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Red Wings-Blue Jackets game-day updates: Kent Huskins dodges the injury bug

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:

Update #1: Make it two notes from Keating...

VIa Red WingsFeed, MLive's Brendan Savage offers an extremely late Wings-Blues recap, but it's definitely worth mentioning and worth reading:

The Blues won 6-0 on opening night, outshooting the Red Wings 17-2 in the first period and 36-14 for the game while scoring three power-play goals and another short-handed. The difference this time?

"We competed," said coach Mike Babcock. "They just beat us like a rented mule (Jan. 19). This was a good opportunity for us to respond. We're not going away here. We're going to continue to battle and keep getting better and better."

It helped that the power play, which has been nothing short of abysmal this season, showed some life.After going 3-for-32 in the first six games – that's a 9.3-percent success ratio – the Red Wings scored twice with a manpower advantage against St. Louis after going 0-for-4 in their first meeting.


The Red Wings finished 2-for-8 on the power play, bumping their season average to 10 percent. There's obviously still plenty of room for improvement in that area but the bottom line is the Red Wings are 4-1-1 since that first loss to St. Louis.

"We weren't happy about our effort in their building and we had a chance to kind of bounce back today," Zetterberg said. "It's nice to see we played the way we did, especially when they got ahead and we found a way to get back and get the win. Most of the time it is tight games against them. One goal is usually going to decide who wins and who loses. Special teams have to be good. I don't think we were perfect on special teams tonight. We had a lot of chances on the power play. We couldn't really get it going. But in the end, Pavel found a way to score on the power play and it was a big goal."


"We got off to a great start, great power-play goal on the 5-on-3 and then Z with a great individual effort there on the power play," said goaltender Jimmy Howard, who made 23 saves. "Then we got into a bit of penalty trouble, allowed them to get back into the game with a power-play goal. But it was a great hockey game to be a part of. Last game (vs. St. Louis) was pretty uncharacteristic. Usually, that's what these games are like, back and forth, up and down, scoring chances, goalies making saves. It's one of those fun games to be a part of."

In terms of the Blue Jackets' press, the Columbus Dispatch posted slates of probable lines for Columbus and Detroit, and the Dispatch's Aaron Portzline spoke to Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards about the team's "lack of emotional attachment" to games thus far...

“We have to get more emotionally attached to games,” Richards said. “The emotional attachment wasn’t there, and then it’s got to be created. Sometimes it’s got to be created by me. I don’t know what’s going on inside our players’ heads, as far as what their goals or objectives are to get themselves into the game. As coaches, we try to prepare them and certainly try to motivate them. But it comes down to players motivating themselves. They’re professionals. This is what they have to do.”

The Blue Jackets are 2-5-1 and have been outscored 10-2 in the first period this season, the most goals allowed in the first period by any club in the NHL entering last night. On Thursday, the Blue Jackets got back into the game with four second-period fights, and the sides played evenly the rest of the way.

It shouldn’t require Jared Boll and Derek Dorsett risking injury to get the players motivated, Richards said.

“It’s easy to get emotionally attached to a game if you have a tie to it somehow,” Richards said. “If we were getting ready to play the New York Rangers, I guarantee there’d be motivation for the (three) guys we got from New York (in the trade for Rick Nash last summer). It’s easy to get attached to a game like that.“These guys have to find a way.” The Blue Jackets only seem to play inspired against NHL powerhouses, teams that have the ability to embarrass them. Tonight’s opponent, the Detroit Red Wings, might fill that bill. The Jackets hung with them before losing 4-3 in a shootout in the second game of the season.

“We have to believe right from the get-go,” winger Brandon Dubinsky said. “We have to have the feeling that we’re going to go win this game. We’re showing way too much respect to our opponents right now. We’re waiting for bad things to happen before we start getting ourselves going to answer. We have to correct that immediately. I think we believe in each other in here. We have a great group of guys. We have to find a way to come together before the game.”

[edit edit, here's one more article from the Dispatch:

Blue Jackets at a glance

• Record: 2-5-1

• Power play: 13.2 percent (24th, NHL)

• Penalty kill: 86.7 percent (ninth, NHL)

• Injury update: RW Cam Atkinson (high-ankle sprain), D Nikita Nikitin (upper body), D Adrian Aucoin (lower body) and LW Matt Calvert (upper body) are out.

Red Wings at a glance

• Record: 4-2-1

• Power play: 9.4 percent (29th, NHL)*

• Penalty kill: 73.3 percent (24th, NHL)*

• Injury update: G Jonas Gustavsson (groin), D Ian White (leg laceration), D Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder), C Darren Helm (back), RW Mikael Samuelsson (groin) and LW Jan Mursak (collarbone) are out.

*—Not including last night’s game.

/end edit]

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:

Update #2: from the Wings...

Via RedWingsFeed again, MLive's Brendan Savage has posited a set of "game-day" questions:

THE ISSUE: They scored twice on the power play, once while short-handed and although they blew a 2-0 lead, the Detroit Red Wings came storming back in the third period Friday to beat the St. Louis Blues 5-3 at Joe Louis Arena.

Now, some skeptics are surely going to say the Red Wings were extremely fortunate to get the two power-play goals since the first came during a 5-on-3 and the second was the result of a questionable match penalty given to David Backes.

But others will point out that the Red Wings didn't call the penalties. They simply took advantage of them like quality teams do and ended up beating one of the NHL's best teams as a result. That's the same team that drilled them 6-0 on the opening night of the lockout-delayed season.

So the question is: Did the Red Wings show the NHL what they're truly capable of when they beat the Blues?

ANSAR KHAN: That season-opening debacle raised many concerns, but they have been eased with the 4-1-1 stretch that has followed. They are competing much harder and seem to be playing with a sense of urgency, realizing the slimmer margin for error in this 48-game season.

It's a good sign that they have nine out of a possible 14 points despite missing three of their top six defensemen (Jonathan Ericsson, Ian White and Carlo Colaiacovo) for a total of 12 games and being without spark plug Darren Helm for all but one game.

The biggest concern right now is that their top two lines are carrying them offensively and they have no goals from the third and fourth lines. They need Daniel Cleary, in particular, to snap out of his early-season funk.

BRENDAN SAVAGE: Beating St. Louis absolutely showed what they Red Wings can do when they're on their game.

Henrik Zetterberg lived up to his reputation as one of the NHL's elite players with a hat trick that was capped by tremendous effort resulting in an empty-net, short-handed goal to seal the victory.

Jimmy Howard was reliable when needed, just as he has been in all seven games this season, and the Red Wings got strong performances from some of the veterans who are expected to produce them – Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen and Ericsson.

Don't go making playoff plans yet but with a 4-1-1 record since that opening-night debacle against the Blues, the Red Wings sure look like they belong a lot closer to the top of that NHL standings than the bottom.

My take?

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...

Side dishes:

-- 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...



And DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose spoke to Henrik Zetterberg about the fact that Wayne Gretzky stated that Zetterberg is his favorite active NHL player:

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.