The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/19/13 at 01:50 PM ET
Updated 10x at 4:27 PM, and again, Bertuzzi has mono: The Detroit Red Wings will begin their 2013 season against the St. Louis Blues tonight (8 PM EST, FSD with a one-hour preview, beforehand, 97.1 FM), and the Blues have completed their morning skate, as noted by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jeremy Rutherford...
The Belleville News-Democrat's Norm Sanders:
And NHL.com's Lou Korac:
The Red Wings headed to the Scottrade Center to watch the Blues skate before holding their own morning skate...
Looks like Greg Kimmerly and Chris Rooney will referee tonight's game, with Thor Nelson and David Brisebois working the lines.
Roose's game-day preview does indeed discuss the Wings' performances against the Blues in statistical terms...
In a league that stresses the importance of divisional matchups, it only stands to reason that players’ statistical performances would be better against regional rivals than those outside of the division.
However, it’s interesting to note that nearly 40 percent of the Red Wings’ current 23-man roster has stockpiled more points against the Blues than their other Central Division foes.
Led by star center Pavel Datsyuk, nine different Wings’ players have produced some of their career best statistical numbers against St. Louis. Datsyuk, who is 10 goals shy from becoming the 11th player in franchise history to reach 250 goals in his career, has produced 69 points, including 22 goals in 58 games against the Blues.
Even better, Datsyuk seems to enjoy playing in St. Louis. It’s here, at Scottrade Center, that he’s collected more road assists (26) and points (36) than any other building in the league. His plus-21 rating at Scottrade is also a career-best.
Newly-minted team captain Henrik Zetterberg also seems to enjoy playing the Blues, producing his highest totals against them with 22 goals, 37 assists and 59 points.
Others to amass career highs against St. Louis are forwards Johan Franzen (14 goals), Daniel Cleary (29 points), Valtteri Filppula (11 goals, 19 points), Jordin Tootoo (six goals, 14 points), and Justin Abdelkader (six points), and defenseman Niklas Kronwall (24 points).
Goalie Jimmy Howard, who gets the start tonight in St. Louis, has 10 career wins against the Blues, which is his career best against any NHL teams.
MLive's Brendan Savage offers a game-day post...
THE ISSUE: For a team that had Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Holmstrom and Nicklas Lidstrom last season, the Detroit Red Wings struggled on the power play.
The Red Wings were better than just eight other teams on the power play with a success rate of 16.1 percent. Out of 298 power-play opportunities, the Red Wings scored 48 goals. That put them in the top half of the league but that number is a bit skewed considering only three teams had more power-play chances.
Now, the Red Wings are without two players who combined for 15 of those power-play goals. Tomas Holmstrom, who will announce his retirement before Tuesday's home opener, had 10 power-play goals last season and Nicklas Lidstrom, who retired in May, had four.
Given the losses, will the Red Wings power play get worse this season or will some of the newcomers like Damien Brunner and Mikael Samuelsson help them be more effective with a manpower advantage?
ANSAR KHAN: The power play will be better, even minus two vital components in Lidstrom and Holmstrom. It was fine last season through 30 games before inexplicably going in the tank. New assistant coach Tom Renney, as Edmonton's head coach, had a hand in turning his team's power play around, from 27th in the NHL his first season to No. 3 last season.
What will be different? Renney is stressing more shots be taken from all over, attacking the net to "create chaos.'' So the team won't simply look to set up the point men for shots with net presence. I'd expect them to give teams different looks.
They have the personnel to be much better, and they should improve.
BRENDAN SAVAGE: Part of me thinks the power play can't be much worse than it was last season. After all, a 16.1-percent success ratio doesn't jive with a roster that features the likes Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Johan Franzen, who is back after leading the Red Wings with 11 power-play goals last season.
The additions of Brunner and Samuelsson should give the entire offense a bit of a boost but exactly how much? That's the big question.
So until they prove otherwise, I'm going to say the losses of Holmstrom and Lidstrom are going to be tough to overcome and the power-play will be about the same or perhaps even worse than a year ago.
MLive's slate of NHL preview articles hit the wires a few hours ago, with Khan worrying about the team's lack of depth on defense...
“You try not to think too much about it,'' Kronwall said of the unit's lack of experience. “I'm one of those guys that will take it upon myself to take more responsibility, but at the same time I think there's six other guys on the blue line that will do the same thing. We have to do this together. It's not about one guy.''
After Kronwall, Detroit's other six defensemen are under 30. They provide various elements – size (Jonathan Ericsson) and grit (Kyle Quincey), skill and puck-moving ability (Ian White, Carlo Colaiacovo) and different degrees of promise (high for Brendan Smith, not as much anymore for Jakub Kindl).
“I believe the defense is going to be solid, steady,'' Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “Might not be that spectacular as we're used to with Nick Lidstrom. But I think it's going to be effective. I also think on the odd night we get outplayed, our goalie (Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson) can steal us a game.''
Detroit has no less than six defensemen with something to prove.
You know them: Jonathan Ericsson, Kyle Quincey, Brendan Smith, Carlo Colaiacovo, Ian White and Jakub Kindl...
The Red Wings made a huge pitch for unrestricted free agent Ryan Suter (who signed with Minnesota) and explored trade options but weren't able to land a top-pair defensemen. As a result, the word that keeps being repeated in the dressing room is “opportunity.''
“There's huge opportunity for our D this year,'' coach Mike Babcock said. “Nick played (24) minutes and Stewie played (21) minutes, so there's a ton of ice time for somebody to grab hold of.''
Said Kronwall: “It's a great opportunity for the rest of us to step up. We truly believe we have the right pieces.''
Khan wondered aloud whether the Wings even have the personnel to make the playoffs at all minus Nicklas Lidstrom, Tomas Holmstrom, Brad Stuart and Jiri Hudler...
"I asked our guys, 'Who are the Cup contenders?' '' Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “I believe the Cup contenders are the 16 teams that make the playoffs. The eighth seed (Los Angeles Kings) won the Cup. I don't think the luster has worn off the Detroit Red Wings. It's parity.''
The NHL, starting its eighth season in the salary-cap era, has more parity than ever. There is less separation between clubs. That will be even more evident in a lockout-shortened 48-game season, when the Red Wings will be battling to make the Western Conference playoff field.
“It's going to be a crap shoot for anyone to make the playoffs this year,'' Red Wings newly appointed captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “You can't fall behind. You have to be playing good right from the start. It's going to be tough, especially for the Western teams with a lot of traveling. It's going to be a grind for us.''
As Khan notes, the Wings didn't shore up their foward lines as much as they added depth in Mikael Samulesson-Hudler's de-facto replacement--and Jordin Tootoo, and the successes of the Franzen-Filppula-Samuelsson line, the (when healthy) Bertuzzi-Helm-Cleary line, the Miller-Abdelkader-Tootoo line and the ability of Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson to hold up over an extremely heavy workload are essential--as is the Wings' ability to capitalize during the early part of their schedule:
With 15 of their first 24 games at home, it is imperative the Red Wings start strong. Their final 29 games include five trips to the West Coast or Western Canada.
“I have the same attitude every year,'' coach Mike Babcock said. “We've got to get off to a good start and we're going to keep getting better every day and play our best hockey at the end. Every year ... I'm scared to death just to make the playoffs. This year's no different.''
“The fact we're flying under the radar, I think we're going to catch a lot of teams by surprise,'' Howard said. “I think it’s very quick to write us off so soon.''
“I think people are figuring we're somewhere in a playoff spot,'' Holland said. “Are we out of the playoffs, are we in the playoffs? I don't know; we got to play the games.''
And here are MLive's "staff picks":
Ansar Khan: Why the Detroit Red Wings will make the playoffs: Losing Nicklas Lidstrom was a gigantic blow to a blue line that has some holes, but expect some of their defensemen to bounce back from mediocre seasons. They are deep up front and have a lot of skill, despite their advancing age. It's hard to imagine a team with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg not making the postseason. Jimmy Howard's numbers won't be as impressive as last season, but he'll find a way to grind out enough wins to help the team squeeze into the field in what will be a tight race. The playoff streak will be extended to 22 seasons.How the Red Wings will fare in the playoffs: First-round loss to Vancouver.
Brendan Savage: Why the Detroit Red Wings will make the playoffs: Sure, Nicklas Lidstrom is going to leave a huge hole in the lineup. But he’s only one player and the Red Wings survived after losing guys like Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov and Vladimir Konstantinov. They’ve still got loads of experience returning with veterans like Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall, all of whom have a Stanley Cup on their resume. They’re not going to win the Stanley Cup, but the Red Wings will make the playoffs for a 22nd straight year.
How the Red Wings will fare in the playoffs: Second-round loss to Vancouver.
And here's our first update from the morning skate:
Based in #RedWings morning skate seems like likes will be 40-13-24, 93-51-37, 39-8-11, 20-25-22. D-pairings 55-52, 27-2, 18-28.— The Wheel Deal (@Bill_Roose) January 19, 2013
I'll post updates as they filter in.
Update #0.5: This is new...
Thus far, it's just got background stuff...Let's see how it fills out.
Cory Emmerton, who is coming off a broken finger suffered while playing in Finland during the lockout, may have the inside edge on the spot having played nearly a full season with the Red Wings last season including five playoff games. Over all the 24 year-old has played 73 NHL regular season games notching 7 goals and 11 points. Emmerton’s hockey sense, play making ability and two-way play have long been touted by Detroit scouts. At one point he was believed to have top two line potential, but in his short stint with Detroit he has mostly centered the fourth line. The 6-foot, 191 pound center has battled inconsistency throughout his hockey career and has never put up the type of numbers he produced during his draft year which included 29 goals and 66 points while playing for Kingston of the OHL. In his three seasons with Grand Rapids, Emmerton plateaued at just under 40 points each season despite seeing plenty of ice time.
Jan Mursak is coming off an ankle injury that saw him miss most of the 2011-2012 NHL season. The 24 year-old forward had the inside track to full time NHL roster spot last year after playing well in call-up duty the previous season but the skill left wing suffered a fractured ankle in a preseason game against the Chicago Black Hawks. The injury limited him to just 25 games with the Wings last year. The Slovenian born winger is one of Detroit’s fastest skaters and has used his speed mostly in an energy role playing on the third and fourth lines playing in 44 NHL games the past two seasons. The 5-foot-11, 190 pound forward has plenty of untapped upside with his stick handling and play making skills. Mursak, who has always been streaky, hasn’t been able to find his scoring ability at the NHL level picking up just two goals and four points over the last two season.
Detroit has invested a lot into both players over the last seven years, but a decision will be based on who is a better long-term fit for the Wings. If a trade can’t be negotiated, then either Mursak or Emmerton will likely end up on waivers in order to be sent to Grand Rapids. With a limited training camp and no exhibition season, both players have a lot riding on tonight’s game against the Blues. The NHL is back and so are the roster battles.
Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said that Jaroslav Halak would start in goal tonight. He also revealed his defensive pairings, which are listed below. After today's morning skate, we can take a guess at the forward lines, but as always, these are subject to change.
It's worth nothing that it appears Andy McDonald is over his bout with the flu, and it also looks like Jaden Schwartz will start the season in the lineup. He couldn't skate this morning due to a roster-limit technically, but he should be good to go tonight.
David Perron - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Jaden Schwartz - Patrik Berglund - Chris Stewart
Andy McDonald - Alexander Steen - Vladimir Tarasenko
Vladimir Sobotka - Scott Nichol - Ryan Reaves
Ian Cole - Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Kris Russell - Roman Polak
Update #1: Shit.
Update #1.5: Is there any good news? Sure. Sort of.
Update #4: Well, I guess we can laugh now:
Sorry for the lack of gallows humor on my part, but I live with someone who has an auto-immune illness, so when I hear about a hockey player who's been sharing a locker room, water bottles and food with other players while dealing with a spreadable illness, I think, "Holy shit, that was close, I hope nobody else got it, and man it must suck for Bert to know he's going to be barred from hanging out with his teammates for a month! Bummer!"
The sympathy meter for Bertuzzi in this one is very high on my part.
Update #5: More from Khan:
Update #6: Here's the Free Press's Helene St. James' update, via RedWingsFeed. She says that we should expect no roster changes--i.e. Gustav Nyquist will remain in the AHL as the Wings need to see what Mursak and Emmerton can do, and have Eaves nearly ready to go. Yes, that means a little less physicality, but Eaves and Mursak bring speed to the mix:
Bert's got mono," [Wings coach Mike] Babcock said. "We knew yesterday something was wrong. He's got mono, so he's going to be a chunk of time."
Mono is very contagious, so Bertuzzi won't be around teammates for a while. Some might visit, though.
"I'm not too worried, because I've had it before when I was in school," Jimmy Howard said. "The rule of thumb is, you really can't get it again. But the rest of the guys, who haven't had it, have to realize that it's highly contagious, that it's a virus, so they've got to be careful."
Known as the kissing disease, Howard joked he wasn't worried anyway about catching it. "Thankfully," he said, "I haven't kissed him in the past few days, and I don't plan to."
Darren Helm, a good friend of Bertuzzi's, hadn't heard the news.
"He's got mono? Uh oh," Helm said. "Lucky I wasn't kissing him. I've never had it. I hear it's a pretty crummy sickness to have, and it kind of puts you out on your back for a while. Hopefully, he can fight off that virus quick and get back out here."
Bertuzzi, slated to play right wing on the third line and possibly help out as a net-front presence on the power play, has been sick all week. At first it was thought he had flu. He also pulled a groin Thursday, but as Babcock pointed out, "by the time the mono is done, he'll have no groin."
With plenty of forwards available and Helm likely to return from a sore back late next week, general manager Ken Holland said there aren't any plans to call anyone up, and that Bertuzzi won't go on injured reserve unless the Wings need to clear a roster spot.
Update #7: Here's MLive's Ansar Khan's Bertuzzi story with quotes:
“There's no beating around the bush, it sucks,'' Howard said. “You're constantly fatigued, all you want to do is sleep. It's definitely no fun. I was out pretty much the whole summer going into my junior year (in college at Maine). I had a bad case of it. All I remember is being extremely tired and my throat just swelling up. It doesn't take much to leave you extremely drained. No appetite. Just slept.''
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said Bertuzzi will have tests on Tuesday and Wednesday and will be out anywhere from 10 days to a month.
“We saw him (Friday) and he looked a little under the weather, but not that bad,'' teammate Henrik Zetterberg said. “If anyone can recover fast, it’s probably Bert. Hopefully, he’ll get some rest here and be back in a couple of weeks.”
Defenseman Brendan Smith said he had mono in his early teens.
“I kept playing with it, so I didn't know I had it until later,'' Smith said. “I was just tired. I got checked up and they said my spleen was enlarged, so I'm lucky nothing ever happened.''
Bertuzzi's illness enables the Red Wings to postpone having to make a roster decision when center Darren Helm (back) is activated, possibly before Friday's game against Minnesota.
Bertuzzi, who turns 38 on Feb. 2, can go on injured reserve, clearing a spot for Helm. Otherwise, the club would have had to trim a player through a trade or waivers, with Cory Emmerton and Jan Mursak being the most susceptible.
And the Free Press's Helene St. James offers news regarding the rest of the Wings' lineup:
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock has opted to use Jan Mursak over Eaves tonight when the Wings take on the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade in the season opener (8 p.m., FS-D). Eaves was cleared to play Thursday after missing more than a year because of a concussion, but it's that long layoff that's got Babcock a tad cautious about playing Eaves before he gets in a few more full-contact practices.
"One guy hasn't played hockey in a year," Babcock said. "I'm going to watch tonight."
Brunner has had two straight star-making seasons in the Swiss league, spending the lockout playing at home on a line with Henrik Zetterberg. Babcock saw Brunner, 26, play during last year's World Championships, and helped push for the Wings to sign Brunner last summer.
"I think he can play," Babcock said. "Now, the ice is going to shrink around you here tonight, it's real small and you've got big people on the other team making it smaller. It's a work in progress. I think he's a high-end, skilled player."
The lines tonight are:
The defense is: Kronwall-Ericsson; Quincey-Smith; Colaiacovo-White. Jimmy Howard is starting in goal, and will go against Brian Elliott.
I believe that the Blues did indeed announce that Halak is starting for them...That was the case last night, anyway, per the Blues' Twitter account.
Update #8: Here's NHL.com's Louie Korac's fleshing out of those Twitter comments (sorry about Twitter slowing this blog page's loading so much today--it's them, not us, and I apologize for the inconvenience) about Nicklas Lidstrom from the Blues' locker room:
"It's the Detroit Red Wings, so it just looks the same to us," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They just fill in the gaps. Everyone thought when (Steve) Yzerman left, it was going to be all over and they did just fine. I'll reserve judgment until we see how they look without him in there. To me, they know how to play the game the right way."
The Blues, looking to establish themselves as an upper-echelon team like the Red Wings have consistently done for years, don't mind not seeing the future Hall of Fame member across the ice.
"What do you say ... all-star defenseman, legend," Blues center Alex Steen said. "It's going to be weird facing off against Detroit without him out there. They've been so good for so many years. They impliment their system. The way they play year after year, everybody buys in."
Added veteran Blues winger Andy McDonald: "It's going to be nice, to be honest with you. He's obviously a tremendous player. I've played against him for a long time. He just does so many great things out there. He's hard to play against, he's smart."
Lidstrom finished a 20-year career (all in Detroit) with 1,142 points in 1,564 regular season games, helping the Wings to four Stanley Cup championships.
"I've played many games against Detroit, and I think there's only been one game where he hasn't been there," Blues veteran defenseman Barret Jackman said. "He's obviously one of the greatest defensemen to play the game. You can put his name right there with (Al) MacInnis, (Ray) Bourque, Bobby Orr. Those names are amazing and he's, if not the best, one of the top three."
But the Red Wings, as tough as it may be, are getting used to not seeing No. 5 on the ice.
"It is a little bit strange, but at the same time, you have other stuff to think about," veteran Wings winger Mikael Samuelsson said. "He will be missed on and off the ice, but since the first day, we have been without him. Everybody knows what's going on. He will be missed, but we have other things to concentrate on. ... He's one of the best that ever played the game -- well-deserved rest for him."
Update #9: Here's the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jeremy Rutherford's game-day update:
David Perron-David Backes-T.J. Oshie
Andy McDonald-Alex Steen-Vladimir Tarasenko
Jaden Schwartz-Patrik Berglund-Chris Stewart
Vladimir Sobotka-Scott Nichol-Ryan Reaves
Ian Cole-Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman-Kevin Shattenkirk
Kris Russell-Roman Polak
Rutherford's blog is a gigantic one--he talks about the Blues' top line, chats about rookie Jaden Schwartz, and then there's this...
Training camp might have been short, but not too short for Ryan Reaves to make a good impression on the Blues. He will be suited up tonight, and veteran Jamie Langenbrunner will be a healthy scratch....
Hitchcock mentioned another reason Reaves will be on the ice.
"Detroit added a guy, so we'll have to neutralize that guy," he said.That guy is Jordin Tootoo, who after eight seasons in Nashville signed a three-year, $5.7 million free-agent deal with Detroit last summer. Now, he'll be the Red Wings' pest.
"You know, it's been part of my DNA as a hockey player throughout my whole career," Tootoo said today. "So at the end of the day, my foundation is creating havoc out there and getting under other team's skin. This is what I've got to do here in Detroit. They've talked about missing a piece of that pie over the last couple of years. I'm very happy that they brought me in."Reaves said that Tootoo doesn't get under his skin.
"If he gets on everybody's job, he's doing his job," Reaves said. "He doesn't really get on my nerves. I'm not really going out there looking to fight him, or looking to fight anybody. If the game needs it, he'll probably be the first guy I ask. I'm going to go out there and play my game and try to get energy other ways first."
Asked about Reaves' status in the NHL, Tootoo replied: "No comment. I mean, he's playing in the NHL...good for him."
When Detroit coach Mike Babcock was asked about facing the Blues tonight, this was his response: "I just read that they're going to win the Cup ... They're good and we better be ready for them."
NHL.com's Louie Korak talked about Damien Brunner's Wings debut in his non-NHL.com blog...
Detroit's Damien Brunner, an undrafted 26-year-old free agent, who's played six seasons in the Swiss League and Swiss 2 League, picking up 92 goals and 215 points.
And talk about throwing a player into the fire, Brunner, who will wear No. 24 for the Wings, Brunner will line up alongside of greats Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Welcome to the National Hockey League.
"It's definitely a lot of fun playing with guys like them," Brunner said. "I just try to get open and find open spots and I'm sure they will get the puck to me. Right now, I feel okay, but I'm sure the nerves will come. Definitely a lot of people will be at the arena tonight. But I'm excited about the first game I'm really looking forward how I'm going to do out there."
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock has more than heard about Brunner.
"I haven't heard a lot about him. I've seen him," Babcock said. "I went and saw him and watched him and I think he can play. The ice is going to shrink here around you tonight. It's real small and you've got big people on the other team making it small. It gets nasty. That's going to be a work in progress.
"I think he's a high-end, skilled player. He's shown in a man's league ... there's never been a Swiss guy lead the Swiss league (in scoring) ... he's done it two years in a row now, so he must be alright."
Korak penned a Carlo Colaiacovo story for NHL.com...
Colaiacovo, 29, arrived at the arena Saturday morning and had to remind himself where he needed to be.
"Actually, I got locked out when I came in," Colaiacovo quipped. "I didn't know where to go. I'm still used to being a home player here. I didn't know where the visiting teams were supposed to go. I've seen a lot of familiar faces and it brings back a lot of good memories. I obviously still have a lot of great friends on that team. I saw them last night and saw them again this morning. A lot of mixed emotions going through me today. The adrenaline's going to be rushing through me tonight. I know that the crowd's going to be rocking. It's a new opportunity for me, a fresh start. I'm looking forward to making the most of it."
Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo is one of Colaiacovo's best friends. The two were paired together for much of last season in St. Louis and spent Friday night together catching up over dinner.
"When you're on the ice, you're competitors," said Colaiacovo, who has recovered from a shoulder injury suffered while playing in the Spengler Cup. "That's what you grow to be, that's what you are at the end of the day. Everything on the ice is through competitive nature. You do things hard but you be respectful when you do them."
"You're an opponent. As close as we are, it is what it is," Pietrangelo said. "You've got to go out there and play the game. I've got a lot of friends on a lot of teams. It's part of the game. You laugh about it after the game. It almost feels like a guy that hasn't left yet, but at the same time, I know he's focused on what he's got to do over there. It's going to be a fun one tonight. He's turned the page. It's a new chapter in his career. He's excited to be there."
And if you're interested, Korac discussed Vladimir Tarasenko's NHL debut as well.
Heading back to the Wings' side of the story, the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness spoke to Carlo Colaiacovo about facing the Blues in his first game as a Wing...
“It’s going to be pretty emotional, the adrenaline’s going to be rushing pretty good,” Colaiacovo said. “I had great years there and have a lot of great memories. That city is hockey hungry right now. They tend to get some good crowds. It’s a fun place to play.”
Colaiacovo played four seasons with the Blues after being traded there by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“When I was there we always wanted to model ourselves after the way the Red Wings played,” Colaiacovo said of his time in St. Louis. “We were great division rivals from the time I got there. They were heated battles. Every game was a tough game to play. We always wanted to play our A game against the Wings.”
For Colaiacovo, who turns 30 on Jan. 27, this is his second Original Six team.
“Toronto was a little bit different for me, because I was a young kid who grew up a Leafs fan,” said Colaiacovo, who was born in Toronto. “I was living the dream. You never think of that scenario when you’re growing up in Ontario playing hockey. You always dream of it, but to have it actually come true. I was a young kid in a room full of celebrities that I’d watched on TV my whole life. It took me a while to get used to it. For me, it was like being a no body and turning into a celebrity overnight. It was a life-changing experience and I’m very grateful for it. Things there could have been a little different over the years. Obviously, I went through a lot. But I have no regrets. I’ve got nothing bad to say about my time there. I loved it there. I have some great memories. I think at the time that I moved on, it was a blessing in disguise, because it made me start fresh and put me in a position to get to where I am today.”
Darren Helm (back) skated for the first time in nine days in St. Louis.
“I glided for a good half-hour, pushed off strongly a few times,” Helm said afterwards. “It didn’t hurt at all skating. I guess we’ll see what happens this afternoon and tomorrow morning. Hopefully it feels as good as it did today and keep moving in the right direction.”
Helm is on short-term injured reserve.
Patrick Eaves will not be in the lineup, instead Jan Mursak will replace Todd Bertuzzi.
“I’d like to be in, if I could,” Eaves said. “It’s coaches’ decision and I respect that. I’m ready to go.”
As does MLive's Ansar Khan, who offers more regarding Babcock's decision to keep Patrick Eaves out of the lineup for a little longer:
“Mursak might not have been in the lineup,'' Babcock said. “He just went to Austria (during lockout), he played great. He thinks like he’s a player in the league. Two years ago we thought he was a player in the league. He broke his ankle last year and never, ever got any time. Here it is. Grab onto it. Hold on tight.”
No word on when Eaves will play, but with a condensed schedule and injuries being inevitable, it won't be too long.
“I'm ready to go,'' Eaves said. “I'd like to be in tonight, if I could. It's coaches' decision and I respect that. There's a ton of games and not a lot of time this year. There's going to be a lot of guys in and out of the lineup. We're going to need everybody to pull their weight this year. I'm ready whenever that opportunity presents itself.''
Helm told Khan that he had to keep the throttle down as he's probably a week away from returning...
“I had to hold back pretty hard (from sprinting), because it did feel pretty good,'' Helm said. “I wanted to go. One of the hardest things for me is to kind of slow down. I think today was a good day.''
And here's what Babcock had to say about rolling lines tonight:
“I hope to God when I look at the sheet after the game that no one’s at 22 (minutes) as far as a forward goes,'' Babcock said. “I hope that I’ve used everybody and everybody was important. Sometimes winning gets in the way of all of those things, though.”
Urgh, again, per Korac:
The Detroit Red Wings will be without veteran forward Todd Bertuzzi longer than expected.
Bertuzzi, who has been nursing a groin injury, will miss up to a month with mononucleosis.
"Bert's got mono," Red wings coach Mike Babcock said. "When we talked to him [Friday], we knew something was wrong. He's got mono, so he's going to [miss] a chunk of time."
When asked if it will be weeks, Babcock replied: "Oh yeah, for sure. Probably."
Bertuzzi, who turns 38 on Feb. 2, could go on injured reserve, which would clear a spot for the injured Darren Helm (back).
Update #9: From the Free Press's Helene St. James:
And here is DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose's article about Todd Bertuzzi:
Bertuzzi’s extended absence is a devastating blow to the Wings’ third forward line, which already enters this compressed season without speedy center Darren Helm, who is on injured reserve with a bad back.
Coach Mike Babcock has decided to press Jan Mursak into service on the third line over Patrick Eaves, who, just this week, was cleared to return by the team’s medical staff after missing 14 months with concussion-like symptoms.
“One guy hasn’t played hockey in a year,” Babcock said, Saturday afternoon. “I’m going to be like you, I’m going to watch (Mursak) play tonight and if you play good, you play more. I don’t know how much ‘more’ is at this time of the year when you haven’t had any training camp, but is more 18-minutes? I hope to God when I look at the sheet after the game that no one’s at 22 (minutes) as far as a forward goes. I hope that I’ve used everybody and everybody was important. That’s sure my plan.”
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