The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/21/13 at 04:03 PM ET
Updated 3x at 5:32 PM: The Detroit Red Wings face off against the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight (7:30 PM, FSD/NBC Sports Network/97.1 FM) as something of a mess. As you probably already know by now, Jakub Kindl (groin) and Darren Helm (back) are on the mend, but Jan Mursak (collarbone) joined Todd Bertuzzi (mononucleosis) on the IR, Jonathan Ericsson (shoulder) is iffy for tonight's game, and so is Jonas Gustavsson (groin).
The Free Press's Helene St. James updates us on the Wings' injury issues...
A lineup already hurt by injuries or illnesses to forwards Darren Helm and Todd Bertuzzi and backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson may take another dent, as Ericsson is questionable because of a sore right shoulder.
Ericsson hurt himself when he crashed into the boards during Sunday's practice, after stepping on a loose puck. He went through the morning skate but didn't sound enthusiastic about his health.
"Not as good as I hoped," he said when asked how he felt. "It's better than it was last night, but it just hurts."
Just in case Ericsson can't play, the Wings are calling up Brian Lashoff from Grand Rapids in order to be six men deep on defense. The five healthy ones are Niklas Kronwall, Brendan Smith, Kyle Quincey, Ian White and Carlo Colaiacovo.
Jakub Kindl is recovering from a groin injury but doesn't expect to be ready before Friday. The Wings are putting Kindl on injured reserve to make room for Lashoff.
Helm went so hard during the morning skate, he came off and said, "My lungs are burning." He should be ready for the Minnesota game Friday, as well.
As does the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...
Ericsson took part in Monday's morning skate but didn't sound optimistic afterward.
Ericsson stepped on a puck during Sunday's practice here and crashed into the boards, injuring his shoulder.
"Not as good as I hoped," said Ericsson, who will be replaced by defenseman Brian Lashoff (who'll be recalled from Grand Rapids) if Ericsson can't play. "We'll see. We'll have to wait until later and see.
"It was better than it was last night. (But) it just hurts."
The Red Wings are already without forwards Darren Helm (strained back), Todd Bertuzzi (mononucleosis) and Jan Mursak (collarbone), along with defenseman Jakub Kindl (groin) and goalie Jonas Gustavsson (groin).
Despite the injuries, the Wings badly need a victory after a disappointing 6-0 loss Saturday in St. Louis to open the regular season.
"We didn't compete enough, organized enough, we weren't very good," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said.
And MLive's Ansar Khan provides us with tonight's lineups:
Defenseman Jakub Kindl (groin) and center Darren Helm (back) skated hard and said they are aiming to return for Friday's game against Minnesota.
Goaltender Tom McCollum arrived from Grand Rapids and skated. He will back-up Jimmy Howard tonight and in Tuesday's home opener vs. Dallas. Jonas Gustavsson (groin) will stay off the ice for a couple of days.
Here are the lines and defense pairs the Red Wings skated with:
Pavel Datsyuk-Henrik Zetterberg-Damien Brunner
Johan Franzen-Valtteri Filppula-Mikael Samuelsson
Daniel Cleary-Justin Abdelkader-Drew Miller
Patrick Eaves-Cory Emmerton-Jordin Tootoo
Niklas Kronwall-Jonathan Ericsson
Kyle Quincey-Brendan Smith
Carlo Colaiacovo-Ian White
If Ericsson can't play, Smith might replace him on the top defense pair with Kronwall.
Here is the Blues Jackets' anticipated lineup:
R.J. Umberger-Derick Brassard-Cam Atkinson
Brandon Dubinsky-Artem Anisimov-Derek Dorsett
Nick Foligno-Ryan Johansen-Vinny Prospal
Matt Calvert-Derek MacKenzie-Jared Boll
Jack Johnson-James Wisniewski
Fedor Tyutin-Nikita Nikitin
John Moore-Adrian Aucoin
Sergei Bobrovsky (starting)
Update: With the Blue Jackets' lines out of the way, here were Aaron Portzline's takes from yesterday afternoon...
The Blue Jackets headed north from Nashville last night, took their rest and reconvened for a Noon practice in Nationwide Arena today. All 23 players took part.
They are ready for their long-awaited home opener on Monday against Detroit. But they will approach the Red Wings with caution, unconvinced that Detroit is anything other than, well, Detroit, despite the Wings’ 6-0 opening-night loss at St. Louis.
“I think we all know what it Detroit is about as an organization and how proud they are,” Blue Jackets center Derek MacKenzie said. “ I think we’re going to see a different team tomorrow night. “
Yet Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards will have more confidence in his club on Monday than he did before a 3-2 shootout win over the Predators. Last night’s opener, he said, put him on edge. He couldn’t be sure what he had after his retooled team concluded a six-day training camp.
“Probably the most nervous I’ve been as a coach,” Richards said. “I think it was just the unknown—bringing in lots of (new) guys. As coaches, the security is in preparing. We only had five, six days to get everything in sync. There was some question as to if we were prepared. That was one thing I was fearful of, just the unknown of it. But credit to the guys. It looked like we knew what we were doing, for the most part. We weren’t perfect but we played like a team.”
Richards said the Blue Jackets left Nashville with some bumps and bruises but doesn’t expect to make any lineup changes on Monday. He said he will choose a starting goaltender in the morning, although it seems likely that Sergei Bobrovsky will get the nod again.
--The Red Wings skated in Nationwide this afternoon. They are far from full-strength, although C Darren Helm (back) and D Jakub Kindl (groin) were on the ice for at least a portion of practice. LW Jan Mursak (collarbone) exited last night’s game in the second period, did not return and won’t play on Monday. RW Todd Bertuzzi (mono) could miss several weeks. Goaltender Jimmy Howard, who was pulled early in the third period of Saturday’s loss, will be backed up by AHL recall Tom McCullum.
-- The Blue Jackets and Predators combined for three power plays for a total of 4:27 in a game with ample flow. It was surprising, Todd Richards said, given the large number of penalties called in other games on Saturday. “I wouldn’t mind the special-teams game,” defenseman Jack Johnson said. “But tomorrow night could be different. You never know.”
--Limited tickets remain for Monday’s nationally-televised game. A sellout is expected.
And this morning:
"We better be ready to go," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "This is a team that knows how to win. A lot of pride. Good leadership. We’re going to get their best tonight. They’re going to respond to that game they had the other night in St. Louis. We’re going to get their best game, so we have to be ready to go."
The Blue Jackets will play the same lineup as Saturday in Nashville. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who starred in his Jackets debut against the Predators, will make his second consecutive start, and all the lines and pairs appear intact.
"They're going to be a lot better tonight, and everybody knows it," Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson said. "Everybody is making a big deal out of losing Lidstrom, and it is a big deal. He's the best defenseman to ever play the game. That's a huge loss. But there's a lot of other proven, excellent players over there, too. They're still a real good team."
The Blue Jackets have undergone sweeping changes, too. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was asked if he quite knew what to expect of his Central Division neighbor.
"Obviously no Nash," Babcock said, referring to ... well, ya know. "But by moving Nash they acquired depth. They’ve been a team on the rise, even though people on the outside don’t see that. They’ve been a team getting better each and every year. They had injuries last year and things got off kilter. But they’re a team that’s been getting better and better. Their top four D with Johnson, Wisniewski, Tyutin and Nikitin – suddenly they have a top 4 D that you look at and say ‘Geez, that’s a top-4 D.’
"I don’t know which is their third line or second line. Anisimov's line, that’s an energy group for them. That could be their third line. Johansen, as he gets older and more mature, he’s going to be a first- or second-line center in the league. But that’s part of growing up. And their fourth group, with MacKenzie, they’re worker bees, those guys. They’re going to be hard to play against."
And here are some Wings quips from the Wings' "Game-Day Blog":
“I guess it’s a game-time decision…We'll see, I'm going to have to wait until later today. (My shoulder) is better than it was last night.”
– Jonathan Ericsson on his status for tonight
“Yeah, we sure think (Ericsson will play). It’s a game-time decision.”
– Mike Babcock
“It’s extremely exciting…it’s a real thrill to be back just practicing with these guys and to be around the atmosphere”
– Tom McCollum on his recent call-up
“I feel a lot more comfortable this year…A lot more relaxed and I know how to handle things a lot better…Just kind of approaching it as one shot at a time and having fun playing hockey.”
– Tom McCollum on his AHL season
.“He competed to get to his spot. Was a great, great, great teammate, great man and ultra-competitive…and he found a way to win four Stanley Cup championships and represent his country. Pretty impressive.”
– Babcock on Tomas Holmstrom
“When things like (last game) happen, you just have to rebound, go back out there and give the guys a better chance to win…You have to work, it’s as simple as that.”
– Jimmy Howard
You may also read NHL.com's game preview if you wish.
Update #2: The Grand Rapids Griffins signed Mike Knuble to a pro try-out...
The Grand Rapids Griffins on Monday signed veteran NHL right wing and East Kentwood native Mike Knuble to a professional tryout.
Knuble, 40, will become the second Greater Grand Rapids native to play for the Griffins, joining East Grand Rapids’ Luke Glendening. Born in Toronto, Ontario, Knuble has numerous ties to this area, as he helped the East Kentwood High School Falcons to a state championship in 1990, was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings (fourth round, 76th overall) in 1991, played four seasons for the University of Michigan (1991-95), and made his NHL debut with the Red Wings in 1996-97 before helping the team to its second straight Stanley Cup in 1998. He and his family currently make their home in East Grand Rapids as well.
A veteran of 1,040 NHL games, Knuble has recorded 540 points (274-266—540) over 16 seasons with the Red Wings, New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals. Currently an NHL free agent, he has been skating with the Griffins periodically since training camp. Holding both Canadian and American citizenship, Knuble has represented the United States several times on the international stage, most recently at the 2006 Olympics.
Knuble joins an exclusive club of players to have played over 1,000 NHL games before debuting with the Griffins, including Chris Chelios (1,616), Kelly Miller (1,057) and Brad May (1,041). The 18th-year pro last played in the AHL with the Adirondack Red Wings during the 1996-97 season. He has 108 points (50-58—108) in 148 career AHL games.
Knuble is expected to make his Griffins debut when the team hosts Oklahoma City on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Griffins play three home games in four nights this week, wrapping up the week with back-to-back games against the Houston Aeros on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at griffinshockey.com.
And Knuble spoke to the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner about his decision:
“It’s a start and I think it’s the best thing for me to do right now,” Knuble said before Monday’s practice. “I’m happy to sign.”
“The goal for me is to get playing and I’ve got to play games and I have to be realistic about my status right now. I’m a veteran player and you can’t be sitting around (waiting). You have to be in people’s eyes, and people have to come see you play in a competitive environment. This gives me the best opportunity, and I can play at home.”
Grand Rapids coach Jeff Blashill said he will decide Tuesday on Knuble’s linemates. The Griffins are waiting word from the AHL on possible suspensions from Saturday’s brawl at Rockford.
When the 2011-12 NHL season concluded, so did Knuble’s contract with the Washington Capitals, his team of three seasons. His bid to play another season became tangled in September — as it did for many veterans – when the NHL locked out the players, beginning an acrimonious four-month work stoppage that final ended two weeks ago.
Knuble, who has played for five NHL teams since drafted by Detroit in the fourth round in 1991, practiced with the Griffins whenever they were in Grand Rapids during the NHL lockout. He had a five-day tryout last week with the Red Wings but was released Friday when his impending deal with the Griffins was announced.
“Mike’s presence around our team and in our locker room the first half of the season has had a tremendous impact on our team and individual players,” Blashill said. “Our guys look up to him as someone who’s played 1,000-plus games in the NHL and has a lot of knowledge and the right type of approach.”
Last season, Knuble had six goals and 12 assists in 72 games. His best season came with Philadelphia in 2005-06 when he had 34 goals and 31 assists.
Grand Rapids' Joakim Andersson, a third-year center who could be paired with Knuble, welcomed the arrival.
“He has practiced and really been kind of a part of the team, so it’s nice to have someone like him on the ice,” said Andersson, who has 24 points in 30 games this season and was named Monday the AHL player of the week. “He has so much experience and I think that will really help us.”
Knuble, who will wear uniform No. 25, hopes to land with an NHL team but, if not, his contract would conclude after the March 23 game at Lake Erie. The Griffins host Lake Erie on March 22.
Via RedWingsFeed, the Griffins posted a video of Knuble's signing...
And Fox Sports Detroit's John Keating posted the following (sorry for inline, Twitter's acting weird):
Why is Wings forward Drew Miller a hero in Scotland? Find out @ 7 tonight on Red Wings Live, just ahead of Wings-Jackets on FSD.
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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.