The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/30/13 at 02:49 PM ET
Updated 2x at 2:19 PM: The Red Wings are enjoying a welcome and what will become an increasingly rare day off after their 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars last night, so today's crop of Red Wings-related stories, barring any injury news, will be pretty spartan. As I was wrapping up last night's overnight report, however, a story from Russia Today appeared around 4 AM EST, and it yielded a Magnum P.I.-style double-eyebrow-raising:
The 1000th career point from Russian forward, Pavel Datsyuk helped the Red Wings to a 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars in the NHL.
Datsyuk assisted Valtteri Filppula in the two opening goals, which pretty much sealed the deal for the Red Wings on the night he bagged the landmark achievement.
"Whenever he has the puck, you can always expect it's going to come your way," Filppula said of Datsyuk’s play in an interview with the NHL’s official website. "I've obviously played with him for a while now, but still, every once in a while you get surprised."
The game meant the Russian’s career scoring record reached 1,000 points, with 732 (240 goals 478 assists) coming in the NHL and the rest – in Russian hockey.
Datsyuk has only registered 726 points over the course of 738 NHL games--I've double and triple-checked those numbers--but, as it turns out, the Russian-language sports newspaper Sport-Express is the source of this "Club 1,000" milestone marker. Sport-Express's Maxim Zamyatin reports that when one adds up Datsyuk's points registered with the Red Wings, Ak Bars Kazan in the old Russian Superleague, Dynamo Moscow and CSKA Moscow in the KHL---and his NHL playoff, World Championship and Olympic points, too--it's only then that Datsyuk joins the club of Russian NHL'ers "who've scored 1,000 points" over the course of their professional career.
Sport-Express also posted a nifty gallery of Datsyuk, but in order for Datsyuk to register 1,000 NHL points, Datsyuk will need to register 274 more points, and that translates to a point-per-game clip for another three-and-a-third NHL seasons. Datsyuk will turn 35 this summer, his contract expires after next season, and he's obviously expressed some desire to return to Russia, so Wings fans like you and me can only hope that Datsyuk ends up playing for the Red Wings until he's in Igor Larionov territory age-wise, which is completely reasonable given his incredible skill set and equally incredible dedication to being in the best shape that he can possibly be...
And yes, Datsyuk's PR people did acknowledge the announcement:
The rest of today's "pre-George-has-to-go-grocery-shopping" news involves stories related to last night's win against the Stars.
MLive's Ansar Khan re-posted a notebook article discussing Valtteri Filppula's breakout performance (thanks in no small part to Mr. Club 1,000's wizardry) last night...
Filppula had career-high totals of 23 goals and 66 points in 2011-12, playing mostly on the wing with Henrik Zetterberg and Jiri Hudler.
“Fil needs to shoot and Fil needs to score,'' Bertuzzi said. “He's that good of a player. I'd put him up there in elite status on our team. He's a guy we count on to produce offensively.''
Babcock said he doesn't know if Filppula is more effective at center or the wing.
“It just wasn’t going (with Filppula at center), so we changed things up and now it’s suddenly going,'' Babcock said. “He’ll play in the middle again sometime this year, but right now he’s on the wall with Pavel and that’s not a bad spot.''
Filppula sprained his right MCL Nov. 13 while playing in Finland. Some lingering soreness has forced him to miss a few practices.
“Between games there hasn't been too much time to rest,'' Filppula said. “I've had to take practice days off and that's not always the best thing, but I'm happy that I've been able to play all the games."
Filppula not only needs to score for the team, but also for himself. He is in the final season of a five-year deal, earning $3.5 million ($3 million salary-cap hit). The Red Wings would like to sign him to an extension before the end of the regular season, before he can become an unrestricted free agent in July.
“I haven't had to think about (his contract) too much, just focused on playing,'' Filppula said. “Obviously, I love it here and it's been good, but we'll have to see what happens.''
This afternoon, Khan penned an article discussing Jordin Tootoo's pair of fights and the "lift" his physical play gives to the Wings:
“To be honest, I got to say Jordin Tootoo set the whole tone for the whole game,'' forward Todd Bertuzzi said. “Those two points came courtesy of him. He started it all and took care of business and guys got some jump from that and we got our lead and went from there.''
Some fans questioned why the club signed Tootoo to a three-year, $5.7 million free-agent contract on July 1. He is wasting little time winning them over, doing what he did for eight seasons in Nashville – skating hard, delivering hits, agitating opponents and throwing punches.
“We're not really used to seeing that,'' goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “But, Toots goes out there and sets the tone for us, whether it's a big hit or dropping the gloves. He got the crowd into it early for us.''
Said Tootoo, “It was just good, old-time hockey.''
The Red Wings have had the fewest fighting majors in the NHL in each of the past eight seasons, according to hockeyfights.com. Over the past 12 seasons, Detroit has ranked last in the league in fights 10 times and second-to-last twice. That could change this season. Tootoo already has half as many fights (three) as the Red Wings' team leader in 2011-12, Justin Abdelkader.
“I was expecting him to get on the forecheck, but he took it upon himself to have a couple bouts, and we don’t mind that either,'' coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s a guy that gives us a different dimension than we’ve had and when he’s out there guys know that he’s out there.''
Again, if you want to see the bouts, We All Bleed Red on YouTube has uploaded both of Tootoo's bouts, too:
As noted during the game, Todd Bertuzzi really dodged an injury bullet last night when he took a stick to the right eye from Stars forward Jamie Benn, who nailed Bertuzzi on a follow-through.
Technically, Benn should not have been assessed a double-minor, but again, Benn's double-minor was offset to some extent by the fact that Brendan Smith only drew a two-minute penalty when he took a stick in the mouth and wound up spitting blood as last night's refs (Dan O'Halloran and Darcy Burchell) deemed bleeding from parts marginally "inside" one's body to be off-limits, and all of 41 seconds after Benn was assessed his penalty, Henrik Zetterberg sat down because Trevor Daley stuck his leg out, Henrik Zetterberg's leg collided with Daley's, and Daley went for a swim.
Nevertheless, Benn's butt was in the box when the Wings scored their go-ahead goal, so...Hockey karma evened out?
Regardless of whether you feel that follow-throughs should be subject to high-sticking penalties (I certainly do), and regardless of whether you feel that visors should be mandatory wear for NHL players (I certainly do), there's no denying that Bertuzzi got very, very lucky, and, via RedWingsFeed, Yahoo Sports' Sean Leahy has posted more photos of the incident and its aftermath. I can only shake my head regarding the following exchange, as noted by the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness:
"I think I’m pretty fortunate,” Bertuzzi said after the game. “I still don’t know what the extent of it is. I’ll get it checked tomorrow but pretty lucky.
“The blade of the stick came straight into my eye, so obviously, being around and knowing people who’ve been injured, you kind of panic a little bit, you don’t know what’s going on,” Bertuzzi added. “It’s your livelihood. I was a little bit worried but our good doctors made sure I was fine before I went out.”
Bertuzzi said he’s never thought of wearing a visor.
“I know it’s probably stupid,” Bertuzzi said. “People will call me stupid for not wearing it. I played many years and it’s a tough adjustment to do. I know it’s a stupid comment to say.”
After two scaring incidents with his eye, Kris Draper finally forced himself to finish his career wearing a visor. First, a stick glanced his eye that made Draper put on a visor. He later took it off and was hit with a puck on his right eye.
Long-time captain Steve Yzerman also suffered a scratched cornea and broken bone just below his left eye in 2004.
“Wearing a visor might be a good thing,” Babcock said. “I’d hate to see that happen to a guy because that could change your life forever. That’s part of the game, but a visor would fix that.”
Also via RedWingsFeed, regarding a high-impact position of a different kind:
Ditto, and yes, this is kind-of-sort-of-an-ad, but it's noteworthy given that a certain former Red Wing hasn't been wearing his "partial" since half of forever:
As for McCarty's former teammate, it's always amusing to see pictures from Holmstrom playing during the 96-97 and 97-98 seasons, because his teeth look completely different--because those teeth were real. The gleaming smile Holmstrom sported during the latter half of his career was man-made.
In charitable news, the St. Clair Shores Patch's Edward Cardenas reports that the Wings' School Assembly Program continues to roll on, with the Wings having visited St. Joan of Arc elementary school on Tuesday, and it should be noted that the team kept Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, Chris Chelios and even Manny Legace very busy during the lockout as the team attempts to conduct a remarkable 115 presentations regarding hockey and physical fitness this season (per a PDF on the Wings' website and their School Assembly Program web page);
And I can't donate blood because of the medications I take to treat my chronic illnesses (see: serious-ass allergy and side-effect risk for anyone who would utilize my AB-), but the Plymouth Whalers are encouraging hockey fans to roll up their sleeves in exchange for free admission to a Whalers game, as noted by the Plymouth Patch's John McKay:
On Friday, the Plymouth Whalers will be out for blood.
The Whalers are teaming up with the American Red Cross to host a blood drive from noon-6 p.m. Friday at Compuware Arena. According to a news release from the team, anyone who tries to donate will receive a free ticket to see the Whalers take on the Soo Greyhounds, valued at $12, that night.
The Whalers (25-14-5-4) and Greyhounds (26-19-2-2) face off at 7:05 p.m. at Compuware Arena
The game will be broadcast on WSDP-FM, 88.1, beginning at 6:45 p.m., and on Comcast 900/Xfinity television starting at 7.
The Whalers are back in action Saturday, facing the Peterborough Petes (14-27-3-4) at Compuware Arena with faceoff at 7:05 p.m. The game will be broadcast on WSDP-FM, 88.1, starting at 6:45 p.m.
Update: I guess it's never too early to look forward to Friday night's tilt between the Wings and the St. Louis Blues. The Blues will play in Columbus tomorrow night, and then head to Detroit to face the Wings--who will face their third opponent "warmed up" by Columbus (see: Chicago, Dallas) in a week before heading to Ohiio's capital city to play Columbus themselves on Saturday--and NHL.com's Louie Korac reports that Ken Hitchcok's already decided on his starting goaltender for Friday night's hopefully-statement-making Wings game:
And I don't like to give other teams credit for spectacular plays on a regular basis, but I'll have to admit that Justin Bourne's "wow" reaction to Kari Lehtonen's save on a pair of Wings shots last night is indeed justified:
Update #2: RedWingsCentral's Matthew Wuest's latest prospect report is out. While we don't hear very much about Linkopings HC defenseman Mattias Backman, Wuest reports that the Wings are very high on the lanky Swede's potential to emerge into a defenseman who plays very much like "one who got away" in Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alex Edler, who the Wings were planning to draft before the Vancouver Canucks snatched him up. The Wings picked Johan Franzen instead, but there's no doubt that, had the Canucks' Swedish scouts not seen Edler, the Wings would have drafted both players:
Andersson, the Detroit Red Wings director of European scouting, is thrilled with the progress of the 6-foot-2, 176-pound Backman, who sits among the top 10 defense scorers in the Swedish Elite League at just 21 years of age.
“He’s Alexander Edler, that’s how he looks to me,” said Andersson, comparing Backman to the Vancouver Canucks defenceman who just signed a six-year, $30-million contract extension. “He’s surprising everybody. He’s coming along very nicely. He’s good-sized, he’s really mobile, he’s playing with more confidence, he’s joining the rush more, he’s more comfortable skating the puck out of his own end when he has to. Everything he does is with more authority.”
Backman plays for Linkoping and has a goal and 20 assists along with a plus-9 rating while averaging more than 20 minutes a night. He’s on pace to triple last year’s eight-point rookie output and is starting to realize the offensive potential Andersson saw in him when he was drafted in the fifth round, 146th overall, in 2011.
“We kind of felt he could be a player with the puck, and now he’s turned into that,” Andersson said. “He’s a big, mobile defenceman — I don’t know if he’s going to be a really physical guy who will scare you but he will scare you on the power play, that’s for sure. His game with the puck can be really good.”
Wuest also spoke to Andersson about fellow defensive prospect Alexei Marchenko, who played with Pavel Datsyuk during his stint with CSKA Moscow during the lockout:
Marchenko, a rising star in his youth, had fallen off the radar over the past three years because of injuries and is only now climbing the charts at age 21. He has four goals and five assists in 42 games and is averaging 13 minutes per night. Andersson said the 6-foot-2, 183-pounder is similar to Backman, not quite as advanced, but playing in a better league.
“He’s a bit like Backman, he needs to fill out, but he’s good with the puck and he’s a right-hand shot,” Andersson said. “They both have potential to come in and do something with puck. They won’t just be 6-7 defensemen who bang it off the glass.”
According to Andersson, CSKA — one of the better teams in the KHL — tried to re-sign Marchenko but so far, he’s held firm on his plan to play in North America next season.
“I’m convinced he can be a very good defenseman for Grand Rapids next season and where he takes it from there, I don’t know,” Andersson said.
That's great to hear
In the present tense in terms of Wings players with "upside," the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness offers a Wings-Stars tailing of note:
Jordin Tootoo on his two fighting majors Tuesday night.
“That’s part of my DNA, to bring emotion into the game and having guys feed off of that,” Tootoo said. “I feel great. Let’s get after it again. I still had one more fight in me. I mean, it is what it is, but it is all part of the game. For me I don’t mind doing that part.
“It’s part of my game and my foundation is bringing emotion to the game, brining energy and the guys feeding off of that,” Tootoo continued. “Now let’s get after it Friday night.”
As for how he handled fighting Brenden Dillon, who’s six inches taller than him.
“I’m basically trying to protect myself from not getting hit and just keep whaling,” Tootoo said.
Dillon wanted to tangle last week after Tootoo delivered a hit on Philip Larsen, but it was at the end of Tootoo’s shift.
“I have a good memory of what happened last game,” Tootoo said. “It’s a rookie move when you ask a guy to go at the end of his shift. I thought we both were pretty fresh and away we went.”
Update #2.5: Okey dokey, I guess Pleiness is on something of a tear as he's published another story about Tootoo, noting the reactions of Tootoo's teammates and coach to the gritty forward's scraps:
“I was expecting him to get on the forecheck, but he took it upon himself to have a couple bouts obviously and we don’t mind that either,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We just assume he forechecks. He’s a guy that gives us a different dimension that we’ve had and when he’s out there guys know that he’s out there.”
Todd Bertuzzi is the last Wing to right twice in a game. Bertuzzi went with Nashville’s Shane O’Brien on April 2, 2011. Tootoo did not play in that game.
“It’s just good old-time hockey,” Tootoo said. “I mean, I thought we needed another little energy boost there and that’s pretty much what happened.”
Justin Abdelkader led Detroit with six fighting majors last season.
“He’s really good at getting underneath the other team’s skin,” Howard said of Tootoo. “It’s great to have him on your side, that’s for sure.”
Update #2.6: As an FYI, Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika was in attendance for last night's game, so we should expect some Wings quotes when he posts his "Three Periods" column tomorrow or on Friday, but he focused on Stars forward Jamie Benn today.
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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.