The Malik Report
Red Wings evening news: Kronwall on McLeod suspension, injury stuff, Sens talk & learning from Homer
by George Malik on 10/22/13 at 06:11 PM ET
If you're not into Senators-Alfredsson reunion stuff, if you missed this afternoon's practice post or the news about Jonathan Ericsson being out for 3 weeks, I've got some a) new news and b) repetition.
The new stuff starts with Niklas Kronwall speaking with 97.1 FM's Jeff Riger (via RedWingsFeed) about Cody McLeod's 5-game suspension:
The Wings are excited to get defenseman Nik Kronwall back on the ice after suffering a mild concussion from a hit by Avalanche winger Cody McLeod last week. Kronwall is expected to play Wednesday when the Wings take on the Senators at the Joe. McLeod on the other hand, won’t be playing anytime soon after receiving a 5 game suspension for the hit from the NHL on Monday evening.
So how does Kronwall feel about the McLeod suspension?
“I think it’s a tough call” Kronwall said. “A five game suspension from Shanny, (Brendan Shanahan-head of the leagues discipline office) I haven’t listened to his observations but it is what it is, that’s why Shanny has a job and so far I think he’s doing a pretty good job of it.”
Since Kronwall admitted that the suspension was a tough call; does he believe that McLeod deserved more games?
Cue the video!
And cue the Ottawa Citizen's Ken Warren for a bit about Jonathan Ericsson's shoulder injury (he's subluxed it, which means that it was more "dislocated" than anything else, or to put it bluntly, that it didn't pop out of the joint) and new adventure in fatherhood...
Welcome to Jonathan Ericsson’s whirlwind week.
When the Red Wings flew home from Phoenix late Saturday, the Detroit defenceman was expected to immediately go for an MRI scan of his injured left shoulder. Upon landing, however, he discovered that his wife’s water had broken, so he took Evelina to a hospital for the birth of their daughter.
Liv is named after goalie Stefan Liv, a former Detroit draft pick who was among the members of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl who died when the KHL team’s plane crashed shortly after takeoff on Sept. 7, 2011.
“He was a good friend, a guy I really respected a lot,” Ericsson said Tuesday. “I really like the name, and it has a meaning, too.”
Ericsson did eventually have his shoulder checked out and he’s expected to miss two to three weeks of action.
Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner spoke with Ericsson about his injury...
“It felt bad right away,” Ericsson said. “After the game it was evaluated and it felt a lot better, but the next day it was a lot worse again. It’s been pretty much the same yesterday and today.”
Surgery has been ruled out and according to Ericsson, he’ll rehab the shoulder and hope that it will respond to treatment. When asked what the official diagnoses is called, Ericsson couldn’t remember.
“I got the word like 10 minutes ago, but I forgot about it,” Ericsson said. “It’s about a dislocation, but it’s a different word. I forgot what it is.”
“There’s no question we’re deeper on the back end,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We had 500 games in league dressed or something like that last night. Stewie (Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart) probably had a thousand himself. When you go through it all, it not like we’re experienced, but we have players knocking on the door that are going to be NHL players. That doesn’t mean that they’re going to win cups, though.”
I'll note what Ken Holland had to say about Darren Helm's groin...
“He’s got a groin that’s been bothering him,” Red Wings GM Ken Holland said. “He felt it Friday in Grand Rapids, played on Saturday. He told me Sunday it won’t be an issue. It bothered him in practice Monday and he felt it again today, so the trainers told him to get off the ice. We’re sending him for pictures later this afternoon to see if there is a tear. We don’t think so (there is a tear). It’s precautionary. It appears he won’t be ready to go Saturday. If he can’t practice he can’t play Saturday. We believe it’s a nagging groin injury. It’s the opposite groin to the one he had in September.’’
Wings coach Mike Babcock just rolled his eyes and said, “I don’t know,” when asked about Helm’s status.
And Babcock was apparently in fine form, first telling Regner and the media that he didn't mean to fib to them about Ericsson's shoulder, and then saying this about tomorrow night's game:
“We have to find a way to play our team so we can have success on a nightly basis,” Babcock said. “We’re going to continue to have change. As much as we got off to a fairly good start, we’re a team in flux. We’re trying to find out whom we are and how we’re going to play. That’s still a work in progress. You need high, high end players and we feel we’re going in the right direction again. After ‘09 we thought we were going in the wrong direction as far as having a chance to win.”
NHL.com's Brian Hedger also took note of the Wings' in-flux blueline...
After practicing with the team Tuesday and Wednesday, Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said Kronwall had been cleared to play. To make room on the roster, defenseman Xavier Ouellet was returned to the Red Wings' American Hockey League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Ericsson said surgery to repair his shoulder has not been discussed as an option at this point, with the team hoping to cure the issue with rest and rehab.
Without Kronwall and Ericsson, the Red Wings' youth-led defense held the high-scoring Sharks without a goal in regulation -- which impressed Detroit coach Mike Babcock.
"I thought they played real well," Babcock said. "I thought [Brian Lashoff] and [Jakub Kindl] had a real strong game for us. I thought [Danny DeKeyser] and [Kyle Quincey] have been good for awhile and DeKeyser continues to get better and [Xavier] Ouellet looked real comfortable and I thought [Brendan Smith] was real strong and pretty much mistake free. It was a good game for our team that way."
Up front, the Free Press's Helene St. James penned a late-night notebook about Tomas Tatar impressing Babcock, so she added the following Tweet today...
And MLive's Ansar Khan noted that Patrick Eaves may be returning sooner than later:
Holland said no roster moves need to be made until Helm comes off IR, even with right wing Patrick Eaves (sprained knee, ankle) is ready to come off long-term IR last this week. He'll be available for Saturday.
"If Helm's not ready, we don't have to do anything,'' Holland said. He added, "(Helm) has had a tough go the last 18 months. We made to make sure it's nagging and not a tear.''
For the record, Ouellet headed off to Grand Rapids feeling very good about himself, as he told the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness:
Niklas Kronwall (mild concussion) has been cleared and will play Wednesday against the Ottawa Senators.
Xavier Ouellet, who made his NHL debut in Monday’s 1-0 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks, was sent back to Grand Rapids.
“I think it went good,” Ouellet said of his first game. “I was really excited that’s for sure, but I tried to keep it inside. I think I managed that pretty good.
“I just played my game,” Ouellet continued. “I felt as a player I was ready. I think I managed my game well and did good.”
On the Senators' side of the ice, they recalled Mika Zibanejad from the Binghamton Senators on Tuesday, mostly because the Ottawa Citizen's Wayne Scanlan reports that Zibanejad though he'd made the team:
[W]hen Zibanejad sashayed through training camp, apparently thinking he had already made the NHL Senators roster, MacLean dropped the hammer and sent him to Binghamton. It was, said Zibanejad, an “eye opener,” a lesson in not only how hard it was to make the NHL, but also in how hard it was to stay.
Now he is getting a second chance, possibly on Wednesday night against Daniel Alfredsson and the Detroit Red Wings.
MacLean will make that decision on Wednesday. He has several options for the team’s fourth-line centre spot: Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who is nursing a minor injury but has practised for the past two days; Derek Grant, who replaced Pageau in Saturday’s 3-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers; or Zibanejad.
The odds are that it will be Zibanejad, who, coincidentally, played his first NHL game in Detroit on Oct. 7, 2011.
Getting sent to Binghamton was a huge motivator, Zibanejad said Tuesday.
“Obviously,” he said. “When something like that happens, you want to prove them wrong, but you try not to think about it too much. I just thought about playing hard and doing the things they wanted me to do. I hope I took it the right way: just work hard and play, and have fun with the guys and not let that destroy anything for me.”
MacLean said Zibanejad had earned his recall through his play with Binghamton. To stay here, the equation is simple.
“He has to play good,” MacLean said. “We made the call down there and asked who the best player was and it was Mika. Before it was Derek Grant, now it’s Mika. We want him to come up and play with speed, play with energy, use his size and shoot the puck, and just do the things that he does to be successful. If he does those things consistently, he can stay in the lineup and ultimately in the NHL.”
MacLean declined on Tuesday to name the Senators’ starting goalie for the Detroit game, but it’s likely to be Craig Anderson.
The Red Wings are heading into their second game of a 3-game home stand winless in 2, having lost to Phoenix and having dropped a shootout decision to San Jose, but the stakes are a little higher for the Senators, who are 3-3-and-2.
With such front runners as the Wings, Anaheim Ducks, Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks on tap for Ottawa over the next seven days, this week would seem like a fine time to shore up the Senators loose play.
“Last week would’ve been a better time,” cracked Senators head coach Paul MacLean. “But we have (Wednesday), we’ll continue to work at it.”
His point being, it can’t happen soon enough. Last season, when so many of Ottawa’s most skilled players were out with injuries, the Senators became a defensive team out of necessity – and finished a respectable 7th in the Eastern Conference while giving up just 2.16 goals per game. It will take some home improvements – and the Senators have 22 home games before the New Year – to get back to those kind of numbers.
Does the mindset of yesteryear’s “pesky Sens” change with a healthy Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza and the additions of Bobby Ryan and Clarke MacArthur? The Senators might be thinking they can score their way out of trouble.
“It shouldn’t (change),” says defenceman Chris Phillips. “Play in our zone is a long way away from their zone. You can say a good offence makes for a good defence. You always look at the play in our own zone and it’s tightening it up,” Phillips says. “It’s not for all the wrong reasons – sometimes you try to do too much or help out the other guy and you get running around a little bit, lose your guy. Mistakes happen so fast and suddenly it’s in the back of your net . . . be a little more patient in our own zone, that will help out a lot.”
MacLean was asked to name the top three crimes against good defensive play. That is, three things the Senators need to do better to compete against the league’s elite. He didn’t need half a second to rifle them off:
1) “the faceoff circle.” Win faceoffs and get puck control.
2) “Turnovers at the offensive blueline which lead to . . .
Turnovers and penalties “lead to time in your end and that’s never good,” MacLean says.
Scanlan also reported that scrappy Zach Kassian won't play against Detroit.
And in the "for the record" department, the Newark Star-Ledger's Rich Chere reports that New Jersey Devils believe that "Learning from Homer" can help their power play get back on track:
The Devils are hoping Tomas Holmstrom can improve their power play.
No, the former Red Wings winger isn’t coming out of retirement, but Steve Bernier is among the Devils who have watched video of Holmstrom screening goalies on the power play.
Coach Pete DeBoer praised Bernier’s skill in front of the net on the power play, but his forte isn’t tipping pucks.
“As a screen,” Bernier said. “It looks easy but the goalies are so good that they look around you. The best guy in the league at doing it was Holmstrom in Detroit. Sometimes he didn’t get the credit he deserved because they had a great power play. Most of it was because the goalie didn’t see the puck coming. I’ve looked at video of what he did and I try to do the same thing here.”
The Devils rank 25th on the power play (3-for-26, 11.5 percent) but they have power play goals in their last two games.
“Net front presence is a key for us,” DeBoer said. “We have to shoot the puck more on the power play. That’s been a problem. And we have to reward the guys who are going to be in front of the net. Bernier for me is one of the best in the league at camping out there and we have to reward those guys more by getting pucks to the net like we did with (Rostislav) Olesz the other night.”
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