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The Malik Report

Pre-late-game ditties: on the Wings mucking along and Quincey

Ahead of tonight's game between the Red Wings and Canucks (10 PM EDT, FSD Plus/CBC/NHL Network U.S./WXYT AM) a trio of stories have popped up that don't quite fit as part of the game-day update thread.

The Vancouver Province's Ed Willes had a conversation with Wings coach Mike Babcock and GM Ken Holland during the morning skate, discussing Detroit's precarious place in the Western Conference standings, and both Babcock and Holland delivered blunt assessments of the Wings' status during this 48-games-in-99-nights demolition derby:

“It’s (the same) for everybody except two teams (Chicago and Anaheim),” Wings head coach Mike Babcock said before Saturday night’s tilt. “The rest of us, as (Wings GM Ken Holland) says, are in the mud puddle. We’re a group who’s been in survival mode since the start.”

And will likely stay that way until the end of the regular season.

While it’s hard to think of the blue-blooded Wings as working stiffs, one look at the Western standings explains their punching the time clock and struggling to meet their mortgage payments along with everyone else. Once you get past the Hawks and the Ducks in the West, exactly six points separates third from 14th and the 15th-place team, Colorado, is eight points back.

That means every team can allow themselves to believe they’re still in it. That means, you’re never more than a three-game winning streak away from heaven or a three-game losing streak away from hell. It’s not exactly a comfortable place to be but look at the bright side. You never have to worry about complacency.

“Nobody is bad in our side,” said Holland. “But, except for those two teams, no one is really good.”

Wiles duly notes that the Canucks still see the Wings as a team to be respected, if not feared, but the team's litany of injuries (even given that Babcock believes that Darren Helm will return sometime during this upcoming week) and personnel losses over the past couple of seasons have brought the Wings back to the pack...For this season, anyway...

“I know it’s a cliché but anyone can win if they make the playoffs,” said Holland. “You look at the Kings and Phoenix last year. They were seventh and eighth in the West and they were in the Conference finals. I think we all think that way.”

In terms of that litany of injuries, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose says that Kyle Quincey's the 13th Wings player to suffer a  injury this season.

His broken cheekbone will probably require surgical repairs, and as such the Wings don't anticipate that he'll return for a while--though it's possible that Quincey might dodge an injury mine while taking a bullet because a broken cheekbone can "only" take a week or two to recover from if Quincey can play with a full shield:

“It sounds like he's going to need surgery, obviously it ramped up his stick and hit him in the face,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “It's disappointing for him. Kyle was starting to skate better and be more effective for us.”

In 26 games, Quincey had a goal and an assist with a plus-8 rating, which is second-best among Red Wings’ defensemen this season. Quincey is scheduled to return to Detroit today, and he will be re-evaluated by team doctors at some point next week.

Babcock hesitated to guess at a timetable for Quincey’s return.

“I don't imagine he's returning very quickly,” Babcock said. “I don't know if you're allowed after a certain amount of time to play with a full shield. We'll find out”

In the meantime, defenseman Ian White, who has been a healthy scratch for eight of the last nine games, will suit up for tonight’s game against the Canucks at Rogers Arena.

The Red Wings are still without several key roster pieces, including center Darren Helm (back), forwards Todd Bertuzzi (back) and Mikael Samuelsson (fractured finger), and defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, who are all out indefinitely.

At least one other forward was also injured in Friday's win. Babcock would only say that the unidentified player is a game-time decision tonight.

That's not good...And while White is returning to the lineup by default, Babcock told the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa that Quincey had redeemed himself in a big way after a bumpy start, and has earned a full-time spot in the lineup...

"It sounds like he's going to need surgery," Coach Mike Babcock said. "Obviously, it ramped up his stick and hit him in the face. It's disappointing for him. Kyle was starting to skate better and be more effective for us. And, you know, it's just one of those things on the back end — keeps you entertained," Babcock said.

Quincey played well after a particularly tough opening game Jan. 19 against the Blues and a lukewarm performance last season, when the Red Wings acquired him from the Avalanche in a three-way trade that included the Lightning. He played this season in 26 of 28 games. Quincey is plus-8, second along the blue line to Jakub Kindl, who is plus-10. He most-often was paired with the rookie Brendan Smith.

Asked the duration of the injury, Babcock echoed Holland, saying, "I've got no idea until he is looked at. He went home to get looked at, so I don't imagine that's returning very quickly. I don't know if you're allowed after a certain amount of time to play with a full shield," he said. "So, we'll find out."

And as such, Ian White better understand that his time in an actual uniform instead of a suit is on an as-earned basis:

"You know, it's real simple. I tell this to people all the time: (Tomas) Tatar, for example, came up to play one game and he played in 16 straight — not because I did anything, because he did something. So, it's the same thing for every player: You've got to grab your chunk, and then you do good things and good things will happen for you.

"I hear all the time, `Well, if I play long enough and I play enough I'll get my confidence and play better.' That to me's not the real world, that's a fantasy. The real world is, I'm going to grab my chunk and I'm going to hang on to it and I'm not letting anyone take it from me, because I'm professional, I'm an everydayer, I bring it all the time If you're that and you're skilled enough, you play 15 years. If you're not that, you give other people opportunity to have the job."

Like Brian Lashoff, who Babcock's intimated has won White's job because Lashoff's bigger, stronger and, most importantly, a superb penalty-killer.

And finally, it's so late in the day that it's the middle of the evening here in Metro Detroit, but here's the Wings' late-afternoon "Game Day" preview. Ken Kal chatted with Patrick Eaves about tonight's imminent match-up:

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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.