsor Star’s Bob Duff makes a very astute point regarding the teams whose trade deadline moves tend to pay off come playoff time—it’s usually the teams that make subtle tweaks to their roster, instead of wholesale changes, who benefit the most from their moves:

While everyone is focused on the more notable trades made prior to Monday’s National Hockey League trade deadline – such as centre Jason Arnott and defenceman Dennis Wideman landing in Washington and forward Dustin Penner going to Los Angeles – often, it’s the seemingly minor moves that prove to paid large dividends come playoff time. A team such as the Vancouver Canucks, who tweaked a strong lineup by adding forwards Chris Higgins and Max Lapierre, could be an example of that when spring arrives and the post-season battles get underway.

The Detroit Red Wings, looking for a third straight Stanley Cup in 1999, went all in at the deadline that season, adding defencemen Chris Chelios and Ulf Samuelsson, goalie Bill Ranford and left-winger Wendel Clark, but fizzled and were eliminated in the the second round of playoff action. Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, captain of the Wings back then, preferred to recall a much lesser deal that brought great rewards to Detroit.

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Red Wings-Kings wrap-up and Howard and/or trade deadline tailings: good start, worrisome finish

The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Los Angeles Kings in a wild 7-4 outing on Monday night, but the Red Wings weren’t particularly happy with the result after the game, and there’s a good reason for that—the Wings gave up three third-period goals on 14 shots against Jimmy Howard, who wanted one or two of the goals back but deserved much more slack than his teammates. Why? Howard faced 14 shots in the first period, 39 overall, and if you count up the Kings’ total attempted shots, a remarkable 68 attempts either hit Howard, whizzed by him wide of the net, found their mark or hit his teammates’ shin pads.

While the Wings overcame a 1-0 deficit and roared out to a 7-1 lead before “going to sleep” in the third period, as Wings coach Mike Babcock put it, they faced a relentless Kings team whose hard-charging attack kept grinding down the Wings’ defenders and peppering Howard with pucks even when the Wings earned the right to make the game look silly.

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Red Wings trade deadline wrap-up and Wings-Kings game-day updates: Baby Mule’s here!

Updated with actual Wings-Kings updates at 9:54: Red Wings GM Ken Holland chose not to make any trade deadline moves aside from signing Jimmy Howard to a two-year contract extension, and, ahead of tonight’s Brian Rafalski-less match-up against the Los Angeles Kings (10:30 PM EST, FSD/FS West/WXYT/NHL Network), Holland chose to explain his rationale regarding overbuilding the team during the summer and then standing pat to the Wings’ media corps, including MLive’s Ansar Khan...

“That was the plan in the summer, try to spend as much cap space and hopefully our team played at a high level and we’d reassess at the deadline,’’ Holland said. “We’re first or second in win percentage on the road, third overall in points. We lost a lot of people (to injuries), we’re getting some back.’‘

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Red Wings-Kings game-day updates: Rafalski still out for Detroit

Amidst the article confirming that the Red Wings have re-signed Jimmy Howard to a 2-year, $2.5 million contract extension, MLIve’s Ansar Khan snuck in a bummer of a tidbit regarding tonight’s match-up between the Red Wings and Los Angeles Kings (10:30 PM, FSD/FS West/WXYT/NHL Network):

It’s 2 1/2 hours before the trade deadline and [Red Wings GM Ken] Holland said is still appears unlikely he will make a move.

Howard will be in goal tonight when the Red Wings play the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center (10:30, FSD).

Holland said defenseman Brian Rafalski will miss his second game in a row due to back spasms. Johan Franzen is in Detroit, where his wife is due to deliver their first child. Drew Miller replaces Franzen in the lineup.

Update: LA Kings Insider’s Rich Hammond reports that the Kings had an optional morning skate before the news broke that the Kings acquired Dustin Penner from Edmonton for Colton Teubert and a 1st rounder and 2nd-rounder. Expect that and Justin Williams’ extension to be the Kings’ news of note today.

Update 2: As for the Red Wings, the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff has this to say about Jonathan Ericsson:

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Red Wings re-sign Howard to 2-year, $4.5 million extension?  Wow!

Latest update at 2:18 PM: Per Paul, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Yahoo Sports’ Nicholas J. Cotsonika and others, the Red Wings have signed their biggest unrestricted free agent-to-be, Jimmy Howard, to a ridiculous bargain of a 2-year contract extension.

Howard will supposedly earn $2.25 million per season for the next two years, which is quite the master stroke by Wings GM Ken Holland as Howard leads the NHL in wins this season and has posted 67 wins over the past two seasons. I’ll update this post with the MSM’s reports on this as soon as they roll in.

Update 12:27 PM: Sportsnet and ESPN confirm, as do Ansar Khan from MLive and the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness. TSN’s confirmed the news, too.

Update 12:32 PM: Ken Holland confirms to the Free Press’s Helene St. James (and the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan confirms, too):

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Red Wings trade deadline update, Wings-Kings set-up and Hasek news

As MLive’s Ansar Khan noted on Sunday morning, Red Wings GM Ken Holland feels no particular pressure to make a move at the trade deadline as the Wings and Chris Osgood are getting healthy, so before we talk about tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Kings (10:30 PM EST, FSD/FS West/WXYT/NHL Network [sorry, Center Ice and GameCenter Online subscribers who don’t have the NHL Network, the game will be blacked out!]), let’s get one thing straight—Holland doesn’t plan on making a move, at least at the NHL level (he could bolster the Griffins’ roster), and he confirmed as much to the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan...

“I don’t see us doing anything,” general manager Ken Holland said.

The one position Holland has been monitoring is goaltending because of Chris Osgood’s sports hernia surgery. With only the inexperienced Joey MacDonald behind Jimmy Howard, Holland has been concerned about Osgood getting healthy in time for the playoffs. But Osgood has been on the ice practicing for the last week. He expects to accelerate his workouts this week, and is aiming to be in the lineup when the Wings return home to play Los Angeles March 9.

“He said he’s coming along well,” Holland said.

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Red Wings-Sabres wrap-up: Wings add a pleasant twist to a familiar script

Updated with Khan talking to Holland at 8:57, and other goodies at 9:37: Whether it’s at home or on the road, the Red Wings and a 2-0 first-period deficit have become inseparable, to the point that it’s almost expected that, on any given night, the 2-0 deficit will either become the cause of yet another disappointing loss or the pleasantly surprising foundation of yet another almost miraculous comeback, with either result having the same likelihood of occurring. Thankfully for the Wings, who are en route from Lincoln, NB to Los Angeles, CA as I write this, a last—minute-of-the-third-period goal allowed the Drew Miller-less Wings to rally and defeat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 in a shootout.

Joey MacDonald played perhaps his best game during his second stint with the Wings, stopping 13 of the 15 shots he faced in the first period, 30 shots overall and 2 Sabres shooters, and Pavel Datsyuk’s power PPG in the 2nd and Jiri Hudler’s goal with 57.2 seconds left set up a shootout in which Datsyuk and Hudler scored on nearly the same move.

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Praying for Skippy: Red Wings Alumni Association president Shawn Burr has leukemia

For once, I’m going to ask y’all to let the Delicate Genius and the fact that he hasn’t watched a hockey game the whole way through since 1998 be. Today, he tells us the story of Red Wings Alumni Association president Shawn Burr, a long-time Wing and consummate good guy who, as Fox Sports Detroit’s Ken Daniels revealed on Saturday’s broadcast, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia recently:

Last Monday—less than a week ago—Shawn Burr was a free man. He saw his daughter’s game, he came home, he made a shake with pomegranate seeds, something his wife had purchased at Costco. Next day, he felt funny. His tongue developed red spots. “The seeds,” he figured. He also was exhausted. He went to the doctor. While there, he began to sweat. They sent him to the hospital. Blood was taken. When another doctor said, “We need to check something,” Shawn turned to his wife, Amanda, and said, “This isn’t good news. Did you see his face?”

It wasn’t good news. Burr, 44, was helicoptered from Port Huron to the University of Michigan Medical Center with a blood count that was as lopsided as a bankruptcy budget.

On Thursday, three days from the pomegranate shake, he underwent the first of 21 chemotherapy treatments for acute myeloid leukemia, a bone marrow cancer in which abnormal white cells attack normal cells like a 3-on-1 hockey rush. If you know Shawn Burr, you just want to cry. And if you know Shawn Burr, he just wants to laugh.

Continued, and it’s worth your time because Burr truly is one of the good ones. Hang in there, Skippy.

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Red Wings-Sabres game-day updates: Filppula’s in, and Bob Duff makes a grand Twitter entrance

Updated 6x at 3:19: Ted Kulfan confirms that Ken Holland has shot down the Bogosian trade rumor: Barring any unforeseen baby news, the Detroit Red Wings should receive two additions to the lineup when they face off against the Buffalo Sabres tonight at 7 PM EST (FSD/MSG-B/WXYT). Mike Modano will return tonight, and the Detroit News’s Eric Lacy

Ted Kulfan

says that Valtteri Filppula’s ready to go as well, though Wings coach Mike Babcock doesn’t expect either player to jump into the lineup and dominate play:

“It’s the wrestling in the corners that’s gets you exhausted, it’s the stopping on defense when the legs don’t want to stop,” Babcock said. “It’s all those little things that make it hard for you. The NHL is fast, so it can be a struggle.”

Filppula and Modano are expected to form a line with Tomas Holmstrom. Modano told reporters at the morning skate he feels no pain, can handle faceoffs, and expects to get time on power plays.

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Red Wings-Sabres set-up and Ken Holland suggesting that he won’t make a move at the deadline

The Detroit Red Wings face off against the Buffalo Sabres tonight (7 PM, FSD/MSG-B/WXYT) hoping to break a two-game losing streak without the services of Brian Rafalski, possibly without the services of Johan Franzen (if his wife delivers the couple’s first child two days early), and, if all goes well, Mike Modano and Valtteri Filppula playing on a line alongside Tomas Holmstrom.

The Wings face a Sabres team whose 4-2 victory over Ottawa on Friday night did little more than give them a 2-and-3 record going into the final game of a 6-game home stand and allowed the Sabres to remain in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, so while the Sabres have won two games in a row, they’re not going into tonight’s game with anything less than the same levels of urgency and “our playoff hopes are on the line” desperation that the Wings’ past two opponents—and just about every opponent from here on out—displayed and will display. 

The Sabres talked about already playing with a playoff-like level of intensity after defeating Ottawa, as the Associated Press’s recap of said game notes:

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About The Malik Report

The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.


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