Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Avalanche wrap-up: Wings exhaust their margin for error, coach’s patience

The Detroit Red Wings now sit a point behind the Western Conference-leading Vancouver Canucks and find themselves in a dogfight with the nearly unbeatable St. Louis Blues again. The Blues sit two points behind the Wings because Detroit has dropped 3 straight games, to Chicago, Vancouver and on Saturday, their second at home in what’s become an all-too-predictable case of hanging one’s goalie out to dry and then delivering too little, too late in terms of energy, effort, work ethic and attention to detail in a 4-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche.

The Wings also lost Jonathan Ericsson for a month with a broken wrist, but it also hurts to read what Wings coach Mike Babcock and the Wings’ players had to say before a game in which the Wings were down 2-0 before the 3-minute mark of the first period (sorry: I missed the pre-game due to my pal Steve’s wedding), as noted by NHL.com’s Brian Hedger...

“They’ve won their last two games total and they’re playing well,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said of the Avs on Saturday morning at Joe Louis Arena. “They play fast, and they’ve got some skill up front. Their back end is young, but they’ve got some good skill. They’re going to be a test. The other thing is, we haven’t been as good. You’ve got to reestablish how you play and your structure.”

The Red Wings will also try to accomplish that for the third straight game without star center Pavel Datsyuk, who could be out for up to two more weeks recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery this past Tuesday.

The dynamic Russian two-way centerman’s prowess in the faceoff circle – among all other facets of his game – has been noticeably missed in the last two games against the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks, which leads to the Wings not possessing the puck as much as they’d like.

Babcock said it’s merely another opportunity for somebody else to step forward and fill the gap until Datsyuk returns.

“It’s important that you can have enough guys to keep everybody hungry,” Babcock said. “It’s like anything. Am I satisfied with our scoring ability without Pav? Am I satisfied with our defense without Pav? Well, I like having Pav on the team. We don’t have him on the team, but opportunity knocks for somebody else.”

And the Macomb Daily’s Fred Costello...

Life without Datsyuk can make for an especially tough night in the faceoff circle for Detroit, which prefers to play a puck-possession style. After Saturday’s optional morning skate, during which few players participated, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock talked about playing without the dynamic Russian forward.

“It’s like anything,” Babcock began. “Am I satisfied with our scoring ability without Pav? Am I satisfied with our defense without Pav? Well, I like having Pav on the team. We don’t have him on the team, but opportunity knocks for somebody else.”

Why George, did Babcock make some ironic comments about the trade deadline as well?

Well, I’m not glad that you asked, because damn f***ing right he did, to both Costello…

“My focus is on coaching the team when I’m coaching,” Babcock said. “When we’re talking about players, that’s my focus. When I’m with my kids, that’s my focus. We’re all in our organization and as a management group right now focused on if we can improve our team.”

That doesn’t mean that Babcock is hoping for a big shakeup. The team has an abundance of salary cap space, but may not wield it. Newly acquired defenseman Kyle Quincey provides even more possibilities along the blue line. With forward Patrick Eaves still feeling effects from a concussion, Detroit is likely to focus on a finding another player who can add some spark up front. That is only if, however, the deal makes sense for the club.

“We like our team,” Babcock explained. “If there’s something there that can help us and makes sense, then that’s a great thing. Change just to change isn’t going to be the approach. We’ve already done a good job in giving ourselves depth on the back end. We want to get healthy up front, but if there’s something available to make us better, we’d like to acquire that. We’re looking for a depth player.”

And MLive’s Ansar Khan:

“We’re all focused on if we can improve our team,’’ Babcock said. “At the same time, we like our team. If there’s something there that can help us and makes sense, then that’s a great thing. Change just to change isn’t going to be the approach. We’ve already done a good job in giving ourselves depth on the back end (by acquiring defenseman Kyle Quincey on Tuesday). We want to get healthy up front, but if there’s something available to make us better, we’d like to acquire that.’‘
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[T]he Red Wings aren’t going to make a major move. They are more apt to add a fourth-line forward, preferably with size and abrasiveness, than an impact scorer.

“That (impact player) is not what we’re looking for, we’re looking for depth people,’’ Babcock said. “Quince has a chance to be a real impact guy because he gives us depth and he’s a good player. We’re looking for depth, because there’s injuries. You got to remember Patty Eaves is gone for the year, probably (with a concussion), so that’s a player we thought we had that we don’t have.’‘

In addition to veteran Chris Conner, the Red Wings have some promising, young forwards playing for the Grand Rapids Griffins. Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar have offensive skills and Joakim Andersson brings a gritty element. But the club would not be comfortable inserting an inexperienced player into the lineup in the playoffs.

“We got kids in the minors, but they’re kids,’’ Babcock said. “So if we can add a veteran player who knows how to win and knows how to play, then maybe that happens. If not, then all hands on deck and let’s go.’‘

For the moment, those “veteran players” include Jakub Kindl and Mike Commodore, who will be called into action without Ericsson in the lineup, but the Wings have done a pretty damn poor job of acquitting themselves since Pavel Datsyuk had his knee scoped on Tuesday.

All of that being said, this three-game hiccup is both unacceptable and, to some extent, predictable. Yes, I will state this here and now: the Wings have exercised all their excusable brain farts for both February and March during the past week…

But Babcock’s comments about “energy” all damn week long seemed to indicate that he understood that his players, individually and collectively, were starting to get ground down and dumbed down by the grind, and that this was very simply a lull after an incredibly dominant stretch of play that should have and could have been weathered more effectively had the Wings not combined to leave their goaltenders out to dry, stink on the power play and penalty-kill, surrender multiple-goal deficits before waking up and plain old play sloppy, inefficient and sometimes downright doofy hockey—despite a fantastic performance by the reunited Filppula-Zetterberg-Hudler line.

The Wings are still the second-best team in the West, the third-best in the NHL, and the Wings have a schedule they should be able to take advantage of this week: the Wings wont’ take to the ice on Sunday, and will practice on Monday before heading to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets on Tuesday; then they receive two more days off before battling the Wild back at the Joe on Friday the 2nd. Things get a little more interesting from there as they’ll play the Blackhawks on Sunday the 4th, will travel to Philly to tangle with the Flyers on the 6th, and play back-to-backs at home against Los Angeles on the 9th and in Nashville on the Tenth, but you’ll note that another two-day break bookends the home-and-away-yo-yos, and the Wings will have one more two-day break before taking part in their last road trip of the season—a three-games-in-five-nights stretch heading through Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Jose (with a two-day break between the Ducks and Sharks games).

In other words, the schedule ahead should provide the right balance of rest, very badly-needed practice time and some would-be rebound games before competition gets interesting. Hopefully, Pavel Datsyuk should return by next Sunday’s game against Chicago at the latest, and it is entirely possible, though not probable, that the Wings might welcome a reinforcement up front on Monday afternoon. The Red Wings aren’t going to continue losing if Babcock, the coaching staff, his players’ pride and Kenny Holland have anything to say about it, and if Saturday’s game hurt because the Wings lost a defenseman who looked like a different (and better) player alongside Quincey, it hurt just as much because the Avs are a potential playoff opponent, and they did so while continuing to expose the kinds of glaring weaknesses that the Avs might hope to exploit come April.

The Denver Post’s Adrian Dater raved about the performance of Gabriel Landeskog, who scored two goals and thought he’d scored a third when the Wings pulled Jimmy Howard, but alas for Landeskog, time had expired by the time his shot hit the back of the empty net:

“I was jumping up and down there. I thought I’d gotten it, but we won the game. That’s the most important thing,” said Landeskog, who was the best player in a game that ended up a nail-biting thriller after the Avs had taken a 4-1 lead with 10:47 left on Steve Downie’s goal and third point of the night. Besides his two goals, Landeskog was a plus-3 and had six shots on net. He now is the NHL’s leading goal-scorer among rookies (18) and leads in a host of other categories, including plus-minus (plus-20). Cue up the Calder Trophy talk.

“To me, he’s playing like he’s the rookie of the year right now,” Avs coach Joe Sacco said. “He plays in all situations. He plays 200 feet of the ice. He really played well tonight, and I thought we played a good hockey game. This is a tough place to win.”

Landeskog and linemates Ryan O’Reilly and Downie were certainly the Avs’ best trio of the night, with Downie now having five points in the last two games. The line combined for eight points overall. But the Avs’ defense also showed heart, going with just a five-man rotation most of the game after rookie Stefan Elliott suffered a facial cut in the first period and didn’t return. Veteran Shane O’Brien was on the ice for the game’s final minute, when the Wings pressed desperately with the extra skater.

“Obviously, you never want to give up a three-goal lead in the third in a hockey game, but Jiggy was great and gave us a chance to win,” O’Brien said.

Goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, playing his first game since Feb. 15, gave up a couple of late goals to Jiri Hudler and Valtteri Filppula but made a game-saving stop on Darren Helm’s point-blank shot with a couple of minutes left — after Hudler skated around everyone in front.

“After we called a timeout (after Hudler’s goal with 6:38 left), I wanted to make sure I was on my toes, on top of my crease, because it’s easy to get back in your net and on your heels when the other team is coming hard at you,” Giguere said. “When I saw him going around everybody else, I just tried to stay big.”

Giguere did just that, but as my wedding DVR’ing went wrong—in all honesty, I still have a VCR, and the person who was supposed to press record didn’t—so I missed some of the first period. As such, even Dater pointed out that the Avs’ 2-0 goal may or may not have included some serious-ass uncalled interference…

And as we know, the Wings couldn’t recover after coming out so very, very flat.

Here’s what Dater had to say about the goal in his blog:

- Kyle Quincey? Hey, I’m sure a lot of Avs fans want to gloat over his minus-[3] showing tonight. But let’s be fair: Chuck Kobasew definitely got away with one on him, on the David Jones goal early that made it 2-0. Kobasew was forechecking on Quincey when he lost his feet (like a lot of guys did tonight on that ice) and in doing so slid into Quincey’s feet and tripped him. It should have been a tripping call. Quincey lost the puck and Jones had a breakaway.

About the Quincey/verbal affair: I think the guy just said the wrong thing at the wrong time. I think he was respected in the Avs dressing room, and guys spoke highly of him when asked about him today. Yeah, guys usually want to say the right things to avoid controversy, but I think it was just a case of a guy saying things in the heat of the moment and regretting it. I’m giving him a pass, for whatever that’s worth.

The Avs continued telling their side of the story to NHL.com’s Brian Hedger, who notes that the Avs won back-to-back games, just as Mike Babcock had theorized they might at the morning skate:

“Tiger by the tail,” Babcock said. “They play fast, and they’ve got some skill up front. Their back end is young, but they’ve got some good skill. They’re going to be a test.”

It took less than three minutes to figure that out on Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena. The tiger got free and sunk its teeth into the Red Wings for a pair of early goals in a 4-3 Colorado victory at Joe Louis Arena that saw the Avs hang on at the end to ward off a Detroit rally in the third. Colorado (32-27-4) also downed the Columbus Blue Jackets on the road Friday night and swept a back-to-back weekend to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

“We knew this win was going to be tough,” said recently-acquired Avs forward Steve Downie, who scored what proved to be the game-winning goal 9:13 into the third and added assists on both goals by rookie Gabriel Landeskog. “It’s hard to win in this League on back-to-backs, especially in this building, but we came out hard and withstood their pressure. We knew they were going to come out [hard] in the third. They’re a great home team, but we got through it.”

They actually did more than just get through it. Colorado also became the first team since Calgary on Nov.3 to beat the Red Wings (41-19-3) in regulation on this sheet of ice. The Wings’ NHL-record 23-game home winning streak ended Thursday with a 4-3 shootout loss to Vancouver; this was the first time in 24 games that the Wings went home empty-handed.

“I didn’t know that,” said Landeskog, who scored one of his goals in the first three minutes of the game and added a second at 13:35 of the second for a 3-0 lead. “Good for us, I guess. They’re such a good team. We’re just happy to come in here and get two points like we wanted to do. It if took [overtime] or a shootout, it wouldn’t have mattered.

Or, as Steve Downie told the Associated Press...

“We knew they were going to come hard. Great home team, and we hung on,” Downie said.

Colorado led 2-0 less than three minutes into the game. Landeskog opened the scoring 1:35 in when his one-timed shot from the slot went in off Howard’s right pad. Just 1:07 later, Jones capitalized on a turnover by Quincey in his own zone. He picked up the loose puck in the high slot, skated in, and beat Howard with a high shot for a short-handed goal. It was Jones’ 15th goal of the season.

“It was a rough start. You’ve got to give them credit,” Quincey said after his first game against his former team “They came out flying and played very well. They chipped and chased and wore us down.”

He appeared to be tripped by Chuck Kobasew, causing the turnover, but there was no call.

“I saw him come at me, I knew I had him beat. I was just going to take a stride and his legs took my feet out from under me. Puck went right in the slot,” Quincey said. “It looked pretty bad, but I thought I was gone. Next thing I know the puck is in the back of our net. It’s pretty frustrating.”

Frustrating for Quincey and frustrating for the Wings. Fox Sports Detroit’s Michael J. Happy p ayed up the, “Oh boy, Quincey’s comments spiced up what could be a hum-dinger of a first-round series!” angle in his recap, and it’s his recap we’ll use to transition from the Avs’ to Wings’ perspectives. The Avs insisted that they didn’t take Quincey’s comments personally, at least after he apologized for them:

He was a great teammate,” Landeskog said. “Everybody in this room likes him.”

Avalanche goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who made 28 saves, was a little less guarded. Although Giguere also called Quincey a “great teammate,” there was more.

“It’s a tricky situation,” he said of Quincey’s bulletin-board material. “You hate to see that. Nothing good can come out of it.”

Except, perhaps, the renewal of one of hockey’s greatest rivalries. Right on cue, McCarty made an appearance when the Red Wings needed a lift most. During a TV timeout at the 13:15 mark of the third, the arena announcer introduced “a special Red Wings alumni,” McCarty, whose sock-hat-wearing, grinning head immediately appeared on the center-ice scoreboard’s big screens. The sell-out crowd went nuts and then even nuttier when McCarty’s head was replaced by a replay of the ‘97 McCarty-Lemieux bout.

Seconds after play resumed, Jiri Hudler scored his second of the game to make it 4-2. And less than two minutes later, Valtteri Filppula made it 4-3. Giguere had to be terrific the remaining 5-plus minutes to get the Avalanche out of Detroit with a victory, and he was.

“They’re the Red Wings,” Giguere said. “You expect that from them in the third period.”

Yeah, but the Wings expected that kind of play from themselves from the get-go, and Jimmy Howard said as much to the Macomb Daily’s Fred Costello:

“We were flat the first two periods and it killed us,” Howard said. “We weren’t ready to play. Playing catch-up hockey in this league is very difficult. It’s on us. We’ve got to be better prepared. The way we started tonight was unacceptable.”
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The final box score shows a one-goal loss, but captain Nick Lidstrom was clearly not pleased with what he saw, at least through 40 minutes.

“I don’t think we came out with effort at all,” Lidstrom explained. “You could tell they were a desperate team, especially in the first two periods. We know we didn’t play well at all defensively.”

Colorado extended its lead to 3-0 in the only scoring play in the second period. Landeskog netted his second of the game, and 18th of the season, on his second successful one-timer from the slot. The goal, which Howard had very little chance of stopping, was set up by Ryan O’Reilly at 13:35. Howard had high praise for the very impressive rookie.

“He’s good,” Howard said. “His second one there, he just teed off on it. I didn’t even get a chance to move.”

Jiri Hudler agreed with Howard and Lidstrom’s assessments while speaking to MLive’s Brendan Savage (who also penned a quote-less recap)...

“We had a bad start,” said Hudler, who has 20 goals this season. “They have a good team. They fly around and it’s tough to chase after them when they’re up 3-0 and 4-1. We were close. We could have tied it up. But it’s over and they got the two points. (Coach Mike Babcock) tried something different and it worked for a bit. Like I said, it’s tough in the NHL to chase after (teams). Every team is good. They closed the door. We had a couple of good chances but we didn’t put it in. We had a good stretch for 24 games or 23 games. It was really disappointing tonight. We didn’t play well in the first two periods. I’m sure we’re going to have some meetings. We have to have a better start.”

And the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa penned a recap that is as much column as anything else, noting the Wings’ very regular tendency of late to give up goals because their defensemen are either chasing puck carriers or plain old standing still in their own zone, and don’t do much other than either run around like chickens with their heads cut off or chickens with their legs cut off. Lidstrom knows it…

“You want to correct especially how we’re playing in our own zone, defensively,” defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said. “I thought we had some defensive zone breakdowns that they capitalized on. We were out of position,” Lidstrom said. “And we weren’t covering in the manner we were supposed to. That hurt us.”

And while he raved about Justin Abdelkader’s team-sparking fight with David Jones in the 3rd period, going so far as to suggest the following…

The Red Wings have 14 fights this season. In the past seven seasons, they have fought more often only twice, 19 times in 2009-10, and 21 times in 2007-08, when they won the Stanley Cup.

It’s coach Mike Babcock’s comments that matter the most here, and he did what Mike Babcock tends to do—he went so far as to not only point fingers at his team, but also his own argument about his team having to weather a waning moment in its energy level:

“We’ll have a day off,” a subdued Wings coach Mike Babcock said, after the 4-3 loss to the Avalanche. “We’ll skate on Monday, and get ready to play. But you can’t win like this. You’ve got to be better, and you’ve got to play harder,” Babcock said. “It wasn’t good enough.”

It is a time of the season when energy can be scarce. And the Red Wings are just off the longest winning streak at home in the 95-year history of the NHL. But persevering amid such circumstances is what professional athletes do.

“I don’t buy any of that,” Babcock said, of the context for the Wings’ sudden three-game losing streak. “You have high points during the year, and sometimes you aren’t as energized. I understand that. But you don’t accept that. You’ve got to be mentally tough and push through it, and we haven’t been able to do that. It’s unacceptable. And good players got to play. You’ve got to go every night. And we haven’t been good enough, so that’s where we’re at. I imagine this should have been a pretty humbling experience. I know it was for me, and for most of us, for most of the night. So, it’s unacceptable to play like that. They know that; they’re big boys. They got a day off to freshen up, and they’ve got to get their mind right, and their attitude right.”

Babcock said things a little differently while speaking to the Free Press’s George Sipple...

“That’s unacceptable to play like that and to be poor as we were tonight,” Babcock said. “We had a rally in the third period, but for two games here and probably for the three we haven’t had much energy. It was very apparent. We’ll have the day off tomorrow and will skate on Monday and get ready to play. But this is—you can’t win like this. You’ve got to be better. You’ve got to play harder. It wasn’t good enough.”

Babcock disagreed with the notion that the team’s NHL record 23-game win streak took a toll.

“You have high points during the year and sometimes you’re not as energized,” Babcock said. “You’ve got to be mentally tough and push through it and we haven’t been able to do that.”

And Lidstrom backed his coach up:

“I don’t think we came out with effort at all,” said captain Nicklas Lidstrom. “You could tell they were a desperate team, especially in that first two periods. We know we didn’t play well at all defensively those first two periods. I thought we came out a little bit better in the third, but we were still behind 4-1.”
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“We wanted to have a better start, and obviously they scored within the first two minutes ... we wanted to come out harder and we just didn’t respond as a team early on.”

The Wings were more than willing to admit to DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose that losing Ericsson hurt, but as Roose points out, by the time Ericsson got hurt in the second period (despite wearing long-cuff gloves), the Wings were trailing by two goals:

“We were short one guy,” captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “You have to rotate five D and you’re kind of switching up the partners, but I felt we sorted it out well. We still had some breakdowns in the third, but I still felt that we were able to find our groove with different partners.”

Breakdowns and giveaways, particularly in the defensive zone really were major flaws for the Wings.

“You want to correct it, especially in our own zone, defensively,” Lidstrom said. “I thought we had some defensive zone breakdowns that they capitalized on, we were out of position and weren’t covering the man that we were supposed to. That hurt us.”
...
Ericsson’s defensive partner for the past two games has been Quincey, who together had formed a big, menacing third pairing. But without Ericsson in the game, Quincey managed to get acquainted to the other four D-men.

“It gave me a chance to play with everybody, that’s for sure,” said Quincey, who registered one shot and three hits on his former teammates. “But Big E is a big loss for us and hopefully it’s not too serious and we can get him back soon.”

Try a month, Kyle, so you’re going to get acquainted with Jakub Kindl and Mike Commodore in short order.

In the interim, as Jimmy Howard told MLive’s Ansar Khan, the Wings’ furious third-period comeback would have been a little more useful had the team not dug a 3-0 hole before engaging their opponent:

“We were flat the first two periods and it killed us,’’ Howard said. “We weren’t ready to play. Playing catch-up hockey in this league is very difficult. It’s on us. We’ve got to be better prepared. The way we started tonight was unacceptable. The first two periods were a little bit embarrassing. We found a way to make it interesting in the third.’‘

Multimedia:

Highlights: If you must watch, watch Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond’s narration of the game’s events:

Post-game: The Denver Post’s Adrian Dater posted a clip of Avalanche coach Joe Sacco’s post-game comments;

MLive’s Brendan Savage posted a clip of Jiri Hudler’s post-game comments…

 

And the Red Wings’ website posted clips of Jimmy Howard…

 

Nicklas Lidstrom…

 

And coach Mike Babcock’s post-game comments:

 

Photos: The Detroit News posted a 21-image gallery;

The Detroit Free Press posted a 23-image gallery;

Fox Sports Detroit posted a surprisingly-large 21-image gallery;

The Denver Post posted a 27-image gallery;

Yahoo Sports posted a 17-image gallery;

NHL.com posted a 40-image gallery;

The Avalanche’s website posted a 40-image gallery;

And the Red Wings’ website posted a 40-image gallery.

Statistics: The Wings out-shot Colorado 31 to 27. The Wings out-shot Colorado 7-6 in the 1st, tied the Avs 10-10 in shots in the 2nd and out-shot Colorado 14-11 in the 3rd.

The Wings went 1-for-3 in 5:03 of PP time; the Avs went 0-for-2 in 4:00 of PP time.

Jimmy Howard stopped 23 of 27 shots; J-S Giguere stopped 28 of the 31 shots he faced.

The 3 stars, per Michigan Hockey’s Michale Caples, were Jiri Hudler, Steve Downie and Gabirel Landeskog.

The Wings’ goals: Hudler (19) from Filppula (30) and Zetterberg (34), PPG;

Hudler (20) from Zetterberg (35) and Stuart (10);

Filppula (18) from Hudler (19) and Zetterberg (36).

Faceoffs 30-22 Detroit (Detroit won 58%);

Blocked shots 11-10 Colorado;

Missed shots 10-4 Detroit (total attempts 52-41 Detroit);

Hits: 27-25 Colorado;

Giveaways 5-5;

Takeaways 7-5 Detroit.

Individual Stats:

Faceoffs: Zetterberg went 8-and-8 (50%); Helm went 9-and-4 (69%); Filppula went 5-and-5 (50%); Emmerton went 5-and-4 (56%); Abdelkader went 2-and-1 (67%); Franzen won his only faceoff.

Shots: Hudler led the Wings with 4 shots; Cleary, White, Emmerton and Franzen had 3; Lidstrom, Miller, Stuart and Filppula had 2; Abdelkader, Quincey and Zetterberg had 1.

Blocked attempts: Cleary, White, Miller, Stuart, QUincey, Helm, Bertuzzi, Emmerton, Filppula, Ericsson and Kronwall had single shot attempts blocked.

Missed shots: Franzen missed the net 3 times; Lidstrom, Abdelkader, White, QUincey, Zetterberg, Ericsson, Kronwall and Holmstrom missed the net 1 time.

Hits: Bertuzzi led the team with 4 hits; Quincey, Helm and Emmerton had 3; White, Ericsson and Holmstrom had 2; Lidstrom, Abdelkader, Cleary, Miller, Mursak and Kronwall had 1.

Giveaways: White, Stuart, Hudler, Zetterberg and Bertuzzi had 1 giveaway.

Takeaways: Zetterberg had 3 takeaways; Cleary, Miller, Bertuzzi and Holmstrom had 1 takeaway.

Blocked opponent shots: Lidstrom blocked 3 shots; Mursak blocked 2; Cleary, Stuart, Helm, Emmerton and Kronwall blocked 1.

Penalties taken: Abdelkader took a major penalty; Hudler and Holmstrom took minor penalties.

Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective -10. White was -3; Miller, Quincey, Helm, Bertuzzi and Franzen were -2; Abdelkader, Cleary and Ericsson were -1; Stuart, Hudler, Filppula and Kronwall were +1; Zetterberg was +2.

Points: Hudler registered 2 goals and an assist for 3 points; Zetterberg had 3 assists; Filppula had a goal and an assist for 2 points; Stuart had an assist.

Ice time: Nicklas Lidstrom led the Wings with 25:33 played; White played 23:20; Quincey played 21:55;

Kronwall played 21:20; Stuart played 20:05; Zetterberg played 19:41;

Franzen played 16:53; Hudler played 16:47; Holmstrom played 16:42;

Filppula played 16:41; Helm played 16:17; Cleary played 15:39;

Miller played 15:34; Bertuzzi played 12:41; Emmerton played 11:18;

Abdelkader played 10:27; Mursak played 9:45; Ericsson played 6:44.


Part II: In the AHL and ECHL: I’m gonna run out of space again, so I apologize for giving the Griffins short shrift tonight: Ty Conklin stopped 24 of the 25 shots he faced as the Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the Toronto Marlies 2-1 on Saturday afternoon, giving Conklin 3 straight wins. The Griffins’ website, the Marlies website’s recap and the Grand Rapids Press’s recap note that the Marlies were irked because they had a game-tying goal waved off because referees, not video replay, determine whether pucks tipped down around crossbar height are good goals.

The Marlies’ website also provides a photo gallery and a highlight clip as well;

• In the ECHL, the Toledo Walleye are having a very rough go. They dropped a 4-1 decision to the Wheeling Nailers with Alec Richards manning the pipes after Jordan Pearce’s loss on Friday night, and while the Walleye’s website’s recap notes that Bryan Rufenach registered an assist, the Toledo Blade’s Mark Monroe reports that Walleye coach Nick Vitucci was ejected from the game after he protested a Nailers enforcer going after #1 defensmean Joey Ryan.


Part III: Red Wings notebooks (and sort-of notebooks): If you missed it, NHL.com’s Brian Hedger reported that Pavel Datsyuk didn’t skate on Saturday and probably won’t take to the ice until Monday;

• Cory Emmerton of all people also delivered some surprising comments to Hedger about the trade deadline:

“It’s kind of nice when it’s all said and done,” Emmerton said on Saturday morning. “As much as you say you don’t think about it, it’s always there. It’s just part of hockey. It’s more of a media thing. It’s the biggest day of the year in Canada.”

Emmerton actually finds that part of it entertaining.

“It’s funny how they make a big production out of it,” he said. “It’ll be fun when it’s overwith and we can just worry about playing hockey and not have to worry about what’s going on with trades in the League.”
...
“Obviously it’s always a time of year when you never know, teams are always looking to upgrade their rosters,” [Justin Abdelkader] said. “Players always have it in the backs of their minds. You can’t really worry about it. You just have to go out and play. When it passes you don’t need to worry anymore, but it’s one of those things where you can control what you can control. Just go out there, play hard and do your best.”

• Abdelkader turned 25 on Saturday, and he spoke to the Macomb Daily’s Fred Costello about hitting the quarter-century milestone:

“It seems like each year goes by faster and faster,” Abdelkader said. “I was talking to my parents on the way down to the rink. Twenty five, you know, it’s wild, but it’s pretty neat to get an opportunity to play a game on my birthday.”

Abdelkader said he expected six of his friends from hometown Muskegon to trek down to The Joe for the game. Injuries to others, coupled with his own strong play, have led to a more productive season. Abdelkader has seen extensive time lately on the third line, a position that he understandably enjoys.

“Playing on the third line, you’re going to be getting more minutes and more of an opportunity out there,” Abdelkader said. “You know, a lot of things can happen. But, for now, you go out there and work hard and make the most of the ice time.”

Abdelkader continued while speaking to MLive’s Ansar Khan...

“I think that’s how I’ve always played, whether it was at Michigan State or in Grand Rapids or growing up,’’ Abdelkader said. “Just play a physical, hard-nosed game. That’s what I pride myself on. If that is the reputation that I can build, I think it’s one that is part of my game.”

It’s a good reputation to have, isn’t it?

“I think it can be good, especially this time of year and in the playoffs,’’ Abdelkader said. “It (a hit) definitely can change momentum in a series. In the playoffs, hockey gets a lot tighter. There’s a lot more checking and not as much skill around the ice. Teams are always looking for gritty players, and at the same time they’re looking for skilled players, so hopefully I can bring multiple things to the table.”

Abdelkader is one of the team’s few players who fights. He has received five fighting majors this season.

“They’re not asking me to fight. They’re just asking me to go out there and play hard,’’ Abdelkader said. “It’s just that sometimes it happens when you play a hard-nosed game. I just want to go out there and play a hard game and be physical and once in a while fights will happen or a confrontation will happen.’‘

And Wings coach Mike Babcock gave Abdelkader due praise while speaking to the Detroit Free Press’s George Sipple, noting while he’d prefer to have Abdelkader centering his fourth line, Abdelkader’s done just fine as a winger on the “HEMI” line:

“He’s a real good fourth-line center for us,” he said. “It’s nice if you’re in a spot, you can use him in other places. That’s what we’ve been able to do this year. It’s given us good depth. It’s important to have enough guys that you can move up to keep everybody hungry and jumping. He’s been able to do that just by his play.”

• Urgh, per Sipple:

The Wings entered the game one of five teams in the NHL that had not allowed a shorthanded goal at home, before Jones scored in the first period. It was the seventh shorthanded goal the Wings have allowed this season. Only four teams have allowed more shorthanded goals for the season.

• And if you want to read warm fuzzies about Stevie Downie from the Denver Post’s Adrian Dater or Matt Hunwick talking to the Macomb Daily’s Fred Costello about being a Wings fan growing up and a proud Michigander, you can do so on your own.


Part IV: Talking trades: Ken Holland doesn’t plan on making a major move, though fans like you and me might be assuming otherwise given the Wings’ three-game losing streak.

So what can I tell you? ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun says Teemu Selanne’s staying put. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch offers no players linked to the Wings in his pre-deadline smorgasbord. Even in tossing out a list of trade candidates, the Toronto Sun’s Mike Zeisberger doesn’t mention anyone as specifically linked to Detroit, and instead mentions that Brad Stuart-style deals are the ones that pan out.

And all we can get out of the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson is a reiteration of the Samuel Pahlsson and Travis Moen rumors among some rather obvious Hockey World observations:

&vbull; You think the Detroit Red Wings’ home winning streak would still be alive if Pavel Datsyuk hadn’t had his knee scoped, and wasn’t available for the shootout in the loss to the Vancouver Canucks? Just asking. Actually, the Canucks were the better team and deserved to win. The Wings are very good but nowhere near as dangerous without the magical Datsyuk.

• I’m still not sure why Avalanche general manager Greg Sherman didn’t just deal Kyle Quincey to the Red Wings for their first-round draft pick since Colorado gave its up to Washington for goalie Semyon Varlamov, but maybe Sherman saw a greater need for disturber Steve Downie in his top nine. Downie is a younger version of Darcy Tucker, but not as good offensively.

• Don’t count on seeing the Red Wings’ useful forward Patrick Eaves back this season. He broke his jaw when Nashville Predators’ Roman Josi took a shot three months and he’s still having headaches. Without Eaves, the Wings are down a role player. Centre Sami Pahlsson, who played for Red Wings coach Mike Babcock in Anaheim is a possibility. So is Montreal Canadiens winger Travis Moen. Both are unrestricted free agents.

The Satellite Hotstove? Zip.

The New York Times’ Jeff Z. Klein? He spoke to Kyle Quincey about being traded, and revealed that in this day and age, players tend to find out about deals the same way we do.

“That’s how I knew something was up,” said defenseman Kyle Quincey, who was traded to Detroit from Colorado last Tuesday. “I started hearing my name come up on the NHL Network. We watch it every morning.”

Surely they hear about potential trades in the dressing room first?

“No, we don’t talk about that stuff in the dressing room,” Quincey said. “We get it the way fans do, off TV and the Internet.”

Quincey, as well as many fans and other players, could well be glued to their TVs and mobile devices this weekend because time is running out: the trade deadline is Monday afternoon. The NHL Network in the United States and NHL.com will simulcast TSN’s 10 hours of live trade-deadline coverage, which begins at 8 a.m. Eastern and has attracted big audiences. In Canada, with a population of 34 million, 2.6 million viewers tuned in at one time or another last year.

That’s the theory, and again, it’s got Cory Emmerton worried. Even the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff, who’s been tossing around a strange rumor that the Wings might reacquire Mikael Samuelsson (???), can only offer what is essentially the company line:

With the National Hockey League trade deadline looming at 3 p.m. EST Monday, the Detroit Red Wings have reduced their shopping list to one item – a depth player at forward. “We want to get healthy up front, but if there’s something available to make us better, we’d like to acquire that,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said following Saturday’s morning skate in preparation for Detroit’s game against the Colorado Avalanche at Joe Louis Arena. “We’re looking for a depth player.”

Names most prominently mentioned in connection to Detroit are Travis Moen of the Montreal Canadiens and former Wing Mikael Samuelsson of the Florida Panthers. That being said, the Wings insist it isn’t paramount that they add anyone prior to the deadline. “We’re all in our organization, and as a management group right now focused on if we can improve our team,” Babcock said. “At the same time, we like our team. If there’s something there that can help us and makes sense, then that’s a great thing. Change just to change isn’t going to be the approach. We’ve already done a good job in giving ourselves depth on the back end.”

While the Wings’ brass work the phones, the players in the dressing room work to keep the clock ticking toward the deadline out of their thought process.

“It’s kind of nice when it’s all said and done,” Wings rookie centre Cory Emmerton said. “It’ll be fun when it’s over with and we can just worry about playing hockey, and not have to worry about what’s going on with trades in the league. As much as you say you don’t think about it, it’s always there. It’s just part of hockey.”

Emmerton believes NHL players put little stock in trade rumours floated by the media. “People start speculating, but nobody really knows,” Emmerton said. “It’s just what they guess, and what they think is going to happen. They start throwing people’s names out there, and guys start hearing about it, and then you start to wonder. It’s one of those things where you try not to think about it, do your best and if the times comes, the time comes. Teams that are in the hunt try to make the team better.”

Regardless, most will be glued to their TV sets Monday, watching one of the NHL trade deadline shows on one of the Canadian all-sports networks. “It’s the biggest day of the year in Canada,” Emmerton said. “The whole hoopla of the day, it’s kind of funny to watch, but it’s not really ever that much fun to be part of it.”

July 1st is just as big, and offers more fireworks, for more than just Canada Day.

What’s really going to happen? Well I tossed Kyle Quincey’s name out at the beginning of the month, and I’ll toss out one more: Brad Boyes, just in case. But I really and honestly can only tell you that, starting this afternoon, Paul and I will be on deadline duty, and I’m gonna be here all of Monday to help the boss out. We’re just going to have to wait, see and hope.

I can give you one and only one comment that Ken Holland made to ESPN’s Craig Custance on his insider blog—and it’s the only thing Holland says:

“Teams are going to make decisions over the weekend. I’m aware of that,” said Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland, who is in the market for another forward. “I think 30 teams are aware of that.”

Part V: Also of Red Wings-related note: Is this a compliment? I couldn’t tell when Don Cherry bafflingly not only raved about Joey MacDonald, but also said he wasn’t against the Red Wings on Coach’s Corner.

Now I can’t tell whether the Boston Globe’s Kevin Dupont is raving about the Wings or just plain old raving:

Sure looks like Vegas can lock in Detroit as the prohibitive Cup favorite (final odds set tomorrow at 3:01 p.m.).

The Winged Wheels have been exceptionally strong at home since the mid ’90s, averaging just over eight losses per season since ’93-94. Now they own the league’s all-time mark for most consecutive wins on home ice (23) and held a 26-2-2 record there prior to Colorado’s visit last night. But let’s not forget the great Canadiens run at the Forum in the late ’70s, when they clicked off four Cups (1976-79). Over those four regular seasons, the Habs lost a total of 14 times in 160 home games, an astonishing mark of 126-14-20 (.850 winning percentage). Such a storyline is why the Forum was made into a movie house when the Habs went to their new Bell Centre, where they have averaged more than 12 losses per season in the New NHL era. This season, Montreal is 11-14-8 on home ice.

• If you’re interested, Jason Williams, who’s playing for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the AHL, spoke to the Times-Leader’s Tom Venesky spoke to Williams about his trade from Detroit to Chicago back in 2007, for Kyle Calder (remember when the Blackhawks were building around Tyler Arnason, Mark Bell and Calder? Those were the days…);

• In the prospect department, not particularly good news version: the Calgary Herald’s Kristen Odland reports that Wings prospect Brooks Macek isn’t playing for the Calgary Hitmen because he’s dealing with a persistent back injury;

• In the alumni department, via the Free Press’s Steve Schrader, “Goon’s” Liev Schreiber told Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski that his character in the film (which actually looks pretty good) included a tribute to Bob Probert:

Question: Which NHL players inspired your character and performance in the film?

Liev Schreiber: I watched a lot of film, talked with a lot of guys about the game. Guys who caught my attention were guys like Dave Schultz, Brashear, Laraque. But I got the most out of watching and reading Bob Probert’s book. He wasn’t a guy the character was really based on, but was certainly on my mind while I was playing the part.

Question: There’s an aspect of world weariness to Rhea about being the heavyweight champ that was shared by Probert during his NHL career.

Schreiber: Absolutely. I don’t it was just that. I think it was also the fact that Probert was a great hockey player, overall. Because he had a big boulder on his back, he was only perceived as an enforcer. But this was a guy who, until the very end of his career, was constantly evolving his game. I think that was an issue for his own life.

There is one other clue that it was Probie that I was after: The taped wrists. He used to always tape his wrists. I guess I was going to the really obscure hockey fans on that one.

• And finally, via We All Bleed Red on YouTube, Nicklas Lidstrom’s still got “it”:

Update: Ty Conklin spoke to InGoal Magazine‘s David Hutchinson prior to his demotion, and he gave a helluva interview.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

Avatar

Adrian Dater is a classic example of a professional who allows his hatred of a team get in the way of objectivity, which is supposed to be his job as a writer.  Only person in the hockey world who is a bigger *#$%@& is Eklund….

Posted by Jim from Nashville on 02/26/12 at 12:37 PM ET

Avatar

On nhl.com they have an “if the playoffs started today” feature and well, if the playoffs started today it would be Detroit/San Jose.

Anyone confident about that?  Mr Holland?

Posted by Garth on 02/26/12 at 01:12 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

“They are very fast and very young and when they get going, you know, it’s fun watching them. We just have to play our game and keep them in their zone, just the same as every other team, just wear them down in their own zone. But once they get going they can be offensively explosive and they have two great goaltenders there and a very good D and good young skilled forwards, so they are dangerous if you let them. But if we play our game we should be OK.”

This was Kyle Quincey talking, quoted by George in one of his posts on Feb. 24.  Guess the Wings should have been paying attention.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 02/26/12 at 01:18 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

Franzen has been on the ice for 5 of 6 even strength goals in the last 2 games and is -5 because he was not on the ice for any GOAL the Wings have scored.  I would say the stat that he played 16:53 should be he was on the ICE,  he is not PLAYING!

He is not the only one on top 6 dragging their butts around but by far the worst, IMO.

Defensively the Team has been brutal for 3 games and the higher number of penalties are from chasing the puck not WING puck possession.

Can they make a long run with this Top 6 including Pav, not sure.  Waiting until off season for a top 6 might be too long.

One last thing, Why do the play so well defensively in front of Joey and Hang Howard out to dry?

Lose to BJs or a Pav-less losing streak wouldn’t be a surprise.

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 02/26/12 at 01:29 PM ET

SolidTG7's avatar

Chicago media reporting that Hudler is the one who broke Ericcson’s wrist.

Posted by SolidTG7 on 02/26/12 at 01:38 PM ET

Avatar

Can they make a long run with this Top 6 including Pav, not sure.  Waiting until off season for a top 6 might be too long.

This.  One thousand time this!

Posted by Garth on 02/26/12 at 02:00 PM ET

tuxedoTshirt's avatar

Bright spot:  Howard was ridiculously good last night.

Posted by tuxedoTshirt from the Home of the 1937 World Champions on 02/26/12 at 02:01 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

About the Quincey/verbal affair: I think the guy just said the wrong thing at the wrong time. I think he was respected in the Avs dressing room, and guys spoke highly of him when asked about him today. Yeah, guys usually want to say the right things to avoid controversy, but I think it was just a case of a guy saying things in the heat of the moment and regretting it. I’m giving him a pass, for whatever that’s worth.

Except you didn’t give him a pass Dater… you manufactured the whole controversy.  I hate this guy.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 02/26/12 at 02:14 PM ET

Avatar

I hate this guy.

He’s such a friggin troll.

Posted by Garth on 02/26/12 at 02:47 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.