The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/12/13 at 12:15 PM ET
Updated 10x at 334 PM: The Detroit Red Wings are back on the ice today, preparing for a grudge match and-a-half against an ornery St. Louis Blues team tomorrow evening (7:30 PM EST, NBCSN/97.1 FM, and, via RedWingsFeed, Yahoo Sports' Sean Leahy expertly explored the Blues' issues), and it sounds like the Wings will have to continue playing without a pair of players battlng back ailments:
In the participatory player-meeting department, please do take note that the Dearborn Patch's John McKay reminds us that Justin Abdelkader's appearing at the Meijer in Allen Park, MI today at 6 PM, and that Abdelkader enjoyed signing autographs at the Meijer in Canton on Monday:
Red Wings fans can meet one of the team's star players Tuesday in Allen Park.
Detroit Red Wings forwards Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm are set to appear at various Meijer locations throughout the Metro Detroit area during the 2012-13 season, signing autographs and interacting with fans at six different Metro Detroit Meijer locations.
Abdelkader, a Muskegon native and former Michigan State Spartan, kicked off the season-long campaign on Monday with a stop at the Canton store.
On Tuesday, he'll be at the Meijer in Allen Park from 6-7 p.m. The store is located at the Fairlane Green at 3565 Fairlane Boulevard.
Four additional stops featuring Helm and Abdelkader are scheduled for the months of March and April in Madison Heights, Southfield, Rochester and Warren.
Here's the rest of their season-long schedule:
Date Time Meijer Location Red Wings Player
Feb. 12 5-7 p.m. 3565 Fairlane Blvd., Allen Park Justin Abdelkader
March 4 5-7 p.m. 1005 E. 13 Mile Road, Madison Hts. Darren Helm
March 6 5-7 p.m. 28800 Telegraph Road, Southfield Justin Abdelkader
April 8 5-7 p.m. 3175 Rochester Road, Rochester Darren Helm
April 9 5-7 p.m. 29505 Mound Road, Warren Justin Abdelkader
Also from McKay:
Three-time Stanley Cup Champion and Plymouth resident Chris Osgood will visit Bird Elementary in Plymouth on Wednesday as part of the Detroit Red Wings School Assembly Program sponsored by the Detroit Red Wings Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and The Kroger Company of Michigan, according to a news release.
The program, which is free to students but closed to the public, will take place from 2-3 p.m. in the school gymnasium. Former Red Wing Jiri Fischer visited Smith Elementary students in January this year as part of the assembly program.
Osgood and the Red Wings School Assembly Team will introduce more than 600 elementary students to the sport of hockey through a youth street and floor hockey initiative. The Wings will provide equipment and hands-on instruction to familiarize kids with the sport of hockey and to encourage an active and healthy lifestyle.
The School Assembly Team opens every program with an interactive lesson on exercise and healthy eating, followed by an energetic hockey shootout competition pitting students against teachers. Each school receives two full sets of floor hockey equipment complete with hockey sticks and nets courtesy of the Detroit Red Wings Foundation, as well as a Red Wings folder and a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan keepsake magnet that lists five fun afterschool activities.
Last season, the Red Wings School Assembly Team visited 100 local schools, reaching more than 40,000 students and providing 200 sets of equipment to physical education departments throughout southeastern Michigan. Notable players and alumni such as Niklas Kronwall, Valtteri Filppula, Daniel Cleary, Todd Bertuzzi, Kris Draper, Chris Osgood and Kirk Maltby have each attended an assembly.
A special fundraising initiative administered by the Red Wings School Assembly Program in 2011-12 helped local students raise more than $75,000 for a variety of charitable endeavors by selling tickets to Red Wings home games. In addition, more than 1,000 students who sold at least four tickets as part of the initiative were invited to attend a special open skate event at Joe Louis Arena last season.
This season, the Red Wings School Assembly Team plans to make 115 appearances. The most up-to-date schedule can be found at http://www.DetroitRedWings.com/schoolassemblyschedule
In Grand Rapids, the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner reminds us that the Griffins will play their annual sled hockey game against the Sled Wings tonight, the Griffins' annual wine-tasting event is going to take place next Tuesday, February 9th, and this one from the Grand Rapids Press's Larry A. Hirt slipped through the cracks:
The Grand Rapids Griffins and Van Andel Institute will host the second annual Purple Community Game on Friday, March 8, empowering communities in West Michigan to take action and fight back against cancer and diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
The event highlights Purple Community, Van Andel Institute's grass roots fundraising and awareness initiative, and features information on how people can support cancer and disease research/science education at Van Andel Institute.
Activities include: Cancer Warrior and Purple Community member ceremonial puck drop; Free Purple Community T-shirts for those in attendance; celebrity guest speakers; Purple Griffins uniforms and purple concession items; and a jersey auction.
Gates open at 6 p.m., and the game begins at 7 p.m., at Van Andel Arena.
For more information, visit http://www.vanandelinstitute.org/purplecommunity
Update #0.25: From the Wings:
RED WINGS TO PARTAKE IN 97.1 THE TICKET’S FOURTH ANNUAL DETROIT SPORTSFEST
… Lidstrom and Holmstrom Set to Participate in Celebration of Detroit’s Sports Culture…
Detroit, MI…The 11-time Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings are partnering up with 97.1 The Ticket’s Fourth Annual Detroit SportsFest, scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 16, from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. at the Suburban Collection Showplace Exhibit Hall A in Novi, Mich. Admission to this sports-filled festivity is free with parking available for five dollars per vehicle.
Former Red Wings Nicklas Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom will make an appearance to sign autographs and help celebrate Motor City’s rich sports history. The Coke Zero Red Wings Experience will include a variety of interactive games, a live DJ and the chance to win tickets to upcoming Red Wings’ home games.
Inside the Suburban Collection Showplace, this year’s Red Wings display at SportsFest will introduce its new 2,000 sq. ft. synthetic ice surface, a state of the art technology that allows for a superior skating experience that is built entirely out of artificial ice panels. Participants will be able to rent or bring their own skates to practice their skating skills in 15-minute sessions throughout the day. Fans can check-in at the Red Wings booth to sign up for a slotted session.
New to this year, SportsFest will be host to 20 lucky contestants who will compete in the 97.1 The Ticket Tailgate Challenge. Fans are encouraged to submit a picture of their best tailgate set-up for a chance to win cash prizes for Best Overall Tailgate Presentation, Main Entrée and Non-Alcoholic Drink.
There will be an optional one-time donation fee of $10 at the door to be entered into a lottery system for the chance to win select athletes’ autographs including Nicklas Lidstrom. 100% of the funds received will benefit the 97.1 The Ticket/Beaumont Student Heart Check Program. Attendees who make a donation will receive a numbered wristband and be entered into the lottery system. All otherremainingathletes, including Tomas Holmstrom, will be signing free of charge on a first come, first served basis.
Full details on the Fourth Annual Detroit SportsFest can be found at http://www.971TheTicket.com.
Three players are tied for the NHL lead with 13 assists. Evgeni Malkin and Martin St. Louis are two of them -- not a huge surprise. The other is Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg. Zetterberg is a household name, and while he was known in the past as a premier goal-scorer, he has clearly shown in the last three years that it's his playmaking abilities that have defined him.
After posting 43 goals in 2007-08, many fantasy owners began to expect Zetterberg to continue to score goals at that kind of rate -- especially given the fact that he often found himself on the same line as Pavel Datsyuk. However, since that 43-goal breakthrough, it's been a steady decline in the goals category -- he averaged 25 goals over the next four seasons.
But on the other side of the stat column, Zetterberg's assist production has been elite. Since 2008-09, Zetterberg has averaged 48 assists per season and even finished fifth in the NHL in 2010-11 with a career-best 56 helpers. Zetterberg's shot totals have also been on a steady decline, showing he's more willing to dish the puck than put a shot on goal (he had 358 in 2007-08, 309 in 2008-09 and 2009-10, 306 in 2010-11 and 267 last season).
Taking a closer look at Zetterberg's production this season (5 G, 13 A, plus-6, 10 PIMs, 8 PPP, 45 SOG in 12 games), you'll quickly realize he's in line for one of the best seasons of his career (of course the totals won't compare to years past because of the condensed season). A lot of this success has come playing on a dominant line with Johan Franzen and Damien Brunner -- the trio has been remarkable. In fact, Zetterberg and Brunner have each recorded a point on the same goal eight times this season. Brunner leads the Wings with six goals and Zetterberg has assisted on five of them.
The other major factor in Zetterberg's dominant play this year is his power play production, where he, Datsyuk, Franzen, Brunner and Niklas Kronwall form one of the League's most lethal units. Many fans expected Detroit's power play to suffer with the loss of Nicklas Lidstrom, but Zetterberg still has eight power-play points on the season (good for fifth best in the NHL) and is averaging just under five minutes of PP time per game (4:53). With that kind of talent on the ice together for five minutes per game, you can expect Zetterberg to continue to put up significant points with the man advantage.
Zetterberg is currently the No. 2 overall player in Yahoo! fantasy leagues and the No. 1 player in the past two weeks. He has put his name back in the conversation for fantasy elite thanks largely in part to his success in dishing out the puck -- we've got him ranked 14th this week and he will continue to rise if he keeps at this rate. Start him with complete confidence and if you can acquire him via trade, you should do so immediately -- Zetterberg's decline in production over the last couple of years will be a distant memory by the end of this season.
Update #2: Good news on one front, from the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness and the free Press's Helene St. James:
Wings coach Mike Babcock has no doubt that the NHL should participate in the next Olympics.
“No doubt that they should go,” Babcock said after practice Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena. “I think it’s the greatest sporting event in the world. I think non-sports fans pay attention to the Olympics. It was one of the greatest family times of my whole life. To be an Olympian is a dream come true. I would hate to see guys miss out on that opportunity.”
The 2014 Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi, Russia.
“Anytime you’re around great players, you get to be around the best and it improves you,” Babcock said. “I hope for the players in our league they get to go because of the growth opportunity and it’s a chance to represent your country. The World Championships are great, but this is way better than that.”
Update #6: MLive's Ansar Khan confirms...
Back issues continue to keep Detroit Red Wings forwards Darren Helm and Todd Bertuzzi out of practice and out of the lineup.
The pair did not skate Tuesday and won't play Wednesday against the St. Louis Blues at Joe Louis Arena.
"They’re not available to us,'' coach Mike Babcock said. "Bert they’re hoping is going to turn the corner here and he hasn’t at all, and Helmer, I saw him walk in here today and I haven’t seen him since so he must not be very close.''
Babcock said he expects to dress the same lineup against the Blues that he used over the weekend in wins against Edmonton and Los Angeles.
And the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan took a very different tack in discussing the Wings' turnaround since their 6-0 loss to St. Louis on opening night:
How times have changed for the Red Wings since that opening night, 6-0 loss in St. Louis on Jan. 19. The Red Wings now are 7-4-1 (15 points), have won three consecutive games, and are seemingly on the upswing.
The Blues, conversely, are 6-5-1 (13 points), have lost three straight games, and appear in disarray. Things certainly have changed.
"It was one of those games where nothing worked for us," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said of the opening night loss. "We didn't do anything right. We were two steps behind and taking penalties. Our penalty kill was horrible and power play was dreadful. Not a lot of things worked for us."
The Red Wings would normally shake off that loss and forget about it. But, interestingly, they seemed to carry around that particular ugly loss.
"We owed it to ourselves and our fans," Kronwall said. "Everyone in here felt we were a better team than that. It was embarrassing walking off the ice. You didn't want to show yourself at the restaurant or anything for the next few days. But since then, we've done better. There's a lot of things to be worked on but it's moving in the right direction."
Update #7: The Free Press's Helene St. James spoke to the Wings about playing against the Blues for the third time this month and the fourth time in four weeks, too, and she posted a video clip of said discussion:
Update #9: ESPN's Craig Custance mentioned the Wings a couple of times during his weekly chat:
GBK (Lincoln Park): Craig, did you go to Hamtramck for some fresh pacskis? My question is this: can Zetterberg maintain this pace for the rest of the season? He and Datsyuk have raised their games to make up for the losses on defense, but that seems hard to maintain in a short season like this one.
Craig Custance: GBK - They're doing exactly what the Red Wings need out of their stars. That defense isn't going to get better overnight, probably not this season. The Red Wings are going to have to change their identity a bit and grind out wins the way they've been doing the last week. And then rely on Datsyuk and Zetterberg to continue producing. Both are capable of keeping it up.
Tim (Loon Lake): Is Detroit ever going to move to the Eastern Conference?
Craig Custance: I think we'll see something close to what the BOGs presented last year. So that means Detroit isn't in the East but in more of a midwest conference that eliminates some of the extreme travel west. That will help them. Plus home and homes with every team brings in a lot of the east.
Matt R. (Hockeytown): It's early yet, but is this the year Mike Babcock finally gets some Jack Adams consideration?
Craig Custance: Yeah, this will be the year he gets serious consideration if the Red Wings finish near the top of the Western Conference standings. He's one of those coaches whose Jack Adams candidacy was hurt by high expectations and a loaded roster. People were predicting the Red Wings to miss the playoffs this year and he's transforming that team into one that is grinding its way back into the postseason.
Update #10: One more thing frmom the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness:
Cory Emmerton was sporting a shiner under this right eye thanks to the butt-end of the stick of Los Angeles’ Mike Richards in the first period Sunday.
“He dropped his stick and it just kind of came into my visor,” Emmerton said. “Visors are good, but I don’t think it would have looked as bad because it kind of got stuck in the visor. If I didn’t have a visor it would have just kind of hit and left, but I’m not going to say that I’m not going to wear a visor. Sometimes, in a rare instance like that, it can actually make it look worse. But that’s OK.”
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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.