The Malik Report
Red Wings-Jets game-day updates: Franzen’s out, Tootoo’s in, Montoya starts for WPG; ‘It’s personal’
by George Malik on 11/04/13 at 12:11 PM ET
Updated 15x at 3:35 PM: The Detroit Red Wings hope to end their 4-game Western Canadian swing on a high note when they battle a virtual unknown in the Winnipeg Jets this evening (8 PM EST, FSD/TSN Winnipeg/97.1 FM). News Tweets and game-day stories tend not to precede player personnel news in my game-day posts, but the Wings posited a trio of important Tweets...
UPDATE: The #RedWings have placed Brendan Smith on short-term IR, meaning he will miss a minimum of seven days.
Tickets to the 2013 Alumni Showdown are on sale now! Witness living legends back on the ice for one last time! MORE: http://www.DetroitRedWings.com/2014WinterClassic …
Our first #RedWings Viewing Party is tonight at @Applebees in Woodhaven (23200 Allen Road) watch the game, play some trivia, & have fun!
And it's not official yet, but it appears that the Grand Rapids Griffins have assigned Martin Frk to the ECHL's Toledo Walleye, per Frk himself:
Getting ready to drive to Toledo! #excited pic.twitter.com/bEGRq2CVfJ
The Griffins want you to know that their annual "Tip a Griffin" charity initiative will take place two Mondays from today--on November 18th--too:
Mark your calendars for Tip-A-Griffin on Nov. 18 from 6-8 p.m. at @uccellosinc for a night of food and fun! Details: http://griffinshockey.com.ismmedia.com/ISM3/std-content/repos/Top/ISM2%20Imports/Text%20Blocks/TAG%20flyer.pdf
In terms of tonight's game, TSN will air the game in Manitoba, and their game preview includes a video prediction as to whether Niklas Kronwall and Henrik Zetterberg will out-score Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien, and Illegal Curve's Ezra Ginsburg has penned a game-day preview. This is just a chunk of a much more substantial entry:
- Tonight marks the first time the Red Wings have played the Jets in a regular season game at MTS Centre.
- Defenseman Keaton Ellerby will make his Winnipeg Jets debut tonight. Ellerby was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. Ellerby had three points in 44 games last season split between the Kings and Florida Panthers. Ellerby was drafted in the 1st round (10th overall) in 2007.
- The Jets recalled Zach Redmond from the St.John’s IceCaps (AHL) on Sunday (1 goal, 1 assists in 2 games) and returned Ben Chiarot and Julian Melchiori.
- Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith is out 1-2 weeks with a slightly separated shoulder after he injured himself in a fight on Saturday against Edmonton Oilers forward Wil Acton. Detroit recalled defenseman Adam Almquist from the Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL) on Sunday. Almquist will make his NHL debut tonight.
- Jets rookie forward Mark Scheifele has not registered a point in his last five games.
- Jets forward Devin Setoguchi will play in his 399th career NHL game tonight, just one shy of 400 for his career.Starting Goalies:
- Al Montoya (1-1-0, 1.57 GAA, .944 Save Percentage)- Jimmy Howard (5-4-2, 2.50 GAA, .915 Save Percentage)
Projected Winnipeg Jets Line Combinations:Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Devin Setoguchi
Evander Kane-Olli Jokinen-Blake Wheeler
Matt Halischuk-Mark Scheifele-Michael Frolik
Anthony Peluso-James Wright-Chris Thorburn
Tobias Enstrom-Zach BogosianAl Montoya
Grant Clitsome-Dustin Byfuglien
Keaton Ellerby- Zach Redmond
Healthy Scratches: Eric Tangradi, Adam Pardy
Johan Franzen may or may not return to the lineup depending on how he feels this morning--and afternoon EST--as he's battling a flu bug, and his presence may yield some tweaks to the Wings' lines.
Illegal Curve also noted that the Winnipeg Free Press's Tim Campbell--as I suggested in the overnight report--is one of those Winnipeggers who views the Red Wings' ousting of the Jets 1.0 in the 1996 playoffs as much more than a, "This isn't personal" beating, and instead, he views the Red Wings as partial culprits in the Jets 1.0's departure from the city:
The Wings, worthy, lucky or unlucky to have been the team that terminated the Jets in 1996, do open the door for some of that.
Allow us a brief rewind. The re-opening of old wounds is not the point. The series, a one-vs-eight, 131 points vs. 78, began with two Detroit home wins, a 4-1 Jets response at home before Detroit rattled in four power-play goals for a 6-1 win here in Game 4.
Game 5 went back to Detroit and when the night was over, Jets goalie Nik Khabibulin had one of the best games of his career with 51 saves for a 3-1 decision.
It went back to Winnipeg, where the Wings proved just too powerful, skating out to a 3-0 first-period lead. Norm Maciver scored that era's final Jets goal in the third, but his team mustered only 13 shots against Mike Vernon, a day with very much a funereal feel.
The series that looked like a mismatch even featured a lot of penalties and some bad blood. Winnipeg fans did not bathe themselves in glory and were excoriated for throwing of crap on the ice during and after Game 4.
The Wings and the league were on the receiving end of both barrels for Sergei Fedorov's appalling knee check that knocked Jets captain Kris King out of the series with a ripped-up knee in Game 5. There was no penalty, no discipline. That Sunday's post-game began the mourning and there wasn't much sweet about the sorrow during the ensuing week's parting.
"At least around the team, I don't remember the mood being sombre at all at any time during the course of that series," said then-Jets GM John Paddock last week. "We were in a playoff race, and at that time, I think we were the only lame-duck team in any sport to make the playoffs. We had focus for lots of reasons. But when we lost Game 6, we really felt slapped in the face, because any time you lose a series, it's the last game. That in itself is devastating, and of course we knew how it was going to be, that we'd be moving. It was like getting slapped twice."
He continues, and concludes with the following:
Welcome back, Detroit. We hope you've discovered you won't be getting rid of us easily.
The Red Wings played no role in shipping the Jets off to Phoenix save being the Jets' final opponent, but I can assure you that a decent number of Jets fans view the Wings as mortal enemies, and the team will be booed mercilessly in the small-but-incredibly-loud 15,004-seat rink.
MLive's Ansar Khan penned a very different kind of game-day story, discussing Tomas Tatar's cementing of his status as an every-day Red Wing:
Tatar has two goals and an assist in the past three games, helping his team win three in a row in Western Canada. It appears the 22-year-old forward has secured a regular spot in the lineup after being scratched in eight of the first nine games. He has been strong on the puck, skating hard and generating scoring chances.
“I think (every time) he gets an opportunity to play in the top three (lines) he plays well,’’ Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “The Rangers game (3-2 overtime loss on Oct. 26) he had a real good game, held onto the puck a lot, same thing (Wednesday in Vancouver). He just needs to play more, needs to be more comfortable in that role and he will score a lot of goals for us.’’
Tatar can provide offense. He had four goals and seven points in 18 games with the Red Wings last season, despite averaging only 11:22 in ice time, rarely playing on a top-two line and not seeing much power-play time. He had 16 goals and 21 points in 24 games during the Grand Rapids Griffins’ run to the Calder Cup championship, earning AHL playoff MVP honors.
As Khan notes,Wings coach Mike Babcock told the media that the "veterans win" battles against youngsters early in the season, so Tatar sat out most of the Wings' early-season games so that Mikael Samuelsson and Jordin Tootoo could play in his stead, but that's not the case any more, and Tatar's play has ensured that Babcock no longer has any qualms about sitting Samuelsson's $3 million salary or Tootoo and his $1.9 million cap hit because, put simply, Tatar's a more effective player:
“It was (frustrating); once you get in, you don’t want to get out. I’ll do everything to stay,’’ Tatar said. “I’m not anymore worried about (being scratched), I’m thinking more about the game.’’
Now it’s Tatar’s job to lose. He scored the winning goal against Vancouver (2-1), set up Joakim Andersson’s go-ahead goal in Friday’s 4-3 win at Calgary and banged home a rebound in Saturday’s 5-0 win in Edmonton.
“He’s heavy on the puck, he’s smart,’’ Babcock said. “He’s not a big man (5-10, 186), but he seems to play heavy on it. He’s a puck-hound and he’s got skill in tight. As a team we feel we got to play way heavier in the offensive zone. We don’t spend enough time down there. Anytime you don’t spend there, the other team spends too much time in your zone. So a guy like Tats, that’s what he has to continue to do if he wants to play.’’
Khan continues at length, and he notes that Tatar doesn't plan on getting complacent any time soon:
“You can get better everywhere -- skating, be stronger, better shot -- so when you look at these players you can still learn a lot from everybody,’’ Tatar said. “I just want to do the right things: Play good defense and offense and just don’t do anything I would regret on the ice and try to become a better player.’’
The Windsor Star's Bob Duff posited a pair of Tweets, inadvertently pointing out that the Wings and Jets will wrap up their season series over the course of 9 days...
Tuesday, #RedWings will make their first regular-season appearance in Winnipeg since March 10, 1996, when they defeated the Jets 5-2. #NHL
My bad. #redwings in Winnipeg tonight. Was looking at next Tuesday, when #jets are at JLA.
And he penned an article about Petr Mrazek's contributions en route to a 14-save shutout on Saturday, as well as Mrazek's potential going forward:
“He won the Calder Cup as a rookie in the American League (with Grand Rapids last season), so you must have some skill set,” Babcock said of Mrazek. “His mindset is simple – he’s not up here trying to get Gus’ job, he’s up here getting Howie’s job. He just thinks nothing bothers him. He thinks he’s great. I like that.”
Mrazek made 14 saves for his first NHL shutout and second career victory. Detroit’s fifth-round selection (141st overall) in the 2010 NHL entry draft, Mrazek has a 1.34 goals-against average and .938 save percentage in three career NHL appearances.
“I’m trying every game to be the best and stop the most pucks I can and be focused,” Mrazek said. “That’s all the goalie can do.”
Red Wings development coach Jiri Fischer coached Mrazek with the Czech Republic at the 2011 world juniors, where he was named top goalie.
“He was the guy who took the spotlight and wasn’t affected by the media, the hype and 20,000 people at the games,” Fischer said. “He thrived in that environment. He couldn’t get enough of it. That’s who he is.”
Mrazek, then with the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s, admits that tournament altered his perspective and he believes hockey people’s perspective of him.
“The hockey world changed after the world junior championships,” Mrazek said. “Then I got the chance to play in the world championships in Sweden (in 2012). The coach (Alois Hadamczik) gave me the chance there to practice with the best guys from Czech Republic, from NHL. He made the dream for me. I turned pro and now I’ve got the chance in Detroit. It’s something unbelievable.”
In terms of morning skate news, Winnipeg Free Press's Gary Lawless attended the Jets' morning skate (in the "For Further Reading" department, you may read his defense of Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff if you wish to do so):
Mike Babcock in shorts and a hoodie just climbed into stands to watch #nhljets morning skate
Redmond and Ellerby working as a pair for #nhljets. Upgrade over Pardy and Chiarot? Yup.
No Evander Kane at morning skate. He missed practice yesterday too #nhljets
Looks like it's Al Montoya tonight for #nhljets he's left the ice and Pav is still working with goalie coach wade flaherty #bn
Zach Redmond stays out for a bit of extra work so it appears Keaton Ellerby will be on third pair with Adam Pardy #NHLJets
TSN 1290's Rick Ralph took in the morning skate, too...
Wings Mike Babcock takes in the #NHLJets morning skate. http:/pic.twitter.com/dWFlSKEMsF
#NHLJets Montoya first to leave the morning skate.
As did the Winnipeg Sun's Ken Wiebe:
Al Montoya leaves the ice first for #NHLJets and that's usually an indication he will start in goal vs #RedWings
Zach Redmond stays out for a bit of extra work so it appears Keaton Ellerby will be on third pair with Adam Pardy #NHLJets
Eric Tangradi is not part of the extra work so it appears he will return to lineup for #NHLJets
Illegal Curve's on the lookout, too:
As per reports from game day skate, Al Montoya is the first #NHLJets goalie off the ice. We've updated set-up: http://bit.ly/1hdEd31
Ditto for the Jets themselves:
It's game day! The Jets take on the Red Wings at the MTS Centre for the first time tonight at 7 p.m.! http://pic.twitter.com/ul5GCx3XUj
(That's 8 PM EST)
Well, it's time to click "Submit" and get this news from MLive's Ansar Khan out there:
Johan Franzen not expected to at tonight, Ken Holland said. They're going to give him couple more days and hope he's ready for Thursday.
Update: I have to add the CBC Manitoba's Jeff Hamilton to the Jets press mix, and he Tweeted morning skate news...
#nhljets Ellerby and Redmond together at practice. No sight of Kane for the 2nd day in a row. Yesterday's absence was for maintenance.
Assuming Pavelec gets the start tonight - he's 6-2 as a #NHLJets in games after being pulled. Tho Last time he faced #Redwings he let in 7.
Spotted a Darren Helm jersey this am - the Wings fwd and MB product had his 1st game Sat. after being out for 18 mons. Scored gwg #NHLJets
#NHLJets newest D-man Keaton Ellerby will line up w/ Adam Pardy tonight against the #Redwings
"Felt great out there. It's good to be back here and with the team." Zach Redmond following morning skate. #NHLJets http://pic.twitter.com/bfi9DQ5V1l
Aned he penned a slate of "5 Things to Watch For" during tonight's game, including the following...
Back at the Helm: He’s a fan favourite in Detroit who grew up playing hockey in the small town of St. Andrews, Man. Red Wings forward Darren Helm returned to the lineup Saturday. He scored the game-winning goal in a 5-0 trampling of the Edmonton Oilers after being sidelined for more than 18 months with injuries to his back and groin.
Bad timing for the Jets as Helm is one of the team’s most reliable players, especially on the penalty kill. Noel made reference to the value of Helm’s return to Detroit and noted his speed is something the Jets will look to keep in check.
Helm is something the Jets wished they had; he’s a bottom-six forward worth his weight in gold and a great player, with a great story.
Red-hot wings: As mentioned, the Red Wings are currently riding a three game win streak where they’ve outscored their opponents 11-4. Leading the way are three veteran players in Pavel Datsyuk, 35, Henrik Zetterberg, 33, and Daniel Alfredsson, 40. The trio has combined for 16 goals and 26 assists for 42 points and is a plus-17 on the year.
“They’re a team that still has some veteran guys that can finish and do some things,” said Noel. “They drive that team hard, and they’ve won in the past. They have a history of winning and how to play.”
Many felt the Red Wings would be unable to rebound after losing a number of key pieces heading in to last season, including the great, Nicklas Lidstrom. But with consistent play from their veteran core, and continued development from their younger players, the Red Wings are proving they have what it takes to remain one of the league’s top clubs.
And he posited a game prediction, too:
Prediction: 4-2 Red Wings: With the Jets trying to find a way back into the win column, it’s tough to think that win will come against a talented Detroit team. The Red Wings are too deep in all areas of the roster, especially up front, and with the Jets still banged up in the back end, a win is unlikely. This matchup has the right ingredients to be another Chicago-type game.
Update #1.5: From the Winnipeg Sun's Wiebe:
#NHLJets head coach Claude Noel said Evander Kane is questionable with a lower-body injury, not sure he will take pre-game skate tonight
Noel confirms Al Montoya starts in goal, gives him a chance to get some rhythm after coming on in relief on Saturday #NHLJets
And the Jets...
"I think we need to focus on the process of playing and how to do things that get us the results we're looking for." - Noel
"Gives him a change to get some rhythm in his game. He's been good for us." - Noel on starting Montoya tonight
And NHL.com's Patrick Williams:
Kane is questionable for tonight. Lower-body.
Noel confirmed that Montoya will start.
Update #2: The Wings are on the ice, per the Wings...
Adam Almquist joins the #RedWings at MTS Centre in Winnipeg and will make his NHL debut tonight. (Dan Mannes) http://pic.twitter.com/IF388onuE5
The boys just hit the ice in Winnipeg, where the #RedWings will go for a perfect 4-0 trip tonight! http://pic.twitter.com/2WOxgcjUQR
The Mule is likely out tonight; the #RedWings want to give him a couple more days to get healthy and will shoot for Thursday.
Al Montoya (Michigan) will start in goal for the Jets tonight, coach Claude Noel said. He said Evander Kane (lower body) game time decision.
Based in how they're skating, looks like Tootoo is in tonight for Samuelsson and Eaves scratched again.
Wings lines at skate: 40-13-44, 71-90-11, 8-18-21, 20-43-22. On D, Almquist paired with Quincey, Kronwall-DeKeyser, Lashoff-Kindl.
Franzen is skating but won't play tonight.
Almquist playing the right point on second power play unit, Kindl at other point. Weiss, Cleary and Tatar up front.
The Free Press's Helene St. James...
Drew Miller and Jakub Kindl play catch the puck on your stick before #redwings morning skate at MTS Centre. http://pic.twitter.com/WnqsGm4UOU
#RedWings a.m skate has Datsyuk with Zetterberg and Bertuzzi, Weiss with Cleary and Alfredsson. No sign of Franzen.
Johan Franzen skating now in white jersey. Not on line rush.
And the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:
Lines same...we will see whether tootoo replaces Samuelson but would not think so with win streak
Update #2.5: From the Wings:
Looks like Tootoo is in tonight, he's skating on a line with Helm and Miller. Sammy likely healthy scratch #RedWings
And the Winnipeg Sun's Wiebe:
“I wouldn’t say it’s a must win, but I think we’re at that point where we have to make up our minds," said #NHLJets C Bryan Little
Update #2.75: From the CBC's Hamilton:
Former Brandon Wheat Kings fwd Jordin Tootoo at #Wings morning skate. #NHLJets #cbcmb http://pic.twitter.com/Zi4qLTNWP9
Brandon's 133 miles west of Winnipeg, and Winnipeg is something of a hub city for Inuit natives...And Tootoo's brother Terence passed away in Brandon back in 2001. If there's a game where Tootoo has "local ties," and feels that he's going to prove that he deserves a spot on the roster over Eaves and Samuelsson, this is his game to make his mark.
Update #2.8: Per Khan...
Tootoo is in for Samuelsson
And St. James:
Red Wings 4th line Miller-Helm-Tootoo. Third is Tatar-Andersson-Abdrlkader
Update #3: From DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose...
Here are the #RedWings line combos and D-pairings for tonight's game vs.@NHLJets: http://is.gd/Yd8yIf NOTE: Franzen will not play tonight
Former #Michigan goalie Al Montoya will start for the @NHLJets tonight in his first #NHL action against the #RedWings.
Almquist paired with lashoff...will keep it simple and said it was his goal to make NHL this season
Adam Almqvist http://pic.twitter.com/l49wWHWhY0
Re: Adam - says passport says Almquist, so that's what he's using in North America. It's Almqvist in Sweden
Jordin Tootoo confirms he will be in the #RedWings lineup vs #NHLJets and has a lot of friends, family coming in for it
Update #4: Wiebe's already penned a game-day article:
Montoya, who replaced starter Ondrej Pavelec just under six minutes into the second period of Saturday's 5-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, is making his third his third start of the season.
“He’s been good for us, he gets a chance to get a little rhythm in his game,” said Jets head coach Claude Noel. “Pavelec has been very good for us, but has had a heavy load. It’s an opportunity for (Montoya) to play.”
Montoya is 1-1 with a 1.57 goals against average and .944 save percentage in the three games he’s been called upon so far.
Forward Evander Kane skipped the morning skate and is questionable with a lower-body injury, while Eric Tangradi appears to be drawing back into the lineup regardless of Kane’s status. Noel wasn’t sure if Kane would even take the pre-game skate this evening.
On defence, newcomer Keaton Ellerby will make his Jets’ debut on the third pairing with Adam Pardy.
The Jets (5-8-2) have lost six of their past seven and realize they need to get things turned around quickly.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a must win, but I think we’re at that point where we have to make up our minds,” said Jets centre Bryan Little. “We don’t want to be sitting a month from now and be looking at a huge challenge o trying to even get into the playoffs. Right now, it’s still relatively early and we still have a chance to get it back on track and try to give ourselves a chance. Tonight is a pretty big game, but they all are right now.”
The Wings' Game-Day Blog has also posited something of a preview...
When the NHL realigned this season it was largely done at the behest of Winnipeg, which was toiling in the Southeast Division despite playing west of several Western Conference teams. When the Jets switched conferences, the Red Wings were one of the teams to benefit, moving to the East where they would play more games in Detroit's time zone. With both teams now cozy in their new environs, they'll face off Monday night to see who is getting the better of the deal.
Detroit has won in all three of its stops so far during its current road swing, and a win in Winnipeg tonight is all that stands between the Wings and a perfect 4-0-0 mark on the trip. Detroit looked particularly impressive in its last game on Saturday, beating the Edmonton Oilers 5-0.
"We controlled the game and played well," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "We wanted to play three periods, not two like we did (against Calgary)."
With three straight wins, the Red Wings are now in a three-way tie for first place in the Atlantic Division with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs.
As well as Ken Kal's Keys to the Game:
Don't Change a Thing - Continue to force the play in the offensive zone as well as limit shots and scoring chances.
Continue Consistent Play - The Wings have played well in all three games on this trip; you don't want to be erratic, just build on what's been accomplished so far.
Score on the Power Play - Detroit had a Power Play goal last game in Edmonton, they need to convert on their chances on a more frequent basis.
Update #5: Here's the Winnipeg Free Press's Gary Lawless' game-day article:
There’s no time like the present, Winnipeg Jets centre Bryan Little said this morning. Little was referring to tonight’s game at the MTS Centre against the Detroit Red Wings — the winged wheel’s first visit in more than 17 years — as a good starting point to start moving in the right direction.
The Jets are 5-8-2 with just one win in their last seven games.
"I wouldn’t say it’s a must-win but I think we’re at that point where we have to make up our minds," Little said. "We don’t want to be sitting a month from now and looking at a huge challenge to even get in the playoffs. Right now it’s still relatively early and we still have a chance to get back on track and try to give ourselves a chance. Tonight is a pretty big game but they all are right now."
Little was asked by a reporter following the 9-4-2 Red Wings about the MTS Centre. His answer is insightful, especially given how flat the Jets went in their most recent game, Saturday’s 5-1 loss to Chicago.
"It’s a fun place to play," Little said. "It’s loud and the crowd’s into it. We’ve got to give them something to cheer about right now."
The Wings are looking to sweep their western Canada road tip. They already have wins in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.
"Detroit’s a good team," Noel said. "They’re well-coached, well-managed. They’ve got good, veteran leadership. They like having the puck. They know how to win. It’s going to take all of us to perform tonight."
Update #6: The Jets' website posted a game-videos of coach Claude Noel's game-day presser...
And while you won't be interested in Zach Redmond's comments, here's Brian Little speaking about the importance of defeating the Wings...
And Olli Jokinen weighed in as well:
CJOB's Jim Toth added a few more quips to the mix:
#RedWings Jordin Tootoo when asked by Detroit media how far Nunavut is to WPG. "Well if you're talkin' on a dogsled probably two weeks."
Both Churchill MB.'s Jordin Tootoo & St. Andrews Manitoba's Darren Helm will play tonight vs. #NHLJets
Having covered #Redwings Jordin Tootoo off & on since his jr. days in Brandon, he has come a long way. Seems at peace & very mature.
Update #6.5: Ain't this the truth, per St. James:
Tidbit on Adam Almqu/vist: He's a softer talker than Brad Stuart. Brian Lashoff said he's constantly told Adam to "use your outside voice"
Brendan Smith on being out (shoulder): "It might be blessing in disguise. I get to watch games, pick up on stuff I need to get better at."
Winnipeg is seventh in the Central Division with a 5-8-2 record. They trail sixth-place Dallas by two points and are four back of Nashville. Both the Stars and Predators have a game in hand on the Jets.
Al Montoya (1-1, 1.57, .944) will start in goal. Evander Kane is questionable due to a lower body injury. Keaton Ellerby will play his first game of the season in a Jets jersey after being acquired off waivers over the weekend. Ellerby did not play a game yet this season with Los Angeles.
Jets Projected Lines:
Paul Postma, Mark Stuart, Jacob Trouba and Jim Slater will not dress due to injury.
This is the final game of a four-game road trip for the Red Wings. Detroit has won three in a row, included a 5-0 victory in Edmonton Saturday.
Detroit is third in the Atlantic Division with a 9-4-2 record. They have 20 points along with Tampa and Toronto, however the Lightning are in first place due to playing one less game, and the second-place Leafs have one more win than the Red Wings. Detroit is four points up on Boston.
The Wings also posted a slate of game notes. Wes McCauley and Don VanMassenhoven will referee tonight's game, with Mike Cvik and Don Henderson working the lines.
Update #8: Here's the Free Press's Helene St. James' game-day article. She spoke with Almquist about his NHL debut, but I'll let you read her playful jab at Darren Helm on your own:
“This is a dream come true,” he said. “I just have to play simple, play hard, just keep the focus and try to play it like a normal game.
By the way: His name appears both as Almquist, which is what it says on his passport and therefore what he is using in North America, and Almqvist, as he’s known back in his native Sweden. By any spelling, teammates were impressed by what they remember seeing from Almquist in training camp.
“He never gets himself in any trouble,” Niklas Kronwall said. “Makes the right decision at the right time, and is a very, very skilled player. Great hands, great vision. He’s going to be good for us on the power play. Good confidence. Very smooth. Makes the right play at the right time. Even though he’s not the biggest guy, he makes very smart plays out there. Good positionally.”
Almquist, 22 is listed as 5-feet-11, 170-odd pounds, a bit generous on both counts. But seriously: Size isn’t everything, not when there’s smarts involved.
“He’s real good with the puck,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Sees it, thinks it. If he could ever - I hate doing this, but .... “ Babcock went on to bring up Winnipeg defenseman Tobias Enstrom as an example. “Enstrom for them is a star. We’d like him to one day be a star. He’s got to fall in love with the gym and eating if he wants that to happen, though. The challenge is there for him. We’ll see what happens here tonight.”
Almquist was called up to offset the loss of Brendan Smith, who hurt his shoulder Saturday at Edmonton. Smith wasn’t sure if it was during his fight with Will Acton; either way, he’s out 7-10 days with a sprained shoulder. To the credit of Smith, who is a minus-7, he sees the upside.
“It might be kind of a blessing in disguise,” he said. “This way, I get to watch games, pick up on stuff I need to get better at.”
NHL.com's Patrick Williams also posited a game-day entry in the NHL's At the Rink blog...
The Red Wings (9-4-2) have the first three games on the journey, including a 5-0 win Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers. A win against the Jets would boost them ahead of the idle Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning for the top spot in the Atlantic Division.
Detroit recalled defenseman Adam Almquist from the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League on Sunday to replace injured defenseman Brendan Smith (shoulder). Smith injured himself in a third-period fight with Edmonton’s Will Acton.
"It's too bad [Smith] got hurt," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "I guess the way that I look at it is that in a 5-0 game with three minutes left, I don't know [whether] he needed to scrap. He obviously made that decision and now he has to sit out."
Almquist, whose seven assists led the Griffins, will become the third Red Wing to make his NHL debut this season, joining center Luke Glendening and defenseman Xavier Ouellet.
Babcock also will put right wing Jordin Tootoo back into the lineup. Tootoo played junior hockey in the Western Hockey League for the Brandon Wheat Kings, a short drive from Winnipeg, and he will have a large group of family and friends in attendance. Tootoo will skate on a line with Darren Helm, who grew up near Winnipeg and made his season debut Saturday against Edmonton.
And his entry includes a set of prospective Wings lines:
Henrik Zetterberg - Pavel Datsyuk - Todd Bertuzzi
Daniel Cleary - Stephen Weiss - Daniel Alfredsson
Tomas Tatar - Joakim Andersson - Justin Abdelkader
Drew Miller - Darren Helm - Jordin Tootoo
Niklas Kronwall - Danny DeKeyser
Kyle Quincey - Jakub Kindl
Brian Lashoff - Adam Almquist
Scratched: Patrick Eaves, Mikael Samuelsson
Injured: Jonathan Ericsson (shoulder), Johan Franzen (lower body), Jonas Gustavsson (upper body), Brendan Smith (shoulder)
BIG NOTE: HOWARD IS STARTING.
Update #9: MLive's Ansar Khan focused on Jordin Tootoo's return to the lineup, noting that Tootoo was born in Churchill:
“I got a lot of roots here; coming back and playing definitely is going to be an honor,’’ Tootoo said.
Tootoo is in for Mikael Samuelsson, the only change at forward. Johan Franzen skated today but will sit out for the third time in four games with an unspecified illness. General manager Ken Holland said they hope Franzen will be ready for Thursday's game against Dallas at Joe Louis Arena.
Tootoo has never played in this building but knows it is loud, especially for a 15,000-seat venue.
“This arena brings a lot of energy, we’re going to have to create our own. I got to be a big part of that,’’ Tootoo said.
Tootoo has no points and a minus-3 rating in seven games. He did not dress during the first three games of this trip.
“I’ve been in and out of the lineup since the beginning of the season. It’s about capitalizing on your opportunities and making the best of it,’’ Tootoo said. “Just keep my game simple. At the same time create emotion out there for our guys, on the bench, because this arena is pretty rambunctious.’’
Once everyone is healthy, the Red Wings will make to make one or two roster moves to get compliant with the salary-cap and 23-man roster. Tootoo eventually could be the odd-man out, through a trade or waivers. For now, he is just trying to secure a regular spot in the lineup, like he had last year during the regular season.
“Anytime you’re not in the lineup it kind of burns and creates more fire for you,’’ Tootoo said. “For me, it’s about taking it one day at a time and when you’re given the opportunity, capitalize on it.’’
Update #10: Somewhat ironically, from the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson's "Short Shifts":
- The Red Wings are shopping Jordin Tootoo in an effort to get forward Gustav Nyqvist back on the roster — salary cap issues have planted the NHL player in minor-league Grand Rapids. The Blue Jackets are trying to move defenceman Nikita Nikitin to get Tim Erixon (a piece of Rick Nash trade) up from the minors. Nikitin was very good the last 30 games for the Jackets last season, but his play has dropped way off.
I despise power rankings, but a pair of rankings popped up this afternoon. ESPN's Scott Burnside assesses the Wings as follows...
9 Detroit [record] 9-4-2 Last Week: 14 The Wings have won three in a row, all away from Joe Louis Arena, thanks to depth scoring of late, and are a solid 6-2-0 on the road.
And here's CBS Sports' Brian Stubits' take:
12 [last week 15] Red Wings: The Wings lost three straight at home last week so this week they win three straight on the road, taking out the Northwest Canada trio. They're tied atop the Atlantic but have just a plus-1 goal differential.
The Hockey News's Rory Boylen penned a Wings-Jets game preview...
RED WINGS (9-2-2) at JETS (5-8-2)
When the Detroit Red Wings and the Winnipeg Jets meet up at the MTS Centre tonight, it will be a contest between two teams that were at the center of the NHL’s off-season realignment. One team, the Red Wings, are enjoying their time in the East and have started the season 9-4-2, while the Jets are struggling in a tough Western Conference and have hobbled out of the gate, 5-8-2. The only statistic the Jets have over the Red Wings is shots on goal. Everything else tilts in the Wings’ favor.
Darren Helm had been out of the lineup for nine months, but he had an immediate impact for the winged wheels over the weekend. (Detroit Free Press)
The honeymoon may be over for the Jets, but the team’s 5-8-2 record to start the season doesn’t have GM Kevin Cheveldayoff worried – and he isn’t planning to stray away from the long-term plan. (Winnipeg Free Press)
Player to Watch: Pavel Datsyuk. This guy has been the definition of consistent since he made his debut in the 2001-02 season. He’s averaging a point-per-game this year and is tied for the team lead with a plus-7 rating. Not too shabby.
If you with to read ESPN's Burnside talk about the Tampa Bay Lightning's status as sharing the Atlantic lead with the Wings, or the Hockey News's Ken Campbell suggest that the Ottawa Senators miss Daniel Alfredsson more than they'd ever imagined they would, you may most certainly do so on your own, but I thought that this tidbit from Yahoo Sports' Neate Sager is a little more noteworthy:
Detroit Red Wings first-rounder Anthony Mantha is on pace for 167 points. Mind. Blown. (Le Soleil)
I will do my best to translate Mantha's French-language interview with le Soleil's Kathleen Lavoie when I am able to do so.
Update #11: The Winnipeg Sun's Ken Wiebe posted several game-day videos, but the ones you'll be interested in involve Darren Helm, Jordin Tootoo, Henrik Zetterberg, Stephen Weiss and coach Mike Babcock. They're not embeddable.
The Free Press's Helene St. James also posted a video of Adam Almquist, Petr Mrazek and Darren Helm speaking with the media:
Update #12: MLive's Ansar Khan penned an article about Smith's status:
“It might be kind of a blessing in disguise,’’ Smith said. “This way I get to watch the games and kind of pick up on the stuff I need to get better at. I think I’ve been playing a little bit better. There’s a few things I need to work on. It could be a little bit of a blessing, where I can watch, get away from the game. But it can be frustrating when you’re not on the ice. We’re all competitive, we all want to be on the ice. I’m going to try to stay in shape, that’s the biggest thing, not lose a step.’’
Smith is on short-term injured reserve (minimum seven days) with what general manager Ken Holland described as a slightly separated shoulder, the result of a fight with Edmonton’s Will Acton in the final minute of Saturday’s game. During his time off, Smith will pay particular attention to Kronwall, who once told Smith that when he was injured he used to study Nicklas Lidstrom’s game.
“The biggest thing for myself, what gets in the way is pretty much myself,’’ Smith said. “I got to make sure the game comes to me. I can watch Kronwall play the whole game. He’s so fantastic, that’s a guy I’m going to try to imitate; how he makes plays in the corner, how he makes his passes, how he relaxes with the puck, simple things that I can pick up.
The season has been a struggle for Smith, who has one point (an assist) in 12 games and is tied with Kyle Quincey for the worst plus-minus on the club (minus-7). Smith appears to be taking too many chances, trying to force things, instead of playing a safe game.
“Possibly, sometimes. That’s one of the reasons I got myself out of the lineup (earlier this season),’’ Smith said. “The biggest thing is you got to let the game come to you because if you start chasing it you’ll get a snowball effect. You’ll be in the wrong position. It’s something I got to be even more cognizant of, make sure the game comes to me because that’s when I’ll play my best.’’
Smith said he expects to be available to play after seven days.
“It’s definitely sore, more precautionary,’’ he said. “Last year I was out three weeks (with a shoulder injury). It’s nothing like that.’’
Update #13: Here's the Jets website's game preview:
Update #14: Of Twitter note from St. James...
Impressed with Brendan Smith this morning. Said right things about himself (needs to improve) & gushed about Adam Almquist. Good attitude.
And the Wings:
“This is a dream come true. I just have to play simple, play hard, just keep the focus & try to play it like a normal game.” - Adam Almquist
About 20 family and friends were going to make the flight to see Tootoo play his first regular-season game in Winnipeg. (He has played minor-league games in Winnipeg.)
"I've been looking forward to this opportunity for a while now," said Tootoo, who replaced Mikael Samuelsson in the lineup. "Coming back to Manitoba and playing an NHL game is exciting for me and my family."
As well as Almquist's comments about his NHL debut:
"Exciting -- it's a dream come true," Almquist said Monday. "It's a goal I've had since I started playing hockey. It'll be a big night. I just have to be focused, play it simple, do my job out there."
Almquist was recalled from Grand Rapids Sunday when Brendan Smith suffered a shoulder injury in Saturday's victory in Edmonton. Almquist was one of the final cuts of the exhibition season; his offensive ability impressed coach Mike Babcock.
"He's just real good with the puck, sees it, thinks it," said Babcock, who said Almquist has a skill set similar to that of Winnipeg's Tobias Enstrom.
At 5-foot-11 and 174 pounds, Almquist will have to hit the weight room hard to stay in the NHL.
"He has to fall in love with the gym -- and eating," Babcock said. "The challenge is there for him. He has a lot of talent and he can move the puck."
Update #16: Ouch, per FSD's John Keating:
Last time Wings swept a 4-game road trip was just before last visit to WPG where they play tonite. Join @Darren_Eliot &me for RWLive @7:30.
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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.