The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/22/13 at 01:35 PM ET
Updated 5x at 4:15 PM: The day after the Detroit Red WIngs' 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, it's not exactly a stunner to hear the Free Press's Helene St. James state that the Wings chose to "take an optional" as the team's going to be playing 2 games over the course of 2 nights this weekend (against Nashville and Vancouver) and will be wrapping up slates of 3-in-4, 4-in-6 and 5-in-8 nights...All with the team sporting some truly poor statistical (and otherwise) performances during their 0-3-and-2 stretch....
That's a lot of games, so while the Wings' waiving of Jan Mursak seems a bit off, though he definitely needs to play, the Wings received some good news in the injury department, as. St. James reported:
The rationale for waiving Mursak is to allow him to play...Somewhere...Again, per St. James...
The Detroit Red Wings placed little-used, oft-injured forward Jan Mursak on waivers today. If he clears, he can be sent to Grand Rapids.
"He needs to play," general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press. If that ends up being for another organization, the Wings can live with it.
Murrsak barely has been on the Wings' radar the past two seasons, thanks to numerous injuries. He broke an ankle at the start of the 2011-12 season and hurt his collarbone on opening night this season. When he played in Thursday's 3-2 loss to Columbus, it was only Mursak's second appearance of the season.
In 46 career games with the Wings, Mursak, 25, has four points and a minus-1 rating.
And per MLive's Ansar Khan...
If he clears by noon Saturday, the club will have the option of assigning him to the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Mursak returned to the lineup Thursday after suffering a collar bone injury in the season opener Jan. 19 at St. Louis.
He could not have cracked the lineup when everyone is healthy.
As the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness notes, one of the NHL's two Slovenians (Los Angeles Kings forward Anze Kopitar is the other) needs to get into playing shape, and he hasn't been able to do so...
Mursak, 25, had just two goals and two assists in 46 career games with the Wings.
“For Murs to be real good we need him to be on the forecheck, to be relentless,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said on Thursday. “He’s got a great shot. He’s got to shoot the puck and he’s got to be real good defensively, good on the wall and good decision-making at their blue line.”
Mursak, who was taken in the sixth round of the 2006 draft by the Wings, started on a line with Tomas Tatar and Joakim Andersson on Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Mursak hasn’t had any luck with injuries over the last two seasons. Last year he broke his ankle late in the preseason.
“It hasn’t been fun,” Mursak said Thursday. “I’m just trying to stay positive. Some days I’m a little more frustrated than others, but hopefully that’s the end of the injuries. Hopefully I can keep playing here without being hurt.”
Here's Khan on Quincey...
Detroit Red Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey is day-to-day with a left leg injury. He is not likely to play Saturday against Nashville but could return Sunday vs. Vancouver.
Coach Mike Babcock said after Thursday's 3-2 loss to Columbus that Quincey "rolled his ankle.'' He left the game at 3:48 of the second period.
The Red Wings also are missing defensemen Brendan Smith and Carlo Colaicovo with shoulder injuries. Neither is due back until next week, at the earliest.
They have six healthy defensemen. Jakub Kindl was a healthy scratch on Thursday and will be inserted into the lineup if Quincey can't play.
And here's St. James on Quincey:
The Detroit Red Wings appear to have caught a second break on the injury front, as defenseman Kyle Quincey could be ready to return within days.
Quincey suffered what general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press today is a "left leg injury," and Quincey is "day to day."
"I don't think he'll play tomorrow," Holland said. "We'll see how he feels Sunday. It could have been worse."
The Wings host the Nashville Predators on Saturday and the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.
Quincey was injured when he collided with Blue Jackets forward Artem Anisimov during the second period of Thursday's 3-2 loss to Columbus, which extended the Wings' winless streak to five games. They have just two points during the stretch, from overtime losses to St. Louis and Nashville.
Holland said the Wings aren't planning to call up anyone from the minors. Defenseman Jakub Kindl is available, and Brendan Smith (shoulder) should be ready Wednesday, at the latest.
Now, unless you want to talk more about the Wings-Leafs possible Winter Classic jerseys (and yes, as former Wings social media coordinator Jake Duhaime suggested, we should not expect the NHL to do anything less than roll out new designs for next year), preapre for Tweets galore (groans):
Urgh, part 2:
And, from the coach...
I'm calling these "sand-kickers":
More news to follow.
Update #0.5: If it matters to you, Fox Sports Detroit's Darren Eliot published a slate of power rankings for Michigan Hockey, focusing on the Wings and the Western Conference:
With a third of the condensed regular season already behind us, here is where I have the Western Conference teams. Our Red Wings are in for a fight, unable to get a consistent roster together due to injuries – this after already knowing that this was going to be a season of transition. Beyond the internal challenges, the Red Wings face an unbalanced schedule that makes four teams from one division making the post-season – as was the case last year in the Central Division – highly unlikely. So, even though I have them hovering in the Top 8, that might not be a clear indication of their playoff prospects.
More pertinent is the schedule that has the team headed west this week for the first time this season. The Wings travel to California for games against the Kings and Sharks, beginning a cycle that sees the team head all the way to the coast on four separate occasions. The telling portion of the season may well be the two-week stretch from March 13-28 in which the team plays seven of eight on the road and makes two successive trips out west. The Wings are hanging on right now, but they need wins this week. Getting healthy would be a huge help.
Anyway, a third of the way in, here are my power rankings. Since the conferences don’t play any crossover games this year, we’ll leave them out of the equation for now.
- Chicago Blackhawks: Record start only marred by the Jannik Hansen hit to the back of the head of Marian Hossa.
- Vancouver Canucks: Ryan Kesler and David Booth are back and Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider are coexisting in goal quite nicely.
- Anaheim Ducks: A 30-year-old Swede in goal has backstopped the Ducks to their Fasth start.
- San Jose Sharks: Cooled considerably after their 7-0 start, looking like the (inconsistent) Sharks of old.
- St. Louis Blues: Jaroslav Halak is hurt and Brian Elliott has lost his game. Questions suddenly in goal raises questions about the early season dialogue on the Blues as a legit contender.
- Nashville Predators: Pekka Rinne is in top form and Shea Weber has found his offense.
- Detroit Red Wings: Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg have been phenomenal.
Update #1. The Free Press's Helene St. James updated her Mursak story:
"It wasn't that surprising," he said. "I just thought I would get more opportunity to play, you know? I got one game. It just seemed like I wasn't the right fit for the Red Wings, I wasn't the kind of player that would play on their fourth line or something like that."
Mursak, a sixth-round pick from 2006, barely has been on the Wings' radar over the past two seasons, thanks to numerous injuries. He broke an ankle at the start of the 2011-12 season and hurt his collar bone on opening night this season. When he played in Thursday's 3-2 loss to Columbus, it was only Mursak's second appearance of the season.
"He's a kid who just got back," Mike Babcock said. "Two years in a row, he's missed the start. It's a tough situation for him. Ideally he'll just earn his ice time."
In 46 career games with the Wings, Mursak, 25, has four points and a minus-1 rating.
"I enjoyed my time here a lot," Mursak said. "It was awesome to be in locker room full of superstars and good people. But I have to move on. Either I will continue my career on another team or be in Grand Rapids. I didn't have any luck with injuries, but that's part of hockey. I just have to stay positive, and hopefully I will get more luck in the future."
Update #2: Here's MLive's Ansar Khan's practice report:
Detroit Red Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey won't play Saturday against Nashville at Joe Louis Arena, but isn't expected to miss much time with his left ankle injury.
“It's day-to-day right now,'' Quincey said Friday. “Just got to get it good enough, tape it up and get in the skate and go from there. The pain level is pretty high right now. Once that goes down it's good to go.''
Franzen out until Wednesday: Babcock said Johan Franzen (hip flexor) won't be available until Wednesday's game in Los Angeles. He has missed five games.
“Playing it smart,'' Franzen said. “Its sucks being out, especially when we're losing. It hasn't been easy sitting on the side.''
Smith still not cleared for contact: Smith continues practicing hard. The next step is participating in battling drills. The earliest he will return is Wednesday, but that's not a given.
“I haven't done any contact,'' Smith said. “Just got to be careful with it. Have to have full mobility and strength. Every day it's getting better, but I just have to wait and see.''
Colaiacovo improving, but no target date: Colaiacovo, out since Jan. 21 with a sprained shoulder, continues to practice with the team but isn't sure when he'll be cleared.
“I thought I'd be in a better position at this point, but for some reason it's not,'' Colaiacovo said. "I keep pushing and working hard through it every day, just waiting for it to tell me it's ready to go. Could be any day right now. But really don't have an idea when. I wish I had an answer, wish I had a clear picture of it but I'm at a point right now where it's allowing me to do more. The strength is continuing to get better every day, and that's what I'm focusing on.''
Update #2.5: I can only shake my head at the Score's Jake Goldsbie's comments about the loss of the 2013 Winter Classic due to the lockout...
Of course, we all know that the real biggest casualty of the lockout was HBO’s 24/7. Chronicling the lead-up to the 2013 Winter Classic would have been oh so choice and the fact that Brian Burke will no longer be a part of the documentary is every bit as heartbreaking as it is unfortunate. The hockey world was sent all a-twitter (see what I did there?) when we first laid eyes and ears on Bruce Boudreau’s motivational speech, imagine what a glimpse inside a Brian Burke warroom would look like. Even Deadwood didn’t have as many swears. Despite the lack of Burke, there are still plenty of characters to look forward to in the 2013 edition of 24/7. Here are some of my most anticipated:
The real biggest casualty of the lockout involved all the real human beings who lost jobs and lost work which they depend upon to pay the bills. The on-ice tragedy involved fans missing another half-season of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and all their other favorite players, and the long-term damage done to the business of hockey.
As for his "most anticipated" characters, only one is a Wing:
Pavel Datsyuk: I love Pavel Datsyuk. I don’t think that’s a secret. Is there anyone who doesn’t love Pavel Datsyuk? He’s arguably the most exciting player in the NHL right now, if not ever, and nobody can do some of the things he does on the ice. But I don’t know anything about him. I have no idea what he’s like. I don’t know his personality. What is the life of Pavel Datsyuk like? I want to know what his daily life is like. I want to know how he drives. Does he drive? Does he weave through traffic like a maniac as that’s just how his brain is wired? I know nothing about Pavel Datsyuk, I want to know everything about Pavel Datsyuk. Help me, 24/7, you’re my only hope.
Uh, follow the *#$%@& Red Wings for five minutes. His English isn't great, but his Canada Dry sense of humor is wonderful, he's playful and absolutely brilliant while speaking with the media, he's actually deeply religious, he works his ass off, he drives a silver Mercedes Benz 300 SL coupe and he's a genuinely good and decent human being. And we're never really going to know him because the man whose wife and daughter have moved back to Russia doesn't want us to really know him.
Jonas Gustavsson: Assuming he’s still on the team next year. I think this one speaks for itself.
Former Leaf! Now a Wing! Oh, the intrigue! Especially given that he's quiet as quiet can be! Yeesh...
Update #2.75: Here's MLive's Ansar Khan's Mursak story:
"We have a lot of good players here; even the guys who came down from Grand Rapids are playing really, really good,'' Mursak said. “I wish I would have gotten more opportunity, but I haven’t been fitting in very well when I had the chance to play. So it’s time to move on.”
If Mursak clears by noon Saturday, the Red Wings have the option to assign him to the Griffins. The Tampa Bay Lightning might have interest in the speedy, 25-year-old right wing. Mursak said he enjoyed his time with the Red Wings and learned a lot. He has two goals and two assists in 46 career games with the Red Wings.
“It was awesome to be in the locker room full of superstars, but now I have to move on,'' Mursak said. “I’ll continue my career on another team or I’ll be down in Grand Rapids playing. This is my last year on the contract anyways, so we’ll see where it goes from here.”
“I didn’t have any luck, but that’s the part of hockey,'' Mursak said. “There’s nothing you can do. I just have to stay positive and hopefully I’ll get more luck in the future.”
Mursak wouldn't have been able to crack the lineup when everyone is healthy. And his future with the organization was murky because the team must make room next season for forwards Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Joakim Andersson. Tatar and Andersson are with the team now because of injuries.
“They wanted me to keep playing simple – don’t risk anything, just put the puck in, chase their D down,'' Mursak said. “I used my speed a lot, so maybe they don’t want me to turn the puck over so much. I know I turned the puck over (Thursday) a couple of times, but I was just trying to make a play. A lot of times even good players turn the puck over 3-4 times and then one time it goes through and they score a goal. I can’t afford doing that on the fourth line with limited ice time. I think I played a solid game (Thursday), especially for the opportunity that I got. But, like I said, there are a lot of good players here that can jump into that role too.”
Said coach Mike Babcock: "He’s a kid who just got back (from injury), so it’s hard to come in and … like two years in a row he’s missed the start. So it’s a tough situation for him, but ideally he’ll earn his ice-time.”
Update #3: Here's the Free Press's Helene St. James' Quincey article...
Quincey suffered what general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press on Friday is a "left-leg injury," adding that Quincey is only "day to day. I don't think he'll play tomorrow. We'll see how he feels Sunday. It could have been worse."
Quincey was injured when he collided with Blue Jackets forward Artem Anisimov during the second period of Thursday's 3-2 loss to Columbus. Quincey described his injury as a rolled ankle, and echoed the assessment that he won't be out long.
"It's pretty much just get it good enough where we can tape it up, get in the skate, and go from there," he said. "The pain level is pretty high right now. Once that goes down, it's good to go."
The Wings host the Predators on Saturday and the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.
Holland said the Wings aren't planning to call anyone up from the minors, because Jakub Kindl is available, and Brendan Smith (shoulder) should be ready Wednesday at the latest.
According to the Wings, they have lost 110 man-games to injury. Jimmy Howard left Tuesday's game because of blurry vision, but it ended up being just a brief scare and he returned to start Thursday's game.
And she posted a video interview with Quincey as well:
Update #4: Here's the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan's practice report...
Quincey was focusing on containing another arriving Blue Jackets forward when Anisimov got entangled with Quincey and defenseman Ian White. As soon as Anisimov fell to the ice, Quincey knew it was a bad sign.
"When l looked back (down) he was in rough shape," Quincey said. "That's not the thing you want to see happen. It's a fast game and scary things happen like that. You don't want to think about that. It looked like he was in some pain but the doctor said he was not feeling much, which is worse. We're all rooting for him to get better and hope it's not serious."
Anismov left the hospital today and is going to be fine...
Forward Johan Franzen was hopeful of returning this weekend, but it's not going to happen. Franzen will miss Saturday's game against Nashville and Sunday's game against Vancouver because of his hip flexor.
"We're playing it smart," Franzen said. "It stinks being out, especially when we're losing. It doesn't make it any easier being on the side."
The team and Franzen don't want any kind of reaggravation that would set him back further.
"That's what we don't want to happen," Franzen said.
The Free Press's Helene St. James also talked to the Wings about their losing streak...
The Wings haven't won in five straight games, and squandered an opportunity to halt that sequence Thursday night when a two-goal lead turned into a 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the third straight time this season the Wings have blown a 2-0 lead. That's put them in 10th place in the Western Conference, though only one point out of the playoffs.
"We just have to go out there and put on a good performance starting against Nashville and going out there trying to win," Jimmy Howard said. "For right now, it's just thinking about your first shift; for me, that first save, and starting from there and just trying to get something to build of off."
Johan Franzen won't play Saturday against he Predators nor Sunday against the Canucks because he said an ultrasound showed he still needs more time to heal from a sore hip flexor. Kyle Quincey rolled an ankle Thursday and may play Sunday. Brendan Smith is nearly healed from a shoulder injury and could play Wednesday at Los Angeles. Until those regulars return, there's still games to be played - and, hopefully, won.
"There's a huge sense of urgency," Mike Babcock said, "but I don't think the sense of urgency is any different than it was yesterday. We just didn't deliver on the opportunity that was provided us. The whole key is, be confident. We try to be solution based and be positive. Let's get to work and find a way to get a win and get the ball going the other way. It wasn't that long ago that we were feeling good about ourselves."
And she posted a clip of Jimmy Howard speaking to the press:
Update #5: DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose has penned his practice report...
Quincey is the only defenseman in the league – with at least 10 games played – who owns a plus rating and no points.
“I wish I had an answer,” said Quincey, who’s a plus-10 in 17 games. “I’m getting a few third assists, but all I can do is keep going. I can’t think about it, I guess. Plus-10 is a good measuring stick for me because good things are happening when I’m out there. My first job is to keep it out of our net, which we’re doing. That part of my job is good.”
A reliable puck-mover, Quincey has shown offensive glimpses in the past. But since he arrived back in Detroit late last season, Quincey has two goals and one assist in 35 games with the team that made him a fourth-round draft pick in 2003. He equated his strange statistic to a popular idiom about a blind squirrel who eventually finds a nut.
“At the end of the day I do want to and should try to get some offensive stuff going,” said Quincey, who isn't expected to play Saturday against Nashville. “I feel like we are. We’re making good plays, keeping pucks in, but I’m just not getting rewarded for them on the sheet.”
The Red Wings definitely need Quincey in the lineup, especially with defensemen Brendan Smith and Carlo Colaiacovo still on injured reserve with shoulder sprains. Smith hopes to be back in time for the start of the Red Wings’ two-game California trip, beginning Wednesday in Los Angeles.
Smith, who has one point in eight games, also hopes to be back for the California games. But he still wants to experience some full-contract drills in practice before he gets clearance to return.
“I haven't done any contact or anything,” Smith said. “Just got to be careful with it. Every day it's getting better, but I just have to wait and see.”
Mikael Samuelsson, who was injured during Tuesday’s morning skate in Nashville, said Friday that he fractured his left index finger when he was struck by an Ian White slap shot. Samuelsson played in two games before a groin injury forced him out of the lineup last month. The Swedish winger returned last Sunday, only to suffer the finger injury, which will hold him out for another two weeks.
“It’s just a finger, can still work out,” he said. “But I want to play, that's the most frustrating part.”
And Roose scouted the Predators as well:
The Red Wings continue a three-game homestand in four days when they welcome the Nashville Predators to Joe Louis Arena on Saturday evening. Despite out-shooting the Preds on Tuesday, the Red Wings – other than Pavel Datsyuk, who made a pitch for spectaulat goal of the year – couldn’t get more than three pucks behind goalie Pekka Rinne in Nashville.
It wasn’t the Finnish netminder’s finest game of the year, but it was good enough for his seventh win, nonetheless. Though his 1.67 goals-against average (fourth in the NHL) and a .935 save percentage (third-best) is rather impressive.
“Pekka Rinne’s not bad,” Babcock said. “They got one of the best goalies in the world and Weber’s one of the best D in the world and they’ve done a good job drafting. They just all play hard and they’re organized. I think they’ve been doing a good job. I’ve been in Detroit eight years now, every year they’ve been good.”
The Predators squandered a 2-0 first-period lead to the Red Wings on Tuesday. Detroit battled back and managed to get a point when the game went to overtime. But playing catch-up hockey has been a problem all season for the Wings.
“Obviously, I thought we did a lot of good things,” Babcock said. “I thought we battled hard. We had lots of good players, and in the end we didn’t have enough of those. We didn’t get it done. In this league you don’t get many moral victories. I thought our guys competed hard. Our penalty kill was good. We were shorthanded too many times, six times. But all in all, we had some real competitive players and we had a couple of guys who didn’t show.”
Those players will need to show up if the Wings are to get two-points out of the Predators.
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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.