Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Predators set-up and overnight report: winning will allow the Wings to control their fate

The Detroit Red Wings may have a sigificant chunk of players on their roster suffering from too-many-games-played fatigue, they are most certainly more "banged up" than they're letting the press know, and the Wings may have 13 days and 7 games left in their season, but if they keep splitting hairs, as they did via shootout losses to Chicago and San Jose, we'll be talking about the team's World Championship participants and locker room clean-out two weeks from this morning.

The Wings sit in 9th place in the Western Conference this morning, and they are facing a Nashville Predators team that's "playing for pride" and playing as a spoiler tonight (7:30 PM EDT, FSD/FS Tennessee/NBCSN/NHL Network Canada/97.1 FM).

They'll head back to Detroit on Sunday night to swap out their Delta charter for Red Bird III, they may or may not take Monday off after playing three games in four nights, and then they'll head to Western Canada to play the "rebuilding" Flames on Wednesday and the tenacious Canucks next Saturday.

Then the team comes home for games against Phoenix on Monday the 22nd, Los Angeles on Wednesday the 24th, the same Predators on Thursday the 25th, and their regular season concludes against the team which holds the Regulation-or-OT-Win tiebreaker against Detroit this morning in the Dallas Stars on April 27th.

Depending on whether you're in the Ken Daniels camp or the Mickey Redmond camp, the Wings, who have 45 points and a 19-15-and-7 record over the course of 41 games played, either need to earn 10 points or 8 points to control their playoff future, and with 17 ROWs.

Dallas has 19, Columbus also has 45 points and 14 ROWs--and has played in 42 games to the Wings' 41--Phoenix has 43 points and 15 ROW's, and Edmonton has 39 points and 14 ROWs. Looking ahead of the Wings, Minnesota has 47 points and 18 ROWs, St. Louis has only played 40 games but has 48 points and 20 ROWs and San Jose has 49 points but only 14 ROWs.

If the Wings lose the majority of their remaining 7 games, they won't be playing playoff hockey. There are eight teams playing for 4 playoff spots, and it's highly likely that the Wings' playoff fate won't be decided until that last game against Dallas...

But the Wings have had fits playing in Nashville and playing against Pekka Rinne, and the 13th-place Predators (38 points and 13 ROWs) may have lost five straight games, but they also made sure to rest Rinne for Chris Mason's sake in their 5-2 loss to Dallas on Friday. As the AP's recap of the Predators-Stars game notes, the Predators are banged-up...

The Predators are trying to stay in the playoff race despite forwards Colin Wilson, Paul Gaustad and Gabriel Bourque already being set for season-ending operations. Mike Fisher and Brandon Yip also were scratched because of injuries.

Nashville also gave goalie Pekka Rinne a break after he started 25 straight games, putting Chris Mason in net for the first time since Feb. 18.

But the Predators were also furious after their defeat...

"We've rode Pekka all the way here," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "We got three games in four nights, and trying to get Pekka a little bit of a breather."

Nashville has missed the playoffs only once in the past eight seasons, back in 2008-09. All the injuries have resulted in several players being called up from the Milwaukee of the AHL. Predators captain Shea Weber sounded frustrated after the game and said everyone has to take care of himself.

"I can't go around babysitting the other guys," said Weber, who had a 14-year, $110 million offer sheet from Philadelphia matched by Nashville last July. "It's a personal thing. At the end of the day, you have to look at yourself in the mirror and say you are playing your hardest and you are doing everything you can to help the team win."

And Weber reiteratd his statements to the Nashville City Paper's David Boclair...

Whatever the Predators are doing individually, they’re not winning collectively. Their losing streak reached a season-high five games with the loss to Dallas. They gave up the first goal at 6:04 of the opening period, fell behind by two just 1:36 later and never pulled even.

Nashville did outshoot Dallas 28-18, including 13-7 in the final period, and had another 27 attempts blocked or miss the mark as compared to the Stars’ 13. Yet for all of that, Dallas, which got two goals from Alex Chiasson, was in control virtually the entire way.

“They got four goals on [their first] 11 shots,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said. “They’re fighting for their playoff lives. We’re not. You ask your team to not allow teams to dominate you or anything. [The Stars] didn’t do that.”

The idea that the Predators had given up the fight for a playoff spot was apparent in the decision to go with goalie Chris Mason in place of Pekka Rinne, who had started 25 in a row. Mason, in his first start since Feb. 18, had little to no chance on all but the last of the goals he allowed.Taylor Beck and Bobby Butler scored for Nashville.

“[Rinne] has been a warrior for us all year, and [Mason] deserved a game as well,” Weber said. “he’s a great guy and a great goaltender. We didn’t help him out very much [Friday] night.

“… Like I said, the biggest thing is pride – not to quit especially to quit on each other.”

And the Nashville Examiner's Jim Diamond:

“Guys are fighting for spots in here for next year and for contracts or for whatever it may be,” he said. “The biggest thing is pride, not to quit, and especially quit on each other.”

When asked how to prevent that from happening, Weber indicated that he wants his teammates to take it upon themselves.

“Everyone has to take care of themselves,” he said. “I can’t go around and babysit every guy. It is a personal thing and like I said the other game, you’ve got to look at yourself in the mirror and say that you are playing your hardest and you are doing everything you can to help the team.”

On Saturday, caoch Trotz backed up his captain while speaking to the Tennessean's Josh Cooper...

Said Trotz, “I was reading a tweet where he says, ‘I can’t babysit everybody.’ Well, he can’t. All he can do is lead by example, and he’s doing a great job of that.”

And Cooper noted that the Predators will probably dress a top prospect who managed to escape the clutches of the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation (check out the comparison to Calle Jarnkrok's situation in the prospect department) this evening:

Predators top prospect Filip Forsberg may play Sunday in Nashville’s game against the Detroit Red Wings. Forsberg, a forward and 2012 first round draft pick, who was acquired in an April 3 trade deadline deal from Washington for Martin Erat and Michael Latta is set to take part in the Predators’ morning skate tomorrow.

“If everything is all good then I will put him in the lineup tomorrow,” Trotz said. “David (Poile) has talked to him, and he’s on his way. He has been skating. If he feels comfortable, and we’ll have a morning skate, I’ll put him in the lineup tomorrow.”

Trotz added, “The only reservation I have is the plane has to land in this country with his equipment.”

Trotz said he could put Forsberg in important spots during the game.

“How much I’ll play him? I don’t know, we’ll see in the morning skate, but I think I’ll try to put him in situations where he might be able to show some of his ability, I might put him on the power play or a situation like that,” Trotz said.

Forsberg's not the only top prospect competing for a job, as Cooper noted after Friday night's game...

Beck scores: Rookie Taylor Beck notched his third goal in 13 games. He now has seven points in that stretch, and according to Trotz, Beck is making a case to stay in Nashville for next season.

“He’s a big body, he’s focused on trying to contribute and he has,” Trotz said. “We’ve been patient with him and it looks like he wants to make a case to stay here. There’s no reason right now to do anything different.”

Butler scores: Forward Bobby Butler notched his first goal with the Predators on a wrist shot midway through the third period. Nashville picked up Butler off waivers from New Jersey in early March.

“I just came down the left side and just near the far side to see if I could sneak it by him,” Butler said. “There was a good chance it could be open so I just kind of threw it over there.”

Bang assists: Forward Daniel Bang notched his first NHL point, an assist, on Butler’s goal. The Predators called up Bang from Milwaukee on Tuesday.

If you really want to read more about Forsberg, Cooper has a profile of said player, but he mostly points out that the Predators want to make the Wings' lives miserable:

The Predators aren’t mathematically out of the playoffs, but with six games left, they trail eighth-place Detroit by seven points — quite a hill to overcome.

The Red Wings, on the other hand, enter today tied with Dallas and Columbus for the final playoff spot. So in today’s game against the Red Wings, the Predators find themselves in the spoiler position against their rival.

“Obviously we have a little bit of a rivalry against these guys stemming from a few playoff series and the few times we play them (in season), and their fans coming down to Nashville and cheering loudly for them in our arena,” Predators defenseman Kevin Klein said. “It’s one of those things where we need to play our game, play well and hopefully we can play spoiler.”

Nashville has made the playoffs seven of the past eight years. One year ago, the Predators beat the Red Wings in a five-game playoff series.

“Our role right now is to be spoilers,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said. “Obviously we’re playing Detroit, and our job is to be spoilers against them. That will be our game plan, to knock them off, and we’re still about trying to win. Everybody in the room has a lot of pride and they’re all playing for something.”

The Predators' website sets up tonight's game with a massive preview, so here are the Wings-related parts...

NASHVILLE’S WORKHORSE
Pekka Rinne made his League-leading 39th appearance of the season on Tuesday against St. Louis, stopping 25-of-26 shots – he has now earned a shutout or kept the opposition to one goal 14 times this season. The Kempele, Finland native paces the NHL in minutes (2,203:53) and is tied for the League lead in shutouts (5). His run of 25 consecutive starts and 29 straight appearances ended on Friday; both were the second-longest such streak in franchise history to Tomas Vokoun’s 38 starts from Jan. 16-April 6, 2003. In his last seven games, Rinne has posted a 1.85 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage.

...

KEEPING THE SHOT CLOCK LOW
The Predators held Dallas to just 18 shots on goal in Friday’s game, the second-lowest total by a Predators opponent this season and the third time Nashville has held the opposition to less than 20 shots in 2012-13. The Predators are allowing an average of 27.3 shots per game, the sixth-best mark in the league.

HOME SPECIAL TEAMS REMAIN SOLID
On Friday vs. Dallas, the Predators were awarded three power-play opportunities in a game for the first time since April 1 at Chicago, converting once. Nashville’s power play is clicking at a 24.6 percent rate on home ice, the third-highest home mark in the NHL. On the penalty kill, Nashville relinquished a goal for just the second time in the last eight games – it has killed off 12-of-14 times shorthanded in that span. The Preds were shorthanded more once for the first time in four games, and more than twice for the first time in six games on Friday; they have been shorthanded the third-fewest times in the NHL (124), and are one of just four teams averaging less than 10 penalty minutes per game (9.9).

....

TONIGHT’S STORYLINES vs. DETROIT
The Detroit Red Wings visit Bridgestone Arena for the final time as a Central Division rival on Sunday, the third of four meetings between the Red Wings and Nashville Predators in 2012-13. While Detroit claimed victory the last time these teams met on Feb. 23 at Joe Louis Arena, the Preds took a 4-3 overtime victory on Feb. 19, the most recent meeting in the Music City. Shea Weber proved to be the overtime hero, scoring just 44 seconds into the frame to cap off a two-point night and earn First Star honors. Colin Wilson also notched a pair of points (2a), while both Craig Smith and Roman Josi scored their first goals of the season. It was Nashville’s second consecutive home-ice win against the Wings, and when combining the Predators five-game Western Conference Quarterfinals victory last spring with the 2011-12 season series and the two games of the 2012-13 slate, the Predators have posted a 9-2-1 record against the Wings since Dec. 15, 2011. In regular season games only, Nashville has just one home-ice loss to Detroit over the past four seasons.

Weber has five points (4g-1a) in his last six regular-season games against the Wings… Both members of Nashville’s top defensive paring made their NHL debuts against Detroit – Weber on Jan. 6, 2006 and Roman Josi on Nov. 26, 2011… In 65 career games against his hometown team, David Legwand has 40 points (15g-25a)… For his career, Pekka Rinne is 12-6-3 with a 2.41 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage. He also has three shutouts against Detroit, one of four teams he has more than two whitewashes against (Phoenix 5, Dallas and Minnesota, 3)… Sergei Kostitsyn has recorded 10 points (4g-6a) in 15 regular-season games against Detroit, and scored the game-winning goal in Game Three of the 2012 WCQ at Joe Louis Arena… Austin Watson has yet to play against the team located 30 minutes from his hometown of Ann Arbor, and across the river from where he began his junior career (Windsor).

NHL.com's John Manasso offers a balanced preview...

Big story: Detroit, which is in a fight for itself Stanley Cup Playoff life, is coming off a 3-2 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday. The Red Wings, who have qualified for the postseason for 21 straight seasons, began Saturday two points up on the Dallas Stars, Columbus Blue Jackets and Phoenix Coyotes. Dallas holds a game in hand on the Red Wings. Nashville has fallen out of the playoff race with one win in its last eight games but hot prospect Filip Forsberg, a forward, is expected to make his NHL debut on Sunday.

...

Red Wings [team scope]: The Red Wings have won twice in their past eight (2-4-2) and have lost three straight, putting them in danger of falling out of the top eight. Scoring has been an issue, as they have scored 13 goals in that span.

 

....

Predators: On Saturday, Nashville coach Barry Trotz said his team is basically playing without six of its top seven forwards. That is in part why the Predators have fallen out of the playoff race and why they want to see what their young players, including Forsberg can do.

“I think I’ll try to put him in situations where he might be able to show off some his ability,” Trotz said of Forsberg. “Might put him on the power play or something like that. … Even if he plays marginally, I think that’s still a good experience for him.”

The Predators have lost five straight, all in regulation, since the trading deadline. They have scored six goals in that span and been shut out twice.

Goalie Pekka Rinne could be back in net after a rare night off on Friday.

Who’s hot: For Detroit, Johan Franzen has six points in his past six games (one goal, five assists). Henrik Zetterberg has four points in his last five games, all assists. In his past six starts, Howard has allowed more than two goals only once. For Nashville center David Legwand has three goals and three assists in his past seven games. Rinne has allowed one goal in three of his past five starts.

Injury report: For Detroit, forwards Todd Bertuzzi (back), Darren Helm (back) and Mikael Samuelsson (upper body) are likely out. … For Nashville, Bourque, Wilson and Gaustad are out. Center Mike Fisher (upper body) and wing Brandon Yip (lower body) missed the game on Friday.

The only stats the AP's game preview adds to the mix are scary ones:

Detroit hasn't scored more than three goals in any of its last 10 games, and failed to hold a third-period lead against the Blackhawks.

"(The Blackhawks) tied it up late there in the third," forward Henrik Zetterberg said. "After that it was kind of like a tight game all the way to the shootout. Unfortunately we couldn't score more than they did."

Top goal-scorer Pavel Datsyuk has scored twice in his last eight games. Damien Brunner has one in his last 18 games, Zetterberg has gone 10 in a row without scoring and Johan Franzen ended a seven-game goal drought with a tally Friday.

Detroit is 2-6-1 in its last nine against Nashville (15-19-8), including last year's postseason. The Predators have won four of the last five meetings at home, with all being decided by one goal.

...

Coach Barry Trotz gave Pekka Rinne a break Friday after the goalie started 25 straight games, putting Chris Mason in net for the first time since Feb. 18.

Rinne is 1-4-2 despite a 2.19 goals-against average over his last eight starts. Nashville has scored six goals during its losing streak.

The Red Wings' side of the story is simple: the team's struggling to win because it isn't scoring goals, as the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan points out...

Only twice over those last eight games have the Red Wings scored three goals. They've scored less than three every other time, including being shut out twice. Certainly it makes it a little more difficult to win when you're scoring that few goals.

"Offensively we still think we can do a little better job of getting to the net," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "Get more urgency to the net and making it harder on their goalie."

Key players are coming up empty.

Henrik Zetterberg hasn't scored a goal in 10 games and has two goals in 20. Damien Brunner has one goal in his last 18 games. Valtteri Filppula has one goal (his only point) in 12 games. Gustav Nyquist has one goal in 10 games, while Pavel Datsyuk has two goals in eight games and Daniel Cleary two goals in nine games.

Johan Franzen ended a seven-game drought with a goal during Friday's 3-2 shootout loss in Chicago.

"We're not executing when we get our chances," Zetterberg said. "We're creating chances but we're not putting the puck behind the goalie."

And as such, the Wings are in somewhat desperate straits, as the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness suggests:

Normally at this time of the season the Wings are focused on seeding instead of just finding a way to get into the playoffs.

“You are what you are,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “This is what we earned this year. This is what our team is. We’re no better or no worse than we are. We’re just a team battling to get in the playoffs. Win a game, that’s all. To me, we take the same approach we have every year, try to win games and get better.”

The Wings’ current streak of 21 consecutive trips to the postseason is the longest active streak of any North American major professional sports leagues. San Jose is next in the NHL with eight consecutive trips to the playoffs.

During the Wings’ current streak they’ve won their division 14 times. The lowest seed they’ve had was sixth (2009-10).

Four of Detroit’s final seven regular season games are on the road, including the next three in a row that begins tonight in Nashville. Three of those games are against teams close to or have been eliminated from playoffs consideration. Two are against teams close to locking up spots and the other two are against teams in a similar spot as the Wings.

“The good thing is all the games matter,” forward Henrik Zetterberg said. “We didn’t do that before. We’re playing playoff hockey right now. I think it’s a good test for us.”

The key games down the stretch for the Wings are a week from Monday when they host Phoenix and then close out the season on April 27 in Dallas.

“We’re still in the driver’s seat and control our own destiny,” goalie Jimmy Howard said. “Now, we’ve got to look to get two points on Sunday.”

The Free Press's Helene St. James also noted the Wings' rather disturbing inability to score goals...

The Wings enter Bridgestone Arena tonight to take on the Predators with 45 points and seven games remaining to clinch a spot. Back-to-back games with San Jose and Chicago yielded shoot-out losses, both 3-2, and heightened concern about why the Wings can't score much anymore. They averaged 2.75 goals the first 24 games of the season, but have dropped to 2.05 the past 17 games.

"We're not executing when we're getting our chances," captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "We're creating chances, but we're not putting the puck behind the goalie. I think that's the easiest thing."

After the Chicago loss, coach Mike Babcock said he thought the Wings "had good opportunity at their net and good opportunity against San Jose, too. We don't score very good, but all you have to do is look at the Guide and Record Book and add up all the goals the guys normally score in a year and they're probably right on pace."

Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are the only forwards who have delivered regularly. Otherwise, the Wings have seen sporadic contributions from their top-six guys, and hardly any offense coming from the bottom six. Much of that has to do with a back end that no longer has Nicklas Lidstrom to help set up the forwards, but there's also an overall lack of sustained net-front presence and failure to shoot.

"I still think we can do a little bit better job of getting some more rubber to the net," Niklas Kronwall said, "and getting some more guys to the net. We have to make it harder on their goalie.

And as such, she sums up the Wings' plight succinctly:

It's hardly surprising the Wings are in this position. Last summer, they lost Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart on the back end, and Jiri Hudler and his 25 goals up front. Attempts to land replacements for the defense didn't take, and the forwards brought in haven't paid many dividends. Mikael Samuelsson has spent the entire season injured. Damien Brunner looked like a gem the first 20 games, but he has six points his past 18 games. Jordin Tootoo has brought energy, but not the offense hoped.

Among the regulars, Johan Franzen gets a lot of warranted attention for not being more of a factor, but he does have six points his past six games, and he's fourth on the team with 24 points. Daniel Cleary, a regular on the power play but not so much on a top-two line, has nine goals. The biggest disappointment, the one forward who continually frustrates the Wings with his play, remains Valtteri Filppula. He has one point in his past 12 games.

This season has clarified who the team's "every dayers" -- as general manager Ken Holland likes to term it -- are and aren't. Basically, among the forwards, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg have carried the team all season.

The defense has been a patchwork, with a different lineup almost nightly. In goal, Howard has given the Wings a chance to win more often than not. His backup, Jonas Gustavsson, has been unable to gain the trust of Babcock or the skaters, which is why Howard has made eight straight starts.

Veterans on the team, guys who have never not made the playoffs, are determined not to make this their first time.

"We just have to stay positive, stick with the program, and just keep working hard," Kronwall said. "It's going to come down to us doing it together in here. We need everybody. It's going to come down right to the wire, and every game is huge. We have to keep our heads high and stay positive and focus on what we need to do."

Zetterberg tried to paint the upside to the precarious playoff picture, saying that "the good thing is, all the games matter. They didn't do that before. We've been many years where the last 10 didn't really matter. Now we're playing playoff hockey right now, and I think it's a good test for us."

And for the Detroit, failure is unacceptable.

 

 

In the prospect department, in ECHL playoff hockey, Jordan Pearce stopped 34 shots, Willie Coetzee had 2 assists, Trevor Parkes scored a goal and Andrej Nestrasil registered an assist as the Toledo Walleye defeated the Cincinnati Cyclones 3-1, clawing their way back into a series they trailed 3-0. Cincinnati now leads the series 3 games to 2, and the Walleye's website's recap reports that the series will continue on Tuesday in Toledo (the Toledo Blade's Mark Monroe provides a recap as well);

In the BCHL, James De Haas and his Penticton Vees have gotten off to a rough start in the BCHL final. They dropped a 2-0 decision to the Surrey Eagles on Saturday, and they now trail the series 2-0;

In regular season play, in the USHL, Mike McKee did not play in the Lincoln Stars' 4-3 win over Tri-City, wrapping up the Stars' season, and Lincoln will play either the Fargo Force or Sioux Falls Stampede in the first round of the USHL playoffs;

And in the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins "backed in" to a guaranteed playoff spot via a 4-3 OT loss to the Peoria Rivermen on Saturday night. The Griffins' website provides a recap...

The Grand Rapids Griffins on Saturday washed away the bitterness of a frustrating and controversial 4-3 overtime loss to the Peoria Rivermen by finally tasting the sweet fruits of their season-long labors, as the Midwest Division leaders secured a berth in the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs thanks to Milwaukee’s 3-1 loss to Rockford.

An intense game that featured three fights and an animated shouting match between the head coaches concluded with Peoria scoring late in regulation for the tie and then only 20 seconds into overtime. The Rivermen (33-32-4-3), who’ve been eliminated from playoff contention, won their seventh straight in the season series, but the point earned by the Griffins (40-25-4-4) ultimately clinched their first postseason appearance since 2009.

Grand Rapids is now within two points of claiming the Midwest Division title, which would be its first division crown since the 2005-06 campaign. The Griffins, whose first-round opponent is still to be determined, will conclude their regular season home schedule by hosting a rematch with the Rivermen next Friday, April 19 at 7 p.m. before finishing their slate with a pair of road games.   

After a scoreless opening period, Peoria’s Andre Bouvet-Morrissette whipped a shot past Petr Mrazek from the slot just 43 seconds into the middle frame.

The Griffins, who had totaled three goals while dropping the first two games of their homestand, were the beneficiary of two Landon Ferraro tallies just 20 seconds apart midway through the frame. Jeff Hoggan threw the puck at the net from the right goal line and Ferraro crashed the crease to put it under Mike McKenna at 9:13, before Ferraro potted a rebound into a yawning cage from the left of the net to give Grand Rapids its first lead in more than 149 minutes played at home this week.

The cushion lasted less than five minutes, though, as Jani Lajunen converted an Andrew Murray pass during a goal-mouth scramble at the 14:23 mark.

Francis Pare completed a “Gordie Howe hat trick” and restored the Griffins’ lead at 3-2 early in the third, stuffing the puck inside the left post from below the goal line at 4:07 and setting the stage for the controversial finish.

With the Rivermen on a power play with less than three minutes remaining in regulation, Evgeny Grachev drove to the net with the puck before losing it in a sea of bodies in the crease. Referee Terry Koharski kept his whistle in check while Andrew Murray spent several moments trying to dig the puck out of the pile before finally popping it free to Taylor Chorney for the equalizer with just 2:29 remaining.

In the opening seconds of overtime, Tomas Tatar carried the puck up the middle of the ice but was taken down by a trip and lost the puck just inside the Peoria blue line. With play continuing, Jani Hakanpaa darted up the right side and fired a wrist shot from above the circle that took an odd bounce and managed to slip past Mrazek just 20 seconds into the extra session.

Grand Rapids out-shot Peoria 32-27 on the night, with McKenna’s 29 saves besting Mrazek’s 23.

As well as a photo gallery and a highlight/interview clip...

And the Grand Rapids Press's Dean Holzwarth spoke to the players and coach:

“It was a bad bounce that we got, but we have to recover from it and get back on track Monday,” said Griffins’ left wing Francis Pare, who scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period. “We’re trying to clinch a playoff spot, but at the same time we’re trying to go one at a time. Right now we feel like we’re taking a step back, but at the same time we’re doing a lot of good things.”

A loss by Chicago would have put Grand Rapids in the playoffs as well, but the Wolves rallied for a 2-1 shootout win over Charlotte.

Grand Rapids (40-26-3-4), which lost back-to-back games against Chicago and Milwaukee this week, suffered its seventh loss in a row against the Rivermen. The Griffins haven’t beaten Peoria since Nov. 29, and haven’t won a home game in a month.

“It’s certainly disappointing, but we have to continue to get better,” Grand Rapids coach Jeff Blashill said. “I thought parts of our penalty kill were good, but then we give up one at the end. I didn’t think we played great, and I don’t think our attention to detail is where it needs to be. It has to be better, and we’ll correct that this week and head into a big game on Friday.”

The game-winner by Peoria came on the first shot of overtime.

“The puck was bouncing all over the place all game, and it was a really sloppy game because of that,” Blashill said. “They kind of threw it in there and it took a hop on in.”

As I noted in the Hotstove Tonight post on the KK Hockey blog, there's something of a triple standard going on in terms of Swedish prospects, with the Wings coming out on the losing end.

Calle Jarnkrok's heading back to his hometown of Gavle today, having registered 3 assists, a +3 and 10 shots over the course of 9 games played for Grand Rapids, and there are at least indications that the prospect who attended Thursday night's Wings game is more likely than not to make the jump to North America full-time next season...

But the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation decided that it wanted its top young players to play in the World Championships to help make its second year of co-hosting the Worlds with Helsinki, Finland (with Stockholm as the venue for the medal rounds in the second and final year of what is a very profitable partnership), so the SIHF forbade Jarnkrok from playing for the Wings and required that he be returned home to play on national team coach Par Marts' roster.

The Boston Bruins were that a player they just signed, Carl Soderberg, would not be allowed to come over to North America as he was going to play for Sweden at the Worlds, claiming that Soderberg's contract with Linkopings HC doesn't expire until mid-May...

But when Soderberg refused to report, the SIHF made up a, "Well, the NHLPA says we can't hold him back" line and released him...And Predators are allowed to play Filip Forsberg tonight simply because he wasn't in the national team's plans.

And as a for-the-record note, the Saginaw News's Cory Butzin's confirming that Saginaw Spirit goalie Jake Paterson signed an amateur try-out with the Griffins for the remainder of the season, though he's probably not going to play in any games

 

 

Red Wings notebooks and also of Red Wings-related note: The Wings didn't practice on Saturday, so these stories are mostly tangentially-related.

The Free Press's Mike Bruendell spoke to actor Michael Shanks about portraying Gordie Howe in the made-for-TV movie, "Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story," which chronicles Howe's comeback with the Houston Aeros...

Shanks said he was shaking his head in disbelief after he was signed to play Howe, the Red Wings icon and oldest player ever to compete in the NHL, in the upcoming 2-hour Hallmark Channel original movie "Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story," which will premier at 9 p.m. May 4.

"What a privilege -- what an amazing thing to play a champion hockey player in a hockey-based movie," Shanks said. "It's a dream come true."

And Brundell spoke to the actor who portrays Mark Howe, too:

"I've played hockey most of my life, and then I caught the acting bug," said Herr, 21, who grew up in London, Ontario, and also played junior hockey.

"I was blown away with Michael's performance as Gordie," Herr said. "I found out, too, that Michael has sharp elbows on the ice."

Herr said "Mr. Hockey" is as much about the Howe children and Colleen Howe as Gordie.

"It's a humbling, heartfelt and, in the end, an inspiring story," said Herr, who roots for the Ottawa Senators in the NHL. "Gordie struggled first in his transition to Houston, and then the family came together. "

The story continues at some length.

While enjoying an off-day in Nashville, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose spoke to a "famous voice" about his Red Wings fandom...

What do baseball, country music and kids television programming have in common with the Red Wings?

The answer: Buzz Brainard, the metamorphic voice of everything from computer chips to the Walt Disney Empire, who grew-up in Michigan idolizing the Red Wings. Though, by his own admission he may have attended just a couple of games as a young boy, this Nashville transplant hasn’t forgotten his hometown sports roots.

“It was really tough growing up in Flint because we weren’t really able to go to games,” Brainard said. “I was a Wings’ fan. I was a Lions’ fan. I was a Tigers’ fan. But I didn’t get to see a lot. It was more about the mystery of it. We didn’t have a lot of money so it wasn’t like we traveled to Detroit. Occasionally we’d go to a Wings game or a Tigers game, but it was enough to build in my head that it was cool to follow it. … To be able to go occasionally made the whole thing crazy big.”

Red Wings’ fans likely don’t know the man behind the voice who moved from Michigan in the early 80s to pursue an acting career. However, some may recognize Brainard as the host of “This Week in Baseball”, while music aficionados hear him weekdays on “The Highway” the road to new country on Sirius XM, and kids of all ages acquaint him to being the benevolent voice of The Disney Channel.

Born and raised in Clio, a northern Flint suburb, Brainard studied theatre and communications at Central Michigan University. But a semester before he was scheduled to graduate a job offer came in from Lansing’s BoarsHead Theater. He accepted the acting role and never looked back on a career that has since taken him from New York to Los Angeles, and Nashville where he now lives.

And Roose's story continues at length, too.

In the alumni department, NHL.com's Tal Pinchevsky reports that Brendan Shanahan took part in a game between New Jersey Devils alums and Russian legends to raise money for Hurricane Sandy relief, and the Tri-Boro Patch's Rob Heinemann covered the game as well. We're going to conveniently ignore the, "1995 New Jersey Devils Stanley Cup-winning team reunion" angle;

Something tells me that this quip from the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch, who may or may not be making the following up, will annoy you:

The Wings listened to offers for C Valtteri Filppula at the deadline and they had a lot of interest. Detroit decided not to move him in the end but the Penguins, Bruins, Leafs and Rangers were all trying to see if they could entice the Wings to move Filppula.

Fil will be "flipped" sooner or later...

And finally, Pavel Datsyuk took part in a Twitter Q and A on Saturday afternoon. Here's what he had to say:

Starting tonight, Pavel, we need you to school your opponents. Please.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

Avatar

The Predators are trying to stay in the playoff race despite forwards Colin Wilson, Paul Gaustad and Gabriel Bourque already being set for season-ending operations. Mike Fisher and Brandon Yip also were scratched because of injuries.

Oh Noes, the “sexual” Predators are dealing with injuries?  Thank God, the Wings haven’t had any of that mess to worry about this season.  oh oh

Posted by Valek from Chicago on 04/14/13 at 05:30 AM ET

gowings's avatar

Thank you for posting this bit on Pavel…..so much fun to read…

I do not know what you guys think about this…but my husband made an interesting point last night. He watched the Dallas game and part of the Columbus one…and he was telling me that the problem with my team (he’s a MTL Canadian fan) is not about the coaching staff, nor the many line combinations, nor the GM. He said that although he agrees that this teams needs to get rid of some dead weight and get new blood, we nevertheless should clinch a playoff spot, but we won’t because we don’t play with determination and for 60 minutes. He said that watching the other games (which I am too frustrated to do) he see’s players starting on time and a bench full of hope, grit and heart. According to him, this is the #1 reason for their downfall.

I know a lot of people blame the GM, the coach, players that I do not even need to mention….all the above…..but now that I think of it, this is the number one problem. If the players are thinking of their golf swings instead of wining games…then that’s what we get. How many times did we start playing on the second period? If you are truly desperate…won’t you at the very least try to get to work on time?

Then again….my poor darling lost to Toronto last night…..his mind is not in a healthy place right now LOL…

Posted by gowings from MTL on 04/14/13 at 06:13 AM ET

Hootinani's avatar

Never had Taco Bell in my life

and thats why he’s Datsyuk and I’m sitting on the couch in my sweats at 11:30

And be prepared for Forsberg to have the game of his life tonight, the Wings are usually good for that.

Posted by Hootinani on 04/14/13 at 10:34 AM ET

Figaro's avatar

Ok, let’s think positive! 7-0 to finish the year!

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 04/14/13 at 10:45 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Fixed broken links. Don’t know what the hell happened.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 04/14/13 at 10:48 AM ET

gt500x's avatar

Even when the Wings control their fate, they don’t do much with it.  The name of the game is now just win.

Posted by gt500x on 04/14/13 at 11:05 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.