The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/13/13 at 01:32 PM ET
Updated 10x at 4:09 PM: The Detroit Red Wings begin their Western Canadian swing tonight against the Calgary Flames (9:30 PM EDT, FSD/TSN/WXYT AM), and the Flames have already completed their morning skate, and the Wings are skating now, but there's some "rut roh" news already, per the Free Press's Helene St. James:
Immediate update: Rut roh x2:
On the Flames' side of things, amongst Sportsnet's Roger Millions' Tweets...
No Cammalleri on ice today..perhaps maintenance?? #Flames— Roger Millions (@RogMillions) March 13, 2013
From the Calgary Sun's Scott Cruickshank:
And Wes Gilbertson...
Well, now we know...
I believe we can call this, "Things are different when the morning skate's open to the public":
TSN's airing the game in Canada, so they filed the following preview...
A victory would look very good to both the Detroit Red Wings and Calgary Flames tonight when the clubs meet at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary enters this contest on an 0-3-0 slide and the last-place club has lost five of its past seven games. The Flames have been outscored by a 13-3 margin during the three-game slide and their best result during that skid came in Monday's 3-1 loss at Los Angeles.
The Kings swept a two-game home series against the Flames, beating the visitors by a 6-2 score on Saturday before Monday's win. Dustin Brown notched two goals to lead L.A. to a win in the most recent contest. Mikael Backlund scored the lone Calgary goal, while Joey MacDonald allowed two goals on 21 shots for the Flames, who are last in the Western Conference with 22 points.
"We're not winning games," Calgary captain Jarome Iginla admitted. "We're in last place and that's not acceptable."
The Flames played both games in the L.A. series without forward Curtis Glencross, who is questionable for Wednesday's test in Calgary. Glencross is second on the team with eight goals this season.
Calgary is 6-5-2 as the host this year and is kicking off a two-game homestand. The Red Wings are 3-5-2 as the guest and will play three straight and seven of their next eight games on the road.
The Red Wings, who are tied for sixth in the West standings, had won two in a row before running into the red-hot Columbus Blue Jackets in a home-and-home series. The Blue Jackets notched a 3-0 win in Friday's encounter in Ohio and then posted a 3-2 shootout decision the following night in Detroit. The recent home-and-home wrapped up the season series between the Central Division rivals and Columbus ended with a 4-0-1 record against the Red Wings.
"They're tough," Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard said of the Blue Jackets. "They play a tough style. They dump the puck in and then they all fall back in their own zone. All five of them are just standing there in front of the net, and it's tough to get pucks through."
Jakub Kindl and Johan Franzen both potted goals in Sunday's loss, while Howard recorded 19 saves in regulation and overtime but failed to come up with a stop in the shootout.
The Red Wings hope to put the rough series against the pesky Blue Jackets behind them on Wednesday, when they aim for their sixth win in seven trips to Calgary. Detroit has won seven of 10 overall in the series with the Flames, but Calgary recorded a 4-1 win when the clubs met in Detroit on Feb. 5.
And MLive's Brendan Savage offer their usual game-day debate, pondering whether the Wings' seven-of-nine-March-games-on-the-road swing will determine whether the Wings are a playoff team:
ANSAR KHAN: They squandered points against Columbus (gaining only three out of 10) and blew too many 2-0 leads during one stretch. They need to at least break even over their next eight games. A strong showing over the next two weeks won't necessarily get them in, but a disastrous record during these two trips could knock them out.
The key, to begin with, is scoring on the power play, where they are 0-for-36 on the road. They're due. It certainly can't get any worse.
With Valtteri Filppula likely returning tonight and Darren Helm possibly back for that California/Phoenix trip, they'll be deeper up front and a faster team.
BRENDAN SAVAGE The next two weeks will almost certainly determine if the Red Wings extend their streak of consecutive playoff appearances to 22 years. If they can earn at least seven points during the next seven road games they'll likely keep pace with the rest of the teams in the Western Conference, where road victories haven't been easy to come by this season.
But it might take more than a .500 record since their final 14 games include two apiece with first-place Chicago and Nashville, home games against San Jose and St. Louis, and one more western trip to Calgary and Vancouver.
If the Red Wings don't make some noise in the next two weeks, those final 14 games might not matter a whole lot.
The Windsor Star's Bob Duff penned a dual profile story, talking to Flames winger and Leamington, ON native T.J. Brodie and recently-recalled Wings forward Gustav Nyquist. I'm betting that you're going to be more interested on his discussion with the latter player...
The Red Wings will take their latest look at right-winger Gustav Nyquist, called up from Grand Rapids, where he was leading the AHL in scoring with 27-33-60 totals in 57 games. He’s expected to skate on a line with Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen.
“If that’s the case for the game than it’s going to be a great opportunity for me,” Nyquist said, “It’s really exciting to be playing with guys like that. I’m just going to try and make the best out of it.”
There’s been plenty of calls from the peanut gallery for Nyquist’s return to the NHL, but he tried not to get frustrated and keep his nose to the grindstone
“No, you can’t think about it too much,” Nyquist said. “You have to focus on working hard down there and showing them that you want to be up there. But at the same time, the guys have had gotten the chance so far – I mean, Andy (Joakim Andersson), Tats (Tomas Tatar) and Smitty (Brendan Smith) and Lash (Brian Lashoff) on the D side – have done a great job. They’ve really shown that they can play up here too.”
Scoring is what the goal-starved Red Wings require and that’s exactly the element of his game that Nyquist has worked the most on while in Grand Rapids.
“This year I think I’m starting to shoot the puck a little bit more,” he said. “I’ve tried to work on that and go to the net a little bit harder. I think I’ve scored a few more goals this year than I did last year down there. That’s what I’m going to try to bring with me up here.”
Duff accompanied his story with a video of Nyquist's exploits as a Griffin:
In the injury department, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose has filed a companion story to MLive's Brendan Savage's story about Darren Helm's recovery from a slightly torn disc and/or ligament in his back. Helm's now skating with the team and feels better about his chances of returning sooner han later...
“It’s definitely nice to be out there, I can kind of see the end coming close,” Helm said. “I was skating pretty good the previous skates I’ve had. I felt that I could push myself pretty hard out there. I was getting a little tired there in the end since I’ve been out so long I played it smart and got off early.”
For the first time in a long time, Helm, who plans to continue skating with the rest of the team this week, is upbeat and positive about the likelihood of returning soon.
“We’re shooting for the next week or so,” Helm said. “A couple weeks ago we kind of said (March) 20 against Minny, not positive how close we were going to be to that. I want to make sure there are no issues with that, with my mind. I want to make sure when I’m out there that’s the furthest thing from my thoughts. I want to be as healthy as I can before I get back out there and not a thought in my mind about it.”
The Wings definitely miss Helm, who never takes a shift off and is one of the most aggressive fore-checking third-line centers in the league. He had 26 points during the 2011-12 season (nine goals, 17 assists), which was the third consecutive year that he has finished with 24 or more points in a season. Among 17 Detroit players who played in 65 or more games last season, Helm was the least penalized, receiving only 12 penalty minutes in 68 games.
Helm injured his back while lifting weights prior to the Wings’ mini-training camp in early January. At the time, doctors were unable to pinpoint a diagnosis until a visit to a New York City back specialist late last month turned up a small tear in one of his discs. Even if he doesn’t experience a setback in recovery, Helm knows that there are conditioning and atrophy issues to contend with by being away from the rink and gym for so long.
“You can’t just miss a year of hockey, step back into things and be the way you were,” he said. “There’s a lot of things I’ve got to get prepared for. The mental part of the game is really going to be important for me. Just focusing, the pre-game preparation, it’s going to take a while to get back to where I need to be.
“The whole timing part of my game is going to be off for sure. I hope to get it back quick. I’m going to work as hard as I can. I feel like I always try and do that. It just, you lose it really quick. You lose it after a week or two and the time I’ve spent off it’s going to be really hard to get it back.”
Sometimes the boss offers some cringe-inducing stats...
On the other hand, this makes me smile:
This makes me want to say, "Hire a witch doctor!"
Promotional stuff, yay...
Via RedWingsFeed, we've already got some "game-day video" in the form of EJ Hradek discussing his 5 favorite shootout moments:
And if you were wondering how "the Souse" is doing, Tomas Tatar's keeping his chin up and then some:
He'll be fine, and he'll be back by playoff time--if not next season--on a full-time basis.
Update #1: From the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa:
Also: The Red Wings' Game Day Blog offers Ken Kal's Keys to the Game...
Get Started On Time - Be ready to play from the opening face-off. The Wings have to take the crowd out of it early. The team has had 3 days to prepare for the Flames, so they need to come out with energy.
Special Teams Need To Improve - The Red Wings are still looking to score their first PP goal on the road this season; Detroit has given up 12 PP goals away from JLA. With 7 of our next 8 games on the road,
solid special teams play will be important.
Generate More Offense - The Red Wings need to score more. They've scored 3 or more goals just 3 times in their last 9 games. Work hard and get it on net and try to put it behind Kipprusoff.
On This Day in Red Wings History... On March 13, 2008
Darren Helm stepped onto the ice for the first time as a Red Wing in a 5-3 win over Dallas at The Joe!
And here's the Game Day Blog's abbreviated Wings-Flames set-up:
After a 3-2 shootout loss at home to the Blue Jackets, the Wings packed their bags and headed north of the border for Calgary. Tonight's game is the first of a three-game swing in Canada for Detroit, and in a truncated season where every point counts, the Wings understand the magnitude of bringing points back home with them.
"It's definitely huge," said Jimmy Howard, "There's a lot that's going on here with teams just jockeying for position. It's imperative for us to get off on the right foot here tonight."
Coach Babcock echoed Howie's sentiments of the trip's importance, but also stressed the significance of tonight's game. "This is huge. It's not even the trip, it's (tonight). We've got one out of a possible four points here lately. We need to get back on the winning side of things." With three days since their last game, the Wings should come out firing against the Flames.
Welcome to the Detroit Red Wings Game Day Blog, where you can get behind-the-scenes information, thoughts from players and staff, and up-to-date news on anything and everything Red Wings on game day.
You can watch tonight's 9:30 PM game on Fox Sports Detroit or TSN for our Canadian fans, or tune in on AM1270.
Update #3: Oy, vey...
CalgaryFlames.com's Torie Peterson filed a "morning skate report"...
At first glance, it doesn't look pretty. The Flames currently sit 15th in the Western Conference with 22 points in 24 games and are 28th in League, ahead of Florida and Washington. However, they are a mere six points out of a playoff position and getting on a winning streak will put them right back in the postseason chase.
"We have a big game tonight. We have two home games in row. We need to cash those games," head coach Bob Hartley stressed. "There's no sense going back to the three games in California. They're past us. We know the results and there's not much that we can get out of those games. It's what lies ahead."
The bench boss hold both individual and team meetings on a very regular basis and has a solid grasp on his team's mindset. They believe they have the talent and ability to put together a run to get themselves back into the postseason conversation.
"This is a totally different team when we win two, three in a row. We're a different team than when we lose two or three in a row. This game is all about mental challenges. It's a physical game but there's lots of mental challenges you need to prepare yourself (for). We start tonight. We have a big game so let's start with a big win. Let's move on."
Tonight marks the start of the second half of the Flames season and rearguard Jay Bouwmeester views it as a new beginning.
"We've shown at times that we can play with the top teams. At times, in games even, we've been dominant but for whatever reason, we let it slip. We've got to figure it out, put it all together. It's a funny league. Everyone is real close. Anything can happen any night. You have to get on a bit of a roll and get some confidence."
Flames forward Curtis Glencross suffered an upper body injury on Friday in Anaheim and flew back to Calgary on Saturday to be evaluated. After meeting with the medical staff, the winger's injury has been deemed not overly serious and he will a game-time decision tonight.
"It's a relief," Hartley said.
Aaron Vickers filed a Red Wings scouting report...
JOHAN FRANZEN Though the Red Wings have just seven goals in their past four games, Franzen has been the most potent of those to find the back of the net twice over that span. The six-foot-three, 223-pound forward has found the back of the net five times in 19 games this season and has cleared the 25-goal mark in four of the last five years.
DAN CLEARY Though he’s not primarily known for his offensive punch, Cleary has been running particularly dry since posting back-to-back multi-point games in late February. Since the offensive explosion, which includes four goals and six points in three games, the Carbonear, NFLD product hasn’t put his name on the scoresheet in seven straight games.
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
DAMIEN BRUNNER: Stepping into North American hockey for the first time in his career, Brunner hasn’t disappointed those charting his trajectory. Leading the way with 10 goals for the Red Wings, the five-foot-10 forward has been an excellent addition to a Detroit club looking to establish more depth.
VALTTERI FILPPULA: Though he hasn’t produced at the same rate this season as he did a year ago, Filpulla has been equally important. The 28-year-old is averaging in the neighbourhood of 18 minutes a game.
JAKUB KINDL: Detroit’s first round pick from the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kindl is paving his way towards being a regular in the National Hockey League. The six-foot-three 26-year-old has three goals and seven points in 19 games this season for Detroit while averaging over two minutes a game on the power play.
And MLive's Ansar Khan has filed his morning skate report:
Jonas Gustavsson will start in goal tonight for the Red Wings against the Flames (9:30, Fox Sports Detroit) because Jimmy Howard has the flu.
Defenseman Ian White was not at the rink today due to what the team said is "personal reasons.'' The club said he is on the trip and will be available for the final two games, Friday at Edmonton and Saturday in Vancouver.
It appears forward Jordin Tootoo will be a healthy scratch for the first time this season, though coach Mike Babcock said that decision would be made at game time.
Forward Valtteri Filppula will return to the lineup after missing seven games with a shoulder injury.
Babcock said Justin Abdelkader will start the game on a line with Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen, but that Gustav Nyquist will see some shifts on that line, too.
Update #6: The Wings were mentioned once in ESPN's insiders' weekly chat...
Graham: With Detroit moving East next year, do you think that changes their philosophy in terms of style and what players they will be looking for?
Craig Custance: Graham - It's an interesting question, one I posed to a couple players last week. Kronwall joked that they might need a couple more fighters but I don't expect a major overhaul in how they play.
And here's the Free Press's Helene St. James' game-day update:
The Detroit Red Wings had a lot of people back on the ice this morning at the Saddledome - and several nowhere near the place, too. For starters, Jonas Gustavsson will start tonight when the Wings take on the Calgary Flames (9:30 p.m., FSD, TSN) because Jimmy Howard was so sick with flu he came to the rink early, then promptly was sent back to the team hotel to rest.
Secondly, it appears Jordin Tootoo will be a healthy scratch. Coach Mike Babcock didn't fully commit to such a decision after the morning skate, saying Tootoo will be a "game-time decision," but Tootoo stayed on the ice for a good hour after the usual 30-minute morning skate ended, usually an indication a player isn't playing.
That's Tootoo's impression, too. He took the possibility in stride, saying "obviously my foundation is being physical out there. Personally, maybe the last couple of games, for some reason I haven't been up to par. But for me mentally, it's taking it one day at a time and making sure I'm giving myself every opportunity to be in the lineup."
Valtteri Filppula is returning after a seven-game layoff because of a sore shoulder, and he'll be with Henrik Zetterberg and Damien Brunner. Pavel Datsyuk is with Johan Franzen and Justin Abdelkader to start, though Babcock said Gustav Nyquist may end up playing in Abdelkader's spot. Babcock said Nyquist will start with Joakim Andersson and Daniel Cleary, so the fourth-line candidates are Cory Emmerton, Patrick Eaves, Drew Miller and Tootoo.
On the back end, Ian White was excused for the day for what Babcock said were personal reasons, but White is expected to be available for the rest of the trip, which continues Friday at Edmonton and concludes Saturday at Vancouver. With White unavailable, Brian Lashoff is in, and Kent Huskins is out for an eighth straight game.
The Wings will face Miikka Kiprusoff in net as they attempt to overturn a two-game losing streak.
Speaking at the Saddledome for the first time since a Calgary Sun poll showed about 80% of respondents would welcome a change of scenery for the 35-year-old right-winger, [Jarome] Iginla stickhandled around questions about his future.
“It's always after a real tough loss, eh? Those polls. Could we do them after we dominate some games?” Iginla said with a wide smile. But I understand it -- the fans' disappointment. We have great fans here that are very passionate about hockey, and they want to win and they want to see improvements. As far as the speculation, I said at the beginning of the year, I don't want anything to be a distraction. I'm not going to talk about any of that speculation. As a team, we're at a very critical point, in terms of bouncing back and trying to build some momentum again. Also, we realize a lot of people have thrown in the towel. As a team, we need to find ways. If we're going to give ourselves a playoff shot and playoff chances, we have to take advantage of these next two home games.”
Just as the Flames trickled off the ice after Wednesday's optional morning skate, Bodog.ca announced the odds of the crew from Calgary winning the Stanley Cup are now listed at 100-1.Only the Columbus Blue Jackets (150-1) and the Florida Panthers (250-1) are considered bigger longshots.
“I still believe that this team can win four, five, six games in a row and get back in the playoff picture,” insisted Flames head coach Bob Hartley. “I know that there's going to be lots of speculation around our team and our players, but I addressed this with the players this morning — that's part of our business. There's one thing on our mind, to win hockey games.”
Count the coach among the believers, but what about the rest of the bunch?
“We need to taste it,” Hartley said. “It's a taste that you can acquire. This is a totally different team when we win two, three in a row than when we lose two or three in a row. We start tonight. We have a big game. Let's start with a big win.”
If not, there could be a big fire-sale. The Flames, who returned Tuesday afternoon from California, are aware of the rumours surrounding the squad — Iginla, Jay Bouwmeester, Miikka Kiprusoff are among those being mentioned as possible trade bait — and the feeling of some fans that it's time for a major rebuild.
“You have to use it as motivation almost. If nobody is going to believe in you, you have to believe in yourselves,” said Flames assistant captain Mark Giordano. “It was a tough road-trip, there's no doubting that. We've got to get back with a little bit of a swagger. I think we've done a lot of good things. We've won some big games. We need to get back to that and string a few together. But, you know, we've saying that all year.”
The Detroit News offers the following...
A little past the halfway point of this lockout-shortened season, the Red Wings are a 35-to-1 shot to win the Stanley Cup, according to an online bookmaker.
Bovada.com lists the Chicago Blackhawks as the favorite, at 9-to-2 odds, to take home Lord Stanley, followed by the Pittsburgh Penguins (6 to 1) and the Boston Bruins (8 to 1).
The team with the worst odds? The Florida Panthers, at 250 to 1.
Via RedWingsFeed, Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner has filed a new video blog entry, discussing the Wings' rough road schedule to come:
MLive's Khan's added quotes and line combinations to his article, noting that Jonas Gustavsson was somewhat surprised by the news that he was starting...
"Usually you know the day before, but it doesn't matter if you're starting or backing up, you got to prepare because you never know what happens,'' [Jonas] Gustavsson said.
Howard will dress as the backup.
Defenseman Ian White was not at the rink today due to what the team said is "personal reasons.'' The club said he is on the trip and will be available for the final two games, Friday at Edmonton and Saturday in Vancouver.
It appears forward Jordin Tootoo will be a healthy scratch for the first time this season, though coach Mike Babcock said that decision would be made at game time. Patrick Eaves and Cory Emmerton both said they were playing tonight. Asked if he is playing tonight, Tootoo said, “Not as of right now. It's going to be a game-time decision, but I just got to prepare like I'm going to be in the lineup.''
He said he's not injured.
"I think sometimes change is good to fire a team up and for me it's come to the rink every day preparing like I'm going to be in the lineup,'' Tootoo said.
Here are the anticipated line combinations and defense parings:
Valtteri Filppula-Henrik Zetterberg-Damien BrunnerJustin Abdelkader-Pavel Datsyuk-Johan Franzen
Gustav Nyquist-Joakim Andersson-Daniel ClearyDrew Miller-Cory Emmerton-Patrick Eaves
Niklas Kronwall-Jonathan EricssonKyle Quincey-Brendan Smith
Brian Lashoff-Jakub KindlJonas Gustavsson (starting)
And the Free Press's Helene St. James posted a short video of Jordin Tootoo discussing his probable scratching:
Update #8: From St. James:
The Flames' website has also posted game-day videos of Jarome Iginla...
And Mark Giordano speaking to the media:
Update #9: CalgaryFlames.com's Aaron Vickers is pulling double duty for NHL.com, and he's posted a Flames update...
Having missed two games due to injury, it comes as good news to Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley that forward Curtis Glencross is a game-time decision. Having finally iced a healthy lineup with the return of Mikael Backlund on Friday, Glencross missed a back-to-back set against the Los Angeles Kings with an upper-body injury but could return Wednesday night against the Detroit Red Wings.
“That’s great news for us because obviously he’s a big part of our forward group," Hartley said. "He’s a big part of our team. That was great news.”
Glencross has eight goals and 13 points in 22 games for the Flames this season.
Here’s Calgary’s projected lineup against the Red Wings:
Alex Tanguay – Matt Stajan – Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross – Mikael Backlund – Lee Stempniak
Jiri Hudler – Mike Cammalleri – Roman Cervenka
Steve Begin – Blake Comeau – Tim Jackman
Jay Bouwmeester – TJ Brodie
Dennis Wideman – Mark Giordano
Derek Smith – Chris Butler
Scratched: Cory Sarich, Anton Babchuk, Brian McGrattan
Injured: Paul Byron (hand)
As well as a Wings update:
Facing a variety of lineup changes as he preps for the Calgary Flames, Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock almost overlooked the return of forward Valtteri Filppula.
“Yep. He’s in," Babcock said casually. "Oh I guess that’s another lineup thing,”
Filppula has missed the last seven games for the Red Wings after suffering a shoulder injury against the Vancouver Canucks on February 24th. In his absence, Detroit has scored just 10 goals and gone 3-2-2.
“We just got [Johan] Franzen back a few games ago. The difference between him and Fil [is] Fil was able to skate while he was injured, so obviously that’s a big boost for us,” Babcock said. “For [Zetterberg] to have someone to go with and Datsyuk to have someone to go with, I think that’s real important. We’ve been average offensively to say the least without those guys.”
Linemate Damien Brunner is excited to have Filppula back in the fold. The rookie center had no goals and three assists during Filppula's absence.
“He’s obviously a big guy for us and we’re happy he’s back and we hope he brings some offense in our game and scores some big goals,” he said.
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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.