Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Rangers set-up and overnight report: there ain’t no easy way out

The Detroit Red Wings hope to salvage a win out of a three-game home stand as the Wings wrap up a slate of 9 games played over the course of 16 nights000preceding a now once-yearly 4-games-in-6-nights Western Canadian swing--during tonight's game against the struggling New York Rangers (7 PM, FSD/MSG/NHL Network U.S., Center Ice/GCL blackout included/97.1 FM).

The more important stuff that's happening off the ice probably takes precident given that it's Hockey Fights Cancer night at the Joe, and that the team's holding a bone marrow registry drive in Shawn Burr's memory during the game...

But the Wings would b wise to put a decent product on the ice for their paying customers and those at home, and when the highest-water mark of the past week's on-ice endeavors comes in the form of a 1-0 shootout loss to San Jose, sandwiched between a 5-2 collapse to Phoenix and a 6-1 drubbing by Ottawa, your team needs to get its act together.

The Rangers are wrapping up a nasty 8-game road trip necessitated by the $1 billion renovation of Madison Square Garden, and their 2-6-and-1 record and 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday (they did win their preceding game, shutting out New Jersey 4-0 on Tuesday) have the Rangers searching for more offense, just like the Wings...

But they may or may not have to make due with their best defensive player, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (who has one of those pesky "body injuries."). It was initially reported that the Rangers simply didn't practice on Friday.

The Bergen Record's Andrew Gross reports that the Rangers did skate...Sort of...and it turns out that they did so in Philadelphia, with the team's beat writers reaching Detroit before the players did, so Gross's report is the best we've got:

Though Henrik Lundqvist did skate today, along with Thursday’s healthy scratches Justin Falk and Mats Zuccarello, rehabbing Carl Hagelin and fellow goalie Jason Missiaen this morning at the University of Pennsylvania before the Rangers departed Philadelphia for Detroit, the franchise goalie still has to be in the questionable/doubtful category for Saturday night’s game against the Red Wings.

The Rangers will conduct a morning skate and Lundqvist presumably will get a chance to skate for the third straight day.

But Missiaen also traveled with the team to Detroit and it’s likely he’ll once again back up Cam Talbot, who’s in line to make his second NHL start.

Talbot stopped 25 of 27 shots on Thursday, and as I kind-of-sort-of put together a pretty solid Rangers-Flyers wrap-up in Friday's overnight report, I'd rather allow the Bergen Record's Gross to push our focus forward to tonight's game:

"You can talk all you want about playing better and effort and things like that but we have to win a hockey game and start putting some points up on the standings," defenseman Marc Staal said. "We have a mind-set of winning a hockey game. You come into the rink in Detroit and anything less is unacceptable."

Except everything that could have gone against the Rangers, has. It started with a dysfunctional and travel-heavy preseason, again necessitated by the lack of a home rink but exacerbated by general manager Glen Sather’s decision to have his team train for three days in Banff, Calgary in part to participate in a charity golf tournament to benefit victims of the summer flood in Alberta.

Then the loss of Rick Nash (concussion) and Ryan Callahan (broken thumb) has hampered the offense. Speedy left wing Carl Hagelin is eligible to return to the lineup Tuesday against the Islanders after off-season surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

Hagelin's a University of Michigan alumnus, but whether Alain Vigneault feels that Hagelin's local ties have anything to do with helping the team win, we won't know until later today.

"Injuries happen in hockey," said Staal, who should know, between the concussion that cost him significant time in 2012-13 and the right eye injury that effectively ended his last season. "There are a lot of teams with a lot of key guys out. I think it’s not something that we talk about in here."

Nobody’s talking about the travel, not willing to make that an excuse. But that doesn’t mean the Rangers won’t be happy to start playing some home games.

"Well, everybody’s frustrated," said Brad Richards, who scored his team leading fifth goal on Thursday. "We’re 2-6, it’s hard not to be frustrated. If we’re not, it’s a problem. You can break it down 100 different ways, if you score one and two and zero goals, it’s going to be tough in this league."

Newsday's Steve Zipay also set up tonight's game from a Rangers perspective, suggesting that Lundqvist is "doubtful" for tonight's game given that the Rangers may feel that they have more important games ahead:

Lundqvist then arrived with the club here along with two other goalies, rookie Cam Talbot, who made 25 saves against the Flyers in his NHL debut, and Jason Missiiaen, who served as backup. It appears that duo again will dress for the game against the Wings, and Lundqvist will target Monday night's home opener against Montreal.

But first there is a night at The Joe, where the Rangers haven't won in regulation since 1999, about 10 years before General Motors filed for bankruptcy. No one is ready to liquidate the Rangers just eight games into coach Alain Vigneault's tenure, but one wonders about the reception from the diehards at Madison Square Garden for the opener if the team is 2-7.

Saturday night's game will be the ninth consecutive road game for the Rangers, who have scored only 12 goals. The Red Wings, ranked fourth in the East, have 25. For the Rangers, home can't come soon enough. Monday will be the latest season opener in Manhattan in a non-lockout year since 1947-48.

Lundqvist isn't the only Ranger in the shop. Rick Nash hasn't practiced since a head shot from San Jose defenseman Brad Stuart knocked him out of the Oct. 8 game. Captain Ryan Callahan is recovering from a broken thumb and is only nine days into what was estimated as a three-to-four-week absence. But speedy left wing Carl Hagelin, who had the same offseason shoulder surgery as Callahan, has been practicing hard and is expected to come off injured reserve and play against the Islanders in Uniondale on Tuesday.

The Rangers have at least one advantage: the schedule. Before Friday night, 10 teams already had played 10 games and eight teams had played 11. And the Rangers have all 41 home games remaining, plus two "away" games at Yankee Stadium during Super Bowl week. That may be enough time to repair the dents from all the early travel.

The New York Daily News's Pat Leonard noted that the Rangers hope to build upon what might have been a better result had J.T. Miller's game-tying 3rd period goal not been disallowed (clicky for video):

“I thought our guys tried extremely hard,” Vigneault said after Thursday night’s 2-1 loss in Philly. “They did a lot of the things that we’ve talked about. Offensively our execution might have been a little off on some occasions there, but it was a better effort in my estimation.”

The Rangers have scored a league-low 12 goals, including five by Brad Richards. He is one of only two healthy forwards with a goal this season, along with agitator Derek Dorsett (one). Top two centers Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard haven’t resembled the players they were last season.


The Blueshirts generated more offensive pressure in Philadelphia, led by rookie Chris Kreider and hustle from the likes of J.T. Miller and Brian Boyle. “I thought we played a pretty good game, a lot more offensive zone pressure,” Miller said after the game. “I thought we spent more time in their end than they did in ours.”

Still, the Rangers are 28th of 30 teams in goals per game (1.50), and they have scored just one goal in the last 146 minutes, nine seconds of hockey. So it isn’t much of a comfort that Detroit (6-4-1) is having scoring problems of its own recently, with just three goals in a three-game winless stretch (0-2-1).

Lundqvist, recovering from an undisclosed injury, practiced with the extras Friday in Philadelphia for a second straight day, but it appears unlikely he will play against the Red Wings, since Talbot’s backup from Thursday night, Jason Missiaen, also traveled to Detroit with the team.

Left wing Benoit Pouliot did not receive supplemental discipline from the NHL for his boarding of Philadelphia’s Max Talbot on Thursday night, which earned him a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct. So he will be available to Vigneault, who also has Thursday scratch Mats Zuccarello at his disposal if he feels one of his many other unproductive forwards could use a break.

Newsday's Zipay added an intriguing observation about the Rangers' new coach in a morning-after-the-game blog entry on Friday...

If you didn’t see the post-game scrum, and had some of this and more quotes in the late story, Vigneault is being very measured in his comments. In his defense, as a  new coach cannot totally rip his guys in public, given their confidence level eight games into the year.

 “Our guys are doing a lot of the right things,” Vigneault said. “We used our speed, we spent a lot of time in Philly’s end. We tried to get pucks through, bodies in front, but give them credit. They did a nice job defending, their goalie made a couple nice saves. It was a tie game going into the third. We had done a real good job of killing that five minutes and gave ourselves a chance.I thought our guys tried extremely hard. They did a lot of the things that we’ve talked about. Offensively our execution might have been a little off on some occasions there, but it was a better effort in my estimation.”

My take: Once the Flyers got the lead, they sat on it.  Second period was pretty good for the Rangers, who had 61 shot attempts overall, to 50 for the Flyers.

And the Bergen Record's Gross added this from Brad Richards about the Rangers' defensive play:

“I think that part of our game has really come along in the last two weeks, we didn’t give up much, we killed some good penalties,” Richards said. “We’ve got to score some goals, that’s where it is. The power play has got to be better. We’ve got to draw more power plays. That’s going to break and a lot of guys are due and if we put that effort toward it, and even more effort good things will start to happen.”

The Rangers were 0 for 2 on the power play (their penalty kill was 4 for 4, including allowing four shots on Pouliot’s major) and the Rangers’ power play is now 4 for 24 this season. Again, it’s a power play that’s missing Rick Nash (concussion), Callahan (two power play goals) and Carl Hagelin.

If you're interested, Gross posted the following Rangers lineup prior to the game:

Rangers lineup:
Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Brad Richards
Benoit Pouliot-Derick Brassard-J.T. Miller
Taylor Pyatt-Brian Boyle-Jesper Fast
Brandon Mashinter-Dominic Moore-Derek Dorsett
Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal-Anton Stralman
John Moore-Michael Del Zotto
Cam Talbot (0-0-0, 0.00 GAA, .000 save percentage)

Meanwhile, one of my favorite NHL pundits puts what I can only describe as a "New York" spin on things, suggesting that the Rangers' offensive issues can be alleviated by making a very specific personnel move:

Vinny Prospal is out there, a free agent who has been known to provide some pop and crackle, even if he won’t win even a single foot-race; a free agent who was a popular and productive Ranger for a couple of seasons not all that long ago.

True enough, he would be returning at 38 in a young man’s league, and might have issues dealing with the pace, but the thing is, he always has. Yet, he has always found a way to produce, last year leading the Blue Jackets with 30 points (12 goals, 18 assists) in the 48-game season after recording 55 points (16-39) the previous season.

The fact is, Prospal tied for 70th in the NHL in scoring the last two years in posting the same number of points as Callahan, Daniel Alfredsson, Sam Gagner, Joffrey Lupul and Tomas Plekanec.

The Post has learned Sather has had conversations with Prospal, who is training in the Czech Republic, and his representative. There is no indication the GM is prepared to offer Prospal a contract, but at the same time it does not seem as if he has shut the door on that possibility.

The door should be open and the Rangers should be open to bringing back Prospal, who registered 81 points (29-52) in 104 games from 2009-11, and who always provided the club with an injection of energy.

This would be a low-risk move with potentially substantial reward. The Rangers don’t have a great deal of cap space but Prospal presumably wouldn’t require more than the $850,000 or so the team can invest.

I like Brooks quite a bit, but I have to admit that he spends a significant amount of time telling Glen Sather how to run his team.

Especially given that the Wings have been a "Western Conference" team for so very long, we Wings fans look at the Chicagos and Vancouvers of the West and think, "Man, that team's so self-obsessed, it lives in a little media bubble and thinks that its shit doesn't stink, only Toronto and Montreal like that," and we forget that the Penguins, Flyers, Devils, Capitals and especially the Rangers live in what certainly appears to be a self-contained little world in the Metropolitan Division.

It wasn't long ago that the Rangers were calling themselves, "America's team," were referred to as "Hockey's version of the Dallas Cowboys," and that Glen Sather set the bar for crazy spending prior to the second lockout. That, and anybody who's been to New York knows that New York, like Chicago, is convinced that it's the only city that matters, and its media spotlight is incredibly intense, so just as we witnessed something of a media circus descend upon the unassuming-by-comparison Motor City when the Senators came to town to renew acquaintances with Daniel Alfredsson, things are going to be a little intense at the Joe today...

And while this may be a Red Wings home game, any game involving the Rangers is without a doubt a "Rangers game" first and foremost in the eyes of many pundits--and fans.

Anyway, NHL.com's Tal Pinchevsky sets up tonight's game as follows...

Season series: For the first time in almost 40 years, the Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers will face off as conference rivals. This will be the first of three meetings, with the following two taking place in New York on Jan. 16 and March 9.

Big story: The Red Wings have enjoyed a strong start in their first season back in the Eastern Conference. But one could hardly blame the Rangers for feeling as if they reside in the Western Conference. This is the final game of a nine-game road trip to start New York's season. And based on their record so far, they'd like nothing more than a big win in Detroit before returning to the newly-renovated Madison Square Garden.

Rangers [team scope]: New York has shown occasional flashes of strong play, most notably in a 2-0 win against the Washington Capitals on Oct. 16. But its lengthy trip has been a difficult one as MSG completes its transformation.

The gains the Rangers made in their win in Washington were undermined by a 4-0 loss last Saturday to their longtime rival, the New Jersey Devils. New York hoped to rebound Thursday night against another old rival, the Philadelphia Flyers.


Red Wings [team scope]: Detroit will have a different look as it tries to end a three-game losing streak. After watching his team score three goals in the three games, including a 6-1 home loss to the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday, 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.


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.


Who's hot: Richards has five points in his last four games and leads the Rangers with eight points. … Bertuzzi has two goals in his past three games and Henrik Zetterberg has nine points in his past seven games.

NHL.com's John Kreiser doubly previewed the game in his "Daily Primer," first in text and then in capsule form:

The longest season-opening trip in New York Rangers history comes to an end Saturday night.

With Madison Square Garden undergoing the final phase of remodeling, the Rangers were forced to open the season with nine consecutive road games. The ninth and final one will see the Rangers meet the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena, a place where they haven't won in the 21st century. New York's last win in Detroit came on Jan. 30, 1999, and the Rangers have won only twice at the Joe since the start of the 1986-87 season.

The Red Wings hope they're catching the Rangers at the right time. Detroit has dropped three in a row and was hammered 6-1 at home by the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday.


New York Rangers at Detroit Red Wings -- The Rangers' 12 goals are the fewest in the NHL, but Brad Richards is enjoying a revival. Richards has five of the 12 goals, including the only one in the loss to the Flyers. New York may again be without starting goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who sat out the game in Philadelphia with an undisclosed injury. Rookie Cam Talbot made 25 saves in his NHL debut. The Red Wings, who've scored three goals during a three-game losing streak, broke up the tandem of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, who've provided most of the offense thus far, in an effort to keep opponents from being able to focus on shutting down on one line.

STATS LLC's preview, as you might expect, focuses on numbers:

Thursday's 2-1 loss at Philadelphia marked the fourth time this season that the Rangers (2-6-0) had one goal or less. New York is also one of five teams to be shut out twice -- despite playing a league-low eight games.


Richards has seven goals and 21 points in 21 regular-season games against the Red Wings. He has five of New York's 12 goals this season, while Ryan Callahan (3) is the only other player with more than one.

The Rangers have an NHL-worst minus-19 goal differential.

Lack of offense aside, holding an opponent to two goals was a step in the right direction after they allowed four or more in five of their previous seven contests, including a three-game stretch conceding a total of 20.


Zetterberg hasn't scored in his last four games after getting six goals in his first seven, but the move is being made more to involve others in the scoring than to revive Datsyuk or Zetterberg. They've scored 11 of the team's 25 goals.


Alfredsson and Franzen have combined for only three goals, though Alfredsson does lead the team with eight assists.

The Red Wings are 12-1-1 in the series since their last loss to the Rangers at Joe Louis Arena on Jan. 30, 1999. In the last meeting on March 21, 2012, the Rangers won 2-1 in overtime at Madison Square Garden.

As you already know by now, Mike Babcock chose to perform his annual message-sending splitting of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg Friday, but he wasn't delighted by it, as the Free Press's George Sipple noted:

Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk couldn’t make it a dozen games without being split up. Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock separated the duo in practice today. Zetterberg skated with Tomas Tatar and Johan Franzen while Datsyuk skated with Daniel Alfredsson and Todd Bertuzzi.

“I told them I wasn’t going to split ’em up; I told you guys I wasn’t going to split ’em up,” Babcock said. “Here we are 11 games in, I’m splitting them up.”

Babcock said the move wasn’t something he wanted to do, but the Wings have scored three goals in the past three games. Zetterberg (six goals) and Datsyuk (five) have combined to score 11 of the team’s 25 goals.

“Well, obviously, we think we need more going,” Babcock said on why he shook up the lines. “And it’s too easy to shut down one or two guys. You need a team going. And right now, we need Alfie and we need Mule and we need a whole bunch of guys to score.”

Sipple also posted the only video of Babcock's comments, with the video not posting until Friday evening:

Babcock continued, as noted by the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness:

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

Datsyuk will center a line with Daniel Alfredsson and Todd Bertuzzi, while Zetterberg will center Johan Franzen and Tomas Tatar.

“We think we need more going,” Babcock said. “It’s too easy to shut down one or two guys. You need a team going. 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 those guys then we get four guys scoring and the other guys contributing more on a regular basis and then we become a better hockey team. That’s the plan.”

Babcock had this to say about Tatar's promotion...

“We have to generate more offense,” Babcock said. “Some guys are given the opportunity because we have to generate some more offense. We need team offense, not individual offense. That comes from forechecking harder, being heavier on the puck in the O-zone, having a better net-front presence, shooting the puck and getting it back. We’d like him to be a part of all those things.”

And Pleiness added some injury news to the mix:

Patrick Eaves and Darren Helm won’t play Saturday against the New York Rangers. Helm suffered a minor groin flare up during this two-game conditioning stint in Grand Rapids.

“If that didn’t happen I felt that I had a chance for (Saturday), but the groin is feeling better, the back is feeling good,” Helm said. “The test in GR went really well and hopefully everything will be good for Canada somewhere.”

MLive's Ansar Khan confirmed the news while posting a practice lineup, noting that Jonathan Ericsson's status as on the short-term IR and Xavier Ouellet's absence allowed the team to activate Eaves without making any roster/cap moves:

Datsyuk and Zetterberg remain together on the top power play unit, along with Bertuzzi. Niklas Kronwall and Alfredsson are at the points. Stephen Weiss is back on the second power play unit, with Franzen and Tatar. Jakub Kindl and Danny DeKeyser are manning the points.

Here are the line combinations and defense pairings they skated with today and plan to use Saturday:

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

On Friday evening, Khan penned an article discussing Tomas Tatar's new-found status as a top-six forward...

“Hopefully, this is going to be the turning point and I can help the first two lines produce,’’ Tatar, 22, said.

Coach Mike Babcock has split up Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, looking for more balance, hoping the chance to play with one or the other sparks more players. The Red Wings have scored only three goals in three games (0-2-1) and are averaging just 2.24 per game. Tatar will be playing on a line with Zetterberg and Johan Franzen. It will be the third game in a row for Tatar, after he was a healthy scratch in seven of the first eight.

“I think I started a game once with Pav and Danny (Cleary), but besides that, this is a big opportunity to play with those guys,’’ Tatar said. “It’s basically like a dream. All those guys are really good players. They’re leaders on the team. It’s going to be fun and hopefully we can build some chemistry and score a couple of goals.’’

Tatar is small (5-foot-10, 186) but tenacious. He skates well, goes to the hard areas and has good hands around the net. He had four goals and seven points during a 20-game stint with the Red Wings last season, before being sent down to Grand Rapids, replaced by Gustav Nyquist.

“Just play the way he’s been playing all the way up to how he got here,’’ Zetterberg said. “He’s skilled, he sees the ice very well, he’s got a good shot. Me and Mule like to have the puck a lot. I think (Tatar) will be good at finding an open spot and be the sniper.’’

Tatar’s play without the puck, concern about turnovers and his defensive ability, have prevented him from securing a regular spot in the lineup. But the Red Wings need an offensive spark and are hoping the 2013 AHL playoff MVP (16 goals, 22 points in 24 postseason games) can provide it.

And NHL.com's Brian Hedger pulled no punches regarding the Wings' inability to dent the back of the net...

The Detroit Red Wings had a definite plan in mind when they signed center Stephen Weiss to a five-year contract over the summer. They would put Weiss, who missed most of last season with a wrist injury, in the middle of the second line between Johan Franzen and fellow free-agent signee Daniel Alfredsson. They also planned to move captain Henrik Zetterberg from center of the second line to left wing on the top unit with playmaking center Pavel Datsyuk.

Detroit also let versatile second-liner Valtteri Filppula, who played center and left wing, leave via free agency. It looked like a fine idea, but 11 games into the new season it's time for a new plan. Vexed by an offense averaging just 2.27 goals per game (23rd in the NHL), coach Mike Babcock is again splitting up Zetterberg (six goals, six assists) and Datsyuk (five goals, six assists), who have combined for a whopping 34 percent of the Red Wings' points.


For the time being, Babcock is saddled with an offense that's sputtering. After finishing tied for 19th in the League last season with 2.54 goals per game, the Red Wings have somehow gotten less productive after adding Alfredsson and Weiss.


The Red Wings' power play, which will keep Zetterberg and Datsyuk paired on the same top unit, appears to be fine with a 21.2 percent success rate (11th in the NHL). Even strength is a different story. They haven't scored a goal in their last 73 shots of even-strength play, and more troublesome is what's happening with the puck-possession game.

Detroit is allowing a surprising 31.7 shots per game (21st in the NHL), which likely stems from their inability to establish sustained offensive pressure.

And Hedger got a hell of a telling quote from Zetterberg regarding their struggles in terms of sustaining possession and control of the puck. Zetterberg feels that the Wings' status as trading offensive chances with the opponent gets them nowhere fast:

"I think we're a little too much one-and-done," Zetterberg said. "It's tiring to play like that. Once you get into their zone, you want to spend some more time, wear out their [defense] a little bit. I think we're [taking] one shot and they get the puck back out, and it's tough to score goals like that now. You have to spend time there and grind and get some ugly goals, and hopefully we can spread it out a little bit more now and get four lines going.”

The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan noted that Zetterberg's sense of humor remained intact regarding the inevitable breaking up of the Eurotwin band...

"It could be a record,” Zetterberg said, laughing, of the 11-game stretch he and Datsyuk were together. “Babs was pretty up front with it, that we’ll be playing together until he need to switch it up. Now is the time.”

And he noted that the Wings don't plan on taking the Rangers lightly:

The Red Wings won’t be the only team desperately searching for a victory.

The Rangers conclude a season-opening nine-game trip — Madison Square Garden has been under repair. They are 2-6-0 and have scored a league-low 12 goals.

“Sometimes playing on the road isn’t a bad thing until you find your game,” Babcock said. “They have lots of good players. We have to find a way to play well against them and worry about us, and not about the Rangers.”

DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose touched upon both the Wings' offensive struggles...

Detroit has managed just one goal – Bertuzzi’s power-play goal against the Senators – in the last eight periods, plus an overtime and a shootout.

“I think the last game we can hit the delete button because I don’t think we did a lot of good things,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “The game before that, San Jose, was a well-played game by both teams. That was two scoring teams that went at each other, but we played real good defense, didn’t give each other a lot of opportunity to score goals. Saying that, I think we have to find ways to spend more time in their end.”

And the fact that the teams' defensive pairs are also in flux:

Wednesday was the first time for Niklas Kronwall and Brendan Smith to play any significant minutes together as defensive partners. While Smith is much more offensive-minded than Jonathan Ericsson – Kronwall’s usual D-partner – it will take some time getting use to.

“I thought there were things that worked and some things we need to work on a lot more,” Kronwall said. “That’s like that the first few times you play with each other. We haven’t played with each other for some time now. So it’s going to take some time to adjust to each other. The more you communicate out there the better it’s going to be. We just need to play with each other, get out there as much as possible so we can get a better read off each other.”

Ericsson is out for 2-3 weeks with a partial dislocation of his left shoulder joint.



By this year's standards, Friday was a "slow" news day, but the Twitter department was humming along as usual...

And Kindl engaged in a Twitter Q and A after practice:

In the AHL, it sounds like Calle Jarnkrok isn't exactly delighted with riding buses for a living, but he's going to have to get used to it given that the Griffins play in Chicago on Saturday night and then drive to Des Moines, Iowa to play the Wild on Sunday--before driving back to Grand Rapids.

"Life on a bus" indeed. The Griffins' round trip? 1,018 miles from rink to rink to rink. Hotel mileage and then the players driving home, not included.




Otherwise...Sportsline's Chris Peters noted that Aftonbladet's Linus Norberg revealed Team Sweden's Olympic jerseys, as shared by the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation, and it appears that those campy iron-on collars and iron-on shoulder decals on the Nike "Swift" jerseys are mandatory. I believe that Nike's advertising the collar stuff as "flywire" that's supposed to help the collars not slip:

Image via Aftonbladet and the Svenska Ishockeyforbundet

It's a little awkward that Dominic Moore and Todd Bertuzzi will be opposing each other tonight given that it was announced that Steve Moore's $38 million civil suit against Bertuzzi, Marc Crawford, Brian Burke, the Vancouver Canucks and the NHL will go to trial in September of 2014, presuming that Bertuzzi's no longer playing.

The Denver Post's Terry Frei spoke to Bertuzzi's high-powered attorney, Tim Danson, after having spoken to the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons about what is supposed to be a 3-month trial:

The scheduled date for the often-delayed case now is Sept. 8, 2014, and three months have been set aside for the jury trial in the Superior Court of Justice in Toronto. The complications and maneuvering in the case have been many, leading to the multiple delays. One outgrowth of an agreement among the defendants about proportion of liability and dropping of cross-claims is that former Canucks (and Avalanche) coach Marc Crawford is not officially a defendant.

Frei notes that March 8th will mark the 10-year anniversary of the incident:

Moore, then 25, suffered three fractured vertebrae, a concussion and brain damage. He hasn't played in the NHL since that night. It was his 69th NHL game, all with the Avalanche — eight in 2001-02, four in 2002-03 and then 57 in 2003-04.

"Steve is still in rehabilitation," Danson said. "He's being treated for his injuries. It's been a very, very difficult 10 years. It's been very frustrating. There you are, having your career ended in your (official) rookie year and your source of income is cut off and you sustain serious injuries. And the guy who did it continues to play hockey for another 10 years. He is at least pleased that we have a hard and final trial date.

"I'm not using the term 'looking forward to it,' because he'd rather be playing hockey rather than going to court, but at least he's looking forward to finally having his day in court."

Moore is living in the Toronto area, where he was born and raised before graduating from Harvard with a degree in environmental sciences and public policy. Danson said Moore still is unable to comment on the case while the lawsuit is pending.

I don't believe that what happened to Moore is remotely excusable or explainable in anything other than status as criminal assault, but I do not believe that shooting for a $38 million moon by putting all of hockey on trial is good for a client whose medical expenses are not paid for and who I believe should be allowed to move on with his life given that it is highly, highly unlikely that Moore will be awarded the full amount.

Danson is an incredibly media-savvy attorney who takes the highest-profile cases and tries to make mints out of them, for both his clients and himself--and you can find evidence of that on his website--and I happen to believe that just as Bertuzzi's actions were unconscionable, Danson's handling of this case has been inexcusable.



I despise ending on that kind of note, but that's where this one is going to end. I'm reaching the end of my rope energy-wise after two weeks which have included a wedding, eight games and a significant amount of mom-hauling, so you'll have to pardon me if I go into "George light" mode over the next day or so, because I'm frickin' exhausted and half-sick from mental and physical exertion.


Update: Sovetsky Sport's Pavel Lysenko reports that Sergei Fedorov's comeback with CSKA Moscow has yet to officially begin. There was apparently speculation that he'd appear in CSKA's game against Atlant Mytischi, but he didn't play for the team in their 4-1 loss. He is still training with CSKA and there's a prevailing theory, per Sport-Express and R-Sport that Fedorov will either appear during CSKA's next home game on the 28th, against SKA St. Petersburg (that's R-Sport) or that it's more likely that he'll debut after Russia, Finland, Sweden and the Czech Republic pause for the next part of the Euro Hockey Tour, the Karjala Cup, which takes place from November 10-13 (Sport-Express's theory).

For the record, Slava Kozlov's still playing for Spartak Moscow at 41, and he spoke with Sports.ru, revealing that he *hopes* to play in the Winter Classic Alumni Showdown if he's allowed to participate.


Update #2: The New York Journal News's Rick Carpiniello posted the Rangers' game notes:

Saturday, Oct. 26, 7:00 p.m. ET
Joe Louis Arena – Detroit, MI
Rangers: 2-6-0 (4 pts)
Red Wings: 6-4-1 (13 pts)

The Rangers will conclude their season-opening nine-game road trip when they face-off against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena (7:00 p.m. — TV: MSG Network; Radio: ESPN 98.7), in an Original Six matchup. The Blueshirts currently rank seventh in the Metropolitan Division standings, and 14th in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 2-6-0 (4 pts). The Rangers enter the contest having been defeated by the Flyers, 2-1, on Thursday at Philadelphia. The Red Wings enter the contest with a 6-4-1 (13 pts) record to rank fourth in the Eastern Conference, and have lost their last three games (0-2-1). Following the contest, the Rangers will return to action when they face-off against the Montreal Canadiens on Monday, Oct. 28, at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m.), in their 2013-14 regular season home opener.

All-Time: 211-260-103-1 overall (135-94-58-0 at home; 76-166-45-1 on the road)
2013-14: Tomorrow is the first of three meetings this season, and the only meeting at Joe Louis Arena.
Last Season: Did not play. In 2011-12, New York was 1-0-0 overall (1-0-0 mark at home; 0-0-0 mark on the road), following a 2-1 overtime victory on Mar. 21, 2012 at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers’ power play was 1-3 (33.3%) in the contest. Brad Richards tallied the power play goal for the Rangers, while Ryan Callahan notched the overtime game-winner. Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves (.963 Sv%) in the win.
The last 10 meetings between the Rangers and Red Wings have been decided by two goals or less, including six contests separated by one goal
New York is 2-6-0 on the road; Detroit is 3-2-1 at home
New York is 0-0-0 vs. Atlantic Division opponents; Detroit is 3-0-0 vs. Metropolitan Division opponents
New York lists no former Red Wings on their roster
Detroit lists one former Ranger on their roster: Mikael Samuelsson (2001-02 – 2002-03)

INDIVIDUAL CAREER LEADERS vs. RED WINGS: Henrik Lundqvist – 5 GP, 1-3-1, 3.19 GAA; Rick Nash – 55 GP, 25-22-47; Brad Richards – 21 GP, 7-14-21; Derick Brassard – 25 GP, 5-7-12; John Moore – 7 GP, 1-1-2

Power Play: The Rangers were 0-2 (4:00) on Thursday at Philadelphia. New York ranks 19th in the NHL overall (4-24, 16.7%), and is tied for 14th on the road (4-24, 16.7%). The Rangers are 2-2 (0:48) in five-on-three situations (last – 10/12 at STL), and 0-1 (0:30) when four-on-three (last – 10/12 at STL). Shorthanded goals allowed (2): 10/8 at SJS (Vlasic); 10/24 at PHI (Read).
Penalty Killing: The Blueshirts were 4-4 (11:00) on Thursday at Philadelphia, and are now 21-24 (87.5%) in the last five games. New York is tied for 16th in the NHL overall (26-32, 81.2%), and ranks 14th on the road (26-32, 81.2%). The Rangers are 2-2 (1:59) in three-on-five situations (last – 10/16 at WSH), and 0-0 (0:00) when three-on-four. Shorthanded goals for (1): 10/7 at LAK (McDonagh).
Four-on-Four: New York did not skate in a four-on-four situation on Thursday at Philadelphia, and are now -2 in eight four-on-four situations (12:12) this season. Four-on-four goals for (1): 10/16 at WSH (J. Moore). Four-on-four goals allowed (3): 10/3 at PHX (Vrbata); 10/7 at LAK (Muzzin); 10/12 at STL (Backes).

ORIGINAL SIX SHOWDOWN: Tonight’s contest will be the first of 14 scheduled games against Original Six opponents this season.
Last season, the Rangers posted a 4-5-0 record against Original Six opponents. Rick Nash and Derek Stepan tied for the team lead with five assists and seven points apiece, while Carl Hagelin, Brad Richards, and Anton Stralman tied Nash and Stepan for the team-high with two goals each against Original Six opponents. Michael Del Zotto (one goal, two assists), Dan Girardi (three assists), and Marc Staal (one goal, two assists) tied for the team lead in scoring among defensemen with three points apiece. Henrik Lundqvist was 4-3-0 with a 2.65 GAA and .901 Sv% in seven appearances against Original Six opponents.
New York is 58-37-12 against Original Six teams since 2005-06, including a 1-4-1 mark vs. Detroit over the span. The Rangers’ .598 win% ranks third, trailing Detroit (.633, 45-24-10) and Montreal (.607, 84-52-13), and ahead of Chicago (.562, 40-30-11), Boston (.530, 69-60-23), and Toronto (.490, 63-66-21).

ROAD WARRIORS: The Rangers will wrap-up a nine-game road trip to begin their 2013-14 regular season campaign tomorrow at Detroit. The trip established a franchise record for longest road trip to start the season, breaking the old record of seven games set in 2011-12. It also tied the franchise mark for longest road trip overall, established during the 1955-56 season. The Blueshirts are slated to open their home schedule on Oct. 28 against Montreal, their latest home opener in a non-lockout shortened season since the 1947-48 season (Oct. 29).

FINISHING THE JOB: The Blueshirts have registered a point in 94 consecutive regular season games when leading after the second period, dating back to the 2009-10 season, posting a record of 88-0-6 over the span. The Rangers’ last regulation loss in a game when entering the third with the lead was Feb. 4, 2010 (6-5 loss vs. WSH). New York is 2-0-0 when leading after the second period this season.

Brad Richards – eight points (five goals, three assists) in the last seven games, including five points (two goals, three assists) in the last four games
Derick Brassard – four assists in the last six games, including three assists in the last four contests
John Moore – two points (one goal, one assist) in the last three games

Carl Hagelin (IR – 9/30; shoulder, out indefinitely) – 8
Rick Nash (IR – 10/14; head injury – 10/8, out indefinitely) – 5
Ryan Callahan (IR – 10/21; broken thumb – 10/16, 3-4 weeks) – 2
Henrik Lundqvist (injured, day-to-day) – 1
Total Man-Games Lost: 18

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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.