The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/05/13 at 03:49 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings will continue their stretch of 8 games played over the course of 14 nights by welcoming the Colorado Avalanche to the Joe tonight (7:30 PM EST, FSD/Altitude/97.1 FM), and the on Breast Cancer Awareness night (click for the Wings' press release regarding tonight's in-rink activities and their request that fans wear pink to the game), the Wings may very well be hoping that the Avs are coming into town in a charitable mood.
The Wings have posted a 3-5-and-2 record over their past 10 games, including Sunday's 2-1 shootout loss to Chicago, and that places the Wings in 9th place in a ridiculously tightly-packed Western Conference, with the same 24 points as 4 other teams...And within a group of 12 teams separated by all of 6 points between the top (Vancouver at 26 points) and bottom teams (Calgary, Colorado and Edmonton at 20).
The Wings haven't been scoring many goals of late--they've been giving up 1 and 2-goal leads instead--and the team needs to make hay while the sun shines, especially given that the team will play 7 of its last 9 games of the month on the road.
Enter the Avs, who come into town having dropped a 2-1 OT decision to the Columbus on Sunday, possessing a 1-3-and-1 record of late (with three of their four losses coming in OT or a shootout), and an 8-8-and-4 record that isn't all that different from the Wings' 10-8-and-4 record, minus two games in hand, anyway.
The Avs also come into town knowing that the Chicago Blackhawks face the Minnesota Wild tonight, and if those Blackhawks register their 23th straight "unbeaten" game (win and/or shootout loss), the Avs will be able to show up in Chicago for a Wednesday night NBC game, with a national stage and a 24-game streak to snap.
That's the theory, anyway. In reality, some seventeen years after the Wings-Avs rivalry began, both teams still look forward to their meetings, and the Avs are coming into town on in a bad mood as their OT loss took the same form as the Wings' shootout loss--the Avs held a 1-0 lead over Columbus that evaporated in the third period, and thanks to penalties and an unearned break, the Avs dropped the game.
There isn't much in the way of Avs press while they're on the road, so I'm going to ask you to bear with me as I attempt to put a preview together:
NHL.com offers a narrative recap (if I swap paragraphs around, anyway) of Sunday's game...
A scoreless first period saw both teams have the chance to score the game's first goal. The Blue Jackets had a two-man advantage for 1:20 midway through the period after the Avalanche were whistled for too many men on the ice while killing off a penalty on Shane O'Brien. However, the Blue Jackets couldn’t get a shot on net, as first Duchene then Jan Hejda blocked shots.
The Avalanche had a power play earlier in the period when [Fedor] Tyutin was sent off for cross-checking, but managed one shot on net.
After a scoreless first period, [P-A] Parenteau gave the Avalanche the lead with 7:35 left in the second. Taking a pass from Shane O'Brien just above the circles, he looped a high wrist shot on net that bounced off the shoulder of Bobrovsky and glanced off the crossbar. The goal was allowed to stand after a review showed [Matt] Duchene did not tip the shot with a high stick.
Forward Vinny Prospal scored the tying goal early in the third, and the Blue Jackets played beyond 60 minutes for the third straight game. Prospal's goal came with the Jackets on a two-man advantage at 4:04 of the period.
The Blue Jackets already were on a power play with Patrick Bordeleau in the penalty box for holding when Matt Duchene was sent off for hooking. Columbus took advantage of the 5-on-3 when Prospal got a pass from Fedor Tyutin, skated into the right circle and fired a low shot that deflected off the stick of Avalanche forward Ryan O'Reilly and past Varlamov. It was Prospal's team-best eighth goal of the season.
Artem Anisimov's power-play goal at 2:26 of overtime gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 2-1 win against the visiting Colorado Avalanche on Sunday at Nationwide Arena.
Late on a power play with Colorado's P.A. Parenteau off for hooking 42 seconds into overtime, the Blue Jackets set up deep in the Avalanche zone. With R.J. Umberger screening Avs goaltender Semyon Varlamov, Anisimov fired a low wrist shot from the right faceoff circle that found the back of the net and snapped a four-game winless streak for Columbus.
The AP's recap suggests that bad puck luck followed both teams around...
The game was tied at 1 for most of the third period and the first 2:26 of overtime. It was debatable whether either team deserved its goal in regulation.
The winning sequence began with Anisimov with the puck near the right dot. Teammate R.J. Umberger was backed up to the crease and goalie Semyon Varlamov was struggling to get an unobstructed view.
Anisimov, who was acquired in the blockbuster deal last summer that sent Rick Nash to the New York Rangers, played with the puck for a moment before firing a high, hard forehand wrist shot just inside the near goal post that barely missed Umberger.
''I thought he was going to come down to me with the pass. I was trying to get myself in position so I could make a power move,'' Umberger said. ''But he made a shot and it went in. Somehow.''
Vinny Prospal had the other goal for the Blue Jackets, thanks to Ryan O'Reilly, who inadvertently tapped it in while making his season debut for the Avs.
P.A. Parenteau scored for Colorado, but also was called for hooking Umberger on a rush to provide the power play that decided the outcome.
[Semyon] Varlamov, who shut out Columbus 4-0 on Jan. 24 while making 33 saves, stymied the Blue Jackets for the first 104 minutes he faced them this season.
But the Avs were particularly annoyed with both their poor puck luck--Ryan O'Reilly tipped the game-winning goal into his own net, as the Denver Post's Mike Chambers noted...
Eleven seconds into his first penalty-killing opportunity of the season, O'Reilly accidentally re- directed the puck into his own net, erasing a Colorado lead and leading to the Columbus Blue Jackets' 2-1 overtime victory in O'Reilly's season debut. Opponents of O'Reilly's recent holdout and two-year, $10 million contract designed by the Calgary Flames probably smiled about the scenario. But O'Reilly's coach and teammates weren't pointing fingers and last season's leading Avs scorer was probably beating himself up too much about scoring on the wrong net.
"Bad play by me there. I got to be strong on my stick and get it out of there," O'Reilly said after his first NHL game in about nine months. "If I do that, we probably win that game."
Fact is, the backdoor pass by Vinny Prospal on Columbus' 5-on-3 power play may have been slammed in by one of two Blue Jackets in front of Varlamov's right post. As it was, O'Reilly got a piece of the puck in the passing lane, where he's supposed to be, and bad luck met bad timing and Prospal tied the score at 1-1.
The Blue Jackets won it 2:26 into overtime, when center Artem Anisimov scored on a 4-on-3 power play. The Avs' P.A. Parenteau, who scored midway through the second period, was called for hooking 42 seconds into OT. Columbus was 2-of-5 on the power play and outshot the Avs 34-19.
And the Avs were very angry with the referees:
Parenteau didn't agree with his penalty and Matt Duchene and the Avs' coaching staff were bewildered about Duchene's hook that led to Prospal's goal. Duchene was on the penalty kill when he gained possession and attacked the Blue Jackets' zone, ultimately getting outnumbered 3-to-1 and being tangled with Fedor Tyutin.
"I don't think there's much I can say here without getting fined," Duchene said. "Very rare in a one-goal game you see a call made deep in the offensive zone for us. Usually you have to high stick 'em or something. I was working hard, and maybe I got my stick in there a little bit, but it was a hooking call and I had one hand on my stick. I was surprised."
Avs coach Joe Sacco, whose team has earned a point in its last four games and in six of its last seven, said: "(Duchene) makes a strong effort to get down and got a strong opportunity, and it looked like they were both battling for the puck. That changes the whole momentum of the game right there. We're on our way to a 1-0, possibly 2-0 game for us. I thought it was a questionable call."
On Tuesday afternoon, the Denver Post's Chambers stated that he'd missed the Avs' practice at Joe Louis Arena due to a flight delay, but he found out that Jean-Sebastien Giguere would start opposite Jimmy Howard tonight via a phone conversation with Avs coach Joe Sacco...
He said Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who is back with the team after attending his mother’s funeral in Montreal, will start Tuesday against the Red Wings, with Seymon Varlamov in the paint Wednesday at Chicago. I previously posted this about Giguere’s mother.
Defensemen Erik Johnson and Ryan Wilson (orange sweater) again practiced hard with the team today, but Sacco said neither will play against the Red Wings. However, he’s not ruling either of them out Wednesday against the bonfire-hot Blackhawks. Obviously, the Avs will have to make moves to accommodate Johnson and Wilson on the 23-man roster, and among the seven D on the roster right now, Tyson Barrie and Stefan Elliott are the only ones eligible to be sent down to Lake Erie without clearing wavers.
Tomorrow’s story — which will be available online late tonight — will look at what Sacco might do about his D-corps. Barrie’s playing a top-four role right now, so big decisions are on the horizon.
As Chambers alluded to, the Avs have some serious injury issues on defense with Erik Johnson and Ryan Wilson out, and that's something of a "work in progress" issue...
Avalanche defensemen Erik Johnson and Ryan Wilson skated with the team Monday and, although they will not be in the lineup Tuesday against the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena, coach Joe Sacco said he's not ruling them out for Wednesday's game at Chicago.
Thus Sacco and his staff soon could be making a decision about Tyson Barrie's future with the organization. Without Johnson and Wilson, the 21-year-old Barrie has been playing the role of a top-four defenseman, logging more than 21 minutes per game in his past five and more than 18 minutes since Johnson (concussion) joined Wilson (high-ankle sprain) on the injured list.
Johnson has missed nine games and Wilson 12. The latter's injury led to Stefan Elliott's call-up from Lake Erie of the American Hockey League, and Elliott — currently the team's seventh defenseman — could be sent down to Avs' top minor-league affiliate as soon as Wednesday. But the play of Barrie might force Sacco to carry eight defensemen, leaving the club with only one extra forward.
"We'll just see how it goes, but I don't want to make any presumptions until those other two guys are back," Sacco said Monday.
But Sacco did happen to address the Wings game as well, and that's obviously the pertinent part of Chambers' story:
The Avs enter the first game of the season against the Red Wings with a 2-6-3 record on the road. Among those 11 games, they've won only once in regulation.The Avs are coming off a 2-1 overtime loss at Columbus on Sunday in a game they led 1-0 entering the third period.
"We have gotten points in our last three road games, and we've been a really good, strong home team, but we got to get dialed in for some road wins, there's no question," Sacco said. "We've got two good teams coming up in Detroit and Chicago. We all know they're good teams, but we have to find ways to win and get the two points."
Chambers incorporated his notebook into a game preview, so this is what I've got to go with this morning, folks...
COLORADO AT DETROIT
5:30 p.m. Tuesday, ALT, 104.3 FM, 950 AM
Spotlight on Damien Brunner: The NHL newcomer from Zurich is Detroit's latest great find from Europe, but unlike the handful of the Red Wings' past and present late-round-drafted stars, Brunner was not selected during his draft-eligible years. He caught the attention of a handful of NHL teams after leading the Swiss-A league with 60 points (24 goals) last season, and Detroit signed him to a modest, two-way contract. He turns 27 on Saturday and is likely on his way to a handsome extension.
Red Wings: They committed two consecutive delay-of-game penalties for shooting the puck over the glass in the defensive zone in Sunday's 2-1 shootout loss to Chicago, and the Blackhawks' Patrick Kane scored the game-tying goal on the first power play when defenseman Jonathan Ericsson was in the penalty box. ... In three games since pounding Vancouver 8-3 on Feb. 4, the Red Wings have scored only three goals in regulation. They lost 2-1 at Los Angeles, beat San Jose 2-1 in a shootout and lost 2-1 to Chicago in a shootout. ... Detroit's power play is at only 15.2 percent (21st in the league) in the club's first season without retired defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom.
And instead, I'm going to head to the Columbus Dispatch to find the lines the Avs used against the Blue Jackets. According to the Dispatch, they used the following combinations:
Jamie McGinn-Matt Duchene-P-A Parenteau
Gabriel Landeskog-Paul Stastny-David Jones
John Mitchell-Ryan O'Reilly-Milan Hedjuk
Cody McLeod-Mark Olver-Chuck Kobasew
Jan Hedja-Tyson Barrie
Matt Hunwick-Ryan O'Byrne
Greg Zanon-Shane O'Brien
NHL.com's Deborah Francisco's preview allows us to shift focus from the Avs' to the Wings' perspectives...
Last 10: Colorado 4-2-4, Detroit 3-4-3
Season series: This will be the first of three games played between these Western Conference rivals. Last season, they split a four-game season series with Colorado winning the last two meetings.
Big story: The two points up for grabs in Tuesday night’s tilt at the Joe Louis Arena could make a big impact in the Western Conference standings considering the log jam of teams in the West. Detroit currently sits in the eighth spot with 24 points. Colorado, with just two fewer points, holds the 13th spot.
Avalanche [team scope]: Colorado is hoping to bounce back from Sunday’s frustrating 2-1 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Additionally, the Avalanche have won just one game in their last five.
Red Wings [team scope]: The Red Wings were within minutes of defeating the National Hockey League’s best team when Chicago’s Patrick Kane tied the game with 2:02 left in regulation. Kane then scored the shootout winner that extended the Blackhawks’ point-streak to 22 games. The Red Wings are 2-1 in shootouts so far this season.
Who's hot: Henrik Zetterberg is amongst the top 10 players in the League for points earned this season with 25 (six goals, 19 assists) and he is ranked third overall for assists, although he has been scoreless in his last three outings after notching a three-point performance against the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 24.
Injury report: Colorado is without defensemen Erik Johnson (head) and Ryan Wilson (ankle) as well as forward Steve Downie (knee), who is out for the remainder of the season. … Detroit’s Valtteri Filppula (shoulder) returned to the ice Monday after missing the last two weeks, but he is not expected to play anytime soon. Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) has been out since Jan. 21 and is awaiting clearance to return. The Red Wings are also without Todd Bertuzzi (back), Darren Helm (back) and Mikael Samuelsson (hand).
The AP's preview provides some stats of note...
Ryan O'Reilly's return wasn't enough to help the Colorado Avalanche end their season-high road losing streak, but he's played a pivotal role in recent wins over the Detroit Red Wings. The forward will try to lead the Avalanche to a third consecutive victory over Detroit and help them avoid a sixth straight defeat away from home Tuesday night.
O'Reilly, Colorado's leading scorer in 2011-12, missed nearly half of this shortened season while locked in a contract dispute. That ended when the Avalanche matched Calgary's two-year, $10 million offer Thursday.
Colorado has scored seven goals in its last four road games but has earned one point in each of the past three. O'Reilly, though, could be the key to the Avalanche (8-8-4) snapping their 0-2-3 skid away from home Tuesday.He had three assists in the most recent game against Detroit, a 4-3 win at Joe Louis Arena on Feb. 25, 2012, and scored twice in a 4-2 home victory over the Red Wings on Dec. 4, 2011.
Detroit (10-8-4) has gone 2-0-1 in its last three at home after a three-game losing streak there. The Red Wings have also outscored opponents 15-7 during a 3-1-1 overall stretch.
Along with another solid defensive effort, Babcock is hoping for Johan Franzen to continue his outstanding play against the Avalanche. The winger has 11 goals in his last 11 games versus Colorado, though he's gone six games without a point.
Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog has three goals and two assists in his last three contests against Detroit.
Colorado hasn't dropped six straight on the road since an 0-8-1 skid Oct. 26-Dec. 15, 2011.
And DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose's "At a Glance" preview suggests that the Wings won't take the Avs--or Thursday's opponent, the 8-9-and-4 Oilers--lightly:
“Colorado and Edmonton both have tons of speed,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “The one thing about a team in our situation, every night's a real contest, we understand that totally.”
The Red Wings will face the Avs for the first time this season, hosting the team from Denver at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday night. Colorado enters the week at No. 13 in the Western Conference standings, but still only four-points behind the Red Wings, who currently sit in the final playoff spot with 24 points.
“They’re really not all that far off,” goalie Jimmy Howard said of the Avs. “They’re all grouped together from fourth all the way to last, so it’s tight and going to continue to be that way all the way to the end of the season. You just have to find a way every single night to get points.”
The light-scoring Avs started slow this season. And despite a 5-4-3 record in February, the owners of the third worst goal-differential (-10) in the West are 1-1-3 in their last five games.
The Avs received a boost last week when they matched Calgary’s offer sheet for forward Ryan O’Reilly, who played his first game of the season in Sunday’s overtime loss at Columbus. Despite his return, O’Reilly skated on the third line with John Mitchell and Milan Hejduk. Still, Howard expects the Avs to be a challenge, especially as it relates to getting to the net.
“They’re fast,” said Howard, who is 4-2-1 lifetime against Colorado. “They’re extremely quick up front, but as far as being able to watch them play, I haven’t seen many games this year.”
PLAYER TO WATCH: RW P.A. PARENTEAU – The 29-year-old free agent signing has been a pleasant surprise for the Avalanche this season. He enters the week as the team’s leading goal scorer with nine, and is second in points, one behind center Matt Duchene, who has 19 points. The Avs signed Parentneau last summer to a four-year, $16 million contract to leave the New York Islanders, where he became a solid playmaker with John Tavares. … A proven point-producer, Parenteau has points in five of the last seven games. He scored the lone goal in Sunday’s OT loss, while working on a line with center Matt Duchene and left wing Jamie McGinn. … In three career games against the Red Wings, Parenteau has produced a goal and an assist – both on the power play. His goal against Detroit was also a game-winner – he has just five in his career – when he scored in overtime on Dec. 31, 2010 at Joe Louis Arena.
There's some irony in the fact that Wings fans have been absolutely blasting the f*** out of Mike Babcock for not choosing to use Tomas Tatar and Joakim Andersson on Pavel Datsyuk's line instead of Justin Abdelkader and Danny Cleary, because, on Monday, the beat writers informed us of two things:
1. Valtteri Filppula's shoulder issue is bad enough that he won't return until this weekend's set of back-to-backs against Columbus at the earliest, Carlo Colaiacovo remains in "wait and see" mode, and Darren Helm at least showed up at the Joe and said he might skate later this week;
2. And the Wings don't appear to give a shit about the fact that they're only scoring 1 or 2 goals per game at present. Both the coach and players told the team's beat writers that the team believes it's starting to lay down the kind of defensive foundation that will eventually lead to greater offensive production, and that was the message they delivered to the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...
"That's the new NHL, there are no blowouts," Red Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey said. "It's a very good league and goals are hard to come by. They do come, but it just puts a bigger emphasis on defense. We have great players who get their points, so we (defense) just have to do our job."
If the Red Wings continue to commit defensively, the offense will take care of itself, coach Mike Babcock said.
"We had good looks (during a 2-1 shootout loss to Chicago)," Babcock said. "(Blackhawks goaltender Corey) Crawford was very good. He made some unreal saves. A few weeks ago, we scored more than we are now, but I like the way we're playing right now."
The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness...
“The way I look at our group, we’ve got to continue to get better defensively and if we do that we'll get offense in the end,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said after practice Monday at Joe Louis Arena. “A few weeks ago we scored more goals, but I sure like the way we're playing better right now. To me, you can't outscore your mistakes, and we're trying to limit them. Even yesterday when we never touched the puck, (Chicago) wouldn't let us play with it in the first, we were on the inside,” Babcock continued. “When we go through the scoring chances, they were muddy pucks around the net, but they didn't have many clear chances, so that's what we need to continue to work on.”
“I think we’re going to be all right the rest of the way,” forward Drew Miller said. “(Jimmy Howard) is playing really great and our D is coming along really well. The forward lines aren’t scoring as much as we’d like to, but we’re getting a lot of good chances. Everyone needs to chip in more,” Miller added. “Our line, I know we’ve had some success in the past, but the last little while we haven’t been able to find the back of the net. That’s something we have to pick up too.”
Detroit’s last three goals have come from a defenseman, Kyle Quincey, and two bottom six forwards, Patrick Eaves and Tomas Tatar.
“I think we've actually played some good hockey and I think we've generated quite a few chances,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “Last half of game yesterday we had some point blank opportunities, great opportunities in the slot, just couldn't bear down. We just have to find a way to get those in the net and we win games, but at the same time, keep playing solid defensively.”
The Wings have been getting shots on goal, 33 in two of the games and 34 in the shootout win over San Jose. They had just 23 shots when they put eight by Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo.
“They're not all scoring chances, usually it's just trying to create scoring chances, that's where most shots come from,” forward Johan Franzen said. “We know it's hard to score off the rush, it's been hard for a while now. Just crash the net and throw pucks in there and hope for the best. When you struggle for a while, once everything gets going, everything seems easier.”
MLive's Ansar Khan--and his repetition offers alterations in quotes from Kronwall and Franzen that are worth noting...
The Red Wings ranked fifth in the NHL in goals per game following an 8-3 victory over Vancouver on Feb. 24. A week later, they're 17th (2.68 per game). But, they've improved defensively, having allowed seven goals in five games, which prompted defenseman Niklas Kronwall to say they're on the right track.
“I think we've actually played some good hockey and I think we've generated quite a few chances,'' Kronwall said. “We just have to find a way to get those in the net and we'll win games. At the same time, keep playing solid defensively. We just got to stick with the program. As long as we're generating chances we'll be just fine because sooner or later those are going to get in.''
“Get it in and try to create something,'' Johan Franzen said. “We know it's hard to score off the rush. Just crash the net and throw pucks in there and hope for the best. Some players chip the puck in the corner when they know they can beat a guy one-on-one. You play with what you have and try to make the most of it.''
Franzen is one of the players the Red Wings need to step up offensively. He has no points in his past six games, dating back to Feb. 5, and has only three goals and nine points in 15 games. He has played three games since returning from a hip injury that sidelined him for seven games.
I think that hip issue affected his play, frankly, but I'm one of three or four Wings fans who doesn't bag on Franzen...Or at least it seems that way these days.
“I had some (scoring chances) the other night; you always hope for more, but it comes in bunches,'' Franzen said. “Once they start going your way it usually goes your way for a while. So keep working at it.''
The Red Wings (10-8-4) host the Colorado Avalanche (8-8-4) Tuesday. They have no healthy spare forwards, so the lineup up front will remain the same. Babcock has resisted juggling his lines, opting to keep struggling Justin Abdelkader (one assist in 22 games) with Pavel Datsyuk rather than place rookie Tomas Tatar (four goals, seven points) on the unit. Tatar's defensive shortcomings make Babcock hesitant to play him against top lines.
(Ducks and hides from yelling and screaming of fellow Wings fans, hopes that y'all don't have pitchforks and torches with you this time)
"We're not as good a team as we want to be, but we think we're making significant strides,'' Babcock said. “There's been times when you had lineup changes because of injuries (and) it took you a couple of days to adjust, but for the most part I think things have gone pretty well. I've read a number of times where we've been inconsistent. I think we've won on an inconsistent basis. I think we've been really consistent. I think we've worked hard and tried to get better.''
He's read, eh? Hmm...
Anyway, the Free Press's Helene St. James did an excellent job of both setting up tonight's game from a "diminished offense is okay by the Wings" perspective while also pointing out that the Wings' three-game home stand (this is game #2 of 3) and their Sunday tilt against Columbus really does consist of "must-win games":
They host Colorado tonight, Edmonton on Thursday, pop down to Columbus on Saturday and then come home for a Sunday evening game against the Blue Jackets. Starting next week, the Wings are on the road 14 of the last 22 games -- mostly in California and western Canada.
"We understand how important this week is, especially these four games, because after this, we're out west, home, out west, home, out west," Daniel Cleary said Monday. "The schedule, it's only beginning."
Nearly at the midway point of the season, the Wings have banked 24 points -- and of late, a fair bit of confidence. "I think everyone in here," Johan Franzen said, "feels we can beat every team in this league. We've played some good hockey, we just need to close out the games a little bit better."
The Wings haven't scored a lot the last three games -- three regulation goals -- but they haven't surrendered much, either, allowing just four goals in regulation.
"I think everyone in here feels pretty good about the way we're playing the games most of the nights," Niklas Kronwall said. "Obviously there are times during the games when the momentum changes, but I think we've been doing a better job of staying patient and keeping them on the outside when that happens. We're on the right track. We just have to make sure we bear down on our chances for and play even better defensively."
The improved cohesiveness is one of the biggest pluses to come out of the past week for coach Mike Babcock.
"When I look at our group," Babcock said, "we've got to continue to get better defensively. If we do that, we'll get offense in the end. A few weeks ago we scored more goals than we are right now, but I sure like the way we're playing better right now. To me, you can't outscore your mistakes, and we're trying to limit them."
Or, heading back to the Detroit News's Kulfan:
The Red Wings, one of five teams with 24 points, will try to keep pace in the West, where third place (Canucks) and 14th place (Oilers) are separated by six points.
"Every night, we need to get some points," goaltender Jimmy Howard said. "If we continue to keep playing and working like we're working, the results will happen. I think we've played really well. (The home stand is) extremely important. We've got to take advantage of it and continue to get points."
MLive's Ansar Khan posted the following lineup from Monday's practice, and while Babcock suggested that he wasn't absolutely sure whether he'd make any tweaks on defense, I think it's pretty safe to bet that Ian White will continue to stew in his juices for one more game (and no, I don't think that the Wings will waive anybody but Kent Huskins, nor will they will move White unless they snag a defenseman in return. Depth is depth and White is actually talented at what he does when he doesn't press too hard toward offense):
Johan Franzen-Henrik Zetterberg-Damien Brunner
Justin Abdelkader-Pavel Datsyuk-Daniel Cleary
Tomas Tatar-Joakim Andersson-Patrick Eaves
Drew Miller-Cory Emmerton-Jordin Tootoo
Niklas Kronwall-Jonathan Ericsson
Kyle Quincey-Brendan Smith
Brian Lashoff-Jakub Kindl
Also: Ian White, Kent Huskins, Carlo Colaiacovo
Jimmy Howard (starting)
Red Wings notebooks...Of a sort: After the Hawks came to town on Sunday, the Wings' beat reporters seemed to empty out their notebooks, so, aside from offering us injury news and above-quoted articles, there ain't much out there. The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan offered some tidbits in his game preview article...
Quincey spent three seasons with the Avalanche before being traded to the Red Wings last season.
Tuesday night's game will be strange, but Quincey believes playing in Denver will be more peculiar.
Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner posted a video blog discussing the Wings'...unpredictability (for the record...Do any of you want me to try to use my fancy new webcam to do these things? Or is there anyone who wants to blather about hockey with me for half an hour and start up a TMR podcast?)...
In the prospect department, DRW Prospects on Twitter surmised that Grand Rapids Griffins defenseman Adam Almquist is missing time because he suffered a concussion--and man, is it ever hard to track down injury news in the AHL....
In the charitable news department, the Grand Rapids Griffins promoted their "Purple Game" on Friday against Hamilton via a YouTube video...
Hockey is back in the D and WWJ Newsradio 950 has your chance to win tickets to see the Wings at the Joe all season long! Every Monday, we have a Hat Trick of giveaways to upcoming Detroit Red Wings games.
Monday, March 11th – Listen for your chance to win tickets to see the Detroit Red Wings take on the Minnesota Wild at the Joe Louis Arena on March 20th. Tickets are still available at Detroitredwings.com or by calling: 313-396-7575.
Contest date: March 11, 2013, 8:00a.m.-7:00 p.m.
Prize details: Three (3) winners will receive two (2) tickets to see the Detroit Wings at the Joe Louis Arena on 3/20/13
Winner must be at least 18 years old
Click here for official contest rules
I sure wish that I could give you more than the Dallas News's Mike Heika's preview of his subscriber-only article discussing former Grand Rapids Griffins coach Curt Fraser's positive influence on the Dallas Stars' power play, but all I can tell you is that the Stars are tied for the 14th-best power play in the league with a 17.7% efficiency rate with the man advantage, and that's apparently good (shrugs shoulders)...
And, for the record, the Detroit Free Press's Zlati Meyer reports that Wings owners Mike and Marian Ilitch are ranked as the 527th-richest people in the world based upon Forbes' annual list of the world's richest people, with a combined value of $2.7 billion.
If you missed 'em, here're this week's first slate of power rankings, from my evening post...
ESPN's Scott Burnside's take on the Wings reflects their record...
20. Detroit [record] 10-8-4 Last Week: 11 The Wings still occupy a spot in the top eight in the Western Conference but suffered a tough loss Sunday to Chicago and they have only three wins in their past 10.
TSN's Scott Cullen offers an intriguing set of stats...
This Week 14 Last Week1 3 Detroit Red Wings10-8-4
Who is going to join the Red Wings' big scorers to provide complementary offence. Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Damien Brunner and Niklas Kronwall have combined for 81 points on 61 goals, leaving little production from the supporting cast.
Key Injuries: RW Mikael Samuelsson (groin), RW Todd Bertuzzi (back), C Valtteri Filppula (shoulder).
Fox Sports' A.J. Perez offers a tongue-in-cheek take on the Wings' inability to score of late...
16 .Red Wings [down] 6 [highest/lowest] 9/18: Detroit is scoring. It’s mostly against Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo on Sunday (eight goals). The Wings also scored four off Preds goalie Pekka Rinne on Saturday.
But Sportsline's Brian Stubits agrees with the Wings' players and coach in suggesting that the team is making progress...
11 [Red Wings, last week 10] It's tough for a team to look much better than the Wings did in a loss to the Blackhawks on Sunday. They had plenty of scoring chances and were selling out to block shots. Play with that effort every night and they'll be very successful.
Though the New York Post's David Satriano points out that the Wings' "margin for error" is particularly slim:
13) Red Wings (10-8-4) (10): Lost to the Kings and Blackhawks last week, each by one goal, and beat the Sharks in a shootout. Life’s never easy in the Western Conference.
(That's why the Wings can't sit on those one and two-goal leads and simply stop pressing offensively...)
And the Wings may sit in eighth place in the Western Conference going into tonight's games, but NHL.com's Dave Lozo kept 'em in his "Super 16":
11 [last week] 12 Detroit Red Wings: It's hard to punish the Red Wings when they came as close as anyone to beating the Blackhawks in regulation Sunday. Still, it was an impressive showing that came without the services of several injured key contributors, including Valtteri Filppula, Todd Bertuzzi and Darren Helm.
And I tried incredibly hard to stay out of your discussion--and it was apparently a spirited one--as to whether the Wings should re-sign Valtteri Filppula and/or Danny Cleary given that the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson reports that Filppula wants a contract that will pay him $4.5 million a season.
Given that the cap's going down from $70.2 million to $64.3 million, given that this drop means that there will be players bought out by teams trying to get under that cap available via free agency--with all 30 teams having $5.9 million left to spend on players, or a league-wide total of $177 million--given that Capgeek.com's Wings roster chart reminds us that Damien Brunner, Drew Miller, Jimmy Howard, Ian White and Kent Huskins will all be unrestricted free agents as well, and given that Brendan Smith, Jakub Kindl, Joakim Andersson, Gustav Nyquist and Tom McCollum will all be coming off their entry-level deals...
Given that Smith, Andersson, Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, and hopefully Miller, Brunner and Howard will be on the team, and given that the Wings will have about $17.75 million with which to try to keep the players they want to keep and improve the team...
And given that that figure does not include the fact that the Wings can and very well may use their two compliance buy-outs over the next summer on, for example, the contracts of Mikael Samuelsson (who hasn't had a chance to prove himself) or Carlo Colaiacovo (ditto) without a cap penalty, but WILL NOT buy out Johan Franzen or his $3.95 million cap hit or next year's $5 million salary (it's not going to happen, folks, he's never going to be Marian Hossa, but his size [remember, the Wings don't have any power forwards anywhere near "ready for NHL duty" status] and 25-to-35-goal-scoring ability and the gigantic amount of money the Wings would have to pay to buy him out)--he's a Wing for life, whether you or I like it or not...
It's easy to suggest that the Wings can let Filppula and Cleary and walk for nothing, and that they'll be fine.
It's very easy to suggest that these days, when Wings fans are convinced that Gustav Nyquist is somehow going to instantaneously come up and register 60-to-80 points next season, that Tomas Tatar will instantaneously start posting Hudler-like 20-goal, 50-point seasons, and that, surely, Joakim Andersson and Riley Sheahan aren't that far off.
But that's not necessarily accurate, and the Wings simply cannot do nothing and bet on potential. Even Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk took several years to round into point-per-game players, and there is no reason to assume that they and perhaps Calle Jarnkrok and, eventually, Teemu Pulkkinen, will have growing pains.
That's how it works, and the honest truth is that not every prospect pans out, either. Remember that four years ago, so many of us were certain that "Hat Trick Dick" was the next big thing, and so many of us were convinced that Johan Ryno was going to be the team's third line center, because Babcock adored the kid.
Andersson Axelsson just re-signed with the Swedish Eliteserien's Frolunda Indians, probably against the wishes of Red Wings director of European scouting Hakan Andersson, who is both a member of Frolunda's board of directors and has, over the past three seasons, gone from someone who accepted Andersson's decision to bolt from Grand Rapids to "go home" to someone who openly suggests that the player his Swedish team employs is a bum, on the ice and in the gym...
And Ryno is playing for Leksand of the Swedish Allsvenskan--the Swedish version of the AHL, which is more like an ECHL in terms of quality of play--where he's found a home.
Just as Daniel Larsson, one of Jimmy Howard's would-be rivals, is playing with AIK Stockholm, just as Igor Grigorenko plays for CSKA Moscow, just as Dmitry Bykov plays for Torpedo Nizhny Novogrod in the KHL, and just as Joey MacDonald, the goalie Wings fans were pleading the team would "stick with" instead of so bafflingly patiently waiting for Jimmy Howard to come around, has bounced around the NHL and AHL before landing a job with the Flames via waivers, where he's gone 3-3-and-1 while the team waits for Miikka Kiprusoff to get healthy.
Not everybody pans out, and not everybody has a smooth path toward the NHL. Hell, I'm convinced that there are two reasons that Gustav Nyquist is in the AHL:
1. The Wings took the team's top two defensemen in Brendan Smith and Brian Lashoff, as well as two of their top forwards in Tomas Tatar and Joakim Andersson;
2. And, unlike Brendan Smith used to be cocky as cocky could be, Nyquist is a humble fellow...But like Smith, he's never experienced a situation where he's been anything than the player first picked and first promoted. I'm guessing that while he's playing 20+ minutes a night and scoring at nearly a point-per-game pace, he's pretty pissed off right now, and I'm guessing that that's exactly where the Wings' management wants him to be, and that's exactly how the Wings' management wants him to feel.
Filppula is at least a 40-point scorer over the course of an 82-game season, and the same is true for Cleary, when he's healthy. The Wings can't simply walk away from them and hope for the best. I don't know whether that means perhaps parlaying Filppula into the top-four defenseman the Wings need so badly, but it means that it shouldn't be expected that this team will continue to let the Stuarts and Hudlers walk, tell the Holmstroms and Drapers and Osgoods that they're no longer needed, and promote every young player all the damn time simply because they have potential.
That, and Filppula (when he's healthy) and Cleary have every opportunity to prove to the team that they're worth keeping around.
So, in the words of Mike Babcock, you and I are going to have to deal with being able to weigh in with our opinions in our discussions with each other, but then having to wait and see and watch what happens on the ice. We don't have the opportunity to trade 'em or tell 'em they're no longer needed. We get to watch, to voice our opinions, and, mostly, to root for them as opposed to against them...
Because the team's present and future success are what matter, much, much more than the organization happening to dress our preferred lineup on a given night.
I'm not saying that I don't believe that Nyquist, Tatar or Andersson--or Jarnkrok or Pulkkinen, for that matter--are NHL'ers in the making.
All I'm saying is that the Wings need to be prepared for bumps along the way, and there are times that pissing players off by keeping them in the AHL and over-building the hell out of your team is a safer option--and it's also the way that the Wings' braintrust and coaching staff, which includes many more people than just Ken Holland and Mike Babcock (see: Tom Renney, Bill Peter, Jim Nill, Ryan Martin, Kris Draper, Mark Howe, Kirk Maltby, Chris Osgood, Chris Chelios, Jiri Fischer, Jim Bedard, Keith McKittrick, Glenn Merkosky, Joe McDonnell, Hakan Andersson, all the pro and amateur scouts and even Nicklas Lidstrom, Jimmy Devellano and Chris and Mike Ilitch), tends to operate.
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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.