Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings early overnight report: on the second day of training camp

Things get complicated in the neutral zone, and that's what Friday's practices (despite its Bertuzzi-Nyquist-Tatar tales and quips and quotes) were about, though I do need to note this comment that Wings coach Mike Babcock made to the Free Press's Helene St. James, because it's essential:

Mike Babcock said he reassembled his lines just based on “who has a chance to play in the NHL, and try to put them in good spots.” He reiterated that he may still put Cleary with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, which would bump Justin Abdelkader.

Babcock happened to toss Daniel Cleary on the Andersson-Nyquist line, and as Trevor Parkes apparently got dinged, that worked out pretty nicely.

“We have eight exhibition games to figure all this out,” Babcock said. “These are walk-throughs for me. I make that very clear every year. They have four or five opportunities in exhibition to grab their chunk of the ice time. We give everyone an opportunity on the power play, we give everyone an opportunity on the penalty kill. So when you leave here, you know you were given an opportunity - the ball is in your court.”

There's some truth to that and there's some oversimplification there as well.

To some extent, Babcock can't possibly assess all of the players he's watching, and that's specifically the case in terms of so many prospects and AHL'ers. One man's eyeballs do not take in sixty-three skating bodies and determine their fates based upon 3 practices with each of teams Howe, Lindsay and Delvecchio and a Red vs. White game on Sunday.

But that's why Babcock isn't alone. During the vast majority of his drills, assistant coaches Bill Peters and Tom Renney are working with him, as is Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill, and so is video coordinator Keith McKittrick; many times, Griffins assistant coaches Jim Paek and Spiros Anastas will take to the ice; for some drills, Wings goalie coach Jim Bedard works with the netminders, defensemen's mentor Chris Chelios takes part in some drills, and so does Jiri Fischer, whose title just happens to be the director of player development.

There's also a reason that the Alumni and Celebrity Game's roster is so very jam-packed with front-office types: GM Ken Holland is here. Assistant GM Ryan Martin is here. The entire amateur scouting staff is here, from new director Tyler Wright and chief scout Jeff Finley to European scouting guru Hakan Andersson, Finnish scout Ari Vouri, and the vast majority of the pro scouts, including Mark Howe and Kirk Maltby, too. Kris Draper ("special assistant to the GM") is here, scout/pal of Ken Holland's Glenn Merkosky is here. Even the announcers are here.

Just about everybody who has a say in where each and every one of the players is in attendance, and during most practices and especially the scrimmage, the pro and amateur scouts and the gentlemen who decide whether to reassign players to their junior rights-holders or to keep them with the Griffins and Walleye, the gentlemen who decide whether to assign a player to the Griffins or the Walleye to begin with, and those who are ultimately in charge of the mess that is the Wings' 27-man roster and salary cap overage are all here, and they are all watching.

On either Saturday or Sunday, the vast majority of the Wings' junior-aged players will be sent back to their rights-holders, leaving a Wings-Griffins-Walleye group, perhaps just enough to make two teams to play in the Red vs. White game on Sunday at 11.

After that, the Wings will hold a pair of morning skates and practices at Centre Ice Arena on Monday and Tuesday--with the game-day players for Monday's game in Pittsburgh and Tuesday's game in Chicago flying out of Traverse City--and the team will pack up and bus everyone back to Detroit on Tuesday afternoon...

Though the team has one more exhibition game on the road--on Thursday the 19th, my travel day home (and that game will air on FSD!)--before finally opening the Joe with home games against Boston on Saturday the 21st and Chicago on Sunday the 22nd (on FSD).

On Monday the 23rd, there will be another round of cuts--four exhibition games out of eight into that schedule--as the Grand Rapids Griffins will head to the West Side of the state to begin their training camp, though they will return to play exhibition games on the 28th and 29th in Plymouth and Windsor (hosting the Lake Erie Monsters both times)...

And the Wings will slowly pare down their roster as they round the corner toward the three final exhibition games--a Wednesday, September 25th tilt against Pittsburgh at the Joe (on FSD Plus), Friday, September 27th tilt against Toronto at the Joe, and a Saturday night rematch in Toronto on the 28th (on the CBC).

The Wings don't need to be cap-compliant or 23-man-roster-compliant until Monday, October 1st at 5 PM, at least according to Ken Holland, so between now and then, the players know, and know through the media, that exhibition games are "where it's at"...

But I have no doubt that Babcock is "watching," if only a little bit, while doing a whole hell of a lot of "teaching."

 

The reality of an NHL training camp is kind of brutal for coaches as well as players: from a coaching standpoint, you get all of 3 real practices and a scrimmage's worth of "teaching time" before you're trying to win eight games played over the course of 13 nights. Babcock does have to focus on the "teaching" part, for newcomers and veterans alike, because he is trying to cram any systemic tweaks he's worked on over the summer down sixty players' throats in a hurry.

I can certainly tell you that the video area, when in use (see: laptop propped onto a bench with a case, sets of benches for the players to sit on, and a projection system, a screen and some dry-erase white boards) is a no-go zone, and I'll be damned if HBO's 24/7 cameras--who haven't shown up yet--are allowed to point their lenses at what's being shown. The only time Keith McKittrick's really gotten serious with me is when I was tying my shoes on one of the players' benches ten minutes before the video session in the atrium (i.e. where the videos are shown is also where people on the ground level move from rink to rink, so it's a rather inconvenient location), and he only half-jokingly told me, "DON'T YOU KNOW, NO MEDIA IN HERE!"

The players get at least ten minutes of video regardless of whether they're on the ice for 90 minutes or 40, and that shit ain't made up on the back of a napkin at the Babcock family's summer home in Emma Lake. They use game clips to illustrate what to do and what not to do, and they try to outline the entire practice very succinctly.

(Spoiler best moment of the week alert: after the video session for Team Delvecchio this morning, Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk were hunched over the laptop at the heart of the operation, trying to get the last detail right with McKittrick, for an extra 90 seconds. The team had left the room and had gone onto the ice on the West Rink, everybody else had moved on, and here were the most talented players on the team, sweating out a detail on the second day of training camp)

I might suggest that the lines themselves are a little more ramshackle--there's obviously some message-sending going on here, but there's also a real, "Okay, here are some AHL guys, here are some prospects, here's a lone NHL guy or AHL player we can send a message to...And here's a leftover" sense to them.

I do believe that Babcock is indeed watching, but the long story long is that he has many other eyes helping him watch the sixty-some players on the roster, and while Babcock and Holland obviously have the last word, we have to remember that there are as many as NINE other bodies engaging in on-the-ice drills, and judging by the alumni game roster, there are thirteen or fourteen other sets of eyes at the coach and GM's disposal.

 

 

Heading back to the day's drills, I've been a hockey fan since I was a late-sports-blooming 13-year-old, but I've never had a good time understanding neutral zone drills, and that's what today's drills focused upon. Getting the puck out of the zone and doing so with either the goaltender starting play, more regularly, a defenseman making a d-to-d pass to retrieve a dump in--often with a reversal of "flow" against the side of the ice where the puck was dumped in--or a defenseman simply retrieving the dump-in and sending the puck up to the forwards.

Some of the initial drills involved the same stuff that Thursday's practice did--making sure that forwards were in the right position and that they rotated to cover possible "giveaway" points like the slot or an open opposing defenseman in the center of the blueline, lots of stops and starts included, and some placing of conveniently-spaced coaches who just happened to become terrible at possessing the puck in deep included--but more and more regularly, the clearing-neutral zone drills involved what I'd describe as sets of movement as opposed to a specific play:

There were drills in which the "set of movement," after the defensemen had retrieved the puck, was "up the wall," i.e. straight up to a forward;

There were drills in which the "set of movement," after the defensemen had retrieved the puck, was "diagonal," with forwards having to shift both their vertical and horizontal positioning to provide outlets;

And there were drills in which the "set of movement" involved a forward coming back to serve as an immediate outlet, usually moving toward the slot, and then re-passing the puck to either the defenseman who was supposed to go up the wall or another forward.

Once the puck was out of the zone, the forwards had to make passes to each other, had to skate to the opposite blueline, and would occasionally regroup and skate back against the 2 defensemen that started the drill.

And this is where things started getting complicated.

First the players attempting to exit the zone and transverse the neutral zone faced 1 opposing forward.

Then there were 2, 3, and eventually, these drills were repeated 5-on-5, to the point that some minor hitting was allowed, and "intercepted passes" were deemed goal-score-able.

If you're wondering what Babcock had to say when these drills began to involve significant man-on-man coverage, immediately after the second video session for Team Delvecchio (oh yeah, by the way, Danny DeKeyser wears Kevlar socks), my notebook says the following:

Babcock: "The first guy's getting sloppy, there's no room for sloppy."

First note thereafter: "Bench changes used."

So, just as the transition drills began to include a) end-to-end play and b) five-on-five coverage, c) players were coming off the bench to either pressure the dump-retrieving team or to relieve the dump-retrieving team's forwards, so increase your degree of difficulty by a factor of 10.

Also: allow the coaches to "flip" in the puck instead of letting it land in a specific spot on the ice.

The second part of practice involved drills that I ended up drawing in patterns that look like frickin' Kanji characters. I've got layered defensemen backing up and skating forward while three forwards charge up one side of the ice, a d-to-d pass setting up a diagonal set of passes between three forwards who then dump the puck in, retrieve it, reverse the order of the diagonal passes and come all the way back down the ice to shoot on the end from whence they came...

And then there were power play drills. I know this because Mikael Samuelsson donned a black "#71" jersey, and you and I all know that:

a) Defensemen wear black in practice;

b) Mike Babcock's biggest flaw as a coach involves believing that Mikael Samuelsson is a competent power play defenseman..

These drills generally involved starting "set up" in the opposing team's zone--first without opposition--and shifting the "thrust" of possession from either a sniping forward who eluded coverage and found his way into the slot/hash marks, shifting the "thrust" back to a pinching defensemen via a lateral pass, and finally, end-to-end drills in which 5-on-4 hockey was played, with the dump-and-retrieve team playing on the power play.

Often, to add the "bench management" trick to the mix, the 5th player on the 5-on-4 team would join from the bench, and while I was drooling over the Easton Hockey representative's stack of sticks in the media-must-never-pass zone (which is where I was sitting for the prospect tournament practices and scrimmages), I took note of the fact that Nestrasil, Callahan and Hudon were simply not getting any ice time. Thus the power play drill.

Also: at one point I noted that even Datsyuk and Zetterberg were stopped by the coaches, and Babcock had them line up and do the drill again.

So even the perfectionists had to re-start--and it wasn't punitive or anything. Babcock does yell when he's annoyed. When he wants to re-start, he'll simply blow his whistle or tell everybody to stop, and the vast majority of the time, he simply asks people to stop and line up. The, "You gotta do it right" or, "Pick up the pace!" comments are usually made during the drills, and are usually not involved in his "teachable moments."

The drills were truncated for the second and third teams, which only received 40 minutes' worth of the drills--and they got the more complicated parts, including board-battles and hitting, almost from the get-go.

 

 


In terms of what I thought about individual players, albeit briefly--and the names in all-capitals indicate shifts in position:

Team Howe:

Franzen  Weiss  Alfredsson

Team Howe practiced last for the second time in a row, so it's hard to say what players' practice habits are, but...

Johan Franzen: Continues to hang onto the puck for too long. Far too long. He's big. He's faster than we assume he is. But he's on a line where the best thing he can do is give the puck to Alfredsson and Weiss and get open to score a goal, and instead, he's trying to do all the work. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Right now, I'm not thrilled.

Stephen Weiss: Fast, diligent with and without the puck, a superb playmaker, wins faceoffs, has a hard snapper, is mobile as mobile can be and has a bit of a mean streak here and there.

Daniel Alfredsson: Again, he skates and shoots and passes like he's 35. And like he can score 20 goals and register 40-50 points. It is very evident that his hockey brain is working at an advanced level.

Miller  Emmerton  Eaves

Drew Miller: Miller is one of the players least likely to impress while at a training camp practice or scrimmage. There's no reason to block a shot, there are almost no penalties to kill, the opportunities to check are minimal and the mucking and grinding in the corners in all three zones is kept to a bare minimum. In short, it ain't Drew Miller's kind of skill game. Though he has more than enough in terms of puck-moving, skating, defensive sense and even his shot to keep up and then some.

Cory Emmerton: The issue for Emmerton, in my opinion, is his ability to get his upper-body strength to the point that he's winning those faceoff battles and in-the-trenches puck battles that he kept losing last year, and it's hard to say whether he's achieved his goal. He looks even bigger than he did last year, but looks aren't everything.

Patrick Eaves: Eaves' superior skating ability is very easy to see, and of the three amigos who aren't about training camp scrimmages, Eaves obviously stands out because he's fast and has a sneaky wrist shot. But those are not the reasons he's either going to stay around or be moved.

Mantha  Athanasiou  Pulkkinen

Anthony Mantha: At least in scrimmages, Mantha looks great. He's skating very hard, his confidence level shot through the roof when he scored goals in the final two games of the prospect tournament, and he's got that booming shot. He's playing very, very, very well.

Andreas Athanasiou: Athanasiou may or may not have been sidelined after dinging his shoulder in a scrimmage collision with Jared Coreau. He was chugging up and down the ice as usual, but again, his explosive speed isn't making up for his lack of using his linemates.

Teemu Pulkkinen: Continues to bounce off of hits, evade opposing checkers, charge down loose pucks, make superb passes and unleash what is generally a wide but no less smart shot. He's adjusting seamlessly to the pace of pro hockey on a North American-sized rink.

Bertuzzi  Goodrow  LYNCH

Tyler Bertuzzi: Looks downright uncomfortable, which is good. He's being forced to work on his skating--which is very good--his passing--which is solid--and his shot--which is underrated, as they say. He's just not allowed to mash people or to drop the gloves or run around and instigate, which are his comfort zones.

Barclay Goodrow: The try-out impresses enough that he may very well earn an AHL deal. He's a speedy checking center or winger who likes to go to the net and who initiates contact. Grinds, grinds, grinds.

Kellan Lynch: Lynch looked a little out of place centering on the wing with the two "kids" as Trevor Parkes' replacement. The second day I've seen the AHL-only-contracted veteran skate was a brief appearance, and he didn't do much to wow me, but it's the second time I've seen him skate.
 
Defense 

Kronwall  Ericsson 

Niklas Kronwall: Kronwall had some brain farts during the scrimmage, getting caught pinching on occasion and making some doofy outlet passes. These things happen to him from time to time, and they did not detract from his learned ability to rifle pucks out of trouble via pinpoint passing or puck-lugging, to rip slap shots at the net, to use his positioning as well as his physicality to rub opponents out and to use Jonathan Ericsson as a fine foil.

Jonathan Ericsson: Ericsson was the steady one. He didn't pinch at the wrong times today, his shot was on and he was bailing out Kronwall, which is something Wings fans need to see him do more regularly.

Ouellet  Evans

Xavier Ouellet: Having a rough go. Ouellet's silky-smooth play, stick-checking, positioning, passing, shooting and skating are all running into that, "I don't have this extra half-to-full second with which to make a decision, and also, guys who are 6'4 and 230 pounds are running me after I dominated in a league of 16-to-20-year-olds" wall. He will get through it, but right now, he's getting beat to hell.

Brennan Evans: Very heavy, very solid but more of a stay-at-home guy, and when Ouellet is getting the snot hit out of him, even in a light-checking situation, he needs more than a stay-at-home partner.

Fournier  Nicastro 

Gleason Fournier: Gleason showed up on Friday. He's still all stick and skates, superbly-speedy and maneuverable and possessing excellent passing but lacking in physical attributes.

Max Nicastro: Nicastro has, again, jumped all over the boost in confidence he gained from the prospect tournament. He's moving the puck as well as being safe, steady and physical.
 
Goalies 

Howard: Jimmy Howard said that he is indeed working on his puck-handling, and it's gotten markedly better. He's starting to stop the puck with some certainty and he's making shorter, crisper passes. His glove is as-ever a stone wall, his positioning is superb and he's challenging shooters and booting rebounds into the proper places.

Coreau: Coreau is still a work in progress in all senses of the term, but he was pretty damn fearless when he played and he's shown no intimidation by the level of competition, even when he got ran over by Athanasiou. He's big, he's square and he's solid.

Injured: Trevor Parkes: Saw him in workout clothes. Ditto for Nick Jensen, who's been wearing ice packs and a TENS unit to work his shoulder muscles.

Team Lindsay

Nyquist  Andersson  CLEARY

Gustav Nyquist: Nyquist isn't exactly playing like there's a fire lit under his ass, but there's some urgency there that really started on the first day of camp, and he is evidently trying to make things happen offensively. To some extent, he deferred to Cleary in the finishing of the offensive passing job, but he held his own and carried the line at times.

Joakim Andersson: Andersson continues to improve upon his skating, and he is simply a rock-solid two-way center.

Daniel Cleary: If you mess up your team's roster and cap situation like Cleary did, you'd better have a fire lit under your ass, and Cleary played like his life depended on showing up in mid-season form. #71--for the day--sure looked like he was ready to go and then some. He was roaring up and down the ice.

Jurco  JARNKROK Ferraro

Tomas Jurco: Had a slower, more subtle day. Jurco's been playing a ton of hockey, and it's evident that his energy level ebbs and flows a bit. But he continues to mature into a player who is more comfortable creating offense and not creating offense for the opposition.

Calle Jarnkrok: Delightfully happy to be with NHL competition, he has always had a tendency to grit his teeth, and as such, he looks like he's smiling all the damn time, but damn if he ain't happy out there. He is, again, more slippery than glitter on a sweaty stripper, but man alive, he's enjoying the battling with NHL-level opponents part like nobody's business, regardless of whether it's winning a battle along the boards, winning a faceoff, out-smarting someone to the puck or simply skating through them.

Landon Ferraro: He's been really solid thus far. Ferraro's got speed to spare, he's very reliable in his own zone, he's got a sneaky shot and he's a good playmaker as well. He's better-suited to the wing and he looks comfortable. He's on the cusp of being NHL-ready.

Grant Nastasiuk TVRDON

Triston Grant: is a hunk'a man. Big, gritty, heavy, he's a forechecker and a face-masher. And he looks a wee bit out of place in skill drills.

Zach Nastasiuk: Again, he's taken the prospect tournament success as something of a springboard. With an extra step in his stride, he's confidently making plays at high speed and looks incredibly poised as a two-way center who's all of 18.

Marek Tvrdon: Tvrdon's been really good, but that always comes with the, "He's barely played in three years" caveat. He's starting to look fluid out there and his big wide shoulders can in fact be bent into a crouch that gives him all sorts of leverage.

Bertuzzi Sheahan Tatar

Todd Bertuzzi: He was a little ornery and a little slower today, but ornery Bertuzzi is not a bad thing. He was also particularly attentive during the drills, and he is working his ass off to prove that the big bad intimidation machine can master the fine points of the game--and look good doing it. So far, so good.

Riley Sheahan: Got his legs back under him today. He wasn't elegant but he worked very hard and he regained his playmaking sense. He looked a little more like the Sheahan that dominated the prospect tournament...

Tomas Tatar: But Tatar stole the show. He made Cleary look slow at times, blazing up and down the ice, making precision passes, firing off slithery shots, grinding and even hacking and whacking to out-compete as well as out-skate his opponents to the puck. He was pissed off, and it showed.

Defense 

Quincey  Smith

Kyle Quincey: Quincey was gambling, gambling, gambling today, and it was worrisome, but he got his butt back into position a lot earlier than usual.

Brendan Smith: Smith went full o-fence today, and that was a little scary. Shades of last spring.

Almquist  Sproul 

Adam Almquist: Almquist looks like a man as opposed to a boy, and this is something very new for him. Almquist looks like he's finally, finally filled out, and his skating is excellent, his little short stick makes fluid passes and his shot's solid, and on top of that, he lets his positioning do the work for him.

Ryan Sproul: Sproul's having his share of Ouellet moments, but his raw physical attributes help bail him out in many instances. He's just a frickin' giant, and that's very helpful when people are trying to run you.

Plutnar  Nedomlel 

Richard Plutnar: Again, Plutnar has been fine. Good passing, good skating, all solid, all with an offensive flair. Against a stacked, stacked blueline.

Richard Nedomlel: Nedomlel's been not a rock, but a boulder. He's been heavy, hard and sometimes a little mean, even in a nearly-non-hitting environment.
 
Goalies 

Petr Mrazek: Mrazek was very good. When he was in the scrimmage, he was patient and poised, and again, a little less athletic. His style is incredibly distinct as he carries his glove so very high and angles his legs out at sometimes drastic angles, but he gets the job done just fine, and his puckhandling has also improved.

Jake Paterson: Paterson was victimized--and I mean victimized--by the Nicastro and Alfredsson goals. He just looked like he was standing still, and that's what happens when a seemingly flawless OHL goalie meets Daniel Alfredsson.

Cam Lanigan: The hardworking try-out took a call during practice and handed it over to Jim Bedard. That's not a good sign in terms of his tenure with the Wings, but as he's got no more junior eligibility, hopefully he's found a home.

Injured:  Helm  Hoggan: Helm was absent and Hoggan was in his street clothes, talking to the Griffins' staff.

Team Delvecchio

Zetterberg  Datsyuk  Abdelkader

Henrik Zetterberg: Works hard. Works hard, works hard, works hard. Leads by example, works hard, and was willing to learn and be lectured to a bit by Babs after doing video work with McKittrick. Which speaks to what being a leader is all about.

Pavel Datsyuk: Ditto, while making moves that make you say HOLY *#$%@& WHAT WAS THAT.

Justin Abdelkader: He's enjoying his time in the sun. He goes to the front of the net, gets the puck to the guys who know how to make things happen and gets out of the way, or he offers what Eddie Olczyk loves to call "passive interference" (see: forechecking; see also: sometimes your big ass is in the way, and you have no obligation to simply stand aside when you can request that someone skate through you instead).

Samuelsson  Glendening  Tootoo

Samuelsson: Got more time as a defenseman than a forward, honestly, and he was good there. He sounded happy about his health when he was interviewed, his shot's still a blast and a half when he lets it go and he skates well for his size--which is bigger than we think it is. He's going to give 'er a shot.

Luke Glendening: Aside from his speed, which is remarkable, he was kind of quiet.

Jordin Tootoo: In the same unfamiliar and unfortunate position that Drew Miller, Patrick Eaves and Cory Emmerton find themselves in, Tootoo did his best to tip the scales in his favor by working his butt off. There was all sorts of polish and poise to Tootoo's game, and I'm not familiar with that at all. He was doing a Todd Bertuzzi--proving that he can in fact master the subtler elements of the game.

McIntyre  Aubry  Frk

David McIntyre: Thus far, I've seen David McIntyre play twice, and I've seen a meat-and-potatoes 4th-line NHL call-up or a 2nd line AHL center play both times.

Louis-Marc Aubry: Aubry's been so much more confident in his abilities and his 6'5" frame that it's been awesome to watch. He's slowly but surely maturing into an Andersson-like player as far as I'm concerned.

Martin Frk: Again, overwhelmed at this level of competition, but he shot more on Friday, his shot selection was good and those feet find pucks. That's what's remarkable about him--his feet are fantastic.

Hudon  Nestrasil  Callahan

Phillipe Hudon: This is not a Phillipe Hudon camp, either, but Phil was attentive, attuned and skated and skated and skated and ground and ground. That's what Phil does.

Andrej Nestrasil: I'm starting to think that Andrej isn't sure whether he's supposed to be a goal-scoring winger or a checking center. He's got the hands, and at the ECHL level, he's scored and scored, but he's been a checker at the AHL level, and there's an identity crisis-type issue going on.

Mitchell Callahan: Also not his type of camp, but he was swifter, smarter and grittier on Friday. Looks like he's heavier, too--the good heavy.
 
Defense 

DeKeyser  Kindl 

Danny DeKeyser: aside from leaning hard into his passes, DeKeyser has been a lot DeCalmer, and that's great to see given his innate playmaking ability, superb skating and smart shooting abilities. There are no DeKeyserFaces any more..

Jakub Kindl: Has a bit of a chip on his shoulder, and that's not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination. He's playing very, very solidly and looks like he wants to keep a vice-grip on the 4th defenseman's spot.

Lashoff  Paetsch 

Brian Lashoff: definitely falls into the, "Exhibition season will tell the tale" category. Lashoff is an incredibly solid utility and seventh defenseman, but he's got to show more than being able to skate a little better and pass a little smarter, and that involves mucking, grinding and banging bodies--because he needs to show more snarl, too.

Nathan Paetsch: Paetsch was much better during his second day. The third Kronwall-visor-back-cracking player (Ferraro and the aforementioned Kronwall are the others), Paetsch was mobile and strong on the puck, made safe passes and was gritty given the circumstances.

McNulty  Marchenko 

Marc McNulty: McNulty just has no fear. He's so very lanky and only a couple months removed from the draft, but he's Pulkkinen-like in his inability to be intimidated, using his strong skating and that smart poke check to do the work for him.

Alexei Marchenko: Marchenko has lots of angle-adjusting to do, and he's still trying to figure the dimensions of the rink and the pace of play out, but he seems to be slowly but surely adapting to the pace at which bodies are flying toward him. He's making safer decisions in terms of puck movement.
 
Goalies 

Jonas Gustavsson: I didn't see much of him, but what I did see is a calmer, more steady and "stickier" netminder who's holding on to more of the pucks he catches and is kicking rebounds into better spots with those shorter and softer pads.

Tom McCollum: Tom McCollum looks like the Tom McCollum of two years ago, getting into trouble when you turn him around included. He's been very, very good, glove hand and puckhandling included, but it may be a couple years too late.

 

 

 

Otherwise...As previously noted, the Detroit News's David Guralnick and the Red Wings' Dan Mannes and Dave Reginek posted training camp Day 2 galleries, and the Detroit Free Press's Heather Rousseau added one to the mix as well...

In addition to discussing the Nyquist-Tatar and Bertuzzi stories of the day, the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan added some notes to the mix...

Alumni game

Babcock, general manager Ken Holland, former Red Wings Chris Chelios, Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby and Chris Osgood, and several Red Wings broadcasters are expected to be in the lineup for tonight’s alumni-celebrity game.

“You don’t know how sore my hip flexors and groins are even after a little glide (skate) yesterday,” Babcock said. “It will not be one of my all-time highlights.”

Ice chips

Team Howe evened its record at 1-1 with a 2-0 victory over Team Lindsay on Friday.Max Nicastro and Daniel Alfredsson scored late third-period goals to secure the victory.

... Nyquist teamed with Todd Bertuzzi to top Jimmy Howard and Daniel Clearyon the golf course during the annual outing Wednesday.

… Babcock said he’d like to see Cleary play with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyukat some point during exhibitions. Justin Abdelkaderis on the wing with Zetterberg and Datsyuk in camp.

And the Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindenau addressed the glut of forwards, Jakub Kindl and Danny DeKeyser's takes on their positions, and the alumni game in her notebook:

Tomorrow’s Celebrity and Alumni game ,which begins at 7:00 pm at Centre I.C.E. Arena, has been one of the most talked about events all week. The game is sold out and the auction for the specialty designed jerseys are expected to be competitive. The participants are hoping to put on a good show for the packed house.

“I don’t know if excited is the word,” Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill said. “I want to make it through the game. I don’t play much goalie and I expect there to be a lot of stand up goaltending going on. I am very happy that guys like Kris Draper, Jiri Fischer, and Chris Chelios are on my team. It will be fun.”

Red Wings head coach, Mike Babcock, also admits not being excited about the game. The 50 year-old former defenseman doesn’t get much of a chance to play regularly given his coaching schedule.

“My excitement about it is at an all-time low,” he said smiling. “Do you know how sore my hip flexor and groins are even after a little glide around the ice yesterday? It will not be one of my all time highlights.”

Many of the NHL players are expected to attend to watch the Red Wings coaching and scouting staff play on Saturday night. Goaltender Jimmie Howard is planning on coming to watch his former mentor, Chris Osgood and current goaltending coach, Jim Bedard participate.

“I can’t wait to watch the game,” he said smiling. “I am going to come and see it to have something in my back pocket in case I need it down the road.”

And finally, Grand Traverse Insider photographer Jim Schoensee posted 288 photos from the second day of training camp, and his work is just fantastic. Give 'em a look.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

Riviera's avatar

I’m sorry, but if he replaces home keys with charlie buckets on the first line, I’m calling shenanigans.

Posted by Riviera from Phoenix on 09/13/13 at 11:51 PM ET

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George - As usual, well done. Thanks

Posted by chrispiannt on 09/13/13 at 11:53 PM ET

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He reiterated that he may still put Cleary with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, which would bump Justin Abdelkader.

Oh, for….

Anyone care to take a guess at what Babcock is wearing/doing in the pictures Cleary obviously has of him?

Posted by Garth on 09/13/13 at 11:57 PM ET

awould's avatar

Very insightful and informative. Thanks

Posted by awould on 09/14/13 at 12:18 AM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

Bertuzzi Sheahan Tatar

I guess having Tomas skate with Sheahan and Jurco wasn’t a clear enough message from Babcock about “who has a chance to play in the NHL.” Putting him with Tyler Bertuzzi should pretty much clear up any misunderstanding about the coach’s opinion of Tatar.

Tomas Tatar: ...blazing up and down the ice, making precision passes, firing off slithery shots, grinding and even hacking and whacking to out-compete as well as out-skate his opponents to the puck.

That kind of “showy” stuff is going to earn the kid a quick trip out of town. No coach likes to see stuff like that. Might as well send him Toledo until he learns to play the Red Wings way. Oh, wait…

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 09/14/13 at 12:25 AM ET

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George, any word on when Jensen may be back practicing?

Posted by Jay. on 09/14/13 at 01:27 AM ET

PDXWing's avatar

@OTC - does it change your comment knowing that it was Todd Bertuzzi and not Tyler on Tatar’s line?

Posted by PDXWing on 09/14/13 at 02:19 AM ET

Hockeytown Wax's avatar

“he may still put Cleary with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk,”

If thats actually true (not training camp motivational bull$hit ) then this is Cleary’s last season before he retires while he can still walk properly.

I suppose it would help being at training camp to see what talent there is in our draft picks over the years but, since I’m not, my brains just cant come up with any best case scenarios as far as which forwards to keep and who to remove in order to get down to the 23 man roster limit.

Signing Cleary absolutely baffles me.  It may be Holland’s way of telling us he needed more resources to pull of some kind of ‘holy crap’ type trade that will land us a top 4 defenceman.

I hate to say this but ... from an armchair GM position ... I wish more than 3 exhibition games would be broadcast on TV.  If its a money thing then cut out the travel and just do the 4 games at The Joe.

For some reason, it seems like the competition level has been turned up a notch this year and the exhibition games will be more important than ever for some.

Posted by Hockeytown Wax from West Bloomfield, Mi. on 09/14/13 at 02:25 AM ET

cowboycoffee's avatar

thanks George!

Posted by cowboycoffee from San Francisco, CA on 09/14/13 at 02:32 AM ET

SYF's avatar

Stephen Weiss: Fast, diligent with and without the puck, a superb playmaker, wins faceoffs, has a hard snapper, is mobile as mobile can be and has a bit of a mean streak here and there.

I like what you’re seeing in Weiss so far, George.  He’s the unknown in this team as I’ve barely even seen him play in FLA.

Posted by SYF from Zata's Epic Viking Beard on 09/14/13 at 03:22 AM ET

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To some extent, Babcock can’t possibly assess all of the players he’s watching, and that’s specifically the case in terms of so many prospects and AHL’ers.

That’s fairly disingenuous, though.  As you somewhat explain, Babcock doesn’t have to see everyone… but further it’s not like even a majority of the 60-ish people are even remote options for the 2013-14 roster anyway.

And he can very carefully watch and evaluate the 8-14 players with whom there may be some kind of role mutation year over year.

Players like D and Z or Franzen or Kronwall or Ericsson, established vets, are ones he will likely not have to spend much time analyzing in any real detail.

I understand that an important point in complaining about how Babcock uses players down the line is preparing the battlefield by trying to infer he didn’t really give so and so a chance or that he didn’t really see so and so play, so it’s relevant to note how inaccurate that position is.

Loved this:

“Mike Babcock’s biggest flaw as a coach involves believing that Mikael Samuelsson is a competent power play defenseman..”

Then this:

“Got more time as a defenseman than a forward, honestly, and he was good there. “

Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/14/13 at 05:07 AM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Ericsson was the steady one. He didn’t pinch at the wrong times today

Don’t be surprised to see your dog and cat sleeping together today.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 09/14/13 at 08:48 AM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Tatar stole the show. He made Cleary look slow at times

That should about seal the deal: Tatar back to GR, and Cleary between Pav and Z.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 09/14/13 at 08:49 AM ET

MOWingsfan19's avatar

Red winger… Tater can’t go back to GR, he’s out of options.

Posted by MOWingsfan19 from I really like our team on 09/14/13 at 09:29 AM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Hmmm…forgot about that. Looks like he’s heading tot he KHL

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 09/14/13 at 09:36 AM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

@OTC - does it change your comment knowing that it was Todd Bertuzzi and not Tyler on Tatar’s line?

Not much. But I did misread that line combo as Tatar being with Tyler instead of Todd. Must have been the “rage” that made me go temporarily blind. smile

What solidifies my orginal contention (that Babs is sending Tomas a message concerning his chances of making the team) is that Bert (Sr.) was moved off of the Gus-Andy line and Cleary was put in there instead of Tatar. Buckets would seem to be a much more logical fit on a line with Sheahan and Bert.

 

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 09/14/13 at 11:10 AM ET

Avatar

Loved this:

“Mike Babcock’s biggest flaw as a coach involves believing that Mikael Samuelsson is a competent power play defenseman..”

Then this:

“Got more time as a defenseman than a forward, honestly, and he was good there. “

Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/14/13 at 05:07 AM ET

Still got a rager for Sammy.

George, I think that it is not surprising that Sammy doing well on the blue line. He’s had a lot of rest over the past three years and if everyone is getting a shot on the penalty kill he may not be playing against a lot of NHL ready competition. I expect him to make the team because HiHD thinks so highly of him and would make an equally bold prediction as I just did.

thank you for writing up the player reviews. It is cool to hear how the younger guys are doing. Any chance you could get an interview or two about their thoughts on the change and speed of the game from last week to this week?

Posted by howeandhowe on 09/15/13 at 02:02 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.