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Red Wings-Blackhawks practice day updates: Wings stay the Babcockian course; good news for DeKeyser?

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:

A scientific breakdown of the #RedWings climb to the driver's seat of their series with the #Blackhawks? Yes, please! bit.ly/10l0ylq

— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) May 22, 2013

And the story includes a video...

And, via Paul, amongst the CBC's Elliotte Friedman's 30 Thoughts:

4. Newly hired Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill might be patient. It's been reported he will interview current assistant coach Curt Fraser, who previously worked for him elsewhere, and Willie Desjardins, the AHL coach of the year with the Texas Stars. Nill has a history with Jeff Blashill, who has guided the Grand Rapids Griffins to the AHL Western final. Nill also played with Montreal Canadiens assistant Gerard Gallant. I'm not saying any are favourites, but some guys like to interview as many people as possible.

5. Asked if the Detroit Red Wings' move to the Eastern Conference made it easier to take the Dallas job, Nill replied: "The Ilitch family? We're a part of them ... saying our goodbyes and thank yous is easier when not coming in here eight times a year."


11. One coach on Niklas Kronwall of the Red Wings: "He is taking it on his shoulders. It's like [Mark] Messier determined to prove he can win without [Wayne] Gretzky."

WDFN's Matt Sheppard penned a column praising Mike Babcock's coaching as well:

There has been a good debate over the last couple of weeks on whether or not Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock has done his best coaching job of his career.  Remember, he's a guy who led the Ducks to the Stanley Cup Finals in his first year in 2003, won a Cup with Detroit in 2008, was a win away from another one the next year and guided Canada to an Olympic Gold Medal in 2010, but it can be a less stressful path when you're coaching the greatest players on earth.  This year, Babcock has guided six first year playoff performers on his roster into the second round and he's done it by being consistent with his message and demands. 

There are a few similar traits I've noticed among the best coaches in sports: 1. Consistency. They may handle players differently, but their expectations and demands remain the same.  2. Communication. They all get their message across to the players who play for them.  It doesn't mean these great coaches are good in front of a camera or microphone, but the team they coach always know what is required. 3. Willingness to Change.  The game and players change, so coaches must be able to adapt with the times. And finally, 4. Demanding.  It's alright to push players and Mike Babcock says as much. He, like Scotty Bowman or Phil Jackson, can't and never were afraid to hold players accountable for their play or actions. If you don't demand excellence, you'll never get it.

I don't know if Mike Babcock is in the midst of his best coaching job because he seems to be the same coach he's always been since coming to Detroit.  He's pushing both the veterans and younger players; he expects them to win every series and it's rubbing off on the players and fans.  If it's not his best coaching job, it might be his most surprising, just like this team might be the biggest surprise team we've seen in a while. Either way, I hope he's enjoying this playoff ride as much as we the fans are.

Hmm...Miraculous comeback time?

I don't believe that the Wings would push DeKeyser to come back in this series, but...

Here come Babcock's comments:

Hmm, part 2:

Meanwhile, in Chicago...

ESPN's Custance pondered whether Ray Emery may un-set Corey Crawford if the Blackhawks decide to make a goaltending switch...And win this series...as well:

[Crawford] was outstanding in Chicago's first-round win over the Wild but his save percentage has dropped from .950 in the quarterfinals to .901 in the semifinals against Detroit. In Chicago's last two games, he's allowed seven goals.

Joel Quenneville was asked to assess his play in this round on Tuesday and his answer was short.

"He's been fine," Quenneville said.

But at some point, even if it's just to spark the team, bringing in Ray Emery has to be considered. He was incredible during the regular season, finishing 17-1-0 with a .922 save percentage and is more than capable of jumping into the action and turning this series around.

This is rich: the Windsor Star posted a rebuttal of a Wings fan's letter suggesting that Detroit fans have no sympaty for Leaf fans by stating that All Red Wings Fans Are Evil People. From a Leaf fan, whose pals head to Joe Louis Arena for pre-season games to razz Wings fans, get in fights and engage in beer-pouring;

And Wings coach Mike Babcock spoke to The Fan 590 prior to addressing the Wings' media corps today. I'll post that interview later, but 97.1 FM's Ken Kal spoke with WBBL this morning, and that interview's ready to roll...

As is, via RedWingsFeed...Uh, a single "Kids' Club" interview question for Niklas Kronwall? Okay...

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:

I sense surgery in Helm's future:

The Wings have an excellent team orthopedist in Dr. Douglas Plagens and they'll make sure to address Helm's issue.

And the Wings spoke to the Windsor Star's Bob Duff about the Damien Brunner-getting-Gustav-Nyquist-in-the-balls soccer .gif:
“It fired him up,” Brunner claimed. “He scored a beauty after, so I think we have to do that every time now.”

Both players recognize that the soccer video has gone viral, and don’t seem to mind.

“Yeah, it’s funny,” Brunner said. “I want to see the whole thing. I heard they showed it on TV in Canada. They showed us in warm-ups and then they showed his goal. That’s funny that I assisted on his goal, too.

“That only happened because we’re not in the PK meetings, so we were the only two guys out there playing soccer. We play to 10, and this guy (Nyquist), normally, you give him the ball and he can never give you a nice ball back. So he gets the ball up here (pointing to the outside of his head) and if I try to touch it I’m never able to get it back to him. It was like 10 times in a row so I picked it up and threw it at him. Luckily, I hit the bull’s eye.”

Brunner also offered some advice to IndyCar driver and fellow Swiss citizen Simona de Silvestro, who expressed her unhappiness with Brunner and the Wings for putting her friend Jonas Hiller’s Anaheim Ducks out of the playoffs.

“Maybe she should become a Red Wings fan,” Brunner said.

Update #2.5: *Shakes head*:

Update #3:

Via RedWingsFeed again, 97.1 FM's Tom Millikan, um, waxed poetic about the Wings' run:

I made a conscious choice Tuesday morning after Game 3. Enjoy this ride. We take for granted what this franchise has become. Mike Babcock has molded a hard-nosed team that is leaving everything on the ice. They represent what this city loves most. Grit!

The Wings have won every time they have had to this season. That is a tremendous character trait to have. Would you bet against them at this point? I know I wouldn’t and I say that coming off as a hypocrite if you asked me the same thing three weeks ago.

And via Paul, the NHL Network posted a Wings off-day report...

Update #3.5: Uh...Um...

Update #4: The Hawks' website posted clips of Joel Quenneville...

Andrew Shaw...

Viktor Stalberg...

And Brian Bickell speaking to the press:

Update #5: The Chicago Tribune posted a video interview with Bickell and an off-day report penned by Brian Hamilton...

"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."

Update #7: Oh goody, Bickell on the power play for Chicago, per CBS Chicago's Adam Hoge (and CSN Chicago's Tracey Myers addressed the same situation)....

“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:

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


Vladimir16's avatar

George Sipple @GeorgeSipple
Darren Helm said he had another setback and hasn’t been skating. #redwings

Ooofff… what in the world is going on with his back? Anybody know? Speculations? Anything? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 05/22/13 at 01:06 PM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

am I the only one who hates it when people say “specialty teams” instead of “special teams?”

sooo is it good or bad that it’s Del Kaiser’s right thumb?  that’s the hand he holds the top end of the stick with, right?

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 05/22/13 at 01:13 PM ET

wedge56's avatar

I will be crushed if we never see Helm on the ice again.

Posted by wedge56 on 05/22/13 at 01:15 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Don’t know what’s up with Helm. Had a ligament/disc tear, may or may not have healed. He’s going to have to see some back specialists and have surgery during the off-season.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/22/13 at 01:17 PM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

what in the world is going on with his back? Anybody know? Speculations?

it was reported a few months ago that he has a partially torn disc in his back.  during the first round they said he was travelling with the team to see if his back could handle the travel.  so yeah, they’re worried he can’t handle TRAVELING, let alone playing.

personally, I don’t think he’ll ever play again.


Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 05/22/13 at 01:28 PM ET

Primis's avatar

This Darren Helm thing is bad.  It should not be lingering like this.

We need to start planning for future without him, I’m afraid.  Not saying that *is* the case, but it’s now a very real possibility.

Posted by Primis on 05/22/13 at 01:35 PM ET

MOWingsfan19's avatar

If Helm needs surgery, why wait? It’s been too long already amd there’s been zero chance he’ll be back this season since he played his one game.

Posted by MOWingsfan19 from I really like our team on 05/22/13 at 01:51 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Just spent the 2.5 hours reading almost all of George’s magnificent write-ups.  I haz Love for every second of it.  Muchas gracias, Amigo.

RE:  the prospect news and the prospects in the tournaments.  These are exciting times for the Wings.  I’ve never been this giddy about the prospects since, well, never.  The Wings are mind-bogglingly stacked in the farm that Balls Hill is gonna be dizzy with decisions on how to use them.  I envy those who get to see the Grifs on a regular basis.

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 05/22/13 at 01:59 PM ET

CaptainDennisPolonich's avatar

If Helm needs surgery, why wait? It’s been too long already amd there’s been zero chance he’ll be back this season since he played his one game.
Posted by MOWingsfan19 from I really like our team on 05/22/13 at 01:51 PM ET

Exactly. They have tried rest and PT for months. If there is a surgical option, Helm needs to get under the knife and get going on rehab. This offseason is shorter than normal for everyone because of the lockout, so something needs to be done now for him to have a chance at playing next year.

I really hope we Haven’t seen the last of Helm.

Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from The Land of Fake Boobs and Real Nuts on 05/22/13 at 02:01 PM ET

Soupsnake's avatar

I heard about this on the news last night. I wonder if Helm just needs some antibiotics?  Apparently this is a brand new study that just came out. anybody have a direct line to the wings docs? http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/may/07/antibiotics-cure-back-pain-patients

Posted by Soupsnake from Canton, Mi on 05/22/13 at 02:11 PM ET

Figaro's avatar

Someone might have to kidnap Helmers and drag him kicking and screaming into the hospital. Maybe have Bert sit on him or something.  I hope he’s not doing something on his own to keep re-injuring whatever the hell is keeping him out. Get fixed, kid!

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 05/22/13 at 02:16 PM ET

Figaro's avatar

On the bright side, it sounds like SixDfive is keeping his legs under him so hopefully conditioning won’t be too much of an issue when* he comes back.

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 05/22/13 at 02:17 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

Mike Babcock said Danny Cleary has returned to the Danny Cleary of old this postseason. Called him huge part of the team.

I have to agree. Cleary’s playing extremely hard (and getting under more than one guy’s skin). But, man, I wish he had some “finish” left in him. He’s gotten some great setups from Z and just ends up shooting them into the goalie’s chest.

Great to hear DK is getting the cast off and doing more on the ice. Getting him back at some point in the next round would be huge.

As for Helm, all I can say is: crap, crap, crap, crap, crap, crap, crap.

The odds of him returning next year (or ever) seem to be getting less and less with every passing day. What an absolute waste of talent it would be if he never played again.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 05/22/13 at 02:22 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Helm news from Ted Kulfan above. Surgery still not an option.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/22/13 at 02:31 PM ET

CaptainDennisPolonich's avatar

Helm news from Ted Kulfan above. Surgery still not an option.
Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/22/13 at 02:31 PM ET

Wow. Too bad. This is looking more and more like it is career ending.

Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from The Land of Fake Boobs and Real Nuts on 05/22/13 at 02:34 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

Even if DeKeyser gets back early enough to play again, do you change anything if the team keeps playing hard as is? I loved what he brought and he will be a consistent member of this D for years to come, but I have a hard time bringing him in unless the team plays a dud or two and #28 looks bad in doing.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 05/22/13 at 02:35 PM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

I agree Nathan, the only way I see Del Kaiser making it back into the lineup is if he is (of course) healthy enough, and someone else is injured or worn out.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 05/22/13 at 03:19 PM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

George, great work on your playoff posts. You manage to cram a ton of stuff into each one.

I am on the road a lot and reading your stuff keeps me in the loop while in non hockey territory.

Posted by Down River Dan on 05/22/13 at 04:16 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Trying to do my best to get as much in as possible.

And I’m with you guys…I think Danny Del Keyser won’t be Living Mas (the new Doritos Locos Del Keyser…At Taco Bell) until next season.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/22/13 at 04:35 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Even if DeKeyser gets back early enough to play again, do you change anything if the team keeps playing hard as is? I loved what he brought and he will be a consistent member of this D for years to come, but I have a hard time bringing him in unless the team plays a dud or two and #28 looks bad in doing.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 05/22/13 at 02:35 PM ET

I would think it depends on who they’re playing.  I’m sure 65DD is unafraid of the physical contact and we’ve seen how well he stood up to the DuhUcks big power forwards on the bottom six and in PK situations.  Should the Wings make it to the WCFs and he’s available, he might see some action.

I wouldn’t change the defense corps right now unless Q or Cola (who’s been getting better and so much better than anticipated) has a major gaffe that warrants their benching, of course.  Then I am one of those who wanted Smitty benched after that defensive gaffe that led to the Cawks scoring the game’s first goal in Game Three so…

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 05/22/13 at 04:49 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.


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