The Malik Report
by George Malik on 11/04/13 at 04:53 AM ET
Updated with a Swedish interview with Mattias Janmark at 4:17 AM: The Detroit Red Wings hope to wrap up their four-game Western Canadian swing with a win in Winnipeg this evening (8 PM EST, FSD/TSN/97.1 FM), but the Wings' attempt to finish a slate of 4 games in 4 cities played over the course of 6 evenings hit a bit of a snag when Brendan Smith's decision to fight Will Acton proved to be a supremely selfish one.
While the 9-4-and-2 Wings come into tonight's game on a 3-game winning streak thanks to victories over Vancouver last Wednesday, Calgary on Friday and Edmonton on Saturday, they were already feeling the pinch of Jonathan Ericsson's absence on the blueline (Ericsson's on the LTIR until November 15th due to a partially-separated shoulder), and Jonas Gustavsson's stiff neck necessitated Petr Mrazek's recall from Grand Rapids.
On Sunday, we found out that Smith tweaked his left shoulder during his fight, and the Red Wings recalled Adam Almquist from Grand Rapids as a result. The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan confirmed Smith's status, and explained why the Wings recalled Almquist over Xavier Ouellet....
Almquist was promoted Sunday from Grand Rapids when defenseman Brendan Smith was placed on the short-term (seven-day) injured list because of a slight shoulder injury. The injury was just the capper for a tough evening for Smith, who had three penalties in the Red Wings’ 5-0 victory over Edmonton.
Almquist made a good impression during the exhibition and training camp. He’s only 22, and at 5-foot-11, 174 pounds, he’s not a big defenseman. But Almquist is mobile, is good with the puck, and has good hockey instincts.
Almquist played in 68 games with Grand Rapids last season, with 10 goals and 21 assists.
“He’s talented,” coach Mike Babcock said during the exhibition season. “He moves the puck. He’s an undersized guy, but his hockey sense, his mind, and athleticism is good.”
MLive's Ansar Khan confirmed the news...
Smith has a slightly separated shoulder and will miss 1-2 weeks, general manager Ken Holland said.
Smith was placed on short-term injured reserve, meaning he must sit out a minimum of seven days.
“We waited last night, wanted to see how he felt today,’’ Holland said. “When (trainer) Piet Van Zant saw him today, he said he’s very sore.’’
Please take note of the time on the clock when Smith fought--with about 40 seconds left in the game:
And Khan noted that it's essentially "Almquist's turn":
Holland said they opted to recall Almquist because he’s earned the opportunity and they want to see what he can do before next season, when he is out of minor league options and must clear waivers to be sent to the AHL.
“He’s a third-year pro, he can move the puck,’’ Holland said. “He’s not a big guy (5-foot-11, 173) but has learned how to position himself defensively at the American League level. It’s an opportunity for us to see what one of your young players can do.’’
Almquist, 22, has seven points (all assists) in 10 games with the Griffins. He had an impressive training camp and preseason with the Red Wings.
“He was an important part of Grand Rapids’ run to the Calder Cup last year (31 points in 68 regular season games and 10 points in 21 playoff games), played in their top four,’’ Holland said. “He quarterbacks the power play in the AHL. There’s a chance he could be on our second power-play unit.’’
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose also spoke with Holland about the Smith injury and Almquist's recall:
“He was very sore today, it appears it’s a minimum of a week,” Wings general manager Ken Holland told the Detroit media in Winnipeg, where the Red Wings will play the Jets on Monday. “We waited last night, wanted to see how he felt today,” Holland continued. “When (athletic trainer) Piet Van Zant saw him today, he said he’s very sore.”
Through 11 games, Smith has one assist and a team-high 19 penalty minutes and is tied with Kyle Quincey with a team-low minus-7 rating.
As for Almquist, he's most certainly a "mighty mite," but he's earned his "cup of coffee":
Still, recalling Almquist now, over other Griffins’ defensemen, will give the Wings an idea of how the young Swede measures up against NHL competition in a game that matters.
“It’s an opportunity for us to see what one of your young players can do,” Holland said. “He was an important part of Grand Rapids’ run to the Calder Cup last year, played in their top four. He quarterbacks the power play in the AHL. There’s a chance he could be on our second power-play unit. We think he gives us the best chance to win tomorrow night.”
The 22-year-old Almquist leads all Griffins’ defensemen with seven assists. He had two goals and two assists in five preseason games with the Red Wings.
Holland made sure to tell the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness that Ouellet hasn't fallen from the team's good graces:
“We’re happy with Ouellet, we’re happy with Almquist,” Holland said.
In terms of tonight's opponent, the Wings face all but a total unknown in the team they were essentially "traded for" when the Wings moved to the Eastern Conference.
The Wings have played the Winnipeg Jets 2.0 exactly once--defeating the Jets 7-1 on December 10th, 2011, at Joe Louis Arena--and the 5-8-and-2 Jets may play in the NHL's smallest rink in terms of seating capacity, but the MTS Centre's 15,004 fans are more of a soccer crowd than a hockey one, intimidating opponents with mocking chants which the crowd sustains throughout the course of their team's home games.
The now-Central Division-living Jets are coming off of a pair of embarrassing losses, having dropped a 3-2 decision to Jets 1.0 legend Thomas Steen's son Alexander and the St. Louis Blues (Alex scored the game-winner with 59.4 seconds left in th 3rd period, and the game was played in St. Louis) last Tuesday, and the Jets followed that effort up with a 5-1 home loss to Winnipeg native Jonathan Toews' Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday afternoon.
As the CP's recap notes, the Jets actually took the lead before being burned for 5 straight goals on Satuday...
Defenceman Tobias Enstrom scored at 5:08 of the first period for Winnipeg (5-8-2), which has lost three straight.
[Niklas] Hjalmarrson tied it 1-1 after Kruger cleanly won the face off and sent him the puck.
His goal spoiled an impressive penalty kill for Winnipeg. Fans had just given the Jets a standing ovation for killing off a 21-second two-man advantage, but just one second after the final penalty expired, Hjalmarrson fired a high shot from just inside the blue line that went through traffic at 9:58.
[Brandon] Bollig, [Patrick] Sharp and [Nickl] Leddy scored their goals in a span of three minutes and 55 seconds, and after Chicago only had four shots on goal in the period.
"I thought we played really well and then all of a sudden it was 3-1," Jets captain Andrew Ladd said. "And then you maybe get outside your game a little bit and try doing things to catch up and dig a deep hole."
And NHL.com's Patrick Williams noted that goaltender Ondrej Pavelec was pulled after the Hawks' fourth goal:
Al Montoya finished in relief of Pavelec, whom the Jets pulled from a game for the first time since last season, a 6-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on March 22. Pavelec stopped 10 of 14 Chicago shots; Montoya turned aside 10 of 11. Patrick Kane had a third-period penalty shot he failed to convert against Montoya.
"I think you could see some frustration in the way that we managed that game," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "I think that in a matter of couple of minutes, the game changed drastically, and certainly when that happens there's a lot of emotion that comes into yourself that is not good emotion, and that is what starts to get to you and is tough."
Chicago owned the League's fifth-best offense, producing 3.31 goals per game, and the Blackhawks exposed a thin Jets defense in the second period. Winnipeg faced Chicago without Paul Postma, Mark Stuart and Jacob Trouba (all injured). The Jets recalled Ben Chiarot and Julian Melchiori from the American Hockey League earlier in the week and claimed Los Angeles Kings defenseman Keaton Ellerby off waivers three hours before the game. Ellerby did not arrive in time, but Chiarot, a third-year pro, made his NHL debut and played 10:47.
So that's no Paul Postma, no Mark Stuart or no Jacob Trouba on the Jets' defense, and in that sense, they can relate to what the Wings are going through.
Slow starts have hampered the Jets this season, but Enstrom put them up 1-0 on their third shot. Enstrom unleashed a long, skipping shot from the left point that clipped a stick in front of the Chicago net and snuck past Crawford at 5:08. Enstrom's goal was the fourth time in 15 games the Jets scored first.
"I'm frustrated," Pavelec said. "They showed us how to play. It's a really good team. We played a really good first period, and then we slowed down and couldn't catch them. The last two periods were just embarrassing. Everybody expects the goalie to make the saves," Pavelec continued, "and I wasn't able to make those saves."
"I'm not going to sit here and fault Pavelec," Noel said. "He has made some huge saves for us and kept us in games. Before it gets to him, there are sometimes breakdowns elsewhere.
"We made mistakes before it got to our goalies," Noel added, "so I'm not going to sit here and blame our goalies. There is no rocket-science way to play when you play a team that can hurt you."
Just prior to the game, the Jets picked up a defenseman in former 1st-rounder Keaton Ellerby, who'd been waived by the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, and they shuffled the personnel deck further on Sunday, as noted by the Jets' website:
The Winnipeg Jets today announced they have recalled defenceman Zach Redmond from the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League. The Winnipeg Jets also announced they have re-assigned Ben Chiarot and Julian Melchiori to the AHL club.
Redmond, 25, has played in two games with the IceCaps so far this season for two points (1G, 1A) and two penalty minutes. The right-handed defenceman made his NHL debut in 2012-13 when he appeared in eight games with the Winnipeg Jets. During that time, Redmond recorded four points (1G, 3A) and 12 penalty minutes before suffering a significant leg injury which ended his NHL season.
Redmond has played in 115 career AHL games between Chicago and St. John’s for 52 career points (17G, 35A) and 73 career penalty minutes. He was originally drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in the seventh round, 184th overall, in the 2008 NHL Draft.
The Winnipeg Sun's Ken Wiebe had the Jets icing the following lineup prior to Saturday's game, but it'll look different tonight...
Evander Kane-Olli Jokinen-Blake Wheeler
Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Devin Setoguchi
Michael Frolik-Mark Scheifele-Matt Halischuk
Chris Thorburn-James Wright-Anthony Peluso
Grant Clitsome-Dustin Byfuglien
Toby Enstrom-Zach Bogosian
Ben Chiarot-Adam Pardy
Ondrej Pavelec (Al Monotya)
And Wiebe's Saturday game-day post also explained why the team brought Ellerby into the organization:
Jacob Trouba (neck), Paul Postma (blood clot in his leg) and Mark Stuart (hip) are all on the injured-reserve list right now, so it was important to bring in someone with NHL experience.
Say what you want about the frequency Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff goes to the waiver wire, in this case he was able to bring in someone with 160 NHL games without giving up an asset.
Ellerby isn’t the kind of guy that’s going to solve the Jets’ defensive challenges, but he’s an Albertan who was chosen 10th overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft so he has some tools.
Although he’s 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Ellerby isn’t considered an overly physical player (like Stuart is) but maybe joining a new organization will help provide a spark for the 24-year-old. He’s not a high-end offensive talent either (two goals, 20 points during his NHL career) but did have 19 and 23-point seasons in the American Hockey League. For lack of a better term, he’s a mobile, puck mover who can provide depth and give you some minutes on a third pair.
Wiebe reports that the Jets welcomed Ellerby to the team during Sunday's practice, and he believes that Ellerby and Redmond will play on the Jets' third defensive pairing:
“I’m definitely excited to get an actual game in,” said Ellerby, who joined the Jets for practice on Sunday after arriving in Winnipeg just after 1 a.m. “I’m a big, physical, stay-at-home D-man. I can skate well, so I jump in the play when possible. I can kill penalties, block shots, bang-and-crash and play kind of a hard-nosed style of game.”
It’s been an interesting couple of days for Ellerby, who was placed on waivers Friday and had to hustle to get his belongings together Saturday after finding out he was joining a new organization.
“There was definitely some relief for sure,” said Ellerby, who was chosen 10th overall by the Florida Panthers in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. “It’s no fun being in that position (on waivers), but it’s part of the game. A lot of guys go through it and not everybody gets claimed. It’s going to be a great opportunity for myself. I’ve just got to come in and show that I can play in the league and I can stay in the league and just be a good part of this organization.”
Ellerby is familiar with several of his new teammates, including James Wright, captain Andrew Ladd , Paul Postma and Devin Setoguchi, so that should help ease the transition.
“It’s cut-and-dry, he’s a smooth-skating defenceman that moves the puck well,” said Setoguchi. “He hasn’t really played this year, but he’s getting an opportunity here and I’m sure he’ll do great.”
Redmond, meanwhile, appeared in a pair of games with the St. John’s IceCaps after missing roughly one month with a lower-body injury he sustained in practice. Although Noel wasn’t ready to commit to playing Redmond Monday, he didn’t rule him out either.
“I probably would like to get him in practice and get him engaged with our team a little bit, so we’ll see if we’re going to put him in the game,” said Noel. “It’s an asset that he’s comfortable and we’re comfortable with him. He’s a guy that’s a prospect that can get in our lineup and play.I’m looking forward to having him back. He’s a real good teammate as well. After going through what he’s gone through, it’s good that he’s back with us.”
The Jets, now 5-8-2 after their 5-1 loss to the Cup-champion Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, won’t find their schedule any easier this week. They face the Wings Monday, then go to Chicago for a game there Wednesday.
"Obviously it was a tough game," defenceman Zach Bogosian said today about the loss to the Hawks. "We have to keep looking forward to what’s ahead of us. Obviously we were aware of turning over pucks, that Chicago would hurt us. They proved they’re a good transition team. I think we can learn from that but we have to make sure we’re ready for tomorrow. We can’t dwell on everything. We have to make sure we’re ready."
In the "for further reading" department, it's worth noting that Ondrej Pavelec's competency is being called into question, and the Winnipeg Free Press's Gary Lawless wondered if Pavelec and the Jets have the mental fortitude necessary to win games on a consistent basis during a Sunday column...
And the Winnipeg Sun's Wiebe set up tonight's game as follows:
Some of the names may have changed and there's clearly been an infusion of young talent, but the Detroit Red Wings still do many of the same things that have made them a successful team for much of the past two decades.
The Red Wings make their lone visit to the MTS Centre on Monday night to face a Winnipeg Jets squad that has lost three consecutive games and currently sits last in the Central Division with a record of 5-8-2.
The Jets have scored only 35 goals through 15 games (while giving up 45), so head coach Claude Noel was asked if being better offensively might actually help settle things down in the defensive zone.
"There are some things we have to be better at," said Noel. "The offensive part isn't just scoring goals. We could be better in the fun zone, which is the offensive zone. We're not efficient enough there yet. That would help us, alleviate the time in our own zone as well. So from that standpoint, yes better offence is better defence but we're not going to flip things around. You're still going to win games in the end with defending. That's going to be your bread and better. Look at the goals for and against. We've still got to get on the right side of that ledger. It's a task."
Speaking of tasks, trying to find a way to limit the production of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and free-agent signing Daniel Alfredsson, among others, is the latest challenge for the Jets, who lost 5-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.
"This team is similar to Chicago," said Jets winger Devin Setoguchi. "If you turn the puck over, it can end up in your net pretty quick. This Detroit team works hard and plays a very structured game. They play the right way and that's the way it is."
"We know they're obviously a talented team, a great puck possession team," added Jets forward James Wright. "That's what they thrive on. They don't like to chip it in and give it away. The onus is on us to play in their and get some sustained pressure."
While TSN 1290's Wade Beyak's note about the Jets' struggles comes from Saturday's loss to Chicago, it's worth noting on a context-setting basis...
After scoring 10 goals in the first two games of the season, the Jets have now scored 23 in the last 13 games, not counting shootout goals. Jets record is now 3-5-1 at home and 5-7-2 on the season. Hawks are now 8-1-2 in their last 11.
And you may most certainly watch the Jets website's off-day videos of Ellerby speaking with the media, Zach Bogosian addressing the match-up with the Wings and coach Noel's off-day presser if you wish to do so.
I would also suggest that you bookmark Illegal Curve's website and Twitter account as they do a fantastic job of covering the team. The Jets are very blogger-friendly (unlike certain teams we know and love), and Illegal Curve's grown from a blog into a full-fledged website with pre-game, game-day and post-game online shows, as well as presences on TSN 1290.
It's nice to see how far hockey blogs and bloggers who exhibit high levels of professionalism can go when they're welcomed into the rink.
Anyway, NHL.com's "Sunday Long Read" noted that the Wings were the team that ushered the Jets 1.0 out of Winnipeg. The Wings took out the Jets by a 4-games-to-2 margin in the spring of 1996.
I can assure you that while most Jets fans understand that the Wings didn't mean anything personal, and that the Jets' ownership was to blame for the team's relocation to Phoenix, there are some Jets fans who see the Red Wings as the representation of Americans and Phoenix's stealing of the team, and they don't like the Wings one bit. They're going to be very loud tonight, because this game is "personal" for those who feel that the Wings played a role in the Jets 1.0's departure.
NHL.com's David Kalan sets up tonight's game as follows...
Big story: 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.
Red Wings [team scope]: Last Wednesday, the Red Wings were struggling after going 0-1-2 on a three-game homestand with a four-game road trip to western Canada looming. As that road trip comes to an end, the situation doesn't look quite so dire anymore. Detroit has won in all three of its stops so far during its current road swing, and a win in Winnipeg on Monday 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 last night [in a 4-3 win against the Calgary Flames]."
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. After finishing its current road trip on Monday, Detroit will play seven of its next eight games at home.
So yeah, while this week's crop of power rankings will continue to underrate the Wings--and you know what I feel about power rankings, I think they're kind of pointless, but they still aggravate me--the Wings are actually doing pretty dang well.
After tonight's game, the Wings head home to entertain the Stars on Henrik Zetterberg Bobblehead Night this Thursday, they host Valtteri Filppula's Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday the 9th (my mom's birthday), and the Wings will very conveniently have the 10th and 11th off to possibly attend Brendan Shanahan and Chris Chelios's Hockey Hall of Fame inductions on Monday the 11th in Toronto before welcoming the Jets to the Joe on Tuesday the 12th.
The "two days off" between games trend continues after the Jets game as the Wings will host the Toast of Hockeytown on Wednesday 13th, and then they'll battle the Capitals on Friday the 15th and head to Long Island for a game against the Isles on Saturday the 16th...before another 2-day break.
Jets [team scope]: After winning just once in their previous six games, the Jets were likely hoping for a warm welcome when they returned to Winnipeg from a four-game road trip this past Saturday. A 5-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, however, was likely not what they had in mind. The defeat marked nine games since Winnipeg last won in regulation, and the players and coaches were clearly frustrated after the final whistle.
Who's hot: Red Wings center Joakim Andersson has two goals and an assist in his past two games. ... Bryan Little has two goals and an assist in his past three games for the Jets.
Injury report: Forward Johan Franzen (illness) did not play Saturday after leaving the Red Wings' game Friday night in Calgary. He is expected to return Monday. Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (upper-body injury), goalie Jonas Gustavsson (strained neck) and defenseman Brendan Smith (shoulder) are all on injured reserve. Jim Slater (undisclosed) has missed seven games for the Jets and is questionable for Monday night. … Winnipeg recently lost defenseman Paul Postma (blood clot in leg) for three months. Defenseman Mark Stuart (hip) and Jacob Trouba (neck) are both on IR.
Stats LLC's preview adds what you might expect to the mix--stats:
The Red Wings look to finish off a perfect trip Monday night and send the Jets to a fourth straight loss. Detroit (9-4-2) is making its first trip to Winnipeg since March 10, 1996, when they defeated the Jets 5-2. That franchise eventually moved to Phoenix to become the Coyotes, and the Red Wings are 10-4-0 against the latest iteration of the Jets, who relocated from Atlanta two years ago.
.Jimmy Howard figures to be back in net for Detroit after stopping 22 shots against the Flames. He is 2-0-1 with a 2.27 GAA over his last three games since being pulled in the first period of a 6-1 loss to Ottawa on Oct. 23 after allowing three goals on the first eight shots.
He would be facing a Winnipeg team that ranks near the bottom of the league with 2.20 goals per game. The Jets have particularly struggled during a 1-4-2 stretch, totaling 14 goals while their only victory came 2-1 in a shootout at Dallas on Oct. 26. Winnipeg allowed five unanswered goals in a 5-1 loss to visiting Chicago on Saturday.
Ondrej Pavelec is growing frustrated after yielding four goals on 14 shots, getting pulled after giving up the third goal of the second period at 5:49.
Sometimes we forget that the Jets are in fact made up of mostly Atlanta Thrashers players and prospects, and it's worth noting that Pavelec gave the Wings fits back in the day--as did the Jets' leading scorer:
Pavelec is 2-1-0 with a 2.98 GAA in three starts against Detroit. He surrendered seven goals on Dec. 10, 2011, and one combined in the other two meetings.
Bryan Little leads the Jets with seven goals and 11 points, but was held pointless Saturday. The center has three goals and two assists in five career games against Detroit.
I keep on mentioning the "personal" aspect of this game because this one's personal for several members of the Wings' organization.
Jordin Tootoo may be a native of Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, and he may spend his offseasons in Kelowna, British Columbia, but he played his Major Junior hockey with the WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings (Brandon is about 133 miles west of Winnipeg, and by Western Canadian standards, that's close, and Tootoo's brother Terence passed away in Brandon in 2001).
Winnipeg is essentially the southern Canadian base for many Native Canadians from the Northwest Territories and Nunavut because it's the closest major Canadian city by plane, so Tootoo spent Sunday visiting Native Canadians...
And this game is very special for the just-returning Darren Helm. Helm was born in Winnipeg and raised in St. Andrews, which is just north of Winnipeg, and played for the Selkirk Fishermen before movig on to the WHL's Medicine Hat Tigers.
He spoke with MLive's Ansar Khan about the fact that #43's family and friends have shoehorned their way into the MTS Centre's packed crowd:
“I am excited to get back there,’’ Helm said. “It’s going to be really nice to see some family, friends; don’t get to see them too often. I’ve been getting calls and texts and messages, people are excited to get a chance to see me come home. The excitement goes both ways for sure.’’
Asked how large his cheering section will be, Helm said, “We got a pretty big family; a few more ticket requests I got to fill. Should be lots of Helm family members out there.’’
Helm saw a handful of Jets games at the old Winnipeg Arena back in the day, a building that was famous for the 5-by-7 (meters) oil painting of Queen Elizabeth II that hung from the rafters. He played in a charity game at the MTS Centre a few years ago.
“It’s a little smaller, they pack it,’’ Helm said. “Winnipeg fans are pretty intense and they’re right on top of you cheering. They’re loud, so it’s exciting, especially when you’re in a smaller rink.’’
The Red Wings’ last appearance in Winnipeg was on April 28, 1996, when they won Game 6 of their Western Conference quarterfinal playoff series 4-1, eliminating the Jets in what would be the franchise’s final game. 10, 2011.
Combine every Detroit sports team but the Lions--because Winnipeggers do love their Blue Bombers, their CFL team--smooshing the Pistons, Tigers, Red Wings, Spartans and Wolverines together, and you've added up how much the Jets mean to the average Winnipegger.
Wings coach Mike Babcock also told Khan that he's looking forward to play the Jets...
“We think we play well some of the time and we think we got a pretty good team, but we have to play well all the time and we’re trying to put a run together here,’’ Babcock said.
The Jets are near the bottom of the Western Conference at 5-8-2.
“I’m looking forward to it, it should be exciting,’’ Babcock said. “I watched the game (Saturday), Chicago had a good day in there (won 5-1), but the crowd’s going crazy and they’re fired up about hockey and it’ll be fun to go.’’
And the Free Press's Helene St. James also took note of the atmosphere the Wings will be facing tonight, as well as the fact that Jets fans always boo somebody...
The Wings make their only stop of the season Monday in Winnipeg, home to the Jets since the Thrashers club ditched Atlanta in 2011. Jets fans have developed a habit of booing a member of the opposing team every time he touches the puck. Usually it’s a star player, so Henrik Zetterberg or Pavel Datsyuk may get an earful.
“I’m pumped, looking forward to it,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Should be exciting. The crowd is going crazy there, they’re fired up about hockey.”
All the Wings really care about is finishing their trek through western Canada with a fourth straight victory. They’ll be without defenseman Brendan Smith, who general manager Ken Holland said suffered a shoulder injury during a fight with the Oilers’ Will Acton. Smith was put on short-term injured reserve. Adam Almqvist, a seventh-round pick from 2009, was called up to sub against the Jets.
The game at MTS Centre will be the Wings’ third in four nights. They took Sunday off to recuperate after following up Friday’s 4-3 victory at Calgary with a 5-0 rout Saturday at Edmonton. The Oilers haven’t offered much challenge to anyone this season, but the Wings made it easier on themselves when Helm started the scoring five minutes into the game.
Saturday was a terrific night for Helm, his first game in nine months because of various injuries. Now he gets to play in front of family and friends, as the Wings foray into Winnipeg for the first time since 1996, when they beat the former Jets franchise (now in Phoenix) in the first round of the playoffs.
“It’s great for the city,” Helm said. “They’re a city that really loves their hockey, gets behind their team. I’m excited to go back. Should be an interesting feeling, going home. See family, friends, I don’t get to see too often. I’ve been getting a lot of calls, text messages, from people telling me how excited they are to see me play there. I’ve got a pretty big family. There’s quite a bit of people going. Should be lots of Helm family members there.”
And the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan noted that this game's a hot ticket and then some:
The Jets were, and are, back. And the Red Wings get their first chance to see the hysteria in the new MTS Centre, for themselves, Monday night.
“I’m pumped,” coach Mike Babcock said. “I’m looking forward to it. It should be exciting. Helmer (Helm) is from there. I watched the game (Saturday against Chicago) and the crowd is going crazy, they’re fired up. They love hockey. It’ll be fun to go there.”
The lowest ticket price on the StubHub secondary ticket outlet was went for $117 per ticket, with some going for as much as $400.
The Red Wings are one of the last teams who have yet to play a game in Winnipeg since it returned to the league.
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose set up both tonight's game and the Wings' remaining games this week in his "A Look Ahead in Hockeytown" article...
The game is historic for the Red Wings, who were the last NHL team to play against the old Jets, who moved to Phoenix after they were eliminated by Detroit in the opening round of the 1996 Stanley Cup playoffs.
“It’s a city that loves its hockey and really gets behind their team,” said Helm, who was 9-years-old when the Jets moved to the southwest United States. “It was a shame when they left, but the city is really behind them. You can tell when I go back how excited everybody is. Should be an interesting feeling going back there.”
The Red Wings would like to build on their highly-successful swing through western Canada last week where they grabbed all six possible points in wins at Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.
Tonight, the Wings conclude their Canadian trip before heading home to welcome in a couple of friends – general managers Jim Nill and Steve Yzerman, who bring the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning, respectively, to Joe Louis Arena.
And he offered a game preview:
MONDAY – at WINNIPEG (5-8-2): The Jets’ defense has been decimated with blue liners Jacob Trouba (neck), Mark Stuart (hip) and Paul Postma (blood clot) all currently residing on injured reserve. The team’s power play has also gone flat-line, spiraling to just 1-for-31 in the last 10 games. Winnipeg has won just once in the last seven contests, meanwhile, the Jets penalty kill has provided a glimmer of strength, currently ranking No. 12 in the league with an 83 percent efficiency. Winnipeg’s leading penalty killer has been Stuart, who leads the team with 44:45 total time on the penalty kill for an average of 3:43 per game. … Blake Wheeler is on a hot streak, having a lot of success going to the net and scoring on rebound opportunities, collecting four goals in the last six games. … Andrew Ladd leads the team with three multi-point games this season, but the Jets are 0-2-1 in those games. He became the first Jets’ player to earn shorthanded and power-play points in the same game with two assists in a 3-2 loss at St. Louis on Oct. 27. Ladd is also the last player in franchise history to earn points on both sides of special teams. He achieved the feat with a power-play assist and a game-winning shorthanded goal in leading the Atlanta Thrashers to a 5-1 triumph over the Red Wings on Nov. 24, 2010. Ladd has thre shootout goals, which ties him with Buffalo’s Matt Moulson and Kings’ Anze Kopitar for the league-lead. … The Jets’ goalies have very little experience against the Red Wings. It’s likely Detroit will face starter Ondrej Pavelec, who has posted a 2-1-0 career record with one shutout against the Wings. Backup and former University of Michigan standout Al Montoya hasn’t played against Detroit. … The Jets have converted on both of their 5-on-3 opportunities this season, but lost both games at Minnesota (2-1) on Oct. 10 and at St. Louis (3-2) on Oct. 27.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Bryan Little, who has 11 points through 15 games, is easily on pace to having his most successful season since he produced 31 goal and 20 assists in 2008-09 with the organization when they were based in Atlanta. In his short career, he has registered a point-per-game against Los Angeles, Colorado and Detroit. In five career games against the Red Wings, Little has three goals and two assists with a minus-4 rating.
NHL.com's "Daily Primer" doesn't pop up until 3 AM, so I'll let them take us out, as it were--and as there are only two games on the NHL schedule tonight, with the Ducks and Rangers tangling in the other tilt (it's NBCSN's game of the evening), you can expect a larger-than-usual number of eyes watching this game:
Detroit Red Wings at Winnipeg Jets – Detroit has responded from a four-game skid by winning its past three games. The Red Wings extended their winning streak with a 5-0 victory against the reeling Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place on Saturday. Detroit concludes its four-game road trip at Winnipeg (5-8-2), which has lost three in a row. The Jets have gone nine games without a regulation win. They're the lone club in the Central Division with a sub-.500 record.
Red Wings notebooks: The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness penned an article about Helm's return to the lineup...
“I think he’s is the best third-line center in the NHL when he’s healthy, but we haven’t seen that in two years, so it’s a long way back,” Babcock said. “He’s just got to get his game back. He can be a real factor for us. He’s flat out got speed, he’s tenacious, he’s strong, he’s heavy and he’s a good player.”
Babcock eased Helm back into the lineup by having him center the fourth line in their 5-0 over the Oilers. It took Helm just two shifts in to make his presence felt, scoring on a breakaway to give Detroit the early lead.
“Helmer is a huge dimension for our team,” Babcock said. “If he can get healthy, he’s dominant. To see him do what he did ... he didn’t play much as far as ice time but he played quite a few shifts and played well.”
Helm’s rash of injuries began on March 17, 2012 after a collision with San Jose’s Dominic Moore. The end result was a sprained MCL that sidelined him the final 10 regular season games.
He returned for the Wings’ playoff opener against Nashville that year, but didn’t make it through the entire game after he had tendons in his forearm sliced by the skate of Alexander Radulov.
Then, during an informal skate on Nov. 2, 2012, at Troy, while the players were locked out by owners, he broke an orbital bone after being hit in the face by a puck.
Helm’s next setback was a back injury he suffered while doing squats, before training camp was set to begin in January for the lockout-shortened season.
As did MLive's Ansar Khan:
Said Helm: “I want to get back playing the way I did before this string of injuries. They told me they know it’s going to take a while. I want to work my hardest to get back to that spot.’’
Veteran Todd Bertuzzi sort of knows what Helm is going through, having experienced back issues himself.
“The thing with him is he’s got youth on his side and he’s got speed,’’ Bertuzzi said. “I think getting a couple of games in where there’s contact, getting his confidence back that things will hold up will help. He’s a huge part of this team, brings a lot to the (penalty kill) and to the third-line center spot. He’s a guy that you have to watch all the time; he can get breakaways and he’s very good on the forecheck.’’
Helm played on a line with Drew Miller and Mikael Samuelsson on Saturday. Miller noted that Helm is hard to play against.
“He creates opportunities for himself and guys on his line with his speed and the respect that opposing players have to give him because he’s so fast,’’ Miller said. “It’s probably going to take him a little while to get back into game mode and the level he’s used to. But if anyone can get back quick, it’s probably him. He’s going to be flying around and bringing an element that only he can bring.’’
Helm readily admitted that there were "dark days," and I'm sure that dealing with the media was painful. I can certainly tell you that Helm looked like he'd rather be cross-checked in the face than answer questions about his back when he was the main attraction at the summer development camp, and his game of cat-and-mouse with the media during training camp ended with an incredibly uncomfortable Q-and-A on the second-to-last day of camp.
Helm's also admitted that he's now dealing with chronic back pain, and I can sure as hell tell you that once you wake up and realize that you're going to be sore for the rest of your life (I happen to have a familial history of back issues), it's intimidating. He won't be able to crash and bang quite as recklessly as he used to (see: Niklas Kronwall having to be smarter about his hitting because he plays 22+ minutes a night and is over 30), but Helm told Khan that he still believes that he'll be able to bump and grind:
The physical part of the game is going to be there, the speed’s there, cardio might not be quite where I want it to be,’’ Helm said. “The mental part of it, I don’t think I’ll be able to keep up right away. Going to take a while to adjust to the speed.’’
The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan took note of both Helm's comments after making his return...
“Just a nice way to win the game,” said forward Darren Helm, who was more intent on praising goalie Petr Mrazek (also making his regular-season debut) and the impressive team win for the Red Wings.
Still, it was special.
“I just knew I was alone and had some time and I was able to get a good shot away,” Helm said. “I was really excited. That was one of the happiest moments I’ve had in a while since the injury bug started.”
And Kuflan also noted that Petr Mrazek's calm, composed and sometimes cocky demeanor impresses the hell out of his teammates and coach:
“He’s always been like that,” said defenseman Brian Lashoff, who was part of that championship-winning Griffins team. “I remember last season in Game 6 of the Finals (against Syracuse, the championship-clinching game) he was the calmest guy in the room. “That’s nice to have when it’s your goalie. He’s learning a lot from Howie (Jimmy Howard) and Gus (Jonas Gustavsson) and it’s nice to have a guy like that come up and do well.”
Babcock remembers something goaltending coach Jim Bedard said to Babcock earlier this week regarding Mrazek.
“He thinks he is here to take Howie’s job, not Gustavsson’s job,” said Babcock, of the starting goaltending job. “He has that attitude. He’s won everywhere he’s been and there’s obviously something to it.”
Also of Red Wings-related note: As previously noted, the Wings are trying to let fans know that the Toast of Hockeytown takes place on Wednesday the 13th:
In the alumni department, former Wing Joey MacDonald headed to the AHL's Abbotsford Heat after clearing waivers on Sunday...
And again, the next week-and-a-half--and the rest of the month--should be quite interesting for the team and for Wings fans, too.
- Jim Nill's Dallas Stars do indeed come to town on Thursday;
- Steve Yzerman and Valtteri Filppula's Tampa Bay Lightning kick off their status as an Atlantic Divsion Rival on Saturday the 9th;
- The team's 2-day breaks on the 5th and 6th, 10th and 11th and 13th and 14th should allow the gents to both practice and get healthy;
- The Wings' schedule for the remainder of the month is incredibly home-friendly, with the Wings coming home to a 4-game home stand that concludes on the Friday the 15th against Washington, and after the Wings head to Long Island on the Saturday the 16th;
- The Wings will have another 2-day break before hosting the Predators, Hurricanes and Senators on Saturday the 23rd, which happens to be Daniel Alfredsson bobblehead night;
- Thanksgiving week's road-heavy schedule includes a Sunday game against Buffalo on the 24th, a home showdown and big-time barometer game when the Bruins come to town on Wednesday the 26th, and the Wings play the Islanders again during a Black Friday matinee (4 PM);
- Then we're into December, with HBO's 24/7 crew following the Wings as the team plays 14 games in 30 nights, starting with Alfredsson's return to Ottawa on December 1st, a split between 7 home games and 7 away games, the first visit to Tornoto on December 21st and of course the Hockeytown Winter Festival's schedule of NCAA, OHL and AHL games leading up to the Alumni Showdown on December 31st and the Winter Classic on January 1st;
- And next week, we can expect a significant number of Wings to fly to Toronto to attend Brendan Shanahan and Chris Chelios's Hockey Hall of Fame inductions on Monday the 11th. Shanahan and Chelios will actually take in the Leafs-Devils game on the 8th, will hold a Q and A with fans on the 9th, will play in a "Legends Classic" on Sunday the 9th at the Air Canada Centre, and TSN2 and the NHL Network will air the induction ceremonies at 7:30 PM on Monday the 11th.
In the prospect department, the Grand Rapids Griffins are holding a matinee affair against the Rockford IceHogs this Wednesday, November 6th, and while the 11 AM start's aimed to entertain Grand Rapids area schoolkids, the traditionally low turnout has the Griffins offering $5 lower-bowl tickets to the game;
And the SHL is taking a break between now and Monday the 11th because Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic and Russia take part in a slate of tournaments constituting the Euro Hockey Tour, a sort of promotional and/or warm-up slate of games allowing the 4 countries to prepare for the World Championships.
And finally, in the "For the Record" department, I'm officially taking Election Day off. That's been the plan for over a week now. I'm going to vote, pick up some medication, go grocery shopping...Or possibly none of that save voting because I am very tired after this whole four-games-in-six-nights slate and the past month's worth of grinding it out. Going through Western Canada for the Wings can be pretty exhausting for those who cover the team, too, and I need at least a day off to clear my head and to recharge my batteries.
I may end up taking a few more full or half-days off during the two-day breaks between games, too. December's going to be wild, and I need to manage my energy accordingly.
You might also note that I'm taking tonight's game a little personally. I'm doing so because I spent six months' worth of summer vacations in Winnipeg during the mid-to-late 90's, spending time at my pal Mike's grandma's place in Grande Pointe, just on the other side of the floodway from Winnipeg, and I have very, very fond memories of the city and the little Ukrainian lady who essentially adopted me as her grandson. I also did my best to try to convince one of her nieces to marry me during the second owners' lockout. I miss Winnipeg very badly and hope to return someday.
Update: In the Greater Metropolitan Detroit News Involving the Wings department, Crain's Detroit Business's Bill Shea reports that the partially Ilitch-backed M-1 rail line, which will run from just north of Jefferson to Mid-town, and will have a stop at Sibley Street, where the Wings' new rink will stand, will choose its vendor this week:
The M-1 Rail Detroit streetcar project expects to select its vehicle vendor from three bid packages by the end of next week, project spokesman James Canning said Friday. The $137 million nonprofit M-1 Rail effort remains in talks with all three bidders, which were not disclosed, and will have additional talks next week, Canning said.
After that, the project will negotiate a deal with the preferred vendor by the end of the year.
Bids for design, engineer and manufacture of six streetcars were due Oct. 21. Streetcars typically cost between $2 million and $6 million apiece, depending on size and options.
Construction of the 3.2-mile grade-level rail loop on Woodward Avenue by the public-private effort is expected to begin with the spring thaw, M-1 CEO Matt Cullen said. A ceremonial groundbreaking may happen yet this year, he said.
M-1, running between West Grand Boulevard and Congress Street, plans to be operating for paying passengers by February 2016.
The Wings hope to open the new rink in 2017, 2018 or 2019, so that'd be very convenient.
And I'm going to do a "quick and dirty" rough translation of Mattias Janmark's interview with HockeySverige.se's Ola Winther.
Prior to last season, few people knew who Mattias Janmark was. The AIK forward had a productive season with the team's J20 team, but few would've imagined that he'd go straight into and produce in the SHL. The 20-year-old scored, stood out and stepped up as a leading player for the Stockholm team's offense.
Over 55 games last year, Janmark registered 31 points (14 goals and 17 assists), and this year, he's continuing a rocket ascent. The AIK forward's registered 12 goals and 19 points already during his first 19 games, and is one of the SHL's most goal-producing and productive players.
"It's been good for me this season. I've had some momentum and produced points. At the same time, I hope to take steps further forward and to produce even more than I do now," says Janmark to HockeySverige.se.
19 games in, he's scored 12 goals, and he's going to torch the 14 he was resopnsible for over the course of last year's full season. He works hard and works persistently to improve his shot, and that's the secret of the 20-year-old's goal-scoring success.
"I remain on the ice, wearing extra weight after every workout. I do whateer I can to get better in goal-scoring situations," said Janmark, and he continues: "I've been working hard, but you have to remember that I have some studs on my line, too. I also play with very good players who've contributed to things going as well as they have."
During his junior years, Janmark was more of a passer than a scorer. The same trend was true during his debut season i the SHL, but this year, you can see a clear trend for the national team forward where he's clearly focusing more on goals than assists.
"Well, I mostly thinkn about playmaking anyway. That could go up very soon. I've been in better position this year, but it's clear that I have to be more determined to take my shots when chances happen now."
What do you think is the most important thing to keep in mind if one is to become a successful scorer?
"You have to learn to be in the right place, and you have to dare to put the puck on the net. Some of it's innate, but most of it can be learned. If you work a lot on your game around the net, practice controling pucks and being in the right place when rebounds show up, you can help yourself to become a better scorer."
Janmark's now tied as the second-best scorer in the SHL, a goal behind Linkopings HC's Simon Hjalmarsson. The AIK forward stresses that the team's success is the most important thing, but he admits that he's got an eye on how well he's doing in terms of goals and points in the league.
"It's obvious that you check on it, even if it's a secondary thing. I would obviously like to exchange some of my goals for more points for AIK if I could, but at the same time, it keeps you involved when you think about how you're doing individually speaking."
"It's obvious that it'd be cool to pick up some personal awards, too."
In Swedish hockey, one frequently says that it's important to remember that it's a team sport, and that individual performances often end up in the margins. Janmark thinks that it's natural to suggest as much, though he sees team success as possibly increasing if one puts greater focus on individuals.
"It's clear that everyone needs to focus on their own games, too, because in the end, that results in more success for the team. I don't think that you should ignore the fact that it's a team sport, and it's important to lift things up to that level."
Do we need to be more selfish in Swedish hockey?
"As I see it, many triumphs in team sport result when things are going well as a team. You've got to focus on working well as a team, that's important, and you can't be selfish at the team's expense. At the same time, maybe that's the next step for developing Swedish hockey. Maybe we need to become more selfish--eventually--for individuals to take another step and develop their personal skills to a higher extent."
There's also a sidebar feature in which Janmark answers a few more questions:
Mattias Janmark on...
His rapid development to become a SHL star: "I came from a very good season on the Under-20 team, where I became a regular member of the first line, and when the season ended, I carried the confidence with me from there to believe I could play on the top team. Along with the fact that I got a lot of confidence, which was the basis for my development, I've also striven to become even better. If you fail to keep working hard, you end up right back where you started."
What part of his game facilitated his transition from playing in the SuperElit league to the SHL: "It's clear that there's a big difference in the level of play between different leagues, but basically, I think my skating's allowed me to adjust so well. I try to train with as much skating as I can, and I am constantly attacking, so through improving it I've found a way to succeed. If other players can find the same kind of confidence that I've earned, I think many young players would have similar results."
It went better in the SHL than he dared to dream: "When you're in the middle of the season you don't think much about it. But it's clear that when the season ended last year thinking back on it, I managed to do more than I ever dared to hope would go as well as it did."
The next step in his career: "It's obvious that I want to make the NHL and Detroit eventually. But the path by I take to get there doesn't really matter. I'm in the final year of my contract with AIK, so after the season we'll see what happens. When I look at my game, I think the next step is to be more stable. I have to raise my lowest level of performance, and be able to perform at a higher level in every game."
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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.