Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Maple Leafs pre-season set-up and overnight report: can the Wings defeat the hype machine?

The Red Wings' 2-and-4 preseason record may not "matter," despite the worries certain members of the media and certain bloggers have voiced about the team's 0-and-3 record at home and status as being out-scored 11-4 over those three games. The Wings insist that they'll get themselves sorted out by the Wednesday's home opener.

During a normal 82-game season, their annual end-of-exhibition home-and-home series with the Toronto Maple Leafs, which take place tonight and tomorrow (tonight's game is only on Leafs TV and it starts at 7:30 PM EDT, and Henrik Zetterberg's smoke detector collection continues this evening; tomorrow's game airs on Hockey Night in Canada and the NHL Network U.S. at 7 PM EDT, on the same night as the Hockeytown BrewHaHa and the Grand Rapids Griffins' exhibition game in Plymouth), serve as icing on the preseason cake, a reminder of a rivalry lost when the Leafs moved East.

As you and I know, this isn't a "normal" season.

The Wings have joined the Leafs in the Atlantic Division, and if HBO's 24/7 crew's presence doesn't shake the Wings out of their doldrums, the massive media cadre that follows the Leafs wherever they go--and the 5,000 or so Leaf fans in the stands at Joe Louis Arena this evening--should provide more than enough incentive for this team to finally snap to attention.

It's still the preseason, so NHL.com hasn't posted a game preview, Fox Sports Detroit chose to not air the game as the Tigers are playing the Marlins tonight (so bootleg streams of Leafs TV are what you've got to hope for if you don't live in Ontario...and subscribe to Leafs TV), and the Leaf press spent most of Thursday discussing the team's re-signing of defenseman Cody Franson, who will play this evening, as well as the last-minute signing's implications for the Leafs' roster decisions and cap situation (to an ad nauseam extent), but the Toronto Sun's Mike Zeisberger hit the nail on the head in suggesting that the teams involved in tonight's game hope that these back-to-back tilts mark the official rekindling of a once-bitter rivalry:

For Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, the reunion of the Leafs and Wings in the East is a long time coming. From his perch in the Joe Louis Arena management box, Holland will see all the Leafs jerseys sprinkled throughout the rink Friday night for the Toronto-Detroit exhibition game, the first of a pre-season home-and-home series. He knows the Leafs fans will flock across the border from Windsor like lemmings in order to attend the contest.

Only now, the Leafs-Red Wings matchup will be more than just a pre-season tilt. Or a rare regular-season appearance. Now they will be meeting more frequently, battling each other for a playoff spot.

“It’s going to be huge for us,” Holland said. “Because of the history. Because of the tradition. And because of our geographical location. You go over a bridge and you’re in Canada. When we play the Leafs in exhibition, it’s a guaranteed sellout and there is a good buzz in the stands. Now we are going to play four regular-season games. It’s going to mean a lot in the standings. We’re in the same conference. It will mean a lot to our fans to play the Leafs and compete with them for a playoff spot. It’s going to be awesome.”

Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg agrees.

“We are really excited to play Toronto more,” Zetterberg said. “When I first came into the league, a lot of my teammates had been in the rivalry with Toronto when (the Wings) were still in the East. And they talked about how fun it was. So it’s great that it’s back again. You can see it every time we play them. There are a lot of Toronto fans. It’s fun, it’s close. Two Original Six teams. And now, when you put the Winter Classic into the mix, it’s going to be even more fun.”

Zeisberger also discusses the fact that the Wings will be playing in front of a significant number of blue-and-white-wearing fans at Michigan Stadium on New Year's Day--albeit on a year-delayed basis--and he speaks with Daniel Alfredsson about his status as having a special place in the hearts of Leafs' fans (as a villain), and he also asked Stephen Weiss and Holland what might happen if they catch the players or GM at inopportune moments (let's just say that Bruce Boudreau and chicken wings yield destination viewing only when accompanied by expletives):

“If they catch me with sauce on my face, they catch me with sauce on my face,” said new Red Wing Stephen Weiss, a Markham-area native. “I’m just have to keep going and stick with the routine.”

...

For GM Kenny Holland, he is thankful that both teams have outspoken coaches — Mike Babcock in Detroit and Randy Carlyle with the Leafs. In that regard, Holland and Leafs counterpart Dave Nonis could get off relatively unscathed from the unforgiving lenses of the HBO cameras.

“Without a doubt, Dave and I will be bit parts,” said Holland, breaking into a mischievous grin.

Zeisberger also lists five "top moments" from the Red Wings-Maple Leafs rivalry, from Curtis Joseph's defection to Hockeytown on down to the historically-known moments (no Ted Lindsay mocking death threats, however)...

Bobby Baun’s broken leg, April 23, 1964: It was the stuff of legend. In Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final against the Red Wings, Baun, the Leafs defenceman known for his bone-crushing hits, was taken off the ice with an injury that later would be diagnosed as a broken leg. Baun eventually returned to the game and, in something out of a Hollywood script, scored the OT winner to even the series at 3-3. The Leafs went on to win Game 7 and capture the Cup, thanks in part to Baun’s unlikely heroics earlier in the series.

...

The comeback kids, April 18, 1942: When the Leafs found themselves trailing in games 3-0 to the Red Wings in the 1942 Stanley Cup final, all seemed lost. After all, no team had ever come back from a three-game deficit to win any post-season series. But Syl Apps and his teammates were determined to make history, not be history. Sure enough, after reeling off three consecutive victories to tie the final, the Leafs won Game 7 on home ice by wiping out a 1-0 Detroit lead with three third period goals. Once the final horn sounded, hockey’s original Comeback Kids celebrated. And rightly so.

But I'm going to be honest here in stating the following: I dislike every team that is not Detroit when the Wings are playing them, and I really, really don't like each and every one of the Western Conference's teams not named Winnipeg. But I hate the Maple Leafs, and I mean that, I really and genuinely despise them.

I started following hockey in the early 90's, when the Chuck Norris Division days were slowly but surely giving way to puck possession, Scotty Bowman and the Cup years, but in the early days of my "hockey past," the Leafs were the powerhouse and the Wings were reloading and rebuilding after Jacques Demers' exit and a pair of Conference Final appearances under Bryan Murray (you might have already noticed that I'm not a fan of him, either). In my day, Wings-Leafs games were marked on the calendar the way Wings-Hawks games are circled these days, and just as Corey Crawford had a hex on Detroit, there were times that it seemed like the Wings couldn't defeat Doug Gilmour, Wendel Clark and Felix Potvin's Maple Leafs.

Hell, when the Wings won the 1997 Cup with Larry Murphy and Bob Rouse on the roster, and when they won the Cup in 98 with Murphy, Rouse, Jamie Macoun and Dmitri Mironov posing for an, "Ex Leafs with the Cup" picture in Washington, it was a particularly ironic pose given the following moment:

Borschevsky hushes Hockeytown, May 1, 1993: It was a wild blue-and-white celebration in hockey’s home of the octopi, thanks to Nikolai Borschevsky. A screaming Joe Bowen almost lost his voice while calling The Goal. Trainer Brian Papineau wildly waved a water bottle on the bench, dousing everyone within squirting reach. You could almost hear the cheers coming from four hours away in Toronto. All because of Borschevsky, whose Game 7 OT winner past Tim Cheveldae at a hushed Joe Louis Arena gave the underdog Leafs a shocking first-round series victory over Steve Yzerman’s heavily favoured Red Wings. Twenty years later, the Leafs could have used some Borschevsky-like OT heroics in their Game 7 clash with the Bruins this past spring. Unfortunately, it was Boston’s Patrice Bergeron who sealed the deal.

I was at that game, sitting seven rows behind the bench, and the looks of defeat on the faces of Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, Nicklas Lidstrom, Vladimir Konstantinov, Paul Coffey and Dino Ciccarelli and the rest of the bench spelled the end of Murray's reign as coach, and massive roster changes (including Tim Cheveldae getting traded in what was then a blockbuster deal with Winnipeg, and the shaky Bob Essensa giving way to a shaky Chris Osgood against Igor Larionov's Sharks in 1994).

People forget that it wasn't the first-round loss that started the transformation from a rebuilding team to Hockeytown's team. It was the loss to Toronto, and for those of us who remember the rink being a 2/3rds Wings fans and 1/3rd Leafs fans that night, that loss hurt like hell.

TorontoMapleLeafs.com's Matt Iaboni penned a game preview of sorts, reporting that the Leafs will practice in Toronto this morning...

The Maple Leafs preseason action continues in the Motor City tonight (7:30pm Leafs TV, TSN1050 Radio) in the first of a back-to-back against the Wings.

Toronto is coming off a 3-2 loss to the Senators on Tuesday which was the Leafs first in regulation during the preseason. The Leafs have put together a 4-1-1 record throught the first six preseason games. This will be the Leafs final road preseason game before the regular season opens in Montreal next Tuesday.

After signing a one-year contract on Thursday morning, Cody Franson is expected to play in his first preseason game tonight. There is also a chance that Dave Bolland and Colton Orr could both return to the lineup this weekend. Bolland has been dealing with a groin injury while Colton Orr has been out the entire preseason with a bone bruise.

The Leafs will skate in Toronto this morning before heading to Detroit this afternoon. We will have the Leafs projected roster and post-practice video with players and head coach Randy Carlyle as they look ahead to tonight’s game.

TorontoMapleLeafs.com's Brooke Pashley represents the 40-to-60-percent of Windsor and Southwestern Ontario natives west of London who bleed blue and white (that 40-to-60% varies, depending on which team is playing better), and she offered a literal snapshot of the rivalry in a picture of Gordie Howe battling Ted "Teeder" Kennedy:

Good ol’ hockey rivalries. There’s the one with the Habs, the Battle of Ontario with the Senators, and this past weekend we saw a back-to-back Battle of the QEW. These rivalry games are never short of excitement as last weekend proved and are historically some of the best games of the season.

One of my personal favourites though has to be between the Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings. Growing up in Windsor this rivalry was discussed and argued about the most amongst my friends. While I’ve still never seen a regular season game between the two rivals in person, the first game I ever worked at the Air Canada Centre was a pre-season match-up between the two teams about four years ago.

With the Winter Classic on the horizon and recent realignment of the league this reinstated rivalry kicks off in the pre-season with a home-and-home this weekend.

Now let’s throwback to sometime in the 1950s and a heated moment between two rivals.

While different teams made them enemies Gordie Howe and Ted “Teeder” Kennedy had so much in common. Both were tough as nails Hall of Famers and Hart Trophy winners. Both wore number 9, one in blue and white with five Stanley Cups to his name, and a C on his sweater. The other in red and white as a four-time Stanley Cup champion, and only player to play in the NHL in five different decades. These two names are most famously linked to the mishap on the ice during the 1950s playoffs that saw Howe seriously injured.

That "mishap" is the reason Howe got the nickname "blinky" after having holes drilled into his skull to relieve pressure on his brain.

Shifting focus back to the present day, the National Post's Michael Traikos noted the Leafs' lines at their practice on Thursday:

At practice on Thursday, Dion Phaneuf was paired with Carl Gunnarsson, Jake Gardiner was paired with Paul Ranger, and Franson was paired with Mark Fraser. That left John-Michael Liles and [Morgan] Rielly as the odd men out.

Up front, it looks like Tyler Bozak will start with Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk; Nikolai Kulemin will fill in for [David] Clarkson and play alongside Nazem Kadri and Joffrey Lupul; David Bolland will play with Mason Raymond and Troy Bodie; and the fourth line should have Jay McClement between Carter Ashton and Colton Orr.

[Coach Randy] Carlyle said Franson would probably play in Toronto’s final two exhibition games — Friday and Saturday against Detroit — and said final roster decisions would be made afterward.

For the Red Wings, Thursday's practice news included Danny DeKeyser sitting out due to a bruised knee suffered after catching a rut against the Penguins, Brendan Smith taking a tumble but winding up okay, Justin Abdelkader skating despite having required stitches in his left index finger after fighting Robert Bortuzzo, and everybody else that's healthy or near-healthy (see: Jonas Gustavsson's groin is still sore, Jordin Tootoo's out with a bruised shoulder and Patrick Eaves has a sprained knee) skating save Jakub Kindl, as the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan noted:

The Red Wings could have Daniel Alfredsson, Jonathan Ericsson and Jakub Kindl back in the lineup against the Maple Leafs Friday.

And Justin Abdelkader will remain there, saying that that two stitches he took in a finger after a fight do not warrant him sitting.

"It's pretty good," Daniel Alfredsson said Thursday of his status. "I felt pretty good after the practice the other day, but it wasn't really as good the next day as I was hoping. So , precautionary, and good skate today. I felt good, and come in tomorrow morning and skate tomorrow morning and go from there. but I'm comfortable playing tomorrow.'

Kindl says his hip flexor is healed and that the training staff was properly cautious about it, during the preseason. That suggests he might have returned to the lineup earlier, if it was the regular season.

Danny DeKeyser and Brendan Smith were two new injury worries Thursday for the Red Wings. Mike Babcock said DeKeyser "bumped his knee" in a play Wednesday against Pittsburgh.

"I don't think it's very serious, but we'll see," Babcock said.

Smith said he was just fine after he was driven into the end boards during a drill, remained on the ice for a moment and then flexed his leg considerably, before returning immediately to the drill.

"They're all, ‘We'll see,’” Babcock said about their playing status. "If we were playing a regular-season game, I assume they're playing. But we'll see what happens."

Alfredsson and Weiss need to get going in the offensive department, and Weiss has admittedly struggled in adjusting from the Panthers' dump-and-not-chase system to the Wings' system of play, which requires Detroit's forwards to skate hard both on the forecheck and its centers to haul ass back into the defensive zone as soon as the opponent gains possession of the puck.

Both players spoke to the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness about their up-and-down preseasons, in no small part due to Alfredsson's absence because of groin issues and Johan Franzen's in-and-out status due to a sore hip flexor*...

“I would love to play a couple more,” Alfredsson said. “But it is what it is and you got to be smart, especially now when you have the time but I’m hoping to play Friday and get a game in here before we start for real.”

...

“We’re looking to get just the first one,” Weiss said. “It is what it is this time of the year, guys go down with stuff and they work other guys into the lineup and kind of work with what you’ve got. For me it’s been kind of tough cause I’ve had new guys every night and working with that has been a bit of a challenge, but hopefully tomorrow we can get that line together and try to get at least one game in before we get going for real here,” Weiss added.

The top line of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader are also expected to play.

Wings coach Mike Babcock offered a particularly blunt assessment as to why his team has struggled so mightily at home:

“When you play eight exhibition games, your lineup is spread out big time,” Babcock said. “You have to just to keep guys alive. Obviously we dressed a pretty good lineup there in Boston, that happened because a few guys got dinged and we had to move a few guys around.

“Pittsburgh came here (Wednesday) with an NHL team and wanted to play an NHL team,” added Babcock, whose squad lost 5-1 to the Penguins. “And they got here, maybe they got something out of it, but they would have got way more out of it had they played against an NHL team. I don’t know what to do about that. We can play two less exhibition games and we can have more guys in the lineup or we can continue to do what we’ve done and that’s the way it is.”

Abdelkader did need two stitches in his left index finger after a tussle late in the loss, but says he should be fine to play.

“Holding the stick can be tough, it’s on my bottom hand,” Abdelkader said. “The trainers did a good job of patching it up, protecting it.”

MLive's Ansar Khan took note of the Wings' lines--and I need to tell you that the team swapped out Riley Sheahan and Teemu Pulkkinen for Luke Glendening and Tomas Jurco, who appear likely to play tonight--during practice on Thursday...

Henrik Zetterberg-Pavel Datsyuk-Justin Abdelkader

Johan Franzen-Stephen Weiss-Daniel Alfredsson

Daniel Cleary-Joakim Andersson-Todd Bertuzzi

Drew Miller-Cory Emmerton-Mikael Samuelsson

Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar skated in gray jerseys, indicating they will not play Friday (unless the injury situation forces a change). Darren Helm (back, groin) also skated for the full practice but isn't close to returning.
On defense:

Niklas Kronwall-Jonathan Ericsson
Kyle Quincey-Brendan Smith
Jakub Kindl-Adam Almquist
Xavier Ouellet-Brian Lashoff

Danny DeKeyser (knee) did not skate.

Jimmy Howard (starting Friday)
Petr Mrazek

Again, MLive's Khan also spoke to Johan Franzen, Jimmy Howard and the aforementioned numbers 11 and 90 about the team's offensive struggles thus far...

“Me personally, I'd probably rather have a bad one, preseason, than a good one,'' Franzen said Thursday. “You don't want to go into the season and feel like things are going to go easy. I'd rather come in and feel it's real uphill. That's a better mindset to have. So I don't mind a rough start in the preseason.''

...

Franzen, who has no points in two games, said the lack of scoring in preseason is not a concern, but he admitted it would be nice to experience one good game before the regular season opens Wednesday at home vs. Buffalo.

“I only played bad games so far, so hopefully we can get a good one in and start feeling a little bit better about ourselves and get some confidence going,'' Franzen said.

...

Why has it been so difficult to score?

“Probably guys aren't focusing on it (scoring),'' Franzen said. “Probably more focused on being where we should be on the ice, usually it's when you think too much and guys try to be in the right spot instead of just playing.''

Goaltender Jimmy Howard, who will start on Friday, is not worried.

“I think it'll all come together,'' Howard said. “This team's got unbelievable leadership, great human beings inside this dressing room. Once Oct. 2 comes, we'll hit the ground running.''

And in "new news," Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner penned a list of "Wings worries," and in his preface, he makes an incredibly pertinent point:

Injuries have played a factor, too, but in reality, they'll allow the Wings to become cap compliant and reach the 23-man roster limit, which will be a temporary solution to a convoluted situation.

The Wings will eventually have to clear $2.387 million off their cap figure (per Capgeek) and shed 3 players--likely forwards--to become cap-compliant when the team returns to relative health, but it's not likely that the Wings will waive anybody on Sunday, and given that Jonas Gustavsson ($1.5 million), Patrick Eaves ($1.2 million) and Darren Helm ($2.125 million) will all start the year on the LTIR, Ken Holland and the Wings' braintrust get to do what teams who have too many players and too much money on the payroll honestly have to do to get by...

They're going to have to continue to scout other teams, make phone calls, and, generally speaking, hope that other teams suffer the kinds of catastrophic injuries that could be partially remedied with the additions of Eaveses, Tootoos or Cory Emmertons (and no, the Wings won't receive a significant return for any of their "salary dumps").

Since we've already talked about Alfredsson and Weiss--and it is entirely possible that it'll take 5-10 games for both players to acclimate to being Red Wings--we'll go with points 2 and 3:

2. Depth on defense: Detroit’s young defense was a pleasant surprise last season, and there’s no reason to believe it won’t pick up where it left off in May.

Danny DeKeyser, Jakub Kindl, Brendan Smith and Brian Lashoff should keep improving. But what really needs to happen is, veteran stalwarts Nik Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, and Kyle Quincey must remain healthy. 

If any blue-liner goes down, Detroit’s backup plan is a handful of several talented, but untested rookies in Grand Rapids.

One of the major drawbacks of having so many forwards on the roster is, the Wings haven't been able to add a veteran defenseman yet. Attrition through injuries, trades, etc. will eventually allow Detroit to add a veteran defenseman sometime during the season.  

Babcock has suggested that the play of DeKeyser, Kindl, Smith, Quincey and Lashoff will tell the tale as to whether the team can move the puck forward and compete, and he's right.

I'm not quite as worried about the team's depth given the fact that Nathan Paetsch will probably be signed to a 2-way deal once the team crawls back from the 50-man roster limit (the team could do the same with Brennan Evans if necessary), that Adam Almquist has shown promise and that, despite their boobles and errors, Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul have looked excellent, and I can tell you that Richard Nedomlel and Max Nicastro played so very well as the second pair on defense at the prospect tournament that they may get nods if necessary, as might Alexei Marchenko. The Wings have enough bodies who can play to get through injuries as long as the top pair remains intact...

But there is no doubt that the team's priority as the trade deadline approaches, barring any injuries, will involve looking for a top-four, puck-moving defenseman to help Kronwall and Ericsson shoulder the load if DeKeyser, Kindl, Smith and Quincey can't get 'er done on their own.

3. Backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson:  The Monster has been a major dud in Detroit. He was hurt for large portions of last season, and is again on the shelf with a groin strain to begin this season.

It’s imperative that Gustavsson heals soon. Jimmy Howard is only human, and with three back-to-back games in the first five weeks of the season, workhorse Howard will need some time off.

The Wings survived without Gustavsson mostly because Howard was such a ridiculous workhorse during the 48-game 2013 season, and because Petr Mrazek and, before he was waived, Joey MacDonald were adequate in relief. As Regner suggests, the Red Wings do not want to have Mrazek sitting on the bench charting faceoffs for 40-50 games when he can be helping the Griffins defend their Calder Cup title, so the team's putting its faith in Gustavsson...For now.

Gustavsson also needs to show that he belongs in the NHL. The Wings will give him every opportunity to prove his worth, but there's an omnipresent feeling that he needs to step it up soon.

If he doesn't, I wouldn't be surprised at all if the team's other trade thrust involves finding a serviceable back-up, because Howard can't play 70 games this season.

Shifting focus back to tonight's game and the surrounding brouhaha before the BrewHaHa, the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa posited a notebook in which he discussed the Wings' crappy preseason performance, Thursday's practice news and Daniel Alfredsson's status...

Daniel Alfredsson says he is about ready to return, and that means the Red Wings new, highly-anticipated second line of Stephen Weiss, Alfredsson and Franzen may finally get on the ice together.

“It’s pretty good,” Alfredsson, 40, said of his groin. “I felt pretty good after practice the other day, but it wasn’t really as good the next day as I was hoping.”

Missing the Penguins game was precautionary, Alfredsson said.

“Good skate today,” he said Thursday after practice. “It felt good. Come in tomorrow morning, skate and I’ll go from there. But I’m hopeful about playing tomorrow.”


As well as what is probably going to be the overriding discussion today:

The HBO camera crews started showing up for that network’s “24-7” series leading up to the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day. Players like Jimmy Howard and Smith said they are interested to see the reaction of their teammates and others in the organization to having their lives recorded and broadcast on such an intimate basis.

Howard said he thought Pavel Datsyuk, whose humor and wit are often on display especially when he is “with the guys,” might steal the show and surprise a lot of viewers with his outgoing, Russian-accented playfulness.

Babcock allowed that he is not necessarily looking forward to the production work and hopes “someone else will be the first star.” But he said he understands some viewers, including members of his family, have enjoyed the previous seasons of the HBO production and that it is a good way to promote and market the game.

And as I've said over the years, aside from the, "Win at all costs, literal and figurative" mentality from the ownership down to the management, coaches and players, the self-sustianing nature of the Wings' tradition of excellence and the treatment the players receive, the fact that Detroit's mainstream media outlets still sometimes treat hockey as an afterthought thanks to marching-order-givers in Washigton DC and New York insisting that "hockey doesn't matter" in Michigan, along with the fact that our metropolitan area is so very spread out, yield an environment where fans' passion is at Toronto-like levels, but the media glare isn't there, yielding a semblance of privacy and a private life.

Hell, that's why Wings bloggers are so numerous and so prolific. The fan base sure as hell wants product, but the, "Hockey doesn't matter unless it's the playoffs" mentality comes from the people who give the Valentis and Fosters their programming suggestions as much as it does from the hosts themselves.

This year it's going to be a little different, and while the coach isn't thrilled with the concept, as he told MLive's Ansar Khan, the Free Press's Helene St. James found that the players are indeed receptive to having the cameras follow their every move today, tomorrow, and throughout December:

An HBO production staff was at Joe Louis Arena Thursday to shoot promos for the upcoming “24/7” show, part of the package with the annual Winter Classic. Actual filming for the four-part series will begin in early December, with episodes airing on Saturday nights, showing how the Red Wings prepare all the way up through the Jan. 1 game against Toronto at Michigan Stadium. The Leafs are in town tonight for an exhibition home-and-home series, as the Original Six teams renew a rivalry dormant through years of being in separate conferences.

Jimmy Howard will be watching, come mid-December: “I’m curious to see who acts like themselves and who puts on a little bit of a show.”

Howard echoed several teammates who anticipated Pavel Datsyuk might have some good scenes, given his charming wit, saying, “I’ve got money on Pav.” On the other hand, Howard said he can also “think of a couple of guys who will be checking themselves twice before they leave the house in the morning.” He wouldn’t name names.

Defenseman Brendan Smith noted the show can expose how “some of these tough guys, or goons, are chippy kind of players, and then they are soft-hearted sweethearts back home with their family. It’ll be cool for people to see what our team is like.”

Smith suggested viewers will be surprised by how outspoken a guy like Kyle Quincey is, for example. Smith’s dark-horse scene stealer is Jonathan Ericsson.

Todd Bertuzzi and Niklas Kronwall are mine, but that's just me guessing here.

 

 


In other news, and speaking of pressure of different kinds, CBS Sports' Brian Stubits looked at each and every one of the NHL's coaches, assessing "hot seat" rankings from 0 to 5, and I think he's spot on regarding Babcock:

Detroit Red Wings, Mike Babcock: 0.5 I'm not sure there is a more well-regarded coach in the NHL than Mike Babcock. The Red Wings aren't going to say goodbye anytime soon, nor should they. This is and will remain Babcock's job.

At perhaps the other end of the spectrum, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose asked Danny DeKeyser to make some high school football predictions...

Danny DeKeyser didn’t play high school football, but as a junior at Warren De La Salle, he and his friends enjoyed cheering on their classmates on fall Fridays.

“It was a lot of fun and it gave my buddies and me something to do on Friday nights,” the Red Wings’ rookie defenseman said. “It was always a good time.”

It’s been a few years since he rooted for the Pilots from the metal bleachers, but that didn’t stop DeKeyser from accepting a challenge this week from the Macomb Daily.

DeKeyser gladly agreed to be the newspaper’s guest prognosticator for Week 5 of the high school football season in Michigan. He was asked to pick the winners of 10 games in Macomb County this weekend.

Hopefully, DeKeyser is a better pigskin prophet than Mark Hackel, the county executive for Macomb County, who correctly selected seven of 10 games last week.

I suppose I ought to tell you to read Roose's article for the tale of the football tape...

 

 

 

In promotional news, from the Wings:

The "Toast" takes place on Tuesday, November 13th. The Wings will be playing the Winnipeg Jets the night before, and they'll wrap up a 4-game home stand against the Washington Capitals on Friday the 15th.

I've heard positive stories regarding the event from the vast majority of its attendees, but as formal events make me jittery, you're not likely to see me there. My pal Mark's wedding on the 12th of October and his rehearsal dinner on the 10th (I'll end up missing two games, d'oh!) will be more than enough, thankyouverymuch.

 

 

In the prospect department, Andreas Athanasiou registered 2 assists in the Barrie Colts' 7-5 win over Owen Sound, and he's posted 2 goals and 3 assists over the course of all of 2 games played.

Athanasiou took note of his own highlight clips, retweeting the following:

 

 

And finally, I generally don't worry too much about Wings alums, but Mike Commodore appears to be heading on European and/or Eurasian adventure:

So that's not going to Astana Barys in Kazakhstan...Where does the Twitter gent think he's going?

If that's true, Commodore will have gone from Detroit to Tampa Bay, to the Montreal Canadiens' AHL affiliate in Hamilton and to the Dallas Stars' affiliate in Austin to...Vladivostok, so far east that he'll be playing northeast of North Korea and some 700 miles south of Jan Mursak's Amur Khabarovsk.

I'm going with, "It's true" given that Sports.ru's Igor Eronko reports the transaction to be a done deal:

Aside from the pun--Commodore playing for the Admiral, named after the fact that Vladivostok is home of Russia's Far East Naval fleet--I hope he does well.

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Comments

Little Redhead's avatar

Thanks George!

I like our team, I believe!

Lets Go Red Wings!!!!!

Posted by Little Redhead from the Engineer's chair on 09/27/13 at 06:46 AM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Heading downstate in an hour to attend the game. Nephew won four lower bowl seats and invited ol’ Uncle down.

Looks like there are few tickets left. Detroiters never sellout a out a pre-season game. I bet Toronto fans outnumber Wings fans at the Joe tonight.

Me, beer, and thousands of Leafs fans. This has all the makings of a train wreck.

Adios.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 09/27/13 at 06:54 AM ET

gowings's avatar

“But I hate the Maple Leafs, and I mean that, I really and genuinely despise them.”

My dad never understood….I hated the Birds….yep the Penguins…..we have old videos showing me as a toddler crying in front of the TV set every time they were on….hilarious….I still hate them…...

Posted by gowings from MTL on 09/27/13 at 07:21 AM ET

LivinLaVidaLockout's avatar

They’re going to have to continue to scout other teams, make phone calls, and, generally speaking, hope that other teams suffer the kinds of catastrophic injuries that could be partially remedied with the additions of Eaveses, Tootoos or Cory Emmertons (and no, the Wings won’t receive a significant return for any of their “salary dumps”).

George, I read this sentence in Gollum’s voice…
“What’s EAVESES, precious?”

Posted by LivinLaVidaLockout on 09/27/13 at 07:40 AM ET

LivinLaVidaLockout's avatar

Mike Commodore     ✔ @commie22

Also, has that always Commodore’s twitter handle?  Seems a bit funny that he’s going to Russia and his username is ‘commie.’

Posted by LivinLaVidaLockout on 09/27/13 at 07:41 AM ET

calquake's avatar

Me, beer, and thousands of Leafs fans. This has all the makings of a train wreck.

Make us proud Red… or call if you need bail. cheese

Posted by calquake on 09/27/13 at 10:11 AM ET

Primis's avatar

George, you are my age.  We both grew up watching the same Wings.  My first real hockey memories are of Demers’ Wings and of my dad’s frustration with him.

Since the Leafs moved East I lost all hate for them.  They are a joke, a punchline.  I know the Wings used to engage in 300 PIM games with the Leafs where I’d scream at the radio for Probert or Kocur to kill somoene, but…  I find it am finding it difficult to to hate now.

We’ve won Cup after Cup.  They’ve considered their seasons a success if they make the playoffs, while playing in the indisputably-weaker conference even.  The Leafs are just an object of pity, a warning as to what the idea of birthright is and where it gets you.

DET’s all-time team would annihilate the Leaf’s respective all-time team.  Guys the Leafs consider “greats” wouldn’t maybe even crack the list in DET.  It’s pretty lopsided.  The Leafs have not been a legit Cup contender in *decades*, and one we haven’t seen more than twice a year at that.

I’m sure the hate will come back at some point but… right now I hate the Blues, Hawks, and Penguins a lot more.  I’m sure guys like Clarkson and Orr, amongst others, will rise up on the Most Wanted list.

But right now, just pity.  The Leafs are pitiful in a number of ways, not even in the same tier as the Wings.  And I think OTT, BUF, and BOS will all make hard runs at being DET’s first new divisional rival as well, so TOR will have company.

Posted by Primis on 09/27/13 at 10:25 AM ET

Hootinani's avatar

Me, beer, and thousands of Leafs fans. This has all the makings of a train wreck.
Adios.
Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 09/27/13 at 07:54 AM ET

Go down swingin’, and take as many with you as you can.

And call cal if you need bail raspberry

Posted by Hootinani on 09/27/13 at 10:38 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.