Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Avalanche set-up and overnight report: Wings need to skip style points versus Avs

Updated 2x at 11:05 AM: Giguere will start for the Avs opposite Jimmy Howard: The Detroit Red Wings, now the Western Conference’s second-place team, hope to break a two-game losing streak (cue Chicago on Tuesday and Vancouver on Thursday) as the Wings take on the Colorado Avalanche tonight (7 PM EST, FSD/Altitude/97.1 FM) with the Wings concerned about far more important things than the now-probably-addressed squabble between Kyle Quincey and his former employer and/or its media corps.

The Wings very simply need to, as they said on Friday, get back to the basics of playing winning hockey against an opponent which is making a desperate dash to become the Wings’ or Canucks’ first-round opponent. The Avalanche sit two points out of 8th place in the Western Conference because they’ve won three of their past four games and boast a 5-2-and-2 February record including their 5-0 thrashing of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night.

And now, an interruption: I need to screw up the narrative flow here and pause to let you know that you’ll have to follow KK and Paul for any major updates—and it’s highly unlikely that anything “major” will happen during the game—because one of my dearest friends is getting married, and as it’s an interfaith marriage, the first ceremony is at 12, the second is at 4 and the reception is at 6, and the ceremonies are just far enough away from the home office that it’s infeasible for me to head back to update the blog, and it’s probably equally unwise for me to try to lug my laptop around and try to find wi-fi hotspots in between events, though I may attempt to do so. As such, I probably won’t be around from about 11 to probably sometime in the middle of the game (yay worsening social anxiety disorder and a reception hall full of strangers), and I’m very sorry about the inconvenience!

Anyway, while Ken Holland works the phones after having brought Quincey into the fold and having re-signed Todd Bertuzzi for what turned out to be a more affordable 2-year deal at an average of $2.075 million per season, the Wings’ current players will have to step up in a big way—Bertuzzi included—after dropping a game in which the HEMI line(?), Quincey and Jimmy Howard were the game’s only standouts, and the Wings’ offense looked woefully inept sans Pavel Datsyuk (who’s probably at least 4 or 5 days from returning from his scoped knee)...

And the Wings are gonna have their hands full and then some with the Avs. Colorado defeated the Wings 4-2 way back in December, and while they’ve struggled to gain playoff footing, they were absolutely dominant in Columbus on Friday night.

David Jones scored 2 goals and added an assist in the Avs’ 5-0 victory, new acquisition Steve Downie had a goal and an assist, super-rookie Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and an assist and Semyon Varlamov pitched a 28-save shutout as Colorado won their second straight and third of their past four games, and, as the Avs told the Associated Press, they received a little puck luck as well:

In the final minute of the opening period, the Blue Jackets’ Colton Gillies’ shot from the slot clanged off the crossbar. The puck bounded all the way to the point where it was collected by Jones to begin a 2-on-1. He then converted a low wrister from the right dot that beat goalie Steve Mason on the stick side for his 13th of the season, unassisted. That was the beginning of the rout.

“Getting the first goal was very important,” coach Joe Sacco said. “You get off to a tough start like we did, getting that first one’s very important.”
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After getting the first goal, the Avalanche poured it on to continue their mastery of the lowly Blue Jackets, who have the worst record in the NHL (18-36-7, 43 points). Gabriel Landeskog and Steve Downie each had a goal and an assist and Matt Hunwick also scored for the Avalanche, who were up to their usual tricks against the Blue Jackets. They are 32-8-1-1 against Columbus, including 15-5-1-1 on the Blue Jackets’ home ice.

The Avalanche won a second game in a row for the first time since Dec. 31. They started the night two points out of the eighth playoff spot in the West. Varlamov made the early break stand up by twice stopping Columbus captain Rick Nash—himself the subject of widespread trade rumors—to keep Colorado in command.
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Varlamov said the Avalanche couldn’t afford to slip up.

“I feel good right now. I’ve had a couple of good practices. I have to continue to work and try to play well,” he said. “It’s a tough situation with four teams fighting for the last spots in the playoffs. Every game is huge for us. Every point is huge.”

The Avs also talked about their combination of “puck luck” and plain old hard work while discussing their victory with the Denver Post’s Adrian Dater….

“We had some bounces go our way tonight, but that happens over the course of 82 games,” said Avs coach Joe Sacco, whose team earned its 65th and 66th points — the same total as two other Western Conference teams. The three teams stand two points behind eighth-place Dallas in the playoff chase.

The Avs looked sluggish much of the first period, getting outshot 9-5 and committing a few turnovers.

“We felt pretty fortunate after the first. Varly held us in there,” Jones said. “We weren’t skating and hung Varly out to dry a bit. We got a little better in the second, and the third I thought we played real well.”

Things went so well in the third that seldom-used defenseman Matt Hunwick scored his first goal as a member of the Avalanche, in his 64th game. Hunwick looked like Wayne Gretzky in deking and slipping a puck past goalie Steve Mason on a breakaway with 6:41 left in the game.
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Varlamov, who earned his third shutout of the season, robbed Columbus star Rick Nash twice in the second period — once on a breakaway and once on a one-timer from in close.

“I feel pretty good right now,” said Varlamov, who stopped 28 shots. “This isn’t always the kind of game that is easy to play. But we got the win.”

The victory, Colorado’s second in a row, could go a long way toward silencing any big trade rumors by the NHL’s deadline Monday — with the accent on the word “could.” That could especially be the case regarding Jones, the streaky but talented winger who can become an unrestricted free agent this summer. For Jones, being in a playoff race is all he’s thinking about.

“It’s what makes it exciting. It would be nice to be in a playoff spot to protect right now, but we’re tied with three others right now and we’ve just got to press on forward,” Jones said.

Those three include the Flames and Kings, who also have 66 points but have also played one less game than the Avalanche, and in the Avs’ nearby vicinity, the Wild with 63 points, the Ducks with 62, and ahead of the Avs, Dallas’s 68 points and Phoenix’s 71. Add in the Hawks, whose slide of late has left them with 73 points, and you’ve got eight teams playing for the 6th, 7th and 8th playoff spots in the West, so desperation will probably cancel out whatever “heavy legs” the Avs might display while playing on back-to-back nights.

Dater also pointed out that Hunwick played and scored because Colorado’s lost Ryan O’Byrne to a knee injury, but the Avs are mostly healthy otherwise, and several of their recently banged-up players particularly impressed Dater with their performances:

Nice games for a lot of guys tonight along with Hunwick, including Erik Johnson and Shane O’Brien (plus-3 each). Johnson is playing strong, consistent hockey right now.

Steve Downie was good, along with Jay McClement (who acquitted himself nicely in a fight with Derek McKenzie even) and, of course, David Jones. Oh, and Semyon Varlamov too. His overall numbers are getting better, and he too impressed people by working hard when he wasn’t playing so much.

The Avs are getting better as a team, as a franchise. A ways to go still, but it’s getting there.

Not as good as Dater’s favored Canucks (who lead the Wings by a point thanks to a 2-1 victory over New Jersey on Friday), but close?

NHL.com’s Brian Hedger remained in Detroit after the Wings-Canucks game to cover tonight’s tilt, and between his Twitter account and NHL.com’s At the Rink blog, he’s highly likely to provide you with more than enough coverage to keep you busy while I’m gone and you’re following MLive/the Freep/News/Macomb Daily/WIngs’ website/Windsor Star/WXYZ/etc. Hedger provides a game preview which allows us to shift perspectives from those of the Avalanche to the comments made by the Red Wings’ on Friday…

Season Series: The Red Wings won the first two meetings this season easily, opening the season with a 3-0 victory on Oct. 8 at Pepsi Center, then following it up a month later with a 5-2 victory at Joe Louis Arena - the second victory in what would become a NHL record 23-game home winning streak. The Avalanche, however, struck back on Dec. 4 in Denver with a 4-2 win in which Ryan O’Reilly scored a pair of goals. Johan Franzen has scored in all three games for five of his team-high 23 markers, including a hat trick in the first game in Detroit.

Big Story: The streak is over for the Red Wings, whose NHL-record 23-game home winning streak at Joe Louis Arena came to an end in a shootout on Thursday night against the Vancouver Canucks. Now the question shifts to the Red Wings’ ability to get things righted after dropping two straight games overall and having coach Mike Babcock lament a poor “skating” performance in each one. Playing without star center Pavel Datsyuk for two to three weeks is going to test Detroit’s depth - and just two games into it there are already concerns. Now comes a game against the Avalanche, who are built around a solid defense corps and a young, athletic, group of forwards. While the Wings are trying to maintain the top position in the Western Conference standings, the Avs are in a battle with a handful of other teams trying to secure a playoff spot.
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Red Wings [team scope]: Detroit came within 15.4 seconds of making its amazing home victory streak 24 games and counting against the Canucks on Thursday night. Clinging to a 3-2 lead with time running out in regulation, the Wings allowed a goal by Daniel Sedin - his second of the game - to tie it up and send the contest to OT and then the shootout. Of late, Detroit is having trouble offensively. The Wings haven’t scored more than three goals in five straight games and their usually-dominant puck-possession game is noticeably lagging.

“We’ve been able to win some games without maximum energy,” Babcock said after Friday’s practice. “That doesn’t mean your guys don’t work. What I’m saying is we don’t seem to have the kind of energy or the emotion in us right now. Unfortunate when I was driving in this morning I saw no gas station where you could go in and there’s a whole bunch of that energy and emotion pumping in the guys. So, we need to skate in practice and get ourselves going and get energized … so we can get back on another roll.’‘

Who’s Hot: Detroit’s Darren Helm has goals in two of the last three games and added a pair of assists for a three-point game against Vancouver, while Howard has stopped 67 of 72 shots in two starts since returning from a fractured index finger.

Injury Report: Ryan O’Byrne (knee) is out two to three weeks, while T.J. Galiardi (shoulder), Erik Johnson (back) and Peter Mueller (torso) are all day-to-day for Colorado. … Patrick Eaves (concussion) is out indefinitely and Datsyuk (knee surgery) is expected to miss two to three weeks for the Red Wings.

Stat Pack: Detroit went 0 for 5 on the power play in its last game and has just 6 goals in the last 40 times with the man advantage in its last 10 games.

And the Wings actually gave up more scoring chances against than they created for themselves on Thursday.

Aside from noting that Quincey did a lot of backpedalling and fence-mending after the Dater tiff on Friday (he talked to Hedger about his comments, too), I might suggest that he offered the best scouting report of his former teammates while noting to the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness that Quincey spent three years playing for an Avs team he’d adopted as his own…

“I remember the first time I came back here I was squeezing the stick pretty hard,” Quincey said. “I think the biggest challenge is going to be going back to Pepsi Center, but I’m looking forward to it. Last night was a very frustrating way to end that game and I’m just looking forward to getting a win as a Red Wing. It’s just very exciting, it’s a very exciting time right now and just looking forward to tomorrow.”
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In the [Quincey] trade the Avalanche made an upgrade at forward in acquiring Steve Downie from the Lightning. Colorado is still very much in the playoff race, sitting in 11th before playing Columbus Friday, just two points out of eighth.

“They’re in a dogfight and they’re not out of it at all,” Quincey said. “There are so many teams in that race, but they are in it for sure and they’ve been in it for about two months now. I’ve been playing playoff hockey for two months now, so it’s been fun.”

In Quincy’s first game back in a Wings’ jersey he made his presence felt in Thursday’s shootout loss to Vancouver, playing in every situation possible. He logged 21:32of ice time, scored a goal and was whistled for two minor penalties.

“The second period with the two penalties, I’d like to have those back,” Quincey said. “They were weak penalties, not very good penalties by myself and I wanted to get that back, and scoring that goal was just an unbelievable feeling. I was hoping that it was going to be the game-winner.”

And while most of this stuff is repeated from the off-day report, but it’s important to reiterate. Babcock told MLive’s Ansar Khan that he was tremendously dissatisfied with his team’s performances of late:

“Your energy levels go up and down as the year goes and sometimes you get on a real roll energy-wise and sometimes you come off it,’’ Babcock said. “We’ve been able to win some games without maximum energy. That doesn’t mean your guys don’t work. What I’m saying is we don’t seem to have the kind of energy or the emotion in us right now.

“It’s unfortunate that when I was driving in this morning I saw no gas station where you could go in and there’s a whole bunch of that energy and emotion pumping in the guys. So we need to skate in practice and get ourselves going and get energized and get feeling good about ourselves so we can get back on another roll.’‘

Defenseman Niklas Kronwall said his team’s energy has to be a lot better than it has been on Saturday, when it hosts the young, fast-skating Colorado Avalanche on Saturday (7 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit).

“Get more involved, everybody out there,’’ Kronwall said. “We want to do something with the puck, hold onto it, make a play. If it’s not there, make the right call. For some reason, we haven’t had the same energy we used to have. That’s something we’re looking to correct tomorrow.’‘

Babcock also offered this take on the fact that the Canucks are now ahead of the Wings in the standings to the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness:

“If I’m (first in the West) I put a ton on it, if I’m not, then I put nothing on it,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “The bottom line is you are where you are and you’ve got to get in and get going. We perceive ourselves as having a chance. You only get so many in life. You want to make good on the ones you get.”

The Wings’ press corps spent most of their energies exploring an understandable answer at this time of year—Ken Holland’s trade deadline strategy—so the Free Press’s Helene St. James reminds us that the Wings have at least witnessed superb performances all over the rink from the Drew Miller-Darren Helm-Justin Abdelkader line…

“[Helm’s] playing well right now,” coach Mike Babcock said. “The biggest thing with Helmer is, just remember who he is and what his skill set is and play a simple game. As long as he does that, he’s great. When he plays north-south, he’s a really good player. He’s tenacious ... he’s got his mind in the right spot now.”

Helm, 25, has centered the third line all season in various incarnations. He has had Drew Miller on the left wing for months and is seven games into a stint with Justin Abdelkader on the right. (This has led to talk of calling the line HAM, but Helm said he is against it, because “I don’t like ham.”) Helm is the line’s linchpin, a guy with such blazing speed that it inspires his wingers.

“Helmer up the middle makes both of us skate a lot faster and play a lot more faster game, so it benefits us,” Miller said. “And Abby will get in there and bang and be physical. I think our line complements each other pretty well.”

After a slow start, Helm has notched nine of his 22 points over the past 13 games. He has two goals in his past three games, including the winner Sunday. So even though his goal Thursday was a knuckleball, there’s something to be said for just shooting.

“Get everything at the net, that’s kind of what I’ve been trying to do,” he said. “It was nice to see something like that go in. I do want to be shooting a little bit more. You get more chances when you shoot. It would be nicer to see maybe a harder shot of mine go in, and then get a little more confidence, but it’s definitely a stepping-stone.”

And MLive’s Ansar Khan HAMmed it up, too:

“That group works hard every day in practice, they work hard in the gym, they’re helping us win games,’’ Babcock said. “That’s what a team is all about. You want everyone to contribute. In the end, we want to be rolling four lines, where everyone can play in all situations.’‘

Helm and Miller have played together for most of the season. Abdelkader joined them on Feb. 10, after Danny Cleary was idled by a sore knee. Cleary is back, but playing on the second line for now. No need to break up the third line when the Red Wings host the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.

“It’s huge, especially come playoff time, having that third line producing; you need them to wear and tear on the other team’s defense,’’ goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “When you got three lines that can put the puck in the net it makes you that much more dangerous.’‘

Helm has blazing speed, Miller moves well and has developed a knack for putting himself in scoring positions. Abdelkader brings size and strength. All play a north-south game and drive to the net.

“I think that’s what we want to be known as, more like a lunch pail-type line, blue-collar, hard work,’’ Abdelkader said. “There’s probably not going to be a lot of fanciness going on, toe-dragging and all that stuff. It’s just grind and hard work. We’re going to try to get up the ice and get in on the forecheck, hang onto pucks, take them to the net and cause havoc.”

That’s what the Wings need the Franzen-Zetterberg-Bertuzzi and Cleary-Filppula-Hudler lines to start doing, too, and it wouldn’t hurt if Nicklas Lidstrom, Ian White, Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart started getting going offensively, either….

Said Abdelkader: “I think D-men know that when the puck goes into the corner that we’re coming and we finish checks.”

Miller has career highs in goals (12) and points (23). Helm and Abdelkader each have seven goals. They have taken some of the scoring burden off the top two lines.

“We’ve been counted on the past few years to create energy and be hard on the other team’s D and I think we’ve just taken that to the next level and are getting a little more offensive,’’ Miller said. “You need that secondary scoring.’‘

If the Wings can get some primary scoring going, they’ll be okay against the Avs, but if their stars continue to slump sans Datsyuk, they’re going to be in serious trouble against the plucky Avs.

This is a repeat, too, but here’s Ken Kal’s early “game-day” preview of tonight’s tilt, which includes interviews with Quincey and Nicklas Lidstrom:

 

Part II: In the AHL and ECHL: The Grand Rapids Griffins more or less need to win out to make the playoffs, and they gave Ty Conklin quite a bit of support while defeating the Colorado Avalanche’s minor-league affiliate on Friday night. Conklin stopped 17 of the 18 shots he faced while the Griffins fired 40 shots and registered 6 goals against the Lake Erie Monsters, downing the Cleveland-based team 6-1.

Griffins captain Chris Minard registered a hat trick and Jamie Johnson posted 4 assists in the effort, and the Griffins’ website’s recap provides the details thereof:

The teams traded goals during the opening period, with the Griffins striking first at 9:49. Francis Pare took a pass from Landon Ferraro at the right point, skated in a few strides and threw a shot toward the net that Chris Conner deflected past Cedrick Desjardins. But the Monsters answered a little more than four minutes later, when Greg Mauldin put a rebound past Conklin from the left circle at 13:55 for what would be their only tally of the night.

Grand Rapids’ Swedish line produced the team’s second goal 7:35 into the middle frame. Gustav Nyquist forced a turnover behind the net and sent a pass out front to Fabian Brunnstrom. After Brunnstrom’s attempt from point-blank range was denied by Desjardins, Joakim Andersson pounced on the loose puck at the bottom of the left circle and notched his 14th goal of the campaign. The assist pushed Nyquist’s season-high point streak to eight games, tying for the 18th-longest scoring run in franchise history.

After an apparent goal at the 9:22 mark was nullified by referee Jean Hebert’s ruling – vehemently disputed by the Griffins – that Brunnstrom kicked Johnson’s pass into the net from the top of the crease, there would be no doubt about their next tally. At 14:24, Johnson gathered the puck below the goal line and found Minard in the slot for a one-timer that pushed Grand Rapids’ lead to 3-1.

Early in the third, Minard set up the Griffins’ fourth goal by winning a race to the puck along the left half-wall and pushing it back to Doug Janik, who shimmied to the point before unleashing a slap shot that found the back of the net at 6:01. Minard then capped off the rout and his hat trick by scoring at 11:38 and 19:35, giving him 12 goals and 17 points in just 16 games since returning from a concussion that had sidelined him all season.

Conklin finished with 17 saves, backstopping a defense that has surrendered just three goals with him in net – the Griffins’ lowest total in consecutive games since they allowed two from Nov. 11-12.

The Griffins’ website also posted a slate of YouTube-formatted interviews with Minard, Conklin and Griffins coach Curt Fraser, as well as a Flickr photo gallery, and the Grand Rapids Press’s Peter J. Wallner suggested that the Griffins’ winning streak and playoff hopes rest upon the man wearing #1 in Grand Rapids:

The scoreboard operator may have gone a little over the top with Conk-LIN-sanity, a nod to sudden star Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks, but it couldn’t hurt for a team that won consecutive games for the first time since the start of the year. Conklin, in his second game with the Griffins after he was waived by the Detroit Red Wings, faced only 18 shots – just four in the third period – and has allowed three goals in two games.

“The fellows made it easy,” he said. “We won by the score we deserved to win by tonight.”

Minard, who has 12 goals on the season with his second hat trick in five games, said Conklin’s puck play around the net has been a factor in the improved play.

“He goes out and gets it,” Minard said of dump-ins. “That helps our defense out a bunch. They don’t have to worry about getting a loose puck and getting hammered.”

The Griffins (22-21-5-4), who bused to Toronto for a 5 p.m. game Saturday, crawled into a tie for fourth in the North Division with 51 points. They are six points and four spots out of a Western Conference playoff spot.

“We have a long way to go until we get up in the standings,” said Minard. “We have to catch up to a lot of teams, so we have to stay positive and keep things going.”
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Ty Conklin, who tweaked his left knee in the third period of Wednesday’s game, didn’t practice Thursday. When asked, he said, “the knee is OK” … Gustav Nyquist assisted on Joakim Andersson’s goal in the second period to give him points in eight consecutive games. That’s the longest streak on the team this season. His 51 points are eighth in the AHL and second among rookies

• In the ECHL, Darren McCarty’s presence couldn’t help the Toledo Walleye, who dropped a 3-0 deficit to the Wheeling Nailers before falling just short of a comeback, losing 4-3 to Wheeling.

Jordan Pearce made 28 saves on 32 shots in the loss, but Andrej Nestrasil, Gleason Fournier and Nick Oslund were held off the scoresheet. The Walleye’s website and the Toledo Blade’s Mark Monroe provide recaps, and Monroe reports that Oslund suffered an “upper-body injury” which will keep him out of the lineup for the rest of the Walleye’s weekend games.

 

Part III: Also of Red Wings-related note: Darren McCarty talked about the Red Wings’ 23-home ice winning streak and the loss that ended it with the Toledo Blade’s Mark Monroe:

“If you look at the history of Joe Louis Arena, it’s one of the toughest rinks to play in,” said McCarty, a blue-collar player who endeared himself to Detroit fans. He dropped the ceremonial puck prior to last night’s Walleye game at the Huntington Center. “[Teams] come into the building and are scared. They’ve made Joe Louis like it was back in the ‘90s when we played,” he said. “People don’t want to go in there and play. It’s pretty amazing. Nobody has ever done 23 in a row at home in the history of the league. That tells you something.”

McCarty said he thought the Red Wings would extend the streak to 24 before Daniel Sedin scored with 15.4 seconds left in regulation. Alex Burrows had the only goal in the shootout.

“They didn’t play their best game. But they were still 15 seconds away from [winning],” McCarty said. “It will be a sour taste in their mouths because they know they had that game in hand. They will come out [Saturday] and I’m sure they will start it again.”

McCarty said he believes Detroit and Vancouver will meet in the Western Conference finals. McCarty played in 17 playoff games in the 2007-08 season when the Wings won their last Stanley Cup. McCarty scored a crucial goal in the decisive game of the 1997 Stanley Cup finals against Philadelphia to help the Wings win their first title in 42 years. It was a beautiful goal, juking his way around a defenseman near the blue line before of faking out goalie Ron Hextall and sliding the puck in the net.

“I barely remember it,” McCarty joked. “I beat a guy one-on-one just one time in my career and I guess it came at the right time. It was an out of body experience. It will be etched in my mind forever.”

McCarty became a member of a steady and abrasive trio of forwards nicknamed the “Grind Line” with Kirk Maltby and Kris Draper. All three are now retired.

“We all grew up together,” McCarty said. “We’re still really tight. We’re brothers.”

• Also in alumni news, from the Saginaw News’s Kyle Austin:

The [OHL’s Saginaw] Spirit announced Friday that former Red Wings defenseman Kris Draper will make an appearance at the team’s March 9 home game against Owen Sound.

• In prospect news, Riley Sheahan registered an assist as the University of Notre Dame defeated the Michigan State University Spartans 2-0 in the first half of a back-to-back slate which may determine whether the Irish or Spartans make the NCAA playoffs;

• The Vancouver Province’s Gordon McIntyre chose to rub the Wings’ loss in a bit via a very, very late-breaking notebook which pointed out that the Canucks more or less shut the Wings down offensively despite being out-shot 17-5 in the opening period of Thursday’s game…

“It was unbelievable, great job by the guys,” Roberto Luongo said. “Except for that one shot, they were pressuring the puck, Detroit had trouble coming into the zone and any time we had it on our stick it was out of the zone.”

Luongo was fooled on Detroit’s first goal, a knuckleball off Darren Helm’s stick, but he made several splendid saves to keep his team in the game, especially when Detroit opened a shooting gallery in the last couple of minutes of the second period, registering four shots in the final scram-bly 20 seconds alone.

“I was just trying not to throw up,” deadpanned Luongo, the Canucks’ most valuable player over the past three months. “There was a lot of activity around the net and I was just trying to stay as big as possible. The boys did a good job making sure they got their sticks in front of the net, stuff like that.”

• But the Ottawa Sun’s Chris Stevenson looked upon some statistics of note from the Wings’ streak…

4: The number of times the Detroit Red Wings shut out the opposition over the course of their 23-game home winning streak. It started Nov. 5 with a 5-0 shutout of the Anaheim Ducks. The Wings also blanked the Edmonton Oilers (Nov. 11), St. Louis Blues (Dec. 31) and Buffalo Sabres (Jan. 16).

3: The number of times the Detroit Red Wings went to the shootout and saved their home winning streak before having it ended in a shootout Thursday. The shootouts they won came during a seven-game span against the Phoenix Coyotes (Jan. 12), Columbus Blue Jackets (Jan. 21) and Anaheim Ducks (Feb. 10).

And his take on the Quincey trade is an “everybody wins!” one:

I liked the deal that sent Steve Downie to Colorado, Kyle Quincey to Detroit and a first-round draft pick to Tampa Bay. Downie is tough to play against and that’s what the Avs need. Quincey—like just about everybody who winds up in Motown—will be good there, and the Bolts get a pick to bolster their thin organizational depth or to use to move up in the draft

• In a programming note, the NHL Network U.S. will air the Nicklas Lidstrom episode of NHL 36 at 5 PM EST today;

This is pretty damn cool: The Red Wings are holding a contest asking recreational hockey teams to submit YouTube videos suggesting why their teams are good enough to tangle with the Red Wings Alumni Association between March 9th and 14th;

This is pretty damn cool, too: WJR’s Paul W. Smith reports that Ken Holland lent a hand to the radio station’s annual Radiothon for the Salvation Army, which had raised $500,000 over only 13 of its 24 hours, and I’m guessing that WJR will upload Holland’s interview to Smith’s podcast page sometime this weekend;

• And this is sad, but predictable: according to the Eagle-Tribune’s Mike McMahon, either Max Nicastro un-enrolled from Boston University or they expelled him:

According to the Twitter feed of The Daily Free Press (@dailyfreepress), the independent student newspaper at Boston University, Max Nicastro is no longer enrolled at Boston University according to a BU spokesman.

Nicastro was in court on Tuesday morning answering to charges of rape, stemming from his arrest on Sunday morning.


Update: No surprise here: MLive’s Brendan Savage reports that Wings fans wish the team would add a top-six, scoring forward at the trade deadline;

• And via Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Renger, here are a few comments from Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronwall about the team’s loss to Vancouver…

“The big thing for us is to try and get better, whether were at home or on the road[,” Stuart said. “]We’ve got to start putting things together.”

Nik Kronwall, Stuart’s defensive partner, also feels Detroit needs to play better.

“We’re looking to get two points every night,” Kronwall said. “Our division, in particular, is so hard. In the Western Conference, we’d like to be in first place come playoff time. That way we could take advantage of the crowd we have at home. Short term, we’re just looking to get the energy back that we used to have and play more solid hockey for 60 minutes and not just in spurts. We have another gear.”

And here’s what Wings coach Mike Babcock had to say about his team’s energy level:

“Your energy levels go up and down as the year goes,” Babcock said. “Sometimes you get on a real roll energy wise and sometimes you come off it. We’ve been able to win some games without maximum energy. That doesn’t mean that your guys don’t work. That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that we don’t seem to have the kind of energy or emotion in us right now.”

Babcock said the best way for the Wings to get back their energy is to skate in practice. By skating hard in practice, Babcock believes the Wings will re-energize themselves and get back on a roll.

When asked if the home winning streak took a toll on his team’s energy level, Babcock replied, “I think the season takes stuff out of you at times. Sometimes you feel fresher and better, and sometimes you don’t feel that way. So just keep on plugging and grind it out. We’ll have a big game here tomorrow (Saturday night against Colorado).  We’ve got to respond. We’ve dropped two in row. We’d like to get back on the winning side.”

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Comments

MsRedWinger's avatar

“I think that’s what we want to be known as, more like a lunch pail-type line, blue-collar, hard work,’’ Abdelkader said.

The Lunch Pail Line?

George, thanks for all the great stuff.  I’ve been out of the loop for a few days, but I’m going to sit here and catch up on everything you’ve written while I’ve been distracted.  Can’t tell you how much I appreciate all your work and how in awe I am of how much info you put in here.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 02/25/12 at 10:01 AM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

I’m digging Minard!  12 goals in 16 games because they’re battling for a playoff spot.  Man knows how to play desperate hockey, I like that.

Anyone else just insanely excited our future

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 02/25/12 at 12:27 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

The problem with Minard is that, right now, anyway, he’d have to clear re-entry waivers as the Wings are paying him something like $$525,000 at the AHL level to just keep him in the fold at 30 years of age. The Wings would have to try to convince Minard to take a lesser salary—like down to $105,000—for the sake of trying to make the Wings’ roster next season, and he can make more with other AHL teams or in Europe.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 02/25/12 at 12:37 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

I was talking more about the swedish line but I love that veteran guys lie menard are still displaying red wing qualities.. not griffin quality of 50/50 hockey

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 02/25/12 at 01:53 PM ET

Avatar

I am so so glad you liked my HEMI line suggestion, George. Feel free to use it.
LGRW!

Posted by Alex on 02/25/12 at 03:34 PM ET

SYF's avatar

“The HEMI Line.”

Innovative, fast, dependable, reliable, muscular V8.

Holy fuch, I love it (exclamations points).

Posted by SYF from Alana Blanchard's Bikinis and Surfboards on 02/25/12 at 03:55 PM ET

SYF's avatar

PS - while every other pseudo-, armchair internet automotive gearhead raves and pumps about horsepower, the real power is in torque…and the HEMI V8 is that baddest mutherfucher out there.

And I’m a huuuuge LS7 fan.

Posted by SYF from Alana Blanchard's Bikinis and Surfboards on 02/25/12 at 03:58 PM ET

SYF's avatar

“We’re looking to get two points every night,” Kronwall said. “Our division, in particular, is so hard. In the Western Conference, we’d like to be in first place come playoff time. That way we could take advantage of the crowd we have at home. Short term, we’re just looking to get the energy back that we used to have and play more solid hockey for 60 minutes and not just in spurts. We have another gear.”

Uncle Mike says there’s no such thing.

Posted by SYF from Alana Blanchard's Bikinis and Surfboards on 02/25/12 at 05:09 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.