The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/04/14 at 03:49 AM ET
The Red Wings begin an incredibly busy slate of 5 games in 8 nights and 15 in 27 March days and nights with a grueling set--the Wings play 3 games over the next 4 nights, starting with the first of 2 meetings with the New Jersey Devils this evening (7 PM, FSD/MSG/97.1 FM).
You probably know the Wings' personnel story by now. Pavel Datsyuk will remain in Detroit to get treatment on his wonky knee, Stephen Weiss had a "setback" in terms of returning from "core muscle" surgery, Jakub Kindl's sprained knee has not healed yet, Daniel Cleary is broken again, and all of a sudden, Joakim Andersson's the Wings' first-line center.
As noted in the evening report, the Free Press's Helene St. James has suggested that Datsyuk may not be available to the team for any of this week's trio of games, and she might be right. That's a problem as the Devils a) sit 3 points behind the Wings in the Wild Card race and b) believe that their pair of games against Detroit--which the Devils don't have a "game between" (unlike Nick Lidstrom Retirement Night for Detroit)--represent absolutely essential opportunities to save their season.
New Jersey's coming off a 4-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks this past Sunday, and after what the Newark Star-Ledger's Rich Chere reports was an early and optional practice (the Wings practice at a sane hour, 11 AM, but some teams, like the Devils, take to the ice at 9:30 or 10)...
The Devils held an optional practice Monday in AmeriHealth Pavilion and goalie Martin Brodeur was among the few players to take part.
Defensemen Peter Harrold and Eric Gelinas, along with forwards Andrei Loktionov and Jacob Josefson, skated.
Captain Bryce Salvador (bruised collarbone) and right winger Damien Brunner (charley horse, thigh) did not skate with the small group.
Herr Brunner may or may not play this evening.
The Devils host the Detroit Red Wings at Prudential Center Tuesday night.
Devils coach Pete DeBoer named Brodeur Tuesday's starter, as he told Chere...
He also indicated Bryce Salvador (bruised collarbone) and Damien Brunner (charley horse, thigh) "have a chance to play." Both are sidelines with injuries.
"Both skated this morning and both took a positive step," DeBoer noted. "I would say both have a chance to play tomorrow. See how they feel tomorrow."
DeBoer said suggestions that Devils players are worried GM Lou Lamoriello will begin trading or selling players is nonsense.
"I have not sensed that," the coach said. "We have been business as usual. I sense in our room that our guys really feel that we have a chance to win every game now until the end. Obviously that's not realistic, but that's the feeling."
He dismissed stories that the Devils will be sellers rather than buyers.
"I don't sense any of that and I've never discussed that option with Lou," DeBoer stressed.
And then he told the Bergen Record's Tom Gulitti that the Devils' remaining games (they've played 62 to the Wings' 60) are VERY SUPER BIG IMPORTANT HUGEO GIGANTICAL:
“We know that. I know that. You guys know that,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer said today. “I don’t have much more to say. It’s no more important than last night’s (game) or the night before and no less important than the one after that. It’s that time of year.”
With Friday’s game in Detroit, the Devils have to chances to gain ground on the team in the closest playoff spot, but also two chances to lose ground.
Four-point games against New Frickin' Jersey? Welcome to the Eastern Conference, Playoff Fringe Area.
Coming back from the Olympic break, Brodeur estimated that Devils would have to win 15 of their final 23 games to get into the playoffs. So far, they’ve won two of three since then. That means, they need 13 wins in their final 20 games, which would get them 91 points.
DeBoer said the mindset is to “win as many as you can”, but acknowledged that he’s done the math as well.
“We’ve obviously looked at that there’s a bare minimum number of wins we have to get in order to give ourselves a chance and that’s somewhere in that area,” he said. “I think we all know that, but the goal isn’t 15 or 14 or 16, it’s to win as many games as we possibly can.”
The Devils want to win both of their meetings against the Wings...
“We won two out of three,” DeBoer said. “We’ve got three this week, if we can win two out of three again … You can’t watch the standings because that would frustrate you – you win two out of three and you don’t make up any ground. I think you just have to keep that mindset and eventually string in a three or four-game winning streak there and we’ll be right there.”
And tonight's sub-theme is simple: "ZOMG is this Brodeur's last start ever as a Devil?" Per Gulitti, the man's sounding like he's resigned to waiving his no-trade clause:
Brodeur said today “everything is the same” with his situation as far him possibly being traded and does not believe that his start Tuesday in what is perhaps the Devils’ biggest game of the season so far has anything to do with the trade deadline.
“It’s a hockey decision at the end of the day,” he said. “Regardless of if I’m going to go somewhere or stay here, that’s the business part of the game. So, I’m kind of happy to get back in the net. It’s been a while that I didn’t play at the Prudential Center, so it’s going to be nice for that.”
Brodeur’s hasn’t played at The Rock since a 3-2 overtime loss to Philadelphia on Jan. 7. His start Saturday against the Islanders – he made 18 saves in a 6-1 victory – was his appearance of any kind since Jan. 26. Cory Schneider has started eight of the last nine games, including a 4-2 loss to San Jose Sunday.
“It’s kind of nice,” Brodeur said of starting for the second time in three games. “I got a little ice time the other day and I did what I needed to do to win the hockey game. I’m sure it will be a little different battle tomorrow.”
If Brodeur were to play well and beat the Red Wings, he’d be in line to start again in Friday’s rematch at Joe Louis Arena – if he’s still on the team. Still, he doesn’t believe what happens Tuesday will impact whether he is traded.
“That’s hockey. That’s something I can’t control,” Brodeur said. “I’d love to control it more, trust me, because I’d like to play more, but I’m happy I’m getting this start and I’ll try to do the best that I can to win the hockey game and put our team in the best situation we can. Wednesday will come and that’s going to be it. We’ll see one way or the other, but that most likely will be out of my hands and we’ll make the decision accordingly.”
It is assumed that the Minnesota Wild will snag him at this point, but life with the Devils is kind of weird to begin with (Facial hair? Lou Lamoriello sagt, "Nein!"), so Brodeur told the Star-Ledger's Chere that tonight will be just another game, which may be true and may be a lie...
“Like a hockey player. I’m excited to play a game tomorrow. That’s going to help. At least I’ll be busy thinking about the game all day. After that I’ll probably just shut off my phone. We’ll see.”
He dismissed reports that teammates are worried Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello will sell off players or trade players just to shed their contracts.
“They don’t know him well enough. It’s never happened,” Brodeur pointed out. “Until Lou isn’t in charge, he’ll do anything possible to get this team into the playoffs and to win a championship. People that have that mentality about him, they don’t know him well at all.”
Brodeur said if he were traded, it wouldn’t be a matter of being sold off.
“For me it’s totally different with my situation having Cory playing the way he’s been playing, compared to another player on the team that would bring a lot (in return). I don’t expect if I do get traded (the Devils) won’t get the moon. You never know, but I don’t think so,” the goalie said.
And his teammates told the Star-Ledger's Randy Miller that they don't believe Brodeur will be traded:
"Devils is Marty, Marty is Devils, so until somebody says something about all the trade rumors, I don't even think of that," left wing Dainius Zubrus said.
Zubrus says he'd be sad if Brodeur, now a backup to Cory Schneider, is traded.
"Absolutely," Zubrus said. “That’s why I don’t want it to happen. I hope he stays. We obviously have two great goalies and Marty still does a good job. We all know what he can do.”
Forward Adam Henrique says it’s difficult even imaging Brodeur, who debuted in the NHL 22 years ago this month, playing with another team.
"I don't even know how you would go about that," Henrique said. "It would be a shock to see Marty Brodeur wearing a different jersey, but he's a competitive guy and he wants to play. That's the bottom line. I'm sure if you put any other player in his situation, it's the same thing. We all want to play. We'll see what happens."
Devils captain Bryce Salvador says players are waiting to see what happens, but not talking about the trade deadline.
"It never comes up," he said. "It's a business. Things happen. Guys who have been in organizations get traded. Rarely do guys play in one place for their whole career."
SECOND STAR – ADAM HENRIQUE, C, NEW JERSEY DEVILS
Henrique recorded three consecutive multi-point games, sharing the League lead in goals (4), points (6) and power-play goals (2) to power the Devils (26-23-13, 65 points) to two wins in three starts. He tallied two goals – including his ninth career game-winner and eighth career shorthanded marker – for his first multi-goal performance since March 13, 2013, in a 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets Feb. 27. Henrique then collected 1-1—2 in each of the next two games: a 6-1 triumph over the New York Islanders March 1 and a 4-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks March 2. The 24-year-old Brantford, Ont., native ranks third on the Devils with 18‑15—33 in 62 games this season, including a team-leading seven power-play goals and two shorthanded tallies.
The Devils' website posted a YouTube clip of Brodeur's post-practice comments...
As well as DeBoer's:
NHL.com's Mike G. Morreale posited a balanced game preview...
Season series: This is the second of three games between the Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils, and the first of two encounters this week. The Red Wings claimed a 3-1 win against the Devils on Dec. 6 at Prudential Center. The teams will meet again Friday at Joe Louis Arena.
Red Wings [team scope]: General manager Ken Holland has admitted he will not make a splash prior to the trade deadline unless it's a "trade that affects your team going into next season."
We'll get to this in a bit...
Devils: Will Brodeur be trading places prior to the trade deadline? If it does happen, this would be the 41-year-old Brodeur's final home game wearing a Devils jersey in the Garden State. Brodeur beat the Islanders 6-1 on Saturday in his first start in more than a month.
Cory Schneider made 18 saves in the loss to the Sharks on Sunday, his eighth start in nine games, and dipped to 12-12-9 for the season. He allowed more than two goals for just the second time in the past 17 games. At this time of the year, coach Peter DeBoer knows the Devils need to regroup quickly with the regular season entering the home stretch.
"You've got to have a short-term memory this time of year," DeBoer said. "We gave ourselves a chance to win [Sunday], we didn't and we've got to regroup and be ready for Tuesday because they're all big."
And this stuff is not necessarily new:
Who's hot: Red Wings forward Johan Franzen has three goals, five points and a plus-4 rating in the past two games. His three-goal game against the Senators was his first hat trick since Nov. 8, 2011. … Devils forward Adam Henrique has four goals in three games since the Olympic break. Forward Patrik Elias has two goals and four assists over that span.
Injury report: Zetterberg (back) is out for Detroit, as are forwards Stephen Weiss (sports hernia) and Pavel Datsyuk (knee). It was thought Weiss would return Tuesday but he had a setback. … New Jersey captain Bryce Salvador (collarbone) and right wing Damien Brunner (leg) each missed his second straight game on Sunday.
The AP's preview adds some stats to the mix, so we'll use it to pivot between the Devils and Red Wings' perspectives:
The Red Wings (28-20-12) have won both games since returning from the Olympic break and finished February with a 4-1-1 record. Leading the way of late has been Johan Franzen, named the NHL's first star of the week after a two-assist game in a 2-1 win over Montreal on Wednesday and a hat trick in a 6-1 victory over Ottawa on Thursday.
Franzen has missed 27 games and the Olympics because of complications as a result of concussions.
Detroit may need [Franzen's] scoring touch against the Devils, one of the better defensive teams in the East with 153 goals allowed. The Red Wings' season-long battle with injuries has continued, as they're missing centers Pavel Datsyuk (knee) and Stephen Weiss (groin injury).
Detroit and New Jersey are tied with Chicago for the league lead with eight shootout losses. The Devils have scored one goal on 25 attempts in the tiebreaker.
The Red Wings won the first meeting of the season with New Jersey 3-1 on Dec. 6. Detroit has taken seven of the last nine matchups.
Datsyuk is out, per MLive's Ansar Khan...
Datsyuk hasn’t been on the ice since the second period of Thursday’s 6-1 victory at Ottawa. He worked out extensively off-ice Monday and said he is day-to-day, hoping to play Thursday at home against Colorado.
“Can’t play; issue with my knee,” Datsyuk said. “We’re looking day-to-day, hard to stay anything.”
He played two games before the Olympics and two games after but wasn’t skating well. Datsyuk said he just needs rest and treatment.
“A little bit (frustrating), but nothing you can do,” Datsyuk said.
General manager Ken Holland said, “Same thing he’s been battling since early January, just won’t go away. I think you’re more concerned we got to win a game tomorrow and we got to find 20 guys that are healthy and can give us a chance to win. If Pav’s healthy and can help us win he’ll be in the lineup (not Tuesday).”
Datsyuk has to see doctor #4 on Wednesday, says the Free Press's Anthony Fenech...
Datsyuk will not travel with the team to New Jersey and instead will see his fourth doctor on Wednesday, general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press.
Three previous doctors ruled out the need for surgery. Both Holland and Datsyuk consider Datsyuk’s availability day-to-day.
“Just rest and treatment,” Datsyuk said. “Every day, hoping.”
1. Bertuzzi is in, over Eaves, on the Miller-Glendening 4th line;
2. This, per Katzenstein:
Joakim Andersson will replace Datsyuk on the first line with Gustav Nyquist and Johan Franzen against the Devils, coach Mike Babcock said.
“He’s got to be a guy who can get some pucks back,” Babcock said of Andersson. “He’s got to be a guy who wins face-offs and plays well and detailed, and the rest will look after itself.”
The coach, he gives no shits about the injuries, as we learned during HBO's 24/7 (perhaps one of its insights), as he told DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose...
For now, the Wings hope to build off of strong back-to-back road victories last week in Montreal and Ottawa as they advance into their condensed schedule. Currently occupying the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, Detroit has three games in the next four days as the club continues its quest to extend its playoff streak to 23 years.
“Guys here gotta be as fresh as can possibly be,” [Mike] Babcock said. “I mean we had an Olympic break guys went to the Olympics and the other guys came back and had a few days off here. We’re ready to go, we’re excited about how we’re playing and we got a good club right now. We’re playing hard enough, we’re finding ways to win games so let’s just keep playing.”
The Wings, they respect Brodeur, as they told Roose...
Martin Brodeur is expected to start in goal for New Jersey against the Red Wings Tuesday night. If the 41-year-old chooses to retire after the 2013-14 season, tomorrow could mark his last game against Detroit during his 21-year-career with the Devils.
“Lots of guys are good for a short period of time but to do it as long as they have and to be a star as long as he has, I mean obviously real high-end,” Babcock said. (Cory) Schneider’s played kind of their games, he’s a young guy up-and-comer and that happens to all of us, I mean someone else is going to end up with your job that’s just the way life is. But I mean he’s been a flat-out star and he’s stayed healthy.”
And Franzen, he's been good, as his teammates told Roose:
“He’s one of those guys who when he gets going seems to be unstoppable,” Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said. “It’s a big positive, I think, for us to see that and hopefully he can keep it rolling.”
He assisted on both goals in a 2-1 victory over the Canadiens, including the primary assist on Gustav Nyquist’s winner with 27.3 seconds left in overtime at Molson Centre last Wednesday. The next night, Franzen collected his sixth career hat trick, and first since Nov. 8, 2011, in a lopsided 6-1 win against the Senators. Despite missing 27 games with a myriad of injuries, Franzen is fifth in team scoring with 12 goals and 28 points in 33 games played.
Widely considered a streaky scorer who often gets his goals in bunches, Franzen will be counted on more than ever now that Henrik Zetterberg (back surgery) and Pavel Datsyuk (knee) are mending. Zetterberg wouldn’t likely return before the playoffs, and Datsyuk – who didn’t travel with the team to New Jersey for Tuesday’s game against the Devils – is day to day.
“We’re going to need him clicking every single night,” Howard said of Franzen. “Having Pav and Z out there’s a lot more pressure on the guys up front but they have to find a way to put it in the back of the net and Mule has done a great job of that for us in the last few games.”
“Other guys we consider to be offensive threats aren’t with us,” coach Mike Babcock said. “There’s guys missing, there’s no question about it, but to me it’s about the guys who are playing and the guys are playing well.”
So, shall we talk about the trade deadline, despite the fact that the Wings probably won't make a single move? Except for maybe calling a player or two up given that the 23-man roster limit goes away after 3 PM on Wednesday (I did not know that)?
Andrew MacDonald, New York Islanders. Age: 27. Position: Defense. Status: Potential unrestricted free agent. Notes: Has developed into a useful defenseman entering the prime of his career. On a good team, MacDonald is more of a third-pair defenseman rather than one of the top two pairs. He's outpriced himself from the Islanders ($550,000) but will get a huge raise on the free agent market in July. (Associated Press)
Tom Gilbert, Florida Panthers. Age: 31. Position: Defense. Status: Pending unrestricted free agent. Notes: Gilbert has been a revelation for the Panthers, who signed him to a one-year contract before the season and he's thrived on a pairing with Brian Campbell. A no-frills, dependable two-way defenseman who could very well remain with the Panthers moving forward. (Associated Press)
Tuomo Ruutu, Carolina Hurricanes. Position: Left wing. Age: 31. Status: Signed through 2015-16 at $4.75 million. Notes: The Hurricanes are fallen behind in the playoff chase and might want to unload the veteran Ruutu. Once a highly regarded, physical forward with decent offensive numbers, Ruutu has been injured often, and his numbers have fallen accordingly.
And Ken Holland reiterated his stance in a conversation with MLive's Ansar Khan...
“I consider a hockey trade where you can get a player that’s going to be on your roster in September,” Holland said. “Because of where we are in the standings and because of the unknown with the number of our key players with regards to injury it’s pretty difficult to step up and trade high draft picks and real top prospects in order to get short-term players.
“Will you trade a mid-round pick or (middling) prospects for rentals? Yeah, but those rentals, they’re not going to have a big impact on your team. We’ve got players as good as those guys or better.”
Who then engaged in some speculation about the Wings' desired targets on defense:
Alexander Edler, Kesler’s teammate, might be at the top of his wish list. He’s 27 and is locked up for five more years at $5 million a season. But, again, the cost to acquire him would be steep. The same can be said for young Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers, also rumored to be available.
Another Sabres defenseman, Christian Ehrhoff, wouldn't cost as much as Edler or Myers. The problem is Ehrhoff has seven years and $18 million remaining on his contract, at a salary-cap hit of $4 million, even though the back-diving deal has him earning just $1 million in each of the final three seasons.
The Red Wings like Andrew MacDonald of the New York Islanders, but with multiple teams bidding for this rental, the asking price might be too much for Holland.
“If there’s a hockey trade we’ll look at it, but we’re not looking at top-end rentals for those two reasons: because of our place in the standings and because of the unknown about some of our top players,” Holland said.
Want more from the GM? Here's a bit more from the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness:
“There are very few players like Stephen Weiss and Pavel Datsyuk that are available,” Holland said. “I also think if we qualify for the playoffs, we believe somewhere in that time frame Zetterberg will be back.
“Because of where we are in the standings and because of the unknown with the number of our key players with regards to injury it’s pretty difficult to step up and trade high draft picks and real top prospects in order to get short-term players,” Holland continued. “We’ve got players as good as those guys or better so when you look at the way our young kids have played, we sit out some veterans every night so we’ve got veterans up front, we got some veterans on defense and we’ve got some kids in the American League. It’s a long-winded answer of saying if there’s a hockey trade we’ll look at it but we’re not looking at top-end rentals for those two reasons: because of our place in the standings and because of the unknown about some of our top players.”
Should we talk about Johan Franzen vs. Chris Neil? I'd rather not, but the Free Press's Jamie Samuelssen plays Tuesday Morning Quarterback:
This notion that a player who waves his stick around is somehow required to drop his gloves is preposterous. Certain players have certain roles. Neil fights. Franzen scores. And the fact that he did it three times in the win over the Sens is further proof why he shouldn’t be fighting. The Red Wings need all the goals they can get, especially with Henrik Zetterberg out for the foreseeable future. The thought of Franzen fighting Neil, suffering another concussion and heading back on the shelf is harrowing. He had nothing to gain from fighting, so he passed which is his right to do.
Some Red Wings fans fear that teams will take more liberties with the team because players don’t fight back. I disagree. The Red Wings philosophy has always been to turn the other cheek (some notable “Bruise Brothers” excepted) and make the opponent pay on the power play. And come playoff time, most of this stuff goes away anyway.
I don’t think fighting will ever leave the game entirely. And I don’t think that it should. As long as it’s around, every player has the right to fight or to pass — and that was firmly Franzen’s right on Thursday night.
It would've been stupid. Stupid for Franzen to indulge Neil with 6:30 left in the Wings' last meeting with the Senators, which would have only "fed the troll," it would have been stupid for Franzen because he's endured several concussions and a subdural hematoma in 2008, and it would have been stupid for the Red Wings to react because there is a possibility that the Wings could play the Senators in the playoffs, and informing a team that you're not going to be goaded into fighting over something stupid toward the end of a 6-1 win = the best message you can send going forward.
In prospect-related...stuff...BCHL'er David Pope will be the first Wings prospect taking part in playoff hockey this spring, as noted by the Kelowna Capital News:
The playoff version of one of junior A hockey's most intense rivalries will take to the ice Tuesday night at Royal LePage Place.
West Kelowna Warriors and Vernon Vipers square off in Game 1 of the best-of-seven BCHL Interior Division semifinal series.
Game 2 between the Okanagan foes goes Wednesday at LePage.
"We're excited to get it going," said Warriors head coach and GM Rylan Ferster. "Obviously we are going to play a great team but we knew we were going to be doing that whether we were playing Merritt or whether we were playing Vernon."
The Warriors (35-15-3-5) won their last four games of the regular season to finish in a tie for top spot with the Penticton Vees (36-16-2-4) but because they had more wins, the Vees were awarded first.
[T]he Warriors closed out the regular season with an 8-3 win over Trail Saturday.
David Pope led the way with two goals and an assist, giving him a team-high 27 goals on the season.
And I'll leave you with these Twitter notes:
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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.