The Malik Report
by George Malik on 09/17/13 at 02:07 PM ET
Updated 3x at 3:41 PM: Okay, as Paul mentioned earlier, Johan Franzen will not play in tonight's game against Chicago (8 PM, no TV, just WGN Radio's audio stream), and Brendan Smith has a wee groin issue, but based upon the interviews those of us in attendance at camp conducted, it sounds like the Wings are just being extra-cautious as usual as preseason games = not the time to aggravate injuries.
The Wings' non-game-day players practiced and headed back down to Metro Detroit after their practice, and when the game-day players fly back to the Motor City, they'll get a full day off on Wednesday, and will have a very early practice on Thursday ahead of Thursday night's Fox Sports Detroit-airing game against Boston.
Tonight's Wings roster looks like this:
Miller-Emmerton-Eaves (Eaves will get some time on the PP as a net-front guy)
Nedomlel-Nicastro (for warm-ups)
Jonas Gustavsson (first 2 periods)
Jared Coreau (3rd period)
And, via RedWingsFeed, the Chicago Tribune's Chris Kuc posted tonight's Hawks roster
Forwards: Sharp, Morin, LeBlanc, Kruger, Saad, J. Hayes, Teuvo Teravainen, Smith, Bickell, Nordstrom, Bollig, T. Broadhurst, A. Broadhurst, Shaw, Kane.
Defensemen: Keith, Hjalmarsson, Kostka, Seabrook, Leddy, S. Brookbank, Oduya, Stanton.
Goaltenders: Crawford, Raanta.
I will get to the Hawks' coverage in a bit, but let's get the Wings' stuff out of the way first.
As MLive's Ansar Khan notes, Franzen's out, but hopes to play against Boston...
"We’re just being cautious,'' Franzen said. "It felt bad after yesterday’s skate. I hoped it was going to get better, but it kind of got worse. We decided it’s better to rest because we get a day off tomorrow, so maybe we can get it to settle down.''
He said he had no tests done.
"I didn’t tear anything or sprain anything, it’s just getting a little tight, so we’re going to try and get it to settle down before something really gets bad,'' Franzen said.
Franzen missed two games last season due to a sore hip flexor.
"All hockey players have problems with their hips a few times every year, usually gets something with your hip flexor,'' Franzen said.
Todd Bertuzzi will replace Franzen on the line with Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson for tonight's game.
And the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness confirms...
“We’re just being cautious,” Franzen said in the Wings’ locker room. “It felt bad after (Monday’s) skate. I hoped it was going to get better, but it kind of got worse.”
The Wings have a planned day off Wednesday, which they’re hoping will be all the time Franzen needs in order for the pain to subside and allow him to get back on the ice.
“All hockey players have problems with their hips a few times every year, usually gets something with your hip flexor,” Franzen said. “I didn’t tear anything or sprain anything it’s just getting a little tight so we’re going to try and get it to settle down before something really gets bad.”
A hip flexor sidelined Franzen two games last year as well.
“I wish I could play a game,” Franzen said. “You need to get these games in. We have more games coming up hopefully I can play the next one.”
As does the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:
"I felt bad yesterday after the skate," Franzen said. "I was hoping it would get better but it didn't. We just don't want it to get worse. Just being cautious."
Franzen missed two games last season with a similar injury, but he isn't concerned at this point.
"I didn't tear anything or strain anything, it's just real tight," Franzen said. "Hockey players have this a few times every year. It's something you get every year.
"We just need to settle it down before something gets really bad.
"It would have been good to play in a game but we have more games coming up. Hopefully I can play in the next one."
With Franzen out, winger Todd Bertuzzi is expected to skate on a line with Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson.
The Smith news really is a "no big whoop" situation. He was in good spirits and watched the second practice.
In the "feature article" category, Pleiness penned a story about Justin Abdelkader meshing with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg...
“Everyone thinks it’s easy to play with me and Pav, but it’s kind of tough,” Zetterberg said. “You don’t see the puck that often. (Tomas Holmstrom’s) been trying to tell everyone that for five or six years but no one believed him. It takes a while to understand the way we play. It’s good we have camp and exhibition games, hopefully we can only get better.”
Abdelkader stood out during training camp, leading all players with three goals.
“For me, I just try to keep it simple, and obviously it’s always the best when Pav or Z have the puck on their stick,” Abdelkader said. “I know that. They’re so good whether it’s in the open ice or in the corners defensively, I just try to do my part and pull the rope.
“I know the areas I need to go in and I know where my game needs to be, which is in the corners and down low in front of the net, strong defensively,” Abdelkader continued. “So I try to build off of that. I know what I need to get better on each year and each game. I just try to better myself as I progress through my hockey career.”
“Everyone’s got to command their share of ice-time and obviously Abdelkader is off to a good start,” Babcock said. “A lot of people can see he’s playing with good players, but he’s playing with a lot of heart every day. That’s what he does, so when you play hard, you work hard, good things happen for you.
“I think confidence is the hardest thing to get and you have to earn it and no one can give it to you,” Babcock added. “He’s an every-dayer. He’s works hard and he’s gotten better. He took advantage of an opportunity last year and it gets better and better and now he’s making more plays for those guys and he understands that when they give him the puck to give it back to them.”
“He’s a good skater, he’s one guy who can do the work for us in the zone, go and get pucks, go in front of the net,” Zetterberg said of Abdelkader. “He looks even faster this year than he was last year.”
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose penned an article about Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul, who will make their preseason debuts tonight...
Sproul and Ouellet have contrasting styles on the ice. Sproul is more offensive-minded, while Ouellet is more defensive in his approach to the game. The two 20-year-olds, who’ve been paired together in each of the last three Wings’ prospect tournaments, will again be together tonight in their first NHL preseason game.
“I think we're two different players, that's why we're pretty good together,” Ouellet said. “He likes to go up with the puck and skate around. He has a pretty hard shot. I'm a little more defensive. Together we're doing a good job. We kind of know each other on the ice, so that helps. He's a good player, so it's not hard to play with him. We have good chemistry together.”
The two are a perfect righty/lefty defensive pairing with Sproul, who shoots right, and Ouellet, a left-hander.
“I'm sure that's definitely a factor that helps us out,” Sproul said. “Just the luck of the draw that we're lefty-righty and that's how they drafted us. That's all part of us having good chemistry.”
Ouellet, who was born in France, and Sproul will play for the Griffins this season. Sproul got a taste of what life is like in the AHL late last season when he played in a couple of games with the Griffins.
“I think it will be a big adjustment, but I'm OK with it,” Sproul said. “Having the two months that I was there last year at the end of the year and in the playoffs, that helps a lot, too. I look forward to it and I think I'll be ready.”
And the Wings' coach and GM are VERY high on the pair's "upside":
“Ouellet and Sproul look like they’re going to be ready for prime time pretty soon,” Babcock said.
Selected seven picks a part in the second round of the NHL draft two years ago, Ouellet and Sproul are among the young guys that gives the Red Wings hope of building a solid defense for years to come.
“We were commenting, Mike Babcock and I, how pleased we are with those two guys,” general manager Ken Holland said. “Sproul is the CHL defenseman of the year, OHL defenseman of the year, Ouellet played on Canada's World Junior team. They've been good prospects almost from the time we drafted them. They continue to improve and do the things you always hope is going to happen. … We hope they're going to be a big part of our future.”
In the Twitter department...
Via RedWingsFeed again, here's the Oakland Press's Pat Caputo, penning an article for 97.1 the Ticket, offering 3 reasons why Adam Almquist's 2-goal performance last night against Pittsburgh bodes well for the franchise...
1. He was a seventh-round draft pick, the 210th overall selection in the 2009 NHL Draft. It was the next-to-last pick in the draft. Red Wings’ captain Henrik Zetterberg was also a 210th overall NHL Draft choice. Jonathan Ericsson, who has emerged as a very solid defenseman for Detroit, was the very last pick in an NHL Draft.
2. Almquist scored two power play goals in the Red Wings’ 4-1 preseason-opening victory at Pittsburgh Monday. He was plus 13 and played excellent hockey in the playoffs as the Red Wings’ farm team, the Grand Rapids Griffins, won the Calder Cup last spring.
3. Almquist is 22 and developing quickly. He is yet another player unknown to most everybody who doesn’t follow hockey extremely closely, with a seemingly bright future. He is, perhaps, yet another diamond in the rough discovered and procured by the Red Wings.
The Hockey News's Ryan Kennedy deemed Wings prospect Mattias Janmark to be a player to watch as top prospects' regular seasons get underway in hockey leagues around the world:
Mattias Janmark-Nylen, C – AIK (Swe.)
You gotta be kidding me! The Red Wings snap up a player few had heard of in the middle rounds of the draft and he looks like a world-beater already. How does this keep happening? OK, it’s only one game, but the offensively intelligent Janmark-Nylen put up four points in his first match this year to stake an early lead in the newly christened Swedish League’s scoring race. Drafted 79th overall by Detroit in 2013.
And again, I posted over ten interviews in an audio post. Here's the coach...
And here's the "magic man."
Back with Hawks stuff in a few minutes.
Update: ESPN Chicago's Scott Powers penned a story about the "Rivalry Renewed," and between now and Sunday, at least, that's true:
“I haven’t seen their lineup, but I’m sure they have some players who were here last year that aren’t too happy with the way things went down, so they’ll probably be trying to get a little revenge,” [Patrick] Kane said. “I’m sure memories will fly if they have the same lineup as last year. …. I’m sure they’ll be thinking about the last time they were here and what happened in that Game 7.”
Last season’s playoffs and the fact it’s the Red Wings may add some flare to the Blackhawks’ preseason opener, but Chicago coach Joel Quenneville was more concerned about his players getting off to a good start and continuing to evaluate players.
“Guys like playing,” Quenneville said. “Whether it’s the first exhibition game, first regular-season game, I think there’s always that excitement in the air. I think the guys get a little nervous going into these type of games. I look forward to it. Detroit, I’m sure they’re excited about playing in it as well. It’ll be a good measuring stick for some guys as well. It’ll be a good part of our evaluation process watching a number of guys tonight.”
Sounds downright Babcockian...
After four days of scrimmages, Kane was looking forward to playing against someone who wasn’t wearing a Blackhawks jersey, too.
“Just play the right way to start,” Kane said. “The big thing is you want to get used back to that game pace, especially you play some scrimmages and get used to it a little bit. Now you play some preseason games, so it’ll be ramped up a little bit more. You know you’re playing different players than on your own team. It’ll be fun. I think it’s always a fun game when you’re playing against Detroit, no matter the time of year. It’ll be nice to get back out in front of the ice in front of the United Center, get the season under way.”
Powers reports that Toews is out tonight, but Corey, "What happened to my thigh rises?" Crawford is in...
Starting in net: Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford will get the start against the Red Wings on Tuesday. Quenneville expected him to play the entire game.
Hossa to play Thursday: Quenneville said Marian Hossa was healthy despite sitting out Monday’s scrimmage and Tuesday’s preseason game. Quenneville said Hossa will be back in the lineup for Thursday’s preseason game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Chicago Sun-Times' Mark Lazerus penned a game-day entry...
For guys like Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith, tonight’s preseason opener against the Detroit Red Wings is a chance to shake off the rust and recapture the chemistry that led to a Stanley Cup last spring. For guys like Ben Smith, Jeremy Morin, Drew LeBlanc and Jimmy Hayes — among many others — it’s a chance to show they belong in the NHL. And the window to do so is short.
“I just need to show what I can do,” Morin said. “Give it everything I’ve got.”
There are 10 skaters playing tonight who weren’t on the Hawks’ primary roster last season. They’ll be trying to catch Joel Quenneville’s eye and avoid another season in the minors.
“There are a lot of those guys [whom] it seems like are on that cusp of being a top American League player, and trying to get to the NHL level has always been a challenge,” Quenneville said. “For some guys, it’s back and forth for a career. Getting that consistency or getting that opportunity … at that NHL level — it’s a privilege to get there, but it’s not an easy road to get to. Some guys, they’ve got to … try to keep persevering until they do get that call, and do get that opportunity again. We’ve got some guys that are definitely at that position now where they got that chance and hopefully they can nail it.”
Goaltender Corey Crawford will start tonight and play the whole game, Quenneville said. Crawford will get three starts this preseason, while Nikolai Khabibulin will get two and Antti Raanta likely will get one.
“We just need to get our chemistry back,” Bryan Bickell said. “You’ve got to get used to everyone’s tendencies, and just get back int he flow of things. The season’s coming up quick, before you know it it’s going to be the home opener. So we just need to get back to that game mode.”
The Chicago Tribune's Chris Kuc's game-day article includes an embedded Kane video...
It's not quite the real thing, but the Chicago Blackhawks' exhibition game against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night at the United Center is getting there.
After opening training camp Sept. 11 and scrimmaging the last four days, the Hawks will don the Indian head for the first time since capturing the Stanley Cup in June when they face their Original Six rivals.
"The big thing is you want to get back to that game pace," winger Patrick Kane said after the morning skate. "You play some scrimmages and you get used to it a little bit but now with some preseason games it will be ramped up a little bit more. And you're playing different players than (those) that are on your own team."
That the game is against the Red Wings, who will play in the Eastern Conference this season due to realignment, also makes it a special night.
"It's always a fun game when you're playing against Detroit, no matter the time of year," Kane said. "It will be nice to get back on the ice in front of the United Center and get the season under way."
And ChicagoBlackhawks.com's Brad Boron penned a game preview...as the Hawks noted on Twitter:
Last Season: The Blackhawks went 4-0-0 against the Red Wings last season—Detroit's last campaign in the Western Conference—but three of the four decisions needed overtime or the shootout to decide the outcome. The two teams met in the postseason, culminating in an epic seven-game conference semifinal marathon, in which the Blackhawks rebounded from a 3-1 series deficit to win. Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp led the Hawks with five points apiece (2G, 3A) in the series.
Three Stars (players to watch):
Jimmy Hayes: After spending the better part of the last two seasons in Rockford, the power winger is looking to fill one of the few openings the Blackhawks have at forward, and his production during the training camp scrimmages has definitely helped his cause so far. Hayes has mentioned that he wants to use his size more effectively in games, and tonight's exhibition contest will give him his first shot to show off that ability.
Bryan Bickell: Coming off a postseason where he was the Blackhawks' breakout player, Bickell was handsomely rewarded with a new four-year contract, and has higher expectations coming into the 2013-14 campaign. Head Coach Joel Quenneville intimated that the line of Bickell, Teuvo Teravainen and Patrick Kane will remain intact to start tonight's game, meaning Bicks will be charged with driving home rebounds from chances created by the two dynamic playmakers.
Jeremy Morin: Another seasoned Rockford veteran hoping to move up a class, Morin's nose for the net and sniping skills have been put on display during training camp. Not only is Morin gifted offensively, but he's shown a willingness to go into the corners and bang bodies with the best of them at the AHL level, and that kind of versatility could prove valuable as Coach Q and his staff put together the opening-night roster.
Rising Star (must-watch prospect): Finnish phenom Teuvo Teravainen has been as good as advertised so far in training camp, and has impressed many of the NHL regulars he's skated with through the scrimmages. That he's being teamed with Bickell and Kane speaks to Quenneville's confidence in the young forward and what the organization thinks of his playmaking abilities. Teravainen will most likely head back to Finland before the Blackhawks break camp, but the future is bright for the 2012 first-round draft pick.
Know the enemy (opponent report): The Red Wings play tonight's game as the second half of back-to-back contests; they defeated the Penguins 4-1 in Pittsburgh on Monday. Both Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk skated for the Wings in that contest and are slated to sit out tonight's game. New acquisitions Daniel Alfredsson, formerly of the Ottawa Senators, and Stephen Weiss, who previously spent his entire NHL career in Florida, will dress for Detroit, as will defensive leader Niklas Kronwall.
Fun Fact: Corey Crawford, who is on the Blackhawks roster tonight, is 11-2-2 with a 1.82 goals-against average in his career against Detroit during the regular season.
I hate fun facts.
Since my return from Detroit Red Wings training camp in Traverse City, Mich., I’ve been bombarded with questions about the Daniel Cleary signing, why it was allowed to become such a prolonged saga -- especially for a player on the downside of his career.
Cleary’s signing has less to do with the hockey player and more to do with the coach, Mike Babcock.
By most accounts, Red Wings GM Ken Holland does everything possible to give Babcock the roster he desires, including the 12th-hour signing of Cleary. On any given day, Babcock tells the assembled media that the players themselves will decide how the Wings manage to trim their bloated roster, which will alleviate their salary-cap woes.
“We got good depth and it's going to be competitive,” Babcock said last week. “The exhibition schedule should be competitive for us."
When asked to elaborate on the Wings' overloaded forward corps -- if it was a good, yet somewhat unconventional situation -- Babcock doubled down.
“I guess you could say that if you want to say it," Babcock mused. "The other thing you can say is, the best players are going to play. That's what we've done every year since I've been here. We're going to do the same thing."
And from me:
Update #3: From the Free Press's Helene St. James:
Detroit Red Wings forward Johan Franzen was scheduled to play in his first exhibition tonight, at Chicago, but is sidelined by a sore hip flexor.
General manager Ken Holland told the Free Press that Franzen is day-to-day. The Wings will take Wednesday off, their first break since training camp began a week ago, and then play Thursday at Boston. It's doubtful that Franzen would play any earlier than the weekend, and that's probably an outside chance.
Franzen was penciled in to play left wing next to newcomers Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss, but Todd Bertuzzi — like Franzen, a big winger with soft hands — will play in that spot tonight.
Finnish prospect Teemu Pulkinnen will fill the void on a lower line.
Led by Pavel Datsyuk's top line, the Wings topped the Penguins, 4-1, in Monday's exhibition opener at Pittsburgh.
Tonight's group also includes goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, who needs to show he can handle the backup job after a disastrous 2013 season.
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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.