The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/27/13 at 04:13 AM ET
A little under 48 hours after finding their footing against the Minnesota Wild, the hockey team in progress known as the Detroit Red Wings will find themselves in less comfortable surroundings. Tonight, the Wings will tangle with the Chicago Blackhawks (7 PM EST, FSD/CSN Chicago, WXYT AM) in the "Madhouse on Madison," and while the Hawks will be playing in their second game in two nights...
The Hawks are coming home after having secured a 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night, which translates as follows:
The Wings spent Saturday attempting to avoid aggravating injuries to Darren Helm (recovering from a back issue) and Valtteri Filppula (still bothered by a healing MCL), and hoping that Jonathan Ericsson (stepped on a puck, hurt his back) will return to the lineup tonight, talking about their goals of playing simpler, smarter hockey while taking fewer trips to the penalty box with the Wings media before flying off to Chicago.
As Paul noted, the Blackhawks' win was not without some controversy, but the Blackhawks, who the Chicago Sun-Times' Mark Lazerus says are going to be wrapping up their sixth game in nine nights this evening, weren't particularly worried about accumulating style points on Saturday.
That's a good thing, because Lazerus notes that the Hawks didn't exactly play a solid sixty-minute game, but given that they're on something of a journey thanks to an early-season schedule that's as bizarre as the Wings' is downright cushy...
The Blackhawks said all the right things Saturday morning. With a home showdown against the Detroit Red Wings looming on Sunday, followed by the Ice Show trip — six cities in 13 days — they weren’t going to look past the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets. They were focused, they said. Any team can win on any given night, they said. They’d be ready to play, they said.
Then they put two measly shots on goal in the first 15 minutes, made sloppy passes and generally looked disinterested.
But Corey Crawford, who will probably start tonight, bailed the Hawks out, giving up the game's first goal excluded, and the Hawks repaid their goaltender's patience:
The effort was somewhat lacking early in the game, as the Hawks sputtered offensively while the Blue Jackets fired away on Crawford. Mark Letestu chipped the puck past a prone Crawford during a goalmouth scramble to give the hosts a 1-0 lead at the 7:35 mark, but Crawford stood tall the rest of the way, making several key stops until Artem Anisimov’s goal with 2:29 left in the game gave the Hawks a brief scare.
In between, it was all Hawks, who shook off the doldrums late in the first period when — who else? — Patrick Kane ignited the offense. His hard-driving rush to the net was stopped by’ Steve Mason, but Dave Bolland trailed the play and knocked in the rebound to tie it at 1-1 with 2:06 left in the first.
Bryan Bickell gave the Hawks a 2-1 lead midway through the second period when he deflected a booming shot from the point by Niklas Hjalmarsson.
The Blue Jackets appeared to tie it later in the period when Derick Brassard’s shot from the point got past Crawford, but the goal was immediately waved off. Nick Foligno, whose skate was in the crease, said he was told by a referee that he bumped Crawford and “didn’t give him time to reset.” The sellout crowd was irate.
“I saw the video,” Quenneville said. “The right call was made. His skate picked him from coming across the crease right before. Couldn’t get over.”
Fortunate to still be leading, Kane set up Toews for a 3-1 lead 6:35 into the third, giving Kane nine points in five games. On that goal, Marian Hossa created a turnover at the blue line, which Kane seized on and found Toews, who was lingering in front of the net.
But in terms of digesting Saturday night's events in an attempt to set up tonight's game, stats matter, and the Chicago Daily Herald's Tim Sassone offers some numbers that are eyebrow-raising:
Patrick Kane continued his great play with 2 more assists, giving him 9 points in five games.
Kane set up goals by Dave Bolland and Jonathan Toews, which turned out to be the game winner at 6:35 of the third period.
Toews beat Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason with a nifty deke in front on a feed from Kane. Toews was late to clear the attack zone, but it turned out to be a good thing for the Hawks when Marian Hossa forced a turnover. The puck wound up with Kane, who found Toews all alone.
"He's gotten off to a great start and I commend him as well," Quenneville said of Kane. "He's played very well and has been consistent in his game. I think he's paying attention without the puck as well. He anticipates well when pucks are vulnerable."
Bryan Bickell also scored for the Hawks on a deflection of a shot by Niklas Hjalmersson. It was Bickell's first goal of the season. Hjalmarsson finished the game plus-3 with an assist.
Quenneville wouldn't say for certain if Crawford would start Sunday's game against Detroit at the United Center, but he left the door wide open.
"He could," said Quenneville. "We'll see."
As the Chicago Tribune's Chris Kuc notes, the Hawks didn't feel that they were firing on all cylinders...
"It definitely wasn't our best game but we're going to have nights when maybe we're not clicking like we have been," said Jonathan Toews, who scored the game-winner early in the third period. "We got caught flat-footed a few times. It doesn't matter who we're playing, we have to be better prepared than that.
"We knew they were going to come hard in the first period and we didn't come out well in the first 10 minutes … (but) we found a way to win."
The Hawks equaled the 1971-72 club's mark as Dave Bolland and Bryan Bickell also scored. Patrick Kane added two assists as the Hawks concluded a two-game trip and are now 4-0-0 away from home.
It's the mark of a good team when it can win on off nights, and that's what the Hawks proved as they came out sluggish and remained that way through much of the night. If not for goalie Corey Crawford's solid effort the Hawks would not be looking for victory No. 6 when they face the Red Wings on Sunday night at the United Center.
"Finding ways to win is important," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "You're not going to be great or your best every night. You have to commend Columbus. They were the harder-working team than us but (we got) key saves. Crawford was really big for us."
Toews sounded downright Wing-like in discussing his team's slow start with Comcast Sportsnet Chicago's Tracey Myers...
“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, it’s about how we prepare. We knew they were going to come at us hard, we were not playing our best hockey the first 10 minutes, but we came out of the first tied 1-1,” Toews said. “We just know we have to get better early on.”
The Blackhawks were tested on this latest mini road trip, first by a hot goaltender in Dallas and then by a determined bunch of Blue Jackets. They got through both. They learned a few lessons in the process, but plan to apply them moving forward.
“We made some mistakes, but the good news is we can get right back on track with playing our team game,” Toews said. “We’ll learn from our mistakes we made tonight and, not be satisfied with the win, but have confidence that if we’re not on top of our game, we can find a way to win like we did tonight.”
And it is worth noting that while the Hawks went (per the AP's game recap) 0 for 4 on the power play Saturday, the Chicago Tribune's Chris Kuc reports that the Hawks went into the game with a power play scoring a remarkable 30% of the time, and this is a little scary, too:
ESPN Chicago offers the following "quick take" on Saturday night's game...
What it means: The Blackhawks matched their best start to a season in franchise history with their fifth consecutive win. The Blackhawks also began the 1971-1972 season with five wins. The Blackhawks have won eight consecutive games against the Blue Jackets. The Blackhawks' victory Saturday looked a lot like their other wins this season. They continued their offensive consistency. They've scored in all but one period this season. Their penalty kill was also strong again. The Blue Jackets were 0-for-4 on the power play.
What's next: The Blackhawks return home to face the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center at 6 p.m. on Sunday. It's the Blackhawks' last home game until Feb. 12. They'll play six consecutive road games after Sunday.
And NHL.com's John Kreiser's game preview allows us to shift focus from the Blackhawks locker room to the perspectives of the Red Wings' coach and personnel, reminding us that the Wings are 2-and-2 (with one win coming via a shootout) heading into the unbeaten Hawks' home rink:
Season series: The Central Division rivals are meeting for the first of four times this season. The Blackhawks won four of the six games in 2011-12 and their two losses came in overtime, giving Chicago 10 of a possible 12 points.
Big story: The Red Wings will try to do something that no one has succeeded at doing so far -- beat the Hawks. A victory in front of what's sure to be a roaring packed house at United Center would give Chicago the best start in franchise history.
Red Wings [team scope]: The Wings looked more like themselves on Friday, with Todd Bertuzzi scoring twice in his first appearance of the season and Pavel Datsyuk adding a goal and two assists in a 5-3 home victory against Minnesota. The best news was that the power play, which came in 0-for-15, scored twice in five opportunities.
Coach Mike Babcock was also happy with his makeshift defense, which is minus injured regulars Carlo Colaiacovo, Ian White and Jonathan Ericsson. Minor-league call-up Brian Lashoff, newly signed Kent Huskins and rookie Brendan Smith drew praise from their coach on Saturday.
"I thought we were way better defensively, and yet we still had to count on [goalie Jimmy Howard] too much,'' Babcock said. "I'd like to not have to count on him at all, but that's the way things are right now. But, I think our young D is getting better and better. We managed our gap better. We moved the puck better as the game went on.''
Who's hot: Rookie Damien Brunner is making himself right at home in Detroit, with goals in each of the last two games. Datsyuk has two goals and six goals in the last three games. … The line of Kane (2-7-9), Marian Hossa (5-2-7) and Toews (3-2-5) has combined for nine goals, 21 points and three game-winners.
Injury report: The Wings are coping with the absence of White (lacerated leg), Colaiacovo (shoulder) and Ericsson (shoulder). Backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson (groin) has yet to play. … Chicago has been without forward Daniel Carcillo (knee) since opening day, and he's not expected back until late February.
We won't know whether Ericsson's good to go tonight until game time, because Babcock very purposefully chose to not hold a game-day skate this afternoon, so it's still possible that we could see the Kronwall-Lashoff, Quincey-Smith and Huskins-Kindl pairings, and if Ericsson does return from his back injury, your guess is as good as mine as to whether Lashoff or Kindl ends up taking a seat...
But MLive's Ansar Khan's Saturday practice story gives us a prospective Red Wings lineup, while noting that Ericsson at least suggested that he was on his way to being ready to play...
“A little bit better, no setback yet, so that's good,'' Ericsson said. "We'll see tomorrow.''
Forward Valtteri Filppula (knee) didn't skate and center Darren Helm (back) left practice midway through, but Babcock said both are fine and will play Sunday.
“I said get off the ice (to Helm),'' Babcock said. "Anybody's who's got a bump, we didn't even take them out today and we're not going to the rink tomorrow morning (for a gameday skate) on purpose. We're going to do a lot more of that. We just have to, with the schedule the way it is.''
Here are the lines they skated with:
Johan Franzen-Henrik Zetterberg-Damien Brunner
Patrick Eaves (for Filppula)-Pavel Datsyuk-Todd Bertuzzi
Daniel Cleary-Darren Helm-Justin Abdelkader
Drew Miller-Cory Emmerton-Jordin Tootoo
Niklas Kronwall-Brian Lashoff
Kyle Quincey-Brendan Smith
Kent Huskins-Jakub Kindl
Jimmy Howard (starting)
Forward Mikael Samuelsson (groin) and goaltender Jonas Gustavsson (groin) did not skate and will not travel to Chicago.
And as the URL for Khan's game-day preview story probably won't work until 6 AM or later, as the Wings' beat writers hustled to Chicago in a hurry, filing their stories right after practice or on Saturday evening, and as it's the middle of the night here in "moony" South Lyon, Michigan (beware if you head out on Sunday night, Southeastern Michiganders--we're in for ice and sleet!), the Free Press's Carlos Monarrez provides us with the only "new" game preview available at present:
The Red Wings have struggled to start games well and are among the few teams left in the NHL that have not scored a goal in the first period.
Coach Mike Babcock knows this can't continue, especially when his team faces the red-hot Blackhawks tonight in Chicago.
"They're going to be a tough test for us, for sure," Babcock said Saturday. "It's going to be imperative for us that we really stay together in the five-man unit and forecheck well, play defense well and be patient. And yet you can't go in there and stand around and watch them play; they'll end up having the puck all night. We need to get off to a good start, be strong in the face-off circle and be ready to compete."
Injuries have taken their toll, stressing a young defense and hurting depth on offense. But if Friday's 5-3 win over Minnesota is any indication, the Wings have begun to find their footing on healthier ground. The season debuts of Todd Bertuzzi and Darren Helm made a noticeable impact.
"We're going to see a lot of games that it's going to be a grind fest," Babcock said. "That's just the reality of the situation. So embrace what you've got and be the best of what you're capable of and that's what we're trying to do."
I'll dip my toe into the pool of repetition because Babcock offered more to the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa, starting with this take on Friday night's effort against the Wild:
"I thought we were way better defensively, and yet we still had to count on Howie too much," Babcock said, referring to goaltender Jimmy Howard, who is putting together a string of effective games. "I'd like to be able to not have to count on him at all. But that's the way things are right now."
Babcock called the improvement since the 6-0 drubbing by the Blues in the opener "drastic, night-and-day — and I thought last night was the best."
"I think our young D's getting better and better. I think we managed the gap last night real well. We moved the puck better as the game went on, and that's going to be a challenge for us for the next while. And we know that. We work on that every single day at practice and we talk about it every single day. And we're trying to become the best group, with what we have, that we can become. We need for that group just to keep improving and it's going to be baby steps."
And both Howard and Babcock set up tonight's game as follows:
"We're going to have to make them play in their own zone," Howard said. "They're really dangerous with their forwards and deep as well up front. And the way to counter that is to just make them stay in their own end."
Babcock called the game "a tough task for us, for sure. Very high end talent, mobile defense, playing the game real fast — I watched them closely the other night and you know they're doing a good job. Penalty kill's been really good for them. They're going to be a tough task for us, for sure.
"It's going to be imperative that we really stay together in a five-man unit, forecheck well, play defense well, and be patient. And yet, you can't go in there and stand around and watch them play, or they're going to end up having the puck all night long. So we need to get off good and strong in the playoff circle and be ready to compete.
".... The bottom line is, the type of team we have, we're going to see a lot of games that's going to be a grind fest. And that's just the reality of the situation. So embrace what you've got and do the best we're capable of."
The type of team the Wings "will" have theoretically includes Mikael Samuelsson (groin) eventually playing alongside Darren Helm and Danny Cleary, Drew Miller, Justin Abdelkader and Jordin Tootoo stacking the fourth line, the Wings possessing a second or third defensive pair (depending on your point of view) of Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) and Ian White (lacerated knee), a solid back-up in Jonas Gustavsson (groin) and a fourth-liner pushing Patrick Eaves and Cory Emmerton for ice time in Jan Mursak (shoulder), but right now...
The team is definitely a work in progress. Babcock told MLive's Ansar Khan that he felt that Brendan Smith and Kyle Quincey had particularly solid outings on Friday, and Khan also spoke to somebody who TMR readers have to decide whether we're going to call "Laser Beam" or "Popcorn" (see: the 80's nerd comedy Real Genius):
[Kent] Huskins is learning about his new team and teammates on the fly, while averaging 17:23 of ice time in two games.
“It's been good having a couple of practices, getting a feel for things has really helped out,'' Huskins said. “You can always play smart, solid defense and try to build off that and move the puck to some of these forwards, and then jump up and make some plays.''
Quincey, who struggled the first three games, was much better Friday.
“(Friday) was a building block, for sure,'' Quincey said. “We had a very strong game one through six. We're going to keep getting better every game.''
Kronwall believes the unit is trending in the right direction.
“We talked a little bit after every game what we can improve and do better, and so far it's been better every game,'' Kronwall said. “Of course, it always helps when Howie's playing great in net. Both Lash and Huskins have played great since they got there. So, very impressive.''
"Lash" may have made Jakub Kindl redundant--or not, because a) we don't know where Babcock sees Ericsson fitting in and b) injuries are something of a plague in the Wings' lineup requiring an exorcism or two, with Lashoff able to traverse up and down from Grand Rapids without clearing waivers--but whoever plays on Sunday will have to do a better job staying out of the penalty box. The Wings (again, repetition) spoke to the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness about what seems to be a "hands off the hands" crackdown...
The Detroit Red Wings ended the season last year as the second least penalized team in the league, in terms of average minutes in the box per game. Through four games this season, Detroit ranks second to last in the league in penalty minutes.
“I just think the standard each and every night is the standard and you got to respect what’s being called and keep your stick on the puck and not on hands,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “They made it very clear to us, they sent us video of how the game was going to be called, when you put your stick on another guy’s hand you’re going to the box.”
In Friday night’s 5-3 win over the Minnesota Wild, the Wings were shorthanded eight times.
“I don’t even know what’s allowed and what’s not,” Todd Bertuzzi said. “I’m just keeping my stick to myself and try not to touch anyone else’s glove because I know I’ll end up in the penalty box pretty quick. It’s whatever, you adapt to it and figure it out. You do a lot of sitting around if you’re not a special team’s guy.”
Against the Wild Detroit was penalized for hooking and interference infractions three times each, tripping and holding one time each.
“We tried to follow the new rules,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “If you look at our last game and (Friday), it’s tough to know if you touched a glove and get two minutes and sometimes you don’t. It’s tough playing all your career one way and all the sudden you can’t touch the other player’s glove or you get two minutes.”
I don't need to tell you that the Wings have to get their sticks and hands down in a hurry against a team that's got a power play running at somewhere just under 30% efficiency, and as I don't want to re-post all of the videos in Saturday's practice in progress post (note the Babcock quip with the media--"I'm gonna make some shit up today" was met with, "That's our favorite!"), I'll leave you with some numbers that admittedly leave me on edge, per the Associated Press's Alan Ferguson's game preview:
The Blackhawks (5-0-0) will try to make history in only their second home game this season, before they head out on a six-game road trip. They're 2-0-1 in their last three home games against Detroit and 8-1-2 in the last 11 meetings overall, including three straight victories to close last season's series.
The Red Wings (2-2-0) have experienced an uneven start following the retirements of Nicklas Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom, but they're coming off a 5-3 win over Minnesota on Friday. Todd Bertuzzi had two goals in his season debut after dealing with an illness and rookie Damien Brunner scored his second in as many games.
Pavel Datsyuk and Valtteri Filppula had three points apiece, with Brunner and Datsyuk scoring the team's first two power-play goals of the season. The Red Wings were 0 for 15 with the man advantage through their first three games. They might struggle again Sunday considering the Blackhawks are 16 for 17 on the penalty kill.
Crawford is 7-2-2 with a 2.06 goals-against average in 11 career games against Detroit, although Ray Emery has also performed well versus the Red Wings, going 3-0-0 with a 1.85 GAA in four all-time matchups. Three of those came with Ottawa, but he helped the Blackhawks to a 2-1 victory in Detroit on March 4.
Whoever starts, Patrick Sharp will try to help by adding to his six goals and nine assists in his last 15 games against Detroit.
Datsyuk has three goals and two assists in his last five matchups with Chicago and six points in his past three games overall. The Red Wings, though, have tallied two goals or fewer eight times in their last 11 games against the Blackhawks, losing all eight of those games.
Why do statistics creep this non-stats-minded Wings fan out?
I grew up following the Wings in 1991-92, when the Norris Division was absolutely stacked, and the vast majority of the Wings' early-season opponents--see the Blues (who visit the Joe on Friday), the then North Stars (Dallas comes back to the Joe on Tuesday) and Blackhawks (they don't play the Wings again until March 3rd) tended to beat the snot out of the Wings, literally and figuratively.
I also happen to be one of those Red Wings fans who has a very long hockey memory, who isn't keen on the Hawks' domination of the Wings of late, and will answer, "Which other Western Conference team do you like?" with, "None of them," so let's just say that I'd really like to see the Wings kick the Hawks' asses tonight, but given our favorite team's "in progress" status, I'm afraid that it might be the other way around tonight.
That, and I happen to take it personally when sports fans chant, "Detroit sucks." Yes, my birthplace is a clusterf*** of governmental dysfunction, but I still love that burnt-out hulk of a heart of this state. While I will attempt to recap tonight's game as professionally as possible, I can assure you that I will be swearing and yelling along with the rest of you while it is in progress.
The "Did You Get a Note from Your Mother?" award
To Todd Bertuzzi, who's back on the ice a lot sooner than hoped, since doctors said the original diagnosis of mononucleosis for his flu-like symptoms was mistaken. They also ruled out mumps, chicken pox, measles and pinkeye.
The "Where Have All the Wings Gone?" award
To Mike Babcock, who said he just sees all the Red Wings' injuries as opportunities for other players. Absolutely. And if there's a similar wing shortage at next week's Super Bowl parties that some industry experts warn about, we plan to think of it as an opportunity for nachos and pizza to step up to the plate.
(ha ha, a shortage of wings. I'm a breast man mysel...wait, are we still talking about chicken and sports? [and yes, this is why I try to avoid being funny])
And, um...The Free Press's Sylvia Rector wants you to know that octopus is delicious.
Having actually eaten octopus, I can confirm that there is only one edible creature for whom, "You have to boil it for 30 minutes to get the mucus and slime out" yields, "But I promise, it's delicious" from me, and that's octopus. It's fantastic. Even though it's covered in so much mucus (fish is covered in mucus, too, just not as much) that octopus is very rightfully described as "slimy" when raw, my goodness, is it a rich, firm, downright meaty aquatic invertebrate when cooked properly.
In the prospect department, in the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins entered the AHL's All-Star Break (again, Petr Mrazek, Chad Billins and Gustav Nyquist will take part in the AHL's Skills Competition tonight at 7 PM and the All-Star Game tomorrow at 7 PM, both airing on various cable networks and http://www.ahllive.com) on a two-game winless streak thanks to a second loss in two nights to the Houston Aeros, dropping a 5-2 loss to the Aeros.
The Griffins' website provides us with a recap of the proceedings...
A second-straight capacity crowd of 10,834 witnessed Houston become the first team this season to sweep a two-game set from Grand Rapids, validating the visitors’ 1-0 win on Friday. Down by a goal after one period, the Aeros scored twice in the second and added three more in the third, holding the Griffins to just one goal over the final period despite the home team’s 20-8 shot advantage.
Grand Rapids, which remains atop the Midwest Division with a 24-14-2-2 record, will enjoy four days off for the AHL all-star festivities before resuming practice on Thursday. A trio of Griffins – goalie Petr Mrazek, defenseman Chad Billins and forward Gustav Nyquist – will participate in the 2013 Dunkin’ Donuts AHL All-Star Classic, consisting of Sunday’s skills competition and Monday’s game in Providence, R.I.
After being shut out by Darcy Kuemper last night, the Griffins needed only 5:18 to solve the Houston netminder, as Billins one-timed a Tomas Tatar feed into the back of the net from the point.
While Grand Rapids controlled most of the early play in the Houston zone, its offense suffered a blow less than 12 minutes into the contest. Luke Glendening got into a scrap with Brett Bulmer and was subsequently assessed a game misconduct for not having his jersey tied down, leaving the Griffins a forward short for the rest of the night.
The game was then delayed for several minutes at the 14:11 mark for a video review following an apparent Mitch Callahan goal, but referee Geno Binda waived it off, ruling that the puck was batted into the net by Callahan’s glove.
Scoring chances proved few and far between for both teams until the Griffins were awarded 1:43 of a 5-on-3 advantage with 5:36 remaining in the second period, but the Aeros managed to escape the situation unscathed despite Grand Rapids possessing the puck in their end for most of the power play.
Houston tied the score with 2:46 left in the frame, as Chay Genoway fired a blast from the point that Nick Palmieri redirected into the top of the net. Shortly after, consecutive Griffins penalties gave the Aeros their own two-man advantage, and it took just 25 seconds for Houston to capitalize. Charlie Coyle scooped the puck just past the outstretched glove of a sprawled Mrazek and inside the right post from the bottom of the circle at 19:10.
Up 2-1 through 40 minutes, the Aeros struck twice in the first three minutes of the final frame to take a commanding three-goal lead. Coyle notched his second goal in less than two minutes of elapsed time, ripping a centering pass past Mrazek from the slot 53 seconds in, before David McIntyre lifted a backhand over the goalie from the doorstep exactly two minutes later.
Griffins coach Jeff Blashill used an unorthodox strategy to try to cut into his team’s deficit and awaken his offense, calling a timeout during a power play with 11:34 remaining and pulling Mrazek to give his skaters a 6-on-4 advantage. It paid dividends less than a minute later, when Riley Sheahan snuck a shot into the top right corner from close range at the 9:18 mark.
Mrazek again headed to the bench during an even-strength situation with less than four minutes remaining, creating a 6-on-5 for Grand Rapids, but this time Johan Larsson scored into the vacated cage to seal the Griffins’ fate.
Kuemper improved to 4-0 lifetime at Van Andel Arena behind a 33-save effort, while Mrazek stopped 22 of 26 shots in defeat.
As well as a Flickr photo gallery from the game and a slate of post-game interviews and highlights:
The Griffins also announced that their game against the Grand Rapids Sled Wings will take place on Tuesday, February 12th.
In the ECHL, the Toledo Walleye defeated the Bakersfield Condors 5-1, and in terms of Wings prospects, Trevor Parkes had a goal, 2 assists and 8 shots, Andrej Nestrasil had 3 assists and Willie Coetzee was held off the scoresheet. The Walleye's website provides a recap and highlights...
The Toledo Blade's Mark Monroe and the Toledo Free Press's Vincent D. Scebbi penned recaps as well, and as Willie Coetzee took part in the ECHL's All-Star Game on Wednesday (Coetzee registered a goal and an assist as a team of ECHL'ers defeated the Colorado Rockies 7-3), Hockey's Future's Justin Felisko had a conversation with Coetzee about his attempts to establish himself as a scorer while hoping to earn an eventual promotion to the Griffins:
Willie Coetzee refuses to use this year’s earlier NHL lockout as an excuse for currently playing for the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. There is a reason why the Detroit Red Wings decided to keep the 5'10”, 180-pound forward in the ECHL instead of letting him build off of his 2010 campaign (11 goals, 11 assists) with the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Grand Rapids, MI.
Instead, Coetzee has embraced the challenge and is motivated to return to the AHL.
“It’s always a motivation,” Coetzee said. “The lockout is always an excuse for everybody, but I am here with everyone else. I am still here so I obviously need to work on things. It’s motivation to put up points and do what Detroit wants me to.”
Coetzee said the Red Wings have encouraged him to put more pucks on net and that is exactly what the 22-year-old has done by firing an ECHL-high 165 shots on goal. He also has 16 goals and 19 assists in 39 games for the Walleye.
“I have always been a shooter,” he said. “It’s just now I get the opportunity when I am down here. I got more room to play and more playing time.”
Coetzee started off last season on Grand Rapid’s second line before falling down the depth chart to the Griffins’ third and fourth lines. As a result of his drop down the depth chart, this year he has welcomed the opportunity to be Toledo’s top right winger to help continue with his development.
“I know the process with Detroit is they want me to get a lot of ice time, and it’s working out for me,” Coetzee said. “It’s really helpful getting your confidence back.”
Elsewhere: As noted by DRW Prospects on Twitter:
Mattias Backman registered an assist on Linkopings HC's first goal in their 3-1 victory over Jarnkrok and Brynas IF;
Pulkkinen went scoreless in Jokerit's 3-1 win over the Lahti Pelicans;
And Alexei Marchenko and CSKA Moscow dropped a 2-1 decision to Vityaz.
In the OHL, Jake Paterson stopped 33 of 37 shots in the Saginaw Spirit's 5-4 win over Niagara;
Ryan Sproul had 2 assists in the Soo Greyhounds' 6-4 win over Oshawa;
Andreas Athanasiou went scoreless in the Barrie Colts' 4-1 victory over Peterborough;
In the QMJHL, Xavier Ouellet didn't play in the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada's 9-0 win over Shawinigan;
Phillipe Hudon registered 2 goals and was named the game's first star in the Victoriaville Tigres' 3-2 overtime loss to Baie-Comeau;
Martin Frk scored a goal in the Halifax Mooseheads' 4-2 loss to Quebec;
In the WHL, Richard Nedomlel didn't register a point in the Swift Current Broncos' 4-2 loss to Moose Jaw;
In the USHL, Mike McKee went scoreless in the Lincoln Stars' 3-2 loss to Fargo;
In the BCHL, James De Haas registered an assist in the Penticton Vees' 2-1 win over West Kelowna;
In the WCHA, Ben Marshall didn't register a point in Minnesota's 2-1 loss to Minnesota State;
And Nick Jensen didn't register a point in Saint Cloud State's 3-1 victory over North Dakota.
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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.