The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/05/13 at 03:43 PM ET
Updated 2x at 3:53 PM: I tried to cram an unbelievable amount of information into the Red Wings-Flames game-day update post, but the video parts didn't fit, so here's Ken Kal's game-day preview from the Wings' website, in which Kal speaks to Jimmy Howard, Danny Cleary and Niklas Kronwall about capitalizing on the Wings' home-heavy first-half schedule...
The Flames' website posted a game-day preview of its own, as well as interviews with Mikael Backlund and coach Bob Hartley, but something tells me that you're going to be more interested in what Jiri Hudler had to say to the media...
The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness took note of Hudler's remarks...
Jiri Hudler on his return to Joe Louis Arena.
“It’s the type of situation where I don’t want to be over-motivated,” Hudler said. “Those guys against me, those are my friends, my ex-teammates, but at the same time, we’re still with Bad Bert and some guys there, so obviously I don’t want to lose against them. We need these points, too. We’re in a critical situation. We’ve got two wins, I think. It’s going to be a tough game. To play in this building, it’s tough. They’ve got a lot of talent, a lot of skill. I was watching them on TV and they play well.”
Aside from stating what you know by now--that the Wings will rotate Brian Lashoff and a now-healthy Ian White in on defense at Jakub Kindl's expense, that Tomas Tatar will play alongside Valtteri Filppula and Pavel Datsyuk to start, with Todd Bertuzzi dropping to the third line with Danny Cleary and Justin Abdelkader, and Patrick eaves taking a seat, and that Darren Helm's going to see a back specialist after his bone scan came back negative--the Wings' Game Day Blog adds some more quips and quotes to the mix...
“Listen, every team is looking for points…and it’s only going to get more intensified…we actually have a great schedule to start the year and we need to take advantage of it.”
– Dan Cleary
“I’m going to do try my best and try to score a goal, which would be a really nice feeling for me. I hope we’re going to win.”
– Tomas Tatar
“The (AHL All-Star Game) came and I felt great and then after came the call-up to Detroit, so I felt great. Nothing could be better.”
– Petr Mrazek
“I just want to win…Lashoff did a real good job for us on the penalty kill…we want to kill them off and we feel Lash gives us the best opportunity to do that.”
– Mike Babcock
“(Brunner) is dynamic, he likes to score, he’s brave, he goes into the hard areas. He’s just one of those guys.”
– Mike Babcock
Jan Mursak participated in morning skate for the first time since his injury.
“I’ve been skating for a few days now on my own. My shoulder is getting better. I’m still a week or two away from being able to get some contact on that shoulder…I felt good shooting, passing, and skating.”
– Jan Mursak
The Wings' website just posted a very long clip of Babcock's game-day presser...
And Petr Mrazek was both interviewed by the ECHL's Mike Ashmore...
Mrazek is hardly your regular stopgap. He needed just three games with the Walleye to earn a promotion to the Griffins, and wore a mask emblazoned with Family Guy character Peter Griffin on his way to a stellar campaign in the AHL; he posted a 2.26 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 25 contests. It's no wonder Red Wings fans are giggidy...ahem, giddy at the chance at getting to see their future in net in the present.
But ECHL.com was fortunate enough to catch up with Mrazek at the AHL All-Star Game last weekend, and here's how the conversation went:
Mike Ashmore, ECHL.com: Detroit drafted you in the third round back in 2010...what do you remember about that day?
Petr Mrazek: "I didn't fly to L.A., so I was sitting home and watching a little bit. Then, I turned off the TV when it was like at (pick) 140, and they picked me at 141 in the fifth round. That was pretty cool. I turned off my TV and laptop, and a couple minutes later I got a call. I was really surprised and really happy."
ECHL.com: Until this year, a lot of fans perhaps knew you best from your performance at the World Junior Championships. Was that kind of your first taste of the spotlight?
Mrazek: "That experience at World Championships, it was a great moment in my hockey career for juniors. I couldn't play for the national team for a couple years, then I get the chance and we played very good hockey there."
ECHL.com: I know you only got into three games with the Walleye, but what can you tell me about how much that experience helped you?
Mrazek: "That was a great experience. Those were my first games in the pros, so I will always remember that. It opened my eyes. I'm happy they sent me there."
ECHL.com: I didn't know you were a fighter...that was some scrap you got into with (fellow ECHL alum) Carter Hutton in the Rockford-Grand Rapids brawl. Is that one of the craziest things you've been involved in?
Mrazek: "I don't want to say it was something crazy, it's hockey. The fights come in hockey. I didn't see him coming, I saw him behind me. I couldn't even think about a fight, it was just drop the gloves and we were together."
ECHL.com: What does it mean to you to make the AHL All-Star Game, especially considering you didn't even start the year there?
Mrazek: "That means a lot to me. It's my first year in pro hockey and the AHL, and I get a chance to play in the All-Star (Game). That's my first All-Star (Game) in my life. It's a great experience, and it'll be great memories."
"We still don't know what the main cause is,'' Helm said on Tuesday. “Some days feel better than others. Nobody is real sure what's going on. They can't find anything in particular, so I don't know if it's just me.''
It's not in his mind. Helm said he feels fine walking, but when he stands in one place for too long or sits, the pain starts. In the one game he played, Jan. 25 vs. Minnesota, he was fine when he skated, but not when he sat on the bench.
“In the third period, coming to the bench and sitting down is when I started feeling it,'' he said. “The actual playing wasn't bugging me too much until I started skating the next day. It starts to get uncomfortable. The drive down (to Joe Louis Arena) is usually when I gauge myself, how much pain I'm in.''
He hasn't skated since leaving halfway through practice on Jan. 26. His off-ice training has been limited to riding the elliptical trainer a few times.
“The first time my back started hurting (Jan. 10), it took me a week until I could start skating, working out,'' Helm said. “Now, it's been 10-11 days, and it still kind of feels the same from the moment it started bugging me.'
If you're interested in that sort of thing, MLive's Brendan Savage has cobbled together all the slates of power rankings out at the present moment...
And the Red Wings website's game notes state that Dan O'Rourke and Mike Hasenfratz will referee tonight's game, with Tony Sericolo and Steve Miller working the lines.
Update: Ah, there are always updates. Per the Muskegon Chronicle's Scott Brandenburg...
The Muskegon Lumberjacks hosted Red Wings Night Saturday at the L.C. Walker Arena, featuring former Red Wing great Tomas Holmstrom. Fans formed a line halfway around the Walker Arena concourse to meet Holmstrom, who retired from the Red Wings and the NHL on January 22, and to get his autograph.
Holmstrom signed all kinds of memorabilia on Red Wings Night, which was sponsored by Sports Pro Shop, much to the delight of fans young and old. The promotion and hockey game, which ended 4-3 in favor of visiting Chicago, drew a crowd of 3,716.
Holmstrom was only too happy to take a short break from coaching his kids to visit Muskegon for the second time. The 15-year NHL veteran, who helped Detroit win four Stanley Cups, said he definitely misses the games and hanging out with the players.
“I don’t miss the pain though,” said the good-natured Holmstrom.
Amazingly, the veteran of 1,026 games said the abuse he took in front of the net, where he scored the majority of his 243 goals, wasn’t nearly as bad as it looked.
“I actually miss being in front of the net,” Holmstrom said. “I miss going to the corners and then coming back to in front of the net and the flow of the game.”
Update #2: CalgaryFlames.com's Torie Peterson just filed a story about Hudler, too:
"Those guys against me today, those are my friends, my ex-teammates ... Obviously, I don’t want to lose against them."
After Detroit's skate this morning, Hudler's old teammates sent praise his way and noted how odd it be to see him on the opposition's bench tonight.
"It's good to see him doing well," Detroit forward Cory Emmerton said. "It looks like he's adjusting well in Calgary. Obviously he's a great player and we've got to worry about stopping him tonight and not being his friend."
Red Wings starting netminder Jimmy Howard is expecting to see a whole lot of Hudler tonight, complimenting the Czech on his presence in the offensive zone and his playmaking abilities.
"I think it's a very underestimated part of his game - how well he finds the open guys out there. We're going to have to be aware of when the puck is on his stick because he can find guys in tough spots."
Hudler, who signed a four-year, $16 million free agent contact with the Flames during the off-season, missed training camp and the first three games of the season following the death of his father. Jiri Hudler, Sr. was just 50-years-old when he died on Jan. 14.
“It’s been tough, but (hockey) obviously helps a lot, being around the guys, talking to the guys, to my teammates, my ex-teammates, and just thinking about hockey,” said Hudler, who played seven seasons with the Wings. “The schedule is so tight you have no time to think about other things.”
Hudler used Tuesday morning to meet with several of his former teammates, including Todd Bertuzzi and Daniel Cleary, who have maintained a friendship and consoled the Czech star recently.
“His dad passed away and Bert and I had been in pretty good contact with him,” Cleary said. “We were probably the closest with him. He misses the guys here, but he says he’s having fun. He’s playing a lot more in Calgary than he did here and he likes that. And that’s probably one of the biggest reasons why he left.”
Despite playing in just three games this season, Hudler has been a pleasant addition to the Flames, collecting two goals and three assists. The 5-foot-10 dynamo isn’t afraid to go to the hard areas, including the front of the net, which he did a lot in a Wings’ uniform. Last season, Hudler produced a career-best 25 goals.
“He’s so creative, his passing, his vision around the net,” Flames coach Bob Hartley said. “He’s very gifted. He has that quick release that can surprise many goalies but at the same time he was raised in a great organization and you can tell. His on-ice habits are very good. I think that’s going to be a great example to our young players.”
Niklas Kronwall said Hudler’s speed and size can present problems in the defensive zone.
“It's hard because you can’t really get a hold of him, especially now the way the game is being called,” Kronwall said. “At the same, if we can eliminate most of his space right away we can get support from other players, make it tough on him that way.
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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.