The Malik Report
Red Wings-Coyotes game-day updates: LaBarbera starts for Phoenix, Bertuzzi in tough & Jarnkrok stuff
by George Malik on 03/25/13 at 02:15 PM ET
Updated 6x with pre-game videos at 9:03 PM: The Detroit Red Wings will attempt to build upon their pair of wins in Anaheim while playing against a playoff-desperate Phoenix Coyotes team tonight (10 PM EDT, FSD/FS Arizona/97.1 FM), and as the Coyotes begin a slate of 4 games over the course of 6 nights, as noted by the Arizona Republic's Sarah McLellan...
The Wings will wrap up a slate of 3 games over the course of 4 nights and 4 in 6 hoping to win their 5th straight road game, and McLellan reports that the Wings won't have to face Mike Smith in goal tonight:
No surprise here:
I hate chirb.it, but it is what it is:
NHL.com and/or PhoenixCoyotes.com correspondent Jerry Brown confirms:
Four days after leaving a game with an upper-body injury, Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith was not on the ice for Monday's morning skate and will miss Monday night's game against the Detroit Red Wings at Jobing.com Arena.
Jason LaBarbera will get his fourth start of the year for Phoenix, and only his second since Jan. 26 as the Coyotes seek to halt a season-long five-game losing streak against the Red Wings. LaBarbera has played just 300 minutes this season, going 1-4 with a 2.20 goals-against average. Chad Johnson, who was recalled from Portland of the American Hockey on Saturday, will back him up.
Smith, who has started 23 of 24 games for the Coyotes since Feb. 1, has not been on the ice since the second period of Thursday's 2-1 loss to Vancouver when he was hit by Alexander Edler of the Canucks behind the Phoenix net. Edler was suspended for two games. Smith finished the final minutes of the second period, but was unable to continue.
And Fox Sports Arizona's Craig Morgan's playing the role of Captain Obvious today:
When the Coyotes take the ice Monday night against the suddenly surging Red Wings, they’ll find themselves three points behind the Stars for the final Western Conference playoff spot. It’s hardly an insurmountable gap, and there are still 17 games left to play.
But while much talk this season has focused on the tightness of the Western Conference race, that once-elusive separation now appears to be taking place.
Colorado and Calgary are slumping and falling, and what was once a six-point gap between 15th place and third is now 14 points. Predicting which teams will make the postseason is a favorite pastime of media and fans as we enter the final five weeks of the season, but the predicting has become a lot easier.
Today, we’re taking our stab at that playoff pecking order. We’ll tell you which teams are in, which teams are out, which teams are near-locks and which teams still reside on the playoff bubble. The depressing reality for the Coyotes? There are only a couple spots up for grabs, making tonight’s game against a Detroit team playing its third game in four nights a must-win in the playoff picture.
THE BUBBLE BOYS
Detroit: Before this weekend’s stunning road sweep in Anaheim, the Red Wings' streak of 21 straight seasons making the playoffs was in jeopardy. It’s still in doubt given how streaky this team has been this season, but the Red Wings are still the Red Wings, and they won’t go quietly into the night. Goalie Jimmy Howard has been good if not great (doesn’t that description always follow Detroit’s goaltending?), and stars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg have played like stars. We still question this team’s depth and defense, but maybe experience and tradition can win out in the short term.Verdict: Inside trek to playoff spot
Phoenix: If you looked at the task at hand on paper, you’d put the Coyotes in the Wait Til Next Year category. Goalie Mike Smith is hurt and hasn’t been anything close to last year’s version anyway. The offense is struggling, the power play stinks (what’s new?), the Coyotes are in 12th place in the conference and, after Monday, they play 10 of their final 16 games on the road, where they are a pathetic 3-8-2. Then you remember this is the franchise that coined the phrase “hockey the hard way.” And you remember that coach Dave Tippett has missed the playoffs just once in nine seasons as a hockey bench boss. And you’re not ready to close the book on this bunch just yet, even if the odds look terribly long.
Verdict: Playoff long shot
On the Red Wings' side of the ice, I guess a Bertuzzi sighting is better than no Bertuzzi sighting:
Something tells me this was an "optional" skate for the Wings...
News, actual news!
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose offers the following game preview...
MONDAY – at PHOENIX COYOTES (13-14-4): The struggling Coyotes, who are winless in five straight, have had three days to prepare for their first look at the Red Wings this season. Phoenix is coming off of a 2-1 loss at home to Vancouver on Thursday night. The Coyotes have scored just three goals in their last five games, which included three straight shutout losses. Meanwhile, the Red Wings will play their third game in four days when they drop the puck at Jobing.com Arena on Monday. … The Coyotes are second in the NHL with 53 home goals. … The Coyotes are 8-1-1 this season and 108-13-16 under coach Dave Tippett when scoring first in a game. Starting goalie Mike Smith was knocked from last Thursday’s game on a hit by Canucks’ Alexander Edler. The status for Smith, who has four shutouts this season, is considered to be day-to-day. In eight career starts against the Red Wings, Smith is 2-4-2 with a 2.54 goals-against average.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Shane Doan will play in his 1,230 NHL on Monday. The Coyotes’ captain leads all active players in games played with the same franchise. His 13 hits at Los Angeles last week were the most hits by any NHL player in a game this season. The captain leads the Coyotes with 75 hits this season. He finished second on the team with 205 hits a season ago. Doan continues to pace the Coyotes’ offense as he is first on the team with 11 goals. The veteran forward recorded his 177th career multi-point game with two goals in a 3-2 loss at Los Angeles, and now owns 806 career points to move within 11 points of Thomas Steen (817) for second-place in franchise history behind Dale Hawerchuk (929). Doan has produced 13 goals and 22 assists with a minus-11 rating in 60 career games against Detroit.
On This Day in Red Wings History...On March 25, 1951
Alex Delvecchio makes his NHL debut in the Red Wings’ 5-0 win over Montreal.
If you missed it, the Wings have assigned Calle Jarnkrok to the Grand Rapids Griffins, and if you wondered whether Jarnkrok really is the top-of-the-top in terms of Wings prospects, the Wings' website repeated Griffinshockey.com's Kyle Kujawa's press release regarding Jarnkrok's assignment to Grand Rapids...
The Red Wings on Monday reassigned center Calle Järnkrok (KAHL-leh YAHRN-krohk) from Brynas to the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Detroit’s second choice (51st overall) in the 2010 NHL entry draft, Järnkrok skated in 53 games for Brynas of the Swedish Eliteserien this season, leading the team and tying for eighth in the league with 42 points, including 13 goals.
A native of Gavle, Sweden, the 21-year-old appeared in 185 games with Brynas since 2009, registering 44 goals, 74 assists and 40 penalty minutes. In 2011-12, he helped his club capture the SEL championship by tying for fourth in the league in postseason scoring with 16 points in 16 games.
The 6-foot, 176-pound center has also represented his country on the international stage several times, including at the 2011 World Junior Championship, where he earned a silver medal, and at the 2012 World Championship.
Järnkrok joins the Griffins as they prepare to continue their season-high seven-game road trip with three games in three nights this week. Grand Rapids will visit San Antonio on Thursday at 8 p.m. EDT, Houston on Friday at 8:05 p.m. EDT and Texas on Saturday at 8 p.m. EDT.
Red Wings prospect Calle Järnkrok will play nine games with the Griffins, before returning to Sweden on April 15, where he will prepare for the World Championships.
Expressen's Gunnar Nordstrom spoke to Ken Holland about what he's describing as "Calle Jarnkrok's Test," roughly translated from Swedish:
Today, Monday, Brynas star Calle Jarnkrok is in the U.S. The Detroit Red Wings brought Jarnkrok over to let him play in a number of games with their farm team, the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL.
"It gives us a chance to see what's going to be best for him next season," says Red Wings GM Ken Holland to SportExpressen.se.
This doesn't mean that Jarnkrok won't play at the World Championship for the Tre Kronor at the Globen Arena if he's picked.
"We've studied the rules, and NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told us that we can keep Jarnkrok until April 14th. But he can't play in the NHL," says Holland.
It was during last week's meeting of the league's general managers that Detroit's management turned to Daly to ask what to do in the case of Jarnkrok.
"The answer was that we can allow him to play nine games in the AHL, but he can't play in the NHL. Daly looked into the matter with the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation," says Ken Holland after Detroit's game against Anaheim on Sunday night, Swedish time.
So why call upon Brynas's 21-year-old offensive star now?
"The season is over for Brynas, and we want to get an idea of how ready Jarnkrok is to play in North America next season. We know he has the talent and the attitude to do so, but the question is whether he's ready for hockey on the smaller rinks here."
Will you study him in detail during game situations with Grand Rapids?
"Yes, I'm going to see him play in three or four AHL games myself, and our coach, Mike Babcock, will watch at least one o the games."
"That being said, this gives us a chance to see whether he's strong enough for the game at this point, or whether it's better that he plays for [one more] season in the Eliteserien with Brynas and builds up his muscle strength. We firmly believe in Calle, but we want to do what's right for his development," says Ken Holland.
Jarnkrok, who was drafted in the second round of the 2010 NHL draft, was Brynas's leading scorer this past season, with 42 points over the course of 53 games played, consisting of 13 goals and 29 assists.
On the Iginla front, this is no surprise, per RDS.ca's Renaud Lavoie:
As Paul and I discussed on Skype, my Gord, is this "list" story becoming the most over-wrought piece of, "No, I'm the Insider Who Has it Right and Really Knows Who's on Iginla's List" piece of shit this deadline.
And as an FYI, from Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples:
The revamped Western Collegiate hockey Association will be spending some time in Grand Rapids over the next few years.
The league, which will add Ferris State, Northern Michigan and Lake Superior State to a league that already features Michigan Tech, will host their men’s playoff championship at Grand Rapids’ Van Andel Arena in 2014 and 2016.
The championship, known as the WCHA Final Five – will alternate between Van Andel and the Excel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minn. The Xcel Energy Center will host the tournament in 2015 and 2017.
“We just couldn’t be more pleased to be able to host the best conference post-season hockey tournament in the country in two of the premier facilities in the midwest,” said WCHA Commissioner Bruce McLeod in a release. “We are tremendously excited to bring WCHA championship hockey and the quest for the Broadmoor Trophy to Grand Rapids as well as continue our long-standing tradition and success of playing in Saint Paul.
“Both Grand Rapids and Saint Paul are wonderful travel destinations for fans, featuring first-class arenas centered in exciting downtown areas with noteworthy tourist attractions, great shopping, and fine hotels and restaurants. In Grand Rapids, we have the proximity of our Michigan-based WCHA teams and in Saint Paul of our Minnesota-based schools. This is truly the best of both worlds for us.”
The newly-formed Big Ten Hockey Conference will utilize a similar rotating arena set-up for their champion, switching between Joe Louis Arena and the Xcel Energy Center. That means that both Michigan and Minnesota will host major college hockey conference championships every season for the foreseeable future.
The WCHA also announced a new playoff format; the league’s top eight teams from the regular season will play in first-round, best-of-three playoff series at the home sites of the top four teams. The four winners will advance to WCHA Playoff Championship the next weekend, at either Van Andel or the Xcel, depending on the year.
Update #0.5: NHL.com's Jerry Brown offers prospective lineups for both teams:
Lauri Korpikoski -- Martin Hanzal – Radim Vrbata
Mikkel Bodeker -- Antoine Vermette -- Shane Doan
Steve Sullivan – Boyd Gordon – David Moss
Raffi Torres – Kyle Chipchura – Rob Klinkhammer
Keith Yandle – Derek Morris
Oliver Ekman-Larsson – David Schlemko
Rostislav Klesla -- Michael Stone
Scratches: Paul Bissonnette, Matthew Lombardi
Injured: Zbynek Michalek (foot), Mike Smith (upper body)
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Drew Miller
Justin Abdelkader - Pavel Datsyuk - Johan Franzen
Damien Brunner - Joakim Andersson - Daniel Cleary
Gustav Nyquist - Cory Emmerton - Jordin Tootoo
Niklas Kronwall - Jonathan Ericsson
Jakub Kindl - Ian White
Brendan Smith - Brian Lashoff
Injured: Darren Helm (back), Todd Bertuzzi (back), Kyle Quincey (facial fractures)
Scratched: Patrick Eaves, Kent Huskins, Carlo Colaiacovo
Update #0.75: Oboy, the Coyotes have produced a Cribs-like tour of their locker room:
Update #1: Here are Ken Kal's Keys to the Game (Ram Trucks sponsors the web version, and Chevrolet sponsors the 97.1 FM version):
Weather the Storm - The Coyotes have been off since Thursday; Detroit has played 2 intense games vs Anaheim in the last 3 nights. The first 10 minutes will be critical, so the Wings need to come out with energy and try to control the tempo.
Continue to Connect On The Power Play - The Wings have a Power Play goal in their last 6 games. I expect this game to be tight, so a PPG could be the difference.
Avoid Turnovers - Phoenix takes advantages of mistakes; be patient and protect the puck.
Rostislav Klesla readily told the Arizona Republic's McLellan that the Coyotes plan to trap the hell out of the Wings tonight.
Update #2: Wow, at this point, the Wings may be able to bring Teemu Pulkkinen over, too. Lukko Rauma won a playoff play-in to earn the right to play the Finnish SM-Liiga's best regular season team, and Jokerit received a week's worth of rest as a result, but Lukko's handing Jokerit its butt.
Today, Lukko defeated Jokerit 2-1 to take a 3-1 series lead, and Pulkkinen had 6 shots and played 13:56 but registered no points.
“The great thing about the trip, let's face it, we haven't seen the sun in Michigan in what month was that last?'' coach Mike Babcock said today. “This is like spring break for us, but we got to play some games. Other people are in Florida for spring break, we're out here. I think just being out here in the sun is a fantastic thing. Winning is a good thing. We couldn't win for a while on the road, we've been better on the road and we got to be feeling good about ourselves.''
The Red Wings have allowed only six goals in their past four road games, following a third-period meltdown in a 5-2 loss at Calgary on March 13. That was Jonas Gustavsson's last appearance. He will start tonight. Gustavsson, who has not played at home this season, is 1-2-1, with a 2.84 goals-against average and .878 save percentage.
“Last year was tough on the road, we didn't play all that great,'' said goaltender Jimmy [Howard], who gets a breather after back-to-back wins in Anaheim. “At the beginning of the year, it was sort of dicey on the road. I think now we've settled down, we have a commitment to playing great defense, keeping them to the outside. I know if I leave a rebound lying around there, somebody's there to clear it out, so I think we're just paying attention to the details on the road, which is paying off.''
Right wing Damien Brunner will return to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the first time in six years, he said.
“New haircut, looks faster. I think he'll be fast, he'll be shooting it tonight,'' Babcock said. “I don't know if he'll play with (Joakim Andersson) or play with (Henrik Zetterberg).''
Babcock said he hadn't decided which forward to take out.
“I have 13 forwards ready to go and then we'll decide,'' Babcock said.
As for the Wings' suddenly hot power play?
“We got two units, that makes it way better,'' Babcock said. “Instead of a minute power play, you got a two-minute power play with two units. Guys that scored last night shot the puck and had a net-front presence. Our big guys had the puck the whole time and didn't shoot it. You got to shoot it to have success.''
Update #4: Here's Khan on Bertuzzi:
Following four days of skating, Detroit Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi isn't making much progress in his effort to return from a back injury,
"It's frustrating. It takes a long time,'' Bertuzzi said after coming off the ice Monday at Jobing.com Arena. "My leg's just not cooperating right.''
He said he's trying to stay on the ice longer each day, but the pain from the back injury that flared up on Feb. 7 has sapped the strength from his left leg.
“I'm trying to go as long as I can,'' Bertuzzi said. "I got no power, still. Hopefully, it starts coming soon. I can't get the leg to catch up.''
Update #5: The Coyotes' website posted a clip of coach Dave Tippett's game-day presser...
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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.