The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/27/11 at 04:38 PM ET
Updated 4x at 5:37 PM: As Paul has already reported: Red Wings fans can breathe again. Goaltender Jimmy Howard reports that he’s suffered nothing more than a slight shoulder sprain thanks to one Joffrey Lupul falling on top of him, as he told the Free Press’s George Sipple:
“Just a sprain,” Howard said today. “Dodged a bullet.”
Howard said he knew something didn’t feel right, which is why he immediately went to the bench moments after Joffrey Lupul fell on top of him at 6:11 of the third period of Saturday night’s game. Joey MacDonald came in to relief Howard and the Wings went on to beat the Maple Leafs, 4-2, at Joe Louis Arena.
“My arm just got caught underneath him,” Howard said. “The way my glove was my arm didn’t really spread out. He just landed on my shoulder.”
Sipple and the Wings’ beat writers are reporting that Thomas McCollum will be recalled to back up Joey MacDonald for Monday’s game against Chicago, and, most likely, Wednesday’s tilt against St. Louis, though Howard hopes to be at least back on the bench by then:
“Hopefully this doesn’t keep me out,” Howard said. “Hopefully I’ll be able to come back possibly Wednesday. I’m going to do the best I can to try to get back as soon as possible.”
MLive’s Ansar Khan confirms...
“I’ll be ready for the playoffs. We got enough games left. Still a couple of weeks away,’’ Howard said. “Hopefully this doesn’t keep me out (too long). Hopefully I can come back possibly Wednesday. I’m going to do the best I can to try to get back as soon as possible, icing it like crazy and continue to work with (trainers).’‘
“I was just hoping it wasn’t anything serious and it wasn’t. The MRI came back, it was fine, just a sprain,’’ Howard said. “My arm just got caught underneath him. Where my glove was, my arm didn’t really spread out and he just landed on my shoulder.’‘
MacDonald has not allowed a goal in 109 minutes, 45 seconds, dating back to March 3 in San Jose. McCollum, the club’s top pick in the 2008 entry draft (30th overall) has struggled in Grand Rapids, where he is 6-11-2, with a 3.18 goals-against average and .881 save percentage. He is 11-8-2, with a 2.69 GAA and .911 save percentage for Toledo.
Coach Mike Babcock said Howard is “going to take a little break.’‘
“I don’t know exactly when he’ll be back,’’ Babcock said. “The bottom line, just like any other player who’s got an injury, he’s got to get back and get healthy and get playing. Ideally it won’t be very long.’‘
And Khan reports that Johan Franzen’s insistent that he will return from his groin injury on Monday, though Wings coach Mike Babcock would prefer to wait until Monday’s morning skate before determining when Franzen will return:
“I’m playing tomorrow,’’ Franzen said after Sunday’s practice. “I was skating with max speed. Usually takes 2-3 games to get back to 100 percent.’‘
He was skating on a line with Todd Bertuzzi and Justin Abdelkader.
“We’ll check tomorrow if he’ll be back,’’ Babcock said. “What we do here is we got medical people who decide those things. He says he skated good today. We’ll see how he is tomorrow. If he’s available, he’ll go.’‘
Babcock said Pavel Datsyuk (lower-body injury) will return either Wednesday at home against St. Louis or Saturday in Nashville.
That’s awesome news, nothing less than awesome. The Wings miss Datsyuk terribly, especially defensively (seriously, I think they miss Datsyuk even more for his defense than they do for his offensive panache).
“It was a tough play,” Howard said. “I was coming out to cut down the angle and it was just an unfortunate occurrence. My arm got caught underneath me. The way my glove was, my arm couldn’t spread out and I landed on the shoulder.”
Babcock said the Wings will call up goalie Thomas McCollum from Toledo to back-up Joey MacDonald until Howard returns.
The Wings could get forward Johan Franzen back Monday against the Blackhawks. Franzen skated on a line with Todd Bertuzzi and Justin Abdelkader Sunday and pronounced himself ready to play.
Franzen missed four games because of a groin injury. Babcock, though, said his return won’t be official until after the morning skate on Monday.
The Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness also offered this update:
The Red Wings are going to recall Thomas McCollum from Toledo to backup Joey MacDonald Monday night against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Jimmy Howard spoke with the media after practice. He was seen in the locker room with ice on his left shoulder.
And why McCollum over Pearce, you might ask? Probably to give McCollum an ego boost after working his butt off for Toledo. We may or may not see Jordan Pearce up on Wednesday.
Update: Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji spoke to Babcock about Franzen and Datsyuk...
“We’ll check (Monday) if [Franzen]’‘ll be back,” Babcock said. “The way we do it here is we’ve got medical people who decide those things. He says he skated good today. we’ll see how he is (Monday) and if he’s available, he’ll go. We expect (Pavel) Datsyuk would either be Wednesday or Saturday.”
She noted that the Wings entertained a special practice goalie on Sunday in goaltending coach Jim Bedard…
“He was doing good, the old veteran,” MacDonald said. “He’s a great guy and it’s great when he can get an opportunity like that to come out and take a few shots.”
And perhaps most importantly, she spoke to Kris Draper about Lupul’s claim that he was pushed…
“I was trying to find the puck and obviously I didn’t do a good job of that,” Draper said. “But I definitely didn’t push him onto Howie and certainly I was as concerned as everybody else when I saw that he was hurt. So it was just a battle in front of the net. I think if that’s Homer (Tomas Holmstrom), things get reviewed and it might not be a goal.”
As well as the Wings’ outlook going forward as they’ll tangle with a Blackhawks team that’s fighting for its playoff life, and it coming off a 2-1 loss to Anaheim on Saturday. Babcock is comfortable tapping MacDonald on the shoulder…
“He’s done a real good job for us, been excellent for us, given us an opportunity when he’s in,” Babcock said. “His save percentage, goals-against are really good. We just look at it we’ve got a game against Chicago tomorrow and our team’s got to play well.”
“They lost a big one last night but they’re going to be coming out firing on all cylinders,” MacDonald said. “It’s a good test tomorrow night. Good playing the whole game, it’s tough coming in relief all the time the last couple games. But that’s the life of a backup goaltender.”
Nicklas Lidstrom suggested to Wakiji that the Wings will make MacDonald’s job as easy as possible:
“I think you just want to help your goalie out even more, whether it’s clearing rebounds or helping out, boxing players out in front of the net, just being conscious about that,” Lidstrom said. “And when he’s coming out playing the puck that you talk to him a little bit more, let him know where you are, just that communication’s going to be important.”
Update #2: From Chicago…
[Blackhawks coach Joel] Quenneville jugged his lines the day after Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Anaheim but said he wasn’t sure if that’s how they would look Monday at Detroit. The lines were:
Brouwer – Toews – Kane
Bickell – Kruger – Hossa
Kopecky – Dowell - Frolik
Stalberg – Johnson – Pisani
“These lines today, I’m not exactly sure, we’ll see going into tomorrow if we go back to the way we finished the game last night,” Quenneville said. “It’s an option. There could be a makeup of more of a traditional checking line.”
Quenneville knows he needs to get [Troy] Brouwer going offensively. Brouwer hasn’t scored a goal in 17 games and has just 1 assist in that stretch.
“Whether it’s him or (Bickell), we need more physicality up front,” Quenneville said. “We need more of a net-front presence in zone or on the attack. We need those guys to be more involved.”
And ESPN’s Jesse Rogers spelled out the Hawks’ playoff situation as follows:
With a chance to solidify a postseason spot and put some distance between themselves and the No. 8 and No. 9 seeds, they came up short in their 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday at the United Center.
The Ducks’ regulation victory vaulted them past Chicago into the No. 7 seed, while the Hawks stayed in the top eight, but by only a point. They were helped by a Dallas loss to Nashville which dropped the Stars to No. 10 while Calgary posted an improbable victory over Edmonton to take over the No. 9 seed. The Flames have played three more games than the Hawks.
The Hawks have 88 points, the Flames, 87, and the Stars, 86.
With their next three games on the road, including back-to-back contests in Detroit and Boston on Monday and Tuesday, the Hawks’ hold on a playoff spot is precarious, but they continue to control their own destiny.
Every team ahead of them and the one directly behind them has played more games, allowing the Hawks to earn some points in the final two weeks while those teams are idle.
FYI: The AHL did post a Griffins-Texas Stars highlight clip which includes Gustav Nyquist’s first pro goal at the 1:55 mark.
Also: If you’re interested in Bob Duff’s profile of James Reimer, Mike Babcock endorsement included, you can do so on your own.
Update 3: Per the Detroit News’s Chris McCosky...
Jim Bedard, the Red Wings goalie coach, took one for the team Sunday. The former NHLer stepped up and served as the Wings’ second goalie in practice Sunday. He refused to answer any questions afterward, though, saying, “It’s not that slow of a news day.” Bedard, 54, was pressed into duty because of injuries to Chris Osgood and Jimmy Howard. The Wings will call up Thomas McCollom from Toledo for the game against Chicago Monday but he couldn’t get to Detroit Sunday.
“He’s the best 54-year-old goalie in history,” Osgood joked. “At least that’s what he calls himself. How can you argue?”
The players had a good time peppering him with shots. The Red team, the team’s first and second lines, made sure they were attacking Bedard’s net.
“I think a lot of guys got their confidence back with Jimmy Bedard in there,” Nick Lidstrom said.
Update 4: Here are Chuck Pleiness’s reports about Franzen and Datsyuk...
“I’m playing,” Franzen said. “I was skating with max speed. It usually takes 2-3 games to get back to 100-percent.”
Wings coach Mike Babcock said they’ll wait to see after the morning skate today if he will play.
“What we do here is we got medical people who decide those things,” Babcock said. “He says he skated good today. If he’s available, he’ll go.”
In practice it looked like Franzen was playing, being paired on a line with Todd Bertuzzi and Justin Abdelkader.
Pavel Datsyuk (lower-body injury) took part in another full practice. Babcock said he will return either Wednesday against St. Louis or Saturday in Nashville.
As well as Howard:
“I’ll be ready for the playoffs,” Howard said. “We’ve got enough games left. They’re still a couple of weeks away. I’m going to do the best I can to try to get back as soon as possible. Icing it like crazy and continue to work with (trainers).”
Detroit is already without Chris Osgood who was placed on long-term injured reserve earlier in the week. He won’t be eligible to play in a game until the second to last game of the regular season.
“When you have one guy out already and then your starting goalie goes out, that’s a concern,” Nicklas Lidstrom said. “It’s always a concern when a goalie goes out.”
“Jimmy is going to take a little break,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I don’t know exactly when he’ll be back. The bottom line, just like any other player who’s got an injury, he’s got to get back and get healthy and get playing. Ideally it won’t be very long.”
McCollum, who was Detroit’s top pick in the 2008 entry draft, struggled with Grand Rapids this season going 6-11-2 with a 3.18 goals against average and a save percentage of .881. His numbers with the Walleye are better, 11-8-2, with a 2.69 GAA and .911 save percentage.
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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.