The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/18/11 at 01:23 AM ET
Updated 3x at 1:18 AM on Monday: Mostly good news in this belated Red Wings-Coyotes off-day report: According to the Free Press’s Helene St. James, the Red Wings chose to hold Johan Franzen out of practice to rest his…face…but he’s going to play on Monday:
General manager Ken Holland said Franzen would be ready to play Monday when the Wings take a 2-0 lead up against Phoenix at Jobing.com Arena.
Franzen suffered multiple cuts to his face Saturday in Game 2 when he slid into the boards early in the first period, but he returned to play midway through the game.
When a reporter asked coach Mike Babcock if Franzen was kept out of practice as a precaution, Babcock replied, “should I do what happened to him to you and see if you’re here today?”
St. James also reports good news on the Zetterberg front…
Henrik Zetterberg (sprained left MCL) skated for an hour and said he felt better, but remains out.
Which MLive’s Ansar Khan confirms:
Henrilk Zetterberg practiced with his teammates for the first time since suffering a sprained left knee on April 6. He isn’t ready to return, however. He still isn’t skating at full speed.
“He had a good day yesterday. He went on the ice yesterday and tweaked it right away,’’ Babcock said. “It’s nothing. He just came off. But sometimes when you have an injury and you tweak it, you’re alarmed. Two seconds later it went away. He practiced for 30 minutes yesterday, he practiced with our guys today. That’s a confidence-builder.’‘
Zetterberg said he felt better than the day before after skating for an hour.
“I don’t know if I did that much. Not really into battling drills,’’ Zetterberg said. “Step by step. As long as that progress is going that way, I’m happy.’‘
Meanwhile, Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said defenseman Ed Jovanovski is fine and ready to play in Game 3. He left midway through Game 2 with an upper-body injury after taking a hit from Darren Helm.
Khan reports that the Wings expect to make no lineup changes, either, and DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose says that the Wings are focusing on playing more disciplined hockey on Monday:
Tampa Bay, Buffalo and Anaheim are the only teams with more PIM per game than the Wings, who have gone from 9.2 PIM in the regular-season to 17.5 PIM in the first two games against the Coyotes. And those penalties took a toll in the third period of Saturday’s 4-3 win at Joe Louis Arena. All three Phoenix goals, including two third-period tallies by Shane Doan, were on the power-play.
“Obviously, you guys watched the game; we watched the game and we averaged about eight minutes in penalties throughout the year and suddenly we’re getting 17,” Babcock said. “Something different is about it. We’re a very disciplined team and we have to be a real disciplined team again tomorrow. We have to stay out of the penalty box and we have to be good on the penalty-kill.”
Wings center Kris Draper has seen this scenario before and believes that the Coyotes will use Game 2’s late charge as momentum heading into Monday’s game at Jobing.com Arena.
“We were able to hold onto the win and that’s the important thing,” Draper said. “We have to have another great start tomorrow night. … We know that Game 3 will be very important for both teams, so we want to make sure that we’re ready to go and we respond.”
The Wings weren’t happy with being out-shot during two of the three periods they played on Sunday, either:
“They send more shots in Game 2 and got rebounds in front of Howie,” Draper said. “But when Howard makes the first save on the penalty-kill it’s our job to make sure that we mop up the garbage around him.”
On the Coyotes’ front, Shane Doan chose to add a little fuel to the fire regarding his hit on Franzen, as noted by NHL.com’s Jerry Brown:
Both Detroit Head Coach Mike Babcock and Phoenix Head Coach Dave Tippett disagreed, saying that Franzen “toe-picked” and put himself in a bad position for the meeting with the boards that resulted in 23 stitches to his face. Franzen was the only Red Wing who didn’t practice Sunday but is expect to play when the series resumes with Game 3 at Jobing.com Arena on Monday night.
Doan went a step further, saying Franzen knew he was coming and tried to deliver a blow of his own before losing balance.
“He tried to hit me as much as I tried to hit him,” Doan said. “He tried turning his body up to me. I didn’t actually hit him that hard; it was just a matter that he went in awkwardly. I know he was looking at me and I think he was trying to bump and turn and take the puck back up the wall.”
The Red Wings’ website posted a photo gallery from Sunday’s practice, as did the Detroit News, and Zetterberg offered an interesting rebuttal to the Hockey Night in Canada/NBC video which showed him skating off the ice in pain on Saturday, as noted by the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:
“But they didn’t show when I skated back and skated for 30 minutes,” Zetterberg said. “I wasn’t overly concerned.”
Said Babcock: “He came back and practiced (Saturday) and practiced with our guys today and it’s a confidence builder. We just go on from here.”
Zetterberg wouldn’t put a definite percentage on where he’s at physically.
“Probably 5 percent better than yesterday,” Zetterberg said.
And what did he feel like the day before?
“I would say between 40 and 70, maybe,” Zetterberg smiling. “As I said, I felt better than yesterday. As long as the progress is going that way, I’m happy.”
And with a few inches of snow scheduled to hit Metro Detroit overnight, the Wings are obviously happy to get out of Dodge:
“Don’t go out and don’t stay out too long (if you do go outside) because you’ll burn yourself,” [Tomas] Holmstrom said. “That’s experience coming here.”.
“It’s kind of nice to be here and the warm climate,” Holmstrom said.
Update #1: PhoenixCoyotes.com’s Dave Vest spoke to Lee Stempniak in an audio clip, and on video, Fox Sports Arizona posted clips of Shane Doan, Keith Yandle and Radim Vrbata, Coyotes.com’s Luke Lapinski spoke to several Coyotes about Monday’s game…
As well as an interview with Vrbata…
And Dave Tippett’s off-day presser:
From WXYZ: Mike Stone spoke to Tom Leyden about the series thus far…
And this video from the Wings comes thanks to the fact that 500,000 fans “like” the Wings’ Facebook page:
Update #2: The Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema reports that the Wings’ remaining Black Aces include the following players:
Remaining with Detroit as they practice and work out with the Red Wings are: goaltender Jordan Peace, forwards Cory Emmerton, Jan Mursak and Tomas Tatar and defensemen Doug Janik, Brian Lashoff, Derek Meech and Brendan Smith.
Those players traveled with the Red Wings to Phoenix and will be available to play should an emergency situation arise.
Update #3: More from the Yotes: I’m not touching Fox Sports Arizona’s Craig Morgan’s Winnipeg talk;
• Dave Vest reported that Derek Morris is “questionable” for Game 3;
• I wish I didn’t have to post this, either, via PhoenixCoyotes.com’s Anthony Perez:
The WhiteOut is special, and the Coyotes players are looking forward to taking the ice on Monday night inside Jobing.com Arena for Game 3 vs. the Detroit Red Wings. On Sunday, the players talked about playing this very important game in such a unique environment.
“It’s awesome. It’s one of the most enjoyable experiences as a player because the emotion is so high and the energy is so high. Hockey is an emotional game and when you get to add that much emotion from a crowd it brings out even better hockey.”
“Any time you’re at home and you have that energy, you’re going to feed off it. The crowd will be great; it’ll be rocking in here. For us, we’ll feed off that and hopefully it’ll give us a great start to the game and really help us build some momentum to keep throughout the rest of the game. We’re excited for the WhiteOut.”
“It’s an electric atmosphere. I was up there (in the press box) last season thinking ‘Man, I’d love to get a chance to play in this atmosphere.’ So, I’ll be looking forward to it. I’m sure our fans will be all amped up, and hopefully we can get our wins on home ice.”
“I’m really excited to see the WhiteOut and the Phoenix fans cheering for us. It’s going to be a blast. I’m really looking forward to it. I just want the puck to drop tomorrow night.”
“You want to play in front of your home crowd, especially when it is playoffs and it’s sold out. Our fans, when they’re all here, it’s loud. It’s fun to play in front of them, and especially with the WhiteOut, it makes for a tough atmosphere for the other team, and a fun atmosphere for us.”
For the Hockey Gods’ sake, wear red, please, Wings fans, wear red, like the Chief said.
• Young Yotes David Schlemko, Mikkel Boedker and Kyle Turris did speak to Coyotes.com’s Anthony Perez about playing playoff hockey, at home and away, however…
“Obviously, we haven’t been as successful as we’d like, but personally, it’s been really exciting,” Schlemko said. “(You) get those nerves, kind of the butterflies in your stomach, and you try to soak it all in and enjoy it.”
“Everything is just intensified,” Schlemko said. “Every play means so much more, there’s not as much space, there’s not as much time to think and make plays. Everything means a lot more; every little play, every shot.”
“The atmosphere keeps the intensity high, but every little play counts,” Boedker said. “And that’s what you see out there. It’s two teams going at it to get to the next round.”
“I was probably more nervous to just get on the ice,” said Schlemko, who averaged 16:01 of ice time in the first two games. “Sitting on the bench, I just wanted to get those first couple of shifts under my belt. Honestly, they’re a bit of a blur. I really don’t remember anything that happened in them, but it’s definitely exciting.”
“I found it a lot of fun,” said Turris, who averaged 12:05 of ice time in the first two games. “I didn’t find it overwhelming at all, and I think that’s the (most fun) part of hockey, just hearing how loud the crowd gets and how intense they are.”
• The Coyotes talked to NHL.com’s Jerry Brown about improve while playing even-strength hockey, all while shutting down Pavel Datsyuk…
“We really need some improvement on both sides of things even strength-wise,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. “We chart a lot of chances … and it’s now as good as it needs to be. The power play came through in Game 2, but we have a lot of areas of our game that if we get them where we need to be, it will give us the best chance to win. We’ve given up way too much on the defensive side and we’re not getting enough on the offensive side.”
A lot of the “way too much” has come from Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk, who has two goals and four assists in the first two games – playing a role in six of Detroit’s eight goals. Even without Henrik Zetterberg, who has missed the first two games with a knee injury, Datsyuk has dominated the series and confounded Phoenix’s defensemen with his between-the-leg shots and other creative moves.
“His confidence level is about as high as it’s ever been,” Coyotes blueliner Adrian Aucoin said. “When you try the things that he tries and you succeed in doing them, it’s a tell-tale sign of when things are going good. They are obviously going good for him right now.”
“You don’t know what he’s going to do because he’s full of tricks,” he said. “He’s the only one who knows what he’s going to do and it’s tough to play against him when he’s feeling this good.”
Tippett said Phoenix “has tried a couple of matchups that haven’t worked so well” against Datsyuk, and the search will continue in Game 3. One idea might be to match the Vernon Fiddler line – with wings Taylor Pyatt and Lee Stempniak – in an attempt to be more physical with him.
“You have to find a way to make sure not to give him any free opportunities,” Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. “He’s so good at creating opportunities you can’t give him any free ones.”
The Coyotes continued the 5-on-5 talk while speaking to the Arizona Republic’s Jim Gintonio…
“We just have to be better,” he said. “We have to generate more off our forecheck, we have to generate more off the rush.”
In a reversal of Game 1, when the Coyotes were 0 for 6 on the power play, they scored three in the second game to offset the lack of production at even strength. Defenseman Keith Yandle said being anxious creates problems; conversely, making one pass too many can be a problem, too.
“You just got to take an extra second to survey the ice, what’s going on, who’s open, whether to shoot or not,” he said. “But I think the main thing is we just got to get pucks to the net, and try to get some battles down in the low area. We’re all disappointed we didn’t find a way to win one of the games there, but I think we did a few good things, and obviously we addressed the things we have to do better and as a team we just go to do that (Monday).”
And, mostly, the Coyotes suggested that they can and will defeat the Wings on Monday…
“We showed that we can play with them,” [Radim Vrbata] said. “You never want to quit in a game, even though we were down 4-0. You want to build a little momentum going into the third game. We did that; we came up a little short, but we showed that we can play with them.”
A sellout crowd of more than 17,000 is expected as the Coyotes attempt to get back in the series.
“It was the same last year toward the end of the regular season and in the playoffs; we had some sellouts and it was good atmosphere,” Vrbata said. “I’m sure it’s going to be great.”
As long as, Tippett suggested to Gintonio, the Coyotes get on the Shane Doan bandwagon...
“There’s some issues of some players -a guy like (captain Shane Doan) getting rewarded for all that work, and a guy that goes out and does what he does, a few more guys should take notice of that and let’s jump on this bandwagon,” he said.
“I think we’re pretty confident as a group that, hey, we can compete, and we can play, and it’s just we need to do it for a full 60 minutes,” Doan said. “We haven’t put it together the way that we want to, and we need a bunch of guys to step up. We need guys in our locker room to step up and make plays and be hard to play against, the way that they got guys on their team that are doing a great job of finishing their checks and making everything difficult and being hard to play against.”
Tippett, who expects a high level of confidence in Game 3, said there are areas “that really need some improvement” on both sides of the puck.
“Our guys are up for that challenge,” he said. “We want that challenge. Our power play came through and got us back in the game. That’s the way a series goes, there’s always ebbs and flows like that. We’ve got a lot of areas of our game, if we get them where they need, it will give us the best chance to win. We didn’t get the win we wanted up there. We’re (home) to a full building, lots of excitement. I expect us to play well.”
The focus Monday will be on goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who tightened his game considerably after giving up the four goals and stopped the last 21 shots he faced. Bryzgalov has allowed eight goals in the two games and 14 in his past three playoff games against Detroit, going back to Game 7 of last year’s playoff series. All losses have come against Jimmy Howard. Defenseman Keith Yandle said the team’s psyche good.
“We’re still feeling pretty good about ourselves,” he said. “We know, obviously, going down 2-0 is a tough feat to come back, but we get this one win, next game, it’s going to turn it around for us, and that’s what we need to do.”
“Realistically, we win the next game at home on our ice, it’s a whole new series again,” Doan said. “They definitely took care of their home ice, and that’s what you’re supposed to do in the playoffs. They did that, and we pushed them in the last game to where we had a chance to tie it up, but we didn’t, and now we got to find a way to get over that hump.”
Doan apparnetly won his showdown with “Mantracker” (great show) on Canadian TV on Sunday, and Doan continued discussing shutting down Datsyuk and, well, beating up Franzen while speaking to the Associated Press’s Bob Baum
“He’s an all-world player, that’s for sure,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. “We’ve tried a few different matchups against him that haven’t worked very well and we’ll keep trying until we find a solution.”
Coyotes captain Shane Doan said Datsyuk has “been incredible.”
“You tip your hat to him, the things he does and the way he plays,” Doan said. “You admire him and you cant give him any free opportunities. He’s so good at creating opportunities you have to make sure you don’t give him free ones and you do your best to limit that.”
“I mean, there’s absolutely nothing to it,” Doan said.
The Coyotes tried to take some comfort in the fact they almost came back from a 4-0 deficit with a big third period on Saturday. They also had a strong first period in Game 1. In between, it’s been all Detroit.
“It comes down to that desperation and controlling y our energy and making sure it’s kind of going in the right direction,” Doan said. “We’ve proven that we can do it. We just haven’t put the right combination together and they have. They’ve got a great team but realistically we win the next game at home on our ice and it’s a whole new series again.”
• I’m ignoring Baum’s Winnipeg comments, and I’m doing the same in ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun’s off-day report:
“The identity we want is still the same,” Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said Sunday after practice. “I think it’s been harder, we haven’t done as good a job this year as last. Some of that is expectations have gone up, and people we are playing are treating us different than the year before. But our same mindset of how we have to play and what we have to do to be successful is a similar identity.”
Brygalov needs to be sharper. A Vezina Trophy finalist last season and deservedly so, the UFA-to-be hasn’t been at his very best through two games. He’s allowed eight goals in two games, and while it’s true he’s going to get way more work than his counterpart Jimmy Howard, Bryzgalov has to win the goalie duel for the Coyotes to have any chance.
To make matters worse, veteran blueliner Ed Jovanovski is a question mark for Game 3 with an upper body injury. It’s a defensive core that’s already struggling to find a matchup for Red Wings wizard Pavel Datsyuk and not having Jovanovski would be a tough blow. At least they won’t have to face Henrik Zetterberg for a third straight game. The star center skated Sunday but Wings head coach Mike Babcock told ESPN.com that Zetterberg would be out again Monday night.
The Coyotes, meanwhile, face a rough road. They must win four of five against the Wings to reach the second round.
“The confidence coming home is strong,” Tippett said. “We didn’t get the win we wanted up there, but we’re going to come home to a full building and lot of excitement. I expect us to play well.”
There’s also a video of Vrbata talking to LeBrun in his report…
LeBrun also provides an update on Zetterberg...
Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg skated Sunday, but will not play in Game 3 on Monday night, Detroit coach Mike Babcock told ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun.
Zetterberg has missed the first two games of the Wings’ opening-round series against the Phoenix Coyotes with a left knee injury. Detroit has won both games without its leading scorer, but travels to Phoenix for Game 3 having barely escaped Game 2.
“We played two good home games,” Zetterberg said Sunday. “The last one got really close.”
The Coyotes trailed 4-0 before scoring three unanswered. The Red Wings held on for a 4-3 win.
“They had a few power plays and a five-on-three and all of a sudden you’re right back in the game,” Zetterberg said. “It happens quickly in hockey and you’ve just got to respond and I think we did.”
• And we’ll stick with that theme while noting that USA Today’s Kevin Allen spoke to Zetterberg and the Wings as well:
Detroit forward Henrik Zetterberg skated for an hour Sunday, but there was no indication he was ready to return from his sprained knee.
“Feels better than yesterday,” Zetterberg said. “I don’t know if I did that much stuff. I’m not really in the battling drills, so there’s not that much to do. But it’s fun to be out there. Step by step.”
The Red Wings have played better on the road this season than at home. But they say they aren’t overconfident being up 2-0.
“It’s an advantage,” Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard said. “But this series is far from over. They’re going to come at us Monday, and we’re going to have to weather the storm the first 10 minutes.”
• Kris Draper agreed, as he told NHL.com’s Jerry Brown...
“We got off to a good start, but we know we’ve got a long way to go here,” Detroit center Kris Draper said. “They’re probably going to build off the third period they had with a big momentum swing. We know they’re going to come. We’ve done some good things so far in Games 1 and 2, but we know Game 3 is a very important game for both teams. We want to make sure we’re ready to go and respond.’‘
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock is concerned about the amount of penalties his team is piling up. Detroit dodged a bullet in Game 1 when the Coyotes failed on six power-play chances – four of them in the first period – but in Game 2, Phoenix clicked on three of their last five chances to construct a rally.
“We average about eight minutes in penalties throughout the year and suddenly we’re getting 17, so something’s different about (the refereeing),” Babcock said. “We’re a very disciplined team, and we got to be real disciplined (in Game 3). We got to stay out of the penalty box, and we’ve got to be better on the penalty-kill.’‘
The Wings do expect fans in Phoenix to show up wearing red, too:
“You always love when you can go into another team’s building in the playoffs and hear some chants. There is a good following here,” Draper said. “But the bottom line is us making sure we’re ready to play.”
The Red Wings have done a good job of getting traffic in front of Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov – something they’ve done in the past with great success. Tomas Holmstrom was in Bryzgalov’s face for both Detroit power-play goals in Game 2, and then deflected a goal past him to give the Wings a 4-0 lead.
“Seems like it was one of those days. He had a hard time seeing the puck,” Holmstrom said. “Guys from the point made some good shots through there. We got to him yesterday but for sure he’s going to bounce back. He played great in the third for them and gave them a chance to get back in the game. We got to get more pucks to the net and more screens on him.”
• The London Free Press’s Morris Dalla Costa didn’t travel to Phoenix, but posted an off-day comment very worthy of posting about Holmstrom:
Doan has made it his personal goal to carry this team and he will try to ignite the crowd at home. That said, the Coyotes have some issues they need to address.
The obvious is their need to control Pavel Datsyuk. He’s been involved in five of the Wings’ eight goals.
The not-so-obvious is Tomas Holmstrom. Datsyuk is Rembrandt to the world of hockey while Holmstrom is a house painter. But Holmstrom couldn’t be moved from the front of the net in Game 2, resulting in the first two Wings goals before he scored the fourth himself.
The Coyotes have to fix it soon because otherwise house painter or art master, the picture being painted won’t be a particularly rosy one.
• That’s true, but let’s stick with the Wings’ respectful tone regarding going into Phoenix to play two hard-fought games, as Detroit Hockey Weekly’s Paul Harris noted on Saturday:
The Red Wings know how desperate Phoenix will be at home.
“That’s what we wanted to do. Now we’ve got to go there and compete hard and not give them any space or any life,” Helm said. “They’re a team that can come back and beat us, so we have to do the same things in Phoenix that we did here.”
• The Wings continued that line of thinking while also speaking to MLive’s Ansar Khan about their special teams play, especially noting that that 3-for-7 Coyotes PP can’t be allowed to continue…
“They were just hammering it from up top and they were getting traffic,” Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard said.
“There definitely were more shots coming. That’s what you expect from the power play,” Red Wings forward Kris Draper said. “If they don’t score one game, chances are the next game they’re going to over-shoot. They did and they were able to get rebounds and traffic in front of Howie. If Howie makes the first save it’s our job to make sure we mop up the garbage around him and we didn’t do a good enough job (Saturday).”
Phoenix forward Ray Whitney, whose team ranked 23rd on the power play this season (15.9 percent), said they were crisper and showed more urgency.
“We just shot pucks and got them to the net and they were rebound goals,” Whitney said. “That’s kind of how you score in this league now.”
The best way to kill penalties, as far as Red Wings coach Mike Babcock is concerned, is to stay out of the box. That’s not going to be easy in the playoffs, as referees have been instructed to crack down on sticking infractions that sometimes were overlooked during the season.
• Which he reiterated to the Free Press’s Helene St. James:
“Something’s different about it,” coach Mike Babcock said. “We’re a very disciplined team. We’ve got to be real disciplined tomorrow and we’ve got to stay out of the penalty box and we’ve got to be better on the penalty kill. I thought we gave them a gift there on the penalty kill to get them going, and we can’t do that.”
While the Wings want to pepper Bryzgalov with second-chance shots, they need to do a better job of keeping such chances away from their own guy. The Coyotes showed in Game 2 they can make adjustments, taking their 0-for-6 performance in Game 1 and redeeming it by going 3-for-7.
“There were definitely more shots coming,” Kris Draper said. “That’s what you expect from a power play—if they don’t score one game, chances are the next game, they’re going to overshoot. They did and they were able to get rebounds and get traffic in front of Howie. But with our penalty kill, Howie makes the first save, it’s our job to make sure that we mop up the garbage around him and we didn’t do a good enough job of that.”
“They’re going to be flying, no doubt about it,” goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “They’re going to come out extremely hard. You know they’re going to be throwing their bodies around, getting on top of us, probably in the first 10 minutes. We’re going to have to match it.”
Again, the Wings hope that Wings fans will show up in droves…
“You always love when you can go into another team’s building in the playoffs and here some chants,” Kris Draper said. “But the bottom line is just us making sure that we’re ready to play.”
• Before trying to stir you up a bit via more Doan from the CBC’s series blogger...
Johan Franzen, his face checkered with 23 fresh stitches since the playoffs began, was given the day off Sunday. Mike Modano skated in his spot alongside Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom, but the Wings indicated it was just a rest for Franzen and he’d definitely go in Game 3.
Doan, who delivered the hit that resulted in most of the damage to Franzen, was still left defending himself Sunday, even though there was no penalty on the play.
“Its part of the game,” Doan said. “He didnt like the fact that he got hit. He tried to hit me as much as I tried to hit him.
“There’s nothing to it. He tried turning his body up to me. I didnt hit him that hard, he went in awkwardly. I know he was looking at me and I think he was trying to bump and turn and take the puck back up the wall.”
• And offering this inspirational blather from Drew Sharp:
Is the Stanley Cup still the ultimate test of a competitor’s willingness to battle through the neutral zone, in the corners and along the boards without fear of physical consequences? Or are the playoffs simply a two-month extension of the regular season, where the officiating gets tight to the point of ticky-tack. It must be one or the other.
The NHL can’t keep juggling the two and expect the questioning regarding what constitutes a penalty to desist. It’ll be physical tonight in Glendale, Ariz. The Wings know it. It could also get nasty as the desperate Coyotes must employ any and all available options to keep this series from potentially ending in four games and that organization from packing its suntan lotion and flip-flops for a possible return to Winnipeg.
Upon further review, the refs got the Shane Doan no-call right as it pertained to his hit on Johan Franzen barely minutes into Game 2. Replays clearly showed Franzen played the puck a few feet off the corner boards. That’s open season in hockey parlance. Franzen knew the hit was coming, tried pivoting and lost his balance. The hit was fine. The referees missed the high stick from Phoenix’s Eric Belanger that clipped Franzen’s face and drew blood, which should have been a 4-minute infraction.
But Darren Helm’s 2-minute boarding penalty off a hard, but legal shoulder-to-shoulder hit on Phoenix defenseman Ed Jovanovski in the second period still doesn’t make sense. Helm chipped the puck deep into the Coyotes’ zone and went after it on the forecheck. Jovanovski knew the hit was coming. That should’ve been a no-call as well.
Aren’t those examples of what “playoff hockey” is supposed to be about? Can the NHL finally clear up the inconsistencies? The odds are probably better that a Wings fan will invite Gary Bettman over for some calamari next weekend.
• Before suggesting that if you aren’t following RedWingsFeed, maintained by one of the 19 in Mike Serven, you missed out on the following practice updates made before the Wings’ beat writers filed reports…
Zetterberg is participating in drills. Osgood is still slow when rising up from the butterfly #redwings
Modano is doing drills with the black aces. Draw your own conclusion. #redwings
Zetterberg still practicing and is now solo skating, giving his knee a pretty solid test #redwings
Zetterberg not wearing his knee brace after practice. Draw your own conclusion #redwings
So we have a real correspondent in Phoenix.
We are not, however, going to ignore the fact that the Red Wings’ players are made far more accessible by the team to the general public—at least the non-season-ticket-holding variety, anyway—on the road than they are in Detroit, which isn’t a good thing.
• And ohyeahbytheway, Dave Lewis talked to IIHF.com’s Lukas Aykroyd about coaching the Ukrainian team at the Worlds.
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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.