The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/22/13 at 06:33 PM ET
Between me ferrying the mom to the tax man (good news on that front, we're getting $$ back) and getting back here, a second slate of game-day updates (not involving Ken Holland's stance on trades) hit the wires ahead of tonight's game between the Red Wings and Ducks (10 PM EDT, FSD/NHL Network U.S./NHL Network Canada/WXYT AM):
We'll start with the Ducks' side of the story, per AnaheimDucks.com's Kyle Shohara:
The Ducks battle Detroit at home for the first time this season, and an amped-up crowd is expected to fill Honda Center tonight and Sunday.
[Corey] Perry: “Any time Detroit is in here, it’s always a pretty good crowd. They have a lot of fans who follow them, and rightfully so. It’s a big two points for us tonight. We’re trying to separate ourselves from the teams below us. We’ve got to keep pushing and keep looking ahead.”
Bruce Boudreau was asked whether he’s concerned about a letdown following the victory over Chicago two nights ago: “We’re playing Detroit. We’re not playing a bag of beans here,” he said. “These guys are the best team the last two decades, every year.
“What bugs me is they’re coming off a loss. They’ve won two in a row on the road, and if you look at them all year, when you think they’re down, all of a sudden they win three or four in a row. They’ve got that kind of team and that kind of coaching and that kind of organization. The minute anybody on our team takes Detroit too lightly is the minute they won’t be playing.”
Perry – Getzlaf – Ryan
Palmieri – Holland – Selanne
Cogliano – Koivu – Winnik
Beleskey – Steckel – Etem
Souray – Beauchemin
Allen – Sbisa
Fowler – Lydman
And NHL.com's Curtis Zupke:
Corey Perry watched his Anaheim Ducks play the Chicago Blackhawks from the locker room Wednesday and he acknowledged it wasn't the greatest feeling.
"It was tough," Perry said. "The best team in the League -- obviously you want to be out there helping your team win."
Perry returns Friday against the Detroit Red Wings after a four-game suspension resulting from his hit on Jason Zucker of the Minnesota Wild. The fourth game happened to be the biggest regular season game in recent franchise history. But the Ducks pulled out a 4-2 win to go 3-0-1 without the former Hart Trophy winner.
It also will be Perry's first game since he signed an eight-year, $69 million contract extension. Longtime linemate Ryan Getzlaf said, "Anytime he's been out for any length of time he's come back and made a statement. We're looking forward to tonight" against the Red Wings.
Getzlaf is recovered from flu symptoms. It was no surprise the top line of Getzlaf, Perry and Bobby Ryan were back together at the morning skate. It's difficult to get back up emotionally after a game like Wednesday, but rival Detroit takes that out of the equation.
"We're not playing a bag of beans here," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. "These guys are the best team the last two decades every year. What bugs me is they're coming off a loss. And they've won two in a row on the road, and if you look at Detroit, all year, it seems like when you think that they're down, all of a sudden they win three or four in a row. They've got that kind of team, that kind of coaching and that kind of organization. The minute anybody on our team takes Detroit lightly is the minute they won't be playing."
Again, the Wings shook up their lines a bit, and Patrick Eaves is in...Though we don't know who will sit out to make room for him (I'm not on the "assume it's Nyquist!" train)...
Valtteri Filppula – Henrik Zetterberg – Daniel Cleary
Justin Abdelkader – Pavel Datsyuk – Johan Franzen
Patrick Eaves/Gustav Nyquist – Joakim Andersson – Damien Brunner
Drew Miller – Cory Emmerton – Jordin Tootoo
Niklas Kronwall – Jonathan Ericsson
Brian Lashoff – Brendan Smith
Jakub Kindl – Ian White
The Red Wings' Game Day Blog believes that Nyquist will play in offering a "morning skate update"...
Todd Bertuzzi was back on the ice this morning for the first time since his back injury.
Patrick Eaves will return tonight after missing a game with a sprained jaw.
Jimmy Howard will start in net tonight.
Drew Miller will play on the second line with Zetterberg and Filppula.
Damien Brunner will play with Joakim Andersson and Dany Cleary.
Gustav Nyquist will be in the lineup for his second straight game.
Ken Kal offers his Keys to the Game...
Come Ready to Play - Anaheim has one of the best home records in the NHL. They'll be ready to go; Detroit needs to match the Ducks' intensity.
Need Solid Goaltending - The Ducks have 4 solid lines and they can all score. Howard or Gustavsson will be called upon to make big saves.
Stay Out of the Box - Anaheim has the best Power Play in the league. If a penalty is taken, the PK will need to be sharp.
This "Day in Red Wings History" memory brings warm fuzzies...
On March 22, 2010: Jimmy Howard scrapped with Sidney Crosby and Zetterberg scored twice in a 3-1 win over the Penguins!
And, via RedWingsFeed, here's the Wings website's game-day preview video:
As the Free Press's Helene St. James noted, Wings coach Mike Babcock lamented Darren Helm's absence during the team's four-game road trip...
"Helmer, to me, is a top-four forward on this team, to me," Babcock said.
That's a hefty statement considering that, given Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are obviously the top two, that means Babcock's third is either Damien Brunner, Valtteri Filppula or Johan Franzen, with two of those guys bumped in favor of Helm.
The fact is, though, Helm isn't coming back any time soon. Hopes that he might play Wednesday in the Minnesota game after skating for several weeks were derailed when his lower back seized up on the red-eye home from Vancouver Saturday to Sunday. Helm isn't even on this trip.
"He's rehabbing," general manager Ken Holland said. "His feeling is that he spent a lot of time on the plane the last time going to Western Canada. He felt great going out there, but five hours on the plane back, his back seized up. We'll see how he is early in the week. I mean, obviously if he feels great we can always get him out, but to fly out here five hours and then fly five hours back next week - he didn't want to put his back through that again. Obviously, it's a setback."
On the upside, Todd Bertuzzi is on the trip, and he made a surprise appearance at the morning skate, skating a few laps earlier than expected. He isn't close to playing, and "we don't want to get too excited," Holland said, "but certainly just that he made the trip and feels good enough to go with us is a major step."
Babcock said Patrick Eaves will play tonight when the Wings take on the Ducks at Honda Center (10 p.m., FSD, NHLN). Eaves missed one game nursing a sore jaw after being hit by a puck. Eaves will wear protective gear to guard against re-aggravating the injury.
Babcock wasn't sure who he'd scratch to make room for Eaves. Babcock is considering using Daniel Cleary on a line with Henrik Zetterberg and moving Damien Brunner down to the third line, depending on whether Babcock deems the Wings need to be heavier against the big Ducks.
MLive's Ansar Khan noted that Holland isn't ruling Helm out for the San Jose game, and he reports that Kyle Quincey will find out whether he'll need surgery on Monday.
Here's the rest of what Babcock had to say about Helm and his injured forwards...
Babcock gave Helm high praise Friday, saying, “Helmer, to me, is a top-four forward on this team.''
He added, “Bert and Helmer and Sammy (Mikael Samuelsson) have been on our roster, but I haven't seen them. It would be like a trade-deadline deal (getting one or two back). It would be unbelievable to have them. We're not the biggest team in the league, but if you put Helmer on the third line, with Bert and Sammy. … Come on, it's like a pipe dream. They're not playing (anytime soon). Well, we're staying at Disneyland, so fantasy is not a bad thing to talk about.''
Regarding Todd Bertuzzi's twirl on the ice during practice, the Wings aren't expectating a miraculous comeback...
“It was great seeing him back out there, even if it was for just (a short time),'' Howard said. “We definitely missed him on the ice. His presence out there can't be denied, whether it's on the power play or five-on-five; playing with Pav, they made a great combination.''
Said general manager Ken Holland: “I don't want to get too excited, but just that he made the trip and feels good enough to go with us is a major step.''
And in terms of today's lineup tweaks...
Babcock said he might use Daniel Cleary in place of Damien Brunner on the line with Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula. It's not because Brunner hasn't scored a goal in 11 games; he doesn't want Brunner to be matched up against Anaheim's top line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan.
“We'll see what the matchups are,'' Babcock said. “If I need to get heavier I'm going to move Cleary there. If I don't need to, I'm not going to.''
If Cleary plays with Zetterberg, Brunner will play with Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist. The other lines will have Pavel Datsyuk centering Justin Abdelkader and Johan Franzen and Cory Emmerton centering Drew Miller and Eaves (unless Tootoo replaces somebody). Babcock said he'll go with the same six defensemen but hasn't decided how he'll pair them.
In other news, the Grand Rapids Press's John Agar told us that Gustav Nyquist's first NHL goal puck was swiped from a storage unit as an inside job, and this evening, Agar reports that the investigation is progressing:
The Sheriff’s Department expects to make arrests in the theft of property, including the puck of Detroit Red Wing Gustav Nyquist’s first NHL goal, at a Comstock Park storage company.
“We have some people that are suspects,” Undersheriff Jon Hess said Friday, March 22.
He said police released information about the thefts in the hope that those who use Evergreen Storage, at 4000 Alpine Ave. NW., will check on their belongings. Police have recovered stolen property during the course of the investigation. Police think that former workers at Evergreen Storage are behind the thefts. Police say they had an “unauthorized auction” to dispose of some of the property.
Hess didn’t set a timetable for arrests.
Meanwhile, the Sheriff’s Department released a photograph of the puck and display stolen from Nyquist's storage unit.
Those with property at Evergreen Storage are advised to inspect their storage units. If anything is missing, police asked that victims compile a list, including a description and value for each item, and any receipts or letters from Evergreen Storage.
Police asked that the information be emailed to Detective Bill Marks, who is in charge of the investigation, to firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the Sheriff’s Department at 632-6125.
In prospect news, Nick Jensen and the Saint Cloud State University Huskies lost a 4-1 decision to Wisconsin in the WCHA playoff semifinals. Jensen had an assist on the Huskies' only goal.
Ben Marshall and the University of Minnesota will tangle with Colorado College in the other WCHA semifinal, which starts at 8:05 PM EDT, and it will air on Fox College Sports Central;
NCAA hockey is coming to Grand Rapids, as Van Andel Arena will host the West Regional of the 2013 NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament on March 29 and 30! Four of college hockey’s top teams will compete in West Michigan to secure a spot in next month’s Frozen Four in Pittsburgh, and fans can purchase a two-day, three-game pass for just $65 by clicking here. Several Griffins have participated in the NCAA tournament, and we’ll highlight their experiences throughout March.
Not many schools have a longer hockey history than the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, but they never had much to show for their efforts since the late ‘60s, when they revived a program that had operated from 1912-27. The school didn’t appear in the NCAA tournament until 2004, and it was unsuccessful in advancing to the Frozen Four until 2008. But recent success has paved the way for the program to make appearances on a more regular basis, says current Grand Rapids Griffins center Riley Sheahan.
“I think it’s helped the program,” said Sheahan, who played three seasons with the Fighting Irish from 2009-12. “This year they went on a really good run. The big thing in college hockey is the experience. If you have guys who have been on that high stage before, it definitely helps.”
Led by another Griffins connection in goaltender Jordan Pearce, the Fighting Irish came into the NCAA tournament as the top seed in 2008, when they lost in the finals to Boston College. The next year, they landed a regional appearance in Grand Rapids as the top seed, in the tournament's most recent visit to Van Andel Arena. They were upset by a Cinderella Bemidji State team, but expectations grew the following season.
Sheahan said the Fighting Irish failed to deliver during his freshman season, though, leading a very young team into uncertain waters as a sophomore. “Going into the season, I don’t think we were on the radar,” said Sheahan. “We were underdogs and we had 12 freshmen. I think the attitude we had was just to have some fun. We didn’t have too much pressure on us, so it was more or less a relaxed environment.”
Notre Dame reclaimed its spot among the nation’s elite teams in 2010-11. Unlike basketball’s March Madness, which invites 68 teams to its tournament, hockey only allows 16. Winning your conference is the easiest way to get in, but the Fighting Irish fell flat in the CCHA playoffs. Still, they found a spot in the NCAA tournament based on their regular season success.
“We started to believe in ourselves once we started playing teams that we knew were competitive,” said Sheahan. “Once we got to that point, we really buckled down. We realized we could do some damage in the tournament. Even though we lost both games in the CCHA tournament, we earned a berth from our season ranking and wanted to take advantage of that.”
Notre Dame upset Merrimack in overtime to open the tournament, and Sheahan helped the team secure its spot in the Frozen Four with two assists in a 2-1 win over New Hampshire in the regional final.
“It’s kind of intimidating, especially having a younger roster,” said Sheahan. “But it was something we experienced the whole year, so it wasn’t too much of a burden.”
In prospect news of a different kind, from the Wings' website and NHL.com:
Sean Day, a 15-year-old defenseman with the Compuware Under-16 hockey team, was granted exceptional player status by Hockey Canada on Thursday.
The decision makes Day eligible for the 2013 Ontario Hockey League draft; usually the draft is restricted to 16-year-olds.
The 6-foot-2, 194-pound blueliner has three goals and eight assists in 25 games this season with Compuware. Day was born in Belgium to Canadian parents, but currently lives in Rochester, Mich., and has played his minor hockey in the Detroit area, with the Little Caesars and Honeybaked programs before switching to Compuware this season.
"Sean Day should be very proud of himself in attaining exceptional player status," Ontario Hockey Federation executive director Phillip McKee said. "The evaluation process is very extensive and reviews all aspects of the player's life. We all look forward to seeing Sean continue his development as a player and person in the OHL next season."
Exceptional player status is determined by a special panel assembled by Hockey Canada to evaluate all aspects of Day's on- and off-ice abilities and maturity.
And in semi-charitable news, from the Saginaw News's Heather Jordan:
The students at Saginaw Township’s Westdale Elementary School hopped like frogs, crawled like crabs and learned about nutrition during the school’s first health and wellness day, which concluded with a Detroit Red Wings assembly featuring former player Kris Draper.
“I love this day,” second-grader Alex Hunter said of the school-wide event on Friday, March 22.
Principal Karen Volk said the idea for the event was inspired by the ongoing national conversation about childhood obesity and Michelle Obama’s work to bring light to the issue.
Kari Keith, who teaches young fives, and physical education teacher Melissa Bordeaux organized the event and found people from the community to come in and lead sessions on health, fitness, safety and nutrition.
“Karen had the idea and when school started in the fall we started talking about it,” Keith said. “...We have two aerobics instructors, we have several runners (among the staff) and we thought, how can we bring our passion to the kids?”
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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.