The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/15/13 at 11:28 AM ET
Updated 12x at 4:20 PM: Gustav Nyquist has been recalled, Khan says another Wings forward is banged-up: The Detroit Red Wings are preparing to face off against the Anaheim Ducks tonight (7:30 PM, FSD/Prime Ticket/and as noted by @eyesris on Twitter, the NHL Network will no longer cover tonight's game, so yay, no Center Ice/GameCenter Live blackout!/97.1 FM) , and the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness reports that the Wings are doing so under some noticeably watchful eyes (who will be signing autographs from 12-1:30 PM at 97.1 FM's SportsFest tomorrow in Novi):
So no gnus is no gnus on the injury front, as we were told to expect yesterday...
97.1 FM's Ken Kal's in factoid Tweet mode...
The Red Wings' game-day blog is setting up tonight's tilt as well:
On This Day in Red Wings History...On February 15, 2012
Hockey fans and analysts around the country were buzzing the day after the Red Wings broke an NHL record with their 21st consecutive home win against the Dallas Stars.
Wings Aim to Tame Peaking Ducks: The Red Wings have been hot lately, totaling 7 points in their last 4 games, but it's the suddenly surging Ducks who have made waves across the league as the NHL's surprise team so far. Anaheim has the second-best record in the NHL a quarter of the way through this truncated season.
Yes, the same Anaheim Ducks team that missed the playoffs by 15 points last season are 9-2-1, but the Wings have found their stride as of late and will look to continue their winning ways tonight at The Joe.
Ditto for the team's Twitter account:
As an FYI...
And tomorrow is an important day, too, as noted by Michigan Hockey--it's "Hockey Day in Michigan," and this weekend is "Hockey Day Across America":
In the prospect department, the Halfiax Metro News's Andrew Rankin spoke to top Wings prospect and Halifax Mooseheads winger Martin Frk about self-inflicted pressure...
When Martin Frk signed a three-year entry level contract with the Detroit Red Wings last July he immediately felt the weight of the world on his shoulders.
“All I could think about was trying to get to the NHL,” said the 19-year-old Czech Republic forward. “I put so much pressure on myself.”
It translated on the ice. The right winger struggled to find his offensive game, scoring just three times in his first 11 outings this season. After starting the campaign on the first line with Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin, Frk also found himself demoted to second and third line duties.
Mooseheads’ head coach Dominique Ducharme and Detroit Red Wings management then reached out to the six-foot 203-pounder.
“They said don’t put too much pressure on yourself, smile and have fun and everything will come, and keep on working hard,” he said. Now I think only about Halifax.”
Frk eventually found his way back on the top line. He’s also gone on to set career highs in goals (23) and assists (36) this season. A 14-game point streak also just ended in Tuesday’s 7-0 win over the P.E.I. Rocket. All along Ducharme knew he had it in him.
“He can skate, he’s got great hands, an unbelievable shot, he’s strong and strong on the puck,” said Ducharme. “He’s a world class player. He’s got a shot to make the NHL and to be a good NHL player.”
And the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner pondered the state of the Griffins given that they've lost so many of their best players to injury-induced recalls from the Red Wings:
Recalls and returns are commonplace, but it’s the amount that speaks to the injuries and needs in Detroit. Since the first week of January, there have been eight players from the Griffins recalled to the NHL, seven of them to Detroit. Some had a brief stay, but five remain with Red Wings.
“I think this is the way it’s going to be the rest of the way, so we better not have too much of an adjustment period,” [Griffins coach] Blashill said in addressing some early moves in late January.
The Griffins (27-26-2-2) host Lake Erie (24-18-2-5) 7 tonight at Van Andel Arena. Here is the list of players who started the season in Grand Rapids but currently in Detroit:
Defenseman Brendan Smith (recalled Jan. 6)
Circumstance: He was in the Red Wings’ plans all along, and headed to Detroit immediately after NHL labor deal struck.
With Griffins: 32 games, 5 goals, 15 assists, 9 plus-minus
With Red Wings (currently injured): 8 games, 0 goals, 1 assist, 4 plus-minus
Defenseman Brian Lashoff (recalled Jan. 21)
Circumstance: Recalled after Jonathan Ericsson injured in the Red Wings’ season opener.
With Griffins: 36 games, 2 goals, 4 assists, 4 plus-minus
With Red Wings: 9 games, 1 goal, 0 assists, -4 plus-minus
Forward Tomas Tatar (recalled Feb. 3)
Circumstance: The Red Wings were looking for some offensive spark.
With Griffins: 44 games, 19 goals, 20 assists, 13 plus-minus
With Red Wings: 5 games, 1 goal, 1 assist, 1 plus-minus
Goalie Petr Mrazek (recalled Feb. 3)
Circumstance: The Red Wings switched Tom McCollum with Mrazek as backup to Jimmy Howard while Jonas Gustavsson, who was signed in the offseason to backup Howard, heals from a groin injury.
With Griffins: 25 games, 2.26 GAA, .916 save percentage
With Red Wings: 1 game, 1 goal allowed, .963 save percentage
Forward Joakim Andersson (recalled Feb. 8)
Circumstance: The Red Wings were looking for extra forward who could penalty kill with Todd Bertuzzi nursing a sore back.
With Griffins: 36 games, 10 goals, 17 assists, 1 plus-minus
With Red Wings: 3 games, zero points, zero plus-minus
Two other Griffins have also been with the Red Wings and been returned. Goalie Tom McCollum has been up twice, but not played, and forward Gustav Nyquist played one game (Jan. 22) as the Red Wings wanted a body with Mikael Samuelsson ailing.
As Wallner notes, the Griffins lost Mike Knuble to the Philadelphia Flyers, too, and the team was expecting to see Joey MacDonald join the team as a goaltending reinforcement, but he was plucked off the waiver wire by the Calgary Flames.
Update #3: Via RedWingsFeed, the Windsor Star's Bob Duff posted clips of Wngs coach Mike Babcock's game-day presser....
And Lidstrom speaking to the media...
And from the Ducks' side of the ice...
BIGGY UPDATE: From the Wings:
Update #5: Urgh, per MLive's Ansar Khan:
General manager Ken Holland said a player, whom he wouldn't identify, is hurting. The club won't know until later this afternoon if that player is available.
Johan Franzen (hip flexor), Darren Helm (back), Mikael Samuelsson (groin) and Jan Mursak (collar bone) already are out, among the forwards.
Nyquist, 23, currently leads the Griffins and is tied for fourth in AHL scoring with 45 points (17 goals, 28 assists) in 47 games. This is Nyquist’'s second stint with the Red Wings this season. He was in uniform for Detroit’'s home opener on Jan. 22 vs. the Dallas Stars and recorded two shots on goal in 11:42 before being reassigned to Grand Rapids.
In 19 career NHL games with the Red Wings, Nyquist has one goal and six assists.
Update #5.5: Sigh, per the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness:
According to Wings general manager Ken Holland, there is another forward that’s hurting for the Red Wings, but it won’t be known who until the pre-game skate.
In case that player can’t play, the Wings recalled Gustav Nyquist from Grand Rapids.
Friday’s morning skate was optional.
First it was the blue line that was hit with injuries and now it’s the forwards. The Wings are already missing Johan Franzen (hip flexor), Todd Bertuzzi (back), Darren Helm (back), Mikael Samuelsson (groin) and Jan Mursak (shoulder).
Update #6: The Detroit Free Press's George Sipple provides us with our first Lidstrom article:
From the bench at Joe Louis Arena, retired stars Nicklas Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom watched the Detroit Red Wings skate this morning.
"I just said to Homer and Nick in the hallway, 'I should have loved you guys more when you were here,'" Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "I miss them so much -- the puck getting through from the point all the time and Homer always getting the puck back."
Lidstrom misses being around his former teammates but not all the work it takes to play at the high level he did for two decades.
"It's fun watching," Lidstrom said of the NHL. "I know fun it is playing it. But I also know what it takes to be there, and that's something -- I can't be up to that level of play where I want to be. That was the main reason I retired, and that's why I'm still retired."
The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness penned the second one...
“I just saw Homer and Nick in the hallway and told them, ‘I should have loved you more when you were here,’” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I miss them so much, the puck gets through the point all the time and Homer got the puck back. Everyone talked about Homer and his ability to tip the puck, but he got it back like no man alive. I even told him when you were yelling at me and I was yelling back it was just me sharing the love. But he said he old lady won’t let him come back.”
Lidstrom said he doesn’t miss the day-to-day grind of practicing, but he does miss playing.
“I miss being in the locker room, being around the guys and I miss the game situations too,” Lidstrom said. “When you’re watching the game and it’s the heat of the moment as a player that’s where you want to be.”
“It’s such a different pace when you have your usual routine of going down to the practice rink or playing games, being used to travelling all the time,” Lidstrom added. “It’s a slower pace, but I’m enjoying retirement.”
Pleiness also spoke to Jordin Tootoo about playing in his 500th game...
“Seems like yesterday when I started out in the league,” Tootoo said after Friday morning. “But I feel great after all of the years of battling in the corners and what not. It’s just another game for me.”
Tootoo signed a three-year deal this offseason with the Wings with $1.9 million a season. He said playing in his first NHL game is probably is best memory so far.
“It was a huge milestone for me, but you know, you come to practices, you come to games, you prepare for whatever’s thrown at you and after all of these years I’m very fortunate for what the opportunity for what I’ve been able to do, and I’m just happy to be a part of a special team,” Tootoo said.
And the Windsor Star's Bob Duff spoke to Niklas Kronwall about the Ducks' goalie, Viktor Fasth, and offered injury updates as well:
“I know him a little bit,” said Kronwall, likely to face his old teammate when the Wings and Ducks square off Friday at Joe Louis Arena. “I played with him at the worlds last year. Obviously I’ve been following his play back home for a few more years through the internet and newspapers. It’s a pretty cool story to come over here at that age. I know he wanted to come over here a year ago, but he didn’t really get the deal he wanted and they had a newborn, so that made him stick around for another year. He had another tremendous year at home and this year he was really ready for it, and it’s shown on the ice. He’s been just as stellar as anybody.”
The Wings are getting closer to suiting up their own Swedish newcomer in net. Former Toronto Maple Leaf Jonas Gustavsson, signed as a free agent last summer but out all season due to a groin ailment, thinks he’s nearing a return to action.
“I feel good, my body feels good,” Gustavsson said. “Right now it’s just about me trying to catch up with the other guys. That’s what I’ve been doing. It’s tough to say when I’ll play my first game, but I feel healthy. Now it’s just about finding the rhythm and the timing out there on the ice. I feel like it’s coming. But it’s tough right now because of the different season.”
Likewise left-winger Mikael Samuelsson, another off-season addition idled since training camp by groin issues, thinks he’ll be back in action soon.
“I’m going harder and harder,” Samuelsson said. “I’m getting closer to being there. There’s no hurdle (in terms of injury). It’s just about getting in shape.”
Red Wings right-winger Jordin Tootoo will play his 500th NHL game Friday and admits it’s a little hard to believe.
“It seems like yesterday when I started out in the league,” Tootoo said. “But I feel great after all of the years of battling in the corners and what not. It’s just another game for me.”
As for ESPN's Pierre LeBrun's suggestion that Jim Nill might bolt...
Jim Nill, Detroit Red Wings: Now in his 15th season as assistant GM in Detroit, he's been GM material for a long time. And it just so happens that his contract will soon begin to present itself with annual six-week "out windows" when he can entertain GM offers from other teams, a source told ESPN.com. The first window comes this summer. With five Stanley Cup rings and a long list of late-draft gems on his resume, Nill is a top-notch candidate in waiting. It would have to be the right fit for him to leave Detroit, where he's happy and loyal to the Illitch family, but it's a possibility. You can't go wrong if you name Nill as your GM. He'd be a superstar hire.
I don't see him leaving. Not yet.
Update #7: Someow, I don't believe him. Lidstrom told the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan that the lockout didn't factor into his decision to retire:
"I miss being in the locker room and being with the guys, and I miss the game situations, too," Lidstrom said. "When you're watching the games and the heat of the moment, and the playing, that's what I miss. The day in and day out grind of practicing, and all that, I don't miss a whole lot. Being out there and playing in front of 20,000 people, and the intensity of the game and the crowd, I miss that."
Lidstrom hasn't been tempted to make a return.
"Not to the point where I do this, come back," Lidstrom said. "I know how much fun playing is, but I also know what it takes to be there (on the ice) and that's something I can't do, be up to that level of play where I want to be and that's the reason I retired and I'm still retired."
Even in hindsight, had Lidstrom known the four-month lockout and the resulting shortened season would have taken place, he would not have played one more season.
"I still had my mind made up," Lidstrom said. "If you come back and play in a shortened season, it's easier even though it's a lot more intense, but it's easier when it's a shortened season. But you have to stay in shape to play at this level, too. Even I knew there would have been a lockout, my decision was made."
Lidstrom is appearing along with Holmstrom at an autograph signing for radio station 97.1 The Ticket this weekend.
Update #8: The Orange County Register's Eric Stephens has filed his morning skate report:
Here is the expected lineup that the Ducks (9-2-1) will ice on Friday night against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. Viktor Fasth (6-0-0, 1.74 GAA, .933 SV%) will start his third consecutive game. Forwards Peter Holland and Patrick Maroon, both recalled from Norfolk of the AHL on Wednesday, are expected to be in the lineup. Defenseman Cam Fowler (upper body) remains on injured reserve and will miss his sixth consecutive game.
Kyle Palmieri-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Bobby Ryan-Peter Holland-Teemu Selanne
Andrew Cogliano-Saku Koivu-Daniel Winnik
Patrick Maroon-Nick Bonino-Matt Beleskey
Sheldon Souray-Francois Beauchemin
Luca Sbisa-Toni Lydman
Bryan Allen-Ben Lovejoy
On the Red Wings' side of things, Ken Kal offers "three keys to the game":
Be Strong on Power Play - Anaheim's PK has really struggled this year, so the Wings have to take advantage of the PP opportunities when they get them.
Skate Hard, Short Shifts - Ice time needs to be distributed among all four lines and all players must contribute. The top guys played a lot of minutes last game, so concentrate on short shifts and playing hard.
Take Care of the Puck - The Wings need to limit their turnovers, especially in the neutral zone, to avoid odd man rushes on Jimmy Howard.
If you're interested, USA Today's Kevin Allen spoke to WDFN's Matt Sheppard about the Wings, too:
Update #12: It took until 4:10 PM for the Wings to post their game-day video:
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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.