The Malik Report
Red Wings Friday practice post in progress: Bertuzzi out, Andersson recalled, Howard starts Saturday
Updated 10x at 3:49 PM: Bertuzzi's out, the Wings have recalled Andersson, Howard starts on Saturday: I can't say that I think this is the brightest idea in the world, but even though the Red Wings have to follow up their big win in St. Louis with a pair of matinee games against Edmonton on Saturday and Los Angeles on Sunday (games 3 and 4 over the course of 6 nights), Wings coach Mike Babcock decided to put his team through a Friday practice, and there's a mixed bag of news on the injury front already:
MLive's Ansar Khan confirms...
I may be one of five people who had no problem with Red Wings forward Johan Franzen spearing David Perron after Perron smashed Franzen's face into the boards (since Franzen suffered a subdural hematoma after being concussed against the Colorado Avalanche in 2008, and you may remember how Gary Roberts welcomed Franzen back by punching him in the face repeatedly), especially as Franzen received a major and a game misconduct for spearing in the process...
And this morning, Sportsline's Adam Gretz (via On the Wings' Matt Saler) and MLive's Ansar Khan report that the NHL felt that the 5-and-a-game's worth of penalties was severe enough punishment for a player whose head remains a prime target for opponents who know that Franzen will snap if he's punched, slashed, facewashed or otherwise hit in a manner that involves attempting to break his face:
Franzen received a spear and then a face-rearranging cross-check to the face by Alexei Emelin and Dmitri Kalinin at last year's World Championships, too (remember? Covered it). He doesn't like being hit in the face.
Updated at 9:04 AM: The Detroit Red Wings flew back to Metro Detroit to greet anywhere from 2-6 inches of snow a little less encumbered by concerns about their team's trajectory after defeating the St. Louis Blues 5-1 on Thursday, giving the Wings a 2-and-1 record in what will be a four-game series with the Blues as of next Wednesday's meeting, and righting the Wings' ship with the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings coming to town for matinee games on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
The Wings played like a team that consisted of completely different players from the Wings team that struggled so mightily against Calgary and Columbus, and the team may very well have bested its performance in its 5-3 win against the same Blues one week ago tonight because the Wings' "best players" didn't have to take the team on their backs to defeat the Blues.
Or, as KMOV's Scott Bierman put it, the Blues couldn't "contain [the] Red Wings' low-scorers":
I put this clip in the quick take, but I'm guessing that it probably deserves its own thread. I hope that the NHL doesn't call Red Wings forward Johan Franzen for this, because Franzen was assessed a 5-minute major and a game misconduct for spearing David Perron after Perron absolutely mashed Franzen's head into the glass via a "hit the numbers" check from behind.
Mind you, I'm a biased Wings fan, and this video--from Paul--is narrated by the Blues' announcers, but Perron got 2 minutes, Franzen got 5, and that should be the end of it.
Update: Via RedWingsFeed
Updated with highlights at 11:39 PM: The Detroit Red Wings realized that they couldn't out-check or out-hit the big, bad and mean St. Louis Blues on Thursday, so the Wings out-Blued 'em.
The slightly bipolar Wings displayed an absolutely sterling work ethic in plain old out-battling, out-working, out-hustling and out-mucking St. Louis, showing a surprising willingness to dump and chase the puck to bang Blues defensemen's bodies and showing a smart understanding of the Blues' defensive style, utilizing short instead of long passes to send 5 men into the sea of Blue...
And it was the "bottom six" who broke through, and Petr Mrazek who carried the day, with the Wings winning 5-1 and Mrazek stopping 27 of 28 shots for his first NHL win in his first NHL game.
Unlike Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is...Let's say, "Given to Malik Report-style rambling" on a consistent basis. The man's fascinating as all hell get out, but he's also extremely verbose, and sometimes his astute observations also involve some "out there" comments.
MLive's Brendan Savage received an unusual take on the Red Wings' struggles while speaking to Hitchcock earlier this afternoon, with Hitchcock insisting that the Wings' 4-2 loss to Columbus last Saturday and the team's 4-1 loss to Calgary on Tuesday were the direct result of having played Hitchcock's Blues--a game the Wings won--six days ago:
"The game in Detroit ... was the best hockey game we've played in," Hitchcock said. "The game was really well played by both teams. Both teams put a lot of energy into it. What's interesting to me is neither team recovered from that game physically. Detroit went into Columbus and got beat, looked tired. They looked a little bit tired still against Calgary. We looked really tired (in Tuesday's 3-0 loss to Nashville), even with two days off. I don't think the fans realize that was a Game 7 playoff game. That's exactly what it was. The players poured so much into that this early in the season that neither team had anything left for the next outing."
Mike Babcock, who'd attempted to recruit Hitcock as an assistant coach before he took the Blues' job, offered a Babcockian response...
From the Griffins' PR department...
GRIFFINS AND EASTER SEALS PRESENT SECOND ANNUAL "RED, WHITE AND BREWS" BENEFIT
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins have partnered with Easter Seals Michigan to step away from the ice for a night to host the second annual Red, White and Brews wine and beer tasting fundraiser on Tuesday, Feb. 19 from 6-9 p.m. at the Goei Center.
Griffins players will serve craft beer and wine samples to over 200 guests at the event, which will also feature live music, hors d’oeuvres by YoChef’s Catering Company, silent and live auctions and special guests. Items up for bid include suite tickets and parking to the May 5 Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds game in Chicago; Griffins collectables and tickets; a “Milwaukee or Bust” package that includes Lake Express Ferry tickets; Amway gift baskets; autographed Detroit Red Wings sticks; Shanty Creek lodging and golf; gift cards and more.
Updated 2x at 4:02 PM: As Paul noted (sorry, I was out of the office to ferry the mom to a doctor's appointment...Which took forever), the Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues will face off in something of a grudge match this evening (8 PM EST, FSD/FS Midwest/97.1 FM) with a surprising protagonist: the Wings will start Petr Mrazek in goal tonight, and the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan asked Wings coach Mike Babcock why he's made this executive decision:
"We didn't think he (Howard) could play 48 straight," Babcock said. "We thought we'd get another goalie back — we were assuming Gus (Jonas Gustavsson, groin) would play, maybe Mac (Joey MacDonald, back), but that never happened."
Mrazek, a 2010 fifth-round draft pick, has been outstanding in Grand Rapids, going 16-7-1 with a 2.26 goals-against average and .916 save percentage.
"He just wins," said Babcock, noting Grand Rapids was 0-4-1 to start the season before Mrazek was moved up from Toledo (East Coast League) and sparked a Griffins' resurgence. "Nothing seems to faze him. All he did was come in there (Grand Rapids) and change the whole thing. He's been the berries everywhere he's been, so let's watch him."
Mrazek says he's got no worries and no fear in making his NHL debut against the powerhouse Blues, who are coming off a 6-1 thrashing at the hands of the Nashville Predators:
Watch some highlights of Mrazek from the 2012 WJC below...
The Free Press's Helene St. James (via RedWingsFeed) reports that the Red Wings received a modicum of good news regarding Darren Helm's back issues after Helm visited a back specialist yesterday. According to St. James, while the Wings still don't know when Helm will return, they've at least figured out why he's been suffering from a sore back for the past two weeks:
"They ruled out everything bad," general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press. "It's a small strain or tear in a lower back ligament. He got an injection, said he felt better right away."
Helm is now under orders to rest until Monday, at which point the Wings anticipate being able to start treatment and get Helm on a path to a return to the lineup.
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.