The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/13/13 at 04:43 AM ET
The Red Wings flew back home to Detroit ahead of an "off day" in which the coach, GM and several players will fan out across Metro Detroit to ring bells for the Salvation Army today, Jimmy Howard and Stephen Weiss will have tests to determine the extent of their injuries, all ahead of a 4-game home stand (the Wings host the Penguins on Saturday the 14th, the Lightning on Sunday the 15th, the Ducks on Tuesday the 17th and the Flames on Thursday the 19th) and a six-game pre-Christmas schedule that will include one trip to Toronto (on the 21st) and a total of five of six games played at Joe Louis Arena--as well as two airings of HBO 24/7 episodes this and next Saturday at 10 PM EST...
But the 15-9-and-9 Red Wings have struggled so very mightily to score in shootouts, as illustrated by their 3-2 shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday evening, that I almost hope at least some of those of you who will greet the Wings' charitable bell-ringers ask whether the gents can put the money in the kettle for you, or whether they might miss the opening (awful, I know).
I'm running out of humor really fast about the fact that the team's earned a "result" (i.e. an overtime or shootout loss) in two straight games and to the point that the Wings now possess a 15-9-and-9 record whose most recent 5-game stretch includes 1 win (on the road, of course), 2 losses (one at home and one on the road) and 2 shootout losses.
And that shootout stuff?
The Red Wings are clearly high achievers, because the statistically-inclined informed me that the Wings have threaded a one-in-2,048 needle over the course of dropping 11 straight shootouts. That's got to count for something other than a point and an 0-for-6 shootout record this year, 9 straight OT-or-shootout losses (the Wings beat Carolina 3-2 in overtime in Game 2 of the season, and they haven't won in "extra time" since October 4th) and what only seems like an even higher incidence of surrendering one or two-goal leads en route to those 9 "decisions."
I will not dispute that the absences of Henrik Zetterberg, Darren Helm and Danny DeKeyser rob the Wings of three absolutely essential cogs in the machine, that not having Jimmy Howard, despite his underwhelming statistics, is certainly proving that Howard wasn't struggling quite as bad as the Wings' defense is struggling to stem the its tide of catastrophic breakdowns, even in front of Jonas Gustavsson, and while Stephen Weiss likely laboring under a strained groin for some time hasn't helped the cause, he didn't hurt it.
The fact that the Wings are heading home to an arena where they possess a 5-6-and-6 record doesn't make me feel any better about the Wings' ability to earn two points, and this morning, I'm just a baffled and frustrated Red Wings fan who wonders why the team that's strung together two four-game winning streaks and one three-game winning streaks (those "streaks" constitute 12 of their 15 wins) doesn't seem to be able to get its shit together at least half the time.
I'm satisfied with the Wings' progress overall, but that doesn't mean that the fact that this team's sub-.500 in terms of real-world results does anything less than frustrate the *#$%@& out of me, and the consistency with which it surrenders leads and points due to last-five-minutes-of-the-period (the Wings were 22 seconds removed from that fate in Tuesday's 3-2 shootout loss to Florida) or last-minute-of-the-period (the latter happened during the second period on Thursday) breakdowns...
That drives me *#$%@& nuts.
The fact that the Bolts defeated Detroit 3-2 in overtime waaaaayyy back on November 9th combined with the team's results of late just made the outcome feel predictable from the moment Kyle Quincey chipped a clearing pass off a Lightning player and Nikita Kucherov spun and shot yet another game-tying goal through yet another sea of Red Wings legs and sticks screening their own goaltender.
Tampa Bay had no problem muddling its way to a win, as they told TampaBayLightning.com's Missy Zielinski...
“I feel like we’re playing the score pretty well,” Martin St. Louis said. “Obviously Ben Bishop is the backbone of our success, but I feel like we hang in there and find ways. Two weeks from now that game’s going to be a win, you’re not going to dissect it.”
Both teams depleted by injuries and missing key offensive contributors, the Lightning and Detroit Red Wings kept the game close as each team was only able to put up one goal apiece through 60 minutes. The two were also backed up by outstanding goaltending in Bishop and Jonas Gustavsson.
Yet Tampa Bay’s captain answered the call in the Bolts time of need and avoided losing for the fourth straight time in overtime/shootouts. At the same time, Detroit saw themselves fall for the ninth in a row in the same situation.
“Tonight you could argue we were lucky to make it through regulation, Bishop made some huge saves for us to force overtime,” head coach Jon Cooper said. “And Gustavsson was a monster tonight. It was no surprise it took 12 shooters for one guy to score. It was kind of the way the night went.”
The game-tying goal was just face-palm-inducingly commonplace for the 2013-2014 Wings...
Only 43.7 seconds remained in the second, but Nikita Kucherov knotted the game at one. Seeing a loose puck he grabbed it, skated up the ice and took a shot from the top of the slot for his second tally in as many games. The game-tying goal eventually stood through the last 20 minutes of play to force the Lightning’s third straight overtime tilt.
“Thompson and Brown forechecked well,” Kucherov said. “It allowed me to get into middle in the offensive zone and shoot the puck. Coach told me if I get the puck to shoot it at the net and you’ll score and I scored.”
But the course of the game involved hiccups and missed opportunities galore on both sides of the puck, as the Tampa Tribune's Erik Erlendsson noted:
The second period opened the game up a bit, starting with a clear shorthanded breakaway chance by Marty St. Louis. But with nothing but open ice in front of him and coming in with speed, St. Louis failed to put the shot on net as the puck sailed wide of the post.
Detroit had a chance to grab a two-goal lead when Daniel Alfredsson was at the left post for a quick redirect, but Bishop read the play was able to slide over and make the stop at 15:56 to keep it a one-goal game.
That save proved beneficial as in the final minute of the period, J.T. Brown won a battle along the end boards and put the puck back into open space near the circles. Kucherov was able to collect the loose puck, spun around to settle the puck down before firing a low wrist shot through traffic that was above the left pad and under the glove of Gustavsson with 43.7 seconds left to tie the game heading into the second intermission.
Bishop ensured the game remained tied early in the second with the Red Wings on the power play as he once again read the play and was in position to stop Tomas Tatar from in close 2:10 into the third period.
The Lightning, which scored twice on the power play on Tuesday in Washington, had the chance with the man advantage late when Tatar was whisteld for closing his hand on the puck with 6:39 left in regulation. But Tampa Bay failed to capitalize on the opportunity, which led to the Lightning penalty killers to have to come up with late kill as Andrej Sustr was called for interference at 16:32. The penalty kill units were up to the task.
Tampa Bay received another late power play chance when Justin Abdelkader was called for hooking during a scramble in front of the net with 43 seconds left in regulation, 1:17 of which carried over into the overtime, although Tampa Bay failed to get a shot on goal with the power play and didn’t register one in the five minute period.
Reuters' recap notes that the Lightning managed out out-wait the Wings to some extent, from the goal on out...
"It was a pretty even game tonight -- you need your goalie to come up big for you, and he really did tonight," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper, whose team has back-to-back wins against Detroit for the first time in its history. "Couple big saves in the third and obviously big-time in the shootout."
The shootout goal came after a 65-minute stalemate between two of the league's top 10 goalies in goals-against-average -- Gustavsson came in sixth at 2.03 and Bishop was ninth at 2.11. Bishop, who beat Detroit in overtime on the road Nov. 9, said a good scouting report and anticipation helped him make the final save of the night.
"I know he likes to shoot high glove. I know he has a good shot, a quick release," said Bishop, who earned his 16th win of the season. "I was kind of anticipating the high-glove shot, and sure enough, he did. ... You just try to stay big, patient and get lucky every now and then."
And the Tampa Bay Times' Damian Cristodero revealed a note of particularly biting irony: the man who decided the game broke a hell of a slump of his own:
It had been so long since Marty St. Louis scored a shootout goal, even the Lightning captain wasn't sure when it was. It was a relevant question after Tampa Bay's 2-1 shootout victory over the Red Wings at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Thursday night because St. Louis was the only player to score in the six-round, game-ending gimmick.
"Was it Chicago, the spin-o-rama?" St. Louis said of his controversial goal scored in March 2011. "I don't know."
As it turns out, St. Louis' previous shootout goal was March 22, 2012, against the Oilers and former Tampa Bay goalie Nikolai Khabibulin. Why the drought? St. Louis has admitted shootouts are not his thing. He is 8-for-34 in his career and has only five attempts since the start of the 2011-12 season.
But coach Jon Cooper said he had "one of those gut feelings," called on St. Louis in the sixth round, and the right wing's sizzling forehand beat goalie Jonas Gustavsson. "It felt pretty good," St. Louis said.
"I just felt him … being an instinctual shooter, not telling him when he is going, it was just one of those gut feelings," Cooper said. "I'm glad I went to him. It was big for us."
St. Louis also shunned any fancy moves, such as the one where he backs his way toward the net. This time he went straight in to Gustavsson's left.
"I try to follow my gut instinct," St. Louis said. "I had a similar situation during the game, had a breakaway, not quite the same angle, but I really felt I had that corner and just missed it. I gave myself a different angle on the shootout and put it in the same spot I wanted to put it in the game."
As the Sarasota Herald-Tribune's Jody Royce suggests, St. Louis felt that he earned measures of redemption in more ways than one, and his redemption yielded--yes indeedy--another frustrating result for the Wings:
St. Louis had a shorthanded breakaway chance in the second, but his shot was wide left.
"I had the corner and missed," St. Louis said. "I just changed the angle on the (shootout) and I hit it."
It was the third straight game where extra time was needed for the Bolts (18-10-3). They had dropped their last two.
Both teams, now rivals in the Atlantic Division, were coming off shootout losses on the road on Tuesday where they blew multigoal leads. Detroit blew a 2-0 lead in the third period to Florida while the Bolts had a 3-0 lead 10 minutes into its game at Washington but could not hold it.
Detroit (15-9-9) is 0-6 in shootouts this season, while Tampa Bay is 4-1 in the deciding skills competition.
Even with all of their talent and skill, the Red Wings have dropped nine straight extra-time games this season -- they won the first one against Carolina -- and have lost 11 straight shootouts dating back to last season. Their last shootout win was Feb. 28 against San Jose.
NHL.com's Lonnie Hermann noted that both coaches felt that the game was essentially "even":
"We went to overtime with them in our last game against Detroit but I thought we could have won that game in regulation," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Tonight, you could argue that we were lucky to tie in regulation. Bishop made some huge saves for us to push us to overtime."
Cooper didn't appear surprised that the shootout went past the regulation three shooters to a side.
"It almost looked like these goalies wouldn't be beat at all and it really would be a long one," Cooper said.
"Our goal from day one is we want to make the playoffs. That's it. That's all we want to do," Cooper said. "We want to get to the tournament. You can't win the big silver cup unless you get to the tournament. But you have to keep accumulating points."
Detroit (15-9-9) hosts the Pittsburgh Penguins, also on Saturday, and their immediate task is more basic: Find a way to win a shootout.
"We've got to find a way to score a goal for our goalie," Babcock said. "Our goalie can't shut them all out. Guys that have scored fairly easily before, their attempts look like they're tight, too. We've got to change that, too."
Gustavsson told the Associated Press that the team's not exactly shaking in dread when they go to extra time (and this recap will serve as our pivot point between the Bolts and Wings' perspectives)...
"It's one of those things," Detroit goalie Jonas Gustavsson said. "It's going to turn around, and then maybe we're going to win five or 10 in a row in the shootout. That's just how it goes. We've got to find a way to do it."
An up-tempo third period featured nice saves by both goalies. Bishop made 28 saves in regulation. Gustavsson stopped 26 shots.
"Both goalies are as big as a house," Babcock said. "There's no room, and both played really well."
And this is a little scary:
Quincey put the Red Wings up 1-0 with his first goal in 51 games, a rebound backhander from along the goal line just past the post at 15:04 of the first. The defenseman also snapped a 16-game point drought.
He's still listed at +1 for the game because the scorekeeper screwed up and thought that Brian Lashoff was on the ice for the game-tying goal, too.
The Wings' goaltender had no problems with his confidence, as he told MLive's Ansar Khan...
“I tried to have confidence in the shootouts,” Gustavsson said. “You work in practice, get some breakaways, try to learn something. You try to be patient, make the move at the right time, but for our team, we got so much skill that sooner or later we’re going to score a lot of goals. I’m not worried about that. It’s going to turn around and then maybe we’re going to win five or 10 in a shootout.”
But the shooters were at least a little bit irked:
Babcock went back to Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi after not using them in Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss at Florida. Datsyuk didn’t attempt a move, firing the puck right into Bishop. Bertuzzi lose control of the puck and didn’t get a shot off.
Daniel Alfredsson, Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist and Johan Franzen also failed to score. The Red Wings have converted only 2-of-21 attempts in the shootout this season.
“Today, we all shot (instead of trying to deke); I thought he made some good saves,” Nyquist said. “Monster really kept us in it. There wasn’t any special game plan, it’s just what we chose to do.”
Watching from the bench, defenseman Niklas Kronwall said: “That’s just the way it’s been. Just stick with it, can’t feel sorry for ourselves. One of these nights it’s going to go the other way.”
Kronwall continued while speaking with the Free Press's Helene St. James...
Kyle Quincey scored in regulation, and the Wings went 0-for-4 with the man advantage during a game in which all in all they played very well.
“It’s very frustrating,” Niklas Kronwall. “I thought we played a pretty decent game, but power play, we need a goal. We have to find a way to get that goal.”
The Wings saw a two-goal lead dissipate into a 3-2 shoot-out loss two nights earlier at Florida. They are 0-for-6 in shoot-outs this season and 0-for-11 dating to last season.
“We’ve got to try to find a way to be better at it,” Nyquist said. “It’s cost us a lot of points so far. Those extra points are so important.”
But the coach preached an even keel...
“I thought it was a good game,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought our team played real hard. They might have done more off their rush. We did more off the cycle and grind. I thought our power play was ultra dangerous, and yet we went 0-for-4. Great opportunities on it, but Bishop was up to the task. We’ve just got to find a way.”
As he also told the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...
“It was a good game, our team played real hard,” Babcock said. “Both goalies are big as a house and played real well. We pushed hard in the third period. I liked our game.”
And if Jimmy Howard is to miss "a week or two" with some sort of sprain--and the Wings play 6 games over the course of the next 10 nights--Babcock believes that the team will survive:
“Gus was great,” Babcock said. “He’s 8-1-2, that’s pretty hard to argue with. He’s been excellent, he’s given us an opportunity every night.”
Said Gustavsson: “I felt good about my game tonight. Maybe on the goal I could have been more aggressive, but I didn’t see the shot well. You can’t really think about what’s in the past (shootouts). Be patient and make the move at the right time. We have so much skill, sooner or later we’re going to score a lot of goals.”
Switching things up a bit in terms of player-related assessments, I didn't have many complaints with anyone on the team, the "unemployment line" of Daniel Cleary, Cory Emmerton and Mikael Samuelsson included, and Quincey and Brendan Smith included.
I can't say that I like the 2nd power play unit with Cleary and Gustav Nyquist flanking Tomas Tatar, with Jakub Kindl and Samuelsson on the point, but I have to give Babcock bonus points for trying.
On a line-by-line basis, from the goal out, obviously Gustavsson's been superb, and he eliminated some of the "squeakers" that were getting through him over his past two starts; Quincey and Smith were disturbingly dynamic in terms of jumping into the rush at the right times, clearing the puck at the right times and playing quietly when necessary; Brian Lashoff and Jakub Kindl remain an up-and-down "second" pair, but Lashoff stepped up in a big way when it looked like Jonathan Ericsson might have injured his left hand in the first period, and he kept grinding out; Kindl is pushing the pace offensively; as for the top pair, Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall were excellent as usual, even though Kronwall got caught on the ice with Quincey on the game-tying goal.
Up front, I really, really, really like Franzen at center and, as my friend Terry noted, Franzen on the PK, because he's more or less forced to get his lazy ass into gear and be engaged in the game. That worked regardless of whether he was playing with Bertuzzi (who hit a bit of a conditioning wall) and Nyquist (who was excellent) or whether he was on the power play with Datsyuk (who also hit a conditioning wall after telling the media that he didn't feel like he was in game shape, proving himself right); Justin Abdelkader is still trying to regain his form in terms of going to the front of the net and staying there, but he made progress; surprisingly enough, it was Drew Miller who led the charge up front, playing with Franzen and sometimes Datsyuk, but Daniel Alfredsson (who finished second in shots to Franzen, 5 to the Mule's 6) was pretty bloody close; it goes without saying that Tatar may have gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar when he gloved the puck up the ice, but he was solid otherwise, that Joakim Andersson's finding his rookie-year confidence and consistency, and Nyquist was excellent on that line; and again, Cleary got some power play time, Emmerton was solid and Mikael Samuelsson would be getting much more goodwill if he could squeeze some offense out of his stick and not be more than a reliable fourth-liner who's earning $3 million for about 8 minutes' of work a night.
The Wings do miss Darren Helm's speed and playmaking abilities terribly, they miss Danny DeKeyser's steadiness on the second pair, and boy howdy, do they miss Zetterberg's leadership, grit and poise. Howard, despite his middling record, was really good against the Panthers, and if anything, the six-games-in-ten-nights situation will allow Petr Mrazek to get some work and Howard to get some more practice time with both Jim Bedard and someone who's both a commentator and mentor in Chris Osgood.
Ideally, the Wings get their shit together between now and Christmas and get Helm, DeKeyser, Zetterberg and Howard all back around the end of the month, and hopefully Stephen Weiss soon thereafter (though I fear that whatever's ailing him is significant given that he's lost two steps' worth of speed compared to the Weiss the Panthers paid tribute to on Tuesday), so the team can open the second half of their season with an almost-all-hands-on-deck roster for and running on all cylinders ahead of the Winter Classic.
Realistically, I get the feeling that there are some hiccups ahead, and if we are to talk about this team's terrible luck with injuries as well as shootouts, six games in ten nights means lots of wear and tear.
I guess you shoot for the middle, but not in the shootout, because that shit has gotten so *#$%@& old that I'm out of superlatives to describe my frustration with the Wings' after-sixty-minutes performances, or the lack thereof as it were.
Highlights: As is becoming usual, even the Red Wings website's highlight clip is narrated by the Bolts' announcers:
If you want to watch the shootout, the Lightning's website did post it.
Post-game: Fox Sports Florida posted a post-game interview with Ben Bishop;
The Lightning posted Soundcloud-based post-game comments from Lightning coach Jon Cooper and goaltender Bishop, and the Lightning posted a 1:46 video clip in which Bishop, Martin St. Louis and Nikita Kucherov speaking with the media;
And the Free Press's Helene St. James posted a clip of Gustav Nyquist and Jonas Gustavsson discussing the team's shootout loss:
Photos: The Free Press posted a 33-image gallery;
The Tampa Bay Times embedded a 16-image gallery in Damian Cristodero's recap;
ESPN posted a 47-image gallery;
Shots 29-27 Detroit overall. Detroit out-shot Tampa Bay 8-6 in the 1st period, they were out-shot 10-6 in the 2nd and 11-10 in the 3rd and out-shot Tampa Bay 5-0 in OT.
Special teams: Detroit went 0-for-4 in 8:00 of PP time; the Lightning went 0-for-5 in 8:00 of PP time.
Goaltending: Jonas Gustavsson stopped 26 of 27 shots; Ben Bishop stopped 28 of 29.
The 3 stars were picked by the Bolts media, and they picked Nikita Kucherov, Jonas Gustavsson and Ben Bishop.
The Wings' goal: Quincey (1) from Nyquist (4) and Franzen (14).
Faceoffs 36-31 Detroit (Detroit won 54%);
Blocked shots 13-13;
Missed shots 19-16 Tampa Bay (total attempts 59-58 Tampa Bay);
Hits 21-15 Tampa bay;
Giveaways 11-9 Tampa Bay;
Takeaways 9-5 Tampa Bay.
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 12-and-12 (50%); Andersson went 9-and-8 (53%); Franzen went 11-and-5 (69%); Tatar went 2-and-3 (40%); Emmerton went 0-and-2 (0%); Bertuzzi went 1-and-1 (50%); Abdelkader won his only faceoff.
Shots: Alfredsson led the Wings with 6 shots; Franzen had 5; Tatar and Ericsson had 3; Quincey had 2; Kindl, Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Nyquist, Bertuzzi, Kronwall and Cleary had 1.
Blocked attempts: Datsyuk hit Bolts players 3 times; Kindl had 2 attempts blocked; Smith, Alfredsson, Andersson, Miller, Tatar, Lashoff, Quincey and Franzen had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Franzen missed the net 4 times; Miller missed the net 3 times; Kindl and Alfredsson missed the net 2 times; Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Andersson, Miller, Tatar, Lashoff, Bertuzzi and Ericsson missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Abdelkader led the Wings with 4 hits; Miller had 3; Kindl had 2; Smith, Datsyuk, Nyquist, Quincey, Kronwall and Franzen had 1.
Giveaways: Andersson had 3 giveaways; Bertuzzi had 2; Smith, Samuelsson, Ericsson and Franzen had 1.
Takeaways: Kindl, Abdelkader, Nyquist, Lashoff and Franzen had 1.
Blocked opponent shots: Quincey blocked 4 Tampa Bay shots; Kindl, Andersson and Kronwall blocked 2; Datsyuk, Nyquist and Franzen blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Ericsson took 2 minors; Abdelkader and Tatar took 1 minor penalty.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished even. Smith, Nyquist, Quincey (somehow), Bertuzzi and Franzen finished at +1; Kindl, Abdelkader, Alfredsson, Datsyuk and Lashoff (unfairly) finished at -1.
Points: Quincey had a goal; Nyquist and Franzen had assists.
Ice time: Kronwall led the Wings with 27:09 played; Datsyuk played 24:53; Quincey played 21:20;
Ericsson played 20:11; Smith played 20:04; Kindl played 20:01;
Miller played 19:54; Alfredsson played 19:35; Andersson played 17:49;
Abdelkader played 17:45; Tatar played 17:42; Franzen played 17:29;
Bertuzzi played 14:56; Nyquist played 14:50; Lashoff played 14:23;
Cleary played 10:30; Samuelsson played 8:27; Emmerton played 5:04.
And on this side of the pond, in the OHL, Andreas Athanasiou scored a goal in the Barrie Colts' 4-2 loss to North Bay.
Red Wings notebooks: The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan noted that Danny DeKeyser skated on Thursday...
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."
DeKeyser is beginning to shoot the puck and has been on the ice regularly lately, so his conditioning isn't a concern.
"I've been working a lot on that," DeKeyser said. "Once you stop playing games you can get out of shape pretty quickly."
As did Darren Helm:
Forward Darren Helm (shoulder) skated the hardest and longest since getting hurt Dec. 4.
"It's going pretty well," Helm said. "Each day has felt a little better."
The Free Press's Helene St. James penned a feature article discussing Daniel Alfredsson's increasing status as a go-to leader and go-to scorer as his tenure with the Wings progresses...
“He’s talking more than he did in the beginning,” Niklas Kronwall said. “He’s finding out where he feels comfortable, and I think he’s felt like he can step up in the locker room and say things when needed. He’s pretty quiet, but an awesome guy.”
Alfredsson had 23 points after 27 games, third-most on the team behind Zetterberg and Datsyuk. Alfredsson, who turned 41 this week, hasn’t gone more than three games without a point.
“Alfie is obviously a team leader because of the kind of character he has and the amount of games he’s played and the kind of skill level he has,” coach Mike Babcock said. “It’s interesting to me is ... the best leader on your team, if he plays good, helps everybody else.”
Leading is second nature to Alfredsson, who captained the Ottawa Senators before signing with the Wings in July. He has the same qualities that made Nicklas Lidstrom so special: professionalism, humility, politeness. Alfredsson spoke when the season began about the right way to fit in and echoed that now that he has been around for a while.
“Once you figure everything out, you get more comfortable, and you kind of do what you feel is right at the right time,” Alfredsson said. “I believe when you lose players like we have, guys naturally step up, and we’ve got to make sure that we still believe in each other and what we can do.”
And her article includes a clip of Babcock making the above-quoted statement, made after the game:
In terms of the Winter Classic, I posted oodles of articles about the NHL's ice-making truck arriving at Michigan Stadium in the entry which Paul initially posted as simply a video, and this morning, the Toledo Blade's Rachel Lenzi adds more interviews and context to the fact that the truck really is a big deal...
“This building, people don’t realize it’s as big as it is, when you walk down on the field and look up,” said Don Renzulli, the NHL’s executive vice president of events. “It’s pretty massive.”
Renzulli, former Detroit Red Wings left wing Tomas Holmstrom and Dan Craig, the NHL’s senior director of facilities operations, met with reporters outside of the stadium to explain the logistics that go into constructing an outdoor rink inside of a stadium that seats more than 109,000.
Construction of the rink at Michigan Stadium began Dec. 2, and Craig — known as the “ice guru,” as he oversees the creation and operation of NHL outdoor rinks — anticipates the first sheet of ice to be put down on Thursday. The Winter Classic hauler, he explained, is the world’s largest mobile refrigeration unit and houses ice-making and ice-monitoring equipment that’s necessary for the NHL to turn the Big House into the Big Freeze.
The NHL has held the Winter Classic at two NFL stadiums and three Major League Baseball stadiums. The process of building a rink inside each venue is the same, Craig said, with the only factor being the logistics of plumbing and making sure there’s a proper circulation of coolant between the hauler and the floor beneath the rink.
Once the ice is put atop a platform that’s been constructed at Michigan Stadium, Craig will monitor the ice around the clock, both on site and through an app on his mobile phone. Craig said each site comes with some tinkering, and one element is out of the control of he and his staff.
“Next Thursday it’s supposed to be in the mid-30s, not in the teens or in single digits as it is now,” said Craig, who has overseen rink construction in the United States, Canada, Japan, and the United Kingdom. “If it’s going to be a warm day, we won’t even work during the day. We’ll work at night. Those are the things you have to deal with, with the crews that put in the ice.”
And Tomas Holmstrom played the role he plays best--himself:
“My kids love to see the outdoor hockey games, especially when it’s snowing and you cannot see the puck,” said Holmstrom, who played in the 2009 Winter Classic between the Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks at Wrigley Field in Chicago. “I think it makes the kids want to go out and do it too. Instead of sitting inside and playing video games, they think, ‘OK, I want to go out and try that, too.’
Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika posted quips and quotes from the presser in his Three Periods column, too:
— The NHL has a new ice-making truck for outdoor events. Ice guru Dan Craig helped design it, and he visited it every three weeks as it was constructed in Toronto. It left the shop about a week ago and arrived at Michigan Stadium on Thursday to begin preparations for the Winter Classic. “My eyes kind of lit up when I opened up the doors,” Craig said. “I haven’t had the chance to play with it.” How much did the new toy cost? Craig declined to give a number. “A big number,” he said.
— Craig checked into an Ann Arbor hotel on Wednesday night for a 29-day stay. His crew will arrive on Sunday, go through a safety orientation Monday and start unloading equipment Tuesday. They will put up the boards Wednesday, test the system Thursday morning and start making ice Thursday night. “Mother Nature is going to dictate how those four days go,” Craig said. “If we don’t start doing it until Friday morning, that’s no big deal.” (The rink has already been built and the ice is already down at Comerica Park in Detroit, where a series of events will be held leading up to the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day. But Craig is only overseeing the work of a subcontractor there.)
— The new truck was designed to make ice even in warm weather. “If we have a 60-degree day, don’t worry,” Craig said. “We’ll still have hockey.” So that is the truck that will go to Los Angeles for the game Jan. 25 and to Vancouver for the Heritage Classic on March 2. The original truck – which made ice for the Winter Classics in Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia – will handle the games in New York on Jan. 26 and 29 and Chicago on March 1. Craig will supervise the L.A. and Chicago games. His son, Mike, will supervise the New York and Vancouver games.
Also of Red Wings-related note: How's Patrick Eaves holding up in Grand Rapids? Fox 17's Steve Amorose reports that he's just fine:
At the other end of the spectrum, as Championat's Maria Rogovskaya notes, it's Sergei Fedorov's 44th birthday today, and as of yet, he hasn't returned to play for CSKA Moscow;
In the land of lists, The Hockey News's Ken Campbell posted a Thursday slate of power rankings...
14. DETROIT (12): Steve Yzerman agreed to suit up for the alumni game at the Winter Classic, but the Wings might want to see if he’d be interested in playing a real game for them. The Red Wings have been plagued by inconsistency, both in effort and results. They seem to be running out of gas, the way they did after taking a 2-0 lead, then losing 3-2 in a shootout to Florida Tuesday night. Back-to-back losses to the Panthers – not good.
And the CBC's Kelly Hrudey posited a slate of goalie power rankings:
5. JONAS GUSTAVSSON (8-1-1, 2.03) Gustavsson is playing so well because he's back to being an athletic goalie instead of a shot-blocking netminder.
You may take this for what you will:
And I'm going to be in and out today, and I'm not apologizing for it. I have to take a certain parent in for a six-month check-up and we're hoping for our second straight "no signs of skin cancer" doctor's assessment. I'll do what I can when I'm not out of the office.
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