The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/06/13 at 04:40 PM ET
Updated and turned into an afternoon report at 5:32 PM: The Red Wings flew back to Metro Airport this morning after splitting their road trip, dropping a 4-2 decision to Phoenix on Thursday and defeating Colorado 3-2 in overtime last night.
As today is "Fan Day at the Joe," and as tomorrow's post-Winter Classic announcement matinee game against St. Louis will represent the team's third game in four nights, MLive's Ansar Khan's Tweet about a recall offers the only worrisome news we'll know about tomorrow's roster machinations:
After last night's game, Mike Babcock told the media that he was worried that Henrik Zetterberg had re-tweaked his groin, so this recall (Sheahan has to fly all the way from Abbotsford, British Columbia to Detroit to make tomorrow's game) probably involves making sure that the Wings have enough warm bodies to cover in case Zetterberg and/or Damien Brunner (hip flexor) can't play.
The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness took note of Sheahan's recall:
Wings coach Mike Babcock mentioned last week that he wanted to have a look at forward Riley Sheahan.He may get his chance Sunday. Sheahan was recalled from Grand Rapids on Saturday.
Sheahan has 16 goals and 19 assists in 67 games with the Griffins this season.
Sheahan, who was drafted by the Wings in the first round (21st overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, played one game last season in Detroit. He finished with three shots and four penalty minutes in 6:03 of ice time.
At midnight Tuesday, NHL rosters could expand as long as those players up don’t exceed a team’s salary cap.
As did MLive's Ansar Khan:
The Detroit Red Wings recalled center Riley Sheahan today from the Grand Rapids Griffins.
General manager Ken Holland said the move was made in case the Red Wings have another injury to a forward and they need Sheahan to play Sunday against the St. Louis Blues at Joe Louis Arena (12:30 p.m., NBC).
The Griffins are playing in Abbotsford, British Columbia tonight, so Sheahan wouldn't have been able to get to Detroit soon enough if they waited until Sunday to see if everyone who played Friday in Colorado was available.
The 6-foot-2, 212-pound Sheahan is in his first full season with the Griffins. He has 16 goals, 19 assists and 31 penalty minutes in 67 games. He is currently tied for third on the Griffins with six power-play goals.
Sheahan, 21, was Detroit’'s top pick (21st overall in the first round) in the 2010 entry draft out of Notre Dame. He has appeared in one NHL game, the Red Wings' season finale against the Chicago Blackhawks on April 7, 2012. The native of St. Catherines, Ontario, registered three shots on goal and four penalty minutes in 6:03 of ice time.
Update: The Wings face another incredibly stiff test and a must-win game after tomorrow morning's Winter Classic announcement at 10:30 AM (and the Wings' website will stream the presser).
The St. Louis Blues come into tomorrow night's game trailing the Wings in the Western Conference standings by one point, 43 to 42, but the Blues have the same number of regulation-or-overtime wins--17--and the Blues have won three straight games. They took out Minnesota by a 4-1 tally on Monday, they won a 4-3 shootout decision over Chicago on Thursday, and last night, they started rookie goalie Jake Allen in their 3-1 win over Columbus (so the Blues didn't practice today, either).
David Backes scored the game-winning goal and both Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold made their Blues debuts on Friday night, and the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness noted that the Wings are well aware of the fact that they can't deliver another, "Oh, we're coming back from a West Coast swing and we're allowed to blow a matinee game" performance:
The Wings didn’t fly back after Friday night’s game like they normally do, instead opting to depart Saturday as they prepare for Sunday’s afternoon tilt at home with the St. Louis Blues.
“Time change, you got to get back and get adjusted as quick as we can,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We’re staying over and hopefully guys will get to bed here early and get ready to go. It’s a big game for us.”
The Blues are eighth in the Western Conference, a point behind the Wings. St. Louis also has played two fewer games than Detroit.
“I don’t think it’s going to be that difficult this time, it’s a much shorter flight,” said goalie Jimmy Howard, who will start against the Blues. “We get back at a much earlier time. I don’t think it’ll be that hard. Just show up and play,” Howard continued. “I enjoy those games. Seems like the only bad one I ever had was the Chicago one. I enjoy the Sunday afternoon games and it’ll be no different.”
The Wings dropped a 7-1 decision to the Blackhawks last Sunday after coming back from an extended road trip to the West Coast.
“Look at the standings and every game from here on in is pretty much do or die,” defenseman Ian White said.
Babcock won’t announce his lineup until prior to the game.
“We said to him grab a line and take it,” Babcock said. “With Fil, (he) gives him real good speed, and Gus makes good plays. I thought they were good (Friday).”
Franzen was drafted by the Wings as a center, but because of their depth through the middle he’s played pretty much solely on wing since he joined the team for the 2005-06 season. He seemed to like his new role.
“It was fun,” Franzen said. “(You’re a) little bit more involved in the game, got some more pucks, a lot more skating, so it was fun. Usually when you’re playing the wing you have a designated spot, you know where you’re going to be, you’re on your wing pretty much every time you go back and forth up and down, and you don’t leave that,” Franzen added. “As a center you can use your, what do you call it … a little more freedom, you try to find openings and you go there. It’s a lot more skating and less stopping.”
The Wings are hoping this move pays off and makes Franzen a more consistent player that they’re looking for. Franzen won 8-of-13 faceoffs, had one assist, one takeaway and four hits on Friday.
“That’s definitely a good thing, it would be bad if he didn’t think I was one,” Franzen said when he heard Babcock called him an X-Factor on the team. “I’m happy about that. I’m trying as hard as I can. It’s something new and get a little boost maybe.”
The move also allowed Babcock to rejoin Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk together, playing on a line with Justin Abdelkader.
“I just thought the energy level of our group wasn’t great (Thursday) night,” Babcock said. “I just thought this would give us some energy. I thought it did. Everyone’s talking about Pav and Z, but I thought Mule was fantastic in the middle, dominated the faceoff circle, really played well, went head-to-head against (Matt) Duchene all night long and was very good.”
And as Pleiness notes, Danny DeKeyser probably earned himself a home-ice debut thanks to his performance on Friday night:
“I liked him,” Wings coach Mike Babcock after Friday’s 3-2 overtime win over Colorado. “He’s going to be a good player in the league for a long time. Obviously, he’s got to get a lot stronger and just as he gets comfortable playing in his own end, but he skates so good and passes the puck so good and he’s smart, good defender, makes it pretty easy to like him.”
DeKeyser was paired with Ian White on the blue line.
“I thought he was really solid,” White said. “Usually it takes a little while to get your feet wet, but I thought he was good pretty much from the get-go. Obviously (there are) a lot of nerves coming into a situation like this. It would be one thing to be a new guy starting the season but we’re in pretty much a do-or-die situation every game, so to come in in a must-win game like this and be calm under pressure like that spoke volumes about him.”
DeKeyser saw 16:36 of ice time, which included 1:35 shorthanded. He had three takeaways and two giveaways.
“The easiest way to get through any situation is to just talk,” White said. “We had a chat before the game and it’s nice to maybe lend some of my experience to him and help him through I’m sure a little bit of anxiety. We talked through it. I thought it went fine.”
For his efforts, the Wings gave DeKeyser the game puck afterwards.
“After I got the first shift or two done, it was good to get those out of the way because I got my legs going a little bit, got the feet moving and started trying to make some plays,” DeKeyser said. “So after the first two shifts, it was kind of like another game.”
Via RedWingsFeed, DeKeyser thanked fans for their good wishes on Twitter around the time that Red Bird III arrived at Metro Airport...
If you want to read proper Wings-Blues scouting reports, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose provides an "At a Glance" preview of tomorrow's game...
The Red Wings and St. Louis Blues will meet on Sunday for the fifth and absolute final time as Central Division rivals at Joe Louis Arena. The game, which will be aired nationally on NBC at 12:30 p.m. EDT, is crucial for both teams in the Western Conference standings. St. Louis has won three consecutive games, after losing three straight, and Detroit is coming off a game that it had to have Friday night when the Wings captured a 3-2 overtime win at Colorado.
The Blues bring two strong special teams into Sunday’s game. They haven’t allowed a power-play goal in five straight games, killing off 13 consecutive penalties during that stretch.
The Blues are one of three teams – Edmonton and Philadelphia being the others – in the top 10 in both power play percentage and penalty kill percentage. St. Louis also leads the league at allowing the fewest number of shots, just over 24 per game.
With only 10 remaining on the schedule, the Red Wings are on the playoff bubble. There’s good news and bad news for the Wings. The good news is they are just three-points away from the No. 4 seed and hosting a first-round playoff series. The bad news? They’re four-points from missing the playoffs altogether.
Sunday’s game is very big as the Blues are just a point behind the Wings in the standings.
Asked Friday night about travel back home and playing a third game in four days, coach Mike Babcock said, “Time change, you got to get back and get adjusted as quick as we can. We're staying over (in Denver) and hopefully guys will get to bed here early and get ready to go. It's a big game for us. St. Louis has got two games in hand, plus we always have fun playing against St. Louis.”
And NHL.com's Dan Rosen has already penned a preview of tomorrow's game:
Season series: This is the fifth and final meeting of the Central Division rivals this season. The Detroit Red Wings are 2-1-1 with a pair of regulation wins and an overtime loss. The St. Louis Blues won 6-0, on opening day, and 4-3 in overtime on Feb. 13.
Blues [team scope]: St. Louis put together a three-game winning streak to start April after closing March with a three-game losing streak. The Blues are coming off a 3-1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday. They also defeated the Chicago Blackhawks in a shootout and the Minnesota Wild 4-1 in the past week.
Blues captain David Backes has a goal in back-to-back games after scoring three in the first 34. He scored the winner Friday and was identified by coach Ken Hitchcock as the best player on the ice.
Forward Chris Stewart chipped in against Columbus with his first goal in six games. Rookie goalie Jake Allen made 26 saves for his ninth win of the season.
Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, whom the Blues acquired Monday, picked up two more assists in the win over Columbus, giving him three in two games.
Who's hot: Blues forward Alex Steen has an assist in each of the past three games. ... Red Wings forward Johan Franzen has four assists during a three-game point-scoring streak.
Injury report: Blues forwards Scott Nichol (soreness) and T.J. Oshie (bruised left foot) are out. ... Red Wings forwards Damien Brunner (undisclosed), Mikael Samuelsson (upper body), Todd Bertuzzi (back) and Darren Helm (back) have been out of the lineup.
Just as I was about to post this, I suppose it was inevitable that we'd get a reminder of Tinky Winky's shenanigans, and Pro Hockey Talk's Mike Halford focused on Sheahan's post-Griffins Halloween party drunk driving arrest:
Sheahan, 20, gained major notoriety last year when was arrested in October after police found him driving the wrong way down a road…while in possession of AHL Grand Rapids teammate Brendan Smith‘s ID.
Clad in a purple Teletubby costume, Sheahan blew a .30 on his breathalyzer — any blood-alcohol content of .17 or higher designates “super-drunk” — and had to be sent to a local hospital for clearance, given how high his BAC was.
In early December, Sheahan plead guilty to super-drunk driving charges and was forced to pay a $1,325 fine and agree to complete 49 hours on a work crew.
He was also instructed to attend a victim impact class and serve 12 months of probation.
A remorseful Sheahan spoke with MLive in January, saying he hadn’t consumed alcohol since the incident while expressing regret and embarrassment over the incident.
“It was a terrible decision. I’m paying the consequences for it,” Sheahan said. “There’s so much space in my life now to recover from it and make better decisions, and teach people that they don’t want to go through something like that.”
On the ice, Sheahan has enjoyed a successful campaign, scoring 16G-19A-35PTS for the Griffins this year while recording a plus-7 rating.
Sheahan is always going to be haunted by his indiscretion, I get that, and I understand that he got off incredibly lightly given that he could have killed someone and especially given that the average person who faces a "super-drunk" charge, even if they're first-time offenders, tend to spend a couple of weeks in a correctional facility...
But Sheahan's genuinely remorseful for his actions, and thus far, he's played like a player who got both scared straight and registered the massive-ego-check he received.
Should the incident follow him for the rest of his professional hockey-playing life? Yes,of course. But should the, "Hey, he was that drunk Tinky Winky guy!" reaction be the default response?
Update #2: FYI:
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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.