The Malik Report
Updated 7x at 2:50 with Babcock audio, Osgood news, and Hudler’s out as he’s ill: The Detroit Red Wings will have a now-familiar face in the lineup tonight when they face off against the Columbus Blue Jackets (7 PM, Fox Sports Detroit/FS Ohio/WXYT) in Joey MacDonald:
The crazy life of a back-up goalie. Joey MacDonald was sent down to Grand Rapids earlier in the week when it appeared Chris Osgood was ready to play. But Osgood still isn’t quite ready, as it turns out. So here was MacDonald being recalled yesterday afternoon, and now it looks like he’ll get the start tonight here in Columbus.
The Free Press’s Helene St. James confirms while discussing the second undercurrent going into tonight’s tilt with the first of two very important Wings people in Jimmy Howard—ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun talked to Ken Holland as well, so please continue reading—the fact that the Wings appear to have steadied themselves after a 4-game losing streak and what appeared to be a bit of top playoff seed malaise:
The Detroit Red Wings took a midnight flight to Columbus, where they’ll play against the Blue Jackets tonight (7 PM EDT, FSD/FS Ohio/WXYT) feeling as good about themselves as they have in a long time thanks to a tightly-contested 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night. The Wings played a determined and genuinely enthusiastic game against a novel and highly-skilled opponent, rising to the occasion of stifling the Capitals’ offense while answering with clutch goals of their own, and by playing a solid 60-minute game in the first time since what seems like forever, they snapped the Capitals’ 9-game winning streak while pushing the San Jose Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks further behind them in the Western Conference standings.
Okay, so the news that Chris Osgood is apparently still “too sore” to back up Jimmy Howard for tonight’s Red Wings-Capitals game isn’t exactly great news. In fact, it’s downright worrisome. But maybe this quip from Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski, who spoke to NHL.com’s Bob Snow about his long and winding road to the NHL, as well as his three Stanley Cup wins with the New Jersey Devils and WIngs, might cheer you (and me) up:
“The two experiences [with New Jersey and Detroit] are very similar,” Rafalski said. “The first year, obviously, winning the championship at each and then losing in the Finals the second and then being knocked out [of the playoffs] early in the third year. I guess that means we’re supposed to win it this year,” he said, smiling about the Wings possibly paralleling the Devils’ three-year Cup calendar in 2000 and 2003 by replicating it in 2008 and 2011.
“I’ve been on some very good teams,” Rafalski said. “I came into New Jersey with some very skilled players and fit in real nice playing with some real good defensemen early in my career like Scott Stevens, and Scott Niedermayer, and having Larry Robinson as coach.
“All that continued [in Detroit]. I’ve just tried to learn from who is around you. Take this, and ask, ‘Can I use that? How can I use it, and in what part of my game?’ Just absorb things that are important. Each Cup was special with the path to each; each takes just as much effort. It is the highest echelon of this sport.”
I sure hope we’re due.
Updated 8x with Osgood news, other stuff at 3:16 PM: The Detroit Red Wings will face off against the Washington Capitals tonight (7:30 PM EDT, Versus/the game is also on Fox Sports Detroit and Comcast Sportsnet Washignton/WXYT) in a showdown which will showcase two of the league’s most highly-skilled teams and two of the league’s most dynamic players in Pavel Datsyuk and Alex Ovechkin, who, as the Free Press’s Helene St. James notes, happen to be good friends as the pair played together for Dynamo Moscow during the lockout:
Wings superstar Pavel Datsyuk and the Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin are old friends, and chatted prior to the morning skates. Inside the Wings’ locker room there’s a good deal of excitement about seeing Ovechkin play, as he’s about as dominant as they come. He’s racked up four goals and eight assists during the winning streak.
The Detroit Red Wings are approaching fully healthy status (minus Patrick Eaves and Ruslan Salei) as they face off against the injury-depleted Washington Capitals tonight (7:30 PM, Versus/WXYT), but the Capitals possess both a nearly identical record to Detroit’s 40-20-and-8, with 41 total wins thanks to a 9-game winning streak punctuated by a 4-2 victory over Monteral on Tuesday, and the Capitals are actually a much better defensive team than the Wings, boasting a team-averaged 2.33 goals-against average to the Wings’ 2.79. It’s the Wings that are the better offensive team, however, boasting 3.19 goals scored per game compared to the Caps’ 2.63.
As far as the Wings are concerned, however, none of those statistics, streaks or any sort of intimidation factor the Caps might bring into Joe Louis Arena matter. The Wings are only concerned about the fact that they’ve got 3 games remaining (and four over the next six nights), and while they’re not going to catch the Vancouver Canucks for first overall in the West, the team’s 40 wins and 90 points are good for only a 2-point lead over the 3rd-place San Jose Sharks and a 5-point lead over the Los Angeles Kings and the Phoenix Coyotes, who represent the tip of the iceberg that’s constituted by the 9 teams separated by only 11 total points.
The city of Novi plans to pay tribute to Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who resides in the Oakland County community during the hockey season, by renaming the stretch of road that leads up to Novi Ice Arena. Arena Drive, a short, winding road off of Novi Road, south of West 10 Mile Road, will be renamed Nick Lidstrom Drive.
“I’m truly honored to be recognized like that and to have a street named after me,” Lidstrom said. “I know where’s it’s going to be right near the Novi Ice Arena. … I’ve had all four of my kids play hockey through that association.”
The new street sign will be unveiled during a dedication ceremony on March 24. Lidstrom will join former teammate Steve Yzerman as the only Red Wings to be recognized with a local street name.
Continued with a bit of a playful jab from Lidstrom’s carpool driver, Tomas Holmstrom, and a bit about the man who has a rink named after him in Westland. And when is the Swedish Embassy officially relocating to Novi, anyway?
I absolutely adore hockey equipment, the technology that goes into making it and the delicate business that is getting NHL’ers to endorse a particular brand of equipment, and especially in light of the fact that a certain Red Wings defenseman wearing #55 used sticks that he was never completely comfortable with for three years before switching to a different brand this year thanks to a Kronwall-brother deal with Bauer, Yahoo Sports’ Justin Bourne offers nothing less than equipment candy in talking about NHL’ers stick deals:
[T]hey start with a blank slate — they can use, try, or mess with whatever stick in the world they want. If they’re second or third liners in a good market — and the “good market” part is key here — then they can probably finagle some cash or product out of a company for using their twigs. In great markets like Toronto, rest assured every player on that team is cashing a cheque from the company clearly displayed on their stick. (Yes, that includes players who don’t even need sticks for anything but slashing). In Atlanta or Phoenix? It’s unlikely you’re seeing a whole lot of kickback.
I’ve been told by a few equipment types that there are “A,” “B” and “C” markets, and Detroit is an “A” market, so it’s probable that every Red Wing gets some sort of compensation for the sticks, skates, gloves, helmet and even hockey pants that they wear.
While the Red Wings’ return to full strength via the likely returns of Chris Osgood, Brian Rafalski and Patrick Eaves to the lineup on Wednesday or Thursday dominated Monday’s practice reports, the Wings also discussed an obvious undercurrent not related to hits to the head—to some extent, Brian Rafalski’s return will (hopefully) jump-start the Wings’ transition game, as coach Mike Babcock told the Free Press’s Helene St. James...
“It just helps all over,” coach Mike Babcock said Monday. “He’s a real good player. I think he’s one of the best defensemen in the league, and if he can be healthy, we’re a way better hockey club. We play faster. I think we’ve been faster anyway, but we play way faster when Rafi is in because the puck gets going so much, so we’d love to have him.”
Toward the end of this afternoon’s crop of Monday practice updates, I noticed that the Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell posted a video in which he spoke to Nicklas Lidstrom about the head shot debate, with Lidstrom suggesting that the NHL should not install a blanket ban on all hits to the head.
Waddell’s video was a heads-up, no pun intended, for an article offering varied opinions from Henrik Zetterberg, Mike Babcock, Lidstrom and Kris Draper, who present anything but a unified front. Zetterberg wants to see supplemental discipline penalize players much more severely for blows to the head which result in injuries…
“I think and hope they will (come up with something), that the punishment will be a little harder,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “If you do it more than once, it should be even tougher punishment. Basically, we only affect 10 or 11 guys. It’s the same guys that do it all the time. It’s up to the league to make the suspensions higher. Now, they get suspended four or five games, it doesn’t matter. If you suspend them 15 games, it’ll hurt them a little more.”
But Lidstrom, Zetterberg and Johan Franzen don’t necessarily want to install a blanket ban…
One more update at 6:59 PM via Kulfan, and thanks to Paul for posting the video of Nicklas Lidstrom addressing head shots from the Windsor Star: Following up today’s earlier Wings posts, MLive’s Ansar Khan confirms that the Red Wings have not only activated Chris Osgood off the IR and sent Joey MacDonald to Grand Rapids, but also expect to get defenseman Brian Rafalski and/or forward Patrick Eaves back into the lineup for Wendesday’s game against Washington:
Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said forward Patrick Eaves (groin) has been cleared to play, but he hasn’t set his lineup yet for Wednesday’s game against the Washington Capitals (7:30 p.m., FSD). Eaves has missed the past eight games.
“Once we know who’s available we’ll decide on the roster after that,’’ Babcock said.
Defenseman Brian Rafalski (back spasms), as expected, will return to action in that game, after missing seven games. Chris Osgood will dress as Jimmy Howard’s backup. Osgood won’t necessarily start Thursday’s game in Columbus. Babcock said he hadn’t decided when Osgood would play.
“Whoever gives us the best chance of winning, that’s what we’re going to do,’’ Babcock said.
Khan also confirms that the Wings will likely be without Ruslan Salei for the better part of the week as his wife’s very overdue to deliver the couple’s third child in Manhattan Beach, CA, and Fox Sports Detroit’s Trevor Thompson believes that Osgood will start on Thursday. More to come as the Wings’ beat writers file their Monday practice updates.
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.