Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Blues wrap-up and overnight report: depth, grit and Mrazek frustrate the Blues

Updated at 9:04 AM: The Detroit Red Wings flew back to Metro Detroit to greet anywhere from 2-6 inches of snow a little less encumbered by concerns about their team's trajectory after defeating the St. Louis Blues 5-1 on Thursday, giving the Wings a 2-and-1 record in what will be a four-game series with the Blues as of next Wednesday's meeting, and righting the Wings' ship with the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings coming to town for matinee games on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

The Wings played like a team that consisted of completely different players from the Wings team that struggled so mightily against Calgary and Columbus, and the team may very well have bested its performance in its 5-3 win against the same Blues one week ago tonight because the Wings' "best players" didn't have to take the team on their backs to defeat the Blues.

Or, as KMOV's Scott Bierman put it, the Blues couldn't "contain [the] Red Wings' low-scorers":

The Red Wings didn’t need their typical cast of scorers to beat the Blues Tuesday night.  In fact, the team’s top three point-getters (Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen) combined for only one point in the 5-1 win.

Among those to notch a point in the victory were seven players who entered the game without a single point this season.

Daniel Cleary, Jakub Kindl and Cory Emmerton each scored their first goal of the season.  Tomas Tatar, Justin Abdelkader, Drew Miller and Jordin Tootoo each added an assist for their first point of the season.

The Blues have only two players who have not registered a point this season (Kris Russell and Scott Nichol)

We're going to get to celebrating Petr Mrazek's fine 26-saves-and-a-win NHL debut in a little bit, but I like to tell the opponent's side of the story first, and the opponent's side got a little weird.

The Blues had only played once since last Friday's game against the Wings, and they dropped a 6-1 decision to Nashville on Tuesday, so following up one awful home-ice performance with one that stung more than the first yielded a strange, detached post-game press conference from one very angry Ken Hitchcock, and some stares off into space from his baffled players.

Hitchcock's presser performance stole the show, however, as the Belleville News-Democrat's Norm Sanders noted:

"We're cheating all over the ice," Hitchcock said following a 5-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings that came two days after a 6-1 shellacking at the hands of the Nashville Predators. "We're cheating to get on the offense, we're cheating to score...our puck support is poor. Our team game's not good right now because we're cheating the game. We're cheating each other, we're cheating the game -- and we're paying the price for it."

A team that was 6-1 and drawing accolades from around the NHL is suddenly 6-4 and wondering exactly what happened to its winning formula of tight defense, goaltending and timely goals.

"It's everybody. It's hard work," Blues forward Alex Steen said. "We just need to be more supportive and help each other out, but it starts with hard work."

The Blues have suddenly become extremely loose on the back end, allowing 21 goals in the last five games, 15 in the last three and 11 in their last two.

"When you have this many players who are playing under the bar it's hard to win hockey games," said Hitchcock, who pointed to "Individual agendas. What's good for me. How many times were you folks sitting in the stands saying shoot the puck onto the net? How many times did you say why did you pass it there to a covered person when you could have put it on the net? End of press conference."

That's right, folks, it's the fault of individual agendas. Cheating and individual agendas that surely had the press box livid (I thought the press wasn't supposed to cheer, even though most of them are partisan toward either "the team" or a "good story"...oh, nevermind...).

Oh, the humanity? Something like that:

The last time the Blues lost back-to-back home games in regulation was Feb. 22 and March 1, 2011. Thursday also marked the first time the Blues have dropped three straight games in the Hitchcock era.

They also were facing 20-year-old Red Wings rookie goalie Petr Mrazek, who was making his NHL debut and began this season in the East Coast Hockey League. Mrazek allowed one goal and stopped 26 of 27 shots to earn a victory.

Hitchcock wasn't finding any positives after the defeat.

"You hope that sooner or later the players have had enough and they're willing to make the changes necessary, but right now we're cheating the game," he said, echoing a familiar theme he used throughout his news conference.

Hitchcock's charges bought into this strange, spurned-lover-cheating-or-something-weird tale, as they told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jeremy Rutherford (and yes, all of this translates into Pierre McGuire and Mike Milbury actually salivating with anticipation before Wednesday night's rematch--yep, an NBC-only game--which will be the third and final February tilt between the Wings and Blues, and the fourth of five meetings between the teams this season):

“We’re cheating on the details ... small things out there and that’s what’s costing us,” Blues forward Alex Steen said.

So much for paybacks against Detroit, which rallied for a 5-3 victory last week after Backes was sent to the showers with a five-minute major and match penalty, which was rescinded the next day. In the aftermath of that, the Red Wings went on to lose back-to-back games to Columbus and Calgary — the bottom two teams in the Western Conference — by a combined score of 8-3.

As a result, Detroit decided to sit starting goaltender Jimmy Howard on Thursday against the Blues and give Petr Mrazek his first NHL start. The same Petr Mrazek who this season with Detroit’s American Hockey League affiliate in Grand Rapids lost twice to the Peoria Rivermen, the Blues’ AHL farm team.

But like the lottery, if you don’t play you can’t win; if you don’t shoot, you can’t score. On a night when Hitchcock mixed up his offensive combinations, the Blues were outshot 27-17 through the first two periods. In the end, the Blues had Jaden Schwartz, Chris Stewart, David Backes, David Perron, T.J. Oshie and Vladimir Tarasenko each finish with one shot each.

The Blues' start was not particularly good...

For the third straight game, twice against Detroit, the Blues fell behind 2-0 in the first period. The Red Wings built their lead Thursday on goals by Daniel Cleary and Jakub Kindl. Cleary scored on his own rebound, which came after an initial rebound on a shot by teammate Tomas Tartar. Elliott had trouble controlling the puck most of the night.

“When a guy gets three or four whacks at it, it’s obviously my goal to cover it up or get it in the corner,” Elliott said. “But it’s a whole system thing we have to clean up in our (defensive) zone, and I’m definitely a part of that for sure.”

And the power play was just about all that the Blues did get going (and it was not a very good thousandth game for Wade Redden, either):

After a 4-on-3 power play failed, the Blues had a 5-on-4 advantage and Alex Pietrangelo found himself open down low and netted his third goal of the season for a 2-1 deficit with 4:15 left in the second period. Pietrangelo now has the Blues’ only two goals in their last two games.

...

“You lose 6-1 at home, 5-1 at home ... there’s got to be the reason for it,” Pietrangelo said, “and we’ve got to find a way to answer that.”

The Wings responded in a hurry, as NHL.com's Louie Korac noted in recaps which appear on NHL.com, the Blues' website and his blog, In the Slot, but any way you slice it, the Blues were pissed off...

Down 2-0, Pietrangelo fired into an empty side off a feed from Steen at 15:45 of the second period to cut Detroit's lead to 2-1. But the Red Wings got a pair of quick goals late in the period from Emmerton at 17:33 and Brunner with 56 seconds left in the period to go up 4-1.

"It's tough to give one back right away and then give one up at the end of the period, that's even harder coming in here down 4-1 as opposed to 2-1," Pietrangelo said. "It got away from us, and we can't be getting behind teams."

So was Johan Franzen (see the video below)...

The culmination to a bad night came on Filppula's breakaway goal, which happened on a 4-on-4 sequence came after Johan Franzen was booted from the game for spearing David Perron. Franzen got a five-minute major and a game-misconduct, and Perron received two minutes for initially boarding Franzen, who retaliated.

In the ensuing sequence with both team down a player, the Blues lost the puck in the Red Wings zone and Filppula was off to the races, and again, it ended up in the Blues' net. Filppula beat Elliott with 6 minutes, 25 to play.

And while the Blues were looking for answers...

"We've gotten away from it, what makes us a good team," Steen said. "We've got to get back on the horse tomorrow. ... It's hard work."


Added Pietrangelo: "It's not going to be an easy fix, but we know what we've got to do in this room. We've just got to go out and execute it."

Petr Mrazek's teammates were thrilled for their new goaltender...

"He never really panicked whatsoever," Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said of the 20-year-old Mrazek. "I thought he was just square to the puck all night. He kept control of the rebounds and looked really good."

And their goalie was delighted with his accomplishment, and understandably so, as noted by the Associated Press's recap:

Mrazek, recalled from Grand Rapids on Monday, stopped the first 14 shots he faced. He used a cool, calm demeanor to stymie the Blues down the stretch, making 10 saves in the final period.

"I'm never nervous. I enjoyed every minute on the ice," Mrazek said. "It was unbelievable, like a dream."

Jimmy Howard, the team's No. 1 goalie, was given the night off after starting the first nine games of the season.Mrazek came through with an impressive effort, stopping the final 11 shots by the Blues.

...

"When you're a kid you're always dreaming about the NHL," he said. "Now it's happened and I am so happy. (I've) got the puck and I will keep it forever."

About that whole "spreading the scoring around" thing that the Wings haven't done until Thursday night? The Red Wings' coach didn't have to offer any statements about "personal agendas" after the game...

"Anytime you get depth in scoring, it's a positive thing," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "I thought our discipline was pretty good. We responded and we really pushed."

And instead, Babcock gave his team a pat on its collective hockey pants, as the Free Press's Helene St. James noted:

"You need it," coach Mike Babcock said. "You can't just keep going back to the well. No different than the goaltending; you can't play Howie and ride him every night. You've got to play everybody, and I thought we got good minutes out of all our guys tonight."

Damien Brunner and Valtteri Filppula also had goals. It was the early scoring from the lesser sources that made a difference, though, especially when Emmerton doused the Blues' momentum 2 minutes after Alex Pietrangelo had halved a two-goal lead during a power play.

"We responded right away," Babcock said. "That was a real big goal by Emmer. Brunner too, and then Filppula."

Mrazek had a brief scare in the third period when "a guy stepped on my leg," he said, "and I thought he might cut me a little bit, but I think it's all right."

If there was any lingering pain, it was offset by the euphoria of his first NHL win. "It's like a dream," Mrazek said. "I didn't think I might play first NHL game my first season pro. I'm so happy. I hope it will continue."

The Wings play back-to-back games on the weekend, so as far as Mrazek goes, "we'll play him again, obviously," Babcock said. "We can't play Howie every night. But if you have someone in the organization that can play, that's a real positive."

Quoth the 20-year-old, via St. James' notebook:

OVERHEARD: Mrazek, on how his teammates played: "The guys were outstanding. They block lots of shots for me. They help me so much." ... Niklas Kronwall, on how the third and fourth lines played: "I thought they came out huge. They played really well for us all game through. Got on the forecheck when we needed them to, came up with some big goals. They were the difference tonight." ... Coach Mike Babcock, on what Tatar brings to lineup: "For me, Tatar gives Clears someone to play with, someone who can make a play."

LINEUP NOTES: Babcock used almost the same lineup as the previous game, except for making defenseman Kent Huskins a healthy scratch. Up front, Todd Bertuzzi was back on a line with Filppula and Pavel Datsyuk, and Tatar was dropped to the third line.

(Thus the Tatar-Cleary chemistry, which is true, it worked)

Mrazek, who may or may not start in one of this weekend's back-to-back matinees against Edmonton and Dallas, also spoke to the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan about his win...

"I was real excited to play my first NHL game and I tried to stop what I could," said Mrazek, who made 26 saves. "Getting the two points was the most important (thing)."

He's known for being cool and calm and he appeared that way against the Blues.

"I'm never nervous," Mrazek said. "I went (out) there and enjoyed every minute on the ice. The guys were outstanding today; they blocked a lot of shots around me and helped a lot."

Babcock was pleased and impressed with the way Mrazek handled the puck.

"Kind of like Ozzie (Chris Osgood) did, he makes it easy for the defense," Babcock said. "He didn't generate second chances for them, the puck didn't come out. Good for the kid. It's not easy to play in this league."

And Kulfan duly noted that the third and fourth lines registered eight points, which the "bottom six" took in stride:

Said Emmerton: "It's the time of year when you have to get the goals and hopefully we can get on a roll."

As did the entire team, which understands that one game does not a career make for Mrazek, nor a successful season for the Wings as a group:

"A step in the right direction," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "Hopefully we can build off this."

Mostly, the Wings' players, who may very well have out-Blued the Blues, were happy for Mrazek, as they told MLive's Ansar Khan:

"He's awesome," said forward Cory Emmerton, who was one of five Red Wings to score. "I didn't really know what to expect but he was great. He had no problem playing the puck. He looked very confident. He made huge stops. You always cheer for the young guys, especially in his first game. Like I said, when he was playing the puck, he made some smart decisions. It's really good to see, a young guy in his first game. It's awesome. He's going to remember that forever."

Mrazek, who has won all three of his debuts this season, is the youngest goalie to start for the Red Wings since Chris Osgood did it when he was 20 years, 10 months, 19 days old in 1993-94. He's just the third goalie under the age of 21 to play for the Red Wings in the last 30 years and among the 10 youngest ever to suit up for Detroit, only he and Bill Beveridge (1929) won their NHL debuts.

"Mrazek did a great job in net, very stellar, calm back there," said veteran defenseman Niklas Kronwall. "Just his calmness, he never really panicked whatsoever. I thought he was square to the puck all night through, kept control of the rebounds. I thought he looked really good. Howie has been standing on his head. It was good for him to get a night off and to see Mrazek come in and play the way he did gives us some comfort and relief that we're in pretty good hands."

The only goal Mrazek allowed was by Alex Pietrangelo on a power play with 4:15 left in the second period, cutting the Red Wings' lead to 2-1. But Emmerton answered less than two minutes later and Damien Brunner gave Detroit a 4-1 lead heading the third with a goal in the final minute of the second. Mrazek's performance earned him another start with the Red Wings, according to coach Mike Babcock.

"We'll play him again obviously, just because we can't play Howie every night," Babcock said. "If you have somebody in the organization that can play, that's a real positive thing. I don't know on the development path where he's at. But there's nothing wrong with competition for jobs.

"He played well. He really handles the puck well. That makes it easy for the D. The other thing I liked about him is he didn't generate second chances for them. The puck wasn't coming off him. It was soft. It was under control. Good for the kid. It's not an easy league to play in. St. Louis is a real good team. To me, he was really composed. I thought he was excellent for us."

Babcock doesn't usually give goalies much praise until they win him over--see Jimmy Howard between 2005 and 2009--so the fact that Mrazek elicited an "excellent" is pretty damn impressive. It doesn't mean that Jonas Gustavsson need look over his shoulder yet, but it's still pretty *#$%@&' cool.

Savage added some notes to the mix which are worth mentioning...

HIGHLIGHTS

-- Tatar picked up his first NHL assist on Cleary's goal.

-- When the teams met on opening night, the Blues outshot the Red Wings 17-2 in the first period. This time? The Red Wings had a 12-9 advantage in the first 20 minutes.

-- Mrazek's NHL debut meant No. 1 goalie Jimmy Howard didn't start for the first time this season, giving him a much-needed breather. Entering Thursday's games, Howard had played 527 minutes played, the fourth-most in the NHL.

LOWLIGHTS

-- Red Wings forward Johan Franzen was ejected in the third period for spearing David Perron with 7:22 left.

-- The Red Wings were penalized for having too many men on the ice in the second period, leading to Pietrangelo's goal.  That was the Red Wings' second penalty in 68 seconds after they went the first 33:02 without visiting the box.

I'll say this about refereeing: you've got to give the Wings some credit for muddling their way to a 5-4-and-1 record given how awfully inconsistent things have been. Dennis LaRue and Mike Leggo gave the Wings exactly one power play on a night where the Blues were running Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk like checking was going out of style, but a week ago, Niklas Kronwall went to the penalty box for leaning on David Backes, and we've seen everything in between in terms of the spectrum between, "Let 'em play" and, "You breathed on him wrong! That's a penalty!"

Add in the inconsistencies in terms of offensive production, the up and down intensity, focus, "compete level" and attention to detail, and the blunt and honest truth that this team's personnel is piecemeal, patchwork and still trying to figure out who the hell it is without Nicklas Lidstrom, Brad Stuart and Tomas Holmstrom, and it's done better than I thought it would.

The Wings can obviously get better thanks to a combination of more self-confidence, more consistency and healthy personnel shuffling back into the lineup (Mickey Redmond suggested that Mikael Samuelsson might be able to return for next Wednesday's Blues min-series finale), and perhaps the eventual trade, but as they scrape by during a February evaluation period by their coaches and management, this team is taking more steps ahead than it is steps back, and it's excellent to see that the new hull of the S.S. Red Wings remains a self-righting one.

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

Johan Franzen gave David Perron quite the whack after being boarded in the third period, too:


Post-game: If you really want to watch Brian Elliott, Alex Steen and Alex Pietrangelo lament their team's loss, via the Blues' website, enjoy;

But Ken Hitchcock's post-game presser, as partially captured by Fox Sports Midwest, was kind of staggering to watch:

Cory Emmerton spoke with the NHL Network after the game...

 

And Fox Sports Detroit posted clips of interviews with Mrazek, Babcock and Dan Cleary:

 

 

Photos:

KMOV posted a 10-image gallery;

KSDK posted a 17-image gallery;

CBS St. Louis posted a wallpaper-sized image of Danny Cleary trying to tip a shot past Brian Elliott;

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch posted an 11-image gallery;

The Windsor Star posted 8 images from the game;

Ahem:

The Detroit Free Press posted a 28-image gallery;

The Detroit News posted a 21-image gallery;

Yahoo Sports posted about 25 photos from the game in their AP Wings gallery;

ESPN posted 54 images from the game;

And NHL.com, the Blues and Red Wings' websites posted 36-image photo galleries.

Statistics:

Shots 29-27 Detroit overall. The Wings out-shot St. Louis 12-9 in the 1st, 15-8 in the 2nd, and both Mickey Redmond and I agree that the 10-2 shot advantage for the Blues in the 3rd was...suspiciously "home cooking" in terms of numbers.

The Blues went 1-for-3 in 5:15 of PP time, but went 0-for-1 in 52 seconds of 5 on 3 time; The Wings went 0-for-1 on their only power play.

Mrazek stopped 26 of 27; Elliott stopped 24 of 29.

The 3 stars, per the "St. Louis Media," were Drew Miller, Petr Mrazek and Cory Emmerton.

The Wings' goals: Cleary (1) from Tatar (1) and Abdelkader (1);

Kindl (1) from Emmerton (1) and Miller (1);

Emmerton (1) from Tootoo (1) and Miller (2);

Brunner (5) from Ericsson (3) and Zetterberg (9);

Filppula (3), unassisted.

Faceoffs 33-31 St. Louis (48% won by St. Louis);

Blocked shots 14-7 Detroit;

Missed shots 14-11 St. Louis (total attempts 55-47 St. Louis);

Hits 20-9 St. Louis;

Giveaways 8-4 St. Louis;

Takeaways 9-5 St. Louis.

Individual stats, TMR style:

Faceoffs: Zetterberg went 11-and-11 (50%); Datsyuk went 8-and-6 (57%); Abdelkader went 5-and-4 (56%); Emmerton went 4-and-8 (33%); Filppula went 1-and-2 (33%); both Cleary and Franzen went 1-and-1 (50%).

Shots: Cleary led the Wings with 4 shots; Kindl, Emmerton, Zetterberg and Filppula had 3 shots; Datsyuk, White, Tatar, Brunner and Franzen had 2; Tootoo, Bertuzzi and Ericsson had 1.

Blocked attempts: Filppula fired 3 shots into Blues players; Kindl, Brunner, Ericsson and Franzen had 1 shot attempt blocked.

Missed shots: White missed the net 3 times; Kindl, Cleary, Datsyuk, Miller, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi, Kronwall and Franzen missed the net 1 time.

Hits: Lashoff led the team with 3 hits; Abdelkader, Cleary, Datsyuk, Tootoo, Quincey and Franzen had 1.

Giveaways: Kindl had 2 giveaways; Bertuzzi and Ericsson had 1.

Takeaways: Abdelkader, Lashoff, Brunner, Quincey and Zetterberg had 1 takeaway.

Blocked shots: Ericsson blocked 3 Blues shots; Kronwall and Franzen blocked 2; Cleary, Datsyuk, White, Miller, Tatar, Lashoff and Zetterberg blocked 1.

Penalties taken: Abdelkader took a minor penalty; Franzen took a major for boarding and a game misconduct, and the team took a too many men penalty.

Plus-minus: The Red Wings finished at a collective +24. Bertuzzi was the only Wing who was even. Kindl, Abdelkader, Cleary, Datsyuk, Tatar, Lashoff, Brunner, Zetterberg, Filppula, Kronwall and Franzen finished at +1; White, Miller, Tootoo, Emmerton and Ericsson finished at +2; Quincey finished at +3.

Points: Emmerton had a goal and an assist for 2 points; Miller had 2 assists; Kindl, Cleary, Brunner and Filppula had goals; Abdelkader, Tatar, Tootoo, Zetterberg and Ericsson had assists.

Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 24:03 played; White played 20:22; Lashoff played 20:18;

Ericsson played 19:34; Zetterberg played 18:44; Datsyuk played 18:21;

Filppula played 17:56; Kindl played 17:33; Quincey played 17:19;

Brunner played 17:04; Franzen played 16:57; Cleary played 14:27;

Tatar played 14:15; Abdelkader played 13:38; Bertuzzi played 12;18;

Miller played 10:52; Tootoo played 9:13; Emmerton played 8:31.

 

 

 

Red Wings notebooks: It was the right time to sit Jimmy Howard. Babcock explained his rationale behind doing so to the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:

"We felt, after the last two games, Howie needed a mental break," Babcock said. "He needs a day where he doesn't have to think about (starting). We thought we'd get another goalie back, we were assuming Gus (Jonas Gustavsson, groin) would play, maybe Mac (Joey MacDonald, back), but that never happened."

Howard is 4-4-1 with a 3.07 goals-against average and .892 save percentage.

"It hasn't been going exactly the way I would have liked out there," Howard said. "You use this (day off) to do more work with (goaltending coach) Jimmy (Bedard), which I haven't been able to do a lot of. You want to be out there every game for the guys but it's one of those things. It's good to just hit the refocus button here."

As for Mrazek, Howard told him play his game and relax.

"I wasn't nervous at all until Steve (Yzerman) told me I better not lose this one (game)," Howard said of his debut in 2005. "That's when the butterflies kicked in a little bit."

Babcock was blunt about his take on Mrazek's self-confidence, too:

Said Babcock: "He's not like that (nervous). He thinks he's good and there's nothing wrong with that."

That's just the truth. I met him after he was drafted, and I've watched him mature over the past two years, and he's just...He walks the line between self-confidence, swagger and out-and-out egotism like Tomas Holmstrom toed the goal crease. He's not arrogant per-se, mostly because none of what he says is an act. It's all just the way he is.

Petr's Petr. And you're gonna like him.

And this bit of Darren Helm news needs to be reiterated, from the Free Press's Helene St. James:

Darren Helm's visit to a back specialist "ruled out everything bad," general manager Ken Holland said. "It's a small strain or tear in a lower back ligament. He got an injection, said he felt better right away. He'll rest until Monday, then we'll go from there." Helm has missed all but one game because of a sore back.

Put indelicately, a sprain is a small tear. So he's got a small tear. It'll heal.

I'm just going to offer a link to Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner's video blog, in which he suggests that there's a "goaltending controversy" in Detroit now;

And DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose got ahead of the game, so to speak, by posting a scouting report concerning Saturday afternoon's opponent, the Edmonton Oilers (Tom Renney's former team):

If it’s extra hockey that you like, look no further then the Edmonton Oilers, who’ve gone to overtime or shoot-outs six times already this season. Despite having a roster that consists of 40 percent former first-round draft picks, the young and talented Oilers (4-3-3) have struggled lately, getting outshot by double-digits in five of the last seven games.

“They probably got one or two more first-rounders for this year,” Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “They seem like they pop out new guys every year and they still have those guys from 4-5 years ago that came in as first-rounders. They should be better. I haven’t seen much of them so I can’t say how they’ve been doing this year, but they’re really skilled and if you let them play their game they’re a difficult team play against.”

Led by young 20-somethings Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall, as well as 19-year-olds Nail Yakupov and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – all former first-rounders – the Oilers have a terrific cast of up-and-comers posed to get Edmonton back to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the time since losing to Carolina in the Cup finals. Of course, that spring brings back particularly soar memories for the Wings, who were bounced from the playoffs by the Oilers, who were the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

Though they are 1-1-3 in their last five, the Oilers should be fun to watch when they play the Red Wings in a Saturday matinee at Joe Louis Arena.



In the prospect department: In the ECHL, Andrej Nestrasil scored a goal in the Toledo Walleye's 2-1 victory over Greenville. The Walleye's website and the Toledo Blade provide recaps;

In the OHL, Ryan Sproul registered 3 assists in the Soo Greyhounds' 5-1 victory over Brampton;

And in Europe, via DRW Prospects on Twitter:

Mattias Backman didn't register a point in Sweden's 2-0 loss to the Czech Republic in the Oddset Games, which are part of the Euro Hockey Tour.

Also of Red Wings-related note: The Wings are collecting smoke detectors for Henrik Zetterberg's smoke detector charitable drive, sponsored by the Detroit and Southfield Fire Departments and "Comerica Cares" on Saturday and Sunday;

If you want to enter the Red Wings' Dunhams Sports-sponsored sweepstakes to win 4 tickets to either the Wings' March 10th game against Columbus ("plus a meet-and-greet with a Red Wings player") or the Wings' April 25th game against Nashville (plus watching warm-ups from the penalty box and riding the Zamboni), you may enter the contest here;

Also in the promotional department, the Wings are already advertising spots for their Youth Hockey Camp:

Also in the promotional department, from NBC Sports and via RedWingsFeed, here's a promo for Sunday's NBC Sports game, which begins at 12:30 PM EST:

 

According to ESPN, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg have the 11th and 16th highest-selling jerseys in the NHL at present;

The CBC's Chris Iofrida reveals the teams that Datsyuk, Zetterberg and other NHL stars perform best against and worst against;

I'm not so sure about his list-making skills, but SI's Al Muir suggests that Jordin Tootoo is the 8th-most-hated player in the NHL for the following reasons:

8. Jordin Tooto, Red Wings: Tootoo earned his shot in the NHL as a high-energy winger who could send a message with a thundering body check. He’s since gained a reputation as a careless player, someone who’ll hit too high, too low or too late. He’s been suspended multiple times, most recently for running Ryan Miller.

Michigan Hockey posted some factoids about Petr Mrazek;

I can only scratch my head as to why USA Today's Kevin Allen offered a prospective Team Canada roster for the 2014 Olympics which includes Ken Hitchcock as the head coach instead of Babcock because "it's his turn";

The Detroit Free Press will hold a chat with Larry Murphy at 11 AM on Tuesday, February 12th;

And the Free Press's George Sipple provides the details of this weekend's Michigan Pond Hockey Classic:

The Michigan Pond Hockey Classic, originally scheduled for Jan. 25-27, will be held today through Sunday at Mac's Marina on Whitmore Lake.

"This event literally has become the largest event for the community," said Sam Iaquinto, owner of Mac's Marina.

Iaquinto also is the tournament's director of operations and the president of the Michigan Pond Hockey Sports Charities. Proceeds from the tournament provide help to families in need of financial assistance, enabling their children to participate in local youth athletic programs.

"It's a pure volunteer event," Iaquinto said. "All of our funds go to youth athletics within the Washtenaw, Livingston and western Oakland County areas."

The weather didn't cooperate last year, and the event ultimately was canceled. Iaquinto said he was confident the event would be played, despite being postponed from the first scheduled weekend this year, "once I looked at the extended forecast for the month of February. We like to see a good eight inches of ice."

The event has grown since it was first held in 2008.

"Our first year, we had around 30 teams, and this year we have 110 seven-person teams, and we have a wait list of about 15 teams that would like to play," Iaquinto said.

New to the MPHC this year is the Red Bull Open Ice Division, for to men 18 and older. The winning team receives an entry, plus paid accommodations courtesy of Red Bull, into the Open ICE World Championship later this month in Helsinki, Finland.

The rules are the same for all divisions -- four skaters compete on the ice per team on a 75-by-150-foot rink. There are no goalies. Each team is guaranteed four games, two at night and two in the day. Spectators can watch for free, and there will be fireworks today. There's a cover charge to enter the entertainment tent, and food and beverages cost extra.

In blogger's disclosure news: My night of sleep is going to be abbreviated because we have a shared parking lot in my condo complex, and I'll have to broom the snow off two cars and move 'em to the end of the block sometime between 8 and 10...I've got to ferry the aunt to some errands...And mostly, I'm a bit tired after a long week. I'll do the best I can to cover as much as I can, but I'm not gonna grind myself down to the bone with a pair of weekend games ahead.


Update: We All Bleed Red loved this exchange:

 

Update: CBS Detroit's posted wallpaper-sized images of Mrazek hugging the post vs. the Blues, Cory Emmerton celebrating his goal, Johan Franzen chewing on his mouthguard while celebrating his goal against Columbus and they posted a picture of Datsyuk playing against the Penguins in a preseason game from 2011. I beleive that a picture of Datsyuk and Valtteri Filppula celebrating, which I found on a different website--again, wallpaper-sized--is from another year as he's wearing a pair of four-roll gloves;

And, via RedWingsFeed, MLive's Brendan Savage spoke to the "bottom six" about their production:

"That's important that we get everybody scoring," said Danny Cleary, one of three Red Wings who scored his first goal of the season. "We know we haven't produced enough. Guys take it personally. Guys have a lot of pride. The key, when you have a stretch like this, is you got to believe in yourself, stay confident and work hard.''

Cleary was one of seven Red Wings who recorded their first points.

Cleary, defenseman Jakub Kindl and Cory Emmerton all bagged their first goal of the season while Tomas Tatar, Justin Abdelkader, Drew Miller and Jordin Tootoo had their first assists. Miller finished with a pair of assists.

"I don't think anything was different besides the fact we scored," said Emmerton, whose goal  was a big one since it gave Detroit a 3-1 lead less than two minutes after Alex Pietrangelo scored for St. Louis on a power play with 4:15 left in the second period. "We think besides maybe the first game, as a line, me, Toots and Millsie have talked a lot and have been doing a lot of good things, creating energy, playing smart and playing a simple game. We had some good chances we haven't scored on. It's that time of year you need to get the goals. It was big for us tonight and hopefully we can get on a roll here.''

...

"I thought Tats helps Cleary," Babcock said. "There's a guy who can make a play on your line, so that's a positive thing for (Cleary). Emmer's line has been good for us. They've worked hard for us and done a good job. Toots gives them a real physical presence. I thought Millsie had his best game of the year. Emmer, for me, has been pretty good. I thought we had some energy for sure and I thought we played hard and competed hard. That's what you got to do to win. All teams are going to go through some tough times. You just want them to be as short as possible."

Mrazek made 26 saves while Damien Brunner and Valtteri Filppula also scored for the Red Wings, who kick off a four-game home stand with matinees Saturday and Sunday against Edmonton and reigning Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles.

"It was a good win for our team but we got a big weekend here," Babcock said. "So let's get back, get refreshed and get ready to go.''

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

w2j2's avatar

Hitchcock shold be careful what he says abut his team. 
Too much criticism will alienate team from coach. 
Remember Hitch has been fired in Dallas and Columbus after “losing” his team.

Posted by w2j2 on 02/08/13 at 08:26 AM ET

Mandingo's avatar

Last night’s game is further proof that I’m wrong about everything I think I know about hockey.

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 02/08/13 at 08:57 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Babcock doesn’t usually give goalies much praise until they win him over—see Jimmy Howard between 2005 and 2009—so the fact that Mrazek elicited an “excellent” is pretty damn impressive. It doesn’t mean that Jonas Gustavsson need look over his shoulder yet, but it’s still pretty *#$%@&’ cool.

I thought that was hugely significant.  I just hope that if Mrazek stays up with the Wings, they give him enough games to keep him sharp.  It’s hard to tell from one game, but he’s been so successful all along his path, it’s exciting to think he may really be ready and how wonderful that would be.

It’s going to be interesting, going forward, to see how everyone fits in as guys return from injuries - Gustavsson, Cola, Sammy especially.  Brendan Smith, I assume, is a lock to stay.  And I’m wondering more and more about Nyquist as Tatar is doing so well.  Maybe Nyquist as trade bait?...

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 02/08/13 at 09:33 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Just watched the highlights.  Fil’s breakaway goal gave me chills.  Awesome game.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 02/08/13 at 09:39 AM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

...as far as Mrazek goes, “we’ll play him again, obviously,” Babcock said. “We can’t play Howie every night. But if you have someone in the organization that can play, that’s a real positive.”

That sounds like a shot aimed directly at Thomas McCollum.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 02/08/13 at 10:13 AM ET

Hootinani's avatar

After this game, something is seriously wrong with the coaching staff if Lashoff sits another game, at least until everyone is healthy again.  Huskins has no business being in the lineup ahead of him.

Posted by Hootinani on 02/08/13 at 12:28 PM ET

Joe Z.'s avatar

After this game, something is seriously wrong with the coaching staff if Lashoff sits another game, at least until everyone is healthy again.  Quincey has no business being in the lineup ahead of him.

Posted by Hootinani on 02/08/13 at 12:28 PM ET

Posted by Joe Z. from Austria on 02/08/13 at 12:54 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.