The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/25/13 at 03:58 PM ET
Updated 5x at 6:52 PM: The Red Wings and Wild face off tonight at 7:30 (on FSD Plus and
97.1 FM 1270 AM--also, this game will be on the NHL Network, so Center Ice and GameCenter Live users without the NHL Network, you're kinda screwed), and MLive's Ansar Khan is reporting that the Wings will get Darren Helm (back), Todd Bertuzzi (groin) and Jakub Kindl (groin) back from injuries, but Jonathan Ericsson (back), Jonas Gustavsson (groin), Jan Mursak (shoulder), Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) and Mikael Samuelsson (groin) remain sidelined. Here are the lines for tonight's game, per Khan:
Here are the lines and defense pairs the Red Wings will start the game with:
Johan Franzen-Henrik Zetterberg-Damien Brunner
Valtteri Filppula-Pavel Datsyuk-Todd Bertuzzi
Daniel Cleary-Darren Helm-Justin Abdelkader
Drew Miller-Cory Emmerton-Jordin Tootoo
Patrick Eaves is a healthy scratch.
Niklas Kronwall-Brian Lashoff
Kyle Quincey-Brendan Smith
Kent Huskins-Jakub Kindl
Jonathan Ericsson (hip) skated today, said he felt better but not great. He said he still is sore. He is hoping to play Sunday in Chicago.
Jimmy Howard (starting)
Wings coach Mike Babcock spoke to the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness about his lineup tweaks...
“I’m just looking for everyone to be good,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I don’t know what level Helmer’s game is going to be at, he hasn’t played in eight months. I just thought it gave us the best skating opportunity.
The Wings are looking for Helm to provide energy like he has in the past on that third line.
“As I went through it yesterday I had Abby on the fourth unit, but we talked about him being a real good third line right or left wing and that’s we’re going to start with here today and we’re available to go either way,” Babcock said.
Babcock made something of a proclamation regarding Jakub Kindl's tenuous status as a Wing now that the team's signed a proven veteran in Kent Huskins, and especially given the fact that Brian Lashoff's all but won a permanent spot on the roster:
“That’s another good thing about injures, other people get opportunities,” Babcock said. “If you grab hold of it you get to play a long, long time. Everybody comes in has nobody and then does something.
“You have to grab hold of it,” Babcock continued. “Kuba is getting to the point in his career, this is eight years now when you drafted him, you have to grab hold of it. If not you’re not part of it.”
As for Helm, he spoke to the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan about his sense of relief regarding returning to the lineup...
"'ve been waiting for a long time to get the go-ahead," Helm said. "I'm ready to get back and playing."
Certainly Helm would be, after spraining his knee last March and missing the last 10 games of the regular season. Helm returned for the playoffs, but in Game 1 against Nashville, sustained lacerated tendons in his forearm.
Then, during the lockout, Helm suffered a broken orbital bone after taking a puck to the face during an informal workout. And, just as the lockout was ending, the forward strainedhis back.
One thing, after another.
"I've been playing a lot of hockey over the last five to seven years and it's been real weird to have this kind of break," said Helm, including the almost four-month lockout. "With the lockout and the injuries, it's been real frustrating. A couple of fluky plays that just happened, accidents in the game of hockey, you just get over it and now I'm healthy, you move on and play."
Forward Todd Bertuzzi (flu) and defenseman Jakub Kindl (groin) also return to the Red Wings lineup tonight. Coach Mike Babcock has scratched forward Patrick Eaves from the lineup tonight, with Cory Emmerton replacing Eaves.
It might be Emmerton's last chance to "earn a spot," too.
The Free Press's Helene St. James updated Ian White's status...
White was at Joe Louis Arena this morning for treatment, a giant ice bag wrapped around the top of his left kneecap. He underwent surgery Wednesday morning, some 12 hours after getting cut by goalie Jimmy Howard's skate during Tuesday's game against Dallas.
"I was the third man back, and there was a two-on-two, and one of our guys got beat, and they were taking the puck to the net," White said of the play. "I just kind of started crashing the net, and Howie made a great save, and I took the heel of his skate right to the top of the knee."
White knew right away it wasn't just a boo-boo. "Goalies' heels are pretty sharp and pointy. I went right off it pretty hard, so I knew it was going to be pretty bad. But it could have been a lot worse -- I guess you have a tendon going over the knee, so if I would have cut that, it might have been the season. So, lucky, if you will."
White showed the cell phone picture to reporters; mostly there was a lot of blood. "How strong are you guys' stomachs?" White said, smiling, as he showed it.
White estimates he can start skating in a week and should be back early-to-mid-February. He leaves the Wings without one of their few options to have a right-handed shot on the power play.
“I feel all right,'' White said. “It's kind of depressing that something like this happens so early in the season when you start getting your legs under you. It doesn't make you feel very good. The unfortunate part is that two or three weeks in this season is quite a few games.''
White was injured midway through the third period of Tuesday's 2-1 loss to Dallas.
“I haven't seen it, but I remember I was the third man back, it was a two-on-two,'' White said. “I think one of our guys got beat and they were taking the puck to the net and I kind of started crashing the net. Howie made a great save and I took the heel of his skate right at the top of the knee.''
He hopes to resume skating in a week.
“Just do some workouts, upper-body stuff,'' White said. “They had to sew the muscle back together. Once that starts grabbing, then I can start doing some lower body. Should be in a few days.''
White also expressed optimism regarding a relatively quick comeback to DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose:
White is hopeful that he can return in 2-3 weeks, but that means he’ll likely miss between 6-10 games.
“Unfortunate part is that two or three weeks in this season is quite a few games,” White said. “It feels pretty good. I could see it being close to two than three.”
It’s unclear when White will be able to begin skating again, though it won’t be this weekend.
“Just from what I feel, getting up and walking around,” he said, “I would think I can skate in a week.”
The Red Wings' "Game Day" blog offers more quips and quotes from the morning skate...
Fil’s playing. Helm and Bert are in. Kindl’s in. No Ericsson. Emmerton’s playing. Eaves is out (healthy scratch).”
– Mike Babcock
“It’s definitely good to be healthy. I’m ready to get out there.”
– Darren Helm
“We had a great day to freshen up. There is no reason we don’t play well and real hard here tonight.”
– Mike Babcock
“I’m hoping I can play the style of game that I’ve always brought, with speed and energy and trying to be physical…Hopefully I can give the guys a little bit of a lift.”
– Darren Helm
“I felt good out there. No problems whatsoever. Yeah, I felt good.”
– Patrick Eaves on his first games back from concussion
“(I felt) better than yesterday. It’s better. It’s not great, but another day tomorrow…hopefully Sunday (I’ll play). I’m really hoping for that.”
– Jonathan Ericsson
The Free Press's Helene St. James also noted that Babcock's going with a "no excuses" mentality...
After starting with three games in four days, the Wings are well-rested. "We had a great day to freshen up," Babcock said. "There's no reason we don't play real well and hard here tonight. We're playing a team that needs a win just like we do -- they're 2-1, we're 1-2. They look organized and are working hard, so we've got to be ready."
And as you and I know, there's not as much a subtext regarding Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signed with the Wild instead of Detroit as there is, well...I guess we'll have to go with a made-up word in a "supertext." St. James spoke to Suter about his decision...
For four days last summer, Ryan Suter and Zach Parise held the hockey world hostage while pondering where to play next. The Wings went after Suter especially hard, because he was the top unrestricted free agent defenseman available and a means to ameliorating the loss of Nicklas Lidstrom to retirement.
Wings owner Mike Ilitch and front-office staff flew to Wisconsin to meet with Suter on July 2, the day after free agency began. On July 4, Suter and Parise announced that they both had chosen Minnesota, which is Parise's home state and the home state of Suter's wife.
"Detroit is a great franchise," Suter said. "They were right there till the end."
The Wings weren't the end, though, which is why tonight, their forwards have to deal with getting around Suter and the defense -- in its fourth incarnation in four games -- has to keep a keen eye on Parise, whose skills make him a game changer.
While the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa spoke to GM Ken Holland about the team's decision to swing for the fences, even though they missed:
When asked hypothetically if the two [amnesty] buyouts [allowed under the new CBA]would have made the Red Wings more driven to sign the gold dust twins, Ken Holland was matter-of-fact on Thursday, a day before the Wild visit Joe Louis Arena.
"We would not have done anything different," said Holland, the Red Wings general manager who faces one of his toughest seasons and residual questions about the two big stars.
The Red Wings may well have found that their eventual offers for both players would not be enough. But the fact of the matter is the great game for Parise and Suter was over for Detroit almost before it began, and it had nothing to do with the attractiveness of their offers or the ability of the franchise to attract top talent.
The Red Wings have benefited from similar motivations of players in the past. Brian Rafalski signed for less money to play near his family and boyhood home in Metro Detroit. There have been others, and there may well be more. The Red Wings will continue to push buttons.
The fans may well boo Parise and Suter, tonight. It is what is traditionally done in Detroit, when fans feel jilted in a town that gets more disrespect that it deserves. Just ask Sergei Fedorov.
But the booing also is merely an alternative to what is really called for: patience. As the calendar turns, the Red Wings brass continues to evaluate their situation after both Lidstrom's retirement and the failure to make the huge splash with free agents in 2012. Holland and his associates are plainly eyeing the future, when some provisions of the new collective bargaining agreement may put a lot of NHL talent in play.
It is a season like few of recent years for the Red Wings. But there is ample hope in both the amount of cap space they have now and can create in the near future, and their willingness to maneuver. Regardless, Parise and Suter in red and white still intrigues. But it was never meant to be.
That's true, but it doesn't excuse the Red Wings' performance thus far, collectively or individually.
Update #1: Here's Ken Kal's game-day preview:
And I'm just going to toss off the Windsor Star's Bob Duff's quips and quotes from Twitter in inline form:
#redwings are 7-1-2 in their last 10 GP vs. #wild; 3-0-2 in last 5 vs. Minnesota at JLA.
#redwings D Brendan Smith scored his first #NHL G 3/2/12 vs. #wild.
#redwings Babcock on Koivu of #wild: "He’s one of the better two-way players in the game. He’s a big heavy load to play against."
#redwings Babcock on #wild: "Looks to me that they’ve got a belief system going right now and that makes them a tough opponent."
#redwings Babcock on Kindl: "He's getting to the point in his career - this is 8 years since we drafted him. You have to grab hold of it."
Babcock on #redwings 0-15 PP: "We have no reason for our power play not to be better, no reason at all."
#wild Parise on not signing with #redwings: "That was definitely one of the teams I was very interested in playing for."
#wild D Jonas Brodin will make #NHL debut tonight vs. #redwings at JLA.
#wild Richard on #redwings: "They're going to be desperate. Thi is going to be a test for us."
#wild coach Todd Richards on whether #redwings look diff. w/o Lidstrom: "I think everybody looks like a different team right now."
Duff did speak to Darren Helm about his return...
Darren Helm turned and searched for the nearest piece of wood to give it a tap. The Detroit Red Wings centre will be back in the lineup for Friday’s NHL game at Joe Louis Arena against the Minnesota Wild, making his season debut after a back injury idled him in training camp. It was the latest in a series of bad luck for Helm and he’s hoping that he’s used up his quotient and that his luck will finally take a turn for the good.
“I hope that’s the case, but hockey’s a pretty uncertain game,” Helm said. “It’s pretty physical and I play a pretty physical game. I just hope that I can play the way I want to play and try to stay healthy as well. I’ve gone through a pretty rough stretch of injuries, so hopefully, this is the last one for a while.”
Prior to the back injury, Helm suffered a fractured orbital bone when struck in the face by a puck during an informal workout with teammates in Troy, Mich. During last spring’s playoffs against Nashville, he was cut by a skate and suffered lacerated forearm tendons. He’d just returned that night from a 10-game absence due to sprained knee ligaments.
“It was frustrating for sure,” Helm said. “Every time I turned the corner and got on the ice, there was a puck in my face, or I was falling some awkward way or doing something wrong. I went through kind of an unlucky stretch there. Hopefully it’s done for me. It’s been a long wait, a long lockout; injuries just kept popping up here and there. It’s definitely good to be healthy. I’m ready to get out there then.”
Considered by many to be the NHL’s fastest skater, Helm brings energy to the ice that’s often been lacking during Detroit’s 1-2 start to the season.
“I’m hoping I can play that style of game that I’ve always brought, with speed and energy and trying to be physical,” Helm said. “I’ll just try to do what I can – play my game, not try to do anything crazy out there. Hopefully I can give the guys a little bit of a lift.”
And you can watch his video interview with Helm here:
As for the Wild's personnel, the Star-Tribune's Michael Russo provides us with an update...
Jonas Brodin will make his NHL debut tonight in Detroit against the Red Wings. The rookie defenseman, who missed 11 weeks with Houston because of a broken clavicle, is expected to be paired with Clayton Stoner.
Brodin, 19, will replace Jared Spurgeon. He'll take Spurgeon's spot on the second power-play unit as well.
Spurgeon, who has a bone bruise above the ankle, is not skating this morning at practice at Joe Louis Arena.
General Manager Chuck Fletcher said the team will take it slow with Spurgeon and "we'll see about Sunday" in St. Louis.
Stoner's partner the first three games, Tom Gilbert, is expected to be paired tonight with Ryan Suter.
The Red Wings heavily pursued Suter last summer.
Josh Harding vs. Jimmy Howard tonight in goal.
The Wild have adopted a shoot-first mentality so far this season, and outshot each of their first three opponents for the first time in franchise history. This is a welcome departure from Minnesota's style the past few seasons.
"That's true," defenseman Clayton Stoner said after the team's morning skate Friday, Jan. 25. "The last probably three years, you look up at the shot clock and it always feels like we're getting outshot. We were still winning games but a lot of times getting outshot. Now, we have more shooters, we have more offensive zone time."
Heading into Friday night's game against the Red Wings, Minnesota had outshot Colorado, Dallas and Nashville by a combined 97-77 total. It was the first time the Wild had outshot three consecutive opponents since Nov. 19-25, 2011.
"The way we attack and some of the skill that we have, we should be able to generate shots," coach Mike Yeo said before Friday's game.
Three factors help: advancing the puck out of the defensive zone, forechecking to maintain possession and, of course, shooting when the opportunity exists.
"When in doubt, just put it on net," center Torrey Mitchell said. "You create a little bit more offense and get rebounds that way. So I don't think we're going to be passing the puck when we can shoot."
Mitchell points out that Minnesota's No. 1 line of Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley and Zach Parise has been leading the way. Entering the Detroit game, Parise led with 17 shots on goal, Heatley was second with 14 and Koivu fourth with nine.
And here's the Wild's website's game-day update, penned by Mike Doyle:
In the corridors, beneath the stands and next to the locker rooms, at Joe Louis Arena, names of past Detroit Red Wings’ Stanley Cup Winning teams line the walls.
Minnesota Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin knows these teams, which include the names of fellow countrymen like Lidstrom, Zetterberg, Holmstrom, Kronwall and Franzen. The Swedish defenseman would like to help the Wild win the Cup, but first thing’s first: His first National Hockey League game. The 19-year-old will check that off his list, today, in Joe Louis Arena against the Wings.
Brodin will play on the right side of the blue line, paired with Clayton Stoner. He’ll also likely to get a few looks on the Wild’s second power play unit alongside Tom Gilbert. Brodin replaces Jared Spurgeon, who didn’t participate in the morning skate and will be out tonight with a lower body injury after blocking a shot against Nashville on Tuesday.
Brodin said that he is both excited and nervous, but added he has nerves before every game, which he believes is a good thing. The defenseman talked to WildTV about tonight’s game.
Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo confirmed that Josh Harding gets the start in goal. Last year, he played in all four games against the Wings, including a shutout win.
In his game-day preview, Doyle offers the following prospective Wild line-up:
The forwards will remain the same as the first three games:
Parise – Koivu – Heatley
Cullen – Granlund – Setoguchi
Bouchard – Brodziak – Clutterbuck
Mitchell – Konopka – Powe
The Brodin will take the place of Spurgeon, shuffling the pairings:
Suter – Gilbert
Brodin – Stoner
Falk – Prosser
Per tonight's game notes, Brian Pochmara and Kevin Pollock will referee tonight's game, with Jean Morin and Andy McElman working the lines.
Update #2: Via RedWingsFeed, here's Mike Babcock's game-day presser:
Update #2.5: Here's NHL.com's Deborah Francisco's game preview:
Wild: The Northwest-Division leading Wild come to Detroit hoping to bounce back from a 3-1 loss to Nashville on Tuesday. Josh Harding is expected to start in net for the first time since his 1-0 shutout win against Dallas on Sunday.
Niklas Backstrom played in the loss to the Predators, allowing two goals in the third period.
"Having a couple days of practice will be good," coach Mike Yeo said. "We've got a lot of things we're still trying to do."
The Wild called up defenseman Jonas Brodin, their first-round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, who is expected to make his debut on Friday and may take the place of Jared Spurgeon who is listed as day-to-day with a foot injury.
Red Wings: The Red Wings have started 2012-13 a little flat-footed -- they've dropped two of three games so far, including their home opener on Tuesday -- a 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars. Rookie Damien Brunner notched the Red Wings' lone goal in the seconds of the game.
"I thought mentally we weren't sharp," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "It was one of those games that I would have liked to see us find a way to gut it out in the third period."
Detroit will need to improve on the power play if it hopes to turn things around considering they are 0-for-15 on power play chances so far.
Who's hot: Pavel Datsyuk has up three points in as many games and leads the Red Wings in scoring… Zach Parise is proving his worth to the Wild with a goal and four points in three games.
Update #3: WXYZ's Brad Galli filed a report from the Joe regarding Helm and Bertuzzi's respective returns, and the role that injuries have played in the Wings' sloppy start...
"We're not the only ones that have been damaged a little bit, but all of us that are playing have to a better job of winning games. That's the bottom line," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said.
Todd Bertuzzi will play tonight after missing the first week of the season with a bout with the flu perceived to be so bad it was originally diagnosed as mono. Jakub Kindl will play after being sidelined with a groin injury. The Red Wings will also get Darren Helm back for the first time this season tonight, after the forward injured his back in workouts before the brief training camp.
"It's been a long time since I've been healthy, dating back to last year," Helm said. "Absolutely I'm anxious to get out there and start."
Mike Babcock said ideally, it'd be great to have everyone healthy, but it's "not reasonable" for the quick pace to the 48-game slate. Kronwall said Helm provides a boost by just being in the lineup.
"He gives everything he's got, every shift of the game, and all the guys feed off that," he said.
Detroit will also have a different look up front thanks to a major line shift. Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk have been split up, and Datsyuk will center Valtteri Filppula and Bertuzzi. Zetterberg will skate between Johan Franzen and Damien Brunner.
The Red Wings play the Minnesota Wild Friday night at 7:30 p.m. Detroit's first home game Tuesday saw a lackluster offensive effort resulting in the team's second loss of the season.
"We had a day to freshen up. There's no reason we don't play really well," Babcock said.
A video accompanies the story...
And 97.1 the Ticket posted both an AP game preview (with a very nice Jimmy Howard wallpaper) and three points of emphasis which Pat Caputo believes will allow the Wings to right their listing ship (with a very nice Pavel Datsyuk wallpaper):
1. Pavel Datsyuk must play better. In the Red Wings’ first three games this season, Datsyuk has been a mere shadow of himself. If he doesn’t break out of it, neither will the Red Wings. He is their best player.
2. The power play has to improve. It hasn’t been bad, it’s been awful. It’s been even worse than last year – and it was pretty bad.
3. The Red Wings need to get healthy. They have an inordinate of injuries for the season just starting.
Update #4: Via RedWingsFeed, the Wings have posted a "Best Goals of 2011-2012" clip:
Update #5: Here's Larry Murphy speaking to the NHL Network about the Wings, via RedWingsFeed again:
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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.