The Malik Report
Red Wings mid-day mish-mash: questions, trade climatology, co-MVP’s, Happy Hudler and more McCrimmon
The Canucks are practicing right now in Vancouver, and the Red Wings won’t even hit the ice until 3 or 3:30 PM EST, so we’re looking at some very late-afternoon off-day updates, but that’s no excuse for sitting on Wings news till this evening for the sake of comprehensiveness’s sake.
Given the Wings’ gritty 3-1 win over the Flames, Calgary’s moving tribute to Brad McCrimmon and Art Regner’s insistence that the Wings must target one of Tuomo Ruutu or Ales Hemsky to succeed come playoff time, we’ve got more than enough to tide us over till we learn how goalie coach Jim Bedard fared in practice during Jimmy Howard’s Day Off, and we’ll start this afternoon’s discussion with a slate of question regarding the Wings from Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski:
Given the talk surrounding the Edmonton Oilers’ and Carolina Hurricanes’ asking prices for Ales Hemsky and Tuomo Ruutu, respectively, I get more than a little jittery when the pair are linked to a Red Wings team that Ken Holland readily admitted is exploring its options in terms of bolstering its lineup via a smart trade or two (and Holland told the Globe and mail’s Alan Maki that he’s actually looking for a defenseman), but Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner’s got stars in his eyes while suggesting that one more top-six forward would allow the Wings to withstand an injury or two up front (see: Johan Franzen, 2010, Johan Franzen, 2011):
Ruutu turns 29 in February, and at 6 feet, 205 pounds, is an abrasive forward who is versatile and enjoys mixing it up. He’s a good skater and can play all three forward positions. Consistency and injuries have always been issues for him, but Ruutu could provide the Wings with a solid player who can score, set up his teammates and bring a bit of an attitude. In 511 career games with the Blackhawks and Hurricanes, Ruutu has 126 goals and 165 assists.
Hemsky, who turns 29 in August, is 6 feet, 185 pounds and a bit of an enigma. Blessed with a skill level off the charts, he’s never had that breakthrough season that would propel him into the league’s elite level. Injuries have always hampered him. Since February 2011, Hemsky has missed 35 games with various ailments. But he’s shown enough in 526 career games with the struggling Oilers—118 goals, 296 assists—to peak the Wings’ interest. Hemsky has 247 career penalty minutes to 498 for Ruutu.
Before Nicklas Lidstrom learned how to jump into the rush from Paul Coffey and how to impeccably position himself between the puck and the goal from Larry Murphy, he broke into the league 21 years ago playing alongside Brad McCrimmon, and on a night when the Calgary Flames did a fantastic job of honoring the one-time Wings player and coach’s memory, the Wings defeated the Flames 3-1 by playing a game whose substance resembled McCrimmon’s supremely gritty, sometimes downright nasty and perhaps less than aesthetically-inclined style.
The Wings didn’t receive much time to dwell upon their win; they boarded Red Bird II for an hour-long flight to Vancouver, where the Western Conference leaders (the Wings are all of three points ahead of the Predators and four ahead of the Blues and Blackhawks in the Central Division standings, and are 3 points ahead of the Canucks), where they’ll practice sans Jimmy Howard and Pavel Datsyuk on Wednesday—Wings coach Mike Babcock told Fox Sports Detroit’s John Keating that he’d have goalie coach Jim Bedard substitute for one of the two All-Stars who face a mandatory day off—before tangling with the Canucks, who defeated Chicago 3-2 in overtime, in a clash of titans on Thursday. This win involved finally hitting the .500 mark on the road while keeping pace with the Wings’ high-performing rivals, and little more.
The Detroit Red Wings’ 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Tuesday evening was anything but an aesthetically pleasing affair.
Between a little bit of rust on both sides thanks to the All-Star break, some particularly nasty hockey from Calgary and a still-lingering lack of road confidence, the Wings really had to grind it out and not get ground down during a second period in which the Flames out-shot Detroit 11-4, but Jimmy Howard stood just as tall as his teammates and the Wings scored three goals off the rush to take it to the feisty Flames and remain atop the Western Conference and just ahead of the Blues, Blackhawks and Predators.
The Calgary Flames incredibly classily honored former Flame and Red Wings player and assistant coach Brad McCrimmon before tonight’s Red Wings-Flames game. Here’s the video clip they aired at the rink, and it was lovely to see Mrs. McCrimmon, Brad’s kids, mom, dad and brother Kelly all in attendance as they received silver pucks and a framed McCrimmon #4 jersey from the Flames’ brass:
I know the Wings flew Maureen, Carlin and Liam out to Calgary; I believe McCrimmon’s mom and dad still live in Saskatchewan, and Kelly coaches the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings in Manitoba, so I’m guessing that they’ll have some family time together as the Wings head to Vancouver before heading back to Alberta to tangle with the Oilers on Saturday night. As the McCrimmon family lives in Northville, the Wings’ organization has made sure to take good care of the Mrs. and Carlin and Liam.
So as to not face your wrath, I’m not including this one in the Red Wings-Flames game-day update thread: Red Wings GM Ken Holland talked trade turkey with the Globe and Mail’s Alan Maki this afternoon:
The Detroit Red Wings sit atop the NHL overall standings coming out of the all-star break. So what does general manager Ken Holland do? Stick with a team that is dominant at home and suspect on the road or add to the mix come the trade deadline? Holland spoke about his team prior to Tuesday’s game in Calgary against the Flames and acknowledged he had some areas he was looking to bolster and $5-million in cap space to work with.
“Critics of the Red Wings say we’re not big enough, not gritty enough. We’d like to add some depth, especially on defence,” said Holland, noting there are a great many teams with playoff aspirations looking to do the same.
The one thing the Red Wings don’t want to do is trade away their early-round draft picks. Holland said that was the pattern in the pre-lockout days when Detroit was spending wildly. “We gave up picks and brought in Brendan Shanahan, Mathieu Schneider, Chris Chelios, Robert Lang to chase Stanley Cups.” Since 2005, the Red Wings have been more reluctant to part with their first- and second-round picks.
So are the Red Wings interested in trading for Nashville Predators’ defenceman Ryan Suter, Edmonton Oilers’ forward Ales Hemsky or New Jersey Devil Zach Parise? “We’re looking to see who’s out there,” said Holland. But only to enhance what Detroit has, not remodel.
Holland kicks every tire and inquires about the asking prices of every player available (and some who aren’t) as part of his due diligence, but I just don’t see the Wings giving up a Smith, Mrazek, Pulkkinen, Nyquist, etc. for the sake of “now”...But it is interesting to note that Holland might be leaning toward finding a replacement for Brad Stuart in-season—assuming that the price is right.
Updated 5x with a few more tidbits at 6:24 PM: The Red Wings won’t take the ice to prepare for tonight’s game against the Calgary Flames (9 PM EST, FSD Plus/Sportsnet West/WXYT’s AM station only) until after I’m out of the office an hour from now, but the Calgary Sun’s Randy Sportak is posting updates from the Flames’ “morning skate”...
#Flames Jarome Iginla first one on the ice for the morning skate. Hits it early with Michael Cammalleri before everyone else.
Iginla and Cammalleri with the game-day routine of passing to each other just inside the circle and firing pucks in the net. One-timers next
Flames lines: Tanguay-Backlund-Iginla; Comeau-Jokinen-Cammalleri; Bouma-Jones-Stempniak; Kostopoulos-Stajan-Jackman
Flames defence: Butler-Bouwmeester; Giordano-Hannan; Brodie-Sarich. Looks like Babchuk the lone healthy scratch. Kiprusoff in goal.
The Calgary Herald’s Scott Cruickshank reports that the Flames are tweaking their power play as well:
The Detroit Red Wings chose to skip practice on Monday and fly out West to Calgary, where they’ll begin a four-game slate of West Coast games against the Calgary Flames tonight (9 PM EST, FSD Plus/Sportsnet West/WXYT). The Wings won’t have much time to pause and enjoy the Flames’ tribute to Brad McCrimmon because, as the Wings duly pointed out to their press corps, the team’s road record remains a game below .500 (13-and-14) with hard tilts against the playoff-desperate Flames, the powerhouse Canucks, a nothing-to-lose Oilers team and a grudge match on Monday in Phoenix on the agenda prior to a long home stand.
If you take a look at the Western Conference standings, the Wings might not be able to match the 9th-place Flames’ burning desire to sneak back into the playoff pack, but the Wings are only two points ahead of the Blues and three ahead of the Blackhawks and Predators in the Central Division, and that includes a really remarkable 9-and-3 record over the course of January’s tightly-packed games, eggs laid in Long Island and Montreal last Wednesday included. In other words, the Wings simply don’t have the wiggle room to continue wobbling on the road, and the fact that the Wings dropped an ugly 4-3 decision to a team that tends to run ‘em into the boards just before Christmas doesn’t help the Wings’ cause.
Amidst the hoopla and hyp of the NHL’s All-Star weekend died, the NHL’s Board of Governors met in Ottawa this past weekend, and Sportsnet’s John Shannon reports that the NHL and the Red Wings will probably announce their 2013 Winter Classic plans by February 7th (the Wings return from Phoenix on the 6th and host the Oilers on February 8th, so I’m guessing the 7th, at Comerica Park), which would give the league just enough time to allow Superbowl talk to fade before making the announcement we’re all expecting:
1. The Winter Classic in Detroit will be announced in the next 10 days. The 2013 version will go well beyond the Red Wings and the Maple Leafs. Oh sure there will be an Alumni game, but don’t be surprised if the AHL, NCAA and the OHL have roles in the event, with as many as five games within a few days of New Year’s Day. As we have mentioned here before, much of the year-end celebration will occur in downtown Detroit at Comerica Park, owned by the Illitch’s, with the big Original Six tilt in Ann Arbor.
Continued with discussion about the Coyotes, Devils and Blues’ ownership situations…
Updated with some trade talk at 7:14 PM: The Detroit Red Wings didn’t arrive in Calgary until about 5:30 EST, but somewhere between ye olde catch-up post and my doctor handing me a prescription for Amoxicillin, the Wings’ press corps caught up to the team at Metro Airport, and the Wings talked about the fact that they’d like to stop signing Tenacious D’s “The Road” when talking about how “[expletive]ing tough” it is to win away from Joe Louis Arena given that the Wings will tangle with Calgary (Tuesday), Vancouver (Thursday), Edmonton (Saturday) and Phoenix (next Tuesday) before heading home for six straight games and 18 of their last 28…
But coach Mike Babcock dropped something of a bombshell, too, by telling the Flint Journal’s Brendan Savage that he might “rest” Jimmy Howard given that #35 had a busy weekend:
“That’s real good question,” Babcock said when asked if Howard would play. “I don’t have the answer for you or I’d tell you.”
And Howard’s preference?
“Whatever Babs says I’ll go with,” Howard said.
The good news is that Nicklas Lidstrom is feeling much better after taking off last Wednesday’s shellacking in Montreal…
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.