The Malik Report
Red Wings Wednesday news: Weiss’s groin’s acting up; Wings-Panthers tailings, on Franzen and Yzerman
by George Malik on 12/11/13 at 11:56 AM ET
Updated 8x at 2:31 PM: The Detroit Red Wings took to the ice in Tampa Bay for a relatively early (and brief) practice on Wednesday morning, and MLive's Ansar Khan, the Free Press's Helene St. James and the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan delivered surprising news regarding one of the protagonists in the Wings' 3-2 shootout loss to Florida.
Wings on ice for early practice in Tampa. Weiss is not skating.
And after practice, well:
Babcock said Weiss is out with some type of groin issue or stomach strain. Will have tests to determine extent.
Samuelsson back in lineup tomorrow vs. Tampa with Weiss out.
The Wings will also shift their lines a bit, as Babcock told St. James...
Johan Franzen goes back to center with Weiss out.
Khan continued with the following...
Correction: Helm said he skated briefly before practice. Still no idea when he'll be able to practice with team.
Kulfan reported that Weiss's groin issue has been ongoing...
Weiss will wait to have scan in Detroit. ...groin has been an issue for while and seems concerned about it
And that's a sad/concerned panda:
Trying to play through a chronic injury that inhibits one's skating certainly helps explain--not excuse, but explain--Weiss's struggles...
I also can't help but have this sinking feeling--especially looking at Brian Lashoff lagging far behind 5 other Wings defensemen in terms of ice time for the past four or five games--that the Wings' cap issues (Capgeek estimates that Danny DeKeyser on the LTIR = the Wings have $31,000 in cap space today) have yielded the team having to play injured players and/or playing an injured underachiever over another healthy one.
Otherwise, in the Wings-Panthers tailings department, Khan discussed the Wings' shootout woes...
The Red Wings are 0-5 in shootouts this season. They have lost 10 consecutive shootouts dating back to last season. And the coach and players have no explanation for it.
“Tonight, I went different; Pav and Bert normally go first, they were (each 0-for-4) on the year; we went with other guys,” Babcock said. “We didn’t get it done. The way I look at this, we got a point tonight, we wanted two; we’ll regroup tomorrow and get ready for Tampa (Thursday).”
Florida won the shootout 2-1. Rookie Aleksander Barkov scored on a slick move against Jimmy Howard on the Panthers’ first attempt. Veteran Brad Boyes blasted in a shot on the third try. In between, Tatar scored for the Red Wings, who have converted on only 2-of-15 shootout tries (13.3 percent). Opponents have scored on 7-of-12 attempts (58.3 percent).
Howard has allowed six goals on 10 shootout attempts this season. He has a .701 save percentage in shootouts for his career (38 goals allowed on 127 shots).
“I have no idea what to say on the shootouts,” Howard said. “They’re just not being kind to us right now. It’s not only myself, but it’s all of us.”
Which a TMR reader quantified to a terrifying extent...
ESPN tossed off a slate of stats regarding last night's game..
Panthers 3, Red Wings 2 (SO) (FLA wins shootout, 2-1)
* Brad Boyes (FLA): scores deciding goal in 3rd round of shootout
* Nick Bjugstad (FLA): scores game-tying goal with 5:22 left in 3rd period (FLA trailed 2-0 entering 3rd)
* Red Wings: lost 8 straight games that went to OT or shootout
Sportsnet's Luke Fox posited a power rankings list...
14 [last week 10] Red Wings: Could HBO have picked two more injury-riddled teams to cover? The Wings sick bay included Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Darren Helm, Todd Bertuzzi and Danny DeKeyser this week. 24/7: Now with 100% more ice baths and therapeutic massages!
THW: How has the team stayed positive through some rough stretches — which are kind of uncharacteristic of your franchise over the past two decades?
JF: Actually we went through that a little bit last year, we couldn’t really find our game and we didn’t start playing well until the end of the season; and we started believing in ourselves. I think you just have to have that one game that makes you feel good about yourself and show everyone in here that we can do it. Everyone’s a good player, we just have to be positive about it and it makes you more confident in what you’re doing out there. It helps, a lot.
THW: You’ve played in an outdoor game before (against the Chicago Blackhawks in 2009), how excited are you to play at Michigan Stadium against the Toronto Maple Leafs on January 1?
JF: It’s going to be fun; it’s going to be great. Playing on home ice, but I don’t know, (laughs) Toronto will bring a lot of people, have a lot of fans there. It’s going to be really cool. I’m going to have a ton of family and friends there; I spent half of my paycheck on tickets already (laughs again) — it’s going to be fun. I try to stay cool and not get over excited about it, but you just have to remember it’s a two-point game and not make it too hard on yourself.
THW: How much easier is it now for your team being in the East in terms of traveling?
JF: You usually notice travel more in the playoffs, but you notice it. Instead of being home at three or four in the morning, now we’re usually home by one or 12:30. It’s good; we usually get a day off too after a road game. But we’ll really be able to tell after a full regular season the real difference; it wears you down slowly all that traveling. Usually you feel it the most when it comes to playoff time when you have to go back and forth all the time playing in Anaheim and cities like that. It’s takes a toll on your body for sure.
THW: What do you think of the division you guys are now in, with teams like Montreal, Toronto and Boston to contend with?
JF: Playing in Canada is always fun, all the fans that are in Canada are always really loud at the games. And Boston too; they’ve been a powerhouse for a long time now and they’re a good measuring stick (for us). That’s a team that you really have to go in and battle with and that’s a good rivalry for us. It’s great seeing/playing new teams, we’ve been playing the same teams for years and you know every guy on those teams. I wouldn’t say it gets old, but some nights you may lose focus a little bit. Here you have to stay on your toes and really know your opponent; you don’t even know all the players you are playing against. You really have to read scouting and all of that. It’s been fun.
Via RedWingsFeed, part 2: The NHL posted another "Time Lapse" video of its work at Michigan Stadium (and I mean this sincerely as a University of Michigan alumnus: I never called it "The Big House" when I went to U of M--I only called it "Michigan Stadium")...
97.1 FM's Jeff Riger offered a unique take on Steve Yzerman's decision to participate in the Winter Classic Alumni Showdown, especially given the way that Yzerman appeared to attempt to wriggle his way out of it when the Lightning first visited Detroit...
I have longed believed it was Yzerman’s responsibility to be at the event. Even if he didn’t skate, as long as he was there to wave, shake hands and address the masses, it would have been good enough for me. But, it does seem like he’ll actually try to lace ‘em up. Yzerman told the media a couple of weeks ago that he doesn’t even own a pair of skates anymore and has only been on the ice 2 to 3 times since retiring, but it doesn’t sound like that will stop him from actually participating in the game
“I haven’t been skating and I don’t really foresee myself skating a lot so we’ll battle through it” Yzerman said.
Despite being an exhibition contest between a bunch of guys who are past their primes, the Alumni game is special. It’s the last chance for fans of the Wings to see their hockey hero’s on the ice all together and a game without #19 just doesn’t seem right.
Fans get the shaft all the time! Ticket prices are ridiculous, concession costs continue to go up and up and I have always believed that losses affect the people a heck of a lot more than the players and coaches. So, for Yzerman to show up, play and complete a much anticipated event, despite all that’s going on in his life is truly a class act!
I spend so much time writing blogs and doing radio shows criticizing people and teams and usually they deserve it. But this time, I need to be positive! It needs to be pointed out that the fans got what they really wanted and it was Yzerman that has once again come through for this organization and city.
There aren’t that many places that would make this big of a deal of a hockey alumni game and there were many people that were just fine with Yzerman not showing up. But, it is a huge deal and that fact alone is pretty awesome! The fact that Yzerman will be in attendance, makes it even more awesome! Kudos Captain you made the right decision!
In the FYI department, Michigan Hockey is posting its complete in-print issues online now...
If you missed it, the Wings reissued the news regarding their Salvation Army kettle bell-ringing event this Friday as a press release...
The Detroit Red Wings will compete for bragging rights on Friday, Dec. 13, to see which duo can raise the most money for The Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign, as four teams bell ring at different Metro Detroit retail locations. Fans are asked to make a $10 donation in exchange for an autograph at all four locations.
Head Coach Mike Babcock will join Executive Vice President and General Manager Ken Holland, who is serving as Honorary Chairman of the 2013 Red Kettle Campaign for the eighth straight year, at Hiller’s Market in downtown Northville, Mich., from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Fans visiting Hockeytown Authentics in Troy, Mich., between 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. on Friday can obtain an autograph from forwards Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm by making a $10 donation.
Defenseman Brendan Smith and forward Gustav Nyquist will bell ring at Kroger in Birmingham, Mich., from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m., while goaltender Jonas Gustavsson and Stephen Weiss will represent the Red Wings at Kroger in Farmington Hills, Mich.
This season marks the eighth consecutive year the Detroit Red Wings and The Salvation Army are teaming up through the “Red Wings for Red Kettles” initiative to help the nonprofit reach its $8.75 million Red Kettle Campaign goal. The initiative has raised nearly $70,000 for the nonprofit since 2005.
WHO: Justin Abdelkader, Mike Babcock, Jonas Gustavsson, Darren Helm, Ken Holland, Gustav Nyquist, Brendan Smith and Stephen Weiss
WHEN: Friday, December 13, 2013
WHERE: Help fill the Red Wings’ kettles at the following locations:
Hiller’s Market – Mike Babcock and Ken Holland (4:00 – 6:00 p.m.)
425 N. Center St. Northville, MI 48167
Hockeytown Authentics – Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm (5:00 – 7:00 p.m.)
1845 E. Big Beaver Troy, MI 48083
Kroger (Birmingham) – Gustav Nyquist and Brendan Smith (5:00 – 7:00 p.m.)
685 E Maple Rd. Birmingham, MI 48009
Kroger (Farmington Hills) – Jonas Gustavsson and Stephen Weiss (5:00 – 7:00 p.m.)
25780 Middlebelt Rd, Farmington Hills, MI 48336
And I hope we can get a bandwagon going with this one: the Red Wings didn't reveal that they're holding an open practice at Comerica Park next Wednesday, December 18th (at noon) until last week, but the Wings have held approximately FIVE open practices anywhere since the lockout (they do hold "open" practices for season ticket-holders, youth groups, etc., but they don't let the general public into the rink):
I would STRONGLY encourage you to spread the word and try to make plans to attend given that, at this point, I'd imagine that a few thousand will show up at best on a cold, sunny pre-Christmas day given the lack of notice.
Update #1: Ha ha, per the Tampa Bay Times' Damian Cristodero:
So, Richard Panik will get a hearing today with the league for his hit Tuesday on Washington's Karl Alzner.
Phone hearing and doesn't necessarily mean a suspension, especially since Alzner returned to the game
Via Puck Daddy, here's what the guy who smashed Adam Almquist into the boards during the Calder Cup Final did this time:
Amongst the CBC's Elliotte Friedman's 30 Thoughts...
16. Okay, how many GMs called the Canucks asking if Alex Edler was available after Tortorella chewed him out on the bench in New York?
17. There's a bit of this with Evander Kane, too. Who knows what is true and what isn't, but because there are rumours about this marriage, the Winnipeg Jets do get queries. One thing I'm learning is Kane's contract makes him extremely valuable. With where the salary cap is going, to get a 22-year-old with a 30-goal history and four more years of cost certainty is pretty good.
Q. Schwarzenegger or Stallone?
DATSYUK: “I have to go with Arnold… I had a posted of Schwarzenegger on the wall above my bed when I was young. But Terminator always scared me.”
Q. A penalty shot during the shootout, or during the game?
DATSYUK: “The latter. Because you don’t get a point added to your stats for scoring in the shootout. This year we almost don’t practice penalty shots, hence the results to cry about. Last year we had a great series of win at the Joe. This year there was another series, but of losses. We need to change…”
Q. Kobe Bryant or Lebron James?
DATSYUK: “Lebron. I like him more as a basketball player. Although I only went to NBA games a couple of times, a long time ago to watch the Pistons.”
Q. Mushroom hunting or fishing?
DATSYUK: “Eat some mushrooms, go fishing… Of course fishing! A company you’re with is important. And the place, where you wish. I am not a big fan of fishing in the ocean or the sea. But I am a fan of Russian nature.
"And it is also interesting if you can outsmart the fish. So, it is also a competition.”
And in the FYI department:
Update #2: Per St. James...
From today's #RedWings practice: Pavel Datsyuk claimed "I'm out of shape." Teammates still laughing.
And Fox Sports Florida's Erin Brown chose an ironic time to post her story about Stephen Weiss's return to Sunrise...
When the 30-year-old talks about why he chose Detroit, the answer is clear: "I came here to win hockey games, be part of a winning culture."Winning some hockey games early in the season, looking up and being toward the top of the standings has been a real good feeling, being a part of that," he said. "It's no fun the other way. That's been the case for a long time. It's fun to be on the other side."
With change came adversity. A groin injury limited Weiss during training camp and the early part of the season. A prolonged slump saw him dropped to the third line in November. Through 26 games, he has two goals, two assists and a minus-four rating.
"We've had lots of guys who have signed big contracts. They were on our own team and suddenly feel more pressure," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "In a new place, you're feeling pressure and it hasn't gone very good. How do you get your confidence back? You get to work and be mentally tough. You talk to people and get people to help you. The first thing to overcoming anything is admitting things aren't going very good. He's done all those things. We feel he's going to start playing better and better."
In Detroit, Weiss has found a confidant in veteran Daniel Alfredsson. Like Weiss, Alfredsson left the team he had been drafted by and spent his entire career with. They've discussed everything from moving to a new city after putting down roots in another to joining a revered organization with high expectations.
"We both struggled early with the change. He's handled it a lot better than I have," Weiss said. "Certainly early on in the season we chatted a little bit about things, the system here. He's a great guy to bounce things off of because he's been around for so long and been a leader."
And they realize their situation is increasingly unique. The salary cap era has led to more movement of players, by choice or because that is simply how the business of sports works these days.
"I think you won't see it as much in the past, guys sticking with one team throughout," Alfredsson said. "I think both of us were fortunate to be with one organization for so long."
Because St. James just posited her report about Weiss:
Weiss finished Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss at Florida, but was so bothered that he knew he couldn’t take any more pain.
“It’s pretty sore,” Weiss said. “I’m going to get it checked out when I get back.”
Weiss missed six games in November with a pulled groin, but said, “it was good for a little bit after that. It’s been a little bit sore, nothing crazy, and then it went south here pretty quickly.
“I’m concerned, for sure. Any time when you’re not in practice and not able to skate, it’s not a good feeling. Just have to see what the tests say. Last night was no good.”
Weiss said he’s had “minor” groin pain before, “usually at the start of the season, through training camp when it’s pretty high intensity, but never at this point in the season. I’m trying to do what I can to prevent it, and it’s not really working. Maybe there’s something going on in there.”
It’s been a tough stretch for Weiss, who joined the Wings this off-season after a decade with the Panthers. He hasn’t emerged as the second-line center the Wings hired him to be, something he’s the first to admit. Now he faces the potential of an indefinitely layoff, and then the grind of a comeback.
“It’s a bad feeling,” he said. “You want to be 100% and be out there with the guys, and when you’re not, it takes a toll on you, especially when things are going the way they have.”
Update #3: Here's MLive's Ansar Khan on Weiss:
“It was good for a little bit after (the last time); a little bit sore, but nothing crazy, then it went south here pretty quickly,” Weiss said. “I’m concerned; anytime you’re not in practice and able to skate, it’s not a good feeling. So I’m just going to see what the tests say.”
Weiss said he did not feel good during Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss at Florida.
“It’s a bad feeling,” Weiss said. “You want to be out there with the guys, feeling good and 100 percent. When you’re not, it takes a toll on you, especially when things are going the way they have. But it’s part of sports. Sometimes these things happen and you got to deal with it the best you can and fix it and come back stronger.”
Weiss has gone 20 games without a goal, one short of his career-long drought in 2002-03, his rookie season. He has just four points (two goals, two assists) in 26 games. He said he’s never experienced groin issues to this degree.
“I’ve had minor stuff, usually at the start of the season, kind of through training camp when it’s pretty high intense, but never anything at this point of the season,” Weiss said. “I don’t know why it’s happening. I’m trying to do what I can to prevent it. It’s not really working, so maybe there is something going on in there.”
Said coach Mike Babcock: “I just know it’s been affecting him, and now here we are.”
Update #3.5: St. James posted a video of Weiss speaking with the media:
Update #3.75: More from St. James...
#RedWings Johan Franzen on playing center again: "I just want to play D one game. Easier to get the puck."
And this is cool:
Update #4: St. James spoke to several Wings about their statuses as "snowbirds":
"Our nutrition gal said they're going to get more vitamin D today than they can get out of any bottle," coach Mike Babcock said. "This is what we planned. We knew we'd have a slow start to practice. We got energized as it went on. They can have an energy afternoon. Let's get ready. We want to have a good road trip. We got one out of a possible two, we need three out of four."
Not everyone heeded Babcock right away - an hour after practice, guys like Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall were still inside, kicking around a soccer ball. Datsyuk, of course, can do what he wants; he claims to be "out of shape" after missing seven games because of a concussion, but he had a goal and an assist in his return Tuesday.
"I feel not good, out of shape, no energy," Datsyuk said. "But I keep short shifts to help myself. Help to pick up speed."
Datsyuk makes a difference at any degree because he's one of the best players in the game. What's been really refreshing to see is how well Franzen has played of late; he's got 11 points in eight games, playing up to his massive size especially while Datsyuk sat for seven games, continuing as Henrik Zetterberg went down with a sore back last week.
"Mule is a guy who has been so good since those guys got hurt," Babcock said. "He's been so determined and he's lead, that we've told him we're not accepting anything less. He's that good, and we need him to be that good."
Franzen will move back to center now that Stephen Weiss is out indefinitely with a groin injury. Darren Helm, nursing a sore shoulder, skated a few laps but doesn't have an estimate for when he might practice. Defenseman Danny DeKeyser (shoulder) is practicing and could be back in a week or so. Babcock wasn't sure how his lines will shake out, but besides Datsyuk and Franzen, the other forwards in the top six Wednesday were Todd Bertuzzi, Daniel Alfredsson, Gustav Nyquist and Justin Abdelkader.
Franzen is a funny character; he'll spend minutes trying to talk journalists out of interviewing him. Asked if he decided to take on more of a leadership role, Franzen said, "I haven't tried to change anything." About his hot streak, he offered that, "I had one roll once and then one slump once, and that was it for nine years."
Update #4.5: USA Today's Kevin Allen still believes that Jimmy Howard's in Team USA's Olympic goaltending mix...
Howard has given up three or more goals in nine of his last 14 appearances. Given his consistency over the past two seasons and his stature, he seemed like a given to be among the top three goalies. Now it seems as if he will be in a race for the final spot behind Quick and Miller. He still has to be considered a slight favorite to be No.3.
And Fox Sports "Iceman Cometh" tossed off a set of power rankings:
13 . Red Wings [highest/lowest] 5/16 BOTTOM LINE: GOOD NEWS: Top forward Pavel Datsyuk has finally recovered from his concussion-like symptoms.
Update #5: Here's the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan's practice report:
"I'm concerned for sure any time you're not in practice and not able to skate," said Weiss, who played 15 minutes, 56 seconds and was minus-1 in Tuesday's 3-2 shootout loss in Florida, where Weiss played for 10 years. "It's not a good feeling. I'm just going to see what the tests say."
Weiss returned Nov. 23 after missing those five games but only has one assist and no goals in the nine games since. He said the groin felt "good for a little bit, but then it's been a little sore, nothing crazy, and then it kind of just went south pretty quickly.
"It flared up last night. It was no good," he said.
His first season as a Red Wing has not gone the way Weiss planned. After signing July 5 for five years and $24.5 million, Weiss has struggled with only four points (two goals, two assists) in 26 games with a minus-4 rating. And now, possibly being forced to miss another stretch of games.
"It's a bad feeling. You want to be out there with the guys and want to feel good," Weiss said. "When you're not, it can take a toll on you, especially when things are going the way they have. But again, it's part of sports, and these things happen. You don't know why, and just try to do what you can do to prevent these things, but sometimes they just happen. You deal with it the best you can, fix it, and come back stronger."
Update #6: In the FYI department, part 1:
In the FYI department, part 2: The Sports Forecaster has quite the high estimation of Tomas Tatar:
Q: What is Tomas Tatar's fantasy upside? Is he worth acquiring in non-keeper leagues at this point?
- Aaron W. (Windsor, ON)
[Fantasy Inbox]: Hi Aaron. Yes, Tatar has value in non-keeper leagues, too. Hopefully, some Tatar owners were patient with him and are now starting to reap the benefits. It's hard to tell what Detroit's forward lines will look like once all of their injured players return to action, but we suspect Tatar has earned a permanent spot in the lineup this time around. He is a very explosive player who really is tenacious around the puck. We believe his fantasy upside is comparable to someone like Minnesota's Zach Parise. That is to say he may eventually hover around 70-85 points annually. He can be used on either side of center and will probably become a regular contributor on both special teams in Detroit. Therefore, pick him up if you already haven't done so, Aaron. Tatar will prove to be worth it.
Update #7: From the NHL...
SAVE-THE-DATE: The 2009 #WinterClassic will be re-airing on NHL Network TOMORROW AT 1PM and Official Detroit Red Wings alumni Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby will take over the @NHLNetwork handle to live tweet the entire game and share their memories.
And the Wings:
Update #8: The Wings posted a "time lapse" video of Comerica Park's transformation into a rink:
Update #9: For what it's worth, Mattias Janmark was named to Sweden's Channel One Cup roster. The Channel One Cup takes place in Moscow from December 19-22...
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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.