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Red Wings-Avalanche game-day updates: Legwand arrives as undermanned Wings hope to beat surging Avs

Updated 3x at 4:39 PM: The Red Wings' morning skate ahead of tonight's game against the Colorado Avalanche (8 PM EST, FSD/Altitude/NHL Network U.S. w/ Lidstrom retirement ceremony airing; Lidstrom retirement ceremony starts at 6:30 PM/97.1 FM; NHL.com and the AP have posited previews of the game) included some preparations for tonight's pre-game affair...

And the team welcomed a new and somewhat familiar face:

 

Khan reported that...

Legwand joins Sheahan and Jurco up front on second power play unit. With Tatar and DeKeyser at points.

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First power play unit has Franzen, Nyquist and Bertuzzi up front, Kronwall and Alfredsson at the points.

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Howard first goalie off the ice so he's starting tonight.

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Looks like no changes on defense as Kindl last D off the ice.

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Babcock confirms Howard is starting.

And in text form, he noted that David Legwand grew up as a Red Wings fan in Grosse Pointe:

“I think every kid growing up here is a Red Wings fan, as they should be,” Legwand. “The tradition, the history, the players that have been here from the past, they’ve meant a lot to the city and to the team.”

The Red Wings acquired the two-way center Wednesday from the Nashville Predators for prospect Calle Jarnkrok, veteran Patrick Eaves and a 2014 third-round pick that will become a second-rounder if Detroit makes the playoffs.

Legwand said it was difficult leaving the only NHL home he’s had for seasons. But he did not hesitate when the Predators asked if he would waive his no-trade clause to join the Red Wings.

“Being somewhere for 15 years (and leaving) is tough, but to come home and have a chance to play in front of friends and family day in and day out it’s exciting,” Legwand said.

He said he first heard of the potential deal at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday and it was completed a minute before the 3 p.m. deadline.

“It’s just excitement to get here and get on the same page with everyone as quickly as I can,” Legwand said.

The Windsor Star's Bob Duff also spoke with Legwand...

“I think every kid growing up here is a Red Wings fan, as they should be,” said Legwand, acquired at Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline from the Nashville Predators. “The tradition, the history, the players that have been here from the past, they’ve meant a lot to the city and to the team.”

Like a lot of kids his age, Legwand’s bedroom wall was adorned with a poster of then-Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman.

“I have his jersey,” Legwand said. “It was an honour to play against him and compete against him. It was fun.”

Legwand had been a Predator since 1998, when Nashville made him their first-ever draft pick, selecting the 6-2, 204-pound centre second overall from the Plymouth Whalers in the NHL entry draft that spring.

“I’ve spent good years and bad years there,” Legwand said. “I lived through the good and bad times. It was fun and exciting when I was there, but it’s good to be part of a new team and exciting for me.”

And Duff posted a video of Legwand's game-day comments:

The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness posted some videos of Legwand as well...

 

And he posted Mike Babcock's take on the state of his team with Legwand in the fold and Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Weiss, Helm, Cleary and Kindl out:

 

Pleiness spoke with Legwand and Babcock about the move...

“We needed a veteran guy to help these kids,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “These kids are real good players, but a little leadership helps. He’s got 40 points, can pass the puck, he can play on your power play and he can play against real players, so it’ll be a good fit for us. He’s been well-coached in Nashville. He knows how to play the game and he’s from this area and knows the guys good. He’s skated with them lots in the summers and that, so I think it’s a good fit for our team.”

...

“You just have to go out and play, do the right things and learn how they play as quickly as possible,” Legwand said. “I’ve played a ton against them in the past years. I played a lot of minutes in Nashville and Bab’s is going to count on me for big minutes here and in big times here. I’ve just got to be ready to help out the team.”

Legwand, who will wear No. 17, is in the final year of his contract, with a salary-cap hit of $4.5 million. There’s a good chance the Red Wings will re-sign him before he hits free agency in July.

“The hockey will take care of itself and the contract stuff will come after,” said Legwand, who added there was little talk about a contract extension to remain in Nashville. “We have to win some games here and get into the playoffs. They’re still a skilled team and they’re smart,” Legwand added. “The only difference now from the 2000s is they’re a little younger. The (Tomas) Tatar’s and (Gustav) Nyquist’s are coming up and they’re hell of players. They’re good young talent. It’s exciting. The old regime is gone and the young guys have come in here. They’ve done a hell of a job.”

Legwand will center the top line of Johan Franzen and Nyquist.

“Gus is a skater that can make plays,” Legwand said. “His hockey IQ is huge. Mule’s a big body and can skate. I think everyone has seen him score goals and he gets in those areas to score goals.”

He’ll also play on the second power play unit, along with Tatar, Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan and Danny DeKeyser. Legwand was drafted second overall by the Predators in the 1998 draft, behind Vincent Lecavalier. He leads in every franchise record in Nashville, including goals (210), assists (356) and games played (956).

“I think age is a number,” Legwand said. “I think guys that skate well and are smart are going to last a lot longer than guys who can’t. I’ll play as long as I can and I love playing, love being at the rink, love being around the guys and I’m excited to get started.”

And Babcock addressed Calle Jarnkrok's departure as well:

“That’s what I would say to you right there, is I hear he’s (Jarnkrok) a really good player, but I don’t know him very good to be honest with you. One thing we do (have) is we have kids, and so you go through that and that’s why you have pro scouts and a general manager. And they decide in those situations. We feel that this is a guy that can help us right now. We’re in a situation with the word we got yesterday on (Pavel Datsyuk) and the word we got on (Darren Helm), it’s not like they’re arriving back tomorrow. So, we felt we needed help.”

WXYZ's Brad Galli took note of Legwand's comments about his long-term future in Detroit...

"I mean who knows? We're going to see how it plays out. Obviously, the hockey can take care of itself and the contract stuff will come after," said Legwand. "We gotta win some games here and get in the playoffs and go from there."

"We do [things] different than Nashville," said Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock. "We don't need him thinking tonight we just need him playing, and we've talked about that. [We] look forward to him helping us."

Legwand couldn't have arrived at a better time than on the day when Nicklas Lidstrom's No. 5 jersey will be retired.

"Nicklas was one of the best of all time if not the best of all time," said Legwand. "To see him go up in the rafters will be exciting. He's up there forever now."

And again, Babcock was blunt about what he believes Legwand can bring to the mix, as the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan noted:

"We needed a guy, a veteran guy, who can help these kids," coach Mike Babcock said. "These are good players but a little leadership helps."

Legwand has 40 points (10 goals, 30 assist) in 62 games and played in every situation with the Predators.

"He can pass the puck, play on your power play and play against real good players," Babcock said. "It'll be a good fit for us. He's been well coached in Nashville and knows how to play the game. He knows the guys, skates with them a lot in the summer. He's not a kid, he's a pro. He's going to be comfortable. He knows the guys. We don't want him thinking tonight, just playing."

Again, NHL.com's Jon Lane did pen a preview of the game...

Big story: The Avalanche reached the 40-win mark faster than any team in franchise history with their 4-2 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday that moved them to within one point of the defending Stanley Cup champions for second place in the Central Division.

The Red Wings' 4-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils dropped them from the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Thin at center and with a streak of 22 consecutive playoff seasons on the line, the Red Wings acquired center David Legwand from the Nashville Predators at the NHL Trade Deadline.

Avalanche [big story]: Colorado is staking its claim as a top Stanley Cup contender. The Avalanche are 13-5-0 in their past 18 games, 17-6-1 in their past 24, and have the most wins (16) and points (33) in the League since Dec. 31.

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Red Wings [team scope]: Detroit sent forward Patrick Eaves, prospect Calle Jarnkrok and a third-round draft pick (which becomes a second-round pick if the Red Wings make the playoffs) to Nashville for Legwand, a Grosse Pointe, Mich., native who played his entire 15-year career with the Predators and is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.

Who's hot: Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon's 12-game point streak is the longest by a rookie since Paul Stastny's 20 in 2006-07, and from an 18-year-old since Wayne Gretzky's 12 in 1979-80. Varlamov is 15-3-1 in his past 19 starts. Forward Matt Duchene is on a five-game point streak (two goals, six assists) … Red Wings forward Johan Franzen has eight points (four goals, four assists) in his past four games. Forward Daniel Alfredsson has four points (two goals, two assists) in his past five games.

Injury report: Avalanche forward Alex Tanguay (hip surgery) is out for the season … Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk (sore right knee) has been shut down for the next three weeks. Center Darren Helm (upper body) will miss at least the next two games. Forward Daniel Cleary (sprained knee) is out for at least a week. Defenseman Jakub Kindl (lower body) and forwards Stephen Weiss (sports hernia surgery) and Henrik Zetterberg (back surgery) are on injured reserve.

And NHL.com's Brian Hedger penned something of an Avs game-day update...

It's also fitting that Colorado is in town, considering the intense rivalry between the Red Wings and Avalanche for much of Lidstrom's career. Avalanche coach Patrick Roy was in net for Colorado eight of those seasons and was right in the middle of the action.

The intensity has dropped off the past decade, but Roy said there's now a solid respect factor among the players who made it white hot. He's looking forward to the pregame ceremony as much as anybody.

"[Lidstrom] was a special defenseman and as much as we didn't like him when we were playing against each other, I have tons of respect for him," Roy said. "I'm very happy to see what's happening for him. Today there's tons of respect between all the [former] players. Seeing his jersey retired, it's something that I will enjoy being here to watch it."

Jimmy Howard will start in net for the Detroit and backup Jean-Sebastien Giguere will start for Colorado.

The Avalanche are also using a rotation on defense with Cory Sarich re-entering the lineup in place of Nate Guenin. Roy said that Guenin would return against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday at Pepsi Center.

Here is how the rest of the starting lineups might look Thursday night:

AVALANCHE

Ryan O'Reilly - Matt Duchene - PA Parenteau

Gabriel Landeskog - Paul Stastny - Nathan MacKinnon

Maxime Talbot - John Mitchell - Jamie McGinn

Cody McLeod - Marc-Andre Cliche - Patrick Bordeleau

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson

Tyson Barrie - Nick Holden

Cory Sarich - Andre Benoit

Semyon Varlamov

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Scratched: Ryan Wilson, Nate Guenin

Injured: Alex Tanguay (out for the season, knee/hip)

And Terry Frei is in town to cover the game for the Denver Post:

Reto Berra has not joined Avs in Detroit. Will meet team in Denver. Immigration/visa red tape, etc., could even be longer than tomorrow.

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Giguere in net tonight for Avs

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Lidstrom ceremony slotted for 45 minutes, 8 pm puck for Avs-Wings

Frei's game-day story involves the team's acquisition of a 3rd goalie in Reto Berra:

Jean-Sebastien Giguere will be in the Colorado net Thursday night against the Detroit Red Wings, so Avalanche coach Patrick Roy hasn't written off the veteran for the rest of the season.

But Roy emphasized after the morning skate that Giguere's occasional back problems this season underscored the need to have another NHL-ready goalie around as a potential backup to Semyon Varlamov heading down the stretch of the season — and perhaps beyond.

Agreeing with what executive vice president of hockey operations Joe Sakic said previously, Roy declared after Colorado's Thursday game-morning skate in Joe Louis Arena that was much of the thinking behind the Avalanche's Wednesday acquisition of Reto Berra, the 27-year-old Swiss goalie, from the Calgary Flames for a 2014 second-round draft choice.

"When we played in Florida (in late January) before the Olympic break, Jiggy had back problems," Roy said. "It was a very simple drill and he hurt his back. We started questioning ourselves. We knew we had to call up someone and (Sami) Aittokallio came and he played. We realized he wasn't ready to step in if something happened."

Frei reports that the Avs did not practice yesterday...

And the Avs website's game notes have Brian Pochmara and Kelly Sutherland refereeing tonight's game, with Scott Cherrey and Mark Shewchyk working the lines.

Just as I was about to post this entry, DetroitRedWings.com's Andrea Nelson filed another Legwand story:

Further down the road, it could be a situation that Legwand and his family enjoy for more than six weeks.

“Obviously you’re from here, you grew up here, they made a trade for you and if it is something long-term it is,” Legwand said. “Obviously we’re going to play the last six weeks out, get in the playoffs and go on a long run hopefully and then everything takes care of itself.”

Currently looking outside in at the playoff picture with 21 games remaining in the regular season, coach Mike Babcock thinks the addition of the healthy veteran center will help his team in more ways than one.

"Obviously, great deal for us that he would come and help us out here just with our centers there with Pav and Z and Weisser and Helmer all out, those are our four centers,” Babcock said. “So, we needed a guy, we needed a veteran guy to help these kids. These kids are real good players, but a little leadership helps. He's got 40 points, can pass the puck, he can play on your power play and he can play against real players, so it'll be a good fit for us.”

Legwand will center a line with Johan Franzen and Gustav Nyquist Thursday when the Wings host Colorado.

“I think it’ll be good,” Legwand said. “Gus is a skater that can make plays. His hockey IQ is huge. Mule’s a big body and can skate. I think everyone has seen him score goals and he gets in those areas to score goals.”

Although the need for points is crucial at this point in the season, Detroit’s new No. 1 center doesn’t feel any pressure as he prepares for his debut with the Wings.

“You just have to go out and play, do the right things and learn how they play as quickly as possible,” Legwand said. “I’ve played a ton against them in the past years. It’ll be good to get started.”

Update: The Red Wings' website posted a game-day preview...

And, via RedWingsFeed, Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner penned an article about Legwand's return to Detroit--from his teammates and coach's perspective:

"We played him a lot through the years, so we know he's a great player, a smart player," Franzen said of Legwand. "He's tough to play against. He's that guys who's always on top of you. He's a good two-way guy, so it's good to have him here."

Franzen hopes the transition from playing against Legwand to being on the same line with him won't be too difficult.

"You never know," Franzen said. "He's a smart guy out there. He's probably going to try to read off me and Gus as much as possible, and go from there."

Nyquist was only 9 years old when Legwand broke into the NHL 15 years ago and fully understands that the Wings needed him to shore up center ice, especially with the team fighting for their playoff lives.

"It's nice to get an established center," Nyquist said. "Our goal is to get into the playoffs. That's the message that has been sent. We needed a centerman because of all the injuries, and we're happy to have him."

...

"We needed a veteran guy to help these kids," Babcock said. "These kids are real good players, but a little leadership helps. He's got 40 points, can pass the puck. He can play on your power play and can play against real players, so it'll be a good fit for us."

Babcock doesn't believe that it will take Legwand long to become accustomed to Detroit's style of play and his new teammates. It will help that Legwand often skates with the Wings during the summer, and playing in the same division has made him familiar with Detroit.

"Number one, he's not a kid," Babcock said. "He's a pro and so he's going to be comfortable anyway. He knows that guys. I think that helps him. The few things that we do different than Nashville, I mean, he's going to pick up over time. We don't need him thinking tonight, just playing. And we've talked about that, and we look forward to him helping us."

The Detroit Free Press just posted Carlos Monarrez's game-day update:

Babcock was asked about Legwand’s age and how much age plays a factor in a team’s decision to part ways with players. He was given the example of the Chicago Bears deciding not re-sign return specialist Devin Hester, 31, today.

“Well, I don’t know anything about football,” Babcock said. “And I don’t know anything about the guy’s name that you just told me about right there. He never got waived because he was (31). You don’t get waived because you’re (31). You don’t get waived because you’re 35.

“You get waived when they feel they’ve got somebody better than you in your spot. So that might be a media way of looking at it, but that’s not reality.

“Nick Lidstrom, (when) I arrived here, he was 35. He won the Norris Trophy four of the next seven years. He took three years off in that time. But no, seriously, the reality is if you’re really good, you can play as long as you want.”

Monarrez also posted a 2:49 video of Legwand and Babcock's comments:

Update #2: The Red Wings website's game-day blog offers a set-up of sorts...

Tonight, the Red Wings will look to defeat Colorado in front of some old faces on Nick Lidstrom Jersey Retirement Night. What makes it even more interesting is the fact that they'll be looking to do so with some new faces in red, as David Legwand is set to make his Red Wings debut.

Yesterday, Detroit sent forward Patrick Eaves, prospect Calle Jarnkrok and a third-round draft pick to Nashville for Legwand, a Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., native who's played his entire 15-year career with the Predators.

"With Zetterberg, with Datsyuk, with Helm, and with Weiss, the uncertainty of where we're at, we felt it was important to get a bona-fide center," general manager Ken Holland said. "The news in the last 48 hours, that all factored into acquiring a center. The one we acquired is a local boy, so if we want to keep him beyond this year, we think it's reasonable that can happen, because he had to waive a no-trade clause to come here. He wanted to come home."

Tonight, they'll look to win one for Nick and move back into that final wild card spot.

A historical note...

On March 6, 1996

Chris Osgood becomes only the second goalie in NHL history to shoot and score a goal in a game. It was against the Whalers in the Hartford Civic Center.

And Ken Kal's Keys to the Game:

Play tight to the vest - The Avalanche are fast and the Wings need to take their time and space away, especially in the neutral zone.

Contributions from all four lines - The Wings will need a balanced scoring attack tonight to get the job done.

Stay out of the box - The Avs have the fourth best power play in the league and they move the puck quickly with the man advantage. Don't give them time to set up.

Update #3: Here's more regarding Legwand from his new teammates, via DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose:

“He knows where to be, he’s always above his guy so it’s tough as a centerman, if you have a centerman who is above you, the middle guy all of the time, it’s tough to get on inside,” Nyquist said. “That’s what he does. He’s real good offensively, he’s played on the power play, I’ve seen him on the power play there in Nashville and created a lot of chances there, so hopefully he can do the same tonight for us.”

Red Wings players are quite familiar with Legwand as both Detroit and Nashville used to longtime Central Division rivals before the Wings moved to the Eastern Conference this season. In 69 career games against the Red Wings, Legwand produced 15 goals and 41 points, which is his third-best mark against league teams. He only registered more points against Chicago (61) and Columbus (48) during his 15 seasons with the Predators.

“We played him a lot through the years, so we know he’s a great player, a smart player, he’s tough to play against,” Franzen said. “He’s that guy who’s always on top of you; he’s a good two-way guy. So it’s good to have him here.”

Legwand, who still lives in Harrison Township during the offseason, knows many of the veterans on this team, having skated in the past with guys who’ve remained in area in the summer months. So assimilating quickly with his new team shouldn’t be much of a problem.

“He’s such a good player so I think he’ll adjust,” Nyquist said. “Probably take him a few games with new systems and everything but, I mean, he’s such a good player that I don’t think it will be too hard for him.”

With Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Darren Helm and Stephen Weiss sidelined, the Red Wings could really use Legwand to make an immediate mark with his new linemates.

“He’s a smart guy out there,” Franzen said. “He’s probably going to try to read off me and Gus as much as possible and go from there.”

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Comments

WingedRider's avatar

Legwand sounds like a great Wing, IMO.  Signing him in the summer shouldn’t be to difficult.

A little more excitement for tonight’s game!!

Line combos are interesting and PP is a bit different.

Go Red Wings!!!

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 03/06/14 at 02:47 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

Legwand sounds like a great Wing, IMO.  Signing him in the summer shouldn’t be to difficult.

He was enthusiastic about coming, and it sounds like he wants to be here next season.  Hometown discount? 

He is solid defensively and has a good history of not missing games.  Since 1999 he has played in 63 games or more each season (minus lockout seasons). 

 

Posted by TreKronor on 03/06/14 at 03:13 PM ET

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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.