The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/24/13 at 10:20 AM ET
Updated 16x at 3:08 PM: The Detroit Red Wings face a stiff challenge in battling against the Los Angeles Kings tonight (7:30 PM EDT, NBCSN on TV and online/TSN2/97.1 FM), and the Wings hit the ice just before 10:30 AM for their morning skate with Todd Bertuzzi in tow:
FYI via Khan:
Hmm (this popped up during the morning skate)...
FYI, in the, "Hey, that's not a bad deal" department:
The Red Wings' status as a 9th-place team plus the national televising of tonight's game have yielded significant interest in tonight's tilt. It's no surprise that Pro Hockey Talk's Ryan Dadoun penned a game preview, and this part is good news for those of you who don't get NBCSN or TSN2:
Tonight the Detroit Red Wings will host the Los Angeles Kings at 7:30 p.m. ET at Joe Louis Arena. This Rivalry Night game will be on NBCSN and can be watched online.
Detroit is still a point behind the eighth place Columbus Blue Jackets, but the silver lining for Detroit is that they still have three games left to play to the Blue Jackets’ two. Detroit’s also leading in ROW (wins excluding shootout victories), which will be the difference if the teams finish the season with the same number of points.
This game has meaning for the Los Angeles Kings too. After losing yesterday, the Kings now have the same number of points as the San Jose Sharks as they battle for fourth place in the Western Conference.
Although the Kings were able to win regardless of where they played during the 2012 playoffs, they have a 18-4-1 home record this season and are below .500 on the road. With that in mind, the defending Stanley Cup champions would probably benefit from securing home ice advantage for the first round if they can get it.
On the Kings’ side, Jeff Carter has been phenomenal this season with 26 goals in 46 games. He has found the back of the net in each of his last two contests and his goals have come in bunches this season, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see him beat Howard tonight.
Kings forward Anze Kopitar is another one to keep an eye on. He hasn’t scored in roughly a month, but has still been productive with nine assists in 11 April games.
NHL.com's John Kreiser penned a game preview as well, offering four points of emphasis...
A battle of equals -- To say the Kings and Red Wings have battled on even terms since L.A. entered the NHL in 1967 would be putting it mildly. This is the 190th regular-season meeting between the teams; each has won 81 times, with the other 27 ending in ties. They've met 14 times since the start of the 2009-10; each team has seven victories, including one each this season. The Kings have actually outscored Detroit 667-658 in their 189 meetings, but have lost their past three visits to Joe Louis Arena.
Not Quick enough -- Kings' goaltender Jonathan Quick was the loser in Detroit's 3-2 home victory on Feb. 10, a game in which the Red Wings scored the game-winner with 4.5 seconds remaining in regulation. The loss dropped the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner's career record against Detroit to 6-10-0 with a 3.16 goals-against average. It's the most regulation losses he's had against any team, and his GAA against Detroit is his worst against any team he's faced more than three times. Backup Jonathan Bernier played in the rematch, a 2-1 Kings victory at Los Angeles on Feb. 27.
A beacon of Kope -- Anze Kopitar is on his way to leading the Kings in scoring for the sixth consecutive reason, and he's been involved in three of the four goals Los Angeles has scored against the Red Wings this season. Kopitar had a goal in the 3-2 loss at Detroit on Feb. 10, then had an assist and the game-winning goal in L.A.'s 2-1 victory 17 days later.
Saving grace -- Detroit's Jimmy Howard put on one of the best performances by any goaltender in the Red Wings' 3-2 victory on Feb. 10. Howard faced 47 shots, tied for the fifth-highest total a goalie has seen in a game this season, and stopped 45 of them. That game is the only time this season the Red Wings have allowed more than 38 shots. The 47 shots are also the most by the Kings in a game this season.
And in the slight surprise department, via RedWingsFeed, ESPN's Barry Melrose previewed tonight's game in video form (yesterday)...
ESPN's Pierre LeBrun's conversation with Danny Cleary about Henrik Zetterberg's desire to not witness the Wings miss the playoffs "on his watch" is something of a surprise, however (and this is just part of a much longer article):
"It's his first year as captain, he's such a great captain, we respect him so much as a player and love him so much as a guy, we just don't want to see it happen on his watch," Cleary told ESPN.com. "And all of us have a lot of pride -- 21 years and counting in the playoffs for this organization, no one wants to be on the team that ends it."
The Red Wings enter Wednesday night's big tilt with the visiting Los Angeles Kings one point out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, held by the Columbus Blue Jackets, but with one game in hand.
The Wings hear the talk that after 20-plus years near the top of the hockey world, four Stanley Cups and easily the model organization in the game during that span, their time has come to find out how the regular folk live. Talk of Detroit's demise also fuels the veterans in that dressing room who have Cup rings.
"It's a huge part, to be honest," said Cleary, a Cup champion in 2008 with the Wings. "We know. Every hockey player knows what's being said about their team."
Truth is, battling for their playoff lives in the home stretch of the regular season is simply an uncommon feeling for the veteran core of this team.
"It is, there's no other way to put it; we've never been in this position, quite frankly," Cleary said. "If anything, we're usually battling for first place or home ice in the playoffs. It's been different."
The other games involve the Lightning playing in Toronto, Chicago playing in Edmonton and San Jose playing in Phoenix, so yeah, marquee match-up--and NBCSN is going to switch to the Sharks-Oilers game after the Wings game ends, so expect little to no post-game coverage from NBCSN (which means that 97.1 FM's post-game interviews, supplied by Jeff Riger, will be our only post-game chatter, so here's the link to their live stream):
They are so used to playing playoff hockey in Detroit that the Red Wings figured they might as well start playoff-type hockey a little earlier this season. Just in case, you know, they don't actually make the playoffs.
The Red Wings welcome the reigning champion LA Kings to the Joe on Wednesday night and at this point there's no reason to call it a crucial game because they are all crucial for the Red Wings. They control their own fate but right now that fate requires them to be perfect, finish 3-0-0 to make sure they best the Blue Jackets who can top out at 55 points.
Really, there's nothing more you can ask for from the position the Red Wings are in. The season is in your hands, nobody else will have a say in how you finish more than you. At this point it's just a matter of making sure they win.
Obviously they aren't dead even if they lose to the Kings. The Wings will still have two games after this as will the Wild, Blue Jackets and Stars. Get one point even Monday night and the Red Wings are ahead of Columbus by virtue of owning the first tie-breaker. That's another luxury for the Wings, they don't need to be better than the Jackets in the standings, they just need not to be worse.
Lately, Detroit has been playing well on home ice where they have won four games in a row and they are coming off a 4-0 romp of the Coyotes. All things considered, the Wings have some things to feel good about.
Morning skates are speedy affairs at this time of year. 25 minutes after the Wings took to the ice, the Macomb Daily's Pleiness offered this observation...
And it looks like the News has sent more than one columnist to the game...Again...
Oh boy, this is not going to go over well:
Quoting Capgeek's breakdown:
KNOWN CLAUSES (note: if player has been traded, clauses may no longer apply): NMC (through 2014-15); NTC (2015-16 through 2017-18; player can supply 10-team no-trade list)
It's the "NMC" that should worry you, not the NTC. No-Trade Clauses merely allow players to control their destiny. No-Move Clauses mean what they sound like.
During the morning skate, Pro Hockey Talk's Jason Brough updated what Yahoo Sports is calling the "Playoff Death Watch," noting that SportsClubStats.com pegs the Blue Jackets, Stars and Red Wings' chances of making the playoffs at 38.8%, 4.8% and 59.1%, respectively.
This is a surprise:
Is there good news in the personnel department? Yes. Sort of.
Miller was holding on to his stick with his top hand, and so many players pinch their forefinger and thumb together while doing so that it puts a ton of pressure on the back of the hand, to the point that I'm not sure that even one of those New York Rangers-style plastic backhand protectors would have protected him. There's only so much a hockey glove can do when it's protecting a hand 10 feeet away from a 90-mph slap shot.
Update: In the alumni department, former Wings team physician version:
In the alumni department, charitable news version:
In the alumni department, given that Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story will air on the CBC on Sunday, April 28th and on the Hallmark Channel in the U.S. on Saturday, May 4th:
And this much is good news:
Update #3: The Free Press's Helene St. James spoke to Bertuzzi about his status:
"I'll be ready to play tomorrow," Bertuzzi said, after spending an extra 30 minutes on the ice after the morning skate at Joe Louis Arena. "I need another hard skate. I can't come in and not be ready to play a full 60 and be big down low and finish my checks."
That means there won't be any changes from Monday's lineup, which beat the Phoenix Coyotes, 4-0. Jimmy Howard is starting again in net.
If the Wings beat the Kings — who played Tuesday night at Minnesota — the Wings would leapfrog Columbus and move into eighth place in the Western Conference.
"Tonight is big, we understand that," forward Daniel Cleary said. "We just have to take it one game at a time and focus on what you can control. L.A. played last night; they had a tough loss. They're a really good team — they're good in every area on their club — and we have to play the way we did last game. We understand that we need to get the two points."
In other injury updates, coach Mike Babcock said forward Mikael Samuelsson, who has been out with a sore pectoral muscle, has been cleared to play. Babcock said Samuelsson won't play tonight, and he didn't sound certain Samuelsson would return to the lineup before the regular season ends Saturday at Dallas.
And St. James posted a video discussing Bertuzzi's status, too:
Update #4: MLive's Ansar Khan confirms Bertuzzi's status in a now-with-quotes morning skate report...
"I’ll be ready to play tomorrow. I needed another hard skate,'' Bertuzzi said. "Like I said before, a week ago, I can’t come in and not be ready to play a full 60 and help out, contribute, be big down low, finish my checks. I needed another hard skate and that’s what we just finished.''
Bertuzzi skated with the bottom six forwards today and said he expects to play on the third or fourth line when he returns.
He spoke to Drew Miller about his status, and Miller insisted that if the Wings make the playoffs and survive into the second round, he can return as he suffered a broken ring finger:
"Pound your calcium, your vitamin D, do the bone stimulator as much as I can,'' Miller said. “Let it rest for a bit and get back on the ice and skate, and be in the weight room and do as much as I can to be ready for the end of the second round, somewhere around there. So. just support the guys. Hopefully we get in. From there, do as much as I can to be helping out, being around.''
He said of the play in which he was injured, “It was on the first penalty kill (in the first period). It was just a wrist shot. I guess it just hit me in the right spot. I’ve been hit in the hand before and you feel it and kind of shake it off. I felt it more when I went into the corner and I tried to hit the puck off of his stick. I felt it move a lot more than it should. I knew when I was coming off the ice, I told Piet (trainer Van Zant), ‘My hand’s broke.’ ”
He said he broke the fourth metacarpal, the ring finger. It is frustrating for a player who had appeared in all 44 games. The grinding forward is one of the club's top penalty killers.
“You just got to be positive and believe in the guys; everyone’s going to do as much as they can to get into the playoffs,'' Miller said. “And then from there I hope we can go pretty far so I can get back and have a chance to play again and contribute to the team.”
The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness also confirms Bertuzzi's status...
“I’ll be ready to play tomorrow,” Bertuzzi said. “I needed another hard skate. Like I said before, a week ago, I can’t come in and not be ready to play a full 60 (minutes) and help out, contribute, be big down low, finish my checks. I needed another hard skate and that’s what we just finished.
“I haven’t pushed it,” Bertuzzi added. “I’ve been skating, but I haven’t pushed it as hard as I possibly can. I want to make sure it was right. I went and got more therapy and it seems like it’s working. This gives me an extra day to get stronger and get my wind in and coming in on a back-to-back day may be good for the team to get some fresh legs and enthusiastic player.”
Bertuzzi has missed most of the season due to an injured back that caused him to have weakness in his legs.
“It’s just getting up to speed,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “You haven’t been in and suddenly you want to get in. The team doesn’t practice. We haven’t practiced this week and you want to practice with the team. You want a full out practice and I can’t remember the last time that happened so that’s the problem with it. But as soon as he’s comfortable mentally and physically then we can try and get him in the lineup.”
Bertuzzi has played seven games this season, registering two goals and an assist.
“I really wanted to play today, but I needed to skate hard with Tom (Renney) there in the end,” Bertuzzi said. “I needed to do one-on-one drills with the defenseman. I needed to get some pushing and shoving down low. I needed to get crosschecked in the back. I needed to be able to spin off and needed to be able to stop and start and take off with the puck. Having my third visit to the doctor I needed to make sure I tested it properly and got it taken care of. The last thing I wanted to do was for them to take a fresh guy out and have me play one period because something didn’t go right. Like I said before the team is bigger than any individual and you have to approach it that way.”
Pleiness weighed in with a take on Samuelsson's status...
“No,” Wings coach Mike Babcock when asked if Samuelsson would play Wednesday. “That’s my decision.”
Samuelsson has played all of four games this season, missing due to numerous injuries.
“(I’m) back to normal,” Samuelsson said. “I think I have conditioning. I would like to think so. Game is a game. It’s more timing. Guys coming against you and stuff like that, that’s the biggest thing.
“I believe I can play,” Samuelsson added. “It’s not about feeling sorry for myself, it’s about the team. It’s not the right time to think to that right now. I’m ready whenever they want.”
The Windsor Star's Bob Duff noted Bertuzzi and Sauelsson's respective statuses...
The thought of adding Bertuzzi’s 6-3, 229-pound frame to their lineup was an intriguing one to the Wings.
“Bert has been a huge loss for us,” Detroit forward Daniel Cleary said. “I can name so many different reasons. First thing he’s going to bring is another voice in the locker-room for us. He’s always talking with me. He brings experience and calmness on the bench and then you factor in his play and his size.”
Naturally, the Bertuzzi they will get won’t be the guy they’re used to seeing after missing almost all of the lockout-shortened 48-game season.
“Unless you’re up to speed, I don’t know how you jump into an NHL schedule,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “You see guys that missed training camp and it takes them six weeks to get going. I don’t know at this time. That’s where the player has to make that decision.”
When he does play, Bertuzzi intends to simplify his game. “I need to go out and keep it simple and obviously play a different style of game than what I’m used to,” Bertuzzi said. “I’ll just try and get it in and try and grind stuff out down low and play like that wherever it may be, whether it’s the fourth line or the third line. I just have to make sure when I’m in there I play well defensively and try and what I do offensively down low.”
On other injury fronts, left-winger Drew Miller won’t require surgery on his broken right hand. “It’ll just be in a cast four to six weeks,” Miller said. “There’s really not much more you can do. Pound your calcium, your vitamin D, do the bone stimulator as much as I can.”
Right-winger Mikael Samuelsson (pectoral muscle) has been cleared to play, but will be a healthy scratch Wednesday. “I believe I can play,” Samuelsson said. “I’m ready whenever they want.”
And the Red Wings' Game Day Blog reminds us that this time of year is not always snowy (seriously, it's snowing outside)...
On This Day in Red Wings History...On April 24, 2004
Steve Yzerman scored twice and Nicklas Lidstrom added a goal and three assists, helping Detroit to a 5-2 win over Calgary in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals.
And here are Ken Kal's "Keys to the Game":
Match Their Physical Play - The Kings are a big, strong team that can skate. They have the ability to wear a team down. This game will be like a playoff game. The Wings have to be ready to take a lot of hits and bounce right back.
Start Early and Get The Lead - The Kings played at Minnesota last night and the Wings are well rested. Take advantage of that and try to jump on them early.
Have Real Good Breakouts - L.A. will forecheck hard to cause the Wings to turn the puck over. Given that, it will be important for Detroit's blueliners to get the first pass to the forwards or skate the puck out of the defensive zone quickly.
Update #5: USA Today's Kevin Allen has penned a game preview which includes gratuitous Pierre McGuire talk:
The Los Angeles Kings and Detroit Red Wings will have a sense of urgency when they meet Wednesday night (7:30 ET, NBC Sports Network).
"For L.A., it is about playing for position and potential home ice," NBC analyst Pierre McGuire said. "For Detroit, it is about running the table and keeping the playoff hopes alive."
The Red Wings are trying to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since 1990, and the Kings are trying to make sure they have home-ice advantage in the first round. If the Red Wings win their final three games against the Kings, Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars, they are guaranteed to make the playoffs.
The Kings hold a tiebreaker edge on the San Jose Sharks in the battle for fourth place in the Western Conference, and the St. Louis Blues also are in the mix. The fourth-place finisher would get a Game 7 at home.
Detroit's 21-season playoff streak is the longest among the four major sports, and no other NHL team has an active streak longer than eight.
"The Red Wings have been a measuring stick for the entire league," McGuire said. "Their professionalism, style of play, commitment to player development and how they do their everyday hockey business has been amazing."
The NBA's San Antonio Spurs have the second-longest active streak in major sports at 16 seasons.
"(The Red Wings) are a case study of how to win with grace," McGuire said. "There is not a team in the league that at one time or another over the last 21 years has not looked at the Wings and tried to take some of their formula and implement it as if it was their own."
Update #6: The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan's penned his morning skate report...
Bertuzzi believes he can be asset for this team as it continues to claw toward a playoff berth.
"I want to play for these guys, play hard for these guys, and stick up for them and do what I can," Bertuzzi said. "It's a great group and they're been giving it their all, and I just want to get in there and toe the rope with them and take care of the task we have ahead of us."
There is a delicate balance as to whether a player can contribute much this time of the season after having played so little throughout the season.
"I watched guys who were out of the lineup all year and played against us and weren't any good at all," coach Mike Babcock said. "Unless you're up to speed I don't know how you jump into the NHL schedule. Guys get to training camp and take six weeks to get going."
Miller's hand was broken during a first-period penalty kill off a wrist shot by Canucks defenseman Alex Edler.
"I felt it right away," said Miller, who doesn't need surgery and is wearing a cast. "At the same time, I've been hit in the hand before and you feel it and shake it off. I felt it more when I went into the corner. It moved a lot more than it should.
"When I got off the ice I told (trainer) Piet (Van Zant), 'My hand is broken.'
"It's definitely frustrating but you can't go back and change it now. You just have to stay positive. I believe in the guys, and everyone will do all they can to get in the playoffs and hopefully we can go pretty far so I can play and contribute to the team."
And, via RedWinngsFeed again, the Wings' website posted Babcock's game-day presser:
Update #7: Oh goody, part 1: More Barry Melrose? Sure, why not. He breaks down tonight's game again to promote NBCSN's "Rivalry Night" coverage...
Oh goody, part 2, per NHL.com's Dan Rosen:
Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick entered the game Tuesday at the Minnesota Wild with four wins in his past five games thanks to a 1.72 goals-against average and .931 save percentage. A headline in the Los Angeles Times on Monday read "Kings are getting stronger just at the right time," and it's largely because Quick has rediscovered the form that helped him win the Conn Smythe Trophy last season.
Things were quite different for Quick earlier in the season, so much so Kings captain Dustin Brown felt sorry for the team's No. 1 goalie. Unless Quick was perfect, Brown said, there was nothing the goalie could do to avoid criticism and questions about why his play wasn't up to the level everyone remembers from last spring, when he went 16-4 with three shutouts, a 1.41 goals-against average and a .946 save percentage in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Update #8: DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose penned an article about Bertuzzi, too...
Coach Mike Babcock was ready to insert Todd Bertuzzi in the Red Wings’ lineup against the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings tonight. But the veteran forward, who has sat out with a chronically sore lower back since Feb. 7, needed one more good practice, he said.
“I’ll be ready to play tomorrow,” Bertuzzi declared. “I needed another hard skate. Like I said before, a week ago, I can’t come in and not be ready to play a full 60 (minutes) and help out, contribute, be big down low, finish my checks. I needed another hard skate and that’s what we just finished.”
The Red Wings are in the thick of a playoff race, battling Columbus, Dallas and Phoenix for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. Everyone in the Wings’ locker room understands the situation, but they also know what a vocal veteran like Bertuzzi can bring to a young team.
“Bert has been a huge loss for us. I can name so many different reasons,” forward Daniel Cleary said. “First thing he's going to bring is another voice in the locker room for us. He brings experience and calmness on the bench and then you factor in his play and his size, and obviously, he hasn't played the whole season, so it's going to take some time, to be fair, but … and his shootout prowess. Hopefully, we don't get to that point, but you never know.”
And the Wings' Game Day Blog offers quips and quotes from the morning skate.
Via RedWingsFeed again, the Free Press's Helene St. James offered a different angle on Drew Miller's broken hand:
Miller said he is looking at at least four weeks to recover, even without surgery.
"It's frustrating," he said. "It was on the first penalty kill, a wrist shot. I guess it just hit me in the right spot. I felt it right away, but at the same time, I've been hit in the hand before, and you feel it, and you kind of shake it off. I felt it more when I went in the corner. I felt it move a lot more than it should. I knew my hand was broken."
Miller has played mostly on the fourth line, where he has contributed four goals and four assists in 44 games.
Update #9: In the prospect department, Saginaw Spirit goalie and Wings prospect Jake Paterson has been nominated for the Ontario Hockey League's goalie of the year award:
Update #11: LA Kings Insider's Jon Rosen looked back at last night's Kings-Wild game...
Several abbreviated notes on last night’s 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild:
-For the first time in the past week, the Los Angeles Kings were unable to match the intensity of a desperate opponent and fell 2-1 to a Minnesota Wild outfit that controlled the first 40 minutes of the game. The Kings posted a strong final 20:01 to make the game competitive late with some dominant puck possession, but other than Niklas Backstrom’s tremendous calf save on Slava Voynov with 11 seconds left, there weren’t a surplus of Grade-A chances in the third period for L.A.
-Speaking of Carter’s wrister with 0.8 seconds remaining in the second period, it came off his stick so quickly that it could hardly be seen in real time. Was it teleported? Credit Anze Kopitar for getting in on the forecheck to make a hit on Jared Spurgeon, and for Brad Richardson to immediately offer the loose puck to a slot-crashing Carter, who had come off the bench shortly beforehand. It was one of the few instances of an effective Los Angeles forecheck last night.
-At 8-11-4, the Kings’ road record is a significant concern. Los Angeles is 3-6-3 in its previous 12 away games, a road stretch in which it has allowed 40 goals (not including shootouts) for an average of 3.33 goals against per game. Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier have combined to stop 548 of 614 shots (.893%) away from Staples Center this season. In advance of the playoffs, it would greatly benefit the Kings to rebound with not just a strong 60 minutes of hockey, but a key road victory in their final Western Conference matchup against the Detroit Red Wings tonight.
And he adds morning skate-less morning skate quotes from Kings coach Darryl Sutter to the mix:
On whether Dustin Brown’s uncertain availability makes preparation difficult: “Nope, not really. We have extra players.”
On how the Kopitar line would be filled should Brown not be able to go: “Kopitar played with Richards and Carter last night.”
On whether there’s any concern about playing Matt Greene on back-to-back nights: “I was concerned on how he played last night. He wasn’t very sharp, and conditioning was clearly a factor against a fast team. So, it’s trying to decide whether if it’s better to put him in back-to-back. I’m not concerned about back-to-back because he was hurt. If he was hurt, to hell with him. He ain’t going to play, period. It’s what I said before – if he was healthy, if he was cleared for contact, then he’s going to have to play some games to see if he’s up to a high enough standard so that we can use him in the playoffs. Obviously, last night it wasn’t for him, so we have to decide whether it’s better to give him a day and see if one more game helps him, or if you give him two games to help.”
Greene's from Grand Ledge, I believe...
On whether playing immediately is good for the team, considering the loss last night and L.A.’s play on the second night of back-to-backs: “We’ve got to play the games [that are] on the schedule, so what it difference does it make ‘is it good’? I mean, we’re playing tough opponents, and we’re playing teams – I think this is the fifth game in a row that the team is literally in a desperate mode, and we’re in a mode where we’re trying to get ready for playoffs. It’s not anything else. It’s like when Daryl [Evans] talks about Matt Greene. That’s what I’m trying to do with 12 other guys, see if they can help us or not or where they’re going to fit or if they should play or how much they can play. It’s kind of what we’re doing.”
On whether facing desperate teams is an adequate simulation for playoff hockey: “It’s way better to be playing teams that are still fighting for a spot or in a spot than not, because you get players on other teams that are just maybe fighting for jobs, and it gets a little reckless or out of hands, and you’d prefer not to play those teams, and that’s why you see teams that always where you say, ‘oh, they’re playing the spoiler role.’ Well, they don’t really care about the spoiler role. They’re trying to keep a job in the league.”
Update #12: NHL.com's Brian Hedger penned a morning skate about Bertuzzi's status, and he believes that both teams will dress the following lineups:
Jimmy Howard will start in goal for Detroit, while Jonathan Quick is expected to start for Los Angeles -- which dropped a tight game on Tuesday night in Minnesota with Jonathan Bernier in net. The Kings didn't hold a morning skate on Wednesday, so there might be some lineup changes as the result of playing back-to-back games.
Here is how the Kings and Red Wings might line up on Wednesday night:
Justin Williams – Anze Kopitar – Dustin Brown
Dustin Penner – Mike Richards – Jeff Carter
Dwight King – Jarret Stoll – Trevor Lewis
Jordan Nolan – Brad Richardson – Kyle Clifford
Robyn Regehr – Drew Doughty
Rob Scuderi – Slava Voynov
Jake Muzzin – Matt Greene
Scratched: Nick Shore, Keaton Ellerby, Colin Fraser, Alec Martinez
Injured: Willie Mitchell (IR, knee, out for the season)
Henrik Zetterberg- Pavel Datsyuk – Justin Abdelkader
Valtteri Filppula – Johan Franzen – Danny Cleary
Gustav Nyquist – Joakim Andersson – Damien Brunner
Patrick Eaves – Cory Emmerton – Jordin Tootoo
Niklas Kronwall – Jonathan Ericsson
Kyle Quincey – Brendan Smith
Danny DeKeyser – Jakub Kindl
Scratched: Ian White, Brian Lashoff, Carlo Colaiacovo, Mikael Samuelsson, Jared Coreau
Injured: Darren Helm (IR, back, out indefinitely), Todd Bertuzzi (back), Drew Miller (fractured finger)
Update #13: Hedger discussed the Wings' precarious playoff situation and 21-year streak with the Wings' players, too:
"I don't think anyone's thinking about it, but it would be sad to have the streak not continue," Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson said after Wednesday's morning skate. "If we win all three, we know we're going to be in [the playoffs], so we don't want to take any chances."
Detroit picked up a little help on Tuesday night when the San Jose Sharks beat the Dallas Stars 3-2 at HP Pavilion to prevent the Stars (48 points) from pulling even with Detroit in the conference standings. Dallas also has two games left, including a game on Thursday at home against Columbus. That means the Red Wings theoretically control their own destiny.
"We're really aiming for one at a time and our mindset is to win every game that's left," Ericsson said. "If we win all our games it's in our hands, but if we lose a game we need someone else to lose."
Just how impressive is their current streak? Well, consider the last time Detroit was eliminated from postseason contention was on March 27, 1990 at Joe Louis Arena, when the Wings lost 6-5 to the Buffalo Sabres -- after pulling their goaltender with about four minutes left while down two goals.
Rookie defenseman Danny DeKeyser, whom the Wings just signed as a collegiate unrestricted free agent March 30, was just 20 days old. Fellow Detroit rookie defenseman Brian Lashoff hadn't been born yet.
"It's incredible how many years in a row they've been in," said DeKeyser, who has one assist in eight games since signing and has worked himself into a regular role on the third defense pairing. "It's one of the longest streaks there is in hockey, so we just want to keep it going. As it stands, we're trying to fight and get our way in. We control our own destiny. It's going to be up to us to get the job done and that's pretty much all there is to it."
His teammates and Detroit coach Mike Babcock feel the same. Asked if keeping the playoff streak going factored into his team's motivation, Babcock quickly shifted the focus to a narrower scope.
"I think it does for sure, but we can get caught up in that or we can play the game [Wednesday night]," Babcock said. "I would much prefer us to just stay involved the process of what we're doing and play real well [against the Kings] and focus on the little things that we have to do real well to be successful."
Update #14: Here's the Red Wings' Game-Day Preview video, which includes Ken Kal speaking to Brendan Smith about the game:
Update #16: Calle Jarnkrok told Expressen's Mattias Ek that he found playing in North America to be "better and better an easier and easier" as his stint with the Grand Rapids Griffins continued, and he confirmed that the Wings haven't decided whether he'll play for the Griffins or Brynas IF next year.
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