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The Malik Report

Red Wings overnight report: looking back at the Western Canadian Trip; Mark Howe and Shahahan quips

The Detroit Red Wings took Tuesday off after having played 4 games in 4 cities over the course of 6 nights, but they'll get back at 'er at Joe Louis Arena today, preparing to host the Dallas Stars on Thursday (the 7-6-and-2 Stars defeated Boston 3-2 in a shootout on Tuesday) and the Tampa Bay Lightning  on Saturday (the 10-4-and-2 Lightning haven't played since a 4-2 win over St. Louis last Saturday, and they'll host the Oilers on Thursday).

The Wings promoted Tuesday birthday boy Jared Coreau to back up Howard for at least Wednesday's practice--mostly because the Grand Rapids Grifins play games today and on Friday, yielding playing opportunities for Petr Mrazek while the Wings will enjoy playing 7 of their next 8 games (and 8 of 10) at the Joe.

While we'll have to wait until later this morning to find out whether Coreau spends the weekend in Detroit or whether he'll end up flying south to Florida with the ECHL's Toledo Walleye, MLive's Ansar Khan suggested that Coreau's stay with the Wings will be a short one:

The Red Wings expect to have backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson (stiff neck) ready soon, perhaps in time to back-up Jimmy Howard Thursday against Dallas or Saturday vs. Tampa Bay. Gustavsson has been practicing but isn't eligible to come off of short-term injured reserve until Wednesday.

Coreau, 22, is 0-1, with a 3.82 GAA and .846 save percentage for the Griffins.

The Red Wings wrapped up their only Western Canadian swing of the season on a very rough note, surrendering 47 shots and blowing a 2-1 lead en route to a 4-2 loss to Winnipeg---and it should be noted that the Wings will scurry back from Chris Chelios and Brendan Shanahan's Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony next Monday, November 11th hoping to exact a little revenge on the Jets when they come to town on Tuesday the 12th--but the Wings' egg-laying in Winnipeg was preceded by a trio of wins over Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.

Khan noted that the Red Wings' players and coach did accentuate the positive regarding having righted their ship in Western Canada, but the team has to accomplish a similar task at home:

“After a loss we’re going to be down but looking back, it’s been a good road trip,’’ captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “We did a lot of good things. A lot of build on. Starting in Vancouver (2-1 win Wednesday), we played better defense, found a way to score more goals. Just got to build on that. Come home and play good in front of our fans.’’

The Red Wings head into a favorable stretch of their schedule. Starting with Thursday’s game against the Dallas Stars, Detroit plays four in a row at Joe Louis Arena and seven out of eight at home. Now they need to be better at home, where they’re just 3-2-2 and winless in three (0-1-2).

“You build off the good things,’’ center Darren Helm said. “We had a good road trip. This (loss) is unfortunate, tough that it happened right at the end. We did do good things on this trip.’’

They hope allowing a season-high 47 shots to the Jets was simply a case of having tired legs. The Red Wings yielded an average of 20 shots in their three previous games, well below their season average of 32 shots against. They went 17-for-17 on the penalty kill during the trip.

“I think we’ve been playing better, playing better defense,’’ Zetterberg said. “There’s a lot of things we wanted to be better at when we left the Joe (before the trip) after losing four (going 0-2-2) and I think we did that. Now we just got to become better.’’

And the Free Press's Helene St. James also took note of the Wings' comments while providing something of a roster update:

“If we lose the second and won the fourth, we’d be happy,” [Zetterberg] said. “After a loss, obviously going to be down. But it’s been a road trip. Did a lot of good things.”

Six out of eight points is a good winning percentage. Monday’s display wasn’t impressive, but the Wings weren’t the first team ever to look gassed playing for the third time in four nights.

“What I like about the trip is, we played right in three out of four games,” coach Mike Babcock said.

That started with leaving Vancouver with a 2-1 victory, which saw young Tomas Tatar net the game-winning goal. Two nights later in Calgary, habitual poor second period aside, the Wings won, 4-3, with goals from usual scorers Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk — but also Joakim Andersson and Justin Abdelkader. A day later in Edmonton, the Wings won, 5-0, with goals spread out across the bottom lines, defense, and a power play.

The final trip tally was 13 goals for, eight against, demonstrating secondary scoring and better attention to detail in the defensive and neutral zones.

See: Joakim Andersson's goal in Calgary and 2-point night in Edmonton, Daniel Alfredsson registering 3 points and Tomas Tatar registering 2 goals and an assist while earning gushy praise from Sportsnet's Ryan Dixon.

The next game comes Thursday, against the Dallas Stars. Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, sidelined a week by a neck kink, will be ready to back up. The Wings swapped Petr Mrazek for Jared Coreau solely to have for today’s practice.

Again, we'll see how things roll.

Johan Franzen, who has missed three of four games because of an upper-body injury, is expected to practice today and could be back Thursday.

When Gustavsson comes off the IR, the Wings will have 23 players on their roster, and when Brendan Smith and Jonathan Ericsson return, even with Adam Almquist being sent down, the team will have 24 total players healthy, so it is very probable that the Wings will do their best to waive and/or move one of Patrick Eaves, Jordin Tootoo or Mikael Samuelsson over the next week or three.

Capgeek estimates that the Wings have carved out $2.579 million in LTIR space, which more or less negates the team's start-of-the-season status as about $2.6 million over the cap, but the 23-man roster is the 23-man roster. Perhaps the Wings will simply waive someone in a couple of weeks and hope for the best...

But if the team is to bring up Gustav Nyquist, the Wings are going to have to get rid of two bodies, not one.

"And, and perhaps moreover," if Kyle Quincey continues to play inadequately and Smith comes back and struggles, you, I and everyone who follows the Wings knows that they're going to have to make an upgrade on defense, and that's also going to require carving out some cap space as well as moving a body or two, defenseman going the other way included. If the Wings weren't in the same division as the Buffalo Sabres, I'd suggest that they'd go after Christian Ehrhoff, but it'd be very awkward to give up significant assets to a team that you're all but guaranteed to play in the playoffs on a repeated basis, if only eventually.

I don't think that Keith Yandle's even on the market anymore given that the Coyotes have some new-found financial stability, so I guess we'll have to a) watch and wait to see whether the defense stabilizes and b) will have to hear who becomes available in trade talks over the course of the season.

Anyway, the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan wraps up our little "look back at the road trip":

There will be plenty of chances to build with four consecutive and seven of eight games at Joe Louis Arena, beginning Thursday against the Stars. And there’s reason to believe the Red Wings can secure some victories after playing better defensively and getting some secondary scoring.

“What I like about the trip was we played right in three of the four games,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I didn’t think we were great (Monday) in any way but you have to give the opposition credit, too.”

The Red Wings had Tuesday off after playing their third game in four nights Monday.

“There’s never an excuse (for losing), but we did a ton of traveling,” Babcock said. “That’s just the reality of the situation. (The Jets) skated good and we didn’t.”

 

 

 

Going forward, I don't think there's any doubt that Jimmy Howard deserves more run support. He's 5-5-and-2 with a .915 save percentage and a 2.64 goals-against average, and those numbers are high by today's NHL standards, but he's faced an average of 29.3 shots per game, and if you take out his getting-pulled 8-shot affair against Ottawa, that number goes up to 31.2, with Howard having faced 37 shots twice, 40 shots once and 47 in the Wings' last game.

Howard earned praise in USA Today's Kevin Allen for being what he's become--consistent as can be--in an "Olympic tracker" article focusing on Team USA's probable Olympic goaltenders:

U.S. goalie ranking: 1. Quick, impressive body of work over the past two years. 2. Miller, playing at an eye-catching level. 3. Howard, consistency is his strong suit.

 

 

 

In the multimedia department, I can't embed it, but Fox Sports Detroit's Art Renger spoke with Detroit Sports 105.1's Matt Dery on Tuesday, discussing Johan Franzen, Darren Helm, the Wings' road trip, the "crowded" roster and Regner's belief that Brendan Smith should be moved to forward instead of playing defense (Smith didn't start playing defense until he was 16).

I think that the Smith suggestion ain't bad. He's never been able to reign in his gambling forays into the offensive zone, and he skates well enough to play forward. He's also taken oodles of stupid penalties of late, but that's another story for another day.

As noted in the mid-day report, Mark Howe appeared on The Fan 590 to promote his new book, "Gordie Howe's Son: A Life in the Shadow of Mr. Hockey":

And Brendan Shanahan appeared both on the NHL Network to discuss his career, Hockey Hall of Fame induction next Monday (the ceremony will air on the NHL Network and TSN2 at 7:30 PM) and Chris Chelios...

And Shanahan put his "Director of Player Safety" hat on while speaking on The Fan 590, discussing the above-mentioned topics and his distaste for not being able to suspend Ray Emery (click for Paul's entry which includes Shanahan speaking for only 3 minutes, on that specific topic) on HockeyCentral at Noon, all over the course of a 15-minute interview:

 

 

 

In my least-favorite department, SI's Allan Muir posited a slate of power rankings on Tuesday:

12 Detroit Red Wings Last Week: 14 Pulling six points out of a Canadian road swing that saw them play four games in six nights looks swell on the surface, especially on the heels of a four-game losing streak. But as Monday's crushing loss in Winnipeg illustrates, there's still a lack of consistent offensive production that's wasting too many good efforts in net by Jimmy Howard. They're moving in the right direction, but they're not there yet. (Last week: 3-1-0)

 

 

And finally, I don't know when exactly I'll return to work on a full-time basis today. The day off was incredibly welcome, but I'm still pretty tired. I may negotiate a sleeping-in clause with the boss.

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Capgeek estimates that the Wings have carved out $2.579 million in LTIR space, which more or less negates the team’s start-of-the-season status as about $2.6 million over the cap,

That’s not even remotely true, unless you expect Ericsson to stay on LTIR for the rest of the season.  The cap situation and the roster situation has not changed at all.  And now that Helm appears to be healthy, the crunch is on. D-Day is Nov. 14, when Ericsson is eligible to come back. 

The Wings will have to clear two bodies to get under the cap (unless they trade someone making more than a prorated $2.579 million), and will have to have a third forward get injured to even contemplate bringing Nyquist up.

And even then, it’s probably not him since there are cheaper options w/o worrying about him playing 2 more NHL games. He won’t be up until after the trade deadline, assuming the Wings have the cap space (not guaranteed).

Posted by jkm2011 on 11/06/13 at 10:12 AM ET

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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.