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The Malik Report

Red Wings-Maple Leafs game-day updates: DeKeyser in, Kindl scratched, Reimer vs. Gustavsson in net

Updated 8x at 4:29 PM: The Detroit Red Wings need to earn two points much more than than they need to paint an HBO-friendly picture when they battle the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight (7 PM EST, FSD/CBC/NHL Network U.S. with the usual Center Ice and GameCenter Live blackouts/97.1 FM). Sportsnet's Tony Ambrogio reports that one team "took an optional" this morning, and it wasn't the Red Wings:

James Reimer is not taking part at optional #Leafs morning skate. Appears he'll make third straight start against Detroit tonight.

Jonas Gustavsson will start opposite Reimer for the Wings.

As previously noted, MLive's Ansar Khan and the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness reported that news is not good on the Stephen Weiss front, as the Windsor Star's Bob Duff confirms:

Per Ken Holland: #redwings C Stephen Weiss has sports hernia. Determining next course of action.

Groin injuries are the, "Life is a box of chocolates" injuries of the sporting world: you never know how bad things are going to be until you get in there and determine the extent of the tear or tears, whether we're talking about a tear of the abdominal wall or a tear of the abdominal wall as well as a tear to a groin muscle

You may take this note from Pro Hockey Talk's Ryan Dadoun for what you will...

There was a time when the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs enjoyed a fierce rivalry, but it cooled significantly in the years following Toronto’s move to the Eastern Conference for the 1998-99 campaign.

“I feel like hate is built through an incident or playoffs,” Red Wings forward Daniel Cleary told the Detroit News. “We haven’t even played these guys in years. It doesn’t work like that (instant rivalry). It’s built over time and through playoffs, that drives rivalries.

“You see a team in the playoffs, then see them again the next year.”

Maintaining that kind of rivalry in recent years would have been a near impossible feat, but now that Detroit and Toronto are once again playing in the same division, they have a chance to rebuild what was lost.

That task will be highlighted on Jan. 1 when these clubs face off in the Winter Classic, but it will begin tonight in their first meeting as Atlantic Division adversaries.

“Certainly we want to go out and play well and set the tone,” Cleary said. “This will be an important game heading into the (Christmas) break.”

The Leafs' morning skate--or the lack thereof--continued, as noted by Sportnset's Chris Johnston...

Based on the #leafs optional morning skate, it looks like Mark Fraser and Paul Ranger will both be scratched again.

...

Jonathan Bernier confirms he was sore after collision with #pens Jayson Megna. James Reimer starts tonight vs. Detroit.

And the Toronto Sun's Dave Hilson:

Injured players Tyler Bozk, Colton Orr getting a hard skate in.

...

Nazem Kadri says it' s hard not to look past Saturday's game to the #WinterClassic.

...

Morgan Rielly agrees this first game will be a chance to get a bit of a hate on for the Wings.

...

Faceoffs our a concern for our hockey club: Randy Carlyle

...

Carlyle sees lots of similarities between Wings and Leafs: Inconsistency, injuries.

Cue more goalie talk form the CBC's David Amber:

Bernier LBI says he feels ok to go tonight but coaching staff wants to be careful. So expext Reimer to start tonight #Leafs @hockeynight

In post-Soviet Russia, you sign team? Per the Windsor Star's Bob Duff:

Former #redwings D Ian White has signed with Traktor Chelyabinsk of #KHL.

Ah, yes, the ever-eloquent Randy Carlyle, per the Canadian Press's Stephen Whyno:

#Leafs' Carlyle on DET: "We've had quite a few suspensions that have taken people away from us. They've had their fair share of injuries."

This tidbit from Sportsnet's Johnston is good...

Henrik Zetterberg is taking part in the #redwings morning skate at Air Canada Centre. He's been out with a herniated disc.

And I believe that we call this a classic Mike Babcock, "Sit him to piss him off and make him want to prove you wrong" move, per the Free Press's Helene St. James...

Told by Jakub Kindl he's healthy scratch tonight when #redwings play at Toronto. Danny DeKeyser returning.

Who continues...

Per Ken Holland, Stephen Weiss has sports hernia, deciding whether surgery now or later. #redwings

..

#RedWings  putting Gustav Nyquist and Justin Abdelkader on IR, but can come off Monday if healthy.

I'm still trying to figure out whether this bit from MLive's Ansar Khan is meant as sarcasm or not:

Jimmy Howard skating with team at Air Canada Centre for fort time since MCL sprain. Not due back until Dec. 30 or later.

Late to the party but #1 in our hearts, it's the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan!
 

Holland says Weiss will need surgery ultimately..decision today whether it will be now or later..now and it will take 8 weeks before return

Now, please. Get it over with.

Tootoo in tonight..,Abby and nyquist on it retroactive to make it happen

...

Abdelkader will have neuro tests today...if he passes can play Monday

Well this tidbit from TSN 1050's Jonas Siegel makes me feel better...

Thursday vs. Phoenix was just the seventh time in the last 23 games that the Leafs have allowed fewer than three goals.

This, I don't know about:

Tonight will mark the first time all season that James Reimer will make three straight starts.

Ditto:

David Clarkson, who has gone 12 straight w/o a goal says, "A lot of athletes go through a lot of ups and downs no matter what sport it is."

I see that HBO is in attendance, per NHL.com's Joe Yerdon...

Run away!

Samuelsson doing some PP work here. Going back in?

NHL.com posited the following regarding today's game in its daily media email digest:

The Red Wings visit the Maple Leafs tonight in a preview of the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. The game, which will be telecast nationally in both the U.S. and Canada, marks the first meeting between these teams since Jan. 7, 2012, when Toronto edged Detroit 4-3. Overall, the clubs have faced off 644 times during the regular season since 1926-27, with the Red Wings (275-273-96) holding a 646-645 edge in points (TOR: 276-275-93). For more information on the Red Wings-Maple Leafs rivalry, check out the NHL Outdoor Game Information Guide, available on the Media website.

The second episode of “24/7 Red Wings/Maple Leafs: Road to the NHL Winter Classic” debuts in the U.S. tonight on HBO at 10:00 p.m. ET. The episode will air in Canada on Sportsnet tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Do you want to see the episode preview? Here it is...

And again, the alternate showings schedule is...weird...per the NHL's press release:

24/7 RED WINGS/MAPLE LEAFS: ROAD TO THE NHL WINTER CLASSIC

DEC. 21 EPISODE Episode #2

Debut: SATURDAY, DEC. 21 (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT)

Other HBO playdates: Dec. 21 (5:50 a.m.), 22 (11:30 a.m.), 23 (6:00 p.m., 1:40 a.m.), 24 (2:30 p.m., 10:00 p.m.), 25 (3:45 p.m., 11:00 p.m.), 26 (midnight) and 28 (9:30 a.m., 10:00 p.m., 3:25 a.m.)

 HBO2 playdates: Dec. 22 (11:30 p.m.), 27 (9:00 p.m.) and 30 (12:30 p.m.)

Toronto savors their win over the reigning NHL® champion Chicago Blackhawks as the competition between Maple Leafs goalies Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer picks up.  Detroit heads to Tampa where Red Wings legend Steve Yzerman is now the general manager of the Lightning.  Both teams are challenged by a busy mid-December schedule that features four games in the span of six days.

For the first time, all four episodes of the HBO Sports HD presentation debut in prime time, on consecutive Saturday nights. Episode three debuts on Saturday, Dec. 28. The series finale debuts Saturday, Jan. 4, three days after the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®, with cameras tracking all the drama of game day in Ann Arbor, MI.  The series will also be available on HBO ON DEMAND and HBO GO.


With 17 Sports Emmys®, “24/7” is the most-honored sports series of the past six years. At the 2012 Sports Emmy® Awards, the series received the Dick Schaap Writing Award for “24/7 Flyers/Rangers,” the third Sports Emmy® for the “24/7” NHL franchise. Launched in 2007, the earliest editions of “24/7” were devoted to boxing.

The executive producer of 24/7 RED WINGS/MAPLE LEAFS: ROAD TO THE NHL WINTER CLASSIC is Rick Bernstein; senior producer, Dave Harmon; coordinating producer, Bentley Weiner; producer, Thomas Odelfelt; writer, Aaron Cohen; narrator, Liev Schreiber.

Via RedWingsFeed, I believe we can call this a, "The next next episode" preview:

 

USA Today's Kevin Allen's spotlighting tonight's game as the must-watch match-up among 12 NHL games scheduled for this afternoon and evening. Amongst his points of emphasis:

The race: The two teams have a rivalry that dates to the Original Six days, and now they in the same division. They are two points apart. Currently, the Red Wings and Maple Leafs are both in a playoff position. However, depending upon whether the Metropolitan Division teams start playing better, the Maple Leafs and Red Wings could be competing for one spot.

The Slump: The usually-consistent Red Wings are struggling. With the exception of the Pittsburgh Penguins, no team is as beat up as the Red Wings. Jimmy Howard, Henrik Zetterberg, Darren Helm, Johan Franzen, Gustav Nyqvist, Stephen Weiss, Danny DeKeyser and Justin Abdelkader have all been out of the lineup. DeKeyser is the only injured player set to return tonight. The Red Wings are trying to rediscover their competitiveness with a patchwork lineup. They are 3-5-2 in their last 10 games.

The Slump II: The Maple Leafs are also not in perfect harmony, losing five of their last seven games. They did win their last game in a shootout over Phoenix. But the Leafs are not where they want to be, and winning this rivalry game, with HBO cameras rolling, could give this team an emotional lift. By the way, Toronto coach Randy Carlyle admits it’s been challenging for him to be comfortable cameras in his dressing room. It’s probably been as challenging as getting bread out of the toaster. His struggle in that endeavor was one of the highlights of the first HBO episode.

The return: Toronto goalie Jonathan Bernier is expected to be back in the lineup against Detroit. He missed Thursday’s game, as a result of an undisclosed injury suffered when he collided with Pittsburgh Penguins player Jayson Megna earlier in the week.

The veterans: The Red Wings are hoping that veterans Pavel Datsyuk, Daniel Alfredsson, Todd Bertuzzi and others will step up to re-ignite the team. Datsyuk hasn’t been the same since recovering from a concussion, although he did look sharper Thursday in a win against Calgary. Likewise, Alfredsson is coming off an impressive outing. The Red Wings are counting on Alfredsson being a force. By the way, Alfredsson is considered one of the memorable villains in Leafs’ history. He is booed each time he touches the puck in Toronto because of his actions when he played with the Ottawa Senators. In the 2002 playoffs, he flattened Toronto forward Darcy Tucker with a controversial hit and then scored the game-winning goal. Toronto fans’ dislike of Alfredsson grew from there.

I'll politely disagree and state that Alfredsson was amazing and that Datsyuk has learned how to play fearlessly again--which ain't easy after you've suffered your first concussion, trust me on that one (2 big ones for me).

Anyway, the Red Wings' Game Day Blog offers a historical note...

On This Day in Red Wings' History...On December 21, 1964

Former Red Wings tough guy Joe Kocur was born on this date in Calgary, Alberta.

And Ken Kal's Keys to the Game:

RAM Keys to the Game with Ken Kal

Make the Best of Scoring Chances - The Leafs, as a team, give up a ton of shots. There will be scoring chances tonight, so make them count.

Convert on the Power Play - The Leafs have allowed 30 PP goals this season. They rank 27th in the league. Take advantage of this as a team.

Solid Goalkeeping - There's incentive for Jonas Gustavsson to play well against his former team. Detroit needs a good effort between the pipes.

Here comes coach Babcock, per Khan...

Babcock said DeKeyser is in tonight for Kindl. He is paired with Quincey. No changes at forward.

And Kulfan:

DeKeyser in and kindl out

Khan had yesterday's lines listed as follows:

Here are the lines they skated with today, which probably doesn't mean that much since Babcock hasn't decided on his lineup:

Todd Bertuzzi-Pavel Datsyuk-Tomas Jurco

Darren Helm-Riley Sheahan-Daniel Alfredsson

Drew Miller-Joakim Andersson-Tomas Tatar

Daniel Cleary-Luke Glendening-Patrick Eaves

And...

All seven defensemen skated, changing pairs frequently.

Uh, Kronwall-Ericsson, Quincey-Smith, DeKeyser-Lashoff?

And I really do believe that Babcock is sitting Kindl specifically to piss him off and make Kindl want to prove Babcock wrong. He does that from time to time.

Update #0.5: In World Junior Championship news, TSN's Mark Masters reports that Anthony Mantha's skating on Canada's third line as the team practices in Sweden ahead of the WJC:

Update #0.75: And there was much rejoicing in the personnel department, per NHL.com's Yerdon:

No lineup changes for Detroit. Samuelsson was holding Alfredsson's spot working on the power play. The Sammy Scare is over.

Update #0.8: From Sportsnet's Johnston...

Jimmy Howard says his recovery is ahead of schedule. Hopes to return before Winter Classic. "I would says it is 75-25."

And the Toronto Sun's Mike Zeisberger:

Injured #Wings G Jimmy Howard puts odds of being ready for #WinterClassic at 75-25. "I plan on playing."

Update #0.9: The Wings' website posted a slate of "morning skate" updates--and it's interesting to note that the Wings believe that the 2nd and 3rd defensive pairs will consist of Quincey-DeKeyser and Lashoff-Smith:

Danny DeKeyser will return to the lineup tonight.

"I’m excited. It’s been a while since I’ve played, a little over a month, but it seems longer than that so I’m just ready to get back at it." - Danny DeKeyser

DeKeyser will be paired will Kyle Quincey.

Jakub Kindl will be a healthy scratch.

"It's going to be exciting. It's going to be fun...“I enjoyed living in Toronto, had a lot of good teammates. But I think both sides felt it
was time to move on. For me, it was time to find another challenge." - Jonas Gustavsson

"Gus has been really good for us...He’s been real competitive. His save percentage is good, he’s gotten confidence, he gives our team confidence. He’s done an excellent job for us." - Mike Babcock

Jimmy Howard skated with the team today. He hopes to be back just before the Winter Classic.

Darren Helm (Shoulder) hopes to return Monday.

Justin Abdelkader also hopes to be back on Monday (Head).

Jordin Tootoo looks to be in again tonight.

Stephen Weiss has a sports hernia. The team is determining their next move now.

Update #1: The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan confirms Howard's status...

Howard hopeful of playing in winter classic

Confirmation x4 from the CP's Whyno:

#RedWings' Jimmy Howard said he was "ahead of schedule" working back from knee injury. Thinks he can return before Winter Classic.

And this thread is useless without pics?

Also: NHL.com's Yerdon confirms the DeKeyser defensive pairing:

FWIW: DeKeyser said he'd be with Quincey tonight.

Update #1.5: For the record, at the Channel One Cup in Moscow, Mattias Janmark did not register a point in Sweden's 3-2 shootout loss to the Czech Republic.

Update #2: From TSN 1050's Dave McCarthy:

Danny DeKeyser expected to return to #RedWings line up vs #Leafs tonight. 1st game since Nov 19th vs #Predators; was out w/ shoulder injury

...

Jonas Gustavsson expected to start for #RedWings vs #Leafs. Picked up win (for Leafs) last time the two teams met on Jan 7th, 2012.

...

Alfredsson on what reaction he expects at ACC: Don't know what to expect. It'll probably be the same, I don't think it'll be any different

...

Alfredsson: I'm having a lot of fun out there. At this stage of my career, you never know when it's going to end so you just try to enjoy it

...

DeKeyser on returning: It's been just over a month but it definitely feels a lot longer than that. Sitting around gets boring really quick.

Update #3: MLive's Ansar Khan focused on Kindl's status as a healthy scratch in his game-day update...

Defenseman Jakub Kindl was arguably the Detroit Red Wings’ most improved player last season.

Kindl was strong defensively, chipped in some offense (13 points in 41 games) and led the club’s defensemen with a plus-15 rating. It earned him a four-year, $9.6 million contract extension in the off-season. Kindl hasn’t been as sharp this season, and tonight he will be a healthy scratch against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre.

Kindl is the odd-man out because Danny DeKeyser will return after missing 15 games with a separated shoulder.

“I wouldn’t say disappointed; I just got to work harder,” Kindl said. “Just got to work harder, compete more and I’m sure if I do that I’ll be back in the lineup soon.”

Kindl has 10 points (goal, nine assists) in 37 games but he and Kyle Quincey are tied for the worst plus-minus on the team (minus-10).

Kind took his benching in stride, even joked that he wouldn’t have ate so much the night before had he known he wasn’t playing.

And the Free Press's Helene St. James posted updates on the Wings' other injuries:

Johan Franzen has a concussion, but general manager Ken Holland said Franzen could be ready right after Christmas. Neither Weiss nor Franzen traveled to Toronto, where the Wings play the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre tonight (7 p.m. FSD, NHLN, CBC).

Captain Henrik Zetterberg - without whom the Wings are 2-5-2 - went through a good hour-long morning skate/practice, and remains on target to return Dec. 28 at Florida. He’s been out since Dec. 1 with a herniated disc.

Justin Abdelkader, out the past week after getting a blow to the head, spent part of Saturday undergoing neurological tests with the expectation he’d be cleared to play Monday. He and Gustav Nyquist are both on short-term IR, but can be taken off for Monday’s game against the New York Islanders. Nyquist is day-to-day with a sore groin.

Darren Helm, who hurt a shoulder Dec. 1, is also on the doorstep.

Jimmy Howard has been putting in extra workouts, and is aiming to play Dec. 30 at Nashville. He hurt his left knee Dec. 11 during practice. He, too, was on the ice for an hour Saturday, wearing the brown pads he hopes to be using as a starter Jan. 1 in the Winter Classic, when the Wings and Leafs meet at Michigan Stadium.

“I’m hoping for that Nashville game, playing in that game, and then hopefully taking off from there,” Howard said.

The NHL has a mandatory break from Dec. 24-26, but Howard said he’s got a plan to keep his recovery on pace even if he can’t come to Joe Louis Arena to skate.

“I’ll take some of the mobile units home with me and just set it up,” Howard said. “I already knows how all the stuff works, so that’ll be easy.”

The Wings will very happily open the Joe for Howard...Except that the ice is supposed to be taken out after Monday's game as the Wings won't return to the Joe until January 18th.

Update #4: The Toronto Star's Curtis Rush posited a game-day Leafs update:

Reimer has an 8-5-1 record and is ranked No. 28 in the NHL with a 2.69 goals-against average. Reimer faced 35 shots in the Phoenix win and coach Randy Carlyle has said that both Reimer and Bernier are having career years.

The offence, on the other hand, has not been good enough. The focus of attention for Saturday night has shifted to Nazem Kadri, who has been filling in as the No. 1 centre in the absence of the injured Tyler Bozak. Kadri as been struggling, particularly on the faceoffs where he has won only 42.7 per cent of the draws. Coach Randy Carlyle defended his young centre, who is “cutting his teeth” as a player who is trying to reach a higher level.

...

Kadri said there is quite a challenge in facing Datsyuk, who is “strong on the stick and he’s very smart in the faceoff circle.” Winning draws, however, is not all power, the 23-year-old Kadri said.

“A lot of times it’s very strategic. You’ve got to find out different ways to beat guys,” he said, adding he had an “off-game” in the faceoff circle against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Defenceman Morgan Rielly was asked how he is looking forward to facing Datsyuk and sniper Daniel Alfredsson.

“I’m not looking forward to it, actually,” Rielly said. “They’re two pretty good players who are pretty hard to play against.”“When I leave, I go home to a wonderful family. I really don’t read it (criticism), I don’t pay attention to it. I’ve got a 2-1/2-year old that I love being around. When I come to work, I try to work my hardest.”

...

The Red Wings have several injured players, including their leading scorer Henrik Zetterberg (back). Zetterberg, who has 11 goals and 19 assists for 30 points, has not played since Dec. 1. This is the first of a four-game series with the Red Wings. Carlyle was asked if it’s important to build a rivalry with their new Atlantic Division opponents.

“I’m more concerned with winning hockey games,” the Leaf coach said. “There’s a long history between Toronto and Detroit, but with this coaching staff we’re just trying to make sure we’re can provide a consistent brand of hockey, which we haven’t been able to do.”

Hi, Pavel Datsyuk...

Update #5: The Free Press's St. James penned a second article discussing Danny DeKeyser's return...

DeKeyser is rejoining the Detroit Red Wings tonight when they play the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre tonight (7 p.m. FSD, NHLN, CBC). DeKeyser has been out since suffering a separated left shoulder Nov. 19.

“I’m really excited about it,” DeKeyser said. “There’s a really good history here between Detroit and Toronto, two pretty historic franchises. It’s going to be fun. It’s Saturday night. It’s going to be a great atmosphere and should be a good game.”

DeKeyser is paired with Kyle Quincey, which puts Brendan Smith with Brian Lashoff, as Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson remain in tact as the top pairing. The Wings just broke a six-game winless streak with an overtime victory Thursday, while the Leafs also come in to tonight having won their last game, leaving them 2-5 in their last seven games.

The next meeting between the Wings and Maple Leafs is the jewel of the season: Jan. 1 at the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium. As part of the lead-up to the big game, both teams are being filmed for HBO’s 24/7.

The Wings and Leafs have met 644 times since 1926-27; the Wings are 275-273-96. Having long been separated by conferences up realignment this past off-season, however, the Wings haven’t been in Toronto since Jan. 7, 2012, when they lost, 4-3. Renewing acquaintances is most welcome.

“I think that’s a real positive thing,” coach Mike Babcock said. “And maybe the 24/7 and maybe the Winter Classic can help with all that. To have a rivalry, to me what you do is, you meet in the playoffs, you have two really good teams, you have hard series and you build up some animosity for one another. That hasn’t been possible.”

St. James posted a video of Howard discussing his status...

MLive's Khan posted the Wings' lineup...

Tomas Jurco-Pavel Datsyuk-Daniel Alfredsson

Drew Miller-Joakim Andersson-Tomas Tatar

Daniel Cleary-Luke Glendening-Patrick Eaves

Todd Bertuzzi-Riley Sheahan-Jordin Tootoo

There are tonight's defense pairs:

Jonathan Ericsson-Niklas Kronwall

Kyle Quincey-Danny DeKeyser

Brian Lashoff-Brendan Smith

Jonas Gustavsson (starting)

Petr Mrazek

Sportsnet's Chris Johnston penned a game-day article...

"It’s a very, very important game for both teams," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "All you’ve got to do is look at the standings. Also, when you haven’t been great, you’re trying to get some traction as a group. That’s important for us here tonight."

Toronto was expected to send out the same lineup against the Red Wings as it had for the win over Phoenix. That meant James Reimer would start a third straight game in net for the first time all year and defencemen Paul Ranger and Mark Fraser would each be scratched.

Detroit was expected to counter with Jonas Gustavsson, a former Leaf, between the pipes. The Red Wings have been hit heavily by injuries. The walking wounded include Henrik Zetterberg (back), Stephen Weiss (sports hernia), Jimmy Howard (knee), Johan Franzen (concussion), Justin Abdelkader (concussion), Darren Helm (shoulder) and Gustav Nyquist (groin).

While Toronto has dealt with its fair share of ailments this season, it never got quite that bad. Even still, Leafs coach Randy Carlyle sees the parallels between the teams.

"You have the hockey package at home and you’re immersed in the game right from the beginning of the season," Carlyle said. "I see a lot of similarities in where they’re at and where we are at. We’ve got inconsistency in our play, flooded with injuries and not the personnel I’m sure that they had on their whiteboard through the summer months."

Another common thread is the HBO cameras. Both sides seem to be settled in with the travelling camera crews that are essentially documenting every move they make at the rink and even some that happen elsewhere.

"It’s a little bit different than what you’re used to," Red Wings forward Daniel Alfredsson said. "The cameras are on you all the time and it takes a few days or a week to get used to it. Once you get comfortable with it, it’s a non-issue. I think it’s great for the game."

Which continues some superb napkin note notes...

And the Toronto Sun's Dave Hilson penned a game-day article as well:

Young centre Nazem Kadri wasn’t denying it, it’s hard not to look past Saturday night’s game against the Detroit Red Wings and to the Winter Classic.

“You’re planning out things for your family, just hotel rooms, who is coming. It’s hectic,” Kadri said.

And that’s not to mention the 24/7 cameras that have been omnipresent in the run-up to the big game.

“But you just have to push that aside as a professional athlete and worry about your job,” he added.

....

Detroit has gone 1-4-2 in its past seven games, coming off a 3-2 overtime victory against Calgary on Thursday night. Lack of scoring has been the Wings’ biggest problem, recording just 12 goals in that span. Toronto hasn’t been much better. The Leafs have lost five of seven and, if you exclude their 7-3 victory over the Blackhawks on Dec. 14, have managed just 13 regulation goals in their past nine home games.

“We need to improve, especially giving up easy goals for the other team when struggling to score ourselves,” said former Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson who is making his ACC return.

Update #6: The Maple Leafs' website posted a game-day preview, comments from David Clarkson, Morgan Rielly, Nazem Kadri, Jerred Smithson and coach Randy Carlyle's game-day presser;

NHL.com's Yerdon focused on Danny DeKeyser's return and the "rivalry reborn" in his game-day article...

"I'm really excited about it," DeKeyser said. "There's a good history here between Detroit and Toronto, two pretty storied franchises. It's going to be fun. It's Saturday night so it's going to be a great atmosphere and should be a great game."

DeKeyser said he'll be paired up with Kyle Quincey. Jakub Kindl will be a healthy scratch to make room for him. The Red Wings have had more success on the road this season, going 10-3-3 away from Joe Louis Arena compared to a 6-9-6 record on home ice.

"We haven't been as good a team since we lost our people," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "I'm not trying to make excuses at all for that, but we just haven't been as good of a team. So I think that affects it for sure. Then I also think that when things don't go good for you and you're a little tentative, as much as your crowd's trying to help you, instead of being a bunch of solid veterans who don't worry about that stuff, when you got kids you tighten up a little bit and I think that affects you."

Jonas Gustavsson will start get the start for the Red Wings against his former team. He played his first three seasons in the NHL with the Maple Leafs.

The Maple Leafs held an optional skate and will not have any lineup changes from a 2-1 shootout win Thursday against the Phoenix Coyotes. Jonathan Bernier was the only goalie on the ice during the morning skate meaning James Reimer is expected to get the start.

"I think if you're good in your own end somehow it transfers over to the other team's zone," Maple Leafs forward David Clarkson said. "I thought last game, as a team, we were very good in our own end and [Reimer] gives us an opportunity there to get the win."

The Red Wings and Maple Leafs are facing each other for the first time this season. The two teams haven't been divisional rivals since 1997-1998.

"I think [the rivalry] is coming back," Clarkson said. "With them coming back and playing each other more and especially with the [Winter Classic] coming up, I think that rivalry is there and it'll continue to grow and grow over the next couple years."

The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan's game-day article discusses Stephen Weiss's status...

It appears both sides may be leaning toward surgery, in that with the three-week Olympic break in February, Weiss could be ready to go right after the break.

“That’s what the doctor is recommending,” said Holland of the surgery. “But the doctor also said we can be conservative and wait two to three weeks, he can skate, and we’ll try to get through it. If not, then we do the surgery. You can wait and they can do some things and help it along, or you can have the surgery now. The good news is there’s a three week Olympic break and he’d probably be ready to go after (the break).”

Weiss last played on Dec. 10. He missed six games in November with groin problems, returned to play in nine games, but was forced out of the lineup again with difficulties.

Jimmy Howard's desire to play in the Winter Classic...

“I really don’t want to miss that,” Howard said. “It’s been a year and a half of waiting for it. I really don’t want to miss it but at the same time I’m going to be smart about it and if it doesn’t feel right, I’m not going to force the issue.”

Still, Howard said “we’re ahead of schedule. The plan is to get a couple of practices in and back up on the 28th. I don’t think that’s out of the possibility, barring any setbacks.”

And Brendan Smith and Kyle Quincey's statuses as Leaf fans growing up:

“This is pretty cool, especially being close to Christmas and everyone is home from college to watch,” Smith said. “It’s quite an experience It’s exciting to play the Leafs in the regular season with everything is on the line.”

Quincey is in his ninth NHL season but still gets excited about the opportunity to play in his hometown.

“Always,” Quincey said. “When you grow up in Ontario and you’re such a huge hockey fan, you’re also a huge Leafs fan, and when you to get the chance to play them, even 50 years from now it’ll be exciting (thinking about it).”

Update #6.5: The Free Press's Helene St. James posted a video about DeKeyser and Kindl being swapped...

And in the FYI department, from CBS Detroit:

 

Update #8: TSN posted a massive 5:53 game-day set of comments from Randy Carlyle, Mike Babcock, Nazem Kadri, Morgan Rielly, David Clarkson, Daniel Alfredsson, Jonas Gustavsson

MLive's Ansar Khan penned an article about Jimmy Howard's recovery from a sprained left MCL....

“We’re ahead of schedule, we’ve been doing a great job, rehabbing hard with (trainers) Piet (Van Zant) and Russ (Baumann), training with Renzo (strength and conditioning coach Pete Renzetti),” Howard said after the morning skate at the Air Canada Centre. “Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to let the pads hit the ice.”

If all goes according to plan, Howard will back-up Jonas Gustavsson Dec. 28 in Florida, start Dec. 30 in Nashville and play in the Winter Classic.

“I don’t think that’s out of the possibility, barring setbacks,” Howard said. “We’ve been working really hard and the knee’s really responding, so it’s good to see.”

He said his chances of being ready for the Winter Classic were 50-50 when he got injured. Now he places them at 75 percent.

“I really don’t want to miss that; it’s been a year and a half just waiting for it,” Howard said. “But at the same time I’m going to be smart about it. If it’s not feeling right, I’m not going to force the issue.”

Howard said he will have about 50 family members and friends coming from out of town for the Winter Classic.

“I’m looking forward to sharing the whole experience with my family and friends,” Howard said. “I’m looking forward to all of them enjoying themselves, but at the same time remember that it’s still a very important game and there’s two points on the line.”

And Khan updated his article about Stephen Weiss's sports hernia with quotes:

“(Weiss) has got all the information, so obviously he’s going to have to (make the decision)," general manager Ken Holland said. “One option is you can wait 2-3 weeks, do conservative treatment and then try  again and hope to get him through the year. We think he’s going to need surgery in the off-season if he doesn’t have it now. They can so some things to try to help it along, or if he has surgery now, the good news is there’s a 2½-week Olympic break and he probably would be ready to go after the Olympic break.”

Weiss saw Dr. William Meyers, a specialist in Philadelphia, on Friday, after missing five games with what he thought was a groin issue. He sat out six games in November with what the club now believes is the same problem.

“Doctors also said we can go conservative, wait 2-3 weeks and then he can skate and we’ll try to get him through, and if not, at that point we’ll do surgery," Holland said.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

alwaysaurie's avatar

“I feel like hate is built through an incident or playoffs,” Red Wings forward Daniel Cleary told the Detroit News.

Old-man-story-time:

These are things I learned from my Grandparents and their children, mainly my Grandmother who was a fanatic from the 20’s until her death in the early 70’s.

The Wings had some intense games, series, and fights against the Maple Leafs in the forties - but it became fiercest after the Howe-Kennedy incident in the first game of the 1950 playoffs.

‘49-‘50 was the year Lindsay-Abel-Howe finished 1-2-3 in scoring. Howe was still fighting too much and taking loads of boarding penalties (do you remember the way Ovechkin used to check before he got a couple of suspension? - like that but harder). Early in the first period of the first game of the playoffs Howe had already had a major for fighting and a minor for whatever he did to start the fight.

When he got out of the box he saw Kennedy(a great-but-forgotten-player) with the puck leaving his zone and Howe went right after him… and missed Kennedy completely. Howe hit head first and nearly died right on the ice and later in the hospital.

The Wings bench, especially the first-class-*#$%@&-Ivan, blamed Kennedy claiming he speared Howe. In fact, Howe toe-picked on his way to the check. The ref already had his arm raised to call a charging penalty as well. Howe was out of control, and not for the first time. It’s hard to convey how fast Howe was and how hard he checked - but he was the hardest checker I ever saw by-a-country-mile and I didn’t get to see him until he was over 30.

That was the start of the intensive-phase of the rivalry. Lots on cheap shot by Wings players on Leafs players followed, and lots of retaliation followed that, and then it just became second nature as each new member of each team learned who to hate if not why.

Ivan made the best decision of his career after the injury by moving defenseman Red Kelly to RW to play with Abel and Lindsay and with the help of Gee playing the best hockey of his life we beat the Leafs to get to the Cup finals.

We played NYR in the finals. There was a circus using Madison Square Garden at the time(who could blame the scheduler - no one would think the Rangers would be playing in the finals) so the NYR “home” games were played in Toronto. We won the Cup, in double-overtime in game 7, in Toronto!

Everyone knew the Maple Leafs fans would poor hate on the Red Wings and root for the Rangers after what became an incredibly vicious 7-game first round series.

That’s how the Red Wings-Leafs rivalry became so heated.

I don’t hope we ever get to that level of a rivalry again, but I do hope it gains a bit of “heat.”

I miss hating the Leafs/

Posted by alwaysaurie on 12/21/13 at 01:02 PM ET

topshelf14's avatar

Good to see Dekeyser will be back out there tonight, and especially the fact that Kindl is going to sit and watch this game from the pressbox too.  He has, in my opinion, been just as big a disappointment as Weiss. 

Speaking of Weiss, it’s a shame to hear what has happened to him so far this season especially with the way Filppula has played all year in Tampa.  I know he is signed to a long term contract, but thinking short term even when he comes back in late February/early March who knows how long it will take him to get back into game shape.  I am considering this year a total write off for him and hoping that Helm can really maintain his play to fill that void.

Posted by topshelf14 from Detroit, MI on 12/21/13 at 01:07 PM ET

SYF's avatar

FWIW: DeKeyser said he’d be with Quincey tonight.

I have a strange brew of emotions right now. 

-65DD’s back.  Yay!
-65DD’s paired with Q.  Oh fuch…

Posted by SYF from Alana Blanchard's Bikinis and Surfboards on 12/21/13 at 01:20 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

The Leafs-Wings rivalry was pretty nasty during the 80’s and 90’s, too. I remember the Probert-Domi and numerous Probert-Clark bouts fondly, and being in attendance for the Leafs’ Game 7 OT win in the 1st round of the 93 playoffs—a loss that spurned the Wings to hire Scotty Bowman—not so fondly.

In terms of Weiss’s injury, the Wings just won’t know how bad it is until he has surgery as groin issues tend to reveal their extent *during* surgery. I hope he can get back sooner than later, but I mostly hope that he gets healthy and can get back into the form he was supposed to display when he was signed.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/21/13 at 01:23 PM ET

topshelf14's avatar

Honestly George I’m not even concerned for Weiss to return to his 60 pt form this season. If he could just be a .5/per game player the rest of the way I’d be thrilled. That is reliant on the fact that Helm can remain healthy for a stretch longer than 4 weeks.

Posted by topshelf14 from Detroit, MI on 12/21/13 at 01:32 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

Posted by SYF from minding the gap on 12/21/13 at 01:20 PM ET

Geebus Babs it wasn’t Double D’s fault he got hurt.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 12/21/13 at 01:32 PM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

-65DD’s back.  Yay!
-65DD’s paired with Q.  Oh fuch…

The alternative is either Q/Lashoff or the more dreadful Q/Smith.  I actually wouldn’t mind seeing DD/Smith because they might bring out good things in each others games.

Posted by MoreShoot on 12/21/13 at 02:21 PM ET

SYF's avatar

“Always,” Quincey said. “When you grow up in Ontario and you’re such a huge hockey fan, you’re also a huge Leafs fan, and when you to get the chance to play them, even 50 years from now it’ll be exciting (thinking about it).”

Hell, we’ll trade you and a burlap bag of coal to TO for Clarkson, Q.

I actually wouldn’t mind seeing DD/Smith because they might bring out good things in each others games.

Posted by MoreShoot on 12/21/13 at 02:21 PM ET

I totally dig that, Shooter.  I want to see that happen, too.

Posted by SYF from Alana Blanchard's Bikinis and Surfboards on 12/21/13 at 02:28 PM ET

topshelf14's avatar

If I had to rate the Wings D at the half way point of the season I’d say from top to bottom it would go.

1 Kronwall
2 Ericsson
3 Dekeyser
4 Lashoff
5 Smith
6/7 Quincey or Kindl

Someone on the boards earlier brought up who we could realistically add or trade for to help our top 6 d core.
I would be looking at the following players:
Zidlicky - NJ
Robidas - DAL
Faulk - CAR
The last guy Justin Faulk would be a stretch.  But Carolina is looking like they will be on the outside looking in yet again on the playoffs.

Posted by topshelf14 from Detroit, MI on 12/21/13 at 02:28 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

As many have suggested, Ladislav Smid from Calgary wouldn’t be a bad option as a stay-at-home guy, either.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/21/13 at 02:31 PM ET

alwaysaurie's avatar

Love your write-ups George, have been reading them every day since I found this place this year… I hope you won’t take offense at my grammar-policing.

—a loss that spurned the Wings to hire Scotty Bowman.

s/b… spurred the Wings

Sorry, I can’t help myself.

Oh yes the rivalry was alive and well in the early-Yzerman years… even today there’s animosity but most of us don’t know why.

It’s like asking, “Why is the sky blue?”

Because. That’s why!

Posted by alwaysaurie on 12/21/13 at 02:53 PM ET

perfection's avatar

regarding the Weiss situation… his surgery will probably ease any cap issues for the rest of the year no?

and the other good news about the severity of his injury is at least he had a valid excuse for playing like crap. He actually said not too long ago that he came back too soon from a groin injury so obviously this has been bothering him pretty badly the entire season. It gives me hope his contract won’t seem quite as bad if we ever get to see him totally healthy.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 12/21/13 at 03:00 PM ET

MoreShoot's avatar


1 Kronwall
2 Ericsson
3 Dekeyser
4 Lashoff
5 Smith
6/7 Quincey or Kindl

I don’t know if Smith should be below Lashoff.  I mean, he has more stunning head-scratching moments, but once you start thinking about the offensive game, Smith teams with potential and Lashoff isn’t even at the starting gate.  Your ranking might be ok today, but I very much hope/expect Smith to grow more this year.

Posted by MoreShoot on 12/21/13 at 03:07 PM ET

topshelf14's avatar

@moreshoot
True, Smith has more potential but this year he has not proven to be ahead on the depth chart than Lashoff. Lashoff has been considerably more reliable and you brought up head scratching moments which is something you see often with Smith and not with Lashoff. Not to mention the fact that Lashoff has played more games, taken less penalty minutes, has more blocked shots and has a better +/-. I would say he deserves to remain in the top 6 with DDK back and Smith, Quincey and Kindl should continue to battle for the bottom defensive pairing.

Posted by topshelf14 from Detroit, MI on 12/21/13 at 04:30 PM ET

Avatar

As many have suggested, Ladislav Smid from Calgary wouldn’t be a bad option as a stay-at-home guy, either.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/21/13 at 02:31 PM ET

I dont think Burke will give him up he has an extremely palatable cap hit and is signed for 4 more seasons while still being young so he has a chance to get even better.

Posted by brians neck on 12/21/13 at 04:58 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Logic in a comments thread, nooooooo!!!! wink

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/21/13 at 05:03 PM ET

Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit's avatar

but I very much hope/expect Smith to grow more this year.

Posted by MoreShoot on 12/21/13 at 03:07 PM ET

I hope so too. I really do. He has had his share of whippings from most of us. Hope he learns from all the tough love we give him. wink

Lets Go Red Wings!!!!!

Posted by Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit on 12/21/13 at 05:49 PM ET

Avatar

I don’t understand why people think Detroit needs a stay at home defenseman.  They have Ericsson, Dekeyser, Quincey and (barely) Lashoff.  That’s plenty.

They don’t need another guy with next to no offensive ability from the blue line, they need a guy who has a lot of offensive ability from the blue line.

Lashoff has been considerably more reliable and you brought up head scratching moments which is something you see often with Smith and not with Lashoff.

This is because Smith is expected to play the whole position and not just the half Lashoff is.  Were Lashoff told to play a game with an offensive side that could be measured by an EKG, you’d start to see a lot more breakdowns in his defensive game.

Lashoff averages less than half a shot per game.  He’s not even slightly trying to get in a position to be an offensive player.  Don’t get me wrong, he absolutely shouldn’t be because he’s a terrible offensive player, but therein lies a huge part of the reason he is more often than not in position when the puck comes up.

That connects to Detroit’s larger offensive woes because they don’t have anybody besides Kronwall who can reliably transition the team from defense to offense, and he’s not that great at it either, so the Wings continually have a hard time possessing the puck well enough to generate quality offensive trips up the ice.

Adding yet another guy with stone hands at best has no impact on that problem, and at worst exacerbates it’s impact.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 12/21/13 at 06:37 PM ET

Avatar

Ahhhh, here we are, back to the good old days of HiHD arguing against things nobody said.

Also, in what friggin world is Quincey a stay at home defenseman?

Posted by Garth on 12/21/13 at 10:07 PM ET

The_Firebird's avatar

@Garth

Ideally, Quincey is a stay at home defenseman; he stays at home, and never comes to the rink.

Posted by The_Firebird on 12/22/13 at 04:09 AM ET

Avatar

Posted by HockeyinHD on 12/21/13 at 06:37 PM ET

“Lashoff,Lashoff,Lashoff!” Enough said.

Oh, wait, Garth got it….

HiHD arguing against things nobody said.

Except thems peoples in his head.

don’t understand why people think Detroit needs a stay at home defenseman.

Like Garth said, you don’t understand because no one even said that.

but therein lies a huge part of the reason [Lashoff] is more often than not in position when the puck comes up.

The puck comes Up where?

Up off the ice? - Lashoff’s not a bird.

Up the rink? - the guy plays defense, he’d better not be cherry picking.

Up your as…...? That’ where your love for sammy lives so there’s no room for Lashoff.

That connects to Detroit’s larger offensive woes…who can reliably transition the team from defense to offense

Oh, yeah, didn’t the wings try to take care of this problem last summer by trying to sign some amazing, yet mythical, top line d-man?

HockeyinHD

A christmas present that keeps coming every day. It’s like the fat of the month club.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 12/22/13 at 11:06 AM ET

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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.