The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/02/13 at 11:42 AM ET
Updated 6x with game-day video from Columbus and Zetterberg discussing his status as Wayne Gretzky's favorite active player at 2:45 PM: The Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets will face off tonight (7 PM, FSD, FS Ohio, 97.1 FM) with the Red Wings hoping to sustain the momentum generated by their 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Friday.
There's actual good news on the injury front for the Wings, too: the Free Press's Helene St. James reportsthat David Backes' controversial hit on Kent Huskins did little to no lasing damage:
MLive's Ansar Khan confirms...
As does St. James in article form...
General manager Ken Holland told the Free Press that Huskins "had tests after the game. All negative. Huskins is playing tonight."
Holland said Huskins "was sore getting on the plane."
Brian Lashoff was available in reserve if Huskins couldn't play.
The Wings' blue line corp has had a rough opening to the season: Carlo Colaiacovo hurt his left shoulder in Game 2 and is out at least through mid-February; Jonathan Ericsson hurt his right shoulder after a practice mishap between games one and two and missed three games; Ian White suffered a deep gash to his left leg in Game 3, but he should be back next week.
And Khan offers this news about the Blues' captain and any potentail supplemental discipline, per TSN's Aaron Ward:
Also of Wings-related note, per Fox Sports Detroit's John Keating...
In terms of news regarding tonight's opponent, ColumbusBlueJackets.com's Rob Mixer offers personnel news...
Oh boy, goody!
Here are the Blue Jackets' lines, from said game-day blog:
10:05 A.M. -- Columbus will use the same lineup as Thursday night's game. Here are the lines and pairings they're skating in today:
Brassard - Dubinsky - Foligno
Umberger - Anisimov - Dorsett
Prospal - Johansen - Audy-Marchessault
MacKenzie - Letestu - Boll
Moore - Wisniewski
Tyutin - Savard
Erixon - Johnson
If you really, really want to read an article about Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson, Fox Sports Ohio Dan Kamal penned one in which he discusses Johnson's attempt to instill a "winning culture" in the team...
The Columbus Dispatch's Shawn Mitchell offers some personnel updates, too...
And as I stated in the overnight report, the Columbus Dispatch doesn't update its website until 6:30 AM, so I made the executive decision to go to sleep for an extra 90 minutes instead of waiting for those articles to post. I'll get 'em in a minute; for the moment, I'd like to get the Huskins news out there.
Update #0.5: MLive's Ansar Khan reports that the morning skate is still underway for the Wings...
And he's confirming Huskin's status in article form:
Detroit Red Wings defenseman Kent Huskins will play tonight at Columbus, after tests came back negative, general manager Ken Holland said.
Here's an FYI From Fox Sports Detroit's John Keating, too:
Hm. Take this for what you will, from the Wings...
And the Wings' Game Day Blog is up and running, too:
On This Day in Red Wings History...On February 2
2009: Kris Draper played in his 1,000th career NHL goal in a 4-3 win over St. Louis at The Joe.
2011: Johan Franzen scored five goals in Detroit's 7-5 win over the Senators, becoming the first Wing to do that since Sergei Fedorov in 1996.
Update #1.25: From the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:
The Wings aren't going to go anywhere if their "bottom six" forwards--and I know that Danny Cleary's taking a lot of Twitter-based flak right now, but he's not alone as Cleary, Justin Abdelakder, Drew Miller, Jordin Tootoo, Cory Emmerton and Patrick Eaves have combined for one point--and defensemen not named Niklas Kronwall or Jonathan Ericsson produce points on a much more regular basis; the team's power play and penalty-killing units must obviously continue to improve; the Wings have to hope against hope that Jonas Gustavsson will eventually be able to spell Jimmy Howard so that he doesn't break down...
And the Wings play the Blues two more times this month--in St. Louis next Thursday, February 7th, and at home on Wednesday, February 13th--so we're going to have a much better estimate of "where the Wings stand" after the three-game pseudo-playoff series has run its course.
With Ian White (lacerated quadriceps) hoping to return sometime next week, Mikael Samuelsson (groin) and Darren Helm (back) not too far away, and question marks in Gustavsson (groin) and Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) more likely to return toward the middle-to-end of this month, the Wings will continue to have to pray to the injury gods regarding finally showing Ken Holland, the Wings' management, pro scouts, coaches and fans like you and me what this team actually consists of before Holland starts making his promised changes beginning in early March...
But the team's personnel can't be used as an excuse for losses duringa month in which tonight's game marks the start of four slates of back-to-back games.
The team will play (including tonight's game) 14 more times over the next 27 days. The Wings will see Columbus one more time (on February 21st), the Blues twice, and have two games to play against both the Nashville Predators (on February 19th in Nashville and February 23rd in Detroit) and Los Angeles Kings twice, too (on February 10th at the Joe and on February 27th in Los Angeles, when the Wings begin their first West Coast trip of the season)...
And, as the Wings displayed on Friday, this shorthanded team can keep up with the St. Louises of the world when they play crisp, speedy and intense puck possession hockey. The system works, regardless of the personnel in the lineup, and the Wings need to stick to it while, as coach Mike Babcock suggested, doing their damnedest to out-hustle, out-work and out-compete their opponents.
Update #3: The Columbus Dispatch's Aaron Portzline has filed a morning skate report:
The Blue Jackets went through a high-paced morning skate in Nationwide Arena this morning, working on breakouts and special teams, both power plays and penalty kill. But the biggest challenge for the Blue Jackets heading into tonight's game with Detroit will playout in their heads.
Coach Todd Richards is looking for "emotional attachment" from the moment the puck is dropped, so that the Blue Jackets aren't yet again fighting an up-hill battle. The Jackets have been outscored 10-2 in the first period this season, the most goals allowed in the league and the largest negative difference.
The second issue builds off of the first. Should the Blue Jackets fall behind again -- hey, it happens -- many players have mentioned a need to keep plugging away, not collapse under a deluge of negative thoughts and a woe-is-us mentality. (This is the Oxford English Dictionary definition of fragile by the way.)
The Red Wings were the last NHL club to score a first-period goal. Last night, in a 5-3 win in St. Louis, the Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg had two first-period goals. The Wings, after a sluggish start and devastating injuries, are starting to click.
The Blue Jackets will go with goaltender Steve Mason tonight. He relieved Sergei Bobrovsky on Thursday and stopped all 13 shots he faced against St. Louis. Richards has said he's open to "riding a hot goaltender" if one goaltender emerges and the schedule allows it. This is your chance, Mr. Mason.
It appears the Blue Jackets lines will be the same as they were Thursday, but there's a wrinkle on the power play. Mark Letestu had joined Jack Johnson on the points for the first unit, while Fedor Tyutin and James Wisniewski quarterbacking the second.
Portzline also says that the Blue Jackets will be wrapping up a slate of 9 games played over the course of 15 days this evening, and...
-- Blue Jackets C Derick Brassard ended a seven-game scoring drought with his first of the season on Thursday against the Blues. Thus, a new routine has started. Brassard changed up his pre-game meal routine on Thursday afternoon, and all hockey players are superstitious. So ... "Back to Buca," he said.
-- G Jimmy Howard will start for the Red Wings tonight. It's his 200th NHL game.
-- Blue Jackets C Derek MacKenzie also playing in his 200th NHL game.
-- Blue Jackets RW Derek Dorsett has 700 penalty minutes. Bet he picks up a few more tonight.
Update #4: Here's MLive's Ansar Khan's morning skate report. Kent Huskins is good to go if he's asked to play...
“I'm all right. Good to play, that's all that matters,'' Huskins said.
Huskins said he passed a couple of tests after his team's 5-3 win over the St. Louis Blues on Friday. He left the game after Backes leveled him at 9:38 of the third period.
“It was more just a jolt, kind of knocked the wind out of me,'' Huskins said. “I was a little dazed for a bit, no big issues.''
“I know Backs from being there last year. He plays hard and he's not a dirty player,'' Huskins said. “I haven't analyzed (the hit), but I know there was no intent to injure or anything like that.''
Backes received a match penalty (five minutes, game ejection) but will not be disciplined by the NHL. The on-ice officials called it an illegal hit to the head, but replays indicated Backes made contact with Huskins' chest.
“I was just trying to move the puck up. (Backes) just kind of continued on and finished his check,'' Huskins said. “It was out of my peripheral vision. I was looking up ice and it wasn't from behind or anything, it was kind of from the side. I just kind of felt the impact, but where exactly it hit me, I haven't watched it.''
Again, Babcock's not committing to playing Huskins...
“We'll have seven D ready, I'll make a decision on what the six are at warmup,'' he said.
Babcock assessed Huskins' play his first five games by saying, “Steady professional, not flashy. Good teammate, happy to have him.''
And Khan reports that the Wings will stick with their lineup from the Blues game.
The Windsor Star's Bob Duff offers the Wings' Superbowl picks, and reveals that Damien Brunner actually enjoys American football...
“My brother (Adrian) is a big Baltimore fan, so I’m going to stick with him,” said Brunner, whose brother Adrian plays in Langnau of the Swiss League, the same country in which Damien played until this season. “I don’t know (why his brother is a Ravens fan). I guess he likes (Baltimore linebacker) Ray Lewis.”
Damien Brunner admitted he’s a fan of the NFL and thinks it’s an entertaining sport.
“I like it,” Brunner said. “I like watching the games, though I have to admit I haven’t watched too many, but I really like it. It’s fun to watch, overall, the different plays and stuff. It’s fun.”
Attending an NFL game is one of many items on Brunner’s sporting to do list now that he’s in North America.
“Oh, definitely, but not only football,” Brunner said. “I’m looking forward to seeing some baseball and basketball when I have a chance, some day.”
Brendan Smith went to school at teh University of Wisconsin, so, unsurprisingly, he's going to root for a team that has a Green Bay Packers connection...
“I’m a huge Packers’ fan,’ defenceman Brendan Smith said. “San Fran beat them two weeks ago, so I guess I have to root for San Fran because they took down them. But it will be an interesting game. “Obviously, Baltimore has been riding pretty high. They beat Tom Brady, so it’s going to be interesting, but I’ve got San Fran.”
And Drew Miller agrees with Smith:
Forward Drew Miller is with Smith. “I think I’m going with San Fran,” Miller said. “I like them. I think they have a good team, though it could go either way. I really don’t think that one team has a big advantage over the other.”
Miller admitted that quarterback Colin Kaepernick swayed him to the 49ers’ side. “I like him,” Miller said. “I think he’s done well. I like it when a guy comes in and does well like that.”
I don't speak football, so "Go Banana!"
Update #4.5: Here are Ken Kal's "keys to the game," via the Wings' Game Day Blog:
Take Care of the Puck - In back-to-back games, teams usually don’t have the energy to backcheck when you turn the puck over, so the Wings have to take care of the puck.
Be Opportunistic - Take advantage of Columbus’ mistakes whenever possible and play a tight, typical road game.
Treat it as a Business Trip - Understand what you need to do to win and how you need to play to be successful.
Update #4.75: The Blue Jackets' website has posted clips of James Wisniewski...
And Derek MacKenzie discussing tonight's game:
Update #5: Ryan Johansen also spoke to the Blue Jackets' website:
Update #6: Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards also spoke to the media...
Zetterberg is ninth in all-time scoring (257 goals) among Swedish-born players, trailing Mats Sundin (564), Daniel Alfredsson (417), Markus Naslund (395), Ulf Dalhen (301), Daniel Sedin (281), Tomas Steen (264), Kent Nilsson (264) and Lidstrom (264).
After Friday’s game, Zetterberg said that he was aware of the comments made by Gretzky, who hosted his annual fantasy camp in Las Vegas this week. But that didn’t stop the sleuth in Zetterberg from back-checking the authenticity of Gretzky’s statements.
“I didn’t believe it at first,” said Zetterberg, who leads the Red Wings with five goals and seven assists this season. “I had to go to Goggle to make sure no one was pulling a prank on me. But it is nice. He’s one of my first big idols, and if he’s happy with the way I’m playing then I’m happy. … It’s a great honor.”
In agreeing with Gretzky, Red Wings general manager Ken Holland added that for years, fans have come to expect the majesty that players like Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk demonstrate each night.
“We get to watch Henrik every day. I know that Lidstrom is special and Datsyuk is special,” Holland said. “But when you see these players every day I think sometimes people don’t always appreciate how special they are.
“Then, when you hear that a guy like Gretzky makes a comment about one of your players, it reminds everybody that we’re pretty lucky to have a special player like Henrik Zetterberg.”
Zetterberg said he’s heard Gretzky’s complimentary comments before.
“When he coached in Phoenix, Pavel and I had a few good games down there, and he had some comments back then too,” Zetterberg said. “I heard it before, and I’m definitely proud of it.”
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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.