The Malik Report
from Chuck Pleiness of Red Wings Front,
Today was a very optional skate with just a handful of guys taking part.
“We play every second day obviously and so we talked about this quite a few games ago, this is how we’re going to handle ourselves right through until we have a day off coming up,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Just make sure everyone’s ready to go. I didn’t come in here and evaluate yet. If you’re 23 and under and you weren’t on the ice I probably said something but the bottom line is we’ve got to be ready to play tomorrow.”///
Of the injured players, Daniel Alfredsson, Johan Franzen and Pavel Datsyuk took part in the practice.
Babcock won’t know if any of them will be ready to play Friday, but it appears highly unlikely.
“I don’t know he hasn’t done any negotiating with me,” Babcock said when asked about Alfredsson’s status. “I haven’t heard anything about it so we’ll see.
“We’ll talk to tomorrow after we skate,” Babcock continued. “It’s like anything, once you skate and you come back the next day sometimes that’s a little bit different so there’s no sense me making decisions I don’t need to make.”
more on the Wings...
Montreal beat writer Marc Antoine Godin for La Presse tweeted (translated).
Optional training of the Red Wings this afternoon. The injured Daniel Alfredsson, Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen are on the ice.
added 12:59pm, Chuck Pleiness tweets,
Alfredsson says he's going to talk to trainers and coaches if he's ready for Friday. Says feels good after a few hard skates.
added 1:09pm, Beat writers report Gustavsson will start again tomorrow night.
added 1:26pm, via Pleiness,
Franzen said today is the first day he hasn't felt foggy since suffering a concussion. Seems very encouraged.
Between having been in attendance for Darren Helm's uncomfortable exchanges with the media last summer and fall, addressing his inability to train during the offseason when he wasn't squirming, and having heard so many NHL'ers insist that offseason training is the fitness foundation that helps them avoid injuries...
I've kind of assumed that Helm was going to bounce from minor injury to minor injury this season, and that Red Wings fans will see the "real Darren Helm" on a much more regular basis next season.
Helm was a difference-maker in the positive sense over the course of the Red Wings' 5-4 shootout win over Chicago despite finishing at -3 on the evening, and the Hockey News's Rory Boylen believes that Helm might have been a Masterton Trophy candidate if his "perseverance and dedication to hockey" wasn't being rewarded with an injury-plagued return to action:
Did my best to offer a quick take regarding the rest of the Red Wings' 5-4 shootout win.
I'm not sure words are adequate to describe how much the Red Wings' 5-4 shootout win over the Chicago Blackhawks means to the team, to their playoff hopes, to the players' confidence and especially to the seppuku-inclined fan base.
I'm not sure if it will mean much if the Wings don't build upon this game by defeating the Montreal Canadiens on Friday, and the Habs got smacked 5-1 by Pittsburgh.
This game had all the thrills, chills and especially self-inflicted spills of a classic Red Wings-Blackhawks afair (please see the Cleary-Helm-Bertuzzi line ending up at -3 and Smith having an assist on the 2-1 goal and an assist on the Hawks' game-tying goal, and the Wings' 24-and-44 faceoff record for that matter), it had the "dirty" plays and dives and truculence of a playoff affair...
The Red Wings' coach speaks the truth regarding tonight's "Rivalry Night" game between the Wings and Blackhawks (on NBCSN and TSN2 at 8 PM EST), as noted by 97.1 the Ticket's Ashley Dunkak:
The Red Wings, who have been battered with injuries, are 21-18-10 with 52 points in the standings. The Blackhawks are 32-8-11 with 75 points.
“I don’t think we’re holding up our end of the bargain,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “Rivalry is when two teams really get after one another. I thought we did last year in the playoffs. We haven’t been a good enough team this year to consider this a rivalry-type game, and yet the past is what the past is. We’ve had a good run with them.
“We used to be where they are,” Babcock reflected, “and now they’re where we were.”
Instead, as both Jimmy Howard and Babcock told Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji after Tuesday's practice, the Wings are looking up at their immediate rivals--the other teams battling for a "wild card" spot in the Eastern Conference standings:
The Red Wings' "out of the playoff mix" status in terms of their spot in the Eastern Conference Standings yielded what the Free Press's Helene St. James reports was a twist in the subject matter discussed at the Wings' mid-season organizational powwow.
Instead of discussing draft prospects, St. James reports that the front office--Ken Holland, Ryan Martin, Kris Draper, Mark Howe's pro scouts, Tyler Wright's amateur scouts, the team's prospect and goalie mentors and font-of-knowledge Jimmy Devellano--both prepared for a possible non-playoff draft outlook (which would involve qualifying for the NHL's draft lottery) and attempted to assess which players might help the cause of a roster so beset by injuries that one must look back to October to see what a "fully healthy" (or nearly so) Red Wings team was capable of producing in terms of points and wins.
Holland told St. James that the Wings may or may not "buy" at the deadline...
Chuck Pleiness of Red Wings Front with a post-skate update on Datsyuk,
Pavel Datsyuk appears to be getting closer to returning from his lower-body injury.
“Good,” Datsyuk said when asked how he felt. “I can skate now. It’s much better. We’ll see what happens tomorrow. (It’s) not walking up, it’s when I skate. I feel better every day. (I) can’t say anything more.
“It’s much better now,” Datsyuk continued. “(I’m) looking forward to skate tomorrow and it’s day-by-day. (I’ve had) too many injures this season, maybe it’s my age. I also have lots to think about my game.”
more including Ericsson excited to return to tonight.
from Brian Stubits of CBS Sports,
The injury issue is very real but that doesn't mean other issues aren't present. For one the Wings don't scream greatness down the middle. Get past the awesome Pavel Datsyuk and you're talking about a center corps that has Joakim Andersson, Gustav Nyquist (who has been most productive of this bunch), Darren Helm and Stephen Weiss among a few others who have popped up from the AHL. Weiss was supposed to be the No. 2 guy but he's been felled by the old injury bug and before that was having a dreadful beginning to his Wings career with four points in 26 games.
There is also the issue of a lack of offense from the blue line. Niklas Kronwall is fourth on the team with 29 points but among defensemen Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl are next with a whopping 11. The defensemen not named Kronwall have combined for a goal and six assists on the power play, a power play that is 22nd in the NHL at 16.8 percent. It's pretty apparent Niklas Lidstrom isn't back there anymore.
It all helps to explain why the Red Wings, the high-powered Red Wings just a couple of seasons ago, are 23rd in the NHL with 2.45 goals per game. When we adjust for the goal that absolutely should not have counted against LA as it was scored by the mesh above the boards, the Red Wings have scored six goals in the past six games -- three coming in one game.
Updates will be posted as needed.
added 10:57am, Beat writers say Ericsson tells them he is in tonight.
added 11:06am, Khan tweets,
Kindl still skating, so it looks like he is a healthy scratch tonight.
added 11:10am, Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune tweets,
Defenseman Brendan Smith says Red Wings want "redemption" against #Blackhawks for last season's playoffs.
added 11:12am, Khan on Datsyuk,
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.