The Malik Report
Early evening Red Wings news: AHL and ECHL All-Stars, tales of injuries, woe and multimedia stuffins
by George Malik on 01/17/13 at 06:53 PM ET
Updated 6x at 8:29 PM:
Revised starting "blurb": Awesome, per the Windsor Star's Bob Duff:
Also part of the update: You can check out the AHL's ASG rosters here. It takes place on January 7th and 8th in Providence, Rhode Island, and the NHL Network and Fox Sports Detroit usually air the game...
The Detroit Red Wings will take to the ice at Joe Louis Arena tonight at 7 PM for a one-hour practice that will precede an open skate for fans from 8-10 PM, and we're probably going to get a second round of injury news to follow this morning's slate of bump-and-bruise updates; we'll also hear more about the team's decision to not pursue Wade Redden and Tomas Holmstrom's retirement presser on Tuesday.
Tomorrow, Fox Sports Detroit will stream Friday's 12 PM practice on their website (that practice is free and open to the public as well), and $9 tickets go on sale this Saturday at the JLA box office.
In terms of this afternoon/evening's pre-second-skate news...
- Via RedWingsFeed, one of my favorite people in the organization, Toledo Walleye forward Willie Coetzee, has been named to the ECHL's All-Star team:
The ECHL has added Toledo Walleye forward Willie Coetzee to the All-Star Game roster. Coetzee and nine other players were added to the roster by the ECHL to replace players currently in the AHL.
Coetzee, 22, leads the league with 148 shots on goal, and paces the Walleye with 33 points, and is tied for the team lead in both goals (14) and assists (19). The 5-foot-10, 188-pound right winger collected 22 points (11g, 11a) in 61 games with Grand Rapids last year.
Both Luke Glendening and Ben Youds were voted to the All-Star but both are currently playing the American Hockey League.
The 2013 ECHL All-Star Game, featuring the Colorado Eagles taking on the ECHL All-Stars, on Wednesday, Jan. 23 beginning at 7:05 p.m. MT. Fans can watch the game live on BCSN or listen to it on 1230 WCWA. It is also available online worldwide through America One at http://www.americaone.com.
- WXYZ filed both a video report and a story noting the team's return to Joe Louis Arena's ice...
As one might expect, the players feel like they're finally "at home" again, though the team feels that it's scrambling to catch up with itself before the 48-games-in-99-nights marathon begins in St. Louis on Saturday...
"It's not like anyone has an advantage over anyone else. All the teams are in the same boat," Justin Abdelkader, a Michigan State product and Red Wings left wing, said about the season-opener.
"We know it's important to get off to a good start, but we haven't had much time to practice together. I think everyone's together in this one. Hopefully we can come together quick and get off to a good start."
Babcock knows there's a lot for his players to take in heading into their first battle of the season against the Blues.
"We're trying to skate as much as we possibly can and go through the details of our play. "Basically I've got a list and just keep crossing off the details, and I expect the guys to absorb them and pay attention to it. The bottom line is you've got a way better chance to look good if you all know what's going on.
Mikael Samuelsson laced up his skates for the first time in three practices because of a tender groan and is setting his sights on suiting up on Saturday.
"This is the place you want to be," said Samuelsson when asked how special it is to return to the Wings after playing for several other NHL clubs. "I like the atmosphere here, and the boards are pretty bouncy here so you get a fun game that way."
NHL veteran Mike Knuble, who was born in Toronto but grew up in Kenwood, Mich., is trying to make an impression to secure a spot on the roster.
"It's a great story to be drafted here a long time ago and go off to play at other places and then come back here," said Knuble, who was drafted by Detroit in 1991. "It would be a great organization to be a part of. I think as you become a veteran player you enjoy playing places where it means something and where it's important to you."
- MLive's Josh Slaghter penned a story about Knuble, who the team must make a decision about either signging to a one-way deal, a two-way deal or simply releasing him by tomorrow afternoon, as Knuble appeared on WBBL's Huge Show on Wednesday evening, with the interview appearing online this morning...
"They know I'd be a trustworthy guy to come in, log some minutes, and they don't have to worry bout what kind of game you're going to play," the 40-year-old Knuble told Bill Simonson of "The Huge Show."
Knuble is a 16-year NHL veteran who had eight consecutive 20-goal seasons before scoring just six times with the Washington Captials in 2011-12.
"In practices, I've felt very comfortable," Knuble said. "It's been great to get back on the ice. You're just trying to show that you still feel good and you can play."
Knuble said there isn't a specific player or players he feels he's battling against for a roster spot, just the adage that he's too old to have an impact.
He expects to have a conversation with Red Wings general manager Ken Holland in the coming days, where it's possible Knuble could be offered a two-way contract with Detroit and the Grand Rapids Griffins. Knuble could be open to that, he said, and expects injuries to play a big factor in the NHL this season.
"You're basically playing every other day, and that's extremely taxing on everybody," Knuble said. "If you get a nagging injury, you're not going to be able to find a lot of time. If you do have a problem, you're going to have to sit out. There's no gaps in the schedule to let things heal up."
Here's the interview from The Huge Show:
- Kris Draper also appeared on The Fan 590 today, speaking about his team's season to come with Jeff Blair:
- Mikael Samuelsson told DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose that he should be good to play on Saturday after recovering from a groin injury...
“It feels good. No feelings at all,” said Samuelsson, sounding optimistic. “Good first part of the day.”
The Red Wings will hold an evening practice Thursday at Joe Louis Arena beginning at 7 p.m., at which time Samuelsson hopes to still be pain-free. With only five days to get ready for the short season, coach Mike Babcock said that any little bit of time that players miss can be a liability.
“Everybody is moving ahead (and) when you’re not going you’re getting left behind,” he said. “You’re not in game-shape, so you’ve got to get playing. There’s going to be some serious urgency. I mean, the Red-White game was a no-hitter and on purpose. We wanted contact but no hitting. St. Louis game isn’t going to be a no-hitter.”
The Red Wings expect to be without one of their big hitters, third line center Darren Helm, for at least the opener against the Blues. Helm, who pulled a muscle in his back, hasn’t skated since last week. Clearly, Helm’s absence is a loss to the Wings, who miss his speed and puck-possession abilities.
“He brings that element,” said Kris Draper, special assistant to Ken Holland. “He's a very dangerous player, great on the PK and he does a lot of good things with this team on both ends of the rink.”
And Babcock offered a helluva quote to Roose:
As for final preparations leading up to Saturday’s opener, Babcock said the only thing missing is the duplication that players get from playing a preseason schedule.
“With exhibition games you go over and over and over stuff, and you have a chance to do it,” he said. “When my kids were younger I’d go to soccer practice and they would have a throw-in drill or something, they’ve do it one time in soccer practice and they’d go to the next game and the coach would wonder why they couldn’t do it. Practice. Repetition is the key to learning, you have to go over and over and you have to do it right if you’re going to execute. … That’s the process that we’re in, it’s just short.”
- in a very different kind of "injury department" story, MLive's Ansar Khan spoke to a player who will join Patrick Eaves on the IR to start the season, but may or may not end up playing for the Wings this year. Joey MacDonald has a one-way, NHL-only contract, so he cannot be "buried" in the AHL under this new CBA--his cap hit will remain with the team, but he can play in the AHL--but his back problems have lingered, and he's just hoping to get back to practicing regularly after having received a cortisone shot last week:
“I had a (cortisone) injection last week and things are going well,'' MacDonald said.
He is confident he will play this season. But he doesn't know where. MacDonald will start the season on injured reserve. When he is cleared to play, he will be waived (unless one of the club's other goalies, Jimmy Howard or Jonas Gustavsson, is injured). If he clears waivers, he will be assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins, unless the Red Wings are able to trade him. He has one year left on his contract at $550,000 (one way).
MacDonald, 32, had a tremendous run last season when Howard was injured. MacDonald won seven games in a row from Feb. 8-28. He finished 8-5-1, with a 2.16 goals-against average, before his back gave out on March 14.
“When I (injured) it in March it was 100 times worse than it is now,'' MacDonald said. “It’s just a matter of getting cardio (workouts) and everything I can do without flaring it back up. Once I start skating we’ll take it step by step.''
He has scar tissue built up over the years from back surgery in 2006. He rehabbed until early July and started skating several times a week in August, when the back flared up again.
“It’s frustrating, especially after a year like last year when everything went so well,'' MacDonald said. “But, it’s no different than any other year for me. You come into camp and battle, battle, battle, and if you’re not No. 1 you’re battling for No. 2. You just keep battling and working hard and look at last year at what happened.''
When the Red Wings signed Gustavsson on July 1, MacDonald asked to be moved. The club tried, but has not been able to accommodate him.
“It’s going to be a quick season, 48 games, not a lot of time off. There’s going to be injuries,'' MacDonald said. “Right now it’s getting may cardio going, and once I get on the ice it’s not going to take long for (goaltending coach) Jimmy (Bedard) and Oz (goalie consultant Chris Osgood) to get me back.''
DetroitRedWings.com's Roose penned a profile of someone who was injured at one point, nursing a sore shoulder thanks to Damien Brunner of all people. Carlo Colaiacovo's tenure with the Red Wings begins with a visit to his previous employers in the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night, and Colaiacovo's hoping to re-set his, well, injury-filled career with the Wings:
“We always wanted to model ourselves after the way the Red Wings played [in St. Louis],” said Colaiacovo, who collected 18 goals and 88 assists in 259 games with the Blues.
Colaiacovo, who turned 30-years-old on Jan. 27, played for three different St. Louis coaches, but last season, once Ken Hitchcock took over behind the bench, the Blues took off at midseason, to finish with 49 wins for the first time in more than a decade.
“I have nothing but great memories of that place,” Colaiacovo said. “But I’m in a happy place now, with a team that competes every year for the Stanley Cup. I’m excited about that opportunity.”
Thursday morning was the first time that Colaiacovo skated at Joe Louis Arena as a member of the Red Wings, who open the 2013 season this Saturday against his former team.
“It’s a lot to think about right now,” said Colaiaicovo, who expects Saturday’s game to be an emotional one. “The adrenaline’s going to be rushing pretty good. I had a great years there, have a lot of great memories.”
Now, Colaiacovo hopes that a change in scenery with the move to Detroit will rejuvenate his career that began in the Maple Leafs’ system in 2003-04. But following a head injury, and then knee surgery – both 15 months apart – the Leafs traded Colaiacovo to the Blues during the 2008-09 season.
“I think at the time that I moved on, it was a blessing in disguise,” he said. “It made me start fresh and put me in a position to get to where I am today.”
- And if you're interested, it appears that the Free Press will be firing off its 2013 NHL season preview tomorrow, with its columnists weighing in on the Wings' playoff chances as follows:
Will the Detroit Red Wings make the playoffs this season? We asked our experts:
HELENE ST. JAMES: Yes.
They have many strengths — forwards, goaltending — to mask deficiencies on defense, and while they aren’t going to be a top team, they’ll be competitive enough to make the playoff cut. Once in, it’s anyone’s game — but unless improvements are made on the back end, it’s hard to think the Wings will make it further than two rounds.
JEFF SEIDEL: Yes.
Barely. If the Wings are close to making the playoffs, they have plenty of young talent in the minors and plenty of cap space to make a move to push them over the top at the trading deadline. They certainly have the offense to make a long run in this league of parity. But they will lose in the first round because they don’t have the defense. That would change if they can upgrade there.
DREW SHARP: Yes.
The streak will continue. They won’t win the division and will find themselves scrambling for the No. 4 seed and home ice in the first round. But for the fourth straight year, it’s unlikely they’ll survive the beyond the second round. That becomes a bigger concern than missing the playoffs altogether.
GEORGE SIPPLE: No.
The Wings simply aren’t as good without Nicklas Lidstrom. They still have a lot of talent and some good young talent waiting in the wings. But with a 48-game schedule, there won’t be time to make up for slow starts, significant injuries nor scoring slumps.
MITCH ALBOM: Yes.
The Wings have enough depth to withstand this upcoming grind of a season and, let’s face it, making the NHL playoffs is not climbing Mt. Everest. But second round may be all they can hope for in this transitional year.
My sinus infection is lingering, so I'm headed back to bed for 45 minutes. I'll see you on Twitter at 7 PM to cover the Wings' evening skate.
Update #2: The Griffins are confirming their All-Star selections:
The American Hockey League announced on Thursday that Grand Rapids Griffins defenseman Chad Billins, left wing Gustav Nyquist and goaltender Petr Mrazek have been selected to play for the Western Conference AHL All-Star Team at the 2013 AHL All-Star Classic, which will be held Jan. 27-28 at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, R.I.
Grand Rapids is just one of three teams in the league to send a trio of players to the event, marking the first time since 2006 (Valtteri Filppula, Jiri Hudler and Donald MacLean) the team has done so. Additionally, it’s the first time the Griffins have sent a forward, defenseman and goaltender since 2002 (F Chris Bala, F Kip Miller, F Petr Schastlivy, D John Gruden, G Martin Prusek) and the first time the team has ever sent two rookies.
Billins, 23, needed no time to transition to the professional ranks after a four-year career at Ferris State University, racking up 16 points (1-15—16) in his first 16 AHL games. The Marysville, Mich., native has 19 points (1-18—19) in 37 games this season, owning a team-best four-game assist streak (Oct. 19-28) and a pair of three-assist games among his six multipoint outings.
Nyquist, 23, is the first Griffin since Niklas Kronwall (2004 and 2005) to appear in the event in back-to-back seasons after debuting last year en route to capturing the Griffins’ rookie scoring record (22-36—58 in 56 games). The Halmstad, Sweden, native leads the Griffins with 36 points (13-23—36) in 37 games this season, which ties for sixth in the AHL. He also holds the longest point streak of any Griffin this season, racking up 11 points (4-7—11) over eight games from Dec. 28-Jan. 11.
Mrazek, 20, is the Griffins’ first-ever rookie goaltender and first netminder since Daniel Larsson in 2009 to be selected, ranking among the AHL’s leaders with a 2.24 goals against average (8th), a 0.916 save percentage (T18th),13 wins (T10th) and a 0.711 winning percentage (5th). The Ostrava, Czech Republic, native set a franchise record this season when he won his first six starts from Nov. 3-23, and he also put together a five-game winning streak from Dec. 19-Jan. 4.
Both the 2013 AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Sunday, Jan. 27 (7 p.m.) and the 2013 AHL All-Star Game on Monday, Jan. 28 (7 p.m.) will be televised live nationally in the United States and Canada.
Also: In the multimedia department, Fox 2's Woody Woodriffe spoke to Ken Holland about his expectations for the season to come...
Heading back to text, the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness spoke to Mike Babcock about attempting to get his players up to regular season routine speed:
“We’re trying to skate as much as we possibly can and go through the details of our play,” Babcock said. “Basically, I have a lesson and I keep crossing off the details and I expect the guys to absorb it and pay attention to it and the bottom line is you have a way better chance to look good if you all know what’s going on.”
On Tuesday, the Wings had a morning skate before scrimmaging at Compuware Arena. They also had a morning skate Thursday before returning for a practice later in the evening.
“I’m trying to get their body clock on,” Babcock said.
And Pleiness also ponders the Wings' "question marks on defense":
“I think everyone has a lot of question marks about it,” Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said Thursday after practicing at Joe Louis Arena. “But there’s no slouches back there, that’s for sure. You can’t replace Nick, and Stewie’s a tough one to replace, especially what he brought to the defensive side of the puck and the (penalty kill), the way he’d lay his body on the line, but we got a lot of guys back there willing to do that as well. It gives the guys an opportunity to step up and take advantage of a role they might not have had.”
Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson and Ian White, who was brought in to replace Rafalski, are the known commodities on defense. All three benefited from having a seven-time Norris Trophy winner out there with them.
“No doubt we’re going to miss Nick and Stewie,” Jonathan Ericsson said. “There’s no one in here that’s going to be able to take (Lidstrom’s) place. All of us together have to take another step in our game, try to contribute the best way we can to fill the spots we missed. On the power play, Lidstrom’s going to be missed, so Kronner has to take another step.”
“Stewie was a huge player in the penalty kill,” Ericsson said. “We’ve got some new guys and myself, too, we have to take another step. I look forward to (the challenge),” Ericsson continued. “I’ve been paired with Nick in a few playoff games, playing against top lines. I always felt that was a fun, challenging experience. It gives you a little extra to go out there and stop the best players on the other team.”
Kronwall won’t replace Lidstrom, but he will take over as the leader on the blue line for this group.
“For Nik, the biggest thing is not overdo it, don’t feel like you got to put the whole world on the back of your shoulders and go out there and be something you’re not,” Howard said. “Nick is really good using his instincts out there, making that first pass out of the zone, or whether it’s as a big body-checker jumping up in the play. He reads the plays really well, he’s got great hockey sense. If he just plays within himself he’ll be fine.”
Update #3: From the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:
Also: The Grand Rapids Griffins have updated their promotional calendar...
And, from Michigan Hockey Now's Twitter account:
Update #4: Woody Woodriffe also filed this report from this morning's practice:
And the Windsor Star's Bob Duff posted video interviews with Carlo Colaiacovo...
Update #5: This one snuck through. DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose penned a story about Johan Franzen's transition to a crease crasher on the power play, attempting to succeed Tomas Holmstrom while Niklas Kronwall attempts to reprise Nicklas Lidstrom's role:
“I’ve been doing it on and off for the past four or five years, so I’ve been working on it all that time, too,” he said. “I’ve been watching Homer and worked on different things with him after practices, so it’s not a big difference for me. I’m used to doing that part.”
Now, the power play’s deficiencies haven’t necessarily hurt the Red Wings in the past, after all, Detroit has finished among the top four league teams in 5-on-5 scoring over the last two seasons. Still, with a compressed schedule, scoring, no matter how teams get it, will be important.
“It would be a good thing to have a good power play,” Franzen said. “It always helps to be good at special teams.”
Lidstrom and Holmstrom will definitely be missed, coach Mike Babcock said, but there’s no sense in dwelling over something that can’t be controlled.
“Mule, net-front, is as good as anybody,” he said. “Mule has been waiting to be out on the first unit since he got here. He thinks he should be. We think he should be too. So it’s a natural fit. Kronner is a hell of a player, but I’m not trying to tell you that he’s Nick Lidstrom. So I don’t know what we do about that.”
The Wings just posted this on Twitter...
With just one day of training camp left before Saturday’s season opener against St. Louis, the Detroit Red Wings are ready to drop the puck. The Red Wings have utilized what little time they’ve had working on as many aspects of the game as they can.
“You have to take one thing at a time, first work on power play, PK and then move on to something else,” Mikael Samuelsson said.
While training camp was much shorter than usual, the player-organized practices and playing overseas during the lockout has helped offset the lack of preseason play.
“We’ve been preparing on our own,” Johan Frazen said after practice Thursday. “We didn’t know when [the season] would start so we’ve been skating out in Troy or in Europe.”
“We’ve had four months to prepare for when we’d be called upon,” Red Wings Forward Jordin Tootoo said. “I think we’ve all been waiting for this moment for a long time.”
And while the week-long training camp might not be the ideal situation for preparing for the season, the Red Wings are ready to go. Practice makes perfect, but getting in actual game-shape for the NHL season doesn’t start until the games begin.
“You can practice all you want but there’s a difference between practice and game-shape,” Tootoo said. “Obviously a lot of us haven’t played a lot of games here so it might take a game or two games to shake off the cobwebs.
And Niklas Kronwall popped up in USA Today's Kevin Allen's story about the demolition derby that will be the 48-games-in-99-nights mad dash:
The abbreviated NHL season opens Saturday, and everything will magnified in a sprint from start to finish.
"It's going to be a little different and more unpredictable," said Nashville Predators general manager David Poile. "I wouldn't rule out anybody (making the playoffs)."
Usually, players play 82 games in about 183 days, but this season they will play 48 in 99 because of the lockout. Injuries, backup goalies and shootouts will become even more important.
"The weeks are going to fly by really fast because there will be a lot of games in a short amount of days," said Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall. "It's going to be very important to have good goaltending and stay away from injuries."
It is difficult to project the level of play because some players will be rusty because they haven't played any real games in eight months. Others will be sharp because they have been playing in Europe. The players who haven't played since last season have had a week of training camp to remove the rust.
"(The play) is not going to be perfect," said Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma. "If you are looking to make a play that you think you made at Game 75 or Game 60 (last season), it's not there and you are going to have to adjust your game accordingly."
Update #6.5: Hey man, nice shot:
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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.