The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/14/13 at 03:42 PM ET
Updated 2x at 4:44 PM: I headed out of the office during the middle of the Red Wings' Thursday practice at Joe Louis Arena, and having come home from my doctor's appointment (okay, technically, I went to see my case manager at CMH), there just isn't much new to report on the personnel front. The Wings will employ their same lineup, same goaltender and probably their same lines from Wednesday's 4-3 OT loss to St. Louis, and no news is not good news regarding Johan Franzen, as MLive's Ansar Khan reports:
Detroit Red Wings forward Johan Franzen didn't practice today and will remain sidelined for Friday's game against the Anaheim Ducks at Joe Louis Arena (7:30 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit) and perhaps longer. Franzen missed Thursday's 4-3 overtime loss to St. Louis due to a sore hip flexor.
Asked if Franzen is day-to-day, coach Mike Babcock said "day-to-day is usually 10. I don't know.''
General manager Ken Holland said Franzen is day-to-day.
Forwards Todd Bertuzzi and Darren Helm, both out with back injuries, haven't resumed skating and aren't ready to return anytime soon. Forward Mikael Samuelsson (groin) won't play Friday, but is getting closer and might return Sunday in Minnesota or Tuesday in Nashville.
“I felt better today,'' Samuelsson said. "It's getting closer, for sure.''
Khan also reports that Babcock wasn't thrilled with the amount of ice time he gave his top six forwards--every player on the top two lines played 18 or more minutes, and both Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk cleared 20 minutes--so he wants to balance out the workload a little more against the 9-1-and-2 Ducks:
“Too much ice-time last night,'' Babcock said. “So, we have to get them recharged.''
He hopes to play the stars a little less and the third and fourth lines a little more Friday against the Anaheim Ducks, who are off to a 9-2-1 start. The Red Wings got one goal each from their third and fourth lines (Tomas Tatar, Drew Miller) against the Blues.
“I thought they did a good job for us,'' Babcock said. “Bottom line is I’ve got to get them on the ice more. That’s my fault, not their fault, because they did good enough things to be on the ice more.
“I got them out there for about 10 minutes a piece, which to me isn’t enough.''
Here are the lines they skated with Thursday:
Justin Abdelkader-Henrik Zetterberg-Damien Brunner
Valtteri Filppula-Pavel Datsyuk-Daniel Cleary
Tomas Tatar-Joakim Andersson-Patrick Eaves
Drew Miller-Cory Emmerton-Jordin Tootoo
Also: Mikael Samuelsson, Jan Mursak
Niklas Kronwall-Brian Lashoff
Jonathan Ericsson-Ian White
Kyle Quincey-Jakub Kindl
Also: Kent Huskins, Carlo Colaiacovo, Brendan Smith
Jimmy Howard (starting Friday)
The Free Press's Helene St. James confirms the injury news (I bet you never thought you'd get excited about news that Mikael Samuelsson's making progress, but hey, times are weird with Franzen, Helm, Bertuzzi and Mursak out up front and Smith, Colaiacovo and Gustavsson out as well)...
Regarding the Wings' own injuries, forward Mikael Samuelsson (groin) said he's close -- which he admitted he has been saying for a week so, one of these times, it must be true -- but coach Mike Babcock said Samuelsson isn't playing Friday, when the Wings host the Anaheim Ducks.
Neither is forward Johan Franzen, who is out with a sore hip flexor. Franzen is considered day-to-day, but showing his sense of humor, Babcock said, "That's usually 10 . The bottom line is we've got guys who are putting on a sweater tomorrow. We've got to find a way to win."
And she spoke with the Wings about their main topic of interest on Thursday in Erik Karlsson suffering a lacerated Achilles tendon thanks to being stepped on by Matt Cooke. The Wings have seen Mike Modano, Darren Helm, Valtteri Filppula and now Ian White suffer torn tendons and muscles due to skate cuts.
As such, almost half of the Wings' players wear either cut-resistant undershirt sleeves or socks, which are usually lined with Kevlar threads to protect from abrasions. Cleary's no Matt Cooke fan, either...
"Last night's was reckless," Cleary said.
Many players, including Wings forwards Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula, wear Kevlar socks. Many players also wear longer gloves.
"It's hard to Kevlar every part that's open," Cleary said, "but I think that long shirts and socks should be (worn), for sure. Instead of a severed tendon, it's stitches. It'd alleviate -- it's like a bullet-proof vest. It'd probably still hurt you and leave a mark, but not as deep. "
The Wings also spoke to the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness about the issue...
“Last night’s was reckless, the other ones were just unfortunate,” Cleary added. “It’s hard to Kevlar every part that’s open, but shirts and socks should be worn and even guards for wrists.”
“We’ve had our fair share of those as well in this locker room,” Niklas Kronwall said. “We should start using them, there’s no reason not to.”
Jonathan Ericsson will go back to wearing the Kevlar socks.
“I wore them then they started to give my ankles really bad sores,” Ericsson said. “They’re hard, almost like steel. I wear the sleeves now too, they’re fine with me. The socks were too until they started bothering me.”
The socks do leave abrasions at times, but they're not supposed to be worn directly against the skin. That's part of the problem for many players--you'd be surprised at the number of hockey players who don't wear anything underneath their socks or anything covering their sleeves because they're worried about overheating and getting wet and sweaty, even in the era of sweat and heat-wicking long-sleeved and long-legged hockey undergarments, so there's more bare skin beneath gear than you'd ever imagine (sorry, ladies and some gents)...
“It seems like fluke things are happening like that,” Ericsson said. “You see legs come up all the time, flying by your head when you hitting someone.”
And the Wings talked about the issue with the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan, too:
"I should start, really," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said Thursday. "We've had Whitey, and Helm and Mo — we've had our fair share of those as well. You really start thinking you should use them. There's no reason not to, really."
The Kevlar equipment isn't as comfortable and many players don't like the feel. Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson plans to go back to Kevlar socks but has stopped temporarily because of the rubbing against his ankles.
"I'll get into them as soon as I can," Ericsson said. "I wear the Kevlar sleeves just because of what happened to Helmer and Modano. I don't mind the socks. They just wear on the ankles so I had to take them off a little bit."
But, ultimately, it's up to the players to make decisions about their protective equipment.
"We talk about that stuff tons here," coach Mike Babcock said. "The ones I don't understand are the gloves that are two inches long and their whole wrist is showing. But it's like visors. They're big boys and they make their own decisions."
I'm lucky. I grew up playing in the last days of lace-up gloves, so I don't feel comfortable wearing anything shorter than a 14.5" glove (I currently have a pair of 2011 Warrior Projekt gloves, which have floating cuffs and very flexible wrist protection), whereas most of the Wings' players are wearing 13" or 14" gloves, and playersl ike Cleary are wearing 13" gloves with a "-1"" cuff.
That, and even though I need a sinus surgery tune-up, I don't have any intention of matching what looked like an internal version of Patrick Roy's nose with an outer appearance, or do I want to have my nose broken and re-set in such a manner that I had to wear clear plastic splints that were stitched into my sinuses and were so long that they reached from the tips of my nostrils to an area of the inside of my skull paralell to my ear openings, and yes, that's what awaits you if you suffer a broken nose and let it linger like Damien Brunner has.
So yeah, wear a visor. And if you can't stand long-cuff gloves, wear wrist protectors.
Aaaaaannnnnyway, there were some ligher moments after Thursday's practice, as noted by the Wings' Twitter account....
And noted by St. James:
In honor of Valentine's Day, here's the story of how Daniel Cleary and Shawn Horcoff began a bromance 12 years ago that has become legendary in the Detroit Red Wings' dressing room. The joke goes -- and this is a joke told by Cleary, no less -- that during the off-season, if someone wants to find him, this is what happens: "They'll be like, where's Bear? Oh, he's right next to Horc."
So inseparable were the two during the NHL lockout that teammates who hung around and skated with Cleary and Horcoff in Troy recognized how hard it was for them after the lockout ended and Horcoff went off to join his NHL team, the Edmonton Oilers.
"It's heart-breaking," Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "We've noticed their friendship before, but not to this extent. We spent more time with them together, working out and skating, so you notice it."
The two met when Horcoff, 34, joined the Oilers a decade ago, shortly after Cleary, also 34, arrived in Edmonton.
"We've been best friends for 12 years," Cleary said. "We clicked right away."
Horcoff, a Michigan State alumnus, said: "We've been really good friends for a long time now. We were at each other's weddings. Our wives are best friends, and our kids -- his oldest is sandwiched in between my two, and then his youngest. We work out together and skate together and play golf together."
The Wings also talked about the most senior member of tomorrow night's opponent, the 9-2-and-1 Anaheim Ducks (Anaheim defeated Chicago 3-2 in a shootout on Tuesday, and are practicing at the Joe today), in a conversation with the Detroit News's Kulfan...
At the tender age of 42, forward Teemu Selanne is leading the Anaheim Ducks in scoring. Which doesn’t go unnoticed by many Red Wings who are much younger than Selanne.
“Hats off to him,” said defenseman Niklas Kronwall, 32, who has had to try and stop Selanne many times over the years. “It’s amazing what he’s been able to do at this age, to keep being as good as he is and be a leader for that team. He just seems to be a true gentleman. I’m really impressed with him.”
Selanne has 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in 12 games this season, averaging 16 minutes of ice time per game.
Kronwall puts Selanne in the same group as Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, Steve Yzerman and Joe Sakic as players who excelled into their 40s.
“All those guys are kind of the same breed,” Kronwall said. “And he’s (Selanne) not slowing down. You’d never think, especially with the lockout, but he’s off to a great start.”
And the Macomb Daily's Pleiness:
Wings coach on Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne…
“He’s like fine wine. The great thing about Teemu, too, is that he loves the game and loves to be around it, and loves having fun, and his disposition is such that he’s fun to be around. He’s been an unbelievable ambassador for the game, and if you go all the way back to the Winnipeg Jets, I mean, he’s been spectacular since Day 1. Didn’t he had 76 (goals) his first year? He’s petty good, I’d say. He can score. Puck follows him around the rink.”
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose posted a Ducks scouting report, too:
What a start for the Anaheim Ducks. These Ducks missed the playoffs last season, but now they’re flying high after assembling one of the best teams in the Western Conference with several key off-season moves.
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock watched the Ducks play to a shoot-out loss at Chicago this week. Despite the loss, Babcock was astonished by the improvements made by Pacific Division leaders.
“I was impressed by their group the other night,” said Babcock, who coached the Ducks from 2003-04. “Obviously, I’m a big fan of some of their players, but I like what they’ve done on their back-end. They’re way quicker.”
The Ducks have benefited from several off-season acquisitions, including defensemen Sheldon Souray and Bryan Allen, along with third-line forward Daniel Winnik.
Besides the usual suspects – Teemu Selanne, Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry, the Ducks are getting balanced scoring from their bottom six, which is why they’re off to the league’s second-best start with a 9-2-1 record. The Ducks are the only team with eight different skaters with at least four goals each. The third line of Winnik, Saku Koivu and Andrew Cogliano have combined for 11 goals, and caught Babcock’s attention.
“They have stars with some real good players, and Selenne is as good as he’s ever played,” Babcock said. “And obviously, Getzlaf and Perry and the Ryan kid is real good. But I think when you put Koivu and Cogliano on the third line – and I don’t know who the other guy is (Winnik) – they just seem like a deeper team. … Their fourth line center, who’s on the power play, (Nick Bonino), I mean, he looks like a real player, too.”
PLAYER TO WATCH G VIKTOR FASTH – Likely the biggest surprise of this NHL season, goalie Viktor Fasth, a 30-year-old who’s playing his first NHL season, has the Ducks flying high with a 6-0-0 record, an 1.74 goals-against average and a shutout.
“He looked excellent the other night,” Babcock said. “What I liked about him is that in traffic he found the puck every time. He didn’t seem to be in a panic to find it. He was relaxed, and there and square. He looked like a goaltender to me.”
A two-time Honken Trophy winner as the top goalie in the Swedish Elite League, Fasth has allowed just 12 goals in relief of starter Jonas Hiller, who has a lower body injury.
Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson played with Fasth at the World Championships last spring, and Babcock saw him play, too, so he's no mystery to the Wings.
The Ducks' Twitter account posted exactly one Tweet from their practice...
ESPN's Craig Custance was down at the Joe to speak to Selanne...
In the multimedia and/or mixed media department, Ken Kal fired off a pair of Tweets about Tomas Tatar...
St. James posted a video from practice....
Via RedWingsFeed, the Wings' website posted clips of Mikael Samuelsson speaking to the media...
As well as coach Babcock's off-day presser...
And in the charitable news department, from DetroitRedWings.com's Christy Hammond:
Forward Jordin Tootoo will sign autographs on Friday, Feb. 22, from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. at Hockeytown Authentics in Troy, Mich., to benefit the Team Tootoo Fund, which helps support nonprofits addressing suicide awareness and prevention, as well as nonprofits supporting children and teens in need.
The first 222 fans in line who make a $22 monetary donation (cash or check) are guaranteed an autograph by Tootoo on the personal item of their choice. Hockeytown Authentics will issue wristbands for the autograph signing starting at 3:30 p.m. on Friday. Fans will also have the opportunity to purchase Team Tootoo baseball caps for $15 and Team Tootoo wristbands for $5 at the store that day.
For more information, please call Hockeytown Authentics at (248) 680-0965. Hockeytown Authentics is located at 1845 E. Big Beaver on the northwest corner of Big Beaver and John R in Troy.
WHO: Detroit Red Wings Forward Jordin Tootoo
WHAT: Autograph Signing for Charity
WHEN: 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 22
WHERE: Hockeytown Authentics, 1845 E. Big Beaver, Troy, MI 48083
WHY: To collect monetary donations for the Team Tootoo Fund.
And to add a "How" to the mix: With a Sharpie.
Update: MLive's Ansar Khan spoke to the Wings, and Teemu Selanne, about the Kevlar sock issue...
One thing is becoming evidently clear to Wings coach Mike Babcock, he’s got to start limiting the ice time of his top six forwards.
“I thought they did a good job for us,” Babcock said when asked about the play of his bottom two lines in Wednesday’s overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues. “Bottom line is I’ve got to get them on the ice more. That’s my fault, not their fault, because they did good enough things to be on the ice more.”
Henrik Zetterberg had the most ice time of all skaters at 24:18, Damien Brunner and Pavel Datsyuk each we just over 20 minutes.
“I got them out there for about 10 minutes apiece, which to me isn’t enough, because I would have liked to have played that one group for sure a couple (more) minutes and I didn’t do it,” Babcock said.
He took note of the reason why Brian Lashoff missed a chunk of time yesterday...
Brian Lashoff took a slap shot off his left wrist Wednesday and said he couldn’t close his hand for a good 5-10 minutes.
“Playing through the pain right now, it’s not that bad,” said Lashoff, who added an X-ray didn’t show a break. “They wanted to make sure it wasn’t something I could hurt worse.”
And reading the Wings utter the following comments is a bit of a relief:
The Wings still felt they gave two points away Wednesday night.
“We beat ourselves,” said Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, who will make his fourth straight start Friday against the Anaheim Ducks at Joe Louis Arena. “It was one of those games where we got in our own way. We pretty much handed them points. Good thing is we’ve still taken seven out of eight points.”
“We made some big mistakes that cost us the game,” Niklas Kronwall said. “I thought 2-0 we were going and then things started going downhill. We made some mistakes that we can’t afford.”
The Wings eventually lost in overtime.
“I think we just have to keep playing on our toes,” Daniel Cleary said. “We came out and started well, but once they got that shorthanded goal they started to come in waves and we didn’t. We were getting out-chanced and we didn’t get a lot of shots over the last two periods and a half.”
Yes, that's exactly what you did, Wings.All of it.
Update #2: DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose covered the Kevlar sock issue, too:
Jimmy Howard has worn a pair of protective socks in practice since last season. Now, after learning of Karlsson’s injury, and seeing the damaged caused by the heel of his own skate blade that punctured White’s left thigh in the home opener, the Wings’ goalie said he’ll give the socks a try in games.
Filppula, Henrik Zetterberg and Jonathan Ericsson are among the Wings’ players already wear the Kevlar socks. Ericsson, Filppula, Cleary, Helm and Todd Bertuzzi also wear the protective forearm sleeves, which, like the socks, also feature Kevlar.
Some NHL players were introduced to the products last season, but many have complained of the socks being too heavy, bulky and hot, three things that don’t make equipment very conducive for players. But there isn’t a human tendon or artery that’s resisted a razor-sharp skate blade, either. Ericsson recently stopped using the socks when they began hurting his ankles. But after the injury to his fellow Swede, he’s had a change of heart.
“I wore them then they started to give my ankles really bad sores,” the Wings’ defenseman said. “They’re hard, almost like steel. I wear the sleeves now too, they’re fine with me. The socks were too, until they started bothering me.”
Last summer, the three big hockey apparel manufacturers went back to the drawing board and created a sock that is both protective and comfortable, Red Wings’ equipment manager Paul Boyer said.
“I would say that more than half of the league is going toward a cut-resistant sock,” he said. “Guys are putting them on because the product is better. … Last night may give it a little push, but we’ve seen players going toward it before last night.”
In town to face the Red Wings on Friday night, Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne, who suffered a cut Achilles in his second NHL season, said Thursday that he would like to the league make Kevlar mandatory.
“When I got my Achilles tendon, I was lucky it was 85 percent cut,” Selanne said. “It took me like six months to get perfect, when you get all the mobility back. It took a long time.”
Selanne did a demonstration for the media in the Ducks’ dressing room inside Joe Louis Arena. With a Kevlar sleeve in one hand he dragged a skate blade across the sleeve, and said, “This doesn’t cut.”
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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.