The Malik Report
by George Malik on 10/15/13 at 11:24 AM ET
Updated 12x at 2:49 PM:The Red Wings host an annoyingly dominant-over-Detroit opponent tonight in the Columbus Blue Jackets (8 PM, FSD/FS Ohio/97.1 FM), with the Wings hoping to build upon yesterday's 3-2 win over Boston, and in case you've forgotten about the late start...
In an odd twist, the Blue Jackets provided lineup notes first.
The Columbus Dispatch doesn't post its articles until 5 AM, so here are some tidbits from Aaron Portzline's notebook...
Left wing Matt Calvert, who has been hampered by an abdominal/groin injury since early in training camp, will have surgery in Philadelphia today, the Blue Jackets announced last night. How long he will be out of the lineup won’t be known until after surgery.
It’s a blow to the Blue Jackets, who count on Calvert’s tenacity and speed to help them create an effective forecheck. He played in the first three games, generating no points or penalties but a plus-1 rating.
The surgery will be performed by William Meyer, who has worked on several top athletes, including Blue Jackets forwards Marian Gaborik and Jared Boll this past summer.
Calvert was placed on injured reserve to clear a roster spot for forward Sean Collins, who was recalled from the Blue Jackets’ minor-league affiliate in Springfield, Mass.
The Blue Jackets went 4-0-1 against the Detroit Red Wings last season, the first time in 12 years they won the season series.
Both teams left the Central Division for the Eastern Conference — the Jackets to the Metropolitan, the Red Wings to the Atlantic — but they will still play three times.
“Detroit is Detroit, especially in their building,” coach Todd Richards said. “We’ve got a little bit of confidence against them, but it’s hard to win in their building. They test you in a lot of different ways.”
And here's the Dispatch's game preview (capsule version):
Blue Jackets at a glance
• Record: 2-2-0
• Power play: 23.1 percent (12th in NHL)
• Penalty kill: 90.0 percent (tied for fourth)
• Injury update: LW Blake Comeau (lacerated ankle) probable; RW Marian Gaborik (flu) questionable; RW Nathan Horton (left shoulder), LW Matt Calvert (groin) and LW Cody Bass (broken thumb) out
Red Wings at a glance
• Record: 4-2-0
• Power play: 17.6 percent (21st in NHL)
• Penalty kill: 88.0 percent (sixth)
• Injury update: G Jimmy Howard (hand) doubtful; RW Patrick Eaves (ankle) and C Darren Helm (groin) out
If you want to read an article about the Blue Jackets' defensive zone coverage, enjoy; otherwise, the Dispatch posted a list of probable Red Wings and Blue Jackets' "probable" lines, with the Blue Jackets "lining up" as follows:
Cam Atkinson-Brandon Dubinksy-Marian Gaborik
Nick Forligno-Ryan Johansen-R.J. Umberger
Blake Comeau-Artem Anisimov-Mark Letestu
Ryan Craig-Derek MacKenzie-Jared BOll
Fedor Tyutin-Jack Johnson
Dalton Prout-Nikita Nikitin
James Wisniewski-Ryan Murray
In the Twitter department...
Great news for Zach Nastasiuk, who's now the Owen Sound Attack's captain...
And if you want to attend tonight's game and are a student and/or a military member/veteran...
It appears that the Red Wings' morning skate was an "optional" one...
Definitely an optional, per the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness (and DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose):
The Red Wings' Game Day Blog offers a historical note...
On This Day in Red Wings' History...On October 15,
1947: Tommy Ivan becomes the new coach of the Red Wings. He coached the Wings for seven seasons.
1995: Red Wings goalie Mike Vernon plays in his 500th NHL game, which results in a 5-5 tie against Winnipeg.
2009: Nicklas Lidstrom collects his 1,000th career point - a third-period assist - that helps the Wings to a 5-2 win over the LA Kings at Joe Louis Arena.
As well as Ken Kal's Keys to the Game:
Fight The Fatigue - Tonight is Detroit's third game in four nights, plus the latter part of a back-to-back. They've got to be mentally tough and mentally sharp.
Second and Third Lines Must Stay Productive - Stephen Weiss and Dan Cleary each had goals in Boston; that helps alleviate pressure off of the top line, who have been producing consistently.
Penalty Kill Needs to Stay Strong - The PK was terrific yesterday in Boston and was the difference in their 3-2 win. The Wings need to bring that same intensity level tonight.
In something of a Wings-Bruins tailing, via Paul, Comcast Sportsnet Northeast's Joe Haggerty took note of the Bruins and Red Wings' statuses as teams that respect each other while understanding that they're elite teams who will stand in each other's way in terms of playoff spots and playoff runs:
“We think we have a good team. Their team at this time is probably more NHL-ready for a long run just because they have been together longer,” said Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock. “They brought over [Loui] Eriksson, [Jarome Iginla] and [Reilly] Smith, to an experienced group. We are a young group that has to continue to get better and better together, and we will do that. I like what happened for our team today, confidence wise.”
For the Bruins it simply means things won’t be quite as seamless as they’ve been in recent years. Instead of routinely bulldozing over the Canadiens, Maple Leafs and Senators in the regular season as they’ve done in recent years, the B’s have another deep, disciplined, experienced hockey team that’s going to push them to be as good as they can be. Where the Northeast Division was a little bit of a bust, the Atlantic Division has a chance to be interesting filled with four Original Six teams.
“They’re well coached, and they’ve been an elite team since 1995 so they’ve been up there,” said Milan Lucic with grudging respect following the loss. “They’re hard to play against on both sides of the puck and you saw that here today.”
The Wings were also motivated on Monday afternoon in the win over the Bruins that saw them make very few defensive mistakes, get a quality emergency performance between the pipes from Jonas Gustavsson and give the kind of effort that had them outnumber Boston’s blocked shots by a 22-4 margin when it was all over.
One would have expected stalwart defenseman Niklas Kronwall to lead the Red Wings in blocked shots when things were settled, but Zetterberg nearly blocked as many shots individually (three) as the Bruins did as an entire team (4). That means even the team’s superstars were buying into the team concept just a few weeks into the regular season that will eventually make a difference.
The whopping disparity in a blocked shot category that’s all about energy, sacrifice and the will to win was eye-popping, and usually separates the winners and losers in the 30 arenas across the NHL. That’s exactly what it did on Monday for a pair of teams that know what’s required to actually win on a consistent basis.
“They were blocking a lot of shots. I thought [Jonas] Gustavsson, he was square to a lot of shots,” said Lucic. “He was doing really well getting side to side and going post to post. That’s probably the best game I’ve seen him play. So you have to give them credit for playing a full team game, and blocking a lot of those shots. We had chances where it could have been those rebound scrambles for pucks and they were able to block a lot of them. I think that’s what kind of stopped us from making it a 3-2 [score] earlier.”
Random wallpaper: I dig this picture from CBS Detroit (click to embiggen):
Amongst the Blue Jackets' game-day notes...
Some interesting pre-game nuggets before the Blue Jackets take the ice...
- Tonight is the 75th all-time meetings between the Blue Jackets and the Red Wings.
- Columbus, as we know, was 4-0-1 against Detroit last season and has won six of the last 10 meetings overall.
- Here's a wowzer: Pavel Datsyuk has 65 points (21G, 44A) in 56 career games against the Blue Jackets.
- The Blue Jackets are 10-4-2 in their last 16 road games; they are 21-7-5 in their last 33 games overall.
- Columbus was 24-for-25 (96 percent efficiency) on the penalty kill vs. Detroit last season.
And in case you were dreaming of the Wings adding Thomas Vanek, the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson doesn't think that the sniper's heading anywhere but Minnesota:
- Can the Buffalo Sabres get any more for winger Thomas Vanek and goalie Ryan Miller at the deadline than the Calgary Flames did with their unrestricted free agents Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester? The Flames retrieved college winger Ben Hanowski, Swiss goalie Reto Berra, defenceman Mark Cundari (all now in AHL Abbotsford), college forward Kenny Agostino (still at NCAA champion Yale), and their two first-round picks, Emile Poirier and Morgan Klimchuk, are back in junior. Everybody in the league knows Vanek will sign with the Minnesota Wild next summer.
The locker room opened after the Wings' "optional," and DetroitRedWings.com's Roose reports that "The Monster" starts tonight:
I still believe that Howard's status would've been less of an issue had Babcock not held a Sunday practice despite the fact that the Wings had played 2 games in 3 nights and were preparing to play 2 in 2, but I hate Sunday practices. I don't believe that anything good comes out of skating a tired team in the middle of a three-games-in-four-nights stretch.
According to DetroitHockey.net's Clark Rasmussen, you're probably not familiar with Jonas Gustavsson wearing red on the ice for a reason:
Update: Here comes Blue Jackets news...
You'll have to excuse me for tossing off the following "Thoughts" from Elliotte Friedman as interesting tidbits...
5. Back to Ottawa: is one of the reasons it is giving up so many shots because of hybrid icing? Blues coach Ken Hitchcock says it's possible. "Teams that played puck pursuit and knew they'd win races don't have the same advantage," he said last week. "If you're a step behind now, it's a dead play... turns into a faceoff at the other end." He named the Senators and Bruins as teams that often won those races. (In an interview with The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Hitchcock also named Chicago.)
6. Hitchcock on the shallower nets: "The new nets have created a dramatic difference on wraparounds and stuff plays. We'll see more goal crease goals... but we're also seeing a big change in a defending team's exit strategy. For the first time, defencemen can make direct plays to each other from behind the net instead of indirect plays." Makes it easier to get out of your zone and start transition.
28. Wednesday is the next meeting between the NHL and NHLPA to discuss the international hockey "calendar." No announcements are expected, but there is a thought that only two teams, not four as initially thought, will go over to Europe for games next season.
And MLive's Brendan Savage confirms that the Wings will stick with what's worked in terms of player personnel:
Tonight's game will mark the first time Gustavsson has started for the Red Wings (4-2) at Joe Louis Arena. It will be his sixth start since coming to Detroit as a free agent prior to last season.
Howard said he hopes to be back in the lineup Thursday night in Colorado.
The starting time for tonight's game has been pushed back to 8 p.m. because the Tigers are playing the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS this afternoon at Comerica Park.
The Red Wings will start tonight's game with the same lineup that produced the victories over Philadelphia and Boston:
Henrik Zetterberg-Pavel Datsyuk-Todd Bertuzzi
Johan Franzen-Stephen Weiss-Justin Abdelkader
Daniel Cleary-Joakim Andersson-Daniel Alfredsson
Drew Miller-Luke Glendening-Jordin Tootoo
Niklas Kronwall-Jonathan Ericsson
Kyle Quincey-Danny DeKeyser
Jakub Kindl-Brian Lashoff
Jonas Gustavsson (starting)
Healthy scratches: Mikael Samuelsson, Tomas Tatar, Brendan Smith
Update #2: So this is a thing? Per Sportsnet's Luke Fox...
Datsyukian Dreams collects the frequent and fabulous feats of the superhuman who wears No. 13 for the Detroit Red Wings. Our favourite plays from your favourite player’s favourite player….
In the Detroit Red Wings’ Oct. 14 revenge victory over their new divisional foe, fellow Original Sixers the Boston Bruins, Pavel Datsyuk out-Selkes Patrice Bergeron.
Watch as a backchecking Datsyuk steals the puck from the Bruins forward, spins around the other way, undresses Zdeno Chara something silly, then feeds buddy Henrik Zetterberg with a perfect backhand pass.
“Pavel Datsyuk could thread a needle in the dark!” rejoices the Detroit announcer.
The play deserves two assists, but Datsyuk is only given one. He now has six points in six games.
And this news from the Blue Jackets' game-day blog post was expected:
UPDATE (11:45 AM): No surprise here, but Sergei Bobrovsky makes his fifth consecutive start for Columbus tonight.
Update #3: Very exciting, surely:
And I'm no fan of power rankings, but SI's Allan Muir posted a slate thereof, and I have to take note of his comments:
9 Detroit Red Wings Last Week: 9 (4-2-0): Four points is four points, but wins over Philly and Boston were indicative of opportunism more than the kind of solid play the Wings are striving for. The top line is flying, but Detroit needs more consistency from the worker bees, so it was good to see Stephen Weiss and Dan Cleary get on the board against the B's. (Last week: 2-1-0)
Update #4: Here's more from the Blue Jackets' Game Day blog:
UPDATE (12:25 PM): Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards just met with the media. Here are his pre-game thoughts/updates...
- Nick Foligno (personal reasons) will not play tonight in Detroit. He arrived this morning but is out of the lineup.
- Blake Comeau (laceration) skated with the team and is a "question mark" to play tonight, Richards said. If Comeau cannot play, the Blue Jackets have Sean Collins and Ryan Craig able to step in.
- Dalton Prout is a scratch on the blue line tonight and Nikita Nikitin jumps back into the mix. Nikitin and David Savard will make up the third pairing.
- Marian Gaborik flies in this afternoon and is a game-time decision, per Richards.
Update #5: No surprise here:
DETROIT RECALLS GOALTENDER PETR MRAZEK
… Second-Year Pro Will Back Up Jonas Gustavsson Tonight …
Detroit, MI... The Detroit Red Wings today recalled goaltender Petr Mrazek from the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins.
Mrazek, 21, made 21 saves on 24 shots in his season debut with the Griffins in a 4-3 shootout win last Saturday at Hamilton. In his rookie campaign with the team, he helped lead the Griffins to its first-ever Calder Cup championship with a 23-16-2 record, a 2.33 GAA and a 0.916 save percentage in 42 regular season games and a 15-9 record, a 2.31 GAA, a 0.916 save percentage and four shutouts in 24 postseason contests. The Ostrava, Czech Republic, native also appeared in two games for Detroit, sporting a 1-1 record, a 2.02 GAA and a 0.922 save percentage, as well as three games for the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye, posting a 2-1 record, a 2.02 GAA and a 0.944 save percentage.
Mrazek will back up Jonas Gustavsson tonight when the Red Wings host the Columbus Blue Jackets at 8 p.m. (FOX Sports Detroit/WXYT 1270 AM).
Update #6: Daddy's little floater of the future?
Update #6.5: I would've liked to be able to sleep in...
And he noted that Brendan Smith's still out, and Smith understands that he has to root for the Wings to lose to some extent to get back into the lineup:
“I think once it happens and the team keeps winning they usually stay with the same lineup they’ve had which is what they’ve been doing,” Smith said. “I think it’s the whole thing if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”
Smith is a minus-4 in four games this season.
“I think there are things I need to work on, Smith said. “I think there are things you always need to work on. I’m definitely a minus-4, but I’ve watched all of them and I know none of those goals against have been my fault. That’s a good thing for me to know and look up to and to keep playing like that.
“Sometimes things like that effect you, but I’ve looked at them and I know that they’re not my fault,” Smith said. “There were some breakdowns and stuff. I’ve just got to play a little more safe. I think (against) Phoenix I had a few bad pinches. I just have to make sure when I get back in the lineup is just to play hard so I stay there.”
Smith’s frustration level hit a high Monday as 19 family members where there to watch him and his brother, Reilly, play against each other.
“That was a little frustrating, but that’s hockey, that’s life and stuff like that happens,” Smith said. “I’ve just got to stay positive and when I get my chance to get back in the lineup I’ve just to stay there.”
Good. I'll bet that Babcock knew that fact when sitting Smith out on Monday. Sometimes you need to piss off a top prospect turned middling meanderer to get his ass back on track.
Update #8: The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan also filed a game-day story:
It'll be Gustavsson's first back-to-back appearance since he was with Toronto in 2012. Gustavsson made 28 saves Monday in a 3-2 win at Boston.
"It was good for him and real good for us," coach Mike Babcock said. "Last year was probably a nightmare for him. He couldn't get himself healthy (groin problems). The bottom line is, you have look after it and as a goalie, be available and durable."
To back up Gustavsson, the Red Wings called up Petr Mrazek from Grand Rapids.
Babcock would like to see Gustavsson get at least 20 starts, to give Howard adequate rest during the long season.
"If you have it in your mind you have to play every single night, it would be tough going," Babcock said.
DetroitRedWings.com's Roose took note of Howard's take regarding bruises as well:
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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.