The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/01/13 at 03:57 PM ET
Updated 5x at 4:51 PM: Well, here we go. The Detroit Red Wings face off against the Ottawa Senators today (5:30 PM, FSD Plus/NHL Network U.S. with the usual Center Ice/GCL blackout)TSN/RDS/1270 AM), and if you didn't read the overnight report's slate of Daniel Alfredsson stories, you should at least know that this game is one of only three on the NHL schedule today (with the other game taking place this evening quite the "undercard" in Edmonton vs. Dallas at 6 PM; today is also the first of the Herm to Hockeytown 3 Pledge Games), and it's been gobbled up by the NHL Network, so you can expect even more chatter than you may have already expected about, well..
This note from TSN's Brent Wallace makes me cringe...
TSN will have Sens-Wings pregame at 5pm et. @tsnjamesduthie will have a look at Alfie through the years and a live intv with Eugene Melnyk.
Minus a morning skate, Metro Ottawa's Murray Pam reports that the goaltending match-up is expected to go as predicted...
#Wings Jonas Gustavsson 6 Gms, 2-3-0, 2.24 GAA, .919 Sv Pct vs #Sens. #Sens Robin Lehner 2 Gms, 1-0-0, 3.96 GAA, .891 Sv Pct. vs. #Wings.
Oh hey, by the way, per the Ottawa Citizen's Allen Panzeri...
Today's Sens-Red Wings game will be on cable in Sweden starting at 11:30 pm. If you miss it here.
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch...
Okay, this game can start @BjurmanPer is here to bring this game to Swedish readers along with the other media from there. #Sens
And the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa:
ken daniels said that fox sports detroit will broadcast the tribute the senators have planned for daniel alfredsson, today. FSD-PLUS.
ottawa owner eugene. melnyk on tsn radio. "We'll recognize what Daniel has done in Ottawa and what he means to our fans.... 1/2
2/2 "There's no question we're going to honor him and make sure that everybody is behind him."
tsn.com : Some of that love from Senators fans has since dissipated and Alfredsson can expect a mixed reception.
if season ended today, red wings would be first wild card in east. they are five points behind boston for 1st in division and conference.
Both Pro Hockey Talk's Joe Yerdon...
Alfredsson comes into today’s game on a bit of a hot streak. He has three goals and three assists in his last four games including two goals and an assist against the New York Islanders on Friday night.
Meanwhile, the Red Wings have won four of their last five and the Senators have lost five of their last seven and sit in sixth place in the Atlantic Division, nine points behind the second place logjam with Tampa Bay, Montreal, and Detroit.
The Senators have said they’ll pay tribute to Alfredsson during this afternoon’s game (5:30 p.m. ET puck drop). Will he be received warmly as the long-time captain who helped bring the team out of the darkness of the early 90s or as a deserter who fled for more money?
And Yahoo Sports' Greg Wyshynski have penned game-day previews, with Wyshynski offering the usual dash of sarcasm...
How a player is received by the home fans is one of those personal, local calls that national writers can judge but ultimately can’t influence, like naming captains or retiring numbers.
Alfredsson meant something indelible to that city, and always will. He’ll hear cheers from those who honor his legacy, and protest Melnyk’s lethargy. He’ll hear boos from those who feel he turned his back on the franchise. Perhaps some fans will dabble in both, depending on what happens on the ice.
It’ll be awkward. Not as awkward as it would be to see Alfredsson hoist the Cup in Detroit while Melnyk bemoans the millions he lost in a non-playoff year, but awkward nonetheless. But time will eventually heal all. And by that of course we mean Melnyk will sell the team.
Alfredsson vs. Ottawa – Again: We’ve been through this before, but last time the teams met, Alfredsson was nowhere to be found. However, Alfie had a three-point night on Friday against the New York Islanders, and has been one of the Red Wings’ best players as of late. Perhaps he can finally light up his former team and show why he was such a valuable commodity this past offseason. This will be his first return to Ottawa since leaving the team this offseason.
USA Today's Mike Brehm posited a set of 5 favorite Alfredsson moments, including the following...
1. The biggest goal of his career: On May 19, 2007, Alfredsson scored in overtime of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final against the Sabres.
That lifted the Senators into the Stanley Cup Final for the lone time in franchise history.
It was his fourth game-winner of the playoffs. He also had seven during the regular season, including four games in a row.
The Ottawa Citizen's Graeme Nichols penned a game-day preview...
Interesting Stat #1: Having lost to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night, the Senators will have had, the Senators will enter play today having had two days rest. According to Stats.com, when the Senators have had two or more days of rest, they are 5-2-3 on the season.
Interesting Stat #2: Looking at the split stats for Ottawa’s power play, the gap between the success rate of their home and away power plays is pronounced. On the road it’s operating at a 28.9% success rate while it’s only produced at an 11.4% success rate when the team has played at home. This 17.5% difference between the road and home power plays is the largest in the NHL.
Interesting Stat #3: Having played in 1,200th career NHL game on Friday, Alfredsson is tied with Owen Nolan for 96th on the NHL’s all-time leaderboard for most games played. Of note, he has the third-highest total amongst Swedish-born players – only Niklas Lidstrom (10th all-time with 1,564)and Mats Sundin (47th all-time with 1,346) have played in more games.
Interesting Stat #4:: Daniel Alfredsson has averaged 0.94 points per game during his career. Of those who played in 1,200 or more NHL games, it is the 24th highest rate in NHL history.
Interesting Stat #5: Earlier I pointed out Craig Anderson’s horrific save percentage when his team is on the penalty kill, and you can use this statistic to explain why in its last nine games, Ottawa has given up 13 power play goals in 35 opportunities – good enough for a 62.9% penalty kill success rate.
The Citizen's "Prediction Panel" mostly believes that the Senators will win, and the Citizen posted two Vimeo videos of Alfredsson's "return"...
If you're interested, the Senators website's "Game Day Journal" offers a pair of videos that aren't necessarily related to Alfredsson and this summation from Chris Lund...
In what is sure to be an emotional day for all involved, the Ottawa Senators welcome back Daniel Alfredsson, the team's longtime captain, leader in virtually every meaningful statistical category and, beyond that, the player who became a synonym for the franchise itself whose impact I attempted to discuss here prior to his departure.
Needless to say, today should be a good one for fans, players and every interested party keeping an eye on things.
Beyond the narratives tied to today, this an immensely important game in the standings. The Sens are coming off of a disappointing loss to the Canucks on Thursday night and sit nine points back of Detroit in the Atlantic Division. A win at home over the Red Wings would be a good springboard before a two game Florida road swing this week.
The Wings are in the thick of things at the moment with a 13-7-7 record and have been a very strong road team with an 8-3-1 mark away from Joe Louis Arena. With two bad losses at the hands of the Senators fresh in their memory, today's game should be a highly competitive affair.
And MLive's Ansar Khan offers one last quote round-up from yesterday's media availabilty, as well as something of a Wings game preview:
The only change in the Red Wings' lineup today sees Jonas Gustavsson starting in goal in place of Jimmy Howard, who is coming off a 5-0 win Friday at the New York Ialanders. Gustavsson is 6-0-1.
Todd Bertuzzi will miss his fifth game with an upper-body injury and Pavel Datsyuk, who is not on the trip, will sit out for the fourth game in a row due to concussion-like symptoms.
Here are the Red Wings' anticipated lines and defense pairings:
Gustav Nyquist-Henrik Zetterberg-Johan Franzen
Justin Abdelkader-Darren Helm-Daniel Alfredsson
Drew Miller- Joakim Andersson-Tomas Tatar
Daniel Cleary-Stephen Weiss-Mikael Samuelsson
Jonathan Ericsson-Niklas Kronwall
Kyle Quincey-Brendan Smith
Brian Lashoff-Jakub Kindl
Jonas Gustavsson (starting)
After 17 seasons with the Senators, Daniel Alfredsson returns to Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa for the first time since signing with the Red Wings during the offseason.
"It's going to be great to meet a lot of friends," said Alfredsson. "That's what you miss the most. The game on Sunday will be very special."
The Red Wings are 5-1-1 in their past seven road games and 8-3-1 after Alfredsson and Darren Helm each scored twice in the win Friday. Since a seven-game winless streak, Detroit is 4-1-0, including 14 goals in its past three games.
"I think we're finding ways to put the puck in the net. I don't know if we are doing things a whole lot different from what we were doing when we kept on losing those games in OT and shootout, just the confidence of the puck going in is with us right now," Helm said.
A historical note...
On This Day in Red Wings' History...On December 1
1960: Gordie Howe’s third-period assist gives him 1,092 career points for both regular-season and playoffs. It sets and NHL record, breaking the mark of 1,091 set by Maurice Richard.
1974: A record snow storm postpones the Red Wings' scheduled home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Olympia Stadium. The Detroit area received 18.4 inches of snow, the highest snowfall recorded in a single day in December. The game was eventually played with the Wings posting a 5-3 victory on Feb. 9, 1975.
Ken Kal's Keys to the Game...
RAM Keys to the Game with Ken Kal
Stay out of the Penalty Box - The last game against Ottawa was physical. The Wings have got to be disciplined and not retaliate.
Possess the Puck - In their last three games, Detroit has controlled the puck and the game. They need to be on the attack for sixty minutes.
Continue the Balanced Scoring - All four lines need to contribute. Detroit has outscored their opponents 14-2 in their last three games. Every line has chipped in with the offense. Let's keep that going tonight!
A non-morning-skate's worth of "Morning Skate" news...
Daniel Alfredsson will make him return to Ottawa today for his first time as a Red Wing.
"A lot of good memories, a lot of good things happened here. It will be a special game."- Daniel Alfredsson
Coach Babcock will put Alfie in the starting lineup, so the fans can acknowledge their former captain on the opening faceoff.
One of the things (Alfie) gets to do here is say thanks. He’s done that already anyway...Anybody who’s played almost 1,200 games in your organization and has done a lot for your city and the kind of man he is off the ice, it’s his opportunity to take a bow that way." - Mike Babcock
Jonas Gustavsson will start in goal. Monster is 6-0-1 this year.
Todd Bertuzzi skated, but will not play today.
Pavel Datsyuk is out, as expected, with a possible concussion.
And here's the Wings' game-day preview video:
In other news, via RedWingsFeed, Deadline Detroit's Alan Stamm offers more excerpts from Darren McCarty's memoir, and in the Olympic news department, NHL.com's Adam Kimelman believes that Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco are 2nd and 3rd-line forwards, respectively, on Slovakia's 2014 Olympic team...
And I'm going to get this posted, but I've got a rough translation of a new article in which Expressen's Gunnar Nordstrom spoke with Alfredsson "in the pipe." The Senators also report that Paul MacLean will confirm the Senators' lineup at 3 PM.
Quickie update: in the Twitter department, from the Wings:
Clarke MacArthur-Kyle Turris-Bobby Ryan
Milan Michalek-Jason Spezza-Mika Zibanejad
Cory Conacher-Zack Smith-Chris Neil
Colin Greening-Derek Grant-Erik Condra
Marc Methot-Erik Karlsson
Chris Phillips-Joe Corvo
Jared Cowen-Patrick Wiercioch
Robin Lehner-Craig Anderson
Update #1: Everybody get mushy:
And here's the Senators' official, official lineup, per their website:
MacArthur - Turris - Ryan
Michalek - Spezza - Zibanejad
Conacher - Smith - Neil
Condra - Grant - Greening
Methot - Karlsson
Phillips - Corvo
Borowiecki - Wiercioch
Update #2: Okay, let's get this out of the way. Expressen's Gunnar Nordstrom spoke with Alfredsson for a feature interview set to hit today. Here's a rough translation thereof:
"I think my relationship with fans persists"
Back in Ottawa for the first time since he left the Canadian capital this past summer, after spending 18 years there. Tonight, Daniel Alfredsson faces his old home crowd at the Canadian Tire Centre in a Detroit jersey. In an exclusive interview with SportExpressen.se, he talks about:
His feelings regarding this weekend in Ottawa;
His desire to play in the Sochi Olympics in February with the Tre Kronor;
The issues with his transition to life in Detroit and the U.S. after all those years spent in Canada;
The joy of having so many Swedish teammates;
His thought about winning the Stanley Cup in the spring.
On Friday night, Swedish time, Daniel Alfredsson scored two goals and assisted on another when Detroit defeated the New York Islanders on Long Island. "Alfie" was in the players' bus and heading to the airport in New York for the trip to Ottawa when SportExpressen.se reached him.
There were many emotions swirling in his head.
The Red Wings have met the Senators in Detroit twice this fall, and lost both times (6-1 and 4-2).
Alfredsson played in the first game against his former teammates, when everything went wrong for Detroit from the start, but he missed the second game because of a groin injury.
"I just want to forget the first game. Now I'm looking forward to spending a few days in Ottawa and playing in my old home rink again."
Is it nerve-wracking to return to a city you're so strongly associated with?
"honestly I don't really know how it will feel. My family will also be there, so it will be fun for us to hang out with our old friends. We get to have all of Saturday there, so I'll try to get as much done as possible with my family. I think my great relationship with the people of Ottawa persists. In terms of both how I've experienced it after all the years there and what I meant for hockey and the city."
How do you think you'll feel before the game?
"I don't think I'll be that nervous, but of course it will be different to come to the arena and go to the away team's locker room instead of the home one this time."
Are you worried about how the audience will greet you?
"It is what it is. I don't know if I'm looking forward to that as much. I hope we have a good start to the game. We're facing a rival in our division so we obviously want to win."
Have you ever regretted the move to Detroit?
"No, not in terms of hockey, but it's certainly been a challenge for my kids, too. As a player, I've always been well-received by the team I play for, but for the kids, there have been changes with new schools, new friends and the sports teams they play for, and all the things that happen when you drag them to a new city and a new country."
How has it gone?
"We've grown as a family and have become closer. It's not been easy all the time, but we talk to each other more and it feels like everyone is happy now."
Where do you live?
"We bought a house in the suburb of Birmingham, so we live near Mikael Samuelsson, Johan Franzen and their families. It's helped a lot, 'Samme' has kids the same age as ours, so it's nice to have that security. And 'Zata' lives only 10-12 minutes from us."
What happens after this season in Detroit, are you thinking about moving back to Ottawa, or are you going home to Gothenburg?
"I really don't know. We're a little scattered there. Ottawa's home for the kids, it's where they grew up, and Bibi and I have roots in Gothenburg. But whatever we'll decide will be fine. We have to make that decision this summer."
What do you think about the Olympics in 2014?
"I want to be there. Absolutely. But of course you have to earn your spot. The National Team's management knows it. It's gone well here in Detroit, especially lately, because I probably wanted to do too much at first. The coaching staff has understood that I had to adapt off the ice, for me and my family, and they gave me time to take care of the children and their needs in terms of schools and sports."
You're wearing an "A" on your game jersey now, has your role on the team increased?
"Well, I've got to be an alternate captain for three games since Pavel Datsyuk's been injured. Had I come to a younger team, I could've taken on a larger role, but here I've been a little more passive. Detroit has an awesome team with leaders in "Zata" (Henrik Zetterberg), (Niklas) Kronwall and Datsyuk."
You've formed a successful line with Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader over the past three games...
"Yes, we have good chemistry together. Helm has incredibly speed and Abdelkader goes full-out all the time with his strength and aggressiveness, so I have to keep up the pace [with them] out on the ice."
What's it like to play on a team with so many Swedes?
"It's funny, we come together on one side of the ice, and it's nice to be able to carpool to practices and games, and have someone to talk about what's happening back home in Sweden. And it was a bit special to start the game the other night, where we had all six players on the ice who were Swedes, when Jonas Gustavsson was in the net. I haven't experienced that before in the NHL."
Do you feel that you can go all the way and win the Stanley Cup this spring?
"I think so. We have many players who've gone a long way, there's a calmness here that isn't apparent in many other places. And my body feels good. It feels like we can fight for a championship."
Update #3: Here's the Senators' website's game-day preview:
Update #4: MLive's Ansar Khan allows the Wings' coach to state the obvious in Khan's "live blog":
It is Daniel Alfredsson’s much-anticipated return to Ottawa. But Red Wings coach Mike Babcock doesn’t believe that will be a distraction.
“I don’t think we can be any worse than we’ve been (vs. Ottawa),’’ Babcock said. “First game we were awful. Their power play is a juggernaut against us; took 13 minutes of penalties in the third period in the last game just to make sure we didn’t win. We’re bound to play good against them one of these times. Let’s fix this.’’
Alfredsson believes the Red Wings are a different team than the one that faced the Senators before.
“I think we’re playing better hockey now than the first time we played them,’’ Alfredsson said. “It’s going to be a fun game. We know they’re a desperate team and we’ve been going good the last five games (4-1-0).
Neil said his club is aware of what the Red Wings can do.
“They got a lot of skill over there; we don’t want to be embarrassed by them,’’ Neil said. “So if you don’t pay attention to details they’re going to bury you.’’
Update #5: THE UPDATES NEVER END. Per NHL.com's Sean Farrell:
Daniel Alfredsson and Erik Karlsson arrived at Canadian Tire Centre together for their game Sunday, but unlike in previous seasons, they parted ways in front of the visiting team's dressing room.
The two Swedes shook hands and embraced before Alfredsson turned to head into the Detroit Red Wings' room. Karlsson continued down the hallway to the Ottawa Senators' dressing room.
Alfredsson will play his first game in Ottawa since parting ways with the Senators last summer, when he signed a one-year contract to play with Detroit.
The 40-year-old right wing spent his first 17 seasons in Ottawa, the last 13 as team captain. He is the Senators' all-time leader in games played (1,178), goals (426), assists (682) and points (1,108).
The Senators will honor Alfredsson with a five-minute tribute video prior to the opening faceoff. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock put Alfredsson in the starting lineup.
"It's great for Alfie that they're going to honor him in this way," Babcock said. "Anybody who has played almost 1,200 games for your organization, been your captain, should be treated in that way. It's a positive thing and it's a way for Alfie to say thanks to the fans and vice versa, but as far as us, we're going to enjoy it. We're going to enjoy it with him, and then let's play."
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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.