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Slightly belated Red Wings Wednesday practice post: steady as she goes

The Detroit Red Wings spent Tuesday by the pool in Phoenix after defeating the Coyotes on Monday night.

Today, they flew to San Jose to get back to work in preparation for tomorrow night's game against the San Jose Sharks (10:30 PM EDT, FSD/CSN Bay Area/97.1 FM, and the Sharks host the Ducks tonight). Many thanks to Paul for covering the main points as I plain old don't feel well today.

I know the Chief covered this, but Ken Holland did indeed fly to Toronto to wine and dine Danny DeKeyser...

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland traveled from Phoenix to Toronto to meet with the representatives of the former Western Michigan University star.

DeKeyser is expected to weigh numerous offers and make his decision by Friday.

The money will be the same wherever he goes, since the 23-year-old is limited to an NHL entry-level contract (two years for a player his age). His decision will be based on opportunity, where he believes he will get a chance to play right away.

Ordinarily, the Red Wings don't make promises of a roster spot and playing time to prospects. But, they might have to make an exception for DeKeyser, who many believe is ready to step into the NHL after his junior year with the Broncos.

DeKeyser met with Toronto Maple Leafs brass on Tuesday and watched their game against Florida at the Air Canada Centre. Anaheim, St. Louis, Edmonton, Philadelphia, Ottawa and Nashville are among the other clubs reportedly pursuing DeKeyser.

And on and off the ice in San Jose...

MLive's Ansar Khan reports that Mikael Samuelsson skated with the team, and he wants to return from his broken index finger on Sunday, though his coach isn't so sure about that concept...

“We're not aiming for anything, going see how he is tomorrow,'' Babcock said. “There's no time (frame).''

It has been an extremely frustrating season for the 36-year-old who signed a two-year, $6 million free-agent deal on July 1. He tried to play through a groin injury from training camp and had a setback in the second game of the season, which idled him for 12 games. He returned for one game, on Feb. 17, and then suffered a broken left index finger during the morning skate in Nashville on Feb. 19. That will force him to sit out for the 19th consecutive game Thursday in San Jose.

“You come here again and really want to prove yourself,'' Samuelsson said. “Usually I'm in a good mood, but during this part it's been like, 'What's going on?' At the same time, what are you going to do? Just do the best of the situation and be ready. I'm not complaining, but it sucks to be injured, it's the worst part of the game. You want to get out there. You see after a couple of days how much fun it is. You want to be part of the team. You want to be in the mix to really feel respected. At night when you go to sleep, you feel like you've done something every day. If you're injured, it's not the same.''

Samuelsson said he believes his stick-handling and shooting ability is where it needs to be, but added, “at the same time it's like starting over a little bit, with the timing.''

Forward Todd Bertuzzi (back, leg) skated again at the start of practice, but left early, as planned.

“He's going to (go) slow, we're not in any race to have him go the whole thing,'' Babcock said. “There's no race for anybody, just gradually trying to get them to play.''

Babcock said Jimmy Howard, as expected, will start in goal on Thursday.

The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness discussed the Wings finding their legs of late (and his entire article's worth reading)...

The Wings head into the trip’s final game Thursday in San Jose riding a three-game winning streak.

“We knew it was going to be important for us,” forward Henrik Zetterberg said. “That game against Minny we lost at home stung a little bit; and we knew this road trip was even more important. We wanted to have a good start. We got the first three and we just want to finish it off on Thursday.”

In fact the Wings have won five straight on the road.

“It definitely feels good right now,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “We’re in good shape. At the same time we’ve got another game (Thursday), don’t get too confident, we’ve got some work to do, that we can do better.”

The Wings have trailed in four of their last five road games.

“In the beginning of the season there were a lot of times when other teams went up a goal or two and we just kind of couldn’t find any energy to go after them again,” Kronwall said. “Now it feels like we just keep going no matter what the score is.”

...

“The big thing that’s happened, for a long time we didn’t win on the road, but we didn’t have (Valtteri) Filppula and (Johan) Franzen. Joakim Andersson had come up and it took him a while to become an NHL player and obviously our D’s gotten better,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “It wasn’t our thought at the start of the year that these young defensemen would be playing. It’s just the way it worked. It took us some time. But I think it’s getting better and we’ve just got to keep finding ways to win games.”

The CBC's Tim Wharnsby took note of the Senators and Wings' strong play despite their injury issues...

The Senators' success can be attributed to coaching and depth. The same goes for the Red Wings in the West, who have missed the services long-term of Darren Helm, Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson, among others, this season.

Both the Red Wings and Senators have persevered and sit a remarkable fifth in their respective conferences.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins have been aided by relatively healthy years to date.

This is hardly scientific, but we declare the Senators tops in our success-despite-injury index that we've come up with, a computation that simply adds a team's rank in man-games lost to its place in the overall standings. The lower the number, the better, of course. The Senators are tops at nine, followed by Detroit (11) and Montreal (15).

And the Grand Rapids Griffins posted their weekly press release:

This Week’s Games
Thu., March 28 - GRIFFINS at San Antonio Rampage - 8 p.m.
- WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com

Fri., March 29 - GRIFFINS at Houston Aeros - 8:05 p.m. - WTKG 1230 AM / AHLLive.com

Sat., March 30 - GRIFFINS at Texas Stars - 8 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com

Out on a High Note: The Griffins began last week with a rematch against Peoria on Tuesday, having fallen to the Rivermen 3-2 in overtime last Sunday. The team’s bad luck against the Rivermen continued, as the 4-1 loss marked the sixth straight time that the Griffins have lost to Peoria. Grand Rapids returned home on Friday to begin a home-and-home set against the Lake Erie Monsters, but it ultimately dropped a 4-3 shootout decision after initially storming out to a 2-0 first-period lead. On Saturday in Cleveland, it was the Monsters who roared out to a 3-0 start, but the Griffins answered back before the end of the second period, and it was a hat trick capped off by an overtime winner by Adam Almquist that helped the team end a four-game winless skid with a come-from-behind 5-4 victory.

Southern Hospitality: The Griffins will continue their season-high seven-game road trip this week with their eighth three-in-three of the season. After returning to Grand Rapids for a few days following Saturday’s 5-4 overtime win at Lake Erie, the Griffins will fly out to Texas to take on the San Antonio Rampage on Thursday at 8 p.m. EDT, the Houston Aeros on Friday at 8:05 p.m. EDT and the Texas Stars on Saturday at 8 p.m. EDT. This week marks the start of four consecutive games against South Division opponents, as Grand Rapids will take on the Aeros again next Tuesday before ending their road trip with back-to-back games against the North Division’s Abbotsford Heat.

The Trip Continues: The Griffins are in the middle of a stretch of 10 of 11 games (March 16-April 6) on the road, as last Friday’s contest versus Lake Erie is their only home game in that stretch. The team began a season-high seven-game road trip the following night against the Monsters, but returned to Grand Rapids following the game. After practicing at home for two days, the Griffins departed on Wednesday to continue season’s longest trip, and they won’t return home for two full weeks. The first part of the trek sees the Griffins play three games in three days – at San Antonio on Thursday, Houston on Friday and Texas on Saturday.

Swede Dreams: No defensemen in franchise history had recorded a hat trick in the Griffins’ first 15-and-a-half seasons until Logan Pyett notched three on Feb. 27, 2011 at Hamilton. Just over two full years later, the team has now had three defensemen hit the milestone, with the last two coming just 27 days apart. After Chad Billins recorded three on Feb. 24 versus San Antonio, Adam Almquist notched one last Saturday at Lake Erie. Almquist also became the third player in franchise history to complete a hat trick by scoring in overtime, joining Donald MacLean (Jan. 14, 2006 vs. Milwaukee) and Jiri Hudler (Oct. 24, 2004 at San Antonio). Almquist, who had a season-high four points (3-1—4) on the night, also made history with the overtime goal, as it was the second-latest ever scored in a Griffins regular season game (for or against), coming with just 10 seconds left in the extra session. Todd White holds the franchise record, after scoring with one second left in overtime on Dec. 15, 2000 at Cleveland.

...

Sweden’s Finest: The Red Wings on Monday reassigned center Calle Jarnkrok from Brynas (Sweden) to the Griffins. Detroit’s second choice (51st overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Jarnkrok skated in 53 games for Brynas of the Swedish Eliteserien this season, leading the team and tying for eighth in the league with 42 points (13-29—42). A native of Gavle, Sweden, the 21-year-old has appeared in 185 games with Brynas since 2009, registering 118 points (44-74—118) and 40 penalty minutes. In 2011-12, he helped his club capture the SEL championship by tying for fourth in the league in postseason scoring with 16 points (4-12—16) in 16 games. The 6-foot, 176-pound center has also represented his country on the international stage several times, including at the 2011 World Junior Championship, where he earned a silver medal, and at the 2012 World Championship.

...

Road to April: After departing for Texas on Wednesday, the Griffins will play six road games in a two-week span before returning to Grand Rapids for their next home game (April 10 versus Chicago). With less than a month to play in the regular season, the Griffins can edge closer to clinching a playoff spot if they can continue their success on the road. The team’s 0.600 winning percentage away from home ranks as the fourth-best in the league, behind Syracuse (0.727), Texas (0.688) and Charlotte (0.676). Despite having played 30 road games, which ties for the fewest in the league, the team is also tied for fourth with 17 victories and sits second with a 3.53 goals-per-game average and fifth with a 19.7 percent power play efficiency on the road.

 

Update: Via RedWingsFeed, from Ken Kal:

Update #2: The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness also confirms that Holland's heading to Toronto:

Wings general manager Ken Holland traveled from Phoenix to Toronto to meet with DeKeyser and his representatives to make a final pitch to land his services.

And just like when the Wings tried to land Wisconsin’s Justin Schultz, money won’t be a problem it’ll come down to playing time and a roster spot in the NHL.

DeKeyser, a native of Macomb, is expected to make his decision by Friday.

DeKeyser has already met with Toronto and is also reportedly being heavily pursued by Anaheim, St. Louis, Edmonton, Philadelphia, Ottawa and Nashville.

Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill said this of DeKeyser, “A character player … great size, range, moves the puck well, a very good skater for a big man … solid all-around defensively … knows the game well, plays within his limitations … hard to beat one-on-one because of his range, his reach and his skating ability.”

The Wings hope to have a lot going for them he make his final decision.

First, he’s attended a prospects camp with the Wings in Traverse City.

Second, he’s from Michigan.

Third, he played one season at WMU under former Wings assistant coach and current Grand Rapids Griffins bench boss Jeff Blashill.

Fourth, he played youth hockey with Trevor Nill, the son of Jim Nill.

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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.