The Malik Report
by George Malik on 10/10/13 at 02:48 AM ET
But the schedule-making computer is a twisted beast, and in exchange for four days off, the next couple of weeks are going to hurt. The Red Wings resume their 2013-14 campaign against the Phoenix Coyotes tonight (7:30 PM, FSD/FS Arizona/NHL Network U.S. 97.1 FM);
Then the Wings will host the Philadelphia Flyers for their "Pink the Rink for breast cancer awareness" game on Saturday (7 PM, FSD/CSN Philly), and then the Wings head to Boston for a Columbus Day matinee (1 PM start).
Detroit return home to play the vexing Blue Jackets on Tuesday the 15th, and then the Wings head West for road games in Colorado on the 17th and Phoenix on the 19th before returning home to play the Sharks on the 21st and host Daniel Alfredsson's former employer on the 23rd.
Over the short term, the Wings will be playing 5 games over the next 8 nights, and 6 over 10; over the long haul, the Wings will end up playing 8 games in 14 nights, and over the balance of the month, they'll play 12 times in 21 days.
In terms of tonight's game, the Red Wings are playing an opponent that's both motivated and dealing with a coach who's very annoyed by his own team's players.
The Coyotes opened their season with a 4-1 win over the Rangers a week ago, but they proceeded to drop a 4-1 decision to San Jose, and they followed that up with a 6-1 loss to the Islanders on Tuesday.
Somewhat conveniently, the Coyotes will continue their 4-game road trip by warming up the Philadelphia Flyers in Philly tomorrow night, and they'll wrap up their East Coast swing with a matinee game in Carolina on Sunday...
But Coyotes coach Dave Tippett and captain Shane Doan were in full growl mode after Tuesday's defeat, as the AP's recap notes...
"You get embarrassed as a professional athlete. It’s unacceptable,” Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. “There has to be accountability in our room. They have a really good team that moves the puck well, and we let them do it all night.”
Evgeni Nabokov was the beneficiary of all the offense and made 33 saves for the win. The 38-year-old goalie has started all three games for the Islanders. Josh Bailey had a goal and two assists, and Michael Grabner had three assists for New York, which was outshot 34-28. Regin added an assist.
Martin Hanzal gave the Coyotes (1-2) a brief spark when his first of the season made it 3-1. Smith stopped only 15 shots and was replaced at the start of the third period by Thomas Greiss, who made his Phoenix debut. Bailey made it 6-1 against Greiss, off assists from Nielsen and Grabner, with 7:41 left.
“It’s completely unacceptable,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “We have a lot of work to do as a team. We just weren’t good enough.”
And Fox Sports Arizona's Todd Walsh reported that things got serious very quickly:
Chris Brown had told the PhoenixCoyotes.com's Anthony Perez that he was excited about returning to Michigan as he played at U of M, so there goes that theory.
Tippett Told PhoenixCoyotes.com's Dave Vest that his team needed the personnel shuffle...
“We’re beating ourselves right now,” Tippett told reporters after Wednesday’s practice at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. “…Teams have played well (against us) but I’d like to see what we can do before I anoint somebody else.”
After beating the New York Rangers, 4-1, in front of a sellout crowd and their new owners at the emotional home opener last Thursday, the Coyotes have dropped their past two games; 4-1 at San Jose on Saturday and 6-1 at the New York Islanders on Tuesday.
“That excitement (of opening night) is not going to carry you through,” Tippett said. “You’ve got to put the work in and the commitment to how you’re going to win.”
He added, “Last night, for the most part, we had some guys that I thought put in good efforts, but good efforts doesn’t win hockey games. You’ve got to finds ways to do things right to win hockey games.”
“We’re shaking it up today,” Tippett said. “Both those young guys had good camps but the last couple games haven’t been as good. We’re just looking to stabilize right now with as many veteran guys as we can.”
The Coyotes believe that they'll receive personnel reinforcements of a different kind this evening...
The Coyotes on Tuesday played without defenseman Derek Morris, who missed the game because of an upper-body injury. Morris took part in the morning skate but was held out of the lineup. On Wednesday, Tippett said he expects Morris, and perhaps even defenseman Rostislav Klesla, to play on Thursday vs. the Red Wings.
Michael Stone played in place of Morris and logged 18:53 of ice time. Stone, who is wearing sweater No. 26 this season, took one shot on goal, delivered two hits and was minus-2.
And here's a bit of a wrinkle:
Forward Paul Bissonnette, who missed the first three games of the season because of an NHL suspension, is now eligible to return to the lineup.
“I’m looking forward to getting back in action, slowly but surely,” said Bissonnette, who has been practicing with the team during his suspension. “… I understand my role. Typically I play about 50 percent of the games. My goal is to play well and to help the team any way I can.”
The Coyotes posted a Flash audio clip of Tippett's off-day presser--it's almost seven minutes long--and they posted a video Q and A with Bissonnette, who may or may not fit into the lineup depending on the Wings' morning skate machinations. Bissonnette points out that the Coyotes added Mike Ribeiro to the mix during the summer, but the team's roster mostly consists of the players you and I are both familiar with from last season.
In terms of personnel, however, the Arizona Republic's Sarah McLellan reported that the Coyotes won't make any decisions until the morning skate, and Tippett's presser indicates that the team chose to mix things up at both even strength and on the power play during Wednesday's practice.
NHL.com's David Kalan's game preview will serve as our pivot point between the Red Wings and Coyotes' perspectives...
Season series: This is the first meeting of the season between the Phoenix Coyotes and the Detroit Red Wings. The Coyotes will host the rematch on Oct. 19. Detroit took two of three games against Phoenix in 2012-13, with Henrik Zetterberg leading all players with five points (all assists) in those three games.
Given that the Coyotes have played the Wings in 2 of the last 3 springs, and given that Phoenix remains Hockeytown West to some extent, you can be sure that they'll want to send messages tonight and next Saturday.
Big story: Both teams are coming off tough losses. The Coyotes are looking to recover from a 6-1 thumping against the New York Islanders on Tuesday when they visit the Red Wings, who are hoping to rebound from their first loss of the season, a 4-1 road decision to the Boston Bruins.
Coyotes [team scope]: Lengthy road trips are typical of every NHL season. But not every team starts the season with the kind of cross-country trek the Coyotes are currently on. Phoenix opened the season with a 4-1 home win over the New York Rangers before embarking on a season-long five-game road trip. It started with a 4-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. Three nights later, goaltender Mike Smith was pulled after surrendering five goals on 20 shots in just two periods.
Traveling to Joe Louis Arena in Detroit isn't likely to make things much easier for the Coyotes....
Red Wings [team scope]: After winning their first two games of the season, the Red Wings fell to the Boston Bruins 4-1 on Saturday. The Wings penalty kill allowed two power-play goals in four Boston opportunities as the Bruins fired 37 shots at goaltender Jimmy Howard. After five days off, Detroit should be rested and ready to bounce back.
"We know what it's going to take," Howard said. "We've been through these [kinds of games] for years. It's early in the season, there's no reason to get down about it, beat yourself up. Put it behind you and get ready for Phoenix on Thursday night."...
Who's hot: Radim Vrbata has had an impressive start to the season for the Coyotes, with three goals and one assist in three games. ... Zetterberg celebrated his 33rd birthday Wednesday and has two goals and an assist through three games.
And the AP's game preview adds pertinent stats to the mix:
The Red Wings (2-1-0) are one of the last teams in the league without a power-play goal, and their third line of Joakim Andersson, Todd Bertuzzi and Daniel Cleary has yet to contribute to any of the team's offense.
As you know by now, they're -8, and the Wings' power play's gone 0-for-8 thus far.
The Red Wings are averaging 2.0 goals after Saturday night's 4-1 loss against one of their new Atlantic Division foes in Boston. They were outshot for the first time after outshooting Buffalo and Carolina by a combined 27 shots in their first two games.
Howard and Phoenix's Mike Smith were two of five goalies tied for the 2013 league lead with five shutouts. One of Howard's came at home in the last game these teams played, a 4-0 home win April 22. Including the playoffs, he's 16-4-2 against Phoenix.
The Coyotes are coming off a 6-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday in which Smith was pulled after allowing five goals in two periods. It was their first loss by five goals or more since Nov. 25, 2011, against Vancouver.
The Coyotes have lost the first two games of a five-game road trip by a combined score of 10-2.
The Coyotes are 0-4-2 in their last six games in Detroit, including the 2011 postseason.
Phoenix has scored six goals thus far, with half of those coming from Radim Vrbata in a 4-1 win over the New York Rangers to open the season last Thursday.
Detroit center Henrik Zetterberg has 17 goals in 37 regular-season meetings against Phoenix. He's only scored more against St. Louis and Chicago.
As noted in the practice post--and Monday's practice post--it appears that Mikael Samuelsson will rotate into the lineup and Tomas Tatar won't be playing on the fourth line. Otherwise, the lines will roll...
Unless Jordin Tootoo gets tapped on his healed shoulder, as MLive's Ansar Khan noted:
“I feel I’m in the right state to get back at ‘er,’’ Tootoo said. “Right now it’s just about maintaining my strength and making sure every day I come to the rink I’m ready, both mentally and physically.’’
Coach Mike Babcock said the only lineup change for Thursday’s game against Phoenix (7:30 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit) will be on the fourth line, where Mikael Samuelsson replaced Tomas Tatar.
Tootoo brings a different dimension with his physical game and willingness to fight.
“My job is to play hockey when I’m called upon,’’ Tootoo said. “For me it’s one day at a time. Just enjoying every bit of it. This is the greatest league to be in and when you’re around the greatest hockey players in the world, life is good. I’m just glad to be part of this whole organization.’’
The Red Wings don’t need to make a roster move or clear salary-cap space to activate Tootoo because forwards Darren Helm and Patrick Eaves are on lone-term injured reserve.
Eaves (sprained MCL and ankle) skated with the team on Wednesday for the first time since he was injured in practice on Sept. 19. But he was on the ice for only half the practice. Players on LTIR must sit out a minimum of 10 games.
Babcock and Jimmy Howard told the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness that they won't take the Coyotes lightly:
The Coyotes have lost two straight coming in after winning their opener. They’ve been outscored 10-2 over the last two games.
“Well I watched them these last two games and they didn’t play as good as they can,” Babcock said. “Well we just lost too. We’ve had a few days off, we should be refreshed and ready to go. They’re a good hockey team and a proud team and they’re going to respond and we’re going to respond as well. It should be a good game.”
The Coyotes are the first team from the Western Conference they’ll face this season.
“Every time we play Phoenix it’s a very hard-fought game,” Jimmy Howard said. “They’re so well-coached, they play their systems so well. If you’re going to beat them you have to beat them with all aspects of your game.”
The press corps mostly talked to the Wings about the team and coach's respective statuses as Tigers fans, but Henrik Zetterberg, who turned 33 on Wednesday, spoke with the Free Press's Helene St. James about tonight's test as something of a season re-set:
“It’s almost like we’re starting the season over again, after three-in-four,” Zetterberg said Wednesday.
Having no game Wednesday gave Zetterberg an opportunity to celebrate his 33rd birthday. Having Monday and Tuesday off meant an opportunity to attend both Tigers playoff games at Comerica Park.
The Coyotes are smarting from two straight losses that saw them outscored, 10-2. Even so, Mike Smith is considered a top goaltender, and Radim Vrbata already has three goals and four points. Young stars on the team include defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and forward Mikkel Boedker.
“I’ve seen him play for Denmark a few times now,” Zetterberg said of Boedker. “He is one of their best players. He is strong, skates well, and he has an eye for the goals.”
The Wings did well to relish their break: Next week brings four games, beginning with a back-to-back series.
“It was nice to get some time with our families,” Howard said, “because it’s about to get real busy for us.”
Five games in seven nights = super busy.
Red Wings notebooks: Kudos to Jimmy Howard for going all out for Saturday's "Pink the Rink" game against Philly. Howard sported a pink mask at practice, and Ray Bishop posted pictures of his handiwork on Facebook (via RedWingsFeed)...
Images copyright Ray Bishop and Bishop Designs
And the Red Wings' Instagram account posted a Dan Mannes-authored picture of Howard breaking in his pink glove and blocker:
Image copyright Detroit Red Wings
Howard told DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose that he'd be wearing pink "Iceberg" leg pads on Saturday had they arrived sooner, too, though he might give 'em a go:
As in the past, Red Wings’ players will show their support of the initiative by wrapping their sticks with pink hockey tape for use during pregame warm-ups. The sticks will then be signed by the players as they exit the ice and auctioned off on the concourse during the game. Besides the special pink pregame tape, Jimmy Howard plans to take it one step further. The Red Wings’ goalie will wear a special pink mask, as well as a new pink and white catching glove and blocker.
“My way of trying to help out,” Howard said. “I’m supposed to have the pads, supposed to have pink everything, but the pads haven’t arrived yet so we’ll see when they get here.”
If the leg pads arrive too late for him to break in, Howard might wear them for another home game, perhaps when the Wings hosts the NHL’s initiative ‘Hockey Fights Cancer’, which is Oct. 26.
“We’ll see how they feel Friday in practice and Saturday morning in pregame skate but there might not be enough time to break them in. I’m hoping I’ll be able to wear them.”
Instead of more notebooks, the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa penned a fantastic feature article on Daniel Alfredsson.
The only way I can describe Alfredsson, aside from admitting that he's my favorite non-Wing ever (Kirk McLean and Nikolai Khabibulin are my other favorite non-Wings as they were goalie mentors, but Alfie's super special), by stating that he's kind of the anti-Mike Modano.
As much as seeing Mike Modano skate in red and white was a bit of a dream for both Wings fans and Modano, Modano was at the end of the line and really playing out the string as a support player. Alfredsson's also 40, and he's not taking a leading role here, but he obviously came to Detroit with fire in his belly and at least the possibility in his mind of perhaps playing here for more than one season given that he moved his family here (four boys, yoy yoy yoy) and bought a house in Birmingham.
Somewhat ironically, given that Sergei Fedorov's making a comeback, Krupa argues that there are shades of Fedorov in Alfredsson's all-round talent, especially given that he plays so very well as a point man on the power play...
One shift does not make a game, let alone a season. But it was a shift like something unseen for some time in Detroit: a defenseman’s skill, a defensive forward’s attention to detail, an offensive forward’s instincts and an accomplished scorer’s aptitude in the slot.
Datsyuk and Zetterberg are top-of-the-charts two-way forwards. But that skating in reverse item, added to finishing both the defensive and offensive parts of the play? Sergei Fedorov.
And it turns out that Alfredsson didn't start playing as a forward growing up in Gothenburg:
"I did play defense until I was 14, 15. Not that I’m great at it, but I am comfortable skating backwards,” he said, referencing his development in the hockey clubs in Sweden. “The coach decided to put me up at center, because I was never in my own end anyway!” he said, flashing a mischievous smile of self-deprecation.
Asked to assess his skills, as he begins play in Detroit, Alfredsson was similarly unassuming.
“You know, as I consider myself as a player, I’m not really great at anything,” he said. “But I’m not bad at anything. I can shoot. I can stick-handle. I can skate. But I’m not the fastest. I don’t have the best shot. I’m not the best stick-handler. But, all around, I think my biggest asset is reading the game, anticipating what’s going to happen and, you know, being in the right place at the right time.”
Krupa sees Alfredsson as something of an anti-Modano as well, and given that a) #11's being counted upon to produce 20 goals on the second line and b) he's in the mix for an Olympic spot as well as a playoff spot, there's no doubt that Alfredsson came to Detroit highly motivated after his divorce from the Ottawa Senators:
“You know, I’ve been on a few teams fortunately that have been in the playoffs a lot of times,” he said of his years in Ottawa. “And I’ve been in the league a long time now, and still haven’t won. So, that’s what drives you. That’s what makes you come to the rink every day and push yourself and try to get better and improve. When you come up to this age, you’ve got to still have the drive. Otherwise, it’s a long year.”
Krupa's article continues, and it's worth your time.
In the prospect department, in the OHL, Zach Nastasiuk registered an assist in the Owen Sound Attack's 3-2 loss to Erie...
One rearguard that many be will be watching this season is newcomer James De Haas. The Mississauga, ON native was a sixth round selection (170th overall) of the Detroit Red Wings in 2012. At 6’3” and 205 pounds, de Haas will certainly add size to Clarkson’s blueline this season. He is noted for his skating and strong puck-moving skills.
Also of Red Wings-related note: CSKA Moscow's website isn't confirming that Sergei Fedorov's coming out of retirement at 43 to skate for the injury-plagued team, but they posted a photo gallery of Fedorov carrying the 2014 Olympic torch in Moscow on Monday, and Fedorov's grumpy dad Viktor was there;
Also in the alumni department, per WREX 13:
The Rockford IceHogs will be honoring hockey legend Scotty Bowman on Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, when they take on the Iowa Wild at the BMO Harris Bank Center.
In honor of Bowman, the first 2,500 fans to the BMO will receive a Scotty Bowman bobble head courtesy of U.S. Cellular. The bobble heads will commemorate the Blackhawk's Senior Advisor to Hockey Operations' 13 Stanley Cup championships as both a coach and executive. Bowman will also be signing autographs during the game.
The coaching legend has won an NHL record nine Stanley Cups as a head coach, five with Montreal, one with Pittsburgh and three with Detroit. He is also the NHL's all-time leader in wins as a head coach with 1,471. To go along with his nine championships as a coach, the Montreal, Quebec native won another four Cups as a hockey executive, one with Pittsburgh, one with Detroit and two with Chicago.
If you're a youngster or veteran looking for tickets to tonight's game...
In the "For the Record" department, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jeremy Rutherford reports that the Blues' "Keep the Red Out" campaign didn't work so well for the Chicago Blackhawks' first visit to the Scottrade Center. The Blues are forcing folks from out of town to buy at least two games' worth of tickets (including a non-rivalry game) to attend games in which the Blackhawks or Wings (the Wings end their regular season with a road game in St. Louis on April 13th) play;
In collegiate hockey news, Pro Hockey Talk's Jason Brough reports that NBCSN will air 5 Big 10 hockey conference games, including 2 U of M games;
And you may not get much out of this video in the linguistic department, but Henrik Zetterberg conducted an interview with Sweden's TV4, discussing succeeding Nicklas "Lidas" Lidstrom as the Wings' captain, and it's a really "good watch." You can hear Zetterberg tell the tale that Ken Holland informed "Zata" that he'd be wearing the "C" during a golf game,
If you need to cleanse your palate with an English-language video, the Wings posted a pretty good one of their own on Wednesday:
And finally, again, I am NOT going to be available to do later-day game updates as I'm picking up my tux and attending my friend Mark's wedding rehearsal and rehearsal inner. I'm not sure if I'll post a late quick take or not (will depend on how I feel after the fun fun fun trip to and from Shelby Township, which is a "far piece" from South Lyon); on Friday I will be in and out as the groom chose to book a hotel room because he also lives on the West Side, and I'm lending moral support while hoping that he doesn't snore in the other bed; and Saturday I will be incommunicado as this is a Big Fat Chaldean Catholic Wedding, so Paul and Monica will cover the Wings-Flyers game.
I will be around for Monday's matinee and Tuesday's Blue Jackets game, but Sunday I'm obviously going to lie a little low.
I hope you understand as it's not every day that someone you've known since high school, who lived with you for four years and still managed to remain your friend...Well, those types of people are a wee bit more special than hockey.
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About The Malik Report
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.