The Malik Report
by George Malik on 10/21/13 at 10:23 AM ET
Updated 15x at 2:23 PM: As Paul noted, the Red Wings hit the ice very early ahead of tonight's game against the San Jose Sharks (7:30 PM, FSD/Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area/97.1 FM), and the Wings recalled Darren Helm and Xavier Ouellet for a good reason:
So that's Abdelkader back on the top line, Tatar on the 2nd line with Cleary and Weiss, Franzen between Bertuzzi and Alfredsson and Miller, Andersson and Tootoo...I think...
No dice for Kronwall, despite skating with DeKeyser...
And Khan reports that Ouellet will play in Ericsson's stead (oh boy), and that Jimmy Howard is tonight's starter:
Rut roh: Ericsson hurt? Because Ouellet's "in," and will play alongside the Wings' resident gambling defenseman, Brendan Smith:
So Ouellet plays with Smith, and Tatar's in?
The Free Press's Helene St. James confirms the Wings' roster moves...
Darren Helm was brought back up from Grand Rapids to take part in the morning skate, though he can't play before Saturday because he's been on long-term injured reserve while recovering from groin and back pain.
Forward Luke Glendening (Michigan) was returned to Grand Rapids.
The Wings also brought up defenseman Xavier Ouellet from the minors. Defenseman Niklas Kronwall is day-to-day with a concussion suffered Thursday at Colorado.
Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson is questionable for tonight’s game with an undisclosed injury.
So we don't know what the defensive pairings are as of yet.
If you missed it, per the NHL...
A limited number of tickets to the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® will go on sale via Ticketmaster.com and Ticketmaster.ca, the official ticket marketplace of the NHL, at 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Oct. 22. The 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 1, when the Detroit Red Wings® will host the Toronto Maple Leafs® at Michigan Stadium on the University of Michigan campus.
Fans attending at the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® could be part of a world record-setting crowd. The record for attendance at an ice hockey game is 104,173 people, set at the game between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University at Michigan Stadium in 2010.
The 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® at Michigan Stadium will feature Spectator Plaza, a free outdoor hockey and entertainment festival for fans of all ages with live musical performances, interactive hockey-themed attractions, prizes and giveaways, food and beverages and merchandise tents with officially licensed 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic gear. The Plaza will be located in the parking lot near Gate 1 and the Crisler Center.
You may also take this quip from the Globe and Mail's Eric Duhatschek for what you will:
Here’s something you don’t hear very often: Detroit defenceman Nicklas Kronwall, via the Detroit News, acknowledged that he was at least partly culpable on the hit last week that saw him leave the ice on a stretcher, concussed, and for which the Colorado Avalanche’s Cody McLeod will face a disciplinary hearing with NHL vice-president Brendan Shanahan on Monday. Kronwall noted that he put both himself and McLeod in a bad spot by turning at the last second. “I know he’s a forechecker, one of their more physical guys, and he’s just trying to do his job. For some reason I thought he was closer to me than he was. I almost turned right into him. But that’s history. I’m feeling pretty good and looking forward to getting back on the ice with the guys.” Kronwall has been symptom free and hopes to play again later in the week.
Helene St. James reports that Kronwall will indeed play on Wednesday...
St. James and Khan report that Ericsson's day-to-day with girlfriend-having-baby, not a shoulder injury:
Every time an opposing team's media member comes into the locker room, they seem to be wowed by the, "Howe," "Lindsay" and "Sawchuk" nameplates above empty lockers. Sharks broadcaster Randy Hahn's amazed (and I wonder whose mask that is in the locker):
I also really like Franzen at center on the "third" line with Bertuzzi and Alfredsson. that makes sense to me. Get him involved, skating. Just don't like the demotion for Andersson to the fourth line with Miller and Tootoo.
There are several lineup changes and a lot of line juggling for tonight's game against the NHL-leading San Jose Sharks at Joe Louis Arena (7:30 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit).
Defenseman Xavier Ouellet will make his NHL debut after being recalled from the Grand Rapids Griffins. He replaces Jonathan Ericsson, who won't play because his wife went into labor last night, coach Mike Babcock said.
Niklas Kronwall skated today for the first time since sustaining a mild concussion on Thursday but, as expected, won't play tonight. He hopes to return for Wednesday's game against Ottawa at JLA.
Changes to the forward pairs include Justin Abdelkader moving back to the top line, Johan Franzen centering the second line, Stephen Weiss bumped to the third line and Tomas Tatar and Jordin Tootoo inserted into the lineup.
And a list of the Red Wings' defensive pairs:
Kyle Quincey-Danny DeKeyser
Brian Lashoff-Jakub Kindl
Brendan Smith-Xavier Ouellet
Update #2.5: The Red Wings' Game Day Blog offers a historical note...
On This Day in Red Wings' History...October 21, 1973
The Red Wings trounce the California Seals, 11-2, at Olympia, as Guy Charron leads the way with three goals.
And Ken Kal's Keys to the Game:
Play Solid D - The Sharks average 5 goals per game, which means they generate shots and scoring chances. The Wings need a strong performance from the goaltender and must play well in front of Howard.
Win Faceoffs - When you control the faceoffs, you have the puck and can dictate the offense. Detroit needs to win that battle.
Limit Turnovers, Especially in the Defensive Zone - Play like Ebenezer Scrooge...don't give them any gifts!
Update #3: Sharks gnus. No Brent Burns?
The Mercury News confirms that Brent Burns is out with a "mouth" injury:
So Freddie Hamilton will play in Burns' stead alongside Tomas Hertl, and John McCarthy swings in to the fourth line with Willie Desjardins and James Sheppard. Hamilton's a rookie:
And you may take Randy Hahn's "Rambling" about Detroit for what you will:
Detroit - October 21
Detroit’s been in the headlines lately for a lot of the wrong reasons. But what it may lack in some areas it more than makes up for as an Original Six hockey city. After all, it is aptly nicknamed Hockey Town. No visit to Joe Louis Arena would be complete without a photo op in front of the Gordie Howe statue. And while the “old barn” is overdue for a remake or replacement there’s something about those Stanley Cup banners in the rafters dating back to 1936 that makes a trip to Detroit special. For food and drink check out Cheli’s Chili bar next to Comerica Park where you might run into owner and newly elected Hockey Hall of Famer Chris Chelios.
Randy’s Roadie Rank : #11 - On an off day sign up for an assembly line tour at the Ford factory in Dearborn and don’t miss fascinating Greenfield Village.
Update #4: The Free Press's Helene St. James has added quotes to her game-day entry:
Coach Mike Babcock said the Sharks "are a team that plays right. They got a north-south game going. They play heavy. They've got three centers as good as anybody in the league, so it's going to be a good test for our young D. Should be fun."
Up front, Tomas Tatar will make his second appearance of the season, playing with Stephen Weiss and Daniel Cleary. Daniel Alfredsson said he's playing with Todd Bertuzzi and Johan Franzen, meaning Franzen will start in the middle. That's not uncommon for the Wings when they go up against the Sharks, who are headlined by towering center Joe Thornton.
Playing Franzen at center allows Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg to remain on the same line, with Justin Abdelkader back doing the dirty work for the two. Joakim Andersson is between Drew Miller and Jordin Tootoo.
The Sharks are 7-0-1 and have allowed just 16 goals.
"We've gotten off to good starts in a lot of the games," said former Red Wings defenseman Brad Stuart, now with San Jose. "We're shooting the puck a lot."
There was a lot more traffic in the Wings' locker room than there had been so far this season, partly because of the undefeated Sharks, partly because a young Russian hockey team got a tour from Datsyuk, and partly because the Detroit Tigers are done playing.
Babcock talked during his morning media availability about the news that colleague Jim Leyland had retired.
"The rest of us should be lucky enough to win as much as he's done," Babcock said. "I just look at the program, where it was and where it is now, and I hope the new guy is half as good."
It also appears that the Canadian Press's Stephen Whyno has been dispatched to Detroit ahead of the Red Wings-Senators game:
So Brent Burns is out with "sore gums." Kay...
Update #5: The Free Press's Helene St. James posted a video of Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronwall talking about their respective teams:
And NHL.com took note of the Wings line shake-ups:
Here is the lineup the Red Wings likely will use against the Sharks on Monday:
Henrik Zetterberg - Pavel Datsyuk - Justin Abdelkader
Daniel Cleary - Stephen Weiss - Tomas Tatar
Todd Bertuzzi - Johan Franzen - Daniel Alfredsson
Drew Miller - Joakim Andersson - Jordin Tootoo
Kyle Quincey - Danny DeKeyser
Brian Lashoff - Jakub Kindl
Xavier Ouellet - Brendan Smith
Scratched: Mikael Samuelsson, Jonathan Ericsson, Darren Helm
Injured: Patrick Eaves (knee), Niklas Kronwall (concussion)
Update #6: We tend to forget that the Red Wings engage in a significant amount of "push-and-shove" negotiations with their prospects' rights-holders in order to bring players into the fold with the Grand Rapids Griffins and Toledo Walleye, and sometimes the tug of war continues once the players have been assigned to developmental affiliates.
I know that Brynas IF's management conveniently dropped a hint to the Swedish media that they'd love to have Calle Jarnkrok back when he didn't make the Wings' NHL roster, and today, the Vancouver Province's Steve Ewen illustrates the tug-and-war between the Wings and the Vancouver Giants over Marek Tvrdon--even though Tvrdon would be nothing more than a trade chip for his WHL rights-holder:
Detroit Red Wings assistant general manager Ryan Martin stated via email Sunday night that his club has no plans currently on sending left winger Marek Tvrdon back to junior, even though the Vancouver Giants product has played just two exhibition games and one regular season one with Detroit’s top farm club, the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins. The Griffins currently have 16 forwards listed on their roster. They’re 2-1-1-1 in league play so far.
“I am sure he will get an opportunity to play in the near future,” Martin wrote.
Over the summer, Martin didn’t rule out the idea of Tvrdon, a 2011 fourth-round pick by the Red Wings, playing in the ECHL if he couldn’t find enough ice time with Grand Rapids.
If the Slovak does get sent back to the WHL, Vancouver will undoubtedly be just a pitstop on his way to somewhere else. To keep him, Vancouver would have to move out one of their two Euros — defenceman Dmitry Osipov or forward Andreas Eder — and one of their three 20 year olds — left winger Cain Franson, right winger Tim Traber or defenceman Dalton Thrower. Bet heavy on them trading out Tvrdon, especially since they can’t trade Osipov or Eder due to new league rules and would have to release them outright to add Tvrdon.
Tvrdon also has come under heavy fire publicly from coach Don Hay for inconsistent play during his three years with the Giants.
Another clue that Tvrdon could be expendable? The Giants gave his No. 17 jersey at training camp to hotshot prospect Tyler Benson, and instead issued him No. 15.
It’s hard to guess what he might be worth in trade. There are rumours that the Giants had deal signed off on that would have sent Tvrdon to an Eastern Conference team for a younger player and a draft pick when he was shelved for the season with a blood clot.
Update #7: Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area's Kevin Kurz offers the Sharks lines...
Where they stand
Sharks: 7-0-1, 15 points, 1st Pacific Division, 1st Western Conference
Red Wings: 6-3-0, 12 points, 1st Atlantic Division, 2nd Eastern Conference
Goals per game: 4.88 (1st)
Goals-against per game: 1.88 (T - 3rd)
Power play: 25.0 percent (6th)
Penalty kill: 85.2 percent (8th)
Goals per game: 2.67 (16th)
Goals-against per game: 2.56 (12th)
Power play: 21.4 percent (10th)
Penalty kill: 82.9 percent (12th)
Tyler Kennedy – Logan Couture – Patrick Marleau
Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Freddie Hamilton
Matt Nieto – Joe Pavelski – Tommy Wingels
James Sheppard – Andrew Desjardins – Matt Pelech
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brad Stuart – Scott Hannan
Matt Irwin – Jason Demers
Keep an eye on…
Sharks: Logan Couture. The Sharks center is tied for second on the team in scoring with 11 points, and has at least one point in seven of eight games. Against the Red Wings, Couture has 11 points (6g, 5a) in 12 career games.
Red Wings: Daniel Alfredsson. The long time captain of the Ottawa Senators, Alfredsson joined the Red Wings as a free agent this summer in a surprising transaction. In 15 career games against the Sharks, Alfredsson has 14 points (5g, 9a).
The Red Wings visit SAP Center on Jan 9. It’s the only other game of the season between the Sharks and now Eastern Conference member Detroit.
San Jose is just 27-46-4-5 against the Red Wings all-time, but is 9-2-1 in the last 12 games.
Kurz also posited a morning skate update...
Brent Burns will miss the Sharks' game in Detroit on Monday after getting hit in the mouth on Saturday against Calgary. Burns, tied for third on the team with four goals, could return in time for San Jose’s visit to Boston on Thursday.
“Brent won’t play tonight. He got hit in the teeth – well, he doesn’t have teeth, I guess in the gums – the other night, and they are bothering him right now,” Todd McLellan said. “He’ll be out tonight, and hopefully he’s ready to go when we get to Boston.”
Burns, who also got whacked in the face by the stick of goalie Robin Lehner against Ottawa on Oct. 12, is on the trip but was not at Joe Louis Arena on Monday morning. In his place, 21-year-old rookie Freddie Hamilton will start the game on a line with Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl. Hamilton, a fifth round pick in 2010, will be making his NHL debut.
“It can’t get much better than that, one of the best players in the league and has been for a long time, so that’s pretty exciting,” said Hamilton of playing with Thornton.
Hamilton arrived in Detroit on Sunday night. His parents, from nearby Toronto, will get to see the game in person. Does the captain have any advice for the rookie?
“Just enjoy it,” Thornton said. “We’ve all been through our first game and there’s a lot of nerves, so just enjoy it, have fun and work hard. I’m excited for him and looking forward to playing with him.”
Hamilton said: “It’s just really exciting. … I’ve dreamt about this for a long time, and finally it’s come true.”
As did the Mercury News's David Pollak...
The injury to Burns aggravated an area that has been sore since a stray goalie stick knocked out several teeth in the Oct. 12 game against the Ottawa Senators.
"He got hit in the teeth — well, he doesn't have teeth so I guess in the gums -- the other night and they're bothering him right now," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "He'll be out tonight and hopefully he's ready to go when we get to Boston."
Hamilton, 21, was on San Jose's opening day NHL roster, but was sent to Worcester before the Sharks' first game two nights later. He acknowledged some disappointment in that development, but said he was excited about the opportunity tonight.
"There's definitely been a lot of ups-and-downs this year," Hamilton said. "I'm just trying to keep my emotions pretty even. It was tough but it's a good learning experience and in the end I think it'll just make me stronger."
Hamilton, who has one goal in two games with Worcester, is the older brother of Boston Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton.
"I think it's been a little tough for him — being the little brother and making it in the NHL first," Freddie Hamilton said. "I've been proud watching him and I think he feels the same about me now."
McLellan said there wouldn't be any special one-on-one sessions with Hamilton before the game.
"There's enough stress right now on a young man coming up right now and playing his first game. We don't want to over-burden him with tactics or anything like that," McLellan said. "He knows how to play. He's familiar with our group."
And the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan filed a Red Wings morning skate update:
With Jonathan Ericsson’s wife in labor and not expected to play, and Niklas Kronwall still recovering from a concussion, Ouellet gets a chance to play against the San Jose Sharks.
“It’ll be a challenge to keep my emotions,” said Ouellet, 20, a 2011 second-round pick who has played five games in Grand Rapids before recalled. “I just want to concentrate on making the right plays and playing a good game.”
Ouellet will be paired with Brendan Smith. The dream of playing in the NHL has been with Ouellet since he was drafted.
“That’s been my goal, to get up to his team, and tonight I get my first chance to show them what I can do,” Ouellet said.
Babcock liked what he saw from both Ouellet and defenseman Ryan Sproul in training camp and felt both were close to playing in the NHL. Ouellet gets a chance Monday night.
“He’s a really good young player,” Babcock said.”He makes good decisions. He just has to get quicker and that comes with experience.and we think he’ll do it.”
He also spoke with Niklas Kronwall about his recovery from the McLeod-induced concussion...
“I’ve talked to several people who say it can take a few days to kick in (concussion symptoms) but so far I feel good,” said Kronwall, who took part in a rigorous skate. “So far, I’ve felt real good from day one. Hopefully they’ll (doctors) give me the go-ahead for Wednesday. I’m sure there still tests to take. (But) it felt good to be back on the ice with the guys and looking forward to playing Wednesday.”
And he noted that Babcock was blunt about the team's inability to register supplemental scoring:
“We have to find a way to generate (offense), and have more offensive push than one line,” Babcock said. “We haven’t had it.”
MLive's Ansar Khan added quotes to his morning skate entry, too...
“No go tonight,'' Kronwall said. "I feel good. It felt good to be back out there on the ice with the guys. I’m looking forward to hopefully playing on Wednesday.’’
Kronwall hopes to be cleared by the team doctor tonight.
"So far I’ve felt really good ever since Day 1, so hopefully I’ll be given the go-ahead on Wednesday,'' Kronwall said. “You talk to several people who have said it could take several days before (symptoms) kick in, so far it’s been good, so knock on wood.''
Changes to the forward pairs include Justin Abdelkader moving back to the top line, Johan Franzen centering the second line, Stephen Weiss bumped to the third line and Tomas Tatar and Jordin Tootoo inserted into the lineup. This will be only the second game of the season for Tatar.
“Obviously, it’s a nice reward for the waiting, and we are playing against tough team tonight,'' Tatar said. "It’s going to be a little hard since I didn’t play for a little while (since Oct. 5), but just try to make a play, play simple in the hard areas, try to manage the puck, don’t do turnovers. I think the system should work for me as well. It’s going to take care of me and hopefully I will play good and try my best.’’
"It’s awesome to see,” Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “He comes in that first game, probably got the note five minutes before the game that he’s going in there. He played really good, really aggressive, played with a lot of confidence and kept going. He probably stole those two points in Colorado.”
Gustavsson was pressed into service after starter Jimmy Howard injured his left catching hand against Philadelphia on Oct. 12. Making his first three appearances of the season, Gustavsson posted a 3-0-0 record with a 1.67 goals-against average and .953 save percentage in helping the Red Wings move into first place in the Atlantic Division.
“I thought he played good,” wings coach Mike Babcock said. “It’s important for us to have two good goaltenders and obviously we know what Howie’s capable of. He gave us a chance to win every night. You got to give him credit.”
Gustavsson recorded victories on consecutive days for the first time since Jan. 23-24, 2012, posting 28 saves in a 3-2 win at Boston, and then he made 36 stops in a 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets the next night. Gustavsson then handed Colorado its first loss of the season, making 38 saves in a 4-2 victory last Thursday.
The 28-year-old Swede, has played in 117 games during his five-season NHL career, compiling a 44-47-16 record with a 2.94 goals-against average, .901 save percentage and five shutouts.
“It’s important for the team to know (he’s reliable), it’s important for him to know,” Babcock said. “It was real positive for us. We won three games with him in net. We feel good about it.”
Update #7.5: Let's all be surprised that Igor Larionov was talking with both teams' broadcasters after a team full of Russian players were in attendance for a hockey tournament, given that Larionov is a player agent...
Beat the Bruins, beat the Blue Jackets, beat the unbeaten Avs, and you're in 10th place. Why I hate power rankings lists.
Update #10: CSN Bay Area's Kurz adds more quips and quotes from the coaches, including McLellan's assessment of the Wings' "thin blueline":
“They still have [Henrik] Zetterberg and [Pavel] Datsyuk, and if they’re playing in our end, we don’t have to worry about their D,” Todd McLellan said. “They play as a team, they are well coached, they are going to be well prepared. … They don’t seem to miss a beat when players leave. Both teams are beat up a little bit. It will still be a good game.”
In the home locker room, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was just as complimentary of the Sharks.
Babcock said: “We have a real good team in here that plays right, they’ve got a north-south game going, they play heavy, they’ve got three centers as good as anybody in the league, so it’s a good test for our young D. Should be fun.”
Detroit enters the game coming off of a 5-2 loss in Phoenix, in which goalie Mike Smith made headlines for scoring a goal in the final second. That defeat ended a four-game winning streak for the Red Wings, who still sit atop the Atlantic Division with 12 points, tied with Toronto. It’s probably safe to assume they’ll be a bit ornery after the resounding defeat and embarrassing Smith highlight.
“They’ll be upset. Coming home, this is a tough building to play in,” Logan Couture said. “We’ve had a lot of experience playing in this building for a lot of us it’s close to our home towns. Personally, I’m always excited to come play against Detroit, but it’s a tough test. It’s always one of those games where you see where you are, and play against some of the best players in this game.”
Babcock was complimentary of Couture in his overall assessment of the Sharks, whom the Red Wings will only play twice this season after moving to the Eastern Conference.
“Their team has changed. Couture, in my opinion, has basically taken over as their number one center,” Babcock said. “Pavelski in the three hole, they’ve added some youth there, and it makes them a better, quicker, harder team. We don’t know as much about them as we used to, but obviously we look forward to our home-and-home series with them. Should be fun.”
Update #11: The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness took note of Babcock's comment about the Wings' defense being very green tonight...
“Well, I think it’s a great opportunity for our guys,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We talk about that all of the time. When someone gets hurt, especially when you’re a young NHLer, there are opportunities for you. If you get stuck behind Cal Ripken for 20 years it’s not much fun, probably. So when you get your opportunity you’re allowed to establish yourself as a player and play every night.”
Xavier Ouellet was recalled from Grand Rapids and will make his NHL debut tonight.
“I’m a defenseman who the coaches can trust,” Ouellet said. “I’m an overall defenseman. I can be strong defensively, make the first right pass on tape, so that would be me.”
As well as Stephen Weiss's status as a "third line center":
“Well, the first thing you have to do when you come to a new place is you have to breathe, and you have to give yourself a break, and you have to spend no time thinking and spend all your time playing,” Babcock said of Weiss. “That’s easy for me to say, but when you come in and get off to a good start and three bounce in off your leg and you get rolling you relax. And when you don’t you pressure up. So what I’ve done is I took him off the power play, put him on the penalty kill, and put him in the three hole and he can play against (Joe) Pavalski all night tonight. That will be a battle in itself. And just look after defense and once he settles down the rest will come.”
Weiss will center Daniel Cleary and Tomas Tatar, who will play in just his second game this season.
“Let’s be honest, if I were the other team and I watched us play, I say if I get a hold of 13 and 40 and 11 I can shut this thing down,” Babcock said of getting Tatar back in the lineup. “Depth in scoring hasn’t been there. We have to find a way to generate and have more offensive push than one line. You have to have it right through your group. We haven’t had it.”
Tatar knows he’s got to guard against trying to do too much.
“It’s going to be a little hard since I didn’t play for a little while but just try to make a play, play simple in the hard area, try to manage the puck and don’t do turnovers,” Tatar said. “I think the system should work for me as well. It’s going to take care of me and hopefully I will play good and try my best.”
We should also hear from the NHL regarding Cody McLeod's suspension today, and MLive's Brendan Savage is asking readers to weigh in as to its possible length.
Tweets of note: Ironic photo placement...
And TSN's "Stats Guy" notes that the Sharks have scored 23 more goals than they've surrendered, which is ridiculous:
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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.