The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/28/13 at 01:32 PM ET
Updated 6x at 4:24 PM with news about Ian White's healing quadriceps injury:
On the heels of a frustrating 2-1 overtime loss to Chicago, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose announced that the Red Wings' players would in fact brave the half-to-three quarters of an inch's worth of ice coating the roads in Metro Detroit this morning to head down to Joe Louis Arena...
While we wait for news stories to develop--and the results of the MRI on Darren Helm's back are of paramount importance--it's worth noting that the Wings are bringing back their "Student Rush" promotion for tomorrow night's game against Dallas, and the Wings are also promoting a charitable endeavor...
In news of a more cringe-worthy variety, MLive's Ansar Khan filed a story about the Red Wings' rather wretched power play around 6 AM.
AsI've been up all night thanks to a lapse in my "sleeper medication's" ability to actually put me to sleep, I've been waiting to toss these quotes off for a while--and in the interim, I had to carve my and my mother's cars out of the half-inch of ice covering them in South Lyon as the collective of condominium complex residents I share a parking lot with (we have no garage) decided that we all needed to move our cars out of the lot just in case the snow removal folks came by to push ice around, even though it's going to be 49 today and 59 tomorrow (so, needless to say, after a night without sleep and two blocks' worth of walking on ice, I'm not a happy camper today).
Anyway, the power play. 2 for 26 on the season. 0 for 6 in 11:17 of PP time last night. It's a bit of a mess.
"No question, when your power play isn't zipping, it is draining,'' coach Mike Babcock said. “You're using your best players, you're wearing them out. We have to fix it. It should be better with the skill level we have. So we'll fix that and move on.''
“I thought the story was how hard we worked, how hard we competed,'' Babcock said. “I thought we really carried the play in the last 30 minutes of the game. I thought we were really cautious at the start, on our heels, and then we really dug in and got playing well, had every opportunity to win the game.''
Once again, the power play failed them, especially in the second period, when they had four chances, including a two-man advantage for 43 seconds. Detroit had only five shots on the power play, one more than the Blackhawks registered while shorthanded. Babcock and players said the main problem was their inability to get to rebounds or loose pucks.
“I think we're doing a lot of good things when we have the puck, it's just that today we weren't there for the second pucks,'' captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “They were better than us clearing pucks after shots. We got the opportunity to shoot the puck, but after that they got the puck back and (sent it) 200 feet.''
Said Pavel Datsyuk: “We're not aggressive on the power play. We don't have second chances, rebounds.''
Babcock said the reason they're not getting second opportunities is they're too slow.
“When we shoot the puck, they got four guys going to it quicker than our guys are going to it and we're one-and-done all the time,'' Babcock said. “We just got to be more competitive in those situations.''
He's right. Regardless of the personnel that is or isn't wearing red and white jerseys, the Wings have been out-battled, out-worked and out-competed on their power plays...
If you're missing a certain defenseman who was both blessed with a cannon from the point and occasionally snuck into Steve Yzerman's old spot at the left faceoff dot to take one-timers on the power play, now-San Jose Sharks assistant coach larry Robinson had this to say about the best defensemen ever, in his opinion, to the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson...
Robinson was a big Nicklas Lidstrom fan.
“You talk about (Bobby) Orr and Ray Bourque … he’s right in there. His longevity, the Stanley Cups, the awards. A great person,” said Robinson. “He made it look easy. He’s one of the people I point to when I’m talking to our (team) guys. How good he was with his stick. Always well-balanced. You never saw him get run. It was all about position,” he said.
And this week's first slate of power rankings have just hit the wires, courtesy of ESPN. I'm genuinely surprised that Pierre LeBrun is actually impressed with the Wings' 2-2-and-1 start:
13. Detroit [record] 2-2-1 [increase from last week] 6 [spots] Last Week: 19
Nice response from the veteran Red Wings this weekend, picking up three of four points vs. the Wild/Blackhawks. They needed that performance.
As for today's practice updates, they're trickling in slowly, courtesy of the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness...
Forwards wear red and white, and gray is the no-contact color...
The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa is attending practice as well (I'm not sure whether the Wings' beat writers had a harder time getting back to icy, gucky Metro Detroit than the Wings did)...
And Roose is obviously in attendance as well:
The Wings are letting Filppula skip practices so that his still-healing MCL doesn't flare up, and given that the team will play its third game in five nights tomorrow against Dallas, the team's strategy is understandable...
But I'd argue that players like Filppula and Danny Cleary seem to be dealing with confidence issues as opposed to injury ones, and both need to step up as the Wings basically generate offense from Zetterberg, Brunner, Datsyuk, Franzen and Kronwall (and on Friday, Bertuzzi), and few other players at present.
The team needs more balanced scoring to succeed over both short and long terms, and it ain't gettin' it thus far.
Here's more from Krupa:
Samuelsson's got a groin issue, Gustavsson is recovering from a groin issue, and as a refresher, Jan Mursak (shoulder), Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) and Ian White (knee laceration) are all sidelined as well., and we have no idea when Joey MacDonald (back) may start practicing again. He appears to be a ways out.
Well, it appears that Lashoff's been traded...
(goalies wear black, too, FTR)
I'm in no mood to play Twitter play-by-play, but I don't want to leave the lunchtime blog-reading crowd hanging, so here's the bottom line:
No news on Helm yet, and that's the most important part of the equation. I'll keep you posted.
Update #0.25: From MLive's Ansar Khan:
Update #0.6: Erm, uh, you're doing it wrong, guys...
Update #3: Update #2 consisted of the above-listed Tweets about Helm, White and Colaiacovo, so here's the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness talking about the Wings' attempts to resurrect their power play:
“Well, it’s not an issue with personnel,” Danny Cleary said. “We feel that we have great personnel out there. I feel we have to have a little more work ethic out there. Get the loose pucks back after shots. That’s what we were trying to emphasis on out there today, and actually the whole time. But retrieves are important. We have guys in front of the net. I think we have to shoot a little bit more from the outside.”
The Wings went 0-for-6 with the man advantage Sunday, squandering 11:17 of power play time away in the 2-1 loss in overtime to the Blackhawks. They’re now 2-for-26 on the power play this season.
Much of the reason is the lack of shots the Wings are getting with the extra man. On Sunday they had just five.
“We need shots,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I don’t care who’s getting them. If you look at our shot totals, (Henrik Zetterberg) is leading us with 23, (Damien) Brunner has 22 and I think (Johan Franzen) has 15. Pavel (Datsyuk) doesn’t have enough.
“I’d like (Niklas Kronwall) to have a lot more on the power play and I’d like to have more shots from inside the dots and not from the outside,” Babcock continued. “When you’re the Mule and you’re net front you want someone to shoot the puck otherwise you’re standing there and wondering what you’re doing. You’re standing around and you have dust on you, you don’t do anything. Homer used to come to the bench and yell at me to tell them to shoot, shoot. And Mule’s not doing that, but he’s thinking the same thing. If they shoot he’s got a chance to generate offense. If they don’t shoot, he goes and gets the puck back and stands there and watches them pass it around. You have to shoot to score.”
The futility of the man-advantage prompted a comment afterward from Johan Franzen, who opined that the Wings need to get more shots from Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, who roam down low while Franzen is at the net and, usually, Niklas Kronwall and Damien Brunner are at the points.
Coach Mike Babcock sort of vetoed Franzen's opinion after today's practice at Joe Louis Arena, saying the Wings just need more shots, period. But he also noted that Franzen's complaint sounded exactly like what previous net-front presence Tomas Holmstrom used to complain about.
"We need shots; I don't care who's getting them," Babcock said. "If you look at our shots total, Z is leading us with 23, Brunner has 22 and, I think, Mule has 15. Pavel doesn't have enough shots, he's right about that. Z's got lots of shots, he shoots the puck every time he gets a chance, which I like to see. I'd like Kronner to have a lot more on the power play, and I'd like to have more shots from inside the dots and not the outside. But when you're the Mule, and you're net-front, you want someone to shoot the puck. Otherwise, you're just standing there, you're wondering what you're doing. You've got dust on you. You don't do anything.
"Homer used to come to the bench every time and yell at me, 'Tell them to shoot, tell them to shoot.' Mule is not doing that, but he's thinking the same thing. If they shoot, he's got a chance to generate offense. If they don't shoot, what's he do? He goes and gets the puck back and goes to the net, stands there and watches them pass it around. I mean, you've got to shoot to score."
Update #4: Here's Helene St. James' report about Helm:
General manager Ken Holland told the Free Press that Helm, who has missed four of five games with a sore back, underwent a second MRI exam today.
"There's no structural damage," Holland said. "It's just a re-aggravation of an old injury. There's a little inflammation, so he's going to get an anti-inflammatory and take a few days off."
Helm hurt his back working out just before training camp began.
In other injury news, forward Mikael Samuelsson (groin) is improving, Holland said, and could begin skating later this week. Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson (groin) skated today and said he's doing better every day. Forward Valtteri Filppula (knee) hasn't been practicing because of a sore knee, but coach Mike Babcock anticipates having Filppula available to play, as he has been all five games.
Holland also said defensemen Ian White (cut on left leg) and Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) are expected to skate later in the week, but White is at least a week away from returning, and Colaiacovo several weeks.
Update #4.5: Here's Ansar Khan's report...
The Detroit Red Wings received good news on center Darren Helm today, as an MRI revealed no structural damage to his back, just some inflammation.
General manager Ken Holland said Helm will not play Tuesday against Dallas, and will probably miss games Friday and Saturday, but should return to action next week.
“The MRI on his back was great,'' Holland said. "They put him on anti-inflammatory medication. He'll take a couple of days off. See how the next 4-5 days go. He's questionable for the weekend. I'd say (he'll return) next week.''
Darren Helm got a bit of good news about his back that flared up prior to Sunday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks. An MRI revealed no damage to his lower back.
“They put him on some anti-inflammatory medication,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said.
Helm won’t play Tuesday and is questionable for the weekend.
“I’d say maybe by next week, we’ll see how the next 4-5 days go,” Holland said.
Helm has played one game this season, last Friday against the Minnesota Wild.
He missed the Wings’ week-long training camp and the first three games of the season with a back injury, which was the first of his playing career.
He hit by a puck on Nov. 2 during an informal skate in Troy, breaking an orbital bone. On March 17, he missed the final 10 regular season games with a sprained MCL. Then, in his first game back, the playoff opener against Nashville, he had tendons in his forearm sliced by a skate.
Update #5: The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa focused on the Wings' power play issues, too, but he also offered an update regarding Jonas Gustavsson's status...
Valterri Filppula did not practice, receiving some treatment instead. But Babcock called it "a bump" and said that Filppula is available.
Mikael Samuelsson also was in the dressing room receiving treatment, but he did not practice. He is nursing a bad groin.
Jonas Gustavsson practiced, after rehabilitating a sore groin, and said, "I felt better."
He had not yet discussed his status with the medical and training staffs, he said. Backup goalie Thomas McCollum also practiced, sharing time in one net with Gustavsson, while Jimmy Howard practiced continuously in the other.
And he also spoke to someone not named Babcock about the team's record thus far...
"We're .500; I mean, it's OK," said Daniel Cleary, who has no points and is a minus-2 through five.
"Obviously, we'd like to be above .500, but we're five games in, and you just didn't want to start 0-5 or 0-3-2, or something like that," Cleary said. "So, we've been able to stay at .500, and now we've got to get the special teams going. That's going to be an important part for us."
The Wings rank 28th in the NHL in power-play percentage, converting 2 of 26 opportunities (7.7 percent).
"We've got great personnel, there, so I believe it's just a matter of time," Cleary said.
Update #5.5 Here's a, um, selection from the rest of Khan's full practice report:
Holland said forward Mikael Samuelsson (groin) felt great today. But, he hasn't resumed skating and there is no time frame for his return.
Backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson (groin) practiced with the team today and might be ready to dress this weekend.
Coach Mike Babcock said Kindl, a healthy scratch on Sunday, will play Tuesday. He said he hadn't decided which defenseman will sit out.
Update #6: The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness offers a "quote of the day"...
Wings coach Mike Babcock on Johan Franzen’s net-front presence on power play.
“When you’re the Mule and you’re net front you want someone to shoot the puck otherwise you’re standing there and wondering what you’re doing,” Babcock said. “You’re standing around and you have dust on you, you don’t do anything. Homer used to come to the bench and yell at me to tell them to shoot, shoot. And Mule’s not doing that, but he’s thinking the same thing. If they shoot he’s got a chance to generate offense. If they don’t shoot, he goes and gets the puck back and stands there and watches them pass it around. You have to shoot to score.”
And the Windsor Star's Bob Duff had a chit chat with Ian White about his healing knee/quadricep laceration:
Defenceman Ian White isn’t the longest-term injury from among the walking wounded of the Detroit Red Wings, but he may have the most grotesque story to tell of how he ended up on the sidelines. White required surgery to repair the damage to his quad muscle after the heel of Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard’s skate punctured his left leg just above the knee.
“I haven’t seen it, but I remember I was the third man back,” White recalled. “It was a two-on-two. I think one of our guys got beat and they were taking the puck to the net and I kind of started crashing the net. Howie made a great save and I took the heel of his skate right at the top of the knee. “Goalies’ heels are pretty sharp and pointy and it went right off it pretty hard, so I knew it was going to be bad. “It cut the quad. They say it took three chunks out.”
White expects to be out of the lineup for at least two more weeks, which under ordinary circumstances might not seem a long time, but in a lockout-shortened 48-game NHL season, it is cause for concern.
“The unfortunate part is that two or three weeks in this season is quite a few games,” White said. “It feels pretty good. I could see it being close to two than three. It’s kind of depressing that something like this happens so early in the season when you start getting your legs under you and have a setback for a couple of weeks. It doesn’t make you feel very good. But other than I’m in good spirits.”
He may have reason for the upbeat feeling. Doctors informed White that he came within a whisker of being done for the season.
“It could have been a lot worse,” White said. “You have a tendon going right over your knee cap. It just missed it. I guess if I would have cut that I might have been the season.”
For the time being, White’s workout slate is limited to upper-body conditioning.
“They had to sew the muscle back together,” White explained. “Once that starts grabbing, then I can start doing some lower body. That should be in a few days.”
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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.