The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/03/13 at 11:44 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings will face off against the Chicago Blackhawks in less than an hour (12:30 PM EST, NBC, NHL Network Canada/97.1 FM), and the Hawks waited until this morning to announce their starting goaltender, as noted by the Chicago Tribune's Chris Kuc:
Corey Crawford returns in goal for the Chicago Blackhawks as they face the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday afternoon in Detroit. Crawford left the Hawks' game against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night after one period and then did not play Friday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets due to an upper-body injury as Ray Emery got the call.
Dave Bolland will miss this fifth consecutive game with an upper-body injury, which a source said are symptoms related to a concussion. Coach Joel Quenneville said Sunday morning Bolland will likely return to the lineup when the Hawks face the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night at the United Center.
Jimmy Howard will start in goal for the Wings, who enter the game with a 10-8-3 record. The Hawks (18-0-3) are looking to extend their streak of games to start the season without a regulation loss to 22 and dating back to last season 28 contests, which would tie for second-longest in NHL history.
On the Red Wings' side of things, Ken Kal offers three "keys to the game" via the Wings' Game Day Blog...
Storm Out of the Gate - Get the crowd behind the team as early as possible. Show up early and put the pedal to the metal!
Limit Turnovers - Chicago, like most NHL teams, will make you pay dearly if you turn the puck over.
Continue to Get Pucks on Net - When you get a scoring chance, bear down and make it count.
And the Wings offer a historical tidbit...
On March 3, 1968
The Red Wings acquire Frank Mahovlich, a 15-time All Star and Hall of Famer, in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
As well as a broadcasting note:
According to the Wings website's game notes, Mike Hasenfratz and Wes McCauley will ref today's game, with Derek Amell and Cody McElman working the lines, and the stat sheets--the game summary, event summary, roster report, etc. are up on the Wings website's main page...
NHL.com's Brian Hedger penned a game-day story about Darren Helm's back issues...
It wasn't the answer that Detroit Red Wings center Darren Helm was hoping to hear, but at least the medical specialist he saw recently in New York for his injured back had an answer. Helm, a speedy third-line center, has only played one game for Detroit this season and has missed 17 straight with a frustrating back injury that, until recently, was caused by an unknown reason. After consulting with the specialist last Monday, Helm was given somewhat of a diagnosis.
"He seemed to think he found a small tear in one of the discs," Helm said. "It's kind of a six-to-eight week injury, he said, from the time it happened. I don't know if I'm close to where he thinks I should be healing or not, but I do feel better. That's the silver lining, I guess."
Playing in Helm's usual third-line center role is rookie Joakim Andersson, who will be there again Sunday when the Red Wings host the red-hot Chicago Blackhawks (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC, NHLN-CA). Andersson has played well in Helm's absence, chipping in three goals and two assists in 11 games, but not having Helm's elite speed has taken its toll on Detroit's overall game – especially penalty killing.
It's been a frustrating process for Helm, who also was sidelined late last season by a knee injury followed by a skate blade cutting tendons in his wrist during Detroit's first-round series against the Nashville Predators in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The back injury flared up Jan. 10 while Helm was weightlifting to stay in shape for this season.
"I'm glad they found something, not glad what they found," Helm said. "It's nice to know what it is. I can tell people what it is instead of saying, 'I have no idea,' and they just think I'm milking everything. It is something now. I hope that's all it is, so I can get over this and feel better."
MLive's Ansar Khan and Brendan Savage ponder whether the Wings-Hawks rivalry wil take a hit if the Wings move "east" their game-day set-up...
ANSAR KHAN: Detroit and Chicago have or have had good rivalries in every sport, and Red Wings-Blackhawks ranks right up there. But, nobody said realignment would be perfect and satisfy everybody.
The rivalry with the Blackhawks will suffer. It's just not the same when you play a team only twice a season. But, that's the sacrifice the Red Wings will have to make in order to be in a better situation in the East.
Re-establishing rivalries with Toronto, Montreal and Boston will make up for the lost rivalry with Chicago.
BRENDAN SAVAGE: If next season sees the Blachawks have anything close to the success they're enjoying this year, the Red Wings certainly won't miss playing them more than twice per season. That is for certain.
But the Red Wings will have to sacrifice something to get their much-desired move to the Eastern Conference and the rivalry with the Blackhawks will be worth it.
By moving east, the Red Wings will play more games against teams like Boston, Montreal and Toronto, who will be division rivals under the new format. That's a great tradeoff. And the possibility for more games against the Blackhawks would still exist if both teams can meet in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Just think how much fun that could be.
As a bonus, CBS Detroit posted a wallpaper-sized picture of Pavel Datsyuk lining up for a faceoff...
And, via RedWingsFeed, Griffinshockey.com's Kyle Kujawa penned an article updating the status of Jan Mursak, who's trying to kick-start his career while playing for the Grand Rapids Griffins after the Wings waived him:
“It’s time to turn the page,” said Mursak. “Right now, I’m here in Grand Rapids. I always liked it here; it’s a nice city, nice arena and nice group of guys. It’s not the NHL, but I’m positive. I’ll do my best while I’m here.”
While some players would be discouraged with the demotion, it’s the chance to be seen more on the ice that has Mursak excited. He knows he would have likely remained in an energy role with the Red Wings but, with his contract up this summer, hopes he can remind scouts of the offensive abilities that earned him an NHL job in the first place.
“I just need a lot of ice time right now since I missed so much of the last two seasons,” said Mursak, who scored a career-high 24 goals in 2008-09 with Grand Rapids. “I hope I’ll get that here. I don’t think I’m a fourth-line grinder. When you play those minutes, you can’t afford to make any mistakes. They don’t want fourth-line guys to turn the puck over. But here I know I can take guys one-on-one.”
Mursak is hoping to pick up where he left off in Austria. He racked up 48 points (19-29-48) in 30 games with his club -– one that eventually missed the playoffs. He led the league in scoring at the time of his departure and still finished 19th in the circuit at season’s end, despite playing in 20 fewer games than almost all of the players in the top 20.
All things considered, returning to Grand Rapids is a good situation for Mursak. He recognizes many familiar faces, and also has the benefit of having worked with first-year head coach and former Red Wings assistant coach Jeff Blashill while both were with Detroit last season.
“It’s different for him too, though, because he was the assistant in Detroit where [Mike] Babcock does the main work,” said Mursak. “But I know he plays the game a little different. He gives the guys a little more room, I like that.”
Although he knows a return to Detroit is unlikely, his spirits are high for his second chance elsewhere. He doesn’t know entirely what the future holds, but he does know of at least one promising opportunity that’s just around the corner. Slovenia shocked many in the hockey world when it qualified for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, for the first time ever. Being one of just two Slovenians to play in the NHL, it’s safe to say a healthy Mursak stands a good chance at playing a prominent role on the world’s largest stage.
“Everybody’s really excited,” said the Maribor, Slovenia, native. “It was surprising to beat Belarus and Denmark in qualifications. On the other side, I’m not that surprised. We’ve been playing pretty well for the last few years. I really hope I don’t have any injuries that stop me from that. Once I’m there, I know I’ll feel that Olympic game spirit that everyone who’s been there talks about.”
Update: One more thing, from the Wings' PR department:
DARREN HELM AND JUSTIN ABDELKADER SET TO APPEAR AT METRO DETROIT MEIJER LOCATIONS THIS WEEK
... Helm to Visit Madison Heights Store Tomorrow; Abdelkader in Southfield on Wednesday …
Detroit, MI... Detroit Red Wings forwards Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader are set to make separate appearances at two Metro Detroit Meijer locations this week, signing autographs and interacting with the fans of Hockeytown. Helm makes his first Meijer appearance of the season tomorrow night (Mar. 4) at the supercenter in Madison Heights (1005 E. 13 Mile Rd.), while Abdelkader, a Muskegon, Mich., native and former Michigan State Spartan, will visit the Meijer store in Southfield (28800 Telegraph Rd.) on Wednesday, Mar. 6. Two additional stops featuring Helm and Abdelkader are scheduled for the month of April in Rochester and Warren. The remaining appearance schedule can be found below:
Date Time Meijer Location Red Wings Player*
Monday, Mar. 4 5:00-7:00 p.m. 1005 E. 13 Mile Rd., Madison Hts. Darren Helm
Wednesday, Mar. 6 5:00-7:00 p.m. 28800 Telegraph Rd., Southfield Justin Abdelkader
Monday, Apr. 8 5:00-7:00 p.m. 3175 S. Rochester Rd., Rochester Darren Helm
Tuesday, Apr. 9 5:00-7:00 p.m. 29505 Mound Rd., Warren Justin Abdelkader
*Note: Designated player will appear at each event from 6:00-7:00p.m.
Update #2: Go figure:
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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.