The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/16/13 at 01:49 PM ET
Updated 6x at 5:15 PM: The Detroit Red Wings took to the ice for a short practice at Joe Louis Arena prior to packing their gear into bags and heading to Metro Airport to fly out to Calgary, where they'll begin a two-game road trip against the Flames and Canucks on Wednesday (and Saturday, respectively), all before returning home to Detroit to play a slate of
The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness reports that the usual injury list suspects skated...and didn't skate...both prior and during practice:
So it's good news-bad news, as usual:
"The thinker" (I enjoy his long-winded and thoughtful columns, frankly) is there, too:
2/2 a little odd this year for wings to be rooting for teams with most points to win, but when you are shooting for 8th, that is the tune.— gregg krupa (@greggkrupa) April 16, 2013
This is excellent:
So the narrative continues...
FYI: The AP has already posted a Wings-Flames preview.
And finally, two-and-a-half hours after I began this entry, and just a few minutes before the Wings' 2:45 PM flight for Calgary got underway, the Macomb Daily's Pleiness provides the first practice report:
Part the 1st:
Todd Bertuzzi and Darren Helm both took part in the full team practice Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena, but both had no further updates as to when they might get back in the lineup.
Part the 2nd:
Wings coach Mike Babcock said he hasn’t decided on who he’ll go with on the blue line Wednesday at Calgary.
Part the playoff talk:
“Some guys can play better when they don’t have anything on the line,” forward Johan Franzen said. “It’s some days hard to play those teams that don’t have anything to play for. They do something that you don’t expect, maybe, so it’s hard to tell.”
“When you have this kind of must-wins you feel like you’re getting into that playoff mode, which is good,” forward Valtteri Filppula said. “That’s what we need right now.”
“I think at the end of the day if you look after your own business we’ll be in good shape,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “Obviously you’re curious what’s going on in the other games, but at the same time I think it’s like that every. But this year is different because we’re right on the bubble. Other years it’s more about positioning. It’s definitely a fun time of the year.
“It’s a different feeling, but at the same time it just means that the games matter even more now,” Kronwall added. “Those are the times you want to be playing. The games matter at the end of the regular season. It’s a fun time of the year.”
Wheels are up in Detroit and the press is still quiet, so I may as well post this damn thing.
Also: Pleiness answered two reader questions that are worth noting...
Of just plain old interesting note, from a friend...
And two more people who I admire...
Make that three people I admire:
The losses of the 2012 prospect camp and training camp at least halved Centre Ice Arena's operating budget for youth hockey and skating programs and cost the Traverse City area something between $3-4 million in away-from-the-rink spending, so Reeves discussed the news that the Wings will return to TC this summer and fall (an including alumni game--involving all of the coaches, management and Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond--and when the ticket sales will take place):
In charitable news, from the Windsor Star's Taylor Renkema:
Former Chicago Blackhawks right-winger Tony Amonte has been officially announced as the Honorary Ride Captain for the third annual Bob Probert Memorial Ride. A former NHL star known in Windsor for his time with the Detroit Red Wings, Bob Probert died in July 2010 of heart failure while boating with his family on Lake St. Clair. He was 45.
Probert’s daughter Brogan announced Tuesday morning that Amonte would be the ride captain.
“Tony, together with his wife Laurie and their children are very important to our family, and we couldn’t be more pleased that he will be at the ride this year,” she said.
The ride is held in partnership with the Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital foundation, and CAW locals 444 and 2458, to help raise awareness and money for the hospital’s angioplasty program.
Ken Deane, a supervisor at Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital, directed his comments straight to Probert’s wife, Dani.
“There aren’t words that really capture our gratitude and our appreciation,” Deane said. “But you and your family can know in your hearts that the impact that you’re going to have because of this is going to touch many people for a long, long time.”
Bill Marra, president and executive director of the Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital Foundation, said the first and second annual rides generated over $210,000, and adds that total doesn’t include any donations so far this year. Marra said many people don’t realize the hospital isn’t always covered by government funds.
“They might be there for the Probert family, they might be there because they were a big hockey fan, maybe to support the hospital, but they know that every penny raised goes towards supporting this hospital, and this particular program” he said.
And in less-than-charitable news...
Detroit Red Wings forward Patrick Eaves played hockey at Boston College, making Monday's bombing at the Boston Marathon hit home a little more.
“It was tough,” Eaves said today about the incident that left three dead and more than 170 injured.
Eaves said he had good memories of being in Boston for “Marathon Monday.”
“School was shut down that day, the whole city shut down,” Eaves said. “It’s a historic event. A lot of people come in from out of town and enjoy the city.”
The bombings at the Marathon also hit home for Wings coach Mike Babcock, who said his wife has previously run in a marathon.
“The whole thing is enough to make you sick,” Babcock said. “It’s hard to believe something like this could be caused by human beings, because no human would be involved in something like this.”
Update #2: The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa reports that coach Babcock is expecting each and every one of the Wings' remaining opponents to provide stiff challenges:
"More than anything, I think we understand the position we're in," said Babcock, speaking after a noon practice as his team held dearly to eighth place in the Western Conference, and holding the first tie-breaker — regulation and overtime wins (ROW) against the Blue Jackets, who also have 47 points.
Columbus also has a game at hand, on the Wings.
"We're set up good in that we can control what's happening to us," the coach said. "I think the team's really engaged. I think we've played real hard here, of late. The last game I didn't like was in Phoenix (April 4); other than that I think we've played real well.
"I like the way we're going, and obviously we've got a huge game in Calgary.
"What's tougher to play? A team that knows they're in? A bunch of kids that are up trying to impress? A bunch of guys who are trying to fight for their job?
"I don't know the answer to any of those things. I just know we have a game against Calgary and we have a good preparation day here today and we fly there, get up and get something to eat and then get after her."
Update #3: Krupa split up his practice stories and added this about Bertuzzi:
Whether it will pan out for Bertuzzi this year remains to be seen.
The big forward, whose finesse with shootout attempts only adds to the reasons the Wings miss him, said that he had nothing new to report on the condition of his back — an extreme soreness that weeks ago migrated to his upper right leg.
He does look big, of course, and aggressive on the ice in practices.
There is some chance Bertuzzi will return to the lineup next week.
Darren Helm practiced Tuesday, but Babcock said he is unlikely to play this year. Mikael Samuelsson worked out after practice.
Update #4: SI's ever-unpredictable Adrian Dater's penned his power rankings, and here's what he has to say about the Wings...
16 Detroit Red Wings Last Week: 16
The Wings entered Tuesday tied with Columbus in points, but with a critical game in hand. And with Jimmy Howard playing very well in net right now, you have to give the edge to these Original Sixers. Howard posted a 3-0 shutout at Nashville on Saturday, which was huge for the Winged Wheel's postseason chances. But if the Wings finish eighth and have to face No. 1 Chicago, the odds don't look good. Detroit is 0-1-3 against the Hawks so far, including a 7-1 loss. Last week: 1-0-2
He gets paid to write those rankings, folks.
Update #5: The Detroit Free Press's George Sipple posted a video of Mike Babcock speaking to the media about the Wings' playoff chances:
Update #6: And here's DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose's take on Babcock's comments:
“We still got to play,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “What’s tougher to play, a team that knows they’re in (or) a bunch of kids that are up trying to impress, fighting for jobs? I don’t know the answer to any of those things. I just know we have a tough game against Calgary. We had a good preparation day today, we’ll fly there, get up tomorrow, have something to eat and go at her.”
The Wings have earned points in three straight games, including Sunday’s 3-0 victory at Nashville, where Johan Franzen scored a goal in the second consecutive game. The Mule now has seven points in the last seven games, 16 points in the last 23 games since returning from a hip injury in February.
“He’s a great player, big, strong and quick on his feet. Plus, he’s got a good set of hands,” said Valtteri Filppula, who along with Daniel Cleary has played a wing position on Franzen’s line recently. “He’s been important for us, scoring some key goals down the stretch and everybody knows how he plays in the playoffs, so it’s a good start that he’s playing well right now.”
The postseason has definitely been the Mule’s time of year. He is among the top 20 players in the league with 73 points in 88 career playoff games, and last week, Babcock referred to him as the team’s X-factor heading down the home stretch.
Besides Franzen’s recent point outburst, Filppula likes that he’s playing hard in the corners and making it quite difficult for the opposition to get the puck away from the team’s biggest forward. But Filppula also credits all four forward lines for stepping it up lately.
“I think we’re been playing well with the four lines going good and being able to spend more time in the opponent’s end, and I feel that when you go to a seven-game series, even if you don’t score, you’re wearing down the other team and that becomes very important,” Filppula said. “I think that’s definitely one thing that we’ve tried to focus on, have four lines going and making it harder for the opponent.”
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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.