The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/14/13 at 03:41 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings flew to Edmonton after their 5-2 loss to the Calgary Flames, and after a third-period brain fart of epic proportions, and given that the Wings have gotten all of 1 point out of three games against the worst of the West in Columbus and Calgary, there was no reason to stick around.
The Wings will be out of the playoff pack in terms of the standings by the time they face Edmonton on Friday, and possibly Vancouver on Saturday, though I don't need to tell you that the team's remaining Western Canadian trip games are now must-win situations.
I thought that the Wings played awful hockey from their goaltender on out, with their defensemen consistently out of position and bunching up to one side of the ice, their top forwards looking downright scared and all-too-predictably rushed, and there was no puck support or positional support by any of the Wings' players in all three zones, but the third period's combination of turnovers, blown coverage and blown goals (the Sporting News's Sean Gentile posted a compilation of Jonas Gustavsson's after-goal faces) was bad enough.
The fact that the Wings out-shot Calgary 38 to 22 and had a total of 73 shot attempts (to 38 by Calgary, which is too high by Wings standards) but could only dent Mikka Kiprusoff twice, on top of all their mental mistakes...That's downright gross.
Normally I start recaps by offering the other side's take on the game, but Wings coach Mike Babcock finally dropped his "kinder and gentler" message in lieu of calling his team out, and the Calgary Herald's Kristen Odland captured some properly-aimed criticism directed at the horses who aren't getting the job done:
“Well, it’s amazing to me how you can play so well, look so organized, and look so talented. It’s almost like you get playing so good that you get loose,” the Red Wings head coach seethed afterwards. “It’s crazy. We just gave it to them. It had nothing to do with them. Those are self-inflicted wounds on us. Crazy mistakes for no reason whatsoever. To me, that was a disturbing loss because all we had to do was continue to do things right and you win the game.”
When Johan Franzen, Henrik Zetterberg, or Valtteri Filppula weren’t shooting the puck at will, Pavel Datsyuk was being his usual dominant self. For one stretch in the second period, it was like they were playing a game of keep-away. In the end, they out-shot Calgary 38-22 but the second and first periods was where they really took it to them. But frequent turnovers and giveaways (11) eventually cost the Wings. After, Babcock both questioned a) the maturity of his group and b) the ability to stick with their game plan.
“There’s no sense in what happened here (Wednesday),” he said. “We had the puck. They couldn’t get the puck. When you go through their goals, we just gave it to them. To me, that’s a tough one to swallow. Big time. We have to have a look at ourselves as a group. The message has to get very clear that if you can’t look after the puck, there’s no sense playing. That right there was ridiculous.”
One reporter quietly suggested the collapse was a matter of being impatient when the score was tied 2-2 heading into the final frame. Or trying to force things?
“Why would you force anything?” Babcock snapped back. “We had the puck the entire time. Why would you force anything? Just take what was given and play the game. But I’m with ya, why would you force anything? Why would you turn over the puck continually? You should ask them.”
A defensive breakdown cost them Calgary’s first goal 5:55 into the first period by Alex Tanguay, who took advantage of the time and space and made a nice play on Jonas Gustavsson. (“Something we’d talked about before,” Babcock noted.) But other than that, he said, clean giveaways.
“You can’t play defensively when you give it to them in the slot,” Babcock continued. “Anything else?”
At that exact moment, a poor reporter joined the scrum late: “Um, coach, you mentioned giveaways …Just ridiculous,” he interrupted. “We killed ourselves tonight . . . you look like you’ve got some skill back in your lineup, you’re starting to move the puck, you’re starting to play . . . just play the game. See you guys.”
For the Flames, as the Calgary Herald's George Johnson bombastically noted, Mikka Kiprusoff's performance merited gushy praise...
“He’s been on the of the best goalies in the world for the last 10 years,” said defenceman Jay Bouwmeester. “The best goalies have a different attitude. It’s a tough position, you make a mistake, it’s in the net. We’re never surprised what Kipper does. Ever. No one doubts him for a second. You don’t even think about it.”
Until the Flames began making mincemeat of the leaky Jonas Gustavsson — No. 1 man Jimmy Howard was down with flu, and not even on the bench — in the third period, it was all Kiprusoff.
There were more white jerseys packed around the Calgary crease than Catholic disciples flooding into St. Peter’s Square after the white smoke went up in Rome earlier in the day. Or seemed to be, anyway. The Mule, Johan Franzen, providing a screen capable of blocking out the sun. Pavel Datsyuk diving in and out of the shadows, looking for a pocket to pick. Captain Henrik Zetterberg using that justly famous 20-mule-team strength, holding off defencemen to hold tight to the puck and make a play towards the net. Valtteri Filppula lurking, forever lurking, for a juicy leftover to present itself.
Datsyuk, in particular, was full of lethal mischief. Every time he touched the puck, the mesmerized Flames were holding onto the seat of their britches in abject terror.
“It wasn’t our best first period,” adjudged Kiprusoff graciously. “But sometimes it’s like that . . . that you’re able to come with a lead after that was nice. After that we played better and a pretty smart third.”
Niklas Kronwall wired a shot for Detroit’s first goal, at 3:20 of the opening period, and the second came via Filppula after a surge of Red Wing power play pressure — Filppula having just made a post sing and Zetterberg sizzling a shot off Kiprusoff’s left shoulder. Other than that, despite long stretches of territorial dominance and plenty of shots, they were held gallantly at bay.
Franzen and Zetterberg, victimized six times. Apiece. Filppula, Justin Abdelkader, Gustav Nyquist each turned back three times. Every Detroit player except Dan Cleary and centre Joakim Andersson — goaltenders notwithstanding — had at least one crack....
“If everyone is leaving the Scotiabank Saddledome with a smile, it’s because of Kipper,” lauded [coach Bob] Hartley. “In the first period, our legs were still on the plane from our California trip, but in the second we got more life and more jump. We were hoping for a quick start. I don’t know if it’s a fact or an excuse, but after those long trips it’s tough to get going at home. In the first period, it was only the Wings. I don’t think we needed two Zambonis to clean the ice. Just one end would’ve been plenty. But, hey, we still had a 2-1 lead. And it was all about Kipper. Obviously when your goalie gives you saves like this it keeps you in the game, it gives you confidence.”
And then God-damned Curtis Glencross came into the equation, despite playing with a sore wrist, as the Calgary Herald's Scott Cruickshank noted (Glencross was equally deadly against the Wings when he played for Edmonton):
Glencross, with the score deadlocked, wheeled through the slot and passed back against the grain to a wide-open Lee Stempniak, who deposited the go-ahead goal into a mostly vacated net at 9:12.
“They were puck-watching,” Glencross said of the Wings, “and I saw Stemper out of the corner of my eye. It had to go through a few bodies and sticks to get through to him, but luckily enough it got through to him.
Glencross added a goal four minutes later. Up-ice aggression ultimately did in the Wings — again, apparently.
“We watched some video of Columbus playing them,” explained Glencross. “(The Blue Jackets) had three goals when they pressured hard on the forecheck and caused turnovers. Pucks went in the net off those turnovers. That was our game plan. That’s what we wanted to do — cause turnovers. When you have them turnovers — too many turnovers at your blue line or even at their blue line — it’s tends to be back in your net. We’ve been talking, ‘If you don’t have a play at the blue line, make the safe play. Get it behind their D and work the cycle.’ That’s what our goal was.”
I knew it...The Blue Jackets did indeed provide the rest of the league a Wings-defeating blueprint!
Alex Tanguay, Jay Bouwmeester and Blake Comeau also beat Wings goalie Jonas Gustavsson (who was subbing in for sick first-stringer Jimmy Howard — he stayed at the team hotel all day, then remained in the locker-room during the contest).
Niklas Kronwall and Valtteri Filppula replied for the Wings, who outshot the locals 38-22 — which says a lot about the bounce-back effort of Miikka Kiprusoff. Kiprusoff — yanked on Saturday, snubbed on Monday — turned in a wonderful performance. On a night when Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk. Johan Franzen were feeling it — totalling 13 shots — the goalie repelled nearly everything.
Rebounding, of course, had not been limited to the netminder. The Flames, licking their wounds after a three-game pasting through California, tasted success.
“It’s a big win for us,” said Glencross, whose team improves to 10-11-4. “It’s nice to come home and win after a disappointing road trip. It was a good bounce-back game for us. We just need to do the same thing next game (Friday against the visiting Nashville Predators).”
The Calgary Herald's Kristen Odland's "Game Story" states the obvious:
WHY THE FLAMES WON: They managed to take advantage of a shaky goalie. Even Detroit’s slick puck movers Henrik Zetterberg, Valtteri Filppula and Pavel Datsyuk didn’t have an answer for that.
THE BIG SAVE: Miikka Kiprusoff, making a few good ones on the night, manages to get a shoulder on a deadly Henrik Zetterberg snapshot late in the second while Jiri Hudler was in the penalty box. Detroit’s Jonas Gustavsson also deserves an honourable mention for sticking a pad out to deny Mikael Backlund after he tried to pull a move during a penalty shot late in the third.
THE BIG PLAY: Fresh off a two-game absence to nurse a wrist injury, Glencross managed to fool the Red Wings by taking the puck wide into the corner. While Jonas Gustavsson was anticipating the shot, Glencross quickly passed to Lee Stempniak who tapped it into an open net.
CalgaryFlames.com's Aaron Vickers kind-of-sort-of pulls double duty for NHL.com and the Flames, and he offers an "Inside the Game" take on whenthe tide turned Calgary's way...
Goal of the game: Sprung in alone by Cammalleri, Tanguay’s patented deke and shelf job 5:55 into the game – just 2:35 after the Red Wings opened the scoring – completely suckered Gustavsson for Calgary’s first goal of the game.
Save of the game: With the game tied 1-1 and Damien Brunner on the doorstep looking for the lead, Kiprusoff sprawled out to poke-check Detroit’s leading goal-scorer to keep the team’s knotted.
Hit of the game: Though whistled for boarding on the play, Glencross crushed Brendan Smith into the end boards with seven minutes remaining in the first period.
Turning point: Glencross’ unassisted goal of a Detroit turnover just less than four minutes after setting up Stempniak to give the Calgary the lead buried any hopes of a Red Wings comeback midway through the final frame.
While Torie Peterson tosses off some stats of note...
3:57: Time between the Flames goals in the first period. Alex Tanguay got his team on the board with a beauty on the power play and then Jay Bouwmeester found the back of the net.
13: Blocked shots for the Flames through 40:00. The Red Wings had 3 in that span.
And Vickers' recap for NHL.com begins our pivoting from the Flames' to Red Wings' perspectives...
Tied 2-2 heading into the third period thanks to Kiprusoff's heroics, Glencross – playing his first game after missing a pair with an upper-body injury – set up Lee Stempniak to put Calgary in the driver's seat. Cutting through the slot with the puck, Glencross drew traffic before feeding a pass back to Stempniak, who put the puck into a virtually empty net for his seventh of the season at 5:37.
"That was a great play," Stempniak said. "I think as a line we've been doing a better job just developing a little bit of chemistry and get some chances and he made a great play. For me personally, just try to go to the net and have my stick on the ice and it was right there."
Glencross then added his ninth of the campaign to make it 4-2 just three minutes later. The recipient of a turnover in the Detroit zone, he buried the puck past Detroit goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, a surprise starter after Jimmy Howard fell ill earlier in the day.
"Detroit's a team where you go into the third period with them like that, what they're skating for is an opportunity, a turnover and we're fortunate enough to get them our way," Glencross said.
Blake Comeau capped the scoring spree by ripping a shot over Gustavsson's glove at the 10-minute mark to make it 5-2.
"We hurt ourselves there in the third and give them credit, they capitalized on our mistakes," defenseman Kyle Quincey said.
"Coming in, we knew it was a big game for us," Quincey said. "We get that big goal at the end of the second and we feel good coming into the third and you make a few mistakes and they capitalize and after that it's hard to get them back.
With the Canadian Press's recap completing the swap:
Stempniak broke a 2-2 tie at 5:37 of the third period Wednesday on a beautiful setup from Glencross, who wheeled deep into the Detroit zone and zipped a pass to an uncovered Stempniak in the slot.
Blake Comeau followed with another Calgary goal just 48 seconds later to make it 5-2.
"We can't just keep giving the puck away, it doesn't work like that. We're not getting anywhere," said Red Wings defenceman Niklas Kronwall. "If we want to get into the playoffs, we have to start fixing this right now and it's up to all of us in here. We all have to better and we know it. It's about time we fixed that."
Alex Tanguay and Jay Bouwmeester also scored for Calgary (10-11-4), which won its fifth in a row at home. Kronwall and Filppula replied for Detroit (12-10-5), which remains seventh in the Western Conference.
"To me, that was a disturbing loss, because all we had to do was continue to do things right, and you win the game," said Wings coach Mike Babcock. "Whether we don't have the maturity as a group, or the stick-to-it-ness, there is no sense in what happened here."
The Wings were plain old pissed off and plain old disgusted with their effort, and that's a good thing.
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose accentuated the positive, noting that the Wings' power play is no longer 0-for-the-road, in no small part thanks to Valtteri Filppula's return...
“The power play is one thing that hasn’t been working well, and it was nice to get a goal, but it didn’t really have an effect on the score today,” said Filppula, who returned to the lineup after missing seven games with a sprained left shoulder. “Hopefully our power play starts to play better and we can take that advantage to the next game.”
The Wings’ power play had gone more than 11 straight road games without registering a single goal. The powerless road stretch is the longest in the league to start a season since 1989-90, which is one more game than the first-year Minnesota Wild went without a road power-play goal to begin the 2000-01 campaign.
Unfortunately for the Wings, the Flames got three third-period goals by Lee Stempniak, Curtis Glencross and Blake Comeau to help hand the Red Wings a 5-2 loss at Scotiabank Saddledome.
“He skated well, made some nice plays,” Zetterberg said. “It was nice to see him get that first power-play goal on the road. It didn’t look like he missed a beat.”
The second-period power play looked like a clinic as Zetterberg and Kyle Quincey had chances before Filppula scored. But Kiprusoff came up big on stopping Zetterberg, Filppula hit the left post and Quincey got a shot through from the right point that was smothered by the Flames’ veteran netminder with 22-seconds left in the man-advantage.
It was after the face-off win that Quincey got the puck back at the point, glided backwards toward the middle of the ice and send a blast that Kiprusoff kicked out with his left leg. But the puck went right to Filppula, who quickly flipped the puck over the goalie. It was Filppula's first power-play goal in more than a year.
“We had some good chances there, and obviously that gives you a little bit of momentum as well,” Filppula said. “It was good to get a goal, and if we can take something from this game, maybe we can keep improving our power play.”
“Awful,'' defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “We just stopped playing and we kept turning the puck over and over. It didn't feel like they beat us, it felt like we beat ourselves. We just kept giving them more and more opportunities. The last period was embarrassing.''
Kronwall said they started making “hope plays that weren't there'' and added that they hung goaltender Jonas Gustavsson out to dry.
Gustavsson was pressed into service because Jimmy Howard had the flu. He slammed his stick coming off ice.
“I felt confident going out in the third period that we had a chance to win and then things don't go your way and you get frustrated,'' Gustavsson said. “They got some chances and they scored on them. You want to be able to help the team when (the opposition) get those chances. I guess it wasn't good enough today.''
The Red Wings are winless in three (0-2-1). It was the start of a three-game Western Canada trip and a crucial stretch in which they play seven of eight on the road.
“If we want to get into the playoffs, we have to start fixing this right now,'' Kronwall said. “It's up to all of us in here. We all have to be better.''
And Gustavsson continued while speaking to the Free Press's Helene St. James...
"It was 2-2 after two, and we had a good chance to get a good win on the road," Gustavsson said. "They get some good chances, and they score on them. For myself, you want to be able to help the team, but I guess it wasn't good enough. I felt confident going out in the third period that we'd have a chance to win it, and then, things don't go your way, and you get frustrated over that."
Those goals spelled the end of any comeback hope for the Wings, who'd been stymied numerous times by Miikka Kiprusoff. A few more saves out of Gustavsson, and few less turnovers, and things might have been different.
"All the way up to that," captain Henrik Zetterberg said, "I think we played a good game. We had some bad turnovers that really cost us a few goals, and it's tough to do that in this league. We didn't play good enough to win, that's the final thought. Even in the third, we did a lot of good things, but the bad things really cost us."
But Babcock stole the show and then some:
"It's amazing to me how you can play so well," Mike Babcock said, "and look so organized and look so talented, and then it's almost like you get playing good, that you get loose. I mean, it's crazy. We just gave it to them. It had nothing to do with them. Those are self-inflicted wounds on us. Crazy mistakes for no reason whatsoever.To me, that was a disturbing loss, because all we had to do was continue to do things right, and you win the game. Whether we don't have the maturity as a group, or the stick-to-it-ness -- there's no sense in what happened here."
The maturity factor definitely plays into the equation, and while the Wings have tried and tried to shove a youth movement down their own throats sans Todd Bertuzzi, Darren Helm, Mikael Samuelsson and now Ian White as well as Carlo Colaiacovo, it's come back to bite them in the butt too many times:
The Wings have just one point their last three games, squeezing that out of a weekend home-and-home series with Columbus. What frustrated players and Babcock Wednesday was that the Wings started so well only to completely fall apart.
"We have to have a look at ourselves as a group," Babcock said. "The message has to get very clear that if you can't look after the puck, there's no sense playing. That right there was ridiculous. Why would you force anything? We had the puck all the time. Just take what's given and play the game. It makes no sense."
The coaching staff has done its best--perhaps power play excluded--to accommodate the massive, massive personnel losses, roster turnover, and to address their own mistakes, but Babcock both laid the law down to his own team and seemed to suggest that a personnel-tweaking of the veteran-adding variety is in order.
The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa will take us out with his chronicle of Babcock's rant:
"I don't know this can happen to you after you play so well and look so organized and look so talented," Babcock said. "It's almost like you get playing so good that you get loose, and I mean it's crazy. We just gave it to them. That's got nothing to do with them. Those are self-inflicted wounds on us and crazy mistakes for just no reason whatsoever."
The coach, Kronwall and other players made it clear afterwards that the Red Wings have reached an existential moment for their playoff hopes. They must rally, and soon, after a catastrophic loss in their first game on a three-game swing through western Canada that continues in Edmonton Friday and Vancouver Saturday.
Yeppers. If ever there was an, "It's a sink or swim season, and this is the team's sink or swim moment," it's this one.
"To me, that was a disturbing loss because all we had to do was continue to do things right and you win the game, and whether we don't have the maturity as a group or the stick-to-it-iveness, there's no sense in what happened here tonight," Babcock said. "Because we had the puck, they couldn't get the puck, and when you go through their goals, we just gave it to them."
At one point, Babcock was so upset he simply told the media, "Ask them!" when questioned about how so many mistakes could occur.
With "them" being his players.
"We have to have a look at ourselves as a group, and the message has to get very clear that if you don't look after the puck, there's no use in playing — and that right there is ridiculous," Babcock said. "Why would you force anything? We had the puck all the time. Just take what's given to you."...
"There's no recovery for giving the puck away," Babcock said. "They're just clean giveaways. You can't play defense if you give it to them in the slot."
"We didn't take the speed through the middle, which was a simple play," Babcock said. "We had talked about it before."
The Wings have been talking about their plans for 27 games now, and if the players aren't delivering, then it's time to bring in some reinforcements that aren't coming up from Grand Rapids...
And in the interim, the Wings' marquee names have to walk the walk as well as talk the talk, because this time around, it's the support players who've been over-taxed.
This team may have set impossibly high standards for itself in what clearly is an honest-to-goodness "rebuilding year," but the Red Wings' management doesn't believe in taking the Big Red Machine apart for the sake of truly "tanking to rebuild" because one may never be able to put that machine back together...
So it's up to the players now to answer their coach's challenge and make sure that the playoff deposits I'm sure the Wings' ticket department's asking its season ticket-holders to make and the hopes of the average Wings fans of this team simply playing past April 27th are not in vain.
It's the Detroit Red Wings' collective job and its individual players and coaches' jobs to prove that this team is more than "mediocre at best," and that has to start on Friday and continue throughout the rest of the Wings' road-heavy schedule.
That, and it's time for the Wings' front office to start earning their money. Ken Holland, Jim Nill, Ryan Martin, Kris Draper, Mark Howe, Kirk Maltby and the pro scouts need to decide how they're going to go about helping this team steady itself, and they must be aggressive but not desperate.
Everyone's riding a knife's edge here, but that's just the way it's gonna be this season, and the Wings have to deal with it.
Highlights: If you must watch highlights, watch the Wings website's version:
Post-game: The Flames' website posted Bob Hartley's post-game presser, comments from Miikka Kiprusoff, Blake Comeau, Jay Bouwmeester, Curtis Glencross, Lee Stempniak and a "sights and sounds" clip as well;
And Fox Sports Detroit posted clips from an extremely pissed off Henrik Zetterberg, an extremely disappointed Jonas Gustavsson and a plain old mad Mike Babcock:
Dear Gord, is the Wings' belated "Game-Day Preview" ironic viewing now...
Yowzers! In the middle of the night, the Wings' YouTube channel posted post-game comments from Niklas Kronwall...
Henrik Zetterberg's pissed-off and exasperated remarks...
And Babcock's post-game growl:
Photos: The Detroit News posted a 12-image gallery;
The Detroit Free Press posted an 18-image gallery;
MLive posted a 10-image gallery;
The Calgary Herald posted an 11-image gallery;
The Windsor Star posted 5 images from the game;
ESPN posted a 46-image gallery;
Yahoo Sports posted about a dozen images from the game in its Wings gallery;
Shots 38-22 Detroit overall. Detroit outshot Calgary 15-6 in the 1st and 12-5 in the 2nd, and the teams were tied in shots in the 3rd, 11-11.
The Wings went 1-for-2 in 3:45 of PP time; the Flames went 1-fo-2 in 2:39.
Jonas Gustavsson stopped 17 of 22 shots; Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 36 of 38.
The 3 stars, per The Fan 960, were Curtis Glencross, Jay Bouwmeester and Miikka Kiprusoff.
The Wings' goals: Kronwall (4) from Datsyuk (18);
Filppula (5) from Quincey (1) and Nyquist (1), PPG.
Faceoffs 25-24 Detroit (Detroit won 51%);
Blocked shots 18-6 Calgary;
Missed shots 17-10 Detroit (total attempts 73-38 Detroit);
Hits 18-13 Calgary;
Giveaways 11-10 Detroit;
Takeaways 9-8 Calgary.
Individual stats, TMR style:
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 9-and-9 (50%); Zetterberg went 3-and-7 (30%); Emmerton went 6-and-2 (75%); Andersson went 3-and-4 (43%); Cleary went 1-and-2 (33%); Filppula went 3-and-0 (100%);
Shots: Zetterberg and Franzen led the team with 6 shots; Filppula had 4; Abdelkader and Nyquist had 3; Miller, Brunner, Emmerton and Quincey had 2; Kindl, Datsyuk, Eaves, Lashoff and Kronwall had 1.
Blocked attempts: Brunner hit Flames players 4 times; Kindl had 3 attempts blocked; Abdelkader, Emmerton and Zetterberg had 2 attempts blocked; Smith, Datsyuk, Eaves, Quincey and Kronwall had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Franzen missed the net 3 times; Abdelkader, Emmerton and Zetterberg missed the net 2 times; Kindl, Cleary, Datsyuk, Nyquist, Brunner, Quincey, Filppula, Ericsson and Kronwall missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Ericsson led the team with 3 hits; Abdelkader, Eaves and Franzen had 2; Kindl, Cleary, Miller and Andersson had 1.
Giveaways: Smith had 4 giveaways; Kindl, Datsyuk, Emmerton, Zetterberg, Filppula, Andersson and Nyquist had 1.
Takeaways: Filppula and Franzen had 2 takeaways; Cleary, Datsyuk, Nyquist and Ericsson had 1.
Blocked shots: Datsyuk and Lashoff blocked 2 Flames shots; Quincey and Ericsson blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Smith and Abdelkader took minor penalties.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective -15. Kindl, Lashoff, Brunner and Quincey finished at -2; Smith, Datsyuk, Eaves, Miller, Emmerton, Zetterberg, Filppula and Franzen finished at -1; Kronwall finished at +1.
Points: Filppula and Kronwall scored goals; Datsyuk, Nyquist and Quincey had assists.
Ice time: Ericsson led the team with 23:06 played; Kronwall played 21:49; Quincey played 20:31;
Datsyuk played 20:06; Franzen played 19:23; Smith played 18:15;
Kindl played 17:15; Zetterberg played 17;10; Abdelkader played 16:45;
Lashoff played 16:40; Brunner played 16:12; Filppula played 15:51;
Miller played 14:01; Emmerton played 12:38; Cleary played 12:28;
Nyquist played 12:12; Andersson played 11:46; Eaves played 10:40.
Red Wings notebooks and stuff: MLive's Ansar Khan spoke to Jordin Tootoo about being scratched, and noted Ian White's absence:
Tootoo took part in the pregame skate, but Patrick Eaves is taking his place on the line with Cory Emmerton and Drew Miller. Tootoo had played in all 26 games.
“When things aren't going the right way or the way they're supposed to be, sometimes change is good,'' Tootoo said after the morning skate.
Tootoo indicated he needs to be more physical.
“My game, my foundation, is being physical out there,'' Tootoo said. “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.''
White expected to practice Thursday: Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said he expects defenseman Ian White to return to practice Thursday in Edmonton. The team said White did not play Wednesday – or show up at the arena – due to unspecified personal reasons.
The Free Press's Helene St. James spoke to Tootoo, too...
"We have a lot of guys coming back from injury, and I think when things aren't going the right way, or the way they're supposed to, sometimes change is good," he said. "I think sometimes change is good to fire a team up."
Tootoo stayed on the ice an hour after the 30-minute morning skate ended, even though the decision wasn't official until pregame warm-ups.
"For me," he said, "it's coming to the rink every day and preparing like I'm going to be in the lineup. 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."
The Wings signed Tootoo last summer, seeing him as a solid combination of grit and offensive upside. Tootoo, however, has not produced quite as expected, with two goals and two assists in 26 games.
And she offers good news in a story about Darren Helm:
General manager Ken Holland said Wednesday before a 5-2 loss to the Flames at the Saddledome that barring any setbacks, Darren Helm could return as early next Wednesday, when the Wings host the Minnesota Wild.
Helm has played only one game this season, sidelined by a muscle tear suffered while doing squats a few days before training camp began. His one game was against Minnesota on Jan. 25.
The Wings sorely miss Helm, who is key to getting the bottom-six forwards slotted to everyone's best talents. He's also a crucial part of the penalty kill, with his ability to use his speed to generate breakaways and eat up an opponent's man-advantage time.
The Wings will be careful with Helm, of course, but he was on the ice for a good 90 minutes Wednesday morning, and has joined practices after spending his first few days back on the ice skating by himself.
The news on Todd Bertuzzi, meanwhile, remains status quo, as he continues to deal with back pain by getting treatment back in Detroit. He last played Feb. 7 at St. Louis.
Let's all be shocked that Joey MacDonald came to Calgary with high praise from Jiri Hudler, as noted by DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose...
“I brought Jiri Hudler in my office and asked him about Joey,” [Flames coach Bob] Hartley said. “And Jiri, right away, said that he was a great guy. No hesitation. He’s a hard worker and he’s been just as Jiri told me.”
The Flames claimed MacDonald off of waivers on Feb. 11. And since then, the 33-year-old from Nova Scotia has produced a 3-4-1 record with a 2.85 goals-against average. He isn’t scheduled to start tonight when his new team hosts his old team. But that’s OK for MacDonald, who has one career start against Detroit, a shutout victory for the New York Islanders.
“It’s always great when you’ve played in an organization for eight or nine years that you get an opportunity to play against them,” MacDonald said. “I played against them that one time with the Islanders, but we played the other night in L.A., and it was a tough game that we lost 3-1. I thought my game was where it has to be when you don’t play for 3-4 games, but that’s the backup’s role. You have to be ready to come in and give the team a chance to win every night.”
MLive's Ansar Khan...
“Mac is the ultimate team guy,'' Hartley said. “I had Johan Hedberg in Atlanta and (MacDonald) reminds me a lot of the [Johan] Moose [Hedberg] . He gets in the net like a half-hour before practice and the Zamboni kicks him out at the end of practice.''
MacDonald, scheduled to back-up Mikka Kiprusoff Wednesday against the Red Wings at the Saddledome, is 3-4-1, with a 2.85 goals-against average and .900 save percentage.
“I have no fear in putting Joey MacDonald in,'' Hartley said. “I feel that Joey MacDonald can win a game for you, and there aren’t too many teams that openly can admit this about their backup. … We put him in on the road, at home, he’s not rattled.''
MacDonald appreciates the confidence Hartley has shown in him.
“The best thing for me was just to get thrown in there and begin playing,'' MacDonald said. “I wasn’t thinking about my back. I played three games in four nights, and back-to-back games. Sometimes when you have an injury like that you don’t play and then you sit around and kind of get worse.''
And the Free Press's Helene St. James:
"It's disappointing leaving a team you spent so much time with," MacDonald said, "and they're a great bunch of guys and everything. It would have been nice to stay there, but sometimes getting an opportunity somewhere else and a fresh start is what you need. I think getting a chance here, it's a chance to expose me and to play some games. If I didn't get claimed, I'd probably be still down in Grand Rapids. Whenever you're playing in the NHL, you're getting seen, you're getting exposed, and that's what you've got to do. It's a contract year, so I'm just trying to play hard and hopefully, everything will work out here."
MacDonald said he still keeps in close touch with Howard and Wings goalie coach Jim Bedard. "They're always going to be good friends," he said. "When I've been playing, Howie and Jimmy B have been texting me after games. We're always going to stay pretty tight."
Paul posted a clip of TSN's Darren Dreger speaking to the NHL Network, and I have no comment on Dreger's suggestions at the 6-minute mark that the Wings are "consistently looking for a defenseman to try to help Niklas Kronwall," suggesting that the Wings are looking to a veteran and may move Filppula or a prospect to snag Jay Bouwmeester:
You may read the Calgary Herald's Scott Cruickshank's story about the Flames dealing with trade rumors on your own, and the same is true of the Calgary Sun's Wes Gilbertson's article on the same story, but this part of his notebook's worth mentioning (and Randy Sportak penned what is a quote-less recap as of 4:35 AM):
Finally some good news for Flames fans. LW Curtis Glencross was back in the Flames’ lineup after missing one game with a wrist injury and made his presence known in the first period by drilling Wings D Brendan Smith. Glencross was whistled for boarding on what seemed like a clean hit.
Red Wings RW Damien Brunner is still waiting for an opportunity to face off against Sven Baertschi on NHL ice. When the Flames were in Detroit five weeks ago, Baertschi was injured. Brunner is now the only Swiss forward on a big-league roster after Baertschi was assigned to the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat on the weekend. “I hope it’s going to work out for him, and he gets his chance soon again up here,” Brunner said. “He’s going to get (his confidence) back now in the American Hockey League, and then when he gets up and gets his chance to play big minutes — top six — I’m pretty sure he’s going to succeed, and the fans are going to love him.” … By the way, Baertschi was held off the scoresheet Wednesday’s 4-3 road loss suffered by the Heat at the hands of the Texas Stars.
Ahem, from the Detroit News:
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.
In the prospect department, in Sweden, Mattias Backman played 19:25 in Lincopings HC's playoff-opening 6-0 loss to HV71;
In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the Chicago Wolves 3-2 in overtime thanks to two Landon Ferraro goals. The Grand Rapids Griffins' website provides a recap (as well as a Flickr photo gallery)...
A five-game winning streak, a perfect 6-0 record against their closest rival in the standings, and a nine-point lead atop the Midwest Division were the spoils of the Grand Rapids Griffins’ dramatic 3-2 overtime victory against the Chicago Wolves on Wednesday at Van Andel Arena.
Landon Ferraro scored the fastest overtime goal in franchise history just 18 seconds into the extra session, tipping Brett Skinner’s cannon from the right point past Matt Climie to ignite the robust weeknight crowd of 8,018.
Ferraro’s two goals and Petr Mrazek’s tremendous 30-save performance were the keys as the Griffins (36-19-2-2) overcame a determined Chicago squad that enjoyed the advantage in play for much of the night. As a result, Grand Rapids improved to 8-1 in its last nine home games, its best run at Van Andel Arena since posting a 9-1 mark to start the 2009-10 campaign.
The Wolves (29-19-5-4) forced the action in the early going but were thwarted numerous times by Mrazek before breaking through on their ninth shot 11:24 into the opening period. Jordan Schroeder, reassigned to Chicago on Monday after spending more than two months with the Vancouver Canucks, set up in front of the Grand Rapids net and put the heel of his stick on Derek Joslin’s blast from the left point, redirecting the puck inside the left post.
Consecutive Chicago penalties late in the period resulted in the Griffins starting the second with 1:28 of a 5-on-3 power play and fresh ice, but they were unable to capitalize on the opportunity. Once back at even strength, the Wolves resumed their control of the contest and nearly increased their lead at the 13-minute mark, when Brad Hunt drove hard to the net and the puck bounced over the line. But Hunt was whistled off for goaltender interference, negating the goal.
The Griffins finally got on the scoreboard in a crazy final minute of the frame, scoring on consecutive shots 18 seconds apart to take a stunning 2-1 lead to the locker room. Tomas Tatar, who missed the Griffins’ last 14 games while in Detroit, finished a give-and-go with Francis Pare by popping a backhand past Matt Climie from the doorstep at the 19:31 mark. Then, during Grand Rapids’ subsequent rush up ice, Tomas Jurco sent a feed across the top of the crease that deflected off Ferraro’s left skate and into the cage with 11 seconds remaining. A subsequent video review by referee Terry Koharski determined that there was no kicking motion, validating Ferraro’s tally and the Griffins’ one-goal lead.
Grand Rapids maintained its advantage until just 3:56 remained in regulation. With Chicago on a power play, Nicklas Jensen fanned on his initial attempt from the slot before quickly getting off a shot that sailed into the top of the net, forcing the eventual overtime.
Five of the Griffins’ six wins against the Wolves have come by a single goal, including an incredible three overtime wins and one shootout victory. Strangely enough, Chicago extended its own point streak against Grand Rapids to three games (0-0-2-1) tonight.
“It was a little different game for me because I didn’t play as much in Detroit, and when I got the ice time tonight I feel a little more tired,” Tatar said. “But I like my ice time here and I like to play more and it was fun.”
Tatar, who missed 14 games in Grand Rapids while in Detroit since Feb. 3, scored late in the second period, followed 18 seconds later Landon Ferraro’s first goal to put the Griffins ahead 2-1. He is the Griffins’ current leading scorer with 40 points (20-20-40).
With former Griffins linemates Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson in Detroit, Tatar returned and paired on the top line with Frances Pare and Riley Sheahan and the top power play line. Tatar had four goals and three assists in 18 games in Detroit.
“Obviously there is a little disappointment but this is how it is,” Tatar said. “I expected to be sent down when guys get back no matter how good I would do. I knew this would happen because guys who come back with one-way contracts, that’s the NHL. It’s a business, too. They don’t want to pay guy just to send them here … I think I showed I could play up there, too. So I’m just going to wait for something to happen, or just wait for something to happen for next season.”
Coach Jeff Blashill spoke with Tatar before the game.
“Obviously, every player want to play in the National Hockey League, but he had a commitment level to come down here and play great,” Blashill said. “He told me that right away … and you saw from his game, he came down and played outstanding.”
In the ECHL, the Toledo Walleye are in a dogfight to make the playoff cut, but they did themselves no favors in dropping a 4-1 decision to the Greenville Road Warriors. Willie Coetzee registered an assist and Jordan Pearce stopped 24 of 27 shots in the loss, and the Walleye's website and the Toledo Blade's Mark Monroe provide recaps (the Blade also posted a photo gallery);
In the QMJHL, Phillipe Hudon fought in the Victoriaville Tigres' 4-2 loss to Drummondville;
Martin Frk registered 2 assists in the Halifax Mooseheads' 6-2 win over Cape Breton;
In the OHL, Alan Quine had a goal, an assist and finished at +3 in the Belleville Bulls' 5-2 win over Oshawa;
And Ryan Sproul finished at a -3 in the Soo Greyhounds' ugly 8-0 loss to Plymouth.
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