Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Predators set-up and overnight report: the Wings *should* be able to pounce on the Preds

The Detroit Red Wings' six-game winless streak provoked the following comment from TSN's Scott Cullen in his latest set of power rankings:

This Week 16 Last Week17 Detroit Red Wings 9-5-7

Winless in six sounds worse than it really is, since the Wings have accumulated points in five of those six games, but a seven-game home winless streak is a problem for a team that had hopes of being a contender.

I don't buy the concept that the Red Wings have to turn in some sort of membership in the, "We've earned the right to be taken seriously" card because they've amassed an ugly 1-2-and-3 record over their past six games and two weeks' worth of play, especially given the progress made in the team's losses to Washington and the Islanders.

That being said, as the Wings embark upon a slate of 4 games played over the course of 6 nights starting this evening against Nashville (7:30 PM, FSD Plus/FS Tennessee/AM 1270), owing all of an 0-1-and-6 home record of late and 3-2-and-6 record at the Joe for this season, heading into three straight home games (Nashville this evening, Carolina on Thursday and Ottawa on Saturday; the Wings will head to Buffalo for Sunday's game), the Wings have most certainly burned their margin for error over the next month or so.

With 20 more games scheduled to take place between tonight and the Winter Classic, the next seven weeks will most certainly determine whether the Wings head into their New Year's Day match-up at the Big House back on track to finish in the top half of the Eastern Conference or whether they'll have to skate uphill in order to scratch and claw their way to a playoff spot.

As a Wings fan myself, I've been wearing out my "concern" button over the past two weeks, and I will admit that, should the Wings lose two more games in succession (by any fashion), I will officially be pushing the top button (I know that many of you are ready to push the bottom one):

I know that many of you want to see the Red Wings bring up Gustav Nyquist (who's registered 7 goals and 14 assists over the course of only 15 games played in Grand Rapids) by any means necessary, even though Capgeek has suggested that the Wings' currently-constructed roster won't allow them to recall anyone who makes more than Luke Glendening's $575,000 until they accrue the cap credits to bring up Nyquist on a permanent basis (keep in mind that Nyquist would have to be a permanent promotion as his waiver-exempt status expires after 2 NHL games played) until the middle of January.

I've heard, "Trade Cleary," "Waive Quincey" and everything but "Shoot Samuelsson Into Space" (my favorite option) lately, but the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Michael Russo suggested that the vast majority of the league's teams are "capped out" for a reason--they are--and the ten teams with more than $3.8 million in cap space are all playing over their teams' self-imposed budgets, so they're not in the buying dead weight business.

I know that many of you have greeted the news of Brendan Smith's imminent return--even as a seventh defenseman on a team with 11 forwards scheduled to play tomorrow night--with the following:

For the moment, and for the next month or two, the Wings' roster is what it is, regardless of whether we like it or not. I know that's not a crowd-pleasing thing to say, but it's honest.

The reality of the situation is that the current Red Wings team needs to be better.

The Wings have been receiving secondary scoring, their special teams have been good, and despite suggestions that a certain starter has to put on his "big boy goalie pants," yes, the goaltending could be a little better, but blaming the Wings' problems on Howard is really just scapegoating at this point. Certain individuals have played below expectations (see: Kyle "-12" Quincey), but the underachievers outnumber the overachievers, and even the Wings' weakest links have been working their asses off over the past two games.

The problem is that the Wings can't seem to score the game's first goal, and they sure as hell can't hold a lead. When the team makes mistakes, they're usually catastrophic, goal-surrendering mistakes where every skater on the ice and the goaltender share blame for team-wide brain farts, and when they get down, the Wings can even things up...But after earning game-tying goals, their lack of killer instinct seems to disappear.

Confidence and execution--that stuff can be remedied via hard work and some earned breaks..

In theory, the Wings are catching the Predators at the right time, too. Nashville's 7-2 romp over Chicago on Saturday snapped a four-game (regulation) losing streak, and the Predators' record over the last 10 games is 4-and-5-and-1, which is *technically* worse than the Wings' 3-1-and-6 record in terms of leaving no points on the table. They're 9-9-and-2 overall, and sit 12th out of 14th in the Western Conference.

The Predators also won Sunday's 7-2 victory with rookie Marek Mazanec in goal, and fellow rookie Carter Hutton is the Predators' other goaltending option, so the Wings won't be facing nemesis Pekka Rinne this evening.

The Predators supposedly practiced on Monday, but the only record of said practice comes via a few short strokes from the Tennessean's Mike Organ...

Back on the road: The Predators are finishing a stretch in which they are playing nine of 10 games on the road. They go from Detroit to Toronto before returning to Bridgestone Arena on Saturday to face the New York Rangers. Nashville is 4-7-1 on the road.

Injuries: Trotz said forward Eric Nystrom, who is listed day-to-day with an upper-body injury, would travel with the team this week. Not traveling this week is forward Filip Forsberg, who also is listed day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

Whose "off-day" article discussed the 22-year-old, right-catching Marek Mazanec's play:

The Predators had indeed lost their way during the four-game slump, when they were outscored 17-2. They bounced back, however, as the rookie stopped 39 of 41 goals in his first NHL start. And at least for one night, he helped the team forget about its troubles in net with Pekka Rinne (hip) on injured reserve indefinitely.

Mazanec will start again today when Nashville (9-9-2) visits Detroit (9-5-7).

After being passed over twice in the NHL draft, Mazanec was selected in the sixth round last year by the Predators. They called him up from Milwaukee of the American Hockey League on Nov. 5.

Mazanec was 5-0-0 in his Milwaukee starts, posting a 1.97 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage.

On Sunday, the Tennessean's Nick Cole noted that the Predators celebrated their return to Bridgestone Arena with quite the mauling of the Hawks...

After scoring just two goals in their past four games, the Predators scored two goals in the first 8:25 of their first home game since Oct. 26. Matt Cullen and Nick Spaling each found the net with wrist shots to give Nashville the early advantage, and that was enough momentum to carry the Predators through the evening.

Predators coach Barry Trotz said grabbing the early lead was crucial for a team that was reeling from a tough road trip and in search of a confidence boost.

“If they scored first, you go ‘here we go again’ and they would have the momentum and the Chicago fans are going crazy and the arena gets really quiet,” Trotz said.

There was a large Blackhawks contingent among the 17,113 in attendance, but Predators captain Shea Weber said that coming home to a mostly friendly atmosphere was important to the team’s success.

“We love playing here,” Weber said. “We used all the energy from our crowd. They are great and some of the best in the league.”

Craig Smith (one goal, two assists) led an offensive charge for the Predators that featured seven goal scorers.

“I thought Smitty was really moving his legs tonight,” Trotz said. “He was determined. He stayed on pucks and was really hard to handle and was creating things.”

And the Associated Press's game recap let the Predators gush...

"Good response by our guys today," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "We looked at this game as the end of road trip, not the first home game really because of the quick turnover and obviously playing the Stanley Cup champions."
Cullen scored the game's first goal at 7:28 of the opening period.

From the slot, Smith's slap shot was stopped by Chicago goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin. The rebound fell to the right of the net, and a diving Cullen poked the rebound in for his third goal of the season. Less than a minute later, Spaling doubled the Nashville lead when his wrist shot from the right faceoff dot slipped just underneath the crossbar at 8:25.

Later in the first, Khabibulin left the game with an injury after making stops on shots from Weber and Hornqvist. Corey Crawford replaced Khabibulin at 15:33. Following the game, the Blackhawks said that Khabibulin had a lower-body injury, but had no further update.

"We got outworked," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. "We didn't do the things we needed to. We didn't win our battles, especially in the right areas we needed to win them in."

Hornqvist's sixth goal of the season came at 9:02 of the second to give Nashville a 3-0 lead. With Nashville on a power play, Roman Josi's slap shot from just above the left faceoff circle was tipped by Hornqvist in front and beat Crawford on the short side.

Smith and Kane traded goals late in the second, with Smith connecting at 18:18 and Kane answering 26 seconds later.

As did NHL.com's John Manasso's recap, which focused on Craig Smith's performance:

Each member of Smith's line -- he played right wing with Nick Spaling on the left and Matt Cullen at center -- scored even-strength goals.

"I think Craig was really skating," Spaling said. "He was creating a lot of pressure and Cully was making plays. It was just a good night that way. It was just a sustaining pressure."

Nashville coach Barry Trotz agreed, also acknowledging Smith's speed, perhaps his greatest asset.

"I thought Smitty was really, really moving his legs tonight," Trotz said. "He stayed on pucks and was really hard to handle. He was creating things."

Smith appeared visibly relieved to have helped Nashville pick up the win and end the team's arid goal-scoring stretch. Entering the game, Nashville had lost four straight by a combined score of 17-2.

"Yes, it felt great," Smith said. "It's been a long time. It's been a tough couple of games. I thought we did a great job sticking with it."

Chicago suffered its first regulation loss in three weeks -- and also by far its worst defeat of the season -- and had a four-game winning streak snapped. The Blackhawks had gone 7-0-1 in their previous eight and had not suffered a regulation loss since Oct. 26, a 5-3 win for the Minnesota Wild.

The Nashville Examiner's Jim Diamond added context to Mazenec's performance...

Earlier this season, Carter Hutton became just the seventh goaltender to record a win for the Nashville Predators. Ever. They have been in the National Hockey League since 1998. Saturday night, that exclusive club added another member when rookie Marek Mazanec backstopped the Predators to a somewhat surprising 7-2 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

“It’s awesome,” Mazanec said after the game. “I’m really happy.”

And in true Predator goaltender fashion, Mazanec was anything but a “can’t miss” prospect. Nashville selected him in the sixth round (179th overall) in the 2012 Entry Draft.

Playing his first North American season, the chances that the 22-year-old Czech would see time with the Predators in 2013-14 were remote at best. But Pekka Rinne’s hip infection changed many things in Nashville’s goaltending hierarchy. Following fellow countryman Tomas Vokoun, Mazanec is the second Czech-born, right-handed catching goaltender to record a victory for the Predators.

...

“He’s been great for us,” Shea Weber said. “You look at the games and you might think otherwise, but he’s played well for us. We haven’t given him the support offensively or defensively, so tonight he was great. “It was good to see him get his first win.”

And the Tennessean's Cole spoke with the Predators about their desire to right their ship:

Winger Nick Spaling, one of seven Predators who found the net in the season-best offensive performance against the defending Stanley Cup champions, believes the success was a direct result of getting back to what is considered “Predator-style” hockey.

“It’s a matter of just sticking to the game plan,” Spaling said. “Our game plan obviously isn’t expecting to score seven a night. We just want to stick to what we did that got us success (Saturday), which was shooting pucks to the net and getting traffic there and then being relentless on the forecheck.”

It is an approach the team seemed to have gotten away from later in a seven-game, 17-day road trip in which the Predators were outscored 17-2 over the final four games.

“Those four games that we lost, we started to get frustrated and all that, but now we are back to our style of hockey,” forward Patric Hornqvist said. “… We just have to keep working and do the right things out there.”

Coach Barry Trotz said the biggest difference in the way the team played at home versus the way it ended the road trip was on the defensive end of the ice.

“When you defend poorly, you spend the whole time in your end and you just hope to get the puck out,” Trotz said. “And when you do get it out, you just look for a (line) change and everything just overwhelms you. If you are going to be good offensively, you are going to first have to be good defensively.”

The Tennessean's Organ penned a short game preview...

• Notes: This is the first meeting of the season between the former Central Division rivals — Detroit is now in the Eastern Conference — and the lone meeting in the Motor City. The Predators are 12-24-7 all-time in Detroit. … The Red Wings are 0-1-5 since defenseman Brendan Smith was sidelined with a shoulder injury. He is expected to return for this game. … Detroit has won three consecutive games against Nashville and seven of the past 11.

• Injuries: Predators F Filip Forsberg (upper body) and F Eric Nystrom (upper body) are day-to-day; Detroit D Brendan Smith (shoulder) is probable, F Daniel Alfredsson (groin) is questionable and C Stephen Weiss (groin) is on injured reserve.

And all I can tell you is that the Predators website's game preview is...Immense. They take three or four pages' worth of game notes and scrunch them into one article, and I'd argue that these "Quick Hits" are most pertinent in terms of setting up tonight's affair:

QUICK HITS

• David Legwand has 10 points (3g-7a) in his last eight outings, and has a team-best 17 points (4g-13a) in 20 games this year. Eleven (4g-7a) of Legwand’s 17 points this season have come away from the Music City.

• Patric Hornqvist has eight points (3g-5a) in his last 10 games to lead the team in goals and move into second in team scoring (6g-7a-13pts).

• Seth Jones leads all first-year players in average time on ice (24:04), and ranks among the League’s Top 30 in the category. With an assist on Saturday night, the Frisco, Texas native is tied for 13th in points among first-year players (2g-6a-8pts), while ranking second in power-play points (1g-3a), ninth in power-play goals (1) and 21st in shots on goal (26) among rookies.

• Kevin Klein leads the team and ranks fourth in the League with 53 blocked shots.

• When the Preds score first they hold onto the lead, going 8-1-2 in those contests this season.

• Six of Nashville’s nine wins this season have come by one goal – it is 6-0-2 in one-goal games.

• Nashville is 8-0-1 when scoring three or more goals this season.

...

• The Preds are 56-37-16 against the Eastern Conference since 2005-06, 32-20-9 vs. the East since 2009-10, and 3-5-0 in inter-conference matchups this season.

• The Predators have had seven rookies appear in the lineup this season. They had eight rookies appear last season, and 11 during the 2011-12 campaign. Nashville is also one of two teams in the NHL to field multiple teenagers in its lineup (Filip Forsberg, 19 and Seth Jones, 19), only Buffalo has had more teenagers on its roster (four).

If you want to read a novel, the rest of the preview's for you.

And NHL.com's John Manasso had the Predators dressing the following lineup against Chicago on Sunday:

PREDATORS

Gabriel Bourque - David Legwand - Patric Hornqvist

Colin Wilson – Mike Fisher - Viktor Stalberg

Craig Smith - Matt Cullen - Filip Forsberg

Matt Hendricks - Paul Gaustad – Rich Clune

Roman Josi - Shea Weber

Seth Jones - Kevin Klein

Victor Bartley - Ryan Ellis

Carter Hutton

Marek Mazanec

Scratched: Nick Spaling, Mattias Ekholm

Injured: Pekka Rinne (hip), Eric Nystrom (upper body)

NHL.com's David Kalan offers a more succinct set-up as compared to that of the Predators' website..

Big story: For Nashville's entire history one of its biggest rivals in the League was Detroit, but now that the Red Wings play in the Eastern Conference, those meetings will only come twice a year. The one-time rivals will meet Tuesday as slumping Detroit tries to make a move in the Atlantic Division against a Predators team that is struggling to keep pace in the competitive Central.

...

Predators [team scope]: For teams that struggle offensively, the game in which they break out and light up the scoreboard is always a relief. Hanging seven goals on the defending champions after a seven-game, 17-day road trip is particularly refreshing. One can ask the Predators to know just how refreshing it is, as they beat-up the Central Division-leading Chicago Blackhawks 7-2 this past Saturday. It was Nashville's first game at home in more than two weeks, and it came on the heels of a four-game losing streak in which the Predators scored just two goals.

...

Red Wings[team scope]: Few venues in the NHL carry the gravitas and atmosphere one can find in Joe Louis Arena, but lately home hasn't been so sweet for the Red Wings. Detroit has lost its past seven games at the Joe, a remarkable total considering the Wings lost a grand total of 10 games there in their last full 82-game season. Those losses have taken a toll on Detroit, which played four of its past five games at home and opens another three-game homestand Tuesday.

"It's been tough here for us but it's not like something's miraculously going to happen for us to get out of this," Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said. "It's going to take hard work and the right attitude."

Despite those home struggles, Detroit hasn't fallen too far off the pace in the log-jammed Atlantic. All of those extra points in overtime and shootout losses have kept the Red Wings within three points of the first-place Tampa Bay Lightning, meaning a run at not only a playoff spot, but the division title is far from a longshot with three quarters of the season still to play.

Who's hot: Smith led the way for Nashville in its blowout victory against Chicago, scoring a goal and adding two assists. ... Pavel Datsyuk has four goals in his past three games for Detroit.

Injury report: After missing Nashville's game Saturday, left wing Eric Nystrom (upper-body injury) is questionable to return against Detroit. Goalie Pekka Rinne (hip infection) is out until late December … Defenseman Brendan Smith (separated shoulder) is expected to return to the lineup for the Red Wings, who are expecting to be without their two big offseason acquisitions as center Stephen Weiss and right wing Daniel Alfredsson are both battling groin injuries.

The AP/STATS LLC's game preview offers, well, stats...

The Wings have only gone past regulation once in the past 16 meetings with Nashville, and they've won three in a row and seven of the past 11 matchups. Detroit has outscored the Predators 12-2 during the win streak and has taken four of the past five meetings at Joe Louis Arena.

Datsyuk, who scored twice Saturday to give him 11 goals on the season, has four goals and 10 assists with a plus-11 rating in his past eight games against Nashville.

Jimmy Howard was in goal for the three consecutive victories over the Predators, posting shutouts in the first two. He's likely to be back in net for this game after getting a day off in favor of Jonas Gustavsson on Saturday.

Nashville (9-9-2) broke a four-game losing streak in stunning fashion Saturday, routing Chicago 7-2. Rookie Marek Mazanec made 39 saves for his first NHL victory, while seven Nashville players scored a goal and 12 recorded at least a point. Even with the offensive outburst, the Predators' 46 goals are easily the fewest in the Western Conference.

...

The 22-year-old Mazanec seems likely to be in net again Tuesday with No. 1 goalie Pekka Rinne out indefinitely due to a hip infection.

David Legwand had a pair of assists against the Blackhawks to push his team-leading point total to 17. Legwand, though, hasn't scored in his last six games and has been held without a point in his past four matchups with Detroit.

And DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose offers the following preview from his "Week Ahead in Hockeytown" article:

TUESDAY – vs. NASHVILLE (9-9-2): Saturday’s 7-2 win over the Blackhawks – which came in the Predators' first home game following a seven-game, 17-day road trip – snapped a four-game losing streak for Nashville. With No. 1 goalie Pekka Rinne out indefinitely with an infected hip, the Predators need a steadying force in goal. Coach Barry Trotz said he thought the offense Saturday was a result of solid defense. If Marek Mazanec can do the job, maybe he could be the lift the Predators need. The Wings and Predators are among six NHL clubs without a shootout victory this season. Making matters worse for the Preds (0-2), six different shooters have combined to go 0-for-8, including Matt Cullen and Craig Smith, who are 0-for-2 each. … Grosse Pointe Woods native David Legwand has 10 points, including three goals, in his last eight games, and has a team-best 17 points in 19 games this season. Legwand has produced 11 points (four goals, seven assists) away from Bridgestone Arena.

PLAYER TO WATCH: All-Star defenseman Shea Weber has led Nashville in ice time in 12 of the last 14 games to rank sixth in the league in the category (26:25). Weber’s five Goals are tied for second among NHL defensemen. The Preds are 5-0-0 when their captain finds the back of the net. With a goal and an assist in Saturday’s win, he became the fourth player in franchise history to post 300 points with the team joining center David Legwand, winger Martin Erat and defenseman Kimmo Timonen. Weber’s next point will make him the highest-scoring defenseman in club history. In 45 career games against the Wings, Weber has produced nine goals and 13 assists with a plus-7 rating. But only eight of those 22 points have come at Joe Louis Arena, where he is a minus-1 in 22 games.

The Red Wings' Monday practice provided a significant amount of content in terms of roster news, but it boils down to the following:

1. It does not appear that Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss are quite ready to return from their groin injuries, but given the Wings' proximity to the salary cap and Brendan Smith's return from a shoulder injury, Wings coach Mike Babcock stated that he planned on going with 11 forwards and 7 defensemen;

2. Danny DeKeyser left practice early with "the flu," and given that just about every hockey player who is significantly ill is stated to be battling "the flu," that kind of diagnosis is murky at best.

The Free Press's Helene St. James' post-practice report offers a fine summation of Monday's news...

[Brendan] Smith is expected to be one of seven defensemen the Detroit Red Wings will use Tuesday, when they host the Nashville Predators (7:30 p.m., FS-Plus). Coach Mike Babcock said today he expects to have only 11 forwards available. Daniel Alfredsson has missed two games with a sore groin, and while he didn't rule himself out after skating on his own after practice, teams tend to err on precaution's side when it comes to groins. Forward Stephen Weiss, also dealing with a groin, is hopeful to play by the end of the week.

Danny DeKeyser sat out practice because he has flu, general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press. "Hopefully, good to play."

The Wings are looking to overturn an overall six-game winless streak and a six-game winless streak at Joe Louis Arena. The Wings haven't won a game since Nov. 2 in Edmonton, which happens to be the game in which Smith got hurt. Babcock made a point of that, noting that while Jonathan Ericsson and Johan Franzen also were out for parts of that stretch, Smith's value on the back end shouldn't be overlooked.

"We were rolling along, winning, Smitty got hurt, and we didn't win," Babcock said. "Now you can say, 'Oh, Big E was out and Mule was out.' But it just goes to show you: Your back end has got to be able to move the puck for you. Smitty can move the puck."

The problem has been Smith's inefficiency without the puck. He's a minus-7 after 11 games, with just one assist. He was a healthy scratch in the fifth game of the season, after racking up a minus-4. It didn't go over well within the organization when Smith said that that rating wasn't because there had been a breakdown on his side. It went over much better when Smith, speaking in Winnipeg two days after he hurt his shoulder, said he would spend the recovery time studying.

And she posted the only video of the day, speaking with Smith, Niklas Kronwall and coach Babcock:

MLive's Ansar Khan continues St. James' narrative in noting that Smith stated that he was "studying" Niklas Kronwall's play...

"I want to be able to help defensively, give more legs, more speed on the back end, move the puck to the forwards a little quicker,’’ Smith said. “Hopefully after that maybe help out offensively, too.’’

While he was out, Smith watched Niklas Kronwall.

“I was focusing more on some of the plays Kronwall would make and how he comes up in the rush.’’ Smith said. “I like how Nik can have such good gap at all times. He makes it very efficient for himself that way. When he has good gap, obviously nobody’s going to beat him.

“There’s little tricks he’s learned from (Nicklas) Lidstrom that I’m picking up as I play more and watch him more. He’s very patient with the puck. That’s something I want to bring into my game a little more, be a little more poised with the puck, maybe take that extra second to make a better play, don’t try to rush things. That’s when you get yourself in trouble.’’

And he offered the Wings' practice lines:

Henrik Zetterberg-Pavel Datsyuk-Todd Bertuzzi

Johan Franzen-Darren Helm-Tomas Tatar

Daniel Cleary-Joakim Andersson-Mikael Samuelsson

Drew Miller-Justin Abdelkader

Injured: Stephen Weiss (groin) worked in with the top six for the first half of practice. Daniel Alfredsson (groin) skated briefly after practice.

Niklas Kronwall-Jonathan Ericsson

Kyle Quincey-Danny DeKeyser/Brian Lashoff

Brendan Smith-Jakub Kindl

Jimmy Howard

Jonas Gustavsson

Both Khan and the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness noted that the Wings practiced their shootout skills after practice, and Pleiness's article qualifies as "new news" (and I'll leave out Smith's attempt to petition his way into the shootout rotation):

The Wings have lost their last three games in shootouts and are 0-4 on the season. They’ve lost nine in a row dating back to last season.

“We’ve done a shootout for I don’t know how many days,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “The elephant in the room is we haven’t scored in the shootout. I mean, your goalie is standing at the end and we don’t (score so) they have to go (scoreless). We have to score some goals for the goalie.”

Detroit has scored just one goal in 12 shootout attempts (8.3 percent) this season, while opponents have scored on five of 10 shots.

“I think it’s just the way things have been going now with the last little bit and a lot of games going to OT and the shootout, maybe the confidence isn’t there,” Niklas Kronwall said. “But I think that’s something that we’re beginning to work on in practice now and I think that helps. Believing in yourself and sticking to what you’ve been doing and eventually it’s going to work out and it’s going to be good in the long run.”

Daniel Alfredsson has the lone shootout goal this season. Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi are both 0-for-4, while Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen have missed on their only attempts.

For their careers, Datsyuk is 33 for 76 (43.4 percent), and Bertuzzi is 16 for 47 (34 percent) in shootouts.

Pleiness also offers one hell of a quote from Babcock regarding the Wings' struggles:

“I don’t think there’s one guy in the room that doesn’t think they have to get better,” Babcock said. “Howie’s one of the top goalies in the world. If you think he’s not trying to get better. Z’s one of the best players in the world, who’s trying to get better. Kronner is one of the best players in the world trying to get better. Pav is trying to get better. That’s what they do. That’s why they’re here. So Smitty’s no different and he’s a kid, and so those guys are really down in that area.”

I know I'm posting a significant amount of repetitious stuff, so I'll suggest that you read DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose's comparison of 4th overall draft pick Seth Jones' career path to that of Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser on your own, but I think it's a fantastic read, and these paragraphs have to be noted:

When the Red Wings signed DeKeyser last spring, they liked him for his ability to be a stay-at-home, shutdown-type of defenseman. The 6-foot-3 DeKeyser is a smooth skater who uses is long reach to baffle opposing puck-handlers. But lately, he has gained more confidence on the offensive end of the rink, where he has produced two goals and six assists in the last 10 games.

The Wings have utterly and desperately needed someone to step up and take some scoring pressure off of Niklas Kronwall for some time now, and I would argue that DeKeyser's offensive flourish may be more important to the Wings' long-term success than the remarkable performance of the Johan Franzen-Darren Helm-Tomas Tatar line.

“I think his confidence is getting better and better and I think he’s realizing too what he’s capable of,” Niklas Kronwall said. “When he came in he was so solid for us at both ends, but I think now he just feels confident enough to join the rush too. He’s really good in our own zone, making that tape-to-tape pass and now he’s joining the rush and being really affective for us whether it’s on the PP or just 5-on-5 creating chances. He’s a real good player out there, so it’s great to see him and we need that from him.”

With confidence comes bigger responsibility and more ice time. DeKeyser even played stepped into a specialty team role last Friday when Daniel Alfredsson was a last-minute scratch against Washington. The blue-liner played the point on the second power-play unit and even scored in more than 26-minutes of ice time – five-minutes more than his season average.

DeKeyser has averaged 21:46, which is 2:18 shy of Jones who is leading the league’s rookies with 24:04 of ice time. The son of former NBA forward Popeye Jones, the Nashville rookie has four assists in the last 10 games.

Otherwise, I'll wrap things up with the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan's injury notes and mention of the HBO 24/7 cameras attending practice. Save the other power rankings I posted in the practice entry--from ESPN's Scott Burnside and CBS Sports' Brian Stubits--this really is "it" in terms of Wings coverage for this morning:

Weiss, Alfredsson update: Forward Stephen Weiss (groin) went through the majority of Monday's practice and is aiming to return by the end of this week.

Daniel Alfredsson (groin) went out by himself after practice and did some skating. His return is day to day, although it looks likely Alfredsson will miss a third consecutive game -- judging by the fact Babcock is planning on going with 11 forwards and seven defensemen Tuesday against Nashville.

"Last couple of days there has been improvement," Alfredsson said. "It was good to get back on the ice today and work out, and we'll see how it is (Tuesday)."

The trainers--and Alfredsson--want to make sure that he's not battling groin injuries all year long, so it appears that he's not going to play.

Think of it this way: when the Wings get Alfredsson and Weiss back, Mikael Samuelsson can be benched, and Daniel Cleary might earn another trip to the press box as the Wings will have 13 healthy forwards.

See also:

East and West: It sure seems like the Red Wings are still in the Western Conference. Detroit has played 11 teams in the Eastern Conference this season, and including Nashville on Tuesday, 10 teams from the West.

“We’ve hardly played in the East,” Babcock said. “I look forward to playing in the East and getting that figured out.”

Ice chips: Defenseman Danny DeKeyser didn't skate Monday because of an illness.

Is "boogers" a valid diagnosis?

… A small crew from HBO’s “24/7” series was on hand doing preliminary taping for a behind-the-scenes look previewing the Winter Classic between the Maple Leafs and Red Wings.


I must ask you to take a look at the Red Wings' press release regarding their attendance at Wednesday's fundraiser for Matt Sorisho, which will be held at Compuware Arena in Plymouth, and will take place from 6-10 PM at a cost of $100 per person to attend...

And I will remind you that the details surrounding the Winter Classic's "Fan Zone" at Comerica Park will be fleshed out at a press conference held at Comerica Park on Wednesday morning (11 AM). All I can say is that it will be worth a visit.

The Toledo Walleye will be skating with fans at the Toledo Zoo on Wednesday, too, and let's just say that Walleye captain Kyle Rogers and defenseman Phil Oreskovic are neither professional actors...

 

Nor professional penguin-feeders...

But they can probably spell Pulkkinen...Oh, who am I kidding...

Update: Via RedWingsFeed, WWJ is holding a contest whose prize involves tickets to a Wings-Flyers game on Monday, November 25th:

Hockey is back in the D and WWJ Newsradio 950 has your chance to win tickets to see the Wings at the Joe all season long!  Every Monday, we have a Hat Trick of giveaways to upcoming Detroit Red Wings games.

Monday, November 25th - Listen for your chance to win tickets to see the Detroit Red Wings take on the Philadelphia Flyers at the Joe Louis Arena on December 4th.  Tickets are still available at Detroitredwings.com or by calling: 313-396-7575.

Click here for a complete Detroit Red Wings 2013 schedule.

Contest date: November 25, 2013, 8:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
Prize details:
Three (3) winners will receive two (2) tickets to see the Detroit Wings  at the Joe Louis Arena on 12/4/13
Winner must be at least 18 years old
Click here for official contest rules

 

Update #2: Because I can't sleep, according to the NHL's media website's game notes, Dennis LaRue and T.J. Luxmore will referee tonight's game, with Andy McElman and Brian Pancich working the lines...

And NHL.com's John Manasso had the Predators dressing the following lineup against Chicago on Sunday:

PREDATORS

Gabriel Bourque - David Legwand - Patric Hornqvist

Colin Wilson – Mike Fisher - Viktor Stalberg

Craig Smith - Matt Cullen - Filip Forsberg

Matt Hendricks - Paul Gaustad – Rich Clune

Roman Josi - Shea Weber

Seth Jones - Kevin Klein

Victor Bartley - Ryan Ellis

Carter Hutton

Marek Mazanec

Scratched: Nick Spaling, Mattias Ekholm

Injured: Pekka Rinne (hip), Eric Nystrom (upper body)

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

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especially given the progress made in the team’s losses to Washington and the Islanders.

Progress requires some improvement in results. Making a good effort and still losing is not progress, it is status quo.

Posted by timbits on 11/19/13 at 10:39 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Posted by timbits on 11/19/13 at 09:39 AM ET

Losing in a shootout means the game progressed through five whole overtime minutes without the Wings haven given up a goal.

That’s progress.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 11/19/13 at 11:58 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.