The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/19/13 at 01:02 PM ET
Updated 9x with game day videos at 7:16 PM: As Paul already noted, the Red Wings received something of "cold comfort" in finding out that Minnesota Wild forward Devin Setoguchi was fined $8,108.11 for the "high stick" which yielded 20+ stitches for Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey during Sunday's loss to Minnesota...
And as the Red Wings prepare to face off against the Nashville Predators tonight (8 PM EST, FSD/FS Tennessee/1270 AM), we're actually going to start off with news from the opposing team as Fox Sports Tennessee's John Manasso reports that the Predators will play without Paul Gaustad this evening...
That's Brandon Yip...And 1025 the Game's Willy Daunic confirms...
As does the Tennessean's Josh Cooper:
The Wings' official Twitter account's posted some photos from the pre-morning-skate festivities...
And the Wings' Game Day Blog sets up the game with this quip...
"When we put on our sweaters we have to find a way to win. It doesn't matter who's in, who's out, who's at home. It's the NHL. Let's play." - Mike Babcock
After a heartbreaking 3-2 loss in Minnesota, Mike Babcock was making no excuses for the injuries the Wings have been dealing with all season long. The Wings will look to bounce back tonight with a victory against Central Division rival Nashville Predators.
Welcome to the Detroit Red Wings Game Day Blog, where you can get behind-the-scenes information, thoughts from players and staff, and up-to-date news on anything and everything Red Wings on game day.
You can watch tonight’s 8:00 PM game on Fox Sports Detroit or tune in on AM1270.
It notes two significant events from "This day in Red Wings history"...
On February 19, 1997: In his 1,000th career regular-season game, Steve Yzerman collects three assists in the Wings’ 4-0 win against Calgary.
On February 19, 2012: The Red Wings continue to rewrite the record books when they win their 23rd straight game at home, defeating the San Jose Sharks, 3-2.
And 97.1 the Ticket's Ken Kal offers his three "keys to the game":
Weather the Early Storm - The first ten minutes in this building are key. The Predators will come after the Wings hard early, especially after losing to Colorado last night.
Play for 60 Minutes - It's easier said than done, but a few lapses have cost Detroit in the last few games. They need to play a complete game tonight.
Generate Shots and Scoring Chances - Pekka Rinne doesn't give opponents much, so the more quality shots you can get, the better your odds of of putting the puck past him.
ANSAR KHAN: It can't hurt. They need to do something different to end their 0-for-26 drought on the road.
One of the main problems has been their reluctance to shoot. They have been making too many high-risk, low-percentage passes that have been intercepted or knocked away and cleared. Samuelsson will shoot the puck. He doesn't have the most accurate shot, but at least his attempts will create some havoc – rebounds, deflections.
Of course, it increases the possibility of surrendering a shorthanded a goal, but that's the risk you have to take.
BRENDAN SAVAGE: As with just about anything, only time will tell.
Babcock wants to see the Red Wings get more shots on the power play and Samuelsson should help in that regard. And considering 45 of his 148 career goals have come on the power play, he obviously knows a bit about playing with a manpower advantage.
Maybe moving first-year forward Damien Brunner from the point on the top power-play unit to right wing on the second unit will provide some added punch. Brunner has certainly demonstrated a knack for putting the puck in the net with seven goals – tied for the team lead – in 15 games this season.
Hey, the changes certainly can't hurt, can they?
And, amongst the CBC's Elliotte Friedman's 30 Thoughts:
12. If Mike Babcock returns as Canada's Olympic head coach, I wonder if he will bring along his former Detroit Red Wings assistant Paul MacLean, now head coach in Ottawa.
13. I still believe NHLers will go to the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Everyone got together last week to air their official positions. My bosses won't be thrilled, but it sounds like the NHL and NHLPA are going to be able to show video and get access that was previously unobtainable. Insurance remains a major issue, though. It costs about $7 million to cover player contracts, which the International Ice Hockey Federation and International Olympic Committee are being asked to pay. Another issue is the current package only covers about 80 per cent of a player's salary. That's a significant difference for a player like Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin.
15. I've got to think Ryan Whitney isn't much longer for the Edmonton Oilers. Whitney can still pass it and start the transition from defence to offence, but foot injuries have affected his mobility. In a more structured system, teams can cover for that. Suffice to say, the Oilers are still learning team defence, so Whitney doesn't get as much help. I thought Detroit might be a good fit. But it doesn't sound like the Red Wings want to go in that direction.
29. The CBA was supposed to be completed by Saturday. However, both sides have agreed to continue working on the language and seem optimistic about how things are progressing.
And while we're in non-game day-related-story territory, the Red Wings received one mention in Yahoo Sports' "NHL Awards Watch":
Rookies We Had No Idea Were Rookies
1. Marcus Foglino, Buffalo Sabres
2. Richard Bachman, Dallas Stars
3. Tomas Tatar, Detroit Red Wings
C’mon, admit it: You had no idea either.
After some wait (I started cobbling this together 45 minutes before the post's publishing date), we get some personnel updates from MLive's Ansar Khan...
The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...
No surprise here:
Gratuitous mixed media time!
Here comes the important stuff:
Cooper's also confirming that Paul Gaustad will not play tonight...
The Predators will need to find a new face off ace for tonight’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.
Forward Paul Gaustad will miss the contest with an “upper body” injury. Gaustad injured the area Monday at Colorado. He missed three games earlier in the season with an “upper body” injury. It’s not clear if the two are linked
Gaustad has won 62.6 percent of his face offs this year.
When asked if he knew how long Gaustad would be out, coach Barry Trotz said he would have a better idea “in the next day or so.”
And he posted a short clip of Jordin Tootoo speaking to the media:
Update #3: MLive's Ansar Khan offers his game-day story:
At 5-foot-10 and 186 pounds, Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar will need to take a different approach when playing a net-front role on the second power-play unit tonight in Nashville.
“I'm not the biggest guy, like a Mule (Johan Franzen) or somebody, so I got to be way quicker than the (defensemen) for example, it's going to be (Shea) Weber tonight,'' Tatar said. “I got to outplay him by my quickness. I got to help the team to get retrievals of pucks from corners and we got to get a hold of the puck around the net.''
Tatar will get an opportunity to play with Valtteri Filppula and Damien Brunner on the power play, as Red Wings coach Mike Babcock is trying some different looks. Detroit is the only team that hasn't scored a power-play goal on the road (0-for-26).
“I'm going to try to shoot it every time,'' Tatar said. “There's going to be opportunity for rebounds, try to be the first guy there and try to put the puck in, might be some tips.''
Ian White and Jakub Kindl (alternating with Kyle Quincey) played the points on that unit.
The first power-play unit will feature Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Daniel Cleary (net front) at forward and Niklas Kronwall and Mikael Samuelsson at the points. Samuelsson hurt his left hand after getting hit by a shot from White, but he said he'll play tonight.
Babcock said the only lineup change, aside from Jimmy Howard starting in goal, is Kindl replacing Kent Huskins.
Update #4: The Free Press's Helene St. James reports that the Wings are taking tonight's game very, very seriously:
"It's a huge game for us," forward Daniel Cleary said after the morning skate. "It's a real big game. We understand the situation. We're going to need a lot of composure tonight. It's important we get off to a good start and maintain through each period, because we know they had a tough break last night. We're going to be more fresh than them, so we have to make sure we skate."
The Predators lost, 6-5, at Colorado on Monday afternoon. One of the Avalanche's goals, by Matt Duchene, shouldn't have happened (he was off-sides), but the Predators still allowed three more goals after that. All were surrendered by backup Chris Mason, though, while the Wings will see 6-foot-5 goalie Pekka Rinne.
Wings coach Mike Babcock said the only planned lineup change is on the back end, where Jakub Kindl is back in, and Kent Huskins back out. On the power play, Tomas Tatar is going to get some time as a net-front guy, but now it appears to be with the newfangled second unit, next to Valtteri Filppula and Damien Brunner down low.
"Our power play hasn't been great for us, and we're always looking to make it better," Babcock said. "We've got some guys that have had significant power-play time that have no power-play points. In the end, you just can't keep going with it."
Mikael Samuelsson will take over the right point from Brunner on the first unit because Samuelsson "gives us a real good shot from the top, which we haven't had," Babcock said. "Ideally, we can get that group going. He knows he's there to shoot it, so that will be a good thing for us."
It's the first time the teams have met since Nashville ended the Wings' playoff run five games into the first round last spring.
"We've had a good rivalry with them for years,'" Babcock said. "But obviously, any time they eliminate you in the playoffs -- any time you play in the playoffs -- I think that helps with rivalries, for sure."
Update #5: Fox Sports Tennessee's John Manasso's covering the game for NHL.com, and he took note of both teams' probable lineups, pointing out that Hal Gill will be a healthy scratch for the Predators...
Yip was scratched for the previous two games after having his ice time cut in the two before that. After playing 16:33 and going minus-1 in a 3-0 loss to Chicago on Feb. 10, he played only 10:47 and then 10:21 in the next two games.
Martin Erat - Mike Fisher - Sergei Kostitsyn
Colin Wilson - David Legwand - Patric Hornqvist
Gabriel Bourque - Nick Spaling - Brandon Yip
Rich Clune - Craig Smith - Matt Halischuk
Shea Weber - Scott Hannan
Roman Josi - Kevin Klein
Jonathon Blum - Ryan Ellis
Out: Paul Gaustad, Hal Gill
Henrik Zetterberg - Pavel Datsyuk - Damien Brunner
Daniel Cleary - Valtteri Filppula - Mikael Samuelsson
Drew Miller - Cory Emmerton - Jordin Tootoo
Tomas Tatar - Joakim Andersson - Justin Abdelkader
Niklas Kronwall - Brian Lashoff
Jonathan Ericsson - Ian White
Jakub Kindl - Kyle Quincey
And Manasso spoke to Jordin Tootoo about his return to Nashville:
"Obviously it's different," he said. "Everything about the whole experience. Dressing in this (visiting) room -- I've never been in this room before. Walking across the street, staying in a hotel, everything has been an experience in itself, but as a hockey player guys come and go and move from team to team. It's just part of it."
The Red Wings arrived on Monday and practiced in Nashville, allowing Tootoo to get some formalities out of the way.
"I got all my hellos and whatnot out of the way," he said. "I think driving around in a cab was a little different. Like I said before, I came in with an open mind. Tonight is another game day for me. I'll just see I'm just on the other side of the dressing room."
With 725 penalty minutes, Tootoo is the Preds' all-time leader in that category. True to form, he leads Detroit with 32 this season. He also has two assists and is plus-1 in 15 games. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock credited him for his physical style of play. It would not be a surprise if Tootoo elected to drop the gloves on Tuesday but if that were the case, he wasn't about to telegraph it.
"It's not set in stone," he said. "Like I said, a lot of emotions that go throughout a game. For me, I've just got to go out and do my job and keep doing what I'm doing and obviously it's part of the game, being physical."
Asked if he would hesitate to hit a friend and former teammate in the corner, Tootoo did not hesitate, "Not at all. Not at all."
About the only remaining question, then, is how the fans will receive him. Recently, the Predators played a tribute video for long-time player Steve Sullivan (now with Phoenix) and they also have did one in the past for Dan Hamhuis (Vancouver) upon his return, as they have with others.
"I have no idea," he said. "I'm just going to go out there and embrace it and enjoy every moment of it. I played a lot of years here. I've made a lot of great friends here and a lot of experiences I'll never forget, so I'll just soak it all in."
Update #6: Excellent news from the Free Press's Helene St. James, who reports that Johan Franzen may return from his hip flexor injury on Thursday, and that Brendan Smith should return next week:
Top-six forward Johan Franzen said he might be back as soon as Thursday, when the Wings host the Columbus Blue Jackets. Franzen stayed on the ice nearly an hour after his teammates finished their morning skate today at Bridgestone Arena, where the Wings play the Nashville Predators tonight. It'll be the fourth game Franzen misses because of a sore hip flexor, but it also might be the last.
"I feel pretty good," Franzen said. "I've been skating pretty good the last two days here, so no problems really. Just get in some battles, too, and I should be good to go."
Franzen said, "I hope so," when asked whether Thursday is a possibility. He joked he wants to get in a good hip check on forward Jan Mursak before playing, saying, "I'm going to take out Murs tomorrow."
Mursak only just got cleared Monday, after being sidelined since opening night with a collarbone injury.
Top-four defenseman Brendan Smith, who has been out since Feb. 2 with a shoulder injury, also has been skating and aims to return during next week's trip to California.
"I feel great," he said. "But I'm not ready yet. It gets better every day, but it's hard to speculate, because I haven't done much contact, so I don't know. That's the biggest issue with anything, I guess, is can you deal with the contact? I'm not sure if I'm ready yet."
While Franzen and Smith work on their recovery, their fathers-trip roommates are living it up. Franzen brought his father-in-law but said, "I haven't seen him. He's having a good time. This is a good bar town for them." Smith brought his father, saying, "He likes this town. But he's a good dad. He's not with the whole clan, so he calls it early. I wish he'd stay out a little longer, but he's good."
Update #6.5: Jamie Favreau noted on Twitter that Niklas Kronwall is schedueld to sign autographs at Detroit City Sports' Novi location on Friday the 22nd, Jimmy Howard and Damien Brunner are scheduled to sign at DCS's Lakeside Mall location on March 2nd, and Gordie Howe is scheduled to sign autographs at their Lakeside Mall location on March 23rd.
Update #7: Here's DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose's game day story, discussing Wings coach Mike Babcock's "experiment" in placing Tomas Tatar in front of Pekka Rinne on the play:
“Our power play hasn’t been great for us and we’re always looking for ways to make it better,” coach Mike Babcock said following the team’s Tuesday morning skate at Bridgestone Arena. “We’ve had some guys with significant power-play time and have no power-play points. In the end you just can’t keep going with it.”
Babcock hopes the adjustment can lead to the Wings’ first road power-play goal of the season. Detroit is the only team in the league without a PP goal on the road. The Wings’ power play units are 0-for-26 away from Joe Louis Arena, registering just 31 shots in 46:53 of special teams ice-time on the road.
“He just generates offense,” Babcock said of Tatar, who has two goals and two assists in seven games since being call up from Grand Rapids.
“He’s got himself four points, got himself three points in the last five games,” Babcock added. “When I go and watch the opposition I always circle the guys that got three points or more in the last five games as a significant player. So that must mean if he’s doing it for us, he must be a significant player.”
Tatar played meaningful minutes on the Griffins’ power play this season, but usually on the wall or in the middle. However, in the last two Red Wings’ practices, he’s been adjusting to a new power-play role – as a net-front presence.
“It's kind of new thing for me,” Tatar said. “I'm not used to playing there, but I'm feeling pretty good around the net, so I just got to get used to it because I think this might be my role for my future with Red Wings. It's kind of nice to practice there.”
“I don’t know how long it’s going to last,” said Babcock, of the Tatar experiment. “But as long as it lasts, we’ll keep riding it. Maybe he’s one of those guys that just decides that he wants to be a Red Wing (and) he’s going to take someone’s job.”
Update #8: The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan took note of Franzen and Smith's progress..
"I've skated (hard) the last few days here — no problems, really," Franzen said. "That's what it feels like," he added of a Thursday return.
For both Franzen and Smith (who was hurt Feb. 2 in Columbus), the key now is whether their injuries can withstand physical battles. Both have yet to test it in practice.
"It's getting better every day but it's hard to speculate because I haven't done much contact," Smith said. "That's the big issue with anything: Can you deal with the contact? I'm not sure yet."
Smith admitted, "I'm not ready yet," adding his type of injury usually takes 3-4 weeks, which would take him into next week's road trip.
As well as Babcock's take on placing Samuelsson on the point, and Tatar in front...
"[Samuelsson] gives us a real good shot from the point and we haven't had that," Babcock said. "Ideally he can get that group going. He knows he's there to shoot it and that's a big thing for us."
Tatar has produced offense (four points in seven games) and is making a bid to stay with the Red Wings.
"He generates offense, he's quick and he's on the puck," Babcock said. "He's not shy. Can he keep doing what he's doing? I don't know. But he sure has so far."
And Kulfan asked Kyle Quincey what he thought about the fine issued to Devin Setoguchi:
"I was just going up to make a routine play, try to eliminate the puck from his body," Quincey said. "His stick came up pretty fast, and I couldn't really do anything about it."
Update #9: I felt really sick earlier, so I had to take a nap, and I missed the following...
The Red Wings' website posted a game-day preview....
And comments from Jordin Tootoo...
And coach Mike Babcock:
Fox Sports Tennessee's John Manasso weighed in on Jordin Tootoo's addition, suggesting that the Wings needed the grit the Predators had during last spring's rout, so the Wings went and imported a Predator:
On Tuesday, Tootoo made his first trip back to play against the team with which he spent his first eight seasons. Fresh insights were all around. He said after inking his deal, there were no meetings with coach Mike Babcock or general manager Ken Holland.
"I think I know my role pretty well," he said. "My foundation is being physical out there and creating room for my linemates and myself and creating opportunities. This game is about mistakes and capitalizing on those. For me, it's just about keeping my feet moving and being physical."
On a Detroit team that entered the day in the uncharacteristic spot of fourth place in the Central Division and ninth in the Western Conference (though, in truth, only three points out of fourth), Tootoo finds himself one of only six Detroit forwards who is a plus player.
Babcock described Tootoo as a "physical guy on the forecheck" and then threw a compliment in the direction of the Predators and coach Barry Trotz, the only coach Nashville has had since it entered the league in 1998.
"He's been excellent for us," Babcock said. "Obviously, (he has) been in the program that they taught, knows how to play and I've known him a long time right back from junior and he's a competitive guy. Seems to be enjoying himself and we're enjoying having him."
Babcock was alluding to his final year of coaching the Western Hockey League's Spokane Chiefs in 1999-2000 when Tootoo was playing his first season of major junior in the same league for the Brandon Wheat Kings.
In Nashville, they have known Tootoo since he was a fourth-round draft pick in 2001. He left as the organization's all-time leader in penalty minutes with 725. Now, they know what he will bring to a rival – a facet of the game in which the Red Wings might have lacked for a few seasons.
"Toots is a guy that brings the bang, he brings energy," Trotz said. "He likes the big hits. That's probably something they've missed a little bit. He's more in a Darren McCarty mold where you get that 'Grind Line' physicality. He obviously was popular here. Still is. He'll be popular in Detroit so he brings a lot of that to the table."
In other news, MLive's Brendan Savage posted a power rankings round-up...
And this yields a !!!! from me:
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About The Malik Report
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.