The Malik Report
by George Malik on 09/28/13 at 02:25 AM ET
Given the Red Wings' call-ups from Grand Rapids, Detroit's taking a "B Team" up the 401 to Toronto to battle the Maple Leafs this evening (7 PM EDT, CBC/NHL Network U.S.), and minus both stars and a precautionarily-sat Stephen Weiss, the Wings' youngsters will face an NHL-heavy roster and an agitated Leafs team after dropping Toronto 5-2 on Friday night at the Joe.
Looking ahead to get it out of the way (I guess this is your "set-up"), I'm sure that the Grand Rapids Griffins' exhibition games against the Lake Erie Monsters tonight in Plymouth and tomorrow in Windsor will be entertaining affairs, and the Hockeytown BrewHaHa at the Joe might interest the beer-and-street-food enthusiast, but given that the Wings' lineup will largely consist of Luke Glendening, Teemu Pulkkinen, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, Mitch Callahan and Jeff Hoggan up front, and Xavier Ouellet, Adam Almquist, Ryan Sproul and Nathan Paetsch on defense, with Petr Mrazek scheduled to start and Jared Coreau backing Mrazek up...
And especially knowing that the Leafs will ice their NHL lineup, Hockey Night in Canada's going to provide some particularly intriguing viewing this evening. TorontoMapleLeafs.com's Matt Iaboni posited a quickie preview before the Leafs landed in Toronto...
The Maple Leafs and Red Wings close out the home-and-home tonight (7pm CBC, TSN1050 Radio) in the final preseason game for both teams. Detroit defeated Toronto 5-2 Friday night in Detroit. The Red Wings scored three power-play goals in the win.
To get you set for tonight’s game, we will be having the #TMLtalk Game Day Skate show LIVE from the ACC today starting at 10:30am. Paul Hendrick, Bob McGill, Jon Abbott and Brooke Pashley will get you set for tonight’s game. You can also watch on Leafs TV or this link http://is.gd/wwBn8q
It is expected that James Reimer will get the start in net tonight. Cody Franson could also play after making his preseason debut in Friday’s loss. Franson was minus one with over 21 minutes of action Friday night.
We will have the full roster along with projected Leafs lines and defence pairings following the morning skate. The #TMLtalk Game Day Skate show will have head coach Randy Carlyle’s pre-game press conference along with thoughts from players ahead of the game.
“It is like the Swedish national team over there,” said Leaf defenceman Cody Franson. “They hold on to the puck, they move it around really well. They pick their spots to dump it in well. They’re effective in what they do.”
The Leafs might have few built-in excuses. It was the first game for Franson, back in the lineup after ending his contract holdout. It was the first game for Colton Orr, out for most of camp with a leg injury.
“I felt pretty good,” said [goaltender Jonathan] Bernier. “In my game, I have to be patient. I felt like I made some stand-up saves. That’s the way I play. I was seeing the puck a lot better than the past few games.”
Leafs coach Randy Carlyle certainly didn’t blame Bernier, who faced 35 shots, for the loss.
“I thought he (Bernier) gave us a chance,” said Carlyle. “Some of the goals that we allowed them to score were in critical areas. We didn’t have stiff enough protection in those areas. You can’t give skilled players direct shots from the slot.”
No, Carlyle was more upset with the team effort.
“They (the Red Wings) took over the game in the second period,” said Carlyle. “We were standing around watching them skate.”
Now I'm as biased as can be, but I believe that the Red Wings got their shit together after three very pedestrian efforts--in no small part thanks to finally assembling an NHL roster--and they took it to a team that simply isn't as good. But I've also readily admitted that I hate the Leafs...
Anyway, the Toronto Sun's Lance Hornby noted Carlyle's frustration...
“Some of the goals we allowed tonight were from the critical areas,” Carlyle said. “We didn’t have stiff enough protection. You can’t give skill players direct shots from the slot, simple as that.”
Though Ashton hit some people early and Gardiner had two assists, the latter lost a challenge to Todd Bertuzzi that led to Detroit’s first goal. Carlyle said Gardiner was not yet at the strong stage he showed in last year’s playoffs.
“We havn’t got many more days,” added the coach, who is down to one pre-season game Saturday at home against the Wings and then back-to-back regular season openers Tuesday in Montreal and Wednesday in Philadelphia.
As well as Jonathan Bernier's take on his play...
“This was a good pace, like a regular season game,” said goalie Jonathan Bernier.
Bernier finally finished a start in his fourth try. One was a planned second-period hook, then his knee pad rubbed him the wrong way and then 10 minutes before completing the game against the Sabres, he was ejected for picking a fight with Ryan Miller. Early on Friday, he wasn’t allowing many rebounds, but the slew of power plays saw Detroit end with a 37-19 shot advantage.
“I still have to get my game to a higher level,” Bernier said. “Tonight I made some stand-up saves and saw the puck better than in previous games. I just have to get better.”
And an intriguing take about this set of preseason games from one Mike Babcock:
“When you’re playing against teams in the East, for those of us who haven’t played against them, it’s nice to get to know who they are,” Babcock said. “The more (regulars) they have, we’ll get to know them better. I’m not comparing exhibition to regular season, but we’ll learn more about the Leafs here and I’m sure they’ll learn about us.”
The AP's recap will serve as our pivot point between the Leafs' and Wings' perspectives, and as it's the preseason, it is...spare...
Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel Alfredsson and Johan Franzen each had a goal and an assist, helping the Detroit Red Wings beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 on Friday night in a preseason game.
Joakim Andersson and Luke Glendening also scored for Detroit. Pavel Datsyuk had two assists and Jimmy Howard made 17 saves.
Nazem Kadri and Joffrey Lupul scored for Toronto. Jake Gardiner had two assists and Jonathan Bernier stopped 32 shots.
Zetterberg’s power-play goal broke a 2-2 tie with 42 seconds left in the second period.
Alfredsson and Franzen tacked on power-play goals in the third.
Glendening and Lupul traded goals earlier in the middle period.
Andersson scored 5:18 into the game. Kadri’s power-play goal tied it at 8:31 of the first.
For the Red Wings, story #1 was the play of its second line of Johan Franzen, Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson, at least for two periods' worth of hockey. As the Free Press's Helene St. James notes, the line barely played together thanks to nagging injuries bothering Franzen and Alfredsson..
Alfredsson had missed all but one game while nursing a sore groin, and the one time Alfredsson played, Franzen sat out with a hip flexor. That dated the last impression to training camp, when Babcock didn't find much to be enthused about because the line hadn't done anything in scrimmages.
The line should be great -- in theory. "I think Weiss has turned himself into a real good two-way player, understands what's going on," Mike Babcock said. "Alfie can shoot the puck. Mule is a big, big man who can skate and win battles down low and can find people with the puck. To me it has all the ingredients of a line, but it's got to become one."
Alfredsson forced a nice stick save from Jonathan Bernier during the second period, and was zooming in on the net for a potential rebound when Zetterberg's shot went in.
"You just want to get to a point where you don't think too much out there," Alfredsson said. "Just focus on playing."
The line finally got into gear--though even I will admit that it didn't look fantastic during training camp. I believe that Babcock's got the personnel right, and whileAlfredsson displayed considerable aplomb in scoring 3 power play goals on four chances, mostly with Alfredsson at the right point...
When #93, #90 and #11 played together, they finally looked like a line that can take some of the scoring pressure off of Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Abdelkader, and, in all honesty, whoever plays with Nyquist and Andersson.
Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner noted that even Alfredsson was unsure of his line's potential going into the game...
“We didn’t really know what to expect," Alfredsson said about playing with Weiss and Franzen for the first time. "We just told ourselves, 'Let’s do what we can do and not worry too much.' We did a good job of getting open and wanting the puck. That’s so important in today’s game -- to have the puck. It makes the game so much easier.”
What was a promising debut for the trio could have ended up in disappointment. Weiss didn’t return for the third period after tweaking his groin in the second, but he didn't sound too concerned after the game.
“I feel pretty good," he said. "Just a little something going on there, decided to shut it down in the third and make sure we're ready for Wednesday (the regular-season opener vs. Buffalo). It's just precautionary stuff. I played a lot of hockey lately. Just trying to make sure we're fresh and ready to go for Wednesday, when we start for real. I'm 100 percent."
Like Weiss, Alfredsson has had a groin issue, but after the Friday’s game, the Swedish sniper said he feels healthy.
“I am pretty good to go,” Alfredsson said. “I practiced the last few days here and everything’s been good. I played a full game today with no issues, so I’m good to go.”
Detroit is counting heavily on their second line to generate offense this season, and Wings coach Mike Babcock liked what he saw from the Mule, Alfie and Weiss.
“Those guys did a pretty good job here tonight,” Babcock said. “Weiss was real competitive, made some good plays. Obviously, Alfredsson is real smart, and the Mule worked real hard tonight. We have a real good line there. It’s a sign of, hopefully, what’s to come.”
Alfredsson put things a little more bluntly while speaking with the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa...
“It was good,” Alfredsson said of the play of the second line for the two periods. “I thought we got better and better as the game went on, and we created some good chances. I had some really good looks where I didn’t bury it. But, you know, it feels real good when you have the puck, and playing on the offensive side more give you more energy. I thought we had fun out there,”
The Wings also got goals from Joakim Andersson, Luke Glendenning, Franzen and Zetterberg. They outshot the Maple Leafs 27-14 through two periods, 19-6 in the second period. It was the most offense they generated since an 8-2 drubbing of the Bruins Sept. 19 in Boston.
But while Alfredsson (groin) and Franzen (hip flexor) returned from injuries and looked good, the Wings must now await Weiss’s return before they can hope to consolidate their improved performance.
Alfredsson also severely tested Bernier, acquired from the Kings in the offseason, on at least two other occasions, with Bernier barely equal to the tasks.
Babcock has said one clear advantage of having Alfredsson instead of Damien Brunner, who played well for some stretches for the Red Wings last season, is Alfredsson has a terrific shot from the stationary position, whether from the point or the slot.
“He’s got an absolute bomb,” Babcock said.
Whether by design or by personal tendency, Brunner would always rush in from the point, trying to fire shots from the right faceoff dot, and as such, the Wings received a Samuelsson-like, "Hey, nobody's at the point! There goes the puck!" set of shots and then successful opponent clearing attempts to chase all the way down the ice.
Alfredsson, who skates and plays like he's 35, not 40, also pointed out that the Wings' transition game was much, much better while speaking with DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose...
“It looked pretty good today,” said Alfredsson, referring to the Wings’ power play. “Entering the zone was good, puck movement and obviously some skilled plays by some players. It was nice to get a couple.”
Alfredsson’s goal at 5:57 of the third period was the second of three straight power-play goals by the Wings. Henrik Zetterberg (two points) and Johan Franzen (two points) scored the other power-play goals for Detroit.
Center Joakim Andersson and prospect Luke Glendening also scored for the Red Wings, who will wrap-up the preseason with an exhibition game against the Leafs in Toronto on Saturday.
And yes, Alfredsson did indeed receive a significant amount of boos from the third of the crowd wearing blue and white. Until he shut them up, anyway...
A lively crowd helped produce an entertaining game, especially in the first period, which couldn’t have been played more evenly with each team registering eight shots on goal and one goal apiece. For a preseason game, the energy was incredible with thousands of Leafs’ fans in attendance helping to create an awesome atmosphere, though it didn’t make coach Mike Babcock very happy.
“I couldn’t tell you about atmosphere,” the Wings’ coach said. “I was watching the game. But I can tell you that during the national anthems, I noticed there were a bunch of blue sweaters in our building.”
MLive's Ansar Khan noted that both Babcock and Alfredsson feel that the home-and-home series with Toronto isn't a much about reigniting the rivalry as much as it is about continuing on a learn-about-your-new-opponents curve...
“When you’re playing against teams in the East, since we haven’t played in the East, it’s nice to get to know who the other teams are, the players they have and get to know them better,'' Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said before the game. “I’m not going to compare an exhibition game, they’re not close, but we want our team to play well. We’ll learn more about the Leafs here tonight and I’m sure they’ll learn more about us.''
Alfredsson, however, doesn't expect the rivalry to heat up right away.
“To get that rivalry going again you need to play a team in the playoffs, get those moments that only playoffs can create,'' Alfredsson said. “They're two historic franchises. I think everyone is going to try their best to get this rivalry going, fans and media.''
But with HBO's 24/7 cameras following the Wings around, Alfredsson told the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness that he'd found some spring in his step...
“I wasn’t sure exactly how I’d feel,” Alfredsson explained. “But, I feel like I had the legs.”
His goal, off a brilliant setup by Henrik Zetterberg, was impossible for Leafs goalie Jon Bernier to stop. Zetterberg circled deep in the Toronto zone, then found Alfredsson for a one-time blast from the right faceoff circle. The power play goal put Detroit ahead 4-2 at 5:57 of the third.
The play might have looked like it was drawn up to perfection, but Alfredsson wasn’t so sure.
“I think (Zetterberg) was trying to pass to (Johan) Franzen,” Alfredsson said with a smile. “But, I was able to step in from pretty close and find the far side.”
Though Alfredsson and Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg told the media that the team's starting to get antsy after having skated together for the better part of a month, as the Free Press's St. James noted...
Quotable: “It was important that we played an NHL team and that we played an NHL game,” coach Mike Babcock said of both teams fielding good lineups for an exhibition meeting. “I didn’t think we were great in the first period, but we got better as the game wore on.” ... Zetterberg on the Wings as they near the regular season: “The only way to get into it is to play games. We’ve got one left, but everyone is looking forward to Wednesday.”
(again, the Wings won't be icing an NHL lineup this evening)
And Michigan Hockey's Stefan Kubus also noted the pair's comments...
The Red Wings captain said having a new weapon like Alfredsson is a tremendously positive change that Detroit hasn’t had available in a while.
“He’s been playing so long, he knows where to be, he knows where to shoot and he’s a fun guy to play with,” Zetterberg said.
Later in the period, on a power play with David Clarkson off for slashing, Johan Franzen scored his first of the preseason, tipping home a Niklas Kronwall shot just 15 seconds into the man-advantage to lock up the 5-2 victory.
“It was a good test for us,” Alfredsson said. “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, but a few more days here to really get ready when the fun really starts.”
As well as the fact that a certain Grand Rapids Griffin's performances during exhibition games may have yielded a leapfrogging over Tomas Jurco and Riley Sheahan for the first injury call-up:
Former University of Michigan Wolverines captain and Grand Rapids native Luke Glendening put the Red Wings ahead, 2-1, with a rebound marker.
“He’s a good player,” head coach Mike Babcock said of Glendening. “He’s smart, he’s another guy like (Andersson); you trust him, you don’t worry about him. I had him out there every penalty kill right off the get-go. He’ll play for the Red Wings. He’s smart enough and competitive enough and knows how to play good enough. He’ll find a way to play in the NHL.”
"It's nice to get the dress rehearsal and to test the power play formation, which paid off with three goals," says Henrik Zetterberg to SportExpressen.se after the 5-2 victory over Toronto.
It was a big night for the Swedes at Joe Lous Arena. Zata, Alfie and Johan Franzen settled the game with three straight power play goals.
The [first power play unit] includes Niklas Kronwall and Alfredsson on defense and Pavel Datsyuk playing with Zata and Frasse up front.
The three Swedish goal scorers also had assists.
Seven Swedish Points
Add Joakim Andersson's 1-0 goal, at even strength, and the Red Wings' Swedes accounted for a total of 9 points, and even Niklas Kronwall and Mikael Samuelsson registered respective assists.
"There were many Toronto fans in the building and the there was a good mood in the rink, so this was a great victory," says Zata.
He was on the first line with Datsyuk and Justin Abdelkader.
Daniel Alfredsson was back in his spot on the second line with Stephen Weiss and Franzen.
"And we have a number of younger players in the mix, battling for spots, so the management has tough but pleasant decisions to make after the weekend," says Zata.
I sure hope so, especially after tonight's game.
Highlights: The Red Wings' website posted a six-minute highlight clip...
And HockeyFights posted the Ericsson-Clarkson bout:
Fear not, because the Windsor Star's Bob Duff posted coach Mike Babcock's presser:
Duff posted a clip of Joakim Andersson's post-game comments, too:
TSN posted both a 2-minute highlight clip and some clips I wish I could embed. TSN posted a 2:11 profile of Daniel Alfredsson's "Different Look" with the Wings and a second line that got on track on Friday night; That's Hockey 2Night's Pierre LeBrun, Gino Reda and Jamie McLennan talked about Weiss, and they talked about the revival of the Wings-Leafs rivalry, too.
Photos: The Detroit News's David Guralnick posted a 35-image gallery;
The Detroit Free Press posted a 23-image gallery;
The Windsor Star posted 2 big photos from the game;
And the Red Wings' website posted a 12-image gallery, as well as this gem:
Shots 37-19 Detroit overall. Detroit and Toronto tied 8-8 in shots in the 1st, but Deroit out-shot Toronto 19-6 in the 2nd and 10-5 in the 3rd.
Detroit went 3-for-4 in 5:18 of PP time; Toronto went 1-for-3 in 5:24 of PP time.
Jimmy Howard stopped 17 of 19 shots against; Jonathan Bernier stopped 32 of 37.
The 3 stars were picked by Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika, and he picked Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Daniel Alfredsson.
The Wings' goals: Andersson (1) from Ouellet (1) and Bertuzzi (1);
Glendening (1) from Quincey (1) and Samuelsson (1);
Zetterberg (1) from Franzen (1) and Datsyuk (1), PPG;
Alfredsson (1) from Zetterberg (1) and Datsyuk (2), PPG;
Franzen (1) from Kronwall (1) and Alfredsson (1), PPG.
Faceoffs 36-27 Detroit (Detroit won 57%);
Blocked shots 10-7 Toronto;
Missed shots 8-5 Toronto (total attempts 52-34 Detroit);
Hits 24-15 Detroit;
Giveaways 7-0 Detroit;
Takeaways 7-2 Toronto.
Individual stats, TMR style:
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 15-and-4 (79%); Andersson went 8-and-10 (44%); Glendening went 5-and-7 (42%); Weiss went 6-and-3 (67%); Franzen went 0-and-2 (0%); Bertuzzi went 1-and-1 (50%); Zetterberg went 1-and-0 (100%).
Shots: Alfredsson, Quincey and Franzen co-led the team with 4 shots; Abdelkader, Andersson and Samuelsson had 3; Datsyuk, Glendening Bertuzzi, Ericsson and Cleary had 2; Kindl, Lashoff, Jurco, Zetterberg, Ouellet and Weiss had 1.
Blocked attempts: Alfredsson, Zetterberg, Kronwall and Franzen hit Toronto players 2 times; Quincey and Weiss hit Leaf players 1 time.
Missed shots: Kindl missed the net 2 times; Alfredsson, Jurco and Weiss missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Abdelkader led the Wings with 4 hits; Glendening had 3; Lashoff, Jurco and Ericsson had 2; Alfredsson and Cleary had 1.
Giveaways: Datsyuk and Alfredsson had 2 giveaways; Abdelkader, Kronwall and Cleary had 1.
Takeaways: Jurco and Bertuzzi had takeaways.
Blocked opponent shots: Kronwall blocked 2 Leaf shots; Kindl, Alfredsson, Quincey, Glendening and Weiss blocked 1 shot.
Penalties taken: Ericsson got 2 and 5, first for interference and then for fighting; Bertuzzi and Franzen took minor penalties.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective +5. Abdelkader, Datsyuk and Zetterberg were -1; Andersson, Jurco, Quincey, Samuelsson, Glendening, Bertuzzi, Ouellet and Cleary were +1.
Points: Alfredsson had a goal and an assist for 2 points; Franzen had a goal and an assist for 2 points; Datsyuk had 2 assists; Andersson and Glendening had goals; Quincey, Samuelsson, Bertuzzi, Kronwall and Ouellet had assists.
Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 23:13 played; Ericsson played 19:52; Quincey played 19:13;
Lashoff played 18:45; Datsyuk played 18:10; Kindl played 17:53;
Zetterberg played 17:45; Franzen played 17:34; Abdelkader played 16:34;
Alfredsson played 16:23; Andersson played 16:08; Cleary played 15:58;
Ouellet played 15:57; Bertuzzi played 13:47; Glendening played 12:43;
Samuelsson played 12:18; Weiss played 11:47; Jurco played 10:36.
Red Wings notebooks: The "sidebar story of the day" for both media corps involved the fact that the Red Wings aren't built to fight--and, unlike the "truculent" Maple Leafs, the Wings are very comfortable with that concept. The Toronto Sun's Terry Koshan took note of both Kyle Quincey's take on his team's personnel...
“The Leafs are old school, the way I was brought up and I like the way they play,” began Wings defenceman Kyle Quincey at Friday morning’s skate. “(The new Wings-Leafs conference alignment) should be good, a clash of two different styles. (But) it takes two to tango. The instigator rule is still in. So if they want to fight, they’ll take most instigators, probably.”
And this is a little surprising:
“I’ve changed my personal view 100% since the 1980s,” senior vice-president and former general manager Jim Devellano told the Sun earlier this year. Yes, I drafted Bob Probert and Joey Kocur. But times have changed. The game has changed. We don’t need it. It adds nothing. (Bowman) appreciated skill players and we found we didn’t need the fights to win. People enjoyed the game and we didn’t want to be killing penalties all the time. I’m not here to say who is right and who is wrong on this issue, that’s just my personal opinion.”
Babcock, who was to face a brawny Leaf lineup led by Colton Orr on Friday night, says his team will not get out of sorts when the regular-season games against Toronto start on Dec. 21.
“I assume (the Leafs) have a way they want to play and they’ll do the same thing. I know what we’re going to do, play the way we always play. It seems to have done well for us. We really believe in toughness and toughness on the puck. I like the puck. I like 12 forwards who can skate and handle the puck and six defencemen who can all skate and handle the puck.”
One of Detroit’s principal weapons in the face of teams who would abuse them was its lethal use of man-advantage situations.
“Back in the day and even now, if teams want to goon it up, we’ll beat them with our power play,” Quincey said. “It’s hard on them when our power play is clicking. So we’ve been working on that and hopefully deter teams from gooning it up.”
The Free Press's Helene St. James offered the most commentary regarding the Wings' belief that they can keep on keepin' on...
“I know what we’re going to do, we’re going to play the way we always play,” coach Mike Babcock said. “It seems to have done pretty well for us.”
General manager Ken Holland doesn’t believe it prudent to use a roster spot on an enforcer, a guy who usually only has that one dimension. The Wings do have guys who’ll fight — most notably Todd Bertuzzi, Justin Abdelkader and Jordin Tootoo. Tootoo, currently sidelined by a bruised shoulder, found himself a healthy scratch last year down the stretch and into the playoffs.
Part of the Red Wings’ thinking: if they don’t have an enforcer in the lineup, opponents might not dress one either, because who is he going to fight? Secondly — and much of exhibition season has been spent working on power plays for this reason — is that if liberties are taken against stars, the Wings would rather have the man advantage, and use that as punishment.
“We really believe in toughness and we believe toughness is toughness on the puck,” Babcock said. “To me, you’ve got to have the puck. I like 12 forwards that can all skate and handle the puck, and I like six D who can all skate and handle the puck.”
The power play hasn’t been very intimidating the past two seasons, which is partly why the Red Wings jumped at adding Daniel Alfredsson, who has a big right-handed shot. If the power play can reach a regular rate of effectiveness, the Wings would, as Babcock said, “encourage all the penalties the other team takes.”
(3 for 4 on Friday, with Alfredsson registering a goal and an assist)
And Wings GM Ken Holland was blunt about the topic while speaking with the Windsor Star's Bob Duff:
“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. We think they’re guys that can chip in offensively.”
The lack of a designated hitter wasn’t an issue in Friday’s contest, the only scrap a late-game 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. 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 one-dimensional 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. If they can do that and chip in a few goals, I think we’re going to be a better team.”
Daniel Alfredsson also received some questions about the Wings-Leafs rivalry re-starting--and he was indeed booed by the Leafs fans in attendance on Friday--by the Toronto Sun's Koshan...
"To get that rivalry going, you need to play a team in the playoffs," Alfredsson said Friday morning, "to create the moments that only playoffs can create."
Alfredsson was no doubt thinking of the Leafs and Senators meeting four times in a five-year period a decade ago, fuelling today's ill will between the teams. The Leafs and Detroit moved to different conferences in 1998 after 23 playoff series spread through 64 years.
"They are two historic franchises," Alfredsson said. "Everyone will try their best to get this rivalry going again, fans and media."
And Koshan also asked Kyle Quincey and Stephen Weiss about growing up as Toronto fans in the early-to-mid-90's:
"Bill Berg was my guy," said the Wings defenceman of the Leaf who always finished his checks hard. "It's actually a funny story why."
Quincey and his father Marty had come in from Orangeville for a special treat, to watch a Leafs-Kings regular-season game at the Gardens when Wayne Gretzky played for L.A.
"I was a forward back then," Quincey said. "Gretzky was kind of floating around a little bit. I wasn't really the most gifted player at that age and my Dad knew I was more of a checker. He said: 'No (to emulating Gretzky), from now on, you watch Bill Berg'. Since then, he was my favourite player and I idolized him growing up."
Weiss says that he used to remember the Leafs' 1993 first round upset of the Wings fondly:
"I was 10 and a big Leaf fan and that's probably one of the best Detroit-Toronto memories I have," Weiss said. "Borschevsky scoring against Detroit here at The Joe."
But does Weiss tell that story now?
"Not any more."
In the inevitable injury department, the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan took note of the fact that the Wings have decided to bench Danny DeKeyser for Friday and Saturday's games due to a "bruised" knee suffered after catching a rut skating after Sidney Crosby...
Defenseman Danny DeKeysermissed Friday’s game because of a twisted knee but is certain he’ll be ready for Wednesday’s regular-season opener.
“I am,” said DeKeyser, as to whether he’ll be in the season opener. “I feel good. I kind of twisted it (the knee) a little in the last game. It was a little sore. I just want to make sure it’s 100 percent before I go out there again. It’s just precautionary.”
DeKeyser expects to take part in the morning skate today but likely won’t be making the trip to play the Maple Leafs in Toronto tonight.
And the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness spoke with Jordin Tootoo about his status as out until at least the start of the regular season, if not longer, with a bruised shoulder:
“It feels good but shoulder injuries and the way I play, I just want to make sure it’s 100 percent and not 85-90,” Tootoo said. “I want to mentally be comfortable and be from there.”
The injury occurred on his second shift against the Bruins.
“I just kept playing through it and didn’t realize the severity of it until the next day,” Tootoo said. “I just want to make sure I get it fixed because I know I did the same thing to my right shoulder and it almost took three years to heal. Making sure everything’s on the right track right now.”
Tootoo has been in a battle all training camp to find a spot on one of the Wings’ four forward lines so this setback doesn’t help.
“I can only control my mentality,” Tootoo said. “I’ve just got to bring it every day. Obviously, injuries are going to be a part of the game. It’s how you recover from that. Mentally, just being focused every day and making sure I’m at all the team meetings and doing all the right things.”
Somewhat ironically, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose penned an article that posted not long before puck drop, and it happened to discuss what was, until Friday, an absolutely putrid power play (and this is just part of a much longer article that's worth your time and then some):
“We haven’t played a game yet together. So tonight will be the first game with Alf and Kronner behind us, so I think we need a lot of practice on it,” Zetterberg said. “Power play wasn’t our best spot last year and we really have to improve on it, but you have to practice. If you don’t practice it’s tough to win games.”
Early preseason injuries to Alfredsson (groin) and Johan Franzen (hip flexor) prevented the power play from gaining steam in the exhibition games. But the Wings’ conventional formation should get ice time against the Leafs tonight. The top unit will have Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk on the flanks with Justin Abdelkader at the net-front. The second unit will use Weiss and Johan Franzen on the outside with Daniel Cleary in front of the crease and Jakub Kindl and Mikael Samuelsson on the point.
Adding hard-shooting right-handers like Alfredsson and Samuelsson to the point is intriguing with a potential to create increased offense.
“I think it’s going to help big time,” Kronwall said. “Now we have guys back there that can shoot the puck. For us on top we have to make sure that the puck gets through to the net. We’ve spent too much time passing it around and not really getting the pucks to the net. We know we have guys in front of the net who are doing great jobs, but we have to make sure the puck gets there.”
Last season the Wings’ power play was No. 15 in the league, finishing at 18.4 percent (34-of-185). They were 0-for-36 through the first 10 road games in 2013. Statistically, the Wings were worse in 2011-12. However, in the last 14 seasons, the Wings have annually produced one of the top power plays in the league, finishing in the top five nine times since 1999-2000. In that time, no other NHL team has more than six top-five finishes. Babcock hopes Alfredsson and Samuelsson can be the power play the high-powered weaponry that has been missing from the right point.
“We want to score some goals and they have that ability,” Babcock said. “We didn’t think we had a bomb from the point at all last year. (Damien) Brunner played on it. He wasn’t a stationary shooter, if that makes any sense. Alfredsson and Samuelsson both are. We planned on playing Sammy there last year and he never played so we’ll see what happens.”
Stephen Weiss spoke with MLive's Ansar Khan about his groin (Weiss wanted to play through the twinge, but the Wings' trainers wouldn't let him) after the game, and Khan also noted that Weiss, who's had a very hard time adjusting to the Wings' system of play, was glad that he, Johan Franzen (who's been sidelined with a sore hip flexor) and Alfredsson (who's battled a sore groin) finally got in a game together:
“It was nice to finally get the three of us together (Friday),'' Weiss said. “I thought we had some chances. We moved the puck a little but better, had some chances. It didn't go in for us, but Alfie got one (on the power play). We'll keep getting better.''
After training camp and five preseason games Weiss feels he has a handle on the Red Wings' system.
This is essential here, folks, absolutely essential:
“It's a little bit different,'' Weiss said. “I think the biggest thing is the way they play without the puck. That's why they have it all the time, because there's so much attention to detail without it. That hasn't been a big adjustment. For me the biggest thing has been D-zone coverage; it's a lot different than what I've been used to. I'm really starting to get comfortable with it. I feel like I can just go out and play.''
As I recall it, Chris Chelios of all people pointed out that when Mike Babcock came to Detroit, the biggest difference for the team involved the amount of skating the forwards and especially centers were required to engage in to come back and serve as a third defender (they call that an "F3" these days instead of a "left wing lock" as whoever's "lowest" is supposed to come back, but for Babcock, it's the center's responsibility), with centers truly having to haul ass and almost out-race their defenders back to the puck as soon as it was turned over (and you might notice that Pavel Datsyuk is so good at being a "good F3" that he often does out-race his defensemen back).
Weiss came from a dump-and-not-chase system, and to have to pay attention to detail while lugging the puck up ice as the puck possession guy with Franzen roaming and Alfredsson giving and going, and then to have to worry about roaring back on defense, that ain't easy.
In the prospect department: In Sweden, Mattias Janmark registered an assist in AIK Stockholm's 3-1 win over Orebo, and, as DRW Prospects on Twitter noted, he gobbling up ice time:
Also in Sweden, on Thursday, Rasmus Bodin didn't play in Linkopings HC's junior-20 team's 3-2 win over Frolunda;
In the QMJHL, Phillipe Hudon had an assist in the Victoriaville Tigres' 5-2 win over Moncton;
Anthony Mantha had an assist on his team's only goal as the Val-d'Or Foreurs lost 4-1 to Blainville-Boisbriand;
In the OHL, Jake Paterson continues to face tons of rubber in the Saginaw Spirit's net, but he stopped 47 of 53 as the Spirit dropped a 6-3 decision to London;
Andreas Athanasiou was held off the scoresheet for the first time this season in the Barrie Colts' 5-3 loss to Sudbury;
And Tyler Bertuzzi took 2 minors in the Guelph Storm's 5-1 win over Oshawa;
And in the WHL, Marc McNulty scored a goal and did not take any of the 31 penalties in the Prince George Cougars' 5-2 loss to Kamloops.
Also of Red Wings-related note: In the multimedia department, via RedWingsFeed, NHL Live posted a 6-minute feature on the Wings' move East...
And Ken Kal spoke with NHL Live before the game:
I can't embed this, but the Candian Press's Stephen Whyno spoke about the season at hand in a video posted on the Vancouver Province's website, and he focused on Alfredsson's defection from Ottawa...
And here's Whyno's take on the Wings--which is trite...
Detroit Red Wings
Last season: 24-16-8, 56 points, seventh seed in West, lost in conference semi-finals to Chicago
Who’s gone: C Valtteri Filppula, D Carlo Colaiacovo
Who’s new: RW Daniel Alfredsson, C Stephen Weiss
How they make the playoffs: Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg beat up on the Eastern Conference and show that Alfredsson was right to think the Red Wings had a better shot at the Cup than the Senators. Jimmy Howard makes good on the first year of his new contract.
How they miss the playoffs: The stars age fast, unable to keep up with the physicality of the division. Well removed from Nicklas Lidstrom’s retirement, Detroit’s blue-line still misses him badly.
While the Associated Press's Greg Beacham spoke with Niklas Kronwall about the reduced travel demands upon the Wings:
"I think the travel sometimes takes years off all our lives," Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard said. "I think (moving East) will be great for us from the travel, even though we're all used to it now. It will be a lot of fun to play a lot of games in the Eastern time zone. It will be great for our fans, too, not having to stay up until all hours of the night to watch us."
The moves are the culmination of years of debate and manoeuvring. Detroit, which has been in the Western (originally Campbell) Conference since 1981, has desired a return to the East for years. Columbus, an expansion team in 2000, also jumped at the chance to shorten its list of road games starting at 10 p.m. or later back home.
The Red Wings are joining the reconfigured Atlantic Division along with fellow Original Six franchises Toronto, Montreal, Boston -- and, in the quirkiest part of the realignment, Florida and Tampa Bay. Columbus is in the cleverly named Metropolitan Division alongside Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and the three New York City-area teams.
It's too soon to tell whether Detroit, Columbus and Winnipeg will gain a significant competitive advantage from the switch. The Red Wings weren't exactly struggling to win while making the playoffs in each of the past 22 seasons out West, while the Blue Jackets wouldn't suggest the only reason they've never won a playoff game was all those road games in Phoenix.
"I think it's a great time for our fans," Red Wings defenceman Niklas Kronwall said. "They'll be able to watch our games in prime time a lot more than they have. Playing Montreal, Toronto, Boston more often, I'm hoping it's going to spark that (excitement) even more. I know it will for us."
In predictive news of a different kind, NHL.com's Matt Cubeta offers the following regarding the Wings:
Red Wings: Daniel Alfredsson scores 30 goals for the first time since 2007-08. Stephen Weiss doesn't reach the 50-point mark.
And I don't know whose odds they are, but the San Francisco Chronicle claims that the Wings' current Bovada 16-1 odds of winning the Cup are down from an "opening" 10-1 suggestion. I've heard 16-1 all summer long. I also don't bet on sports.
And wouldn't you frickin' know it, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk spoke with the ever-sympathetic Ottawa Sun's Don "DeToilet" Brennan about Alfredsson, and his comments were...Melnyky:
“It’s kind of tough, when somebody goes down the road ... it’s like a girlfriend leaving you or something,” Melnyk said at the opening of Sens Mile on Elgin Street hours before Alfredsson’s first game as a Wing at Joe Louis Arena. “But I don’t know. Things change all the time. Like who would have ever thought he’d leave. You just never know.”
Melnyk was also asked if Alfredsson would be celebrated when he returns to Ottawa — and if his jersey No. 11 might some day be raised to the rafters and retired at Canadian Tire Centre. He replied by addressing only half the question.
“Potentially, sure,” said Melnyk. “Look, Daniel had his own reasons for what he did, and we’re moving on. The players I’ve seen come and go, just in my 10 years ...Now, he’s a special player, he was with the franchise for so long, but he did a lot for the community, he did a lot for the team. Detroit, I guess, is his last hurrah, but after that, I think he’ll be recognized appropriately when he comes back to Ottawa ... if he comes back to Ottawa or not. I think he would at least be recognized.”
Better late than never: Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples posted a fine photo gallery from the Wings' loss to Pittsburgh, and Stefan Kubus offered a trio of intriguing Tweets about hybrid icing:
FYI, this came in an email from the Wings:
And finally, well...I happen to have a friend who bought a partial season-ticket package to access the Winter Classic, and he's not able to attend his games. The seats aren't fantastic--218B row 19 seat 26--but the seats are solid enough, and he's not looking to break even on the tickets, so it's about trying to put a butt in that seat as often as possible as opposed to trying to sell stuff at a profit.
I'm no ticket-broker, and KK has its own ticket-brokering sponsor, so this is a wee bit awkward for me, but as a Wings fan, I hear about a butt not filling a seat and I want to do what I can to remedy that.
Update: Bonus video: We All Bleed Red posted a clip of Petr Mrazek standing up to Tanner Glass...
And it's been my first 15-hour day since I got home from Traverse City, but HockeySverige's Uffe Bodin spoke with Hakan Andersson about Adam Almquist, and even my roughly-translated and bleary-eyed Swenglish should be worth your and my time (and I want the record to state that Andersson's alumni game play displayed the fact that he is SNEAKY and has superb hands):
Drafed second-last--Now Adam's near the NHL.
"Nobody doubts him"
He was drafted as the penultimate player of the 2009 Entry Draft. Now the HV71-developed defenseman is on the verge of becoming an NHL player for the Detroit Red Wings.
"MIke Babcock's said that they won't be afraid to play him," says Red Wings scout Hakan Andersson to HockeySverige.se.
Adam Almquist got off to a flying start to the Detroit Red Wings' training camp, scoring two goals in the team's first preseason game against the Pittsburgh Penguins last week. Since then, he's remained with the team's NHL camp, where the 22-year-old is one of 8 remaining defensemen.
Red Wings Swedish scout Hakan Andersson was the one whodrafted Almquist 210th overall, with the second-to-last pick in 2009. He's pleased with the progress of the Smaland native over the past year.
"It's a blast to see him," said Andersson to HockeySverige.se. "I drafted him because I felt that he was a smart player. Unfortunately, I don't think he was playing in a role he deserved with HV71, where there were many higher-paid players who stood in his way. Adam was hampered a bit by that, 'please give me the puck and go off on a change,' but then he came to North America and something happened. Several people I've spoken with have said that he was Grand Rapids' best defenseman in the AHL last year."
According to Hakan Andersson, Almquist used the first half of the season to acclimate to North American hockey, and the other to shine on the farm team's blueline. The only thing missing is a few pounds of muscle, according to the scout.
"No one doubts that he will play in the NHL"
"That's the only thing that stops him. Today, he weighs 81 kilograms [178.5 pounds], and that's a bit too low if you're jostling with a hundred-kilogram [220-pound] forward three or four times a week," says Hakan Andersson. "Mike Babcock (the Red Wings' coach) has said that he won't be afraid to paly him, but he didn't think he had the physique to be ready to play 80 games in the NHL. But it's up to Adam to prove that we're wrong. In any case, there's no doubt that he'll be able to play in the NHL."
When Adam Almquist debuted in the Eliteserien with HV71 during their gold-winning 2009-2010 season, he weighed only 72 kilograms [158 pounds]. He has, to put it bluntly, put on a lot of weight since then. Hakan Andersson hopes and believes that he'll continue to do so.
"I hope that Adam will give himself the chance to take care of his body during the season, and maybe even gain a few extra pounds when the season is over as compared to today," he says. "I don't like to nag too much about pounds, really, but it'd be really great to see him weigh about 85 kilograms [187.3 pounds]. Then I think he'll be able to become a full-time NHL player."
I'd guess that he weighs closer to 170-175 pounds, like Calle Jarnkrok, and like Jarnkrok, his frame is so very wiry and lean that I'm not sure he's ever going to be able to put on more than 5-8 more pounds of weight.
That being said, he's further along the, "You don't need to be ripped in your shoulders and have a skinny little waist to be a hockey player, you need to be built like a tree, with a strong trunk and core" curve than Jarnkrok is, and for players who are never going to be anything other than "undersized," it's all about maximizing what you've got, learning how to build your body up where you need to do so to ensure that you're not going to get pushed around.
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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.