Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Rangers game-day updates: Wings hope to snap 3-game winless streak w/ Lidstrom visiting

Updated 9x at 6:05 PM: The Detroit Red Wings hope to snap a 3-game winless streak when they face off against the New York Rangers this evening (7 PM, FSD/MSG/NHL Network U.S. with the usual Center Ice/GCL blackout/97.1 FM; tonight is Hockey Fights Cancer night at the Joe, and the Wings are holding a bone marrow registry this evening), and the Wings are all about purple and pink this evening:

The Plymouth Whalers are holding their "Pink Out!" game as they host Sarnia this evening, too, and the Toledo Walleye's home opener takes place tonight when the Walleye host the Wheeling Nailers, so it's a busy hockey Saturday all around.

The New York Rangers settled their legal differences with NHL.com, but they still post most of their content at BlueShirtsUnited.com, not their website, and here's what they recommend we "Watch For" this evening:

Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit the Rangers (2-6-0, 4 pts) not only face-off in an Original Six clash with the Red Wings (6-4-1, 13 pts), but they will also close out a season-opening nine-game road trip which has been far from a smooth ride. Once Saturday's game is final the Rangers will have closed out the longest road trip to start a season in franchise history, and only the second road trip of nine games at any point of the season in club history. There will be no tears shed once the road trip is finally over and the team can set its sights on Monday's home opener at the completely-transformed Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers have lost six of their first eight games on the trip, including two straight and five of their last six heading into Saturday's game with the Red Wings. Struggling at both ends of the ice, the Rangers have scored only 12 goals in eight games---five of those off the stick of Brad Richards---and the team has a goal differential of minus-19, worst in the league. Along the way they also lost their top goal-scoring threat Rick Nash and team captain Ryan Callahan to injury. All Star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist also has been felled by the injury bug, though he might be close to a return---possibly even Saturday night---after missing only one game, so far.

In that game Lundqvist did not dress for due to an unspecificied injury---Thursday's 2-1 loss in Philadelphia---rookie Cam Talbot provided a spark of hope with a 25-save outing in his NHL debut. Without the safety net of a veteran back up goalie now that Martin Biron has retired, the Rangers are anxious for Talbot to prove that he can handle NHL-caliber hockey and be able to spell Lundqvist 15 or more times the rest of the season to keep the Rangers No. 1 goalie as fresh as possible. Certainly Talbot passed his first test on Thursday, and he might get a stiffer test Saturday if he starts against Detroit.

One area head coach Alain Vigneault has been pleased about recently is the Rangers improved play in their own end. After some fairly shocking breakdowns in losses to the Sharks, Ducks, and Blues, for example, the Rangers have worked diligently to lower the number of scoring chances in their last three games against the Capitals, Devils, and Flyers. Still a turnover on the power play led directly to Philly's first goal on Thursday, and a failed clearing attempt preceded the Flyers' second goal. The mistakes are way down, but the Rangers are still getting burned by the ones they are making.

Since the team did not practice on Friday, it is not known what changes---if any---Vigneault plans for his lineup Saturday night. Mats Zuccarello was a healthy scratch against the Flyers, but Vigneault said any number of players could have been the scratch instead of Zuccarello based on the lack of scoring throughout the lineup. It would seem the top line will remain intact after Chris Kreider played a strong game along side Richards---who scored the Rangers' lone goal---and center Derek Stepan. It would also seem that 20 year-old J.T. Miller would stay among the top six forwards after a solid two-way performance against the Flyers, which included a goal disallowed because he supposedly kicked the puck into the net.

After a 6-2-0 start to the season, the Red Wings are winless (0-2-1) in their last three games, and were thumped on home ice by the Ottawa Senators 6-1 on Wednesday night. Known for their high-powered offense in the past, Detroit has just 25 goals scored through 11 games, with only three in their last contests. Despite a winning record, the Red Wings own a disappointing minus-five goal differential in the early stages of the season, their first since joining the Eastern Conference following off-season re-alignment.


Their game notes-style article continues, but I can't quote the whole thing. The New York Journal News's Rick Carpinello literally posted tonight's Rangers-Red Wings game notes from the Rangers' PR department, and we may welcome the New York Daily News's Pat Leonard to the club:

MLive's Ansar Khan took in the morning skate...

Wings skating with same lines as yesterday: 44-13-11, 93-40-21, 71-90-8, 20-18-22; 55-2, 27-65, 23-4 on defense.

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Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson skated before practice today. He's out 2-3 weeks with shoulder injury.

In the promotional department, from the Wings:

Student & Military Rush tix available for tonight! Just $20 Upper/$50 Lower singles at 313-471-7575 & JLA Box Office. SR by @MichiganFirstCU

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WATCH: Tickets to the 14th Annual 'Toast of Hockeytown' are on sale now! Visit http://detroitredwings.com/foundation for more... http://http://video.redwings.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=136&id=447856&lang=en

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USPARK DEAL: Tix to Z bobblehead night (First 7500) 11/7 v. Stars just $25! LIMITED AVAILABILITY! LINK: http://www.detroitredwings.com/socialsaturday  PASS: uspark

Bobbleheads, you say? Yes, per RedWingsFeed:

ayronatthewings's photo http://instagram.com/p/f7vORaEOo2/#

And I quote:

Do you have your tickets for Bobblehead nights? 11/7 for #Zetterberg 11/23 for #Alfie

RedWingsFeed is hard at nostalgic work:

Hockey Card of the Day: Mickey Redmond http://greatesthockeylegends.com/2013/10/hockey… via @HockeyLegends

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VIDEO: Henrik Zetterberg: Spotlight (Hockey Documentary): http://youtu.be/mr4-LZQYq-M via @YouTube

If you missed it, 97.1 the Ticket also revealed that Red Wings-Maple Leafs Alumni Showdown tickets will go on sale on an individual basis on Monday, November 4th, too.

It looks like the Toledo Walleye plan on bringing pyrotechnics to the Huntington Center, too:

The fire has arrived for tonight's #OpeningNight pregame introductions. #Ttownhockey http://pic.twitter.com/kO8Ns6E0Re

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The Walleye just wrapped up their morning skate. 8 and a half hours til puck drop! #Ttownhockey #OpeningNight http://pic.twitter.com/esK9d7ShR9

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We literally have truckloads of giveaways for fans tonight! Glow wands, posters & magnet schedules... #Ttownhockey http://pic.twitter.com/gIWNH7bKn6

MLive's Brendan Savage took note of the Hockey Fights Cancer-related activities to be held tonight at the Joe...

The bone marrow registration is being done in memory of Shawn Burr, the former Red Wings forward who battled acute myeloid leukemia before dying last summer at age 47 after a fall in his home. Burr had a bone marrow transplant last year.

The Red Wings are one of seven NHL teams hosting its Hockey Fights Cancer Night this month and will have all-lavender dash boards to mark the occasion. Lavender is the color that represents awareness for all forms of cancer.

Some of the players will use lavender-colored tape on their sticks, which will then be auctioned at a date to be determined on Auctions.NHL.com.

Also, Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard will be wearing pinks and using pink equipment to raise awareness for breast cancer. The gear will be auctioned to raise money for cancer research.

A portion of tonight's 50-50 raffle will benefit the Van Andel Institute, which is presenting the Hockey Fights Cancer Night.

Fans are also encouraged to wear lavender clothing and write the name of a person they know who has been impacted by cancer on a sign. To celebrate cancer survivors in their lives, they'll be asked to hold the sign up during the second TV timeout following the 10-minute mark of the first period.

All fans entering Joe Louis Arena will receive a lavender-colored towel.

And the Red Wings' Game Day Blog is up and running, framing tonight's game as follows:

Tonight, the Wings will host Original Six rival, New York Rangers, for the first time as members of the same conference on Hockey Fights Cancer Night presented by Van Andel Institute's Purple Community.

Detroit will have a different look tonight, as coach Mike Babcock broke up the pairing of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk in hopes of generating more offense against the Rangers. Datsyuk will play on a line with Daniel Alfredsson and Todd Bertuzzi, Zetterberg will center a line with Johan Franzen and Tomas Tatar.

“It’s not going. I told them and you guys I wasn’t going to split them up and 11 games in I’m splitting them up,” Babcock told the media. “It wasn’t my plan and not necessarily what I wanted to do, but we need to.”

Datsyuk and Zetterberg have accounted for 11 of-Detroit's 25 goals. The hope is that splitting the two will generate more balanced scoring and keep opponents from focusing on stopping one line.

"I think Babs was pretty up front about it, we will be playing together until he needs to switch it up and now it’s time,” Zetterberg told the media after practice. I’m pretty sure we’ll play together here at some point in time, but when we’ve been losing games like we have, haven't been scoring much, we have to try something different."

Welcome to the Detroit Red Wings Game Day Blog, where you can get behind-the-scenes information, thoughts from players and staff, and up-to-date news on anything and everything Red Wings on game day.

You can watch tonight's 7:00 PM matchup on NHL-Network or Fox Sports Detroit, or listen in on 97.1 The Ticket.

Also:

On This Day in Red Wings' History...

On October 26, 1984

In a 7-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres, the Wings score three third-period empty-net goals.

The morning skate is over, and the New York Daily News's Leonard leaned on another crutch, comparing Henrik Zetterberg to his celebrity doppelganger...

Nice of Jared Leto to talk to us in the Wings locker room http://pic.twitter.com/Vn4XT09wE6

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Babcock compliments Rangers, said he believes there is carry over from previous years w shot blocking and defense

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Babcock says he thought Girardi, McDonagh and Staal were great against the Flyers Thurs after watching the tape. Likes Boyle's game.

Newsday's Steve Zipay's also snagging Babcock quotes...

Wings' Babcock: "We're like the Rangers, can't score."

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Babcock, after watching Rangers-Flyers said he thought 5, 27, 18 were great

As is the Bergen Record's Andrew Gross:

Always personable Mike Babock praises #NYR d-men Staal, Girardi, McDonagh. Says, "They're like us, they just don't score any goals."

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Red Wings' Babcock also singles out Boyle: "He always impresses me. He came to New York and became a good player."

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Henrik Zetterberg on #NYR long road trip: "Yeah, it's tough. I talked to a few guys. They really want to get home and play for their fans."

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Babcock says he still sees remnants of Tortorella's teachings in #NYR game, specifically the shot blocking.

Cue one more crutch photo from the New York Post's Brent Cyrgalis:

Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika confirms Nicklas Lidstrom's stealth visit to Detroit, too:

Zetterberg said Lidstrom had lost weight and actually looks more fit in retirement. "I don't know how he does it."

DC Sports had asked ans to drop off Nicklas Lidstrom items for a private signing by October 22nd..

Fox 2's Jennifer Hammond confirms that Lidstrom's in the house. I hope the Wings can break their 0-and-2 record when he watches games...

Former #Wings captain Nick Lidstrom stops by the Joe for a visit with teammates after their morning skate.

In the prospect department, if you feel like watching a scrap, Hockeyfights posted the most recent fight engaged in by Guelph Storm winger Tyler Bertuzzi...

Zipay believes that Lundqvist remains "out":

With Lundqvist on ice at AM skate, rotating in net with Missiaen, seems pretty certain Cam Talbot will start

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Talbot first goalie off. He'll make his second start

Ditto for Leonard...

Lundqvist is practicing, as are Talbot and Missiaen. So all three on the ice. To start though, Talbot and Missiaen are in the nets

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Kreider-Stepan-Richards, Pyatt-Boyle-Dorsett, Pouliot-Brassard-Miller, Zuccarello-DMoore-Fast. Same D pairs

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Norwegian media leaves. Zuccarello goes back in. Tough break

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Talbot starting again

And Gross:

Meanwhile, caught up with the always personable Tom Renney, who is thrilled working with the Red Wings.

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Talbot and Missiaen in the nets at #NYR morning skate. Lundqvist rotating with Missiaen. So as expected Talbot looks like the starter.

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#NYR lines: Kreider-Stepan-Richards Pouliot-Brassard-Miller Pyatt-Boyle-Dorsett Fast-D. Moore-Zuccarello. Looks like Mashinter out.

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On D, looks like Justin Falk remains a healthy scratch. McDonagh-Girardi Staal-Stralman J. Moore-Del Zotto.

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Talbot first goalie off. That's a starter.

And MLive's Ansar Khan's confirming that Lidstrom is in the building:

Former Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom in town. Stops by the rink to meet ex-teammates. http://pic.twitter.com/t6HVAZy4q8

Via RedWingsFeed, the Wings posted their game-day preview already. This doesn't usually hit until 3 or 4 in the afternoon:

The video's 3-and-a-half minutes long, and includes comments by coach Mike Babcock, Henrik Zetterberg and a special guest.

Update #0.5: The Rangers confirm that Cam Talbot will start this evening:

Detroit Head Coach Mike Babcock compliments #NYR to the media specifically mentioning " numbers 27, 5 and 18" among others.
Expand

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#NYR take to ice for morning skate in Detroit...all 3 goalies are on the ice... @HLundqvist30 rotating in with Jason Missiaen at one end

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PHOTO: #NYR on the ice in Detroit for morning skate http://instagram.com/p/f746g1PdJK/ .

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#NYR @ctalbot33 will get the start tonight against Detroit.

Update #0.75: More from the Rangers:

"To get 2 games in 3 days gives me a little bit of a rhythm...give these guys a chance to win"- @ctalbot33

Update #0.8: From the Free Press's Helene St. James:

Henrik Zetterberg on Nicklas Lidstrom, now the Perfectly Retired Human: "He actually looks a little fitter. I don't know how he does it."

Update #0.9: Be excited, per Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika:

Lundqvist said injury progressing slowly. Went through first full practice in a week. Goal is to play Monday, but we'll see.

Update #0.95: More of the same from ESPN's Craig Custance:

No Henrik Lundqvist tonight but he's targeting a return: "I'm not going to hide it, I definitely want to play Monday… That's my goal."

Why Monday? The Bergen Record's Gross explains why:

Lundqvist said his goal is to be able to play in Monday's home opener vs. Habs. Needs to see how body responds tomorrow.

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Jason Missiaen will dress as Cam Talbot's backup tonight.

NewYorkRangers.com's Jim Cerny offers a few lineup notes...

Zuccarello back in #NYR lineup tonight...Mashinter and Falk will be scratches...Talbot starts in goal

Update #1: The Free Press's Helene St. James' game-day update focuses on Lidstrom...

Lidstrom is in town just for the weekend, en route Sunday to the Bahamas for a family vacation. He retired in 2012 after 20 seasons with the Wings, during which he collected four Stanley Cups, seven Norris Trophies and a Conn Smythe.

Lidstrom and his family moved back to Vasteras, Sweden, after retiring. He now gets his hockey fix as an assistant coach. Lidstrom said he gets back on skates, "three to four times a week, as an assistant, with the kids, as an assistant coach with my 13-year-old. That's the level of hockey that I'm part of now."

Lidstrom said retirement, "has been fun, especially spending a lot more time with my family and having a chance to be there when the kids have their activities, their hockey. It's been treating me real well."

Lidstrom is universally recognized as one of the best to ever play.

Also, one of the most perfect. Lidstrom's humble personality, his attention to detail, his sanguine temper and his utter professionalism earned him the nickname "the perfect human," from teammates.

It still holds up in retirement.

"He looks perfect," Zetterberg said, smiling. "I think he actually lost some weight, looks a little fitter. I don't know how he does it."

And she posted a video of Lidstrom speaking with the media:

Update #2: Newsday's Steve Zipay's filed a game-day blog entry...

Greetings from The Joe, where the news is that Henrik Lundqvist went through a full practice and worked late on the ice after most players had left. His goal, he said, is to play against the Canadiens Monday in the home opener.

"I'm not going to hide it, I want to play Monday," he said.

But, he did add that the undisclosed injury was impoving slower than he wanted and was waiting to see how his body responded tonight. The Rangers are scheduled to practice for the first time at the Garden on Sunday afternoon.

So, Cam Talbot will be in the net tonight for the second staraight game, backed by by Jason Missiaen.

Mats Zuccarello, a healthy scratch in the 2-1 loss to Philadelphia, is back in the lineup; Brandon Mashinter will sit...

Coach Alain Vigneault said he hoped to see more production from the center position, and named Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard. But he did not say whether Brad Richards, moved to wing, would be shifted back to the pivot down the road.

And here are Ken Kal's Keys to the Game:

Generate More Offense - It looks like Datsyuk and Zetterberg will be on separate lines. With the EuroTwins on separate lines, the Wings need to get the more balanced scoring for which they've been looking.

Limit Turnovers - Detroit's got to be patient and make the safe play. Plus, players need to trust their teammates to cover for them.

Play as a Five-Man Unit - The defensemen and forwards need to interact with each other and play together as a group, especially against a tough New York Rangers team.

Update #2.5: Here's the Bergen Record's Gross's game-day update:

Cam Talbot will make his second straight start in net tonight for the Rangers’ against the Red Wings with Jason Missiaen again dressing as his backup. Henrik Lundqvist went through what he called his first real practice since last playing in last Saturday’s 4-0 loss to the Devils and said his undisclosed injury (left leg?) is improving, just slowly.

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Mats Zuccarello will be back in the Rangers’ lineup tonight with Brandon Mashinter a healthy scratch after his fight with the Flyers Wayne Simmonds’ in Thursday’s 2-1 loss at Philadelphia. Defenseman Justin Falk will be the other healthy scratch.

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Meanwhile, the line of the day goes to Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, who, speaking about his own team’s struggles (they are on an 0-2-1 skid in which they’ve been outscored 11-3), opined about the Rangers, “they’re just like us, they don’t score any goals.”

On that subject, Vigneault specifically said his top two centers, Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard, need to provide more for the struggling Rangers in order for the offense to start to click. However, Vigneault would not entertain a question as to whether he would consider moving Brad Richards back into the middle.

The Rangers’ lineup:
Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Brad Richards
Benoit Pouliot-Derick Brassard-Chris Kreider
Taylor Pyatt-Brian Boyle-Derek Dorsett
Jesper Fast-Dominic Moore-Mats Zuccarello
Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal-Anton Stralman
John Moore-Michael Del Zotto
Cam Talbot (0-1-0, 2.03 goals-against, .926 save percentage)

Jimmy Howard (3-4-1, 2.60, .914 save percentage) will be the Red Wings starting goalie.

Update #3: Here's the New York Daily News's Pat Leonard's game-day update...

Alain Vigneault called for more from his top two centers, Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard, the morning of the Rangers’ game at Joe Louis Arena against the Detroit Red Wings.

“We need our centermen to help us out here a little bit,” Vigneault said. “They’re a big part of defensive hockey and offensive hockey, and we’ve got quite a few on that end right now that are underperforming.”

Vigneault is keeping Stepan and Brassard as the centers of his top two lines Saturday night. He wouldn’t say whether he’d consider moving Brad Richards back to the middle if their struggles continue, but that clearly would be the next step.

“Tonight I’m not thinking about that,” the coach said. “Tonight I’m hoping that Step and Brass, especially those two – they’re supposed to be our offensive players, our offensive skill. They need to start showing some of that.”

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The Blueshirts undoubtedly are weary of this nine-game, season-opening road stretch. The game in Detroit puts an end to the constant travel before Monday’s home opener against the Canadiens.

“It’s tough,” Zetterberg said of the Rangers’ frequent travel. “I talked to a few of the guys (on the Rangers). They really want to get home and play in front of their home fans.”

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Finally, here is a good breakdown from Red Wings coach Mike Babcock on the Rangers. Babcock watched New York’s game against the Flyers in preparation for Saturday’s game:

“I thought their D zone looks the same, and when I think of the Rangers, I still think there’s lots of (carryover) from before (with John Tortorella), lots of shotblocking,” Babcock said. “I really liked 27, 5 and 18 (referring to defensemen Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi and Marc Staal). I thought they were fantastic for them the other night. (Derek) Stepan’s obviously a real good player for them. (Brad) Richards seems to have his game going here. (Brian) Boyle always impresses me. I think he’s done a real good job. He’s gone to New York and become a good player in the league. It’s like every team in the league: You’re gonna have your hands full. And they’re like us. They don’t score any goals.”

And here's NewYorkRangers.com's Jim Cerny's game-day update:

Though Henrik Lundqvist took part in Saturday's morning skate at Joe Louis Arena, the Rangers No. 1 goalie will not be between the pipes this evening when his teammates skate against the Detroit Red Wings. In fact, he will spend a second straight game up in the press box watching all of the action as he tries to recover from an unspecified injury.

In Lundqvist's place Cam Talbot will make his second straight start in goal, and Jason Missiaen will dress as the backup goaltender, as was the case in Philadelphia on Thursday night.

 "Most of the time you come up and play one game and then play again in two and galf weeks, especially playing behind (Lundqvist) you may not play for months," joked Talbot following the morning skate. "So to get two games in three days is great to get a rhythm. I'll try and build off my last performance and go out there and give the guys a chance to win."

Talbot certainly gave his team a chance to win Thursday night while making his NHL debut against the Flyers. The 26 year-old rookie stopped 25 of 27 shots, and made a slew of clutch third-period saves to keep the Rangers in the game. His performance impressed Lundqvist.

"He played really well, was solid and confident," Lundqvist said of Talbot. "I gave him a few pointers, but the bottom line is he's been around now for a few years so he knows what it takes and what he needs to do. Certainly it was a good start for him."

Talbot told reporters he felt he played "pretty well" in Philadelphia and that he's trying "to make the best of" this opportunity.

Update #3.5: The Red Wings website's game notes have Dennis LaRue and Brad Meier refereeing the game, with Jay Sharrers and Tony Sericolo working the lines.

Newsday's Zipay also added a game-day article to the mix:

Rookie goaltender Cam Talbot, who made 25 saves in the 2-1 loss to the Flyers Thursday, will make his second NHL start Saturday night against the Red Wings.

Henrik Lundqvist went through a full practice and worked late on the ice after most players had left. His goal, he said, is to play against the Canadiens Monday in the home opener. "I'm not going to hide it, I want to play Monday," he said.

But, Lundqvist did add that the undisclosed injury was improving "slowly" and that "you have to be smart" and was waiting to see how his body responded tonight after the first long practice in a week. The Rangers are scheduled to practice for the first time at the Garden on Sunday afternoon.

Said Talbot: "To get two games in three days gives me a little bit of a rhythm. If you come in to backup Hank, you might not play for a month." Jason Missiaen will again serve as backup.

Forward Mats Zuccarello, a healthy scratch in Philadelphia, is back in the lineup; Brandon Mashinter will sit.

Coach Alain Vigneault said he hoped to see more production from the center position, and named Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard. But he did not say whether Brad Richards, moved to wing, would be shifted back to the pivot down the road.

Update #3.75: The Rangers call this a "quotebook":

“ The last two games our defensive group as a whole has been a lot more sound defensively. (They are) playing the percentages. ” -Alain Vigneault

“ We've got a couple of guys now that are underperforming, and they know it. We're working with them to get their games to where we need them to be. ”- Alain Vigneault

“ I'm hoping that both Step and Brass, they're supposed to be offensive players with offensive skill, they need to start showing some of that. ”- Alain Vigneault

Update #4: Here's MLive's Ansar Khan's game-day post, which notes that the Rangers are wrapping up a 9-game road trip:

“I watched them (in Thursday’s 2-1 loss to the Flyers); I really like their (defense), I was very impressed with (Ryan) McDonagh, (Dan) Girardi and (Marc) Staal,’’ Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “They worked hard and had great detail in their game. (Brad Richards) seems to have his game back. They’ve got lots of good players. We need to find a way to play well against them and worry about us and not so much about the Rangers.’’

The Red Wings (6-4-1) have their own issues. They have scored only three goals in three games (0-2-1), prompting more line shuffling in Friday’s practice as Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg were split up.

“You have to have a blue print to know what you’re doing and you have to have the energy to come in and do it each and every day,’’ Babcock said. “We haven’t established a blueprint enough. We don’t have what you can call an identity or whatever you want to call it. Through 10 games, you’re 6-3-1 and you think you’re off to not a bad start and then Game 11 comes along and you’re wondering what the heck you’re doing. We have to regroup here today, we have to play harder as a good and better as a group.’’

The Red Wings have dominated the Rangers at Joe Louis Arena, winning six in a row and going 10-1-0 in their past 11 vs. at home. The Red Wings are 17-2-3 in their past 22 home games vs. the Rangers, who last won in Detroit on Jan. 30, 1999 (3-2).

Here are the Red Wings lines and defense pairs for tonight:

Todd Bertuzzi-Pavel Datsyuk-Daniel Alfredsson

Johan Franzen-Henrik Zetterberg-Tomas Tatar

Daniel Cleary-Stephen Weiss-Justin Abdelkader

Drew Miller-Joakim Andersson-Jordin Tootoo/Mikael Samuelsson

Niklas Kronwall-Brendan Smith

Kyle Quincey-Danny DeKeyser

Brian Lashoff-Jakub Kindl

Jimmy Howard (starting)

Jonas Gustavsson


Update #5: Via RedWingsFeed, here's the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness's game-day entry:

“We have to play well,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said Saturday after the team’s morning skate at Joe Louis Arena. “It’s just like doing your job, you have to have a blue print to know what you’re doing and you have to have the energy to come in and do it each and every day. We haven’t established a blue print enough. We don’t have an identity or whatever you want to call it.”

After going 6-3-1 in their first 10-game segment, the Wings’ 11th game was one they’d soon like to forget, a 6-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators.

“Through 10 games, you’re 6-3-1 and you think you’re off to not a bad start and then game 11 comes along and you’re wondering what the heck you’re doing,” Babcock said. “We have to regroup here today, we have to play harder as a good and better as a group.”

The Wings have scored just 25 goals this season, an average of 2.3 per game. But they’ve scored just three goals over their last three games, going 0-2-1 in the process.

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“Like every team you’re playing you’re going to have your hands full,” Babcock said. “They’re like us, they don’t score any goals.”

Tonight’s game is the final of a nine-game road trip to begin the season for New York. The Rangers, who are 2-6-0, also played every preseason game on the road because Madison Square Garden was being renovated.

“I thought their D-zone look the same,” Babcock said. “When I look at the Rangers it’s a lot of carry over, lots of shot blocking, I really like 27 (Ryan McDonagh), 5 (Dan Girardi) and 18 (Marc Staal). I really thought they were fantastic the other night. (Derek) Stepan is obviously a real good player for them. (Brad) Richards seems to be getting it going again. (Dan) Boyle always impresses me, I think he’s done a real good job and gone to New York and become a real good player here in the league.”

Update #5.5: If you really want to read more from Lunqvist, NewYorkRangers.com's Jim Cerny has more for you...

And in Sweden Mattias Backman registered an assist and played 21:21 in Linkopings HC's 3-1 win over Mattias Janmark (who played 19:30 but didn't register a point) and AIK Stockholm.

Update #6: The Red Wings' Game Day Blog added morning skate notes...

Jimmy Howard will be in the crease for the Wings tonight.

The EuroTwins have been split up tonight, in hopes of generating more offense for Detroit.

"Right now we need Alfie, and we need Mule and a whole bunch of guys to score. We haven’t gotten that much with playing with those guys so maybe if we get them playing with (Datsyuk and Zetterberg) as well."- Mike Babcock

"I’m pretty sure we’ll play together here at some point in time, but when we’ve been losing games like we have, haven’t been scoring much, we have to try something different.”- Henrik Zetterberg

Jonathan Ericsson skated before practice (Upper-Body Injury), but did not participate in drills with the team. He's out tonight.

Patrick Eaves is healthy, but will be a healthy scratch tonight.

Mikael Samuelsson will also be a healthy scratch tonight.

And the Wings posted a pair of Tweets:

Update #7: TSN's Scott Cullen tossed off some fantasy hockey notes last night, and some of them involved the Red Wings:

Earlier in the week, Darren Dreger noted that the Detroit Red Wings were exploring trade possibilities, specifically mentioning Jordin Tootoo as one forward that the Wings might be willing to ship out.

Detroit's stockpiling of forwards this past offseason was curious. They have 15 forwards under contract, with two -- Daren Helm and Patrick Eaves -- on long-term IR. Helm is nearing a return to the lineup, which provides some impetus for change, but the Wings also had to demote Gustav Nyquist to the AHL because he didn't require waivers to be sent down. Nyquist has seven points in five AHL games (129 in 127 career AHL games) and is ready for the NHL, but there is logjam in front of him.

They also sent down Cory Emmerton, who has played 125 NHL games, because he was passed by prospect Luke Clendening for the fourth-line centre spot, a role that could be Helm's once he is ready to return.

In addition to moving Tootoo, the Wings probably wouldn't mind finding a taker for Mikael Samuelsson, who has a no-trade clause but is a healthy scratch about half the time. The Wings might need to be willing to eat some money and get Samuelsson's approval in order to move his $3-million salary.

While the Red Wings might like defensive help in exchange, they would also likely be satisfied with draft picks or prospects in exchange for the roster flexibility that a trade would provide. Tootoo is a $1.9-million cap hit through next season, which is pricey for a fourth-liner.

Update #8:

Update #9: MLive's Ansar Khan took note of Lidstrom's visit:

“Staying at Homer’s place again, in his basement,’’ Lidstrom said of ex-teammate Tomas Holmstrom. “He’s kind enough to let us stay there so it’s been working out great.’’

And just in case anyone is wondering if the seven-time Norris Trophy winner as the NHL’s top defenseman has entertained thoughts of a comeback, forget it. He is happily retired in Sweden.

“Sometimes I miss playing and miss being a part of it, but I also know it was my time to leave the game when I left it,’’ Lidstrom said. “But it’s always something I’ll miss. I do enjoy (retirement) and it’s been fun, especially spending a lot more time with my family and having a chance to be there when the kids have their activities, their hockey and all that. So (retirement) has treated me real well.’’

Said former teammates Henrik Zetterberg: “Actually, we tried to get him for an emergency signing here, but he said he couldn’t. When he comes in, it’s like he’s still part of the team. It’s been a lot of good memories, it’s fun to have him around again.’’

Lidstrom is looking forward to playing in the Winter Classic alumni game against the Toronto Maple Leafs alumni.

“It’ll be fun to see some of the guys I haven’t seen in a long time and played with in the ’90s. I haven’t seen the roster yet, but I’m imagining a lot of the guys we won (Stanley) Cups with in the ’90s will be on the team.’’

Even at age 43, Lidstrom might be the only one for either side who could still play in the league, and at a high level. He is on the ice 3-4 times a week in Sweden, serving as an assistant coach on his 13-year-old son’s team.

“I asked him today if he was loving (retirement) and he said he misses it a bit, but not enough to work out hard enough to play,’’ coach Mike Babcock said. “It’s always great seeing him. He’s one of the greatest people I’ve ever had around and one of the greatest players I’ve ever had an opportunity to witness. You don’t replace people like that, but other guys get opportunities.’’

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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.