The Malik Report
Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun hand out their midseason awards and LeBrun picks Niklas Kronwall for the Norris Trophy.
Kind of amazing when you have a list that doesn't include Shea Weber or Drew Doughty, but I think it's only a matter of time over the last half of the season that those guys will find their way into the conversation. Both players are playing much better since early-season struggles. For me, it came down to Kronwall and Letang for the midseason award. I chose the Red Wings veteran because, on a blue line that lost Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart and is trying to survive committee-style, Kronwall has had to do even more and has elevated his game in doing so. He is playing 24 minutes a game and is among the defenseman scoring leaders, and everyone knows about his physical play. I think he deserves the nod right now.
more awards given out...
George is running some errands and will be back sometime this afternoon, in the meantime, I am it.
I'll update this post as needed.
The Red Wings reach the halfway point of their 48-game 2013 season tonight when they host the Edmonton Oilers (7:30 PM, FSD/Sportsnet West/97.1 FM). For the Wings, game #24 on the schedule kicks off a slate of 3 games played over the course of 4 nights, and represents the last of a home-friendly first half schedule.
The Wings, who sit in 6th place in the West with 26 points, play 11 more times this month, tonight's game excluded, but only 3 of those games will take place at Joe Louis Arena. After trading a home-and-home series with Columbus on Saturday and Sunday, the Wings will head through Western Canada (with games in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver in another three-games-in-four-nights span) next week (the 13th, 15th and 16th, respectively), they'll come home for a game against Minnesota (on the 20th), and then the Wings will be gone for over a week spent on the West Coast (they play the Ducks in an "on the road and still on the road" series on March 22nd and 24th, head for Phoenix on Monday the 25th, and wrap up their 8-day trip in San Jose on the 27th) abefore wrapping up the month with a home game against Chicago (on the 31st).
The Wings are still rebounding from Sunday's loss against the unbeaten Blackhawks, and their 2-1 victory over Colorado was less than aesthetically pleasing, but we can hope to witness "better hockey" tonight:
Quite a few posts for an off-day, so I promise this is the last Red Wings one for a bit: Via RedWingsFeed yet again, Fox Sports Detroit unveiled a very cute and engaging feature last night called "Off the Boards," and FSD's Mickey York spent three and-a-half minutes speaking to Wings forward Daniel Cleary about his first name changes and being a Newfie...I mean Newfoundlander.
I hope FSD continues doing these features, because we very rarely "get to know" Wings players via relaxed-setting interviews. It's mostly post-practice and post-game scrums and the occasional sit-down interview for TV...and the Swedish papers. Other than that, their personalities remain obscured to some extent:
Red Wings prospect gnus: Tomas Jurco’s pro evolution, and Gustav Nyquist, an AHL ‘Star of the Month’
Red Wings prospect Tomas Jurco absolutely dominated play during his final two years in the QMJHL, scoring highlight-reel goals with almost predictable regularity as he won a Memorial Cup and two QMJHL titles with the Saint John Sea Dogs, so the most frequent question I've received about Jurco's status this season is, "Whatever happened to Jurco?"
The answer's simple: Jurco went from playing against 15-to-20-year-olds in the QMJHL to playing against men in the AHL, and as such, the YouTube magician has seemingly disappeared.
He is in fact playing for the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins, and RedWingsCentral's Matthew Wuest reports that Griffins coach Jeff Blashill had no illusions regarding a very big fish in a somewhat shallow pond finding himself performing like anything less than a minnow in hockey's equivalent of the Great Lakes:
Jurco, who was a teenaged rookie until he turned 20 on Dec. 28, has eight goals and eight assists for 16 points in 53 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins — a far cry from the 68 points he recorded in 48 games last season with the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs. Learning the ropes isn’t easy for a rookie at the best of times in the AHL. Throw in the fact that he was playing in a league stacked with locked-out NHLers for the first three months and it gets even harder.
“Tomas is learning how hard and how strong you have to be on the puck and how much you have to value the puck because it just won’t come back to you if you lose it,” Blashill says. “In junior, it comes back to you enough and in pro it doesn’t. He’s learning how to go get it more and when he has it to hold onto it longer. That’s confidence and it’s learning how to do it and it just takes time.”
The Central Collegiate Hockey Association is going away after this season because many of its constituent teams are joining the new Big Ten conference, so the CCHA championship will serve as the last in the venerable conference's history:
FINAL CCHA CHAMPIONSHIP AT JLA SATURDAY AND SUNDAY MARCH 23-24
… Little Caesars Family Four-Pack Offer As Low As $44 …
Detroit… The 42nd and final CCHA Championship weekend will be staged at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday, March 23 (Semi-Final Game #1 – 1:05 p.m. & Semi-Final Game #2 – 4:35 p.m.) and Sunday, March 24 (Mason Cup Final – 2:05 p.m.).
Tickets to the 2013 CCHA Championship are priced between $10 and $35 apiece and can be purchased at the JLA Box Office (313-396-7575), all Ticketmaster (800-745-3000) outlets and online at OlympiaEntertainment.com. Special Little Caesars Family Four-Packs – which include four tickets, four pizza slices and four soft drinks – are also available for purchase for this event beginning at only $44 per package. General admission upper bowl student seats, meanwhile, can be obtained for as low as $5 per ticket at the JLA Box Office only (a valid student ID must be presented at the time of purchase).
Miami, Notre Dame, Western Michigan, Ohio State and Ferris State all received automatic byes to the conference quarter-finals by virtue of having finished in the Top 5 of the CCHA’s final regular season standings. The remaining six squads will look to advance by winning their upcoming best-of-three first round series: No. 10 Bowling Green at No. 8 Lake Superior, No. 11 Northern Michigan at No. 7 Michigan and No. 12 Michigan State at No. 6 Alaska.
I figured that the Red Wings' "off day" wouldn't be a quiet one, but I didn't know it'd be this busy. A significant chunk of morning news, a Petr Mrazek "AMA" and some earnest trade deadline ponderings and an interview with Ken Holland have all popped up over the past two-and-change hours, and now MLive's Ansar Khan's followed up DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose's news about Darren Helm skating in his hockey gear with an incredibly substantive set of injury updates.
Wings GM Ken Holland offered the following to Khan regarding Darren Helm's status--and don't be surprised by Holland's comment that it's going to take Helm at least 2-3 weeks to get back into "hockey shape"...
“He pushed it harder today than yesterday; he'll wake up tomorrow and see how it feels,'' general manager Ken Holland said. “I'd say he's at least a couple of weeks away. It's not only the back, it's the conditioning.''
Helm saw a specialist in New York on Feb. 25. He discovered a small tear in a disc.
“We're a lot more optimistic today about him than we were a week ago,'' Holland said. “He's going to go on the ice a little each day. If there's no setbacks he'll push it more. It's a positive step in his rehab.''
Otherwise, the news isn't good regarding Valtteri Filppula, Mikael Samuelsson, Todd Bertuzzi or Carlo Colaiacovo:
As an adjunct to the off-day Red Wings news post: the Free Press's Helene St. James spent her off-day morning pondering what the Detroit Red Wings might be able to do to bolster their lineup as the trade deadline approaches. St. James duly notes that the NHL's standings are so jam-packed at present--especially in the West--that we're likely to have to wait until much closer to the April 3rd trade deadline to find out which teams are "buyers" and which ones are "sellers"...
But even though Wings GM Ken Holland told ESPN's Pierre LeBrun that he felt that the probable returns of Darren Helm (who DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose reported is skating today, in his hockey equipment, for the first time since suffering his back injury), Valteri Filppula (shoulder), Mikael Samuelsson (broken finger) and possibly Todd Bertuzzi (back) would serve as superb and compensation-free trade deadline acquisitions, Holland also suggested that he'd engage in his customary tire-kicking process (and Holland kicks every tire)...
Via RedWingsFeed, I'm sure this is going to be interesting...The Grand Rapids Griffins have chosen to allow Red Wings prospect Petr Mrazek to engage in an "Ask Me Anything" session on Reddit:
Amongst this morning/early afternoon's Red Wings news: the Wings received a new-CBA-imposed break from practicing today, and given the fact that they're about to play three games over the course of four nights, starting with tomorrow's game against Edmonton, Wings coach Mike Babcock's decision to pick today as a day off makes significant sense, especially given the number of injuries the Wings have sustained during practices. Somewhat surprisingly, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose reports that one player did take to the ice the morning after the Wings' 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche...
In terms of tailings from last night's game, MLive's Brendan Savage notes that "The Mule" woke from his post-hip flexor injury slumber in a big way last night...
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.