Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Ducks set-up and overnight report: undermanned Wings welcome playoff foe to the Joe

As has become predictable, a lack of practicing yielded actual good news on the injury front for the Red Wings ahead of tonight's Teemu Selanne Farewell Tour and/or Red Wings reunion with the Anaheim Ducks team Detroit bounced from the playoffs last spring (7:30 PM EST, FSD/Prime Ticket/97.1)--and, somewhat intriguingly, these teams will play their two "playoff rematches" within a month.

The Free Press's Helene St. James reported that Darren Helm (shoulder) is "ahead of schedule" and may return as early as this weekend against Toronto;

Ken Holland told the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness that Henrik Zetterberg (back) and Danny DeKeyser (shoulder) are both quite likely to return on or around December 28th, and Holland suggested that the concussed Johan Franzen and concussed Justin Abdelkader won't be back until the weekend at the earliest, but that they're both OK as they take their first few steps through the NHL's concussion protocol;

And while attending the ceremony dedicating the Wings' charitable donation to Detroit's Clark Park rink, Jimmy Howard and his teammates told Fox Sports Detroit's Jon Paul Morosi that Howard will be back before the Winter Classic, too.

But there are some worrisome sets of numbers for Red Wings fans going into tonight's game: 0-2-3, 5-8-6 and 23-7-5.

0-2-and-3 is the Red Wings' record over the past 5 games, Saturday's 4-1 loss to Pittsburgh and Sunday's 3-0 loss to Tampa Bay included.

5-8-and-6 is the Red Wings' home-ice record, and that belies the fact that the Red Wings have won, per the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan, 2 of their last 15 games at Joe Louis Arena, possessing a 2-7-6 record since October 21st.

And 23-7-and-5 is the Anaheim Ducks' record--as compared to the Red Wings' 15-11-9 record--with Anaheim leading the Pacific Division and sitting 2nd in the Western Conference with 51 points, 2 behind the league-leading Blackhawks (the Wings are 4th in the Atlantic and 6th in the East).

The Ducks have won 5 straight games and are 7-1-and-2 in their last 10. The Ducks come to Detroit having defeated the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 on Sunday, and the Ducks came to Detroit to open a 4 game road trip well aware of the "history" between the teams--and having blown a 3-1 series lead--though they would only grudgingly address the series when speaking with the Los Angeles Times' Lance Pugmire...

"That was last year," said [Cory] Perry, who has 21 goals this season. "This is a different year. I'm not even thinking about that."

Hard to buy, considering the "Unfinished Business" T-shirts Perry and others wear around the Ducks' dressing room.

The Red Wings were moved to the Eastern Conference this season, so the Ducks couldn't face them in any playoff round before the Stanley Cup Final. This season's Detroit team is weaker; the Red Wings are 15-11-9, with goalie Jimmy Howard (knee) and wings Justin Abdelkader (concussion) and Henrik Zetterberg (back) sidelined by injuries.

The Ducks have momentum as they begin a four-game trip. They've won five in a row, Perry has scored eight goals in the last eight games and center Ryan Getzlaf has scored at least one point in the last 16 games he's played.

Oh right, Perry and Getzlaf...

"I'd like to say a win will make up for the spring. It won't," Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy said. "But we're going to do everything we can to get back at them one step at a time and it starts with this game."

Lovejoy said the Ducks' attention to outplaying opponents late in games was triggered by the 2013 playoff series, when they yielded the three overtime goals and gave up two third-period goals in Game 4.

"It certainly doesn't give us closure," Lovejoy said. "That can only come in April or May or June, but right now we want to keep rolling. We're playing good hockey and we need to keep doing that against the team that ended our season."

And they continued that line while speaking with the Orange County Register's Eric Stephens (warning: the Orange County Register is now a pay-to-read website. It costs $2 for a "day pass"), with Bruce Boudreau delivering a predictable line:

“If we worried about every team that’s ever beat us in the playoffs or beat me in the playoffs, I think I’d be out for revenge against every team in the league,” Boudreau said. “You got to take it one day at a time and look at the opponent and make a plan for the opponent. Hopefully, it’ll work.”

Maybe this is all just posturing or maybe there isn’t much to facing the Red Wings these days. After all, the dynamics have changed. Detroit no longer stands in the Ducks’ postseason way, unless the teams meet in the Cup final (the Red Wings got their long-awaited move to the Eastern Conference through realignment).

Then again, the Red Wings’ supposed march through the weaker East has taken numerous detours. They’re just fourth in the Atlantic Division with a 15-11-9 record and come into Tuesday battered up. Seven Wings regulars are projected to miss the game, the latest being goalie Jimmy Howard (sprained knee) and winger Johan Franzen (concussion). More notable absentees include Henrik Zetterberg (herniated disk) and Justin Abdelkader (concussion).

...

Jonas Hiller joked that he has occasionally forgotten that the Red Wings aren’t in the West anymore. Game 7, along with the three overtime losses in the series defeat, are firmly behind him.

“I think the main focus is on this year right now and doing well,” Hiller said. “Yeah, we’re going to go there and want to win, that’s for sure. But I don’t think that’s different with any other game you go and play.”

But defenseman Ben Lovejoy said the memories of last spring are fresh enough that “it absolutely still burns.” It has been a motivating force for the Ducks, who have won five in a row and are atop the Pacific Division with a 23-7-5 mark.

“We were a good team last year,” Lovejoy said. “We were a proud team. Proud group of guys. This game will not make up for that if we win. We want to win because we would like to do everything we can, any chance we get, to get back at them. We have a lot of respect for the Red Wings as a team. They’ve been the class of the NHL for the last 20 years. But we felt that we had a better season than them last year. Everybody in this room is still fired up after we lost.”

The Ducks headed to Detroit on Monday sans practicing, but they were very happy with their performance against Edmonton on Sunday, as they told the Associated Press...

Dustin Penner scored the tiebreaking goal with 3:17 to play, Ryan Getzlaf extended his points streak to 14 games, and the Pacific Division-leading Ducks beat Edmonton 3-2 on Sunday night for their fifth straight victory.

[Teemu] Selanne hadn't scored a goal since Oct. 20, matching the longest gap of his two-decade NHL career, and had no points in his last 16 games. The 43-year-old forward finally picked up his 679th career goal in front of Ilya Bryzgalov on a setup from Mathieu Perreault, adding to the 11th-best total in NHL history.

Selanne recently got a text from Kariya, his longtime Anaheim teammate, telling him to get into "the dirty areas" on the ice.

"He said, 'Just go to the net, and good things happen,'" Selanne said. "I've been waiting a long time. Obviously, it's a big relief. It's a little easier because we're winning. I've had some good chances lately, and it didn't go in. Hopefully, this is going to be a good confidence boost for myself."

Jonas Hiller made 23 saves to help the Ducks improve to 13-0-2 at Honda Center. Corey Perry's seven-game goal streak ended, but his linemates connected for the deciding score in the Ducks' 15th win in their last 17 meetings with Edmonton.

Nick Bonino also scored as the Ducks shook off early rust in their return from three days off to complete a three-game homestand. Anaheim is the only NHL team without a regulation loss at home, extending the second-longest such streak to open a season in the shootout era.

"We played a lot more desperate after they tied it up," Penner said. "Our line wasn't very good all game, but sometimes you need those breaks. ... We haven't had a lot of home games, so we put a lot of emphasis on them."

The Los Angeles Times' Pugmire...

"Maybe we weren't as mentally sharp as in days past," Penner said after the Ducks (23-7-5) had their first three-day break between games since Oct. 7-9. "Not an excuse, but maybe that's why. We were able to find a way."

The Ducks denied they were also looking ahead to Tuesday, when they start a four-game trip at Detroit. The Red Wings eliminated the Ducks in seven games in the first round of last season's playoffs.

In dropping Edmonton further into the Western Conference cellar at 11-21-3, the Ducks improved to 13-0-2 at Honda Center and won their fifth consecutive game, while remaining unbeaten in regulation (6-0-2) in the last eight games.

...

Now 12-2 in his last 14 games against the Oilers, Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller (23 saves) worked to keep the advantage Selanne provided, but Edmonton center Sam Gagner pushed a backhanded shot through Hiller's legs with 9:34 left in the third.

"We played a lot more desperate after they tied it up," Penner said. "All four lines started going, especially our line."

Penner's 10th goal, wristed by Edmonton goalie and former Duck Ilya Bryzgalov, was assisted by center Ryan Getzlaf, who has now scored at least a point in the last 16 consecutive games he has played.

"It wasn't the best game we played, but our character and our will took over," said Corey Perry, whose seven-game streak of goals was stopped. "Those are the games you have to push through."

The Orange County Register's Stephens...

It took the Ducks (23-7-5) a while to get into it, but they managed to build on their lead over the Kings in the ultra-competitive Pacific Division. Penner delivered with a one-timer off a pass from linemate Ryan Getzlaf.

“We played a lot more desperate after they tied it up,” Penner said. “I think all four lines started going then, especially our line. We hadn't been very good all game. Getzy made a good pass in the slot to me. I put in a good shot and it got deflected on the way up. Sometimes you need those breaks.”

The Ducks pushed through in the end as they begin a four-game trip in Detroit on Tuesday when they face the Red Wings for the first time since losing their first-round playoffs series in seven games in May.

“We haven't circled it at all,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We've been too busy to worry about Detroit. We'll worry about Detroit on the plane tomorrow and in the game the next day.”

The Ducks also got goals from Nick Bonino and Teemu Selanne, with the latter breaking a long drought that had lasted for 19 games and tied a woeful career-long mark that came in his injury-plagued 2003-04 year with the Colorado Avalanche.

Getzlaf's assist on the winning tally by Penner gives him points in his past 16 games for the longest stretch of his career.

NHL.com's Curtis Zupke...

Penner took a pass from Ryan Getzlaf and snapped a shot that deflected past goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to help the Ducks remain the only team in the NHL without a regulation loss at home (13-0-2). It is the second-longest streak since the 2005-06 season; the San Jose Sharks started 20-0-2 at home in 2008-09.

The streak might have ended if not for offensive-zone work by the top line of Penner, Getzlaf and Corey Perry, who hadn't recorded a point until Penner's game-winner. Getzlaf extended his personal point streak to 16 games with the assist. Perry's NHL-leading seven-game goal-scoring streak ended.

"Maybe we weren't mentally sharp as we had been in the past," Penner said of his line. "We had a lot of days off. That's not an excuse, but maybe that's why. We still have to be better. The team depends on us."

Selanne's 679th career goal, his first since Oct. 20, also ended a streak of 16 games without a point, the second longest such streak of his career; he went 19 games without a point in 2003-04. The goal, which came on a tap-in off Mathieu Perreault's nifty pass from the goal line, put the Ducks ahead at 15:24 of the second period.

"It was like you took a pin to a balloon," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said of the feeling on the bench. "A lot of air went out. We were watching Jamie Benn score (for the Dallas Stars on Saturday to end his 11-game goalless drought), and he pulled the monkey off his back, so I'm sure T would have done the same thing if he was that kind of guy.""

Boudreau has scratched Selanne five times this season in order to keep him fresh, and it appeared to pay off against the Oilers; Selanne was active around the net with Perreault, who had missed four games with a lower-body injury, back as his center.

"It's funny-- it doesn't go in, and then I just needed one," Selanne said. "Hopefully, it's going to be a good confidence boost for myself. It was good to see that go in …. I know how this game works. You just have to be patient and work hard and believe, and go from there. It has been way easier because we've been playing well and winning."

And AnaheimDucks.com's Adam Brady, who penned a game narrative:

Edmonton opened the scoring 6:18 into the first period when two recent No. 1 overall draft picks connected, as Taylor Hall fired a shot from the point that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tipped past Hiller.

The Ducks got even halfway through the period when Kyle Palmieri recovered the puck behind the net and nudged it to Patrick Maroon, who fed Nick Bonino in front for the one-timer.

Anaheim took the lead with 4:36 left in the second when Mathieu Perreault sent the puck from behind the cage to Selanne, who controlled it in the low slot before wristing it past former teammate Bryzgalov..

...

Ben Lovejoy had an outstanding night for Anaheim with six hits and a great play in the third when he took down Ryan Nugent-Hopkins from behind as he skated in on net on the rush.

...

Edmonton tied the game halfway through the third period when Sam Gagner backhanded a shot between Jonas Hiller’s leg pads to make it 2-2.

But Penner gave Anaheim the eventual victory with 3:17 left in the game, wristing a shot from the top of the left wing circle past former Duck Ilya Bryzgalov.

After the game, the Ducks' PR department tossed off an imposing set of stats...

The Ducks have won five straight games, the longest active streak in the NHL. Anaheim is also the only team in the NHL with three different win streaks of five games or more this season. The club has also picked up points in eight consecutive games (6-0-2, 14 points). Anaheim also has points in 10 of its last 11 (8-1-2, 18 points). Their 51 points overall rank second in the NHL (Chicago, 53)

The Ducks pushed their home record to 13-0-2, marking the club’s best home start in franchise history. Anaheim remains the only NHL club to remain undefeated in regulation this season. In addition, this marks just the second time since the implementation of the shootout (2005-06) that an NHL club has gone at least 15 games without a regulation loss at home to start a season (San Jose, 20-0-2 in 2008-09).

Ryan Getzlaf extended his official point streak to 14 consecutive games (6-11=17), the longest in the NHL this season and the longest streak since Pittsburgh’s Pascal Dupuis had a 14-game streak from Mar. 7-Apr. 7, 2012 (10-12=22). It’s the fifth-longest point streak in club history (see information below). Including the two games he played prior to a three-game absence due to injury, Getzlaf has points in the last 16 games he has appeared in (10-13=23). While the 16-game streak is not an official point streak, this marks the longest streak of his career. Getzlaf’s 16-23=39 points this season rank fourth in the NHL.

Longest point streaks in club history:
Corey Perry, 19 games (Oct. 21, 2009-Dec. 1, 2009)
Teemu Selanne, 17 games (Feb. 3, 1999-Mar. 10, 1999)
Ryan Getzlaf, 15 games (Dec. 22, 2007-Jan. 23, 2008)
Teemu Selanne, 15 games (Feb. 10, 1996-Mar. 17, 1996)
Ryan Getzlaf, 14 games (Nov. 15, 2013 – present)

Teemu Selanne scored the 679th goal of his career this evening.

In December, Jonas Hiller has gone 4-0-1, with a .944 SV% (153-of-162) and a 1.74 GAA (9 GA/310 MIN). At HOME, Hiller has gone 8-0-2 (one ND) with a 1.79 GAA (19 GA/637 MIN) and a .942 SV% (309-of-328).

Nick Bonino has points in four of the last five games (2-3=5).

And the same is true for a Monday evening release:

Anaheim also has points in 10 of 11 (8-1-2, 18) and 21 of 25 (16-4-5, 37), which includes an NHL season-best (w/SJ) nine-game standings point streak from Oct. 25-Nov. 10...the club ranks second among NHL teams in goals (109) and even-strength goals (81)…on the PK, Anaheim is 36-for-39 (92.3%) dating to the third period on Nov. 20 vs. NJ...the club killed 26 straight from Nov. 20-Dec. 6, spanning eight games...on the PP, Anaheim is 10-for-36 (27.7%), also since Nov. 20 vs. NJ...following tomorrow's game, the Ducks will continue their four-game trip with stops in New Jersey (Dec. 20), New York Islanders (Dec. 21) and Washington (Dec. 23).

...

LINE UP: Reunited for the first time since Anaheim’s 2006-07 Stanley Cup championship run, the line of Dustin Penner, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry have combined for 23-21=43 points over the last 14 games (since Nov. 15)…the trio has scored 47-52=99 points in 2013-14 overall, leading the NHL in combined goals and ranking second in the NHL only to Pittsburgh’s line of Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in combined points (120)...in addition, Getzlaf and Perry lead the league in goals scored by a duo on the same team (37)…they are second in combined points (75) behind only Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin (87)...the duo tallied goals in the same game on Dec. 7 at St. Louis for the eighth time this season, second only to the Blues' tandem of Alexander Steen and David Backes (9) for the highest total among a pair of NHL teammates (Elias Sports Bureau).

LEADING THE WAY: Captain Ryan Getzlaf has points in the last 16 games in which he has appeared, collecting 10-13=23 points in that span (missed three games with an upper-body injury, Nov. 10-14)...while the 16-game streak is not an official point streak because he missed three games, it marks the longest streak of his career...in addition, Getzlaf has a current 14-game point streak (6-11=17, recognized by NHL), the longest since Pascal Dupuis had points in 14 straight (10-12=22) from Mar. 7-Apr. 7, 2012...he has also recorded 13-17=30 points with a +14 rating in his last 22 games and 16-22=38 with a +18 over his last 29...he co-leads the NHL with six GWG and is on pace for 39 goals this season (previous career high is 25)...he is also fourth among league leaders in scoring (16-23=39) and tied for ninth in goals.

FAST START: Corey Perry's 21 goals through 35 games this season are the most in his career (previously 17 in 2007-08)...he posted a career-best seven-game goal streak (8-2=10) from Nov. 29-Dec. 11, the longest streak in the NHL since CGY's Curtis Glencross scored in seven straight from Feb. 27-Mar. 11, 2012...since the start of the 2010-11 season, Perry has scored 28 GWG, leading the NHL in that span (TB’s Stamkos has 24)...in addition, Perry ranks third in the NHL in goals with 181 tallies since the start of 2008-09, spanning six seasons (Ovechkin, 234; Stamkos, 222; Marleau, 180)...Perry has points in nine of his last 10 games (9-3=12), 15-8=23 points in his last 20 games and 16-11=27 in 25...he ranks third among league leaders in goals, tied for seventh in points and co-leads in GWG (6).

The Orange County Register's Stephens had the Ducks dressing the following lineup for Sunday's game:

Here is the potential lineup that the Ducks (22-7-5) could put on the ice Sunday night against the Edmonton Oilers at Honda Center. Francois Beauchemin and Mathieu Perreault are returning from injuries and have said they'll play so we will take their word on it. We'll guess that Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau will want to keep Jonas Hiller (12-4-4, 2.49 GAA, .914 SV%) sharp after a three-day layoff. Ryan Getzlaf is looking to gain a point for the 16th consecutive game while Corey Perry is trying to extend his seven-game goal scoring streak.

Dustin Penner-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry

Kyle Palmieri-Mathieu Perreault-Teemu Selanne

Daniel Winnik-Saku Koivu-Andrew Cogliano

Matt Beleskey-Nick Bonino-Tim Jackman

Cam Fowler-Ben Lovejoy

Hampus Lindholm-Francois Beauchemin

Bryan Allen-Sami Vatanen

NHL.com's Brian Hedger sets up tonight's game as follows...

Big story: Detroit is winless in its past five games, posting an 0-3-2 record in the span, and has massive injury problems. Anaheim is cruising along with five straight wins and 51 points to lead the Pacific Division and trail only the Chicago Blackhawks (53 points) for first overall in the NHL standings.

Ducks [team scope]: Dustin Penner's game-winning goal with 3:17 left in regulation lifted Anaheim to a 3-2 victory against the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday and improved the Ducks' record at Honda Center to 13-0-2, their best home start in franchise history.

Penner's goal, assisted by Ryan Getzlaf, resulted in the first points of the game for Anaheim's top line, which includes right wing Corey Perry. The Ducks had three off days between games that might've contributed to the unit's early rust.

...

Red Wings [team scope]: Detroit has center Pavel Datsyuk back from a seven-game absence following a concussion, but the Red Wings are still without captain Henrik Zetterberg (back), goalie Jimmy Howard (sprained knee), defenseman Danny DeKeyser (shoulder) and three other forwards, including Johan Franzen (concussion protocols). Franzen left Detroit's game Sunday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning early in the second period after being hit in the face by defenseman Radko Gudas.

Rookie Tomas Jurco, Detroit's second-round pick in the 2011 NHL draft, made his NHL debut against the Lightning and the Red Wings have called up center Riley Sheahan from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League to replace Franzen.

...

Who's hot: Getzlaf has six goals and 17 points in a 14-game point streak that's the longest in the NHL this season and has a personal point streak that spans 16 games. … Red Wings rookie goalie Petr Mrazek has allowed only two goals on 40 combined shots in two starts this season.

Injury report: Anaheim is without defenseman Sheldon Souray (torn wrist tendon), forward Jakob Silfverberg (broken right hand), defenseman Luca Sbisa (torn hand tendon) and goalie Viktor Fasth (muscle inflammation). Defenseman Francois Beauchemin (upper body) and center Mathieu Perreault (lower body) are listed as day-to-day. … Aside from Zetterberg, Howard, DeKeyser and Franzen, Detroit is also missing forwards Justin Abdelkader (concussion), Stephen Weiss (groin) and Darren Helm (shoulder/groin).

DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose penned a game preview in his "Look Ahead in Hockeytown" article...

TUESDAY – vs. ANAHEIM (22-7-5): The Ducks begin a four-game swing through the Eastern Conference with road stops against the Devils, Islanders and Capitals before Christmas. … The Ducks’ specialty teams on the road are in the bottom third of the league. Both the penalty kill and power play are rank No. 24, with the road PK struggling at a 76.1 percent (51-of-67) success rate, and the PP at 13.6 percent (8-of-59). … Reunited for the first time since Anaheim’s 2007 Stanley Cup, the line of Dustin Penner, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry have combined for 22 goals and 20 assists over the last 13 games. Overall, the trio has scored 46 goals and 97 points this season, leading the NHL in combined goals and ranking second in the NHL only to Pittsburgh’s line of Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in combined points (114). In addition, Getzlaf and Perry lead the league in goals scored by a duo on the same team (37). They are second in combined points (74) behind only Crosby and Malkin (82).

PLAYER TO WATCH: Perry's 21 goals through 34 games this season are the most in his career. His previous high was 17 in 2007-08. He is currently riding a career-best seven-game goal streak, which is tied for the league’s longest this season, equaling St. Louis’ Alexander Steen and Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos. Since the start of the 2010-11 season, Perry has scored 28 game-winning goals, leading the NHL in that span. In addition, Perry ranks fourth in the NHL in goals (181) since the start of 2008-09, only trailing Alex Ovechkin, Stamkos and Patrick Marleau. … Perry has also produced 15 goals and 23 points in his last 19 games. He ranks third among league leaders in goals and tied for sixth in points. ... Perry and Getzlaf are tied atop of the league with six game-winning goals this season.

If your brain hasn't exploded from the massive statistical content in this post, here's some more from the AP/Stats LLC's preview, and an admission: sometimes I skim the stats like you skim through my posts because I very legitimately have anxiety related to mathematics thanks to an abusive high school teacher and bombing out of Calc III in college. Yay anxiety disorders, they are illogical and uncomfortable!

Anyway, on to the AP/Stats LLC...*shudder* (kidding, mostly):

Plagued by lack of offense, the Detroit Red Wings are struggling - especially at Joe Louis Arena, which they once relied upon to avoid lengthy losing streaks.

They haven't been able to do so over the past 10 days, and the Wings will try to avoid their first five-game regulation home skid in almost 28 years and sixth straight loss overall when they face the red-hot Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night.

...

Injury-riddled Detroit seems to especially be missing leading scorer Henrik Zetterberg, who sat out his seventh game in a row due to a back injury. The Wings had won four straight when he got injured - recording 18 goals in that span - and they've gone 1-4-2 since, scoring 11 times.

...

The Wings have lost 110 man-games to injuries.

Perennially one of the toughest teams to beat at home, Detroit hasn't dropped five in a row in regulation there since a six-game skid Feb. 8-March 3, 1986.

It probably won't be easy against Anaheim (23-7-5), which has won five in a row and is 6-0-2 in its last eight. The Ducks have allowed two or fewer goals in each game of the winning streak and have the second-best record in the NHL.
..
Getzlaf extended his official point streak to 14 games and he's recorded at least a point in 16 straight, including the two he played prior to a three-game injury absence. He has 10 goals and 13 assists in those 16 contests.

Anaheim, the only team with three five-game winning streaks this season, will be opening a four-game trip against the Eastern Conference. The Ducks snapped an eight-game skid at Detroit with a 5-2 victory Feb. 15. The Red Wings, though, won the last two matchups with Anaheim last season by a 7-2 margin.

Is there good news for the Red Wings? Yes! And no.

Let's go with the bad news first.

Tonight's forward will look something like this, and if you want to know the number of players who spent part of this season in Grand Rapids in the lineup, the number is 5. Crank it up to last year and a team that usually dresses 7 thirty-somethings in its lineup will have 7 "Wiffins" and 6 players with one or fewer years worth of NHL experience up front:

Jurco-Datsyuk-Alfredsson

Nyquist-Andersson-Tatar

Miller-Sheahan-Bertuzzi

Cleary-Glendening-Eaves

The defense probably won't change--Kronwall with Ericsson, "We Won't Do Shots But We'll Do Fish Tacos" with Smith and Lashoff with Kindl, and I'd imagine that Gustavsson will start.

The other bad news? The Red Wings are beginning a slate of 4 games in 7 pre-Christmas nights tonight, and aside from Helm returning, the above-listed lineup is essentially what the Wings have at their disposal for tonight, Thursday's game against Calgary, Saturday's road tilt in Toronto and Monday's home game against the Isles--and the Wings have struggled so mightily that I'd argue that nothing less than winning 3 of the next 4 would constitute an unsuccessful run for a team running ouf "margin for error."

Red Wings GM Ken Holland offered a philosophical take on the Wings' sans-Zetterberg-Helm-DeKeyser-Howard-Franzen-Abdelkader-and-Weiss situation (that's 7 regulars out) to MLive's Ansar Khan...

“We had a lot of injuries last year, but our core played most of the games,” general manager Ken Holland said. “This year’s injuries appear to be more to the core of our team. It’s a challenge right now. We have to find a way to win a game.”

The Red Wings, with their depleted lineup, look to snap a five-game winless streak (0-2-3) Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks, who’ve won five in a row and are second overall in the NHL. It is the first meeting between the teams since the Red Wings eliminated the Ducks in Game 7 during the first round of the playoffs.

“We’re competing, but when you lose the players that we lost … ” Holland said. “Earlier in the year we were goal-challenged. Then all of a sudden we got going, started to score some goals, and then slowly we started losing players. Now we’re all of a sudden goal-challenged.”

The Red Wings are averaging 2.54 goals per game, tied for 18th in the NHL. That’s exactly what they averaged last season.

“We’re creating scoring chances, we’re just not scoring,” Holland said. “We have to go to the hard areas. We have to keep going to the net and play good defensively.  We need to be good on the penalty kill. We need to keep the goals against to two or lower. We have to find a way to grind out a win.”

The Red Wings have scored only five goals in their past five games.

“We’re not scoring as a group right now at all, so we got to continue to check and not give up much,” coach Mike Babcock said. "Obviously we’re more challenged offensively just with our lineup. But there’s no sense whining or feeling sorry for ourselves; we got to find a way to win a game.”

After Sunday's game, the Wings talked about their status as "offensively challenged" while speaking with the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...

“We have to find a way to win a game,” forward Daniel Cleary said Sunday after a 3-0 loss to the Lightning. “We’re going into the third period in a lot of games lately tied, and we have to find a way to get the win. It’s not something we’re happy about. We have to find a way to grind out a 1-0 or 2-1 game. We have to get it done.”

The Red Wings are on an 0-3-2 run in which they have scored five goals — total.

And it doesn’t get easier for the Red Wings as the red-hot Ducks (five-game winning streak, No. 2 record in NHL) visit Joe Louis Arena tonight.

The lack of offense has been a problem all season. In 35 games, the Red Wings have scored two goals or less 19 times. And three times they’ve been shut out.

And they also discussed the power play, which is very obviously injury-depleted--given that its second unit on Sunday consisted of Cleary, Tatar and Eaves up front with Kindl and Nyquist on the point:

The Red Wings are 0-for-12 on the power play the last three games, 1-for-19 during the five-game skid.

“We’ve had some opportunities but not taking advantage of it,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “I can’t emphasize it enough about the power play. It means a lot. If your power play is clicking, you’re going to win. At times we’ve been on the perimeter, but we’ve had some good chances. We have to bear down.”

The good news comes in the form of some repetition from the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness, who asked Holland why the team recalled Riley Sheahan over Cory Emmerton (or the other player the Free Press's Helene St. James said they were considering in Calle Jarnkrok)...

Sheahan, 22, has leapfrogged Cory Emmerton as far as call ups go.

“We’ve seen Emmerton for nine games, we know what he can do,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “We haven’t really seen Riley Sheahan. He’s a first-round pick. He had a pretty good rookie year last year and had a good playoff in Grand Rapids. Let’s see what he can do.”

Sheahan, who was selected in the first round (21st overall) in the 2010 draft out of Notre Dame, has six goals and eight assists in 23 games with the Griffins. He’s played in two games over his career with Detroit, one in each of the past two seasons and has no points.

(Sheahan is one of more than a few Wings prospects whose waiver-exempt status expires next season; the team could've also called up Landon Ferraro, but he plays on the wing most of the time)

And Pleiness also received a lengthy list of updates regarding the Wings' injured ranks:

Zetterberg: “He’s feeling better every day. He’s skating on his own. We’re still shooting for him on Dec. 28. I think we’re on track. Barring any setback I think we’ll have him back on Dec. 28.”

Franzen and Abdelkader: “They’re both under concussion protocol. Anytime you get a hit to the head and get taken off the ice and don’t return, basically now there’s a protocol. Abby rode the bike today, he felt pretty good. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. Franzen was at the rink today. He’s probably a couple days behind. I would say at the very best we can hope for either of those guys is maybe Saturday in Toronto at the very earliest.”

Howard: “He worked out today and felt better. I’d say we’re very pleased with where he’s at. He’s definitely out ’til Christmas. We’ll know more later after this week, but we’re hoping he’s back shortly after the Christmas break.

Helm: “He skated a little bit on his own today and he’s going to skate a little bit with the team tomorrow. We’re hoping if all goes well he can play sometime this week before the Christmas break.”

DeKeyser: “He skated today. I know we’re still shooting for Dec. 28. I don’t think we’re going to play him before, but I’ll know more in the next couple of days. We may get him back earlier, but at the end of the day there’s no reason to rush anyone back. There’s half a season to go. We took Weiss out for a groin, thought he was healthy and now we don’t know if it’s the same issue that’s re-aggravated and it’s worse because we didn’t diagnosis it well.”

Weiss: “We’re not really sure where he’s at. He doesn’t appear to have any significant improvement over the course of the week which is a concern. We’re going to send his MRI to abdominal doctors to look at to see there’s something more than just a groin strain.”

Holland's most important point? He doesn't want to rush anyone back, Winter Classic or no Winter Classic:

“We need to make sure when they all come back that our team is totally healthy,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview Monday. “We need them for the second half. Injuries are a part of it. Teams have injuries at this time of the year.”

Here's what Howard and company had to say to Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi (who's in town to cover the Winter Classic) while the team attended a ceremony announcing a significant charitable donation to Detroit's Clark Park rink, as noted in the evening news post

While he didn’t skate as an instructor for the youth clinic that followed the ceremony – teammates Niklas Kronwall and Danny DeKeyser did – Howard said he’s been feeling “really good” lately. He added: “I’m actually ahead of schedule right now, a little bit. I’m just going to keep doing treatment and keep working and get back out there as soon as possible.”

When asked if he has his mind set on returning Jan. 1 before a potential world-record crowd in Ann Arbor, Howard replied, “I’m hoping I’ll be back in there before Jan. 1.”

Howard is 6-8-7 with a 2.65 goals-against average this season. (The Red Wings are 9-3-2 in games started by backups Jonas Gustavsson and Petr Mrazek.) Howard has additional motivation to return before Jan. 1; he’s under consideration for the US Olympic roster, which will be announced that day following the Winter Classic.

“He’s already saying how much better it feels, how he’s just doing better every day,” said DeKeyser, who’s been out for nearly a month with his own injury, a separated left shoulder. “Hopefully we’ll get him back for (the Winter Classic). We’ve got goalies that are capable, as well, but we’d love to have Jimmy there.”

 

 

 

Regarding that charitable donation, Michigan Radio's Sarah Kwiek covered the event...

The Detroit Red Wings’ charity and the National Hockey League have teamed up to refurbish Detroit’s only outdoor hockey rink. The gift, which benefits southwest Detroit’s Clark Park, was announced there Monday. The facility will get a new Zamboni, new lighting and other upgrades worth about $200,000.

That’s when a few Clark Park hockey players got a rare chance to skate and shoot the puck during a mini-clinic with several Red Wings on their home ice.

Steve Tobocman, President of the Clark Park Coalition, said the park and its recreation center are a safe haven for the community’s children throughout the year--and this donation is especially welcome at a time when the bankrupt city can’t invest much in neighborhood services.

“To be able to able to sustain youth hockey here in Hockeytown, [at] the only outdoor hockey rink in all of Metro Detroit, is really just an incredible donation,” Tobocman said.

The park is also part of the NHL’s “Hockey is for Everyone” initiative to boost the sport in diverse communities. Thanks to that program, the Detroit Red Wings Foundation, and some corporate partners, the Clark Park skaters will get to play on a better rink with more amenities all winter.

“For the Zamboni to be here…the lights, the boards, [they] make the facility much better,” said Red Wings coach Mike Babcock. “I know we can come back, which is really, really important to us, but it’s [also] great for the community.”

The Detroit Free Press's Mike Bruendell also covered the event (and the Free Press posted a photo gallery accompanying the story; the Windsor Star posted a photo gallery, too, and it turns out that Mike Babcock knows how to take a "selfie")...

About a year ago, the Red Wings staged an ice hockey clinic at Clark Park, the only regulation-size outdoor rink in metro Detroit. The ice surface was rough, and Babcock worried about injuries to the youngsters and his players. On Monday, he said he felt a lot better about the kids participating in the skate and his trio of players participating after the Zamboni did its job.

“When we practiced here awhile back, they indicated they needed one (a Zamboni),” said Babcock, who was joined at Monday’s ceremony at center ice by NHL chief marketing officer Brian Jennings — NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s plans to attend changed at the last minute — Ilitch Holdings president and CEO Christopher Ilitch, Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano and Clark Park workers. “With the Zamboni we can come back (here), which is really, really important for us and great for the community.”

Before official business, Babcock, Kronwall, DeKeyser and Howard chatted with the kids in the Clark Park locker room, encouraging them to train hard and have fun.

“It’s awesome,” said Babcock, who posed for photos and even took snaps with his cell phone of himself and the youngsters. “It’s an unbelievable facility and it’s a great day for everyone, and it’s important to give back (to the community). These kids play hockey and celebrate our game. We look forward to having our legacy passed on right here at Clark Park.”

Sergio Broughton, 10, is a center for the Polar Bears team at Clark Park and a Henrik Zetterberg fan. His sister, Jazmine, a hard-hitting defender, encouraged him to start playing hockey too, he said.

“I’m glad I did,” said Sergio, who attends Roberto Clemente Elementary in Detroit. “I love the game. What they are doing here at Clark Park is pretty good. It’s just so good for the community.”

And, via RedWingsFeed, the NHL Network posted a clip from the event:

In terms of what's going on at Comerica Park, I can't embed the Troy Patch's Edward Cardenas' interview with St. Clair Shores' Jim Bullo, who's in charge of the ice at CoPa, but I can re-post the schedule of public events at the facility...

Open Skate Dates & Times

Tuesday, Dec. 17 :8-8:50 a.m., 9:30-10:20 a.m., 11-11:50 a.m., 12:30-1:20 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 20: 9-9:50 a.m., 10:30-11:20 a.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 24: 8-8:50 a.m., 9:30-10:20 a.m., 11-11:50 a.m., 12:30-1:20 p.m., 2-2:50 p.m.

Public open skate events are available for purchase in 50-minute increments. Prices are $25 for adults, $15 for kids 14 and under and $5 for non-skaters. Kids 2 and under are free. Fans can bring their own skates or rent skates for $10.

Public open skate tickets are available at the Joe Louis Arena Box Office, at http://www.DetroitRedWings.com/openskate or by, calling 313-471-7575. Due to on-ice capacity limitations, these sessions are expected to sell out.

Free Detroit Red Wings open practice

The Detroit Red Wings will a practice in Comerica Park at noon, Wednesday Dec. 18 This practice session is open to the public and free of charge.

Again, it's open and free of charge, with the doors opening at 11 AM, but parking is $6.

The Wings and the NHL will also be hosting a "fan zone" outside the rink for the following games:

College and alumni games

  • Dec. 27-28: Great Lakes Invitational
  • Dec. 27: Early game - Michigan State vs. Michigan Tech. Late game - Western Michigan vs. Michigan
  • Dec. 28: Early game - third place game. Late game - championship game
  • Dec. 29: Ontario Hockey League doubleheader
  • 1st Game - Windsor Spitfires vs. Saginaw Spirit
  • 2nd Game - London Knights vs. Plymouth Whalers
  • Dec. 30: American Hockey League - Toronto Marlies vs. Grand Rapids Griffins
  • Dec. 31: Alumni Showdown

The Alumni Showdown consists of 2 games--one at 1 PM and a second game at 3:30 PM, with both games airing on Fox Sports Detroit, the CBC and the NHL Network (FSD will air the GLI games and the Griffins-Marlies game as well), and the Toronto Sun's Mike Zeisberger posted the Leafs' roster for both games with an ever-so-slight hint of annoyance at the fact that Ken Holland won't break down the Wings' rosters as of yet.

Holland has stated that the Cup-winners, Hall-of-Famers and individual award-winners will play in the second game, so, well, dissect on your own:

Forwards

Alex Delvecchio, Kris Draper, Mickey Redmond, Dino Ciccarelli, Darren McCarty, John Ogrodnick, Joe Kocur, Ted Lindsay, Kirk Maltby, Igor Larionov, Martin Lapointe, Dallas Drake, Petr Klima, Brent Fedyk, Tomas Holmstrom, Brendan Shanahan, Doug Brown, Mathieu Dandenault, Jimmy Carson, Paul Ysebaert, ​Garry Unger, Red Berenson, ​Dennis Polonic, Vyacheslav Kozlov. Sergei Fedorov, Patrick Verbeek, Steve Yzerman.

Defencemen

Chris Chelios, Mark Howe, Vladimir Konstantinov, Larry Murphy, Aaron Ward, Steve Duchesne, Jason Woolley, Mathieu Schneider, Jiri Fischer, Viacheslav Fetisov, Paul Coffey, Brian Rafalski, Nicklas Lidstrom.

Goalies

Mike Vernon, Eddie Mio, Chris Osgood, Manny Legace

 

 

 

Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, while Deryk Engelland is facing a hearing with the NHL's Department of Player Safety on Wednesday for his hit to Justin Abdelkader's chin, but he insisted to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Shelly Anderson that he meant no ill intent...

"I'm trying to get his body," Engelland said of the play. "I don't know if he's poking the puck and jumping around or something, but, as his head comes up, I catch, I think, his shoulder and his head. I'm expecting him to finish a check and I'm trying to protect myself [from] turning away and getting hit and going head-first into the boards."

Engelland understands, though, that the NHL needed to review it because it was a hit to the head, regardless of intent.

"They've been trying to crack down," he said. "I think they're just trying to limit them."

And as I guess is expected, for better or worse, the Penguins' coach spoke with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Rossi about Engelland's situation:

The need for that hearing — scheduled for Wednesday at the league's headquarters in Manhattan — surprised coach Dan Bylsma.

“Deryk was suspended before, so there is a past history (against) him,” Bylsma said, acknowledging he otherwise sees no reason for Engelland's discipline hearing.

Engelland received a match penalty in a win at Detroit on Saturday night for his hit on the Red Wings' Justin Abdelkader, who was clipped in the head. Engelland said the contact with Abdelkader's head was unintentional.

Bylsma shared a similar opinion Monday morning.

“Deryk and Justin are going for a puck, both going stick-on-puck, and Justin's leaning into the play,” Bylsma said. “I think Deryk's intention is to go stick-on-puck, and (he is) really not looking for too much physical contact. (He is) protecting himself going into that hit.”

Yes, but when Dallas Drake came into the league leaning into hits with his face, lost most of his front teeth, suffered repeated broken noses and some concussions, it was Drake's fault when he "got his bell rung" (and Drake, of course, played through more than a few of those concussions).

These days, the onus is on the player whois protecting himself from said hitter to not react in such a manner that "getting his shoulder up" to protect himself results in a head hit:

 

 

 

In the land of arbitrary rankings, you might imagine that the Wings didn't fare well in this week's first slates of power rankings, and that's an accurate assumption.

ESPN's Scott Burnside weighed in as follows...

16. Detroit [record] 15-11-9 Last Week: 17 The Wings are under the HBO microscope now and their grisly 5-8-6 record at Joe Louis Arena continues to be an albatross dragging down their season.

CBS Sports' Brian Stubits actually makes quite the point while keeping it brief...

15 [Red Wings, last week 13]:  Speaking of the shootout, where would the Wings be if they could win one? They've lost 10 straight in the skills battle, 0-6 this season. The 5-8-6 home record is mystifying.

Mystifying, baffling, infuriating, inexcusable, etc.

And here's TSN's Scott Cullen's take:

This Week 17 Last Week 14 Detroit Red Wings15-11-9

Winless in five, scoring a total of five goals in those five games, the Red Wings have a depleted roster and they had better hope that the call-ups are able to right the ship. There's a reason the Wings take so long to groom their prospects, right?

I sure *#$%@& hope so.

Key Injuries: LW Henrik Zetterberg (back), C Darren Helm (shoulder), D Danny DeKeyser (shoulder), C Stephen Weiss (groin), G Jimmy Howard (knee), LW Johan Franzen (head), RW Justin Abdelkader (head).

 

 

And finally, I can only shake my head at the fact that the Canadian Press chose to list its "Top Moments in Canadian Sport of 2013" on December 16th. Two of them involve the Rd Wings:

No. 1 — The End of the NHL Lockout: Hockey fans rejoiced when the NHL and the NHL Players' Association reached a tentative deal to end the lockout in the early hours of Jan. 6.

The agreement was ratified by the board of governors three days later, with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman taking the unusual step of apologizing to fans, players and sponsors after the start of the season was delayed by more than three months.

"To the players who were very clear they wanted to be on the ice and not negotiating labour contracts, to our partners who support the league financially and personally, and most importantly to our fans, who love and have missed NHL hockey, I'm sorry," said Bettman.

...

[In] November, the league signed a massive new television deal with Rogers Communications worth $5.2 billion over 12 years.

The Denver Post's Adrian Dater wrote nothing less than a love letter to Gary Bettman, and it just made me angry, because the blosoming, blooming, wonderful lovey dovey fantastically revenue-improving NHL and their happy owners and happy players' utopia (or so it seemed reading Dater's take) involved 1.5 canceled seasons over the past nine years, and so many very average people who depend on the game to make a living working for NHL teams, working in broadcasting, the media (ironically enough), and especially people who work at rinks doing very middle-or-low-wage-earning jobs and of course all the people who work at bars, work at restaurants and work selling apparel and merchandise...

All of them got screwed over repeatedly, and I know that in the case of last year's lockout, many instances, very average people who have "hockey jobs" are still "getting back on their feet" financially.

That still isn't right, and I do find it ironic that one half of the equation--the part that lost some of its share of the pot--was more acutely aware of and apologetic toward fans and people who work in hockey-related-revenue jobs than those who apoologized to sponsors instead..

Though I do understand that Bettman has to "make nice" with his sponsors given their important role. We're not talking about Spartak Moscow losing its one and only bill-paying sponsor, which just happened in the KHL, but the Winter Classic certainly reminds us that the NHL's done its best to ink a crapton of sponsorship deals since lockout #2.

Anyway...

No. 6 — A Trio of Hockey Stunners: The Toronto Maple Leafs made the playoffs for the first time since 2004 and looked set to advance to the second round when the wheels fell off in spectacular fashion. Toronto led Boston 4-1 with just over 11 minutes to go in the third period of Game 7, only to see the Bruins score three times in quick succession in regulation and again in overtime to send the Maple Leafs packing.

...

There was also misery up Highway 401 in the nation's captain. Beloved captain Daniel Alfredsson, who had spent his entire career with Ottawa, bolted from the Senators after 17 seasons to sign with the Detroit Red Wings when NHL free agency opened on July 5.

I'm glad we have him. I know that his family's not having the easiest time adjusting, but Alfredsson works his tail off and he's fit in seamlessly as a leader, a contributor and a very hard worker.

And out on the West Coast, the Vancouver Canucks' goalie soap opera took an unexpected turn at the NHL draft when general manager Mike Gillis traded Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils. The Canucks had openly stated their intention to deal Roberto Luongo, but were unable to find a suitable trading partner. It's worked out for both sides so far, as Luongo appears to have regained his form.

And it turns out that people have started to really warm to Luongo as a genuine human being. Go figure.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

Alan's avatar

Nice to see they’ve reunited the kid line. Hope we get some production from them, and send those birds back to the west coast without a point.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 12/17/13 at 04:36 AM ET

Avatar

Ansar Khan reporting Nyquist not skating today. This is absolutely ridiculous. Here’s the second line, per Khan: Miller - Andersson - Tatar

That’s pathetic. This is so stupid. This is barely an AHL team right now. I’m done.

Posted by VitoLambruski on 12/17/13 at 11:11 AM ET

Avatar

Ansar Khan reporting Nyquist not skating today. This is absolutely ridiculous. Here’s the second line, per Khan: Miller - Andersson - Tatar

That’s pathetic. This is so stupid. This is barely an AHL team right now. I’m done.

Posted by VitoLambruski on 12/17/13 at 11:14 AM ET

Avatar

Nyquist with groin injury. Usually 10 days, at least.

This team isn’t even worth following right now. I’m going to go insane if I keep doing this.

Posted by VitoLambruski on 12/17/13 at 11:30 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.