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Red Wings-Panthers set-up and overnight report: undermanned Wings hope to earn first win vs. Florida

After a practice which yielded a mixed bag of injury news, the Detroit Red Wings flew to Florida to both kick off their fathers' trip and battle a pair of vexing opponents ahead of the Winter Classic.

The Red Wings will battle the Panthers this evening (7 PM on FSD/Fox Sports Florida/NHL Network U.S. with the cursory Center Ice and GCL blackouts/AM 1270; of course HBO's 3rd episode of 24/7 will air at 10 PM) and the Nashville Predators on Monday (8 PM on FSD and AM 1270), knowing that the Maple Leafs are breathing down the Wings' necks in the Atlantic Division (Toronto's 4-3 shootout win over Buffalo on Friday tied the Wings' 43 points, though the Wings have a game in hand), and knowing that the Panthers have defeated the Wings twice--the Wings lost 2-1 on December 7th and 3-2 in a shootout on December 10th.

The 17-13-and-9 Wings are also coming off a humiliating 3-0 loss to the Islanders on the 23rd, their 6-10-and-6 home record is terrible and the team won't have Jonathan Ericsson's services for the next 3-5 weeks--and Friday's practice news was mixed at best, with Henrik Zetterberg ready to return from a slightly herniated disc, Justin Abdelkader (concussion) probable for tonight, Darren Helm (shoulder) and Jimmy Howard (knee) out until Monday and Johan Franzen still experiencing concussion-related headaches.

As such, the Wings will make Riley Sheahan's return to the Grand Rapids Griffins official this morning, but Luke Glendening, Tomas Jurco, Patrick Eaves and Petr Mrazek will all remain with the team for now, and the team's decided to go with six defensemen for the present moment.

On the home front, there is some good news regarding the Joe Louis Jinx, as DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose noted:

The Joe's going to be used for media previews prior to the North American International Auto Show from January 12th-16th, too, so no ice makes things a little easier for both concerts and unveiling cars.

The Wings will engage in their final West Coast Swing after the Winter Classic, playing in Dallas on January 4th and then taking 4 days off before heading to San Jose to battle the Sharks on the 9th, the Kings on the 11th, the Ducks on the 12th and then--oddly--the Rangers on the 16th before returning home for a 5-game home stand.

In terms of tonight's opponent, the Florida Panthers have actually won five straight games (including the 3-2 shootout win over the Wings) before stumbling into the Christmas break via a 5-2 defeat to Winnipeg on Saturday, December 21st and a 6-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Monday the 23rd.

Fox Sports Florida's Erin Brown notes that the Panthers made a few personnel moves just prior to Christmas...

The Florida Panthers activated goaltender Tim Thomas from injured reserve, the team announced Tuesday.

Florida also announced it returned goaltender Jacob Markstrom and defenseman Alex Petrovic to the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League.

Thomas suffered a groin injury during practice on Dec. 12 which kept him out of of action for six games. It marked the second time this season the lower-body injury plagued the two-time Vezina Trophy winner.

Markstrom appeared in one game since being called up following Thomas' injury. He allowed five goals on 32 shots in Florida's 5-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Dec. 21.

Petrovic made his season debut in the Panthers 6-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning Monday night. He logged 15:35 in ice time and led Florida with eight hits.

The Panthers return to practice Friday before hosting the Detroit Red Wings the following night.

And she posited a practice report on Friday:

On the ice for practice Friday were center Drew Shore and defenseman Alex Petrovic, called up from the San Antonio Rampage, Florida's American Hockey League affiliate.

They're expected to step in for winger Scottie Upshall (upper body) and defenseman Erik Gudbranson (orbital bone) when the Panthers begin a back-to-back series with the Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens this weekend.

For Shore, the call-up comes as a bit of relief. He failed to make the roster out of training camp and has struggled to score goals at the minor league level. But that has not concerned Panthers coach Peter Horachek, who says Shore is playing some of his best hockey at the moment.

"He hasn't scored a lot down there -- he's been snakebitten -- but he's been playing really good hockey,'' Horachek said. ''He's not worried about having that in the back of his mind. He's just concentrating on playing solid hockey at both ends of the rink. He's been their most consistent guy as of late.''

...

Also back on the ice for Florida is goaltender Tim Thomas, who missed the last six games with a lower body injury. The Panthers activated the goaltender from injured reserve on Dec. 24 and he is expected to get the start Saturday night against Detroit.

And she reported that the Panthers are suddenly holding playoff aspirations:

'We've kind of turned it around. Guys are excited. Guys are happy to come to the rink,'' [Brian] Campbell said. ''Everybody is kind of fitting into their role and I feel they like their roles. Some guys maybe don't love their role, but they're accepting it. That's been the biggest, strongest thing with our team now. People are accepting their roles and working hard for each other and sacrificing to get the job done.''

Florida is currently eight points behind the final wild card spot held by Toronto, and 14 behind third-place Montreal in the Atlantic. With 44 games left, the Panthers have not given up on the idea of getting back into the playoff race.

The Miami Herald's David Furones also took note of the Panthers' recalling of Shore...

With a game against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday at the BB&T Center on the horizon, the Panthers returned to the Saveology.com Iceplex for practice Friday after a three-day holiday hiatus and brought with them two call-ups — Shore and defenseman Alex Petrovic, whose yoyo-like journey between the NHL and AHL has seen him called up to the Panthers on Sunday, sent back down Monday after a 6-1 loss and back with the pro team Friday.

Florida called up Shore after determining Scottie Upshall’s upper-body injury will hold him out at least over the weekend. Team doctors will further evaluate Upshall next week.

“[Shore has] been playing his best hockey. He hasn’t scored a lot down there, but he was a little snakebit,” Panthers coach Peter Horachek said. “... He’s been their most consistent guy as of late, so he deserves that opportunity.”

While not scoring a goal this season for San Antonio, Shore has 15 assists. He understands he’s going to have to play more aggressively.

“I’ve got to shoot the puck more. I pass the puck way too much,” says Shore, who was given the royal rookie treatment after practice Friday, being the player appointed to serve teammates energy drinks.

Shore, whom the Panthers drafted 44th overall out of the University of Denver in 2009, scored 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in 43 games with the Panthers last season. He was seen working with the fourth line of forwards Friday.

As did the Sun-Sentinel's Harvey Filakov...

In a sense, Shore is starting over again. The 22-year-old center was rushed into the NHL last season because of a plethora of injuries, and he then earned his keep by dominating the faceoff circle and clicking on a hot line with Peter Mueller and Jonathan Huberdeau.

However, a broken wrist caused Shore to slump in the final month, as he finished with three goals, 10 assists and a minus-10 in 43 games. Offseason surgery and a rigorous workout regimen had Shore believing he would earn one of the 23 roster spots in training camp.

Who also issued injury updates...

Upshall out: Upshall, arguably the hottest player on the team over the past six weeks, suffered an undisclosed injury in the first period of Monday's 6-1 loss to the Lightning, but Horachek doesn't believe it's too serious.

"I don't see it as being a long-long term [absence]," Horachek said. "He's been playing hard, doing a very good job in the leadership part of it as well, so anytime you get a key guy like that out … it's not good, but it gives someone else an opportunity to step up.''

Thomas, Petrovic return: Panthers goalie Tim Thomas will make his first start since his back-to-back wins over the Red Wings (Dec. 7, 10), as he missed the last six games due to a groin injury.

"It's nice to have him out there; it kind of gives you confidence he's back there when something happens," Horachek said after practice Friday. …

Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic, who was called up to replace injured defenseman Erik Gudbranson (orbital bone surgery) on Monday, but then sent home to San Antonio for the Christmas break, was recalled Friday.

And the Miami Herald's George Richards noted that the Panthers do indeed expect to regain near-playoff-pack-worthy form as they near the midpoint of their season:

During Florida’s run of seven wins in eight games Dec. 5-19, the Panthers averaged close to three goals a night while allowing fewer than two.

...

In the three losses, Florida scored two goals twice and gave up an average of 5.7.

Florida has been outscored 17-5 in the losses to Chicago (Dec. 8), Winnipeg (Dec. 20) and Tampa Bay (Monday).

...

Florida has four more games on this homestand and can turn things back in a positive direction in a hurry. Detroit is here Saturday night, with Montreal, the Rangers and Nashville closing things out.

“[On Monday] I told them to go have a good break; told them how I felt about the game,” Horachek said, adding that his players held their own short meeting after he left the room. These guys tried hard, we had a great road trip. I just hoped we finished before the break on a positive note so they could go and be with their families. That’s important. We have four more games on this homestand. That can spur you.”

Said [Scott] Clemmensen: “To be successful you’ve got to have a bad memory. Hopefully we just use these next few days to kind of recharge a little bit and hopefully that will do us well coming back for four more home games after Christmas.”

In terms of lineup notes, between the Sun-Sentinel's Filakov's Tweets from Friday and NHL.com's listed Panthers lineup for Monday's game, I think that the Panthers' lineup will look something like this:

PANTHERS

Jonathan Huberdeau - Nick Bjugstad - Scottie Upshall

Sean Bergenheim - Aleksander Barkov - Brad Boyes

Shawn Matthias - Marcel Goc - Tomas Kopecky

Drew Shore - Jimmy Hayes - Krys Barch

Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver

Brian Campbell - Tom Gilbert

Dylan Olsen - Alex Petrovic

Tim Thomas

Scott Clemmensen

The Sun-Sentinel's Filakov also posited a game preview...

Scouting report: Both teams are coming off putrid home losses just before Christmas as the Panthers were crushed 6-1 by the Lightning, while the Red Wings dropped to 6-10-6 at Joe Louis Arena after a listless 3-0 loss to the lowly Islanders. The Panthers stunned the Red Wings twice in four days earlier this month, beating them 2-1 on Jonathan Huberdeau's game-winner for Florida's first victory in Detroit since 1996. The Panthers came from two goals down in the third to prevail 3-2 on a spectacular shootout goal by rookie C Aleksander Barkov followed by the GDG by Brad Boyes. Red Wings D Jonathan Ericsson (ribs) and C Stephen Weiss (hernia) are out. Captain Henrik Zetterberg (back), Detroits leading scorer, returns after missing last 11 games. C Darren Helm and F Justin Abdelkader are back.

And you can better believe that the Panthers, who've played the Wings twice and the Leafs once this month, know that they're in the HBO 24/7 spotlight--having won all three games:

NHL.com's game preview will serve as our pivot point between the Wings and Panthers' perspectives...

Last 10: Detroit 3-5-2; Florida 7-3-0

Season series: The Florida Panthers swept a home-and-home set from the Red Wings on Dec. 7 and 10, their first two games as divisional opponents. They'll play twice more after their game Saturday.

...

Red Wings [team scope]: Zetterberg might not be the only injured Red Wings player that could come back Saturday, or soon after.

Forward Justin Abdelkader, who has missed the past five games with a concussion, could be an option for Saturday. Forward Darren Helm, who last played Dec. 4 due to a shoulder injury, is also possible.

...

Panthers [team scope]: It's been a pretty simple equation for the Florida Panthers: Better defense and goaltending equals more wins. In their past seven games the Panthers are 5-2-0. In those five wins Florida allowed a total of eight goals; in the two losses they allowed 11.

"We don't want to give up more than two goals," Panthers interim coach Peter Horachek told the Miami Herald. "In the games in which we were successful they were two or less. We were playing a good defensive game. … When you have players who can make offense out of nothing you have to be there as a group, five guys in every zone."

...

Who's hot: Red Wings forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Daniel Alfredsson have combined for three goals and five assists in Detroit's past three games. … Panthers center Aleksander Barkov has four points in his past four games after totaling four points in his previous 13 games.

Injury report: Besides Howard, the Red Wings won't have forwards Stephen Weiss (sports hernia), Johan Franzen (concussion) and defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (ribs). Abdelkader, Helm and goaltender Jonas Gustavsson (groin) are questionable. … The Panthers are missing defensemen Ed Jovanovski (hip) and Erik Gudbranson (broken orbital bone) and forwards Jesse Winchester (hand) and Scottie Upshall (upper body).

And the AP/Stats LLC's preview tosses the usual into the equation:

Injury-plagued Detroit (17-13-9) had won two in a row since a six-game losing streak, scoring eight goals in those victories after totaling seven during the skid. The Wings couldn't keep it up Monday, however, falling 3-0 to the New York Islanders.

Zetterberg has been the biggest loss due to injury, as he's missed 11 games with a herniated disk in his back. Despite the extended absence, he still leads the team with 30 points in 28 games, and also tops Detroit at plus-12. He indicated Friday that he plans to be back in the lineup Saturday.

...

The news isn't as positive for defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, who is expected to miss three to five weeks after suffering a few fractured ribs against the Islanders.

Goaltender Jimmy Howard is hoping to return Monday from his MCL injury, so either Jonas Gustavsson - dealing with a groin injury himself - or third-stringer Petr Mrazek will start Saturday.

Detroit will face a fellow offensively challenged club in Florida (14-19-5), which has totaled three goals in losing its last two games after recording 15 during a five-game winning streak. The Panthers had won seven of eight before giving up 11 goals in the back-to-back defeats, the most recent a 6-1 rout against Tampa Bay on Monday.

As the Wings' beat writers hauled tail to Florida after Friday's practice, the only "new news" comes in the form of the AP re-posting Ericsson's injury news...

Detroit Red Wings defenceman Jonathan Ericsson could miss three to five weeks with broken ribs.

Ericsson left Monday night’s loss to the New York Islanders, Detroit’s most recent game, in the second period. He is expected to be evaluated again in two weeks to determine when he might come back.

Ericsson has a goal and seven assists in 29 games this season. The injury puts the 29-year-old Swede’s availability in doubt for the Sochi Olympics.

The AP also taking note of the Wings' injury news...

"Good and ready to play [Saturday]," Zetterberg told reporters after practice Friday. "If nothing happens from now until 7 (p.m. Saturday) I will be in. It's kind of been the same for a week, I guess. The good thing is I've been doing more and more stuff and it hasn't gotten worse. It's time to play again. It's been tough. Sometimes it's been really good and sometimes it hasn't been that good. But that's how it is sometimes."

Despite missing the past 11 games he leads the team in scoring with 30 points in 28 games. The Red Wings are 3-6-2 in Zetterberg's absence and scored 20 non-shootout goals in the 11 games (1.81 goals per game).

"We missed him," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "It's been a long time. How many games has he missed? Lots. I just know we need him back. I just know we have 19 games to the Olympic break and we need some traction. We need traction in our work ethic, in our preparation, in our consistency, in our specialty teams, in our injury situation. We just flat out need traction."

Zetterberg skated at practice Friday on a line with Justin Abdelkader and Daniel Alfredsson.

Abdelkader, who hasn't played since sustaining a concussion Dec. 14 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, also could return Saturday.

"Abdelkader's another guy too that I think might be available," Babcock said. "We'll know more after the morning skate."

And the Canadian Press's Stephen Whyno speaking with Jimmy Howard about his desire to get back to work in time to play in the Winter Classic:

Howard’s initial time frame of being out two to four weeks put the Winter Classic in danger. His plan was to play Dec. 30 at the Nashville Predators, but his major target was being able to face the Leafs at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.

“The goal all along was to get back for that game,” Howard said.

If everything goes according to plan, Howard will be able to back up former Leafs netminder Jonas Gustavsson on Saturday. Last week, Howard estimated there was a 75 per cent chance he’d be able to play in the Winter Classic.

The event, which was originally scheduled for Jan. 1, 2013, but had to be cancelled because of the lockout, seems to carry a special importance to the Syracuse, N.Y., native. There’s a personal element to that.

“I’m looking forward to sharing the whole experience with my family and friends,” Howard said. “I got about 50-plus coming in to Michigan and Detroit. I’m looking forward to just having all of them enjoy themselves.”

Of course Howard’s job is hockey, so just being in uniform wouldn’t mean the same as playing in the “Big House.”

“I plan on playing,” Howard said. “But at the end of the day I realize I don’t make that decision. Babs makes the decision who starts in net.”

As MLive's Brendan Savage noted, the Wings did make a personnel move which indicates Zetterberg or Abdelkader will be good to go...

The Red Wings are preparing to clear a roster spot for Zetterberg by sending Riley Sheahan down to Grand Rapids of the AHL.

"We're going to send Sheahan down with the anticipation that Zetterberg is going to play," said coach Mike Babcock.

And Savage both took note of the statuses of Abdelkader and Helm...

Although Babcock wouldn't go so far as to say Abdelkader will play Saturday, he sounded like somebody who was counting on it.

"Abdelkader's another guy too that I think might be available," [Babcock] said. "We'll know more after the morning skate. Howie was in the net the whole time so I'll assume he's coming here eventually. I hear there's a sighting of Darren Helm, too. I don't know when these guys are coming or not coming. We'll know more after the morning skate."

...

Helm, who has battled a variety of injuries the past three seasons, has missed 10 games because of a sprained shoulder and he didn't sound optimistic he'd be back anytime soon. Helm was hoping to play in the Winter Classic Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium but that might not happen now.

"It would be pretty disappointing to miss that opportunity to play in that game," said Helm, who played one game last season because of a back injury and has been sidelined this season with a groin injury. "It would be a real exciting game to play in. But if I'm not healthy for one game I have to make sure I'm healthy for the next  50 or whatever we have left. There are more important things than that. As nice as it would be, you have to look at the big picture. It doesn't feel 100 percent, good enough to go right now. I think it's something we're going to have to talk about. Trainers, coaches, doc. See how I feel tomorrow. I don't think it was good enough today."

And he posted a prospective lineup:

Tomas Tatar did not practice Friday as he was allowed to return home to Slovakia for Christmas.

Here are the lines and defensive pairs from Friday's practice:

Todd Bertuzzi-Pavel Datsyuk-Tomas Jurco

Justin Abdelkader-Henrik Zetterberg-Daniel Alfredsson

Darren Helm-Joakim Andersson-Gustav Nyquist

Luke Glendening-Daniel Cleary-Drew Miller

Niklas Kronwall-Danny DeKeyser

Brendan Smith-Brian Lashoff

Kyle Quincey-Jakub Kindl

As the Detroit Free Press's Mike Bruendell noted, Babcock wasn't the only person suggesting that the Wings rather desperately need their captain back in the lineup...

“(With) the captain back and healthy, it helps a lot,” said [Pael] Datsyuk. “He’ll help us play more consistent.”

Zetterberg said it has been tough watching the team from the sidelines the past month.

But he said he has seen some positives from the team while he has been out of action but not enough.

“I think when we are doing things right, we are playing real well,” said Zetterberg. “At the same time, when we come out there, we sometimes forget everything.”

Babcock said he is looking for far more consistency from the team.

“We need some traction,” he said. “Part of our business is good health ... but the rest of it is hard work and execution. The work ethic and execution hasn’t been consistent enough to win on a regular basis.”

And DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose took note of another player's suggestion that the Wings need Zetterberg's services, as well as a disclaimer from the captian himself...

“It’s going to be a big lift having him back,” Abdelkader said of Zetterberg. “Obviously, having your captain back, your leader, who just brings so much on and off the ice that he’s kind of irreplaceable, so we’re really looking forward to getting him back and it’s going to be a big, big lift.”

Despite missing the last 11 games, Zetterberg still leads the Red Wings – who were 3-6-2 during the captain’s absence – in points (30), plus-minus rating (+12) and shots on goal (99).

...

Zetterberg should provide the Wings with some sustenance, though he’s wary of a quick return to his early-season form.

“I haven’t done much lately,” he said. “It’s only one goal on this team and that’s playing in the middle June and raise that Cup. Whatever you do until that is … as long as you get into the postseason and we’re healthy and we play good – that’s our goal.”

The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness noted Howard's status...

Howard plans on returning between the pipes Monday in Nashville.

“I’m still hoping to play in Nashville, that’s been the goal here all along and I don’t think anything’s changed,” Howard said. “The first real test was today with a full practice and it felt pretty good out there. I think I need a couple more practices. It’s still a little stiff for not using it for so long. That’s going to happen with any injury. I just need to be the mobility back.

He’s missed the last seven games.

“It’s a combination of everything, timing, keeping track of the puck, everything,” Howard said. “It’s almost been a month since I’ve been in the net so for me when I do get back out there and I do get to play it’s about staying at the top of the crease and being as patient as possible.”

And he reported that things aren't looking good in terms of Johan Franzen being able to take part in the Winter Classic:

Johan Franzen skated on his own after practice and said he’s still experiencing dizziness and headaches from a hit to the head on Dec. 15 at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“It’s not quite there yet,” Franzen said. “I still get dizzy and headaches. It’s motion triggered. I can get through workouts fine, but if I try and play keep away I can’t do that. If there’s too much going on I get dizzy, my vision gets blurry and stuff like that.”

Franzen took a glove to the face from the Lightning’s Radko Gudas early in the second period and didn’t return to the game.

“I played a little three on three and that didn’t feel that good,” Franzen said. “All I can do is skate straight lines. Lots of starts and stops, that’s pretty much what I can do.

“The good thing is I can get through hard workouts at least,” Franzen added. “Sleeping is fine. I’ll probably have a headache after doing all this today, but it’s not too bad. Playing hockey triggers it, when there’s too much going on around.”

Roose also noted that Jonathan Ericsson's very unhappy about having to miss the Winter Classic...

uffering his second major injury of the season on Monday didn’t stop Ericsson from making light of his situation Friday.

“The ribs hurt but that was not the main thing,” said Ericsson, who spent Monday night in the hospital. “I didn’t think it was the ribs. I was worried it was something like an abdominal tear or something like that. … I’m still ways ahead of Helmer.”

...

Ericsson missed 10 games earlier this season with a separated left shoulder. Now he has two fractured ribs that will keep him out of the lineup for another 3-5 weeks, and have him miss next Wednesday’s Winter Classic.

“I really wanted to play in the Winter Classic,” he said. “It doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to do that right now. That’s where it's at. Evelina’s family is here. My family, my dad’s here. I’ve got some friends coming tomorrow.

But the Wings were accentuating some positives as well, as noted by the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...

Fathers trip looms: The Red Wings’ annual fathers trip takes place in South Florida and Nashville, Saturday through Monday.

“It’s great for them to be here,” Babcock said.

Howard’s father, James, is a veteran of the trips, and Jimmy said the other fathers have been warned.

“He’s a cagey veteran with this thing,” Howard said. “He’s one of the guys you have to stay clear of on the trip, otherwise you’ll be in a world of hurt in the morning.”

...

... Players and coaches enjoyed the three-day break, which was negotiated during the last collective bargaining agreement.

“Stayed home with the family, it was special,” forward Pavel Datsyuk said.

The Macomb Daily's Pleiness...

Pavel Datsyuk on Christmas, “I love it. I love it. I love it. We need more Christmas and not only one in a (calendar year). A couple is not enough, (maybe) three, four.”

And Brendan Smith:

 

 

 

Also of Red Wings-related note: End of the year = top ten lists galore, and I have to mention that SI's Allan Muir's #2 and #1 "13 Biggest NHL Team Moves of 2013" are pretty representative thereof (oh, and you need to know that Muir is Dallas-based but grew up in Windsor as a Bruins fan, not a Wings fan)...

2. Daniel Alfredsson bolts from Ottawa: It was the breakup no one saw coming. After 17 seasons in Ottawa, including 14 as team captain, Alfredsson dumped the Sens to join the Red Wings. But he didn’t leave for money, which even his most diehard fans might be willing to forgive. No, he chose Detroit because he thought the Red Wings gave him a better chance of winning the Stanley Cup. That had to hurt. Considering how badly Ottawa has stumbled this season, he might have been onto something had the Wings not come off their usually regal rails, struggling to win at home and drawing boo bird serenades from the faithful at The Joe as they spiraled out of playoff position during the first half of the season.

1. Stars hire Jim Nill: Hundreds of millions of dollars were committed to on-ice talent over the summer, but not one penny was better spent than what the Stars earmarked for their front office makeover. One NHL executive called the hiring of Nill “a game changer,” and it didn’t take the new GM long to prove him right. With bold strikes like the Tyler Seguin trade, the drafting of Russian wild card Valeri Nichushkin and the hiring of coach Lindy Ruff, Nill reshaped both the roster and the culture of the franchise almost overnight.

But I am under advisement to not tell you what a doof the Hockey News's Ken Campbell is for not including Pavel Datsyuk among his 10 best players of 2013.

I'm going to stick this here for now: The Free Press's Brian Manzullo did confirm that a certain Toronto Mayor will not attend the Winter Classic;

And finally, I have to say that AWood40 knows how to build up hype regarding the Alumni Showdown and Winter Classic as well as anyone given his highlight clips of the Wings' Alumni Showdown participants and the 2009 Winter Classic:

 

 

 

Update: I FORGOT DON'T FORGET per 97.1 FM:

 

Also: It's kind of intriguing that NHL.com's Slovak Olympic projections have Tomas Tatar on the 1st line and that they don't believe that Jonas Gustavsson's going to make Sweden's cut.

 

 

Update #2: Via RedWingsFeed, MLive's Brendan Savage penned a 6 AM article about Jonathan Ericsson's situation:

"This was the worst I've been through by far," said Ericsson, who has played 306 NHL games in seven seasons with the Red Wings. "I've had broken ribs before but that was definitely not the same. "

Against the Islanders, Ericsson got hurt on his first shift of the second period. It was a bit of fluke thing and he tried to play through the initial pain but that quickly proved to be a mistake.

"I got off balance a little bit and trying to save my fall stayed upright to grab a hold of the boards," he said. "I felt something was definitely wrong with the ribs right away. I went over to the bench and it kind of felt OK. So I went out the next shift, pinched down and hit ... (Matt) Martin with the same side that was hurting and it was over by then. That kind of pushed it over the top."

At that point, the intense pain caused Ericsson to worry it was more than just his ribs that were injured.

He thought "I must have pinched a nerve or something that goes along inside the ribs or something," Ericsson said. "That's what they were trying to explain. The pain was not there (in the ribs). It was kind of coming up to my chest and this burning sensation I've never been through before. The ribs hurt but that was not the main thing. I didn't think it was the ribs. I was worried it was something like an abdominal tear or something like that. I've had broken ribs, fractured ribs before, but this was way, way worse. It felt bad."

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TV listings showing Ottawa vs Boston on NHL Network tonight, and just saw a commercial on NHL Network for that game as well.  So maybe no Center Ice and GCL blackouts I assume.

Posted by Valek from Chicago on 12/28/13 at 07:45 AM ET

gowings's avatar

wow…I looked at the Jan calendar for Tampa, MTL and Ottawa…..they should all go above 500….and even TO schedule is not that bad…..and looking at the Metro division…it’s gaining on us.

But it’s ok….the Red Wings are a focused group and they won’t panic right? Yeah well, if I am on that team I would certainly press the panic button…...


Please win tonight boys….don’t do like last year’s father’s trip :(

Posted by gowings from MTL on 12/28/13 at 10:15 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.