The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/02/13 at 12:30 PM ET
Updated 10x at 4:57 PM: The Detroit Red Wings have a task-and-a-half in front of them as the team begins a slate of five games played over the course of 8 nights with a Sunday matinee against the "unbeaten" Blackhawks (20-0-and-3), and MLive's Ansar Khan and the Free Press's George Sipple report that the team's probably not likely to make any changes to the lineup, nor will the Wings receive any help from their injured players:
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose has penned an "At a Glance" scouting report of the Wings' Sunday opponent, and the Blackhawks are...a bit intimidating:
The Chicago Blackhawks come to town for a special Sunday matinee as the only team in the NHL without a loss in regulation this season. Though the Blackhawks come in with the league’s best record, Niklas Kronwall expects Sunday’s game will be like every other game to this point in this compressed 48-game season.
“It’s going to be a grind,” said Kronwall, the leading scorer among NHL defensemen with 17 points this season. “A lot of times we're going to have to keep it simple, get the pucks out of our zone and into their zone. A lot of times the goals aren't going to be scored off the rush, it's more off a grind.”
It’s a grind every time the Red Wings and Blackhawks meet. The Central Division foes, who have been bitter rivals for the past 87 years, have played eight straight games decided by one-goal, including the Blackhawks’ 2-1 overtime win on Jan. 27.
The Blackhawks have opened the season with points in a NHL record 21 consecutive games. They have earned a point in the last 27 regular-season games, dating back to last season, which is the third best streak in NHL history. A point in Detroit on Sunday will tie the Blackhawks with the 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens, who went 28 straight games with at least a point.
As is always the case for the Red Wings, puck-possession will be key, though an even greater emphasis to detail will be needed to stop the Blackhawks’ streak. Chicago leads the league – and by a very wide margin – with an astonishing 228 takeaways. The New York Islanders are second at 162.
Mike Babcock tinkered with the defensive six during the team’s recently concluded two-game trip to California, and the Red Wings’ coach liked what he saw from the puck-movers. Thursday’s 2-1 shootout win at San Jose was the first victory in franchise history in which the defensive corps – Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Jakub Kindl, Brian Lashoff, Kyle Quincey and Brendan Smith – was made up entirely of former Grand Rapids Griffins. The sextet made its debut in Wednesday’s 2-1 loss at Los Angeles.
“The defense is night and day different,” Babcock said. “You put Smith in and you put Quincey in, we got a good pair there. Lashoff and Kindl both skate and both are big, moving the puck, shooting the puck. So this is the best out team has looked, in my opinion, all year. Not necessarily the way we've played but the way we've looked. We're trying to figure out a way to play.”
This is kind of obvious:
PLAYER TO WATCH: RW MARIAN HOSSA– Sunday’s game will be game No. 1,000 for this elite two-way player. Hossa, who played 74 games in a Red Wings’ uniform in the 2008-09 season, leads the Blackhawks with three game-winning goals this season. Working on a forward line, primarily with center Jonathan Toews and rookie forward Brandon Saad, Hossa has a goal and two assists in the last three games, and is third in team scoring with nine goals and 17 points. But don’t let Hossa’s slow stretch in February (four goals, eight points) shadow the fact that this 34-year-old is still a threat.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I fully believe that there is no way in hell that Hossa was going to stay in Detroit long-term. I know that the fact that the Wings ended up signing Johan "Not Marian Hossa" Franzen has yiedled a world of criticism--some of it justified--but Ken Holland had always stated that Hossa was a "one-year" signing, and he spoke the truth.
The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness's picture of today's practice doesn't adequately convey how incredibly cramped City Sports Arena really is.
The City Sports Center's crammed between King High School, some incredibly grimy industrial areas (you can't get into the rink without being buzzed into its tiny parking lot) and Elmwood Cemetery, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Wings take a bus back to Joe Louis Arena in their gear and socks and take their equipment off there instead (see: laundry facilities, showers and a locker room big enough for them to take questions from the press):
In the PR department, charitable version...
ETTERBERG TO DISTRIBUTE SMOKE DETECTORS TO LOCAL FIRE DEPARTMENTS AFTER PRACTICE ON MONDAY
… Fire Department Representatives and Comerica Cares Volunteers to Watch Practice …
Detroit, MI… Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg will distribute more than 3,650 smoke detectors to local fire department representatives following the team’s 11 a.m. practice on Monday, Mar. 4. The fire departments will then, in turn, donate and install the smoke alarms to low-income residents throughout Metro Detroit, who could otherwise not afford one.
During the team’s 11th annual Smoke Detector Collection presented by Comerica, fans donated smoke detectors and made monetary contributions at two in-game collections on Feb. 9-10. In addition, smoke detectors were also collected at southeastern Michigan Comerica banking centers. In his seventh season as the team spokesman for this initiative, Zetterberg personally matched the fans’ donations with an $11,471 donation to purchase additional smoke alarms.
The annual Smoke Detector Collection began in 2001 in memory of former Red Wings player Brendan Shanahan’s father, who was a firefighter. Since the program’s inception, the Red Wings have now distributed more than 23,000 smoke detectors to local fire departments and agencies.
WHO: Red Wings Captain Henrik Zetterberg, Comerica Cares Volunteers, FD Representatives from Detroit, Farmington Hills, Flint, Saginaw, Windsor, Livonia, Auburn Hills, Clinton Twp., Macomb Twp., St. Clair Shores and Sterling Heights
WHAT: Zetterberg Distributes 3,700 Smoke Detectors to Local FD Representatives
WHEN: After Red Wings 11 a.m. Practice
WHERE: Joe Louis Arena – Zamboni Tunnel Entrance
WHY: To distribute new smoke detectors to local fire departments, who will then donate and install the smoke detectors to low-income homes throughout southeastern Michigan.
Also in the promotional department, non-charitable version:
As noted in the overnight report, after this week's three-game home stand (against Chicago on Sunday, Colorado on Tuesday and Edmonton on Thursday), the Wings will play at Joe Louis Arena only three times between March 8th and 31st--with games on the 10th against Columbus, against Minnesota on the 20th and against Chicago on the 31st (here's hoping that if the Wings don't snap their "unbeaten" streak tomorrow, they've lost by the 31st at least!).
The other 8 games the Wings play this month will take place away from Joe Louis Arena, with 6 and 9-day road trips on tap.
If you missed it, as noted by Yahoo Sports' Sean Leahy, MLive's Peter J. Wallner reported that Wings prospect Gustav Nyquist's first NHL goal puck went missing thanks to a bizarre storage mix-up (my friend Courtney's started a Facebook group looking for leads!), as reported by the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner (link before the parenthetical expression goes to his story):
Nyquist, 23 and considered one of the organization’s top prospects, played in 18 games and four playoff games last season with Detroit, finishing with that lone goal along with six assists. After the season, the Halmstad, Sweden, resident put many of his valuables from his Grand Rapids apartment into an area storage unit with teammates Landon Ferraro and Travis Ehrhardt. That included the puck, game sheet, clothes and some furniture. When he returned in September, he learned the storage unit had been auctioned off in August through a misunderstanding over payment. Nyquist declined to go into details, but he said the buyer is unknown and he hopes for a settlement from the Alpine-based location.
Of course, that won’t help him get back the mementos.
“It’s something special to have, for sure,” Nyquist said. “Hopefully, one day I’ll see it again. It’s just a fun thing to have on your wall.”
Meanwhile, Nyquist has enjoyed another productive season. After setting a Griffins’ rookie scoring record (58 points in 56 games), he is currently second in the AHL in scoring (19 goals, 33 assists for 52 points in 51 games), following consecutive three-point games during a three-game weekend. The Griffins again play three games this weekend (at Milwaukee tonight and Sunday and at Peoria on Saturday).
The Griffins have never had a player lead the league in scoring. Michel Picard (32-52-84) was third in 2002-03. Nyquist also has been called up twice this season by Detroit for one game each - on Jan. 22 and Feb. 15 – without a point.
As for the puck and game sheet, he hopes someone will come forward.
“If someone knows anything, that’d be great,” he said.
Nyquist registered 2 goals and an assist during last night's 5-1 victory over Milwaukee, but no puck...
And before I get this entry out there (it seems that both the press and the Wings headed back to the Joe), I want to address the whole "Ian White's angry at Mike Babcock for being benched + USA Today's Kevin Allen Tweeted that the Hurricanes need a defenseman" scenario:
Yes, White's very obviously being challenged to improve after playing particularly shakily, but I wouldn't suggest that White should pack his bags just yet, even if Babcock's happy with his current defensive pairings. Between injuries and the fact that Jakub Kindl's been nothing less than fantastically inconsistent, White's puck-moving and skating skills--and right-handed shot--could prove more valuable than he might think.
And this is definitely a Datsyukian quote. The man reads squirky philosophical and self-help-related texts:
If you're interested, the Associated Press has already posted a Wings-Hawks preview...
Though it hasn't always been easy, the Chicago Blackhawks are finding ways to win while keeping their season-opening point streak intact. The visiting Blackhawks expect another serious challenge when they look for a ninth straight victory by continuing their recent success against the surging archrival Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.
While Chicago (18-0-3) is 21-0-6 since losing 6-1 at home to Nashville on March 25, it's often had to work hard to maintain its record-setting start without a regulation loss in 2013. One night after rolling to a 3-0 win at St. Louis, the Blackhawks overcame a pair of one-goal deficits and a blown third-period lead before Brent Seabrook's goal gave them a 4-3 overtime win over lowly Columbus on Friday.
Chicago's enjoyment has come from a confidence that continues to grow while believing it can prevail no matter how challenging the situation. The Blackhawks, who average 3.2 goals and yield 1.9, are 11-0-3 in one-goal games.
With that attitude in tow, the Blackhawks face their biggest rival looking to win nine straight for the first time since Dec. 7-28, 2008. Chicago is 13-0-4 on the road since losing 5-1 at St. Louis on March 6, and in the midst of a 7-0-1 stretch at Detroit. Chicago has won four straight and nine of 13 overall against the Red Wings (10-8-3), but the last eight have been decided by a goal. Defenseman Nick Leddy scored 2:45 into overtime for a 2-1 home win over Detroit on Jan. 27.
Corey Crawford is among the NHL leaders at 9-0-3 with a 1.46 goals-against average, and could start for the Blackhawks after playing one period Thursday before leaving with an upper-body injury. He was between the pipes in this season's first meeting, and is 4-0-1 with a 1.94 GAA at Joe Louis Arena the last two seasons.
Jimmy Howard will be back in the Detroit net after Jonas Gustavsson made 25 saves in Thursday's 2-1 shootout win at San Jose. Rookie Damien Brunner had the lone shootout goal to lead the Red Wings to their third win in four games following an 0-3-2 stretch.
The Red Wings have allowed 1.5 goals in the last four after yielding 3.8 in the previous five. They prevailed Thursday despite failing on two power-play chances to fall to 0 for 33 on the road. Detroit is 3 for 23 with the man advantage in the last eight versus Chicago at Joe Louis Arena, but ranks among the NHL leaders converting 24.6 percent of those opportunities at home this season. The Red Wings are 4 of 7 in the last two at there.
The Blackhawks are killing 94.7 percent of their penalties on the road.
Johan Franzen, who scored Detroit's goal at Chicago, does not have a point during a five-game stretch that was interrupted when he missed seven with a hip flexor. Howard is 0-1-2 in his last four starts against the Blackhawks, but has a 2.04 GAA.
And if you're a hockey card collector, the Hockey Writers' Jon Waldman reports that In the Game's produced a set of Red Wings-related cards that provide bang for one's buck:
I’ve got to hand it to In The Game – they sure know how to pay tribute to a hockey team. Over the years, the Ontario-based hockey card company has produced series that are dedicated to clubs like the Canadiens, Leafs and Flyers. Now, it’s the Detroit Red Wings turn for the tribute, coming in the form of Motown Madness, In The Game’s latest release.
Admittedly, I was a bit sceptical about the set. I wasn’t disappointed, per se, by the past team efforts, but the Habs, Buds and Bullies didn’t really appeal to me. Two of the teams were hated rivals of my beloved Winnipeg Jets, while the other was Philly, a club that… well… is hated by everyone that isn’t a Philly fanatic.
The Red Wings though are a bit of a different case. Unless you’re a Colorado Avalanche fan, you’ve likely cheered for the once “Dead Wings” in the last 15 to 20 years. How can you not support a guy like Steve Yzerman afterall?
That’s a big part of what made me want to break open my sample box of Motown Madness. Usually I wait, pondering another break video that never gets to YouTube; but in this case I couldn’t. Teases in the short days leading up to the Red Wings-focused release had done me in.
The set breaks down extremely well. Each box includes five base cards or parallels (the parallels have gold foil), four autographs (including cut pieces from players long deceased), one commemorative “Patch of Honor” card and two memorabilia cards.
The Patch of Honor cards are probably going to intrigue collectors the most. Composed of commemorative (read: replica) material, the patches are from memorable games in Red Wings history, including opening draws played in Europe and the Stanley Cup Finals. Invariably, there will be collectors who will try to “complete the puzzle”.
As obvious as it may sound, the cards that will have the most collector intrigue will be a rare insert titled “Boardmarks”. These cards are about as unique as they come – autographed pieces of rinkboard from Joe Louis Arena and the Olympia. With Yzerman, Gordie Howe, Red Kelly and Ted Lindsay on this short checklist, there will be some die-hard Red Wings fans chasing the mini set.
But what tops the cake for Motown Madness is the depth of the checklist. Sure, you get the standards like the aforementioned Yzerman and Howe, but you also get rare players like Darryl Sittler who played one season in Detroit, as well as rarely seen players like Nick Libett. It’s hard to go up and down the checklist and not find a player who you want a card of. Using myself as an example, at the top of my wantlist was Jim Nill, a former Jet.
Update #5: The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness offers a "quote of the day"...
Wings coach Mike Babcock on Chicago’s 21-game win streak to start the season.
“It’s like anything, you get going, you feel real good about yourself and you just win,” Babcock said. “They seem to win by accident right now, they’re that good. They’re a whole different level than anybody else in the West and the rest of us are trying to be like them. Nothing like getting an opportunity tomorrow.”
And the Free Press's George Sipple reports that Henrik Zetterberg sess a little bit of Wings-like magic in what the Hawks have accomplished (the Wings won 23 straight games at home last year)...
“It’s going to be fun,” Zetterberg said of facing the Blackhawks. “We’re going to try to win the game and do it in 60 minutes, but it’s going to be a tough one.”
Asked about the run the Wings had last season compared to what Chicago has done, Zetterberg said: “It’s a little different. We lost on the road. ... We didn’t feel the streak, like I probably think they are feeling right now, every game. They haven’t lost in regulation. I think it’s a little different, but at the same time, when we broke the record we know how we felt. They are breaking records every night now. Hopefully it will end tomorrow and if it does they had a good run.”
As much as Zetterberg doesn’t want to be part of extending Chicago’s win streak, he’s looking forward to being part of former teammate Marian Hossa’s 1000th career NHL game.
“Even though he was here for a short time, he felt positive marks here for us,” Zetterberg said. “Great player, great teammate. Having a thousand games is awesome and we’re just happy we’re going to be part of it.”
Notebook: Valtteri Filppula didn’t practice today and has been ruled out for Sunday’s game due to a left shoulder injury. Filppula is considered day-to-day. ….
The only change to the lineup the Wings plan to have is starting Jimmy Howard in goal, said Wings coach Mike Babcock. ….
Forward Darren Helm, who remains out with a back injury, said a specialist he saw on Monday in New York found “a small tear in one of the discs.” Helm said he has started to ride an elliptical machine but isn’t sure when he will begin skating. Helm said he was told the tear is a 6-8 week injury. He suffered the injury in January.
Update #6: Via RedWingsFeed, the Wings have posted a game-day preview segment a little early given tomorrow's 12:30 PM start:
Update #7: Lest I forget, the Red Wings are holding a "Red Wing for a Day" contest in which fans can do some on-ice work and meet some players and Ken Holland;
And, via RedWingsFeed again, the Free Press's George Sipple posted a snippet of video from Wings coach Mike Babcock's off-day presser:
Update #8: MLive's Ansar Khan provides an update on Darren Helm's status:
Helm saw a specialist in New York Monday who deals with muscles and ligaments. He discovered a small tear in a disc. Helm hurt himself lifting weights on Jan. 10. He played one game, on Jan. 25, before having a setback the next day during practice. He hasn't been on the ice since.
“It's kind of a six-to-eight week injury, he said, from the time it happened,'' Helm said Saturday. “I don't know if I'm close to where he thinks I should be healing. But I do feel better, that's the silver lining. You can't rush these things, just got to rest and slowly rehab and hopefully it gets better.''
Helm has been able to start riding and elliptical bike and so some core strengthening exercises. He said it feels much better than when he first injured it.
“Just daily stuff, moving around the house, getting down here, it feels better,'' he said. “Before, I wasn't able to do any exercises comfortably. I'm glad they found something, not glad what they found. I can tell people what it is instead of saying I have no idea and they think I'm just milking everything.''
I don't think anybody thought you were "milking it," Darren.
Update #9: Via RedWingsFeed again, the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness has published his off-day report:
The Detroit Red Wings are very familiar with win streaks.Sunday afternoon they host the Chicago Blackhawks, who currently hold the longest unbeaten streak to start a season.
“They’re a real good team, their record speaks for itself,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said after the team practice at Detroit City Arena on Saturday. “Special teams, third line, depth and goaltending (have) done a good job for them. We’re going to have to be ready. No one’s been able to hand them a loss. We look forward to that opportunity, just like anyone’s who’s played them. We’re excited for the chance.”
“It’s unbelievable, I watched them on TV (Friday) and they said the streaks getting beyond hockey now,” defenseman Kyle Quincey said. “It’s good for the game and good for them. But we need two points as much as they do so it’s going to be a good game. They have everyone going,” Quincey continued. “They just don’t have two or three guys scoring. They’ve got good goaltending and their defense is solid.”
“They’re having a good streak now, getting that record, there’s lots of pressure now,” forward Pavel Datsyuk said. “It’s exciting. You have lots of confidence. You feel unstoppable.”
“The thing with them is they just have so much confidence right now,” Quincey said. “Things are going well for them. Once the ball gets rolling it’s hard to stop. It’s a big game for us too. We’ll do our best to put an end to it.”
“I’ve never played on a team that’s been that hot,” defenseman Brian Lashoff said. “That’s pretty impressive when you get that hot. It’s fun for a while, but it’s a tough thing to keep going. That’s why it’s so impressive. We got on a roll in Grand Rapids when we won eight or nine games in a row,” Lashoff continued. “When you’re in the middle of that if you get down you don’t panic, no deficit is too far out of reach. We’d like to go out and make a statement.”
“They just keep going,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “It seems like they find different ways to win. That’s what a good hockey team does. Right now they seem like they have the whole package. You just go out and play your heart out every night,” Kronwall added. “Some nights you don’t always win. They’ve been finding a way to win every night, it’s pretty impressive.”
The Wings also talked to Pleiness about Marian Hossa's 1,000th game, and Babcock issued an intriguing statement about Valtteri Filppula taking Saturday's practice off:
“I’m amazed, he wasn’t skating today,” Babcock said. “I don’t know.”
Update #10: Pleiness split his report up into several blog entries, so the Hossa story is no longer off limits...
Former Wing Marian Hossa will play in his 1,000 NHL game Sunday.
“Good for Hoss, Hoss is a great player,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Obviously, we wish he would have been a lifelong Red Wing but we weren’t able to get that done. He’s found a real home in Chicago and played real well for them.”
Hossa has nine goals and eight assists this season.
“He’s had a great career,” goalie Jimmy Howard said. “He’s a great player, tremendously hard worker. He’s got a nose for the net. Great when he was here, being his teammate. It’s also a lot of fun to play against him.”
As is Pleiness's injury report:
On Monday, a specialist told Darren Helm a small tear in a disc was discovered. The normal recovery time is six to eight weeks.
“I don’t know if I’m close to where he thinks I should be healing or not,” Helm said. “But I do feel better, that’s the silver lining, I guess.
“I’m glad they found something, not glad what they found,” Helm continued. “It’s nice to know what it is. I can tell people what it is instead of saying I have no idea and just they think I’m just milking everything. It is something now, I hope that’s all it is so I can get over this and feel better.”
Helm was originally injured on Jan. 10 and hasn’t skated since Jan. 26.
“You can’t rush these things, just got to rest and slowly rehab and hopefully it gets better,” said Helm, who has begun riding an elliptical. “It is definitely a lot better. Just daily stuff, moving around the house, getting down here, it feels better.”
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About The Malik Report
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.