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Red Wings-Sabres game-day articles: Nosek to play; Mrazek vs. Lehner

Updated 5x at 3:17 PM: The Red Wings host the Buffalo Sabres this evening (7:30 PM EDT on FSD/NBCSN/97.1 FM), and the Wings' morning skate revealed that Petr Mrazek will start for the Red Wings, with Tomas Nosek subbing for the injured Darren Helm.

The Free Press's Helene St. James penned an article about the Wings' morning skate machinations...

The Wings have won their last two games yet remain second-from-the-bottom in the Eastern Conference, at 28-31-12 (64 points). The Sabres, who have played two more games than Detroit, are at 29-31-12 and 70 points.

Petr Mrazek is up in the Wings' goalie rotation.

The Wings don’t have any spare defensemen, so tonight will see Danny DeKeyser, Mike Green, Niklas Kronwall, Nick Jensen, Xavier Ouellet and Robbie Russo.

Up front, Darren Helm is out tonight and Tuesday after appearing to injure his left leg Saturday. Recently called-up Tomas Nosek will play his first NHL game this season, on a line with Luke Glendening and Drew Miller. Henrik Zetterberg remains with Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist, Frans Nielsen with Anthony Mantha and Riley Sheahan, and Dylan Larkin with Andreas Athanasiou and Justin Abdelkader.

The Wings are on a little tear when it comes to scoring, with 10 goals the past two games. Individually over the past two games, Tatar has three goals and two assists; Larkin has two goals and an assist; Athanasiou has three assists; Nyquist has a goal, a shoot-out goal (which does not count as an individual goal) and an assist; Zetterberg has a goal and three assists and Green has a goal and two assists.

There are just 12 games left in the regular season.

MLive's Brendan Savage penned a Wings-Sabres preview...

* The Sabres are coming off a 2-1 shootout win Friday in Anaheim. Prior to the victory over the Ducks, they had lost 10 of their previous 12 games. They're 3-5-2 in their past 10 games.

* Red Wings goaltender Petr Mrazek, who is expected to start tonight, has as 5-2-1 record, 2.76 GAA and .897 save percentage with one shutout in nine career appearances vs. the Sabres. Jimmy Howard is 8-0-1 with a 1.46 GAA and .942 with one shutout in 10 career games against Buffalo.

* Sabres goalie Robin Lehner has a 2-3-1 record, 3.52 GAA and .897 save percentage in seven career games against the Red Wings. Anders Nilsson is 1-0-0 with a 1.86 GAA and .941 save percentage in one game vs. Detroit.

* This is the fourth and final meeting of the season between the Red Wings and Sabres. Detroit has a 1-1-1 record against Buffalo.

And the Sabres' Jourdon LaBarber filed a pre-morning skate report:

It's a game night for the Buffalo Sabres in Detroit, and we'll have two new faces on the back end.

With Taylor Fedun and Cody Franson both unable to play due to injuries - joining a list of injured defensemen that already included Dmitry Kulikov and Justin Falk - the team recalled Brady Austin and Casey Nelson to join the lineup against the Red Wings.

It will be the final game for the Sabres at Joe Louis Arena, and will be nationally televised on NBCSN with puck drop scheduled for 7:30 p.m. You can hear Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray on the call on WGR 550.


From the notes

The Sabres won the first five games they played at the Joe, from Feb. 16, 1980 to Dec. 12, 1981. Since then, they haven't won two in a row, which is something they can accomplish with a win tonight. Evander Kane's two goals led the Sabres to victory in their last game in Detroit, on Dec. 28.

Speaking of Ristolainen, he might miss Joe Louis Arena as much as anyone. The defenseman has eight assists in his last eight games against Detroit, including six in his last four at the Joe. Also, here's this from @SabresPR:

Gilbert Perreault is the Sabres' all-time leading scorer at Joe Louis Arena with 14 points (8+6) in 10 games. With a point tonight, Rasmus Ristolainen would tie Danny Gare and Pierre Turgeon for fifth on the franchise list with seven points.

Also from the game notes, here's who's hot on the Sabres:

  • Jack Eichel has not gone two games without a point since Jan. 31 and Feb. 2. In the 22 games since,
  • Eichel has totaled 28 points (8+20).
  • Ryan O'Reilly has recorded nine points (4+5) in his last 10 games.
  • Jake McCabe has recorded seven (2+5) of his 18 points in his last 11 games, averaging 21:31 of ice time per game during that stretch.
  • Robin Lehner has stopped 95 of 101 shots (.941) in his last three appearances.

The Sabres held an optional morning skate, as reported by WGR 550's Paul Hamilton...

Today is optional. 14 guys are out there


Lehner in goal

And the Buffalo News's Mike Harrington:

Bylsma said Lehner in goal. D-pairs will start with Gorges-Ristolainen, McCabe-Nelson, Austin-Bogosian. #Sabres


Bylsma on the Joe: "Pretty much every time I step on that bench, I'm holding my breath 4 Lidstrom at the side of the net and Fleury's save."


Foligno on the Joe: "This barn has seen a lot of playoff hockey and it's what makes it so special and this franchise so special." #Sabres

According to BuffaloSabres.com's LaBarber, the Sabres skated with the following lineup during Sunday's practice:

Sunday's lines and pairings

90 Ryan O'Reilly - 15 Jack Eichel - 63 Tyler Ennis
9 Evander Kane - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 12 Brian Gionta
26 Matt Moulson / 44 Nicolas Deslauriers - 23 Sam Reinhart - 56 Justin Bailey
82 Marcus Foligno - 71 Evan Rodrigues - 52 Hudson Fasching

4 Josh Gorges - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
29 Jake McCabe - 47 Zach Bogosian

40 Robin Lehner
31 Anders Nilsson

DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji offered a few Tweets regarding Ryan Sproul's status...

#RedWings Sproul: “It’s just an ACL. The MRI was hard to see so it’s just a partial tear and a little bit of a bone bruise.”


#RedWings Sproul said he'll rehab more,"try to fix it if I can by myself by working out & if it’s strong enough,I’ll stay away from surgery"


#RedWings Sproul suffered his knee injury in the second period in Edmonton on March 4.

And MLive's Ansar Khan offered the following:

#RedWings Blashill said Helm is day-to-day, didn't rule out possible return on Friday.


#RedWings Blashill re Mantha not on PP: He lost his spot and the PP guys have done an excellent job (past few games). Must beat out someone.


#RedWings Sproul (partial tear left ACL) said no determination yet if surgery needed. If not, he'll be ready for start of next season.

Khan also posted a game-day report...

[Tomas] Nosek, 24, has 15 goals and 40 points in 49 games for Grand Rapids this season and is currently tied for fourth on the team in scoring. The native of the Czech Republic made his NHL debut with the Red Wings on Dec. 26, 2015, and has appeared in six games with the club, recording no points and two penalty minutes.

"He's done excellent in Grand Rapids, from what I've been told," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "I had a chance to see him play a few weeks ago, but he got hurt real early in the game. He is a real good, solid defensive player who can make plays offensively. He's hard on the puck, he's strong on the puck. His skating has really improved over the last couple of years. He's just a real smart, good hockey player."

Nosek will center a line with Luke Glendening and Drew Miller.

"I'm very excited," Nosek said. "Every time you get a chance to play in the NHL it's very exciting. I tried to do my best down there to hope to get a call-up and now I'm here, so I will try to prove it that I belong here."

Blashill said Helm's injury is day to day and didn't rule out a possible return on Friday.

Petr Mrazek will start in goal as the Red Wings continue alternating goaltenders.

And Khan posted a video of Nosek's remarks:

DetroitRedWings.com's Wakiji also filed a morning skate report regarding Nosek's debut...

"Every game in the NHL it's a lot of experience," Nosek said. "The next time you step on the ice you hope it helps you to have more confidence. This year is the first game, so it's been awhile but I'm playing good hockey down there and I hope I prove that tonight."

During the morning skate, Nosek centered a line with Drew Miller and Luke Glendening.

"I think he's become one of the go-to guys there and here he'll be a fourth-liner, so the minutes are different, but he's always an accountable player," Blashill said. "That's what's going to allow his transition to the league to be smooth. He is a two-way player already. There's not lots of bad habits. I'd say the one thing for him is making sure he manages the puck well. When you play lots of minutes and you're expected to produce lots of offense you can take a few more chances with the puck. When you're playing less minutes, you want to make sure you're trying to crate but you can't give anything up. So, that would be the only adjustment for him but I think it comes natural for him to be a good, two-way player."

Nosek said the main thing he's focused on since turning professional is improving his speed.

"Probably I have a problem the first year with the quickness, the speed here," Nosek said. "That's probably the big step for me, the speed. I try to work every summer on it. I hope it's working. I feel the difference. I'm a little quicker on the ice. The speed gives me confidence, too."

Blashill said the difference is noticeable.

"If you'd have asked me two years ago I'd have said his skating has to improve for him to play in the league now," Blashill said. "I know he trained real hard in the off-season. He trained with a sprinter with the last two offseasons. I thought when he came up and played with us last year his skating was excellent. I think lots of times with these guys it's opportunity. We've got lots of good players around here. I've said it lots. Not just up here but down there. Then it becomes opportunity-based."

And Wakiji continues with her Sproul update.

Update: The Free Press's Helene St. James posted a clip of Nosek and Jeff Blashill speaking with the media:

Update #2: Here's the Buffalo News's Mike Harrington's game-day article:

Last game, first game: The Sabres' final visit here is the first NHL game for defenseman Brady Austin, who said his mother and two brothers will make the six-hour drive from Bobcaygeon, Ont., to watch his debut after his recall from Rochester.

"It's a dream come true," Austin said after today's optional morning skate. "You have to stick with things, keep working, play the systems we've been taught down there and good things can happen.

"It's pretty incredible to get this chance and it's my first game here.  There were some OHL games here I wasn't in and it's awesome to play one of the last games at the Joe."


Lineup notes: Coach Dan Bylsma said Austin will be paired with Zach Bogosian while Casey Nelson, also called up today, will skate with Jake McCabe. In goal, it will be Robin Lehner (19-22-8, 2.68/.921) against Detroit's Petr Mrazek (16-19-7, 3.04/.899).
Rare run vs. Wings: The Sabres are 2-0-1 against Detroit this season and own back-to-back wins against Detroit for the first time since March 6, 1994 and Nov. 1, 1995. They have not won three straight over the Wings since the 1988-89 season. They have not won two straight at The Joe since winning their first five games here from Feb. 16, 1980 to Dec. 12,  1981.

Current streaks: The Sabres are 3-8-2 in their last 13 overall and 1-6 on the road, in the wake of Friday's shootout win at Anaheim. The Red Wings have won two straight after a 1-5-1 slide, scoring five goals apiece in back-to-back wins over Arizona and Colorado. If the game goes overtime, remember this: The Wings are 4-11 in game-winning goals -- but 8-0 in shootouts.


Update #3: Among the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan's notes:

Defenseman Ryan Sproul (knee) said there’s still been no decision on whether he’ll need surgery on his knee. Sproul said he suffered a partial tear of his ACL and there was a bone bruise after he caught a rut in the ice and fell awkwardly March 7 in Toronto.

Sproul played in 27 games this season, with seven points (one goal, six assists) with a minus-8 rating.

“It was a tough season in general, it’s not what I wanted,” said Sproul, who has begun mildly working out on the knee. “I wanted to come in and make my point of knowing I could play in this league, and it’s kind of a struggle when you can’t get into games (with) any consistency. With this injury, I’m going to look back on this season and do whatever I can next season to stay in the lineup.”

Sproul expects a final decision on whether he’ll need surgery in the next couple of weeks.

“We’ll see where it’s at, and we’ll see if I can fix it by myself by working out and if it’s strong enough, I’ll stay away from surgery,” Sproul said.


After a season-long struggle, the Red Wings’ power play entered Monday’s game successful on five of its last 15 attempts and had scored two power-play goals in each of the last two games, after not scoring more than one in the previous 47 games.

“Confidence, and I also think there’s been chemistry developed in those two (power-play) units,” Blashill said.


Update: Here's BuffaloSabres.com's Chris Rydnak's game-day update...

Tonight's game can be seen nationally on NBCSN at 7:30 p.m. Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray will have the radio call on WGR 550.

As a team, the Sabres are coming off a 2-1 shootout win in Anaheim on Friday.  

"I think the biggest thing is just continuing to build," captain Brian Gionta said. "That's what we have to do at the end of the season here in these last 10 games, is continue to build and grow as a team. Hopefully we can compile as many wins as we can in that time."

Projected lineup

90 Ryan O'Reilly - 15 Jack Eichel - 63 Tyler Ennis
9 Evander Kane - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 12 Brian Gionta
26 Matt Moulson - 23 Sam Reinhart - 56 Justin Bailey
82 Marcus Foligno - 71 Evan Rodrigues - 52 Hudson Fasching

4 Josh Gorges - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
29 Jake McCabe - 34 Casey Nelson
67 Brady Austin - 47 Zach Bogosian

40 Robin Lehner
31 Anders Nilsson

Saying farewell to The Joe

Bylsma was born in Grand Haven, Mich., saw his first NHL game at Joe Louis Arena and played there during his college years with Bowling Green. He also won the Stanley Cup at The Joe in 2009 as the coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins in a series that culminated with an unforgettable Game 7. The arena, which will close at the end of the season, clearly holds a special place in his heart.

The walls of outside the locker room are plastered with the names of all of the Stanley Cup winners as well as each player that has won a major NHL award. That celebration of history has always stuck with him.

"To me, this was the ultimate destination point for playing hockey," Bylsma said. "I hope the new building has this stuff on the walls even though it's on cinder block and paint on the walls. You see the history of this building, the history of this franchise and that's kind of my memories coming here."

And the Sabres posted a 9:32 video of Dan Bylsma's pre-game remarks:


Update #5: Here's Ryan Sproul speaking with the Red Wings' website...

And here's the Sabres' game-day preview:

WGR 550's Paul Harrington filed a game-day report as well:

Tyler Ennis has a memory of Joe Louis Arena that has nothing to do with a game he played in. Ennis said, “I love it. The first time I was there I actually went to go watch one of my friends, Darren Helm that I played junior with in the Stanley Cup Final, so that was the first time I was there.”

“Now that I’ve made the NHL and played in Joe Louis, it’s a great barn to play in. You’re in it right away, it’s smaller, it’s darker and it’s got so much character and every time you’re out there, it’s just amazing to be playing in a place with such history and it’ll be a fun one.”

Brady Austin has been called up to play his first NHL game. He’ll be paired with Zach Bogosian, while Casey Nelson will be with Jake McCabe. Austin said, “It’s a dream come true. Ever since I was a kid I wanted to play in the National League and I’m getting a chance tonight.”

Bylsma has had Austin in two training camps. He said, “He’s a big bodied guy. You’re talking about size and physicalness and a big body at 235 pounds and the one thing I think I’ve always liked about Brady is he still has the ability to skate with that size and that’s something I’m excited about seeing tonight.”

Detroit is still three points behind Buffalo with two games in hand. The Red Wings have won two in a row and three out of five.

In the two wins Detroit has scored 10 goals. Tomas Tatar has five goals in five games while Dylan Larkin has four points in three games.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink



Come on Peter. Let’s have a good game!

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 03/20/17 at 12:05 PM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

Nosek will center a line with Luke Glendening and Drew Miller.

For as bad as this line looks….

Frans Nielsen with Anthony Mantha and Riley Sheahan

This line looks even worse. I know, I know, Blashill is putting compete level (Sheahan) with non- compete level (Mantha) to have balance…

I better pick up a bottle of Tullamore DEW on my way home today.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 03/20/17 at 01:37 PM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

Nosek will center a line with Luke Glendening and Drew Miller.

Nailed it !!  hmmm

Posted by Down River Dan on 03/20/17 at 04:36 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.


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