The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/16/13 at 01:42 PM ET
Updated 6x at 2:28 PM: I actually managed to get some sleep (rare!) thanks to Paul holding down the fort (and the Wings won't practice today; they will, however, make a significant charitable donation to Detroit's Clark Park rink at 3 PM, and again, the team practices outdoors at Comerica Park on Wednesday), but I've woken up to predictable news regarding the Red Wings' injury front from the Free Press's Helene St. James:
#RedWings G Jimmy Howard (knee) going on short-term IR, center to be named being called up for Tuesday vs. Anaheim.
#RedWings F Justin Abdelkader (blow to head, undergoing concussion protocol) biked today, might be ready come the weekend.
#RedWings F Darren Helm (shoulder) expected to join morning skate Tuesday, if goes well, could be ready Thursday/weekend
#RedWings deciding whether to call up Calle Järnkrok, Cory Emmerton or Riley Sheahan.
Injured #RedWings: Fs Henrik Zetterberg, Darren Helm, Stephen Weiss, Johan Franzen, Justin Abdelkader; D Danny DeKeyser, G Jimmy Howard
Some good news for #RedWings: Henrik Zetterberg (back) has started skating. If no setbacks, could return Dec. 28 at Florida.
Henrik Zetterberg hasn't played in seven games, still leads #RedWings in scoring with 30 points, five more than no. 2 Pavel Datsyuk.
In Calle Jarnkrok's favor as possible #RedWings call-up: He's got 8 goals with Griffins, shoots right, and is Swedish.
As you already know by now, Red Wings lost Johan Franzen's services during yesterday's 3-0 loss to Tampa Bay (Michigan Hockey posted a day-after-the-game photo gallery this morning) and Paul posted the Gudas hit--strangely, NHL.com actually posted the hit--and as Paul also noted, dear Deryk Engelland is protesting his innocence regarding the Wings' third "concussion protocol"-related absence of the season in Justin Abdelkader.
Last night's post-game chatter suggested that the Wings will recall Sheahan over Emmerton, Jarnkrok or Landon Ferraro (who is not waiver-exempt next year) as the team's already down two centers in Henrik Zetterberg (back) and Darren Helm (shoulder). As you already know by now, the Wings expect both Zetterberg and Danny DeKeyser (shoulder) to return on or around December 28th; Jimmy Howard may or may not be back for the Winter Classic as he's dealing with a sprained MCL, and Stephen Weiss isn't scheduled to receive a second opinion on his groin issues until Wednesday, so his status as "out till Christmas" seems overly optimistic at this point.
Anyway, here's the Gudas hit on Franzen:
Jurco logged 16:45 in the 3-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at Joe Louis Arena. He had one shot, two hits and a takeaway, and even got some power play time.
“I thought Jurco was good, I liked him,” coach Mike Babcock said. “I think he’s just big, he’s fast, he’s got some skill set. I’d like him to be more dangerous taking the puck to the net, but I still thought he did lots of good things for Pav (Datsyuk) and Alfie (Daniel Alfredsson), getting pucks back. He looks like a fairly high-end player.”
Jurco (6-foot-2, 193) didn’t get a chance to practice with the Red Wings, or even the benefit of a morning skate, after being recalled from the Grand Rapids Griffins Saturday night, following Justin Abdelkader’s head injury.
Jurco was surprised to get the opportunity to play with Datsyuk and Alfredsson, players he said he has been watching since he was a little kid.
“I just found out before the game, and it was a great feeling,” Jurco said. “I thought I’m going to be more nervous but after warm-up I just felt great and didn’t really think about it. I think we played pretty well. We didn’t score but we had some chances. It’s an unbelievable experience for me.”
Jurco, who turns 21 on Dec. 28, is a terrific puck-handler with good speed and a hard shot. He leads the Griffins with 11 goals and 27 points in 26 games.
“It was a really good game and a great experience for me, unfortunately we lost,” Jurco said. “But there are lots of positives for me to take from this game and move on. I know what to expect from other games and I know where I should get better and where I’m at right now. Just to be here gives me a lot.”
The media managed to corner the ever-elusive Steve Yzerman regarding his appearance in the Winter Classic Alumni Showdown, and, as the Macomb Daily's' Chuck Pleiness noted, Yzerman's trying to "manage expectations"...
Steve Yzerman may have committed to playing in the Dec. 31 Alumni Showdown at Comerica Park, but he spent time in a television interview downplaying his potential role in the game.
“One thing I learned from Kenny (Holland) as a manager was to manage expectations,” Yzerman said. “Red Wings fans have to know I haven’t skated much in the last seven years, and I wasn’t that fleet of foot seven years ago. So, seven years later, let’s not expect a whole lot here.”
Yzerman was asked if he’s had any time to lace the skates up and skate.
“No,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to be able to skate before hand. If not, I’m confident those guys can carry the load.”
“I thought it was pretty neat,” [Daniel] Cleary said. “Pretty cool. It’s weird seeing yourself sometimes on camera. But they do a great job, HBO.”...
“The only thing we need to do now is get some wins around here,” Cleary said following a 3-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday at Joe Louis Arena. Asked if the first episode showed a pretty good representation of the Wings, Cleary said: “I don’t know. We have a lot more to offer, I think.”
Cleary said the players are starting to get to know the TV crew more.
“A lot more personality in this room,” Cleary said. “I think it’ll come out as we get going here.”
Cleary said once the team gets back to winning, then the personalities will start to shine through.
The first episode revealed that Wings coach Mike Babcock picks a different player each night to announce the starting lineup. That player is free to add any comment he wants about each of the starters as he announces them. Cleary said that started about a dozen games ago. He said he was the first to announce a lineup. When he did it, he took a friendly jab at each guy.
“It’s gone on from there, but it’s hard to come up with new lines,” Cleary said. “We have very similar starters a lot of nights.”
97.1 the Ticket's Ashley Dunkak also posited some "memorable moments" from episode 1:
Daniel Alfredsson: After 17 years with the Ottawa Senators, 41-year-old forward Daniel Alfredsson moved his wife and four sons with him to Detroit. The camera showed him and his boys setting up a Christmas tree on the off day and got a look inside his new home. Also, Alfredsson discussed why he came to the Red Wings.
“I didn’t have the intention to leave, I thought I was going to stay, and then talking to [general manager] Kenny Holland and Babcock about what they thought I could bring to their team kind of got me really thinking,” Alfredsson said, “maybe at this stage in my career try something new and also challenge myself on and off the ice.”
Alfredsson’s wife, Bibi, talked about it being something of a struggle to settle in and make new friends, how the kids missed their old life and buddies from home, but she said overall the move had been positive.
Last night, Joey Kocur and a few of his pals took part in an alumni practice downtown...
And the Red Wings posted a Facebook-based photo gallery of yesterday night's alumni practice.
MLive's Eric Lacy took note of the Festival's pertinent dates...
A whopping nine games are scheduled to be played at Comerica Park and will serve as a warmup before the Red Wings and Maple Leafs square off at The Big House.
The game schedule (check DetroitRedWings.com for ticket information):
Dec. 27 - Great Lakes Invitational first round games: Michigan State vs. Michigan Tech (3:30 p.m.) followed by Michigan vs. Western Michigan (7 p.m.)
Dec. 28 - Great Lakes Invitational consolation game (3:30 p.m.) followed by championship game (7 p.m.)
Dec. 29 - Windsor Spitfires vs. Saginaw Spirit (1:30 p.m.) followed by London Knights vs. Plymouth Whalers (5 p.m.)
Dec. 30 - Toronto Marlies vs. Grand Rapids Griffins (5 p.m.)
Dec. 31 - Red Wings alumni vs. Maple Leafs alumni (two games at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.)
Additional events are are expected to be schedule and be announced once they are booked.
Youth hockey games, high school games, additional open skates, corporate skating parties and sled hockey games are being considered, according to a press release.
Those events include the following, per Broadway World:
The two-week period of excitement on the Comerica Park ice includes an extensive list of hockey-related activities, including:
· Sled Hockey on Dec.16
· High School Hockey on Dec.16, 18-19
· Men's League Hockey on Dec.17
· USA Adult Hockey on Dec.21
· Youth Hockey games on Dec.21-23
· USA Hockey Clinic on Dec. 23.
For a complete list of events, go to http://www.DetroitRedWings.com/2014winterclassic.
These on-ice activities lead up to the fun-filled final five days of the 2013 SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival on Dec. 27-31 which includes the 122,000-square-foot Coke Zero Fan Zone with interactive activities, live entertainment, food, photo/autograph opportunities and hockey-themed exhibits taking place outside of Comerica Park and an exciting schedule of hockey inside the stadium including the 49th annual Great Lakes Invitational college hockey tournament Dec. 27-28; Ontario Hockey League and American Hockey League games Dec. 29-30; and the finale: a doubleheader with the Red Wings Alumni taking on the Maple Leafs Alumni on Dec. 31.
Dates, times and activities are subject to change. Visit http://www.DetroitRedWings.com/2014winterclassic for the most up to date schedule and information.
As Paul noted, the NHL's posted a "live" feed of their work at Michigan Stadium, too.
In the prospect department, serious version: Martin Frk scored 35 goals and registered 84 points over the course of 56 games played with the QMJHL's Memorial Cup-winning Halifax Mooseheads last season, but he did so playing with the NHL's top two 2013 draft picks in Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon, and Frk had a rough pro debut.
As a result, Frk had a very difficult pro debut with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins, and RedWingsCentral's weekly prospect report focuses on the fact that Frk's going to be playing for the ECHL's Toledo Walleye for the foreseeable future:
Through 14 games with the Walleye, he has five goals and seven assists for 12 points and a minus-9 rating.
“Frk is competing his butt off every chance he gets,” said Red Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer, who has worked closely with Frk over the years through his involvement with the Czech Republic’s world junior team. “He’s competing, he’s got a very good attitude, and he understands what he needs to work on.”
The 6-foot, 193-pound Frk, selected in the second round (49th overall) by the Red Wings in 2012, has good puck skills and isn’t shy of contact, while his shot may be the hardest in Detroit’s system. He piled up gaudy statistics last season — 53 goals among 126 points in 77 total games — en route to winning a QMJHL title and a Memorial Cup with the Halifax Mooseheads.
While all of that has grabbed a few headlines and the attention of fans, Frk accumulated many of his junior points on a high-octane power-play unit featuring Colorado Avalanche rookie Nathan MacKinnon and Tampa Bay Lightning second overall pick Jonathan Drouin. And because the trio usually had control of the puck, the defensive side of the game often took care of itself.
As a pro, Frk needs to quickly learn the work it takes to score and the effort required to be the type of well-rounded, two-way player the Red Wings demand him to be.
“He needs to learn how to eliminate the drive-bys on the back check, how to stop on all the pucks, fight for loose pucks and have a second effort in the offensive zone, and even though on the forecheck when the defenseman gains a little bit of separation carrying the puck, he needs to go after him,” Fischer said. “Those great habits that Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk have automated, they haven’t come naturally to him, but he’s learning good things in Toledo.”
RedWingsCentral continues, noting the talking-up Anthony Mantha's receiving ahead of playing for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships, the praise issued for the player the Wings picked with the 2nd-rounder they received from San Jose to "drop down" from 18th to 20th in the 1st round to pick Mantha in one Tyler Bertuzzi, and the fact that goaltender Tom McCollum's making himself a very relevant prospect again as he leads the Grand Rapids Griffins to win after win.
In the prospect department, silly version: Via Puck Daddy's Sean Gentile, the Toledo Walleye have a sense of humor:
Score a Nick Vitucci bobblehead on Anger Management Night!
Head Coach Nick Vitucci has done a lot to manage his anger since his 2011 meltdown (watch the video). See Nick's transformation for yourself and score a commemorative bobblehead on Anger Management Night - Friday, January 3.
Call 419-725-9255 for tickets to the Friday, January 3 game or order online. Doors open at 6 p.m.; puck drops at 7:15 p.m. Nick Vitucci bobbleheads will be given out to the first 2,000 fans.
Stick around after the game and party with the players in the club level lounge. FREE to all fans who attend the game!
Bobblehead preview? Yep:
Otherwise, I hate to bombard you with Tweets, but NESN noted that former NHL goalie, Michigander and Vaughn Custom Sports rep Brent Johnson posted a picture of Petr Mrazek's Winter Classic pads...
And the Grand Rapids Griffins know how to have a good time:
Tomas Tatar and Mrazek want to wish you a Merry Christmas, too...
And Jake Paterson wants to show you the pads he's going to wear at the World Junior Championship:
Update: More Tweets (sorry)...
And the Toledo Walleye posted their weekly press release:
Walleye News and Notes
December 16, 2013 by Andi Roman
Week in Review: Toledo started the week against Cincinnati on Wednesday night. The Walleye outshot the Cyclones 14-9 in the third period, but fell 3-2. On Friday night, Toledo scored three unanswered goals to start the game and held off Evansville 5-3. The Walleye would make it two wins in a row by scoring four third period goals Saturday night in a 5-2 win over the IceMen.
Finding a Win: The win Friday night snapped a season high six game winless skid for the Walleye. Toledo had not tasted victory since a 6-2 win over Evansville on November 23. With the win Saturday, Toledo has won back to back games for the first time this season.
Offensive Charge: Since going over 200 minutes without scoring a goal, Toledo has scored 20 times over the last five games for an average of 4.0 per contest.
Penalty Kill Leading the Way: Toledo has allowed just 2 power play goals against in ten home games played this year. That is fewest allowed in the ECHL and the Walleye have the best home penalty kill percentage in the league (94.1%). Overall, Toledo’s penalty kill sits at 85.9%, which ranks 13th in the ECHL.
Gametime: Toledo hits the road this week for three games starting Wednesday night in Evansville. The Walleye are 3-2-1 against the IceMen this year. Wednesday will be the fifth time in the last six games that the Walleye will play the IceMen. Friday and Saturday night Toledo will skate in Kalamazoo against the Wings. Toledo is 1-1-0 in the two games played so far this year against their rivals from Michigan. Toledo won 3-1 in the last meeting on November 2.
Update #2: From TSN's Bob McKenzie:
Congrats to CDN Soldier On team and U.S. Wounded Warriors squad for their outdoor game at Comerica Park in DET this morning.
For those keeping score, CAN won 7-2 but both teams are obviously winners, as illustrated by following quote from CDN Maj. Jay Feyko:
"Amazing experience for ill and injured lads on both sides of border. There was an instant bond with our love for the sport of hockey...
...and also the sacrifices made on the battlefield. Great game and experience for everyone involved. Thanks to the Red Wings."
Not-so-spiffy: Facts and figures from yesterday's game per ESPN...
Lightning 3, Red Wings 0
* Lightning: Scored all 3 goals in 3rd period
* Ben Bishop (TB): 3rd shutout this season (6th of career)
* Lightning: T-largest shutout win vs Red Wings in franchise history (1st shutout vs DET since 2003)
* Red Wings: Lost 5 straight and 6 of last 7 games
FROM ELIAS: Ben Bishop notched his third shutout of the season with a 3–0 win over the Red Wings in Detroit. It was the second win in two games at Joe Louis Arena this season for both Bishop and the Lightning, following a 3–2 Tampa Bay overtime victory there on November 9. That’s twice as many road wins against the Red Wings as the Lightning registered from the time they entered the NHL in 1992 through the end of last season (1 win, 13 losses, 1 tie). Tampa Bay’s only win in Detroit before this season was a 4–2 victory by Daren Puppa in January 1994.
Or ESPN's Scott Burnside's power rankings:
6. Detroit [record]15-11-9 Last Week: 17 The Wings are under the HBO microscope now and their grisly 5-8-6 record at Joe Louis Arena continues to be an albatross dragging down their season.
Update #3: The Score's Justin Bourne's review of HBO 24/7's first episode involves hockey-play-lurking:
Red Wings’ breakouts
In the past I’ve been able to grab a quick visual of the whiteboard behind a coach when he’s giving his pre or post-game speech, and this year was no different. They do a good job of not leaving too much up there (Davis Payne used to diagram every damn system we had for anyone who wanted to study more), but I got a little something.
Starting in the D-zone:
Babcock starts off his pre-game meeting by saying “They split-off every face-off, let’s make sure we have a plan,” and by mentioning that they want their “wingers helping on draws aggressively” (the Wings win 51.3% of their draws for what that’s worth). I don’t entirely know what he means by “they split-off” (likely the Panthers’ wingers take away the walls, while some teams overload a side) but this is what they’ve laid out to counter it as the text on the board reads:
OUTSIDE FORWARD GET HIGH CREATE SPACE
In a nutshell, Detroit is making it hard on the opposing d-man by driving up their outside winger. If that d-man wants to take the risk of pinching down, he better not give the winger time to make a one-touch to the middle, and he better not let that winger chip it by him/let it go by him because…
CENTER PUSH PACE
The center is coming to the soon-to-be strong side as well, and pushing the pace (as in, showing that he’s flying the zone and not providing low support). This means the d-man probably has to slide back to not allow anyone behind him, which should open up room for the first guy we discussed, the outside winger, to make a pass or get his feet moving up ice.
He has those options off the DEFENSE DIRECT PASS TO OUTSIDE FWD because the inside winger is supporting low. A lot of coaches will ask that winger to jump through the circle then cut across higher. This inside winger is coming low and timing his support.
And he continues. At length.
Update #4: MLive's Brendan Savage quoted the hell out of Steve Yzerman's interview with Fox Sports Detroit's John Keating yesterday, and posted Sanjay Sharda's video of the interview:
On deciding to play in the Dec. 31 Alumni Showdown at Comerica Park: “We were together a couple weeks ago, Ken (Red Wings general manager Holland) asked me if I’d be available to play. I told him I had to figure out where I’m going to be at the end of December. Once I knew where I was going to be I could commit to it, it wasn’t a matter of prodding.”
On training for the event: “Hopefully I’ll get a chance to be able to skate beforehand. If not, I’m confident those guys can carry the load.”
On whether it will be a special moment: “One thing I learned from Kenny as a manager was to manage expectations. Red Wings fans have to know I haven’t skated much in the last seven years (since he retired in 2006), and I wasn’t that fleet of foot seven years ago. So, seven years later, let’s not expect a whole lot here.”
Update #5: The Free Press's Helene St. James posted her injury updates in article form:
Losing Franzen reduced the Wings to three centers, so they're calling up one for Tuesday's game. As of early this afternoon, the decision hadn't been made whether it will be Calle Jarnkrok, Riley Sheahan or Cory Emmerton.
Abdelkader left Saturday's 4-1 loss to Pittsburgh in a woozy state after getting hit in the jaw by Deryk Engelland, who faces a suspension for the illegal check to the head. General manager Ken Holland told the Free Press that Abdelkader rode a stationary bike today, and if he feels well Tuesday, he will try to push through more activity. The Wings didn't practice today — standard procedure following back-to-back games.
Helm is the guy closest to returning. He hasn't played since Dec. 4 because of a shoulder injury. If he's able to participate in Tuesday's morning skate, he could be ready by the weekend — Thursday against Calgary being a long shot. Abdelkader is the next closest to returning.
Zetterberg, DeKeyser and Howard are expected back during the post-Christmas trip to Florida and Nashville. The game after that is the big one: the Winter Classic against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.
Zetterberg has missed seven games with a herniated disc (and still leads the team in scoring), but he has started skating. DeKeyser has been gone since Nov. 19, when he suffered a separated left shoulder, but he has been skating for 10 days. Howard suffered a sprained left knee last week.
Weiss' status is the murkiest: He has a groin injury, and the team is sending his medical pictures to a specialist for a second opinion. It's hard to see him returning this month, because next week includes the Dec. 24-26 mandatory Christmas break, when teams shut down.
Update #6: Via RedWingsFeed, the Wings posted a photo gallery of the Wounded Warriors game at Comerica Park, and Bill Roose Tweeted three pictures from the 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.