The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/27/13 at 01:35 PM ET
Updated 10x at 3:40 PM: The Hockeytown Winter Festival, the Alumni Showdown and Winter Classic are all taking place over the next six days, but the Detroit Red Wings themselves won't be trying out "Snowilla" or watching Jake and Dean Chelios take part in the Great Lakes Invitational tonight (Michigan Tech plays Michigan State at 3:30 on FSD and Michigan vs. Western Michigan at 7 on FSD Plus) or tomorrow.
The Wings get back to work today ahead of a pair of games in Florida on Saturday (7 PM start against the Panthers on FSD) and in Nashville on Monday (8 PM start against the Predators on FSD), as DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose noted...
Christmas break is over for the #RedWings who are back practicing this morning at Joe Louis Arena. They play in south Florida on Saturday.
And the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness reported both good and bad news regarding the team's injury situation:
Still no Johan Franzen at practice. Riley Sheahan also not out there. Zetterberg, Abdelkader, Helm and Howard on ice.
Wings GM Ken Holland said Sheahan won't be making trip to Florida with team.
Howard in the net alone. Gustavsson and Mrazek splitting time in goal.
Howard now splitting time in goal with Gustavsson.
Looks like Zetterberg and Abdelkader skating on a line with Alfredsson.
As it looks right now. Helm and Samuelsson out Saturday against Florida.
Fathers in the stands watching their sons practice. The annual fathers trip set to begin.
Per Ken Holland. Tatar went to Slovakia for Christmas. He will fly to Florida today to meet up with team.
Roose also reported the Wings' personnel machinations...
#RedWings practice has started sans Tatar, Franzen, Ericsson and Weiss. ... Zetterberg, Howard, Helm and Abby all participating.
#RedWings are practicing with the following lines: 44-13-26; 8-40-11; 14-43-18; and 20-41-71.
Correction on the #RedWings third line: should read Eaves-Andersson-Nyquist. Helm was working in but probably questionable for Saturday.
As did the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...
Still no Franzen at practice....everyone else accounted for but Riley Sheahan
Dads are here for the annual fathers trip...good material for HBO
And MLive's Brendan Savage:
#redwings' lines at practice today: 71-31-20; 18-43-14; 8-40-11; 44-13-26
#redwings' D pairings this morning: 55-65; 2-23; 27-4
Fox Sports Detroit's Trevor Thompson took in practice, too:
#RedWings Henrik Zetterberg looks darn good in practice today... Just sayin'...
The Free Press also aided a Twitter-impaired reporter:
Per @MikeBrudenell, Henrik Zetterberg on the ice with the #RedWings, skating freely, in all drills, taking shots on goal.
The Free Press's Brian Manzullo posted a quick article in lieu of a Tweet:
Little by little, the Detroit Red Wings seem to be getting healthier.
Captain Henrik Zetterberg is fully participating today in the team’s first practice in three days, skating freely, taking shots on goal and going through all team drills.
Zetterberg is scheduled to return Saturday, when the Wings play the Florida Panthers. Despite missing almost the entire month, he still leads the Wings with 30 points (11 goals, 19 assists).
The Windsor Star's Bob Duff weighed in somewhat belatedly:
Looks like Zetterberg is back for #RedWings. Sheahan told he's not making trip to Florida.
This news really is a huge relief given the injury bug going around:
Tatar not practicing today. Went home to Slovakia for Xmas, will meet #RedWings in Florida.
Meanwhile, in Ann Arbor...
And back downtown...
Joe Kocur made sure to direct fans to the Wings' Hockeytown Winter Festival event info page too:
Some handy information for those coming down to @DetroitRedWings & @MapleLeafs #alumnishowdown #winterfestival http://redwings.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=93007
(You may read NHL.com's profile of a Kocur nemesis in Wendel Clark on your own)
In the prospect department, via TSN's Mark Masters, TSN posted a 2:13 video about Anthony Mantha, whose Canadian World Junior team will resume play tomorrow against the Czech Republic (at 11:30 AM, on TSN--and the Canadian Press reports that Jake Paterson will start on Saturday, and Yahoo Sports' Neate Sager has more junior hockey-related links than you can shake a stick at), and TSN's Bob McKenzie and James Duthie weighed in on Mantha's pluses and minuses, too.
The Toronto Sun's Koshan snagged comments fro Team Canada coach Brent Sutter regarding Paterson's status:
“I’m going to give him another opportunity tomorrow, and he just has to continue to take the ball and run with it,” Sutter, Canada’s coach, said in reference to Paterson. “I’m not a believer in rotating goalies in this tournament, I don’t think that is the purpose. You want to go with someone who is riding the hot hand.
“But you have to assume at some point Fucale is going to get that opportunity. We play a lot of games here in a short period of time coming up.”
Paterson, a Detroit Red Wings prospect, made 22 saves in a 7-2 victory by Canada against Germany Thursday and was solid after giving up a weak early goal.
The Grand Rapids Griffins will also hope to rebound from Thursday's 4-1 loss to Milwaukee when they battle the Rockford IceHogs tonight....
And it's more likely than not that Luke Glendening will take part in Monday's AHL game as opposed to the Winter Classic, but MLive's Peter J. Wallner notes that playing outdoors is "old hat" for Glendening:
Glendening also played in outdoor games with the Wolverines in February, 2010 against Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium (a 3-2 loss), and in January, 2012 against Ohio State at Progressive Field in Cleveland (a 4-1 win).
“My thing is to enjoy it and soak it all in,” he said. “I’ve been blessed to have been part of three so far, and every time, you just don’t want for it to be over. When it’s over, I remember every time it was like, ‘Man, I wish I could do it again.’”
His other advice? Things don’t always go according to plan.
“You never know how it will go because the weather dictates a lot,” Glendening said. “There have been some tough times when you think you can make a play and it doesn’t quite work like you thought because of the conditions, but that’s hockey. That’s part of playing outdoors.”
The game at the Big House provided the biggest outdoor thrill to date. He grew up in Grand Rapids as a fan of the Wolverines, so to play with the team in the stadium in front of 113,411 fans as a former walk on against rival Michigan State, he said, “is almost impossible to put into words.”
“It was surreal,” he said of the 5-0 win. “Going out there after I had watched a lot of football games there, obviously, was exciting to begin with. But stepping out there with a 100,000-plus (fans) was unbelievable and something I’ll never forget.”
Back up at the NHL level, the Associated Press posted a story about Jimmy Howard's desire to take part in the Winter Classic...
"It's been a year and a half of just waiting for it, the excitement," Howard said with a hopeful smile. "I really don't want to miss it."
Howard's initial time frame of being out two to four weeks put the Winter Classic in danger. His plan was to play Dec. 30 at the Nashville Predators, but his major target was being able to face the Leafs at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.
"The goal all along was to get back for that game," Howard said.
If everything goes according to plan, Howard will be able to back-up ex-Toronto netminder Jonas Gustavsson on Saturday. Last week Howard estimated there was a 75 per cent chance he'd be able to play in the Winter Classic. The event, which was originally scheduled for Jan. 1, 2013, but had to be cancelled because of the lockout, seems to carry a special importance to the Syracuse, N.Y., native. There's a personal element to that.
"I'm looking forward to sharing the whole experience with my family and friends," Howard said. "I got about 50-plus coming in to Michigan and Detroit. I'm looking forward to just having all them enjoy themselves."
Of course Howard's job is hockey, so just being in uniform wouldn't mean the same as playing in the "Big House."
"I plan on playing," Howard said. "But at the end of the day I realize I don't make that decision. Babs makes the decision who starts in net."
And the Wings cracked NHL.com's Corey Masisak's "Super 16" set of power rankings:
15. Detroit Red Wings (17-13-9) LW: 15
Post-regulation victories against the Flames and Maple Leafs followed by a home loss to the New York Islanders, one of the worst teams in the League, does not qualify as a turnaround of any kind, but those two wins did end a long losing streak. Detroit's struggles at home have been well-documented this season, but the Red Wings don't play at Joe Louis Arena again until Jan. 18. Seven of the next eight games are on the road and the eighth will be played in a football stadium where there will be lots of fans of the opposing team as well.
Guess who's back...Back again...
Once practice ended, the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan delivered good news...
Zetterberg says he is in for tomorrow
As did the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness...
Henrik Zetterberg set to return to lineup Saturday against Florida. #RedWings
Babcock has no idea who will be back or who's starting in goal. Those decisions he said will come tomorrow after morning skate. #RedWings
And MLive's Ansar Khan also confirmed Zetterberg's status:
Zetterberg said he is ready to play tomorrow at Florida after being out since Dec. 1 with herniated disc.
The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan found that Wings coach Mike Babcock's still hedging his bets:
Babcock expects Zetterberg to play would not commit on others although it seems likely
Also: I'm not a big Marek vs. Wyshynski fan, but they'll speak with Dino Ciccarelli today...
And WDFN 1130's Art Regner spoke with Ansar Khan on Christmas Eve:
Here's a little more from the Free Press's Mike Bruendell, too:
Captain Henrik Zetterberg fully participated today in the team’s first practice in three days, skating freely, taking shots on goal and going through all team drills.
He later told reporters that as long as nothing happens between now and Saturday, he will return as scheduled against the Florida Panthers that day in Sunrise, Fla.
Update #0.5: Not good not good, per Pleiness:
Franzen skated on his own a bit. Still experiencing headaches. Doesn't know I he'll make trip.
Update #0.75: Yes, the Detroit Free Press is confirming that Toronto mayor Rob Ford won't attend the Winter Clascic.
Update #1: My apologies for all the Tweets, but 97.1 the Ticket's Ryan Woolley's done a great job of showing what the NHL has in store for fans attending the Coke Zero Fan Zone:
Update #1.5: For the record, the Wings will leave for Fort Lauderdale at 1:48 PM...
Update #2: More from Savage:
Red Wings sending Riley Sheahan to Grand Rapids to create roster spot for Zetterberg
Update #2.5: Wise words from Pavel Datsyuk via the Windsor Star's Bob Duff:
#RedWings Datsyuk: ;Of course we could have played with more consistence, not like a rollercoaster jump; win 1 game, lose 3 or something.
#Redwings Datsyuk on holidays:;I love it. We need more Christmas, not only one. A couple is not enough. Three, four.
Update #3: The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness penned an entry about Zetterberg's return...
"(I’m) good and ready to play tomorrow,” Zetterberg said. “If nothing happens from now until 7 (p.m. Friday) I will be in. The good thing is I’ve been doing more and more stuff and it hasn’t gotten worse. It’s time to play again and get out and play some hockey.”
Justin Abdelkader (concussion), Jimmy Howard (knee) and Darren Helm (shoulder) also took part in the entire praftice.
“I’m not 100 percent sure on anything,” Babcock said. “(Justin) Abdelkader’s another guy too that I think might be available. Howie was in the net the whole time so I’ll assume he’s coming here eventually. I hear there’s a sighting of Darren Helm too. I don’t know when these guys are coming or not coming. We’ll know more after the morning skate. We’re going to send (Riley) Sheahan down with the anticipation that Zetterberg is going to play,” Babcock continued. “Anytime you’ve been injured for a long time you never know, plus we’ve had three days off.”
Zetterberg has missed the last 11 games and still leads the team in points with 30 (11 goals, 19 assists).
“We’ve missed him,” Babcock said. “It’s been a long time. I just know we need him back.”
Howard plans on returning between the pipes Monday in Nashville.
“I’m still hoping to play in Nashville, that’s been the goal here all along and I don’t think anything’s changed,” Howard said. “The first real test was today with a full practice and it felt pretty good out there. I think I need a couple more practices. It’s still a little stiff for not using it for so long. That’s going to happen with any injury. I just need to be the mobility back."
But Pleiness has bad news about Franzen:
Johan Franzen skated on his own after practice and said he’s still experiencing dizziness and headaches from a hit to the head on Dec. 15 at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“It’s not quite there yet,” Franzen said. “I still get dizzy and headaches. It’s motion triggered. I can get through workouts fine, but if I try and play keep away I can’t do that. If there’s too much going on I get dizzy, my vision gets blurry and stuff like that.”
Franzen took a glove to the face from the Lightning’s Radko Gudas early in the second period and didn’t return to the game.
“I played a little three on three and that didn’t feel that good,” Franzen said. “All I can do is skate straight lines. Lots of starts and stops, that’s pretty much what I can do.
“The good thing is I can get through hard workouts at least,” Franzen added. “Sleeping is fine. I’ll probably have a headache after doing all this today, but it’s not too bad. Playing hockey triggers it, when there’s too much going on around.”
Update #4: MLive's Brendan Savage posted a practice article:
All indications are that Henrik Zetterberg will be back in the Detroit Red Wings' lineup Saturday night against the Florida Panthers.
Zetterberg said barring a setback between now and game time in Florida he'll be back in uniform after missing 11 games since injuring his back Oct. 1 against Ottawa.
The Red Wings are preparing to clear a roster spot for Zetterberg by sending Riley Sheahan down to Grand Rapids of the AHL.
"We're going to send Sheahan down with the anticipation that Zetterberg is going to play," said coach Mike Babcock.
Update #5: SlapShotG0al on Twitter noted that Ray Bishop's posted pictures of Jimmy Howard's Winter Classic mask:
Update #6: The Windsor Star's Bob Duff has penned a practice update discussing Zetterberg's return and the rest of the Wings' injuries...
“I’m not 100 percent sure on anything,” Babcock said regarding his lineup for Saturday’s game. "(Justin) Abdelkader’s (concussion) another guy too that I think might be available. We’ll know more after the morning skate. Howie (Jimmy Howard, knee) was in the net the whole time so I’ll assume he’s coming here eventually. I hear there’s a sighting of Darren Helm (shoulder), too. I don’t know when these guys are coming or not coming.”...
Helm felt he still required more healing before he’d be ready to suit up again.
“It doesn’t feel 100 percent, good enough to go right now,” Helm said after Friday’s practice at Joe Louis Arena. “I think it’s something we’re going to have to talk about. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow. I don’t think it was good enough today.”
Including Jimmy Howard's status...
“I’m still hoping to play in Nashville,” Howard said. “That’s been the goal here all along and I don’t think anything’s changed. The first real test was today with a full practice and it felt pretty good out there. I think I need a couple more practices.”
And Jonathan Ericsson's broken ribs:
“Something happened on the first (check) behind our own net,” Ericsson recalled. “I got off balance a little bit and trying to save my fall, stayed up trying to grab a hold of the boards and I felt something was definitely wrong with the ribs right away. I went over the bench and it kind of felt OK. So I went out the next shift, pinched down, and hit, I think it was (Windsor’s Matt) Martin, with the same side that was hurting and it was over by then. That kind of pushed it over the top.”
The biggest disappointment is that Ericsson knows almost certainly he won’t be able to go for the Jan. 1 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“It’s frustrating,” Ericsson said. “I really wanted to play in the Winter Classic. It doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to do that right now.”
Update #7: MLive's Brendan Savage penned a second practice post:
"Good and ready to play tomorrow," Zetterberg reported after practice Friday. "If nothing happens from now until 7 (p.m.) tomorrow I will be in. It's kind of been the same for a week, I guess. The good thing is I've been doing more and more stuff and it hasn't gotten worse. It's time to play again. It's been tough. Sometimes it's been really good and sometimes it hasn't been that good. But that's how it is sometimes."
Zetterberg skated on a line with Abdelkader and Daniel Alfredsson in Friday's practice.
"We missed him," said coach Mike Babcock. "It's been a long time. How many games has he missed? Lots. I just know we need him back. I just know we have 19 games to the Olympic break and we need some traction. We need traction in our work ethic, in our in our preparation, in our consistency, in our specialty teams, in our injury situation. We just flat out need traction."
Abdelkader has been sidelined since Dec. 14, when he suffered a concussion after taking an elbow to the chin from Pittsburgh's Deryk Engelland. Although Babcock wouldn't go so far as to say Abdelkader will play Saturday, he sounded like somebody who was counting on it.
"Abdelkader's another guy too that I think might be available," he said. "We'll know more after the morning skate. Howie was in the net the whole time so I'll assume he's coming here eventually. I hear there's a sighting of Darren Helm, too. I don't know when these guys are coming or not coming. We'll know more after the morning skate."
Helm, who has battled a variety of injuries the past three seasons, has missed 10 games because of a sprained shoulder and he didn't sound optimistic he'd be back anytime soon. Helm was hoping to play in the Winter Classic Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium but that might not happen now.
"It would be pretty disappointing to miss that opportunity to play in that game," said Helm, who played one game last season because of a back injury and has been sidelined this season with a groin injury. "It would be a real exciting game to play in. But if I'm not healthy for one game I have to make sure I'm healthy for the next 50 or whatever we have left. There are more important things than that. As nice as it would be, you have to look at the big picture. It doesn't feel 100 percent, good enough to go right now. I think it's something we're going to have to talk about. Trainers, coaches, doc. See how I feel tomorrow. I don't think it was good enough today."
Update #8: The Wings made it official:
UPDATE: Henrik Zetterberg will return to the lineup tomorrow in Florida #RedWings
Update #9: The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan filed his practice report...
“I’ve been doing more and more stuff, and it hasn’t gotten any worse,” Zetterberg said. “It’s time to play again and get out and win some hockey games.”
Watching the Red Wings struggle to gain any consistency, said Zetterberg, has been tough to watch.
“It’s been tough sometimes,” Zetterberg said. “But that’s the way it is sometimes over the course of a season. We have to get back to playing a little bit better and do it for a long stretch of time.”
Howard was hurt in practice Dec. 11, so the issue of getting his timing back is important.
“It’s a combination of everything,” Howard said. “Timing, keeping track of the puck out there, just not having been in the net. When I do get back out there, I need to stay at the top of the crease and be as patient as possible.”
And Kulfan took note of the following:
Just in time for this short road trip to South Florida and Nashville is the Red Wings’ annual fathers trip. This trip seemed a natural on the schedule, with many parents coming into town for Wednesday’s Winter Classic.
“It’s great for them to be here,” Babcock said.
Paul also pointed me toward NHL facilities manager Dan Craig's daily update:
Update #10: From the Twitterverse...
The Free Press has finally updated Brian Manzullo's practice report, noting that both the Wings' captain and the Wings' coach hope to produce better results...
“(With) the captain back and healthy, it helps a lot,” said Datsyuk. “He’ll help us play more consistent.”
“I think when we are doing things right, we are playing real well,” said Zetterberg. “At the same time, when we come out there, we sometimes forget everything.”
Babcock said he is looking for far more consistency from the team.
“We need some traction,” he said. “Part of our business is good health ... but the rest of it is hard work and execution. The work ethic and execution hasn’t been consistent enough to win on a regular basis.”
Babcock was reminded by someone in the locker room that Zetterberg had missed 11 games. He thought it may have been 14.
“We missed him,” said Babcock. “It’s been a long time. I know we need him back.”
Babcock added: “I just know we have 19 games to the Olympic break and we need some traction. We need traction, work ethic and consistency.”
And DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose filed a practice report:
Zetterberg should provide the Wings with some sustenance, though he’s wary of a quick return to his early-season form.
“I haven’t done much lately,” he said. “It’s only one goal on this team and that’s playing in the middle June and raise that Cup. Whatever you do until that is … as long as you get into the postseason and we’re healthy and we play good – that’s our goal.”
Abdelkader returns for the first time since suffering a concussion against Pittsburgh on Dec. 14. He’s produced three goals and 13 points in 34 games this season.
“It’s already been two weeks already but I’m looking forward to getting back and I feel ready to go,” Abdelkader said. “Hopefully I can help the team.”
As of Friday morning, Babcock hadn’t made a decision on the starting goalie against the Panthers. Jonas Gustavsson is still nursing a tender groin so third-string goalie Petr Mrazek did make the trip to South Florida.
“I haven’t talked to anybody,” Babcock said. “We’ll get on the plane and figure it out.”
Darren Helm sounds like he's not quite ready to return:
“I just want to play. It’s painful. I just need to get out of this bad luck of injuries and get 'er going,” said Helm, who has seven goals and 10 points in 15 games. “I’m skating, I’m shooting, doing a lot of good things. There’s a couple things I don’t know if I can handle, the hard physical grind of an NHL game.”
Asked if he'd be in the lineup Saturday, Helm said, “I don’t know. We’ll see. We’ll talk it over. It’s close, right around the corner, it’s coming. I thought it would be here by now. Just keep working hard and getting stronger. It will be ready when it is.”
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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.