The Malik Report
The Detroit Red Wings face off against the Colorado Avalanche tonight (
8 PM EST, FSD—not plus thanks to the NBA lockout/Altitude) facing a team that has played neither particularly well nor particularly poorly since the Wings defeated the Avs 5-2 about a month ago: the Avs have gone 5-and-5, but have won their past two games, including a 3-2 shootout win over St. Louis on Friday night; the Wings, of course, are coming off a 4-1 victory over Buffalo on Friday night, and they’re hoping that Ty Conklin can deliver the team’s eighth straight win.
Perspective from both teams’ camps seems to be a little lean this morning, as the Denver Post’s Adrian Dater spent this morning talking about the same realignment issue that’s bugging you and me, as well as the demise of the dedicated enforcer, so we’ll turn back to Dater’s recounting of Friday’s Avs win to gauge the Avs’ offensive firepower...
Updated 2x at 1:45 PM: In theory, we know it’s coming, but I don’t think that we Red Wings fans necessarily know who we’re dealing with when we talk about it.*
As Paul posted on Saturday night, the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman built off the column by Sportsnet’s John Shannon, which suggested that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will table two options for realigning the NHL to the 30 members of the Board of Governors this Monday in Pebble Beach, CA. On the Saturday night’s Satellite Hotstove (which you can watch here), Friedman stated the following:
Well, I’m a little late to the party as the Chief and I are playing dueling banjos, but we all knew that the Red Wings facing a congested December schedule (see: fifteen games over the course of 30 days, with 14 to go over the next 28), Ty Conklin would receive a start sooner or later, and MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that Sunday’s game against Colorado will be “that day” for Conklin:
Conklin is 1-2-0, with a 3.33 goals-against average and .880 save percentage. He made 29 saves in a 3-0 victory over the Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on Oct. 8. Coach Mike Babcock said that factored into his decision.
“He got a shutout last time we were here. It was important to get him in,’’ Babcock said after practice today at the Pepsi Center. “Howie’s played great, we can always do that (play him), but I think Conks is going to play great tomorrow. He played great the last time in here.’‘
Said Conklin: “I’m very excited. It’ll be nice to get in there and get some action.’‘
Now that Fabian Brunnstrom’s Mrs. has given birth to little Alexander, the Red Wings have sent Brunnstrom down to Grand Rapids, hopefully for a month or more as Brunnstrom’s shown more than enough flashes of talent to entice the Wings’ management, players and fans…But he hasn’t played regularly enough or had the opportunity to play as many minutes as he needs to truly regain his form. Here’s the Griffins’ press release regarding Brunnstrom’s reassignment:
The Detroit Red Wings on Saturday assigned left wing Fabian Brunnstrom to the Grand Rapids Griffins.
A native of Jonstorp, Sweden, Brunnstrom has skated in four games with the Griffins this season, recording one goal and two assists. He has registered one assist and four penalty minutes in five contests with the Red Wings. The 26-year-old winger has tallied 43 points (17-26—43) in 85 career AHL games.
Between the Wings’ “we’re playing more than once every other night” grind during December and January (see: you need warm bodies when guys inevitably get dinged) and Mike Babcock’s effusive praise for Brunnstrom’s talent and work ethic, he’ll be back sooner or later.
Updated 3x at 11:21 AM: The Detroit Red Wings didn’t exactly play flawless hockey in defeating an injury-depleted Buffalo Sabres team 4-1 on Friday night, but as the Wings kicked off a December in which they’ll play 14 more times over the next 29 days, and given that they didn’t get into Denver until after 3 AM, emerging literally (see: Justin Abdelkader is OK despite getting his bell rung by Brayden McNabb) and figuratively unscathed thanks to a strong start and 40 minutes of “Red Wings on cruise control” hockey…Is about as much as Wings fans could possibly hope for as their team ground out
its seventh straight win.
The Sabres, however, took few positives from a game in which the Wings staked out a 3-1 lead over the course of the game’s first fourteen minutes; the fact that they lost both Nathan Gerbe (skate cut) and Patrick Kaleta (groin) to injuries added, well, injury to insult, but Robyn Regehr offered no excuses for his team’s performance to BuffaloSabres.com’s Kevin Snow:
MLIve’s Ansar Khan provides good news for Red Wings fans who were worried about Justin Abdelkader’s status after he took a heavy (and clean) hit from Brayden McNabb during the Red Wings-Sabres game, but not-so-good news regarding Sabres forward Nathan Gerbe, who got dinged by the toe of Paul Gaustad’s skate:
Abdelkader did not return to the game but said he will practice Saturday in Denver and be ready for Sunday’s game in Colorado.
“Just trying to get around him, he came up a little high; I didn’t see the replay,’’ Abdelkader said. “I just had to go through all the tests. Everything is fine.’‘
Also, Sabres forward Nathan Gerbe (Oxford) was cut in the nose and lip by the skate blade of a teammate late in the third period. Coach Lindy Ruff said he was in a lot of pain, but no surgery is needed and he is questionable for Saturday’s game in Nashville.
The Detroit Red Wings weren’t going to play near-flawless hockey forever, and after steamrolling an injury-ravaged Buffalo Sabres in the first period of their 4-1 win, the Wings took their collective foot off the gas pedal, got a little casual and way too fancy after three straight penalties taken in under 10 minutes shook ‘em up a bit, and…
Well, as the Chief suggested, Jimmy Howard has been in, “I can bail you out, boys, no worries” mode all year long, and between Howard stopping 19 of 20 second and third-period shots against and the Wings’ ability to stifle the Sabres’ offense just enough to regularly expose the Sabres’ lack of depth, the Wings endured an honest-to-goodness road letdown without surrendering anything more than some pride (assuming that Justin Abdelkader emerged from the “quiet room” no worse for wear, anyway).
I’m going to have to ask you to pardon the “freighter in a dry dock for two years’” worth of rust on The Malik Report for the next two-to-four weeks as I’ve been out of the loop, and in that spirit, here’s a very late reminder regarding a very important in-person appearance which you might want to make at Joe Louis Arena’s box office tomorrow, per DetroitRedWings.com’s Greg Monahan:
For the second time this season, the Detroit Red Wings will make a limited number of $9 tickets available to fans for select homes games during the remainder of the 2011-2012 regular season. The specially-priced tickets go on sale this Saturday, December 3 at 10:00 a.m. and are only available at the Joe Louis Arena Box Office. The deal will apply for all home games from January through the end of the regular season slate in early April, including six premium home games where tickets will start at $19.
Updated 2x with some insider info at 4:17 PM: Ahead of what’s supposed to be a potentially fabric-of-the-NHL-chaging meeting of the NHL’s Board of Governors on Monday—assuming that what is truly a collection of power brokers generally consisting of hard-liners, dinosaurs, curmudgeons and a mostly aged and intransigent bunch doesn’t simply say, “Well, we don’t know what the hell’s going to happen with Phoenix, anyway, so can we delay this decision till we know where the Coyotes will play during the 2012-2013 season (if we have one)?” or perhaps to simply say, “Look, the Blue Jackets are losing money, so they go East,” or perhaps, “Moving the Predators East makes the most geographic and territorial sense given that the Thrashers are gone”...
The Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell spoke to Ken Holland and the Wings’ players about their desire to no longer force their fans to burn the midnight oil on such a regular basis, and as we already know by now, if you mention, “Red Wings” and “Eastern Conference,” you’re bound to generate enough web hits that the media’s been milking this topic like the low-hanging fruit it is all season long.
In any case, Holland suggests that the same-old, same-old won’t cut it, despite the Wings’ willingness to be a “good citizen”:
Updated 2x at 4:14 PM: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the a returning Ryan Miller (update: Possibly? He’s been cleared to return but even NHL.com’s not sure whether Miller or Jonas Enroth will start tonight, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was noncommittal while speaking to the Sabres’ website and WGR 550’s Bill Hamilton believes that Miller will back up Enroth) and the rest of the Buffalo Sabres tonight (7:30 PM EST, FSD/MSG Buffalo/WXYT), the injury-riddled Sabres are both welcoming Miller and Tyler Ennis back into the lineup and are welcoming a rookie who the Buffalo News’s John Vogl can only describe in one manner to the NHL…
The numbers—6-foot-8 and 260 pounds—already tell you Joe Finley is huge. But the Sabres’ newest defenseman stood up on skates while meeting with the media Thursday afternoon and I was right next to him. And let me tell you, he is H.U.G.E. Finley is up from Rochester and will likely pair with Brayden McNabb Friday night while making his NHL debut against the Detroit Red Wings. Not an easy spot. But the 24-year-old, a former No. 1 pick of the Washington Capitals, has overcome serious injuries the last two years and is grateful for the chance.
“I really just took it upon myself to focus on things I can control and that’s trying to play a real simple, solid brand of hockey,” Finley said. “I’ve been fortunate to do that so far. Things are moving in the right direction but there’s a long way to go to being here fulltime, that’s for sure.”
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.