Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings overnight report: on ‘Panic in Hockeytown,’ Zetterberg, Brunner, Cleary and realignment

The Detroit Red Wings took Monday off to rest up as the team had played four games in six nights and a pair of weekend games, including Sunday's 3-2 win over Los Angeles, but the Kings made the Wings' lives a little more difficult on Monday night.

When the Wings return to practice today, they'll know that the St. Louis Blues will be coming into town in an awful mood thanks to a 4-1 loss to Los Angeles that left the Blues winless in February and possessing an 0-3-and-1 record on a four-game home stand. The Blues were all but predictably speaking in tongues and speaking of conspiracy theories regarding the dangers of individualism and "cookie-giving" after the game.

Given that the Wings have authored two of the Blues' February losses (a 5-3 win at the Joe on February 1st and a 5-1 win in St. Louis on February 7th) and will be meeting St. Louis for the fourth time this season on Wednesday evening (7:30 PM, and it's an NBC Sports Network-only, "Rivalry Night" game, so Mike Emrick, "Subtle Interference" Olczyk and Pierre McGuire will be in town)...

The Wings will have their work cut out for them, with the Blues hoping to deliver the kind of physical and scoreboard-pounding performance that gave the Wings a 6-0 loss in the teams' 2013 season opener, and the Wings hoping to build upon their three-game winning streak as the Wings head into games three (St. Louis on Wednesday) and four (against Anaheim on Friday) of their longest home stand of the month.

 

 

Twelve games into their 48-game season, the Free Press's Jamie Samuelssen suggests that the Wings are still something of a question mark despite their 7-4-and-1 record, with three particular questions dogging the team's promising start:

Statistics never tell the whole story, but here’s an interesting one that does paint a telling picture of this hockey team through 12 games. The Red Wings have scored 2.67 goals a game. And they’ve allowed 2.67 goals a game. If that doesn’t paint the picture of mediocrity, I’m not sure what does.

Granted, that’s over the entirety of the season. If the Red Wings were a stock, you would have been selling during the first week of the season and you’d probably be buying after they picked up 4 points during the weekend with wins over Edmonton and Los Angeles.

So if we can agree that they’re not quite as bad as they showed in the opening losses to St. Louis and Dallas, can we also agree that they’re not as good as they showed over the past week when they swept three straight games? Three very legitimate questions linger than prevent us from anointing this team as a true contender in the Western Conference:

1) Defense: Injuries have ravaged the defensive corps, as every one of the top six defensemen other than Niklas Kronwall and Kyle Quincey have missed at least three games each. But even at full strength, this team lacks the depth to consistently defend Jimmy Howard. Howard played one of his best games in Sunday’s 3-2 win against the Kings. But how many times can he be counted on to make 45 saves? On the two goals he allowed (one in the final minute when Los Angeles had pulled its goalie) he made the initial stop, but no one was there to clear the puck. This has to improve either through trade or through general progress. But again, there has been no continuity of defensive pairings or of a top six. It’s pretty hard to develop consistency under those circumstances.

Uh, that's because Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) and Brendan Smith (shoulder) are out, Jakub Kindl's traded time as a scratch with Kent Huskins and Brian Lashoff, because Ian White (quadriceps muscle) missed a chunk of time after Jimmy Howard took a chunk out of his thigh, because the team didn't feel comfortable putting Joey MacDonald or Tom McCollum in the net when Howard was getting seriously overworked (see: the team's loss to Calgary on my birthday), choosing to bring up Petr Mrazek eventually....

And come on now, the Wings were playing two games in two nights, three in four and four in six on Sunday.

2) Goaltending: The concern isn’t whether Howard can do the job; he’s proven that he can. The concern is just how good he can be and just how good he needs to be. His save percentage is a rather pedestrian .906. But he’s had to play every single game but one because of injury to Jonas Gustavsson. And as stated before, he hasn’t gotten much help in front of him. The Red Wings have traditionally played great defense in front of their goaltenders, negating the need for one guy to carry a team. That may not be the case this season with this defense. And Howard has yet to prove he can carry a team on his own.

Huh? Howard's occasionally been burned thanks to some swimming in his crease, but he's been incredibly solid otherwise. First it's the defense not protecting the goalie, and now it's the goalie not bailing out the defense?

3) Secondary scoring: Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk have been marvelous. If there were an All-Star Game, both would be locks. Damian Brunner has been better than advertised with a team-high six goals. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the three skaters have combined for half of the Wings’ 32 goals on the season. It’s worked so far, but it won’t keep working. The onus is on Johan Franzen, who has three goals. If this team is going to go, he’s going to have to return to his goal-scoring ways that earned him his $5.25-million salary. In the old days of Red Wings hockey, Franzen’s quiet numbers wouldn’t be significant. With the cap, he’s required to do more.

I can't argue with him here, except for pointing out that Johan Franzen's got 3 goals and 6 assists for 9 points over the course of 12 games, and is butt's been planted in front of the opposing goalie for at least half a dozen goals scored by his teammates...

And Niklas Kronwall has a goal and 9 assists for 10 points over 12 games played, so there are five players carrying the team offensively, not three.

That, and Franzen's cap number is not $5.25 million.  Just as Valtteri Filppula's earning a 48-games-worth-of-pro-rated $3.5 million this season, Franzen's cap hit is (again, pro-rated) $3.955 million. His salary (yes, it's $5.25 million, again, pro-rated) isn't taking an extra 48-game-rated $1.295 million out of the Wings' salary cap room--and Capgeek.com states that the Wings have the 82-gam equivalent of $7 million in cap space right now.

To suggest that Franzen's a millstone around the Wings' neck is like suggesting that Kyle Quincey's played consistently thus far.

And if Filppula and Danny Cleary continue stepping up their offensive production, if Todd Bertuzzi returns to the lineup from his back issues sooner than later, if Jonathan Ericsson continues to play strongly and if Ian White returns to form, and if we assume that Howard continues to play better than his numbers indicate...

The Wings should at least be able to continue winning at an acceptable clip until Ken Holland's assessment period wraps up in March, the team gets healthier (see: Mikael Samuelsson [groin], Jan Mursak [shoulder] and the aforementioned Gustavsson, Colaiacovo and White...And isn't there some guy named Darren Helm whose back injury plays into the mix as well?), there's no reason to suggest that it should at least be able to remain in the playoff mix until Holland brings in some reinforcements closer to the trade deadline.

Before the season started, GM Ken Holland admitted that he didn’t fully know what to expect from his team. And if he doesn’t know what to expect then we shouldn’t either. The good news is that the stars are shining and the defense has been better than feared. Brunner has been a huge find and a vital offensive threat. The bad news is that some of the lesser players who need to make an impact haven’t done much so far.

Normally, you’d say that there’s a long way to go. But not in this NHL. The Wings may not be championship-caliber quite yet. But clearly reports of their demise were greatly exaggerated.

That's the real bottom line here. It's easy to paint the Wings as still standing and yet teetering on the brink of collapse, with their feet dangling off the precipice to instigate a little extra panic in Hockeytown, which is Samuelssen's job to some extent, but the encouraging signs, especially given the team's injury situation, outweigh the worrisome ones at present.

Should Wings fans remain concerned about their team's roster holes, and should their approval of the on-ice product remain conditional given that a 48-game season means that going on the kinds of losing streaks that have plagued St. Louis of late can change everything over the course of a week? Yes, yes, and yes, most definitely.

But it's a 48-games-in-99-nights demolition derby for the players and it's a 48-games-in-99-nights emotional rollercoaster for fans like you and me, and if we get too high or too low, we're all going to be too mentally, spiritually and maybe even physically exhausted to watch hockey come playoff time.

If you really want to induce panic, the Free Press is holding a chat with Fox Sports Detroit's Larry Murphy today at 11 AM, and ask him if he can unscrew his space goggles from his skull, or offer him all the hot dogs he can eat.

The Free Press's Helene St. James offered a more measured take on the State of the Wings' at the "quarter pole" by breaking down the season into two six-game "segments":

All in all, [the second segment] went much better than the first six games. The Wings -- who took Monday off after playing back-to-back game -- are on a three-game winning streak, built against quality opponents in the Blues, Oilers and Kings. The Wings next play Wednesday, when they'll meet the Blues for the fourth time in 13 games.

The Wings began their second segment with a win against the Blues on Feb. 1, then dipped with two stinkers -- first at Columbus and then at home against Calgary. Then came a solidly played game in St. Louis on Thursday, and weekend wins over Edmonton and Los Angeles, the latter a team that hadn't played for two days.

Coach Mike Babcock readily admitted he'd have been happy with two wins out of the three games in four days. The Wings got the third one on will and on goaltending, with Jimmy Howard making 45 saves.

Good goaltending, from Howard and Petr Mrazek, has helped limit opponents over the last six games to 15 goals, an improvement over the 17 allowed when the Wings went 3-2-1 the first six games of the season. The news on offense is even better: The Wings scored 18 goals the past six games, versus 14 the first six. Special teams have gotten better, too, with the power play improving from 4% to 20%. The penalty kill has been pretty even since the first two games of the season.

The Wings begin their third segment at 7-4-1. It's the last gentle stretch, with four of the six games at home. Once the Wings reach the halfway point of the 48-game season, 17 of the last 24 games are on the road, and 10 of those games come against teams in California and Western Canada.

 

 

Otherwise, most of today's Wings stories feature compliments and "getting to know you" themes. The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness took note of Wayne Gretzky's complimentary statements directed toward his favorite presently-playing NHL'er, Henrik Zetterberg, and on Sunday, he asked the Wings' captain what he thought about being declared the best Swedish player to ever play in the NHL:

“Considering all the guys that have been over here, I don’t know if I can agree with him,” Zetterberg said. “I got a long way to reach up to some of the Swedish players who’ve been here for many, many years.

“It’s a great honor to have a player of that stature say things like that about you,” Zetterberg added. “I didn’t believe it at first. I had to go to Goggle to make sure no one was pulling a prank on me.”

Gretzky, who also spoke highly of the Wings’ forward when he coached the Phoenix Coyotes, was Zetterberg’s first big idol.

“If he’s happy with the way I’m playing then I’m happy,” said Zetterberg, who was around eight years old when he became a fan of Gretzky. “When he got traded to (Los Angeles, in 1988), that’s when we started following him more. He was the best player in the game, so of course he was big in Sweden as well.”

Zetterberg is certainly living up to Gretzky’s words this season. He leads the league in assists with 13 and is third in scoring with 18 points. [Sunday] was a mental toughness day for sure.

“When I watch Zetterberg he’s the Energizer Bunny,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He just keeps coming. He doesn’t care who it is or who he’s playing. The best of the best are ultra-competitive and they bring it every single day. They don’t have it every day, but they bring it. Those guys are our best players and they drive our bus.

“They have to play well for us and they are,” Babcock continued. “You don’t have to get them started or beg them to play. They come to play every night.”

Zetterberg's dominant statistical performances didn't make the NHL's cut as they picked Patrick Kane, Martin Brodeur and Jamie Benn as their "Three Stars of the Week," but the NHLPA deemed Zetterberg's 13 assists and 18 points worthy of their Player of the Week award.

 

 

We've gotten to know Damien Brunner pretty well over the past few weeks, and MLive's Ansar Khan chose to continue that tack by asking Brunner how he's adjusting to the NHL--and Khan asked Wings GM Ken Holland to weigh in given that the team's been burned by Igor Grigorenko, Ville Leino, Fabian Brunnstrom and a player who's being bashed the man who found him, Dick Axelsson (Wings director of European scouting Hakan Andersson's now a member of the Frolunda Indians' board of directors, and he's ripped into Axelsson as an inconsistent player and someone who's in poor shape):

“You don't know how they'll react to the physical play and the bigger bodies, don't know if they'll be overwhelmed or intimidated,'' Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said.

...

Former Red Wings forward Stacy Roest played for Swiss club Rapperswil-Jona for nine seasons from 2004-12. He sent Holland an e-mail in November 2011 alerting him to Brunner.

“He said if there's one guy who can play in the NHL, it's Brunner,'' Holland said. “We got him on the radar screen, sent out e-mails to our scouts. They were aware of him anyway. We watched him at the (2012) World Championships. (Coach Mike Babcock) said he likes the way he moves, the way he darts and dangles around.''

...

Brunner doesn't need to be told to shoot. His 42 shots rank second on the team to Zetterberg's 45.

“He seems to get scoring chances every night,'' Holland said. “He knows to go to the net, and the puck follows him around. He's got a quick release. He doesn't hang onto the puck long. He's whipping it somewhere and he's going to a different space. He knows where goals are going to come from.''

I can't quote the whole article, but Edmonton Oilers coach Ralph Krueger is from Switzerland, and he's raved about Brunner, both Brunner's linemate with EV Zug in Zetterberg and Todd Bertuzzi are impressed with Brunner's ability to continue to transition to smaller ice and a faster game, and as for Brunner himself, after experiencing something of a, "Holy shit!" reaction to the team's 6-0 drubbing by those darned Blues on opening night, he's starting to find his stride:

“I think we bounced back pretty good after that,'' he said. “I think the first game I was a bit nervous and the rink seemed very small. It helped to finally get that first (goal), and then it’s like, ‘OK, you can relax now and you want to score every game.' ''

...

“I think there is still progress to be made. I can play much better,'' Brunner said. “I’m learning every day and feel more comfortable every game I play.''

RedWingsFeed noted that a YouTuber named SportsCentral1000 is promising more of the following in April...

And Hooked on Hockey Magazine's Kevin Sporka (again, via RedWingsFeed) spoke to Brunner after Sunday's game, too:

Q: “You’re leading the team in goals, how’s the transition been after 12 games of the season, and how are you feeling with your game?”

A: “It’s been fun out there.  I think progress is key. I’m still learning shift-by-shift. I feel confident out there.  I want to put out my best game every night.”

Q: “I saw the team carried some of the powerplay momentum from yesterday into today’s game.  It seems to keep getting better.  Do you think it’s possible to carry this progress onto the road [after this home stretch]?”

A: “I think it’s definitely important to get the powerplay going.  It’s definitely better than the last couple of weeks.  Let’s just keep going and be confident about ourselves and what we’re doing, and trust [each other].”

Q: “How deflating was it when that goal went past [Jimmy Howard] with 54 seconds left?”

A: “I thought the bench was pretty good after that.  I was on that next shift right away, and I was like, let’s win it.  Then Mule (Johan Franzen) chipped the puck to [Jonathan Quick] to have a faceoff.  Pav’s line came out and E (Jonathan Ericsson) buried it.”

Q: “Were the thoughts on the bench to just win it in the final minute or were most of the guys just ready for overtime?”

A: “My thoughts were ‘let’s win it right now.’  We’re happy we won it in regulation.”

 

 

And in our final "getting to know you" article of the morning, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose spent some "Time and Space" with Daniel Cleary:

You started a hockey school back home a few summers ago in a town called Torbay, can you tell us about it?

Our first hockey school was in 2009, so this will be our fifth year. It’s great. We have approximately 250 kids. We have goalies where (Red Wings goalie coach) Jimmy Bedard comes down and works with them. It’s a great time. The kids receive a lot of different prizes and giveaways. We play a game with a bunch of other NHLers, so the kids love it.

Is there a Daniel Cleary Foundation, perhaps, on the horizon?

I have my own scholarship back home that is endowed and it goes to Memorial University for student-athletes.

As a follow up, since it was on our list of questions, how satisfying was it for you to begin the Daniel Cleary Entrance Scholarship?

You know about it, eh? That’s one of the things that I’m most proud of actually, to be able to do that. We’re able to do that because we donated time with the Cup to different donors and all of the money went toward an endowment through Memorial University. Different student-athletes win it each year and I know that they’re great kids who work hard at their academics as well as their sports.

You didn’t attend college, so why a scholarship?

I thought it was a good thing to do and something that could last a lifetime, which I felt was important. I didn’t have the chance to go to university, but if I did it would have been great to receive something like that.

You’ve said before that you’re big on goal-setting. Can you share some that you have for this season?

I write down goals every year and look back on them. This year I wrote down, ‘Be the hardest working guy on the club; keep yourself fit; be focused with the short season; stay healthy.’ Then there are other personal goals that are separate from hockey.

A lot lately has been made about your first name in the media this season. So which is it – Dan, Danny or Daniel – and why?

That’s more of a family, mom-type issue. She likes Daniel. She’s tired of seeing Danny in print and hearing it on TV.

You’ve worn six different numbers with four different NHL clubs. Is there a story before your current number, No. 11?

No. My wife picked it out. She liked the fact that I’m No. 1, two times.

Who gave you the nickname Bear?

Tony Amonte. You know hockey players with our last names and how they ring for your nickname. With mine, he used to call me Clare Bear and it just got shortened to Bear.

 

 

The NHL and NHLPA are going to meet to wrap up the CBA and discuss realignment this week, and I have to admit that I found Sportsnet's Mark Spector's suggestion that the Red Wings and owner Mike Ilitch might be a little too "dug in" for the good of the league to be puzzling:

Remember all that post-lockout talk about how both the owners and players need to make good with the fans? Well, realignment will tell you -- the fan -- whether it was all just talk or not. The GMs may be talking about that when they meet in Toronto March 20. But this is a Board of Governor's issue, and there are a few owners -- like Detroit's Mike Ilitch -- who are dug in deep on this one.

But let's forget about the teams and the players for a minute. Realignment is something that hockey fans want:

-- Dallas Stars fans wants Divisional road games to start before 9 or 9:30 p.m., so the kids can watch a road game once in a while.

-- Winnipeg Jets fans wants out of the Southeast and some more games against Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton, the latter a city Winnipeg won't visit until perhaps its third season back in the NHL.

-- Columbus Blue Jackets fans want to be in with Pittsburgh and Philly. Detroit fans want back in their time zone, and a few more Original Six visits every year for their Original Six Red Wings. Nashville Predators should be in with the Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers and Tampa bay Lightning.

They likely won't scratch all of those itches with realignment, but the NHL and NHLPA can improve the lot for some fan bases. Now, let's find out if either group truly cares about its fans, or if it was just lip service.

The biggest issue for the NHLPA is that they don't want to see the league split into the system the NHL promoted last time around--and understandably so as the PA doesn't believe that a system in which teams in two "conferences" have an 8-in-14 chance of making the playoffs and teams in the other "conferences" have a 7-in-16 chance of making the playoffs.

As for the league, if they were to attempt to engineer traditional Western and Eastern Conference realignment, the NHL would prefer that the Jets move into the West and Blue Jackets move into the East as Columbus isn't on sound financial footing because it, ahem, "under-performs," and it believes that moving to the East yields more traditional rivals in Ohioans' eyes....

But the real sticky wicket here is Nashville, because the Predators' GM and ownership don't want to lose their heated rivalries with the Blues, Blackhawks and Wings, even though the team geographically belongs in a division with its closer Southern rivals. The fact that Minnesota and Craig Leipold want their team out of the Northwest and into the Central makes things difficult, too.

 

 

In international news, Igor Larionov gave a pair of interviews to R-Sport's Andrew Symonenko, stating that he fully believes that the NHL will participate in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and he offered a comment about a possible Olympic-commemorative wine from his Triple Overtime label that RIA Novosti translated into English:

NHL Hall of Famer Igor Larionov offered Monday to produce special wine to honor the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. Since leaving the NHL in 2004, three-time Stanley Cup winner Larionov has started his own winery producing hockey themed wines under names as Hat-Trick and Slapshot.

“I’d be happy to take part in this. I think that the Olympic guests would get a lot of happiness from this drink,” he said, extending an offer of negotiations to Sochi 2014 organizers. “But this wine isn’t Coca-Cola. You can’t start talking about creating wine like this two weeks in advance. The harvest is in September and October, so if this topic’s interesting, you need to talk about it today already.”

Larionov earlier said he was sure the NHL would allow its hockey stars to compete at the Olympics.

Sochi 2014 organizers have come down hard on unlicensed products using the Olympic brand in regions across Russia, most recently shutting down production of “Olympic” boiled sausage.

He won two Olympic gold medals with the Soviet Union before moving in 1989 to the NHL, where he played 921 games for the San Jose Sharks, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers and New Jersey Devils.

Russia’s first Winter Olympics run from February 7 through 23 next year.

I don't know if you remember it, but Larionov was asked to be Russia's GM for the 2014 Olympics when he was still a KHL consultant and an advisor to SKA St. Petersburg, but Larionov

 

 

In charitable news, from Jordin Tootoo, via RedWingsFeed:

The Grand Rapids Press's Press's Peter J. Wallner reminds us that the Grand Rapids Griffins will play a sled hockey game for charity tonight:

The Grand Rapids Griffins and Grand Rapids Sled Wings will stage their eighth annual sled hockey game Tuesday, Feb. 12, at Griff’s IceHouse. Each team will have players from the Griffins and the Sled Wings, with the Griffins’ Jeff Hoggan and the Sled Wings’ Tyler Anderson serving as captains.

At 6 p.m., fans can try out a sled on the ice (minimum $1 donation) and get autographs from their favorite Griffins players. The game begins at 7 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased at the door for $5 per person or $20 per family, while children 2 and younger are free.

All proceeds from the evening will benefit the Sled Wings program and the Griffins Youth Foundation.

The Sled Wings, a team of children and adults who have physical disabilities, are sponsored by the Griffins Youth Foundation in partnership with Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital.

They became the first junior-level sled hockey team in Michigan upon their founding in 2001, and they have gained a national reputation by winning various prestigious tournaments and continuing to develop high-caliber players. Anderson and Chris Melton have both played for the U.S. National Developmental Sled Hockey Team, and Susie Kluting is in her second season as a member of the U.S. Women’s Sled Hockey Team.

And on Faceboook, the Ted Lindsay foundation is going to raffle off a motorcycle for Lindsay's autism research charity on June 3rd as well:

 

 

Oh, boy, power rankings: The Red Wings' upward trajectory of late received favorable mentions in this week's first slate of power rankings, starting with those of ESPN's Pierre LeBrun...

7. Detroit [record] 7-4-1 Last Week: 13 Mike Babcock still refers to his team as a work in progress, but the 2010 Olympic-champion coach is showing his acumen, finding a way to bring this roster along despite its obvious shortcomings on defense.

TSN's Scott Cullen gave two players obvious credit for the team's success...

This Week: 7 Last Week: 16 Detroit Red Wings: LW Henrik Zetterberg is tied for the league lead with 13 assists, and he and Pavel Datsyuk have combined for 31 points, carrying the rest of the Wings through their post-Lidstrom transition.

And Fox Sports' A.J. Perez focused on Jimmy Howard's larcenous performance on Sunday:

9 : Red Wings [up] 3  [highest/lowest] 9/18: A hot goalie can hide a lot, including the retirement of one the game’s best defenseman (Nicklas Lidstrom) and a rash of injuries. Jimmy Howard did that again with a 45-save performance in a thrilling win over the Kings on Sunday.

I'm not sure what to think of CBS Sports' Brian Stubits' take...

7. Red Wings [last week 14]: They were undoubtedly fortunate to get out of Sunday with two points against the Kings, but there's something to be said for getting wins in games you aren't at your best. It's a three-game win streak. ... Starting to think the preseason "no playoffs" talk from Ken Holland was a motivational ploy.

But the Hockey News's Adam Proteau receives a nod of my head for an honest assessment...

6. Detroit Red Wings [last week] 16: Three straight wins last week helps Wings overcome sluggish start; Henrik Zetterberg tied for league lead in assists (13).

Holy crap, USA Today's given into the low-hanging fruit that is cobbling together a list of power rankings! Their twelve-member panel dug the Wings' play of late (sorry, their website's redesign is absolutely terrible, so it's hard to find anything there)...

8. Detroit Red Wings [last week] 9 [highest/lowest] 8/1:  Jimmy Howard took advantage of a one-game breather to put together back-to-back weekend wins. He was spectacular on Sunday.

And their panel also ranked Zetterberg 3rd in the MVP race:

3. Detroit Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg was third in the league with 18 points. He had points in 10 of 12 games, including one five-point game. Points: 29. First-place votes: 1

We finish our little meander through the first crop of this week's of power rankings with the New York Post's David Satriano's take:

8) Red Wings (7-4-1) ([last week] 13): Three wins in a row for the Red Wings, who got an outstanding performance by Jimmy Howard who made 45 saves in Sunday’s 3-2 win over the Kings. He stopped 68 of 71 shots this weekend and has the Wings back on track.

 

 

In the multimedia department, I'd feel awful if I didn't share NHL.com's Frozen Moment (Pavel Datsyuk roofing the puck over Jonathan Quick) with you, and Yahoo Sports posted an awesome image of Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathan Ericsson and Ian White celebrating Ericsson's gamer on Sunday. Yahoo Sports' Wings gallery is all sorts of messed up--it isn't posting Getty Images pictures anymore--and since Daylife.com stopped posting pictures, it's much, much harder to find AP and Getty Images Wings pictures that stick around these days.

Yahoo Sports has an RSS feed for Wings pictures that includes Getty Images pictures, but hey disappear quickly, so a Twitter search for RedWingsFeed's "DRW Chat" photos is really the place to go for Wings pictures outside of the ones that the Free Press, News and NHL.com don't post at present.

 

 

And finally, I know that many of us are happy for Joey MacDonald's chances of seeing NHL action now that he's been picked up on waivers by the Calgary Flames, but the Calgary Herald's Scott Cruickshank reported that Joey Mac may very well have gone from an uncomfortable situation with a well-run organization to a bizarre situation with a dysfunctional one.

The Flames already have Leland Irving working as Miikka Kiprusoff's replacement as "Kipper" recovers from a knee injury, but they've also signed another goalie to an NHL deal, leaving MacDonald in another situation where he's not the third wheel, but is in fact the fourth one on a crazy goalie car. Worse, the Flames' management refused to comment as to why they added MacDonald to the mix:

* Only days after signing G Danny Taylor to an NHL contract, the Calgary Flames have plucked G Joey MacDonald off waivers from the Detroit Red Wings. The well-traveled 33-year-old arrives in Calgary late tonight.

MacDonald, last season, split his time between the Red Wings (8-5-1, 2.16 GAA) and their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids (11-11-3, 2.63 GAA).

The rationale behind the move remains unclear.

Coach Bob Hartley, declining to comment specifically on the pick up, said GM Jay Feaster would explain the transaction.

Feaster soon after declined to address reporters, saying through the Flames’ public-relations department that he’d speak Tuesday morning.

* G Miikka Kiprusoff (knee, eligible to come off the injured-reserve list Tuesday) took light shots from goalie Clint Malarchuk before the team’s on-ice session. No butterfly work for the star goalie, either.

The Wings ended up picking Tom McCollum over Irving in the 2008 Entry Draft. McCollum's status with the organization is unclear given Mrazek's play with both the Wings and Griffins and given that Jake Paterson may be signed and brought into the organization next year.

What I do know is that, at least according to Ken Holland's comments to The Fan 960 in Calgary before the Flames game, McCollum will not in fact have to clear waivers as the CBA allows goalies to be waiver-exempt for four seasons, and McCollum's been with the organization for three...And McCollum's future depends on how he plays for Grand Rapids down the stretch.

To put things bluntly, MacDonald getting picked up on waivers may be the best thing that's happened to McCollum in a long time, and the same can be said for Jordan Pearce, who's probably going to be allowed to explore free agency at 26 years of age (and he may end up heading to medical school instead of continuing to pursue employment as a professional hockey player).

Long story short?

Good luck, Joey Mac, and good luck, Tom. You're both gonna need it.
Big time.

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Comments

Joe Z.'s avatar

Franzen actually gets payed 5.25 mill. USD and he doesn’t deliver. I know you like to defend him and make a case for him, but he is soft on the puck, has a 50/50 chance of receiving a pass and keeping control of the puck, doesn’t shoot as much as he should. Franzen is beeing carried by Z and/or Pavel. For 5.25 mill salary a year I would expect him to make stuff happen time to time.

Posted by Joe Z. from Austria on 02/12/13 at 03:51 AM ET

Avatar

First it’s the defense not protecting the goalie, and now it’s the goalie not bailing out the defense?

Those things aren’t mutually exclusive, George.  Howard has been good this year, but he’s been inconsistent this year, too.

Franzen actually gets payed 5.25 mill. USD and he doesn’t deliver

I wish people would have a better perspective when it comes to Franzen, specifically as his play relates to his deal.  Since signing his contract Franzen has averaged ~30 goals per 82 regular season or post season games.  For his cap hit that is very good.

Is he a sub-optimal player?  Sure.  Of course.  He has a number of flaws to his game.  He’s not even in the top 5 of guys who are underperformning on their deals for the Wings, though.  Quincey, Cleary, Tootoo, Abdelkader and Eaves are all far worse offenders, and those are just the currently healthy guys.  Colaiacovo, Sammy, Helm and White have had a hard time even getting on the ice yet.

For less than 4 mil against the cap I suppose I don’t quite understand what level of performance people think they should be seeing.  For instance, does anyone in the universe think Fil isn’t going to be making at least 4 mil against the cap in his next deal?  Is there some kind of bright line separating what Fil does and what Franzen does, speaking in terms of general play, production and performance? 

Franzen’s a decent second-tier goal scorer, and he’s paid like a decent second-tier goal scorer.

The biggest issue for the NHLPA is that they don’t want to see the league split into the system the NHL promoted last time around—and understandably so as the PA doesn’t believe that a system in which teams in two “conferences” have an 8-in-14 chance of making the playoffs and teams in the other “conferences” have a 7-in-16 chance of making the playoffs.

This is mostly because the NHLPA was and is shortsighted and stupid about these sorts of things.  Do those dopes really think the conferences would be unbalanced for an extended period of time?  Re-alignment is step 1.  Expansion (god help us) is step 2.

It would be wonderful if the NHLPA could stop bleeping up everything, just for a little while.  Good Lord, what a bunch of bumbling idiots.  Yes, morons, by all means kick, scratch and fight over something that will end up in another 40+ members for you within 5 years as well as increasing the overall RS pot your top paid players will all split up amongst themselves.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 02/12/13 at 06:43 AM ET

LivinLaVidaLockout's avatar

He’s not even in the top 5 of guys who are underperformning on their deals for the Wings, though.  Quincey, Cleary, Tootoo, Abdelkader and Eaves are all far worse offenders, and those are just the currently healthy guys.

How has Tootoo underperformed expectations at all?  We paid him to bring *grit* every night, and *grit* is what he done brung.

Posted by LivinLaVidaLockout on 02/12/13 at 08:45 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

How has Tootoo underperformed expectations at all?  We paid him to bring *grit* every night, and *grit* is what he done brung.

Posted by LivinLaVidaLockout on 02/12/13 at 08:45 AM ET

Save your energy because HD doesn’t like him. Tootoo is someone we have needed since McCarty and teams have to “overpay” for a pest that will actually dop them and not get pulverized. For the hockey genius that HD is he doesn’t seem to get that.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 02/12/13 at 09:03 AM ET

bigdee89's avatar

If you really want to induce panic, the Free Press is holding a chat with Fox Sports Detroit’s Larry Murphy today at 11 AM, and ask him if he can unscrew his space goggles from his skull, or offer him all the hot dogs he can eat.

I spit out my coffee when I read this - so funny.  Where did Murph get those things?  He looks more ridiculous than before.

I wish people would have a better perspective when it comes to Franzen

The only thing that bothers me about Franzen is the constant on-ice complaining.  I mean sure you want to give your point of view to the refs but he takes it too far.  The game where he got a penalty for closing his hand on the puck, he clearly picked it up off the ice but then complained to the refs.  He needs to start taking responsibility for his antics.

Tootoo is someone we have needed since McCarty

Absolutely.  We needed at least his presence on the bench.

Posted by bigdee89 from The Great White North Eh? on 02/12/13 at 09:56 AM ET

Chris in Hockey Hell's avatar

But the real sticky wicket here is Nashville

Fuch Nashville. That is all.

Posted by Chris in Hockey Hell from Ann Arbor, MI but LIVING in Columbia, TN on 02/12/13 at 10:55 AM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

HD will never explain how Eaves underperforms.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 02/12/13 at 02:37 PM ET

NIVO's avatar

Looking forward to tomorrows game and the “patches of ice” that will help our pucks go in.

Posted by NIVO from underpants gnome village on 02/12/13 at 02:42 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Franzen’s had a good year so far.  He’s producing, he’s not on pace for 40 goals this year but when is he ever.  He’s being hard on the puck compared to previous years and he’s using his body.  I have no complaints above Franzen this year.

Abby’s picked up his game, Eaves barely missed a beat after being out over a year with a concussion, Tootoo has more than delivered.  Doesn’t take shifts off, isn’t pulling himself out of position to make hits, he’s taking what he’s given.  Great play so far and the scoring chances he an abby are getting, it’s bound to start goin’ in soon and they’re routinely wearing down the opposition.

Q’s my biggest conern because of where he’s slotted and what we gave to get him back, I think he’s ona bit of a “free-ride” instead of being accountable for his play.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 02/12/13 at 04:28 PM ET

Joe Z.'s avatar

Posted by HockeyinHD on 02/12/13 at 06:43 AM ET

using the cap number as an argument for performance is wrong in my opinion. especially in franzen’s case since his contract is front-loaded. this means the wings expect lower production over time, which is natural for a hockey player.

 

Posted by Joe Z. from Austria on 02/12/13 at 05:33 PM ET

Avatar

How has Tootoo underperformed expectations at all?  We paid him to bring *grit* every night, and *grit* is what he done brung.

.. and there are all sorts of guys who can be ‘gritty’ in less than 9 minutes of IT per night who cost way less than 2 million freaking bucks a year.

HD will never explain how Eaves underperforms.

You’ve never asked me before, have you?  Seems a bit of a rush to declare I’d never explain it before you ask even the first time.

Eaves is underperforming his deal (by more than Franzen, mind you), because so far he’s done pretty much nothing and hasn’t done anything since he signed the deal.  Again, the team could get someone to do what Eaves has done (nothing) for less than what they are paying him.

using the cap number as an argument for performance is wrong in my opinion.

The cap number is the dollar figure that matters, though.

Abby’s picked up his game,

Eaves barely missed a beat after being out over a year with a concussion,

Each has been a dime a dozen forward this year.

Tootoo has more than delivered.  Doesn’t take shifts off

Well, no bleep.  He gets less than twelve freaking shifts a night.  How many of those whopping 12 should he be taking off, exactly?  There are around 11 guys in the whole NHL who get fewer shifts a night than Tootoo does.

Again, I don’t have a problem with Tootoo as a player.  I have a problem with Tootoo being a 1.9 mil cap hit to play less than 9 minutes a night, not PP, not PK, and not score.  If he was being used like he was used throughout his career (11-13 minutes a game the past three years) and was similarly producing (1 point every 3 games), I’d be pretty close to totally fine with his contract.

At 75% of the ice time and 25% of the production the deal sucks spectacularly.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 02/12/13 at 08:22 PM 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.