Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Ducks set-up and overnight report: earlier-season gaffes make wins against Ducks essential

The Detroit Red Wings begin a strange of road-and-still-on-the-road games against the Anaheim Ducks tonight (10 PM EDT, FSD/Prime Ticket/NHL Network U.S., NHL Network Canada, Center Ice-GCL blackout included/1270 AM) in more than a bit of a pickle.

The Ducks 22-3-and-4 Ducks sit all of 3 points behind the league-leading Blackhawks (after defeating Chicago 4-2 on Wednesday night), they'll welcome Corey Perry back into the lineup tonight as he's finished serving a 4-game suspension, and then there's this lovely stat to deal with...

But the Red Wings, who negated the progress made during their Western Canadian road trip by dropping a 4-2 decision to Minnesota on Wednesday, are essentially out of games to "blow"...

Heading into a pair of games in Anaheim, a back-to-back tilt against Phoenix on Monday and a game against San Jose next Thursday the 28th, all before wrapping up March and beginning April with home games against the aforementioned Blackhawks and the pain-in-the-Wings'-side Avs.

Tough schedule ahead? Yes indeedy, but the 14-11-and-5 Wings' 33 points are good for all of 7th place in the Western Conference, and the Sharks (1 point behind), Stars (2 points behind) Blue Jackets (3 points behind), Coyotes (3 points behind), Predators (3 points behind), Oilers (4 points behind) and even the 14th-place Flames and 15th-place Avs (both 7 points behind the Wings) could all make the Red Wings' uphill climb toward the playoffs a nearly vertical one if the Wings don't head into Phoenix with at least two points in their back pocket (and preferably three).

With 18 games remaining, the Wings will need to earn anywhere from 21-25 points to earn a playoff spot without any "help" from other teams, and given the team's inconsistencies against the Blue Jackets, Flames and any other opponent/game that you can look back upon and think, "Gee, the Wings really blew a game they could've won here"--like Wednesday's game against Minnesota--and earning more than a point per game played over the remainder of the Wings' schedule might not be as easy a task as the Wings think it will be.

In terms of setting up tonight's game, getting the Ducks' perspective was all but impossible because their Thursday practice was an optional one, and it received the following attention:

Cogliano didn't miss a shift, and he shrugged off the injury while speaking to AnaheimDucks.com's Adam Brady:

Said Cogliano, “It was one of those games where you put so much into it. That was probably one of the most high-paced, intense games I’ve been in for awhile – or ever. I was so into the game, our line was playing well and it was a close game. I just made sure there were no cuts or stitches, and I wanted to come back and finish it off. I don’t think anyone wanted to leave that game.”

Cogliano visited the dentist this afternoon to “get a few things cleaned up.” That appointment will cause him to miss a charity bowling event with the Ducks Die Hards booster club, which led him to record [an] apologetic video.

“Eventually, the doctor will reserve the roots. I’ll have a flipper in until I’m done with hockey because there is no point in putting in fake ones now. If you get hit again, it’s even more of a disaster.”

Ironically, Cogliano had been wearing a mouth guard for most of the game, but for some reason took it out for the third period. “It was sitting on the bench, and Getzy pointed at it and said, ‘Your mouth guard is there’ and I said, ‘Yeah, don’t worry about it.’ Nice timing.”

You can pretty much guarantee Cogliano will be in the lineup for tomorrow night’s game against Detroit at Honda Center. The 25-year-old has never missed a game in his six seasons with Edmonton and Anaheim, a string of 439 straight games that is the third-longest active streak in the NHL.

“This season has gone so well for everyone and I feel so good out there,” said Cogliano, who has 10 goals, including a tying tally late in regulation to help beat those same Blackhawks last month in Chicago. “I feel like the line I’m on is creating a lot and we’re big parts of the team. You take pride. I’m a guy who likes to skate, who likes to go out on the ice and be around the guys at the rink. That’s been even heightened this year by how we’re doing.”

The Ducks were understandably thrilled about pulling off a comeback win against Chicago on Wednesday, and the AP's recap of said game notes that Teemu Selanne and Ryan Getzlaf led the way for Anaheim...

Getzlaf set up Bobby Ryan's tying goal and Selanne's tiebreaker 1:04 apart in the waning minutes, and the Ducks rallied for a 4-2 victory over Chicago in a meeting of the NHL's top two teams.

Jonas Hiller stopped 22 shots, and Peter Holland and Sheldon Souray scored as the Ducks extended their franchise-record home winning streak to 13 games in dramatic fashion. Anaheim (22-3-4) pulled within three points of Chicago atop the overall NHL standings by dealing the Blackhawks just their third regulation loss of the season.

"It means a lot," said Ryan, who scored his ninth goal of the season. "They've made a statement to run away with it so far, and we've quietly just gone about our business. To be three points back with a game in hand is huge. ... It's been a fun ride to be a part of, and I hope it continues."

Getzlaf could barely get out of bed with a case of the flu, lasting just five minutes at the morning skate and taking only one faceoff during the game. The Anaheim captain still delivered two remarkable assists in pressure-packed moments to hand Chicago its third regulation loss in six games after its 21-0-3 start to the season.

"He's playing an MVP season right now, and it's fun to watch," Selanne said.

Getzlaf first fed Ryan on a rush for the tying goal with 5:27 to play before setting up the 42-year-old Selanne for his 670th career goal with 4:23 left, ending a nine-game drought for the "Finnish Flash." Souray added an empty-net goal in the final minute for Anaheim, which has earned points in 12 straight games (9-0-3).

"We don't expect to come back, but we always think we can," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We've got great leadership. Everybody knows their role, and everybody played it."

I suppose we ought to get the game's narrative in here somewhere, and the Orange County Register's Eric Stephens provides just that:

In an anticipated matchup of the NHL's two top teams Wednesday night, Bobby Ryan and Teemu Selanne scored 64 seconds apart and the Ducks rallied for a 4-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Ryan and Selanne scored in the final 5:27 off plays set up by Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf while Sheldon Souray added an empty-net goal before 17,610 at Honda Center, the largest announced crowd in franchise history.

The Ducks (22-3-4) extended their franchise-record home winning streak to 13 games while also beating NHL-leading Chicago for the second time in as many meetings this season. Jonas Hiller stopped 22 shots and assisted on Souray's empty-netter.

Ryan finished off a rebound created by Getzlaf's shot at 14:33 of the third and Selanne broke a nine-game scoring drought by putting a pass from their captain by Chicago goalie Corey Crawford.

It didn't take long for the Ducks to strike. Luca Sbisa nearly scored off Daniel Winnik's pass early on, but Peter Holland jumped on the rebound off the end boards and put it in for his third goal of the season at 1:24 of the first period.

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews erased that brief Ducks lead just 2:28 later. With Brandon Bollig in the penalty box for interference, Toews blocked Souray's point shot and steamed up ice to beat Hiller for a 1-1 tie.

Nick Leddy's power-play goal gave the Blackhawks (24-3-3) a 2-1 lead that they carried into the third period.

Bollig appeared to give Chicago a two-goal lead when Michael Frolik's pass went off his skate past Hiller, but referee Wes McCauley waved it off after a review determined that Bollig used a distinct kicking motion with his right leg.

Fox Sports West's Michael Martinez appropriately described Wednesday's Ducks win as a "statement game"...

The game very much had a playoff atmosphere, with a strong Blackhawks crowd that at times seemed to outnumber and out-shout Ducks fans. But they went silent as soon as Selanne scored, and they were out of their seats and headed to the parking lot when Sheldon Souray dropped in an empty-netter with 20.7 seconds remaining.

"It was pretty exciting," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "My heart rate was up a little bit there for most of the game. It looked to me just like a playoff game. We were lucky to come out on top."

But he surely must be getting used to it. The Ducks lead the league with six third-period comebacks and now have 14 come-from-behind wins, the most by any NHL team through 29 games since the 1987-88 season.

"We don't expect to come back, but we think we can," Boudreau said. "We have great leadership."

Clearly, they have also learned from their mistakes of last season. The Ducks are 12-2-2 when their opponent scores first compared to 1-11-2 through 29 games last season.

"We're just a resilient hockey club," Ryan said. "We learned a lot from last year, and it’s a lot of the same core guys that were here for that and were on the other side of it. We all had some time to think about it this summer. There's just a belief in the room that the goalies are going to stand tall in the third and you know we’re going to pepper the net, and when you go to the net, good things are going to happen."

And Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau gushed to the LA Daily News's Elliott Teaford about his team's resiliency:

"We have great leadership," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Getzlaf could barely get out of bed this afternoon with the flu and he comes in and he's not strong enough to take faceoffs and yet he still gets two assists in the last eight minutes and sets up the winning goal. That's what leadership does. It was a great way for Teemu to break out of his slump, but that's leadership. Everybody knows their role and everybody played it. I thought (Getzlaf) was going to have to get an I.V. or something (between periods), but he didn't."

Selanne's goal was his first since March 1 against the Minnesota Wild and ended a nine-game drought for the 42-year-old future Hall of Fame right wing. It also was the 670 th of his career, tying him with Bryan Trottier for 15 th place on the NHL's all-time list.

Getzlaf raced toward the net from the middle of the ice and fed Selanne, who was cutting toward Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford's net from the wing. Crawford was a nanosecond too late to stop Selanne from scoring the 107 th game-winning goal of his career.

"The third period has been our period the whole season, and we came through again," Selanne said. "I don't know about a statement (victory), but we looked at it as a test for us. I don't think we played that well, but it's very positive that we found a way to win."

The Ducks' record when trailing is downright remarkable, as the Orange County Register's Stephens noted:

Jonas Hiller stopped 22 shots and assisted on Sheldon Souray's empty-netter. The Ducks have 14 comeback victories after having 13 all of last season.

“We were talking all through the second (that) we have something really special going, especially at home right now,” Selanne said. "Let’s keep pushing forward and keep going with this streak here.”

The good times just keep rolling for Anaheim, as the Los Angeles Times' Helene Elliott suggested...

In rallying to win for the 14th time this season, the Ducks extended their point streak to 12 games (9-0-3) and their home winning streak to 13. Only twice this season have the Blackhawks lost a game they led after two periods and on both occasions they were overtaken by the Ducks, who won in a shootout, 3-2, on Feb. 12 in Chicago. The Ducks (22-3-4) are the only team that has beaten the Blackhawks (24-3-3) twice this season.

"Are we really? We'll take that," Ryan said. "The first one was the shootout and that was a heck of a game, too. That's a great hockey team over there. I'm sure we'll see them again."

A rematch in Chicago is set for March 29. A playoff rematch would be even better if it means getting to see the Blackhawks' Patrick Kane play a game-high 25 minutes and 21 seconds, double- and triple-shifted because Marian Hossa joined Patrick Sharp on the sidelines with an upper-body injury. Or see Corey Crawford hold his teammates in the game as the Ducks started fast.

But the Ducks aren't looking ahead to the playoffs. "I think we're where we want to be right now. The hockey's going to get much more competitive finishing out the year here and we're happy with where we're at but we can always keep building to be better," defenseman Cam Fowler said. "They're one of the best teams in the league and we had to fight and claw all night just to come out with the win."

And the winning streak's yielded an up-tick in fan interest in the Ducks' exploits, as Elliott pointed out:

A standing-room-only crowd of 17,610 filled Honda Center, the largest home gathering in the Ducks' history.

In addition to the Ducks' pursuit of a 13th consecutive home win, the game between the top two NHL teams marked the first time in league history that teams with such lofty records had met 25 games into the season.

On Thursday morning, the Orange County Register's Stephens noted that coach Boudreau believes that the Ducks are getting jobbed by officials on a nightly basis due to their reputation as a scrappy, dirty team:

"It boggles my mind," Boudreau said. "Every game, that we’re getting high sticked. Double minored. And we don’t get the calls. That’s one power play again (for us). One penalty (committed) against us. It’s getting kind of ridiculous."

His overall points: His Ducks are no longer the big, bad undisciplined Ducks of years past and not only are they not getting enough calls but that they've too often been on the receiving end of plays that tread the line of illegality or skip over it.

A league source said Bollig's high stick did not warrant a hearing. Boudreau also noted that center Saku Koivu was slashed by Blackhawks star Patrick Kane near the end of the game.

"Kane took a stick with one hand and [is] just wielding it like a tomahawk and hits him in the hands," he said. "Again, I understand the whole thing of who’s playing who and what’s at stake and all of that. And you don't want to give them opportunity to lose the game because we have a power play. But those are penalties. The high stick is a penalty. Wes McCauley is the best ref in the league. They've got to see this. I see it every game."

...

To this point, Boudreau has not only watched Cogliano lose several front teeth but lost Cam Fowler and Kyle Palmieri for several games because of upper-body injuries resulting from hits by the Kings' Jarret Stoll and Phoenix's Raffi Torres. Neither was penalized in those games, nor did they receive any supplementary discipline from the NHL. Palmieri also appeared to be elbowed in the head by San Jose captain Joe Thornton on Monday night, but Thornton was back in the Sharks' lineup Wednesday in Edmonton.

Meanwhile, Corey Perry just finished his four-game suspension for a questionable hit on Minnesota's Jason Zucker, which the Ducks generally thought would earn some form of discipline though not to that extent.

...

Boudreau has demanded that the Ducks play with discipline and they generally turn the other cheek but his frustration is building. The Ducks are tied for first in the NHL with a 24.4 percent conversion rate on the power play but their 82 man advantages are also tied with Boston for last. They have cut their penalties taken way down but have still had 18 more shorthanded situations.

"We’re not the same team that mouths off to all the refs," Boudreau said. "You can look. We don’t have a two-minute unsportsmanlike penalty yet this year. I would venture to guess we're at the bottom of the league in misconducts for talking. So it's not us being -- or the officials saying, 'Hey, listen if you're going to act like dinks, we're going to treat you like that.' That's not the case. It's tough because our guys are hurt. That's where we've got to draw the line a little bit."

I'm guessing that the Ducks will start Viktor Fasth against the Wings given that the Ducks defeated Detroit 5-2 on February 15th with Fasth between the pipes, but Stephens reported that the Ducks utilized the following lineup against Chicago...

Here is the expected lineup that the Ducks (21-3-4) will start with against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night at Honda Center. Jonas Hiller (10-2-3, 2.52 GAA, .911 SV%) will get the start after making 19 saves in a shootout loss to St. Louis on Saturday. Bryan Allen did not take part in the morning skate but Coach Bruce Boudreau said he is available so it is possible he could be in for the fifth consecutive game. If Allen is in, Ben Lovejoy will likely come out. Corey Perry is serving the last of his four-game suspension.

Bobby Ryan-Ryan Getzlaf-Teemu Selanne

Kyle Palmieri-Peter Holland-Emerson Etem

Daniel Winnik-Saku Koivu-Andrew Cogliano

Matt Beleskey-David Steckel-Brad Staubitz

Sheldon Souray-Francois Beauchemin

Toni Lydman-Cam Fowler

Luca Sbisa-Ben Lovejoy

Perry's return will obviously result in a shake-up of some sort, and Allen played against the Wings.

The Los Angeles Times' Lance Pugmire sets up tonight's game with a few quips...

•The Detroit game marks the return of Ducks star Corey Perry from a four-game suspension for a hit to the head of Minnesota's Jason Zucker on March 12. He has nine goals and 15 assists this season, and four goals in his last five games.

•Because of the altered post-lockout NHL schedule, the Ducks' back-to-back home games against the Red Wings mark the second time that has happened in team history. Dallas played consecutive games at Honda Center on Nov. 13 and Nov. 16, 2005.

•Because he wasn't playing in Anaheim, the Ducks reassigned left wing Brandon McMillan to minor league Norfolk.

Tonight

VS. DETROIT

When: 7.

Where: Honda Center.

On the air: TV: NHL Network; Radio: 830.

Record vs. Red Wings: 1-0.

Etc.: The Red Wings (14-11-5) have lost four of six (one by shootout).

NHL.com's Adam Kimelman offers a balanced preview...

Last 10: Detroit 5-3-2; Anaheim 7-0-3

Season series: This is the second of three games between the teams this season, and the first of two straight between the teams in Anaheim. In their previous meeting, Andrew Cogliano scored twice to help the Ducks to a 5-2 in Detroit on Feb. 15.

Big story: Can the Ducks continue their red-hot play? They've earned points in 12 straight, are 15-1-3 in 19 games and get 2011 Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry back from suspension Friday.

...

Red Wings [team scope]: Gustav Nyquist had quite a day Wednesday. Summoned from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League in the morning, he made the two-hour drive west, dressed for that night's game against the Minnesota Wild, and scored his first goal of the season.

...

Ducks [team scope]: Not that the Ducks have struggled in Perry's absence, but having one of their top forwards back in the lineup certainly makes for a good feeling. The return gives Perry something else to smile about -- besides the eight-year contract extension he signed recently. Perry is second on the Ducks with 24 points, and in 27 career games against the Red Wings, he has six goals and nine assists.

Who's hot: Red Wings star forward Pavel Datsyuk has six points in his previous five games, and while he has just one goal in 14 games, he's chipped in with 12 assists. … Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf has back-to-back two-point games, and 13 points in nine entering Friday.

Injury report: The Red Wings will be without defensemen Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) and Kyle Quincey (cheekbone), as well as forwards Darren Helm (back) and Todd Bertuzzi (back). Forward Patrick Eaves (jaw) is questionable. … Ducks forward Nick Bonino is questionable (flu).

Via RedWingsFeed, ESPN's Pierre LeBrun deems both Friday and Sunday's games the must-watch tilts of the weekend...

And the AP's preview adds stats to the mix:

The Ducks went 3-0-1 without star forward Corey Perry, who returns Friday after serving a four-game suspension for an illegal hit at Minnesota on March 12.

Getzlaf, meanwhile, has seven goals with 15 assists during a 12-game home points streak.

...

Getzlaf had two assists, Perry had a goal with an assist and Ryan also scored in Anaheim's 5-2 win at Detroit on Feb. 15. The Ducks have won two straight against the Red Wings (14-11-5) following a stretch of six losses in seven series games.

Detroit, which plays at Anaheim again Sunday, opens a four-game western trip looking for a third straight road victory. The Red Wings went 0 for 36 on the power play in the first 10 road games but have one such goal in three straight away from home.

The Red Wings, however, look to bounce back from a 4-2 home loss to Minnesota on Wednesday. Detroit managed little on 38 shots while Jimmy Howard struggled against 19. The Wild also converted two of three power-play chances after the Red Wings killed 21 of 23 penalties in the previous seven contests.

...

Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk was held without a point Wednesday, but has one goal and four assists in three road games. He has two goals and four assists in his last five at Anaheim.

The Ducks' Jonas Hiller has a 2.12 goals-against average during a seven-game home winning streak. He snapped a five-game skid to Detroit with 23 saves in a 4-0 home win March 14, 2012. Rookie Viktor Fasth, 6-0-0 with a 1.32 GAA at home, made 26 saves at Detroit last month.

The Red Wings held a Thursday afternoon practice after arriving in Anaheim, and MLive's Ansar Khan reported that coach Mike Babcock doesn't plan on making lineup changes, but he may tweak his lines:

Otherwise, we learned that the Wings brought Todd Bertuzzi along as he's got a good 3 or 4 weeks of rounding back into game shape ahead of him, and Patrick Eaves practiced with a cage on, but the team left both Darren Helm (back) and Kyle Quincey (jaw, waiting to find out if he needs surgery) in Detroit while the team will spend a total of 9 days (two travel days included) out West, with games against Phoenix on Monday and San Jose next Thursday on tap after this weekend's "on the road and still on the road" slate.

As Khan noted in his Tweet, Damien Brunner's been demoted, which Khan confirmed in article form...

Damien Brunner hasn't scored a goal in 11 games (he has four assists during that time), so coach Mike Babcock took him off of Henrik Zetterberg's line, at least for practice.

Daniel Cleary skated in Brunner's place with Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula. Brunner skated with Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist.

And Babcock told the Free Press's Helene St. James that he gave Brunner some inspirational reading material:

Mike Babcock is banking on Damien Brunner to find some inspiration in Teemu Selanne. The Detroit Red Wings will play the Anaheim Ducks on Friday and Sunday, facing, among others, fabulous 42-year-old Teemu Selanne.

"He's pretty special," Babcock said Thursday as the Wings prepared to practice at Honda Center. "I just saw he scored his 107th game winner. That's not bad. I actually gave the article to Brunner, because he just hasn't scored in 10 games. It just goes to show you, that you do score again if you just keep doing good things. Teemu is a great personality. He's a good man, he's a good in the community. He's positive every day. He likes hockey. He's remaining youthful and he can still skate and he can still flat-out score."

Brunner has gone cold the past 11 games, after scoring 10 times his first 19 games.

In terms of tonight's game, Babcock told St. James that the Wings will very happily play the spoiler's role...

All in all, Mike Babcock said he doesn't anticipate making any lineup changes for Friday's game. The Wings are looking to rebound after losing, 4-2, Wednesday to Minnesota. The Ducks meanwhile, are 22-3-4 overall and haven't lost at home in two months.

"They must be due," Babcock said. "The bottom line is, any time someone is having a streak, you'd like to be the team that stops the streak. They beat us 5-2 in our building, I think they got an empty-netter, but it was 2-2 going into the third and they were better than us. So we have to respond here tomorrow."

And Babcock told the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness that the Wings are well aware of the fact that the Ducks are on one hell of a roll:

"They’re playing good,” Babcock said. “I really like how fast they’re playing. You really got to give (Ducks general manager) Bob Murray a ton of credit because through free agency and through the guys here they’ve done a real good job.”

Anaheim beat Detroit earlier this season at Joe Louis Arena, 5-2. The game was tied 2-2 heading into the third period.

“They were better than us,” Babcock said. “We have to respond. All you have to do is look at the schedule and we’ve got 11 on the road and seven at home, so obviously seven and seven after the trip. So this is a huge trip for us, especially after dropping the game (Wednesday) at home. So any way we look at it it’s a big tilt for us.”

The Wings had a shot at snapping Chicago’s regulation win streak earlier this season, but failed.

Last thoughts on Wednesday: Babcock had his final thoughts on Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild, “It’s not like they had tons of chances. I thought our penalty kill was real rotten. We had a sorting out (problem) and then did some things we shouldn’t have on the second one. It was a simple play. Then their first goal I didn’t like. But we didn’t give up tons of chances, we gave up eight chances, which isn’t a lot, but the bottom line is the other team doesn’t have to get a whole bunch of chances when they’re ahead of you.”

The Wings also told MLive's Ansar Khan that they're wary of the Ducks...

“We have to respond tomorrow,'' Babcock said. “All you have to do is look at the schedule, we got 11 on the road and seven at home. So this is a huge trip for us, especially after dropping the game last night.''

Said forward Drew Miller: “It’s tough to lose at home, but once again, we’ve got to go back on the road and we’ve got some big points to get.''

The Ducks, getting strong goaltending from Viktor Fasth and Jonas Hiller, have allowed only 11 goals in their past eight games.

They have a balanced scoring attack, featuring seven players with seven or more goals. Ryan Getzlaf, who inked an eight-year, $66 million pact a week before Perry, leads the way with 11 goals and 35 points, bouncing back from his worst season (57 points, minus-11 rating in 82 games).

“They just keep winning, they're finding different ways to win,'' Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “Whether it's on the power play (tied for the best in the NHL), or they're just grinding teams down, it seems like.''

And Henrik Zetterberg readily admitted that the Wings' margin for error went poof thanks to their inconsistencies of late while speaking with the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:

The Red Wings flew to Anaheim Thursday for a start of a trip that will include four games in seven days. By the time they're done, the Wings will have played seven of eight games on the road. Of course, the only home game was Wednesday's 4-2 dud of a loss against Minnesota.

"There's not many home games left and we wanted to make the best of this one," forward Henrik Zetterberg said. "But we couldn't do it and there's a tough road trip coming up."

It starts with a scheduling oddity — two consecutive road games in Anaheim. The Ducks defeated Chicago Wednesday and moved to within three points (51-48) of the Blackhawks for the best record in the league. The Ducks have won seven of their last eight.

..The Red Wings conclude this road trip with games in Phoenix (Monday) and San Jose (Thursday).

"We have a long road trip and we just have to start with our first game, then move on to the next one," Zetterberg said. "That's how the schedule is. We had some stretches where we were home a lot and we're paying for that."

Quickie edit/update: The Free Press was updating its website at 1 AM for the last...8 months...But they've gone back to updating it at 4 AM. As such, the Free Press's Helene St. James' game preview gets squeezed in right here:

The Ducks are 22-3-4 overall, trailing only the Blackhawks, whom the Ducks beat earlier this week.

"They keep finding different ways to win," Niklas Kronwall said. "I think that's their strongest asset -- whether they're on the power play, or just grinding teams down. It's going to be a big challenge."

The Wings catch the Ducks just as Corey Perry returns from a four-game suspension, but the Ducks went 3-0-1 without Perry, proof of just how deep they are.

"They're great, and they work hard," Babcock said. "I like their team."

The Wings came home from last week's Canada trip on a two-game winning streak only to fall, 4-2, to Minnesota Wednesday. Babcock singled out penalty killing that he called "red rotten," but he said that overall "we didn't give up tons of chances. But the bottom line is, a team doesn't have to get a bunch of chances when they're ahead of you.'

Babcock anticipates using the same lineup tonight, partly because "it doesn't sound like I have any options." Forward Patrick Eaves, nursing a sprained jaw joint, said he wasn't sure if he'd be ready to play. Forward Todd Bertuzzi is on a trip for the first time in six weeks, having been injected with four needles' worth of treatment. "It either gets better in two weeks, or figure something else out," he said.

 

 

Red Wings notebooks: The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa penned a feature story about the Wings' player that lost a couple of teeth in the team's most recent game, one Jordin Tootoo. Some Wings fans still don't like the fact that the team signed him, but Krupa notes that Tootoo's more than a scrapper and instigator, though he plays both roles very well. Does Tootoo like fighting? Yes, yes he does...

"It's about changing the momentum of the game, creating motions out there, creating energy and lifting the bench up," he said. "There is a lot more to it than beating the (stuff) out of the other guy."

That said, there are a lot of tools in Tootoo's box, along with his hammer.

"First and foremost is making sure you are playing between the whistles and within the system," he said just before the Red Wings left for a four-game trip to the West Coast. "You've got to put the onus on yourself to make sure you know the systems, so you can help your line mates. If one guy is out of sync the object of the game can change a whole lot. For me, my foundation is being a physical presence. I think a lot of teams know when I'm out there, and if not they soon do."

But Tootoo was slated to play alongside Darren Helm to neutralize the opposition's breakout and generate turnovers while grinding opposing forwards and defensemen via relentless forechecking, and Tootoo says that's his main job...

"As a role player, you have to make sure you bring the scoring element of your game, and when you can contribute offensively, it's always a bonus," Tootoo said. "We know we can score. We can make plays. But we know we have other guys who can do that job. Our job is to play north and south, pucks in and out at the blue lines and playing a heavy game."

And Tootoo also subscribes to a different kind of relentlessness--relentless positivity. Tootoo told Krupa that being scratched for th Wings' loss against Calgary a week-and-a-half ago wasn't a slight. It was a reminder that he needs to do his job as efficiently as possible:

"For me, I take that as constructive criticism," said the player teammates and coaches call "Toots." "Sometimes I need that in my game, personally, to kind of wake me up. I say, 'Hey, look you've got to get back to the basics.' Sometimes you veer off course.That was definitely a wake-up call for me. I take it as a positive. You've just got to come to work every day and put your hard hat on."

The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan offers personnel notes regarding the team's decisions to leave Helm and Quincey in Detroit, but bring Bertuzzi along...

"We thought he would be back (Wednesday); obviously, things haven't gone good," said Babcock, who doesn't know when Helm, who has played in one game this season, will be able to resume working out.

Forward Todd Bertuzzi (back) is on the trip and has begun working out on the stationary bike.

"I see Bert there riding the bike so that's a positive thing for us and a positive thing for Bert," Babcock said.

Said Bertuzzi, who hasn't played since Feb. 7: "As long as I'm getting better and stronger every day and see improvement, I can take different steps (to getting healthy)."

And Kulfan spoke to Patrick Eaves about dodging an injury bullet after getting dinged in the jaw during Tuesday's practice, spraining both of his TMJ's (temporomandibular joints):

Eaves said the jaw is sore, and he considered himself lucky, after getting hit by a slap shot November 2011 off the stick of Nashville's Roman Josi and breaking his jaw then, leading to a concussion.

"Anytime you get hit in the face with the puck it doesn't feel good," said Eaves, who didn't have to get his jaw wired, as he did in 2011. "I dodged a big bullet by not breaking anything. Saying that, it's still pretty darn sore."

And DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose penned some noteworthy Tweets on Thursday evening:

 

 

Also of Red Wings-related note: Via RedWingsFeed, InGoal magazine posted pictures of Jimmy Howard's 2013 season mask, as painted by Ray Bishop:

The design features a Detroit icon in the ’67 Ford Mustang over the city skyline with license plate 1926, the year the Red Wings played their first game after investors purchased the players of the old Victoria Cougars.

Across the bottom edge of the mask on both sides are the numbers of legendary Wings who have had their numbers retired:

Sid Abel (#12), Gordie Howe (#9), Terry Sawchuk (#1), Ted Lindsay (#7), Alex Delvecchio (#10), and Steve Yzerman (#19)

On the backplate, often reserved by goalies for their most personal icons, is a redesigned tribute to former members of the Wings family, Brad McCrimmon, Ruslan Salei and Stefan Liv who were lost in the crash that killed the KHL’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team.

“Let’s Roll” has been on Howard’s masks for over 10 years now, and references the words of Todd Beamer of nearby Flint, MI who led the charge of passengers to attempt to retake control over United Airlines flight 93 during the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The fiercely patriotic Howard, includes the USA on the backplate alongside the recent addition “J IV” for his young son, James Russell Howard IV, whose birth made a significant impact on Howard that carried over into his game on ice, as detailed in the InGoal cover article, from our April 2012 edition.

It's a little late, but Michigan Hockey posted a photo gallery from Wednesday night's game;

n terms of trade-related news, the Hockey News's Lyle Richardson weighed in on the Wings' trade possibilities...

The Detroit Red Wings’ offensive struggles this season prompted MLive.com's Ansar Khan to suggest Buffalo’s Drew Stafford as a potential trade target.

Khan acknowledged Stafford's offensive inconsistency throughout his career, but believes his size (6-foot-2, 214 pounds), skills and right-handed shot would interest the Red Wings. He feels it would take a young roster player along with a draft pick or prospect to land Stafford.

Such a move would be risky. The Wings have $45.9 million committed to 16 players for next season, with pending free agents such as Jimmy Howard, Valtteri Filppula and Damien Brunner still to be re-signed. The two years (at $4 million per season) remaining on Stafford's contract would take a significant chunk out of next season's cap space.

The Wings are expected to be active by the trade deadline, but their targets will likely be affordable rental players rather than those carrying significant salary into next season.

This isn't necessarily Wings-related, but Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray told Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika that there simply is no trade chatter going on a week and-a-half away from the April 3rd trade deadline, and the GM's meetings didn't spurn any further trade talks:

Get 30 GMs in a room before the trade deadline, and you’re going to get some action, right? Well, not with the agenda packed, the schedule compressed and the standings bunched. There are too many buyers and not enough sellers with so many teams still in the race, and that might be the case all the way up to April 3. “I’d be surprised if a lot’s going to go on,” Murray said. “There’s really not a lot of talks going on right now. Quiet.”

On Thursday, as SI's Al Muir noted, Ken Holland spent time engaging in organizational meetings with Hockey Canada...

Both the American (yesterday) and Canadian (today) brain trusts met to further discussions ahead of Sochi. And with fans waiting for the NHL and NHLPA to commit to the 2014 games, any news/rumors that come out of those gatherings will be welcome.

Steve Yzerman, the executive director of the Canadian men’s team, convened today with his management team — St. Louis GM Doug Armstrong, Detroit GM Kenny Holland, Edmonton Oilers president Kevin Lowe, Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland and Hockey Canada vice president Brad Pascall — to discuss players contending for roster spots. Although it’s thought that as many as eight forwards and five defenseman are inked in, there’s plenty of action on the fringes that the group will have to ponder.

...

There’s no word yet on Canada’s coaching staff, although, as Bob McKenzie noted, Detroit’s Mike Babcock is expected to be named once the official Olympic commitment is made. Look for Ken Hitchcock, Joel Quenneville, Claude Julien and Paul MacLean to be in the mix for assistant spots.

In fantasy hockey news, the Hockey News's Darryl Dobbs suggests that poolies should bail on Damien Brunner...

Damien Brunner, Detroit: Here's a disturbing trend - the most ice time in his past five games is 16:25, with Saturday's ice time of 12:26 being his lowest of the season. Using that 16:25 as a threshold, prior to those five games he had been given more ice time in 17 of 24 games. He has four points in his past 10 games, so the honeymoon seems to be over. At least for this year.

In semi-fantasy hockey news, Sportsnet's Luke Fox penned a Thursday-afternoon slate of power rankings...

13 Detroit [last week 10] Unfazed by Vancouver’s white-pantsed Millionaires throwback uniforms, the Red Wings took two of three on their road swing through Western Canada, and Apple’s Siri now recognizes Pavel Datsyuk as “the magic man.”

And if you're wondering whether the Red Wings ended up signing Northern Michigan University goalie Jared Coreau, the North Wind's Cody Boyer notes that the Wings haven't done so yet, but it's all but official:

With the 2012-13 season behind them, the NMU hockey team will be losing one of their own as their first-string goaltender reached a tentative agreement with the Detroit Red Wings. NMU junior goaltender Jared Coreau has announced a decision to exit his NCAA eligibility early to sign a professional contract with the Red Wings’ AHL affiliate team, the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Coreau, who has one season of eligibility left in the NCAA, moved forward on the tentative agreement after receiving interest from six other teams, including the Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers, Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets and the San Jose Sharks.

...

According to a tweet by TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the tentative agreement has been made, but the actual signing date is to be decided.

While at NMU this season, Coreau tallied an overall record of 15-19-4, a save percentage of .919 and a goals against average of 2.70. Coreau also opened every game with NMU this season, playing in 38 games during 2012-13 while being named CCHA Warrior of the Week twice. Coreau said he was happy with the awards he received leading up to the decision to move to the Griffins.

“It was an honor to be recognized for both of those awards,” Coreau said. “It still doesn’t mean I am better than anyone else.”

On Monday, March 11, Griffins first-year head coach Jeff Blashill contacted Kyle following the Wildcats’ postseason loss against the University of Michigan in the first round of CCHA playoffs. Blashill was formerly the head coach of Western Michigan for the course of a year prior to becoming the head coach for the Red Wings’ affiliate.

...

Coreau traveled to Detroit on Tuesday, March 19 pertaining to the tentative agreement. According to The Mining Journal, Coreau could begin a professional career with the Red Wings at a later date, foregoing joining the Grand Rapids Griffins.

And finally...

 

 

 

In the prospect department:

In Finland, Teemu Pulkkinen played 13:14 and had 5 shots in Jokerit Helsinki's 5-2 loss to Lukko. Their first-round series is now tied 1-1;

In the QMJHL, Xavier Ouellet didn't register a point but finished at a +3 in the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada's 6-1 win over Acadie-Bathurst, opening their playoff series on the right note;

In the OHL, Ryan Sproul didn't register a point in the Soo Greyhounds' playoff-opening 2-1 OT loss to Owen Sound;

Alan Quine scored a goal and added 2 assists in the Belleville Bulls' playoff-opening 8-1 win over Mississauga;

And Andreas Athanasiou registered an assist in the Barrie Colts' playoff-opening 3-1 win over Kingston;

In the WHL, Richard Nedomlel didn't register a point in the Swift Current Broncos' playoff-opening 6-5 OT loss to Calgary;

And in the WCHA, Ben Marshall and the University of Minnesota will face Colorado College in the WCHA playoff semifinals at 8:05 PM EDT,  with Nick Jensen and Saint Cloud State University facing Wisconsin at 3:05 PM EDT in the other WCHA semifinal.

Sproul also received praise from Hockey's Future's Jason Menard, who named Sproul the best NHL-drafted defenseman in the OHL:

1. Ryan Sproul, Soo Greyhounds
NHL Rights: Detroit Red Wings (2nd round, 55th overall, 2011)

The 6’4” defender often makes a big impression on the ice for the Soo Greyhounds, and this year — despite an injury-delayed start to the season — he cast a big shadow on the rest of the league.

Sproul led the OHL in defensive scoring and was one of only two blueliners, along with teammate Miller, to reach 20 goals in the season. With 66 points in 50 games played, Sproul’s play turned heads throughout the league this season.

In the annual coaches poll, Sproul took home the titles for Hardest Shot and Best Offensive Defenseman. He also was the runner up in the Best Skater and Best Shot categories. In addition, he earned OHL Defenseman of the Month honors in both December and February of this season.

Sproul has shown an incredible ability to recover from seemingly devastating injuries. Last year, he returned to the lineup just seven games after suffering a broken jaw while this year, he began the early part of the season with a broken arm, causing him to miss the better part of two months and 16 regular season games.

And in the AHL, from the Grand Rapids Griffins:

The Detroit Red Wings on Thursday reassigned defenseman Gleason Fournier to the Grand Rapids Griffins from the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye.

A native of Rimouski, Quebec, Fournier has skated in 21 games with the Griffins this season, recording four points (1-3—4) and 23 penalty minutes, and in 16 games with the Walleye, showing one goal and 12 penalty minutes. Detroit’s fourth choice (90th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, the second-year pro has totaled eight points (2-6—8) and 37 penalty minutes in 34 career contests with Grand Rapids and 19 points (3-16—19) and 44 penalty minutes in 70 games with Toledo.

The Griffins return to Van Andel Arena tomorrow for the first game of a home-and-home set with the Lake Erie Monsters at 7 p.m., before traveling to Cleveland to begin a season-high seven-game road trip on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for tomorrow’s game are available at http://griffinshockey.com

.

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Comments

w2j2's avatar

Babcock should ask Barry Trotz to help coach the Canadian Olympic team.

Posted by w2j2 on 03/22/13 at 07:33 AM ET

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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.