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Red Wings-Wild game-day updates: Eaves out, Nyquist recalled for ‘Rivalry Night’ game vs. Wild

Updated 8x at 1:59 PM: The Detroit Red Wings face off against a difficult opponent in the Minnesota Wild tonight (7:30 PM EDT, NBC Sports Network/TSN2/97.1 FM), and it sounds like they won't have Patrick Eaves (sore but not broken jaw) in the lineup:

Cue the cavalcade of morning skate Tweets and confirmations!

Rut roh:

I'm glad that you don't have to sit here and wait with me while I spend a very anxious 15 or 20 minutes waiting for the beat writers to tell everyone what's going on. They're the worst part of the day, honestly:

And now, for a lighter moment...

Now we wait word from coach Babcock (I usually write up the balance of the entry while waiting to hear what Babcock has to say...This morning I got an early start, so I was going to post the stories below as a separate entry when the Eaves news popped up)...

I hope he's okay...And that the personal reasons didn't involve the flu bug going around the Wings' room.

Oh, the glamorous life of a pro hockey player...

And this is cringe-worthy:

Otherwise...

As tonight's game will air on the NBC Sports Network in the U.S., so it's receiving extra attention from NHL.com and NBC Sports.

NHL.com's John Kreiser sets up tonight's game with significant figures related to the match-up...

No go at the Joe: The Wild won their first visit to Joe Louis Arena by beating the Red Wings 5-3 on Dec. 27, 2000. Since then, however, Detroit has been a nightmarish stop for Minnesota. The Wild have won only two more games in regulation at the Joe, none since a 4-2 victory on Jan. 3, 2006. The Red Wings have points in each of the Wild's last 13 visits (10-0-3) and are 16-3-1-3 against Minnesota on their home ice, including a 5-3 win on Jan. 25.

First things first: The Wild enter Wednesday night on top of the Northwest Division with 34 points after a 3-1 victory at Vancouver on Tuesday moved them past the Canucks. Detroit comes into the game with 33 points. The Wild are trying to win the second division title in franchise history and the first since 2007-08. A victory would also help their quest to finish with more points than the Red Wings for the first time since entering the NHL in 2000.

Pavel power: If the Wild want to leave Detroit with a rare victory, they'll have to find a way to stop Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk. The Red Wings have scored eight times in their two meetings with the Wild this season, and Datsyuk has been involved in five of the eight goals, scoring twice and assisting on three others. In all, he's 9-18-27 in 36 career games against Minnesota.

Getting their money's worth: The Wild made major commitments last summer to a pair of free agents, forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter -- and so far, they're largely happy with both players' production. Parise leads the team in goals with 11 and is third with 22 points. He's one point behind Suter, whose 21 assists lead the Wild. Suter also leads the NHL in average ice time at 27:20 per game.

Nick and Howie: Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom has been on a roll, going 11-3-1 in his last 15 decisions -- including a 35-save performance in Monday's 3-1 win at Vancouver. But he's struggled against the Red Wings, going 1-4-3 with a 3.24 goals-against average, and didn't play in either of Minnesota's first two games against Detroit. In contrast, Detroit's Jimmy Howard has enjoyed great success against the Wild, going 9-2-2 in 13 career games against Minnesota. He was in goal for the Red Wings' 5-3 home win in January.

Via RedWingsFeed, the NHL Network and ESPN's Barry Melrose offers a preview in video form...

And Pro Hockey Talk's Ryan Dadoun duly notes that the Wings are playing a game against a "pair that got away" tonight:

The Red Wings looked like they had a shot in the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter sweepstakes last summer, but of course, that didn’t come to pass. Instead, a new era has started in Minnesota while Detroit struggles to keep its remarkable 21-season playoff streak alive.

Detroit hasn’t faded since Nicklas Lidstrom’s retirement, nor have the Wild looked like Stanley Cup favorites just yet. Both franchises have demonstrated highs and lows this season, exposed areas of great concern and have made optimists out of many during other stretches.

As we start to power towards the end of the season though, both the Red Wings and the Wild are in the heart of the pack that will battle for everything from fourth to last place in the Western Conference. For Minnesota, there’s also a chance that they’ll come out on top in the relatively weak Northwest Division and secure the third seed.

The Red Wings’ greatest task tonight will likely be containing Suter and forward Devin Setoguchi. Both players have been superb lately, with Setoguchi in particular shaking off a cold start to the 2013 campaign by scoring six goals and 12 points in his last 11 games.

Detroit is expected to counter with goaltender Jimmy Howard, who has a 9-2-22 record, 1.96 GAA, and .917 save percentage in 13 career starts against Minnesota.

Both teams are on winning streak and this is one of those matches that could go either way. With the two teams so close in the standings, this might also end up serving as a first-round playoff preview.

Today, the NHL's 30 teams sit exactly two weeks away from the April 3rd trade deadline, and as such, MLive's Ansar Khan offers us his third trade-speculation-related column (see: Lubomir Visnovsky, Ladislav Smid) discussing the possibility that the Wings may go after Buffalo Sabres winger Drew Stafford.

The Sports Forecaster describes Stafford as follows...

Drew Stafford
Right wing | 6'2", 214 lbs.
Birth Date:October 30, 1985 (27 years old)
Place of Birth: Milwaukee, WI
Shoots: R
Experience: 6 years
Drafted: Drafted by Buffalo in 2004 (1/13)

Scouting Report
Assets:  Owns an impressive size/skill package. Can score goals and also play a physical game from the wing position. Is at his best when he drives through heavy scoring areas and uses his size, puck skills and sneaky-fast shot.
Flaws:  Must prove he can play a consistent brand of hockey in all three zones, since he tends to disappear for stretches. Takes shifts off from time to time. Could stand to diversify his game a little to keep defenses guessing.
Career Potential:  Big, inconsistent scoring winger.

And Khan wonders whether Stafford's literal costs and/or the Buffalo Sabres' soon-to-be status as a division rival might prohibit the Wings from making a successful pitch for a "top six forward with size":

Contract: After this season, two years remaining at a salary-cap hit of $4 million.

...

Why the Red Wings might be interested in him: Goals have been hard to come by for the Red Wings, whose forward depth has been eroded by injuries to Darren Helm, Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson, of which, only the latter is certain to return this season. They could use some scoring punch from the wing, not to mention another right-handed shooter. Stafford isn't doing much this season, but he has scored 20 or more goals three times.

What it might take to get him: Hard to predict due to his inconsistency and high salary. Perhaps a young roster player and prospect or draft pick. Note that Nashville gave Buffalo a first-round pick last year for Paul Gaustad, who was in the final year of his contract, unlike Stafford.

With the salary cap decreasing to $64.3 million (from $70.2 million) next season and Stafford having a $4 million cap hit, should the Red Wings pursue him? They could use a goal-scoring winger, but is his tendency to disappear, coupled with his contract, a concern?

Would the Red Wings be better off allotting that $4 million salary slot to Valtteri Filppula, who is seeking more than $5 million a season in his next deal?

In the prospect department, RedWingsCentral's Matthew Wuest profiles scrappy Grand Rapids Griffins winger Mitch Callahan:

Jeff Blashill admits he didn’t fully appreciate Mitch Callahan at the start of the season.

“I was wrong about the type of player he is,” the Grand Rapids Griffins first-year head coach said. “He’s a much better player than I gave him credit for at the beginning of the year.”

The gritty 6-foot, 200-pound right-winger came to camp for his American Hockey League sophomore campaign and had to battle — perhaps more than most — to win his new coach’s trust. He eventually earned it, and now receives regular ice time at even strength and on the penalty kill. He has 10 goals and nine assists along with 82 penalty minutes and an average of almost two shots per game in 57 contests.

“Mitch is the type of player you win with,” Blashill said. “He’s very, very strong on the puck, he wins puck battles, he goes to the net hard, he’s got good hands, he’s physical, he’s an agitator and he’ll fight when needed. Those are all assets, that, when you put them all together, that makes you a real good hockey player.”

Callahan, a 2009 sixth-round pick from Whittier, Calif., who played for the 2011 American world junior team, has just four fighting majors this season after recording 62 in four previous seasons according to HockeyFights.com. That might be a sign he’s becoming a more well-rounded player.

“He’s been a real important part of our team,” Blashill said. “He’s just a more effective player than I realized at first. That’s just getting to know your players and maybe just giving him more opportunity … and he took off with it.”

Along with defenseman Mike McKee, Callahan is far and away the grittiest prospect in the Red Wings system, something that could give him a unique advantage in the next two seasons when the Red Wings are looking for call-ups.

Despite his scrappy play, "Emcy1five" on Twitter is also one of the more grounded and down-to-earth people I've met (Brian Lashoff's 22 going on 40 maturity-wise, but while Callahan's still very much so a young man, he takes his job incredibly seriously and brings his "lunch bucket and hard hat" to work every day), and he's got a self-depreciating sense of humor.

Wuest's report also offers something of a scouting report on Jared Comeau and notes about Calle Jarnkrok and Mike McKee.

In the alumni department, the Dallas News's Mike Heika reports that Mike Commodore has signed a pro try-out agreement with the AHL's Texas Stars. Commodore skated for the Hamilton Bulldogs during the lockout, but he didn't catch on with their parent club, the Montreal Canadiens.

And in the charitable news department:

Update #0.5: Via RedWingsFeed, Pro Hockey Talk's Jason Brough notes that Wings coach Mike Babcock wouldn't mind seeing the NHL adopt larger nets:

Remember when goalies were really small? No? Well, you must be young then. Because they used to be a lot smaller. Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock remembers those days. In fact, his boss, Detroit general manager Ken Holland, was one of those small goalies.

“My general manager used to be a goalie, have you seen the size of him?” Babcock told ESPN’s Craig Custance recently. “No really. Have you seen the size of the goalies?”

Babcock’s point: something has to be done to get goal-scoring back to the levels the NHL experienced in the days of the small goalie. Whether it’s shrinking the size of equipment or — gasp — increasing the size of the net.

“If the goalies [are] getting bigger then the net is getting smaller,” Babcock said. “By refusing to change you are changing. Purists would say you can’t do it because you’re changing the game but by not changing you are changing the game.”

NHL general managers, including Holland, are meeting in Toronto today to discuss, among many other things, the size of goalie equipment and how it may be reduced safely.

That Custance article is a new one. Here's the rest of what Babcock had to say (and it's one of those damn Insider-only blogs):

Ken Holland, Babcock's and the Red Wings general manager was listed at 5-foot-8, 160 pounds during his NHL goalie playing days. Detroit's starting goalie now Jimmy Howard isn't considered especially big for a goalie but he's still 6-foot. Howard's backup is 6-foot-3 Swede Jonas Gustavsson. Ottawa's goalie Ben Bishop is the tallest in the league at 6-7 and he's not much bigger than guys like Anders Lindback (6-6) and Devan Dubnyk (6-5).

Babcock's solution? A bigger net.

"It's real easy," he continued. "You go down the street, you get some stats grad student, he does a little formula -- the average [goalie] size in the 80's ... the average size now. Boom. You change it in six minutes and we can get on with our life."

The general managers aren't expected to go too far down that road today even if some are in favor of bigger nets, instead the focus will be on trimming the equipment. But even that will be met with resistance. Here's a look at the biggest issues and obstacles facing the GMs during their one-day meeting and some notes on what might be the unofficial start of the NHL's trade season:

(I can give you the first "point"--the others involve diving, expandig video replay and the fact that putting 30 GM's in a room doesn't jump-start trade talk like it used to in an era of emails and text messages):

The debate: Finding ways to shrink goalie equipment

The obstacle: Current rules regarding the size of goalie pads are based on individual measurements of each goalie and allow the pads to rise 55 percent of the distance between a goalie's knee and pelvis. NHL goaltending supervisor Kay Whitmore, who will be addressing the GMs today and fielding their questions, is ready for that number to drop.

"Maybe we can get at an inch or two shorter pads still," Whitmore said when we chatted this weekend. "We've got measurements of every goalie. 55 percent -- maybe it's time to look at if that can be reduced a little bit."

Also:

Update #0.75:

Update #1: The Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Michael Russo provides us with Wild roster updates:

Here's Ansar Khan's morning skate report, or at least its first draft...

The Detroit Red Wings have recalled forward Gustav Nyquist from the Grand Rapids Griffins.

He will replace Patrick Eaves in the lineup tonight against the Minnesota Wild at Joe Louis Arena (7:30, NBC Sports Network exclusive). Eaves is day-to-day with sprained joints in his jaw, after being hit with a deflected puck in practice on Tuesday.

Nyquist, who was reassigned to Grand Rapids on Monday, has no goals, one assist, a minus-1 rating and seven shots on goal in four games with the Red Wings this season. He will play on a line with Joakim Andersson and Daniel Cleary.

Via RedWingsFeed again, the Windsor Star's Bob Duff posted a video interview with Carlo Colaiacovo...

And FTR, the NHL Network U.S. just posted a press release stating that it's airing Friday night's Wings-Ducks game. That means Center Ice and GameCenter Live will be blacked out :(

Update #1.25:

Update #1.5: The Wings' website's Game Day Blog offers items of historical note...

On This Day in Red Wings History…

On March 20, 1996

The Red Wings acquire forward Kirk Maltby (above) from Edmonton for defenseman Dan McGillis.

On March 20, 1993

John Ogrodnick (left) scores his 400th career regular-season goal in a 7-4 win over the Bruins at the Boston Gardens.

And Ken Kal's keys to the game:

RAM Keys to the Game with Ken Kal

Get Off to a Good Start - With 3 days to rest and prepare for the Wild, the Red Wings should be fresh and ready to go. They need to come out early, feed off the crowd, and jump on Minnesota out of the gate.

Get Balanced Scoring - Detroit has scored 8 goals in their last 2 games, and everyone seems to be chipping in. Datsyuk and Zetterberg are heating up; they each scored big goals on the Western Canada road trip. That's a great sign, and the Wings need that to win on a regular basis.

Limit Turnovers, Especially in the Defensive Zone - It sounds like a broken record, but no team can win consistently when they turn the puck over. Protect the puck at all times and play a smart team game.

Update #2: Here's the Free Press's George Sipple's game-day update...

“We wanted to test Nyquist a little bit, so we sent him to Peoria to play the game last night, give him a six-hour bus ride, let him sleep for a little bit, and we’re going to let him play tonight,” Wings coach Mike Babcock joked this morning. “See how mentally tough he is. That’s all part of the training to be a Red Wing.”

Nyquist, 23, has proved he can score at the AHL level. He has 23 goals and 37 assists (60 points) in 58 games for the Griffins this season. In 22 career NHL games, he has one goals and six assists. He has no goals and one assist in four games this season.

“He’s got some skill,” Babcock said. “He’s, obviously, a real good player. He’s led everywhere he’s ever played in scoring. The problem with the NHL is you gotta come up and grab hold of something.”

Babcock pointed out that Joakim Andersson was called up to play one game but has stuck with the Wings. Andersson, 24, has three goals and four assists in 19 games this season.

“He grabbed hold of something, so that’s what Gus has to do,” Babcock said. “Patty hurt his jaw, so if you’re Gus, and you get in tonight, and you do great things, guess what happens?”

As for what Andersson did to stick, Babcock said: “His hockey sense, he competes hard, he understands the game. He’s a big body … you can put him on the ice, you’re not scared. He seems to get points. He’s just a hockey player.”

And Sipple offers an update on Colaiacovo's status as well:

Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo said he got a second opinion on his injured shoulder 10 days ago and now believes he's about a week away from being able to play. "Saw some things there that were of concern, and have dealt with them and treated them," Colaiacovo said. "I've been getting myself to a point where (I'm) close to 100%. It's been a long time, but at this point here, there's no sense rushing it back. I've been out this long, I need to make sure it's 100% ready when I get back."

Update #2.5: From the Wild:

Update #3: NHL.com's Brian Hedger notes that there's something ofa deja vu factor for Eaves in his morning skate report:

It was a close call for Eaves, whose jaw was broken on Nov.26, 2011 by a slap shot off the stick of Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi -- which also gave him a concussion that sidelined him for the rest of the 2011-12 season.

Taking Eaves' spot on Detroit's third line will be Gustav Nyquist, who is being recalled from the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League. Grand Rapids played on Tuesday night in Peoria, so Nyquist will have a challenging travel day to get back to Detroit's Joe Louis Arena.

"We wanted to test Nyquist a little bit, so we sent him to Peoria to play the game [Tuesday] night, gave him a six-hour bus ride, let him sleep for a bit and we're going to let him play [against the Wild]," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said, only half kidding. "We're going to see how mentally tough he is. It's all part of the training to be a Red Wing."

A spate of Eaves' teammates haven't been as fortunate this season, with the most recent injury being defenseman Kyle Quincey's fractured cheekbone -- which happened in the same way Eaves got hit, only in a game against the Edmonton Oilers last week. Quincey is expected to miss 4-to-6 weeks, while forward Mikael Samuelsson (non-displaced fracture in his index finger) still doesn't know when he'll return despite planning to make the pending four-game trip to the West Coast.

Also indefinitely out with painful back injuries are Todd Bertuzzi and Darren Helm, who have both missed most of the season. Detroit defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) -- who's missed 27 games -- said he feels it's just a matter of days before he returns to the active roster.

Here's a look at how the Red Wings and Wild might line up on Wednesday night:

WILD

Zach Parise – Mikko Koivu – Charlie Coyle

Pierre-Marc Bouchard – Matt Cullen – Devin Setoguchi

Dany Heatley – Kyle Brodziak – Cal Clutterbuck

Jason Zucker – Zenon Konopka – Torrey Mitchell

Ryan Suter – Jonas Brodin

Justin Falk – Nate Prosser

Jared Spurgeon – Clayton Stoner

Niklas Backstrom

Matt Hackett

Scratched: Brett Clark, Mike Rupp, Tom Gilbert

Injured: Josh Harding (illness)

RED WINGS

Valtteri Filppula – Henrik Zetterberg – Damien Brunner

Justin Abdelkader – Pavel Datsyuk – Johan Franzen

Danny Cleary – Joakim Andersson – Patrick Eaves

Drew Miller – Cory Emmerton – Jordin Tootoo

Niklas Kronwall – Jonathan Ericsson

Brian Lashoff – Brendan Smith

Jakub Kindl – Ian White

Jimmy Howard

Jonas Gustavsson

Update #4: DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose took note of Babcock's comments regarding Nyquist...

In four games with the Wings this season, Nyquist has one assist with a minus-1 rating. He played in the Griffins’ 4-1 loss Tuesday night.

“We sent him to Peoria to play the game last night,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Gave him a six-hour bus ride. Let him sleep for a bit and we’ll let him play tonight see how mentally tough he is. That’s all part of the training to be a Red Wing.”

Nyquist is a former two-time finalist for the Hobey Baker Award when he was a member of the University of Maine hockey program. Nyquist has been a leading scorer at every level that he’s played. But his NHL career has been slow to start.

“The problem with the NHL is you have to come up and grab hold of something,” Babcock said. “You know, we called (Joakim Andersson) up for a game. He’s still play, just because he grabbed hold of something. That’s what Gus has to do.

“So you get another opportunity. Patty hurt his jaw. So if you’re Gus and you get in there tonight and you do great things, guess what happens? I think Cal Ripken played shortstop for 22 straight years, or something like that, didn’t he?”

As did MLive's Ansar Khan...

“We sent him to Peoria to play the game last night, gave him a six-hour bus ride,'' coach Mike Babcock said. “Let him sleep for a bit and we’ll let him play tonight, see how mentally tough he is. That’s all part of the training to be a Red Wing.”

Nyquist, 23, has no goals, one assist, a minus-1 rating and seven shots on goal in four games with the Red Wings this season. He has one goal, seven assists and a plus-1 rating in 22 games for Detroit over the past two seasons. Nyquist will play on a line with Joakim Andersson and Daniel Cleary.

“He’s got some skill, he’s obviously a real good player,'' Babcock said. “He’s led everywhere he’s ever played in scoring. The problem with the NHL is you have to come up and grab hold of something.We called Andy up for a game. He’s still playing, just because he grabbed hold of something. That’s what Gus has to do.''

Nyquist is leading the AHL in scoring with 60 points (23 goals, 37 assists).

“So, if you’re Gus and you get in there tonight and you do great things, guess what happens?'' Babcock said. “I think Cal Ripken played shortstop for 22 straight years, or something like that, didn’t he?”

Close. Ripken played a Major League-record 2,632 consecutive games during a 17-year stretch with the Baltimore Orioles. Anderson, who has seven points (three goals, four assists) and a plus-6 rating in 19 games, has maintained hi spot for a variety of reasons.

“His hockey-sense,'' Babcock said. “He competes hard, he understands the game and he’s a big body. Knows how to play. You can put him on the ice, you’re not scared. He seems to get points. He’s just a hockey player.”

The Windsor Star's Bob Duff just penned a game-day update focusing on Colaiacovo's shoulder issue...

“God knows I’m sick of these bag skates,” Colaiacovo said. “I’ve been working my rear off on and off the ice. I’m really doing everything I can to get this thing to where I need to be. I’m at that point now where it’s really close and I’m hoping that these next coming days I can give it a real shot.”

As his problems lingered, Colaiacovo travelled home to Toronto to visit a doctor there for a second opinion, and it paid dividends.

“I kept giving myself different goals and different benchmarks to reach and when I got to those points it just wasn’t ready,” Colaiacovo said. “(The doctor) saw some things there 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. It’s been a long time but at this point there’s no sense rushing it back. I need to make sure it’s 100 percent ready when I get back there. The season’s winding down; the games are getting more important. The last thing I want to do is force myself out there and put myself in a vulnerable position.”

Former Windsor Spitfire and Plymouth Whaler goalie Matt Hackett, recalled from AHL Houston when Jeff Harding’s multiple sclerosis symptoms flared up, will back up Niklas Backstrom for the Wild Wednesday, but is still excited to be back in the NHL and back in the area where he played his junior hockey.

“Every time is exciting,” Hackett said. “It’s a chance to learn. “Anytime you can get shots from NHL players, it’s a treat.”

He’ll have plenty of support in the stands at the game.

“I had a few calls last night from the coaches in Plymouth and my family is going to come down and watch the game, too,” Hackett said. “I played here for three years. It’s always good to get back here and see so many friends.”

The Free Press's George Sipple covered both Nyquist's recall and Colaiacovo's comments...

Nyquist, 23, has proved he can score at the AHL level. He has 23 goals and 37 assists (60 points) in 58 games for the Griffins this season. In 22 career NHL games, he has one goals and six assists. He has no goals and one assist in four games this season.

“He’s got some skill,” Babcock said. “He’s, obviously, a real good player. He’s led everywhere he’s ever played in scoring. The problem with the NHL is you gotta come up and grab hold of something.”

Babcock pointed out that Joakim Andersson was called up to play one game but has stuck with the Wings. Andersson, 24, has three goals and four assists in 19 games this season.

“He grabbed hold of something, so that’s what Gus has to do,” Babcock said. “Patty hurt his jaw, so if you’re Gus, and you get in tonight, and you do great things, guess what happens?”

As for what Andersson did to stick, Babcock said: “His hockey sense, he competes hard, he understands the game. He’s a big body … you can put him on the ice, you’re not scared. He seems to get points. He’s just a hockey player.”

Injury update: Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo said he got a second opinion on his injured shoulder 10 days ago and now believes he's about a week away from being able to play. "Saw some things there that were of concern, and have dealt with them and treated them," Colaiacovo said. "I've been getting myself to a point where (I'm) close to 100%. It's been a long time, but at this point here, there's no sense rushing it back. I've been out this long, I need to make sure it's 100% ready when I get back."

And the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan did the same:

Colaiacovo saw his personal doctor in Toronto about 10 days ago and feels this is the closest he has been to returning to the Red Wings lineup.

"Seeing him and getting a second look and a different opinion really helped," said Colaiacovo, who was hurt Jan. 21, the second game of the season, in Columbus. "We saw some things that were of some concern and I've dealt with them and treated them and I've been getting myself to the point where I'm 100 percent.

"I was still having some issues that were of some concern physically and mentally and I wasn't at the point where I was confident enough to be out there. It's been a frustrating battle, but I'm at the point now where I'm feeling better than ever and I'm real close now. I'm just taking it day by day."

Ice chips

Eaves has a sore jaw after taking a deflected puck off his stick during Tuesday's practice. His availability is day to day.

…Jonathan Ericsson didn't participate in the morning skate, Babcock calling it a personal day.

…Babcock said Nyquist would be plugged into Eaves' spot on a line with Andersson and Daniel Cleary.

Update #5: According to the Wild's website's game notes, Dave Jackson and Tom Kowal will referee tonight's game, with Scott Cherrey and Steve Miller working the lines;

MinnesotaWild.com's Mike Doyle sets up tonight's game thusly..

Meet The Wings: Pavel Datsyuk has five points in two meetings with Minnesota this season. The winger is riding a four-game point streak after his three-assist performance Saturday against the Canucks. Zetterberg’s two-goal outburst against the Canucks ended a nine-game goalless drought. 

If You're Going:Tonight at Joe Louis Arena is Going Green Night, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the Wild’s Forrest Green. The first 5,000 fans will receive a Lunch Cooler sponsored by DTE Energy.

The Wild will wear its WHITE sweaters tonight.

Probably Wild Lineup: If Mike Rupp is still unavailable, it will keep the same lineup:

Parise – Koivu – Coyle
Bouchard – Cullen – Setoguchi
Heatley – Brodziak – Clutterbuck
Mitchell – Konopka – Zucker

The D-pairs will remain the same if Tom Gilbert is unable to go:

Suter – Brodin
Spurgeon – Stoner
Falk – Prosser

Between the Pipes: Niklas Backstrom made a season-high 35 saves Monday. Backstrom is 11-3-1 in his last 15 games, posting a 2.12 GAA, a .922 SV% and allowing two goals or less 10 times in that span. Backstrom has started 12 of the team’s last 13 games and played in his 350th game Monday. Since 2/9, Backstrom leads the NHL with 11 wins.

View from the Press Box: It’s fun to be on the bench and listen to the guys talk and say the things that they’re saying. It’s a good focus right now. - Yeo about being on the bench during its current stretch

...

Honorary State of Hockey Resident: Patrick Eaves attended high school at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault.  The Wild scored six goals Saturday (6-3 at COL) for the first time since 1/19/11, a 6-0 win in Calgary.

Worthless Stat: Minnesota has scored four or more goals eleven times this season, including in five of the last 10 games. During that nine-game stretch (since Feb. 28), Minnesota ranks T-6th in the NHL at 3.60 goals per game.

And here's the Star-Tribune's Michael Russo's game-day report:

Tonight in Detroit, the Wild looks to sweep a road trip of 3-or-more games for the first time since Jan. 4-8, 2011, at New Jersey, Boston and Pittsburgh.

The Wild did have a five-game trip last year split into 4 and 1 where it won the first four games before returning home for a day and continuing the trip. But that technically still is considered a five-game trip, plus, since the loss Dec. 13, 2011, was in Winnipeg and that loss began the Wild's nose-dive-of-a-century, it shouldn't count just for that alone.

The Wild has won three in a row in regulation (COL, at COL, at VAN). It last won three in a row in regulation in the final five games of a seven-game winning streak Nov. 28-Dec. 10, 2011. Minnesota has won three straight on the road for the first time since a seven-game road winning streak Nov. 13-Dec. 10, 2011.

Niklas Backstrom vs. Jimmy Howard tonight. Mike Rupp and Tom Gilbert again skated this morning but won't play. Coach Mike Yeo says neither is 100 percent, and Rupp did leave the ice early shaking his head negatively to athletic therapist Don Fuller.

Nate Prosser gets a second consecutive game, meaning Brett Clark continues to wait to make his Wild debut.

Patrick Eaves won't play after being hit with a puck in practice. The Red Wings have recalled Gustav Nyquist.

Tonight's game is on NBC Sports Network. Doc, Edzo and Pierre at the mics.

The NHL also posted a "tale of the tape" match-up whose text is more interesting than its stats:

The Minnesota Wild and Detroit Red Wings never have met in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but with the Wild on the rise and Red Wings holding, that could change this season.

The Wild and Zach Parise will visit the Red Wings and Pavel Datsyuk for this week's edition of NBCSN's Wednesday Night Rivalry (7:30 p.m., NBCSN, TSN2). The Wild have risen to the top of the Northwest Division this season after signing Parise and Ryan Suter to matching 13-year contracts, while the Red Wings have been finding ways to win despite a slew of injuries to many of their key players.

"Since 'Hockey Day in America' a month ago, when the Wild and Zach Parise beat Detroit 3-2, Minnesota has risen to the top spot in the division, and has won nine of their last 13 games," said Doc Emrick, who will do play-by-play for the game for NBCSN. "The Red Wings are improved as well on the strength of their last two games, come-from-behind road wins at Edmonton and Vancouver. The two teams are crossing paths at just the right time."

Update #6: MLive's Brendan Savage and Ansar Khan debate whether the NHL should extend overtime given Ken Holland's suggestion that some 3-on-3 play might result in fewer shootouts:

ANSAR KHAN: I think it's fine the way it is. Extending it beyond five minutes would make games too long. And making it three-on-three at any point would make it too arcade-like.

I'm not a big fan of having a shootout decide who gets the extra point, but the majority of fans seem to like it, so I doubt the NHL will ever eliminate it. I don't mind tie games after a five-minute scoreless overtime, but it's highly unlikely the league will ever go back to that format.

BRENDAN SAVAGE: I love Holland's idea of adding five minutes of 3-on-3 if the game is still tied after the first five minutes. It's no wonder he favored the idea when he proposed it given all the skilled players on the Red Wings roster. That might be one reason other GMs might not like it. What's good for the Red Wings isn't always beneficial to everyone.

But just think how much excitement another five minutes of OT would add.

Teams might not be as willing to try and muddle through the 4-on-4 session in order to take their chances in a shootout if they know another five minutes of 3-on-3 was coming up. And 3-on-3 would open up the ice so much that there would all kinds of excitement and scoring chances.

And if you're interested in this sort of thing, the Wild's website posted videos of Wild defenseman Clayton Stoner...

Forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard...

And coach Mike Yeo:

 

Update #7: If you're interested, Pro Hockey Talk's Jason Brough posted a profile of Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin;

Bleedin Blue's Alex Hodschayan had a conversation with Grand Rapids Griffins forward Jeff Hoggan recently;

And the Pioneer Press's Brian Murphy penned a game-day story:

Brett Clark has 681 games of NHL experience, plus a week's work of extra practice to assimilate to his new team, but the Minnesota Wild's winning ways are making it difficult for the veteran defenseman to crack the lineup.

The Wild carry a three-game winning streak into Joe Louis Arena for their Wednesday night, March 20, game against the Detroit Red Wings. Coach Mike Yeo will use the same lineup that produced a 3-1 victory Monday in Vancouver.

Defenseman Tom Gilbert and winger Mike Rupp remain day to day with lower-body injuries. Nate Prosser, a healthy scratch more than half this season, remains on the blue line. So Clark, who signed as a free agent March 14, works and waits after playing all 82 games last season for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"We want to get Clarkie in there for sure but the guys that are in there are doing a good job, so we'll stay with them," Yeo said. "Pross has done a really good job for us this year. We haven't given him anything. He's had to work for everything. He deserves to come back into the lineup tonight. (Gilbert is) still not 100 percent, so we want to make sure we're not putting him in a bad spot."

Goalie Niklas Backstrom, who made a season-high 35 saves against the Canucks, will start for the 13th time in Minnesota's past 14 games. He is 11-3-1 with a 2.12 goals-against average and .922 save percentage during that span.

The Wild are 6-16-1 all time at Joe Louis Arena, having been outshot by Detroit 852-550 in those 23 games.

Update #8: DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose penned a story about Colaiacovo...

[S]ince suffering a serious head injury in 2006-07, injuries have followed Colaiacovo like a dark cloud, from Toronto to St. Louis and now to Detroit. He’s missed at least 15 games in each of the last four seasons. But this season is his longest on injured reserve since knee surgery forced him to miss 54 games in 2007-08.

“The season’s winding down, the games are getting more important, the last thing I want to do is force myself out there and put myself in a vulnerable position,” Colaiacovo said.

While Colaiacovo feels that he could be cleared “in days”, he’s still cautious and doesn’t want to get too overly excited again.

“I kept giving myself different goals and different bench marks to reach and when I got to those points it just wasn't ready,” he said. “I had a little bit of a concerning issues I needed to deal with. I dealt with them and now it's at a point where I'm doing the things I need to do to make sure it's ready to go.”

Unlike most players who return from a long layoff, Colaiacovo has maintained a high-level of conditioning as the shoulder hasn’t limited his skating or other workouts.

“I can tell you my conditioning is not going to be an issue,” he said. “I've been skating real hard and training real hard both on and off the ice. I'll be pretty close to where I need to be. … I'm confident in my abilities that when I get out there the rust will settle pretty quick and I'll be back to where I need to be.”

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Comments

OnlyWings's avatar

“Rivalry Night”, Really???  I find that humorous which is good I guess on a Wings Game day!

Nyquist or another GR prospect might be off to La La Land and the desert if Eaves still has pain, can’t afford anymore long term injuries.

Need points in these dwindling Home games…preferably 2 in ROW

Posted by OnlyWings on 03/20/13 at 10:39 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Gus will probably stay with the team for the road trip.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 03/20/13 at 10:42 AM ET

OnlyWings's avatar

Thanks George. That makes sense and might give the Wings an extra forward on the trip if Eaves is cleared to play.

Hope Pavel is over his “Flu” . .500 on this trip would be a good result considering having to play maybe the Best team in the West twice.

I will try and watch the Hawks at Anaheim tonite. Should be an interesting game and I hope they beat the crap out of each other.  Still have a feeling the Ducks might catch the Hawks by game 48, better Goaltending, IMO

Posted by OnlyWings on 03/20/13 at 11:01 AM ET

11B4PF7 in MN's avatar

Was Patrick Eaves at the morning skate? Lol

Posted by 11B4PF7 in MN on 03/20/13 at 12:22 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Yeah, I know. I’m trying to cut down on the “confirmation” Tweets, but I may as well let you know which media members are in attendance today raspberry

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 03/20/13 at 12:28 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.