The Malik Report
by George Malik on 09/16/13 at 01:26 PM ET
Updated 2x at 3:21 PM: Audio aside, after the game-day skates (which were fascinating to watch), the Red Wings' game-day players flew from Detroit to Pittsburgh to play the Penguins tonight (7 PM, WPCW and semi-legal streams around the world), and I have to admit that I was speaking with Landon Ferraro when the Wings' beat writers spoke with the star of the day:
The Red Wings' first round pick in the 2013 draft is indeed going to play against a pretty solid Penguins lineup this evening, and the incredibly happy camper spoke with the Free Press's Helene St. James...
"We were laughing about it, that I'll ask him for an autograph at the face-off," Mantha said of seeing Crosby up close. "We were just kidding about it, but it's one of the greatest players out there, and playing against him, I can learn off of watching him play."
Mantha, 18, isn't unaware that he has been surrounded by such examples during Wings training camp, which wrapped up Sunday with the Red and White game. With another game Tuesday at Chicago, the Wings stayed in Traverse City to practice but will relocate to Joe Louis Arena for the latter half of the week. After the morning skate, Mantha watched Datsyuk and Jakub Kindl go one-on-one. That a guy of Datsyuk's skill does that left an impression.
"He has one of the best pair of hands in the league, and he still practices," Mantha said. "Little details make the difference. You need to learn if you come up here. There are so many good players, every day learn something new."
The Wings were delighted to get Mantha, who posted 50 goals last season for Val-d'Or Foreurs and already stands 6-feet-4. Despite his repeated claims that he wants to make the club as soon as possible, he has several years before that will happen.
"He's a talented kid," coach Mike Babcock said. "He looks like he can skate. He looks like he can really shoot the puck, and he's got good hockey sense. He's a kid. So he gets to play in an NHL game, which is a good opportunity for him. He's got to go back to juniors and learn to be an every day-er. When you compete every day and you live it every day, one day, you get to play here."
The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness...
“It would be close to the top right now,” Mantha said Monday when asked where his confidence level is at. “I live for the moment and I’m just playing how I should play. I think the details are coming in and that’s why I’m still here and I’ll keep playing that way until the end. I wasn’t expecting that much from the prospects camp, but it was great hockey out there,” Mantha continued. “We had fun at the same time, with us winning. It was a great week. Then, I enjoyed the training camp with all the veterans. It’s been incredible, just a few years ago I was watching these guys play and I was hoping one day that would be me out there. The day came and it’s really exciting for me.”
The left winger, who’s 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, had 50 goals and 39 assists in 67 games last season with the Val d’Or of the Quebec Major Junior League. He was also a plus-21. He was the only 50-goal scorer in the draft.
“You need to learn every day you’re out here on the ice,” Mantha said. “There are such good players out there that every day you can learn something new. I just watched at the end (Pavel) Datsyuk and (Jakub) Kindl play one-on-one, he has one of the best pair of hands in the league and he still practices it. It’s all the details that make the difference.”
Mantha, who grew up a Montreal fan, is going to do whatever it takes to get in a Wings jersey as soon as possible.
“My approach is really to make the big team next year, if not, in the next two years,” Mantha continued. “I will show them everything that I can to be there without having to go to the minors.”
Mantha, who has two years of junior eligibility remaining, will likely return to juniors next season and will turn pro the following year.
“I’m close, but at the same time I’m so far,” Mantha said. “There are so many players out there. If it’s not this year I’ll go back to my junior team and work on every detail that I can so when they call me up anytime they’ll have confidence in me to play here one day.”
And the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...
“It’s been incredible because a few years ago I was watching these guys play,” Mantha said. “It’s been real exciting. I’ve never lived this, so I’m living this moment (right now) and just playing the way I should and I’ll keep playing that way until the end.”
Who noted that Jimmy Howard's looking forward to getting into a game as well:
“It’s the time of year to get yourself ready,” Howard said. “Personally, it’s about getting out there and continue to work on things like picking up the puck through traffic. That’s what I’ll be doing tonight and continue to work on playing the puck and little things like that I know I can improve.”
Because of the lockout last season, training camp was cut to almost a week and with no exhibition games. Howard felt the difference.
“The big thing was your eyes, that’s the biggest thing this time of year,” said Howard, who’ll likely play two periods in Pittsburgh with Petr Mrazek playing the final 20 minutes. “Getting your eyes back and just feeling comfortable out there with a lot of movement in front of you and picking up the puck.”
Howard told St. James and myself that he doesn't expect the "shallower" nets to make any difference.
Again, I saw Ken Holland, Ryan Martin and Jiri Fischer having a chat with try-out Barclay Goodrow, and I don't know if it was a "good chat" or a, "Good luck" chat...
And the other story of the day involved someone who tried unsuccessfully to stare the press down, as noted by Pleiness...
Wings general manager Ken Holland had no update on Darren Helm (groin/back), who has yet to take the ice in Traverse City.
“No one’s said anything to me,” he said. “We’re just waiting a period of time.”
The Detroit News's Kulfan...
And some schlub:
Helm said that his weight training's almost up to 100% now, but his groin's still a work in progress, and he's been watching movies to pass the time...
And this is a nice office to have, if only for a little while:
Also: ESPN's panel of NHL-voting players named Jimmy Howard the seventh-best goalie in the league.
Update #2: From the Wings...
“The smaller ice, the stronger players, that's the most important thing,'' Jarnkrok said. “Also, they play a bit more games over here.''
He is learning from team captain Henrik Zetterberg.
“I watched Zetterberg a lot,'' Jarnkrok said. “He's always so strong on the puck.
“He's a star player in the NHL, (Washington's Niklas) Backstrom as well. I played in the (2012) World Championship with (Zetterberg). He's a perfect role model. It meant a lot to me to be that close to a guy like him.''
Here are the Red Wings' line combinations and defense pairings for tonight:
Henrik Zetterberg-Pavel Datsyuk-Justin Abdelkader
Daniel Cleary-Joakim Andersson-Mikael Samuelsson
Tomas Tatar-Luke Glendening-Landon Ferraro
Anthony Mantha-Calle Jarnkrok-Jordin Tootoo
Danny DeKeyser-Jakub Kindl
Kyle Quincey-Brendan Smith
Brennan Evans-Adam Alqvist
Jimmy Howard (two periods)
Petr Mrazek (third period)
The Red Wings are flying to Pittsburgh on Red Bird III this afternoon...
Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner looked at three players who could help the Wings while "rebounding," including Mikael Samuelsson, Darren Helm and Jonas Gustavsson:
Backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson: Jimmy Howard is a workhorse who would play all 82 games if it was humanly possible, but it’s not. Gustavsson will need to spell Howard for at least 25 games.
Based on his injury woes and less-than-stellar numbers last year -- a 2-2-1 record, 2.92 goals-against average and .879 save percentage -- the pressure is on The Monster.
“He better have had a good summer, and he better grab hold of something,” Red Wings coach Babcock said of Gustavsson. “I'm going to watch. He knows and I know you got to grab your own piece of the pie. If not, someone else eats it."
Gustavsson realizes that he must produce or the Wings won't hesitate to turn his job over to someone else. For the first time in his career, he has a personal trainer because he thought he needed an extra voice to help push him through his workout schedule.
“You can’t really think about how many games you’re going to play,” Gustavsson said, “because it takes away from your focus. Your focus should be what you’re doing right now. For me, I just want to do everything I can to be ready to play, and when I play to take that chance and if I play well, I’ll get another chance.”
My hunch is, the Wings will stay with Gustavsson unless he falters early and often. If that were to happen, they would look for a veteran free agent or a possible trade because they feel Grand Rapids goalie Petr Mrazek is a year away from the NHL.
The Philadelphia Inquirer's Sam Carchidi penned a story about the Flyers NOT signing Daniel Cleary that you'll have to read on your own...
Griffinshockey.com's Alan Cross wrote a fine article about the Griffins veterans' hopes of defending their Calder Cup championship...
As the Detroit Red Wings’ training camp reaches its conclusion this week, the Grand Rapids Griffins’ 2013-14 season is just beginning to take shape.
The Griffins will hit the ice once again at their own training camp on Sept. 23, where the roster will be determined through a week’s worth of difficult workouts, high-pressure practices and grueling scrimmages.
While many up-and-coming players will have to fight for their spots on the team, there are some recognizable faces who have already earned their keep from last year’s Calder Cup-winning run. Fans will recognize the faces of players such as forwards Riley Sheahan, Mitch Callahan, Tomas Jurco, Landon Ferraro, Grand Rapids native Luke Glendening and goalie Petr Mrazek, not to mention the emergence of a group of highly-touted younger players in the form of Ryan Sproul, Richard Nedomlel and Xavier Ouellet.
Although many of these players have achieved profound success in their first few years playing professionally, and others are just beginning their careers, there’s something to be said about knowing your way around the block.
Returning to the battle lines are four key veterans who provided the team with a foundation of outstanding work ethic and consistent leadership last year. First to re-sign to one-year AHL contracts with Grand Rapids were the brute-force duo of left wing Triston Grant and defenseman Brennan Evans. Then, just a day later, it was announced that Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan and assistant captain Nathan Paetsch would reunite, after both accepted two-year contracts to continue their legacy of success.
“We thought it was extremely important to get our vets back. We felt like they created a culture in our locker room of work ethic and day-to-day competitions, and that’s extremely important to winning,” said head coach Jeff Blashill. “We felt that they helped the development of our young players as well, which both helps us in Grand Rapids and ultimately helps in Detroit. So to me, that was a critical thing, and we’re real excited to have those guys back.”
Via RedWingsFeed, uh...
Utica Comets President, Robert Esche, and Galaxy Communications President and CEO, Ed Levine, announced today the details for the Bud Light Utica Comets Fan Fest that will take place prior to the Comets home opener on Oct. 23.
The Bud Light Utica Comets Fan Fest will take place in the area around the Utica Memorial Auditorium, from Broadway to Memorial Drive, starting at 4 p.m. on Oct. 23. The night will begin with the mayor of Utica, Robert Palmieri, officially declaring Oct. 23 as "Utica Comets Day". Legendary classic rock band Night Ranger will headline the pregame festivities with a free outdoor concert. The Bud Light Utica Comets Fan Fest events will also include an autograph session from 4-6p.m. with National Hockey League legend Gordie Howe, presented by First Source Credit Union. There will also be many activities for children including an interactive play area.
"I have been looking forward to this day for as long as I can remember." said Comets President Robert Esche. "Oct. 23 promises to be a very special day, and it will be remembered by Utica hockey fans for a long, long time."
"We're thrilled to be partners with the Utica Comets and we're excited about the great things we're going to do with them in Utica," said Ed Levine, CEO and president of Galaxy Communications. "Together, we've created an event that will be the biggest community celebration in the past 25 years!"
The Hanson Brothers, immortalized by the film "Slapshot" which was partly filmed at The AUD, will also be on hand for an autograph session at the jam-packed event from 4-5:30p.m. A fireworks display will cap the Bud Light Utica Comets Fan Fest as Comets fans make their way into the Utica Memorial Auditorium for the historic Comets Home Opener.
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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.