The Malik Report
This story wouldn't fit into the Red Wings-Flames game-day update post, and that's probably a good thing. The Globe and Mail's Alan Maki suggests that the Red Wings have essentially fallen from grace and fallen back to the pack due to their personnel losses over the past couple of seasons and/or salary cap restrictions, and their coach and players don't necessarily disagree with that statement (although it downplays the fact that Darren Helm and Todd Bertuzzi's absences severely limit the team's depth up front):
As head coach Mike Babcock put it when talking about his group: “Would you like to have three unbelievable players on three lines? Sure. That’s the Red Wings of the 90s.”
The Red Wings of 2013 are not the glory unit of old; too many retirements and defections have seen to that. What they are is a good team whose consistency has been hampered by injuries to keynote contributors Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula, both of whom are only now working their way back into the lineup. Darren Helm is another player whose effectiveness has been missed and proof that Detroit is no longer as deep and skilled as it once was. Babcock explained that, to win, the Red Wings have to fashion as strong a defensive game as possible.
Updated 10x at 4:09 PM: The Detroit Red Wings begin their Western Canadian swing tonight against the Calgary Flames (9:30 PM EDT, FSD/TSN/WXYT AM), and the Flames have already completed their morning skate, and the Wings are skating now, but there's some "rut roh" news already, per the Free Press's Helene St. James:
Immediate update: Rut roh x2:
Ineresting stuff: via RedWingsFeed, Red Wings GM Ken Holland spoke to The Fan 960 this morning, discussing the Wings' status as a "goal-challenged," and prospect-heavy due-to-injuries team, Damien Brunner's signing, the Wings' move to the Eastern Conference (sort of) and Holland's local ties to Calgary:
Updated 2x at 2:07 PM: I just jammed it in there, but Puck Daddy suggests that you watch the Jurco video...
Today's crop of Red Wings prospect news is so substantial that it merits its own entry, and RedWingsCentral's Matthew Wuest kicks things off with an article about not-quite-ready-for-prime-time defenseman Adam Almquist. Griffins coach Jeff Blashill likes what he's seen from the undersized (maybe 5'9" and 160 pounds) but supremely talented defenseman thus far...
“He has outstanding poise with the puck and outstanding skill with the puck, so that’s allowed him to be a real good player 5-on-5 and he has a real good skill-set for the power play,” said Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill. “He can slide along the offensive blue line, show shot and pass, show shot and shoot, and he’s got a real good one-timer. His confidence has increased as the year’s gone on and that’s allowed him to be productive.”
MLive's Brendan Savage posted a story about Darren Helm's slow but finally steady recovery from a torn disc and/or ligament in his lower back. Helm's accompanying the Wings on their Western Canadian swing to take part in practices with the team:
"It'll be nice to be on the road," Helm said. "Get back on a plane, dinner, share some time with the guys. It was nice when I was in Columbus, got to skate with a few of the guys that were injured or not playing and it was nice being on the plane and just going out to dinner. It's been awhile and I miss it. It will be good for my body and mind. I've been so cut off this year. It has been hard not being part of the team. Guys have been good, keeping me a part of things, but it's not the same when you're not out on the ice. Just joking around, shooting the puck around after, having lots of fun after the actual practice."
As you already know, Helm's injury history has been nuts over the past year-and-a-half, but he's coming around now. His goal is to continue his slow but steady pace as he gets back into game shape:
The Detroit Red Wings begin the road-heaviest portion of their schedule tonight against the Calgary Flames tonight (9:30 PM EDT, FSD/TSN/AM 1270), and as the Wings hope to rebound from their crappy 0-and-2 weekend series against Columbus, and the Wings begin a slate of 3 games in 4 nights in Calgary, Edmonton and then Vancouver by facing off against a team whose status depends on whose story you believe.
Technically the Wings were just "winless" this past weekend just as, technically, the Wings have a 12-9-and-5 record over the course of 26 games played, good for 6th in the Western Conference. While even I resorted to some wailing and gnashing of teeth regarding the Wings' craptastic weekend, the team still believes that it's got what it takes to turn around its crappy road record and 0-for-36 road power play in a hurry, and it hopes that Valtteri Filppula's highly probable return and Gustav Nyquist's highly controversial recall will inject some badly-needed offense into the mix...
All while attempting to turn around a 3-5-and-2 road record while playing 7 of this month's remaining 9 games away from Joe Louis Arena.
But Lidstrom, Borje Salming, Henrik Lundqivst and less-than-successful NHL'er but Swedish World Championship hero Jorgen Jonsson will all be featured on stamps that the Swedish Posten (postal service) will release to help promote the upcoming World Championships.
For the second year in a row, Stockholm, Sweden and Helsinki, Finland are co-hosting the Worlds, but this time around, the medal rounds will take place in Stockholm, and after having a hard time filling buildings for expensively-priced round robin games last spring, the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation's enlisted Lidstrom, Mats Sundin and Forsberg as ambassadors to drum up business and goodwill going into this year's event.
Update: Whoops, wrong blog! This applies to the Rangers, not the Red Wings...shows you that I've got some rust on me, Sorry!. New York Rangers coach John Tortorella almost named names tonight (and if you can't see the video, click the link):
The Detroit Red Wings will play seven of their next eight and eight of their next nine games away from Joe Louis Arena, with a March 20th game against Minnesota and a March 31st affair against Chicago marking the team's only remaining home games until April.
This week's three-game road swing through Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver seems mild and moderate compared to the seven-or-eight-day and four-game road trip that includes a pair of "on the road and still on the road" games against Anaheim and then road tilts in Phoenix and San Jose in the last week of March, and the Wings' schedule is equally split between 7 home games and 7 road games (including two more "western swings") in April, so Detroit needs to figure out how to win on the road in a hurry.
MLive's Brendan Savage separated the injury news and/or Nyquist recall/Tatar demotion stories from an article very specifically discussing the Wings' road trip, and the Wings were blunt when speaking with Savage about the importance of turning their 3-5-and-2 road record around in a hurry:
Updated 2x at 4:56 PM: The Red Wings chose to hold one final practice at Joe Louis Arena before embarking on their Western Canadian road swing through Calgary (on Wednesday), Edmonton (on Friday) and Vancouver (on Saturday), and perhaps from a Wings fan's perspective, it's "good news, bad news."
The bad news is that the Wings chose to send Tomas Tatar back to Grand Rapids, swapping him out for Gustav Nyquist. The good news is that the team did so to make room for Valtteri Filppula's return at some point during the road trip, as MLive's Brendan Savage reports...
"I think Filppula is back in so suddenly there's no power-play time for Tatar," coach Mike Babcock said. "You got to give Tats a ton of credit. He came up for one game ... and he earned himself 17 games. We'll give Gus an opportunity and see what he can earn himself. I thought (Tatar) played really good. I thought he did good things. The only thing is suddenly if you're not on the power play, where's he getting his touches? Because Filppula is going to do that. We don't perceive him ahead of Fil. Any way you look at it, that's less ice time for him and less opportunity. So we made that flip. (Nyquist) is getting an opportunity. We have an extra forward now. We need to take an extra forward on the trip. We'll see what happens."
Filppula told Savage that he's almost ready to return, though Savage notes that Filppula has yet to receive medical clearance to play after injuring his left shoulder over two weeks ago...
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.