The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/26/13 at 05:28 PM ET
Building upon today's early-afternoon post, the Red Wings' "day off" from their 48-games-in-99-nights marathon hasn't resulted in a dearth of Red Wings-related news. While the Wings are enjoying their time in Phoenix, back at Joe Louis Arena, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose spoke to Kyle Quincey about taking one bullet and dodging another.
Quincey's left cheekbone is "busted up," but Quincey won't need surgery to repair the fractures he incurred when a shot ramped up his stick and hit him in the face, so he told Roose that he'll take the good news that he could return in two weeks, but he's going to need some extra strength Tylenol, too:
“The incident is pretty scary,” Quincey said, “so (Monday) was the best day in a week and a half, for sure. I was dealing with all of that pain, and getting that good news was … worth it, I guess.”
Injured late in the third period of the Red Wings’ 3-2 overtime win at Edmonton on March 15, Quincey hasn’t returned to a regular diet as it still hurts to chew, and he’s experiencing some numbness and sinus problems. He even likened his cheekbone and orbital bone fractures to cracking a hard-boiled egg.
“It just shattered,” he said.
Quincey told Roose that his cheek will heal on its own, but it's still a bit of a mess:
“The doctor couldn’t tell if there was any structural damage or how big the dent was where the puck hit,” Quincey said. “We gave it seven days for the swelling to go down and he said there’s a dent, but it’s not bad enough that he would have to push it back out.”
Originally, the Red Wings thought they’d be without Quincey’s services for a minimum of a month. But that was before a final determination was made regarding surgery. Now that doctors have charted a course for recovery, Quincey could be back in the Wings’ lineup in 2-3 weeks.
“With surgery I would have missed significantly more time,” he said. “The numbers that were getting thrown around were four to six weeks and then you take a look at the schedule and you think first round (of the playoffs), end of the first round. It was pretty devastating, so to get the news was great. In my mind there is no timeframe. Just taking it day by day right now, which I think is the right thing to say. But it’s looking closer to three weeks than six, and that’s good.”
Quincey also told Roose that he'd block the shot again given the two points on the line:
“It’s a minute and a half left in a tie game, in a huge game for us and we had just gotten that tying goal,” he said. “You try to do everything in your control to try to keep the puck away from your net. … It’s a good defensive play when you get your stick on those pucks, and you turn your head because you know it’s coming close to you. But it’s tough.”
Out west, as the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan notes, the Red Wings' players and coaches believe that their team is finally forging its post-Lidstrom identity as its moving parts have finally begun to gel, and it's hard to argue with their, "We've got a higher comfort level" results:
"As the season goes you're getting more games under your belt and experience," said forward Daniel Cleary, noting the Red Wings' leadership has been instrumental since the start of the season. "Guys are more comfortable, and that leads to us not panicking or any frustration on the bench, not letting a bad play or goal get us down. It's been a good start to the road trip."
The Red Wings have won the first three games of this four-game trip and can complete the sweep Thursday in San Jose, Calif.
"We knew it would be an important trip for us when you look at the standings," forward Henrik Zetterberg said "That game against Minnesota (an ugly loss before the trip started) stung a bit. We knew this road trip was important and wanted a good start and we now have three (wins) and just have to finish it off (Thursday)."
There's a growing sense the Red Wings are getting increasingly confident and poised with every game. Team defense, goaltending, and special teams have been outstanding lately.
"No question," said coach Mike Babcock, when asked if he's noticing an increasingly confident team. "For sure we'll continue to get better. We'll keep plugging away and keep trying to get better and in the meantime gather as many points as we can."
Babcock challenged goalie Jonas Gustavsson to "join the party" Sunday when Babcock named Gustavsson the starter for the Phoenix game. Gustavsson, nicknamed "Monster," had quite a bash while defeating the Coyotes. Sidelined with a groin injury most of the season, and inconsistent when he has played, Gustavsson made 29 saves, including a pivotal third-period penalty shot to preserve the victory.
"Overall I felt pretty confident," Gustavsson said. "I felt like my guys helped me, too. It was a good step."
Said Babcock: "We need him, for sure. Your team has also got to be confident in him. Things haven't gone great for him this year, he's been hurt and it's hard to get in your rhythm and gain confidence in yourself."
MLive's Ansar Khan took note of the fact that the Wings still believe that they're a work in progress:
“There's a lot of things we can do better, but we're definitely moving in the right direction,'' Kronwall said. “We just got to stick with it. We've been able to grind some out here as of late.'' It definitely feels good right now. We're in good shape. At the same time … don't get too confident. We got some work to do.''
The Red Wings are 5-1-0 in their past six. They've done it with strong goaltending from Jimmy Howard – with a good performance mixed in by Jonas Gustavsson in Monday's 3-2 win in Phoenix – solid defense and an improving power play (at least one goal in eight consecutive games).
Young players like Jakub Kindl, Brian Lashoff, Brendan Smith, Joakim Andersson and Cory Emmerton have stepped up and shown much improvement.
“Our D's gotten better,'' coach Mike Babcock said. “It wasn't our thought at the start of the year that these D would be playing. It's just the way it worked. It took us some time. But, I think it's getting better and we just got to keep finding ways to win games.''
Kronwall said this team is showing more resiliency.
“In the beginning of the season there were a lot of times when (the opponent) went up a goal or two and we just couldn't find any energy to go after them again,'' Kronwall said. “Now it feels like we just keep going no matter what the score is.''
And in the injury department...
One of the reasons Babcock believes the team will get better is the return of some injured players. Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo (sprained shoulder) has been cleared to play. Right wing Mikael Samuelsson (broken finger) is due back Sunday. Defenseman Kyle Quincey (fractured cheek bone) should be back in a couple of weeks. And the club still hopes that third-line center Darren Helm (back) will return this season.
“If we can get Helmer back, it would be unbelievable what it could do for our hockey club,'' Babcock said. “We'll just keep plugging away and trying to get better, and in the meantime gather as many points as we can.''
In prospect news, from Sportsnet's Jeff Marek:
Here's the Canadian Hockey League's press release:
The Canadian Hockey League today announced that forward Martin Frk of the Halifax Mooseheads is the CHL Player of the Week for the opening week of the CHL Playoffs ending March 24 after scoring five goals and three assists for eight points in two games with a plus-minus rating of plus-4.
Frk exploded for all eight of his points in Game 1 of the top ranked Mooseheads’ First Round QMJHL Playoff Series against the Saint John Sea Dogs on Friday night. With five goals including a natural hat-trick in a span of 7:50 during the second period, Frk also added three assists and was named first star of the 11-1 victory. The Mooseheads also edged the Sea Dogs by a 2-1 score on Saturday night to grab a 2-0 series lead.
Frk, a 19-year-old native of the Czech Republic is playing in his third QMJHL season with the Mooseheads. Selected in the second round of the 2012 NHL Draft by the Detroit Red Wings, Frk recorded a career high 35 goals and 49 assists for 84 points in 56 games.
Also considered for the award this week was Stephane Legault of the Edmonton Oil Kings who scored three goals and five assists for eight points in two games against the Kootenay Ice in WHL first round playoff action. In the OHL, Scott Laughton of the Oshawa Generals scored three goals and three assists for six points in two wins against the Niagara IceDogs in their first round series.
Via RedWingsFeed, in tangential-prospect news, Grand Rapids Griffins forward Luke Glendenning spoke to Griffinshockey.com's Kyle Kujawa about his memories regarding participating in NCAA playoff hockey with the University of Michigan. Wings-drafted prospects Ben Marshall (a University of Minnesota defenseman) and Nick Jensen (a Saint Cloud State University defenseman) will be taking part in the NCAA regionals in Grand Rapids (Marshall) and Toledo (Jensen), so this story's particularly timely:
NCAA hockey is coming to Grand Rapids, as Van Andel Arena will host the West Regional of the 2013 NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament this Friday and Saturday! Four of college hockey’s top teams -- Minnesota, North Dakota, Niagara and Yale -- will compete in West Michigan to secure a spot in next month’s Frozen Four in Pittsburgh, and fans can purchase a two-day, three-game pass for just $65 by clicking here. Several Griffins have participated in the NCAA tournament, and we’ll highlight their experiences throughout March.
The single-elimination stakes of the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament offer a unique and thrilling environment for players and fans alike, in a setting where one shot of the puck can determine the fate of an entire team.
Current Grand Rapids Griffin and former Michigan Wolverine Luke Glendening had his fair share of NCAA appearances while with the University of Michigan. Familiar with the full spectrum of experiences that the tournament has to offer, Glendening understands the mentality the players need to adopt as they hit the ice this weekend at Van Andel Arena.
“You try to deal with the stakes as a team,” he said. “You’ve been playing the whole season and you’ve been playing your whole life. You don’t want to overthink it and make a stupid mistake.”
During his collegiate career, Glendening took part in four NCAA tournaments as a Wolverine. Highlighting his experience at Michigan was his 2010-11 season where, as a junior, he co-captained his team all the way to the Frozen Four championship game. The Wolverines were matched against the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, spawning one of the most high-stakes experiences Glendening has ever had on the ice.
“We were in a pretty hostile environment,” he recalled. “We played Minnesota-Duluth in Minnesota, but it was a surreal experience, one of my best hockey experiences.”
The championship environment was taken to new heights by Michigan’s loyal fan base that followed the team all the way to Minneapolis. Lost in a sea of their opponent’s colors, the dedicated Wolverine fans made all the difference for the spirits of the team. What they lacked in number, they made up for in heart, helping the players to focus on the magnitude and importance of the game at hand.
“We have great fans at Michigan,” said Glendening. “(For the semifinal game) there was a group of yellow jerseys in the crowd and then the rest of the entire stadium was green for North Dakota. I just think stepping out onto that ice and seeing them was incredible. We were the underdogs, and [North Dakota] was supposed to be unbelievable. Standing there for the national anthem was made me realize this is really it, this is the big time.”
In the land of ranting and raving, the Denver Post's Adran Dater has either gushed about the Wings or not-so-quietly and somewhat gleefully hoped for their demise over the past two months, and Dater's take on the state of the Wings in his Sports Illustrated power rankings list summarizes his conflicted feelings toward a team he seems to love to love and love to hate hate at the same time:
11 Detroit Red Wings Last Week: 10
A great week started with a two-game sweep of the Ducks in Anaheim's previously undented conclave, then came a sojourn into Phoenix for another win. Jimmy Howard is playing well in goal, so there is still the chance that I could be wrong about Detroit's Stanley Cup chances. But if the Wings can go into places like Anaheim and win twice against a hot squad, I will not dismiss this team. They are still the Red Wings. They may not be THE Wings of yore, but they remain a good, and dangerous, bunch.
See also: Pro Hockey Talk's Jason Brough's belief that the Wings will somehow magically accommodate Jay Bouwmeester's $6.68 million salary for this season and next season.
In a follow-up to another Roose story, the Macomb Daily points us toward a story from Fox Sports Ryan Ermanni, discussing a brave high school athlete and the Red Wings player who's lending her a helping academic hand:
Mary Mrdjenovic is a senior at Regina High School in Warren. These days she is a very popular girl. Mrdjenovic is a star in three sports for the Satellites, and she carries a 4.0 grade point average. However, a freak accident on the ice during hockey practice led Mrdjenovic to breaking her back.
"It was just any normal day. We were doing just a normal drill and kind of lost my edge and took a bad hit, slammed into the boards, and that was just it," she explained.At first, Mrdjenovic didn't think much of it.
"It wasn't really bad pain," she said. "I was really sore and just had a bad kink in my back. I didn't think anything was worse than that."
However, after several tests, the news couldn't be any more shocking.
"Three vertebrae were broken, but one was bad enough to where it was not supporting my spine," Mrdjenovic said.
I'll let Ermanni take it from there:
Update: Apparently the Wings' players held a Toast of Hockeytown in Phoenix today...
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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.