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Red Wings-Blue Jackets pre-game storylines: on Howard, Helm, Smith and Matt Sorisho

Amongst the storylines ahead of tonight's very late-starting (8 PM, Fox Sports Detroit/FS Ohio/1270 AM) Red Wings-Blue Jackets game, in which Jonas Gustavsson will start in Jimmy Howard's stead against a to-be-determined Blue Jackets lineup:

The Red Wings posted Ken Kal's Game-Day Preview video, including a double-announcer-wowing recap of the Datsyuk-to-Zetterbeg deke, dangle, pass and goal, as well as game-day comments from Wings coach Mike Babcock:

The Wings' Game-Day Blog offers notes of note...

REMINDER: Tonight's game has been changed to 8:00 PM.

Jonas Gustavsson will get the nod in net today.

Jimmy Howard has a bruised hand and will not start tonight.

Howie says he hopes to play on Thursday against Colorado.

Petr Mrazek was recalled from Grand Rapids to back up Monster in goal tonight.

Coach Babcock will go with the same lines and pairings as he did yesterday in Boston.

MLive's Brendan Savage pondered the following in his game-day entry...

After six games, Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg is off to one of the hottest starts of his career.

Zetterberg has five goals and two assists after opening the scoring Monday in the Red Wings' 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins. Playing alongside Pavel Datsyuk has certainly helped him in the points department.

His five goals are tied for No. 2 in the NHL and he's fifth in points.

Only two other times in his first 10 NHL seasons has Zetterberg produced more than seven points in the first six games. He had four goals and eight assists in 2007-08 – everybody remembers how that season ended, right? – and he had three goals and five assists in 2005-06.

Those also happened to be the two best seasons of Zetterberg's brilliant career.

In '07-08, he finished with a career-high totals of 43 goals and 92 points. His 85 points in '05-06 were the second-highest total of his career.

So with all that in mind, what does Zetterberg's hot start mean? Is he primed for another big year or is it too early to start thinking about that?

And he updated Jimmy Howard's status. Howard's left hand is still sore, but his bruising is subsiding:

"It's feeling a lot better today," Howard said. "Did a great job with the trainers yesterday ... icing it, getting the swelling out of it. Today was just about going out there and keeping my legs under me. Hopefully will be back in the net Thursday night in Colorado."

Jonas Gustavsson will start for the second straight game tonight, when the Columbus Blue Jackets visit Joe Louis Arena, and Petr Mrazek was recalled from Grand Rapids of the AHL to serve as his backup.

Howard's work Tuesday morning was pretty much limited to facing some shots from goalie coach Jim Bedard.

"No sense hitting it and having it swell up to where it was before," said Howard, who played in the Red Wings' first five games before being a late scratch Monday vs. Boston. "Today was just doing movements and taking shots low.

Howard said he hurt the hand in the second period of the victory over the Flyers and when he took another shot in the same spot in practice Sunday it began to swell even more. He took warmups before the Boston game and when three straight shots hit the same spot on his hand, he knew he couldn't play in the 3-2 victory over the Bruins.

"I've gotten the majority of the swelling out," he said.

As Savage notes, Howard did break his right index finger two years ago.

If you missed it, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose offered an update on Darren Helm's status...

Center Darren Helm (lower back) said today that he’s getting pretty close to returning to the Red Wings’ lineup.

This, of course, is fantastic news, if the Wings can get a healthy Helm back for the first time since he suffered a sprained knee in San Jose in March 2012. He’s also dealt with a forearm laceration, which required emergency surgery, followed by persistent lower back pain.

“It’s looking good,” Helm said. “Things are rolling in the right direction. I’m happy with it.”

But Helm, won’t dare establish a timetable for his return this time.

“Not until I step on the ice do I want to put a date on it,” he said. “Until my name’s on a lineup sheet I’m not going to get that excited about it. When that day comes then we’ll talk about it.”

And you may take what Brendan Smith had to say about being scratched again, as noted by the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness, for what you will:

“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.”

Getting a fire lit under one's butt is never pleasant.


In the "Good Reads" department, via RedWingsFeed, Michigan Hockey's Nick Barnowski spoke with Michigan State Univeristy forward Dean Chelios about his attempts to round into pro-contract-worthy form in his senior year, having recovered from shoulder surgery...

After missing last season with a torn labrum, the Michigan State senior is amped for his final year of NCAA hockey. To get ready for the upcoming season, Chelios took part in the Detroit Red Wings’ annual summer development camp; the 24-year-old had the chance to share the ice with his father, Chris, test his injured shoulder, and play in game-like situations for the first time since his surgery.

“It was good, really good,” he said. “It was nice to play with that competition and competitiveness.”

Chelios’ injury came in one of the first practices of last season, where a teammate lifted his stick and tore his labrum in four places. It was a huge disappointment to Chelios, as he had to sit on the sidelines throughout a difficult Michigan State season in which the team went 14-26-3.

“I had to watch my team play every single game last year, it was weird, I kind of felt like I was a fan or something,” Chelios, who attended the development camp for the fourth time this summer, said.

He was granted a medical redshirt for this season, which allowed him to take a slower approach to the recovery process. Along with fellow Spartan Rhett Holland, who suffered the same injury, Chelios would get up early in the morning everyday and rehab individually because he could not skate with the team.

The rehab paid off as he has been medically cleared for about five months.

“We took it really slow because we knew I was going to medial redshirt anyway,” he said. “I’ve been on the ice before skating with the guys, but I haven’t been doing anything hitting wise until this week. To get hit, nothing’s wrong.”

And in the, "This is what really counts" department, from Michael Caples, the hockey world's rallying around Novi Catholic Central's Matt Sorisho, who hopes to regain some movement in his legs after being paralyzed from the waist down two weeks ago:

The hockey community has rallied around the Sorisho family, with support coming in many forms. Visits from his high school friends have lifted Matt’s spirits, while inspirational visits from fellow Catholic Central product David Moss, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, and Michigan State coach Tom Anastos have motivated him to prepare for a new life.

“I think it’s been unbelievable,” Jim [Sorisho, Matt's father,] said. “Moss gave him his personal cell phone number, they were watching the Tigers the other day and they were texting back and forth,’ hey you think you should pull the pitcher’ or whatever, and he’s been very supportive. He said ‘I’m going to give you my personal number and you’re going to call me and I’m going to call you’ and he has been.

Click here to read MiHockey’s article on David Moss and Matt Sorisho

“[Red Wings coach] Mike Babcock jumped in with both feet from the start, helping us out with anything we need. Get information, help this, help that, it’s just been unbelievable. The team’s rallied around him too, they got him a jersey signed, but not just having a signed jersey, but they backed it up with a ‘hey, we’re here to help you.’ It’s been unbelievable.

“[Michigan State University coach] Tom Anastos, Tom came in and it was a really tough, emotional time. It’s been in waves, I couldn’t even explain to you how this plays a role on your mind, but right at that time we were down, and Tom just came in with such strong encouraging words for Matt, and it instantly brought him back up. He told Matt that we could find something for you to do with the team.

“Our one son goes to Michigan State right now, he’s a freshman, and Matt’s got the high enough grades to get there too. He plans on still going to college. He’s just going to redirect himself. Right from the second or third day of the injury, he said, hey mom, I have to talk to the teachers at CC, I have to talk to my counselor. I have a Snapshot class, a Photoshop class next semester, I need to change that to a business course. His mind is already turning, what am I going to do, I’m going to do something, I’m going to make something of myself.”

Yet the most important form of support for Matt will come through the Give Forward fund created by family members. The Matt Sorisho Hockey Injury Fund is trying to raise money to get the funding the Sorisho family needs to allow Matt to pursue whatever goals and dreams come his way. The MiHockey team asks that you please visit http://gfwd.at/1bJkUvU or that you visit http://www.GiveForward.com and search Matt Sorisho’s name. The fund will help the Sorisho family modify their family home, assist with medical expenses not covered by insurance, purchase necessary equipment and offset increased living expense.

We forget that even the insured have tremendous difficulties dealing with the expenses involved with life-altering and catastrophic injuries, and I think that as many of us as possible should lend the Sorisho family a hand if we are at all able to do so.



Update: Joy, another power rankings list, this time from TSN's Scott Cullen:

This Week 13 Last Week 7 Detroit Red Wings 4-2-0

As always, C Pavel Datsyuk, LW Henrik Zetterberg and D Niklas Kronwall lead the charge, but the rest of the Red Wings' lineup has provided spotty production. There is a glut of forwards, but it's hard to imagine they can't find room for prospect Gustav Nyquist, who bides his time in the AHL because he didn't have to clear waivers to get demoted.

Key Injuries: G Jimmy Howard (hand).

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


BrendonTO's avatar

Center Darren Helm (lower back) said today that he’s getting pretty close to returning to the Red Wings’ lineup.

Please be true…..please be true…...

Posted by BrendonTO on 10/15/13 at 06:58 PM ET


Oh God Helm

please, please don’t rush it (but get here quickly) and be careful

Posted by CrimsonPhoenix on 10/15/13 at 06:58 PM ET

Little Redhead's avatar

Thanks George!

Lets Go Red Wings!!!!!

Posted by Little Redhead from the Engineer's Chair on 10/15/13 at 07:01 PM ET

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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.