The Malik Report
by George Malik on 11/17/13 at 05:47 AM ET
The Red Wings headed back to Metro Detroit ahead of a windy, stormy Sunday, having dropped their sixth straight game, a 5-4 shootout loss to the New York Islanders, and I have good news for Red Wings fans everywhere:
The team won't play for two days.
I also have some bad news: starting on Tuesday, the Wings will play 4 games over the course of six nights--with three straight scheduled to take place at Joe Louis Arena--and they play seven more times this month, with 4 of 7 taking place at the Joe.
With 21 games down, sporting a 9-5-and-7 record (9-and-13? Really?), having not won in 2 weeks and owning an 0-1-2 (OT losses) and 3 (shootout losses) record of late, I can't deny that the results have either become borderline comical...
But this Pollyanaish goalie-defending yutz (thank you for your constructive criticism, TMR readers!) still believes that the Wings' 4-3 shotoout loss to Washington and the team's ability to at least earn a point against the Isles despite being out-shot 15-4 in the 3rd period speak toward some sort of progress made, and if anything, two days should yield Brendan Smith's return (I know, Oh God, not him!) and possibly some sort of return for either Stephen Weiss or Daniel Alfredsson.
At this point, a break, some practice time and what I would argue as the very necessary option to both rotate goaltenders more regularly and possibly sit one of the Wings' struggling support players might help the team gain some stability.
The Wings are receiving steady scoring from Johan Franzen, Tomas Tatar and Darren Helm, possibly the most unlikely second line you could imagine; Danny DeKeyser's running at a point-per game clip; and the Wings have been hard-pressed to say that they're receiving both primary and secondary scoring, solid special teams play and at least good goaltending on the same night for the past year-and-a-half's worth of hockey. Absent results, the last couple of games have at least included disparate elements of the Wings' game working together, even if the team isn't utilizing their combined efforts to...Whaddya call it...Actually win a *#$%@& game.
Anyway, for the plucky Islanders, who are now 8-10-and-3 (fewer points than Detroit, yay!), their ability to overcome their mistakes served as a stepping stone, as NewYorkIslanders.com's Cory Wright noted:
“It was a battle out there,” [Franz] Nielsen said after the game. “There were a lot of emotions out there, being down by one, coming back, then they came back. It was a fun game being a part of and it would have been really tough to lose that one.”
John Tavares, Casey Cizikas, Brock Nelson and Cal Clutterbuck scored in regulation for the Islanders, while Poulin stopped 19 of 22 shots in relief of Evgeni Nabokov. Nabokov left the game 4:12 into the first period with a groin injury and did not return.
“You have to be ready for everything and I just jumped in there and made the saves,” Poulin said. “It’s not the best-case scenario, but you have to do it when your team needs you.”
The Islanders needed him the most in the shootout, when the 23-year-old goaltender stopped Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi.
“We do a lot of shootouts in practice,” Poulin said. “I felt really comfortable going into the shootout.”
The road to the shootout was a wild one and began late in the second period when the Islanders trailed 2-1 with 2:10 to play. Cizikas tied the score with a hard-working goal from the fourth line and triggered a frantic 1:20 where both teams found twine. Thirty-three seconds after Cizikas’ goal, Johan Franzen put the Wings ahead, before Brock Nelson banged home a power-play goal 47 seconds later. The Islanders carried that late momentum into the third period, as Clutterbuck deflected an Aaron Ness point shot past Jonas Gustavsson. The Islanders clung to the one-goal lead until the final 43 seconds of regulation, when Pavel Datsyuk scored the second of his two goals to force overtime. The goal didn’t faze the Islanders, who outshot the Red Wings 6-1 in the sudden-death session.
Newsday's Jim Baubach sounds genuinely surprised that the Islanders managed to pull this one off...
It's become a troubling theme this season, the Islanders' inability to protect third-period leads, and it struck again Saturday night. Coach Jack Capuano said he could only shake his head on the bench and say, "Can't catch a break."
It already was a discouraging night on another front, with 38-year-old goalie Evgeni Nabokov -- playing for the first time in four games -- suffering a groin injury early in the first period that Capuano said will sideline him for some time.
The Islanders' Casey Cizikas tied the score at 2-2 at 17:50 of the second period and Brock Nelson tied it at 3-3 with a power-play goal 50 seconds before the end of the period. Cal Clutterbuck scored at 4:43 of the third to give the Islanders a 4-3 lead.
But they couldn't hold it, and after they blew the late lead, it was easy to think back to Thursday night, when they entered the third period with a 2-0 lead over the Kings but wound up with a 3-2 loss.
The Islanders' failure to close out the victory over Detroit in regulation had a discouraging, more-of-the-same feel to it, especially given how hard they fought to stay in this back-and-forth game. "It's a game of mistakes," Capuano said, "but we were resilient."
Give Poulin credit for stepping up in the shootout and stopping the Red Wings each time. He didn't start the game but played the majority of it after Nabokov suffered the groin injury less than five minutes in on the only shot he faced.
But Islanders coach Jack Capuano suggested to the New York Post's Brett Cyrgalis that Kevin Poulin put in a clutch performance and then some given that Evgeni Nabokov did indeed leave after suffering a significant groin injury, and it sounds like Poulin's going to be the Islanders' starter for at least "a couple of weeks" (per Capuano):
“I thought he played excellent,” Capuano said of Poulin, who made 19 saves in 49:50 of time, then stopped an unbelievably talented trio of Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi in the shootout, handing the Red Wings (9-6-6) their sixth loss in a row, and fifth straight in a shootout or overtime. “With Nabby probably being out for a little bit of time, it’s good to see him come in a play confident.”
The Islanders had played a solid game all around, yet continually found a way to crumble just at the most precious of moments. When Pierre-Marc Bouchard gave them a 4-3 lead early in the third, it was erased with just 42.5 seconds remaining, as Datsyuk tossed a backhand to the net that banked in off a sprawled-out Andrew MacDonald to tie it.
“As goalie doing backup duty, you have to be ready for anything,” Poulin said. “You have to jump in there and make the saves.”
The first two periods was a wild back-and-forth affair, with the Islanders going up early in the first on a tip-in goal from John Tavares, negated just nine seconds later when Darren Helm had a breakaway and beat Nabokov high stick side, the goalie extending his right leg and writhing to the ice in pain.
“It sucks, I was right there, chasing [Helm], trying to get back,” said Tavares, who has 25 points on the season and is now tied with the Penguins Sidney Crosby for the league lead. “We put Nabby in such a tough spot early in the game when he’s still getting into it. Obviously tough to see him go down.”
The Red Wings ended the first with a 2-1 lead after Datsyuk’s first of the game, but Casey Cizikas tied it 2-2 late in the second. That was followed by offsetting goals from Johan Franzen and Brock Nelson, which allowed the third period to start 3-3.
“We could have easily gotten down,” Capuano said. “The bench was good, the guys were good, and we battled.”
Ultimately, as the New York Daily News's Stephen Lorenzo notes, the Islanders felt that losing a key contributor didn't dent their resolve:
Kevin Poulin, who had started the previous three games for the Isles, came on in relief. Nabokov will be reevaluated Monday, but Capuano said he expected him to be out “a couple of weeks for sure.”
Detroit took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission, but the Isles fired back in the second period behind goals from Casey Cizikas and Brock Nelson to knot the score at three. A Pierre-Marc Bouchard deflection gave the Isles a 4-3 lead at 4:43 of the third, and that looked to be the game-winner before Datsyuk’s late push. The Islanders are now 6-0-1 over their last seven against Detroit.
“I think we deserved it,” Nielsen said. “It would have been really tough to lose that one.”
John Tavares also told NHL.com's John Kreiser that the Isles stepped up their play given the perceived caliber of their opponent:
"You play against a team like this, a veteran team with a lot of talent that has proven itself in what they've been able to accomplish in the last number of years, you want to step up, you want to play well," Tavares told NHL.com. "It's going to take a full team effort. It just seems like we understand that focus, the full attention to detail, doing the little things. We know we can't take any shifts off and that we have to be at our best because of the talent they have. As a team, we seem to have that focus against these guys, and it's always a lot of fun playing Original Six teams."
That being said, it's not like the Wings have done well against the Islanders:
New York is 6-0-1 against the Red Wings since 2005.
"The last games we've played here, they've been dominating," Zetterberg said. "Today was a good game for us."
You're not going to like to hear this, but the Red Wings felt that their point was at least a sign of progres:
"If we hadn't gone through the last five-six games, this point would be pretty good," Zetterberg said. "Right now it's tough; we can't find a way to win a game. I think we battled hard tonight. It was a back-to-back game and we found a way to come back at the end. Overall, I think it's a good point, but we were right there to get two points."
Detroit coach Mike Babcock would have liked the extra point, but had no complaints with his team's performance in the second half of a back-to-back; Detroit lost 4-3 to the Washington Capitals in a shootout at home Friday night.
"It was a real good point for our team," he said. "It's back-to-back nights, they're waiting for us. We got in at two in the morning. We found a way to get a point. We obviously have to get better. We will get better. It's pretty obvious we've got to win in regulation because the shootout is killing us."
Then there's this stat regarding Darren Helm's game-tying, Nabokov-injuring goal:
Helm picked off a pass near his own blue line, raced into the New York zone and dished to Franzen. He waited for Helm to create traffic, moved to the high slot and ripped a wrister past Poulin for his fifth goal of the season and third in two nights.
"It was good that we bounced back twice when they scored, and that it was the same line that did it," Zetterberg said.
The AP's recap will shift our perspective to those of the Red Wings' coach and player for the balance of this recap, and it offers a more complete quote from Babcock--a good one at that:
The Red Wings arrived in New York around 2 a.m. Saturday after losing at home to Washington on Friday. Detroit is 1-7 after regulation this season, 0-4 in shootouts.
"We found a way to get a point," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "We obviously have to get better. We will get better. It's pretty obvious we've got to win in regulation because the shootout is killing us. It's like anything in life, it gets in your head a little bit. To me we've got to be hard-headed and mentally tough. The standings could be a lot different for us if we won all these games, especially these shootouts."
But the Wings are also just as tired of the results of their efforts as we are, as the Detroit Free Press's Larry Fleischer noted:
“Each night seems like it is (déjà vu),” center Darren Helm said. “We felt tonight it was good that we got that extra point. It’s tough going into these shootouts or overtime and not finding a way to win.”
The Wings were happy about killing 5 of 6 penalties and a 4-on-3 in OT--as well as scoring on the only power play they earned on a night that was, let's say, situationally refereed:
“It was a back-to-back game, we find a way to come back in,” Zetterberg said. Obviously, we were up in the game and you don’t want to see that turn around and (we) killed off 3 minutes of power play to start the third and find a way to get back. We killed a 4-on-3 in overtime, so we had a lot of penalties and we didn’t get a lot of penalties with us. So overall, I think it’s a good point but we’re right there to get two points.
“We were down, 1 minute to go, and to get the equalizer, we have to be happy with that,” Franzen said. “We feel we have the game to win games but somehow we can’t get everything to click.”
The Red Wings have 25 points (9-5-7) in their last first 21 games but have not picked up two since a 5-0 rout in Edmonton two weeks ago. And for all the positive views about Saturday night, there still lies the question about why the Red Wings seem to be unable to get it done in shoot-outs.
Again, Babcock took the point...
“It’s like anything in life, it gets in your head a little bit,” Babcock said. “To me, we got to be hard-headed. We got to be mentally tough and we just got to bring it to a table. For me, these extra points, the standings could be a lot different if we won all these games, especially shootouts. It’s just a skills competition at the end of the game but I thought tonight to be honest on the second night of backs-to-back I have no issue.”
And the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan noted that even Zetterberg accentuated the positive, if only eventually:
"Our special teams as a whole have been pretty good," Helm said.
Along with Datsyuk's two goals, Helm and Johan Franzen added Red Wings goals — the Helm, Franzen and Tomas Tatar line again producing a fine overall game.
John Tavares, Casey Cizikas, and Brock Nelson (power play) scored for the Islanders (8-10-3, 19 points).
The Red Wings return to Joe Louis Arena this week for three games, hoping to find a way to end this strange, disappointing streak.
The Wings will play Nashville on Tuesday, they'll attend a charity event to raise funds for Matt Sorisho on Wednesday at Compuware Arena, and then they'll host Peter Karmanos' Hurricanes on Thursday.
They'll wrap up the week with back-to-back games, hosting the Senators on Saturday and heading to Buffalo on Sunday.
They host the Bruins on Thanksgiving Eve, and they'll try to earn an actual win on Long Island during a Black Friday game that starts at 4 PM.
"Believe me, we want to get that second one (point)," forward Henrik Zetterberg said. "I don't know if we (need to) start working on the shootouts a little more. It comes down to confidence. If we have a lot of confidence, you go in and score those goals. Obviously, we're going through what we're going through and maybe it's in the back of our mind."
Kuflan noted that the Wings' second line is on a roll in his notebook...
The Red Wings have got some production from the Johan Franzen, Darren Helm, Tomas Tatar line the last two games. Helm had a goal and assist, Franzen a goal, and Tatar an assist, in Saturday's 5-4 shootout loss to the Islanders.
"We're starting to get some chemistry," said Franzen, who had a team-high three shots along with Pavel Datsyuk.
Babcock wasn't thrilled with one of the goals Gustavsson surrendered, as you'll find in the video clip below, but Zetterberg suggested that Gustavsson's 37-save and 15-save-in-the-3rd-period performance should've been more than enough to guarantee a win...
"He gave us a chance to win the game," forward Henrik Zetterberg said. "He made some huge saves there in the end. Unfortunately, we can't get a win for him. We just got to find a way."
Again, Luke Glendening was recalled as the first cap-exempt "emergency" injury replacement ever (per Capgeek), and as such, he had to be demoted after the game, but he played solidly...
The Red Wings recalled forward Luke Glendening from Grand Rapids — they sent him down Thursday when the roster looked set — to replace Alfredsson. Glendening palyed 17 shifts, a total of 12:54, and blocked one shot.
And going forward, Brendan Smith told Kulfan that he's recovered from his shoulder injury, and that he was only held out of the game because Piet Van Zant didn't want Smith returning ahead of his recovery date:
"It's just precaution," said Smith, who was hoping to play Saturday against the Islanders. "I was hoping for (Saturday) but it didn't work out. I'm feeling good. No pain."
What's hurting Smith is sitting and not being able to help the Red Wings out of this recent losing streak.
"That's even more frustrating," Smith said. "Just sitting and not playing."
Yeah, frustrating for both you and and the Wings' fans.
MLive's Brendan Savage penned a quote-free recap which includes equal measures of "highlights" and "lowlights"...
RED WINGS' HIGHLIGHTS
• Helm scored on the Red Wings' first shot, just nine seconds after Tavares opened the scoring. After Helm scored, Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov was helped off the ice with a groin injury and did not return.
• Datsyuk scored when he redirected Mikael Samuelsson's shot from the point while standing in the high slot while Bertuzzi was running interference in front of the net.
• The Red Wings successfully killed a four-minute Islanders power play after Franzen was penalized for high-sticking Andrew MacDonald with 21.1 seconds left in the second period.
RED WINGS' LOWLIGHTS
• The Islanders scored twice in a span of 80 seconds during the final 2:10 of the second period to send the game to the third tied 3-3. Cizikas connected with 2:10 left to tie it 2-2. The Red Wings regained the lead 33 seconds later on a goal by Franzen. Nelson tied it again on a power play with 1:10 showing.
• The Islanders had the first 11 shots of the third period, including nine while the Red Wings were killing the four-minute minor against Franzen.
And in the "Bonus Swedish" department, Aftonbladet's Per Bjurman headed down to "Billy Joel Land" to watch the game, and he offers post-game snark about Jonas Gustavsson's Movember moustache, curiousity about a post-game protein shake that he describes as looking like a "White Russian," and this assessment of the post-game atmosphere (roughly translated):
In Detroit's locker room it wasn't exactly cheerful. People like Kronwall of Pain and Big E just sat and stared with dark eyes.
And it's obvious--these lost extra points are piling up. Seven in total. If they'd taken at least four of them they'd be among the conference leaders at this point.
On the other hand: In the end, they may be happy with the point after all. The Islanders were hotter, and the strange game-tying goal came with less than 45 seconds left.
"Yes, absolutely. We're still kind of happy with that. We got a point away from home and actually had a chance for two," says Zata.
Highlights: Meh, even the Red Wings website's highlight clip is narrated by the Islanders' announcers:
Do you want to watch the shootout? I don't!
Post-game: MSG Plus posted a slate of "analysis" which includes some dude who sounds like Mike Milbury but isn't Mike Milbury, a clip of Islanders coach Jack Capuano's post-game presser and Stan Fischler speaking with several Islanders players while not bashing the NHLPA, but definitely spinning yarns;
And coach Mike Babcock:
Photos: The Detroit Free Press posted a 23-image gallery;
The Detroit News posted an 18-image gallery;
The Windsor Star posted 3 big photos from the game;
Newsday posted an 18-image Flash gallery;
ESPN posted a 68-image gallery;
Shots: 41-23 Islanders overall. The Wings were out-shot 9-7 in the 1st, tied 11-11 in the 2nd, were out-shot 15-4 in the 3rd and 6-1 in OT.
Special teams: The Red Wings went 1-for-1 in 34 seconds of PP time and killed 5 of 6 Islanders power plays, with the Isles receiving 10:20 of PP time.
Goaltending: Jonas Gustavsson stopped 37 of 41 shots; Evgeni Nabokov stopped the only shot he faced; Kevin Poulin stopped 19 of 22.
The 3 stars: The Islanders' media picked Brock Nelson, Darren Helm and John Tavares.
The Wings' goals: Helm (2) from Ericsson (3) and Kronwall (11);
Datsyuk (10) from Samuelsson (1) and Zetterberg (12), PPG;
Franzen (5) from Helm 92) and Tatar (3);
Datsyuk (11) from DeKeyser (7) and Zetterberg (13), goal scored 6-on-5.
Faceoffs 29-28 Detroit (Detroit won 51%);
Blocked shots 20-9 Detroit;
Missed shots 9-8 Detroit (total attempts 69-41 Islanders, with the Wings firing 23 shots on goal and 18 wide/blocked);
Hits 32-28 Detroit;
Faceoffs: Helm went 17-and-8 (68%); Datsyuk went 8-and-11 (42%); Glendening went 2-and-5 (29%); Andersson went 1-and-3 (25%); Zetterberg went 1-and-1 (50%).
Shots: Datsyuk and Franzen co-led the Wings with 3 shots apiece; Abdelkader, Zetterberg, Helm, Bertuzzi and Cleary had 2; Andersson, Miller, Tatar, Lashoff, Quincey, Samuelsson and Glendening had 1.
Blocked attempts: Helm fired 3 shots into Islanders players; Abdelkader had 2 attempts blocked; Tatar, Quincey, Bertuzzi and DeKeyser had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Ericsson missed the net 4 times; Andersson, Helm, Bertuzzi, Kronwall and DeKeyser missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Quincey led the Wings with 6 hits; Lashoff had 5; Helm, Ericsson and Kronwall had 3; Kindl Abdelkader, Tatar and Bertuzzi had 2; Datsyuk and Miller had 1.
Giveaways: Kindl and Bertuzzi had 2 giveaways; Abdelkader, Miller, Quincey, Samuelsson, Zetterberg, Helm and Kronwall had 1 giveaway.
Takeaways: Quincey had 4 takeaways; Datsyuk had 3; Miller, Tatar, Zetterberg, Helm, Kronwall, DeKeyser, Cleary and Franzen had 1.
Blocked opponent shots: Ericsson blocked 4 shots; Cleary blocked 3; Datsyuk, Miller and Kronwall blocked 2; Kindl, Quincey, Samuelsson, Zetterberg, Glendening, Helm and Franzen blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Bertuzzi took 2 minors; Franzen took a double minor; Helm and Ericsson took minor penalties.
Plus-minus: the Wings finished at a collective +1. Kindl, Datsyuk, Lashoff, Zetterberg and Bertuzzi were -1; Tatar, Helm, Kronwall and DeKeyser were +1; Franzen was +2.
Points: Datsyuk had 2 goals; Helm had a goal and an assist for 2 points; Franzen scored a goal; Samuelsson, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi, Ericsson, Kronwall and DeKeyser had assists.
Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 28:02 played; DeKeyser played 25:40; Ericsson played 24:46;
Quincey played 23:47; Datsyuk played 20:40; Zetterberg played 19:51;
Helm played 18:21; Miller played 16:16; Franzen played 15:57;
Bertuzzi played 15:24; Cleary played 14:17; Lashoff played 14:07;
Tatar played 13:43; Kindl played 13:20; Glendening played 12:54;
Andersson played 12:16; Abdelkader played 11:13; Samuelsson played 9:32.
The Wings obviously could've called up most any waiver-exempt player given the roster emergency, but Nyquist wasn't going to get called up given that it would've burned one of two games of waiver-exempt status, and the Wings' other forward prospects who earn less than $600,000 include Andrej Nestrasil, Louis-Marc Aubry (who's been a frequent healthy scratch in Grand Rapids), Mitchell Callahan, Trevor Parkes (who's been playing in the ECHL) and Will Coetzee (who's injured).
So the Wings will likely be going with someone they're familiar with as an injury replacement until they can accrue enough cap credit to bring Nyquist up in January. There is no trade market right now and everybody's capped or budgeted out, so this is going to be the way of the Wings' world for another month-and-a-half.
MLive's Brendan Savage found that Babcock is very comfortable shuffling Glendening up and down I-96 as necessary (and given that the call-ups drive past exit 155B, I'm starting to wonder whether I should set up a refreshment stand):
"We're trying to get him as many air miles and car miles as we can," coach Mike Babcock joked. "We call him up and down every day."
Babcock was exaggerating, of course. But it might not seem like it to Glendening, who was sent down to Grand Rapids Friday when Tomas Tatar was inserted into the Red Wings' lineup. Glendening helped the Griffins beat Rockford 5-3 Friday night in Grand Rapids.
But when Alfredsson's groin began acting up and forced him to miss Friday's 4-3 shootout loss to Washington, the Red Wings recalled Glendening in case he's needed tonight against the Islanders.
Glendening, who has no points and a minus-3 rating in eight games with Detroit this season, has a fan in Babcock.
"He plays good every time he's here," Babcock said. "He's just smart. Good player, good faceoff guy, real good penalty kill guy. We don't hide him when we play him. He goes right on the penalty kill. He does good things for us. We think he's an NHL guy."
Alfredsson didn't skate in the morning, and while it sounds like he's being held out for precautionary reasons, he offered this to Savage regarding his groin issues...
Alfredsson was at the Nassau Coliseum this morning but didn't take part in the Red Wings' pregame skate and said won't know his status until he reports back to the arena for the 7 p.m. faceoff.
"We'll see later," Alfredsson said. "Come back this afternoon and go from there. We'll see when I come back tonight, reevaluate it and then go from there."
Alfredsson said he'll be reevaluated before warmups tonight. The Red Wings were forced to play with 11 forwards Friday in a 4-3 shootout loss to Washington because they had sent Luke Glendening down to Grand Rapids before Alfredsson's groin started acting up before the game.
"I felt pretty good," Alfredsson said. "Practice the other day was fine and then warming up before the game ... I felt where I was that if I go out and play, it will jeopardize it further. Groins is not something I've had a problem with throughout my career and it's not something I expect will cause trouble down the road. You look after it now and when you come back, it's over and done with."
While the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan found that Babcock doesn't believe that Alfredsson will be back, let's say at least until Tuesday:
"I would be shocked," Babcock said. "This is what I’ve learned over my career is that groins are day-to-day for 10 days."
Alfredsson is third on the team with 14 points (three goals, 11 assists).
"He’s been good. It’s too bad that he’s injured right now," Babcock said. "He was injured in training camp so he hasn’t really got going as good as he will go, but obviously just his elite mind and skill give us another real good player. You can never have enough good players."
Kulfan also spoke with Jonas Gustavsson about his attempts to stay game-ready:
"You just have to go 100 percent in the practices and play like it's a game," said Gustavsson, explaining how he stays sharp without game action. "That way you can be ready for the games. I'm looking forward to it. It's a chance for me to keep working on my game and help the team."
He was good.
In the "Saturday tailings" department, sportswriting is an incredibly time-sensitive business, so I'll let you read the Windsor Star's Bob Duff's prior-to-the-game assessment of the Wings' issues on your own; Michigan Hockey posted a photo gallery from Friday's loss to Washington; and the Detroit Free Press's Steve Schrader took note of Babcock's looming honorary law degree and the Heisenberg-style "Zetterberg" shirt being sold on RivalryWear.com;
In the "Sunday columns" department, you may take this quip from the New York Post's Larry Brooks for what you will given that the player in question thrived under Viktor Tikhonov and Scotty Bowman:
Would love to have been able to see how the supremely gifted and creative Igor Larionov — who doesn’t seem to be able to abide the structure under which his client, Nail Yakupov, is operating in Edmonton — would have done playing for the post-Tampa version of John Tortorella.
The Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons offers an attainable goal given the Winter Classic Alumni Showdown, but I can tell you that the person in question is particularly prickly when it comes to members of the media he does not know:
My new year's resolution: I have to spend more time hanging with Chris Chelios.
And the Free Press's Helene St. James asked Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby and other Wings vets about the issue of hazing given the Miami Dolphins crap going on, via video and in an article, and let's just say that the NHL's a different kind of league these days:
In Detroit especially, things are very different:
“What’s going on down in Miami, I’ve never seen happen around here,” Jimmy Howard said. “I think it’s a unique situation. In hockey, you don’t really worry about it that much. All I can remember is the tradition of rookies putting on a dinner for everyone else. It’s one of those things every one in the room looks forward to, including the rookies.”
“When I came in, I was treated very well, and you just try to return it for the young guys that come in,” Zetterberg said. “We’re actually a very nice team for rookies. I don’t think we do much at all. They take care of the bill at the rookie party, that’s about it.”
When Danny DeKeyser joined the Wings straight out of college last spring, teammates made sure he had everything he needed. Veteran players often open their homes to new players, preferable over a long hotel stay.
Draper and Maltby, who shifted into staff roles with the Wings after retiring within the past few years, said they hadn’t seen any bullying. Rookies were expected to know how low they rank, though. “You had to be the last off the bus or the plane,” Maltby said. “And back then, when we flew commercial, you always got stuck in a middle seat because you were the last guy to get to pick.”
The one tradition that has been timeless is the one that’ll hurt a guy’s wallet: rookie dinners. Even if a player is lucky enough to be in a group of three rookies, his portion of the bill usually falls in the $5,000-$7,000 range.
“You take the veteran players out to a nice restaurant, and the guys are going to order high-end bottles of wine, and you’re going to have a great meal together,” Draper said.
Update: as noted by Championat's Igor Bragin, Pavel Datsyuk played in his 800th game on Saturday, and he's registered 792 points over the course of his career. So far.
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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.