The Malik Report
Okay, so the Red Wings-Blackhawks wrap-up and the ensuing notebooks and more gabba about Petr Mrazek and Teemu Pulkkinen’s performances at the World Junior Championships gave the blog software indigestion. So here’s a separate entry regarding the Red Wings’ game against the St. Louis Blues tonight (7 PM EST, FSD/FS Midwest/WXYT) and all that follows:
I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news isn’t good—the Wings won’t face Alexander Steen because he’s got a concussion. The bad news isn’t good, either: while the Blues didn’t hold a grudge regarding Johan Franzen bumping Kris Russell (who’s out with a “hip pointer”), they’re going to have both T.J. Oshie, Vladimir Sobotka and Jamie Langenbrunner in the lineup tonight (they did not play during the Wings’ 3-2 victory on Tuesday) per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford.
The Blues felt slighted by luck in their 2-1 shootout loss to Nashville on Friday, as noted by the Associated Press’s recap:
The Blues got a goal from T.J. Oshie. Halak stopped 33 shots.
“It’s frustrating for the whole team, especially for someone like me who takes pride in scoring shootouts,” said Oshie, as the Blues have not won a shootout since March 7, 2011. “To see the effort that Jaro put forth for us tonight and to not get him that extra point ... it’s unacceptable I think.”
The Detroit Red Wings flew back to Detroit for their traditional New Year’s Eve tilt, this time against the St. Louis Blues (7 PM EST, FSD/FS Midwest/WXYT) lamenting a lost opportunity to gain ground on both Friday night’s opponent and Saturday’s foe, dropping what Wings fans seem to believe is a downright disturbing 3-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Wings are now five points (instead of one, had they won) behind the Blackhawks in the Central Division standings, and because the St. Louis Blues lost 2-1 to Nashville via a shootout decision, the Wings are tied with (instead of two points ahead of) the Blues, more or less necessitating a win tonight to keep pace with both teams.
For Red Wings fans, watching Marian Hossa score the game-winner while Johan Franzen continues to slowly regain his form after a five-game hibernation just added insult to the injury that was witnessing the Wings take five penalties to the Hawks’ one, Jimmy Howard experiencing a very “off” night in whiffing on all of the Hawks’ goals, including Jonathan Toews’ penalty shot/make-up call against Nicklas Lidstrom, and especially watching the Wings squander two one-goal leads via scatterbrained play, but the worst part was…Well, how do I put this?
The Detroit Red Wings fell into bad habits and found themselves paying for earned breaks on Friday, dropping a 3-2 decision to Chicago…And the Wings’ lack of discipline came to bite ‘em in the ass, repeatedly, but the Wings didn’t seem to be willing or able to learn from their mistakes, nor curry favor with the referees.
Don’t get me wrong—the Wings were terribly, terribly inefficient, choosing to chase the puck and chase a Hawks team out puck-possessing the masters of the craft instead of answering the Hawks’ play with more of the same. But after Nicklas Lidstrom hooked Marian Hossa on a breakaway and got away with it, the officiating crew seemed intent upon repaying their kindness, and the Wings were quite happy to indulge them. Lidstrom was then called for a penalty shot infraction against (on which Howard whiffed, big time, on Jonathan Toews’ shot) and then a 2-minute penalty on Toews…
Former NHL coach Scotty Bowman is among 66 notables to receive the Order of Canada. The honor recognizes a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation.
Considered one of hockey’s greatest coaches, Bowman won a record nine Stanley Cups behind the benches of the Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings.
Bowman, currently a senior adviser with the Chicago Blackhawks, holds the record for the coach with most wins in league history. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991..
Updated 4x with Mrazek called “disgusting” by Team USA’s Jason Zucker at 8:32 PM: You might be wondering who the masked man who just stopped 52 of 54 shots and helped the Czech Republic defeat Team USA 5-2 (link to recap which includes embedded highlights) at the World Junior Championships might be.
Petr Mrazek currently tends goal for the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s, and while his goals-against isn’t exactly pretty, he’s won 16 times while backstopping a team that admittedly plays “run and gun” hockey—kind of like the hockey the Czechs played against the Americans—and the Red Wings very astutely picked Mrazek with the 141st overall pick of the 2010 Entry Draft. The Wings were already planning
on signing Mrazek and
having him turn pro with the Grand Rapids Griffins next season, but today’s performance might have added a bigger rookie bonus to the contract
he’ll ink sooner than later
he’s already signed .
The level-headed and ever-smiling youngster actually didn’t play on last year’s Czech World Junior team because he’d been “blacklisted” by the Czech Republic’s Ice Hockey Federation for choosing to play in the CHL instead of playing for HC Vitkovice in the Czech Extraliga (one might recall Slavomir Lener’s rant about the CHL being the damnation of the Czechs’ junior program at the World Hockey Summit, and Mrazek being requested to pay several hundred thousand dollars to buy his way out of his rights-holder’s contract had something to do with that speech), so it speaks to Mrazek’s maturity that he let bygones be bygones and jumped at the chance to play for the Czech Republic this time around…
But Red Wings director of player development and Czech junior team assistant coach Jiri Fischer made an ironic comment about Mrazek’s status as an unheralded goaltender going into the tournament while speaking to the Score’s Justin Bourne:
Mrazek hasn’t gotten the attention that the goalies of other top countries have, but asked if his abilities weren’t being properly recognized at the tournament Fischer was succinct: “We know the strength of Petr and whatever everybody else thinks that’s their decision.”
I guess “everybody else” thinks that he’s pretty decent after today’s performance.
Update: The Edmonton Journal’s Mitch Goldberg was thinking the same thing:
Yahoo Sports’ Nicholas J. Cotsonika wrote a phenomenal article about Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom that’s so good that, well, we ought to start at its beginning and go from there:
The calendar is about to flip to 2012, but when it comes to Nicklas Lidstrom, the Detroit Red Wings are already thinking ahead to 2013.
Lidstrom is 41. He is playing on his second straight one-year, $6.2 million contract. He will turn 42 on April 28, and he will evaluate his future after the Wings’ season ends, not before. His teammates respect that. But they can’t help themselves. They see how Lidstrom’s greatness remains undiminished, making him a candidate to catch Bobby Orr in the record book and win his eighth Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman. They seize every opportunity to tease their captain about coming back in 2012-13.
Take Tuesday night. With the Wings facing a 2-0 deficit, Lidstrom scored to spark a 3-2 comeback victory over the St. Louis Blues. That gave him eight goals this season, tying him for second among NHL defensemen. That gave him 1,131 points in his career, moving him into the top 50 NHL scorers of all-time.
“It’s good … for next year,” said teammate Henrik Zetterberg with a smile and without prompting. “You always think for next year.”
Continued, and the article’s really, really, really worth your time…
Updated 6x with Wings talking about the Winter Classic and the 24/7 phenomenon at 7:31 PM: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight (8:30 PM EST, FSD Plus/CSN Chicago/WXYT),Wings coach Mike Babcock has chosen to slide Justin Abdelkader into the injured Darren Helm’s (groin) third line centre’s spot, and as such, the Free Press’s Helene St. James reports that the Wings will ice a fourth “kid line” of Gustav Nyquist, Cory Emmerton and Joakim Andersson tonight:
With Helm out, the lines have been adjusted as follows:
Helm said he “felt it after the St. Louis game, but I didn’t think it was anything major. And then the day off (Wednesday), I didn’t do anything, really, to provoke it or feel it. Then in practice, it just slowly started coming on.”
As the media’s continued to insist that the NHL is experiencing a concussion epidemic of unprecedented proportions, I’ve kept thinking a simple thought: “Yeah, but wasn’t anyone paying attention from the late 90’s till around 2008 or 2009, when somewhere between 7-15 players would very quietly retire due to post-concussion issues, and we simply didn’t talk about it as if concussions were a ‘problem?’” Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos believes that, to some extent, advances in sports medicine and a more progressive and preventative slate of concussion-diagnosing procedures are simply revealing that, obstruction or no obstruction, red line or no red line, NHL players have simply been suffering many more concussions than we’ve ever assumed they were over the past ten to fifteen years, and that it’s entirely possible that the short-term fears we have for an All-Star team’s worth of concussed players sitting on the sidelines might translate into longer careers for the Crosbys, Webers and Gagnes over the world:
s it an epidemic or is it just the knowledge and education getting the best of us. Don’t think for a minute I’m undervaluing the importance of identifying head injuries, but you can’t deny that just a short while ago we rarely saw this many players diagnosed with concussions or “concussion-like” symptoms. ]
Why? Because back then, as players, we didn’t know any better. We didn’t have the concussion education today’s players have, so we played through the symptoms. The last thing in the world we wanted was a teammate, coach or general manager looking at us thinking we were soft. Just as many players likely had concussions, they were just never properly identified.
Today is much different. Now GMs are more sensitive to concussions than ever before and teams are more willing to shut a guy down for seven to 10 days just to be on the safe side.I think if the grade of concussion were made public, we’d see many of these guys out with Grade 1 concussions. I am not saying these aren’t legitimate concussions, but I am saying there is a difference between these five-, six- and seven-day concussions and the more serious ones suffered by Sidney Crosby, Marc Staal and Chris Pronger.
Three-time U.S. Olympian and women’s hockey stalwart Angela Ruggiero could and did keep up with men in terms of her physicality, competitiveness and downright viciousness, and in competition with women, she evoked comparisons to Chris Chelios in terms of her ability to balance scoring ability with physical intimidation (even in a no-checking game). Today, USA Today’s Kevin Allen reports that the California-born, Harvard-educated and Michigan-raised Ruggiero has chosen to retire at 31 years of age:
“I think I’ve done as much as I can to prepare for this day,” Ruggiero told USA TODAY. “It’s going to be really hard, but I’m also really excited about what lies ahead.”
In 1998, Ruggiero was the youngest player on the U.S. team that won the first women’s Olympic hockey gold medal at the tournament in Nagano, Japan. Rene Fasel, president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, said Ruggiero was the female version of former international and NHL standout Slava Fetisov.
“She has not only been the best defenseman in the last 15 years, Angela Ruggiero has defined this era of women’s hockey,” Fasel said.
Updated 4x at 4:13 PM: Good news on the injury front after the Red Wings’ 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues: the Wings have officially cleared Jan Mursak to play and assigned him to Grand Rapids, result in a 2-week conditioning stint which should yield more speed and depth on the fourth line when Mursak and Chris Conner (broken hand) return from their respective injuries. Here’s the Griffins’ press release confirming Mursak’s assignment:
The Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday assigned right wing Jan Mursak to the Grand Rapids Griffins for conditioning.
Mursak has not played this season after breaking his ankle in a Sept. 25 preseason game versus the Chicago Blackhawks. The 23-year-old forward skated in 54 games with the Griffins last season, recording 35 points (13-22—35). He also appeared in 19 games for the Red Wings, notching his first NHL goal on Jan. 10 versus Colorado. The Maribor, Slovenia, native has registered 86 points (39-47—86) in 184 career games with the Griffins from 2008-11.
As MLive’s Ansar Khan notes, the Wings can recall Mursak early if necessary:
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.