The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/06/13 at 11:56 AM ET
Amongst this morning/early afternoon's Red Wings news: the Wings received a new-CBA-imposed break from practicing today, and given the fact that they're about to play three games over the course of four nights, starting with tomorrow's game against Edmonton, Wings coach Mike Babcock's decision to pick today as a day off makes significant sense, especially given the number of injuries the Wings have sustained during practices. Somewhat surprisingly, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose reports that one player did take to the ice the morning after the Wings' 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche...
In terms of tailings from last night's game, MLive's Brendan Savage notes that "The Mule" woke from his post-hip flexor injury slumber in a big way last night...
[His]goal against Colorado came on a breakaway after he took a perfect pass from Damien Brunner at center ice. Franzen scooped up the puck behind defenseman Steffan Elliott, went in alone on goaltender J.F. Giguere and beat him with a wrist shot to the glove side. He credited Brunner with starting the play in the Red Wings' zone.
"That was a good pass by him," Franzen said. "He knows how to get the goals and get points. He's one of those guys that when he sees an opening, he explodes."
With the goal, Franzen has 10 points in 16 games this season.
"He played great tonight," said defenseman Niklas Kronwall. "He was great all over the ice. I really thought he competed tonight and made it hard on their D-men. He was everywhere I thought on the forecheck, the backcheck. He played great for us tonight."
Coach Mike Babcock agreed.
"I thought he was outstanding," Babcock said. "Last game he got better as the game went on. Today he was ready to go from the start. We need him to be. He can be a force for us. I thought he was really heavy on the forecheck, he got pucks back. I thought he was excellent."
Savage posted a clip of Franzen's post-game comments...
And here's his goal:
Also of note from last night's game, per ESPN:
Red Wings 2, Avalanche 1
* Johan Franzen (DET): 1st goal in last 7 games
* Jimmy Howard (DET): 36 saves, 1 goal allowed (stopped 69 of 71 shots in last 2 games combined)
* Red Wings: 3-0-1 in last 4 home games (outscored opponents 15-5)
* Avalanche: 1-2-3 in last 6 games (2-for-19 on PP)
Looking ahead, Sportsnet's Mark Spector reported that the Edmonton Oilers were "snowed in" at Columbus (that's something you don't hear very often) after their 4-3 shootout loss to Columbus last night, so they'll practice at the Joe later today...
But DetroitRedWings.com's Roose has already posted an "At a Glance" preview of Thursday's opponent, focusing on Brendan Smith's former teammate at the University of Wisconsin, Justin Schultz (and he notes that the Oilers snagged scrapper Mike Brown--you might remember him from the blind-side hit he delivered to Jiri Hudler when Brown was a member of the Anaheim Ducks--off waivers from the Maple Leafs)...
The Oilers will bring their sixth rated power play to Joe Louis Arena for the second and final time this season. Edmonton dropped a 2-1 decision at Detroit on Feb. 9.
Thursday’s game will be the first time the two friends will face in the NHL. The last time Edmonton was in town Smith was on injured reserve with a shoulder sprain. The two did play against one another in the AHL during the NHL lockout. Schultz is the third former Badgers’ teammate that Smith will face in the NHL. He played against the Rangers’ Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan last March at Madison Square Garden.
“I have played against all of them, except Schultzy and Cody Goloubef,” Smith said. “Cody was just called up and we have Columbus on Saturday and Sunday, so if he’s still up it will be cool to play against him, because he was my roommate in college.”
Smith and Schultz bring similar attributes to their teams with incredible offensive instincts and mobility, and plenty of upside. Smith credits the Badgers’ coaching staff for encouraging their defensemen to think offense while being defensively responsible.
“We were just taught as freshmen to play the right way,” Smith said. “We did a lot of stuff that would help our ability to get better offensively, like having a good stick, a good pivot, how to block shots. All of that stuff helped us and put is in good position to play offensively. But the biggest thing we talked about when we were in school was the better you played defensively, the better position you’ll be for offense. That’s how we learned and everybody ended up succeeded that way.”
Schultz was one of the most-pursued offseason free agents, but the former two-time WCHA defensive player of the year ultimately followed his heart in picking the Oilers, Smith said.
“Some people were talking to me about maybe convincing him come here, but I think the biggest thing was for him to do his own thing,” Smith said. “Home is a huge thing for him, because his parents can come watch, and you always want your parents to come watch. … Just the situation, he’s going to play a ton in the organization and on their power play. As you see he’s doing that now, so I think that’s good for him.”
Roose also penned an article discussing the "fuel" the Wings put into their bodies after expending1,500 to 2,500 calories' worth of energy during games and practices. The Wings apparently have a nutritionist on staff, and have chosen to make sure that their players eat healthily at the rink instead of leaving the players to their own devices:
[M]ost fans attribute the Wings’ remarkable endurance merely to the superior athleticism of the players. But no matter how talented an athlete may be, it takes a lot of behind-the-scenes training, preparation, and nutritional awareness for a grueling schedule and lengthy Stanley Cup playoff run.
“These guys can put away a big amount of food,” said John Borso, executive chef for Olympia Entertainment at Joe Louis Arena. For years, Borso and his 12-member kitchen staff has prepared and served meals every day to the Wings’ players, coaches and staff. And not just any food.
From pre-practice omelet stations to post-game grilled chicken breasts, Borso’s team painstakingly works with team trainers and a nutritionist to ensure that the players have enough proper energy to put out their maximum effort every game. On game days, the JLA chefs prepare breakfast, lunch and post-game dinner for 30 players, coaches, trainers and equipment staff. While practice days are a little less hectic with only breakfast and lunch on the menu, it’s still a fine balance for the kitchen staff that must met nutritional standards while satisfying multiple appetencies.
“It can get a little busy just with 30 different people and trying to get something that everybody likes,” Borso said. “But there are always the staples, like fruits, berries and nuts – a lot of high-protein, low fat foods.”
The chefs’ work isn’t lost on the players, who greatly appreciate the variety of meals, from poached mussels to roasted sweet potatoes, as well as the timeliness that they’re served.
“The chefs have done an amazing job preparing food for us after every skate,” defenseman Jakub Kindl said. “Especially when we have a late game, say the game goes to overtime, you’re looking for a place to eat, and there’s nothing open at 11 o’clock. It’s nice to have the meals available to us right after the games, too.”
The Red Wings are among a small handful of NHL teams that provide regular daily meals for their players. And just like their own airplane makes travel to road games easier, access to prepared meals also removes another concern for players and coaches.
“In L.A. we had cereal and that’s it,” said Quincey, who played for the Kings (2008-09) and Avalanche (2009-12). “In Colorado we had nothing, so after practice we would all go to Quiznos. We didn’t have a nutritionist, either. They tell us to always get something into you no later than 30-minutes after, so it’s pretty tough to do when you’re going to a restaurant.”
In news regarding a different kind of sustenance, Winging it in Motown's Josh Howard noted that the Red Wings' Alumni Association will be playing a charity game to raise funds for the Well Church (clicky for linky to buy tickets) and Livingston County charities in Brighton, MI this Saturday, and the Brighton Patch's Nicole Krawcke provides more background information about the game and its charitable goals:
This year, the money raised will go to benefit Livingston County Shop with a Cop, The ARC of Livingston and new this year, Stiggy's Dogs.
"We really wanted to get involved with a veterans organization and we had been hearing lots of great things about Stiggy's Dogs," Scott DesAutel, the event organizer, said. "They rehabilitate rescue dogs and pair them up with veterans that have come back from Iraq and Afghanistan with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and train them together. They train the dog into a psychiatric leader dog for the veteran."
Last year, the event raised a little more than $12,000. DesAutel said his goal this year to reach the $20,000 level. The Well team will have 15 skaters and two goalies. DesAutel was not sure which former Red Wings his team would be skating against, but said invitations were out to Chris Osgood, Kris Draper and Joe Kocur.
"We never win," DesAutel said laughing. "The Wings - it's amazing how well they play and their skill level is far beyond ours. It's a fun day. It's all about raising the money. I love the sport, I've played it all my life, but it's just a tool to raise awareness for the three organizations more than anything."
New to the event this year will be three trophies sent from The Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto: the James Norris Memorial Trophy, the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy and the Art Ross Trophy. A photographer will be set up near the trophies allowing people to get their pictures taken with them for free at the event. However, they will except donations for the photos.
"It's kind of rare," DesAutel said. "Those trophies hardly ever leave the Toronto area. And they all have really strong Red Wings ties."
The game will be held at Kensington Valley Ice House at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for general admission or $40 for VIP, which includes a post game party with live music and an auction at the American Spirit Center.
Also of Red Wings-related note as noon approaches:
The Oakland Press's Pat Caputo cobbled a quick list of "the three best Detroit defensive players of the past decade," and his first choice is obviously the best one...
1. Nicklas Lidstrom, Red Wings – Lidstrom is one of the greatest defensemen to ever play in the NHL, and his career lasted two decades before his retirement in 2012. But his last 10 years were arguably his best. He didn’t win the first of his seven Norris Trophies as the NHL’s best defenseman until 2001.
I found a late straggler in terms of power rankings lists (if you missed it, MLive's Brendan Savage cobbled together an excellent list of said rankings, and SI's Al Muir penned one on Tuesday) from the Hockey News's Rory Boylen...
8. Detroit Red Wings [last week 11]: Currently standing only No. 8 in the West, but these are Power Rankings, not the standings. Red Wings last two losses came to defending champs and undefeated-in-regulation Hawks. Beat San Jose and Vancouver in past eight days.
ESPN's Craig Custance attended last night's game, and while his Insider blog entry for today focuses on the Colorado Avalanche, I'm not surprised that the Avs looked right past the Wings and toward their home-and-home series with Chicago immediately after last night's game--as I said in the wrap-up--but athletes' minds work in ways that others' don't...
His game last night had only been over a few minutes, and the sweat from a 2-1 loss to the Red Wings was still pouring down his face but Colorado's Paul Stastny didn't need to be told the score of the Blackhawks game being played. He already knew the Blackhawks were on their way to a franchise-record 10th consecutive win, extending their point streak to 23 games.Even coming off a loss, Stastny could only smile at the accomplishment.
"Those guys have done something special. It's good for hockey, it's good for them. It's incredible," he said last night. "They're about to clinch a playoff spot in about five games if they want to and then they can send guys on vacation. We're playing a team on top of their game, it's going to be fun."
Now, it's up to the Avalanche to end the streak. They have not one, but two chances to do something nobody else in the NHL has been able to accomplish this season and that's beat the Blackhawks in regulation. Starting tonight in Chicago they have a home-and-home with the Blackhawks that concludes on Friday. The daunting challenge helps wipe out a second consecutive loss on the road.
"We forget about this one, within an hour land in Chicago and get ready for them," Stastny said. "It's like when you play the Stanley Cup champs. They're the best team in hockey by far. It's kind of a barometer. You want to be the best, you've got to beat the best."
And finally, via RedWingsFeed, the Grand Rapids Griffins' YouTube channel posted a "best of February" clip:
Update: From the Wings' Facebook page:
Remember Justin Abdelkader will be signing autographs tonight from 6-7 PM at the Meijer in Southfield, 28800 Telegraph Rd.
Click here for a list of more upcoming Meijer visits: http://redwings.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=66279
Update #2: Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples posted an excellent photo gallery from last night's game;
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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.