The Malik Report
Red Wings-Ducks wrap-up and overnight report: mistake-prone Wings reminded that they’re on their own
by George Malik on 02/16/13 at 04:10 AM ET
Given the near-insane number of injuries that the Detroit Red Wings are dealing with, the news that Pavel Datsyuk missed Friday night's game against Anaheim with only a "shoulder bruise" that's being classified as a "day-to-day" injury.
The Wings sent Jonas Gustavsson (groin) down to Grand Rapids for a conditioning stint on Friday, and Mikael Samuelsson (groin) and Jan Mursak (shoulder) are supposedly "close" to returning, but Carlo Colaiacovo and Brendan Smith (left shoulder injuries) are at least 7-10 days out, the same will probably be said about Johan Franzen (hip flexor), and on Friday, we found out that Todd Bertuzzi (back, on the IR so that the Wings could recall Gustav Nyquist) and Darren Helm (back) are probably going to miss another month of hockey--if not longer.
But the Detroit Red Wings can't be excused from having played tremendously mistake-prone hockey over the past three games. The Wings' 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings was rope-a-dope hockey at its best (or worst); the Wings' decision-making bit them in the butt during their 4-3 OT loss to St. Louis on Wednesday, and on Friday, with Nicklas Lidstrom (and Damien Brunner's parents) in town, the Wings found a way to turn a 4-game home-stand into a 2-1-and-1 split--by surrendering 1-0 and 2-1 leads en route to an incredibly sloppy performance and a 5-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.
For the second game in a row, the Wings fired more shots wide of the net or into opposing players than they did on the opposing team's goaltender (the Wings had 18 shots on Jake Allen and another 33 blocked/missed attempts on Wednesday, and on Friday, the Wings fired 28 shots on Viktor Fasth and 31 into Ducks players or wide of the net--the Ducks had 59 total shot attempts on Friday as well, but they fired 36 at Howard and a 37th shot into an empty net), for the second game in a row, they gave up a ridiculous number of pucks both in one-on-one puck battles and via unforced errors (9 giveaways on Wednesday and 19 giveaways on Friday)...
And the Wings surrendered leads in such a shocking fashion on Friday that you would have thought that the team had to fill a "bad line change and/or leave your goalie completely alone while opposing players deke and dangle in front of him" quota.
Yes, there's no doubt about the fact that the Red Wings' six rookies (Brunner, Andersson, Nyquist, Tatar, Lashoff, and, technically speaking, Smith) aren't familiar with their teammates, and Jordin Tootoo is still trying to find his comfort zone, but this team's had so many too-many men and/or near-misses with seven or eight guys scrambling toward the bench that it's scary. Its power play still sucks, too, as does its penalty-killing unit, and on Friday...
The Los Angeles Times' Lance Pugmire described the Wings' self-inflicted and point-squandering wounds thusly...
After a scoreless first period, Anaheim twice shrugged off Detroit goals to quickly tie the score in the second. Joakim Andersson gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead with his first career goal, firing a shot under Fasth's left arm.
But Matt Beleskey responded 26 seconds later, taking a crisp pass from Ryan Getzlaf from the left side of the net and slapping the puck past Howard.
A delay-of-game penalty on the Ducks' Peter Holland set up a power-play goal by Detroit's Tomas Tatar, who swiped home a shot by teammate Damien Brunner.
Just 1:05 later, the Ducks tied the score again after a pass behind the Detroit net by Red Wings defenseman Ian White was softened by White's broken stick.
Corey Perry collected the puck and followed a first shot slowed by Howard with another that got past the goalie to make it 2-2 with 12:23 left in the period. It was Perry's second goal of the season and provided some satisfaction for last year's Western Conference scoring leader after a slow start.
Andrew Cogliano scored twice Friday, including the goal that broke a 2-2 tie 1 minutes 2 seconds into third period. It came after a Detroit neutral-zone turnover and was set up by a superb pass from Saku Koivu.
Just 48 seconds later, Bobby Ryan scored on the rebound of his own shot, his fifth goal of the season. Teemu Selanne's pass set up the play.
Cogliano added his fourth goal in three games, into an empty net late in the period, to help rookie goaltender Viktor Fasth improve to 7-0 as a starter.
And the Ducks ended up pouncing on the Wings, which the Orange County Register's Eric Stephens says was the plan all along:
It isn't as if the Ducks (10-2-1) were going to feel sorry for the Wings after finding every way to lose here. They snapped a streak of eight consecutive losses in the regular season dating to 2008.
"I've been in the business a long time and it's happened way too many times to me," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "When you get that chance, you've got to take advantage of it."
Boudreau made it clear to his players that they were against a depleted Detroit team, which lost Datsyuk to a nagging shoulder injury and also didn't have injured forwards Johan Franzen, Todd Bertuzzi, Darren Helm and Mikael Samuelsson. Message received. Andrew Cogliano and Bobby Ryan scored 48 seconds apart early in the third period to snap a 2-2 tie and Cogliano added an empty-net score as all four of his goals have come in the past three games.
"I just wasn't finding the back of the net," Cogliano said. "It's good. The main thing is I'm contributing and helping the team. The goals I'm scoring, they're helping the team win. That's all you can ask for."
Matt Beleskey and Corey Perry quickly answered Wings goals in the second period as the Ducks are now 5-2-1 when the opponent scores first. Perry got his first goal since opening night in Vancouver, a span of 12 games.
"We don't get down on the bench," Perry said. "We stay positive. Guys are still playing the same way. We don't change anything. If we continue to do that, we're going to be successful."
As the AP's Larry Lage noted, the Ducks were all too happy to exploit the Wings' weaknesses...
It was a game of turnovers. The Detroit Red Wings made them and the Anaheim Ducks took advantage. Andrew Cogliano and Bobby Ryan scored less than a minute apart early in the third period, and Cogliano added an empty-net goal in Anaheim's 5-2 victory on Friday night.
Cogliano snapped a 2-all tie just 1:02 into the third and Ryan connected 48 seconds later. Both goals were the result of neutral-zone turnovers by Red Wings defensemen. Niklas Kronwall turned it over on Cogliano's goal, and Ian White committed the gaffe on Ryan's tally -- his second turnover of the game that led to a goal.
"When they do make mistakes, you have to make sure you capitalize," said Cogliano, who capped the outburst with his fourth of the season at 18:11.
Matt Beleskey and Corey Perry each had a goal and an assist for Anaheim, which won its third straight and seventh in eight games. Ryan Getzlaf added two assists.
Joakim Andersson got his first career goal and added an assist, and Tomas Tatar also scored for Detroit, which was without top-six forwards Pavel Datsyuk (bruised shoulder day- to-day) and Johan Franzen, who missed his second game because of a sore hip flexor. Jimmy Howard stopped 33 shots.
"It was two turnovers that ended up in our net. It was tough. I think we, until that time, played a good game," Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "We battled good the first period and took over the game in the second. We felt good going out for the third but unfortunately those two quick ones kind of killed the game."
The "good" involved being out-shot 14-6 in the 1st period, out-shooting Anaheim 16-14 in the 2nd period and giving up 3 goals, including an empty-netter, on 9 Ducks shots in the 3rd while only taking six.
If you want to read Ducks road trip stats from the Ducks' website, or enjoy Eric Stephens' conversation with Peter Holland or his chit-chat with Corey Perry, rock on, but I'm going to shift perspectives from those of the Ducks to those of the Wings' somewhat flummoxed coach and players, who insisted to Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples that they didn't play all that badly...
“I thought we did lots of really good things,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “It was unfortunate because we thought we had set ourselves up pretty good for the third period. … And in the end, it didn’t work out the way we wanted.”
the start of the third period is when the wheels fell off for the Red Wings.
“Up until that time, I think we played a good game,” said captain Henrik Zetterberg. “It’s always tough to play catch-up hockey, especially when you only have 20 minutes to get two or three goals.”
Just over one minute into the final frame, former Michigan Wolverine Andrew Cogliano got a stick on a beautiful feed from Saku Koivu to put the Ducks back on top. Their lead grew to two off another White turnover, this time in the neutral zone. Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan grabbed his own rebound to beat Howard to make it 4-2.
But turnovers were indeed the story of the game, as the Free Press's George Sipple noted:
Ian White attempted a pass from behind the Anaheim net, but his stick shattered, leading to a turnover. Corey Perry fired into an open net to tie the game at 7:37.
Niklas Kronwall's pass went off the skate of Valtteri Filppula, leading to Andrew Cogliano's goal at 1:02 of the third period. Less than a minute later, White turned the puck over on a line change and Bobby Ryan scored at 1:50 to give the Ducks a 4-2 lead.
"Turnovers there early in the third, that's what happened when you turn the puck over at your own blue line," Howard said. "Bad things happen. Next thing you know you're pretty much out of the game."
Cogliano, who played at the University of Michigan, finished the scoring with an empty-net goal at 18:11.
"The (first) turnover, a set breakout, it should be an easy play," Babcock said. "We got a (defenseman) up ahead with the forward, I don't know why we did that (turned the puck over). Then obviously near our bench there was one as well. So it was unfortunate because we thought we had set ourselves up pretty good for the third period. You know, you're playing a good team and obviously we're shortstaffed, but the guys are really digging in. In the end it, didn't work out the way we wanted."
Zetterberg at least admitted that the turnovers sucked the wind outo f the Wings' sails while speaking to the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:
"We should be able to treat the puck better," Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg said of the costly turnovers. "You can't give them those opportunities."
The Red Wings are winless in the last two games after having won three straight. They also are dealing with another key injury. Forward Pavel Datsyuk missed Friday's game and is day-to-day with a bruised shoulder. Datsyuk joined Johan Franzen (hip flexor), Todd Bertuzzi (back) and Darren Helm (back) as important forwards who are missing.
"It's tough when you have a lot of guys out," Zetterberg said. "But it's part of the game and you just have to deal with it."
"It's unfortunate, we thought we had set ourselves up and in the end it didn't work out the way we wanted," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "Those miscues with the pucks in the third period cost us."
Was there any good news on Friday? You bet. Joakim Andersson scored his first goal and had an assist, Tomas Tatar had a goal and an assist (playing on a power play unit with Andersson and Gustav Nyquist), Damien Brunner had an assist (he hasn't been shooting the puck since his parents came to town last week) and Kyle Quincey of all people had a very solid game. DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose took note of the progress made by a full forward line's worth of Griffins call-ups:
Andersson opened the scoring for the Red Wings with his first career NHL point, a goal at 3:01, which was set up by defenseman Jakub Kindl and Tatar. It was a pretty goal for the Swedish centerman, who dropped to a knee to lift a shot over the out-stretched catching glove of his countryman, Ducks goalie Viktor Fasth.
“When I played in my first NHL game it was a big, exciting time, that’s for sure,” said Andersson, who has now played in nine NHL games. “The first goal would be a lot more fun if we had won the game. But it was nice to get it out of the way.”
Andersson, who is the 591st player in franchise history to register a goal while wearing the winged wheel sweater, admitted to having some nerves once Kindl delivered the pass to him in the right circle.
“I saw that there was a lot of net open there and I thought Kindl made a nice play there,” Andersson said. “I don’t think that Fasth, in the net, was ready for that play. He gave me, basically, an open net there, so it was nice to see it go in.”...
“I think we had some good PP shifts as well there,” Andersson said. “We’ve been doing pretty well together down in Grand Rapids with our PP line with Nyquist and Tatar, so we know what we’re doing there. Well, we had one goal and we had a couple of other chances, so it was all too bad.”
Tatar scored on the power play, picking up a rebound off of Damien Brunner’s shot, and buried it past Fisth, which gave the Red Wings a 2-1 lead at 6:32 of the second period. It was Tatar’s second goal in as many games, which delighted Babcock.
“I thought it was really good and really competitive,” Babcock said. “To me (Cory) Emmerton’s line was excellent. Andersson’s line was excellent and Z’s line was playing against (Ryan) Getzlaf’s line and so they were pretty good.”
Not so much. Zetterberg, Cleary and Brunner finished at -3 on the night, and on defense, Niklas Kronwall finished at -3, Jonathan Ericsson and Ian White finished at -2 (with 3 and 2 giveaways, respectively) and the team finished at a collective -21 and 9 giveaways.
Jimmy Howard was happy to see that, "The kids are all right," as they say...
“It’s great to see. We’re going to need them to step up over the next little while here until guys get healthy,” the Wings’ goalie said. “We’re going to need them to step up like that and it was great to see them get on the score sheet.”
But the big guns are struggling, as Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji noted...
"[Datsyuk]’s a catalyst for them," said Ducks forward Bobby Ryan, who scored the Ducks' fourth goal. "Him and Zetterberg together give them two deadly options. You take one of them away, especially with all the other injuries, it adds fuel to that and makes it tough for them to get that offense going."
Without Datsyuk, the Wings relied again on captain Henrik Zetterberg, who played a team-high 22:40. The problem is that for the second straight game, Zetterberg and linemate Damien Brunner finished minus-3. In the two losses, Zetterberg is scoreless and Brunner has one assist.
Niklas Kronwall, now forced into heavy lifting on the blue line with the retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom, the trade of Brad Stuart and the injury to Brendan Smith, was also minus-3 after a minus-2 against the Blues.
Without Datsyuk, Zetterberg not only is looked to for offense but also to play against the other team's top players.
To some extent negating the progress made by Tatar, Andersson and now Nyquist, especially on the power play:
"We have been playing for 40 games together in Grand Rapids, you can see it on the ice, we understand each other, we know where we are on the ice and it paid off," Tatar said.
Tatar played with Andersson during the game for regular shifts but Nyquist was on a line with Valtteri Filppula and Justin Abdelkader. If it worked well on the power play, why not try the three together on a line throughout the game? Tatar seemed to be ready for that challenge.
"When somebody's injured, it's our time to show up like we can play here," Tatar said. "We got to step up and replace those guys. I'm trying my best. And I bet whoever is replacing any guy here is trying to help the team."
"You see that they were doing good things down in the farm teams, when they get the call-up they're ready to go and they play well," [Zetterberg] said.
If there's any other good news, it's that the Wings' mystique as a team to be reckoned with and taken seriously hasn't faded, as Andrew Cogliano told the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness...
“When they do make mistakes, you have to make sure you capitalize,” Cogliano said. “Obviously, they have some top guys out, and without Datsyuk, that’s the biggest one … but for my money, they’re the same team.”
That may or may not be true, but at least Zetterberg wasn't happy about what transpired:
“In the perfect world, everyone would be healthy and you have the chemistry with the guys you’re used to playing with, but that’s not the case,” Zetterberg said. “But we’re not losing the game because of that. I think we’re giving up too many easy goals. The two goals in the third period, we should be able to treat the puck better. You can’t give those up, they’re too skilled when you get the two-on-ones, three-on-twos. You see they’re really good snipers and the puck’s in the net.”
“It was two turnovers that ended up in our net,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “It was tough. I think up to that we played a good game. We battled good the first period and took over the game in the second. We felt good going out for the third but unfortunately those two quick ones kind of killed the game.
“It’s always tough to play catch-up hockey, especially when you’ve only got 20 minutes and you need two or three goals,” Zetterberg added.
...“The turnover on the set breakout, we had the D up ahead with a forward and I don’t know why we did that and then near our bench there was on as well,” Babcock said. “It was unfortunate because I thought we set ourselves up pretty good in the third period. You’re playing a good team obviously we’re short staffed, but the guys were playing good and in the end it didn’t work out the way we wanted to.”
“When somebody's injured, it's our time to show up like we can play here,'' Tatar said. “We got to step up and replace those guys. Unfortunately, we lost. I think it was just our bad start in the third period. Other than that we weren't bad today.''
But the bottom line is the bottom line as the Wings will practice at the Joe on Saturday and then embark upon a two-game road trip that will take them to Minnesota on Sunday and Nashville on Tuesday:
“In this league, if you turn the puck over at the blue line, bad things happen,'' Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “Just a couple mistakes there and it wound up in the back of our net. That's the difference between winning and losing in this league.''
Now the Red Wings are unofficially at .500--7-5-and-2--and sit in eighth place in the Western Conference with 17 points, sitting 1 point behind the St. Louis Blues and two behind the Predators...and 9 behind the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Wings have more or less undone all the progress made during their three-game winning streak, they're not going to have Todd Bertuzzi or Johan Franzen (see: all the size in the lineup not named, well, Joakim Andersson, Jonathan Ericsson or Brian Lashoff at this point) back for a while, and it is worth noting that Justin Abdelkader and Jordin Tootoo (after taking penalties while trying to instigate fights) were both benched in the third period.
Valtteri Filppula's slid back into his offensive slump as well, and while Niklas Kronwall may have a fine defensive partner in Brian Lashoff, if Kronwall's going to make risky offensive plays--as he really has to as the Wings' one real puck-rushing defenseman--he's going to need a steadier hand to cover up for his mistakes.
It is also worth mentioning that Tom Renney's 1-3-1 power play formation was abandoned later in the game, with two defensemen on the blueline (Kronwall and White and then Quincey and Ericsson), so there is some acknowledgment that the power play ain't working.
Who are these Red Wings? I don't think they know, but with all their injuries and all their ready-for-prime-time players recalled from Grand Rapids, they're going to have to find out on their own.
With Nicklas Lidstrom in attendance, the team flopped, and now they're heading on the road with their fathers in tow. Here's hoping that this team finally understands that Lidstrom's not coming back, that there is no one else that's going to join the roster to help them, and that regardless of who's wearing Wings jerseys, this team must, must, must play the smarter, simpler and more efficient brand of Red Wings puck possession hockey that Mike Babcock's preaching.
It's that simple. This is as close to a rebuilding year as the Red Wings are ever going to get, because the management knows that nobody's going to spend money or time to watch a losing team tank on purpose, and it's up to the Wings who are in uniform, regardless of whether they're comprised of veteran NHL'ers or green rookies, to uphold the playoff-making standard that Lidstrom's passed down to them.
The Red Wings' website's highlight clip is narrated by Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond:
Post-game: If you really, really want to watch Andrew Cogliano, Bobby Ryan and Bruce Boudreau speak to Fox Sports West about the game, enjoy. Ditto for Viktor Fasth and the NHL Network or, via RedWingsFeed, the NHL Tonight's take on the game;
The Windsor Star's Bob Duff posted a video of Henrik Zetterberg speaking to the media after the game...
Fox Sports Detroit posted clips of Henrik Zetterberg and coach Mike Babcock speaking to the media:
And We All Bleed Red posted a clip of Tomas Holmstrom and Nicklas Lidstrom watching the game:
The Red Wings' website never posted Mike Babcock's post-game presser, but Currich5 on YouTube posted it...
As well as short clips of Jimmy Howard...
And Zetterberg speaking to the media:
Photos: The Detroit News's David Guralnick posted a 23-image gallery;
The Detroit Free Press posted a 25-image gallery;
The Macomb Daily posted a 6-image gallery;
The Windsor Star posted 3 photos from the game;
As usual, Yahoo Sports posted a handful of AP images from the game in its Wings gallery;
ESPN posted a 13-image gallery;
Shots 37-28 Anaheim overall. Anaheim out-shot Detroit 14-6 in the 1st, were out-shot 16-14 in the 2nd, but the Ducks regained the shot lead in the 3rd, out-shooting Detroit 9-6.
The Wings went 1-for-4 in 6:45 of PP time; the Ducks went 0-for-3 in 4:59 of PP time.
Viktor Fasth stopped 26 of 28 shots;
Jimmy Howard stopped 32 of 36, and the Ducks' 37th shot went into an empty net.
The 3 stars, per Michigan Talk Radio's Rich Kincaide, were Tomas Tatar, Teemu Selanne and Bobby Ryan.
The Wings' goals: Andersson (1) from Kindl (2) and Tatar (2);
Tatar (2) from Brunner (4) and Andersson (1), PPG.
Faceoffs 30-22 Detroit (Detroit won 58%);
Blocked shots 14-12 Detroit;
Missed shots an ugly 19-8 Detroit (total attempts 59-59);
Hits 18-14 Detroit;
Giveaways 9-3 Detroit;
Red Wings notebooks: Aftonbladet's Per Bjurman attended the game, but focused on Vitkor Fasth's performance, as did Expressen's Gunnar Nordstrom, though Nordstrom congratulated Joakim Andersson on his first goal and asked him if he was packing for Nashville, to which Andersson replied, "I think so."
Bjurman also spoke to Nicklas Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom at the morning skate, and Bjurman reports that the pair--who will be signing autographs at 97.1 the Ticket's SportsFest in Novi today from 12-1:30 PM--pretty much said hello to all of the Wings' staff and some sponsors as well. All they added to the equation involved Holmstrom saying that he had to pay for coffee for both Mr. and Mrs. Lidstrom, and Holmstrom also razzed Lidstrom about getting a bigger welcome during the game against St. Louis...
But Lidstrom says that aside from having more free time and being unaccustomed to a life away from the routine of a hockey player, his body's not yelling at him and he's not dealing with nagging injuries, so he's happy with where he's at, even in the snowy Swedish winter.
I mention all of this first because our only "notebooks" involve the ten minutes of time Lidstrom gave to the press, and Lidstrom made it very plain to the Windsor Star's Bob Duff that he's happily retired:
"It’s fun watching,” said Lidstrom, who saw his second straight Red Wings defeat in person as the Anaheim Ducks dumped Detroit 5-2 Friday at Joe Louis Arena. “I know how much fun it is playing, too, but I also know what it takes to be there and that’s something I can’t do – be up to that level of play where I want to be. That was the main reason I retired and why I’m still retired.”
Not that he isn’t finding outlets to fulfill the passion he still holds for the game. But while so many other superstars are moving quickly into the front offices of their old NHL teams, Lidstrom has opted to take the other direction. He’s helping coach his son Samuel’s team back home in Vasteras, Sweden.
“I’ve been on skates quite a bit,” Lidstrom said. “I help out with my 12-year-old’s team. I’m the assistant coach, and have been on the ice with them a few times a week. It’s been fun being there every day, being at practices and on the ice with one of my kids. Being home a lot more is something I really enjoy. It’s a slower pace, but I’m enjoying retirement.”
While he’ll serve as an ambassador for this spring’s world championship in Stockholm, Lidstrom has not been asked, nor has he sought, any sort of advisory position with the Swedish national team. Nor will he have any input on his country’s 2014 Olympic squad.
“I’ll just be a spectator,” Lidstrom said of the Olympics.
He’s not completely severed his ties from the big-time, engaging in birddogging for his old club.
“I’ve been doing some scouting,” Lidstrom said. “I watched some of the junior teams, and national teams this fall, and watched some of teams going through my hometown, some of the junior kids. It’s different, kind of a learning process. When you’re watching a whole team it’s hard to pick players out. You have to focus on one or two players that you’re really looking it. It’s a new thing for me.”
Lidstrom’s scouting report on his scouting abilities is to take a wait-and-see approach.
“It’s too early to tell,” he said. “I think we should rely on (Red Wings European scout) Hakaan Andersson before decisions from me.”
Lidstrom reiterated his points to the Associated Press's Larry Lage...
"It's different walking in here and coming into this locker room when you're not a player anymore," Lidstrom said Friday after the Detroit Red Wings practiced for a game against the Anaheim Ducks. "You're used to sitting in your stall, used to getting dressed and putting gear on. It's a different feeling, but it's good to be back in here again."
The seven-time Norris Trophy winner insisted he has no regrets about choosing to end his NHL career last May following his 20th season with the Red Wings. The 42-year-old Lidstrom could still be playing, making several million dollars a year. Lidstrom turned down a chance to return for another year, and after the lockout ended he rebuffed an opportunity to resume his career during the 48-game season.
"If you come back and play in a shortened season it's easier, even though it's a lot more intense," he said. "But you have to stay in shape to be able to play at this level, so even if I knew there was going to be a lockout, my decision was already made."
The four-time Stanley Cup champion doesn't look like he's put a pound on his 6-foot-2, 190-pound body.
Lidstrom is enjoying a slower pace in life with his wife and children back home in Sweden, where he is an assistant coach for his 12-year-old son's hockey team and occasionally scouts prospects for the Red Wings.
"Just the everyday of being home with the family, helping out with kids' practices and taking them to school in the morning, picking them up in the afternoon," he said. "Just the everyday things you weren't around for in the past. Being able to travel - with the family."
Though there is no doubt that the Wings did indeed ask Lidstrom whether he'd be interested in playing again...
"There's no doubt he be among the top 10 defensemen in the league if he wanted to keep playing," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said.
And Lidstrom told DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose that he's actually excited about taking in the World Championships as a spectator:
While he has no intensions of ever playing again, that hasn’t stopped the International Ice Hockey Federation from tapping the 42-year-old as an ambassador to the 2013 World Championship in Finland and Sweden in May.
“Being part of this is going to be fun,” Lidstrom said. “As a player, you show up and play the games and then you leave the venue and get ready for the next game. I'll have a chance to be there, see what it's like around the games. I'm looking forward to it.”
Lidstrom also looked forward to driving to the rink with his former chauffeur this week. The two were inseparable during their playing days with Holmstrom usually driving the pair to The Joe on game days.
“The ride this morning was the first one in a long while,” Lidstrom said. “It's fun, a lot of memories, it was a fun ride down.”
The Lidstroms are staying at the Holmstrom Hotel, where Nick thought the accommodations would be, er, better.
“I was expecting a little more hospitality from Homer,” Lidstrom joked. “We had some great times with him and his wife. It's fun being back and it's fun being around Homer again. We were close friends when we were playing and it's good to be back here again.”
The Detroit Free Press's George Sipple took note of Lidstrom's comments, too:
“It’s fun being back and fun being around Homer again,” said Lidstrom, who moved back to Sweden with his wife and children after retiring from the Wings in May. “We were close friends when we were playing, and it’s good to be back here again with him. We talk every now and then on the phone. He visited me when he was over in Sweden around Christmastime.”
Lidstrom said he and his wife are staying with Holmstrom while they are visiting in Michigan.
“We do have the whole basement to ourselves,” Lidstrom said. “He’s been very accommodating so far.”
Here’s what Lidstrom said on a few other topics:
" On whether the NHL lockout played into his retirement: “I still had my mind made up. I think if you come back and play in a shortened season, I think it’s easier, even though it’s a lot more intense. … But you have to stay in shape to be able to play at this level.”
" On having a second career in hockey in some way: “I think it’s too early to tell. I’m still adjusting to living in Sweden, changing the lifestyle for what I’ve had here for the last 20 years. Besides that, I haven’t thought much of the future, whether I’ll be involved more in hockey.”
" On watching the NHL games: “It’s hard with a six-hour time difference, and the games starting in the middle of the night. It’s easy to watch the afternoon games.”
Teemu Selanne and Lidstrom exchanged compliments through Roose, too:
“Maybe in 20 years, he has missed one or two games I have played,” said Teemu Selanne, the 42-year-old star, who leads Anaheim with 14 points in 12 games. “In many ways, that's a relief because he was an unbelievable hockey player.”
Lidstrom was arguably the toughest defender to exploit, Selanne said.
“You know you can't beat him one-on-one because he's so smart, good skater and everything,” Selanne said. “He was a threat all the time, offensively, too, and (and on the) power play. It’s good news for other teams. But I miss him. I played against him since I was 16 on junior national team. It was a fun road to watch him play and do things on the ice because he was just magic. For sure the guys here and the fans and even the guys who play against him miss him. You can't hate that guy, he was so classy and he plays so fair and he has no enemies. He was just so good and fair.”
Against the Red Wings, Selanne has produced 23 goals and 58 points – the fewest goals and points that he’s totaled against all NHL teams that he’s played against at least 66 times. On a team that currently has eight skaters who have scored at least four goals each, Selanne continues to be impressive in this his 19th NHL season. He’s had two four-point games already this season, becoming the oldest player to record four points in a game since Gordie Howe (42 days, 326 days) did it in 1971.
Lidstrom, who retired last summer after earning seven Norris Trophy honors as the league’s best defenseman, and helping the Red Wings win four Stanley Cup championships, is in Detroit this week. He was at Joe Louis Arena on Friday morning, where he was asked what it is about aging players – like himself and Selanne – who still produce for their teams despite playing at an advanced age?
“I think the most important thing is the love of the game,” Lidstrom said. “If you love coming to the rink, love playing, love being in competition, and they're all real good players, too. They have to take care of themselves in the off-season, too, to play at this level. I think the main thing (though) is the love of playing hockey.”
Otherwise, Roose added a note about Damien Brunner's parents' visit in the Wings' Game Day Blog, along with a picture of Lidstrom and Holmstrom enjoying the morning skate...
"They’ve enjoyed it. It’s been awesome. We spent a lot of time together. They were impressed with the arena and all the other stuff around the Red Wings."
- Damien Brunner on his parents visiting Detroit for the week
As well as an intriguing quip form Jordin Tootoo, who played in his 500th game on Friday night, about returning to Nashville on Tuesday...
"Nashville has done tremendous things for me both on and off the ice...(but) I’m a Red Wing and as I’ve said before, I’m going to do whatever it takes to get two points every night."
- Jordin Tootoo
The Windsor Star's Bob Duff got first-hand injury updates from Jonas Gustavsson, who's headed to Grand Rapids as his groin's healed, and Mikael Samuelsson, who may return from his groin injury during the Wings' road trip (the same is true for Jan Mursak, as noted in that massive injury update post with oodles of news from MLive's Ansar Khan and the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness)...
“I feel good, my body feels good,” Gustavsson said. “Right now it’s just about me trying to catch up with the other guys. That’s what I’ve been doing. It’s tough to say when I’ll play my first game, but I feel healthy. Now it’s just about finding the rhythm and the timing out there on the ice. I feel like it’s coming. But it’s tough right now because of the different season.”
Likewise left-winger Mikael Samuelsson, another off-season addition idled since training camp by groin issues, thinks he’ll be back in action soon.
“I’m going harder and harder,” Samuelsson said. “I’m getting closer to being there. There’s no hurdle (in terms of injury). It’s just about getting in shape.”
At some point, MLive's going to allow its story from the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner, confirming Gustavsson's conditioning stint, "go live," but as of 4 AM, it's a dead link...
And the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness's news about the three injured Wings with back issues--technically, Johan Franzen's hip flexors all tie into his pelvis and spine, especially just above the pelvis (and your butt--trust me, I've got bad hip flexors, and the best way to relieve tension in them is to actually have someone depress their thumbs into the sides of your spine just above your rear end and the start of your back's lumbar curve)--is worth repeating:
Don’t expect to see Todd Bertuzzi or Darren Helm anytime soon in the Wings’ lineup. Both have been out with back injuries.
“I’ve got to believe he’s out probably a minimum of a couple weeks,” Holland said. “When he comes back it’s going to take a week or two to get up and running.”
With Bertuzzi it’s his lower back.
Helm is feeling better each day according to Holland.
“We’re in a holding pattern, I have no idea of time frame,” Holland said. “Doctors aren’t sure if it’s a strain or a slight ligament tear, but they’ve ruled out a disc problem and hairline fracture. Judging by how long he’s been out it’s likely a slight tear.”
Johan Franzen (hip flexor) is out at least through Sunday.
“We’re going to be conservative with him,” Holland said. “Fortunately, we’re 7-4-2, we can be a little conservative.”
With injuries in Detroit or Grand Rapids robbing their lineup of 39 percent of its point production, 43 percent of its goals and 59 percent of its wins – including their top four scorers and their all-star goalie – the Griffins rallied from a 3-2 deficit to take the lead before surviving a Lake Erie power play in the final minutes and capping off the win with Jeff Hoggan’s empty-netter at 19:40.
The Griffins (28-16-2-2), who increased their lead atop the Midwest Division to eight points over idle Chicago, will enjoy their final open Saturday of the regular season before hosting the Charlotte Checkers on Sunday at 4 p.m.
Callahan put the Griffins on the board at 14:52 of the opening period, slamming home a centering pass from Luke Glendening, who had just dug the puck out of the right corner.
But Lake Erie answered with goals late in the first and early in the second to go on top 2-1. Following a turnover in the neutral zone, Tyler McNeely put a shot just inside the left post at 17:34, before Paul Carey rang a shot off the iron and into the net 1:06 into the middle frame.
A few minutes later, Callahan shot wide of the net from the slot during a rush, but he stayed in front of the net to pot Hoggan’s pass from the end boards at the 5:44 mark.
The teams then traded power play tallies before the buzzer, making it a 3-3 contest through 40 minutes. Lake Erie’s Karl Stollery connected on a long shot through traffic from just inside the blue line at 14:20, before Chad Billins pulled the Griffins even with a great individual effort. Taking a pass from Tomas Jurco in the high slot, Billins scooped a backhander on net that Kent Patterson denied, but he rushed in to deposit his own rebound from the doorstep with 3:41 remaining in the period.
Another power play goal midway through the third moved the Griffins ahead 4-3, as Nathan Paetsch found a rebound on the left side and quickly flung the puck into the net at the 9:34 mark. The Monsters (24-19-2-5) pressed for the equalizer after a Glendening boarding penalty with 2:13 remaining and pulled Patterson for an extra attacker with a minute left, but Grand Rapids’ defense held firm before Hoggan stole the puck in his zone and sent it 140 feet down the ice into the vacated net.
Patterson, making his second career AHL start, made 26 saves in the loss, while [Tom] McCollum set a personal AHL best with his 12th win of the season.
As well as a Flickr photo gallery and a YouTube clip of highlights and post-game interviews:
The Griffins were very happy about their win, as they told the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner:
“There are injuries up top (in Detroit) and injuries here and that’s just part of the AHL. There’s going to be turnover and you have to learn to live with it,” said defenseman Nathan Paetsch, who scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third.
“We had guys who stepped up in a big, big fashion. We lost basically our first line, and we had a line of (Jeff) Hoggan, (Luke) Glendening and Callahan just come out and were just monstrous and filled that void.”
The Griffins placed a big emphasis on defense against Lake Erie (24-18-2-5), especially in light of two blown leads last weekend at Oklahoma City. (4-3 and 7-5). The Monsters, who had 29 shots, were held to five in the third.
“After a couple of tough games, getting your game back – the team game – against a team like Lake Erie that really pushes it was important,” said Griffins coach Jeff Blashill. “… My thought process more than anything was we have to get back to playing better defensively. And we made some mistakes tonight but I thought we took some steps forward in the third.”
In Europe, Alexei Marchenko actually played in CSKA Moscow's 3-2 shootout loss to Dynamo Riga. He finished at a -1 and didn't register a point;
Back over on this side of the pond, in the QMJHL, Martin Frk had no points but finished at +2 in the Halifax Moosheads' 6-3 win over Shawinigan;
Xavier Ouellet scored a goal and was named the third star in the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada's 4-1 win over Cape Breton;
And Phillipe Hudon didn't register a point in the Victoriaville Tigres' 6-5 OT loss to Rimouski;
In the OHL, Jake Paterson gave up 6 goals on 39 shots in the Saginaw Spirit's 6-4 loss to Oshawa;
And Alan Quine registered an assist in the Belleville Bulls' 1-0 victory over Mississauga;
In the WHL, Richard Nedomlel didn't register a point in the Swift Current Broncos' 2-1 victory over Regina;
In the WCHA, Ben Marshall registered an assist in Minnesota's 3-2 victory over Wisconsin;
In the USHL, Mike McKee didn't suit up in the Lincoln Stars' 4-2 victory over Des Moines;
And in the BCHL, James De Haas didn't register a point in the Penticton Vees' 2-1 victory over Salmon Arm.
Update: Two days late and a dollar short, but adorable:
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