Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Senators game-day update post: the circus comes to town; Kronwall ‘nicked,’ Helm improving

Updated 18x with video at 2:49 PM: The Detroit Red Wings face off against Daniel Alfredsson's former employer in the Ottawa Senators tonight (7:30 PM, FSD/TSN/TVA Sports/97.1 FM), and toes have already been stepped upon:

The Ottawa Senators' website has a running game-day update page rolling, and the Ottawa Sun's Don Brennan arrived early:

There's excitement in Detroit leading up to the Alfredsson vs Senators game. Just not sure what its over. Don't care http://pic.twitter.com/EuOavDMSxj

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Alfredsson not on the marquee yet. http://pic.twitter.com/0MnjQBl1Bh

Cue the gigantic decal of Niklas Kronwall, Johan Franzen, Jimmy Howard, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on the east side of the rink, with a Dodge Ram in the foreground...

They've won a time or two in Detroit #sens http://pic.twitter.com/I3a1WWubBR

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20 mins before Wings are scheduled to be on the ice for morning skate and Alfredsson still not on the ice. I remember when he was a keener

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Goalies on the ice, stretching. Jimmy Howard chuckles at cameramen and me, waiting. "You guys here for Alfie? Did he play for Ottawa?"

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Daniel Alfredsson about to step on the ice for morning skate. He's moving faster than I remember http://pic.twitter.com/xp8aSJuN2j

(That's a picture of the back of Alfredsson's jersey as he stands directly in front of Brennan along the end boards)

Zibanejad, Lehner and Karlsson watching their countrymen at Red Wings morning skate #sens http://pic.twitter.com/fapzea7zCq

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Alfredsson skating on a line with fellow veterans Franzen and Bertuzzi

Per the Senators' game-day webpage, if you're interested...

10:00 AM: In today's Gameday Goodie, Gord Wilson catches up with Craig Anderson to talk motors ahead of the Sens game in the Motor City. http://video.senators.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=466411

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The #Sens have arrived at the Joe in Detroit! http://instagram.com/p/f0DJ4do-sr/

The Canadian Press's Stephen Whyno penned a game-day Alfredsson story...

"Obviously I've got a lot of good friends on the other side. I think it will be a relief once the puck drops," Alfredsson said. "There will be a lot of emotion going into the game ... But it's a bit exciting too."

Alfredsson's first game against his former team is at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. His second is also there Nov. 23 before the Red Wings travel to Ottawa for a game Dec. 1.

"That's going to be more emotional, there's no question," the 40-year-old right-winger said. "The way the schedule works out maybe it is a good thing. But you're going to have to deal with it. It's not something I want to hide from, either."

Alfredsson has nowhere and no reason to hide. The Red Wings are 6-3-1 and he has a goal and eight assists.

Coach Mike Babcock has used Alfredsson as a movable part so far, sliding him around as offence was needed. He's expected to skate on the second line with Todd Bertuzzi and Johan Frazen against the Senators.

No matter where he is in the lineup, being able to play 10 games has helped Alfredsson feel more like a part of the Red Wings and separate from his time in Ottawa.

"Camp, you're just trying to get your bearings and figure things out on and off the ice," he said. "And now the last three weeks here I feel like the family's settled in with school and everything around and myself, as well. I think I've felt like I've settled in, kind of, in the city."

And, via RedWingsFeed, Sportsnet's Chris Johnston suggests that Alfredsson shouldn't be "faulted" for leaving Ottawa, and the story includes what really is a must-watch interview with Alfredsson by Arash Mardani:

As for Johnston's article...

While he is currently front and centre with his first ever game against the Senators looming Wednesday night, it has not been so during the previous 10 the Red Wings have played this season. He has so far bounced between lines and linemates, playing an average of 17:34 a night—his lowest total since 1998-99. Growing pains are natural, even at 40, and the Red Wings certainly seem happy with what they’ve received from him to this point. The team is off to a 6-3-1 start, but coach Mike Babcock describes his group as one in “flux” and indicated Alfredsson was among a number of players in his room still searching for their place.

Naturally, he has also yet to develop into a strong public voice for the team. It wasn’t Alfredsson who came out to field questions following a 1-0 shootout loss to San Jose Monday night. While making it clear that he’s not “hiding” from the media, the Swede pointed out that captain Henrik Zetterberg and alternates Nicklas Kronwall and Pavel Datsyuk are better suited to handling those duties at this point in time. Alfredsson doesn’t want to step on any toes, and has acknowledged that not being the guy, the team spokesman, has been both a little weird and refreshing.

But it’s clear now that the move has been more difficult than expected.

Part of that is purely down to logistics; he, wife Bibbi, their four kids and a dog spent a month in a hotel before recently moving into their new home in the suburb of Birmingham, which is about a 30-minute drive northwest of downtown. However, Alfredsson is also not entirely pleased with his “so-so” performance over the first 10 games of the season, even though that stretch included nine points.

At least there are familiar faces and an inherent respect that comes with the 1,117 regular-season points and the Olympic gold on his resumé, especially on a team like this one. As strange as it is for fans in Ottawa to see Alfredsson in a Red Wings sweater, it is a warm, familiar sight for his current teammates. “He’s one of the best Swedish players of all-time,” says Kronwall glowingly. “He’s up there with (Nicklas) Lidstrom and (Mats) Sundin and (Peter) Forsberg.”

Put in that perspective, he is right at home among the stars currently occupying the Red Wings dressing room. He’s been welcomed by Zetterberg and Datsyuk and is a Swede on a roster full of Swedes and a veteran on the NHL’s second-oldest team. Most importantly, Alfredsson is one of the men trying to bring a 12th Stanley Cup to Hockeytown USA — a pursuit that has taken him far from the life he once cherished so much.

It’s just another chapter in his life, and he shouldn’t be faulted for turning the page.

Get excited!

Good news from the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness...

Helm on ice so it appears groin is OK. Status for Saturday still unclear.

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Samuelsson appears to be out.

And MLive's Ansar Khan...

Helm is skating today as Wings are on the ice for the morning skate.

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Based on the skate, it looks like Smith will be paired with Kronwall. DeKeyser is with Quincey and Kindl with Lashoff.

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Helm left the ice early. Should get update on his condition shortly.

DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose is taking in the morning skate as well:

#RedWings are on the ice for morning skate with Darren Helm participating. Looks like D-pairings are 55-2; 65-27; and 23-4.

Ditto for the Ottawa Citizen's Ken Warren:

Alfredsson still on line with Bertuzzi and Franzen -- that's where he was Monday against San Jose

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Alfredsson also on blue line for power play practice...has been there since start of season

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Kronwall also back at practice, ready to go after missing two games with concussion

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Intimidating? http://pic.twitter.com/TX5MIubqAu

And Brennan continues...

Alfredsson is the right point man on Red Wings power play http://pic.twitter.com/i1subHiDvp

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Why don't all rinks, parks and stadiums do this? So much easier to find your row http://pic.twitter.com/fxkZ4GLzy8

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No word yet on Wings starting goalie. Probably Howard, but "The Monster" has been great in 3 starts, winning them all with .953 save %

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I hear these guys could play some hockey http://pic.twitter.com/Wkx57ZpzM3

Alfredsson is the right point man on Red Wings power play pic.twitter.com/i1subHiDvp

As do the Senators:

Karlsson & Lehner scoping out tonight's opponent. #Recon http://instagram.com/p/f0FMo0o-vH/

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Coach is part of the long, storied history here at Joe Louis Arena.  #WallOfFame http://instagram.com/p/f0HOqEI-hk/

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Hi there. MT @YahooSearchData: Which @NHL team has gained the most interest this season? The @Senators are the highest spiking team at 938%

Rut roh, per the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:

Kronwall leaves got toppled over in corner

NHL.com's Brian Hedger is also at the skate (and at this rate, I'm waiting to hear that Aftonbladet's Per Bjurman's there, too):

Darren Helm going through morning skate with #RedWings ... left because of groin issue before Tues practice

I did translate this in the overnight report:

Things got quiet in a hurry around 10:50 AM, which means that the Wings skated for all of 20 minutes, and that the locker room opened up shortly thereafter.

These Tweets are worth embedding:

Per TSN's Chris Cuthbert...

Definitely the focus of attention this am! #Senators #RedWings http://pic.twitter.com/aewWjzHf38

And the Macomb Daily's Pleiness, more of the same:

Daniel Alfredsson is in there somewhere. First game against his former team the Ottawa Senators. #RedWings http://pic.twitter.com/68PO4wf48s

It appears that Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika's at the skate as well:

Alfie. @ Joe Louis Arena http://http://instagram.com/p/f0Gnx7td7-/

Whew? Per Kulfan...

KronwAll took puck off his mouth needs stitches but will play

And the Free Press's Helene St. James:

Niklas Kronwall took self-induced puck to chin during morning skate, but expects to play tonight when Red Wings host Senators.

And Khan...

Tough week for Kronwall; got hit in mouth with puck that rolled up his stick in the skate. Needs stitches but said he's good to go tonight

And Roose:

Niklas Kronwall took a puck to face at #RedWings morning skate. Has blood in beard, says he's going to get checked out, but plans to play,

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“@Mikey_Johnston: @Bill_Roose u see @rayferrarotsn in there???” Yes, sir, he's in the house.

Now I wait for Helm news before making this post an "open" one...

Oh, the coach is the coach, per Cotsonika:

Babcock greets the media horde with a big smile. "It's not a playoff game, is it?"

Gruff, too, per Brennan:

"If you knew Alfie, you wouldn't be concerned," Wings coach Mike Babcock tells a reporter asking about distractions tonight

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"If you sit next to him in the room you get better, if you go to lunch with him you get better, if you play on his line you get better ...

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"He's a great addition to our team," Babcock on Alfredsson

The CP's Stephen Whyno's also attending the sparring match:

Asked if first game vs. Ducks was emotional, Mike Babcock said: "I was coaching the Red Wings. I thought I'd win the lottery."

In case you were unaware, per Sportsnet's Chris Johnston:

Great quote in #redwings dressing room at Joe Louis Arena: "To whom much is given, much is expected."

Very good news per the Macomb Daily's Pleiness...

Helm has no groin tear per Ken Holland. MRI just showed fluid. He's out Saturday, but expected to play on Western Canada trip.#RedWings

And MLive's Khan...

Darren Helm had ultrasound yesterday that showed fluid but no tear in groin. Out for Saturday but expected to play on west Canada trip

And St. James:

#RedWings Darren Helm groin tests showed fluid but no tear,  so day to day. Definitely out for Saturday, team hoping he plays in west Canada

Update #0.5: The Wings' Game Day Blog posted a game preview...

Daniel Alfredsson, the former Ottawa captain who played the first 17 seasons and 1,178 games of his career there, faces his old team for the first time. In years past this might've been the only time the Senators and Red Wings met; now that they're division rivals, it's just a dress rehearsal. Alfredsson will see them on three more occasions, including a return to Ottawa on Nov. 23.

"The city of Ottawa is going to miss him and as teammates of his for so long we miss him too, but he turned the page. We've got to turn the page too," Senators forward Chris Neil said. "You don't dwell on it, you just go out, focus on the task at hand and that's to beat the Detroit Red Wings."

The Wings are coming off of a defensive masterpiece with zeroes all across the stat sheet Monday night when the West-leading San Jose Sharks came to Joe Louis Arena. Jimmy Howard held the visitors off the board through 60 minutes of regulation and five minutes of overtime, but so did his opposition across the way, Antti Niemi.

Both goalies were credited with shutouts, but only one was going to come away with the 1-0 decision. That turned out to be the Sharks and Niemi after Logan Couture scored on Howard in the second round of the shootout.

"I thought we did a good job on their top guys. We didn't give them a lot of room and space. Another thing that was a positive was we didn't give up a lot of odd-man rushes," Howard said. "That's been an Achilles' heel of late for us. We did a great job of keeping the third man high in the offensive zone, making them come 200 feet. We didn't turn pucks over. It's a good sign."

Tonight, the Wings will look to generate some more offense and add a little more firepower to their blue line as Niklas Kronwall makes his return to the lineup.

As well as Ken Kal's Keys to the Game:

Wings Need to Score - Ottawa allows a ton of shots, so the Wings need to generate quality scoring chances and bury them, as well.

Continue to Play Solid D - The Senators play an uptempo game and you don't want to get into a run-and-gun game with them. Control the tempo by controlling the puck and dictating the play.

Stay Out of the Box - The Wings PK has been good this season, but you don't want to go to this well too often. Play disciplined and don't take minor penalties.

Update #0.6: The Senators roll along...

Get caught up on #Sens internet with today's Dump and Chase. http://ottsens.com/17fDSbV

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The #Sens have hit the ice for morning skate, ahead of tonight's game vs the Red Wings. http://instagram.com/p/f0KK82I-l9/

And ESPN's Craig Custance is in attendance, too:

Mike Babcock upon seeing the huge media crowd here for Alfie: "It's not a playoff game, is it?"

Update #0.75: Cue the Wings:

Helm participated in morning skate; groin ultrasound showed fluid, but no tear. He's out Saturday but may return in Western Canada #RedWings

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Kronwall took a puck to face this morning; blood in the beard, needs stitches, but still expected to play tonight. He's a warrior. #RedWings

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D-pairings tonight look like Kronwall-Smith; DeKeyser-Quincey; Lashoff-Kindl #RedWings

Update #0.8: Yeesh, the gang's all here. TSN's Darren Dreger's in-house:

Busy day at Joe Louis in prep for Sens-Red Wings. Quick stop on NHL Live at 5:30pm to set the scene. #NHLNetwork

Update #0.9: The Ottawa Citizen's "Prediction Panel's" making wagers of a sort (and these are just some but not all of their picks):

Ottawa Senators (3-3-2) at Detroit Red Wings (6-3-1)
James Gordon (@SensReporter), Citizen Sports Editor

Senators 2, Red Wings 3

This should be a closer game than it appears to be, but I’m thinking Alfie’s teammates will be amped up to help him build the case that he made the right decision to move on to Detroit. This one is close to a coin flip for me, so the “go with the home team” rule applies.

Record: 6-2

Exact scored predicted: 1

Wayne Scanlan (@HockeyScanner), Citizen Hockey Columnist and defending panel champion

Senators 2, Red Wings 4

It’s just as well the prediction streak is over at 17, the pressure was killing me. Now I can get back to guesses, coin tosses and picking the teams with the best logos.

Record: 7-1

Exact scores predicted: 0

Ian Mendes (@ian_mendes), TSN 1200 The Drive host

Senators 1, Red Wings 3

Patrick Eaves is going to be very fired up to face his old team.
Record: 4-4
Exact scores predicted: 0

Update #1: This video is from yesterday, but 97.1 FM's Jeff Riger posted a video of Alfredsson speaking with the media...

 

 

And a summation thereof:

[H]ow does the 40 year old feel about taking on his old mates?

“I think it will be a relief when the puck drops, there will be a lot of emotion going into the game tomorrow afternoon, but it’s a bit exciting too” Alfredson said.

Despite the emotions and tension of Wednesday night, Alfredson realizes that this is just the appetizer for what truly will be a bizarre experience come the first time Detroit travels to Ottawa on December 1st. “Well that’s going to be more emotional” Alfredson said. “The way the schedule works out, maybe it is a good thing (that he gets to play Ottawa first in Detroit) you’re going to have to deal with it; it’s not something that I want to hide from. Just two good teams going at it and I hope we can pull out a win.”

As for the decision to come to Detroit…

“It was a very tough decision” Alfredson said. “The way I looked at it at the time and still do, is that it’s a huge challenge for myself personally both on and off the ice. It’s a big challenge for our family and I think I will look back at this down the road as something that was a stepping stone for me in my life.”

Update #1.1: From Cotsonika:

Will be on NHL Live on @NHLNetwork at 6:05 p.m. Hopefully they will ask about Alfredsson column (to be posted soon) and not stats tweets.

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Karlsson had dinner at the Alfredssons' last night. "It felt normal." Still weird to drive past Alfie's old house in Ottawa every day.

Update #1.25: This kind of requires embedding:

Well, let's try it this way:

Update #1.5: From St. James...

#RedWings D Niklas Kronwall said he'll play tonight, but he did go for dental work after puck to chin in a.m. skate. Teeth on the line.

And Pleiness:

“It’s been mixed emotions,” Alfredsson said. “I miss a lot about Ottawa, no question, at the rink and being the guy but I also enjoy not being the guy and kind of worry about myself a little more.”

Alfredsson originally said he left Ottawa to join the Wings because he felt Detroit had a better chance at winning the Stanley Cup that has eluded him throughout his career. Then, during a press conference in Ottawa on Aug. 15, he said the move was aided by a broken promise by the Senators.

“It was a process where I talked to some friends and family,” Alfredsson said. “It was a very tough decision, especially when it happened fairly quickly. The way I looked at it at the time and still do today, it’s a huge challenge for myself personally, both on and off the ice. It’s a big challenge for our family. I will look back on this down the road as something as a stepping stone in my life in a lot of different areas, moving my family and making sure they’re fitting into schools and sports and then also testing myself, proving myself to a new organization.”

Alfredsson helped the team reduce its salary-cap hit by adding a fourth year to a deal that ended last season. All parties thought at the time Alfredsson would retire after the deal. When the 40-year-old forward felt he had another year left in him and Ottawa didn’t feel like paying him for what he felt he was worth he began looking elsewhere.

“(I have no hard feelings) towards anyone, it was just emotions toward leaving the city and all the friends and people behind that made my time there so special,” Alfredsson said. “There was no resentment towards anybody. When I decided to come over to Ottawa in ‘95, it was the same emotions, both Gothemberg (Sweden) and Ottawa are still going to be there, that’s a very comforting feeling.”

Alfredsson leads the team with eight assists to go along with one goal through 10 games.

“There is a lot of emotion when you’ve been in one place for so long,” Alfredsson said. “I was in Gothemberg for the first 22 years of my life, leaving that was definitely harder than this move because you’re going to a different continent, I didn’t know anybody on the team, English language was OK but not brilliant. That was a huge step. If I look back on my life right now, I don’t think I would be the person I am if I wouldn’t have taken that chance. This is another stepping stone for me and my family to grow and experience new adventures.”

Update #2: Here's MLive's Ansar Khan's game-day post, quote-less version:

An ultrasound on Helm's groin Tuesday showed no tears, only fluid. General manager Ken Holland said Helm won't play Saturday against the New York Rangers, as was originally planned, but he is expected to play sometime during the four-game trip to Western Canada that begins Oct. 30 in Vancouver.

Helm skated briefly today.

Coach Mike Babcock said the only lineup change for tonight's game against the Ottawa Sentaors at Joe Louis Arena (7:30, Fox Sports) will be Niklas Kronwall in for Xavier Ouellet, who was reassigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins Tuesday.

Kronwall got hit in the mouth with a puck that rolled up hisstick at today's skate. He needed stitches and had a couple of teeth jarred loose but said he is ready to play after missing two games with a mild concussion. He will be paired with Brendan Smith, as Jonathan Ericsson is out 2-3 weeks with a shoulder injury.

Lines good:

Henrik Zetterberg-Pavel Datsyuk-Justin Abdelkader

Todd Bertuzzi-Johan Franzen-Daniel Alfredsson

Tomas Tatar-Stephen Weiss-Daniel Cleary

Drew Miller-Joakim Andersson-Jordin Tootoo

Niklas Kronwall-Brendan Smith

Kyle Quincey-Danny DeKeyser

Brian Lashoff-Jakub Kindl

Jimmy Howard (starting)

Jonas Gustavsson

Update #3: Precautionary?

Update #4: The Hockey News's Lyle Richardson believes that the Montreal Canadiens may be a landing spot for Jordin Tootoo, and the Jason Kay weighs in as to whether Alfredsson's decision to join the Wings "Helped or Hurt His Hall-of-Fame Odds":

Alfredssson, who tonight at Joe Louis Arena faces his former club for the first time, was firmly on the bubble in terms of Hall of Fame credentials prior to his free agent move to Michigan. His resume isn’t too dissimilar to that of countryman Mats Sundin’s: a gifted player who has had a marvelous career, but one who has never truly dominated the league.

Sundin never won a major individual award and was named a second-team all-star twice, both second-team appointments. He also never won a Cup, though he did captain Sweden to Olympic gold. Sundin, who finished his career 27th all-time with 1,349 points, was elected to the Hall in 2012.

The 40-year-old Alfredsson, meantime, has one second-team all-star nod, Olympic gold and the Calder Trophy on his CV. Depending on how many more seasons he plays, he’ll likely finish Top 50 all-time in NHL points, in the same territory as honored Hall members such as Michel Goulet, Bobby Hull and Dino Ciccarelli. And we need to remember Alfredsson played the bulk of his career in the Dead Puck Era.

But what previously gave Alfie elevated stuats was his community involvement in Ottawa. He was a demi-God in Canada’s capital, a key awareness and funds raiser for local charities. He owned the city, gave back to it in a meaningful way, and it was unfathomable he would ever leave as a player. That image has now been altered, if only slightly, and it’s possible it could affect his legacy in the eyes of Hall selectors. They’re only human, after all.

But what will impact it even more is if he gets his name on the Cup. While the Wings have started the season slightly hotter than Ottawa, neither club has distinguished itself as an early-season juggernaut. Entering tonight’s showdown, Detroit is winless in two and has allowed as many goals as it has scored. Ottawa has struggled with its roster makeover and has yet to resemble the feisty, underdog club that was easy to root for last season. Team defense has been particularly porous, with Ottawa allowing nearly 40 shots per night, by far the most in the NHL.

Tonight should be good theatre, a performance whose next act in Ottawa (Dec. 1) will be even more dramatic. But there’s still plenty of plot to be revealed before the final curtain and the determination on whether Alfredsson will be immortalized or just very fondly remembered.

Update #5: The Free Press's Helene St. James has filed her game-day update...

Kronwall needed dental work after the puck rolled up his stick and cut him right below his lower lip. He was just cleared Tuesday after being sidelined since Thursday by a concussion.

The Wings' locker room was packed with media in anticipation of tonight's big storyline, which has forward Daniel Alfredsson playing against his former team. Alfredsson said, "It will be emotional," especially as game time gets closer.

Alfredsson is back playing with Johan Franzen and Todd Bertuzzi, as the Wings liked how Franzen looked in the middle in Monday's shoot-out loss to San Jose. Pavel Datsyuk is with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader. Stephen Weiss is centering Tomas Tatar and Daniel Cleary, and the fourth line has Joakim Andersson with Drew Miller and Jordin Tootoo.

Jonathan Ericsson is out 2-3 weeks with a shoulder injury, so the Wings have just six defensemen for the moment.

Helm update: Tests on forward Darren Helm's groin showed fluid, so he definitely isn't playing Saturday, as had been the goal. Helm did skate today, and the team hopes to see him playing next week during the trip to western Canada.

And she posted a video of Babcock's game-day presser, or part of it, anyway...

While the Windsor Star's Bob Duff posted clips of Jason Spezza...


And Alfredsson speaking with the media:

Update #6: Cringe-worthy quip from Ansar Khan:

Wings have recalled defenseman Xavier Ouellet from Grand Rapids. So perhaps Kronwall, who took a puck to the face today, isn't ready.

Pleiness confirms:

The Wings have recalled Xavier Ouellet just in case Niklas Kronwall can't go tonight per GM Ken Holland.

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Kronwall did take a puck to the face at the morning skate just above his chin.

And Brennan adds Senators updates...

Craig Anderson starts in goal tonight for Senators #sens

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Ottawa scratches tonight are Pageau, Kassian and, for the first time this season, Wiercioch #sens

And the Ottawa Citizen's Ken Warren confirms:

Looks like Patrick Wiercioch could be healthy scratch for Senators

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Wiercioch, Pageau, Kassian out for Senators

Update #7: I added a specific post regarding Ouellet's recall, TSN's Brent Wallace took note of the Wings' lines...

Wings lines: Zetterberg Datsyuk Abdelkader; Bertuzzi Franzen Alfredsson; Tatar Weiss Clearly; Miller Andersson Tootoo

The Senators' account took note of Ottawa's lineup changes...

#Sens update from Detroit: @CraigAnderson41 starts in goal, @MikaZibanejad & Corvo will play. (Kassian, Pageau & Wiercioch out) #GoSensGo

And the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan's game-day update points out that Johan Franzen will continue to play as a center...

"It's fun, you're more involved, get more choices when you get the puck," Franzen said. "You're stuck on the boards when you're on the wing. I feel pretty comfortable with it."

Franzen handled himself well Monday against San Jose center Joe Thornton, after finding out that day he was moving back to the middle.

"I was a little worried (when I found out), playing against the hottest team in the league, it could be bad," Franzen said. "But it was a good first game."

Franzen's line has size and goal-scoring ability, so the potential for success is there. Babcock likes the possibilities.

"When the Mule (Franzen) skates, he can be a dominant player," Babcock said. "He came up as a checking center and found out he could really score. This gives us a good 1-2 punch, and (Stephen) Weiss, (Daniel) Cleary and (Tomas) Tatar played real well (Monday, on the third line)."

He noted Kronwall's injury...

"The puck came off my blade," said Kronwall, sporting a bloody cut near his lip.

Babcock and Kronwall both said it wouldn't be an issue in terms of Kronwall returning to the lineup Wednesday against Ottawa.

And he asked Stephen Weiss what he thought about his anticipated reception when the Panthers come to town. Will it be big?

"I don't," Weiss said. "No."

Weiss is trying to get on track offensively (two goals, no assists in 10 games), and Monday was moved to a line with Cleary and Tatar, in a more defensive role. Babcock — and Weiss — feel this is a good opportunity for Weiss to round back into form.

"Play hockey, handle the puck, have fun, and relax and everything else will come," Weiss said. "A little bit different mindset. Not as worried about results and just go out and play and create, and the line had some jump and we created a couple of chances and hopefully we'll be even better."

Update #8: MLive's Khan updated Kronwall's status:

Kronwall is seeing a dentist this afternoon after sustaining some damage to his teeth and stitches in his chin after a puck rolled up his stick and struck him in the face.

Kronwall had been cleared to play Tuesday, after missing two games with a mild concussion.

Ouellet was reassigned to the Griffins Tuesday, after making his NHL debut in Monday's 1-0 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks.

Update #9: I love this quote from the Windsor Star's Bob Duff:

Babcock on his emotions when he 1st face #Ducks: "I was coach of the #redwings. I thought I'd won the lottery."

The Ottawa Citizen's Ken Warren's penned a game-day entry...

Daniel Alfredsson was doing his best to keep his emotions in check Wednesday morning.

“I really don’t know what to expect,” Alfredsson said after his Red Wings skated in advance of Wednesday night’s game against his old Ottawa Senators teammates.

Alfredsson acknowledged it will be different playing against so many friends, but said he was trying to follow his normal routine. The end goal remains the same as always: Getting a victory.

As big a game as it is for Alfredsson, he was doing everything he could to deflect attention away from himself. That was, however, impossible.

Meanwhile, Senators coach Paul MacLean announced Craig Anderson would get the start in goal for Ottawa.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau will be a healthy scratch for the second straight game and defenceman Patrick Wiercioch and brawler Matt Kassian will join him in the press box. Mika Zibanejad, who was recently called up from AHL Binghamton, will play in his first game of the season.

And the Ottawa Sun's Don Brennan took note of Alfredsson's morning skate comments:

"(Son) Hugo has a practice tonight," the former Senators captain said after a morning skate nine hours before his first meeting with his old team. "Hopefully they can come and watch the second half of the game. They just really want to come and watch Ottawa and see some of the guys after."

Alfredsson, who is expected to start on a line with fellow veterans Johan Franzen and Todd Bertuzzi, tried to prepare for this one like he would for any other game.

"All the attention the last few days has been more than it's been before," he said to a large gathering of media around his locker room stall. "Other than that, so far it's been pretty normal. I've thought about that and I don't know," he added, when asked the emotions he expects to experience in the moments leading up to the opening faceoff. "I'll know tonight when we start the game I guess, and go from there."

While he did dine with Erik Karlsson Tuesday night, Alfredsson was not one of the Red Wings who skated to the boards and chatted with Senators players watching the practice prior to their own.

"I saw some of them this morning and said hi," he explained. "I'm just trying to get ready for tonight."

Wings coach Mike Babcock is not concerned about Alfredsson being distracted by the familiarity of the foes.

"If you knew Alfie you wouldn't be," Babcock told reporters. "If you sit beside him in the locker room, it makes you better. If you go to lunch with him, it makes you better. If you play on his line, it makes you better. He's been a great addition to our team."

Update #10: The Windsor Star's Duff penned a game-day Alfredsson article...

“I think it will be a relief once the puck drops,” Alfredsson said. “It’s been so long with one team and now the first time facing them, I really don’t know what to expect. There will be a lot of emotion going into the game, but it’s big and exciting too.”

Exciting, and strange. Both sides are still coming to grips with the reality of seeing a winged wheel on Alfredsson’s chest.

“It’s weird for us to see him in a Red Wings sweater and I’m sure it’s still a little weird for him, too,” said former Windsor Spitfires centre Jason Spezza, who succeeded Alfredsson as captain of the Senators.

Wings coach Mike Babcock isn’t worried at all that the spotlight will have any effect on Alfredsson’s performance.

“If it wasn’t someone like Alfie, I might be concerned,” Babcock said. “Alfie knows that the measure of him has nothing to do with this hockey game. They’re going to want to play hard against us and we’re going to want to play hard for Alfie, so it all adds up to a pretty good competition I would think.”

While the game is drawing massive attention across Canada, lost in all the hype is that this is also the first meeting of these two teams as Atlantic Division opponents.

“It used to be fun to come into the Joe once every year or two years,” Spezza said of the days when Detroit was a Western Conference team. “Now it’s going to become a rivalry. These are important games for us, games that we have to do well. We’re going to see a lot of these guys, so we’re going to have to make sure we put our best foot forward.”

...

“We know it’s an important game,” Alfredsson said. “I’ve followed them pretty closely so far and I know what they’re capable of, so we’re going to have to be ready.”

And the Senators' Game Day entry posted Ottawa's lines:

Ottawa Senators

Forwards

Michalek - Spezza - Conacher

MacArthur - Turris - Ryan

Greening - Smith - Neil

Grant - Zibanejad - Condra

Defence

Karlsson - Methot

Phillips - Gryba

Cowen - Corvo

Goaltenders

Anderson

Lehner

Update #11: The Senators' website posted Paul MacLean's morning skate presser:

Update #12: Zing, per the CP's Whyno:

Frazen, deadpan, on anything surprising about Alfie: "He still moves around really well. It kind of surprised me for a 45-year-old." He's 40

St. James also confirmed Kronwall's status:

After dental care for damage to teeth, #RedWings D Niklas Kronwall now game-time decision vs. Ottawa. Xavier Ouellet available if needed

Update #12.5: USA Today of all places posted an update to St. James' game-day entry...

Alfredsson is back playing with Johan Franzen and Todd Bertuzzi, as the Red Wings liked how Franzen looked in the middle in Monday's shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks. Pavel Datsyuk is with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader.

Stephen Weiss is centering Tomas Tatar and Daniel Cleary, and the fourth line has Joakim Andersson with Drew Miller and Jordin Tootoo.

Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson is out two to three weeks with a shoulder injury, so the Red Wings recalled Xavier Ouellet from Grand Rapids, Mich., as insurance.

Meanwhile, tests on forward Darren Helm's groin muscle showed fluid, so he definitely isn't playing Saturday, as had been the goal. Helm did skate on Wednesday, and the team hopes to see him playing next week during the trip to western Canada.

The Ottawa Citizen's Warren's game-day entry's been updated with quotes...

“I really don’t know what to expect,” Alfredsson said after his Detroit Red Wings skated in advance of Wednesday night’s game against his old Ottawa Senators teammates.

Alfredsson acknowledged it will be different playing against so many friends, but said he was trying to follow his normal routine. The end goal remains the same as always: Getting a victory.

“I do have a lot of good friends on the other side and everybody knows when you play against those guys, there are bragging rights to be had, no question,” he said. “I have so many memories, good memories from my time there, that I cherish, but I’ve been treated extremely well here, this is also a great organization.”

As big a game as it is for Alfredsson, he was doing everything he could to deflect attention away from himself. That was impossible, however. Over in the Senators dressing room following their pre-game skate, the sentiments were similar.

“I think he’s going to think it’s going to feel weird during the day,” said Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson, who went to dinner with Alfredsson and his clan Tuesday night. “He has been here for so long, he’s probably going to overthink some stuff, but like everyone else, he’s a professional and as soon as the puck drops, there are going to be no issues in focussing on the game.”

Jason Spezza says it will be odd, but figures that will disappear as the game goes on.

“It’s weird to see him in a Wings jersey, for sure,” he said. “We got to catch up a bit (Wednesday) morning. It was nice to see him. We played 10 years together. Good friendships. It’s tough to see a guy you’ve played with for so long leave, but you’re playing against guys you used to play with a lot. Chris Kelly (of the Boston Bruins) is one of my best friends and I’ve played against him. It was weird, but you get over it pretty quick.”

Craig Anderson will start in goal for the Senators, while Mika Zibanejad will be inserted into the lineup, playing on a fourth line with Derek Grant and Erik Condra. The big change on defence is that Patrick Wiercioch will be a healthy scratch, with Joe Corvo taking his spot against Detroit.

And TSN already posted a video of Alfredsson's game-day scrum--which is 8 minutes long.

Update #13: You may take OttawaSenators.com's Chris Lund's "numbers" for what you will...

Fun with fancy stats: the Wings have played teams with a better CF% five times (Bos, Phx, SJ); 1-3-1 record.

...

The #Sens have a better CF% than Detroit despite playing 5 better CF teams than them both.

...

This, of course, is me just spitting out random numbers, but it's still fun to look at

And NHL.com's Brian Hedger penned a game-day entry:

"What I find with injuries in the short term, sometimes the other guys get opportunities," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "It’s just maintaining that pace. Lots of guys can bring it for three or four games, can get excited for a while, but it's the [regulars] who can bring that every day who are the stars and they're hard to replace."

Howard will get the start in net for the Red Wings, who will be trying to get veteran Daniel Alfredsson a victory in his first game against the team he captained for 14 seasons.

The Senators will start Craig Anderson in net. In the lineup for the first time this season will be 20-year old center Mika Zibanejad, who likely will play in the middle of the fourth line Tuesday; he was recalled from the AHL on Tuesday.

"We just want to see [Zibanejad] go out and play and do what he does," Senators coach Paul MacLean said. "He's a big guy that can skate. He can play with a lot of speed and power to the net and really shoot the puck, so that's what we want to see."

Defenseman Patrick Wiercioch will be a healthy scratch for Ottawa for the first time this season, along with Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Matt Kassian.

MacLean said veteran Joe Corvo see more playing time to help spell the Senators' three young defenseman, Wiercioch, Eric Gryba and Jared Cowen.

"We just feel if we can get [Corvo] in the lineup consistently, it will give those two or three guys to maybe get a chance to get their legs under them a little bit more and then we can get them back in the lineup," MacLean said.

You may also take the fact that SI's Allan Muir believes that Jimmy Howard's the third-best American goalie at present for what you will.

Update #14: The Senators' website posted a transcript of Paul MacLean's remarks:

On Mika Zibanejad: We just want to see Mika come out and play, do what he does. He's a big guy that can skate and play with a lot of speed and power to the net and really shoot the puck. That's what we want to see.

On if facing Daniel Alfredsson for the first time affects the team: It doesn't for me, but I think for the most part the players that have played with him the longest might have a little more to do with it. I think for the most part our younger players know who he is and what he has done for the organization but at the same time we are playing the Detroit Red Wings. I mean, there's a little bit more to the game than just Daniel playing for them. They have a lot of guys that are good players so our focus has mainly been on the Red Wings.

On MacLean's personal return to Detroit: Well it's always nice, I had a tremendous time here in Detroit when I worked here. To work with Mike (Babcock) and have your name here on the wall is something you can always come back to and see, but that's a long time ago now and we'd like to put our names on the wall in Ottawa.
 

On Patrick Wiercioch: We feel that Patrick has played under 60 games in the NHL, as has Eric Gryba and even Jared Cowen for that matter has played under 100 games in the NHL. That young defence over the first eight games we feel at times they've had some struggles and that's to the opposition's credit. We have Joe Corvo who has played well over 400 games in the league and we just feel that if we can get him in the lineup consistently it'll give those two guys, three guys a chance to get their legs under them just a little bit more and then we can get them back in the lineup. It's more about making them better players down the road rather than punishing them for the way they've played.

On where Wiercioch has struggled: We just thik the speed of the game and getting the puck moving. His pace that he plays with needs to get better and using his feet and his size is a big part of it as well.

Update #15: The Wings posted a slate of highlights of Alfredsson's tenure with the Wings...

As well as a clip of Jason Spezza speaking about his former captain:

MLive's Ansar Khan took note of Johan Franzen's status as a center for the moment...

Franzen likes the challenge and the occasional break from playing the wing. It gets it more involved in the game, keeps his feet moving.

“Depending on what type of game it is, we’re involved and you get more choices when you get the puck other than when you’re a winger and get stuck at the boards,’’ Franzen said.

When the Red Wings played in the Western Conference, coach Mike Babcock sometimes put Franzen in the middle to match-up with big centers like Thornton and Anaheim’s Ryan Getzalf.

“I thought last game he played real well,’’ Babcock said. “When the Mule skates, he’s a real dominant player for us. The Mule came here as a checking center and found out he could really score. I thought he gave us a good 1-2 punch the last game.’’

The Red Wings are one center short because Darren Helm isn’t due back from his groin injury until next week and Luke Glendening and Cory Emmerton are in Grand Rapids. With Franzen centering the second line, with Daniel Alfredsson and Todd Bertuzzi, Babcock can keep Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader – all centers – together on the top unit. It also allows Babcock to put struggling Stephen Weiss on the third line, where he wants him to focus on defense until his scoring touch comes around.

Franzen cited different defensive responsibilities at center.

“You play defense as a winger, too, but you do a little more work as a center,’’ Franzen said. “Play down low more, but still a little bit more involved.”

And the Senators just posted Paul MacLean's game-day presser...

As well as game-day comments from Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson:

Update #16: The Wings will be at a disadvantage as Gord Dwyer and Dan "No Goal" O'Halloran will be refereeing tonight's game. Derek Amell and Steve Miller will be working the lines.

Update #17: Via RedWingsFeed, here's Ken Kal's game-day preview:

Update #18: The Wings also posted Alfredsson's pre-game comments:

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

Avatar

Don Brennan is such a classless piece of shit. He’s the one that always drops the “DeToilet” comments. You’d think journalists would be more impartial and classy. But he’s Canadian and EXTREMELY butt hurt over Alfie leaving Ottawa. I guess he doesn’t understand it’s a business in the end. Oh well. Go Wings.

Posted by ZandPasha11 on 10/23/13 at 10:35 AM ET

Avatar

So we stop with tthe Alfredsson stuff after this game? thats i, right. Everyone goes back to talking about other things. I am even fine with the Sens winning10-0 if it helps end this endless stuff. Or maybe 5 goals for Alfie shuts them up. I am just tired of hearing this story. We should go back to what us internet fans want, bashing Cleary and complaining that Tatar and Nyquist are not in the lineup.

Posted by lancer on 10/23/13 at 11:25 AM ET

Tracy from T-Town Hockey 's avatar

Smith with Kronner should be interesting.  Glad to see Tatar is staying in the line up.  I have a feeling Samuelsson will be a healthy scratch the majority of the season.

Posted by Tracy from T-Town Hockey on 10/23/13 at 11:29 AM ET

hdw's avatar

“(and at this rate, I’m waiting to hear that Aftonbladet’s Per Bjurman’s there, too):”

No worries, Bjurman stayed in NYC (post Nucks @ Islanders) and will be blogging from his famous sofa wink

Posted by hdw on 10/23/13 at 11:34 AM ET

Gary A$$ SUCK !!'s avatar

“(and at this rate, I’m waiting to hear that Aftonbladet’s Per Bjurman’s there, too):”

No worries, Bjurman stayed in NYC (post Nucks @ Islanders) and will be blogging from his famous sofa

Posted by hdw on 10/23/13 at 12:34 PM ET

What do you expect?? He’s working for Aftonbladet.

Posted by Gary A$$ SUCK !! from Fort Myers, Florida on 10/23/13 at 02:36 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.