The Malik Report
Red Wings-Sharks pregame skate: Tootoo in play, WC tix, Wings-Sharks videos, Ouellet, Weiss & scraps
by George Malik on 10/21/13 at 06:01 PM ET
TSN's Darren Dreger mentioned the Red Wings' need to move Jordin Tootoo and/or some salary to a) accommodate Darren Helm's return and b) eventually recall Gustav Nyquist from Grand Rapids:
Trade discussions between NHL clubs are starting to pick up. The Detroit Red Wings are among the teams believed to be eager to make a move.
The Wings need to create some cap space and sources say Jordin Tootoo is in play.
Detroit would like to call up Gustav Nyquist from the AHL, but doesn't have the cap room to make it happen.
Tootoo makes $1.9 mill. this season and is valued by some teams because of his grit.
Also complicating things for Detroit from both a roster and cap standpoint is the potential return of injured forward Darren Helm. Helm is scheduled to come off of I.R. on Saturday.
(He didn't skate today, so he may have other ailments he's dealing with, but, his 10-game, 24-day stint on I.R. ends on Saturday).
Helm played 2 games in 3 nights over the weekend. He's fine.
A limited number of tickets for the 2014 Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will go on sale at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22.
The game will be played Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.
The tickets will be available at TicketMaster.com and TicketMaster.ca.
A world-record crowd of 115,000 is expected for the game, which was originally scheduled for this year but was postponed by last season's NHL lockout.
The NHL press release did not specify the prices for tickets that will be available Tuesday but according to TicketMaster.com, Winter Classic tickets range in price from $89-$279.
There are also fan packages available that include hotel accommodations, a pregame party and tickets to the Alumi Showdown and Winter Classic.
In terms of tonight's game, the Sharks' website posted both a 5:04 pre-game audio clip and a video clip of Dan Rusanowsky's game preview...
As well as clips of Joe Thornton...
And coach Todd McLellan:
Here's the Wings' Game-Day preview, too:
In the text department...
The Sharks won't have Brent Burns or Dan Boyle in their lineup, and the Wings will be playing minus both Niklas Kronwall (won't be cleared to play until Wednesday) and Jonathan Ericsson (significant other having first child), but CSN Bay Area's Kevin Kurz noted that the unbeaten-in-regulation-or-OT Sharks won't be taking the Wings lightly...
“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,” 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.”
If you want to read a profile of Tomas Hertl, the Canadian Press's Stephen Whyno is in Detroit ahead of Wednesday's Senators-Wings game, so he penned one...
MLive's Ansar Khan took note of the fact that Xavier Ouellet plans on being a "defenseman who the coaches can trust" during his NHL debut...
“I’m an overall defenseman,’’ Ouellet said. “I can be strong defensively, make the first right pass on tape, so that would be me. My goal was to get up on this team, and tonight is my first game and first chance to show them what I can do.”
The Red Wings opted to call-up Ouellet over the more experienced Adam Almquist, who had a strong preseason as well.
“He’s a real good player,’’ Babcock said of Ouellet. “He makes good decisions. He’s just got to get quicker. That comes with experience, so it think he’ll do that.”
Ouellet will be paired with Brendan Smith.
“It’s kind of weird,’’ Ouellet said. “You’re down in the American League and they just call you, telling you that you’ll be playing the next night. It’s pretty exciting.’’
“For sure it’s going to be a big challenge to keep all that emotion for me,’’ Ouellet said. “I just want to concentrate on making the right plays and playing a good game.”
He will be leaning on his teammates.
“It helps for sure that we will be talking a lot on the ice,’’ Ouellet said. “Lots of young defensemen are here, so we’re all kind of living the same thing so we can help each other."
Gustavsson, who had to fill in for an injured Jimmy Howard, won all three of his starts and had a 1.67 goals-against average and a .953 save percentage.
“It’s important for us to have two good goaltenders and obviously we know what Howie’s capable of,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He gave us a chance to win every night. You got to give him credit.”
Gustavsson was rushed into duties in Boston when Howard couldn’t go due to an injured hand. After a 28-save performance against the Bruins, he had made 36 saves to top Columbus the very next night to win on consecutive days for the first time since Jan. 23-24, 2012 while with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“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. It’s like anything, it’s three games, he wants to keep building on it.”
He ended his week by helping to hand Colorado its first loss of the season with 38 saves in a 4-2 win.
“It’s awesome to see,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “He comes in that first game and 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.”
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose's game-day article involves Stephen Weiss's temprorary demotion to the 3rd line...
WEISS’ SLOW START: Stephen Weiss has gone three straight games without producing a point, so Babcock has decided to move him to the third line where he will center Daniel Cleary and Tatar. Johan Franzen fills the second-line role, centering Todd Bertuzzi and Daniel Alfredsson.
“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,” Babcock said. “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 has scored two goals, including a game-winner at Carolina on Oct. 4, in nine games.
The Wings' scoring issues...
SCORING WOES: Besides a 5-2 win over Philadelphia and a 4-2 win at Colorado, the Red Wings haven’t scored more than three goals in a game this season.
Babcock wants to see more offensive production out of all four lines, so with that, the Red Wings coach has shuffled the lines, inserting Tomas Tatar on the third line and returning Justin Abdelkader to the top line for tonight’s game against the Sharks.
“Let’s be honest, if I were the other team and I watched us play, I’d say if I get a hold of 13 and 40 and 11 I can shut this thing down,” Babcock said. “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.”
And Ouellet's debut:
Without Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall (concussion) in the lineup, that means the Wings will deploy a top six that includes four defensemen with fewer than 120 combined NHL games with Smith (54 games) and Ouellet (1); Kyle Quincey and Danny DeKeyser (21); and Brian Lashoff (37) with Jakub Kindl.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for our guys,” Babcock said. “We talk about that all of the time. When someone gets hurt, especially when you’re a young NHLer, there’s 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. So that’s what that’s about. We have a real good team in here that plays, I think, right. They’ve got a north-south game going. They play heavy. They’ve got three centers, who play as good as anybody in the league, so it’s going to be a good test for our young D. It should be fun.”
Roose also took note of the Wings prospects' exploits of late:
The Wings’ first two selections in the 2013 NHL draft, Anthony Mantha and Zach Nastasiuk, combined to produce eight goals and six assists in two games each.
Forwards Tyler Bertuzzi and Andreas Athanasiou also received First Star awards this weekend.
Last week, Mantha was named Canadian Hockey League player of the week. On Sunday, the Red Wings’ prospect was the First Star scoring two goals and adding two assists for Val'd-Or Foreurs as they crushed Cape Breton, 7-3, in a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League contest. He also had an assist in Friday’s 5-2 loss at Halifax
The Wings’ first-round draft pick last summer, Mantha exploded offensively last week, recording back-to-back five-point games in a pair of victories. Mantha, 19, leads the QMJHL in scoring with 18 goals and 15 assists in 12 games.
On Monday, Nastasiuk, the Wings first of two second-round picks in June, was named Owen Sound’s player of the week for tallying seven points in two games over the weekend. Trailing 2-1 in Sarnia, Nastasiuk scored the tying and winning goals on Friday. The next night, the 6-foot-1 winger had two goals and two assists in a win over Kingston. He has seven goals and seven assists in 12 games.
Bertuzzi had a good weekend, collecting a goal and two assists as the Guelph Storm posted wins over Niagara (5-4) and Ottawa (7-3). Bertuzzi earned the No. 1 Star in Friday’s win over the IceDogs when he scored a goal and assisted on another. In 10 games this season, Bertuzzi, the Red Wings’ second-round pick in July, has three goals and eight assists.
Athanasiou scored the game-winner and assisted on two other goals for the Barrie Colts who claimed a 4-2 win over Plymouth on Saturday.
In the Twitter department...
It is a fight the game can no longer rationalize, nor win. Not in today’s climate of player safety, where protecting the head is a priority and sensitivity to the risk of concussion is top of mind in society at large. It is a sentiment Steve Yzerman put forth and was pilloried by many as being hypocritical because he captained a team where fans identified with the Bruise Brothers – Joe Kocur and the late Bob Probert – as much as they did Stevie Y’s grace and skill with the puck.
Yzerman’s point was right on, though. To embrace fighting, or even allow it to exist, is the height of hypocrisy when the focus is on eliminating blows to the head. The two agendas are incompatible. I mean, how do you explain that a well-intended body check gone wrong is a suspendable offense, but a toe-to-toe, bare-knuckle brawl still has a place in the game? The answer is you can’t and the explanation of where fighting fits has been problematic for some time.
Tough guy George Parros falls face first, tugged to the ice by fellow pugilist Colton Orr – already down and prone – and they cart him off on a stretcher. In the USHL, a teenage player goes into convulsions after falling on his unprotected head in the aftermath of a fight. The game looks ridiculously haphazard when Brad Stuart’s shoulder rides up into Rick Nash’s chin and carries a three-game suspension, while those two scary incidents, in which games stopped to have players exit the ice with EMS on hand, end with, thankfully, a relieved, “They will be OK”.
Look. I fought, cussed and been concussed. I’ve exhorted teammates in tussles and excoriated marauding opponents. Over the last 18 years as an announcer, I’ve leaped out of my seat in excitement over a good set, too. I value toughness. In short, I’ve always loved a good fight. But, times change. When I began playing hockey as a youngster, nowhere was it written that hockey was a dangerous sport. It was rugged, not risky. You avoided injuries the best you could. You did not fear them. I played with guys who were timid — who played scared. I never met anyone scared to play.
In today’s social climate, however, safety is at the forefront of factors parents consider when putting their children into sports. Hockey Canada is concerned with declining participation numbers in their national sport. Here in Michigan, the number of new players entering the game is off, as well. Yes, there are plenty of other reasons for waning participation. But, the images of players fighting seem barbaric to many young parents when viewed through the prism of today’s Safe Sport, concussion avoidance at all costs, mentality. Ultimately, those numbers will drive the powers that be to align all of the competing agendas and abolish fighting.
In the end, I’m no advocate of banning fighting. In fact, I thought the NHL could have gone the other way a decade ago, embraced its outlaw, roguish ruggedness and stop apologizing for what it wasn’t in its seemingly never ending pursuit of the phantom fringe fan. They didn’t do that, so be it. But here today, you cannot have it both ways. No way.
Regardless of the way it used to be.
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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.