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Red Wings-Wild game-day updates: Datsyuk’s a ‘game-time decision’

Updated 3x with Wild updates at 5:28 PM: The Detroit Red Wings will face off against the Minnesota Wild tonight in a pseudo-matinee game (6 PM EST, FSD/FS North/97.1 FM) with both teams hoping to snap two-game losing streaks. The Red Wings will start Petr Mrazek opposite Niklas Backstrom tonight, and the Wings will also receive a roster reinforcement in the form of Mikael Samuelsson, but whether Pavel Datsyuk plays tonight, we don't yet know, and we won't know until game time:

The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan is confirming...

As is the Free Press's Helene St. James...

And MLive's Ansar Khan:

FYI:

The Red Wings' Game Day blog also offers "three keys to the game" from Ken Kal:

Limit Turnovers - Turnovers hurt the team in their last game, especially in the third period. The Wings need to take better care of the puck tonight.

Play Better in Front of our Goalie - That means clearing rebounds and not allowing the opposition to get multiple scoring chances.

Compete Hard for 60 Minutes - Win the one-on-one battles, especially in the corners, and play with an edge.

Roose penned an article discussing the Wings' "Fathers and Mentors' trip," which spans tonight's game and Tuesday's in Nashville, and he focused on a yarn-and-a-half that Jordin Tootoo spun about his father Barney's trip from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut to Detroit before getting down to brass tacks:

“Obviously everything has been different here, not only for myself, but I think a lot of people around here,” Tootoo said. “Obviously, my dad is excited to meet a lot of the other dads and the players.”

For Tootoo, the trip is a way for him and other players to show their gratitude to their dads, or in some cases, other men who mentored them.

“Our parents have been there through thick and thin and this is kind of a ‘thank you’ to them for showing us the ropes,” he said. “And now it’s kind of our turn to show them what we kind of do on a daily basis. I also think it’s a great opportunity for all of our fathers to reflect on their kid’s pasts, reminisce and have a good time with each other.”

Justin Abdelkader, Daniel Cleary, Carlo Colaiaicovo, Cory Emmerton, Jonathan Ericsson, Darren Helm, Jimmy Howard, Jakub Kindl, Niklas Kronwall, Drew Miller, Kyle Quincey, Brendan Smith, and Henrik Zetterberg are among the players, coaches and training staff hosting their dads, brothers, friends and mentors on the two-game trip, which concludes Tuesday in Nashville.

With the lockout shortened schedule and games being played every other day, it would have been easy for the Wings to eliminate this year’s trip. But coach Mike Babcock wouldn’t hear of it.

“This is one of the things we do, so why wouldn’t we have it?” he said. “The dad’s didn’t plan the lockout, they had nothing to do with. We like having them. It’s a great thing to do. … We’ve been doing it ever since I’ve come here. It’s lots of fun.”

And MLive's Brendan Savage took note of the fact that TSN's Scott Cullen believes that Wings coach Mike Babcock's done the best job of any NHL coach as of the "quarter pole":

JACK ADAMS AWARD
Winner: Mike Babcock, Detroit
Runners-up: Barry Trotz, Nashville; Peter DeBoer, New Jersey

Comment: Always an award that could have half a dozen or more deserving nominees, Babcock gets the early nod for steering the Red Wings through the post-Lidstrom era with a shaky -- and injured -- defence corps, yet the Wings persevere. Trotz gets mentioned annually and Pekka Rinne's strong play might be more reason for Nashville's success, but they're succeeding with minimal production from Shea Weber (or any forwards) after Ryan Suter left as a free agent. Perhaps there should be some Ewing Theory applied to the big ticket free agents signed by Minnesota, since the Devils haven't missed a beat without Zach Parise, but DeBoer deserves credit for keeping the Devils on track. Battling early injuries and dancing around goaltender usage, Vancouver's Alain Vigneault should be among those nominated too, so it pains me to have him among honourable mentions. Toronto's Randy Carlyle and Montreal's Michel Therrien could be in the discussion too, as both Toronto and Montreal are exceeding preseason expectations.

On the Wild's side of the rink, MinnesotaWild.com's Mike Doyle has penned a game preview...

The Minnesota Wild will celebrate Hockey Day in America by hosting the Detroit Red Wings. It’s the second time the two teams have met this season, with the Red Wings taking the first game in Detroit, 5-3.

Minnesota recalled a pair of forwards yesterday. The Wild recalled Jason Zucker and Johan Larsson from the Houston Aeros, the team’s American Hockey League affiliate.

Zucker played in six games with the Wild last season after signing an entry-level deal out of the University of Denver. The speedy left wing leads the Aeros with 41 points (19-22=41). Zucker ranks second amongst AHL rookies in goals and scoring. Larsson hasn’t played a game with the Wild and will wear number 47. In Houston, he has 27 points (13-14=27) in 50 games.

The Wild also placed Josh Harding on Injured Reserve yesterday as he’s felt off while taking new medications in treatment for multiple sclerosis.

Yesterday, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Justin Falk didn’t practice with the team due to illness and their status for today is unknown. The Wild didn’t hold a morning skate so the lineup will not be determined till game time.

On Thursday, the Wild as outlasted in a shootout against the Colorado Avalanche, 4-3. Zach Parise got Minnesota on the board in the second period with his team leading 7th goal, with assists going to Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley. Mike Rupp followed up with his first goal with the Wild. Mikael Granlund assisted the goal. Koivu closed out the scoring for the Wild in the third period, assist going to Heatley and Ryan Suter. Niklas Backstrom made 27 saves in the game.

The Wings were shot down by the Anaheim Ducks on Friday, 5-2. Joakim Andersson and Tomas Tatar scored for Detroit. Jimmy Howard made 32 saves in the losing effort.

And he believes that the Wild will dress the following lineup:

Parise - Koivu - Heatley
Brodziak - Granlund - Seto
  Zucker- Cullen - Clutterbuck
Mitchell - Konopka - Rupp

If Falk is out, Nate Prosser will be back on the blue line:

Suter – Spurgeon
Gilbert – Brodin
Prosser – Stoner

The Star-Tribune's Michael Russo offered a different kind of morning skate update...because the Wild aren't holding one today...

Good morning from Chateau Russeau, where for a rarity, I didn't have to be at a morning skate. Because of the early game, the players didn't go down to the X today, so I can't give you the lines so many of you are curious about. We will talk to coach MIke Yeo at 3 p.m., so I will blog and tweet them soon after.

...

To guess lines, one we know. After combining for two goals in the shootout loss to Colorado on Thursday, you know Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Dany Heatley will remain intact.

From there, it's just a guess because Pierre-Marc Bouchard was sick yesterday and likely won't play today and because Yeo will have to choose one other forward to come out.

My guess is Zucker slots right into a line with Matt Cullen and Devin Setoguchi because Torrey Mitchell filled in there yesterday.

The other line in practice was: Mikael Granlund-Kyle Brodziak-Cal Clutterbuck in practice. So if that stays the same, perhaps Yeo just slots Larsson onto the fourth line with Mike Rupp and Zenon Konopka and sits Mitchell? Or perhaps he plays Mitchell and has Larsson center the fourth line with Rupp. I'd think Rupp plays because he scored last game and was the forward Yeo pretty much chose to get more ice time once Clutterbuck left the game. Remember also, Konopka took a bad penalty against the Avs and Yeo made his displeasure known by not giving Konopka another shift. Still, my guess is that Mitchell sits.

The only caveat to all this is if the club isn't comfortable playing a banged up Clutterbuck, who did feel better yesterday but was having issues with peripheral vision in the second period of the Colorado game. That's why he left the game.

Update #0.25: Take this for what you will:

Update #1: Via RedWingsFeed, MLive's Ansar Khan confirms Datsyuk's status with a quip...

“I feel better every day,'' Datsyuk said.

Khan offers Babcock's take as to why he's swapping out Kindl for Huskins...

“Kuba (Kindl) moves the puck real good, and yet involved in too many plays going in the wrong direction,'' Babcock said. “We have to tighten up tonight. Huskins doesn’t move the puck the same, but I know what he’s going to do and he gives me an extra penalty killer, and takes some minutes away from (Niklas) Kronwall. So that’s the balance there. The bottom line is we made a decision of who we think can help us win.”

And Khan spoke to Darren Helm about his attempts to recover from his back issues:

“I come in for treatment and then I go home to sleep,'' he said Sunday.

...

“I have been feeling better the last few days, looking at next week maybe doing some more physical activity and see where that takes us,'' Helm said. “Just wait and see is all I can do. That was the hardest part of me the last couple of weeks.''

...

“(Doctors) believe it will get better. It's just a matter of time. They don't really know when,'' Helm said. “I just have to stay happy and be positive about that.''

He is trying to keep his spirits up.

“It's been a long time since I played hockey or been healthy; whenever you don't have a chance to do that it gets you down,'' Helm said. “I'm surrounded by a lot of good people around the rink. Lots of support from friends and family. I do know the time is going to come where I'm ready to play and I'm healthy again.''

Update #2: Here's the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan's game-day update...

Pavel Datsyuk will be a game-time decision for the Red Wings against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday night. Faceoff is 6 p.m. Datsyuk missed Friday's game with what the team is calling a bruised shoulder. After participating in the optional morning skate Sunday, Datsyuk appeared optimistic and chipper.

"I feel better," Datsyuk said. "It's a little better every day. Today it's better than the last day."

The Red Wings desperately need Datsyuk's offense. He has 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 13 games.

Coach Mike Babcock said he would sit defenseman Jakub Kindl against the Wild, replacing Kindl with Kent Huskins. Kindl has been in for Huskins over the last five games. Huskins offers more on the penalty kill and a better defensive presence for Babcock.

"He doesn't move the puck the same (as Kindl) but I know what he's going to do," Babcock said. "He's give me an extra penalty killer and takes some minutes away from (Niklas) Kronwall. So that's the balance there. Kindl moves the puck real good (but he's been) involved in too many plays going the wrong direction. Last game we had two critical errors in the back end that led to turnovers. The bottom line is we make decisions on who will help us win."

Kindl was disappointed with the decision.

"It's frustrating," he said. "I don't know the answer."

And here's the Free Press's Helene St. James' report:

Coach Mike Babcock said he'd have "to make a decision" on which forward comes out if Datsyuk is able to play. He missed the last game because of a shoulder bruise, but has since skated twice.

Mikael Samuelsson will make what will be just his third appearance of the season after being sidelined by a pulled groin.

"I'm excited, for sure," Samuelsson said of rejoining the lineup. "I look forward to tonight."

On defense, Kent Huskins is coming in for Jakub Kindl, who continues to struggle to gain a foothold as a regular despite numerous opportunities. "It's frustrating," Kindl said. "I wish I had the answer."

Huskins said, "it's great" to play again after being a healthy scratch for five games. "It's my job to come back in and contribute, and I look forward to doing that."

Petr Mrazek is scheduled to get his second NHL start.

Not much going on otherwise in the injury department: Darren Helm is on the trip but isn't skating, isn't working out, and isn't remotely close to joining the lineup. Johan Franzen (hip flexor) skated, but isn't playing tonight.

She also offered a Twitter quip about Darren Helm's status:

 

Update #3: Here's a personnel update from MinnesotaWild.com's Mike Doyle:

Johan Larsson will make his NHL debut, while Jason Zucker will make his season debut tonight as the Wild hosts the Detroit Red Wings on Hockey Day in America.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard will be out of the lineup with an illness. Zenon Konokpa will be a healthy scratch.

Zucker will skate on a line with Matt Cullen and Devin Setoguchi. Larsson will skate with Kyle Brodziak and Cal Clutterbuck. The first line of Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley and Zach Parise will remain intact. Mikael Granlund will center Torrey Mitchell and Mike Rupp.

Nate Prosser also be in tonight for Justin Falk, who was sick and missed yesterday’s practice.

The Wild's website also posted audio clips of coach Mike Yeo's pre-game comments and quips from Johan Larsson and Jason Zucker.

Per the Star-Tribune's Michael Russo:

And MLive's Ansar Khan penned an article about the fathers' trip:

Barney Tootoo played hockey, but not the way his son plays.

“He was finesse,'' Tootoo said. “I mean, when you’re that small … he was a little shifty around the net more than he was dropping the gloves. My mom likes the more physical stuff. She’s the one that created all of the physical part when I was growing up.''

...

Kyle Quincey brought his father, Marty, who owns a sales agency in Kitchener, Ontario.

“He's pumped, he's looking forward to it,'' Quincey said. “He's a huge hockey fan. Just being with the boys is what he's looking forward to.''

Jimmy Howard brought his father-in-law after taking his father and grandfather on previous trips.

“I'm just trying to spread it around and give everyone a chance,'' Howard said. “He's just excited to be able to do something like this. He's a big sports fan and to be able to travel with us is real exciting. He was all over it.''

Jonathan Ericsson brought his younger brother, Jesper, who is in the U.S. for only the second time. The only other time Jesper saw his brother play in person since Jonathan joined the NHL was when the Red Wings started the 2009-10 season with a pair of games in Stockholm, Sweden.

...

“I'll meet lots of people, you get to know these guys over time,'' Babcock said. “You understand their kids and where they come from. The other thing is the guys have a great time and we usually play hard.''

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Comments

Avatar

Babcock’s reasoning for taking out Kindl is hilarious to me. Kronwall caused the turnover. Yeah, Kindl wasn’t in great position, but that was one play. He is not frequently doing that, but Babcock makes it sound like he’s out of position all the time.

I really don’t like the way he is handling the lineup. He says he played Z too much one night against the Blues, should’ve spread out the ice time more. Next game against the Ducks, he benches an entire line for the third period. He gives Cleary more ice time than he should get, he hardly gives Eaves anything when he’s got more offensive ability than Cleary and needs to get back up to game speed, he’s constantly tweaking the lines and never giving them a chance to just gel and settle into roles…his decisions, when it comes to who should be on the ice, are baffling.

But hey…I’m just a guy on the Internet.

Posted by CrimsonPhoenix on 02/17/13 at 02:00 PM ET

Crater's avatar

There you have it, from Babcock himself. Kindl is a liability and what he brings to the offensive side of the game is not more valuable than the on ice mistakes.

I don’t necessarily think Kindl has been awful, but I see what Babs means. In a season like this we have to be more conservative.

Posted by Crater from SoCal on 02/17/13 at 02:02 PM ET

Avatar

Yeah, I don’t think he’s been awful at all. He’s been good, at the very least decent.

He set up one of the goals in that same game. If he hadn’t been in the lineup…maybe that never happens? It’s goofy logic to me.

Ultimately, it might just be he wanted to get Huskins in a game and he needed an excuse. Then he just had to come up with something to tell the media as to why he sat who he sat.

Posted by CrimsonPhoenix on 02/17/13 at 02:19 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

So the useless dork Samuelsson draws in for Nyquist, funny.  Nyquist is a better player than Cleary also.

There were many blunders by the defense by mostly Veteran players so sit Kindl, Funny again.

And the 29 year old Fil without that upside that has never been shown on the ice.  Not so funny as he would be tough to trade.

The young guys made mistakes also but showed a lot more hustle and energy than some older players.

Kudos to the Griffins coaching staff you have shown these guys how to play in the NHL!

Keep it simple, forecheck and backcheck ,something the Wings didn’t have to do in the past. Just outscore the mistakes.

Babs will never bench a Vet and that might come back to bite him in the butt down the road.

When is the last time anyone saw a defenceman “Walk the line” to create openings, not including last year? 

I bet you see Samuelsson on the Point on the PP, trying to kill players on the ice and Fans with his shots that are 8 -25 feet off the ice! Brutal, brutal signing!!

Samuelsson, Clearly and Aby should add some humor and cussing to the game.

Hope Pavel sits , no need to have the injured shoulder a long term injury.

Please don’t lose to the Wild.

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 02/17/13 at 02:30 PM ET

RorSchach's avatar

Kindl is the ultimo Whipping Boy for Uncle Mike. I don’t agree with it. Sure, Kindl has played over 100 games in his NHL career.. But the dude plays a few games and off a few games. Plays a few games off a few games. What kind of bs is that? Either use him, or trade him. That simple.

Lashoff and Big Rig have been the other two that actually look decent to me. Cola looked good before going down and Smith looked decent.

Sammy = Joke.

That is all.

Posted by RorSchach from Datsberg on 02/17/13 at 02:58 PM ET

EDJ's avatar

A coach is always going to put in the players he trusts most. That’s why you always see the same players on the ice in the last minute of a game and that’s why it’s such a big deal when for instance Ovechkin started getting benched in the last minute of a game. Consistency is really important and that’s one of the reasons Babcock is always talking about how Helm isn’t in the lineup. Helm is the same ridiculous forechecking presence every time he goes on the ice. Huskins isn’t nearly as good a player, but he’s about the same every time he’s on the ice. Kindl isn’t.

Still, Babcock knows Kindl is a better player. Huskins has sat the last five games. He probably just wants to shake things up since the last two games haven’t gone so well.

On Cleary, I do think he adds a good presence on the ice but I don’t think it’s worth it anymore if you’re going to prevent players like Nyquist or Tatar from playing. I think it’s time Cleary retires before he gets hurt again and takes up a mentorship role in the front office or something like that. I don’t think he’s good enough to keep playing on the Red Wings roster and I don’t think he wants to leave Detroit.

Posted by EDJ on 02/17/13 at 03:33 PM ET

perfection's avatar

I think Kindl’s been real good but I agree with putting a defensive dman in after a couple of losses with a TON of turnovers from the back. they need to reboot. I think overall Kindl’s been doing way better than Quincey and then I hear during the game the other night Quincey is leading our team in BOTH blocked shots and plus/minus. That’s insane as he hasn’t seemed to pass the eye test by any means, but you still can’t underemphasize those two stats. You can’t scratch a defenseman who’s leading your team in both of those two stats. So Kindl has to sit I guess.

I agree with being in slight dismay at how Babs has been running his lines of late. Mainly the overplay of Z and Dats right at a time where our bottom lines have become the most productive. The Grand Rapids line not only produced two goals the other night but had countless other chances. They were by far the best line on the ice and yet Zetterberg was out there more than he was the last game. I know a big part of it is defense and the fact that you definitely don’t want a Grand Rapids line going against Perry, Gezlaf, or Ryan or they’d probably get eaten alive, but at the same time, when a line is going that well you’d think he’d get them out there as much as possible.

Also, I keep reading how Nyquist is “better” than certain other players, but I think you have to keep in mind that Babs has a philosophy for his forwards. He likes every line to be playmaker - sniper - netfront/retrieval. That’s why with Bert and Helm out, Abbie and Cleary are the ones moving up. You can disagree with his philosophy obviously, but there’s a logic to what he’s doing. He’s clearly not unaware of Nyquist’s skill. 

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 02/17/13 at 04:08 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

He likes every line to be playmaker - sniper - netfront/retrieval.

I understand where you are coming from with that and not disagreeing.

But I had a good chuckle when I tried to find any of those skill sets on a Aby/Cleary/Samuelsson line.  Will see, maybe there will be Curly Fries on that line tonite??

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 02/17/13 at 04:50 PM ET

w2j2's avatar

I bet you see Samuelsson on the Point on the PP, trying to kill players on the ice and Fans with his shots that are 8 -25 feet off the ice! Brutal, brutal signing!!

WingedRider:  I agree.  “William Tell” Samuelsson is dangerous.  I wish all the Wings were wearing cages when he is on the ice.  And he shoots from absurd distances when he rarely hits the net.  It would be SO much better to what one of the rookies play instead.

Posted by w2j2 on 02/17/13 at 05:53 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.