The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/16/13 at 01:53 PM ET
Updated 9x at 4:02 PM: Gustav Nyquist has been demoted, Mikael Samuelsson will play tomorrow and Petr Mrazek will start vs. Minneosta: The Detroit Red Wings back on the ice after dropping a 5-2 decision to Anaheim on Friday, getting in one last practice before heading out on the Fathers' Trip's worth of road games in Minnesota on Sunday and Nashville on Tuesday. The Wings are scheduled to fly to Minnesota at 2:46 PM, missing out on most of "Hockey Day in Michigan," so today's practice may be an abbreviated affair.
There is some good news in the injury department today (for once) from DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose:
MLive's Ansar Khan confirms...
The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness confirms, though he's got some cognitive dissonance going on regarding the location of today's practice:
The Wings did indeed send Jonas Gustavsson down to Grand Rapids for conditioning today, as the Griffins are confirming:
GUSTAVSSON JOINS GRIFFINS FOR CONDITIONING
Gustavsson980.jpgGRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Detroit Red Wings on Saturday assigned goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to the Grand Rapids Griffins for conditioning and reassigned goaltender Jordan Pearce from the Griffins to the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye.
A native of Danderyd, Sweden, Gustavsson has posted a 39-45-15 record, a 2.98 goals against average and five shutouts in 108 career NHL games. The 6-foot-3, 192-pound netminder signed with Detroit on July 1 but has appeared in one game for the Red Wings, surrendering one goal in 19 minutes of game action. Gustavsson spent the previous three seasons with Toronto, registering a career-high 17 wins and four shutouts alongside a 2.92 GAA in 42 games with the Maple Leafs in 2011-12.
Prior to moving to North America, Gustavsson played five seasons (2003-09) in the Swedish professional ranks with AIK and Farjestad. The 28-year-old netminder last appeared in the Swedish Elite League in 2008-09 with Farjestad, registering three shutouts and a league-best 1.96 goals against average in 42 appearances. He also owns a 3-1-1 record in five career AHL contests with the Toronto Marlies, sporting a 1.14 GAA.
Pearce, 26, ranks among the ECHL’s top netminders with a 2.48 goals against average (10th), a 0.909 save percentage (T17th), 12 wins (T21st) and two shutouts (T5th). In 73 career appearances with Grand Rapids, the Anchorage, Alaska, native has a 24-29-6 record, a 3.23 GAA and two shutouts.
The Griffins will look to extend their home winning streak to four games on Sunday when they host the Charlotte Checkers at 4 p.m. Tickets are available at http://www.griffinshockey.com.
MLive's Peter J. Wallner spoke to Griffins coach Jeff Blashill about Gustavsson's conditioning stint...
Griffins coach Jeff Blashill confirmed Gustavsson will start Sunday's 4 p.m. home game against Charlotte.
"I'm sure he's looking forward to going out there and playing," Blashill said. "And we'll do all we can to make sure that's it's successful."
Gustavsson, who has been sidelined with a sore groin since playing in the third period of the season-opening loss in St. Louis, was in Grand Rapids on Friday to watch the Griffins defeat Lake Erie 5-3.
Considered one of the greatest hockey players of all time, Nicklas Lidstrom visited 97.1 The Ticket’s SportsFest Saturday to talk about life post-Red Wings.
How is the man dubbed ‘The Perfect Human’ doing in retirement? Is it all about the La-Z-Boy and remote control?
No, it’s still about hockey. Lidstrom said he’s coaching his son’s hockey team and just enjoying life back in Sweden.
“Just enjoying the time, enjoying family life,” Lidstrom said about how he’s spending time these days, adding he doing a bit of scouting for the Wings.
Lidstrom retired in May, at 42 years old, after 20 years with the Wings. He played 1,564 regular-season games, won four Stanley Cups andn eight Norris trophies, was a 12-time all-star and seven times was named the league’s top defenseman.
So, how does he feel about the team’s prospects right now? “They’re off to a good start … It’s a hard battle,” Lidstrom said.
That may be true overall, but last night's loss still stings, and the Orange County Register's Eric Stephens poured some salt in the wound by noting that the Ducks' win at the Joe was and is an incredibly rare event:
[T]he Ducks entered Friday night with a 3-25-8 mark at the arena and hadn’t won in eight tries since 2008. In that sense, the Ducks’ 5-2 win over the Red Wings might have exorcised a few demons.
“I know the guys that have been here as long as I have know that the history in this building has never been good,” said Bobby Ryan, who scored a key third-period goal. “We come out every time and it seems like were down two- or three-nothing after the first period and outshot drastically. We felt tonight that we came out with a different attitude in the game. In a building where they’re a little depleted now, we had to take advantage of that.”
To be sure, these Red Wings weren’t the high-flying Wings we’ve come to know. Center and puck magician Pavel Datsyuk was the latest casualty to a lineup that didn’t have Johan Franzen, Darren Helm, Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson. Datysuk was a late scratch due to a lingering shoulder injury.
And there was no Nicklas Lidstrom running the offense from the Wings’ blue line or Tomas Holmstrom to stir up trouble in front of Ducks goalie Viktor Fasth. Ian White's nightmarish night is a flashpoint to how much Lidstrom is missed.
It was basically Henrik Zetterberg, Valtteri Filppula, a few retreads and a bunch of talented but green prospects. The Ducks weren’t about to feel sorry for them and they looked to seize the opportunity.
“We knew they had a few guys out that are key,” winger Corey Perry said. “You look at their lineup. They’re a little depleted. You don’t take that for granted. You know they’re going to play hungry and play hard. There’s young kids there that want to prove they want to stay here. Some of those guys had a pretty good game.”
Update #1: Well then. Times two.
--Pavel Datsyuk (bruised shoulder) said he is 50-50 for Sunday's game in Minnesota. Asked if injury was from Drew Doughty hit last Sunday, he said, "No. It's from celebrating.''
--Mikael Samuelsson will return to the lineup Sunday, after missing 12 games with a groin strain.
--Rookie Petr Mrazek will start in goal. He beat the Blues 5-1 on Feb. 7 in his NHL debut.
--Forward Gustav Nyquist was reassigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins.
--Johan Franzen had an ultrasound on his hip flexor, said it's strained. He has skated briefly before practice the past two days but won't play Sunday and said he doubts he'll be ready for Tuesday's game in Nashville.
--Forwards Darren Helm and Todd Bertuzzi, both out with back injuries, did not skate. Helm hasn't been on the ice in exactly three weeks. Bertuzzi is walking with a cane and is struggling. It's hard to imagine that he will be back anytime soon.
--Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson was assigned to Grand Rapids on a conditioning stint. He'll start Sunday for the Griffins. He's been out since Jan. 22.
--Coach Mike Babcock said he hadn't decided on his lines, but he used Valtteri Filppula with Henrik Zetterberg and Damien Brunner. He's not happy with Filppula's play and basically said he needs to get it together.
Update #7: Um, okay, per the Ticket...
No longer causing havoc at the net, retired Red Wings left winger Tomas Holmstrom is content to hang with his kids. But that doesn’t mean he’s in a bathrobe all day. Stopping by SportsFest Saturday at the Suburban Showplace Collection in Novi, Holmstrom said in retirement he’s been able to pick up a few new skills.
“I skiied for the first time in 20 years,” he revealed, adding, “It wasn’t pretty, but it was fun.”
Holmstrom, who famously had his cousin’s daughter baptized in the Stanley Cup in 2008, retired at the end of the 2012 season. He’s sixth in most regular season games played for the Wings, fourth in playoff games played, and 13th in overall points.
SportsFest featured a synthetic ice rink, courtesy of the Detroit Red Wings. So was the star ready to lace up a pair of synthetic skates?
“No,” Holmstrom said, laughing. “It looks hard.”
And the Detroit New's Chris McCosky:
It was almost like it was planned. After signing autographs for 90 minutes at The Ticket-97.1 SportsFest at the Suburban Collection Showplace Saturday, Jason Hanson, who is contemplating retirement, walked back to the VIP room where waiting inside was recently retired Red Wings great Nick Lidstrom. Obviously the two had a lot to talk about.
"I went through the same thing," Lidstrom told Hanson.
Both Hanson and Lidstrom are the same age — Lidstrom will turn 43 in April, Hanson in June. Both began their careers in Detroit in 1992. Hanson, who has been the Lions placekicker for 21 seasons, is standing at the same crossroads where Lidstrom stood the last two, maybe three summers.
That's what the two talked about during their brief conversation. How did you know it was time to step away? How did you know you didn't have one more year left in you?
"The reason to stop is I don't want to be someone who fades away," Hanson said. "As a kicker, it's pretty obvious if you do that or not. There is no guarantee that I am coming back, even if I come back there is no guarantee I make the team. Mostly for me mentally, I want to actually feel like I can be better and I am willing to do that."
Lidstrom knew it was time to hang up the skates when he lost the desire to put in the work during the offseason required to maintain his elite level of play. His biggest fear was to hang on too long and not be able to maintain his own standard of excellence. He didn't want to cheat the Wings and he didn't want to cheat himself.
Hanson is right there, right now.
"I honestly don't know," he said. "My wife and I have been praying about it and I've been thinking about it — just weighing both sides."
Update #8: The Red Wings stated the obvious regarding their turnover-induced goals while speaking with MLive's Ansar Khan:
“If you give away the puck, you can't win,'' [Wings coach Mike] Babcock said.
He replayed the disastrous 48-second span early in the third period Friday, when Andrew Cogliano and Bobby Ryan scored on odd-man rushes to give the Ducks a 4-2 lead.
“Two freebies,'' Babcock said. “Kuba (Jakub Kindl) is not in the right spot, should be over here helping out. (Niklas) Kronwall's pass to Fil (Valtteri Filppula) is off his stick, Kuba's not back defensively to look after it. Whitey's (Ian White) got it along the wall on a line change, just gives it away, two-on-one. That's the game. So, we do everything for 40 minutes to be set up to win and two plays with the puck … We're not the type of team, with what we have, that we're going to recover from turning the puck over. People can say you're bad defensively, well, we weren't bad defensively, there's no defense for turnovers. It's puck plays that give it to us two nights in a row. We can't do it and we got to look after it quick because we need points.''
The Red Wings (7-5-2) will try to stop the slide Sunday at Minnesota (6-6-2). Pavel Datsyuk, who sat out Friday due to a strained shoulder, practiced hard Saturday and said he thinks he will play, but also said it's 50-50. Mikael Samuelsson, out since Jan. 21 with a strained groin, will return to the lineup. Rookie goaltender Petr Mrazek will make his second start, trying to follow up on an impressive 5-1 victory at St. Louis Feb. 7.
“I think we just got to take care of the puck,'' captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “It's not the structure or how we're playing that's killing us, it's the turnovers and executing on passes and stuff like that. Last game we played real well, did a lot of good things, and all the sudden two shifts in the third, plays that shouldn't happen, and it's in our net. Especially now, when we don't have the lineup we used to have, we have to make sure we're doing all the little things right.''
Zetterberg said his team is having to work much harder for its goals than the opposition.
“Some of that happens over the course of a season,'' Zetterberg said. “You won't have the bounces with you every time. In the same way, you kind of deserve your own bounces. If you keep doing mistakes and bad decisions, it will end up in your net. But, if you do the right things, eventually you get reward for it.''...
“We too much give it gift (goals),'' Datsyuk said. “And power play. We need to score power play. When we score on power play it's much easier game.''
Asked if they need to shoot more on the power play, Datsyuk said, “It's not only shooting, but lots of things we need to do better. All details. I can't tell you because somebody read.''
Update #9: The Detroit Free Press's George Sipple has filed his practice report:
Mikael Samuelsson, who missed the past 12 games with a groin injury, will be back in the lineup when the Red Wings visit the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.
“When it doesn’t go your way, it’s really frustrating, but you gotta listen to your body — learned that lesson this time,” Samuelsson said. “Hopefully, I learned something from it. But I’m happy to hopefully play.”
Samuelsson first suffered the injury in camp, played the first two games of the season and has been sidelined since.
“I’ve made it very clear I don’t have time for him to tip toe around and get used to playing,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said today. “We’ve got points on the line. We need him playing right now. He said he’s more than ready to go, so good for us.”
Forward Pavel Datsyuk, who missed Friday’s 5-2 Anaheim with a shoulder bruise, practiced today and termed his odds of playing at better than 50-50.
Forward Johan Franzen, out the past two games with a hip flexor, skated for about 20 minutes each of the past two days, but said he won’t play Sunday and wasn’t optimistic he’ll be ready to play Tuesday in Nashville.
FIL FAIL: Babcock said he needs more from forward Valtteri Filppula.
“Fil wasn’t good enough last night, wasn’t competitive enough and he’s gotta be way better than that,” Babcock said. “We need him. He’s a significant player for us. He’s gotta play better than he has.”
Filppula has one goal and two assists in his last eight games.
And as of 4:05 PM EST, Red Bird III's "thurster problem" must have been fixed, because it took off from Metro Airport at 3:49 PM, and it's scheduled to land in Minneapolis at 5:10 PM EST.
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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.