The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/21/12 at 02:11 AM ET
Catching up after a day whacked out on an uber-antibiotic called Levaquin (seriously, somebody just take a Roto-Rooter to my nose…): No, he is not a conventionally efficient goaltender, nor do Joey MacDonald’s surprisingly short legs, low thigh rises on his pads and tendency to scramble around the crease and “fight off” shots make him look as imposing as the layers of lightning-fast toes, leg pads, stick, glove, blocker and still-crouched chest and shoulders that Jimmy Howard bristles and efficiently brandishes toward would-be scorers, but “Joey Mac” has won the Detroit Red Wings’ back-up goaltender’s spot for the remainder of the regular season, and Wings GM Ken Holland was nothing less than eloquent in explaining why the Red Wings chose to take the risk of exposing Ty Conklin on waivers all of a week before the trade deadline:
“[Conklin] hasn’t played a lot and hasn’t had a really good chance to get it going,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “It opened a crack and Joey MacDonald grabbed it. Things change. It’s pro sports.
“From an organizational standpoint, coaching standpoint, we really don’t care who does the work as long as the work is getting done. It’s the (NHL) it’s day-to-day. It’s not that way for superstars, but it is day-to-day for a lot of players in the league. It’s the old, ‘What have you done for me lately,’ and Joey MacDonald has been an incredible story for us the last two weeks.”
So the “incredible story” will ride the pine behind Jimmy Howard as the Wings’ starter attempts to readjust to the pace of NHL play—which cannot be replicated in practice—and hold his goal stick with his index finger packed and pointed out, with MacDonald ready to assist should Howard encounter any difficulties, and Conklin will head down to the Grand Rapids Griffins, who desperately need goaltending help with both Jordan Pearce and Tom McCollum struggling mightily for a team whose playoff life depends on more or less “winning out” its remaining games:
“I think Ty Conklin needs to play,” Holland said. “We’re running a risk he’ll get claimed on waivers. We’re prepared to take that risk.”
Holland said he never considered looking for backup goalie help after Howard broke a finger Feb. 2. MacDonald had a cache of goodwill already built up from last season’s solid performance after Chris Osgood got injured.
“We were always confident it was everyone else that wasn’t confident,” Holland said. “I think Joey played great last year. You need depth. I think he played similar to this year, but we’re scoring a bit more for him.”
That’s been the case for Howard as well, and as the Wings begin the last full week of February with back-to-back measuring stick games against Chicago tonight (8 PM EST, FSD/CSN Chicago), Vancouver on Thursday (7:30 PM EST, FSD) and a game against a team that’s strangely had the Wings’ number in the Avalanche on Saturday (7 PM EST, FSD), here’s hoping that Holland finds the time to add and not subtract from the roster in a reasonably-priced manner while Conklin heads down to Grand Rapids and reaffirms his status as an NHL-caliber netminder.
He needs to find himself and his game pretty badly, and as the Wings continue to battle for Western Conference and Central Division supremacy, his teammates back in Detroit need Conklin ready, willing and able to assist their efforts, too.
Here’s also hoping that I’ll be back to work sometime this afternoon. It’s more than time and as the trade deadline approaches, we need all hands on deck here at KK.
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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.