The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/31/13 at 01:02 PM ET
Updated 6x with a bunch of stuff at 4:52 PM: Henrik Zetterberg will play tomorrow against St. Louis: The Red Wings began practice at 11:30 this morning, and there's been a bit of a "rut roh" moment already, per the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:
Zetterberg's parents are in town, and the Free Press's Helene St. James assures us that the Wings' captain is simply suffering from what may be some imported boogers...
Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg missed today's practice because of illness.
General manager Ken Holland told the Free Press that "Z is sick today."
Defenseman Brian Lashoff skated in Zetterberg's place on a line with Damien Brunner and Johan Franzen.
The Wings next play Friday at home against the St. Louis Blues.
Update #1.5: Ditto from the Wings:
MacDonald received another cortisone injection last Thursday and skated for 30 minutes on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday.
“I think it's coming pretty well,'' MacDonald, who hadn't skated since August, said. “(Tuesday) 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. I'm not going to rush into it, I waited this long. Every day add a little bit extra and go from there.''
He hopes to be cleared to play within two weeks. He hasn't played a game since March 14, 2012, when the back problem ended his season.
“I want to make sure I'm 100 percent,'' MacDonald said. “I'm not going to go out and just jump into practice right away. It's going to take some time to just get my timing back, get my legs under me.''
MacDonald faces an uncertain future. The Red Wings signed Jonas Gustavsson on July 1 to be Jimmy Howard's backup. Gustavsson hasn't played yet due to a groin strain but should be ready before MacDonald.
MacDonald would need to clear waivers to be sent to the Grand Rapids Griffins. But, he can be assigned there without waivers for up to two weeks on a conditioning stint.
The Griffins, however, are set in net with highly touted prospect Petr Mrazek and former first-round pick Tom McCollum, who currently is backing up Howard while Gustavsson recovers. MacDonald, who turns 33 on Feb. 7, would give the Red Wings an NHL-ready backup if case of injury to Howard or Gustavsson. He finished 8-5-1, with a 2.16 goals-against average, for Detroit in 2011-12 and won seven games in a row from Feb. 8-28 when Howard was injured.
“In another 10 days, when I'm hopefully back and ready to go, you never know what's going to happen,'' MacDonald said. “I'm just going to come back ready. They know what I can do. I proved myself last year and they kind of know what to expect from me. I just got to get back, get healthy and maybe go down and play a few games wherever, and we'll worry about that when the time comes.''
Update #2: Good news from MLive's Ansar Khan:
Update #3.5: Not impressed, per Helene St. James:
"Initially, it was pretty scary," Bertuzzi said. "You never know because you can't see what's going on. It didn't feel very good, I can say that. I was worried. But I was fortunate that it was just a good old cut."
So will Bertuzzi join the legions of NHL players who've adopted a visor after a close ocular incident? Probably not.
"We wear what we wear," he said. "Everyone wears different shoulder pads, different helmets, different gloves. Just, it's an option we're given and some guys would rather not use it."
Bertuzzi conceded he'd tell his 11-year-old son, Tag, "to use it. It's a no-brainer. I think all the kids coming up, anyone coming into the league the past four, five years, it should be mandatory to have it.
"When us older guys get out of the league, it should be mandated that everybody wears it." Bertuzzi, who turns 38 on Saturday, didn't really even want to talk about it, joking that, "I don't ask you what kind of pencil you use."...
"The thing for me is," Mike Babcock said, "they're pro athletes, they've got to do what is right for them. I just know life is long, and you're going to spend a lot of time with your family after. Sometimes those decisions - I mean, it takes you a week to get used to it. But that's a decision he will make."
Update #3.75: I am impressed, per St. James again:
A heavy curtain hung at the Zamboni entrance in Joe Louis Arena, which means one thing: Barbecue.
While the Detroit Red Wings practiced, longtime Zamboni driver and barbecue master Al Sobotka grilled up a feast for the players. The curtain is up to keep out the smell -- the grilling is done outside -- but in some cases, wasn't needed.
"I didn't even smell it," Todd Bertuzzi said, smiling. "I must have gotten hit in the nose, too, and lost that sense, too. Can't smell it. But I will go eat it."
Pavel Datsyuk said, "How do you know it's barbecue day? You smell it? I look forward to it -- first barbecue of the season."
Asked who the team's biggest eater is, Datsyuk smiled. "Whoever goes first."
Update #3.8: Still not impressed, Bert, from St. James:
Update #4: You won't understand any of it unless you can speak Swedish, but Nicklas Lidstrom sat down with Sweden's TV4's Malou von Sivers on her interview program, "Efter Tio," to discuss being happily retired. The video's 20 minutes long:
Update #5: The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan has updated his main practice story...
One day before the Red Wings play division-leading St. Louis, they were without forward Henrik Zetterberg for Thursday's practice.
Both general manager Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock said Zetterberg was ill, though they expected Zetterberg to be available for Friday night's home game against the Blues.
The Wings will need Zetterberg against the Blues, who thoroughly dominated, 6-0, in the season opener for both teams on Jan. 19.
The Red Wings are banking on a much better effort in the rematch.
"We weren't very competitive," Babcock said. "Now we have an opportunity to evaluate ourselves six games later and see where we're at."
And Kulfan covered the Bertuzzi-no-visor story, too:
There was no extensive damage, just a few minor cuts, and Bertuzzi returned for the start of the third period. Further tests Wednesday revealed nothing but a few scratches.
"It'll be pretty much perfect in a couple of days," Bertuzzi said.
But Bertuzzi wasn't wearing any visor during Thursday's practice, and don't expect him to wear one in the near future. Even with the close call.
"Initially, it was pretty scary," Bertuzzi said. "You never know because you can't see what is going on. It didn't feel very good, I will say that. I was worried.But I was fortunate it was just a cut."
According to league rules, players born after Dec. 31, 1974 must wear a visor. Bertuzzi beats the deadline and simply prefers not to wear one.
"It's a personal decision," Bertuzzi said. "I don't ask you what pencil you like to use. I'm not trying to be a jerk. It's just the way it is. It's our office and we wear what we wear. Everybody wears different shoulder pads, different helmets and gloves, and all that. It's an option we're given and some guys would rather not use it."
I'm pretty sure that there isn't a visor rule in the NHL as of yet...There is one for international competitions, however, and in the AHL as well...
Update #6: Of course, Heleene St. James asked Al Sobotka who's eaten the most when he held his barbecues, and it was Brett "Two Slabs" Lebda...
Again, it's head-shaking time, via Ansar Khan and Todd Bertuzzi:
“I don’t know, it’s something I’ve got to think about for a bit,'' said Bertuzzi, who did not don a visor for practice. "I just have a handful of scratches, but I’ve got some stuff that will fill (that) up. I’ll be pretty much perfect in a couple of days.''
Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn caught Bertuzzi in the eye with his stick at 16:19 of the second period. Bertuzzi returned at the start of the third period and finished the game. He has never worn a visor and was hesitant to discuss it, calling it a personal decision.
“Guys wear different shoulder pads, different helmets and different skates, that’s just how it is,'' Bertuzzi said. “It (visor) is an option we’re given, and some guys don’t want to use it.''
Coach Mike Babcock said he asked Bertuzzi whether he would wear a visor.
“They’re pro athletes and they have to do what’s right for them,'' Babcock said. “I just know life’s long and you’re going to spend a lot of time with your family after. Sometimes those decisions – I mean it takes a week for you to get used to it – but that’s a decision he makes. He’s a good player and he’s got to decide what he’s comfortable in, and he wants to feel good out there, so it’s his decision.”
Bertuzzi, however, said he would tell his son to wear a visor.
“It’s a no-brainer,'' he said. “I think all the kids coming up, anyone coming into the league the past 4-5 years, it should be mandatory to have it. I believe in it. Same thing with the (mandatory) helmet (rule). It was grandfathered in. The last guy to not wear it was (Edmonton's Craig) MacTavish. I think eventually when older guys get out of the league they (will) make it mandatory that (visors) be worn.''
Did the Wings talk about things other than visors, barbecue and Henrik Zetterberg's health and confection-related news?
Yup. DetroitRedwings.com's Bill Roose offers tidbits about the Wings' penalty-killing...
In a week, the Red Wings’ penalty kill unit has jumped from being ranked second-worst in the league to No. 22. In the last three games, the Red Wings have allowed just two power-play goals on 16 chances.
“I really like the direction that it’s going,” Babcock said. “We still are making some mistakes, like we made a huge mistake in Chicago, gave up a freebie. You can’t do that. We’re a work-in-progress. We’re spending a lot of time on specialty teams, an inordinate amount of time, actually. … We have to have top 10 specialty teams, not bottom 10.”
Damien Brunner's "comfort level"...
“I feel comfortable on the ice,” Brunner said. “The last couple of games I’ve felt comfortable out there, getting used to the smaller ice has taken a bit. I’m finding spots where I have time and find spots where I have to go to get into shooting position. It’s a learning process and I hope to keep getting better.”
And tomorrow's game against the Blues:
The Wings get another crack at a Central Division rival when they host the St. Louis Blues on Friday at Joe Louis Arena. The Red Wings suffered their worst season-opening defeat since 1958 with a 6-0 trouncing by the Blues on Jan. 19.
“We had a tough game in St. Louis,” Babcock said. “You have to give them credit. They played hard. They were physical on us. Their specialty teams were good. We gave up four gift goals and you can’t do that in a hockey game and expect success. I didn’t think we were very competitive in that game.”
Since then, the Wings have posted a 3-1-1 and out-scored the opposition 15-11.
“Now we have an opportunity to evaluate ourselves six games later and see where we at,” Babcock added. “We’re through segment 1 and we were able to get seven points in our first segment. We have it broken into eight six-game segments. We need to have a better segment this segment to keep in the chase and it starts with the game tomorrow.”
The Red Wings' website posted clips of Bertuzzi...
And Babcock speaking to the media:
Also, part 1:
The Grand Rapids Griffins on Thursday signed defenseman Brett Skinner to a professional tryout.
Skinner, 29, has skated in 27 games with the CHL’s Allen Americans this season and ranks fourth on the team with 37 points (7-30—37).
Vancouver’s third choice (68th overall) in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, Skinner is in his eighth professional season, having recorded 159 points (24-135—159) in 329 AHL contests with Manitoba, Portland, Omaha, Providence, Bridgeport, Chicago and Lake Erie. He also played in 11 NHL games with the NY Islanders in 2008-09.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound native of Brandon, Manitoba, spent the 2011-12 season with three different teams in Europe: Iserlohn (Germany), Tappara (Finland) and MODO (Sweden).
The Griffins will make their first visit of the season to Hamilton to face the Bulldogs tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. before returning to Grand Rapids to host the Abbotsford Heat on Saturday at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at griffinshockey.com.
#3 BRETT SKINNER * Defenseman
Height: 6'1" Weight: 195 Shoots: Left Born: 6/28/83 in Brandon, Manitoba
Drafted: Vancouver's 3rd choice, 68th overall, in 2002 NHL Entry Draft
Also, part 3: Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples relates the tale of a 10-year-old who ended up singing the national anthem with Karen Newman during a Wings alumni game in Troy. It's a good read.
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