The Malik Report
Red Wings-Blackhawks practice day updates: Wings stay the Babcockian course; good news for DeKeyser?
by George Malik on 05/22/13 at 11:51 AM ET
Updated 7x with Babcock's presser at 2:43 PM: After what might be their fnal real "off-day" for some time, the Red Wings got back to work today at Joe Louis Arena (the Blackhawks remained in Chicago for their practice), and something tells me that this is going to be the first of two practice posts, because Wings coach Mike Babcock engaged in a long q and a session with a faithfully-twitter-updating media corps:
Practice was relatively uneventful, but there's some intriguing news about Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser's recovery from a broken and surgically-repaired right thumb below:
Yep, I have that covered...And MLive's Brendan Savage penned a "What They're Saying" column, via RedWingsFeed...And if you really want to read the Chicago Daily Herald's Barry Rozner essentially say, "WTF, Hawks," or the National Post's Sean Fitz-Gerald suggest that the Blackhawks are "embracing adversity," you may do so on your own.
As an FYI, WXYZ's Brad Galli filed a story from, well, this one slipped through the radar:
And, via RedWingsFeed, the Windsor Star's Bob Duff has already posted a practice-day interview with Jonathan Ericsson:
Update #1: The Free Press has posted a replay of its chat with Evil Drew Sharp;
Here comes "Coach Q":
Update #2.5: *Shakes head*:
And via Paul, the NHL Network posted a Wings off-day report...
Update #3.5: Uh...Um...
And Brian Bickell speaking to the press:
"This year, with how well it's gone for us," winger Brandon Saad said following the workout, "it's about time we faced some adversity."
They've got it, down 2-1 in the Western Conference semifinals to the Red Wings and facing Game 4 at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday night. So that was the psychological twist Joel Quenneville and his Hawks staff put on the predicament: Things went so well for hockey's best team for 48 regular-season games and a five-game first-round playoff cakewalk, now the Hawks' character can be revealed.
"All year long, we've been in a very favorable position," Quenneville said. "I don't think we've been against it in any areas, as far as many stretches in games being down, and definitely in a series we haven't been down. It's a great test for us. It's a good challenge for us. The adversity we're in right now, we have to find a way to overcome it, and that'll be a challenge at the end of the day, to find out about everybody."
The Hawks were making subtle tweaks in practice Wednesday, splitting up the top skill players on the power play units -- Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa on one, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on the other -- in an ongoing search to ignite that area of the game.
But the response to pressure is probably more important than any strategic maneuvering.
"Sometimes when you're in a situation when you're down a bit, you don't want to feel like every play might be your last play, or you hold your stick a little bit tighter," goalie Corey Crawford said. "We're confident, we think we can do the job. We just have to stick to what we do and have confidence."
And the Chicago Sun-Times' Mark Lazerus penned an off-day report, too:
At Wednesday's practice, the Blackhawks' top power play unit had Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith at the points, with Patrick Sharp, Brandon Saad and Bryan Bickell up front. The second unit featured Michal Rozsival and either Brent Seabrook or Nick Leddy at the point, with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Andrew Shaw.
"We're just looking for a little more balance on the units," Quenneville said. "Hopefully, we'll get some production."
The Hawks are just 3-of-22 on the power play this postseason, including 0-of-6 in losses to Detroit in Games 2 and 3. Even a unit featuring all-stars Keith, Sharp, Hossa, Toews and Kane struggled to get anything past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard.
"The last couple games, it hasn't been very good," Keith said. "So probably expect some changes there."
Bickell's addition in front of the net gives the Hawks a big body to both deflect shots and block Howard's vision.
"Howard's playing great, he's a hot goaltender right now," Shaw said. "Getting big bodies like Bicks in front of the net and finding those loose pucks and putting them home, I think it's going to be great for us. ... They have big defensemen and they can move you pretty well. We've just got to battle and compete and try to take his eyes away as much as possible."
Update #6: Now we head back to Detroit...
And the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan spoke to Darren Helm about his back issues:
"Something happened (skating during the Anaheim series) and it hurt a lot and I was limping around for a couple of days," Helm said. "We decided to take a step back and we needed a different approach — staying off the ice a lot longer.
Helm said "absolutely" it was a setback in his recovery. "It wasn't a step forward, that's for sure."
Surgery isn't an option at this point, said Helm, as doctors haven't pinpointed the root cause of the problem.
So as the playoffs progress, Helm simply watches in the locker room with the Red Wings other scratches and cheers his teammates on.
"I've settled down a little bit, being able to watch now and not be too upset," Helm said. "When things get a little rough and guys are getting cheap-shot is when I really get upset and I want to be out there."
“I’m excited,” Bickell said after practice. “Our power play has been struggling as of late. I think we’re just emphasizing getting the puck on net. You see goals around the league on the power play, they haven’t been the tic-tac-toe, empty net. They’ve been the greasy ones, we call it. We’re just looking to get some power play time and get something going.”
The Blackhawks were happy with their pace and intensity in their Game 3 loss to the Red Wings, but they’ve still struggled to find the back of the net. They drew iron three times and had a goal taken away by the refs. At this point, they just need to score goals in Game 4 in Detroit, no matter how ugly they might be.
“There were chances around the net,” Quenneville said. “I still think the quality is going to come from the traffic and the second opportunity. It doesn’t have to be a pretty goal against this team because they have been checking well. So you just have to be determined in those areas. If one or two slide through, that’s what you have to look for. But the pretty goals aren’t going to be there.”
MLive's Ansar Khan spoke with the Wings about their second and final two-day break of the series...
“The schedule in the second round definitely been a positive for us,'' goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “We've been doing lots of travel. These couple of days off have really helped rejuvenate us.''
After playing three games in eight days, the Red Wings and Blackhawks will play every other day, starting with Game 4 Thursday at Joe Louis Arena (8 p.m., NBC Sports Network, CBC).
“It’s obviously nice to have a few days off between games,'' Detroit's Jakub Kindl said. “That first series, we played every other day. It was tough. All the traveling and the going out West, the three-hour time change. That wore us down a bit. Right now, it’s perfect, exactly what we need. Two days off between games, it’s great. Guys can heal the bruises up a little bit and enjoy the day off, too.''
Coach Mike Babcock had mixed feelings about the extra day off before Game 4, since his team had a lot of momentum following its 3-1 win in Game 3 Monday.
“No different than the players, when we had all that travel to Anaheim and the time change, you need to re-charge, too,'' Babcock said. “But, I wish we were playing today. I like playing every other day because I don't like to practice during the playoffs, I like the pregame skate and just go.''
And the Red Wings' website just posted Babcock's off-day presser:
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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.