Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Blue Jackets wrap-up and overnight report: turning point or breaking point?

The Detroit Red Wings have lost 5 straight games (0-3-and-2) and have given up three consecutive 2-0 leads over the past 12 days, with the latest loss coming in the form of a disappointing 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.

Given some TMR readers' comments in the quick take, Vaclav Prospal's game-winning goal scored with 24.7 left in regulation, combined with Kyle Quincey's loss to what Wings coach Mike Babcock's calling a "rolled ankle," may or may not have marked death-knells for the Wings' playoff chances, or issued firing notices for Ken Holland, Mike Babcock and every player on the roster, depending on which player Wings fans like the least...

But for the Red Wings themselves, whose 7-7-and-3 record yields a 10th-place status in the Western Conference and a 5-point lead over the 15th-place Blue Jackets, the startling collision between Quincey and Artem Anisimov (who is okay) seemed to stop the team's momentum on a dime, and their inability to recover--with the obvious and necessary qualifier being that kids' games played by professional athletes are less important than people like Anisimov recovering from his injuries--from the shocking incident and plain old out-work the Blue Jackets for the remainder of the game yields us to a simple equation:

Either the Wings, who will host Nashville on Saturday and then Nashville's opponent for Friday evening, the Vancouver Canucks, on Sunday, finally begin to display the kind of work ethic, effort, attention to detail and execution necessary in odd and even-man situations to allow them to adapt to life without Nicklas Lidstrom and embrace a post-Nicklas Lidstrom identity that accommodates their drop-off in skill--regardless of what happens in the injury or trade departments going forward--or Thursday, February 21st, 2013 marks the game where, well...

I don't want to sound callous given that a guy left this game on a stretcher, but if the Wings' slide continues, their loss to Columbus marks the point where the current crop of Red Wings have officially failed to respond to Mike Babcock's "adapt or die" challenge in an affirmative manner.

That's a rather brutal, uncaring thing to say, but hockey is a rather brutal, uncaring game, and so is life, as Babcock likes to point out.

On top of all the blather I'm about to issue, I need to state that I'm making a philosophical decision that will affect the narrative of this wrap-up:

For whatever reason, the Columbus Dispatch, Columbus's only travel-with-the-team newspaper, does not update its website with the next day's stories until between 5:30 and 7:30 AM EST, depending on the day. As I am a Red Wings blogger, not a Blue Jackets blogger, and as some of you are pining for the fjords (and, in all honesty, my depression is not doing any better, I'm just essentially playing through a torn MCL here), I need to get this recap out before 8 AM, so...

I'm going to be painting a somewhat incomplete picture here, and I'm doing so because I already know that the Blue Jackets believe that the game did not hinge upon Anisimov's injury.

Blue Jackets enforcer Derek Dorsett told the Columbus Dispatch's Shawn Mitchell that his fight with Jordin Tootoo, which yielded 2-and-10 for Tootoo and a power play goal for Columbus all of 4:23 into the game, was all the spark his team needed. Dorsett happened to score the game-tying goal 5:03 into the 3rd, and he keyed Vinny Prospal's game-winner, so it's hard to argue with the player Mitchell reports received the Blue Jackets' MVP award:

Cue some context from both Mitchell and ColumbusBlueJackets.com's Rob Mixer:

MLive's Ansar Khan also took note of Dorsett's take on his altercation, as well as Tootoo's play--and I'm standing by my statement that Tootoo's fight did indeed allow the Blue Jackets to pull themselves off the mat, yielding a perhaps nobly-minded gesture gone horribly wrong:

Dorsett didn't like the way Tootoo barged his way into a confrontation between the Columbus forward and Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson at 3:57 of the first period.

“Me and Ericsson were going to fight, we were backing up,'' Dorsett said. “Tootoo was being himself and came in swinging, being the cheap player that he is. In my mind, he should have gotten a suspension. Tootoo is a pretty irrelevant player.”

Ericsson had dropped his gloves, prepared to fight, but Tootoo quickly started swinging at Dorsett and drew an instigating penalty, on top of a fighting major and a 10-minute misconduct. R.J. Umberger scored on the power play to cut Detroit's lead to 2-1.

“Did we score when he was in the box?'' Columbus coach Todd Richards said. “Well, then obviously it was a huge penalty. It was 2-0 and that power play gave us some life and got us back into it.''

Richards was an assistant coach with the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals when Tootoo played there in 2004-05 and '05-06.

“That's Jordin,'' Richards said. “I coached Jordin for a few years and I know what he does and what he can do – get underneath your skin. If you allow him to, he'll force you to take a penalty.''

That happened in the third period, when Tootoo drew an interference penalty on Dorsett.

“Whether it was a dive or not, you just can't put yourself in that position,'' Richards said.

Here's the right, via We All Bleed Red on YouTube...


As for the "dive," it wasn't the best interference call I've ever seen as Tootoo got picked while Dorsett was essentially skating toward the Blue Jackets' bench on a line change...

But as I said in the Quincey injury post, the standard of officiating was downright schizophrenic, depending on the shift and depending on which team carried play. The Wings may have had a 4-3 advantage in power plays, but after the first period, anything went, with the game vacillating between a roller derby, Greco-Roman wrestling and flag and touch football, and Eric Furlatt and Chris Lee seemed to believe that Adrian Aucoin was invisible, because amongst the hooks, holds, clutching, grabbing, picks and punches, Aucoin was able to skewer Justin Abdelkader, cross-checking, shoving and slashing Abdelkader at least a dozen times during one Wings power play, and assisting Daniel Cleary in injury by self-spearing by pushing Cleary into the boards and then pinning a sliding Cleary onto his own stick blade.

The officiating was awful, truly awful, and it played into the hands of the team that scores less frequently (Columbus, by a hair, but Columbus).

For the Blue Jackets, it was a job well done on a difficult evening, as they told the AP's Larry Lage...

The game took a frightening turn early in the second period when Blue Jackets center Artem Anisimov was taken off the ice on a stretcher after being struck in the head by Red Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey. Anisimov, a 24-year-old Russian, was alert and able to move when he was taken to Detroit Medical Center as a precaution because he said his head hurt.

"He's alert and stable," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "Obviously, that's great news."

Anisimov was skating toward the back of Detroit's net alongside Red Wings defenseman Ian White when he lost his balance as Quincey landed a blow to his head that didn't seem intentional.

...

Damien Brunner and Valtteri Filppula scored in the first 2-plus minutes of the game to put Detroit ahead by two, a cushion it wasted for a third time during its five-game losing streak.

...

R.J. Umberger's power-play goal a couple of minutes after Detroit took its two-goal lead pulled Columbus within one. Derek Dorsett tied it early in the third period. Prospal's backhander off crisp, cross-ice passes from James Wisniewski and Dorsett ended the Blue Jackets' three-game losing streak.

"We were all in the positions where we were supposed to be and we made a good play," Prospal said. "The puck bounced my way, just a give-and-go with Dorsett. It was a clear-cut, three-on-two (rush) and we played it the way you are supposed to play it. When you get an odd-man rush, it should end up in the net. For me to score that goal, it's just a great feeling."

Sergei Bobrovsky had to feel good, too, after Detroit scored on its first and third shots against him. He bounced back to finish with 28 saves, including some midway through the third when teammates were called for consecutive penalties.

"We basically went four minutes straight with killing penalties, and that's when Bobry stood tall," Richards said.

Edit: hell, scratch some of that. The Columbus Dispatch's Shawn Mitchell posted a post-game blog entry about 30 seconds before I was going to click "open entry":

“We didn’t give up,” said Prospal, who leads the Jackets with six goals. “We didn’t just pack it in. We played well. We played our game.”

Richards wasn’t pleased with the start, of course, and said he considered pulling goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky when Valtteri Filppula followed Brunner’s early stunner with a tip-in of a Brian Lashoff shot at 2:40 of the first.

“We can’t keep doing this to ourselves,” Richards said. “We were fortunate enough tonight. But the plays that we made early in the game --  we weren’t ready, as far as the intensity and our focus. After that, it was there.”

The turnaround started with Dorsett, who paid a stiff price for starting what he thought was going to be a fight with Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson a few moments after Filppula’s goal.  The timing was poor – Dorsett and Ericsson squared off as the Jackets, unbeknownst to Dorsett, were flinging the puck around the Red Wings zone in a threatening fashion. And then, “Tootoo thought he’d come in swinging,” said Dorsett, who said the engagement wasn’t a proper fight and probably tainted his Gordie Howe hat trick.

“You think you’re fighting a 6-5 Ericsson and then Jordin Tootoo comes in and sucker punches you. But that’s just Jordin Tootoo. You expect those kind of things from him.”

...

“(Ericsson) and I were backing away. Tootoo was just being himself, being the cheap player that he is and coming in swinging. In my eyes, that should be a suspension. Those are the type of things that they’re trying to get out of the game but he’s an irrelevant player, so it doesn’t even matter.”

Dorsett was hit with a fighting major. Tootoo got a 10-minute misconduct, a fighting major and an instigating minor. Umberger scored on the ensuing power play, poking in a backhand after Cam Atkinson knocked  a Jack Johnson shot straight down to the feet of Umberger at 4:23 of the first. It was a big, big goal. It stopped the train from going off the tracks.

“We did a good job of sticking with it," Umberger said. "I think at times in the past we could have completely collapsed, especially in this environment against this team. Our power play did exactly what it needed to do. Not just the goal, but just getting momentum back on our side. Getting some time in there, some pressure, some shots. It lifted our team up and obviously the goal was very big."

And ColumbusBlueJackets.com's Rob Mixer summarized the Blue Jackets' win as follows:

The rundown: This one's for you, Artem Anisimov. The Blue Jackets, having witnessed something you never want to see in the second period, were down 2-1 when their teammate fell to the ice and was carried off on a stretcher. They had played a solid end of the first period after a shaky first couple of minutes and were in good shape to start the second when coach Todd Richards called them to the bench to regroup after Anisimov's injury.

Columbus took a heavy right hook from the slumping Red Wings in the first period and quickly fell behind 2-0, but they didn't flinch. A power play goal from RJ Umberger brought them within 2-1 and it was a goal that lit a fire under the bench. They were the better team in the final 55 minutes of the hockey game, and thanks to a thrilling finish in the waning seconds of regulation, emerged with a 3-2 victory at Joe Louis Arena.

In the process, they snapped a six-game road winless streak and broke a three-game skid overall. It was a game of severe ebbs and flows but the Blue Jackets stemmed the tide and pulled even early in the third period. Derick Brassard cut hard to the net and put a backhander into traffic that hit Derek Dorsett in the back. As the puck fell to the ice, Dorsett got two shots off and the second was slammed in behind Jimmy Howard.

At that moment, it felt as if everything had changed. And ultimately, it did.

Damien Brunner tried a centering pass to Pavel Datsyuk in front of the Blue Jackets' net in the final minute of the third period, but it was broken up by Mark Letestu and Columbus started a 3-on-2 break the other way. Dorsett hit James Wisniewskiwith a wide pass, and the feed from Wisniewski to Prospal was as stunning as the finish. Vinny Prospal pulled a total spin-o-rama and tucked the game-winner into the open side with 24.7 seconds to play.

Pivotal moment: The Dorsett goal, as we mentioned above, changed the game. Detroit sat back a little bit in the opening stages of the third period and Columbus kept at its forechecking, grinding game. Brassard made a great play to get to the front, and Dorsett cleaned up the rest after the Red Wings appeared exhausted from a long shift. The goal certainly perked up the Columbus bench and put some doubt into the Red Wings, who looked timid the rest of the way.

Quick takes: - Bobrovsky shrugged off a shaky start and was excellent for the Blue Jackets. He made 28 saves, several in clutch situations and especially with the Red Wings on the power play. He's getting into a rhythm and the schedule is allowing Richards to roll with him.

- Dorsett's assist on the game winner completed a Gordie Howe hat trick (goal, assist, fight) and he was a +2 on the night while playing 16:05. He had a game-high five hits.

- Wisniewski was a rock on the back end for Columbus and had a sick setup on the game-winner. He played over 18 minutes and was also +2.

For the Red Wings, as the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan noted, the game was a tale of opportunities missed (this is the Wings-Blue Jackets pivot point):

Damien Brunner and Valtteri Filppula scored for the Red Wings, who saw their losing streak reach five games (0-3-2).

"We talked about we want to have a good start, and we do," Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "Now, we just got to find a way to finish it off."

R.J. Umberger (power play) and Derek Dorsett had the Blue Jackets goals. Dorsett tied the game 2-2 at 5:03 of the third period. Derick Brassard's backhander was stopped by Jimmy Howard but Dorsett quickly tapped in the rebound for his fourth goal.

"When we got up 2-nothing, we fooled around a little bit," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said.

The Red Wings had consecutive power plays — including a 10 second two-man advantage as the power plays intersected — midway in the third period but couldn't convert.

And Babcock elaborated on that "fooling around" statement while speaking to DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose:

"When we got up 2-nothing, I thought we started fooling around a little bit,” said coach Mike Babcock following the Wings’ fifth consecutive loss. “It’s just the idea of taking care of the puck and staying on top of them.”

For the third time this season, the Red Wings squandered a two-goal cushion only to lose in the end. This time the Columbus Blue Jackets responded to adversity, storming back to defeat the Wings 3-2 at Joe Louis Arena when Vinnie Prospal scored the game-winner with 25-seconds left in regulation.

The Wings started strong and grabbed a 2-0 lead before the game was even three minutes old when forwards Damien Brunner and Valtteri Filppula both scored goals that beat Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky between the legs. The Wings are now 3-3-0 when building a 2-0 lead this season.

“It was a 2-1 game going into the third, we were in good position,” Babcock said. “I actually thought we had some good play, but the bottom line is they scored on their opportunities and we’re not scoring. So if you don’t score you can’t give anything up.”

Columbus tied the score when Derek Dorsett beat Jimmy Howard at 5:03 of the third period. But the Wings, who out-shot the Jackets, 30-24, had a pair of golden opportunities to break a 2-2 in the third on back-to-back power plays when Dorsett (interference on Jordin Tootoo) and Derek MacKenzie (tripping Tomas Tatar) followed each other to the penalty box midway through the period.

However, Bobrovsky came up big as the Jackets’ best penalty killer, making 10 saves while down a man to hold the Wings’ power play scoreless on three separate chances throughout the game, including the two opportunities in the third. During this currently losing streak, Detroit is 1-for-16 on the power play.

“We felt we created chances, had a lot of shots, but we couldn't really find a way to get the puck in there,” said captain Henrik Zetterberg, who collected his team-high 17th assist. “If we get one goal there, hopefully we get going. We did a lot of good things today in the PP but it's still not good enough. We can't score.”

What happened to Quincey in the Anisimov collision?

“He rolled his ankle,” Babcock said. “We’ll know more tomorrow.”

Babcock was particularly peeved at his team for flubbing yet another 2-0 lead, though his comments were somewhat muted, as the Free Press's George Sipple noted...

"I thought we started good," said Wings coach Mike Babcock. "I didn't like our second period in particular. I didn't even mind our third period, but the bottom line is we gave up two goals in the third period and we lost. We had to win here. It's just one of those games. You just gotta win. You gotta find a way to win home games, and now we've got two points out of a possible 10, and any way you look at it, that's a slippery slope. We can make all the excuses we want for ourselves. The bottom line is we had to find a way to win tonight."

...

The Wings failed to score on back-to-back power play chances in the third period, which included a nine-second 5-on-3.

"We had some good chances," Babcock said. "I thought their goaltender played good. We had some good play in their zone. The bottom line is we didn't score and they did."

On the third goal, Babcock said: "We didn't sort it out very good. Pretty easy sort out. We didn't need to give up the clear-cut chance to Prospal and we did."

..

"We talked about wanting to have a good start and we do," Zetterberg said. "Now we just gotta find a way to finish it off. We gotta play 60 minutes. It won't be perfect for 60 minutes, we all know that. But our lowest level's gotta be higher than it is. If we do that, we will win some games."

RJ Umberger's power-play goal at 4:23 of the first period cut the Wings' lead to 2-1. Tootoo was given an instigator penalty after fighting Dorsett.

"When we got up 2-nothing, I thought we started fooling around a little bit," Babcock said. "It's just the idea of taking care of the puck and staying on top of them."

Tomas Tatar agreed with his coach, as he told Sipple...

"Obviously, we're disappointed we lost this game," said Wings forward Tomas Tatar. "We're up 2-nothing. ... When they tied it up, it was a pretty tight game. We obviously want to win, but there was a mistake there and they scored a goal."

And Niklas Kronwall wasn't happy with his team's play, either, as he told the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness:

“Again, 2-0 we had a lot of good things going then we stopped doing the stuff we need to do to be successful,” Niklas Kronwall said. “We kept turning pucks over around the blue line, couldn’t get it deep enough and it came back to haunt us later in the game.”

The Wings had back-to-back power play chances midway through the third period with the score tied at 2-2.

“That’s where the puck has to go in,” Kronwall said. “No excuses. You have a chance because they’re down, it’s as simple as that. That’s where we lost the game.”

...

Detroit has not scored a power play goal in three straight games and have failed to do so in three of its last four.

“We felt we created chances, had a lot of shots, but we couldn’t really find a way to get the puck in there,” Zetterberg said. “If we get one goal there, hopefully we get going. We did a lot of good things on the PP but it’s still not good enough. We can’t score.”

Columbus tied the game up five minutes into the third period, taking advantage of a turnover by Zetterberg in the Wings’ zone. Dorsett backhanded home a rebound, after a nice left pad save by Howard, off a shot by Derick Brassard.

“When we’re playing the way we want to play the game we’re a really good team and hard to keep up with, but right now there aren’t enough details in our game and that’s something we have to work on to get back on track,” Kronwall said. “We have to get better.”

Fox Sports Detroits Dana Wakiji duly noted that while the Wings remain somewhat decimated by injuries--with Johan Franzen (hip) possible but not probable to return this weekend, Carlo Colaiacovo (shoudler) complaining of pain again (see below), Brendan Smith (shoulder) slated to return sometime during or after next week's West Coast swing, Mikael Samuelsson back on the IR for at least two weeks (broken finger), and Darren Helm (back) and Todd Bertuzzi (back) out for at least 3 weeks to a month after their symptoms ameliorate--the Wings aren't buying the concept that their cavalcade of injuries are an excuse for less than elite team and individual erformances:

According to Wings statistician Greg Innis, the Wings now have lost 110 man-games to injury or illness through 17 games. In the last season shortened to 48 games, the 1994-95 season, the Wings lost a total of 102 man-games to injury or illness.

...

It doesn’t matter," Niklas Kronwall said. "We have some key guys out, but if the rest of us can play the way we want to be playing, we would win a lot more games than what we have. That’s no excuse; we have to find a way to play better."

The fact remains that without all of those players, the Wings are in the midst of a five-game losing streak.

"I think everyone has to do their part," Henrik Zetterberg said. "It's easy now to do too much. You just gotta stay positive, stay together and work on the things that are not good and keep doing the things that are good. We're a good hockey team when we're playing the way we want to play. Unfortunately, at times we're not playing the way we want, the puck is ending up in our net."

The Wings really needed to beat a struggling Columbus team at home, something Babcock acknowledged.

"It’s just one of those games you’ve just got to win," Babcock said. "You have to find ways to win home games, and now we have two points out of a possible 10. Any way you look at it, that’s a slippery slope. We can make all of the excuses we want for ourselves, the bottom line is we had to find a way to win (Thursday night)."

...

"I wish there was an answer to it," Kronwall said. "If there was an answer, we would have corrected it a lot sooner. We have to stay positive, stick together and stay the course. Hard work is the only thing that’s going to get us out of this."

Again, the Wings were somewhat baffled as to how they could have blown another 2-0 lead, as they told MLive's Ansar Khan (Khan also penned a quote-less recap).

“We did a lot of good things in the beginning, we got pucks deep and played very aggressive,'' Kronwall said. “Then we started to not get the pucks deep, didn’t get quick enough back to take care of our own zone.''

The Red Wings also blew 2-0 leads in a 4-3 overtime loss to St. Louis on Feb. 13 and a 3-2 loss at Minnesota on Sunday.

“We actually talked about that in here when we got up 2-0,'' Babcock said. “I thought we started fooling around a little bit.''

Said Kronwall: “Again, 2-0, we had a lot of good things going, then we stopped doing the stuff we need to do to be successful. We kept turning pucks over around the blue line, couldn’t get it deep enough and it came back to haunt us later in the game.''

Injuries are mounting and adversity is increasing. The Red Wings host Nashville and Vancouver Saturday and Sunday, two more games they “got to win.''

“We got to play for 60 minutes,'' Zetterberg said. “It won't be perfect for 60 minutes, we all know that, but our lowest level's got to be higher than it is.''

The Detroit News's John Niyo offered a "spirit of the thing" take on the game:

[T]his was as ugly as it gets for the Wings — in a season that threatens to get uglier still, if they're not careful — and there was no hiding the disappointment afterward.

...

Thursday's game was an awful start to a critical three-game homestand for the Wings, who began the night in ninth place in the Western Conference standings, a lost tiebreaker outside of a playoff spot. They already failed to take advantage of the friendliest third of their 48-game schedule, and now comes the difficult part, in so many ways.

Henrik Zetterberg was preaching the need to "stay positive" afterward — "We've just got to turn it around," the new captain said, well aware that too many heads are spinning around him — but that's a harder sell when you look at the team he's leading right now.

Already missing a half-dozen regulars from the lineup — "I don't care about that stuff," Babcock insisted Thursday morning — they finished this game with five weary defensemen and another personnel headache for general manager Ken Holland. The Wings lost a league-high 104 man-games to injury through the first third of the season. (By contrast, the Blue Jackets had lost 34.) And while the Wings got Jan Mursak back in the lineup Thursday for the first time since the season opener, they still were without four of their top nine forwards.

The Wings did score on two of their first three shots on goal Thursday, with Damien Brunner capitalizing on a giveaway just 18 seconds after the opening faceoff and Valtteri Filppula deflecting a Brian Lashoff shot barely 2 minutes later. But rather than pour it on, they piled on and, said Babcock, "I thought we started fooling around a little bit." With the puck and without it, actually. And after Jordin Tootoo drew an instigator penalty, jumping in to steal Jonathan Ericsson's fight with Derek Dorsett, the Blue Jackets' wasted little time cutting that quick lead in half.

Detroit held that advantage until the third period, when Dorsett — on his way to a Gordie Howe hat trick, broken nose included — tied it at 5:03 of the period. The Wings' power play fired some more blanks after that. ("Our power play has been nonexistent," Babcock said earlier in the day. "Not inconsistent — nonexistent.") And when Brunner's blocked shot turned into a 3-on-2 breakaway the Wings' botched in the final minute, well, you've memorized the script by now, right?

Vinny Prospal's spinning backhander, off a pretty feed from Canton's James Wisniewski, one of the players the Wings balked at via trade and free agency the past two years, provided the final dagger with 25 seconds left. And it left the Wings, searching for answers that simply aren't there at the moment. They've taken just two points out of a possible 10 in the last nine days, blowing three 2-0 leads in the skid, and, as Babcock said flatly, "Any way you look at it, that's a slippery slope."

They've fallen, no question. And for the Red Wings, in case you hadn't noticed, getting up is no guarantee anymore.

It's not, and if I've learned anything as a Wings fan for the past 22 years, never mind being a blogger "professionally" since 2006 and devoting the vast majority of my free time to obsessively following the Wings since 1999, the hardest part of all is that fans like you and me can't really do much to affect the course of our team's destiny.

We can expend our energies however we wish--whether that involves being angry, yelling, screaming and arguing with each other, attempting to find solace in superstition, or to hope, pray and attempt to diagnose and discuss what ails our favorite team in a constructive manner, but once the puck drops, it's not up to us anymore. It's up to the players and the coaching staff, and it's up to management to react appropriately when results go awry.

In terms of the Wings' future, Ken Holland suggested that he would consider making a move no earlier than March 1st in a conversation with ESPN's Craig Custance, way back on January 29th, and his conversations with the Fan 590 and the Wings' beat writers seemed to reiterate his basic beliefs:

1. The Wings won't move hastily, especially given that the salary cap is going down this summer (from $70.2 million to $64.3 million) and given that Drew Miller, Kent Huskins, Ian White, Danny Cleary, Valtteri Filppula and Damien Brunner will all be unrestricted free agents, and given that Brendan Smith, Brian Lashoff, Jakub Kindl, Jan Mursak, Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson and Tom McCollum are all coming off entry-level deals. In other words, the Wings won't do anything that will *#$%@& up their cap situation going forward;

2. The cap going down means that it is more likely that the team will give players like Nyquist, Andersson, Tomas Tatar, Smith and Lashoff chances to stick on a full-time basis, and/or wait until July 5th comes and see which players are bought out by their current rights-holders instead of taking on players with years remaining on their contracts;

3. The Wings are reluctant to part with their top prospects unless they receive a significant return;

4. And the team wants two things: a top-four defenseman and a big forward, ideally a top-six one.

Whether Holland can get either of those two players without sacrificing a Nyquist, I don't know, but moves or no personnel moves, what we see is pretty much what we're gonna get from these Wings in terms of their roster moves...

And it's up to whoever wears the Winged Wheel to play up to the standard that the logo on the front and having the privilege of wearing your name in arched letters on the back symbolize together.

In other words?

This is as close to rebuilding as we're ever going to see a team whose management doesn't believe in tearing down the machine and gambling on prospects who might not pan out, especially at the expense of running a profitable and popular operation, will ever get, and the Wings' management seems to be resigned to having this year's team "scratch and claw" its way into a 5th-through-8th-overall playoff seed and reassessing the state of the team when others might be panicking come July and August. With the exception of Nyquist, all the young players have been given chances to shine, and as Babcock says, there's "opportunity" to go around.

There's no doubt that the management will attempt to improve the team, but even assuming that a Mark Streit, Lubomir Visnovsky or Sergei Gonchar might be available, it takes two to make a trade. In the interim, the Wings have to do better with what they've got.

Multimedia:

Highlights: At least the Red Wings website's highlight clip is narrated by Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond:

Post-game: If you really want to watch R.J. Umberger speak to the NHL Network, or watch Derek Dorsett, Vinny Prospal or Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards speak to the media via the Blue Jackets' website, enjoy;

The Windsor Star's Bob Duff posted a clip of Niklas Kronwall speaking to the media...

We All Bleed Red posted a clip of Tootoo's fight...

And the Red Wings' website posted clips of Henrik Zetterberg...

Niklas Kronwall...

And coach Mike Babcock speaking to the media:

 

Photos: The Detroit Free Press posted a 26-image gallery;

The Detroit News posted a 25-image gallery;

The Windsor Star posted 6 images from the game;

The Macomb Daily posted a 12-image gallery;

ESPN posted a 35-image gallery;

Yahoo Sports posted 12 AP images in its Wings gallery;

And NHL.com, the Blue Jackets' website and the Red Wings' website posted 20-image galleries.

Statistics:

Shots 30-24 Detroit overall. Detroit was was out-shot 8-7 in the 1st, out-shot Columbus 11-7 in the 2nd and out-shot Columbus 12-9 in the 3rd.

The Blue Jackets' power play went 1-for-3 in 3:28; the Wings' power play went 0-for-4 in 6:53 of PP time, including 9 seconds of 5 on 3 time.

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 28 of 30; Jimmy Howard stopped 21 of 24.

The three stars were picked by the Detroit News's John Niyo, and they were Derek Dorsett (3), Pavel Datsyuk (2) AND Vaclav Prospal (1).

The Wings' goals: Brunner (8), unassisted;

Filppula (4) from Lashoff (2) and Zetterberg (17).

Faceoffs 27-22 Detroit (Detroit won 55%);

Blocked shots 13-9 Detroit;

Missed shots 10-7 Columbus (total attempts 47-45 Columbus);

Hits 25-21 Columbus;

Giveaways 7-2 Detroit;

Takeaways 2-1 Columbus.

Individual stats, TMR style:

Faceoffs: Datsyuk finished 10-and-8 (56%); Zetterberg finished 10-and-4 (71%); Emmerton finished 4-and-5 (44%); Andersson finished 0-and-3; Filppula finished 2-and-1 (67%); Mursak finished 1-and-1 (50%).

Shots: Cleary led the team with 5 shots; Zetterberg and Brunner had 4; Datsyuk and Lashoff had 3; White, Tatar, Filppula and Kronwall had 2; Abdelkader, Emmerton and Quincey had 1.

Blocked attempts: Abdelkader had 2 attempts blocked by Columbus players; Datsyuk, White, Tatar, Lashoff, Brunner, Zetterberg and Ericsson had 1 attempt blocked.

Missed shots: Cleary missed the net 2 times; Abdelkader, White, Lashoff, Brunner and Kronwall missed the net 1 time.

Hits: Huskins led the team with 4 hits; Abdelkader and Tootoo had 3; Miller and Ericsson had 2; Cleary, White, Lashoff, Brunner, Emmerton, Kronwall and Andersson had 1.

Giveaways: Cleary and Zetterberg had 2 giveaways; Abdelkader, Quincey and Mursak had 1.

Takeaways: Datsyuk had the Wings' only takeaway.

Blocked opponent shots: Kronwall blocked 4 shots; Huskins and Miller blocked 2; Cleary, Datsyuk, White and Tatar blocked 1.

Penalties taken: Tootoo took 3 penalties totaling 17 minutes; Cleary, Mursak and Ericsson took minor penalties.

Plus-minus: The Wings finished even collectively. White finished at -2; Huskins finished at -1; Lashoff finished at +1; Quincey finished at +2.

Points: Brunner and Filppula had goals; Lashoff and Zetterberg had assists.

Ice time: Kronwall played 28:19; Ericsson played 25:30; White played 25:22;

Datsyuk played 22:30; Zetterberg played 22:03; Lashoff played 19:07;

Cleary played 18:32; Filppula played 17:31; Abdelkader played 16:50;

Brunner played 15:52; Huskins played 13:45; Miller played 13:26;

Emmerton played 12:10; Andersson played 10:11; Tatar played 10:03;

Mursak played 8:43; Tootoo played 7:53; Quincey played 6:12.

 

Red Wings notebooks: Carlo Colaiacovo issued a very worrisome statement to the Free Press's George Sipple regarding his sore left shoudler:

Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo said he's still experiencing some pain in his shoulder and isn't sure when he'll be cleared to play. He hasn't played since Jan. 21.

"I wish I had an answer for you; I wish I had a clear picture of it," Colaiacovo said. "I'm at a point where it's allowing me to do more. Strength is continuing to get better every day. That's just what I'm focusing on. It kills me to watch, that's for sure. I want to be out there so bad, you guys don't even know. I'm just itching for that opportunity."

Amongst the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan's notes:

Babcock put forward Jan Mursak in the lineup against Columbus, replacing Patrick Eaves . Mursak hadn't played since injuring his shoulder in the regular-season opener Jan. 19 in St. Louis. Mursak played 8:43 and had one giveaway.

"Feels good to be back," Mursak said. "I'm ready. I've been skating for two full weeks now and I've got my conditioning back. Hopefully, I can show the coaches I can play here."

This was the second consecutive season Mursak was hurt early. Mursak missed the first 36 games last season after fracturing his ankle the final week of the exhibition season.

...

The Wings could make the excuse injuries have devastated them the first third of the regular season but Babcock isn't buying it.

"I don't care about that stuff," Babcock said. "The bottom line is we've done a lot of good things, but we've made some big mistakes in games that have cost us. Just taking care of the puck, and decision making, we have to get better at.

"Our power play has been non-existent (ranking 25th at 13.5 percent Thursday). Not inconsistent. Non-existent. We have to be way better. Our work ethic on it, and getting pucks back, we have to create momentum for ourselves in that area. We have to be better at it."

Yeah, Babcock said that before the game. Ironic.

Again, via MLive's Ansar Khan, here's what happened to Quincey, or at least what we know about what happened to Quincey:

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said defenseman Kyle Quincey hurt his left ankle on the play where Artem Anisimov was injured at 3:48 of the second period.

“I guess, the guy fell into him, so he rolled his ankle,'' Babcock said. “So we’ll know more tomorrow, obviously on an ankle.''

Quincey did not return to the game.

The Red Wings already are missing defensemen Brendan Smith and Carlo Colaiacovo because of shoulder injuries. Neither is due back until next week, at the earliest. Quincey and Niklas Kronwall are the only Detroit defensemen who have played in all 17 games.

“We have some key guys out, but if the rest of us can play the way we want to be playing we would win a lot more games than we have,'' Kronwall said. “That’s no excuse, we have to find a way to play better.''

And the Windsor Star's Bob Duff spoke to Jordin Tootoo about his attempts to give the Team Tootoo fund a jump-start in Metro Detroit. Tootoo will be signing autographs at Hockeytown Authentics in Troy from 5-7 PM today, with proceeds going toward supporting initiatives aimed at preventing youth suicide. Tootoo's brother, Terence, committed suicide in 2002:

“I got it going a couple of years ago in Nashville,” Tootoo said. “Obviously, it’s geared toward suicide prevention and youth at risk. “It’s just a little something to give back to the community and get my face out there. For me, it touches close to my heart.”
 

...

The pugnacious winger has fought five times through 17 games this season, but he’ll be putting those hands to a different use later today. Tootoo will be signing autographs to raise funds for his foundation from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. at Hockeytown Authentics in Troy, Mich.

The first 222 fans in line who make a US $22 monetary donation (cash or cheque) are guaranteed an autograph by Tootoo on the personal item of their choice. Wristbands will be issued beginning at 3:30 p.m.

“Part of our job is giving back,” Tootoo said. “As professionals, you want to do all the right things for our community, for our fans.”

As much as it’s about the community he now calls home, it’s also about the community where he was raised as an Inuk. The suicide rate among Canadian Aboriginal people is more than two times higher than it is among the rest of the country.

Jordin went into rehab in 2010 for treatment of an alcohol abuse problem which his family felt stemmed from his grieving over the loss of his brother. It was Jordin who filed the missing persons report after Terence did not return to the Brandon, Man. home where both were staying. The next day – Aug. 28, 2002 – police found Terence’s body in the woods behind the house.

A forward who’d spent the 2001-02 season with the ECHL’s Roanoke Express, Terence was a hero to the community, but when he was arrested and charged with drunk driving, he felt he’d let his people down.

“Guys go through different things throughout their lives,” Jordin said. “You want to have every opportunity to have someone be aware of it. It’s something where you want to show people that it doesn’t matter who you are, a plumber or a school teacher, we all have issues that we face every day. t’s about having an open mind and not being afraid to speak up.”

There's a 2:01 video of Tootoo speaking to Duff embedded in the story, and you can watch it here.

 

 

In the prospect department: In Europe, it could be worse. Wings prospect Calle Jarnkrok registered no points and finished at a -3 in Brynas IF's 9-1 loss to Skelleftea AIK;

Mattias Backman played 21 minutes but didn't register a point in Linkopings HC's 1-0 victory over MoDo;

In the KHL, Alexei Marchenko played only 5:55 of CSKA Moscow's 3-2 double overtime win over HC Lev Prague, with former Wings prospect Igor Grigorenko scoring the game-winner for CSKA, which now leads their first-round series 2-0;

Over on this side of the Atlantic, in the OHL, Andreas Athanasiou didn't register a point in the Barrie Colts' 3-2 OT loss to Owen Sound;

And Ryan Sproul registered a goal and an assist and was named the game's second star in the Soo Greyhounds' 6-3 victory over Sarnia (but the Sault Star's Peter Ruicci believes that the Greyhounds might not make the playoffs because the Plymouth Whalers have an easier schedule over the last 11 games of the OHL season).



Also of Red Wings-related note: In jersey news, Chris Creamer believes that an unused Maple Leafs jersey being sold on eBay may have been the Leafs' Winter Classic uniform;

Tonight, Friday, February 22nd, and on Sunday, February 24th, the WHL's Vancouver Giants will be wearing a special jersey commemorating Gordie Howe ahead of welcoming him to Vancouver to celebrate his 85th birthday on March 1st;

The Sporting News's Jesse Spector ought to knock on wood after answering the following question as he did:

“Which player, if injured and out for the year, would most negatively affect his team’s playoff/Cup chances?” – Garrett Berberich

In order to avoid putting the whammy on anyone, let’s think of this as a player being abducted by aliens instead of getting hurt. Or, in the case of Pavel Datsyuk, maybe a return to his home planet, because no human has hands quite like his.

The Red Wings already look like a team facing a protracted battle to extend their streak of 21 consecutive postseason appearances. Should they make it, they have a goaltender capable of leading a Stanley Cup chase in Jimmy Howard, though Detroit’s championship hopes probably require a trade for defensive help.

Datsyuk plays in all situations and against top competition; there is nobody like him in the league. If the little green men came and took away Howard or Henrik Zetterberg, the Red Wings would be in a whole heap of trouble, but you could at least imagine how they might cope, or try to find a replacement. There is no replacing Datsyuk, who begins generating possession in the faceoff circle, where his 61 percent rate is third among players with 100 or more draws, and does not stop until his shift is over, often with a goal like the otherworldly effort he put on to send Tuesday night’s game in Nashville to overtime.

As much as anything, this question is about being unique. Losing a star player would hurt any team, so you need to figure out whose skill set is the hardest to replace in the event of an emergency. As far as Datsyuk goes, the Red Wings already know how valuable he is, having lost 25 of the 40 games he has missed since the start of the 2010-11 season, including two this year.

Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika offers three items in his "Three Periods" column (published on Thursday afternoon) which are of Red Wings-related note, and the first one is directly so:

– As the injuries continue to pile up for the Detroit Red Wings, 0-2-2 in their past four entering Thursday night, they need more from Valterri Filppula. He has one point in his past six games, three in his past 10 and eight in 16 on the season, despite playing with stars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg at even strength and on the power play. Filppula needs more from himself, too. This is a contract year.

Even though he scored a goal while playing alongside Henrik Zetterberg, he was otherwise invisible, and he spent the last ten seconds of the game skating toward the half boards in the Blue Jackets' zone, peeling back as usual, and looking for a pass instead of shooting the puck in the direction of the opposing team's goaltender, as usual. I like Filppula quite a bit, but I do believe that he's playing his way out of town.

– The NHL wants realignment settled next week, but discussions are ongoing with the NHL Players’ Association and details are scarce. The league has tweaked the plan that was approved by the board of governors last season, but team officials are in the dark. One exec said it’s likely that only the owners are in the know at this point.

– The NHL and the NHLPA finished the process of drafting the collective bargaining agreement last Friday night, but the CBA is not quite done yet. They agreed to final language for the bulk of the CBA, rolled over some language from the memorandum of understanding, and extended the drafting period for a small portion of the document. They hope to have a complete document to print sometime in March.

In the alumni department, and in German, former Wing Stacy Roest, who now works for the Tampa Bay Lightning, told Blick.ch's Nicole Vandenbrouck that he's been impressed with the player he told Ken Holland to sign, one Damien Brunner, but Roest also believes that Brunner needs to keep shooting and needs to skate into the slot more regularly;

In the alumni department, in Alberta, from the Edmonton Journal's Evan Daum:

If the University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey squad is looking for someone to talk to about what it takes to win in the playoffs, all they’ve had to do as of late is skate over and ask former Stanley Cup champion Mike Commodore.

Commodore, who was part of the Carolina Hurricanes Stanley Cup championship team in 2006, has been skating with the Bears this week. The Fort Saskatchewan product had been playing with the Montreal Canadiens American Hockey League affiliate the Hamilton Bulldogs this season, but was cut from his 25-game try-out contract by the Bulldogs late last month.

“We’ve had Mike Commodore out here, so we’ve had an extra defencemen, an extra body, which has been good, because we’ve been doing a little more systems stuff,” Alberta head coach Ian Herbers said Thursday ahead of Friday’s Canada West semi-final opener against Calgary. “He was looking for a place to skate and get in shape, so he approached us last Tuesday. There was optional ice (for our guys) and he was here and came and talked to us, so he’s been out here skating with us ever since.”

And finally, in the alumni department, multimedia version: You know how I mentioned a top-four defenseman and a big forward as trade acquisition targets? I did so because special assistant to the GM Kris Draper happened to mention both types of players as desirable acqusitions while speaking with the CBC's David Amber and Cassie Campbell-Pascall on Thursday. Draper also discussed what he's doing as he learns the managerial ropes:

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

w2j2's avatar

For me personally, it is time to focus on the individual achievements and the “green shoots” on this team. 
And there are lots of them.

Hank is doing a great job as captain, and playing like a demon.
Pasha is playing the best of his career, and is the best puck handler we will ever see.
Brunner is on track to score 20 - 30 goals.
Tatar is playing well.
Emmerton has blossomed into another gritty Babcockian forward.
Anderson is using his size, and does not look out of place.
Lashoff has come from nowhere and is eating up minutes as a big, rock defenseman who can also shoot.
Ericsson has stepped up to become a top 4 d-man.
Mrazek looks like an NHL goalie.
Then there is Gustafsson, Nyquist, et al.

So win or lose, there is a lot to like about these guys.

Posted by w2j2 on 02/22/13 at 08:37 AM ET

joedaiceman's avatar

The most surprising of the lot to me has been Ericsson. He has been a hell of a player this year - who would have guessed.

Posted by joedaiceman on 02/22/13 at 09:05 AM ET

detroitredwings's avatar

Babcock is doing everything he can to frustrate Pavel by forcing him to play with awful wingers.. don’t be surprised when he will not resign with Wings

Posted by detroitredwings on 02/22/13 at 09:06 AM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

Emmerton has blossomed into another gritty Babcockian forward.

And yet, when Helm returns, who centers the 4th line?  I like Emmertons spirit, but i see very good length, grit and size with Andersson, and. natural center better at that position then Abby. Abby screams 4th line banger winger to me. But I fear what will happen is Andersson goes down and Abby centers Emmerton and Tootoo.

Posted by MoreShoot on 02/22/13 at 10:35 AM ET

Avatar

Babcock is doing everything he can to frustrate Pavel

Because he injured a bunch of the Red Wings forwards or because he’s the one responsible for signing players?

Which is it, because those are the two reasons that Datsyuk is playing with third liners.

And Pavel’s not an *#$%@&, so he’s not going to decide not to re-sign with Detroit because of an injury-riddled, lockout-shortened season.

Posted by Garth on 02/22/13 at 10:42 AM ET

w2j2's avatar

Amazing!
I click on this blog post and I hear Chris Draper#33 talking about the Wings on Hockey Night in Canada Radio.
Very cool, Paul!

Posted by w2j2 on 02/22/13 at 10:44 AM ET

Avatar

Andersson goes down and Abby centers Emmerton and Tootoo.

That’s definitely what happens.

I hope that the team can make the playoffs without Andersson, Lashoff, etc. and then those guys can be called up and get some playoff experience while Cleary, Quincey, whoever sits.

Posted by Garth on 02/22/13 at 10:57 AM ET

Joe Z.'s avatar

Lashoff has come from nowhere and is eating up minutes as a big, rock defenseman who can also shoot.

Lashhoff is not rock-solid, he is often out of position and looks lost. His and Kronners +/- showing. He’s a rookie, for a rookie beeing out against top competition he is doing great, but not good enough for a top minutes…

Posted by Joe Z. from Austria on 02/22/13 at 11:05 AM ET

Avatar

Got to disagree on one thing George. There is no proof or even evidence management is going to do anything to make this team better. They’ve had two years of roster deterioration. They brought in one unproven Swiss, an agitator, an over the hill never-great swede, and a bottom 3 defenceman. Then added a #7-8 defenceman when some others got injured.
  I can easily see this team going back to the Dead Things if Holland doesn’t wake up and make some changes. The debacle that has been the management of Quincy’s time with the Wings is a perfect example. Let a guy go for nothing because you don’t want to give him a chance, trade a first round pick for him, years later, when he’s worth a third, then over pay him while relying on him to be a top three when he is obviously bottom 3.

Posted by teldar on 02/22/13 at 11:39 AM ET

Avatar

Agree with teldar.  Also, it’s time to start thinking about going from buyer to seller at the deadline.  I’d even move Pavel, because his value will never be higher and he won’t want to play on a losing team (that’s what the Wings are/will be in the next 2 years, at least).

Here’s the list:
Cleary—maybe you can get a 7th rounder?
Colo—5th to 7th
Pav—king’s ransom, top 5 pick or top pair d-man or top 6 young forward
Eaves—5th to 7th
Fil—2nd
Howie—1st or package to get top pair d-man
Kindl—lucky to get a 5th
Miller—lucky to get a 7th
Mursak—probably nothing, so better off keeping him and selling others
White—5th to 7th

Very deep draft so you might as well stock up.  Too bad Bert and Sammy have NTC, b/c they’d have value to a contender.

The question is, does Holland have the guts to gut his team so that it’s good in 3-5 years when Franzen, Kronner and Z are on their last legs?

Posted by jkm2011 on 02/22/13 at 12:10 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Posted by Joe Z. from Austria on 02/22/13 at 11:05 AM ET

You actually watching the games?  He’s had a couple miscues but for a rookie D being paired on the top pair?  please.  You can tell when he plays with players not named Kronwall he communicates much better, isn’t affraid to call out assignments if he’s last man back.  With Kronwall he’s always looking to see what Kronwalls doing first.  Kronwall has been the biggest disappointment on the blue-line based on what he was expected to do.  Too one-dimensional, he’s not an all-around guy but we use him that way.  E turned into that player and is about to over-take Kronners on the depth chart if he keeps up his stellar play.

Lashoff has been SOLID though.  AND he shoots the fuching puck.  A Pylon who still thinks offense.  Rock solid bro.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 02/22/13 at 01:05 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

JESUS FUCHING CHRIST this fuching page takes FOREVER to fuching load EVERY fuching time. uuuugggghhhhhh

ANYWAYS.

Garth, you have to admit there are better wingers pav can get than Abby and Cleary.  Andersson and Tatar would be an upgrade, maybe recall Gus and get players with top 6 skill set in there.  Why are we letting kids rot in GR if we wont use them? 

I don’t think that’s why pav doesn’t resign but he’s gotta be peaved his line got turned into a grind-line.  Pavel’s hands down our best grinder.  Laying the body, scoring goals, making plays.  When Pavel plays more physical that most of your top 6, how can you like your team?  Bertuzzi is really irreplaceable?  Holy shit.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 02/22/13 at 01:09 PM ET

Slumpy's avatar

Filppula going into the bj’s zone offsides twice not a big deal since he’s still getting use to playing with guys like Z and other Red Wings, sigh.

Val’s goal helped but it wasn’t anything special skill wise. He’s trade-able. Refuses to shoot most games and seems like he’s content skating aimlessly around like Hudler use to.

Wonder if Buffalo’s GM is willing to trade with Kenny. I’m sure Holland is interested in Oxford, Mi Nathan Gerbe because of his imposing size

cool grin

Posted by Slumpy from Detroit on 02/22/13 at 02:31 PM ET

Joe Z.'s avatar

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 02/22/13 at 01:05 PM ET

Unfortunately I watched every wings game this season.

Posted by Joe Z. from Austria on 02/22/13 at 04:58 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.