The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/12/13 at 02:35 PM ET
Updated 10x at 2:42 PM: The Detroit Red Wings hope to rebound from a stretch in which they've gone 1-1-and-2--including Tuesday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers--when the injury-depleted Wings battle the Tampa Bay Lightning this evening (7:30 PM, FSD/Sun Sports/NHL Network U.S./97.1 FM).
TampaBayLightning.com's Missy Zielinski offered updates from the Lightning's morning skate...
After not skating in Washington (illness) P.C. Labrie is on ice, will see after practice if he's cleared to play. #TBLightning.
Ben Bishop first off the ice for the #TBLightning at today's morning skate.
As did the Tampa Tribune's Erik Erlendsson...
Not much of a surprise but Victor Hedman not on the ice for morning skate, though he was watching from the bench
And the Tampa Bay Times' Damian Cristodero:
Some talk in Washington of Ovechkin getting 50 in 50. Said Cooper: "If you're going to play D like we did that night he might get 80 in 50."
See: Ovechkin's 4-goal performance in the Lightning's 6-5 shootout loss to Washington on Tuesday.
Here's more from Cristodero:
Ben Bishop in net tonight vs. Red Wings. ... PC Labrie skated with regular jersey. Said he hopes to be playing this weekend.
About his suspension, Panik said he didn't expect two games but added he is glad Alzner is okay.
The Wings hit the ice at 11:38, with the Free Press's Helene St. James issuing the Wings' lines...
From #RedWings morning skates, lines look like 44-93-14; 8-13-11; 20-18-21; 71-25-37 for game at Tampa Bay
The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan confirming...
Franzen skating with Bertixzi and nyquist
Datsyuk between alfie and Abby
Bertuzzi people thAt would be Bertuzzi
And MLive's Ansar Khan weighing in:
Wings skating with these lines in Tampa Bay: Abdelkader-Datsyuk-Alfredsson, Bertuzzi-Franzen-Nyquist, Miller-Andersson-Tatar (cont.)
(Cont.) Cleary-Emmerton-Samulesson; same D pairs: Ericsson-Kronwall, Quincey-Smith, Lashoff-Kindl; DeKeyser (IR). Gustavsson/Mrazek in net.
Helm (shoulder) is on the bench, waiting to come onto the ice near the end of the skate. Howard (knee) not skating as he waits to have MRI.
In terms of interviews and foreign-language "stuff" available this morning...
- You probably won't get too much out of Arbetarbladet's 27-minute-long, Swedish-language interview with Nicklas Lidstrom, but you can enjoy it if you wish...
- I can only describe Mike Babcock's interview with Sport-Express's Slava Malamud as "fascinating even in Google-translated Russian" (though the part about the Wings' players nearly plowing over a member of the HBO 24/7 crew is amusing);
- In the "interesting Swedish news" department, part 1: According to Aftonbladet's Erik Karlsson, Red Wings prospect Mattias Janmark came upon his "perfect" stick by accident, snagging a broken Evgeni Malkin stick at the World Championships two years ago and falling in love with its flat blade;
- In the "interesting Swedish news" department, part 2: This is roughly translated, but here's what Jonathan Ericsson had to say to SVT's Marie Lehmann regarding his contract extension and the naming of his daughter after Stefan Liv:
"There's nothing safe in this line of work, you can be moved or traded, so it's reassuring, and I really enjoy it tremendously here. And we got it done early, so it feels real good."
He's also become a father, for the first time, and chose to name his daughter after a person who means a lot to him and his wife, Stefan Liv:
"We didn't mean to bring as much attention to it. It's something that means a lot to me and Evelina. We were close to the family, and are close to them still, of course, so it felt completely right for us and we liked the name. And the importance that it takes on, it feels very special to us. It's from the heart and I don't know what more to say."
The word "Liv"--life--means so many things, too--so when did you decide?
"It was really when we sat down last summer. We didn't know if it would be a boy or a girl. We had a whole list of boy names. For girls, we only had one name, 'Liv.' It felt right from the beginning and has always been our first choice. Now that it's done and we can carry him on with us a little bit for the rest of our lives, it feels great."
- Back over on this side of the pond, former Maple Leaf Doug Gilmour spoke with the CBC Windsor's morning radio show regarding the Winter Classic Alumni Showdown...
- On the other side of the river, Larry Murphy spoke with WDFN's Matt Sheppard about the event...
In the, "Why yes, I would think so" department, Down Goes Brown believes that Pavel Datsyuk will probably be the "Breakout Star" of HBO's 24/7 series...
Datsyuk appears to be the current odds-on favorite to emerge as the star. While he has never seemed like an especially outgoing character, teammates say he's funny and engaging once you get to know him. He's already one of the league's most popular players — or at least one of its least-hated — so 24/7 could take him to another level.
And there's a good chance it will; Datsyuk is the perfect candidate to be a reality TV breakout star. He has been an unlikely success story, going undrafted twice before the Wings finally nabbed him with the 171st pick in 1998. He overcame a language and culture barrier to slowly emerge as a star over his first three seasons, then erupted after the 2005 lockout to become one of the league's top scorers. He's a two-way player (he has won three Selkes as best defensive forward) and one of the cleanest competitors (he won the Lady Byng as most gentlemanly player four straight times).
Even his fellow players love him. He was the first overall pick in the most recent All-Star draft, and every player poll basically turns into the "We love Datsyuk" show. If that's not enough, he's also a hell of a dancer. And he tweets pictures of cats.
He has basically become the heir to Teemu Selanne's "player who nobody says anything bad about ever" throne, and unless he spends every moment of his screen time casually forearming baby otters in the throat, he's going to be the star of the series.
But wait, there's more on Grantland!
Mike Babcock: The "angry coach who swears a lot" has been an archetypal 24/7 character thanks to Boudreau's legendary performance from the first season and John Tortorella's solid follow-up a year later. Which coach will earn the coveted role this year? My money's on Red Wings coach Mike Babcock.
For one thing, he looks the part. Babcock is just a flat-out angry-looking man. This is a guy who can chill out with the Stanley Cup while wearing a wet suit and still look terrifying; imagine what he must be like after the Wings blow a two-goal lead. If you're looking for someone to have a meltdown and challenge Boudreau's F-bomb record, Babcock seems like a perfect candidate.
Maybe too perfect, come to think of it. He's aware of how the series can treat coach tirades, and he has let it be known that he wants no part of it.
Prediction: Babcock's attempt to make it through the whole series without dropping an F-bomb fails after he notices cameras catching him trying to buy a fake Canadian passport for Jimmy Howard.
If you're interested, Sportsnet's Luke Fox spoke with Bruce Boudreau and Dan Bylsma about the 24/7 experience, too...
And SI's Allan Muir spoke with a reality show producer regarding the Wings' injuries translating into "good TV":
“The nature of reality TV is you follow reality,” says Heather Muir, cast producer for The Bachelor Canada and Big Brother Canada (and, for the sake of full disclosure, my wildly successful kid sister).
“You report on events as they reveal themselves,” she says. “I never say something is good or bad until after the experience has occurred, but it is more story to follow.”
Injuries, she said, are part of the reality of hockey, just like two different girls catching their hair on fire is the reality in the world of The Bachelor. It’s a different side of the story to tell, and revealing what goes on when dealing with those injuries makes for more compelling TV.
“You can expand on it. How is the player dealing with it? What is the impact on his family and his teammates?” she says. “You just want to follow the truth of it.”
The new “24/7″ series debuts this Saturday at 10 p.m. ET on HBO in the U.S. and on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. in Canada on Rogers Sportsnet.
And dear, dear Greg "Puck Daddy" Wyshynski makes sure to note that two Red Wings who participated in Team USA's Olympic summer camp may or may not make the 2014 Olympic team...
Justin Abdelkader, F, Detroit Red Wings: He was invited to the U.S. camp after a season that saw him earn top line minutes with the Red Wings. He looked like he could be a valuable role player for the U.S. His role has changed, his goals are down, and he’s not expected to be in the forward mix for the U.S.
Jimmy Howard, G, Detroit Red Wings: J-Ho’s down year for the Wings cost him a chance to overtake any of the other struggling American netminders this season. He still has a chance at being one of the big three, but goalies like Cory Schneider, Ben Bishop and even Tim Thomas have stated better cases.
I believe that the Hockey News already stated this, but Hockey News editor-in-chief Jason Kay confirms that the 1951-52 Detroit Red Wings and the 2001-2002 Wings were named THN's 5th and 8th-best NHL teams "of all time";
In charitable news, from the Wings:
From the Toledo Walleye...
Many people across the Toledo Region are in need of a coat to keep them warm this winter. The Walleye and Huntington Bank are asking fans to bring new or gently used coats to the games at Huntington Center this Friday, December 13 and Saturday, December 14.
Please drop your adult and child-sized coats off at the collection bins when you enter Huntington Center. The Salvation Army will help distribute all the coats collected at the games to needy families.
And in terms of more Winter Classic stuff:
Per the NHL's PR department...
The 53-foot trailer, the world’s largest mobile refrigeration unit, departed Toronto Tues. for 273-mile journey to Ann Arbor. #WinterClassic
The NHL officially takes over Michigan Stadium today with the arrival of the NHL Winter Classic Ice Truck, presented by York. #WinterClassic
And I think that DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose is teasing us by showing off his Winter Classic tix:
I got mine to the #WinterClassic. You got yours? http://pic.twitter.com/jhRtIj958v
But this is cool...
It's the podium!
Apparently, NHL ice-maker Dan Craig and Wings alum Tomas Holmstrom will be chatting with the press as the NHL welcomes the ice-making truck to Ann Arbor, as noted by Fox Sports Detroit's Trevor Thompson...
#WinterClassic has arrived! Well, the ice machine at least... http://pic.twitter.com/13OLxucqpK
And Tomas Holmstrom along with it! #WinterClassic http://pic.twitter.com/8rgca1JepU
And Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika...
The truck has arrived. http://pic.twitter.com/89Qnqlwh9C
And Michigan Hockey:
The ice truck is at The Big House. #WinterClassic http://pic.twitter.com/1wVTd4M73p
"If you missed it" over the course of Wednesday's practice post and the overnight report, MLive's Ansar Khan posted an article this morning noting that Johan Franzen is both performing very well and is predictably agitated about having to discuss his success...Or anything, really...With the media:
Johan Franzen shrugs his shoulders and rolls his eyes at questions about the difference in his play before and after his injury. Nothing has changed, said the Detroit Red Wings forward. He believes he’s playing the same way, doing the same things. The only difference is the puck is going in the net, for him and for teammates he sets up.
“I haven’t tried to change anything, really,” Franzen said.
He can deny that anything is different, but the numbers say otherwise. Franzen has 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) and a plus-8 rating in 14 games since returning from a four-game absence due to an upper-body injury. In 13 games before that, he had just two goals, five points and a minus-2 rating.
“You can feel the greatest every game and play the best ever and not score, and then you can be (awful) for five games and just happen to get points,” Franzen said. “That’s just how it is.”
Franzen's teammates and coach are more than willing to give him credit for his efforts...
“Mule’s a guy who’s been so good since those guys got hurt,” coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s been so determined and he’s led, (so) that we’ve told him we’re not accepting anything less. He’s that good and we need you to be that good. I just told him (Wednesday) you’re back in the middle; he didn’t (react), nothing, OK, whatever. Just get him on the ice and let him play. We need him.”
“He’s been the big horse we need him to be, producing points every night,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “Not just doing that, but he’s playing both ends of the ice, and that’s huge for us. With the injuries we’ve had, Mule has been a big bright spot for us, showing up every night.”
Said Pavel Datsyuk: “We need to feed the Mule, like we did in previous years. He shoot a lot and he’s chasing puck; it’s helped the team a lot.”
But Franzen himself? Is he on a roll? Did he break a slump? Meh, meh, meh:
"I had one roll once (late in 2007-08 season and into the playoffs) and then one slump once (scoring two goals in the final 27 games in 2010-11) and that’s pretty much it for nine years,” Franzen said. “So I don’t know if you can call that getting on a roll or a slump.”
Update: Jimmy Howard's knee is...Tweaked? Per Kulfan...
Howard does not think its serious but does throw out one or two week timeframe...hurt knee making save near end of Wednesday practice
#redwings G Jimmy Howard tweaked left knee making save on Daniel Cleary Wednesday. Getting MRI Friday but doesn't think it's serious.
Howard said he's hoping he's out only 1-2 weeks but not sure until MRI tom. Hurt when he kicked out his knee to make save end of practice
Update #1.5: The NHL Network wants to remind you that they're blacking out tonight's game on GCL and Center Ice...
Remind friends that tonight on @NHLNetwork, the @DetroitRedWings face @TBLightning at 7:30PM. http://s.nhl.com/rHOtJ http://pic.twitter.com/pJO1H7D4eG
Michigan Hockey, Fox Sports Detroit's Trevor Thompson, Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika and the Toledo Blade's Rachel Lenzi are Tweeting more pictures from the Ice Truck's "final stop" at Michigan Stadium, too.
Update #1.75: Good news from Khan:
Danny DeKeyser said he feels good, getting closer to return. Eligible to come off LTIR Saturday but said it'll still be a few more days.
Update #1.8: From Lenzi:
NHL rep says it will put down 107,000 seat cushions for the #winterclassic.
And, guess what, fans can take home the #winterclassic seat cushions
Update #1.9: The Detroit News's David Guralnick's in Ann Arbor, too:
#winterclassic surface is ready to be built. #RedWings #mapleleafs http://pic.twitter.com/STnunT9nc0
Update #2: The Free Press's Helene St. James offers more about Howard's knee issue:
Gustavsson will make the first of what’s expected to be a string of starts tonight when the Detroit Red Wings play the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Tampa Bay Times Forum (7:30 p.m., NHLN, FSD). Gustavsson is the de facto starter now that Howard is sidelined indefinitely by an injured left knee. Howard hurt himself during Wednesday’s practice, making a save on Daniel Cleary.
“We were having a little fun playing rebound, and I kicked out my right leg, made a dandy of a save,” Howard said, “but I just felt something go wrong with my knee.”
Howard will have an MRI Friday morning back in Detroit. Howard said he hasn’t had “an injury with my knees since I was in school. I’ve sprained both knees before, but it’s been a while since I’ve done it. I don’t know how long it’s going to take.”
Given a goaltender’s need for side-to-side mobility, a knee is among the worst injuries, but, “at the end of the day, it’s part of the position,” Howard said. “Those areas on your body are some areas where we put a lot of stress on. It happened. I”m not concerned about it. I don’t think it’s going to be anything over-the-top, or I’m going to be out a long time. Hopefully, it’s only a week or two.”
Howard is under consideration for one of the three goalie spots for Team USA, and this injury, on top of a season he’s gone just 6-8-7 with a 2.66 goals-against average and .910 save percentage, could derail his chances. “What can you do about it,” he said. “It is what it is. You say that a lot around here, but it really is. Just, do treatment and come back as fast as possible.”
Howard’s sense of humor remains in good health. Asked about the save, Howard smiled and said, “It was on Cleary, so it made it even better.”
While Howard’s Olympic star has faded, Gustavsson’s has risen. Gustavsson wasn’t even a blip on Team Sweden’s radar when the season began, but he’s played so well - he’s 8-1-1 with a 2.03 goals-against average and .930 save percentage - that he could challenge for one of the backup spots to Henrik Lundqvist at the Sochi Games.
“Every hockey player wants to be there, and I’m one of them,” Gustavsson said. “There’s so many goalies from Sweden over here, so you can’t really think too much about it, but you never know what the future is going to give you. You try to push yourself, and then you see what happens.”
Update #3: The Red Wings offered a historical note and Ken Kal's"keys to the game" in its Game Day Blog:
On This Day in Red Wings' History...On December 12, 1982
John Ogrodnick’s hat trick leads Detroit to a 7-3 victory at Calgary.
RAM Keys to the Game with Ken Kal
Play 60 Minutes - The team needs a good start, but they also need to finish. The Wings have to find ways to keep the lead when they have it.Do your Job - With all the injuries, you can't try to do it all yourself. Trust your teammates and trust in the abilities of one another.
Solid Goalkeeping - The Lightning will get their scoring chances tonight. Detroit will need Gustavsson to make timely saves and keep them in the game.
Update #4: Here's MLive's Ansar Khan's game-day update, focusing on Howard...
“I don’t think I’m that concerned about it,” Howard said Thursday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, as his left knee was wrapped in ice. “I don’t think it’s going to be anything over the top where I’m going to be out a long time.”
“Starting to feel a lot better, shooting the puck well, starting to take some slap shots and just getting more comfortable with the shoulder,” DeKeyser said. “It’ll still be a little bit, hopefully not too much longer. I don’t have an exact time, just going to take it day by day.”
Conditioning-wise, he feels good.
“I’ve been working a lot on that because once you stop playing games you get out of shape pretty quick, especially when you’re not skating for two weeks,” DeKeyser said.
And Darren Helm:
“The first thing is to get out there a couple more times, start moving the puck a little bit, passing it around, get that under the belt and then figure out if I’m ready to join practice,” Helm said.
It’s progress, at least.
“It’s going pretty well,” he said. “Each day has been feeling pretty good, doing more and more. Today was a good day.”
Update #5: Here's the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan's game-day update:
Jonas Gustavsson was scheduled to start anyhow on Thursday night against Tampa Bay, but Petr Mrazek was called up from Grand Rapids to back up Gustavsson. Howard will have an MRI Friday to learn the extent of the injury.
"I don't think I'm that concerned about it," Howard said Thursday. "I don't think it's going to be anything over the top where I'll be out a long time. Hopefully it's just a week or two. It (feels) about the same (as Wednesday). No better, no worse -- so that's a good sign. Hopefully the MRI will bring some good news."
It'll be interesting to see how this injury will affect Howard's chances for the U.S. Olympic team. With a 6-8-7 record, 2.66 goals-against average and .910 save percentage, Howard was in a battle with several other goalies to secure possibly the last spot behind likely Jonathan Quick (currently injured) and Ryan Miller (East Lansing/Michigan State).
"It is what it is," Howard said. "You hear that saying a lot here, but at the end of the day it happened, and I hope treatment can go as fast as possible."
Defenseman Danny DeKeyser (shoulder separation) is eligible to come off the injured list this weekend. He's not ready to play yet, but is pretty close.
"It'll still be a little bit, but not too much longer," said DeKeyser, who had a brisk workout Thursday with Darren Helm (shoulder) on the ice with associate coach Tom Renney. "I don't have an exact time, but it'll be day to day and see how it feels."
Update #6: Here's a video of the Free Press's St. James speaking with Howard...
And here's a report from St. James regarding Darren Helm and Danny DeKeyser:
DeKeyser has been out since separating his left shoulder Nov. 19 against Nashville. He's on Long-Term Injured Reserve, and while he's eligible to come off Saturday, general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press that DeKeyser isn't expected back before Dec. 28.
"I'm just getting more comfortable out there with my shoulder," DeKeyser said. "I'm just going to take it day by day, when I'm ready, I'll be ready. I'm doing more and more every day, rebuilding muscles, so it's feeling better."
DeKeyser has been skating for over a week, so he is at least re-establishing his conditioning.
Helm has only just begun skating after straining a shoulder Dec. 4. He doesn't have a time table for his return.
"I guess the first thing is to get out there a couple times, start moving the puck a little bit, pass it around," Helm said. "Get that under the belt first, then figure out if I'm ready to join practice."
Both said they are encouraged they won't be out very much longer, as they have consistently built on their programs from day to day. The pair were put through some paces Thursday by assistant coach Tom Renney. It helped to have company.
"You don't want to see guys hurt," DeKeyser said, "but if you're out there, it's nice to at least skate with someone."
On Monday, eight members of the Grand Rapids Griffins took part in a three-hour bell-ringing competition for the Salvation Army, an event that raised a grand total of $1,269.12.
At the Byron Center Family Fare, the team consisting of David McIntyre, Petr Mrazek, Andrej Nestrasil and Riley Sheahan raised a total of $192.30, while the Kentwood Family Fare crew, comprised of Mitch Callahan, Landon Ferraro, Jeff Hoggan and Xavier Ouellet, edged out its competition and raised a total of $230.74. Matching contributions from an anonymous donor raised the ultimate total to $1,269.12.
The public can support The Salvation Army of Kent County’s Red Kettle campaign at nearly 70 Red Kettle sites throughout Kent County, online at sakentcounty.org, by phone at 616.459.3433 or 1-800-SAL-ARMY, or by sending financial gifts directly to The Salvation Army, 1215 Fulton Street East, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503-3849.
And MLive's Ansar Khan penned a second game-day article:
Pavel Datsyuk played with Johan Franzen and Todd Bertuzzi Tuesday during his first game back from a concussion. Tonight, Datsyuk will skate with Daniel Alfredsson and Justin Abdelkader. Franzen moves back to center, on a line with Bertuzzi and Gustav Nyquist.
“I wanted a skater with Datsyuk and Alfie and Abby’s are skaters,” coach Mike Babcock said. “And I wanted a net-presence in both groups, and Abby’s one and Bert’s one. But I thought the skating part … that was my thought process.”
He added, “We like our line combinations. We like our opportunity. Our plan is to get three out of a possible four points on this trip and have a good road trip.”
The Red Wings (15-9-8) are coming off a frustrating 3-2 shootout loss at Florida Tuesday, when they blew a two-goal lead in the third period. But being 5-2-1 in their past eight games, with all their injuries, isn’t too shabby, according to Babcock.
“I don’t think we’re going through struggles,” Babcock said. “The group we’re dressing right now, we expect to be in a one-goal game. I don’t think the attitude our team has is that we’re struggling. I think the attitude our team has is we can find a way to get better each and every day.”
As Khan notes, the Lightning are without the injured Steven Stamkos, but a former Wing's playing very well in Stamkos' stead:
Martin St. Louis leads the Lightning with 30 points. Former Red Wing Valtteri Filppula is second, among healthy players, with 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) in 30 games.
“You always miss good players when they move on,” Babcock said. “Val was a real good player for us, played for a long time; we miss Jiri Hudler, too. He’s leading Calgary in scoring (28 points in 30 games). There’s a whole bunch of them over the years that we ran out of cash and didn’t get them done. That’s the way life goes. But we wish them luck where they go, except when they play us.”
Sometimes those players leave Detroit and realize that playing in an environment with less pressure allows them to perform with the kind of foundation they established in Detroit without...Dealing with Detroit's expectations. It kind of sucks to watch the Wings "graduate" players from the Harvard of Hockey who play so well for other employers, but it's the nature of the beast to some extent.
Update #8: I'm not sure if you'll be interested in the Lightning's website's "Bolts Watch," but here's Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper's game-day presser:
Update #9: Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples posted a photo gallery from the NHL's ice-making truck's arrival at Michigan Stadium...
Here's the Tampa Tribune's Erik Erlendsson's game-day article, or at least the part that doesn't involve Richard Panik's suspension or the Bolts' injuries...
Team Canada on the radar
Detroit head coach Mike Babcock will serve as the head coach for Team Canada at the Winter Olympics in February. He has dual thought process when looking at players from Red Wings opponents, such as Lightning RW Marty St. Louis, who played for Canada in 2006 but was left off the 2010 gold-medal winning team.
“He’s a real good player and is in a group of real good players in Canada that are fighting for jobs on that team,’’ Babcock said.
Lightning President Steve Yzerman is the general manager for Team Canada.
“I haven’t talked to Steve since they had their management meetings, but I know I’ll get more involved as we get closer and closer. I’ll have my eyes open and I know he’s (St. Louis) a real good player on, so he’s important for us to look after, and I’ll be watching him closely just like I did the last time” that Detroit and Tampa Bay played.
“But those guys, the players, will decide who is on the team.”
And here's the same content--i.e. no Panik, no injury talk--from the Tampa Bay Times' Damian Cristodero:
Other stuff from the morning skate: Ben Bishop gets the start in net tonight against the Red Wings. ... The Lightning likely will again go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen.
Center Valtteri Filppula has already played a game against his former team, the Red Wings, but said games against Detroit "are going to be weird for a while" but "it was definitely good to get the first one out of the way." ... Filppula's 10 goals in 30 games already has surpassed the nine he had in 41 games last season for Detroit. "It's always nice to get goals," he said. "But I really didn't think about last year. I'm trying to forget about that."
Cooper was optimistic the game that Teddy Purcell played Tuesday against the Capitals is the "first step" to better things. Purcell, who has just three goals in his past 24 games, was thoroughly engaged playing on a line with Filppula and Alex Killorn. Purcell had an assist, three shots, three takeaways and a blocked shot. "I thought Teddy was exceptional," Cooper said. "He wasn't cheating and trying to pick guys' pockets. He was on the right side of the puck all the time. He was skating and back-checking. It gets him in the game. His best game of the year. Definitely his best game in a month. Now, it's just, okay, take that and hit replay."
NHL.com's Lonnie Hermann also penned a game-day article which includes Bolts lines:
The Red Wings have four skaters out with injury, including Henrik Zetterberg. The Lightning have six players hurt, including Steven Stamkos. The Red Wings are coming off a shootout loss Tuesday against the Florida Panthers; the Lightning lost in a shootout Tuesday against the Washington Capitals. And to top it off, Detroit enters the game one point ahead of Tampa Bay in the Atlantic Division.
"Many people have said that we're playing teams that are healthy and we are banged-up and we can't sit here and have a pity party over it," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Everybody goes through it. But [Thursday] we're playing a team that is just as banged-up as we are. So there is no excuses about what is going to go on."
Detroit coach Mike Babcock sees it similarly.
"I don't think we're going through struggles," Babcock said. "I don't see that. I don't think the attitude our team has is that we're struggling; I think the attitude our team has is that we can find a way to get better each and every day. Finding your attitude is a matter of deciding what you want to focus on. Our plan is to get three out of four points on this [two-game] road trip."
The Red Wings will go with Jonas Gustavsson in net Thursday after Jimmy Howard injured his knee at practice Wednesday. He's expected to miss 1-2 weeks. Petr Mrazek was summoned from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey league to back-up Gustavsson.
J.T. Brown – Valtteri Filppula – Teddy Purcell
Martin St. Louis – Tyler Johnson – Ondrej Palat
Dana Tyrell – Alex Killorn – Nikita Kucherov
B.J. Crombeen – Nate Thompson
Eric Brewer – Radko Gudas
Sami Salo – Matt Taormina
Matthew Carle – Mark Barberio
Suspended: Richard Panik
Injured: Keith Aulie (broken hand), Victor Hedman (lower body), Pierre-Cedric Labrie (upper body), Ryan Malone (lower body) Steven Stamkos (broken tibia), Tom Pyatt (broken collarbone)
Update #10: The Free Press's St. James also posted a clip of Darren Helm and Danny DeKeyser addressing their injuries:
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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.