Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Stars game-day updates: Filppula in, Lashoff out for Kindl’s sake

Updated a seventh and final time at 3:24 PM: The Detroit Red Wings and Dallas Stars face off tonight (7:30 PM, FSD Plus, FS SW Plus, WXYT AM) both hope to rebound from losses in their previous games, and there's good news from the Red Wings' morning skate in the personnel department:

DetroitRedWings.com's BIll Roose confirms...

As does MLive's Ansar Khan...

Here's a promotional FYI (and a pair of photos):

If you're interested in reading about more power rankings than I mentioned in the overnight report, MLive's Brendan Savage provides them;

Savage reviews the set of articles published by Crain's Detroit Business's BIll Shea regarding the possibility that the Wings may lease Joe Louis Arena's follow-on facility from the State of Michigan, and if you missed it, the Detroit News's Louis Aguilar suggested that it is highly likely that the Wings' new rink will be built just north of I-75, between Woodward and Cass Avenues on the east and west sides of the rink and/or residential, business and public construction that will surround it, with the area bounded by Charlotte Street on the north instead of Temple Street, which adds another block's worth of real estate to the mix;

The Dallas News's Mike Heika has penned a second game preview...

Not much to say, the Stars were in Detroit last week. They took a 2-1 win over the Red Wings on the strength of Kari Lehtonen’s 39 saves.

Still, Dallas controlled this game early, and forced the Red Wings to rally furiously late.

The Red Wings are a team in transition, much like the Stars. Simply losing Nicklas Lidstrom has changed this team. But, they still have Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk and Jimmy Howard and Niklas Kronwall.

The problem is they are riddled with injuries and shuffling their lines every game. Since last Tuesday, the team has added Todd Bertuzzi and Jakub Kindl to the lineup (and Kent Huskins had to be signed the day of the game to play last week, so he’s like a new guy this week), and that changes things. Here’s the projected lines for the Red Wings:

Johan Franzen-Henrik Zetterberg-Damien Brunner

Valterri Filppula-Pavel Datsyuk-Todd Bertuzzi

Daniel Cleary-Justin Abdelkader-Patrick Eaves

Drew Miller-Cory Emmerton-Jordin Tootoo

Niklas Kronwall-Jonathan Ericsson

Brendan Smith-Jakub Kindl

Kyle Quincey-Kent Huskins

Jimmy Howard

...

By the way, this is the fifth meeting of the year between brothers Reilly Smith (Dallas) and Brendan Smith (Detroit). Brendan went 2-1 in the AHL. Reilly won the NHL debut last week, so they are even in the family series this season. Should be fun to watch. Reilly was scratched on Monday, so he will have plenty of energy for this one.

Heika also published three game-day stories that slid under the radar overnight, including a note that Richard Bachaman may or may not start in Kari Lehtonen's place this evening, he penned a story about Brenden Morrow, who's playing on the Stars' fourth line at present, and he offered a note about the Stars' travel plans which I can confirm as the weather outside is still foggy as foggy can be at 11 in the morning:

Jamie Benn had to clear immigration and get a work visa after ending his contract impasse last Friday, but he was activated to the roster Monday. To make room for him, the Stars placed Derek Roy on IR for a groin injury. Roy is eligible to return for Friday’s home game if he is healthy.

Aaron Rome (flu) was left home in Dallas and could rejoin the team Wednesday.

The Stars had to stay in Columbus because of fog in the Midwest. They will travel to Detroit on Tuesday and play the Red Wings that night. Columbus is scheduled to play Tuesday in Minnesota and also will have to travel on the same day.

It's also going to be nearly 60 degrees today, and we may have a thunderstorm or three, so the ice at the Joe might be goopy this evening--but more familiar temperatures will return soon, because we're expecting a high of 20 and a low of 12 degrees by the time the Blues come to town on Friday, with continued sub-freezing weather likely for the first week of February.

DallasStars.com's Mark Stepneski reported that the Stars dressed this lineup during their 2-1 loss to Columbus last night:

Eriksson-Benn-Jagr
Whitney-Eakin-Ryder
Nystrom-Fiddler-Vincour
Morrow-Wandell-Garbutt

Dillon-Robidas
Jo. Benn-Daley
Goligoski-Larsen

Lehtonen (starter)
Bachman (backup)

Via RedWingsFeed, NHL.com's Brian Hedger penned an article about the Wings' crappy power play...

Heading into a home game against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena, the Red Wings (2-2-1) find themselves sitting near the bottom of the League in power-play efficiency. Through five games, they’ve converted just two of their 26 man-advantage opportunities into goals, for a paltry 7.7-percent success rate.

Included in that number is a 0-for-6 output in a 2-1 overtime road loss Sunday to the Chicago Blackhawks, including 43 seconds of 5-on-3 time squandered.

"No question when your power play isn't zipping, it is draining," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "You're using your best players and you're wearing them out. We have to look at it. We have to fix it, for sure."

Yes, the Red Wings are only heading into their sixth game. Yes, they are hampered by a glut of injuries to veteran regulars -- including defensemen Ian White and Carlo Colaiacovo. They're also missing legendary former captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who retired last spring and was one of the best power-play quarterbacks in the history of the game. Still, nobody in the Detroit locker room is making excuses -- especially with 42 games left in the regular season.

"It's an issue for us," Babcock said of his power-play units. "It should be better with the skill level we have, and it's not. So, we'll fix that and move on."

Detroit does have a spate of skilled stars on its roster despite the retirements of Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom, who made his name by scoring goals around the net on power plays. The Red Wings still have star captain Henrik Zetterberg, star center Pavel Datsyuk, high-scoring power forward Johan Franzen and two-way standout defenseman Niklas Kronwall, not to mention the ever-improving Valtteri Filppula, Todd Bertuzzi and impressive Swiss rookie Damien Brunner.

...

"We're not aggressive on the power play," Datsyuk said. "We don't have second chances, rebounds."

And there will be more updates to come, but, for the moment, I'll leave you with the following:

I'm not a fan of that move, but I'm not the coach, either.

Update #0.5: From Helene St. James...

DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose...

And the Windsor Star's Bob Duff:

The Dallas Stars have also noted that their team is going to do its best to ensure that the Wings' power play continues to struggle:

Here's Mark Stepnseki's quick game preview:

About the Stars

The Stars (2-3-1) lost 2-1 at Columbus Monday, extending their winless streak to three games (0-2-1). The Stars had a 1-0 lead in the second period, but a series of penalties on Dallas allowed momentum to shift to the Blue Jackets, who rallied for a 2-1 victory.

“I thought we had a real good first period, scored on the power play and then a barrage of penalties put us back on our heels,” said Gulutzan.

Jamie Benn, who signed a contract last week, made his season debut, picking up one assist in 20:47 of playing time.

Gulutzan said after the game he was undecided on a starting goaltender for Tuesday’s game.

Injuries:  C Derek Roy (groin), D Aaron Rome (flu) and G Cristopher Nilstorp (groin) are out.

About the Red Wings

The Red Wings (2-2-1) are coming off a 2-1 overtime loss at Chicago on Sunday. Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy scored 2:45 into overtime as Chicago improved to 6-0-0 on the season.

”I thought we really carried the play in the last 30 minutes of the game,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. ”They were better than us early. They outskated us, and then we really dug in and got playing a while. We had every opportunity to win the game.”

Chicago’s lone regulation goal came on the power play. Detroit was 0-6 with the man advantage. The Red Wings are 2-26 on the power play this season.

Injuries:  C Darren Helm (back) is doubtful. G Jonas Gustavsson (groin) is questionable. D Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder), D Ian White (leg), and F Mikael Samuelsson (groin) are out.

...

*Every Dallas game this season has been decided by one goal.

*The Stars have been shorthanded 29 times this season, tied for most in the league with the Philadelphia Flyers.

*The Stars are 14-14 on the penalty kill on the road this season.

*The Red Wings have failed to score on the power play in four of five games this season and are 2-26 (7.7%) on power play.

*The Red Wings have allowed a power play goal in four of five games and are 17-25 (68%) on the penalty kill this season. The only game they didn’t allow a power play goal was the 2-1 loss to Dallas on January 22.

Update #0.75: Via RedWingsFeed, the Windsor Star's Bob Duff has already posted a clip of Mike Babcock's morning media scrum, and he talks about his decision to give Kindl another chance to prove himself, as well as Valtteri Filppula's inability to score thus far:

 

 

Update #1: The Free Press's Helene St. James has filed her game-day report....

These being somewhat trying times for the Detroit Red Wings in regard to their power play, they're looking to Jakub Kindl to boost the second unit.

The Wings host the Dallas Stars tonight (7:30 p.m., FS-Plus) at Joe Louis Arena looking to rebound after losing in overtime Sunday at Chicago. The lineup will be the same as Sunday, except that Kindl is coming in and Brian Lashoff is scratched. Kindl is to be paired with Brendan Smith on the second man-advantage unit, with Valtteri Filppula, Daniel Cleary and Todd Bertuzzi playing down low. Cleary is to be the net-front guy.

"We're going to try to get our power play going a little bit," coach Mike Babcock said. "We're hoping Bert, Fil and Cleary with Smitty and Kindl on the back end can give us two units."

The first unit remains Niklas Kronwall and Damien Brunner on the points, with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk roaming down low and Johan Franzen going to the net.

The Wings are 2-for-26 with the man advantage, the only goals dating to Friday's home win against Minnesota. It doesn't help that one of the few guys on the team who shoots right and who has a booming shot, Mikael Samuelsson, is out indefinitely with a sore groin.

Which includes a clip of Babcock talking about Kindl...

 

 

MLive's Ansar Khan has filed his game-day report, which focuses on the Kindl storyline...

“It's not because Lash hasn't played well, because he's played real well,'' coach Mike Babcock said. “We're going to try to get our power play going a little bit.''

Kindl will be paired with Brendan Smith at the points on the second power-play unit, which will have Valtteri Filppula at center, Todd Bertuzzi on the wing and Daniel Cleary at the net front.

Kindl made his season debut in Friday's 5-3 win over Minnesota, after missing three games with a sore groin. He was a healthy scratch Sunday.

“He’s a skilled guy on the back. He’s got to move the puck, he’s got to shoot the puck,'' Babcock said. “The big thing is he’s got to grab a piece of the action. That’s up to him. That’s what these opportunities are for. You’ve got to reach out and grab hold of something and then make it your own. If you don’t, you’re not in the lineup.''

Kindl realizes the time has come for him to establish himself as a regular in the lineup.

“Absolutely,'' Kindl said. “Definitely, it's an opportunity. Just got to be ready for it. Whenever I get the chance I just have to show I can play. I got to do the same thing every game – play good defensively, move the puck, shoot the puck, don't get beat one-on-one.''

And the Red wings' Game Day Blog has offered Ken Kal's three keys to tonight's game:

Be Efficient on the PP - Tonight, the Wings will have to generate more shots, crash the net, and get pucks on Lehtonen.

D-Men Must Start the Rush - The Red Wings’ blue-liners need to make good first passes to the forwards and get the offense going quickly.

Get on the Board Early - Score first! The Wings haven't scored a first period goal this year, so they need to feed off the crowd, build momentum early, and get that first goal.
 

Update #2: MLive's Ansar Khan and Brendan Savage debate Kindl's future wth the team in their game day post...

ANSAR KHAN: Kindl's future with the organization appears tenuous. He just seems to keep sliding behind others on the depth chart. Brendan Smith has long been regarded as a better all-around prospect, despite being drafted lower (27th overall pick in 2007) than Kindl. And now Brian Lashoff, who wasn't drafted, is getting more minutes and a better opportunity than Kindl.

Coach Mike Babcock indicated last week that the time has come for Kindl to show what he can do. And in a short season, he's not going to get many chances, especially after Ian White and Carlo Colaiacovo return from injuries. So, the pressure is on Kindl to make a good impression. They won't trade him just for the sake of trading him, since defensemen are at a premium. But, if he doesn't show progress, it wouldn't be surprising if he were dealt by the April 3 trade deadline, as part of a package for a veteran defenseman or top-six forward.

BRENDAN SAVAGE: The best thing for Kindl might be a trade.

If he hasn't fit into the Red Wings plans by now it seems unlikely he's ever going to do it for whatever reason. Maybe he hasn't gotten enough of a chance. Maybe Babcock just doesn't trust him. Maybe he needs a fresh start.

Regardless of the reason, Kindl keeps getting passed on the depth chart and it doesn't look like that's going to change with the additions of youngsters like Lashoff and Brendan Smith. It might be time to get something for him in a trade and let him start over elsewhere.

The Windsor Star's Bob Duff's offered some injury updates via Twitter....

And Duff focused on Kindl in his game-day post:

Kindl was Detroit’s top pick (19th overall) in the 2005 NHL entry draft, but Babcock made it clear that Kindl, who will turn 26 Feb. 10, is running out of opportunities to prove he deserves a regular turn on the Detroit blue-line.

“He is getting to the point in his career, this is eight years now since we’ve drafted him,” Babcock said. “You have to grab hold of it. If not, you’re not part of it.”

Babcock is hoping that Kindl can help ignite Detroit’s moribund second power-play unit. He’ll work the point alongside Brendan Smith, with Todd Bertuzzi, Daniel Cleary and Valtteri Filppula up front.

“He’s got to move the puck,” Babcock said of Kindl. “He’s a skilled guy on the back. He’s got to move the puck, he’s got to shoot the puck.”

Filppula, who posted career-best 23-43-66 numbers last season, is still searching for his first goal of the season, and he’s another player who has his coach somewhat concerned.

“I don’t know,” Babcock said of Filppula’s slow start, which sees him with three assists through five games, all three of his helpers coming in Friday’s 5-3 win over the Minnesota Wild. “He’s had one offensive game. He doesn’t have many shots (nine). Maybe it’s the D or whatever. Playing with Pav (Datsyuk) is a pretty good deal. We were counting on him being a top-four forward for us last year and he got 60-plus points. We need the same.”

Via RedWingsFeed, Duff posted a video of Brendan Smith discussing his place on the team as well...

 

And Helene St. James has filed two more stories. One involves Carlo Colaiacovo's status...

Colaiacovo is out at least through the middle of February after aggravating the shoulder that first was damaged in December, when now-teammate Damien Brunner hit him while they were on opposite teams during Spengler Cup play.

Colaiacovo went down during the second game of the Wings' season, Jan. 21 at Columbus, with an injury to his acromioclavicular joint. He went on the ice today "for a little bit, just trying to get the legs going a little bit. It has been getting better every day. As soon as I start getting more movement out of it, I'll hit the ice."

Colaiacovo said he wasn't sure what happened, but "from the impact, right away, I couldn't move it. I knew it was the same shoulder, and it felt a lot worse. Very frustrating at the time -- and still is. Just got to come to the rink and put a smile on my face every day and work my rear off to get myself back in the lineup as quick as I can."

And the other involves Darren Helm:

He'll miss tonight's game against the Dallas Stars and is out at least through the weekend, after suffering a setback to a sore back during the weekend. He has appeared in just one of the team's five games, but on the upside, an MRI exam revealed that there is no structural damage to his back.

"It wasn't a disk, it wasn't the worst-case scenario," Helm said today, after stopping by Joe Louis Arena for treatment. "So at least you can take one positive out of that."

Helm is on rest and rehab for a few days. Back injuries don't carry a linear recovery like a broken bone; it's a matter of waking up and seeing how it feels every day.

"Each morning is kind of different, depending on how I sleep," Helm said. "The day before kind of depends on how I feel the next day. Today, I woke up, felt pretty good. Didn't really do a whole lot yesterday. Probably next couple of days, I won't feel too bad, because the workload won't be too heavy. I'll probably feel fine up until the first skate. I'm sure the first skate, I might feel a little sore, but right now, we're going to take it really easy."

Helm doesn't know when he will dip his toes on the ice again.

Coach Mike Babcock has been very blunt about how important Helm is to the lineup -- if Helm is centering the third line, everything else is right about the bottom-six group of forwards. Helm missed the first three games of the season, came back and played Friday, then missed Sunday's 2-1 overtime loss at Chicago.

Did Helm come back too early? It's easy to think so in hindsight, he admitted. "I don't think so, but I mean, you can look at it that way now. I felt fine the whole week of practices; nothing bothered me at all."

MLive's Ansar Khan spoke to Colaiacovo, too...

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo was back on the ice today, eight days after injuring his left shoulder, but he is still a couple of weeks from returning to the lineup.

“I went on the ice today for a little bit, just trying to get the legs going,'' Colaiacovo said. “It has been getting better every day. As soon as I start to get more movement out of it, I'll hit the ice (for practice).''

Colaiacovo, who was hurt Jan. 21 in Columbus, said it's the same shoulder he sprained Dec. 31 at the Spengler Cup tournament in Switzerland on hit from Red Wings teammate Damien Brunner.

“From the impact from the hit, I couldn't move it,'' Colaiacovo said. “I knew right away that it was the same shoulder. It felt a lot worse. Very frustrating at the time, still is, but just got to come to the rink, put a smile on my face every day, work my rear off to get back in the lineup as soon as I can.''

He said the injury involves is AC joint.

“It's been a tough first week, tough first couple of days, even just trying to sleep,'' Colaiacovo said. “I want to be out there as bad as anything right now. It's a good motivation for me to keep myself going, work off the ice, get it stronger.''

And the Dallas News's Mike Heika offers the first Stars personnel update of the day. Twitter is being weird at present, so I'm going to post it as an inline update instead of embedding it:

Kari Lehtonen in goal for Stars. Stars want these points bad.

Update #3: The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness offers updates regarding Kindl, Filppula and Colaiacovo...

“Obviously the pace is pretty tough right now, so we’re trying to rest a little more when we have a chance with practice days,” Filppula said. “But it’s been pretty good at games, so I’m happy about that.”

And he notes that Brendan Smith may or may not face off against his brother Reilly tonight. Smith has another brother, Rory, who's a professional lacrosse player, too:

“None of us wanted to be the goalie, but every once in a while, we’d have to put one of us in,” Brendan said. “I think my older brother (Rory) took that on and would play goalie while Reilly and I just battled it out in the basement all the time.”

Rory is also a tough guy that taught Brendan how to fight.

“He’s the one who showed me how to protect myself,” Brendan said. “There are a lot of things he’s done just to be there for me. He actually used to play hockey with me. He was a good player, but he was more of an enforcer.

Reilly got the best of Brendan in the first meeting as the Stars beat the Wings 2-1.

“I can’t let him get two steps up on me, so we’ve got to win tonight,” Brendan said.

Brendan said he didn’t know who his family roots for.

“I think it’s kind of mutual, but it’s the losing team I think they cheer for, hoping they’ll even up the game,” Brendan said. “But you never have a tie game, so I think it’s hard for them to cheer for one of us.”

Update #4: MLive's Khan has offered his take on Helm's health...

"It’s not a bulging disc or anything, which would be a worst-case scenario,'' Helm said Tuesday. “So you have to take one positive out of that.''

An MRI on Monday showed no structural damage. Helm is not sure when he'll be cleared to skate. He does not expect to play Friday at home against St. Louis or Saturday in Columbus.

“Probably, the next couple of days I won’t feel too bad because the workload won’t be too heavy, won’t be skating or working out,'' Helm said. “A light bike or some core exercises. So I’ll probably feel fine up until the first skate, and I’m sure after the first skate I’ll feel a little sore. But, I think we’ll take it real easy and cautious.”

Helm was injured while lifting weights on Jan. 10. He missed all of training camp before returning for Friday's 5-3 win over Minnesota.

“It felt a little stiff near the end (of the game) just sitting around, but it wasn’t bad,'' Helm said. “The next morning I woke up, it was fine. Just the skate (Saturday), halfway through it started hurting. I did a little stretch and it kind of kept flaring up.''

Helm doesn't think he came back too soon, but said, “You can look at it that way now.''

“I felt fine the whole week of practices, nothing bothered me at all,'' he said. “I talked to the doctors (Monday) and they confirmed that it wasn’t too early to jump on. (The doctor) probably would have let me go on the ice at the same time that I did. That was good to hear that we didn’t rush it, that I didn’t push it to hard. Just got to wait for this to get healed up again.”

The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan spoke with Valtteri Filppula, asking whether his slightly sore and still healing right knee (recovering from an MCL sprain) is the reason that Filppula hasn't performed up to expectations offensively speaking (FYI: his 3 assists have more to do with the fact that he spent the first couple games of the season playing as a center, which seems to yield a Filppula preoccupied with his defensive responsibilities, instead of roaming up and down the ice on the wing):

Filppula sprained his right knee playing in Finland during the lockout, and didn't play for the last two months before starting up back in Detroit when the lockout ended. But Filppula isn't blaming his slow start on the injury.

"It's getting better," said Filppula, who has been sitting out occasional practices or morning skates. "Obviously the pace is pretty tough right now, and we're trying to rest it a little more. But it does feel pretty good in the games, so I'm happy about that."

Filppula isn't pleased with his offensive numbers.

"I can play better, and hopefully I can start playing better as games go on, that's always the hope," said Filppula, who isn't worried the hectic pace will hinder the knee going forward. "I'm not worried, it's been healing pretty well. It's just a matter of the load (of games) is pretty tough right now — there's no time to recover. But I have been able to play and that's the main thing."

Filppula set career highs with 23 goals, 43 assists, 66 points and 144 shots on goal last season. Filppula only has nine shots, while playing on a line with Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi.

Said coach Mike Babcock of Filppula: "He's had one offensive game and he doesn't have many shots; maybe it's the knee or whatever. But playing with Pavel is a pretty good deal, and we're counting on him being a top-four forward for us. Last year he had 60-plus points and we need the same."

We also need to remember that Filppula ended up sitting out the better part of November and December, so while he did indeed play overseas during the lockout, the reality of the situation in terms of the, "You have to play in NHL games to truly get into NHL game shape" equation is that he's in the same boat as his teammates who didn't play overseas during the lockout.

Um, uh...Enjoy? From DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose:

Even though Jakub Kindl has a Twitter account (@JKindl4) with more than 4,300 followers, the Red Wings’ defenseman doesn’t spend much time on the social network.

However, he thought he’d get a rise out of some hockey fans by posting a picture from the dentist’s office on Monday afternoon. The photo of Kindl’s metal mouth makes the Czech native look more like more like a movie villain.

“When I was 17 I was hit in the mouth with a stick,” Kindl said. “So those were my real teeth. I had a little metal and have them moved out yesterday and I’m doing new crowns. Now I have my new teeth sitting on top of them.”

Kindl made the menacing image look more sinister after he discovered a new Twitter app that allows users to edit pictures before posting them to their account.

“The fun thing is that I didn’t realize that you can play with the picture too before you post it,” Kindl said. “So you can chance up the color and I made it look even worse. Why not? I was hoping to make people laugh.”

The “after” photo of Kindl’s new Chiclets is much more appealing.

Update #5: If you're interested, Michigan Hockey reports that the Wings will hold youth hockey promotional days on February 13th and March 5th;

MLive's Karen Dybis offers a "guide" for families bringing kids to Red Wings games (and I'm not a fan of it...Leave games early? Seriously?);

The Grand Rapids Griffins' latest issue of "Griffiti" is out;

And here's an interesting fantasy hockey and/or statistical tidbit from NHL.com's Matt Cubeta:

9. Alexandre Burrows and Skinner are second only to Zach Parise in shots on goal -- Parise has 25, Burrows and Skinner have 24. The Detroit Red Wings' Damien Brunner, 26, leads all first-year NHL players with 22, tied for 12th in the League.

Update #5.5: Per MyUpNorth.com, the Red Wings Alumni team will play a game in St. Ignace, MI on February 15th.

 

Update #6: Finally, the Red Wings' website has posted Ken Kal's game-day preview video, which includes a discussion of the Wings' power play with Damien Brunner and Brendan Smith:

 

 

Update #7: We finally have some news about the Stars. They didn't hold a morning skate, but the Dallas News's Mike Heika offers the following regarding the Stars' state of mind...

Weather concerns forced the Stars to stay in Columbus Monday night following a 2-1 loss, so they flew Tuesday at 11 a.m., got to their hotel around 1 p.m. and are napping now for the game.

Big news is that Kari Lehtonen will get the start in goal. He played Monday and looked good, allowing two goals on 27 shots in a 2-1 loss at Columbus. He also looked great last Tuesday in Detroit, taking a 2-1 win and stopping 39 shots.

So, yeah, no biggie, right? Lehtonen can take two days off after this, and he’ll be fine. He wasn’t going to go all season without playing some back-to-backs, right?

Except, the Stars have made it very clear that they want to manage Lehtonen properly. He is the MVP of this team, and appeared to wear down at the end of last season. Plus, with the team facing 35.3 shots per game (most in the NHL), Lehtonen’s starts are a little more active than most other goalies.

So, you can infer that the decision to play him kind of shows where the team is right now. They aren’t in full panic mode, but they need to start getting some points. Thus, you get Lehtonen tonight.

...

On the ice, Reilly Smith is expected to step into the lineup after getting the night off against Columbus. He should be fired up going against his brother _ Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith _ as well as playing in front of family that drove in from Ontario. Glen Gulutzan said he might try to give him a bigger bite of the game.

It will also be interesting to see how Jamie Benn responds. He had plenty of “want” in his first game back, but not a lot of polish (even though he logged 20:47, had an assist and won 12-of-22 faceoffs). We’ll see if he’s tired or more refined tonight. Chasing Pavel Datsyuk around can wear you out.

Aaron Rome (flu) has rejoined the team, but we’re not sure if he will play. The defense pairs have been a work in progress, so maybe they need to just stay together for a couple of games.

Heika points us towar a game preview video by Fox Sports Southwest's Darryl "Razor" Reaugh, who believed that Richard Bachman would start tonight...

 

 

And DallasStars.com's Mark Stepneski offers the following game preview tidbits:

Lehtonen was sharp last night in the 2-1 loss at Columbus, stopping 25 of 27 shots. This will be his second start in his last five days, and his third appearance. He played six minutes in the third period of Saturday’s game against St. Louis. The Stars also have a couple days before they play again (Friday vs. Phoenix).

Lehtonen played both games of a back-to-back five times last season. You can discount the first one because he was hurt six minutes into the second game. In the next four, here were the stats. In game one, he posted a 1-2-1 record with a 2.61 goals against average and .912 save percentage. In game two, he posted a 0-3-1 record with a 3.21 goals against average and .887 save percentage.

Of the course, the Stars were dismal as a team in the second half of back-to-backs last season, posting a 1-11-2 record.

No morning skate

The Stars did not skate Tuesday morning. There were weather issues last night, so they spent the night in Columbus and flew into Detroit this morning.

Our last tidbit of information is no tidbit at all. The Red Wings' website posted a video of Mike Babcock's presser, and this is a good point upon which to end this post:

 

One more thing: this quip from the Wings' Game Day blog is surprising:

“I skated (the past three days) for 30 minutes, had another injection last Thursday. I think it's coming pretty well. Today, we did a lot of ups and downs and took a few shots. It feels good. We'll keep doing that, ease my way into it.”
– Joey MacDonald on his back injury

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It’s been five games of near disaster

OK, so if, in your words, it’s been near disaster then why would you not want him to keep tinkering?  Are you saying you’re more comfortable with “near disaster” than you are with seeing if a different combination yields a better result?

Seems

Granted, it is early, but this is a compressed schedule not only in terms of games, but in terms of talent assessment and roster management

I disagree with that, in this context.  If you’re talking about Chicago, San Jose, St Louis or Boston then I would agree with you, but as long as the Wings aren’t winning consistently then I have no problem with tinkering with the lineup after a loss.

At what point is a hair split so fine it ceases to be a hair?

OK, I’ll be as clear as I can be.  For this whole entire season, as long as the Wings continue to lose more than they win, I won’t have a problem with Babcock tinkering after a loss.

Let’s put this all in perspective too.  We’re talking about Babcock sitting a guy who wouldn’t even be in the NHL if not for the Wings’ injuries on defense and who will be sent down immediately once the defense are healthy. 

He’s not sitting Kronwall so that McCollum can play defense, he’s sitting Brian Lashoff so that Jakub Kindl can play an occasional game.

Posted by Garth on 01/29/13 at 08:38 PM ET

RedMenace's avatar

OK, so if, in your words, it’s been near disaster then why would you not want him to keep tinkering?  Are you saying you’re more comfortable with “near disaster” than you are with seeing if a different combination yields a better result?

Eh, I didn’t actually say I wanted him to stop tinkering; I simply stated that we’ve seen several instances in the recent past where he’s tinkered a little too much.

In other words: Know when to say when.

I disagree with that, in this context.  If you’re talking about Chicago, San Jose, St Louis or Boston then I would agree with you, but as long as the Wings aren’t winning consistently then I have no problem with tinkering with the lineup after a loss.

Again, I think some tinkering is fine, but at some point you just have to pick a lineup and go with it to let it try to get some chemistry rolling. Not everyone gels instantly.

Posted by RedMenace from the Church of Jesus Lashoff on 01/29/13 at 09:11 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.