The Malik Report
The Detroit Red Wings face off against the Anaheim Ducks tonight (7:30 PM, FSD/Prime Ticke/NHL Network U.S.--so that means that Center Ice and GameCenter Live Online users are screwed via an NHL Net blackout yet again!/97.1 FM, and tonight is a Niklas Kronwall "Fathead Friday") facing a stiff test in more ways than one.
The 9-2-and-1 Ducks are coming off a pair of shootout wins and possess a 6-and-1 February record, they're relatively (Jonas Hiller ["lower body"] and Cam Fowler ["upper body"] are out), they haven't played since Tuesday's 3-2 shootout win over Chicago, and their interim goalie, 30-year-old rookie Viktor Fasth, boasts a 6-and-0 record, a 1.74 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage.
The Red Wings, as you already know, are coming off a disappointing and distressing 4-3 overtime loss to St. Louis on Wednesday, and the Wings will wrap up their four-game home stand minus some significant size and strength in Todd Bertuzzi (back) and Johan Franzen (back), in addition to the usual injury parade.
Updated 2x at 4:44 PM: I headed out of the office during the middle of the Red Wings' Thursday practice at Joe Louis Arena, and having come home from my doctor's appointment (okay, technically, I went to see my case manager at CMH), there just isn't much new to report on the personnel front. The Wings will employ their same lineup, same goaltender and probably their same lines from Wednesday's 4-3 OT loss to St. Louis, and no news is not good news regarding Johan Franzen, as MLive's Ansar Khan reports:
Detroit Red Wings forward Johan Franzen didn't practice today and will remain sidelined for Friday's game against the Anaheim Ducks at Joe Louis Arena (7:30 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit) and perhaps longer. Franzen missed Thursday's 4-3 overtime loss to St. Louis due to a sore hip flexor.
Asked if Franzen is day-to-day, coach Mike Babcock said "day-to-day is usually 10. I don't know.''
The Detroit Red Wings are back on the ice at Joe Louis Arena, hoping to rebound from a 4-3 OT loss to St. Louis despite facing a very, very tough task on Friday in battling the 9-2-and-1 Anaheim Ducks, who haven't played since defeating the Blackhawks 3-2 in a shootout on Tuesday. I'm going to be out of the office from about 12:30-2, so if there's big breaking injury news, Paul will fill in, but thus far, it sounds like more of the same at the Joe in terms of injury issues:
I've preached patience galore regarding Wings fans' near-foaming-at-the-mouth-declarations that the team must, must, must recall Gustav Nyquist, but it's worth noting that the Grand Rapids Griffins called up Andrej Nestrasil from Toledo today...
Perhaps the most interesting "sidebar" story to emerge from the Red Wings' 4-3 OT loss to the St. Louis blues involved Red Wings coach Mike Babcock's declaration that his team's personnel changes (see; no Nicklas Lidstrom, Brad Stuart or Brian Rafalski, with no real replacements found) and injuries on defense (see: Brendan Smith, Carlo Colaiacovo, and at times this season, Jonathan Ericsson and Ian White) has required the Red Wings to adapt their puck possession system to accommodate a less-skilled puck-moving defensive corps.
Babcock doesn't believe that the team needs to abandon the system of puck possession hockey that's worked for almost twenty years and eighteen-and-a-half seasons, but Babcock told the Windsor Star's Bob Duff that his team plays a slightly different brand of "Red Wings hockey" now:
I was more than a little pissed off after the Red Wings allowed some very bad habits to manifest themselves along the way toward surrendering a 2-0 lead and eventually losing in OT to the St. Louis Blues by a 4-3 tally, and I don't feel like backing off my assessment very much.
The Wings, playing without Todd Bertuzzi (back), Darren Helm (back), Johan Franzen (hip flexor), Mikael Samuelsson (groin), Jan Mursak (shoulder), Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder), Brendan Smith (shoulder) and Jonas Gustavsson (groin), also lost the services of Brian Lashoff and Niklas Kronwall for chunks of the game due to either minor injuries or equipment trouble...
But the Red Wings, who were playing the Blues for the third time this month and the fourth time this season, could have easily taken out Jake Allen and the 0-for-February (0-5-and-1) Blues had they not stopped playing after the first period, and had they not started playing a brand of hockey that the 2013 Wings cannot afford to play.
Updated 3x with higlights and some post-game stuff at 10:57 PM. Yes, I know my initial statements are an over-reaction, but that's the quick take for you. It's a gut feeling about the game, and I was and am very frustrated about how thoroughly the Wings were set up to fail, and took advantage of that opportunity so willingly, injuries or no injuries: I don't know what the *#$%@& to say. The Red Wings had a 2-0 lead on the sleeping St. Louis Blues, and then, somehow, a team that'd won 3 straight and 3 straight games against St. Louis managed to find a way to wake a sleeping giant and *#$%@& themselves over as thoroughly as possible en route to a 4-3 OT loss to the Blues.
The Red Wings took all of 5 shots in the 2nd, 1 shot (ONE SHOT!) in the 3rd, and stood around as Barret *#$%@& Jackman dazzled and deked Niklas Kronwall, Brian Lashoff and Henrik Zetterberg of all people--with Nicklas Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom watching--out of their shorts, just like Chris Stewart deked Howard out of his jock on the 2-2 goal.
The Wings were served up on a platter as a great "story" for the Blues to capitalize upon to break their 0-for-5 and 0-for-February streak, and on NBC, on TSN2, and with ESPN and NHL.com following the game, Jake Allen had to stop 14 of 17 shots as the Wings went 0-for-4 on the power play--including two third-period power plays with the game tied--and gave up a shorthanded goal instead.
"Mr. Hockey: the Gordie Howe Story" will make its U.S. television premiere at 9 p.m. Saturday, May 4 on the Hallmark Channel.
Michael Shanks ("Stargate SG-1") stars as Howe, the legendary former Detroit Red Wings forward who retired in 1980 at age 52 as the NHL's all-time leader in games played (1,767), goals (801) and points (1,850).
from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo,
...despite all the injuries and call-ups, on top of the retirements of Nicklas Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom, on top of the loss of Brad Stuart in free agency, do the Wings stink? Is their 21-season playoff streak swirling down the toilet?
Nope. Not yet, anyway. The Wings entered Wednesday night’s game against the St. Louis Blues on a three-game winning streak and sixth in the Western Conference, looking like they will remain very much in the mix, at minimum.
Their top two players – Henrik Zetterberg, the captain, and Pavel Datsyuk, the magician – are healthy and leading. Zetterberg went into the game against the Blues with 18 points, third in the NHL, behind only Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek and Chicago’s Patrick Kane.
They seem to have found another European gem, Swiss free agent Damien Brunner. He isn’t eligible for the Calder Trophy because he’s 26, but he leads all first-year NHLers with six goals.
from Louie Korac at NHL.com,
Hitchcock admitted there's an unknown element entering tonight's game by gambling on Allen to help the team out of a slump.
"I don't know. I haven't done that before for a long, long time, so I have no idea how this is going to turn out," Hitchcock said. "This is new ground for all of us.
"He's played really, really well. His last four or five starts in Peoria have been excellent. But this is a different league. We're a lot like Detroit. Detroit brought [Mrazek] in [a 5-1 win at St. Louis on Feb. 7]. He was competitive. I thought the players fed off his competitiveness. That's what we're hoping for Jake. He's got to get his career started somewhere. Other than Toronto, you couldn't get a bigger building to play in. You couldn't get a bigger atmosphere for a young guy to start his career other than probably Toronto."
Former Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom will attend 97.1 FM's SportsFest alongside Tomas Holmstrom this Saturday, and in the interim, Lidstrom has returned to Detroit to meet with the Red Wings' brass as the two parties attempt to define Lidstrom's post-hockey role with the team as a part-time Swedish scout, an ambassador of sorts, a draw for sponsors and, most likely, an at-large member of the Wings' braintrust regarding moves made at the trade deadline, the draft and in free agency...
When he's not letting the front office, Mike Babcock, the Wings' current players or new captain Henrik Zetterberg pick his brain, he's probably going to catch up with best pal Tomas Holmstrom and his old neighbors from Novi, and the Free Press's Helene St. James reports that Lidstrom will attend both tonight's game between the Wings and Blues and Friday night's game against Anaheim:
"I believe, tonight, he's in the box with me, and Friday, he's in the owner's box," general manager Ken Holland said.
Could seeing fellow 42-year-old Teemu Selanne play Friday possibly persuade Lidstrom to come back, especially given how badly the Wings need help on defense? Don't bet on it. Earlier this season, Lidstrom told the Free Press he's very happy with his decision to retire last summer, after 20 seasons with the Wings.
He won four Stanley Cups, seven Norris trophies, and established a legacy as one of the best defensemen to ever play hockey. He and his family now reside in their native Sweden.
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.