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There ain’t no easy way for the Red Wings in the first round

Updated 3x with 2:07 with…t-shirt news?: This morning/afternoon’s “late-breaking” stories subsequent to the Red Wings’ 3-2 OT loss to Chicago include a recap from the Macomb Daily’s George Pohly, who received a classic, “Stating the obvious” quip from Henrik Zetterberg about a possible Wings-Hawks playoff series…

“That would mean short travel,” Zetterberg said. “There could be a lot of games between us.”

And, aside from Elliotte Friedman’s note about Pavel Datsyuk and the Globe and Mail’s David Shoalts’s double tribute to Nicklas Lidstrom and Teemu Selanne, today’s focus involves the fact that the Red Wings could indeed face the Blackhawks, Nashville Predators or Anaheim Ducks, among others, in the first round of the playoffs. That means a tough road ahead for the Wings, as the Oakland Press’s Pat Caputo suggests:

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5 and a game will do for Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi

Update 1:55 PM: for some reason, Sportsnet claims that Bertuzzi’s been fined an unspecified amount: As Paul reported, the NHL has apparently decided that giving Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi a 5-minute major, 10-minute misconduct and game misconduct for elbowing Chicago Blackhawks forward Ryan Johnson was enough punishment for #44, and will not suspend or fine Bertuzzi for his hit. Red Wings GM Ken Holland confirms, as the Free Press’s Helene St. James notes:

Detroit Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi will not face any further disciplinary action for his hit on Chicago forward Ryan Johnson in Monday night’s game.

“I talked to the league – no suspension for Bert,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said this morning.

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, the Sporting News’s Craig Custance and the Detroit News‘s Ted Kulfan confirm [edit: as does MLive’s Ansar Khan].

Update: The Red Wings also posted a comment regarding the news, per Bill Roose:

he Red Wings have been told that Todd Bertuzzi will not face additional disciplinary action from the NHL for a first-period hit that earned the veteran power forward a game-misconduct, his first ejection in more than seven years.

Bertuzzi earned a five-minute major penalty for elbowing and a game-misconduct when he hit Blackhawks center Ryan Johnson in the head during the Red Wings’ 3-2 overtime loss Monday.

The Red Wings held an optional practice Tuesday morning at Joe Louis Arena. Bertuzzi, who left The Joe shortly after his game ejection, did skate Tuesday, along with Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, Joey MacDonald, Chris Osgood and Jimmy Howard.

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Red Wings-Blackhawks wrap-up: Remorse, yes, swagger, no (and Emmerton signed an extension)

First and foremost regarding the Detroit Red Wings’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks; it’s almost impossible to guess what will happen to Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi after he was given a 5-minute major and game misconduct for an unintentional but no less vicious check on Blackhawks forward Ryan Johnson. Do the NHL’s “new rules” regarding hits to the head apply in this instance? Is Bertuzzi a “repeat offender?” Did he intend to leave his feet and elbow Johnson in the head? 

Bertuzzi’s such a controversial figure that your answers to these questions depend on whether you’re one of the Steve Lepores of the world, who believe that Bertuzzi remains a monster, or whether you’re more like me, and appreciate the fact that, per Comcast Sportsnet Chicago’s Tracey Myers, Todd Bertuzzi 2.0 felt terrible about the hit, as Johnson himself suggested:

Ryan Johnson took a Todd Bertuzzi elbow early in the first period and had to leave for a few minutes to be evaluated. He also had to have a small part of his right ear stitched back on. Johnson, who had suffered a concussion Feb. 11 in Dallas, returned to Monday night’s game, playing a little more than 13 minutes. Bertuzzi, meanwhile, was given a five-minute major as well as a game misconduct. Johnson said Bertuzzi came into the Blackhawks locker room and apologized to him.

“I knew I was going to have to kind of take a hit to make the play there, but I don’t think it was anything malicious,” Johnson said. “He was very apologetic, came walking right in here and said ‘Sorry’ as soon as it happened.”

[Blackhawks coach Joel] Quenneville said “We didn’t do much with (the power play), but a five-minute major was probably the right call.” Asked if Tampa Bay defenseman Pavel Kabina’s elbow to Dave Bolland was worse, Quenneville said, “absolutely.”

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Red Wings’ Jimmy Howard talks about desire to prove himself in the playoffs (and McCrimmon!)

Yahoo Sports’ Nicholas J. Cotsonika provides a slightly roundabout way to wrap up today’s pre-Red Wings-Blackhawks game stories by very specifically spelling out where the Red Wings’ go-to playoff goalie spent his Saturday night…

Late Saturday night, after leaving in the third period of a 4-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard had an MRI exam at the Detroit Medical Center. Howard lay in a coffin-like tube with a sore left shoulder. For about 45 minutes, he had nothing to do but listen to the machine’s loud clack-clack-clacking and worry about what the results of the exam might reveal.

“I was just sitting there, thinking, ‘Please don’t be anything. Please don’t be anything,’ ” Howard said.

Before, via conversations with Howard, his interim replacement, Joey MacDonald, and his mentor, Chris Osgood, revealing the fact that Howard isn’t taking the, “Time is on my side” approach that his eventual netminding partner, Tom McCollum, has adapted. Instead, Cotsonika reveals, the fact that Howard spent the portion of his 27th birthday usually dedicated to revelry in an MRI machine got him thinking about his almost desperate desire to prove that he can deliver for Red Wings fans, and his teammates, come playoff time:

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The Death Stare works

According to the Hockey News’s Justin Bourne, four specific traits separate great coaches from good or decent ones—respect-building, mastery of intimidation, choosing one’s words carefully and a combination of motivational and technical advice—and Bourne says that Red Wings coach Mike Babcock has the second trait down pat:

Some of the best in the business - think Mike Babcock as Example 1A - offer a mix of intelligent, thoughtful insight with searing “oh crap, he’s mad isn’t he?” Intimidating coaches can correct sloppy passes in practice with a single look (a look you begin to understand after a few weeks) or silence the room when he walks into it.

My Dad, Bob Bourne, played for Pat Quinn in Los Angeles and has mentioned Quinn was a great coach partially because of how strong and scary the guy was; players took him seriously. As much as you need to be “co-workers” so players can comfortably ask questions, the relationship needs to be established - team decisions are made democratically only until the dictator makes the final call.

Continued.

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Preaching patience regarding Red Wings prospect Tom McCollum; Greg Amadio, Griffins’ MOTY

As I believe I’m allowed to cobble together a second post after my ten-update game-day post-monster falls off the front page: the Red Wings’ theoretical #1 goaltending prospect, Thomas McCollum, has experienced a bumpy 2010-2011 season, losing his job as the Grand Rapids Griffins’ starter to Jordan Pearce and finding himself in the ECHl, where he’s very literally

made friends and impressed higher-ups while helping the Walleye make a late-season attempt to earn a playoff spot.

McCollum’s difficult first two seasons as a professional goaltender may have cost him his status as “Jimmy Howard’s back-up of the future” in Wings’ fans eyes, but he reminded NHL.com’s Brian Hedger that goaltending prospects, and, very specifically, Red Wings goaltending prospects, don’t ripen overnight:

McCollum, Detroit’s first pick in the 2008 Entry Draft (No.30), made the short drive up I-75 from Toledo on Monday morning to be the Red Wings’ back up. After struggling and playing in just 17 games with Grand Rapids, he was sent down to Toledo of the ECHL, where he’s played much better in five games (3-1-0, 2.55 GAA, .913 save percentage).

“It’s been a pretty up and down season,” he said. “I think the biggest thing for me is just getting confidence and maintaining it. I’m still only 21. I think a lot of people tend to forget that with me. Jimmy (Howard) didn’t break into the League until he was 25, I think, so time is definitely on my side. I know I can play at this level. It’s just maintaining my confidence level.”

McCollum and his goaltending guru/mentor, Jim Bedard, also addressed his ups and downs with DetroitRedWings.com’s Dave Burke, starting with his possibly ego-massaging call-up to sit on the bench while Joey MacDonald takes on the Blackhawks tonight…

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Red Wings forward Danny Cleary, poster boy

Update: Alanah found the art in question on James Long’s website: According to the Canadian Press, many school-age children in Newfoundland and Labrador will quite literally look to Red Wings forward Danny Cleary for inspiration:

NHL player Danny Cleary is being held up as a role model for school children in his home province of Newfoundland and Labrador in a work of art. The government is providing every school with a framed limited-edition reproduction of a print of the local hockey hero, who has won the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings. The work is by artist James Long and it’s titled “Believe in Yourself.”

The provincial government says the poster intended to inspire students to set high goals and pursue their own dreams and aspirations. Schools from kindergarten to Grade 12 are being asked to display the Cleary print in a prominent place.

The 32-year-old forward is a native of Harbour Grace and the first person from Newfoundland and Labrador to win the Stanley Cup.

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What constitutes a legal hit?

Despite the NHL’s decision to, in theory, anyway, call charging and roughing penalties more regularly “in the future,” this season’s rulebook was not amended to discourage players from taking the kind of long (and unnecessary) runs at the Sidney Crosbys and Brad Stuarts of the world that have resulted in far too many concussions and broken bones. That being said, it at least appears that the NHL’s sent out a memorandum to its referees, encouraging them to crack down ever so slightly on hard hits, and that has players and teams downright confused, as TSN’s Darren Dreger notes in his Dreger Report:

[T]here seems to growing confusion among NHL players as to what is an acceptable bodycheck, the areas on the ice where it’s legal to complete the check and where the line is between what’s a good hard hit versus a hit that may be viewed as too hard by the NHL.

Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich voiced his concern over a boarding penalty on Friday night following the Caps 2-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators. Midway through the third period, Washington’s Matt Bradley was given a boarding penalty after delivering a punishing hit on Senators rookie Patrick Wiercioch. A hit both Bradley and Laich defended after the game.

“I understand what they want to do and I’m all for getting rid of dirty hits, but in my mind that wasn’t a dirty hit,” Bradley told reporters. “Are we trying to eliminate hitting from the game? Is that what we’re trying to do with all this talk? He hits him above the goal-line and it’s a boarding call? How is he supposed to play if that’s a call?”

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Red Wings-Blackhawks game-day updates: Franzen’s in, Datsyuk’s out, Howard’s healing

Updated 10x at 3:19 PM: As the Red Wings prepare to face off against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight (7:30 PM, Versus/TSN2/WXYT), there’s some good news on the injury front, via the Detroit Red Wins’ official Twitter account, which reports that both Todd Bertuzzi (chronic back soreness) and Johan Franzen (groin) will play…

Babcock: Bertuzzi’s playing. Franzen says he’s playing.

Yahoo Sports’ Nicholas J. Cotsonika reports that there’s no progress on the Pavel Datsyuk front, however…

Datsyuk skated with Red Wings this morning but said he’s taking it day to day.

But Cotsonika offers good news regarding Jimmy Howard, who’s recovering relatively quickly from that nasty shoulder sprain suffered on Saturday night:

Jimmy Howard skated this morning but took no shots. He hopes to take shots as soon as Tuesday and return soon.

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Red Wings overnight report: setting up Wings-Hawks, a look back and Sheahan in the Frozen Four

Put simply, the Detroit Red Wings face off against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight (7:30 PM EDT, Versus/TSN2/WXYT) probably wishing that their three remaining games against Chicago didn’t involve as many damned high-stakes as they do.

The Wings had hoped to have the Central Division and at least 2nd place in the Western Conference wrapped up by now, but thanks to a combination of injuries and wasted opportunities, the Wings find themselves tied for second with the San Jose Sharks (both teams have 97 points, and the Wings will burn their game in hand over San Jose tonight as the Ducks-Avs tilt is the only other game on the schedule)—and if the Hawks were to manage to defeat the Wings three times (tonight and on April 8th and 10th), their 9-point deficit between themselves and the Wings would to three in a hurry, and, perhaps moreover, it’s highly likely that 8th-place Hawks would guarantee themselves a playoff spot.

Given the Wings’ injuries and ups and downs of late, they aren’t exactly overwhelming favorites as an international spotlight begins to focus upon them, as the Globe and Mail’s David Shoalts suggests:

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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.

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