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Red Wings-Predators game-day updates: Mursak clears waivers, few personnel tweaks tonight

Updated 9x at 2:24 PM: The Detroit Red Wings begin a difficult slate of back-to-back games against the Nashville Predators tonight (7 Pm, FSD Plus/FS Tennessee/NHL Network/1270 AM), hoping to end their 5-game slide (0-3-and-2) against the team that swiped two points from the Wings on Tuesday, and MLive's Ansar Khan's offering no supririses from the morning skate...mostly...

 

Etc. etc., from the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness:

97.1 the Ticket's Ken Kal's dropping statistical knowledge upon us...

And the "enemy" is watching!

Teams don't wear names and numbers on the backs of their practice jerseys for several reasons:

1. It's easier for the equipment staff to just launder "defensemen" (black), "goalie" (black), "top six forward" (red), "bottom six forward" (white) and "no contact" (gray) jerseys than it is to figure out who's who;

2. In theory, anyway, it's easier for the coaching staff to "hide" players from the opposing press and opposing teams' scouts/coaches during practices/morning skates if they're unfamiliar with who's who, though those darn numbers on the fronts of helmets make things a little more easy to figure out (that, and you can obviously figure out who's who by watching their faces, their gear, and plain old counting the number of colored jerseys);

3. It makes coaches' jobs easier.

Almost an hour after Khan and Pleiness "live-Tweeted" the morning skate, here come our personnel updates:

It sounds like Mursak's about to clear waivers and go down to play in Grand Rapids. That's what he needs to do--play--which is why the Wings waived him.

This is really good news and/or bad news for Jakub "I still have a job because people are injured" Kindl, per the Free Press's Helene St. James:

Via RedWingsFeed, I think that the Free Press's ever-willing-to-induce-panic columnist, Jamie Samuelssen, has the equation wrong by dropping Wings coach Mike Babcock from 2nd to 6th in his, "coaches least likely to be fired" list...

6) Mike Babcock (Last Year’s Ranking – 2) Easily the biggest fall on the list. This is based on nothing more than a gut feeling, but I’m starting to wonder if Babcock’s style is starting to wear on the Red Wings players just a little bit. The team had tons of cap room during this past summer and ending up striking out on most of their targets. Was that because players liked the offers elsewhere? Perhaps. But there’s a nagging part of me that wonders if some players weren’t thrilled with the notion of playing for the hard-driving Babcock. That said, if Babcock were to leave, he’d have a new job instantaneously.

Babcock doesn't seem to have the horses this year. He's adjusted his style of coaching to admittedly become more positive and "solution-based,' and the fact that it hasn't worked speaks to the team's injuries and lack of collective confidence as they struggle to find a post-Lidstrom identity.

Their struggles don't speak to a lack of adaptation on behalf of the coaching staff, and given the comments made by so many of the Wings' opponents this season, the allure of playing for Detroit, playing for Babcock included, hasn't worn off yet. Babcock readily admits that Robert Lang, Mathieu Schneider and Brendan Shanahan probably left because they didn't like playing for him, but other than that, Babcock hasn't chased anyone out of town, nor has he dissuaded anyone from playing in Detroit.

Suter and Parise wanted to play in Minnesota due to their relatively local ties and due to the up-front money being promised to them, not because they feared Babcock. It's not exactly like Barry Trotz or anyone who's ever coached the New Jersey Devils have been softies by comparison.

More topically speaking, via RedWingsFeed again, the Windsor Star's Bob Duff spoke to Cory Emmerton about the team's inability to hold 2-0 leads:

And that's that, per Khan:

Update #1: The Free Press's Helene St. James and the Windsor Star's Bob Duff confirm, and Khan had an article prepared to state the news in text form:

Detroit Red Wings forward Jan Mursak has cleared waivers and was assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Mursak, 25, indicated on Saturday that he was looking forward to a fresh start. He felt he didn't get much of an opportunity in Detroit but knew it would be difficult to crack this lineup when some injured players returned.

He has two goals and two assists in 46 career games with the Red Wings, who selected the native Slovenian in the sixth round (182nd overall) in the 2006 entry draft.

Mursak broke his ankle during the preseason in 2011-12 and was out until Jan. 12. This year, he suffered a collar bone injury in the season opener at St. Louis on Jan. 19 and returned to the lineup in Thursday's 3-2 loss to Columbus.

The Windsor Star's Bob Duff also posted a clip of Mike Babcock's game-day presser...

 


And Duff's offering Tweets from said presser:

Update #2: Here's Duff's take on the Wings' ups and downs--mostly downs of late--and Cory Emmerton's belief that the Wings sipmply need to shore things up defensively:

“It’s pretty basic,” Emmerton said. “We’re giving up too many easy goals. “We’ll be doing a lot of good things and then we seem to kind of stray away from that. If we had the answers for the reasons why, we would stop.”

During the slide, Detroit has coughed up 2-0 leads in three of the losses. The Wings will look to end the slump tonight at Joe Louis Arena against their NHL Central Division rivals the Nashville Predators.

“It’s one of those things where we really need to buckle down,” Emmerton said. “Once you get those first two points, it really seems to boost your confidence. You start getting to where you’re doing the right things and that’s what we need to do right now, start doing the right things.”

The Wings also show three straight losses at home and are just a middling 5-4-1 at the Joe so far this season. The Wings play five of their next seven games on home ice, and then hit the road for stretch that will see them play eight of 10 away from the JLA. That means success over these next run of home games could be vital to securing a playoff position.

“You’ve got to win almost all your home games, especially now with the shortened season,” Emmerton said. “Home games are huge. Anytime you let two points slip away at home, it’s pretty bad. We’ve got to get back on track tonight and go from there.”

Update #3: The Free Press's Helene St. James is confirming Mursak's demotion in text form, and she reports that Babcock's concerned about his second power play unit...

The Wings rank just 28th in the NHL at 12.8%, and all of the 10 goals on 78 opportunities have come from the first unit, and all at home. Injuries have made it difficult to assemble the best possible combinations, up front and on the points. The latest incarnation of the second unit has Valtteri Filppula down low with Tomas Tatar on the wall and Justin Abdelkader in front of the net.

Assistant coach Tom Renney was brought in over the summer to help address the power play, which struggled throughout last season, too.

But Babcock said, "it's Fil's group. As much as Tom's going to run the meetings and stuff like that, Fil has to take charge and make it count. We can't have one-minute power plays, we've got to have two-minute power plays. The bottom line is, we need to put it in the net, and that's the measurement."

Ian White and Jakub Kindl are the point men on the second unit. Kindl is back in tonight, replacing Kyle Quincey who is day-to-day with a rolled ankle. Patrick Eaves is in up front. Jimmy Howard is starting in goal.

The Predators come into tonight's game having lost last night at home to Vancouver.

"They played last night, we didn't, we need a win, we haven't won in a long time," Babcock said. "We've got to play a good 60 minutes to make that happen. We've got to start on time and just keep playing."

And, from Duff...

Update #3.5: The Red Wings' Game Day Blog offers a historical note...

On February 23, 1929: The Detroit Falcons and Chicago Blackhawks play to a scoreless contest at Olympia Stadium; Dolly Dolson was in goal for Detroit.

As well as Ken Kal's "keys to the game":

Don't Take Your Foot Off the Gas - The Red Wings have held 2-0 leads in 3 of their last 5 games, and ultimately lost all three games. They need to compete hard for a full 60 minutes tonight and if they get a lead, build off of it and don't play too conservative.

Take Care of the Puck - Turnovers hurt the Wings last game, some of which resulted in Columbus' final two goals on Thursday. The Wings need to make good, smart passes, especially in their own zone and through the neutral zone.

Rebounds, Rebounds, Rebounds - Pekka Rinne likes to use his glove and he likes to cover the puck; he won't give the Wings multiple scoring chances often, so when they do get those second and third opportunities, they'll need to take advantage of them.

Update #4: Here's MLive's Ansar Khan's game-day article...

Nashville (8-5-5) is third in the league in goals-against average (1.88), due mainly to the outstanding play of goaltender Pekka Rinne (7-4-4, 1.63 GAA, .936 save percentage, three shutouts). The Predators defeated the Red Wings 4-3 in overtime Tuesday in Nashville, in the first of four meetings between the clubs.

“They’re playing pretty well. Pekka Rinne was outstanding against us,'' Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “You want to talk about mistakes? That’s the eraser right there. You have to get more of your fair share against him because he’s playing that good. We’re going to need traffic and then their D moves the puck pretty good from the back, so we have to go get them.”

The Red Wings realize they must take advantage of a Nashville team that played Friday night (1-0 loss to Vancouver at Bridgestone Arena) and also capitalize on their home games. Detroit is just 5-4-1 at JLA.

“You’ve got to win almost all your home games, especially now with the shortened season,'' center Cory Emmerton said. “Home games are huge. Anytime you let two points slip away at home, it’s pretty bad. We’ve got to get back on track tonight and go from there.''

Here are the lines the Red Wings skated with this morning:

Valtteri Filppula-Henrik Zetterberg-Damien Brunner

Daniel Cleary-Pavel Datsyuk-Justin Abdelkader

Tomas Tatar-Joakim Andersson-Patrick Eaves

Drew Miller-Cory Emmerton-Jordin Tootoo

Niklas Kronwall-Jonathan Ericsson

Brian Lashoff-Ian White

Kent Huskins-Jakub Kind

Jimmy Howard (starting)

Jonas Gustavsson

The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness filed articles about Jan Mursak clearing waivers...

Detroit now has 12 forwards on its active roster. Todd Bertuzzi, Mikael Samuelsson, Darren Helm and Johan Franzen remain sidelined with injuries.

And fellow Macomb Daily scribe Fred Costello penned an entry in Pleiness's blog discussin Justn Abdelkader's point production issues:

It has been a very rough start to the season for forward Justin Abdelkader. A year removed from the 2011-12 season, in which he scored a career high eight goals, Abdelkader has been largely ineffective thus far. Through 17 games, he has just one assist to his credit, and is still on the hunt for his first goal of the year.

...

“It’s funny, when you watch highlights of games, just to see how a lot of goals go in,” Abdelkader began. “They’re a break here, a bounce here. So, I think it’s about creating opportunity for yourself.”

Struggles have not, however, led to a reduction in Babcock’s faith in the burly forward. On the contrary, the coach has Abdelkader playing an important role on the second power play, as the front-of-the-net pest. Yet, even with a coveted role, the coach believes that a player must still produce in order to be considered effective.

“(Abdelkader’s) getting to play with (Pavel) Datsyuk, and that’s like winning the lottery,” Babcock said. “Get him the puck, and go to the net, and good things will happen. He did it in the minors. The bottom line is if a guy adjusts to it real good, beside his name you’ve got these power play goals and points. He doesn’t. That’s the measure in the end.”

In addition to his stagnant offense, Abdelkader owns a minus six rating, and has accumulated only nine penalty minutes – a far cry from the 60-plus average over the last couple of years. Nevertheless, Abdelkader remains in prime position to break out of his slump. He’s averaging over 13 minutes of ice time per game, and is ahead of Jordin Tootoo by one for the team lead in hits.

...

“The bottom line is, we need to put it in the net,” Babcock said. “The net-front guy has to get pucks back for guys. Ideally, he tips them and ends up with a few goals.”

...

“Hockey’s a funny game,” Abdelkader said. “You’re either getting breaks, or trying to find them. Hopefully, eventually, they’ll start rolling my way.”

Update #4.5: The Macomb Daily's...Looks like Pleiness...Offered this quip about the power play:

The Wings’ second power play unit has essentially been a revolving door this year – not that it was ever part of Mike Babcock’s plan.

“I’d don’t know if I’d call it experimenting,” Babcock said. “The people who used to play on it are all injured. It’s (Valtteri Filppula’s) group. He’s got to take charge, and make it count.”

Abdelkader, Filppula and Tomas Tatar made up the current forward line on the team’s second unit, with defensemen Ian White and Jakub Kindl manning the blue line.

Update #5: It appears that the Predators didn't have a morning sakte, so the Tennessean's Josh Cooper penned a story about Jordin Tootoo's second game against his former employer instead:

Red Wings forward Jordin Tootoo’s first game against Nashville last Tuesday was admittedly emotional. Tootoo, who was drafted by the Predators in 2001 and spent eight seasons in Nashville played his first game in Bridgestone Arena after signing with Detroit over the summer.

The fans gave him a standing ovation during a first period video tribute. And then they went right back to booing Tootoo. So what did Tootoo, one of the most popular players in Nashville history, think about the boos?

“They cheer for their team and obviously any rival team comes in you’re going to hear a few boos,” Tootoo said. “It’s a part of it, but at the same time to have a standing ovation was pretty amazing. I would like to thank everyone once again for all their support.”

Tonight’s game between the Red Wings and Predators will be a little different for Tootoo. For one, it’s at Joe Louis Arena. Also, since Tootoo and Nashville got their first game out of the way, the nerves will probably be slightly less for Tootoo.

“Obviously there was a lot of hype going into the game in Nashville and obviously the reception I got was pretty amazing,” Tootoo said. “I know coming back here is just going to be another game for us. We’re division rivals and we have to get back on the winning ways and no better team to do it against.”

Also, the condensed schedule has lessened the anticipation level. The Predators lost last night to Vancouver, and Detroit has gone winless in five straight and just needs a victory.

“We’re like playing every second day here,” Tootoo said. “It’s going to the drawing board to see which team we’re playing and making sure we know their systems and what not. It has definitely been busy. Every night we need to get points or we get pushed out of a playoff spot.”

The Free Press's Helene St. James just updated her article with a video:

 

Update #6: I'm not paticularly impressed with this "Game Day" debate between MLive's Brendan Savage and Ansar Khan, who wonder whether the Wings need to "trade at op prospect for immediate help":

ANSAR KHAN: I certainly wouldn't trade [Brendan] Smith, [Gustav] Nyquist, [Petr] Mrazek or [Calle] Jarnkrok, and I'm sure they won't move any of then, unless they got an offer they can't refuse. But they have a good stable of prospects in their system. They can afford to deal a couple of those secondary prospects.

I wouldn't call Tomas Jurco or Teemu Pulkkinen "secondary prospects." Riley Sheahan and Landon Ferraro, sure.

And they will need to package a prospect and/or draft pick/roster player to get help before the April 3 trade deadline. I don't think they need to make a move right now, but if they continue to struggle over the next week or two, they'll have to act.

I still think a top-four puck-moving defenseman is their top priority. But, they might have to wait closer to the deadline before a player like that becomes available. And with no return on the horizon for forwards Todd Bertuzzi and Darren Helm, the club might need help up front as well.

BRENDAN SAVAGE: No. Absolutely not. Don't even consider it regardless of how bad things get this season. (Is that strong enough?)

Sooner or later, the Red Wings were bound to have a bad season. Their streak of 21 straight years with a playoff appearance was bound to end sometime and this could very well be the year.

But don't mortgage the future by selling the farm for a quick harvest that will be a temporary fix. That would be silly. Now, if the Red Wings had a shot at winning the Stanley Cup and parting with a prospect (or two) could be the difference in winning or losing a championship, I'd say they shouldn't hesitate to do it.

But if they do happen to make the playoffs this season, they're unlikely make any noise so just ride out the storm, try and improve the team during the offseason through free agency and start fresh with a full training camp in the fall.

971. the Ticket's Ken Kal's dropping more statistical tidbits...

Update #7: From the Team Tootoo Fund:

And the Tennesseans Josh Cooper spoke to Patrick Eaves about playing against the team which...Concussed him...

The fact that Red Wings forward Patrick Eaves will likely play his 10th game this season tonight appears to be a miracle in itself. Last season, during a Nov. 26 game against the Predators, Nashville defenseman Roman Josi fired a shot that flew up and caught Eaves in his ear.

Eaves dropped to the ice, and lay motionless. He had to be carried off on a stretcher. Eaves underwent surgery to have his jaw wired shut and missed the rest of the regular season with a concussion that stemmed from the injury. That game was also Josi’s first in the NHL.
“It’s been a lot of treatment and just been a long process to get everything back in order,” Eaves said. “My head and my jaw and everything, so, yeah I’m fine and I’m back now.”

Eaves said Josi contacted him shortly after the injury.

“I received a text message from him, it was right after the game, but I didn’t get it for a while, but I saw it was right after the game and just apologizing.” Eaves said. “It clearly wasn’t his fault. The puck was rolling and it was completely unintentional, but it was nice he reached out that quickly to me.”

Update #8: Via RedWingsFeed again, two Wings prospects' performances elicited praise from Hockey's Future in their monthly "On the Rush" column:

Ryan Sproul, D – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Drafted by the Detroit Red Wings
2nd round, 55th overall, 2011

Like Dallas, the Detroit Red Wings blue line has gone through several iterations already early in the NHL season as they search for the right combination. While the 2013 season has been a struggle for Detroit's rearguards, there is reason for optimism looking towards the future of the Red Wings blue line because of the performance from prospects like Ryan Sproul, who is averaging over two points per game in his last dozen games for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

With five goals and 20 points in nine February games, Sproul has catapulted himself to the lead in OHL defensive socoring with 61 points in only 41 games. The point outburst from Sproul and continued dominance from Nick Cousins (PHI) has led the team to a 6-2-1 month, which has seen the Greyhounds average 5.22 goals per game.

...

Mattias Backman, D – Linkoping HC (SEL)
Drafted by the Detroit Red Wings
5th round, 146th overall, 2011

Backman established himself in Sweden's top pro league in 2011-12 and is building off that experience in his second full season with Linkoping. The 20-year-old defenseman is averaging just over 20 minutes per game and has more than doubled his point output in his second season.

Even though he has found points hard to come by in recent weeks, he remains tied for ninth in SEL defensive scoring with 21 points through 47 games. Known more for his skating and well-rounded game than his offensive ability, this season is only the second time in his career at any level of play that he has scored in double digits. His plus-nine rating is tied for the best among Linkoping's blueliners, making Backman yet another promising defenseman on the horizon for the Red Wings.

Update #9: Here's the Red Wings' game-day preview video:

 

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Comments

EDJ's avatar

We like to complain about Datsyuk’s linemates, but I think this is the worst we’ve seen. Not to bash 8 and 11, but they’re not exactly playing in their ideal roles.

Posted by EDJ on 02/23/13 at 01:30 PM ET

DrewBehr's avatar

Why not put Tatar up with Datsyuk? Guy that loves to pass + guy that loves to shoot seems like a perfect combination to me.

Posted by DrewBehr from The Mitten on 02/23/13 at 01:50 PM ET

cigar_nurse's avatar

Pavs needs to play with Flipper and Andersson or Tatar. Wally seems to actually have some chemistry with Pavs and needs to get some time with a quality player on his wing. Cleary needs to be dropped off into the Detroit River. One of my best friends runs the DPD boat and will pick him up somewhere around Zug Island and escort him out of town tongue rolleye

Posted by cigar_nurse from Greenville South Cakalakee on 02/23/13 at 02:16 PM ET

Avatar

Did Kindl seriously go back to only having his job because people are injured just because of that first period against Nashville?

Could we be any more fickle? No one really had a problem with his play until 3 not exactly well deserved penalties. Now he’s right back to being the odd man out?

Posted by CrimsonPhoenix on 02/23/13 at 03:00 PM ET

BrendonR's avatar

FInally Fil gets a chance on Z’s wing where he thrived last year. Now we need to clean the garbage out of the Top 6. Get Tatar and Nyquist in there!

Posted by BrendonR on 02/23/13 at 03:13 PM ET

SK77's avatar

With regards to yesterday’s lively conversation – are we still calling Holland a fool for waiving Mursak (or for not magically trading him for a draft pick) now that the other 29 GMs in the league said “Nyet” when given the chance to get Mursak for nothing?

Posted by SK77 on 02/23/13 at 03:42 PM ET

Hootinani's avatar

How is it “mortgaging the future” to trade something Detroit has a lot of (forward prospects) for something Detroit has none of (top four Dmen)?  I’m not saying overpay or take any warm body they can find, but it is obvious they need to add on the back end, and there is literally no one left in the system to fill that role.

Posted by Hootinani on 02/23/13 at 04:16 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Pekka Rinne likes to use his glove and he likes to cover the puck

This was something I noticed about Mrazek in his first NHL start.  Jimmy is giving up way too many rebounds.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 02/23/13 at 04:30 PM ET

Avatar

With regards to yesterday’s lively conversation – are we still calling Holland a fool for waiving Mursak (or for not magically trading him for a draft pick) now that the other 29 GMs in the league said “Nyet” when given the chance to get Mursak for nothing?

Let’s not allow reality to get in the way of cathartic rants, some kid.

I’m not saying overpay or take any warm body they can find, but it is obvious they need to add on the back end, and there is literally no one left in the system to fill that role.

Why give up anything though?  Is one more top 4 dman going to make any kind of real difference this year?  Let’s say Detroit magically got Brad Stuart for one or two of their forward prospects.  What happens then?  IMO, not too much.  Maybe the d tightens up a little, maybe the PK gets incrementally better… but even if both of those things happen it’s not like the fundamental nature of the team this year is going to change in any appreciable way.

If the decision is that the team needs a top 4 dman (and I tend to think they do), the best time to try and address that is in the offseason when the team can just sign a guy rather than having to give up stuff to get him.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 02/23/13 at 04:30 PM ET

Avatar

Which free agent D-man is a a top 4 upgrade?  The list looks pretty thin to me.  Wings have need of a quality d, and a large forward, what they have is an overabundance of little forwards.  Make a move KH.

Posted by akwingsfan on 02/23/13 at 04:48 PM ET

SK77's avatar

Which free agent D-man is a a top 4 upgrade?  The list looks pretty thin to me. 

Posted by akwingsfan on 02/23/13 at 03:48 PM ET

No need to mince words. Next year’s free agent pool of defensemen is downright depressing. The good free agent options next year are all forwards, so if the Wings need a Top 4 defensemen (which they do) then they’re going to have to swing something.

Posted by SK77 on 02/23/13 at 06:16 PM ET

cigar_nurse's avatar

The last 2 years choices of free agent d-men has not been good at all.  With Suter,Wisnewski,Erhoff,Garrison getting rediculous amouts of money and years in contracts. Kenny looks pretty good in retrospect locking up E-52.  Somehow somewhere a trade needs to happen to get the desired players we need.

Posted by cigar_nurse from Greenville South Cakalakee on 02/23/13 at 06:32 PM ET

w2j2's avatar

Ian White and Jakub Kindl are the point men on the second unit.

Good.
Kindl paid his time for his 3 penalties.
Now let him shoot from the point!

Posted by w2j2 on 02/23/13 at 06:50 PM ET

NIVO's avatar

Ian White and Jakub Kindl are the point men on the second unit.

Good.
Kindl paid his time for his 3 penalties.
Now let him shoot from the point!

Posted by w2j2 on 02/23/13 at 05:50 PM ET

if you can get him to shoot. I’ve yelled at the tv on several occasions and he doesnt listen, he just stands there, fumbles the puck and its over the blue line.

Posted by NIVO from underpants gnome village on 02/23/13 at 07:42 PM ET

Avatar

^Kindl seems noticeably better at getting the puck on net with a quick wrister than most of our other defensemen. I specifically remember that trait leading to goals before.

Posted by CrimsonPhoenix on 02/23/13 at 07:54 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.