Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Panthers set-up and overnight report: Wings’ disparate parts need to find their stride

The Detroit Red Wings hope to avenge Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Florida Panthers as the Wings' slate of games against Floridian teams continues (the Wings will also play the Lightning on Thursday and Sunday) tonight in Sunrise (7:30 PM EST, FSD/FS Florida/AM 1270)...

And all I can tell you is that I'm glad I ended up watching the replay of Saturday's game just before I started cobbling this entry together. I think I have at least some explanation as to why the Wings stopped shooting on Saturday night (the Wings were ultimately out-shot 37-23) and ended up giving the puck away seventeen times, if not some inkling as to why both the high-minded and shin-slash-aiming pundits aside have been wondering what the fark is going on with Stephen Weiss:

Even under a trio of Kevin Dineen replacements in John Madden, Brian Skrudland and Peter Horacek in tow, the Panthers play upside down hockey as compared to both the Wings themselves and any opponent they've encountered over the past two seasons.

Upside down hockey?

The Panthers definitely have shades of Columbus's "lull them to sleep and smash them along the boards" game, the Predators' "turn the middle of the ice into a monster truck pull" rodeo and the Coyotes' passive-aggressive, big-bodied-forwards go-smash-into-your-goalie games' flavors in their game plans...

But the Panthers do something that no other team that I can remember has done to the Red Wings: in between clutching, grabbing, trapping, grinding and crashing, all while playing at a low-enough pace that the "skill game" and/or artistically-inclined Wings' attention spans wane. At certain points during Saturday night's game, the Panthers COMPLETELY surrendered the side boards to the Wings, allowing Detroit to do nothing less than deke and dangle with impunity all the way up and down the ice as long as they were within ten feet of the rink's perimeter, choosing to swarm the middle lanes with a "zone" defense instead.

The Wings have no problem whatsoever sticking to the perimeter if you make that the path of least resistance for them, but that perimeter play tends to turn the Wings' attention to detail in front of their own net, efficiency between the bluelines and desire to attack the opponent's net into so much smiling and staring at a pretty girl on the beach.

It's the essence of the old-school, 1994-1995 trap team that Skrudland captained: keep the opposition entertained enough to not pay too much attention to the fact that you're lifting their wallet. It's pickpocket hockey, and all of a sudden, the Wings found themselves landing on their asses as the Panthers bowled them over, got into Gustavsson's sightlines and made Kyle Quincey make his, "Oh shit, I'm standing around while someone scores the game-winning goal" face again.

The Panthers may possess a 9-17-and-5 record, but they've won two of four this month. The balloon popped on Sunday in Chicago, where the Panthers dropped a 6-2 decision on Sunday, but the Wings are 2-and-2 this month and have lost 2 of their past three, and Detroit sure played like kittens preoccupied by the ball of yarn the Panthers were tossing at them on Saturday.

Fox Sports Florida posted a "just the facts" AP recap from Sunday's tilt...

Patrick Sharp had a goal and two assists, and the Chicago Blackhawks scored a season-high three times on the power play in a 6-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Sunday night.

The Blackhawks used their potent offense to win after starting goalie Corey Crawford left in the first period because of a lower-body injury.

Marian Hossa, Brent Seabrook and Brandon Saad each had goal and an assist, and Michal Handzus and Andrew Shaw also scored. Patrick Kane had three assists for Chicago, which ended a three-game losing streak -- its longest regular-season skid since February 2012.

Rookie Antti Raanta, recalled after veteran backup Nikolai Khabublin was injured on Nov. 16, stopped 29 of 31 shots for the win in relief of Crawford, who made four saves.

...

Dylan Olsen and Goc scored for Florida. Scott Clemmensen made 26 saves in his third start and fifth appearance this season.

The Blackhawks went 3-for-4 on the power-play and stopped all five Florida advantages.

The Panthers understandably blamed their slow start for their sub-par finish while speaking with the Miami Herald's George Richards...

“We put a lot of energy into coming back, but you can't give up goals so early,” Florida’s Brian Campbell said. “They have skilled players, but if you're going to give them shots up the middle, they're going to score.”

Chicago grabbed a 3-0 lead just 37 seconds into the second period when Marian Hossa scored, but the Panthers showed life and a bit of fight in battling back.

Defenseman Dylan Olsen, who came to the Panthers in the Kris Versteeg deal with the Hawks, scored Florida's first goal 4:05 into the second period by sending a puck into the right corner past backup goalie Antti Raanta. Raanta was pressed into service when two-time Cup champ Cory Crawford went down with an injury in the first.

Florida picked up its second goal and made the score 3-2 when Marcel Goc picked off Raanta’s weak clearing pass, charged in and whipped a shot home. The Panthers couldn't find the equalizer, however, and didn't do much with a power-play chance not long after Goc pulled Florida within a goal.

...

“I don't think we were very good to start the game,” Panthers coach Peter Horachek said. “To come back in this building against that team is difficult. Playing back-to-back isn't an excuse.”

Thomas had been the only goalie to play for Horachek, who took over for the fired Kevin Dineen on Nov. 8. Thomas had made 14 consecutive starts in net for the Panthers, but Clemmensen stepped in Sunday and made his first start since Nov. 7 in Boston — Dineen's final game behind the bench. Clemmensen, who is 0-2-1 in five games, made 26 saves.

“We had to give him a break along the way,” Horachek said of Thomas. “He deserves that. Tim has done a good job for us, won a big game for us [Saturday]. He needed a breather.”

And coach Horacek stated the obvious while speaking with the Sun-Sentinel's Harvey Filakov:

Just as the Panthers took advantage of the Red Wings' tired legs in the second game of a back-to-back Saturday, the rested, ticked-off Blackhawks — who were riding a rare three-game winless streak — flew out of the gates with two PPGs in the first 9:11.

"I don't think we were very good to start the game,'' Panthers coach Peter Horachek said. "Obviously, to come back on this team in this building, giving them that lead in the first period is going to be very difficult. Back to back's not an excuses. Detroit was in the same situation last night. You have to be mentally tougher and smarter in that situation, but you've got to have some energy to make sure you're doing the right things.''

The Panthers felt that the 4-0 goal against was the dagger:

However, with 2:44 left in the second, defenseman Brent Seabrook's long slapper was momentarily stopped by Clemmensen, but the loose puck was swatted in by Michal Handzus for a two-goal cushion heading into the third.

"We can't give up that fourth goal,'' said former Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell. "It's happened all season. We put a lot of energy in getting back. Can't give up early goals in the second and go down 3-0.''

FloridaPanthers.com's Glenn Odebralski wraps things up with, well, a wrap-up...

Three Takeaways:

1. Down Three: Playing the night before while facing a rested Blackhawks team, the Panthers new the first 10 minutes of the game would be tough. It didn't help that they took early penalties. Chicago jumped on the board just 1:10 into the game with Tomas Kopecky in the box as Patrick Sharp's point shot beat Scott Clemmensen. Then Sean Bergenheim was given four minutes (two for interference and two for unsportsmanlike conduct) and the Hawks scored once again as Brent Seabrook scored 9:11 in. The game looked like it would be a cake walk for the Hawks as Marian Hossa scored just 37 seconds into the second period, scoring on a 2-on-1 break after a turnover.

2. Within One: The Hawks had several good chances to make it a four-goal game but Clemmensen made the big stops to give the Cats a chance and they responded less than four minutes after Hossa's goal. Tomas Kopecky found Dylan Olsen and the blueliner let one rip past Antti Raanta who came in to replace start Corey Crawford (left the first period with an injury) with 4:05 off the clock. Florida made it a one-goal game a little over five minutes later off a turnover. Olsen didn't get credit for an assist but his dump in was played by Raanta and the netminder turned it over up the boards. Marcel Goc intercepted the puck, worked his way out to the center of the offensive zone and fired a shot top shelf at 9:37.

3. Special Teams The Difference: It looked like Florida would head to the third trailing by a goal but the Blackhawks regained a two-goal lead with 2:34 to play as Michael Handzus swatted the puck past the outstretched pad of Clemmensen off a rebound. In the third, they got their three-goal lead back thanks to their third power play goal of the game. Andrew Shaw redirected Sharp's point shot 2:44 in. One of the most dynamic offenses in the league, the Panthers couldn't give them anything extra but they did and it was a tough night for the Panthers penalty kill units as the Hawks converted on three of their opportunities. Florida, on the flipside, had five of their own opportunities but Chicago killed off every single opportunity. Brandon Saad would put the feather in the Blackhawks cap with a breakaway goal with less than a minute to play.

It appears that the Panthers didn't practice on Monday, but both beat writers flew back to Miami late thanks to the snowstorm that hit the majority of the Midwest on Sunday.

I can tell you that NHL.com's Brian Hedger had the Panthers dressing the following lineup on Sunday...

PANTHERS

Jonathan Huberdeau - Nick Bjugstad - Scottie Upshall

Sean Bergenheim - Aleksander Barkov - Brad Boyes

Tomas Fleischmann - Marcel Goc - Tomas Kopecky

Jesse Winchester - Shawn Matthias - Jimmy Hayes

Brian Campbell - Tom Gilbert

Erik Gudbranson - Dylan Olsen

Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver

Scratched: Krys Barch, Mike Mottau, Scott Gomez

Injured: Ed Jovanovski (lower body)

The Sun-Sentinel's Harvey Filakov kept his Wings-Panthers preview simple...

Scouting report: The Panthers return home to play the Red Wings for the second time in five days. Detroit's looking to avenge Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Panthers at Joe Louis Arena where they Wings have lost 11 of its last 13. The Red Wings are a league-best 10-3-1 on the road and they'll have star center Pavel Datsyuk and his 23 points back in the lineup after missing the last seven games with a concussion. Panthers F Jonathan Huberdeau potted the tie-breaking goal Saturday and Tim Thomas had 22 saves. Thomas, who had his streak of 14 straight starts snapped Sunday when backup Scott Clemmensen was on the short end of a 6-2 loss to the NHL-leading Blackhawks, will be back in net. C Henrik Zetterberg and defenseman Danny DeKeyster are out for Detroit.

As usual, NHL.com's game preview is a balanced one...

Season series: This is the second game of a home-and-home series between the Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers. The Panthers won Saturday 2-1 behind Jonathan Huberdeau's tie-breaking goal in the third period and 22 saves by Tim Thomas. The teams play three more times after Tuesday.

...

Red Wings [team scope]: Detroit's loss to the Panthers on Saturday was the 11th in its past 13 games at Joe Louis Arena. The Red Wings managed one goal without their top goal scorer in Datsyuk (12) and top point scorer Henrik Zetterberg (30).

"We have to find a way to play a lot more simple than we did [Saturday]. We were making way too many mistakes," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said after the loss. "Just how we played [Saturday] isn't going to cut it."

The Red Wings have scored 25 goals in the games Datsyuk has missed, but he brings more than offense to the team.

"[Zetterberg] and [Datsyuk] are all over the ice really, and you feel that we don't have them but at the same time, this is what we have right now and we are a better team than we showed [Saturday]. We have to find a way to win games regardless if they are in or not,” Kronwall said.

Panthers [teamscope]: Florida comes off a 6-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday. The Panthers cut a 3-0 deficit to 3-2 before the Blackhawks netted the final three goals.

...

Who's hot: Johan Franzen has three goals in four games for the Red Wings. ... Olsen has three points in two games for the Panthers.

Injury report: In addition to Zetterberg, defenseman Danny DeKeyser (shoulder) is on injured reserve and Darren Helm (shoulder) is expected to miss a week to 10 days. ... The Panthers will be without defensemen Matt Gilroy (lower body) and Ed Jovanovski (hip), who are both on IR.

And the AP/Stats LLC's preview adds what you might expect:

Detroit (15-9-7) ranks near the bottom of the league with 33 goals allowed in the third period and it's lost five games when leading after two periods - more than anyone in the league.

The Red Wings gave up four in the third in Wednesday's 6-3 loss to Philadelphia before beating New Jersey on Friday, and although they didn't blow a third-period lead Saturday in Florida, they did lose for the second time in three games after scoring first.

...

The return of Datsyuk, one of the league's best defensive forwards, should help after he missed seven games with a concussion. Datsyuk has been a workhorse offensively against the Panthers, producing five goals and eight assists in 10 career games meetings.

...

Panthers goalie Tim Thomas rested against the Blackhawks, but he beat the Red Wings on Saturday and is expected to be in net again for Florida. He was strong against Detroit, stopping 22 of 23 shots, but his 2.81 goals-against average isn't good enough to crack the league's top 30.

The Red Wings' Jimmy Howard (2.70 GAA) hasn't been much better, but he's expected to be back in net Tuesday after Jonas Gustavsson started the previous two games. Howard is 1-4-4 with a 2.92 GAA in his last nine starts.

Tuesday marks the return of Stephen Weiss to Florida after the center spent 11 years with the Panthers. Weiss signed a five-year, $24.5 million deal with the Red Wings in July but has been a disappointment, producing four points in 25 games.

MLive's Ansar Khan Tweeted that Zetterberg wasn't at the Joe on Tuesday, so my best uneducated guess is that we might be hoping that Zetterberg and DeKeyser return in time to skate at Michigan Stadium (Khan also Tweeted a DeKeyser timeline of return as occurring anywhere between the 17th and 28th). Helm told the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness that he's heading on the trip to skate on Wednesday, probably, anyway...

"I think there’s a chance I can make it out on the ice,” Helm said. “The sun and heat are definitely a factor as well.”

Helm will need a week or week and a half of practices before he’s ready to play again.

“I’m optimistic I won’t be out that long,” Helm said. “I’ve made head way. The first couple of days were pretty bad. The last two have been pretty good. I’m hoping it continues in the same direction and I’ll get back sooner rather than later.”

Helm has been hot since returning to the lineup, with seven goals and three assists in 15 games.

“It’s not ideal,” Helm said. “It’s just the way it is. I’ve learned to deal with these a little bit better than I have in the past. It’s still never fun to be out, sitting watching. I want to play and that’s the bottom line.”

Jimmy Howard was in a grumpy mood, as MLive's Ansar Khan noted...

“To be honest, I don’t think I played any different against the Islanders (5-0 win on Nov. 29) than I did against (Philadelphia, 6-3 loss on Dec. 4),” Howard said. “It’s just that the puck went in. I’m not going to change anything. I’ve been very successful and I’ve come a long way with my game. I’m not just all of a sudden going to reinvent the wheel.”

Howard said he was “really surprised” Babcock opted to start Gustavsson Saturday against Florida, playing him on back-to-back nights.

“We’re all competitors in here, we all want to play, we all want to be out there,” Howard said. “I understand his decision. I have to respect his decision, but at the same time I don’t have to like it. I just have to continue working hard and keep getting better every day.”

Howard said he worked on some little things following a career-long seven-game winless streak (0-3-4). It resulted in his 18th career shutout against the Islanders.

“I felt really good against the Islanders,” he said. “Then against (Philadelphia) they capitalized on their power plays in the third period. Next thing you know you find yourself down a couple goals. I’m just going to go out there and continue to play like I know how.”

He added: “I don’t want to be sitting on the bench charting faceoffs (which the backup goalie does), but that’s what Babs’ decided to go with (Saturday) and I have to respect that.”

With the coach responding as follows...

"You have to find a way to get hit (with pucks) and you have to find a way to get confident,” coach Mike Babcock said. “You always find out way more about yourself during tough times. ... When it’s not going good it’s how we choose our attitude, how we choose our work ethic that makes you a good pro. Every good goalie in the National Hockey League has been through some ups and downs. My mom used to put a sign on the fridge when she was alive and I was a kid that said ‘Let your ups be longer than your downs.’ ”

And while the Magic Man was his deadpan self, as Pleiness noted...

“I feel OK,” Datsyuk said after practice Monday at Joe Louis Arena. “Out of shape, but I feel OK.”

Datsyuk will start on a line with Todd Bertuzzi and Johan Franzen.

“I can do lots of stuff in practice but in games it’s a different level,” Datsyuk said.

His teammates and coach told DetroitRedWings.com's Andrea Nelson that Datsyuk's return is huge for the team--and that his absence yielded significant growth:

“It’s important to get him back losing the last two out of three or winning the last two out of three,” center Stephen Weiss said. “That’s a guy that you need in your lineup and you want in your lineup and he makes our team that much better, so we’re certainly excited to see him back today in practice with the line and having him back tomorrow.”

Datsyuk has 12 goals and 23 points in 24 games and still leads the league with 40 takeaways. Chicago’s Marian Hossa is second with 38.

“Pav’s a very special player,” Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said. “He’s highly respected in this room. He’s one of our leaders. To have him come back in it’ll give a boost to our lineup. Pav just makes everyone around him that much better. He’s one of those unique players that can do that, no matter who’s playing with him their play elevates.”

That's true, but three players stepped up in his departure, and it's up to them to keep it up:

“For my two cents, I thought Franzen was a star when Pav was out,” Babcock said. “Leadership-wise, determination-wise, how he played, and so now that’s the benchmark. You don’t go back to the other guy you continue to be what you’ve been and he should be proud of how he played and we need him to keep playing like that.

“I think the same with Tatar and Nyquist, Tatar in particular. They’ve got more ice time they’ve taken a step and now continue to earn that ice time. That’s how you end up a better team, through guys getting opportunity and grabbing it and ideally in the end we will be.”

While they continue to struggle at home, the Red Wings have been almost unbeatable on the road in the last five weeks. Detroit is 6-1-1 away from Joe Louis Arena since Nov. 1, which gives the team confidence going into a two-game swing through the Sunshine State this week.

“Anytime you’ve been able to string something together like that, we feel comfortable going on the road, we seem to play a little bit more simple for whatever reason and we gotta try and do some of those same things at home but that’ll come,” Weiss said. “For whatever reason we’re clicking on the road and we just gotta make sure we keep that going.”

For the record, quoth Mr. Datsyuk, per the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:

As good as he played, Franzen also exhibited the type of leadership that carried the Red Wings through a difficult stretch.

“He played well, he showed leadership, scored almost every game,” said Datsyuk. “He’s been one of our best players.”

The Wings' practice lines, as noted by MLive's Ansar Khan, went like this:

Johan Franzen-Pavel Datsyuk-Todd Bertuzzi

Justin Abdelkader-Stephen Weiss-Daniel Alfredsson

Gustav Nyquist-Joakim Andersson-Tomas Tatar

Drew Miller-Cory Emmerton-Daniel Cleary

Mikael Samuelsson (scratched on Tuesday)

Jonathan Ericsson-Niklas Kronwall

Kyle Quincey-Brendan Smith

Brian Lashoff-Jakub Kindl

Danny DeKeyser (LTIR, shoulder)

Jimmy Howard (starting Tuesday)

Jonas Gustavsson

As for Stephen Weiss, I'm trying very hard to figure out what he's doing, and I think that's his problem, too. The Red Wings and Panthers may play "do the opposite!" brands of hockey, but mastering the Wings' system of play after both 10 years in Florida and only 17 games played  last season (due to wrist surgery) has yielded a talented, affable, hardworking and proud player playing like...

A bit of a clusterfuck on skates.

If I was Weiss, $4.9 million salary for this season and four seasons to come or no $4.9 million salary for this season and four seasons to come, I would eliminate the excuses. I'd change my skates, change my gloves, change my stick, figure out a different way to the rink, you name it.

The Miami Herald's George Richards also offered a "Weiss comes home" article that may further illustrate his difficulties:

Weiss may have been born near Toronto and played junior hockey in Michigan, but almost a decade in South Florida had all but turned him into a local. An avid golfer, Weiss would often leave practice in shorts and sandals and make the quick drive to his local course for a quick 18 holes. He’s not doing that any more.

“The first time I came out and saw ice on my windshield, I couldn't believe it,” Weiss said near the Red Wings locker room on Saturday. Outside, it was 22 degrees. I had to go out and buy a scraper. Gloves, too.”

The weather isn't the only thing Weiss had to get used to after moving from near obscurity following a decade with the Panthers to life in Hockeytown. There is pressure here to not only make the playoffs, but do something once there. Weiss’ Panthers infamously have made the postseason just once since 2000. The Red Wings haven't missed the playoffs since 1990. The Panthers’ first season was in 1993.

“Confidence has been a struggle for him,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “I think when you go to a new place, just not being comfortable makes it hard on you. The reality is — hockey is hockey. He’s been a good player his whole career. I don't imagine it's going to take him too much longer.”

If Weiss is feeling the pressure of playing under serious expectations, he won’t admit it. It does seems like something he needs to get adjusted to as he has only two goals and two assists in 25 games with Detroit. Weiss didn’t find the scorecard in Florida's 2-1 win at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday.

“Trying too hard sometimes can backfire on you,” Weiss said. “I think that was the case early on. I came here to be a part of something, to win hockey games. We’ve been doing that. It’s fun seeing your team at the top of the standings. That’s been a lot of fun. Personally, I’ll get that going soon.”

Said Henrik Zetterberg: “We play a little different system than they do down there and it takes time to adjust. But he’s playing well, doing a lot of little things on the ice that he doesn’t get credited for. He’s going to be here for a long, long time. We’re happy to have him.”

He also addressed his return to Florida while speaking with the Macomb Daily's Pleiness:

“I’m not nervous, maybe a little bit tomorrow, like the same feeling  you get for every game, you’ll have butterflies before the game,” Weiss said. “But I really don’t know what to expect, it’s the first time I’ve ever done it so I’m just looking forward getting it over with to be honest with you.”

Weiss, who has just two goals and two assists in 25 games this season with Detroit, is mired in what he said is the worst slump of his career. He’s gone 19 straight games without a goal.

“It’s been really hard trying to prove to people they made the right choice,” Weiss said. “All those things creep into your head. But I’ve also been around long enough to know these things happen sometimes. They happen to a lot better players other than myself. There’s not much you can do except keep working hard and keep trying to break through. There’s no secret remedy, it’s just hard work and being persistent and trying to do all those things. Sometimes it’s easier said than done. At the end of day, for me it’s about winning games and being part of a winning team, winning culture.”

His longest goalless drought of his NHL career came at the start of the 2002-03 season when he went 21 straight games without a goal.

“When I’m at my best, that’s what’s happening, I’m creating offense and getting points and scoring goals,” Weiss said. “In order to do that you’ve got to get on the ice more and for that to happen I’ve got to play better. You got to do something to earn more minutes.”

Weiss, who ranks first on the Panthers’ career list for games (654) and assists (249) and second in points (394), will start Tuesday centering a line with Daniel Alfredsson and Justin Abdelkader. He’ll also play the point on the second power play unit.

“It’s frustrating,” Weiss said about his lack of offensive production. “You always want to personally do well and help the team. For me, coming here was about winning games and being on a team that has a chance to win every night and compete in the playoffs and for a Stanley Cup. When you’re winning games it’s tough to complain. But then there’s that side of you that every player has – you want to do well personally and help out and be a part of it. We’ll try to get that part going as well.”

I wanted to end this a little differently, because I really don't have any answers about Weiss--he says all the right things, and he does all the right things on the ice to at least not be a liability, but he hasn't been able to dent the back of the net since the Wings' second game of the year--so I'd suggest that you listen to what Mike Babcock had to say to the Free Press's Helene St. James...

And I thought that this set of quips from ESPN's Craig Custance were intriguing because his insider-only entry was written both before the Wings' 6-3 loss to Philadelphia, first focusing on the ways in which Datsyuk and Zetterberg's absences altered the Wings' leadership group...

"There's a real challenge for Alfredsson and Kronwall to keep us poised and confident in the room and on the bench," Babcock said.

In the case of Alfredsson, it helps that he's seen this all before. He also knows what's in store for the Red Wings in the coming weeks as they try to maintain their spot in the standings.

"I believe anytime you have an injury to your best player, I think short term it raises the awareness of the team, and everybody knows we have to pull the load here," Alfredsson said when we chatted Wednesday morning. "A lot of guys have stepped up with more responsibility. It's great to see, but long term it's hard. In Ottawa last year, we had three goaltenders who stood on their head throughout the year. They were unbelievable. That definitely helped and gave us confidence. That's what we're getting here, too, good goaltending. We just have to make sure that we stick to what we're doing, and I think we'll get chances to win every game."

And after the game, Custance took note of the "fancy stats" involving two of the players who've stepped up minus numbers 13 and 40 in the lineup:

Over the course of the season, Tatar is the only Red Wings forward with a better Relative Corsi than Zetterberg and Datsyuk, with the 23-year-old registering a 12.1, per behindthenet.ca. He's caught the eye of fellow Slovak Marian Hossa, who made an Olympic argument for Tatar when we recently chatted.

"He should be there. He's playing great," Hossa said. "I skate with him in the summer, I know Tomas really well. He's skilled, he has lots of energy and he's a good skater."

Against the Flyers, Tatar played 16:14, an ice time total topped just once for him this season, when he played 16:57 in a blowout win over the Oilers.

Detroit has been very careful and deliberate in not rushing the development of Tatar and Nyquist. They certainly can't replace Zetterberg and Datsyuk, but now is a good time for that development time to pay off.

"We're going to miss those guys no matter how we play," Tatar said. "But it's an opportunity for other guys to step up and show what we've got."

 

 

 

Otherwise...I can only suggest that you go to Fox Sports Detroit's repository of Art Regner's player profiles, that you start with his eighteen-minute long conversation with Keith Gave about the Russian 5 and go down the list of 11 alums...

The Free Press's Helene St. James may or may not have looked at Capgeek's Wings roster chart before positing the following...

But this speaks for itself:

Regarding another one of the Wings' leaders, via RedWingsFeed, let's all be surprised that Expressen's Gunnar Nordstrom reports that Daniel Alfredsson wants to take part in the Sochi Olympics at 41, or that Henrik Lundqvist, Henrik Sedin and a certain Henrik Zetterberg believe that [edit:: tomorrow's birthday boy /end edit] should be on the team's 25-man roster...

And I tried to get the power rankings out of the way in the evening entry, but USA Today's composite rankings didn't make the cut:

13  Detroit Red Wings 15-9-7  [up] 1 [highest/lowest] 6/14  Red Wings deal with rare double absence of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg

I'm still feeling very "meh"--I'm good enough to sit up but not feeling well--so I'm going to leave the prospect catch-up post of doom for another day.

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Comments

Slumpy's avatar

Weiss just needs to start shooting more and go to the net with reckless abandon. He’s a proven pt producer in this league.
Yeah, yeah salary cap going up so cap cellar teams will cry about it and we’ll get another lockout eventually under the bettman/daly law firm regime.
mad

Posted by Slumpy from Detroit on 12/10/13 at 07:28 AM ET

NIVO's avatar

Glad to have you back George.

———-> Gustav Nyquist-Joakim Andersson-Tomas Tatar


and there it is folks, the TERROR line. This is what im going to be watching closely tonight. GAME ON!

Posted by NIVO from underpants gnome village on 12/10/13 at 08:55 AM ET

Avatar

Sorry Jimmy, but just because you signed that massive contract doesn’t mean you’re somehow exempt from riding the pine when you underperform.  Stay true to your basics and listen to Jimmy Bedard and you’ll be fine Howie!!!

Also, I absolutely love how Tatar and Nyquist are playing and growing. It’s simply amazing to watch. Remember 3 weeks ago when during Ken Holland’s radio interview where he said even if Nyquist was recalled, he wouldn’t make that big of an impact? Well, Gus made him eat those words.

I really don’t like how Holland somehow evolved along the line into a GM that abides by a hard and fast rule that no matter what, our prospects won’t be ready until they run out of options in the AHL. It makes me wonder about Jurco, Mantha and Jarnkrok. Because when Babs and Kenny talk about our prospects, they don’t mention those guys. For some reason, Babcock really likes grinders over skill players (look no further than him praising Glendening but never even mentioning the above 3).  Will we ever see Jurco, Mantha or Jarnkrok before their options are out? Probably not. The Cap is going up to 71 million so I think Dan Cleary is in line for a 3 year 12 million dollar contract.

Posted by ZandPasha11 on 12/10/13 at 09:09 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

That 3rd line should be fun to watch. That 4th line looks like the complete opposite of fun to watch.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 12/10/13 at 10:38 AM ET

SK77's avatar

That 3rd line should be fun to watch. That 4th line looks like the complete opposite of fun to watch.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 12/10/13 at 10:38 AM ET

Dude, stop being such a negative dick, the 4th line …. (reads the article) … holy hell. That’s depressing.

Posted by SK77 on 12/10/13 at 11:06 AM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

Drew Miller-Cory Emmerton-Daniel Cleary

Like Vlad said, that is not going to be fun – for us or Drew Miller.

Kyle Quincey-Brendan Smith

And this pairing? Well, that’s just a disaster waiting to happen. I can see Smith pinching in just as Quincey trips over his own stick and the Panthers race the other way on a two-on-none.

As for Weiss, yeah, I feel for the guy, but he’s had more than enough time to figure out the Wings’ system. I mean, “dump it and chase it” and “when you have it, hang onto it” are not complicated concepts.

The eye-opener for me was his lack of success just playing the role of a grinder on the fourth line. Here’s a suggestion for Weiss to help him get involved – hit someone. Through 25 games he has four, count ‘em, four hits. Eaves has two more than that and he only played in three games.

Engage someone, Stephen. Then maybe the rest will come naturally to you.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 12/10/13 at 11:15 AM ET

Avatar

Weiss just needs to start shooting more and go to the net with reckless abandon. He’s a proven pt producer in this league.

It is my suggestion that they put him on waivers, maybe get lucky, and someone claim him.  If nobody claims, ship him to GR’s until he gets his MOJO back.

Posted by guy on 12/10/13 at 11:26 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.