The Malik Report
by George Malik on 11/18/13 at 01:32 PM ET
Updated 7x at 4:14 PM: The Red Wings returned to practice at Joe Louis Arena after having dropped consecutive shootout decisions on Friday and Saturday, and MLive's Ansar Khan reported good news on the injury front...
Wings on ice for practice. Everybody is skating, including Weiss and Smith, who've been out with injuries.
Correction, Alfredsson is not skating.
Wings skating with these lines: 49-13-44, 93-43-21, 71-18-37. 20-8, Weiss skating with top 6, they're short a player on bottom six.
And bad news in the hype department...
HBO's crew for 24/7 has arrived and begun shooting practice.
One never knows what these Tweets mean without context:
DeKeyser and Samuelsson have left practice early
Samuelsson back out there, switched from white to red jersey. Weiss has left early.
Oh, cruel, cruel reality:
Wings wrapping up practice by practicing shootouts.
Wings 0-4 in shootouts this season. have lost past 7 shootouts at JLA.
The Wings confirmed Khan's injury report...
The whole team is on the ice practicing this morning, including Stephen Weiss and Brendan Smith #RedWings
Most everybody on the ice practicing this morning, including Stephen Weiss and Brendan Smith; the lone exception being Alfredsson #RedWings
The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan took in practice...
Both Smith and Weiss on ice practicing
Weiss skating pretty well...maybe closing in on a return here soon
Crew for 24/7 getting from preliminary taping done at this practice
Working on the shoot out as practice winds down
As did DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose...
Looks like film crews have begun work today here at JLA on @HBO 24/7 series, featuring #RedWings and #MapleLeafs. Begins airing Dec. 14.
After closer inspection (seems like I need an eye exam), Alfredsson is not practicing with the #RedWings today at JLA.
At the end of practice the #RedWings are working on shootout drills.
And Roose's "Week Ahead in Hockeytown" sets up a busy week of games, including home games against Nashville tomorrow, against Carolina on Thursday, against Ottawa on Saturday and then a road game in Buffalo on Sunday:
The Red Wings have lost just five games in regulation, the fewest among Eastern Conference teams in the first quarter of the season. But Detroit also leads the league in overtime and shootout losses with seven through 21 games.
While those seven “pity” points aren’t the objective, they have provided the Red Wings with some buoyancy in the Atlantic Division standings. However, the six-game winless streak – and the seven-game home skid – has become a strain in the Wings’ locker room.
“It’s been tough here for us but it’s not like something’s miraculously going to happen for us to get out of this,” Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said. “It’s going to take hard work and the right attitude.”
The Wings are the first NHL club to play in five straight overtime games since the Edmonton Oilers played in seven consecutive in 2003-04. The five games also matches the Wings’ franchise-high for consecutive OT games established in 1996-97 when they posted a 2-1-2 mark.
On the bright side, it seems the Red Wings have found the secondary scoring that’s eluded them this season. Dependent on Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk to carry most of the offensive load, other Red Wings have found the back of the net in the last two games. Johan Franzen has three goals and Darren Helm and Danny DeKeyser have also gotten into the act.
But the Wings need to win in regulation, something they haven’t done in more than two weeks. And Tuesday, the Wings have a shot at ending the skid, and winning their first game at Joe Louis Arena in five weeks, when they host the Nashville Predators.
This week’s foes – Nashville, Carolina, Ottawa and Buffalo – all have five-or-more fewer points than the Red Wings. But more importantly, the Wings will look to put the brakes on two skids, especially at home where they haven’t gone eight straight without a win in 27 years.
Roose continues with detailed previews of each and every one of the Wings' games to come, and the CBC's Tim Wharnsby reminds us that the Canadian media hype machine will be heading to Detroit for Saturday's game:
Daniel Alfredsson will meet his former teammates for the second time at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday, when the Ottawa Senators arrive in Motown to play him and the Detroit Red Wings.
The CBC will air the game as one of three Hockey Night in Canada prime-time broadcasts this upcoming weekend, with Toronto-vs-Washington and Pittsburgh-vs-Montreal serving as the other 7 PM offerings; the nightcap will consist of Chicago-vs-Vancouver.
The Wings have fallen in three straight shootouts after consecutive OTLs in their previous two games. Taken individually, these outcomes run the gamut of emotions. Against the Dallas Stars and the Washington Capitals, the team had third-period leads, thus feeling as if they let a point in the standings slip away. Against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Winnipeg Jets and N.Y. Islanders, the Wings heroically tied those games up in the third period.
On Long Island Saturday night, Pavel Datsyuk scored with goaltender Jonas Gustavsson on the bench for the extra attacker. What an uplifting moment and a satisfying one at that, with the Red Wings playing the second of back-to-back games. Taken by itself, stealing a point in that situation is an acceptable outcome against a young, aggressive and rested Islanders squad. But in the context of this five-game ripple, securing a point loses a bit of the usual feel-good flavor.
So at the quarter poll of the season, what does it all mean? The team has only five losses in regulation, which is an excellent number through 21 games. Yet, they have just nine regulation or overtime wins (ROW), giving them 25 points in 21 games. That sum underscores the points yielded in extra time, but still leaves the Wings just three points back in the Atlantic Division race and firmly in the top eight – five points clear of the 9th place Ottawa Senators.
All in all, the Wings have survived the second 10-game segment. Yes, a few of those single points via bonus hockey would have them closer to where they envision themselves being in the standings. But, without a few of those third-period rallies, the team would be in a fight just to stay in the top eight of the standings. The OT anomaly that the Wings are currently experiencing is ironic in its timing, with GM Ken Holland presenting a change to the OT format at the recently held GM meetings. Coincidence or karma?
Either way, the Wings can’t wait to break through with a two-point outcome in their favor, regardless of how it comes about.
The Grand Rapids Griffins also offered a slate of promotional and/or charitable Tweets:
Tomorrow is the day you've all been waiting for! Don't miss out on Tip-A-Griffin at @uccellosinc. Details: http://bit.ly/HVScuF #GoGRG
Today is the last day to tell @GNyquist why you're his biggest fan in an Instagram video.Winner gets a signed poster: http://instagram.com/p/goYU3BD112/
I don't know what this is about, and I believe that's the point:
If you'll excuse me, I have to cringe even before reading ESPN's Scott Burnside's power rankings...
18. Detroit [record] 9-5-7 [down] 5 Last Week: 13 What to do with a Red Wings team that continues to collect points but not wins? Wings are winless in six and a woeful 3-2-6 at Joe Louis Arena.
Make them sweep the stairs buddy?
Speaking of the Wings' resident stair-sweeper, NHL.com's Matt Sitkoff believes that Darren Helm's current linemate will continue rolling offensively during this upcoming week...
Johan Franzen, Detroit Red Wings (owned in 63 percent of Yahoo Leagues) -- Franzen is back and producing, with five points in three games since his return from an injury. This week is set up for the Red Wings to be successful with four games scheduled -- home games against the Nashville Predators, Carolina Hurricanes and Ottawa Senators, followed by a trip to the Buffalo Sabres. Nashville, Ottawa and Buffalo all rank in the bottom-eight in the League in goals-against per game. Franzen should be owned in 100 percent of leagues now that he is healthy as he is showing great chemistry with another player straight off injured reserve, Darren Helm, and a speedy forward in Tomas Tatar.
And he duly notes that the Wings' cap situation has yielded, well, let's say an "overripe" player skating for the Wings' AHL team:
The Red Wings are struggling to find a consistent scoring threat from their top-six forward group while on their AHL team in Grand Rapids Gustav Nyquist, who had five points in the Red Wings' 2013 Stanley Cup Playoff run, has 21 points in 15 AHL games.
This Tweet from the NHL simply makes me feel sad:
Fedor Tyutin scored the 48th goal of his NHL career, passing Vladimir Konstantiov (47) for the 9th most all-time among Russian-born d-men.
I try to avoid posting practice reports until injury statuses are clarified because I believe that spreading panic is simply irresponsible. So MLive's Khan's post-practice news is nothing less than essential in terms of reducing freakage outage...
Alfredsson (groin) skated a little bit after practice. Said he feels better but status for tomorrow will be determined tomorrow.
Smith said he expects to play tomorrow.
And the same is true for the Free Press's Helene St. James' post-practice Tweets:
Daniel Alfredsson ( groin) skated on own, said may play Tue when Ted Wings host Nashville.
Red Wings D Brendan Smith back in lineup for Nashville
Now it's time for me to hit, "Submit entry" as Wings coach Mike Babcock offers the final word on the team's injuries. From Khan...
Babcock said DeKeyser was feeling sick but he'll play tomorrow. Alfredsson and Weiss not ready. They'll go with 11 forwards and 7 defense
And St. James:
Babcock said he expects to use 11 forwards and seven D against Nashville, not counting on Alfredsson. #RedWings
#RedWings D Danny DeKeyser didn't practice, but Mike Babcock said DeKeyser is "just a little sick," expects him to play vs. Nashville Tue
#RedWings F Stephen Weiss (groin) practiced, said he is shooting to play Thursday vs. Carolina
Update #0.25: Here's a little more from Kulfan...
Weiss is shooting for the end of the week...Alfie a game-time decision again, although it looks doubtful as Babcock is planning on...
with 11 F's and 7 D's....DeKeyser ill today...Smith definitley playing.
Mike Babcock said the #RedWings will dress 11 forwards and 7 defensemen tomorrow vs. @PredsNHL at JLA.
Update #0.5: Hockey's Future praised Red Wings prospect Anthony Mantha in its "On the Rush" feature for November:
Anthony Mantha, LW – Val-d’or Foreurs (QMJHL)
Drafted by the Detroit Red Wings
1st Round, 20th overall in 2012
Mantha is having a record-breaking season in the QMJHL. Only months after a career season when he finished with 89 points in 67 games, the Quebec native is currently on pace to shatter that mark. In 23 games played, he has 24 goals (eight power play and four shorthanded), 30 assists, along with an 18-percent shooting percentage. He currently leads the league in scoring and was named the TELUS first star of the month for October.
Detroit recently signed the right winger to an entry-level contract. Fans in the Motor City are excited for the day he joins the club, but will have to wait until at least this off-season. A pure goal-scorer, he simply knows where and when to be in the offensive zone. Thus far, his consistency has been great. It will be interesting to see how Mantha responds to a slump.
Update #0.75: From the Wings:
Student/Military Rush tix available for tomorrow! Just $15 Upper/$45 Lower singles at 313-471-7575 & JLA Box Office. SR by @MichiganFirstCU
Update #0.8: From St. James:
Per Ken Holland, #RedWings D Danny DeKeyser has flu. Team hopeful DeKeyser can play Tue vs. Nashville.
Update #0.9: If you really want to read the Macomb Daily's Frank Costello's profile of L'Anse Creuse grad, Chesterfield Township native and Washington Capitals defenseman Steve Olesky's visit to Joe Louis Arena this past Friday, you may do so on your own.
Update #1: Here's St. James' practice report:
Smith is expected to be one of seven defensemen the Detroit Red Wings will use Tuesday, when they host the Nashville Predators (7:30 p.m., FS-Plus). Coach Mike Babcock said today he expects to have only 11 forwards available. Daniel Alfredsson has missed two games with a sore groin, and while he didn't rule himself out after skating on his own after practice, teams tend to err on precaution's side when it comes to groins. Forward Stephen Weiss, also dealing with a groin, is hopeful to play by the end of the week.
Defenseman Danny DeKeyser sat out practice today because "he was a little sick," Babcock said.
The Wings are looking to overturn an overall six-game winless streak and a six-game winless streak at Joe Louis Arena. The Wings haven't won a game since Nov. 2 in Edmonton, which happens to be the game in which Smith got hurt. Babcock made a point of that, noting that while Jonathan Ericsson and Johan Franzen also were out for parts of that stretch, Smith's value on the back end shouldn't be overlooked.
"We were rolling along, winning, Smitty got hurt, and we didn't win," Babcock said. "Now you can say, 'Oh, Big E was out and Mule was out.' But it just goes to show you: Your back end has got to be able to move the puck for you. Smitty can move the puck."
The problem has been Smith's inefficiency without the puck. He's a minus-7 after 11 games, with just one assist. He was a healthy scratch in the fifth game of the season, after racking up a minus-4. It didn't go over well within the organization when Smith said that that rating wasn't because there had been a breakdown on his side. It went over much better when Smith, speaking in Winnipeg two days after he hurt his shoulder, said he would spend the recovery time studying.
Smith zeroed in especially on Niklas Kronwall, whose game benefited from a decade spent playing with Nicklas Lidstrom.
"I was focusing on some of the plays Kronwall would make and how he jumped up in the rush," Smith said. "I like how Nik can have such a good gap at all times. He makes it very efficient for himself that way. When he has good gap, obviously, nobody is going to beat him. There's little tricks that he's learned from Lidstrom that I'm picking up as I play more and watch him more. He's very patient with the puck, and that's something that I want to bring into my game, be a little bit more poised with the puck and maybe take that extra second and make the better play, don't try to rush things."
Update #1.5: St. James posted a video of Smith, Niklas Kronwall and Mike Babcock discussed Smith's imminent return:
Update #2: MLive's Ansar Khan offers a practice update...
The Detroit Red Wings will dress 11 forwards and seven defensemen for Tuesday’s game against the Nashville Predators at Joe Louis Arena, coach Mike Babcock said today after practice. That’s because forwards Daniel Alfredsson (groin) and Stephen Weiss (groin) aren’t ready to return, but defenseman Brendan Smith (shoulder) has been cleared.
Weiss, who’s missed four games, was on the ice Monday for about half of practice, before leaving. Alfredsson, out the past two games, skated briefly after practice.
“Last couple of days there’s been improvement,’’ Alfredsson said. “See how it is tomorrow.’’
Defenseman Danny DeKeyser left midway through practice due to flu-like symptoms but Babcock expects him to play Tuesday.
The Red Wings (9-5-7) will try to snap a six-game winless streak (0-1-5) and a seven-game home winless skid (0-1-6). Detroit has not won at Joe Louis Arena since Oct. 15 (2-1 vs. Columbus). The Predators (9-9-2) are coming off a 7-2 victory at home over the Chicago Blackhawks. They had lost their previous four games.
Smith returns after missing six games.
“I want to be able to help defensively, give more legs, more speed on the back end, move the puck to the forwards a little quicker,’’ Smith said. “Hopefully after that maybe help out offensively, too.’’
And he offers the following practice lines up front:
Henrik Zetterberg-Pavel Datsyuk-Todd Bertuzzi
Johan Franzen-Darren Helm-Tomas Tatar
Daniel Cleary-Joakim Andersson-Mikael Samuelsson
Drew Miller-Justin Abdelkader
The Hockey News's Ken Campbell offers a doofy statement regarding Ken Holland's distaste for shootouts:
Those who would like to see the impact of the shootout minimized are getting a fair bit of ammunition provided to them this season. After Sunday night’s games, there had already been 49 shootouts in 308 games, which would put the league on pace for a total of 196 shootouts this season, the most since the skills competition was introduced in 2005-06.
There’s a sense among some observers that the shootout has run its course. But anyone expecting commissioner Gary Bettman to relent is dreaming. The shootout, it appears, is here to stay. Which is why people such as Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland are advocating for a period of 3-on-3 to decide things before the shootout. (Actually, it might have something to do with the fact that his team is 0-4 in shootouts this season, too.)
The shootout is a gimmick to be sure, but isn’t 3-on-3 as well? What is this, the annual Podunk Minor Hockey Tournament? How often do you see teams playing 3-on-3?
It has long been the opinion of this corner that a better solution would be to make a win of any kind – regulation, overtime or shootout – worth two points and a loss of any kind worth zero. Take away the comfort of a guaranteed point and you’ll see teams be more aggressive in overtime.
Holland hates shootouts, period.
Brendan Smith feels healthy and is ready to come back Tuesday when the Red Wings entertain Nashville. The shoulder injury, which forced him to miss the last six games, has improved. But, wait, there is one thing.
"Everything but the feet," said Smith, who was testing skates during Monday's practice. "New skates. Everything else has been pretty good. I feel like I’m eight years old again," said Smith, noting the sore feet.
New skates notwithstanding, Smith will be back in the lineup -- and he’s been looking forward to it.
"Absolutely," Smith said. "I haven't had any setback in quite some time. I've been shooting, hitting, battling (in practice) -- everything feels good."
Smith has one assist in 11 games, a minus-7 rating, and is averaging 18:13 of ice time. Smith paid attention to veteran defenseman Niklas Kronwall during the time he was out of the lineup, trying to learn how Kronwall plays his position.
"I like how Nik can always have a good gap at all time; he makes it really efficient for himself," Smith said about his spacing against attacking forwards. "Nobody is going to beat him with that gap, and there are tricks he's learned from (Nicklas) Lidstrom. I want to be a little more poised with the puck and take that extra second to make a better play and not rush things. That's when you get into trouble."
Update #7: in a mid-afternoon-posted article, MLive's Ansar Khan looks at the Wings' shootout struggles:
“We’ve done it every day; we’ve done a shootout for I don’t know how many days,’’ coach Mike Babcock said. “Why? Because the elephant in the room is we haven’t scored in the shootout. I mean, your goalie is standing at the end and … they have to go O-fer. We have to score some goals for the goalie.”
The Red Wings have converted only 1-of-12 shootouts attempts (8.3 percent). That was by Daniel Alfredsson, who is 1-for-2. Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi, usually two of the better players in the league in shootouts, are both 0-for-4. Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen both are 0-for-1.
Defenseman Niklas Kronwall senses a lack of confidence in shootouts.
“But I think that’s something that we’re beginning to work on in practice now and I think that helps,’’ Kronwall said. “Believing in yourself and sticking to what you’ve been doing and eventually it’s going to work out and it’s going to be good in the long run.”
Defenseman Brendan Smith would like a chance to take part in a shootout. The only way that will happen, however, is if there is an extended shootout – really extended.
“When I was with Grand Rapids I was one of the top three shooters, so I’ve always been a pretty good shooter,’’ Smith said. “But, obviously, we’ve got way better shooters on our team from world-class players. It’s something that we haven’t worked on in the last couple of years because it comes so natural for some of our players. But the game has adapted; goalies are getting better with recognizing players. So just going out there at the end of practice and doing that is good for everybody.”
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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.