Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Blues set-up and overnight report: test ahead

The Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues face off tonight (7:30 PM, FSD, FS Midwest/NHL Network--sorry, Center Ice and GameCenter Live subscribers, if you don't get the NHL Network, you're screwed/WXYT AM) with the Blues continuing to absolutely steamroll their opponents, and the Wings feeling very determined to make amends for their 6-0 shellacking by St. Louis on the 2013 season's opening night.

The Wings, who will presumably have Henrik Zetterberg in the lineup despite the fact that he missed Thursday's practice,are beginning a February schedule in which they'll play 15 times over the course of 28 nights, including 4 sets of back-to-back games--starting tonight as the Wings will head to Columbus and tangle with the Blue Jackets on Saturday--and the team currently sits in third place in the Central Division with 7 points and a 3-2-and-1 record.

The Blues, who are much healthier, have 12 points and boast a 6-and-1 record, including four straight wins and a 4-1 victory over the Blue Jackets on Thursday evening.

Is tonight's game a "statement game" for the Wings? Especially given that it will be shown across the U.S. (as long as you have the NHL Network or live in St. Louis and Detroit--again, Center Ice and GameCenter Live users, you're kinda screwed)? Is this another game that will illustrate whether the Wings have devolved from a division-winning team into an also-ran once and for all?

Hell if I know. The Red Wings play the Blues three times this month, and the Wings remain banged-up as banged-up can be (see: Darren Helm, back, Jonas Gustavsson, groin, Ian White, lacerated quadriceps, Carlo Colaiacovo, shoulder, Mikael Samuelsson, groin, Jan Mursak, shoulder, and Joey MacDonald, back and other stuff), so whether we're talking about the Wings' best against the Blues' best is one issue up for debate...

And after losing 6-0, and going into a heavy month schedule-wise, starting a set of back-to-backs, and starting a set of three games against the Blues this month, I think we're going to be viewing a team just as concerned with the process of steadying its ship and assessing the progress they've made since the season began two weeks ago as they'll be concerned with the result.

Put perhaps a little more bluntly, when a team gets its ass handed to it as thoroughly as the Wings did two weeks ago tonight, there's something to be said for a respectable effort counting more than a win or a loss given the fact that the Blues are so very stacked and that the Wings are so very much a work in progress.

In terms of setting up tonight's game, we will, as usual, start with the opponent, and I'll let the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jeremy Rutherford relay the details of the Blues' 4-1 victory over Columbus....

The Blues also picked up goals Thursday from Vladimir Tarasenko, Patrik Berglund and Barret Jackman, who netted his second in as many games. Goaltender Brian Elliott made 24 saves for his second victory of the season.

Elliott starting against the Blue Jackets = Jimmy Howard vs. Jaroslav Halak tonight...

The Blues took control early against the Blue Jackets, opening a 3-0 lead in the first period.

Jackman, who entered the night with only 21 goals in 11 NHL seasons, got the Blues on the scoreboard first, scoring just 2:19 after the puck dropped for a 1-0 lead. Berglund added a power-play goal, ending the club's 0 for 10 skid with the man-advantage. Tarasenko then reclaimed the team lead in goals and points with his fifth goal and ninth point of the season.

The spree chased Columbus starting netminder Sergei Bobrovsky from the game. He was replaced by Steve Mason, who stopped all 13 shots he faced in the game.

The Blue Jackets did trim the Blues' lead to 3-1 in the second period with a power-play goal by Derick Brassard. It was the fourth power-play goal against the Blues in their last three games. But that's all the Blues would surrender, keeping Columbus off the board during 5 on 5 play. The Blues have only allowed six 5 on 5 goals in their seven games.

There were four fights in the second period, bouts that involved Chris Stewart, Ryan Reaves, Scott Nichol and Barret Jackman. Reaves booted from the game, along with Jared Boll, for being involved in the second fight at 17:59 of the period.

Though they didn't score, the Blue Jackets registered 12 shots in the second period, the most for a Blues' opponent in one period this season. They closed out the game, outshooting the Blues 19-13 over the final 40 minutes.

Surprisingly, the Blue Jackets pulled their goalie while shorthanded late in the third period yielding an easy empty-netter for David Backes...

The Blues' sixth victory of the season matched Chicago and San Jose for the most in the NHL. But the club will be looking to clean up a few areas heading into Friday's matchup with the Red Wings.

The Blues' website provides a highlight clip from the game (and if you feel like watching David Backes and T.J. Oshie speak to Fox Sports Midwest after the game, you may most certainly do so)...


After the game, the Blues insisted to the Associated Press that they were just sticking to the script (that, and facing a goalie who gave up three softies)...

True to its Blue-collar form, St. Louis had four different goal-scorers, 11 different players score a point and just about everybody else contributed one way or another in a fight-filled match.

"That's what our whole team is about," said Jackman, who got into one fight to go with his goal. "We're not a team that relies on three or six guys. It's going to be a team effort every night. Some guys put the puck in the net one night and it's going to be picked up by other guys another night."


The Blues went on a power play at the 10:06 mark when Vinny Prospal was called for a high stick - and 17 seconds later the puck was in the net again. This time Berglund took a drop pass from Oshie and rocketed a hard shot from the top of the left circle for his fourth of the season.

Soon after, Tarasenko took a feed from Alexander Steen, was checked by defenseman James Wisniewski near the right hash and before hitting the ice got enough stick on the puck to get it past Bobrovsky.

Tarasenko has been a revelation so far for the Blues, scoring five goals to go with four assists in seven games. He was the Blues' first-round pick, 16th overall, in the 2010 draft and has been brilliant in his debut season, leading all NHL rookies in goals. That was it for Bobrovsky, who was replaced by Steve Mason after facing just 11 shots.

"The three goals in the first period came too easy for us," said St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock, who led the Blue Jackets to their only trip to the playoffs in 2008-09. "Then we started making puck decisions that we haven't made all year. We played a good first period and then a sloppy second period."

Derick Brassard scored for Columbus, which played on even terms over the final 46 minutes but couldn't overcome the early blitz. Mason stopped all 13 shots he faced. After Brassard scored on the power play, it was relatively even the rest of the way - but the damage had already been done.

The Blues did insist to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Dan O'Neil that their goal for tonight involves not simply expecting that the Wings will roll over like the Blue Jackets did initially--because the Blue Jackets bit back:

“We kind of took our foot off the gas a little bit,” Jackman said. “We knew they were going to come out harder.”

With a 6-1-0 start, the Blues are off to their best jump since going 6-1-0 in 1997-98. But the win did not come nearly as easily as it appeared it might. The Blues out-shot the Blue Jackets 12-6 in the first period, chasing netminder Sergei Bobrovsky from the game.

But the Blue Jackets were a different team afterward, out-shooting the Blues 19-13 the rest of the way. The Blues came into the game leading the NHL in shot differential, out-shooting the opposition by an average of 13.7 shots per game.

“I think the three goals in the first period probably came too easy for us,” coach Ken Hitchcock said. “ Then we started making puck decisions we haven’t made all year. We did the same thing in Dallas. We played a very, very good first period and then got sloppy. I think it’s a maturing part for our team. We need to learn to play the right way all the time and not look at the score.”


The Blues were less imposing in the second period, and both Elliott and Mason had to be resourceful. Alex Steen nearly increased the Blues’ lead on an early power play, but rang a shot off the post. Meanwhile, in keeping with recent meetings between these teams, physicality became prominent. Less than six minutes into the frame, Jackman tussled with Nick Foligno. With 10.49 to play, a thin gathering at Nationwide Arena reacted to a skirmish between Columbus’ Derek Dorsett and Chris Stewart.

As for the hockey, at 7:28, Pietrangelo busted into the Columbus zone and hit a post, giving the Blues two fights and two posts in the period. But the score remained the same, until Derick Brassard netted a power-play goal with 3:09 to play. And suddenly, the two-goal adage was back in play.

A spectacular glove save by Elliott denied Brassard another just moments later. Scott Nichol then took exception to Derek MacKenzie messing with Elliott. The scrappy Blues center and his linemate Ryan Reaves wound up in fights. Nichol got the extra minutes and the misconduct.

“I thought he was poking at the puck,” Nichol said. “That’s hockey. You knew they were going to come back at us and pressure us.”


The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Rutherford reports that the Blues played without the services of Wade Redden, who had the flu. As such, In the Slot's Louie Korac reports that the Blues employed the following lineup in Columbus...

David Perron-David Backes-T.J. Oshie

Andy McDonald-Alex Steen-Vladimir Tarasenko

Vladimir Sobotka-Patrik Berglund-Chris Stewart

Jamie Langenbrunner-Scott Nichol-Ryan Reaves

Ian Cole-Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman-Kevin Shattenkirk

Kris Russell-Roman Polak

Brian Elliott gets the nod in goal tonight; Jaroslav Halak has been pegged to get the start Friday night in Detroit.

Scratches include defenseman Wade Redden (flu), forwards Jaden Schwartz and D'Agostini.

This will be Schwartz's first game off the ice, as Hitchcock pointed out earlier in the week that the 2010 first round pick is "deferring" on his offensive chances and needs to play "more selfish."

And Korac offered some slightly worrisome statistical tidbits via Twitter:

After the game, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's O'Neill updated Redden's status...sort of...

On a two game goal scoring binge, Blues defenseman Wade Redden did not skate on Thursday morning and sat out the action at Nationwide Arena with flu symptoms. Redden’s status for tonight’s game in Detroit remains questionable.

“He said he feels better, but we’ll see how he’s doing later,” Hitchcock said.

In Redden’s place, Ian Cole partnered with Alex Pietrangelo. Cole has been a healthy scratch since a loss at Chicago. But his status change was not associated with how he was playing.

“We really just wanted to get Wade up and running with the team, but we liked how Cole was playing,” Hitchcock said. “He’s just part of the group of seven. Spending all the time up here is good for him, it really helped him last year and we expect the same thing. We know we’re going to go through eight or nine defensemen. Getting him up to speed is going to be really important.”

And O'Neill reports that the Wings should expect some lineup tweaks from the Blues this evening:

Hitchcock did some other tinkering with the lineup against Columbus, and will do a little more against Detroit tonight. Rookie Jaden Schwartz came out on Thursday, while Scott Nichol went back in.

Vladimir Sobotka was moved into Schwartz’ spot on a line with Patrik Berglund and Chris Stewart, while Nichol centered a fourth line between Ryan Reaves and Jamie Langenbrunner. Sobotka has played center and wing, fourth line and second line this season. He is the Jose Oquendo of hockey.

“Sobie is really a valuable guy for us,” Hitchcock said. “He can do a lot of things.”

Hitchcock indicated he would get Schwartz and Matt D’Agostini in for the game at Detroit. D’Agostini has played in one game thus far. Hitchcock was not sure who would come out against the Red Wings.

NHL.com's Brian Hunter's game preview will allow us to shift perspectives from those of the Blues to those of the Red Wings' players and coach...

Season series: It's the second of five meetings between these Central Division rivals. The Blues blitzed the Red Wings in St. Louis on opening night, winning 6-0 behind two goals each from Vladimir Tarasenko and Chris Stewart. Jaroslav Halak faced just 14 shots.

Big story: Detroit gets its chance to answer back after a performance uncharacteristic of what this franchise has represented for the better part of the past two decades. St. Louis, despite its blazing start, still trails Chicago by a point in the division and conference standings, potentially the difference between being a No. 1 seed vs. a No. 4 at season's end.

Team Scope:

Blues: One thing a shortened season means is less time for rookies to make an impression, but Tarasenko is establishing an early candidacy for the Calder Trophy. He capped a three-goal first period for St. Louis on Thursday with his fifth goal in seven games, powering the Blues to a 4-1 win in Columbus. That's tops among NHL rookies, as is his plus-6 rating. Tarasenko has nine points to lead the Blues and tie Cory Conacher of the Lightning for the rookie lead. Against the Blue Jackets, he was one of 11 Blues to record a point.


Red Wings: Slick passing plays between Pavel Datsyuk and one of his teammates is nothing new in Detroit, and Valtteri Filppula finished off a pair of them in Tuesday night's 4-1 win over Dallas. What's different in Hockeytown is that the Red Wings now possess a more physical element in ex-Predator pest Jordin Tootoo, who dropped the gloves twice in the first period against the Stars. Henrik Zetterberg added a power-play goal and an assist, while Jimmy Howard stopped 25 shots.

"I just expected him to get out and forecheck, but he took it upon himself to have a couple bouts," coach Mike Babcock said of Tootoo. "We don't mind that either, but we'd just as soon he forecheck. He's a guy that gives us a different dimension than we've had, and he's physical out there, and guys know he's out there."

Who's hot: Patrik Berglund (3-2-5), Tarasenko (2-2-4) and Vladimir Sobotka (1-3-4) have four-game points streaks for the Blues. … Zetterberg has two goals and five assists during a five-game points streak for the Red Wings, while rookie Damien Brunner has three goals and an assist during a four-game points streak. Datsyuk (2-6-8) leads the team in scoring and already has three multi-point games this season.

Injury report: St. Louis defenseman Wade Redden missed Thursday's game with flu-like symptoms. … Detroit forward Darren Helm (back) and goalie Jonas Gustavsson (groin) are day-to-day. Forwards Jan Mursak (collarbone) and Mikael Samuelsson (groin) and defensemen Ian White (leg) and Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) are on injured reserve.

And while Thursday's practice news mostly involved Todd Bertuzzi's desire to avoid wearing a visor despite narrowly avoiding an encounter with blindness, Henrik Zetterberg's absence and Al Sobotka's first barbecue (as it relates to Brett "Two Slabs" Lebda and everyone else), Kyle Quincey spoke to the Wings' website and broadcaster Ken Kal about the team's penalty-killing and the uphill battle the Wings face against St. Louis...


And coach Mike Babcock discussed the match-up against St. Louis at some length in his post-practice media scrum:

The Red Wings are definitely in the mood to make a statement or three...But as Jimmy Howard and Babcock told the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness, they're more worried about the statements they make to themselves about, well, the state of the team's progression forward, than they are about appearances this evening. They're still pissed off about their individual and collective performances in the team's 6-0 loss two weeks ago:

“It’s just one of those things where it was the first game of the year, they handed it to us,” Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said. “They came out ready to play and they got on top of us early, got on top of our D, got their forecheck going. We’re going to have to find a way of limiting them from getting on top of our D, that way we can spend a little bit more time in their end.”

The Blues scored four times on the power play and once shorthanded. Three of their goals were on breakaways.

“Well, I mean, we had a tough game in St. Louis,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We gave up four gift goals and you can’t do that in a hockey game and expect success. I didn’t think we were very competitive in that game.

“Now we have an opportunity to evaluate ourselves six games later and see where we at,” Babcock added. “We’re through segment one and we were able to get seven points. We need to have a better segment this segment to keep in the chase and it starts with the game tomorrow.”

St. Louis is second in the Central Division.

“We definitely know it’s important for us,” Justin Abdelkader said. “They’re a division rival and a team already ahead of us in the standings. We’re on our home ice, we got to come out and set the tone early and play a smarter game and hopefully specialty teams will be better.”

The players continued while speaking to the Free Press's Helene St. James...

Tonight the Blues are coming to Joe Louis Arena, and the Wings have a bit of swagger back after having rolled out three solid performances. The offense, shut out in that 6-0 St. Louis loss, has 10 goals during the 2-0-1 stretch, and the penalty killers, 1-for-5 in the opener, are 14-for-16.

"I think we're doing the right things, it's starting to come together," Todd Bertuzzi said Thursday. "St. Louis is playing well -- they're big, they're strong, they're tough. We're going to have to match that."

The Blues have been beating up opponents regularly on the strength of being one of the few teams without a glaring weakness. They've got "depth, skill on the back, size, goaltending," coach Mike Babcock said.

Babcock lamented that, in the opener, the Wings weren't "very competitive. So now we have an opportunity to evaluate ourselves again, six games later, and see where we're at. We're through segment one and we were able to get seven points in our first segment. We need to have a better segment this segment to keep in the chase."

The Wings have stabilized over the past week on several fronts, though their power play still needs improvement, as do their starts. Henrik Zetterberg missed practice Thursday because of sickness, but Babcock expects Zetterberg to be available tonight -- which would mean that for the first time this season, the Wings would have the same lineup two games in a row.

The Blues played Thursday at Columbus, so just like Tuesday against Dallas, the Wings will be the fresher team. That won't matter, though, Justin Abdelkader said, unless the Wings are more determined than the first time they met the Blues. "Can't make mistakes, can't give them breakaways like we did, and play a smarter and tighter game," he said. "We definitely know it's important for us. It's a division rival and a team that's ahead of us in the standings. It's important, and we're on home ice, so we've got to come out and set the tone early."

And MLive's Ansar Khan, who spoke to Jordin Tootoo about the possibility that he might drop the gloves yet again this evening:

Babcock said the Blues have “depth, skill on the back, size, goaltending.''

“One of the best players in the league, in my opinion, is (Alex) Pietrangelo,'' Babcock said. “He’s a Nick Lidstrom-type guy with his calmness and his execution and his offensive ability and his ability to play defense without being involved physically. I think he’s a special player, and I’ve been saying that for a long time. Now it’s showing. As you saw, Nick made a huge difference for us. (Pietrangelo) makes a huge difference there.''

The Red Wings are focused on starting strong. They are the only team that hasn't scored a goal in the first period.

“We got to make sure the first five minutes we're on our toes and not on our heels,'' forward Jordin Tootoo said.

If Tootoo starts the game, there's a good chance he'll get into a fight after the opening faceoff. He did so against Jared Boll in Columbus on Jan. 21 and against Eric Nystrom of Dallas on Tuesday. The Red Wings won both games.

“When you get called upon to start a game and you're put on a different line and you look up and see who's starting for them, you kind of have an idea (a fight will happen),'' Tootoo said. “It's nothing premeditated. Both players agree before the puck even drops. You give a nod and let's get after it.''

Tootoo said he fights at the start of the game to help the team “get into it mentally and physically.''

“I don't have to say anything, the guy knows why I'm out there, most likely, and most of the time they roll their eyes and say 'OK, whatever,' and away we go,'' Tootoo said.

One way or another, Tootoo's going to have to help the cause by helping the Wings fend off the Blues' rather nasty forecheck and physical game, but Tootoo insisted to WXYZ's David Solano that he's not about to doff gloves every time he laces up the skates for the Wings:

"I wouldn't say [I'm] a pure enforcer. I know I have different elements to my game that I've experienced in the past," said Tootoo. "I know that as the years go on I mature as a player and become more comfortable."

Tootoo has already recorded over 60 fights in his career, and at this pace there's no stopping him from racking up more numbers. The Wings say they enjoy having Tootoo on their team but admit that his style of play is taking some getting used to.

"Definitely a lot different than what we've seen in the past couple years, but it's good to have him on your side for once," Jimmy Howard, a Red Wings goalie, said smiling.

"He's intense. He's physical. He's not afraid to drop the gloves no matter if the guy is 5'5" or 6'5" -- whatever he is," said Justin Abdelkader, a Red Wings forward.

"I need him to be physical. I need him to be physical tomorrow [when we face off against St. Louis]," said Mike Babcock, the Red Wings head coach. "They want to be physical and run us. We didn't respond to the physical challenge [last time we played the Blues]. We gotta set that tomorrow."

That's the important part. Responding to the physical challenge without taking penalties. Tootoo's fine with that...

"It's fun to play that type [of hockey]. It's a game that demands a lot from players," said Tootoo. "Every player plays a specific role, and my role -- I don't play a lot of minutes but when I do I have to make every minute count."

And I mention penalties for good reason. The Wings have taken far too many trips to the box over the first six games of the season, and Babcock offered a simple solution to said problem while speaking to the Macomb Daily's Pleiness about a penalty Niklas Kronwall took against Dallas:

Wings coach Mike Babcock was asked if his team understood how penalties were being called, more specific Niklas Kronwall, who was sent off three times in Tuesday’s win over the Dallas Stars.

“He shouldn’t have been,” Babcock said. “Don’t take penalties. Keep your stick down. Don’t interfere. Recover with your feet, not your stick. Life will be good.”

In my opinion, the team that skates better and controls the puck more than the other will take tonight's game, regardless of who's playing whom. The Blues may play a very physical brand of hockey, but Ken Hitchcock's system is still a puck possession one--with the Blues resembling his Dallas Stars of the late 90's--and if the Wings have the puck more than the Blues do, and the Wings attempt to keep that puck out of its own zone for as long as possible via a speedy transition game and a willingness to grind the puck out down low and along the side boards in St. Louis' end, the Blues' physical advantage disappears.

Lineup-wise, Pleiness reports that we'll see more of the same:

Henrik Zetterberg missed practice because of an illness, but is expected to play against the Blues.

Babcock said he will go with the same defensemen he went with Tuesday, which means Brian Lashoff will be a healthy scratch.

Joey MacDonald (back), Ian White (leg laceration), Jan Mursak (shoulder) and Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) all skated on their own, while Mikael Samuelsson (groin), Darren Helm (back) and Jonas Gustavsson (groin) did not skate.

If Jonas Gustavsson doesn't make any progress on Friday, I wouldn't be surprised to see Tom McCollum in the net against Columbus...

And if you're interested in stats, stats and more stats about tonight's game, the AP's Jordan Garretson provides them...

St. Louis will try for its fifth straight win on Friday night when it visits the Detroit Red Wings, who will be looking to avenge their worst season-opening loss in over half a century.

The Blues (6-1-0) can match their 7-1-0 start from the 1997-98 season with a win. After the team's only loss of the season to Chicago on Jan. 22, they've responded with four straight victories, including a 4-1 win at Columbus on Thursday.

St. Louis tallied three goals in the game's first 14 minutes. All four scores came from a different player, and seven players recorded an assist.


Detroit (3-2-1) has won two of three since starting 1-2-0, which included a 6-0 loss to St. Louis on Jan. 19 that was the Red Wings' worst season-opening defeat since 1958.

They notched a 4-1 win over Dallas on Tuesday behind two goals from Valtteri Filppula and Pavel Datsyuk's two assists.

Though the Red Wings have been outscored 4-0 in the first period this season, the team's penalty kill continues to improve. Detroit gave up six goals on the opponents' 12 power-play opportunities in the first two games, including four on five chances against St. Louis. Coach Mike Babcock's squad has allowed two on 18 chances over four games since.
The Red Wings were 18th in the league last year, successfully defending 81.8 percent of opponents' power plays.

As does the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's O'Neill, in his game preview:

Blues • The Blues are 6-1, their best start since 1997-98. While Brian Elliott started against Columbus, Jaroslav Halak likely will get the call against Detroit, the second of back-to-back games. The Blues were led in scoring by rookie Vladimir Tarasenko, who had five goals and four assists. Tarasenko had two goals against the Red Wings in St. Louis. Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk led NHL defensemen in scoring with eight points (all assists), while defensive teammate Alex Pietrangelo was one behind (1 goal, six assists). Blues coach Ken Hitchcock indicated he would adjust the lineup tonight, inserting forwards Matt D’Agostini and Jaden Schwartz. The Blues have amassed the best shot differential in the league at plus-82, or a plus-13.7 per game rate.

Red Wings • Detroit has put together three strong performances, a victory over Minnesota, an overtime loss at Chicago and a 4-1 home win over Dallas. The Wings are coming off two days rest. Detroit is a different-looking team with the departure of retired star defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, retired forward Tomas Holmstrom and traded defenseman Brad Stuart. But Damien Brunner (three goals) is emerging as an offensive factor and goaltender Jimmy Howard has played well since a 6-0 loss in St. Louis on opening night. Old nemesis Jordin Tootoo has provided a physical presence for the Wings, with three fights and a team-high 12 hits.

Test ahead tonight, tests ahead, plural, this month. Welcome to February, where the schedule gets...interesting.




Red Wings notebooks: Regarding the Tootoo and fighting debate, you read what he had to say about staging fights. What might surprise you is what Red Wings VP Jimmy Devellano had to say to the Associated Press's Larry Lage, who penned an article discussing the fact that fights are up by 39% this season:

Red Wings senior vice president Jim Devellano, who has four decades of NHL front-office experience and is in the Hockey Hall of Fame, said he used to be among the majority of people within the game that accept fighting as simply being a part of the sport.

"I've changed 100 percent and I'm now in the minority because I personally could do without fighting," Devellano said. "I don't think it brings anything to the game and there's a lot of violence in society that we have to read about all the time.

"I changed my opinion when Scotty Bowman, who wasn't big on fighting, was our coach and I saw how beautiful the game can be when you let the talent and the speed of the game take over. I'm not a crusader to stop fighting, but when I've shared my opinion with hockey people, they're not really happy with what I say."

As for Tootoo the person? He posted a link to this video on his Twitter account. In late December, Tootoo spoke to a group of native Canadian school-aged kids in Okanagan, British Columbia (Tootoo spends his summers in Kelowna) about the importance of staying in school, and he also discussed some of the issues he's had to deal with. They're all too common to native American and Canadian groups: Tootoo's brother, Terence, committed suicide in 2002, and it's one of the reasons that Jordin became an alcoholic. One of the reasons he admittedly left Nashville after about two years of sobriety is to re-start his career in a new place he's trying to learn to call home:


In the less-than-intelligent decisions department, hockey equipment version, per the Free Press's Helene St. James:

Bertuzzi did indeed growl at the press--as the video the Wings posted of him speaking to the media illustrates--and the Windsor Star's Bob Duff took note of Bertuzzi's particularly grumpy disposition:

A couple of days after taking a high stick near the eye courtesy of Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn, Detroit Red Wings right-winger Todd Bertuzzi bristled at questions as to whether he’d don a visor for additional protection after the close call with his sight.

“I don’t want to discuss it to be honest with you,” Bertuzzi said.

He opted not to wear a visor on Thursday during practice at Joe Louis Arena, but wouldn’t commit to his plans going forward.

“I don’t know,” Bertuzzi said. “It’s something I’ve got to think about for a bit. That’s all I can give you.”

Although he came away with nothing more than what Bertuzzi termed “a handful of scratches” on his eyeball, he had a previous close call with a scratched cornea during his first season in the NHL with the New York Islanders and that didn’t convince him that going to a visor was a wise decision.

“I don’t think it’s a discussion any player really wants to have,” Bertuzzi said. “I think it’s a personal decision. I don’t ask you what kind of pencil you use, you know what I mean? I’m not trying to be jerk, but it’s our office and we wear what we want to wear. Guys wear different shoulder pads, different helmets and different skates, that’s just how it is. It’s an option we’re given and some guys don’t want to use it.”

As a father, however, Bertuzzi’s advice to his children and all kids playing the game is exactly the opposite. He’d tell them all to wear the visor.

“It’s a no brainer,” Bertuzzi said. “I think all the kids coming up, anyone coming into the league the past 4-5 years, it should be mandatory to have it. I believe in it. It’s the same thing with the no helmet (rule). It was grandfathered in. The last guy to no wear it was (Craig) MacTavish and I think eventually when use older guys get out of the league they’ll make it mandatory that (visors) be worn.”

Bertuzzi did talk about hockey as well, as Duff noted:


Three goals and an assist over the course of six games ain't bad for someone who's still adjusting to an 85-foot-wide rink.

And for whatever reason, again, MLive has posted the link for its "Ask Ansar" answers, and there's a teaser for the story on MLive's website, but this is all I can see of a story theoretically filed at 12:50 AM EST when I'm writing this (3 AM):

Red Wings 'Ask Ansar' questions: Expect club to try to upgrade defense before trade deadline

It's early, just six games into the season, but so far the Detroit Red Wings defense hasn't been the calamity many anticipated in the post-Nicklas Lidstrom (and Brad Stuart) era.The Red Wings have allowed 11 goals in five games following..

Okey dokey...


In the prospect department, in the ECHL, the Toledo Walleye defeated the Cincinnati Cyclones 2-0 on Thursday night, with Andrej Nestrasil registering an assist. The Walleye's website provides a recap;

In the QMJHL, Martin Frk had 2 goals, an assist registered a +4 in the Halifax Mooseheads' 7-0 victory over Chicoutimi;

In Europe, from DRW Prospects on Twitter:

Teemu Pulkkinen registered an assist in Jokerit Helsinki's 3-2 victory over Tappara;

Calle Jarnkrok was held off the scoresheet in Brynas IF's 7-1 loss to Farjestads BK;

And Mattias Backman and Linkopings HC came up on the short end of a 4-0 loss to Timra IK;

Heading back over here, from DRW Prospects again:



In the alumni department, if you speak Swedish, Nicklas Lidstrom gave a 20-minute interview to Sweden's TV4's Malou von Sivers on her interview program, "Efter Tio," to discuss being happily retired. I can read some Swedish but can't speak it, so I didn't get much out of it, but it is very evident that he's very very happy with his situation, and I guess that's all we can really hope for.


What has Nicklas Lidstrom's retirement taught me? As hockey fans, we tend to forget that all the players who play for the Red Wings are essentially "on loan" to us. They are not always going to be living in Metro Detroit, and even if they do, they're not always going to be followed around by sports media more days than not, so if we really care about a player, we should enjoy the time they play for our team, no matter how long or how short, because they're only in the public consciousness for so long.

I know that sounds campy, but when we think about people like Henrik Zetterberg, whose Swedish Snowballs will go on sale at the Joe this evening, or Pavel Datsyuk, who will probably head back to Russia whenever his career ends...We're very lucky to have so many players on the Red Wings' roster who are genuinely good people as well as good and/or great hockey players, so we might as well enjoy every second of having 'em around.


Also of Red Wings-related note: So I don't end this entry mushily, while the Red Wings are tangling with the Blue Jackets on Saturday night, the University of Michigan and Michigan State University will be playing at Joe Louis Arena, and the Wings' website has posted video clips of Ken Kal speaking to Michigan coach Red Berenson...


And a clip of Drew Miller and Justin Abdelkader promoting their alma mater:



Finally, I read this on Thursday afternoon and wanted to scream, "I KNEW IT!" but I wanted to save it for the overnight report (I don't do this very often). When the Red Wings chose to wait on attempting to sell Ryan Suter on coming to Detroit, at the expense of watching several players go by the wayside, I felt OK with it as long as Matt Carle remained on the market.

Just before we received that awful July 4th news that both Suter and Zach Parise had convinced each other to sign with the Minnesota Wild, however, news came across the wires stating that the Tampa Bay Lightning had signed Carle to a big-money contract, and on Thursday morning, ESPN's Craig Custance confirmed that Bolts GM Steve Yzerman did indeed catch the Wings sleeping at the wheel:

On July 1, they landed Sami Salo with a two-year deal to a 37-year-old with a history of injuries. It was risky, but as we're seeing early this season, it was completely necessary.

Three days later, Yzerman signed Matt Carle to a six-year deal worth $33 million. Re-signing Carle was a priority for the Philadelphia Flyers and he was a player the Detroit Red Wings liked if they couldn't land Ryan Suter.

Yzerman beat both big-market teams to lure Carle to Tampa.


Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


cowboycoffee's avatar

as a current Gamecenter Live subscriber, I’m already screwed. It’s hardly worked this season, so far.

Posted by cowboycoffee from San Francisco, CA on 02/01/13 at 06:16 AM ET

Zqto's avatar

I’m from Brazil and I watched every Wings game on GCL so far, with no problems at all…  Not sure what you’re talking about, CowboyCoffee…

Posted by Zqto on 02/01/13 at 06:32 AM ET

Chris in Hockey Hell's avatar

I am asking, imploring, BEGGING somebody, ANYBODY to drill Backes tonight. I am so sick of that *#$%@& running around free, hitting everything that moves. This guy needs to be dealt with tonight.

Posted by Chris in Hockey Hell from Ann Arbor, MI but LIVING in Columbia, TN on 02/01/13 at 10:25 AM ET

cowboycoffee's avatar

@Zqto yep, lots of issues. In fact the Gamecenter live peeps offered a few apologies on their twitter feed. Service has knocked people off, online, on computers and users are getting ‘game blacked out’ call-outs on iPads and iPhones.

Last game went out after the first period and was buggy for the rest of the game. Two games before that, didn’t work at all. And it’s not my connection.

Posted by cowboycoffee from San Francisco, CA on 02/01/13 at 07:45 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.