The Malik Report
by George Malik on 10/30/13 at 01:56 PM ET
Updated 14x at 10:01 PM: The Detroit Red Wings begin something of a gauntlet-running slate of 4 games played over the course of 6 nights when they tangle with the Vancouver Canucks tonight (10:30 PM, FSD/TSN/97.1 FM), and the Wings spent Tuesday insisting that they're ready to address the issues which have contributed to a 4-game losing streak.
The Canucks apparently held a very brief morning skate, because their Twitter account was tossing off quotes from John Tortorella by the equivalent of 10:30 AM Pacific Daylight Time (at least these 10:30, 9:30 and 10 PM starts include a "Fall Back" hour of sleep on Sunday morning!):
Media Release: Canucks have assigned Nicklas Jensen to the Utica Comets.
"The challenge tonight is to play a complete game." - Torts
"It'll be a whole different ball game when our injured players come back in, but we are understanding our team." - Torts
No update on Jensen.
The Canucks have a prospect named Nicklas Jensen, who plays forward. He's Danish, so there's no relation between Nicklas Jensen and Red Wings prospect Nick Jensen, who's recovering from shoulder surgery.
Why the early Tortorella quotes? The Vancouver Province's Steve Ewen provides that answer...
#Canucks Morning skate is optional. No twins, no Kesler. http://pic.twitter.com/VWTCbs65gA
As does the Vancouver Sun's Elliott Pap:
Nux morning skate very optional...8 skaters, 2 goalies. #Canucks
Canucks.com's Daniel Fung penned a "Tale of the Tape" game preview, noting that Jordan Schroeder (ankle), Dale Weise (leg), David Booth ("upper body") and Jannik Hansen ("upper body") won't play for Vancouver. The Wings will play without Johan Franzen (???), Jonathan Ericsson (partially dislocated shoulder) and Darren Helm (groin-back-funktacular issues), but Patrick Eaves is slated to make his regular season debut after recovering from MCL and ankle injuries, supplanting Jordin Tootoo in the lineup:
Keys to the Game
Luongo makes a statement. Tonight will be just one of two meetings between the Canucks and Red Wings this season but, more importantly, one of only two opportunities for Luongo to play in front of Team Canada bench boss Mike Babcock before the Olympics. There's no better way for him to show he deserves the top goaltender job in Sochi than to shut down Babcock's Wings.
Beware the breakup. Detroit has been putting their big guns together on one line with Datsyuk and Zetterberg teaming up on the top unit - that is until recently when the Red Wings' struggles forced Babcock to split up his dynamic duo. They might not be together anymore but that just means the Canucks will have to be mindful of a two strong Detroit units instead of just one very potent line.
Win the first 20 minutes. The Red Wings might be struggling for results but one thing they've been really consistent at doing is taking the lead and keeping it. They're 5-1-1 in games where they open the scoring and 4-1-1 in games where they lead after the first period. Detroit has also scored nearly half their goals in first periods this season (12-of-27).
By the Numbers
.500: Win pct. for the Canucks this season when appearing on TSN (1-1-0).
1.95: Jimmy Howard's GAA in three games against the Canucks last season. He finished with a .914 save percentage.
4: Game goal streak for Ryan Kesler coming into tonight's game, one off his career-high.
6: Straight games the Red Wings have earned a point in against the Canucks in head-to-head meetings (4-0-2).
9: Game point streak for Henrik Sedin coming into tonight's game (3-8-11), one off his career-high.
14: Goals scored by the Red Wings in three games against the Canucks last season. Vancouver managed just six.
The Canadian Press posted a more generalized game preview...
The Canucks go for a fifth consecutive win while the Red Wings will try to avoid a fifth straight loss in the opener to Detroit's four-game road trip Wednesday (10:30 p.m. ET).
The last time Vancouver and Detroit weren't part of the same conference was the days of the Campbell and Wales conferences, with the Canucks in the former and the Red Wings the latter. The Red Wings started 6-2-0 after their move to the Eastern Conference, but those good times haven't lasted as they've gone 0-2-2 since.
'We just have to find a way to go out there and compete for each other.'- Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard on the team's struggles
Detroit failed to hold a one-goal lead entering the third period against the New York Rangers on Saturday and gave up a goal with 12.9 seconds left in overtime for a 3-2 defeat.
"It's frustrating," goaltender Jimmy Howard said. "Once again, we didn't really play 60 minutes and it cost us. Something has to be done about it. We just have to find a way to go out there and compete for each other. It's just believing in each other and not trying to do too much out there."
The Canucks have gone 6-1-1 in their last eight and shown some grit during their season-high winning streak. Vancouver (9-4-1) has earned two of those victories in overtime and one in a shootout.
The Canucks scored two third-period goals in a 3-2 victory over Washington on Monday. Ryan Kesler tallied his fifth goal in four games 2:53 into the final period and Daniel Sedin scored for the third time in four contests 2:08 later in the club's return from a season-high seven-game trip.
''Resiliency. You go down early in the third and we find a way to battle back and get the go-ahead [goal]," Kesler said. ''That's the way our team's been all year."
The Red Wings will try to avoid going winless in five straight for the first time since an 0-3-2 slump from Feb. 13-21 of last season, but won't have forward Johan Franzen available tonight due to an undisclosed injury.
Franzen, who has two goals and five points in 12 games this season, could return by Friday's game in Calgary and center Luke Glendening was recalled from the American Hockey League ahead of this game.
Babcock does expect forward Patrick Eaves to make his season debut after missing the first 12 games with a sprained knee and ankle injury.
The Red Wings went 2-0-1 in three meetings last season with the Canucks, outscoring Vancouver by a 14-7 margin.
Howard is 9-5-2 with a shutout and 2.72 goals against average in his career versus the Canucks, while Luongo has posted an 11-12-6 mark with a 2.91 GAA in his encounters with the Red Wings.
The Red Wings' Game Day Blog offers something of a game set-up...
Wings Look for Hot Start North of the Border: After a promising start to the season, Detroit will look to bounce back from a recent slump against a rolling Vancouver team. Little has come easy for the Red Wings over the past four games, who have earned just two points during that stretch.
"We need to get better as a team," said coach Babcock. "We can be way better as a team than we have been, but I don't think we're that far away."
Tonight, on game one of the four-game Canada swing, the Wings will look to get back on the right track in Vancouver.
"It's going to be a fun matchup," said Henrik Zetterberg. "We have to play better in our own end, tighten up, but we've been working on it in practice, in video, and hopefully we can play better (tonight)."
Welcome to the Detroit Red Wings Game Day Blog, where you can get behind-the-scenes information, thoughts from players and staff, and up-to-date news on anything and everything Red Wings on game day.
You can watch tonight's 10:30 PM matchup on Fox Sports Detroit or TSN, or listen in on AM 1270.
A historical note...
On This Day in Red Wings' History...On October 30, 2010
Pavel Datsyuk scores twice and gets an assist to lead the Wings to a 5-2 win over Nashville.
And Ken Kal's Keys to the Game:
Keep the Puck in the Offensive Zone - Detroit needs to get shots on goal, retrieve lose pucks, and get multiple chances to score. When we don't keep the puck in the offensive zone, we put a lot of miles on our defensemen.
Be Better Defensively - Limit the turnovers and take care of the puck, especially in the defensive zone. The Wings need to play two-way hockey for the whole game.
Get Back to the Basics - Don't try to do it all yourself...trust your teammates and play a five-man unit!
Prior to the Wings' morning skate, MLive's Ansar Khan and DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose offered differing assessments of Darren Helm's status, too. Khan believes that Helm could be ready to play as early as Friday...
@ImBillPardy No, Helm won't play tonight. He is hoping to return Friday in Calgary.
@gramparef No update. At this point, he'll play when he plays, though Monday in Winnipeg would be ideal for him.
I guess the Canucks' "morning skate" is over, per the Canucks...
"It's always fun to play against another team's top line, I'm looking forward to it" - Daniel Sedin on possibly facing Datsyuk line #Canucks
Teams go through waves, sometimes you have it, sometimes you don't, but we're finding ways to win" - Roberto Luongo #Canucks
And the Free Press's Helene St. James:
Luongo on playing before CAN OLY coach Babcock: "I'm just really focused on playing. The other stuff will sort itself out on its own."
The Red Wings hit the ice for a "morning" skate at 2:33 PM EDT...Or did they?
The boys just hit the ice for morning skate here in Vancouver #RedWings pic.twitter.com/2pyeV3N488
Did they skate a little earlier? Probably so, given that this Tweet was sent out by the Wings at 2:48 PM:
Coach Babcock said Danny DeKeyser will play on first pair tonight with Niklas Kronwall #RedWings
And here's MLive's Ansar Khan at 2:49:
Babcock said the only lineup change tonight vs. Canucks is Eaves in for Tootoo.
Babcock said Datsyuk and Zetterberg will start the game with Bertuzzi. DeKeyser will be paired with Kronwall.
The Free Press's Helene St. James confirms...
Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Bertuzzi on line tonight when Red Wings take on Vancouver.
As does the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...
Eaves in and too too out
And DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose:
Veteran fourth-line winger Patrick Eaves will make his season debut tonight when the #RedWings face-off against the @VanCanucks.
Here's the tricky part, per the Wings:
Babs said the lineup will stay the same as last game, except Eaves in for Tootoo #RedWings
To start tonight, the Eurotwins will be back together on first pair with Bertuzzi #RedWings
Luke Glendening will center the fourth line tonight, probably playing with Miller and Eaves #RedWings
So what will the Wings' lines look like? Well, the Wings reported that Babcock's combinations during yesterday's practice were back to square one, with a few exceptions...
#RedWings lines at practice: Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Bertuzzi; Cleary-Weiss-Alfie; Tatar-Andersson-Abdelkader; Miller-Glendening-Eaves
Including an injury exception, per Khan:
Franzen still out. Forgot to mention with last tweet. Glendening is playing.
We'll call this section: "This 'N That": CBS Sports' Brian Stubits duly noted that Stephen Weiss has struggled to adapt to the Red Wings' system...
While there have been some treats, there are a few tricksters in there too, guys who are underwhelming to start like Stephen Weiss in Detroit. His minutes and role have been cut with Mike Babcock trying to find a spark to ignite Weiss' offense but even that's not working yet. They hoped he could be the No. 2 center and fill in perfectly what Valtteri Filppula left behind but so far he hasn't. At least there's still time for a turnaround the for the Wings to get a little back on their investment.
Before offering capsule assessments of this year's marquee free agent signings:
Bad Stephen Weiss, Red Wings. Last season in Florida, Weiss had an abysmal start before being shut down for surgery on his hand. He was supposed to be better now but his numbers look an awful lot like they did while injured a year ago. Two goals in 12 games and ice time down to 15:30 per game, his lowest in almost a decade. This is not how Detroit saw it working on his five-year deal.
Good Daniel Alfredsson, Red Wings. It was fair to wonder how much Alfie still had in the tank at 41 and so far the answer is more than enough. Alfie is just shy of a point-per-game player with 10 points in 12 games on the strength of eight assists. His goal-scoring days are likely gone but for what the Wings wanted, a little production on the wing, he's giving it to them.
Michiganders could resell tickets to sporting events and concerts for more than face value under a bill introduced Tuesday in the state House.
Even though it's illegal, scalping is common practice outside of sports stadiums and concert venues throughout the state. There also are websites like StubHub.com that have contracts with sports teams and venues allowing fans to sell their tickets on the site.
"An individual who buys a ticket to a sporting event or concert owns that ticket, and they should have every right to sell it if they so choose," Kelly said in a statement.
The bill has bipartisan support and would bring Michigan in line with most other states that allow the practice in some form.
MLive's Eric Lacy reports that DTE Energy will take on a significant role as a catalyst in terms of the "economic development" surrounding the footprint of the Red Wings' follow-on rink...
The corner of Cass and Grand River in downtown Detroit is getting a makeover that's expected to create a new meeting place in an area with promising development potential.
Crews hired by DTE Energy appear hard at work preparing the area for a park that will reportedly be billed as "West Downtown" and resemble Campus Martius on Woodward Avenue - just in a smaller scale.
Check out photos in the gallery above that I took Tuesday afternoon of crews clearing the way for a development that Detroit Curbed says will have green space, seating and events.
This area sits across the street from the castle-like Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) building that's currently being renovated and just south of the area that is expected to house a new $650 million Detroit Red Wings arena and entertainment district.
DTE Energy appears ready to be a major player in downtown Detroit development projects.
The company reportedly bought last month the Temple Hotel, on Temple between Cass and Woodward, right in the middle of the proposed Red Wings arena and entertainment district site.
And I spotted the "Zephyr Menace hats" Yahoo Sports' Greg "Puck Daddy" Wyshynski mentions today on a most-of-the-NHL's-teams basis a few days ago. I don't know whether this is "cool" or "terrible":
In the prospect department, the Toledo Walleye played a matinee game against the Cincinnati Cyclones today, and Jared Coreau stopped 23 of 27 shots--and Richard Nedomlel scored a goal via a Max Nicastro assist, and Trevor Parkes scored a goal, too--as the Walleye dropped a 4-3 decision to Cincy.
A shorthanded goal by the Cyclones with 1:15 left in regulation negated a spirited comeback by the Walleye, who fall to Cincinnati 4-3 on Wednesday. A high-energy crowd of 6,591 fans - most of them schoolchildren - packed the Huntington Center for this special 10:35 a.m. game.
The Walleye fell behind early as Cyclones forward Wade Megan scored two goals in the first six minutes of the game. Walleye forward Scott Arnold, with assists from Kevin Lynch and Russ Sinkewich, cut the Cincinnati lead in half with a power play goal at the ten minute mark. Both teams were held scoreless until Cincinnati forward Jonathan Hazan rebounded his own shot to give the Cyclones a 3-1 lead with eight minutes left in the second period.
Richard Nedomiel - who was reassigned to Toledo from Grand Rapids on Tuesday - pulled the Walleye within a goal when he scored at seven minutes into the final period. He was assited by Travis Novak and Max Nicastro. Three minutes later, Scott Arnold registered his third goal of the season - on an assist by Alden Hirschfeld - to tie up the game.
Toledo goalie Jared Coreau and the Walleye defense held tough through two late Cincinnati power play opportunities to preserve the 3-3 tie. A cross-checking penalty on Cincinnati with 2:58 left in regulation gave the Walleye a prime opportunitiy to complete the comeback. It was Cincinnati, though, who would score on the Walleye power play. A shorthanded, breakaway goal by Cyclones forward John McFarland with just 75 seconds remaining gave Cincinnati the 4-3 win.
If you missed it, Anthony Mantha will play in both of the QMJHL's "Super Series" games against a Russian set of prospects, and OHL'ers Zach Nastasiuk and Jake Paterson will play in Games 3 and 4, respectively;
Ditto regarding Hockey's Future's Adam Schnepp's superb position-by-position assessment of the Wings' organizational strengths;
And I don't know of the Grand Rapids Griffins are attempting to tease us. They'll tangle with Rick DiPietro and the Charlotte Checkers tonight in Grand Rapids, and Griffinshockey's Alan Cross spoke with Gustav Nyquist and Petr Mrazek about their proficiencies as shootout performers--and I'm quoting from a much longer article:
“I like the shootout.”
Nyquist’s affinity for the shootout comes as no surprise, considering the fact that he has enthralled thousands of fans with his flashy techniques and, more importantly, has posted commendable results for the Griffins.
Nyquist currently holds a perfect shootout record this season after effortlessly maneuvering the puck past Hamilton Bulldogs netminder Robert Mayer in an Oct. 12 shootout victory and then casually befuddling Rockford IceHogs goaltender Antti Raanta in Grand Rapids’ shootout loss on Oct. 19. In his 2012-13 Calder Cup-winning season with the Griffins, he buried three out of seven attempts, producing a 42.9% shootout success rate.
“I think it’s a fun way to win the game. Some people don’t like it, some people do,” Nyquist said. “I think it’s a good way to play for the extra point and give the crowd a little bit of excitement while they see some fun moves on the ice.”
Griffins goaltending sensation Petr Mrazek has also found success in this department. The six-foot-one, 187-pound Mrazek won three out of five shootouts during his rookie season with Grand Rapids, blocking 18 of 26 attempts. He has appeared in both shootouts this season, stonewalling seven of 10 attempts.
Both Mrazek and Nyquist have been strong contributors to the Griffins’ shootout not only due to their sheer level of skill, but also because of their ability to get behind the eyes of their competitor. Ultimately, there’s only so much preparation possible; the rest comes down to the moment when the skater and goalie come face-to-face.
Shooters and goalies alike must find that delicate balance between action and reaction. For Mrazek, it’s all about reaction.
“I try to watch a shooter during the game and pay attention to what he’s doing. Or sometimes someone will get a breakaway in a game, that helps” Mrazek said. “I just try to think to myself what I would do in that situation.”
Update #1: This is good news, per Khan...
Holland said Franzen cleared to play Friday in Calgary. Will join team then.
Holland said the plan is for Helm to play Saturday in Edmonton.
Sounds like the Wings will place Ericsson on long term IR to make room for Helm on Saturday. Ericsson won't start practicing until next week
And St. James:
@HeleneStJames: Per Ken Holland, Johan Franzen will play Friday at Calgary.
Darren Helm still on track to play Saturday at Edmonton.
Jonathan Ericsson likely to go on Long Term injured Reserve to make room for Darren Helm. #RedWings
Regarding Ericsson, I crunched the numbers in the overnight report, and if the Wings are counting the San Jose game on the 21st as his first missed game, he can return 10 games later--on November 17th vs. WASHINGTON. He could return on November 7th in terms of the 24-game mark, but 10 games = Nov. 17th.
Update #2: The Vancouver Province's Steve Ewen took note of Tortorella's morning presser comments...
In the midst of preparation for tonight’s tilt with Detroit Red Wings at Rogers Arena (7:30 p.m., TSN/Team 1040), the Vancouver Canucks coach said he wasn’t a big believer in plus-minus, explaining, “it’s one of the worst stats in the game.”
He also said that too much could be read into the Canucks sitting 28th into the NHL on the power play (10 per cent , 4-for-40).
He did, oddly enough, use a stat to prove his point, stating that Canuck number keepers had his team with 23 scoring chances in Monday’s 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals and 10 of them came with the man advantage. Vancouver didn’t manage a goal in their six power play chances.
“We need to start banging some in, but I don’t want the guys to press,” said Tortorella. “I think our entries have been good. The Sedins do so well as far as entering the zone. I think we have a good concept with it. We’ve generated a lot of offence. We just haven’t finished.”
Daniel Sedin concurred, explaining, “We’ve been creating a lot of chances, but it has to go in. It’s our focus tonight.”
And he believes that the Canucks will dress the following lineup:
CANUCKS PROJECTED LINEUP
D.Sedin H.Sedin Kesler
Higgins Santorelli Burrows
Archibald Richardson Kassian
Sestito Welsh Weber
Update #3: Here's John Tortorella's game-day presser, per the Canucks:
Henrik and Daniel Sedin have clicked with various right wingers over their time with Vancouver Canucks. What’s worked with Ryan Kesler?
Daniel Sedin offered up this take on Wednesday morning: “One thing is he can take face-offs on the right side. That’s a positive. He’s got a great shot. He’s a threat coming in over the blueline. He’s good on the forecheck. He’s a great skater. He brings a lot to the table.”
Kesler heads into Wednesday’s match-up with the Detroit Red Wings with points in five games. Daniel has points in four games. Henrik has points in nine games.
The Vancouver Sun's Elliott Pap's penned a game-day article about the Sedins-vs-Eurotwins match-up:
“We don't approach it on one particular player, or the top players,” explained Canucks head coach John Tortorella. “Again, and I know I say it every day, it's about how we play. We don't change much, We made a little adjustment on how we kill penalties against Washington in the last game and I thought it benefitted us. So, within a system like a special team, we'll look at things, but there are a lot of good players in the league and I just don't believe in doing and making a lot of different things happen.”
Datsyuk and Zetterberg are expected to play on the same line tonight as Detroit looks to snap a four-game losing streak. Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo, 5-0-1 in his last six starts, will face the Wings. The Canucks have won four in a row.
“They have a lot of skilled forwards, but a couple of guys who are really shifty and crafty with the plays that they make,” Luongo said. “They can make plays out of nothing so this is another game where I think we need to play right in their face. We can't be mesmerized by their puck handling.”
"It's going to be a challenge tonight,” added Daniel Sedin. “But if we can keep the puck in their end and try to spend some time down there, it's going to tire them out.”
The Canucks are expected to dress the same 18 skaters responsible for vanquishing the Capitals, although the bottom two lines might have a different look, at least to start. Jeremy Welsh is expected to centre the third line between Brad Richardson and Zack Kassian, a trio that finished the Washington game as a unit. The fourth line would then be left with Tom Sestito, Darren Archibald and converted defenceman Yannick Weber — none of them a centre — so it's doubtful they'll skate as a threesome.
Detroit's expected line tonight will see Datsyuk between Zetterberg and Todd Bertuzzi, Stephen Weiss with Dan Cleary and Daniel Alfredsson, Joakim Andersson between Justin Abdelkader and Tomas Tatar, and Luke Glendening with Drew Miller and Patrick Eaves. One-time Canuck Mikael Samuelsson and rambunctious Jordin Tootoo figure to be the healthy scratches among Red Wings forwards. The expected defensive pairings are Niklas Kronwall-Danny DeKeyser, Brendan Smith-Kyle Quincey, and Jakub Kindl-Brian Lashoff. Goalie Jimmy Howard (3-4-2) is scheduled to get the start.
“We have to play better in our own zone and tighten up a little bit more,” said Zetterberg, the Wings captain. “It's going to be a fun matchup anytime you play against the Sedins.”
And here's Pass it to Bulis's game preview:
Wednesday, October 30th
At home vs the Detroit Red Wings
Now that Detroit is in the Eastern Conference, the Canucks will only be facing the Red Wings twice this season. This will be your only chance to see the Red Wings in Vancouver this season unless they both go to the Stanley Cup Final, which would be pretty neat.
The Red Wings are likely thrilled to be in the East, as their 6-4-2 record is good for fifth in their conference but would have them in ninth in the West. They’re still a dangerous team, however, with both Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg scoring a point per game and both Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson giving them solid goaltending.
The Wings have won two games straight, but one of those games was against the absolutely terrible Buffalo Sabres and they only beat them by one goal, so it would be a stretch to suggest they’re starting a hot streak.
Update #5: Here's the 1130 News's Adam Forsythe's game-day article...
The Canucks enter the game on a four-game winning streak and have managed to grab a point in seven of their last eight games. The newly formed first line of Ryan Kesler and the Sedin twins has been very impressive. Coach John Torterella shifted Kesler to the wing a few games ago, and the forward responded with a great offensive week that the NHL recognized, by naming him the third star of the week.
Torterella feels the team is finally hitting its stride.
“I think we are beginning to understand that it is becoming instinctive a little bit about how we play. We keep working on it. It is going to be a whole new ball game for the guys who have been hurt for a while when they come back in, but I’m happy we are going this way, as far as understanding how we play.”
One area of concern for the Canucks is the powerplay. Torterella’s team ranks 28th in the league with the extra man.
“We need to start banging some in, but I don’t want the guys to press because I think our entries have been really good. The Sedin’s are so good when it comes to entering the zone. I think we have had a good concept with it and we have generated a lot of offence with it, we just haven’t finished.”
Here's MLive's Ansar Khan's game-day update, which notes that a former Canuck feels that the Sedins < the Eurotwins:
“I believe we have two of the best players in the world on our team, so I’m looking at it the other way around, what they’re going to do to cover those two,’’ Bertuzzi said. “My job is basically to get in there, cause some trouble down low, hold onto the puck, get the puck to them, get to the net and hopefully get a couple of bounces.’’
The Red Wings (6-4-2) look to end a four-game winless skid (0-2-2) against the Canucks (9-4-1), who are riding a four-game winning streak.
“I think the key for us is we got to get some goals and play well defensively, especially with the Sedins and Kess playing so well right now,’’ Bertuzzi said. “We got to make sure we kind of bottle them up and frustrate them a bit and spend more time in their zone.’’
Henrik Sedin leads the NHL with 14 assists and is tied for second with 17 points. Daniel Sedin has 14 points and Kesler leads the team with eight goals. But, they also have to defend Datsyuk and Zetterberg.
Rookie defenseman Danny DeKeyser will be paired with Niklas Kronwall. They’ll be matched up against the Canucks’ top line whenever possible.
“I always look forward to playing against the other team’s best players because it challenges you, makes you better and it’s fun,’’ DeKeyser said.
Khan also believes that the Wings are reuniting the Quincey-Smith pairing, so the defensive pairs will look like this:
Niklas Kronwall-Danny DeKeyser
Kyle Quincey-Brendan Smith
Brian Lashoff-Jakub Kindl
Update #6: MLive's Khan updates Darren Helm's status:
Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said the plan is for center Darren Helm to make his season debut Saturday in Edmonton and also play Monday at Winnipeg.
If that comes to fruition, if there are no setbacks, the Red Wings will need to trim some salary-cap space before they can activate Helm from long-term injured reserve.
Holland indicated they might transfer defenseman Jonathan Ericsson from short-term IR to long-term IR, which would give them cap relief and enable them to further postpone having to trade or waive somebody to make room for Helm.
“That’s what we’re shooting for, Saturday and Monday (for Helm),’’ Holland said. “We’ll see what Ericsson is doing by the end of the week. He won’t play (next) Thursday and Saturday. He’s already out for nine before there’s a conversation if he can play.’’
Ericsson (dislocated left shoulder) is not on the trip to Western Canada. Holland said he won’t start practicing until next Wednesday. If goes on long-term IR he might miss a minimum of 10 games and 24 days.
Holland said forward Johan Franzen (undisclosed injury) has been cleared to play Friday in Calgary and will join the team on Thursday. He said he did not know if Luke Glendening would be reassigned to Grand Rapids at that point.
Update #7: Canucks.com's Derek Jory penned a game-day update:
Daniel and Henrik Sedin, paired with Ryan Kesler on Vancouver’s top trio, could potentially matchup against the likes of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Todd Bertuzzi and that has both fans and players excited.
“That’s a good line over there, they’re so skilled and it’s always a lot of fun playing against their top guys, so it should be a good game,” said Daniel Sedin, riding a four-game point streak (3-3-6) into tonight’s game.
Henrik Sedin has points in nine consecutive games (3-8-11), while Kesler had eight points (5-3-8) over the last five games and has been doing everything offensively for the Canucks.
“One thing he can take faceoffs on the right side, that’s a positive,” said Daniel. “He has a great shot, he’s a threat coming in over the blueline, he has to use that and he has been but he can use it more and good on the forecheck and a great skater – he brings a lot to the table.”
Vancouver’s top line going up against that of Detroit will be a battle of puck possession, a battle the Canucks won against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals in a 3-2 win at Rogers Arena Monday night.
“Anytime you play top guys, you’d rather play 45 seconds in their end than play in your own. You’ve got to make smart plays and keep it down low in their end. It’s no fun defending, it never is, that’s why you have to play smart against teams like this.”
Update #8: The Free Press's Helene St. James filed a game-day article, noting that Wings coach Mike Babcock hopes that Danny DeKeyser will star against the Sedins:
“We’re putting a lot of pressure on our young guys to be good,” coach Mike Babcock said after the morning skate at Rogers Arena. “We did it last year, we’re doing it this year. DeKeyser is going to have fun tonight, he’s playing against real good players.”
DeKeyser, 23, joined the Wings out of Western Michigan last spring and has yet to even play 25 NHL games. To his credit, he’s barely noticeable during games - and that’s meant in a good way, in that he doesn’t make mistakes.
“He never really puts himself in bad spots,” Kronwall said. “He keeps it simple out there and makes the right decisions. He’s just a smart player and an outstanding skater.”
Up front, the Wings will counter the Sedin line with Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi. Much as Zetterberg said Tuesday he enjoys playing against the brothers, Daniel Sedin said likewise on Wednesday when asked about Zetterberg and Datsyuk.
“Both are very skilled and they use each other a lot,” Sedin said. “Great passers, both of them. It’s going to be a challenge, but if you can keep the puck in their end, and try to spend some time down there, it’s going to tire them out. But it will be a lot of fun.”
Sedin also spoke highly of fellow Swede Daniel Alfredsson, who is on a line with Stephen Weiss and Daniel Cleary. Alfredsson’s 10 points are second on the Wings.
“I’m not surprised, because I know he has always kept himself in good shape and he’s such a smart player, too,” Sedin said. “That’s his strength, is that he’s one of the smarter players in this league. That’s why he can keep playing and be successful. You can see he’s having a lot of fun out there, and that’s good to see.”
St. James posted a video of Todd Bertuzzi speaking with the media as well:
Update #9: ESPN's Katie Strang answered a Red Wings-related question in her chat today:
Chandler (Florida): Katie, can you put yourself in Ken Holland's shoes and run down what you would do to fix the roster/lineup issue? Do you make a trade to free up space on the roster, if so who? When is the latest you can see yourself getting Nyquist up and in the lineup? With all of the offensive challenges lately why are we still talking about Glendening, Tootoo, and Sammuelson instead of Tatar, Nyquist, and possibly Jurco or Emmerton? So many options but with Helm returning soon(knock on wood), and Eaves back and healthy, we all know something has to be done and soon.
Katie Strang: I think you have to wait until you get some guys back -- Helm, Eaves, Franzen -- before you begin to panic. It's still early and despite a four-game winless skid, the Wings are still in ok shape. Upcoming road trip will be a big test for them, though. Need to show some improvement and limit the amount of chances given up in their own end
Update #10: NHL.com's Kevin Woodley filed a game-day article discussing the Sedins-vs-Datsyuk-and-Zetterberg match-up:
"Faceoffs are going to be important," Zetterberg said. "Both of our lines want to have the puck and it's not so fun to chase it."
The Red Wings have done too much chasing of the puck early this season, having been outshot in eight of their past 10 games and giving up 40 shots to the New York Rangers in a 3-2 overtime loss Saturday.
"We're too loose, we're giving up too many shots and we're not as tight as we should be defensively," coach Mike Babcock said.
Playing a familiar Western Conference opponent may help as Detroit starts a four-game Canadian road trip. Moving into the Eastern Conference this season, Zetterberg said the play is "more open" than what they were used to in the West.
"Absolutely," he said, adding it was still early. "My view is that the East is more open than it is out West and I don't know if that is why we are playing poor defense right now, but it shouldn't affect the way we play. We should stay within our structure and focus more on [defense]."
They'll need to against the Canucks, who outshot the Washington Capitals 41-19 to open a three-game homestand Monday, with the new No. 1 line scoring twice. Kesler has five goals in the past four games, Daniel Sedin has three goals and three assists, and brother Henrik has two goals and four assists in the past five games.
Update #11: The Free Press's Helene St. James posted a slate of injury updates:
Johan Franzen is joining his teammates for the rest of the Canada trip.
General manager Ken Holland said Wednesday that Franzen will play Friday, when the Wings are at Calgary. He has been in Detroit to nurse an undisclosed injury, missing tonight's game against the Vancouver Canucks.
In all likelihood, Luke Glendening will be sent back to the minors to clear room for Franzen.
Darren Helm is also on the horizon (yes, this time, it really, really looks like it). The plan, tender as Helm's groin as it may be, is that he will play Saturday at Edmonton. He'll need to come off Long-Term Injured Reserve, but room could be opened up easily enough by flipping him with Jonathan Ericsson.
Ericsson is nursing a sore shoulder socket, and isn't even on this Canada trip. He'll have missed seven games when this trip is over; he just has to miss 10 games total and 24 days to be on LTIR, which can be dated retroactively to Oct. 20, the day after Ericsson was injured in Phoenix.
Update #12: TSN's Farhan Lalji offers 3-and-a-half minutes' worth of Wings and Canucks comments.
Update #13: Here's the Wings' Game-Day Preview:
Update #14: Here's the Canucks' game-day preview...
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