The Malik Report
by George Malik on 09/28/13 at 11:44 AM ET
Updated 6x at 6:20 PM: The Detroit Red Wings are sending a gaggle of Griffins to Toronto to play the Maple Leafs tonight (7 PM EDT, CBC/NHL Network U.S.; the Griffins are also playing the Lake Erie Monsters in Plymouth tonight at 7, and the teams will play in Windsor on Sunday night), and the Fan 590's David Alter reports that the Leafs may dress soething of a "B Team" as the Leafs hope to rebound from the Wings' 5-2 drubbing on Friday night:
The Wings already had defensemen Adam Almquist, Xavier Ouellet, forward Tomas Jurco and goaltender Petr Mrazek on their roster, and they inked defenseman Nathan Paetch and forward Jeff Hoggan to pro try-outs and then recalled defenseman Ryan Sproul, forwards Teemu Pulkkinen, Calle Jarnkork, Mitch Callahan and Riley Sheahan, as well as goaltender Jared Coreau.
Speaking of AHL teams, I received an email from the league regarding its AHL Live package, and they're selling access to Griffins games for $149.99 as part of an "Early Bird Special," and their full league pass costs a whopping $299.99....
I'm not going to cover the Leafs' morning skate save their personnel news, but this made me smile:
Reimer, Reimer, it's got to be Reimer?
For whatever reason, MLive chose to publish Brendan Savage's recap of last night's game at 7 AM, and he focused on the scoring display by the second line of Johan Franzen, Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson...
They combined for two goals, two assists and nine shots before Weiss was forced to leave the game after the second period because of a sore groin. Alfredsson (groin) and Franzen (hip flexor) had both missed games before the threesome finally skated together vs. the Maple Leafs.
"I thought we got better and better as the game went on and created some chances," said Alfredsson, who had a goal and assist in his second preseason outing. "I had some very good looks where I didn't bury it, but it feels good when you have the puck and you're playing on the offensive side more. It gives you more energy and I thought we had fun out there. It was a good test for us. We're getting closer and closer now, so to play like this in the last home game is nice and encouraging and something to build on. A few more days to really get ready and the fun really starts."
Alfredsson scored on the power play early in the third period to give the Red Wings a 4-2 lead and then assisted on Frazen's power-play goal that ended the scoring with 7:23 remaining. Franzen also drew an assist on Henrik Zetterberg's power-play goal that put the Red Wings ahead 3-2 in the final minute of the second period.
"It's a good line," Zetterberg said. "A good combination there. Weissie is a smart centerman who works really hard. Then you have Mule. Big, strong on his feet and a good shot. And Alfie has a good slapper and is very smart. They haven't really got a chance to play in the preseason. They haven't played a lot of games but it looks good. I'm not worried. They're smart players. They've been around the league a long, long time. They'll do well together."
Noting that Wings coach Mike Babcock believes that Alfredsson's presence on the right point (and Mikael Samuelsson's, gack) will aid the Wings' middling power play:
"Obviously Alfie's a smart player," said coach Mike Babcock. "They have good plays with the puck and he has an absolute bomb. The other parts were all here in the past, we just didn't have a guy like that. Now we've got two guys on the top who can think and can shoot. With those other players, it makes us better."
Savage posted a video interview with Zetterberg, too, and again, for whatever reason, the Windsr Star's Bob Duff's recap--which focuses on his sidebar story regarding the Wings' belief that adding a dedicated fighter isn't necessary for the team to succeed in the East--wasn't posted until 9 AM:
"I think at the end of the day, when you build your team, on that fourth line, there's a bunch of different ways you can go," Detroit general manager Ken Holland said. "I'm more concerned about our scoring. "We've chosen to go with guys like Drew Miller and (Tomas) Tatar and Patty Eaves and I don't know, Gus Nyquist and Joakim Andersson."
The lack of a designated hitter wasn't an issue in Friday's contest, the only scrap a lategame wrestling match between Toronto's David Clarkson and Detroit's Jonathan Ericsson, but Holland is aware that there will be nights during the 82-game regular season where having a player of such ilk might provide a calming presence on the team's bench. Entering play Friday, three of Detroit's divisional mates - Toronto, the Sabres and the Canadiens - were deadlocked atop the pre-season fighting charts with 13 bouts apiece.
Last season, the Leafs led the NHL, dropping the gloves 44 times in 48 games. Other top combatants who now call the Atlantic Division home included Boston (42), Tampa Bay (31), Ottawa (26), Buffalo (25) and Montreal (25). The Wings, by the way, were 29th in the 30-team league with 14 fights and that's just fine with Holland.
"I think last year of the top 10 teams in fighting majors, only four of them made the playoffs," Holland correctly pointed out. "There's going to be the odd situation and the odd night where we'll probably wish we had a onedimensional tough guy, but I think it's more important to try to have in those bottom three guys players who can kill some penalties and maybe take some hard minutes away from our top players."
Wings coach Mike Babcock echoed those sentiments, seeing no reason why a change in locale should result in a change in philosophy.
"We'll still play the way we always have," Babcock said. "It's worked pretty well for us."
In the prospect department...
So Mattias Backman registered an assist in Linkopings HC's 5-4 OT win over Brynas in the SHL, and in SuperElit Junior-20 team play, and Hampus Melen didn't register a point in Tingsryds IF's 2-1 loss to Sodertalje SK.
I've been sitting on this entry since 10:17 AM, so I'm going to post it minus definitive lineup results. No point in withholding informatin from you any longer.
The Wings' game-day blog posited Ken Kal's keys to the game...
Do It Again - The Wings played hard and fast last night, out shooting Toronto, 37-19. They need to come out and try for a repeat performance.
Play Together - Keep building that chemistry and work together as a team.
Make It Count - While preseason standings don't matter much come season time, these games are important to learn tendencies and get ready mentally when the lights come on. Let's get a good effort in tonight and be ready for Wednesday.
As well as a historical note...
On This Day in Red Wings History...On September 28, 1973
Stanley Cup champion Brian Rafalski was born in Dearborn, Michigan.
In Toronto, the National Post's Sean Fitz-Gerald confirmed that James Reimer will start tonight, and the Leafs' website posted interviews with Jake Gardner, Nazem Kadri, Morgan Reilly and Reimer, as well as Leafs coach Randy Carlyle...
Back in Detroit, the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness took note of the Wings' injuries...
– Defenseman Danny DeKeyser (knee) skated Saturday and said he’s ready for Wednesday’s season opener at home against the Buffalo Sabres.
– Stephen Weiss (groin) didn’t skate after leaving Friday’s game early.
“It’s more of a maintenance thing,” said Weiss, who didn’t need tests done to determine the extent of the injury. “Let it settle down a bit and take a couple of days and get back after it on Monday.”
– Jordin Tootoo (shoulder) skated, but didn’t take part in drills.
– Wings coach Mike Babcock’s impressions this preseason, “I don’t have a whole bunch of themes. I’d like to see the power play be dangerous. Last night with (Daniel) Alfredsson on it that was really important. Other than that we’ve worked on trying to get better at moving the puck. We still make some poor decisions on the back end with reads and that comes with experience, that’s why you play those kids so much in exhibition. Like any year we’re a work in progress. You’re concerned, are you going to be good enough? We feel the same way every year at this time.”
And he noted that Babcock praised Joakim Andersson...
“I’m a big fan of his,” Babcock said. “The way he works, smart player, he’s tough too … as a forward you don’t want to have to play against a player who’s going to be above you and always be around you and slow you down. He’s one of those really good two-way centers you need to win.”
Andersson, 24, got to the NHL a lot quicker than normal in the Wings’ system. With the season-long injury to Darren Helm, Andersson filled in as the Wings’ third-line center. He was solid defensively and strong on faceoffs. Andersson averaged just over 12 minutes of ice time during the regular season, totaling three goals and five assists in 38 games. In the postseason his ice time went up a minute while registering a goal and four assists in 14 games.
“It gives you confidence when you get your minutes out there on the ice,” Andersson said. “I’m happy with that. I feel better and better each game in the preseason.”
His faceoff proficiency improved from the regular season to the playoffs. He won 46.4 percent of his draws during the lockout-shortened year and raised it to 55.9 percent in the playoffs. The Wings rewarded him with a two-year $1.465 million contract extension in August.
“Andy’s done a good job for us, he’s a big player, he knows how to play,” Babcock said. “He’s earned everything he’s gotten. He’s come back quicker and stronger, so good for him.”
Becoming quicker and stronger is something Andersson, who’s 6-foot-2, 206 pounds, focused on during the offseason.
“Skating-wise, I’ve taken small baby steps every year since I was 12,” Andersson said. “I’ve been told I have to work on that. I’m getting better at that. Getting better at reading the game and being good defensively and trying to get better on faceoffs and all the small things I need to do.”
As did the Free Press's Helene St. James...
“Andy’s done a real good job for us,” coach Mike Babcock said Saturday, the day after Andersson scored to lift the Wings past Toronto, 5-2, at Joe Louis Arena. “He’s a good, big player, knows how to play. He’s earned everything he’s gotten. We don’t have as good a finish or as good a run in the playoffs last year without Andy. He’s come back quicker and stronger and really, really fit, so good for him.”
Andersson, 24, joined the Wings a few weeks into last season, more than capably filling the hole created by what ended up being a season-long injury for Darren Helm. There still is no timetable for when Helm may play.
Andersson took advantage, earning a larger role and now returning as a regular.
“If you can do things without the puck, you buy yourself time to start doing stuff with the puck,” Babcock said. “If you can’t do anything without the puck, though, we start getting nervous and when we get nervous, you don’t get on the ice. So, to me, it’s a real comfort thing for sure, with young players.”
Given the likelihood he’ll have a couple of scoring-capable wingers, Andersson is excited at the prospect of more puck time. “I want to be involved as much as I can offensively,” he said. “I want to do as much as I can with myself. It gives you confidence when you get your minutes out there on the ice, so I'm happy with that.”
The Wings need to trim three forwards and $2.7 million. One possibility is to place Helm and Patrick Eaves on long-term injured reserve, and start Nyquist in the minors.
While MLive's Ansar Khan took note of the very green lineup taking part in tonight's game...
The Detroit Red Wings will wrap up the preseason tonight in Toronto (7 p.m., CBC, NHL Network) with a lineup dominated by Grand Rapids Griffins, sprinkled in with a few NHL players.
Detroit's lineup will include Griffins forwards Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, Teemu Pulkkinen, Calle Jarnkrok, Luke Glendening, Mitch Callahan and Jeff Hoggan as well as defensemen Xavier Ouellet, Ryan Sproul and Nathan Paetsch.
NHL players in the lineup tonight include forwards Drew Miller, Cory Emmerton, Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar.
Petr Mrazek will start in goal and will play either 30 or 40 minutes. Jared Coreau will finish the game, coach Mike Babcock said.
The Red Wings (3-4-0) are coming off a 5-2 win over the Maple Leafs (4-2-1) on Friday, a game in which Detroit dressed most of its regular lineup and scored three times on the power play.
“I'd like to see the power play be dangerous; last night with (Daniel) Alfredsson on it, that was really important,'' Babcock said. “Other than that we've worked on trying to get better at moving the puck. We still make some poor decisions on the back end with reads and that comes with experience, that's why you play those kids so much in exhibition. Like any year we're a work in progress. You're concerned, are you going to be good enough? We feel the same way every year at this time.''
And Khan penned a lengthy article about the Wings' resurgent power play:
“If we score a couple of goals against Chicago in the playoffs, maybe we win,'' Babcock said. “We couldn't handle their pressure, never got any pucks back. That's an area we got to be better.''
They're counting on newcomers Daniel Alfredsson, with his blistering one-timer, and Stephen Weiss, with his playmaking ability, to lead the revival. The power play looked good Friday, converting three times in a 5-2 preseason victory over Toronto.
Assistant coach Tom Renney expects the man-advantage to be more dynamic.
“There are fundamental parts that are incumbent with any successful power play -- net presence, the shot and getting pucks back,'' Renney said. “A good power play that doesn't score but has good looks gets the puck to the net, gets it back and can create momentum even if you haven't scored. The last thing you want is a power play that sucks the momentum out of your squad.''
That's what the Red Wings had at times last season. They went 0-for-37 on the road before scoring on March 13. They went 1-for-24 against the Blackhawks in the second round of the postseason, losing in overtime of Game 7. They finished 15th in the NHL at 18.4 percent during the regular season. They would like to get into the top 10.
Babcock likes having right-handed shooting forwards at the point on each unit. On the first, he has been using Alfredsson at the point with Niklas Kronwall while keeping his top line of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader (net front) intact. The second unit has featured righty Mikael Samuelsson, out most of last season with injuries, and Jakub Kindl at the points, with Weiss, Johan Franzen and Daniel Cleary (net front) up front.
“Alfie is an experienced NHL player with a right-hand shot that can navigate the whole end zone and give you more options off of that,'' Renney said. “Stephen's a convertible type player because he can play up and play the point on the power play. There are guys that have good touches and get good looks that I'd like to see shoot more. What it comes down to is a successful power play to me is all about retrievals and there's no retrievals if you're not shooting. The bottom line is we need shots, we need net presence, we got to get the puck back. You do that to put the opponent under duress, create chaos.''
For the record, ESPN's fantasy hockey preview estimates that Jimmy Howard will win 35 games, that Niklas Kronwall will post 47 points, and that Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk will post 84 and 83 points, respectively, with Stephen Weiss posting 60 points, Johan Franzen posting 57 points and Daniel Alfredsson posting 52.
Update #6: The Red Wings and Henrik Zetterberg held a smoke detector collection drive at the Joe on Wednesday and Friday, and DetroitRedWings.com's Sarah Danaher reports that all went well:
Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg, volunteers from Comerica and local fire stations put a big stomp on fires with the 12th Annual Smoke Detector Collection presented by Comerica. Donations were collected at two Detroit home games on Wednesday, Sept. 25, against Pittsburgh and Friday, Sept. 27, versus Toronto. By donating a smoke detector or making a monetary contribution, fans had the chance to win an autographed puck and photo signed by Zetterberg.
Firefighters from nine local fire departments helped to collect smoke detectors and more than $2,600 in monetary donations at each Joe Louis Arena entrance for both home games. Zetterberg then matched all monetary donations made during the collection, which are then used to purchase additional smoke detectors and will be distributed to fire departments as far as Flint and Saginaw following practice on Tuesday, Oct. 8, in the effort to save more lives.
Fire inspector Mike Albo of the Southfield Fire Department has been volunteering at the collection event for several years. “This has a tremendous impact all throughout the Metro Detroit area and beyond,” Albo said. “What I like about this is that professional athlete, the Red Wings organization, giving back to the community...its nice to see the athletes giving back.”
Volunteers from Comerica were also on hand to help with the collection. “It’s a good cause. Every smoke detector collected is for a needy cause,” Rebecca Birch of Comerica said. She brought her nine year old son, Alex, to help with the collection and to get him involved in volunteering.
Having a working smoke detector can reduce the risk of dying in a household fire in half. Since the program’s inception in 2001, the Smoke Detector Collection has brought in and distributed more than 23,000 smoke detectors throughout the Metro Detroit area and beyond. All of the detectors collected go to low income families and elderly individuals who otherwise cannot afford them or who are unable to install them themselves.
Jeff Tucker of the Port Huron Fire Department helped collect for the first time at the Joe. “Last year our station was actually a recipient of the smoke detectors but I didn’t take part in the collection,” Tucker said, “so this year we got involved and we are happy to be here. We advertise the free detectors as much as we can and even offer to help install if they need.”
Fans across all communities have made donations. “I think it’s great that people in a position like Zetterberg are doing something like this,” Candace Reuben, a Wings fan from Windsor, ON, said. “It’s awesome.”
Brendan Shanahan started the collection back in 2001 to honor the memory of his father, who was a firefighter. Zetterberg is now in his seventh year as spokesman for the program.
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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.