The Malik Report
by George Malik on 10/23/13 at 07:01 PM ET
Among the storylines immediately leading up to tonight's game between the Red Wings and the Ottawa Senators (7:30 PM, FSD/TSN/TVA Sports/97.1 FM):
Via RedWingsFeed, there's good news regarding Niklas Kronwall...
ESPN's Barry Melrose gave a Red Wings and game preview:
The NHL Network spoke to Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika before the game...
The Red Wings somewhat belatedly posted Mike Babcock's game-day presser...
And Sportsnet noted that the Senators "Want to Win"...
While Alfredsson addressed his situation in a pre-game feature set up by Sportsnet's Chris Johnston:
The Senators' website posted a game-day interview with Bobby Ryan...
I think they're giving me an opportunity to be one of the top players or go-to guys and putting me in situations where they feel I can have success. They've given me those opportunities and that's all I really wanted and that's the opportunity I think I knew I was going to be given. I like the fact that you're getting second and third opportunities, in the past it hasn't always felt like that was always the case. Between Paul and Bryan and all of the coaching staff it feels like they're putting that trust in me and it gives you confidence... You don't have to tighten up or whatnot and you can let it go and play. There has been situations on the ice where I'd like to have things back but we've had a lot of good talks between us about that kind of stuff. He's giving me the confidence to let me know that they're going to put me right back out and get me right back into the situation.
And Gord Wilson's game-day preview...
The Canadian Press's Stephen Whyno noted that the relationship between Alfredsson and Erik Karlsson remains strong...
Alfredsson served Karlsson “good life lessons” starting when the young defenceman lived with him in Ottawa. But the as Karlsson developed into a Norris Trophy-winner, he returned the favour in a major way.
“I think he is one of the reasons I’m still playing,” the 40-year-old Alfredsson said. “When he came in, he was a really good player from the beginning and I think I was able to be there for him and give him some guidance and help out. But he also brought a lot to the table with his energy and enthusiasm and, I guess, a great personality and fun to be around. He made me feel younger.”
Karlsson said it felt good to hear that but credited the long-time Senators captain for doing his own thing to remain in the NHL.
“I’ve seen how he was when I came and how he’s developed and how much more fun he thinks it is to play,” he said. “Obviously one of the biggest reasons I think is that his body’s healthy and he’s feeling good. He’s still doing the things he used to do when he was 30.”
At 23, Karlsson can still do plenty, and youthful exuberance is part of his style. He takes chances on the ice, and sometimes it pays off while others it backfires. But he also grew up under the tutelage of Alfredsson, who said he’d be comfortable leaving Karlsson to watch his four sons, Hugo, Loui, Fenix and William.
“That’s good to hear,” Karlsson said. “I don’t have any kids myself yet, so I’m happy to hear that I’m doing well with them.”
Karlsson hopes to continue doing well on the ice without Alfredsson. Wednesday night was his first chance to play against his friend and mentor, after already getting used to life with the Senators in the post-Alfredsson era.
“Obviously it’s bit different, I think, but I also think it’s been going really well,” Karlsson said. “The transition has been probably as good as you would’ve hoped for.”
MLive's Brendan Savage is asking Wings fans whether Alfredsson's worth his salary...
Daniel Alfredsson's first shift against the San Jose Sharks Monday night was a lucrative one. It was worth $2 million.
By appearing in his 10th game for the Detroit Red Wings, Alfredsson collected a $2 million bonus, pushing his 2013-14 compensation to $5.5 million.
Alfredsson, 40, joined the Red Wings as a free agent in July after spending his entire 17-year career with the Ottawa Senators. He was their captain for the last 13 seasons.
But a messy breakup with the Senators brought Alfredsson to Detroit and after 10 games, he leads the team with eight assists, is third in points with nine and has helped the power play with his booming shot from the point.
And don't forget about the veteran leadership he provides both on and off the ice.
With Alfredsson set to face his old team and his bonus already achieved, we have to ask: Is Alfredsson worth the investment the Red Wings made in him?
And DetroitRedWings.com's Andrea Nelson penned a game-day article about Xavier Ouellet...
“I was really excited,” Ouellet said of making his debut. “I was happy to have my opportunity and I just wanted to get the best of it. It’s a loss so it’s kind of hard to say I feel good but I’m pretty proud of my game. There are a few things to still work on but it was really exciting and a great experience.”
The Bayonne, France, native returned to Grand Rapids Tuesday, but made a lasting impression on his coaches and teammates during his short time wearing Red and White.
“I think he played very well, he made it easy on myself too,” said defenseman Brendan Smith. “I think he’s got a lot of skill and he understands the NHL or the professional way to play. You have to get the puck in the top guy’s hands, we have some great forwards and he understood that. He made the easy, simple play and that’s how he stayed out of trouble and it actually ended up working out really well for our D pairing.”
Ouellet recorded one shot on goal and one hit in 17:15 of ice time against the Sharks, including a hit on San Jose’s Joe Thornton that couldn’t be ignored.
“I thought he was great,” goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “He did a great job keeping everyone in front of him. He battled, he had a big hit on Joe (Thornton) there in the first, first game of many for him. He wasn’t afraid to be out there against him and that’s great to see, for X to step up and put a guy of his stature on his rear end.”
It was Ouellet’s first hit, and one that stuck out in his mind after the game.
“I’m pretty proud, I did what I had to do and we’ll see what the coaches think about that,” he said.
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose penned a game-day article about Johan Franzen shifting to center...
Playing a hunch, and hoping to get all four forward lines involved in the offense, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock took Franzen off the wing this week, moving him to the two hole on the second line between Todd Bertuzzi and Daniel Alfredssson.
“When the Mule skates, he’s a real dominant player for us,” Babcock said. “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 and I thought (the third line of) Weiss and Cleary and Tatar played well as well.”
Franzen will play his second straight game in the two hole when the Red Wings host the Ottawa Senators at Joe Louis Arena tonight. He centered the second line in Monday’s 1-0 shootout loss to San Jose. But it was his face-off challenges against the Sharks’ Joe Thornton that created some confidence for the Mule.
“It was a little bit weird before the game when they said I was going to be center and play the hottest team in the league,” Franzen said of San Jose. “Oh, it could be bad, but it was a good first game.”
Franzen led the Red Wings’ centermen winning 58 percent (14-of-24) of his face-offs against the Sharks, including 7-of-12 against Thornton.
Franzen has only taken 27 draws this season, but his 55.6 winning percentage in the circle is the Wings’ highest success rate among their top centermen.
“I was a center for my whole time growing up, and on and off, played it here, so I like it,” Franzen said. “I’m pretty comfortable with it.”
And he posted a game-day story about Daniel Alfredsson, focusing on Alfredsson's relationship with Karlsson...
“I drive past his house every day to the rink, so it’s pretty tough to know that you’re not going to stop by there anymore,” Karlsson said. “But I think at the same time it’s not that bad. We’re used to seeing guys come and go, and we still keep in touch a lot. He’s just a phone call away and it’s not that bad.”
Tonight is the first of four meetings between the new division rivals, but this game has received so much international media attention that the main participants involved are looking forward to relief that only the opening puck drop will bring.
“It’s been talked about the last few days. So far (today’s) been pretty normal,” Alfredsson said. “We’ll start the game and see what happens. … Moving the family, that was the big step. It’s all part of the process. It’s been so long with one team and now the first time facing them. I really don’t know what to expect.”
Alfredsson can expect more of the same when he makes his much-anticipated return to the Canadian capital city when the Sens host the Red Wings on Dec. 1.
But first things, first for Alfredsson, who wants nothing more than to help his new team defeat his former mates.
“We know it’s an important game,” said Alfredsson, who leads the Wings with eight assists in 10 games. “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. They’re a puck-pressure team. They skate a lot, they play aggressive. For us it’s going to be about executing in our own end, breaking the puck out and not allowing them to keep us pinned down in our own end.
And NHL.com's Brian Hedger took note of the Senators' take on tonight's game:
"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," Jason Spezza, who replaced Alfredsson as Ottawa captain, said after the team's morning skate. "It’ll be different. It will probably be harder for him than it will be for us. We’re kind of used to playing against guys we’ve played with for a long time, so once the game starts it won’t be any different."
The Senators (3-3-2) and Red Wings (6-3-1) also will square off for the first time as Atlantic Division rivals, but that storyline has taken a backseat in media coverage, and will continue to do so until Dec. 1. That's when Alfredsson will return to Ottawa for the first time with the Red Wings.
"You prepare the same way," Spezza said. "It's nice to see a familiar face and catch up a little bit, but other than that I'm preparing the same way. For us it's another game. For you guys [in the media], it's a huge story to play up."
Karlsson, who lived at Alfredsson's home as a rookie, seemed as excited about getting a traditional Swedish meal out of the trip as he is to face his former captain.
"It's going to be fun," Karlsson said. "It's going to be an experience for sure and it's always fun to play in Detroit. They have a lot of fellow Swedes that you know very well and Alfie [Alfredsson] happens to be one of them."
The Senators know they'll have to measure up to Detroit at some point without Alfredsson if they want to accomplish their big-picture goals in the division and Stanley Cup Playoffs. It might not be "just another game" in reality, but that's still the way they're going to approach it.
"I think this is the first time you really notice it because it's being brought up now and you're seeing him for the first time," Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson said. "We all kind of moved on from it the day it happened. We can't change it. You can sit there and sulk all you want and complain but at the end of the day it wasn't up to us. It is what happened and we have to move on. If you sit there and dwell on the past you're not going to be very good in the future."
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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.