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Red Wings-Wild game-day update post #2: Niklas Kronwall’s taking charge of the Wings’ blueline

Updated 4x with Babcock's comments at 3:56 PM: Cue game-day update post #2: The Red Wings won't have Patrick Eaves in the lineup against Minnesota tonight (7:30 PM EDT, NBCSN/TSN2/97.1 FM), with the team having recalled Gusav Nyquist to take his place. Jimmy Howard will start opposite Niklas Backstrom, and the Wild will be icing the same lineup they did against Vancouver on Monday.

As noted in the overnight report, the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa penned a fantastic article about Niklas Kronwall's maturation into an on-and-off-ice leader for the Wings, and NHL.com's Brian Hedger follows that up with a similarly superb profile of the Red Wings' #1 defenseman. Kronwall's doing his best to perform an impossible task...

"He's in a tough spot," Jonathan Ericsson, Kronwall's defense partner, told NHL.com. "He's absolutely our No. 1 defensemen and he's got some big shoes to fill ... but you know, it's Nick Lidstrom and you can't really do that. Nick's got what, seven Norris trophies? That pretty much says it all, but without [Kronwall], it would've been tough to be where we're at."

And while he's no longer in Norris Trophy talk these days, in no small part due to a -7 plus-minus rating earned during the Wings' early struggles, the Wings' players tell Hedger that Kronwall's playing like an MVP:

"I don't see how you can't consider him for it," said 24-year old defenseman Brendan Smith, who has occasionally partnered with Kronwall in recent seasons. "He's been playing really well at both ends of the ice. It's funny to see, actually. Nick Lidstrom was [always] up for the Norris and now you slide him out and put Kronwall in there. It's unbelievable."

Kronwall, however, said he's not attempting a Lidstrom impersonation.

"I don't think it's fair to anyone to try to do what he did -- because what he did on a daily basis is pretty incredible," said Kronwall, one of Detroit's alternate captains and vocal leaders. "I try to be the best me that I can be, and I know that I have some work to do. I'm working hard to get my game to the next level and that's a work in progress."

Smith says that Kronwall's not a work in progress in terms of his off-ice mentorship:

"He helps everyone around him," Smith told NHL.com. "I know when Lashoff came up, he played his first few games with Kronwall and said, 'He makes it so easy for you, because he's so talented that he moves the puck and you barely play in your own end.' It's easier to play offense than it is to play defense and [Kronwall's] just so good at that."

Kronwall also supplements captain Henrik Zetterberg's "speak when necessary and lead by example otherwise" leadership via vocal support:

"He's one of those guys we go to for that," Detroit forward Johan Franzen told NHL.com. "He's always got this fighting fire going all the time. He's intense. He really wants to win and he shows that [in here]."

...

"It's some big shoes to fill here being the top guy [on defense] and getting all that ice time," Franzen said. "But he's doing a great job with it. I don't think anyone works harder than that guy. He's always trying to get better every day and he never takes a day off."

NHL.com also posted a game preview from one Barry Melrose:

Update #0.5: The Red Wings' Game Day Blog offers a Readers Digest' summary of the happenings at the Wings' morning skate:

  • The Red Wings have recalled Gustav Nyquist from Grand Rapids.

"(Nyquist) has got some skill. He's obviously a real good player...in the NHL, you have to come up and grab hold of something.”
- Mike Babcock

  • Patrick Eaves will not play tonight due to a sprained jaw.
  • Nyquist is expected to take Eaves's spot on a line with Andersson and Cleary.
  • Jonathan Ericsson did not practice this morning for personal reasons, but is expected to play tonight.
  • Carlo Colaiacovo flew to Toronto to get another opinion on his shoulder, and left feeling encouraged.

"He saw some thing that were of some concern. I've dealt with them, I've treated them. I've been getting myself to the point where I'm close to 100 percent."- Carlo Colaiacovo

Update #1: ESPN's experts were asked whether the Wings will be buyers or sellers during an ESPN.com chat, and here's what they had to say:

Craig Custance: Sean - I think Detroit would settle for just getting healthy in time for the deadline. My bet is Ken Holland stands pat. I don't think they've ruled out being sellers but things would really have to go sideways for that to happen. This past weekend was big for them as is tonight's game. They need to get points today before hitting the road again.

Scott Burnside: Sean; I would be shocked if the Wings trade any/many more futures this year. Might be time to restock the shelves as they figure out what they've got moving forward. I know the window will close quickly on Zetterberg/Datsyuk but sometimes it's just smart to keep your powder dry and this might be one of those times.

Pierre LeBrun: Detroit has interest in Jay Bouwmeester as well as Jarome Iginla from Calgary but I'm not convinced they're going to pay the price for either in a year in which they're not sure to get in.

Katie Strang: Also re: Detroit. They definitely have the inside track on Western Michigan defenseman Danny Dekeyser should he decide to turn pro. DeKeyser, who headlines the class of potential college free agents, played youth hockey with Red WIngs assistant GM Jim Nill's son, Trevor, and played under Jeff Blashill at WMU as a freshman. Blashill now coaches Red WIngs' minor-league affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins. And he's a Michigan kid, so strong connection there.

Craig Custance: Red Wings gave up a first to get Kyle Quincey last year and the results have been mixed. Not sure they'd want to move a first two years in a row.

Update #2: As mentioned earlier, the Wings will bring Calle Jarnkrok to town for the team's games against Chicago on March 31st and Colorado on April 1st, and while the team does not plan on assigning him to Grand Rapids--the Wings will let him play in the World Championships, which take place in Stockholm and Helsinki for the second straight year--the team does plan on bringing him in to the organization next year, and the same may be true for Teemu Pulkkinen. Pulkkinen and Jokerit Helsinki won their first playoff game today:

Pulkkinen played 12:09 and took 3 shots but registered no points.

Update #3: Here's the Red Wings website's game-day preview video:

Update #4: Here are Mike Babcock's game-day comments:

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Comments

OnlyWings's avatar

Sit pat April 3 and no big deals and more importantly for the future, Please sign DeKeyser!

As far as UFAs?  Will see who is left in July and Wings Cap situation, buyouts, retirements, signing their own UFAs (who and how much).

Simple, right…KH, Nill, and supporting cast have some tough decisions regarding their own UFAs I think..

Posted by OnlyWings on 03/20/13 at 03:02 PM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

Sit pat April 3 and no big deals and more importantly for the future, Please sign DeKeyser!
As far as UFAs?  Will see who is left in July and Wings Cap situation, buyouts, retirements, signing their own UFAs (who and how much).
Simple, right…KH, Nill, and supporting cast have some tough decisions regarding their own UFAs I think..
Posted by OnlyWings on 03/20/13 at 03:02 PM ET

Trade Flip for anything, let Cleary, Miller and White walk, re-sign the kids and sign… maybe Smid, Streit, Visnovsky or Murray on the backend and Penner, Morrow, Horton or Antropov up front. Get some size up there.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 03/20/13 at 03:35 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

“(Nyquist) has got some skill. He’s obviously a real good player…in the NHL, you have to come up and grab hold of something.”
- Mike Babcock

Kind of hard for him to “grab something,” Mike, if you keep using him on the wrong line. How about one whole game with Pavel and Abdelcarom? Maybe the kid and Pavel could just take turns shooting at the human backboard and drive his goal total up. smile

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 03/20/13 at 03:58 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Posted by
     
    Vladimir16
     
      on 03/20/13 at 03:35 PM ET

I like that plan.  Wouldn’t mind a player who actually used his size up in the top 6.  Think the Devil’s would give up Clarkson?? I know, I know.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 03/20/13 at 04:22 PM ET

Hootinani's avatar

let Cleary, Miller and White walk

As long as Miller is willing to play on the 4th line for 4th liner money, keep him.  He’s great defensively, and plays havok on the other teams 3rd and 4th lines.  And as we saw in Van, he at least has the wheels to plug into the top 6 for a brief stay and not look completely out of place.

Of courose, if he wants a serious raise or a line promotion, show him the door.

Posted by Hootinani on 03/20/13 at 04:23 PM ET

SYF's avatar

IMO, Antropov is a big guy, but jeebus, he has 1/10 the meanness of a docile E52.  If we’re frustrated with a 6’3” Horse’s Ass (and he’s on Dangles’ line temporarily), oh we’d really fuching lose it with Antropov.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 03/20/13 at 04:28 PM ET

Hootinani's avatar

Penner, Morrow, Horton or Antropov up front. Get some size up there.
   
Posted by Vladimir16 on 03/20/13 at 03:35 PM ET

Penner’s just a fatter version of Franzen, overpaid and questionable heart.  Anyone alse on that list would be great (as long as Morrow’s body holds out)

I wish Detroit could get ahold of Wheeler.  Watched him alot last year and he was the best thing going in Winnipeg.  Havent been able to watch him much this year without the GCL, but it looks like from highlights hes only getting better.

Posted by Hootinani on 03/20/13 at 04:30 PM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

Penner, Morrow, Horton or Antropov up front. Get some size up there.

I thought that’s what Sheahan was for?

Posted by MoreShoot on 03/20/13 at 04:50 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Posted by
     
    MoreShoot
     
      on 03/20/13 at 04:50 PM ET

He’s got about 10 years before they let him sniff the top 6 and he’ll probably have to put up 08 franzen playoff numbers to get the bump up.  He’ll get a lifetime contract with it though too.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 03/20/13 at 05:13 PM ET

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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.