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The Malik Report

Red Wings evening news: on the CoPa rink, power rankings, Weiss, Datsyuk and Helm

As the NHL prepares to move its ice-making truck from Toronto to Ann Arbor, Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner's offered no less than eleven player profiles(!) and a chat with Keith Gave about the Russian 5, Sport-Express's Slava Malamud's tossing off quips and quotes about Datsyukian Q and A's, a likely bland 24/7 experience over the next three Saturdays and is trading Babcockian jabs, the Red Wings and their beleagured goalie headed to Florida for a 2-game swing through Miami and Tampa Bay...

Leaving behind a Comerica Park that's somewhere between halfway and two thirds of the way toward being ready for the Hockeytown Winter Festival's "open skates" and status as the home of this year's Great Lakes Invitational, a slate of high school games, a pair of OHL games, a game between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs' AHL teams (the Griffins and Marlies) and a pair of "Alumni Showdowns."

The Detroit News's David Goricki spoke with Rich Cubin, the man in charge of building and maintaining the Comerica Park rink, regarding the rink's status...

Cubin hopes to get on the ice Friday to break it in. He arrived in Detroit on Nov. 20 to begin construction.

"Right now we're sitting at probably about 30-to-40,000 gallons of water," said Cubin. "That's our base layer. It's on a grated surface with two inches of insulation and what we call a rink liner. It basically turns into a very shallow swimming pool. We started the process Friday afternoon and then just had continuous flooding to get to the three-inch thick surface. We went three days, about 10,000 gallons a day."

Cubin started the prep work Nov. 20, putting out 70,000 square feet of temporarily flooring, "to give us room for snow removal and access for vehicles so we're not driving all over the field."


"We're constantly monitoring where the sun is, what the forecast is, and that's what makes operating an outdoor ice surface completely different than a climate-controlled building," said Cubin. "What we're going to do to create a good ice surface is balance mother nature versus our refrigeration plant. We don't want the ice too cold to where when you drive on it with the Zamboni it cracks and shatters. If it's 10 degrees and we don't do something it would be just like a sheet of ice and explode."

Cubin said mini-Zambonis will be used at Comerica; they will arrive Wednesday. They weight 2,200 pounds and are about one-third the size of regular ones.

And Goricki notes that what the Wings threw something of a curveball into what I would delicately describe as a set of events that the NHL seems to be aiming toward those who really do make decisions about their stocks, mutual funds and 401K's based upon the advice of the financial companies that advertise their services during NHL games:

Red Wings fans should mark Dec. 18 on their calendars. The Red Wings will skate on the Comerica Park ice to get them acclimated to the outdoor conditions in preparation for their game against the Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium on New Year's Day. The noon practice is open to the public free of charge.




Otherwise, this evening's crop of Red Wings-related news involves a trio of power rankings, with ESPN handing the reins over to Katie Strang (Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside have traded the list-making duties thus far) for this week's Wings assessment...

17. Detroit 15-9-7 [down] 6Last Week: 11 Life without star forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg isn't getting any easier in Motown.

TSN's Scott Cullen weighing in as follows...

This Week14 Last Week 12 Detroit Red Wings 15-9-7

The expected return of C Pavel Datsyuk can't come soon enough for the Wings, who have been battling without their two best players (Henrik Zetterberg also sidelined), getting contributions from the likes of Tomas Tatar and Drew Miller, who have combined for nine points in four games this month.

Key Injuries: LW Henrik Zetterberg (back), C Darren Helm (shoulder), D Danny DeKeyser (shoulder).

(and some Nyquist guy, too...And Franzen...And Kronwall...)

And Sportsline's Brian Stubits keeps things brief:

13. Red Wings: In the past 16 games, the Red Wings have played four teams in playoff position, with Boston the only clear-cut playoff team, and have gone 6-5-6. They might rue that later.

November + December thus far = Wings' margin for error is very small going forward. But it is an 82-game season.




Speaking of struggling, the Miami Herald's George Richards penned an article about Stephen Weiss's return to Miami as an underperforming member of the Red Wings...

"Confidence has been a struggle for him,'' Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "I think when you go to a new place, just not being comfortable makes it hard on you. The reality is; hockey is hockey. He's been a good player his whole career. I don't imagine it's going to take him too much longer.''

If Weiss is feeling the pressure of playing under serious expectations, he won't admit it. It does seems like something he needs to get adjusted to as he has only two goals and two assists in 25 games with Detroit. Weiss didn't find the scorecard in Florida's 2-1 win at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday.

"Trying too hard sometimes can backfire on you,'' Weiss said. "I think that was the case early on. I came here to be a part of something, to win hockey games. We've been doing that. It's fun seeing your team at the top of the standings. That's been a lot of fun. Personally, I'll get that going soon.''

Said Henrik Zetterberg: "We play a little different system than they do down there and it takes time to adjust. But he's playing well, doing a lot of little things on the ice that he doesn't get credited for. He's going to be here for a long, long time. We're happy to have him.''

Weiss had become the face of the Panthers over his time here as his NHL career literally started in Sunrise when Florida made him the fourth overall pick of the 2001 draft held at what is now called the BB&T Center.

Over the next nine seasons, Weiss became the franchise's all-time leader in games played and one of its all-time leaders in various categories. Yet when it came time for a new contract, the Panthers didn't have any money. The team was for sale and Weiss had missed most of the previous season after opting for major wrist surgery. Florida let him walk away to Detroit without putting up any sort of fight to keep him.

On July 5, Weiss signed a five-year deal with the Red Wings worth an average of $4.9 million. Weiss averaged $3.1 million over his past six years in Florida. Weiss would have been the big news on the first day of free agency had the Red Wings not also lifted Daniel Alfredsson from Ottawa.

"It's been fun, but it's been an adjustment; the weather, getting settled, all those things,'' Weiss said. "It's something I'm not used to. But I played junior hockey in this area so I have friends here. I really enjoyed my time here so far. Being a part of this organization is something special.''

(for the record, I'm not with Herr Lambert regarding the concept that Weiss is on the fast track to a compliance buy-out just yet, but I have been surprised with the depth and breadth of Weiss's struggles, even accounting for the fact that he played in all of 17 games before having major reconstructive surgery on his left wrist last season. I think he's still got a couple of weeks before we see the "real Weiss," and in the interim, I'd tell him to change what he can change: his skates, his stick and his gloves, if only to try and break his scoring slump)



At the other end of the spectrum, the DetroitRedWings.com's Andrea Nelson asked Pavel Datsyuk's teammates about the gravity of #13's return to the lineup tomorrow...

"It’s important to get him back losing the last two out of three or winning the last two out of three,” center Stephen Weiss said. “That’s a guy that you need in your lineup and you want in your lineup and he makes our team that much better, so we’re certainly excited to see him back today in practice with the line and having him back tomorrow.”

Datsyuk has 12 goals and 23 points in 24 games and still leads the league with 40 takeaways. Chicago’s Marian Hossa is second with 38.

“Pav’s a very special player,” Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said. “He’s highly respected in this room. He’s one of our leaders. To have him come back in it’ll give a boost to our lineup. Pav just makes everyone around him that much better. He’s one of those unique players that can do that, no matter who’s playing with him their play elevates.”


The Red Wings were 5-2-0 with Datsyuk sidelined from an elbow he received from Ottawa’s Jared Cowen on Nov. 23. Fortunately, the Wings have gotten an offensive boost from players like Johan Franzen, Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist, who took advantage of the additional ice time. And coach Mike Babcock doesn’t expect that production to change when No. 13 returns.

“For my two cents, I thought Franzen was a star when Pav was out,” Babcock said. “Leadership-wise, determination-wise, how he played, and so now that’s the benchmark. You don’t go back to the other guy you continue to be what you’ve been and he should be proud of how he played and we need him to keep playing like that. I think the same with Tatar and Nyquist, Tatar in particular. They’ve got more ice time they’ve taken a step and now continue to earn that ice time. That’s how you end up a better team, through guys getting opportunity and grabbing it and ideally in the end we will be.”

And she offered something of an inadvertent Wings-Panthers, Take 2 preview over the course of a notebook which also disusses Darren Helm's status, Jimmy Howard's return to the net and, yes, Weiss's "homecoming":

“Well, we gotta skate a lot better,” Babcock said of the rematch with the Panthers. “I thought we had spacing problems, and what I mean by that is when your forwards are a long way away from your D there’s huge gaps and it’s easy to come through you. That’s two-fold, one we weren’t skating and one I thought we let ourself off the hook, you know three games in four nights and they didn’t play and we didn’t, forget all that that let’s just play.”

The Wings' Facebook page wants you to know that tomorrow's Red Wings Viewing Party at the MotorCity Casino's SoundBoard will include one Larry Murphy...




And as I was writing this, MLive's Ansar Khan posted an evening notebook updating the status of one Darren Helm, who hopes to return to the ice Wednesday-ish after injuring his shoulder a week ago, and return to the ice somewhere between the 17th and 21st:

“I’m optimistic I won’t be out that long,” Helm said Monday. “I’ve made headway. The first couple of days were pretty bad. The last two have been pretty good. I’m hoping it continues in the same direction and I’ll get back sooner rather than later.”

Helm was injured midway through the third period of Wednesday’s 6-3 loss to Philadelphia.

“It was one of those plays, a freak thing,” Helm said. “I went down, landed on it and someone may have hit me as well when I was down. I went off for a bit and came back.”

He said his range of motion “isn’t great.”

“It’s picked up the last couple of days; started to do more strengthening stuff today and it felt pretty good,” Helm said. “We’ll see how it feels tomorrow and hopefully I can push it a little more.”

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About The Malik Report

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.


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