The Malik Report
Red Wings evening news: Power play tweaks, Tootoo returns to Nashville and say no to Jay Bouwmeester
by George Malik on 02/18/13 at 08:01 PM ET
Updated 2x at 8:16 PM: Paul's already let us know that Devin Setoguchi will be speaking to the NHL's "Department of Player Safety" about his high stick on Kyle Quincey (Per the NHL and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Michel Russo, and Russo believes that there might be a fine in the offing, but no suspension given that Setoguchi got a double minor for the 20+ stitches his cross-check-high-stick yielded), so, as I was regrettably out of the office on an epic grocery sun, let's add some text to this afternoon's crop of Tweets from the Red Wings' practice in Nashville.
The Free Press's Helene St. James reports that the Wings spent a significant amount of time working on their horrific power play while the "Fathers and Mentors" watched, and there's good news on the injury front as well going into tomorrow night's game against Nashville (and the Predators dropped a 6-5 decision to Colorado on Monday afternoon, in Denver, so they're going to be agitated tomorrow)...
It was a big day for forward Jan Mursak, who was cleared to play and taken off injured reserve, where he landed after hurting his collarbone on opening night. Coach Mike Babcock said he wasn't sure if he'll change the lineup, but he did rule out the possibility of having forward Johan Franzen, who has missed three games because of a sore hip flexor. Besides Mursak, the healthy choices are Patrick Eaves and defenseman Jakub Kindl.
The Wings are seeking stop a three-game winless streak and to halt some bad habits, such as blowing leads. They were up, 2-0, at Minnesota on Sunday, then couldn't recover after making a couple of mistakes that led to three straight goals by the Wild. It didn't help the Wings that they had three power plays, as they dropped to 0-for-six games with the man advantage on the road. They're at 13.6% overall, 25th in the NHL.
Tomas Tatar got a shot on a power-play unit with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, but while Tatar has good speed, Babcock isn't sure he'll hold up against elite defenseman Shea Weber, a regular on the Predators' penalty kill. Tatar faced teammate Jonathan Ericsson during practice, and that didn't go well.
"The idea of good hands and making plays and all that net-front is great," Babcock said. "But then when I saw him go try to get a puck with big E -- that'll be Weber tomorrow. Guess what'll happen."
The one change Babcock will make is putting right-handed shot Mikael Samuelsson on the right point on the first power-play unit, opposite Niklas Kronwall. Damien Brunner has been playing there, but Samuelsson has a much harder shot, and the Wings want to get more shots on net. Brunner has been moved to the second unit, where he'll play down low with Valtteri Filppula and Daniel Cleary, the latter of whom is the designated net-front guy. Ian White, another right-handed shot, and Kyle Quincey are the point men with that grouping.
"I just need someone to shoot the puck," Babcock said. "We need to shoot the puck, and we need to get the puck back, and we need sustained pressure in the offensive zone, not continuous breakouts."
“I just need someone to shoot the puck and we need to get the puck back and we need sustained pressure in the offensive zone, not continuous breakouts,” said Wings coach Mike Babcock, who had Mikael Samuelsson practicing on the point on the first unit. “I know Nashville’s going to be organized. Pekka Rinne is a goalie that never gives up any goals, so you might have enough chances to get five but you’re going to get two, max, so we better be prepared for that type of game and we need a win.”
In five road games this year Detroit has yet to score a power play goal, which last happened during the 1976-77 season. The Wings ended that streak in game six. They’re the only team in the NHL this season to not have a road power play goal, spending 46:53 with a man advantage and only registering 31 shots.
“I wish I had an answer, I really do,” Niklas Kronwall said. “At the same time, that’s in the past. We have to look forward, stay positive. A lot of it is just trying to get back to basics. We have to find a way to get pucks to the net more than we have.”
During the 1938-39 season the Wings didn’t score a power play goal until the ninth road game.
Babcock has Tomas Tatar providing the net-front presence on the first unit in practice.
“I’m not used to playing there, but I’m feeling pretty good around the net, so I’ve just got to get used to it because I think this might be my role for my future with Red Wings,” Tatar said. “It’s kind of nice to practice there and we’ll see who will play like that. I’m going to try my best there.”
MLive's Ansar Khan spoke to Niklas Kronwall about the Wings' blown leads before discussing the personnel machinations...
The Red Wings haven't scored a goal in the third period in each of their past three games, registering only 14 shots combined.
“The momentum is going to change in a game, things are going to go wrong,'' Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “When it happens, we have to find a better way to stay composed and deal with it. Lately, it seems like one thing goes wrong and we keep adding mistakes on top of each other, which has been costing us games of late.''
Khan took note of the Wings' lines...
Valtteri Filppula-Henrik Zetterberg-Damien Brunner
Tomas Tatar-Pavel Datsyuk-Mikael Samuelsson
Daniel Cleary-Justin Abdelkader-Joakim Andersson
Drew Miller-Cory Emmerton-Jordin Tootoo
Also: Patrick Eaves, Jan Mursak
But Babcock was Babcock when discussing whether his roster decisions were final:
Asked if that is how the units will look in the game, Babcock said, “Not really. That's just practice.''
Tatar told Khan that he was ready to battle with Shea Weber if necessary...
Said Tatar: “It's kind of new thing for me. I'm not used to playing there, but I'm feeling pretty good around the net, so I just got to get used to it because I think this might be my role for my future with Red Wings. It's kind of nice to practice there and we'll see who will play (there).''
And Babcock suggested that the recently-recalled Jonas Gustavsson will play sooner than later:
“He looked good in practice today,'' Babcock said. "He went down (to Grand Rapids) and did what he was supposed to do.''
Babcock said of Petr Mrazek, who was reassigned to the Griffins: “I thought he was real good Game 1, I thought he was a kid in Game 2.''
St. James also spoke to Babcock and Gustavsson:
The Wings sent Gustavsson to Grand Rapids during the weekend for him to get some playing time after being sidelined since the second game of the Wings' season because of a pulled groin. Gustavsson made 26 saves in a 2-1 victory over Charlotte on Sunday.
"It was good for me to get a game in, and I'm happy I felt good. I felt no pain," Gustavsson said. "That was good for me."
While Gustavsson was getting his feet wet again in the minors, Mrazek made 21 saves in the Wings' 3-2 loss Sunday at Minnesota. While with the Wings, Mrazek went 1-1 with a 2.02 goals-against average and .922 save percentage.
The Wings next play Tuesday against the Nashville Predators, who have an afternoon game today at Colorado. The Wings play again Thursday, and back-to-back this coming weekend, and Gustavsson is going to get his first start one of those games.
"For sure, we'll get to him," coach Mike Babcock said. "He looked good in practice. He went down there and did what he was supposed to do. We need good goaltending."
Babcock summed Mrazek succinctly, saying, "I thought he was real good in game one. I thought he was a kid in game two."
The other topic of the day involved Jordin Tootoo's return to Nashville, as noted by the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...
Eight years playing for the Nashville Predators, and Jordin Tootoo realized Monday was the first time he'd ever set foot in the visitors locker room. There will be another first Tuesday when Tootoo is wearing a Red Wings jersey and faces the Predators at Bridgestone Arena.
After having played 486 games in a Predators uniform, it's going to be strange.
"Right now, for me, I'm just taking it all in stride," Tootoo said. "I don't know what to expect. I have never been on this side before. It should be an interesting evening. Coming into Nashville and driving on the bus, everything was a first for me."
Tootoo was one of the most popular Predators, thanks to his physical style of play. There was a loud train whistle that accompanied any Tootoo hit, further exciting the Predators crowd. Tootoo doesn't know what to expect Tuesday from fans that normally cheered him.
"The fans have been great to me on and off the ice," Tootoo said. "The support I got away from the rink was unbelievable. I don't know (what to expect) to be honest. It's going to be a lot of mixed emotions out there. It should be interesting, I'm excited."
And DetritRedwings.com's Bill Roose spoke to Tootoo as well:
“It’s a little different being on this side,” Tootoo said, following the Wings’ practice. “But this is part of being a professional hockey player. … Fortunately, I was in Nashville for nine years (2003-12) and I couldn’t thank the fans enough and the organization for giving me every opportunity to play here.”
During his time in Nashville, Tootoo, who was a fourth round pick in 2001 – which the Predators traded up to land – produced 46 goals and 79 assists while amassing 725 penalty minutes. He seemed to be a lifer in middle Tennessee. But, as Tootoo said, “That’s hockey.”
Now the player who was once beloved by legions of Predators’ fans, is wearing enemy colors. But not just any colors, oh no, he’s wearing the hated red and white of Nashville’s archrivals from up north. Tootoo knows what to expect from his former teammates when the puck drops on Tuesday’s game, and vice versa, he said. But as for the fans’ reaction, will there be whistles or boos? Tootoo isn’t sure.
“I don’t know, to be honest,” he said. “I think there are going to be a lot of mixed emotions out there. It should be interesting and I’m excited. I really embraced the city of Nashville throughout my career and I really called it my home. The fans have truly been fantastic with me, personally, both on and off the ice. I would just like to thank them for supporting me and cheering me on.”
Gustavsson also told Roose that he's ready to go whenever he's called upon:
“You have to be ready to play every game whether you start a game or not,” he said. “You have to prepare yourself the same way. I don’t look forward than the next day, no matter if I’m playing or not. That’s just how I approach it.”
Well, make it three Tootoo articles. Just as I was about to post this, MLive's Ansar Khan filed his Tootoo story:
“I think there's going to be a lot of mixed emotions out there,'' Tootoo said. “It should be interesting. I'm excited. The fans have been great with me both on and off the ice. The support that I got away from the rink was unbelievable. I go out there and play as hard as I could night in and night out and I think that's what the fans like to see.''
Tootoo spent his entire NHL career with the Predators, appearing in 486 games before signing a three-year deal with the Red Wings on July 1. Facing a former team will be a new experience. Arriving at Bridgestone in a bus and walking into the visitors dressing room Monday was strange enough.
“I don't know what to expect,'' Tootoo said.
He can expect Shea Weber to play rough if presented the opportunity and for the Predators and goaltender Pekka Rinne to be tough to score against. So some things haven't changed.
“We’re all brothers,'' Tootoo said of his former teammates. “Once we step on the ice it’s a different story. I’m a Red Wing, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to get two points every night. They (his former teammates) all know what kind of player I am and I'm not going to change a thing. I'm playing for my livelihood and playing for the guys in the dressing room. They know that I bring it every night.''
He is happy his dad, Barney, is on the trip, as it happens to be part of the Red Wings' annual fathers/mentors trip.
“My dad's been watching me play games here for the last nine years,'' Tootoo said. “He's excited to be back, but at the same time, he told me a couple days ago, 'I just want you to go out there and do your thing and everything else will take care of itself.' ''
Tootoo was a healthy scratch in seven of Nashville's 10 playoff games a year ago, and the club was not interested in bringing him back. But, Tootoo said the organization did tremendous things for him on and off the ice, supporting him during tough times (he entered the NHL's substance abuse program in 2010-11 due to alcohol issues).
“I couldn’t thank Mr. Poile (Predators general manager David) and the coaching staff enough for giving me the opportunity to put the jersey on,'' Tootoo said. “There are going to be a lot of emotions.”
Also: USA Today's Kevin Allen issued an unconventional award to Henrik Zetterberg in a "quarter pole awards" column:
Hart Trophy: Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Kane. He's the best performer on the league's best team.
Heart Trophy: Detroit Red Wings' Henrik Zetterberg was named as Nicklas Lidstrom's replacement as captain and he has produced one of the best starts of his career. The Red Wings might be trouble right now if not for Zetterberg's gritty two-way play.
Via RedWingsFeed, NHL.com's Barry Merlose stated the obvious about the man who won three Stanley Cups as the Red Wings' coach and one as a consultant--Scotty Bowman is, without a doubt, the greatest of all NHL coaches:
1. Scotty Bowman -- It's gotta be Scotty Bowman. You look at his career wins, you look at his Stanley Cups and you look at how he did it in different places. Yeah, he always had good teams wherever he coached, but there were a lot of guys that coached good teams and never won Stanley Cups. His teams in Montreal were among the greatest of all-time, he took over a team in Pittsburgh recovering from the tragic loss of coach Bob Johnson and won a Cup, and in Detroit they had the same team before he got there without winning and when he showed up they won three Stanley Cups.
Scotty changed the game in a number of ways. When everyone began building tough teams because Philadelphia was winning Cups, Scotty went to a more skilled team that was tougher and brought the game back to being skill driven rather than one built on physicality. In each place he innovated and in each place he won. You look at Bowman's numbers, what he did and the number of Cups he has, and you have to say he was the greatest coach ever.
Given that the Red Wings a) know that the salary cap is going down from $70.3 million to $64.3 million this summer, and b) have to decide whether to re-sign unrestricted free agents-to-be Jimmy Howard, Damien Brunner, Ian White, Drew Miller, Kent Huskins and the suddenly-in-danger-of-losing-a-job Valtteri Filppula, as well as (per Capgeek) restricted free agents-to-be Brendan Smith, Brian Lashoff, Joakim Andersson, Jakub Kindl, Gustav Nyquist and maybe-keep-em prospects Tom McCollum, Francis Pare, Jordan Pearce and Brent Raedeke...
I'm not buying the Fourth Period's suggestion that the Red Wings could surrender both a top forward and, somehow, magically, find a top defensive prospect who can also play NHL minutes (see: Smith or Lashoff), all for the sake of acquiring Jay Bouwmeester and his massive contract from the Calgary Flames:
The Flames haven't been able to piece together a serious winning streak this season, and unless they can make a big run within the next few weeks, the team might look to make some bold moves. Calgary has 35 games left on the season and currently sit 12th in the Western Conference with 13 points.
Flames GM Jay Feaster has already been shopping defenseman Anton Babchuk, but if the team fails to make any ground, he'll seriously explore trading Jay Bouwmeester.
Bouwmeester, 29, has a no-trade clause and would have to approve any deal the Flames try to make, however two sources have told TFP he would be willing to accept a deal if it meant moving to a contender.
The Detroit Red Wings have expressed an interest in Bouwmeester in the past, and talks could be renewed in the near future, if they haven't been already, as the Wings are in the market for a top-two defenseman.
Bouwmeester's $6.68 million cap hit could be a problem for several teams, though the Wings have the salary cap space to accommodate him. He has one year left on his deal beyond this season.
Feaster would be looking for a young replacement on the blueline and a top prospect as part of a package for Bouwmeester.
There's just no point in burning the Wings' $7.4 million in cap space this year or half of the $14 million that Capgeek states they'd have next year--minus the contracts of all the players listed above--to bring Bouwmeester on board. The Wings can't do a salary-for-salary deal, either, so there's just no sensical reason for the Wings to give up a Smith or Lashoff and another top prospect like Nyquist, Tatar, Jarnkrok, etc. for Bouwmeester.
And finally, I don't know what to make of this article from the Detroit News's Louis Aguilar:
The real estate developer who helped shape plans for the Ilitch organization's proposed new Red Wings arena has become managing partner for the real estate arm of Quicken Loans Inc. founder and chairman Dan Gilbert, one of the most influential and aggressive investors in downtown Detroit.
Eric Larson was named a co-managing partner of Bedrock Real Estate, according to a statement released Monday by the company. The firm oversees more than 3.5 million square feet of commercial space in downtown Detroit and other major cities across the country. Acting as real estate arm for Gilbert's Detroit property investments, Bedrock has acquired 15 downtown buildings. Another Gilbert-related entity is in the process of acquiring a controlling interest in Greektown Casino.
In 2011, Larson became nonexecutive president of Olympia Development, the Detroit real estate company owned by entrepreneurs Michael and Marian Ilitch. Olympia Development handles real estate issues for various Ilitch entities, including Little Caesar Enterprises Inc., the Detroit Tigers and the Detroit Red Wings. Last December, Larson testified to the state Senate for the approval of a $650 million, 35-acre entertainment district downtown, which will include a multipurpose events center that will be the home of the Red Wings hockey team.
Larson was brought onto Bedrock because it is"getting increasingly busy" with growth, according to the statement. He will concentrate on the master planning, acquisitions, development and leasing activities. He will work alongside Bedrock's other managing partner, Jim Ketai.
Maybe with that $650 million proposal for a mixed use development which includes the Wings' follow-on rink, retail, commercial, residential and even civic properties, the Wings got what they needed, and Larson simply chose to move on to an organization that has further expansion on its mind.
Update: DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose took note of the Setoguchi disciplinary chat...
Setoguchi was assessed a double-minor for high-sticking, though it looked more like a cross-check, to Kyle Quincey’s face in the neutral zone. Quincey left the game, received 20-plus stitches to close a large cut to his chin, and returned by the start of the third period.
Following Sunday’s game, Quincey noted that Setoguchi’s past doesn’t suggest that he’s a dirty play, however – whether or not he intended to injury – Setoguchi must be responsible for his own stick.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” said Quincey, who was clearly defenseless on the play.
Quincey felt that Setogushi’s actions warranted a major penalty, but the Wings’ defenseman was more disappointed that Detroit didn’t score during the ensuing four-minute power play.
“I don’t know if the ref saw it. Maybe if he did he would have given him five, but he’s not a dirty player,” Quincey said. “Things just happen, I guess.”
Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, any fine that could exceed $5,000 requires a hearing.
And MLive's Brendan Savage is confirming:
The NHL will hold a disciplinary hearing Tuesday morning for Minnesota Wild forward Devin Setoguchi as a result of an incident late in the second period of Sunday's 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings.
Setoguchi was given a double-minor penalty for high sticking Red Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey, who needed more than 20 stitches to close a gash on his chin.
Quincey returned to play in the third period.
Any fine that could exceed $5,000 requires a hearing under terms of the NHL's collective bargaining agreement.
TSN's Matt Cullen mentioned Tomas Tatar as a solid fantasy hockey pick-up...
TATAR SAUCE: Red Wings LW Tomas Tatar has a lot of AHL games under his belt for a 22-year-old -- 248 to be precise -- after he was a second-round pick in 2009, moving straight from Slovakia to Grand Rapids.
He's shown plenty of skill but, with all that time in the minors, there have been ups and downs; times when other Detroit prospects have pulled ahead of him. This season, with injuries knocking out the likes of Johan Franzen, Mikael Samuelsson and Todd Bertuzzi, there has been room in Detroit for skilled forward prospects and while Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson have also had a chance, Tatar is the one making his mark.
Tatar scored goals in back-to-back games on Wednesday and Friday last week and while he was held off the shoresheet in Sunday's loss to Minnesota, he also recorded a season-high five shots on goal while playing with Andersson and Justin Abdelkader.
And this week's crop of power rankings is kinda thin because Canadian websites skipped today to celebrate "Family Day," a holiday kind of sort of celebrated by some people and not by others, so the crop of power rankings we've got are pretty thin.
ESPN's Scott Burnside took over for Pierre LeBrun this week (they alternate, and Burnside is a tougher "ranker" with harsher commentary), and Burnside sees the Wings' slide as, well, a slide:
12. Detroit Red Wings [record] 7-6-2 Last Week: 7 Disappointing weekend for Detroit, which lost at home to Anaheim on Friday and then blew a 2-0 lead against Minnesota en route to a 3-2 defeat Sunday afternoon at the Xcel Energy Center.
I have to agree with Fox Sports' A.J. Perez here: the Wings' slide has something to do with the team's size and strength (see: Todd Bertuzzi, Johan Franzen) going down to injuries. As it turns out, Franzen is much more important to the team's success than any of us realized:
16 . Red Wings [record] 7-6 -2 [down] 7 [highest/lowest] 9/18: Detroit has dropped three games in a row, a skid that coincides with a rash of injuries among the team’s forwards. Johan Franzen joined Todd Bertuzzi and Darren Helm on injured reserve.
Am I allowed to growl regarding this comment from Sportsline's Brian Stubits?
15 [Red Wings, last week 8, down 7]: The most damming thing you can say about a franchise like the Red Wings is that they're just another team this season. Not bad, not great.
For some reason, the Wings remained within NHL.com's Dave Lozo's "Super 16"...
13 [last week] 9 Detroit Red Wings: How did Red Wings coach Mike Babcock view Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Wild, one in which his team let a 2-0 lead slip for a third straight loss? "You have to win and get points in this League, otherwise you lose sight of things in a hurry. Right now, we're taking on water." They'll try to right the ship Tuesday in Nashville.
And the New York Post's David Satriano's power rankings matter because people pay attention to them:
12) Red Wings (7-6-2) (8): The Red Wings have lost three games in a row to slip out of playoff positioning, at least temporarily. Not to worry, though. They still have Pavel Datsyuk, who has a goal in four straight games.
At this point, I'll take that and run with it.
Update #2: I was right about the real estate fellow, per the Free Press's JC Reindl:
A top official in Mike Ilitch's real estate firm has jumped to the real estate firm of Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert. Gilbert's Bedrock Real Estate Services announced today that it has brought on Eric Larson as a co-managing partner.
A prominent metro Detroit developer and consultant, Larson had been non-executive president of Ilitch's Olympia Development since October 2011.
He is also founder and president of Bloomfield Hills-based Larson Realty Group, and the son of the late Robert Larson, a nationally known real estate executive.
"It really is a tremendous opportunity on all fronts to be involved in Detroit and what is happening in downtown," Eric Larson told the Free Press today. "It has absolutely nothing to do about my confidence and belief in what the Ilitches are doing, but everything to do with my continued career evolution."
Larson had been working on llitch's plan for a new downtown Detroit arena complex that could serve as anchor to a larger $650-million entertainment district.
At Bedrock, Larson will team up with managing partner James Ketai and will concentrate on master planning, acquisitions, development and leasing activities. Bedrock says it oversees more than 3.5 million square feet of commercial space in downtown Detroit in addition to Cleveland; Scottsdale, Ariz; Charlotte, N.C.; San Diego and Pittsburgh.
An Olympia Development representative could not be reached for comment.
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