The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/28/11 at 12:37 PM ET
Updated 10x at 3:19 PM: As the Red Wings prepare to face off against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight (7:30 PM, Versus/TSN2/WXYT), there’s some good news on the injury front, via the Detroit Red Wins’ official Twitter account, which reports that both Todd Bertuzzi (chronic back soreness) and Johan Franzen (groin) will play…
Babcock: Bertuzzi’s playing. Franzen says he’s playing.
Yahoo Sports’ Nicholas J. Cotsonika reports that there’s no progress on the Pavel Datsyuk front, however…
Datsyuk skated with Red Wings this morning but said he’s taking it day to day.
But Cotsonika offers good news regarding Jimmy Howard, who’s recovering relatively quickly from that nasty shoulder sprain suffered on Saturday night:
Jimmy Howard skated this morning but took no shots. He hopes to take shots as soon as Tuesday and return soon.
MLive’s Ansar Khan noted that the Wings planned on taking a cautious approach with Howard as of Sunday’s practice, however…
“I don’t know exactly when he’ll be back,” Babcock said. “Just like any player who’s got an injury, he’s got to get back healthy and get playing. Ideally, it won’t be very long.”
While his teammates practiced Sunday afternoon, Howard was in the training room receiving treatment and icing the shoulder.
“I was just hoping it wasn’t anything serious and it wasn’t,” Howard said. “My arm just got caught underneath (Lupul). Where my glove was, my arm didn’t really spread out, and he just landed on my shoulder. It was an unfortunate occurrence. It was just a hockey play. He was going to the net, trying to create havoc. I watched it on replay. It was a pretty good play, sitting on his rear end (to) still put (the puck) in.”
In the interim, Joey MacDonald says that he’s ready to shoulder the load in the Wings’ crease, no pun intended, and Howard endorses his back-up:
Said Howard: “The biggest thing is he’s getting in that rhythm of playing. The way he approaches every single day—he’s very happy, very relaxed. I think that helps him. When he’s been called upon he’s been absolutely solid.”
“He has a don’t-give-up attitude,” Howard said. “It’s great to see when a guy like that succeeds. He just continues to work hard, waits for his opportunities and goes out there and proves himself.”
Update 11:46 AM: Good news from Khan’s morning report: Khan says that Howard actually skated, though he didn’t face any shots.
“Just skating, just trying to keep my legs under me,’’ Howard said. “(His shoulder) is just a little stiff, sore still today, but it’s better than yesterday. Just continue to do treatment.’‘
He hopes to practice on Tuesday. He hasn’t ruled out playing Wednesday at home against St. Louis, but chances are he’ll need to get in a couple of good practices before returning. Goalie Chris Osgood (long-term injured reserve) also took the ice after the morning skate. Forward Johan Franzen will return to the lineup tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks (7:30, Versus) after missing four games with a sore groin. Pavel Datsyuk (lower-body injury) continues to skate but isn’t ready to return. He said he’s not sure if he’ll be back Wednesday or Saturday in Nashville.
“It’s hard to say,’’ Datsyuk said. “My conditioning is back and forth, back and forth. We’ll see.’‘
Coach Mike Babcock said he’ll use the line of Franzen-Justin Abdelkader-Todd Bertuzzi for warmups and then see what happens.
“I liked Filppula’s line here lately, the Helm line’s given us good minutes and I like Cleary with Hudler and Z, so we’ll see what happens with the other group and go from there,’’ Babcock said.
Khan says that Drew Miller and Jakub Kindl will sit out tonight’s game as healthy scratches.
As for the Wings’ other forward lines, it appears that the Modano-Filppula-Holmstrom and Draper-Helm-Eaves lines will remain as-is, and on defense, it’s Lidstrom with Stuart, Ericsson with Kronwall and, for the moment, Rafalski and Salei.
ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers took note of the Wings’ injury news:
- Red Wings forward Johan Franzen will play Monday night against the Chicago Blackhawks after missing four games with a groin injury.
Pavel Datsyuk, meanwhile, will miss his fifth straight game with a lower body injury.
Joey MacDonald gets the call in net for Detroit while Jimmy Howard rests the left shoulder he injured Saturday night. An MRI on Sunday revealed no damage.
It will be the first of three games between the rivals during the last two weeks of the regular season.
Update #2: The Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema offers this rationale for the Wings’ decision to call up Thomas McCollum instead of Jordan Pearce, who’s taken over in the Grand Rapids Griffins’ crease:
The Red Wings also likely didn’t want to disturb the current playoff push of the Griffins or they might have recalled Jordan Pearce instead of McCollum.
This will be McCollum’s second stint with the Red Wings this season. The 21-year-old also served as the backup in the Red Wings’ 6-5 overtime win against Columbus on Jan. 15.
McCollum, who was sent to the Walleye for a second time on Feb. 22, went 6-11-2 with a 3.18 goals-against average and .881 save percentage in 20 games with the Griffins this season. In 23 total games with Toledo, he is 11-9-2 with a 2.76 GAA and .909 save percentage.
Between you and me, the Wings are also giving McCollum a pat on the back to let him know he’s still in their future plans.
Also of note: ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun offers a capsule preview of tonight’s game (and a prediction)...
Monday: Chicago Blackhawks at Detroit Red Wings, 7:30 p.m. ET
The Blackhawks are only one point clear of the danger zone in the West and desperately need to put together another win streak to ensure their playoff entry. The rival Red Wings would love nothing more than to knock Chicago out of the playoffs and can have a big say in that with three games left between the two clubs, Monday night as well as a home-and-home to wrap up the regular season.
Prediction: The desperate team comes up with the needed two points, the Hawks prevailing in overtime.
NHL.com’s Dan Rosen offers this preview...
CHICAGO (40-26-8, 88 points) at DETROIT (44-22-9, 97 points)
Where they stand: Chicago is eighth in the Western Conference; Detroit is second in the West
What’s at stake: Chicago can jump Anaheim and move into seventh place with a win or overtime/shootout loss if the Ducks lose to Colorado. Despite being tied with San Jose in points, Detroit still is ahead of them in the standings because it has a game in hand and one more non-shootout win. The Red Wings can move a step closer to clinching the second seed with a win.
How it’s going: Earlier this month the Blackhawks were rolling and a playoff berth was all but a guarantee. Not anymore. Anaheim’s sizzling right wing Corey Perry scored twice in the third period, including the winner with 4:30 left, to hand the Blackhawks a 2-1 loss Saturday. Chicago has eight games remaining, but three are against the Red Wings, and they also play at Boston on Tuesday. The good news is the Blackhawks have three games in hand on the Flames, who sit one point back in ninth. They also have two more non-shootout wins than the Stars, who are 10th with 86 points and eight games left.
The Red Wings got a scare in Saturday’s 4-2 win against Toronto when goalie Jimmy Howard was hurt after Joffrey Lupul fell on his left shoulder as he scored a goal in the third period. Fortunately, Howard’s injury is not serious as tests Sunday showed it’s just a sprain. It’s likely that backup Joey MacDonald will start Monday (7:30 p.m., VERSUS, TSN2), with Howard possibly returning Wednesday against St. Louis. MacDonald got the win in relief of Howard on Saturday, making seven saves after coming in with the score tied at 2-2. The Detroit Free Press also is reporting that Johan Franzen is saying he will return to the Red Wings’ lineup Monday. Franzen has missed four games with a groin injury.
Upcoming: Chicago travels to Boston to play the Bruins on Tuesday at TD Garden, goes to Columbus for a game on Friday and returns home to play Tampa Bay on Sunday. Detroit will finish its five-game homestand against St. Louis on Wednesday.
And here’s Mike Babcock’s morning presser, via the Red Wings’ website:
Update #3: The Free Press’s Helene St. James confirms Khan’s personnel news and focuses on tonight’s match-up, as well as Pavel Datsyuk’s status:
The Wings take on a Blackhawks team that’s teetering right on the playoff bubble, and one that’s missing its leading goal scorer, Patrick Sharp, and third-line checking center, Dave Bolland. Sharp, who has an injured left knee, may be back in time for the playoffs, while Bolland has a concussion and is out indefinitely.
“We know they’re going to be a desperate team. They have to be. They’re holding onto the last playoff spot and trying to move ahead,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We’ve always had good games against them. We’ve got a lot of respect for the way they play, and the players on their team. It should be a lot of fun.”
The teams meet again April 8 in Detroit and close out the season April 10 at Chicago.
Datsyuk took part in the morning skate, and afterward engaged in a little friendly shoving match with Justin Abdelkader, who waylaid Datsyuk in the locker room.
“It’s not easy to stop me,” Datsyuk said, smiling. He was equally optimistic about when he’d return. “Next game, I hope so,” he said. “But I hope every game is my game.”
Update #4: The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan spoke to Franzen and Datsyuk about their respective statuses...
“I’ve been skating and it feels real good,” Franzen said. “No problems. It looks like we’re getting all our guys back and then it’s just a matter of finding our game and playing real well at the end.”
Todd Bertuzzi returned to the lineup Saturday in the 4-2 victory over Toronto and will play tonight, said coach Mike Babcock. Pavel Datsyuk (lower body), though, will miss his fifth consecutive game and continues to be day to day.
“We’ll see,” said Datsyuk about a possible return Wednesday against St. Louis.
Kulfan also says that Howard’s still crossing his fingers about returning to the lineup on Wednesday…
“It’s a little sore and stiff, but it’s better than yesterday,” said Howard, who was hurt in Saturday’s victory. “I’ll do more treatment during the game tonight and work out and just get myself out there (in the lineup) as quick as possible.”
And he’s happy about the fact that he “dodged a bullet”....
“I’d be lying if I wasn’t at first (apprehensive),” Howard said. “It was scary. But the MRI came back with great news, no tears or anything. I dodged a bullet and I’m thankful for it.”
While reiterating his belief that his injury isn’t going to become a chronic issue:
“Not at all,” Howard said. “I’m just waiting for the soreness to go away, and the stiffness, and hopefully I’ll be back Wednesday night.”
• If you haven’t seen it yet, the Wings have launched a website called “Twenty Straight,” celebrating their 20th consecutive playoff-bound season, and here’s their press release about said website:
RED WINGS AND WDFN SET TO CELEBRATE TWO DECADES OF POST-SEASON HOCKEY IN DETROIT
… Great Moments from Each of the Red Wings’ Past 19 Playoff Runs to be Unveiled Daily on Special Micro Site Beginning Monday, March 28 …
Detroit, MI… Excitement abounds in Hockeytown as anticipation continues to grow for the Detroit Red Wings’ 20th consecutive Stanley Cup Playoff drive, scheduled to begin in mid-April versus a to-be-determined opponent. The Red Wings and WDFN 1130 AM will help the best fans in the NHL get in ‘post-season mode’ in the coming weeks, joining forces to conduct a daily retrospective featuring great moments from each of Detroit’s past 19 playoff runs.
Beginning on Monday, March 28, Red Wings fans will be able to relive unforgettable moments from throughout Detroit’s incredible playoff appearance streak by tuning in to the Sean, Terp & Killer Show (weekdays, 3:00 – 6:00 p.m.) at 4:20 p.m. and by visiting http://www.twentystraight.com A new. Red Wings playoff history highlight will be featured on-air and at this special micro site every day, with a different year being profiled on each successive post.
In addition to enjoying a three-week-long trip down memory lane, Red Wings fans will also be afforded the opportunity to win several exciting prizes throughout the duration of this promotion. One lucky WDFN listener will win a Hockeytown Café gift card or autographed Hockeytown Authentics memorabilia item every weekday, with a four-pack of Red Wings playoff tickets set to be given away weekly. Furthermore, visitors to WDFN.com will have the chance to win an Ultimate Fan Experience Package (to be redeemed during the 2011-12 NHL season), further details of which will be revealed in the near future on-air at 1130 AM as well as on the official WDFN and Detroit Red Wings social media platforms (Facebook & Twitter).
• And sticking with the “assorted news” subject for a bit, I hate to admit it, but I agree with Ryan Lambert’s Wings observation in his weekly “What We Learned” column:
Detroit Red Wings: Jimmy Howard gave everyone a hell of a scare when he left Saturday’s game with a shoulder injury, but word is he’s just day-to-day and the injury isn’t significant. For a minute, Detroit fans were looking at the real possibility of an Osgood/MacDonald playoff tandem. That would have been a treat. Well, for their first-round opponent anyway.
Update 12:50 PM: Per Steve Lepore, oh dear my:
Red Wings/Blackhawks fans, and curious bystanders: Doc/Edzo/Pierre for tonight’s game on VERSUS (7:30 PM ET)
Blackhawks/Bruins fans, and curious bystanders: Ken Daniels, Andy Brickley and Brian Engblom for Tuesday night’s game on VERSUS (7:30 PM ET)
It would have been lovely to see/hear Daniels and the Hawks’ resident color commentator in Eddie Olczyk instead of Mr. Emrick and Mr. McGuire.
Update #6: Grumble. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun’s cheering for the Hawks:
3. Win or go home for Blackhawks
Talk about crunch time for the defending Stanley Cup champs. The Chicago Blackhawks woke up Monday morning in eighth place in the Western Conference, one point ahead of Calgary and two ahead of Dallas. The Flames have played three more games than the Hawks, but Dallas has played the same number as Chicago (74 games).
The problem for Chicago is that three of their remaining eight games are against the Detroit Red Wings, starting with a tilt Monday in Detroit. They are in Boston the following night for a tough one against the Northeast Division leading Bruins. Ouch. In fact, five of the Hawks’ final eight games are away from the Madhouse on Madison. Their 17 road wins are the fewest of any of the top eight teams in the Western Conference. The Blackhawks must consider all this without dressing room glue guy, not to mention the team’s most consistent scorer all season, Patrick Sharp.
Head coach Joel Quenneville told reporters Sharp was making surprising progress in coming back from a knee injury, but this is truly gut check time for the Hawks. We’re guessing the Hawks need to win at least four of eight to get in (that would give them 96 points) and likely five to make sure. I say they get the job done.
This is the Wings fan in me talking: I hope not. I’d love to see the Wings ensure that the Hawks “pull a Jersey” and not qualify for the playoffs the year after they win the Cup.
Ah, here come the Hawks’ updates….
Comcast Sportsnet Chicago’s Tracey Myers says that the Hawks have a simple plan as to how to beat Joey MacDonald...
The Chicago Blackhawks will be facing a new goaltender tonight in Detroit’s Joey MacDonald. And what they want against him is something that was missing against the Anaheim Ducks: traffic.
The Blackhawks continue their must-win stretch run against the Red Wings tonight, as they enter the evening eighth in the Western Conference. In their 2-1 loss to Anaheim, the Blackhawks weren’t nuisances to goaltender Ray Emery much. That has to change against MacDonald, who’s facing the Blackhawks for the first time in his career.
“We want to have a lot of shots, a lot of traffic at the net and give him a hard time seeing pucks,” coach Joel Quenneville said this morning. “We didn’t do a good job of that last time, so we have to make sure (MacDonald) has a tough job looking through the traffic.”
Corey Crawford will look for victory No. 30 tonight; Crawford is 2-1-0 vs. the Red Wings this season. Johan Franzen is back in the Red Wings’ lineup tonight but Pave Datsyuk is out.
“That’s how you score goals in this league,” Quenneville said Monday before the Hawks faced the rival Detroit Red Wings. “You’ve got to pay that price. You’ve got to make sure you’re willing to fight through traffic. If the [defensemen] like to box you out, you’ve got to make sure to fight around it. You have to be willing to penetrate that area and you have to look to hang around. If the goalie sees the puck in today’s game, he’s going to stop it.”
“We need the bigger guys to influence the game,” Quenneville said.
Brouwer is often looked at to provide that traffic and to score more when the Hawks have injuries as they do now. He’s been used primarily in a checking role lately, but could be reunited with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on the top line against the Red Wings.
“It’s been awhile since I’ve done much of anything, except for hitting people,” Brouwer said. “I have to start picking up my offensive game, especially going into the playoffs.”
But the overall lack of traffic is disconcerting. It takes a willingness. The Hawks need to have it with their playoffs lives in jeopardy. The Hawks will be facing rookie goalie Joey McDonald in Detroit Monday. Starter Jimmy Howard is out with a shoulder injury for the Red Wings, who also will be without center Pavel Datsyuk.
“You’re not familiar with [McDonald,] but the one thing that you want to do is make sure you’ve got a lot of shots and a lot of traffic at the net,” Quenneville said. “We want him having a hard time to see the pucks. We want bodies at the net. We didn’t do a good enough job of it last game.”
Update: Per Paul and NHL Live, which spoke to WGN’s John Wiedman, Rafalski may be a game-time decision. Between you and me, I hope he got his facts wrong…
The Red Wings’ website just posted its game-day feature with Ken Kal, and it includes an interview with Jimmy Howard as well as chats with Joey MacDonald and Jim Bedard:
Updatedydoo: The Blackhawks’ website posted videos of Joel Quenneville’s game-day presser…
As well as an interview with Tomas Kopecky, who talked about facing Joey MacDonald…
And Kopecky’s the Hawks’ “player to watch,” per NHL.com:
NHL.com suggests that Valtteri Filppula’s the Wings’ must-watch player:
And ESPN’s Jesse Rogers discusses the Hawks’ ever-changing forward lines:
Joel Quenneville ran a new group of trios at practice on Sunday but switched back to the way the Hawks finished their last game during their Monday morning drills. Quenneville said he’ll run a combination of the two Monday night. Quenneville said Sunday he was looking for a more “traditional” checking line but indicated Monday he liked the way Michael Frolik, Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky performed that role during the last game. The line centered by Jonathan Toews was unsuccessful holding Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan, and Corey Perry off the scoreboard was
“Even when [Patrick] Kane and I are in that so-called checking role we still need to go out there and play offense,” Toews said Monday morning. “The way we do that is by keeping the puck. Our best defense is having the puck. We didn’t do that well enough last game because we tried too many things and gave the puck away.”
Toews is turning the page mostly because the Hawks have to. They’re eighth in the West with 14 days to play and eight games left on the schedule, including three against the Red Wings.
“It’s been a crazy challenge for a while now and we have to find a way in some of these tight games,” he said. “We’re not panicking, but we definitely feel the urgency and the sense of desperation has to return to our game.”
Also of very significant note:
Even with their 2-1 loss on Saturday, the Hawks are 13-4-4 in their last 21 games.
Update 9 or 12 or something: NHL.com’s Brian Hedger spoke to Joey MacDonald about the possibility that he could start in the playoffs...
“You always think about that, but right now I’m just trying to think about the next day,” said MacDonald, who’s staying in a Detroit hotel while his wife and two kids are in Nova Scotia. “It’s just one of those things where you’ve got to be ready at all times. (Howard) skated a little today, so that was great for everybody, with him not being seriously injured.”
“Hopefully we’ll get (Howard) back in the lineup in the next few days, but for now it’s my opportunity to play a game or two here,” MacDonald said. “The last few I’ve played have gone pretty well. I’ve just got to keep rolling. This is why I wanted to be here, to get an opportunity to play important games, and there’s no better time of the year to do it.”
Johan Franzen offered this suggestion about the Wings’ injury situation…
“It looks like we’re going to get all the guys back (before the playoffs)” Franzen said. “So it’s all just a matter of finding our game and starting to play really well here at the end.”
I’m not allowed to comment on the fact that Johan Franzen readily admits that he was happy that Marian Hossa won the Cup with Chicago last spring…
“Yeah I was (rooting for Chicago),” Franzen said. “For Hossa most of all. I thought he really deserved to get one finally. It was nice for him. I liked the way they played all year. They had a great team. Good for them.”
“That shows they’re a class act,” [Hossa] said. “I know those guys very well, playing (in Detroit), and they’re great guys. When you hear something like (Franzen rooting for him) or get a couple text messages—that put a smile on my face. I appreciated it.”
But I am glad to hear that Thomas McCollum’s feeling upbeat despite having a difficult AHl season before rebounding with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye:
“It’s been a pretty up and down season,” he said. “I think the biggest thing for me is just getting confidence and maintaining it. I’m still only 21. I think a lot of people tend to forget that with me. Jimmy (Howard) didn’t break into the League until he was 25, I think, so time is definitely on my side. I know I can play at this level. It’s just maintaining my confidence level.”
Update the tenth: Oh look, Adrian Dater has this to say about tonight’s game, in a column where he all but makes fun of Manny Malhotra…
- Jimmy Howard’s shoulder injury could give the Chicago Blackhawks just the break they need going Monday night’s crucial game. The Red Wings goalie won’t play because of the injury suffered Saturday, and the Hawks need the two points like my car needs a wash.
ESPN’s Scott Burnside expounded upon Dater’s suggestion in his “Five Things” (to watch this week) column:
4. Win or go home for Blackhawks: Talk about crunch time for the defending Stanley Cup champs. The Chicago Blackhawks woke up Monday morning in eighth place in the Western Conference, one point ahead of Calgary and two ahead of Dallas. The Flames have played three more games than the Hawks, but Dallas has played the same number as Chicago (74 games).
The problem for Chicago is that three of their remaining eight games are against the Detroit Red Wings, starting with a tilt Monday in Detroit. They are in Boston the following night for a tough one against the Northeast Division-leading Bruins. Ouch. In fact, five of the Hawks’ final eight games are away from the Madhouse on Madison. Their 17 road wins are the fewest of any of the top eight teams in the Western Conference. The Blackhawks must consider all this without dressing room glue guy—not to mention the team’s most consistent scorer all season—Patrick Sharp.
Head coach Joel Quenneville told reporters Sharp was making surprising progress in coming back from a knee injury, but this is truly gut-check time for the Hawks. We’re guessing the Hawks need to win at least four of eight to get in (that would give them 96 points) and likely five to make sure. I say they get the job done.
5. Red Wings’ goaltending shortage: We recall having a debate with the inestimable Mr. LeBrun around the trade deadline about the Red Wings’ goaltending depth. I suggested that GM Ken Holland might be trolling for some depth between the pipes given Chris Osgood’s uncertain status with a recurring groin problem. Mr. LeBrun pooh-poohed the notion, and even when netminders like former Wing Ty Conklin became available—the Blues at one point put Conklin on waivers before the deadline—GM Ken Holland stood firm, not wanting to carry three netminders.
Understandable. But now Osgood remains sidelined after it was hoped he would be back days ago, and Jimmy Howard suffered a shoulder injury against Toronto. Howard is expected back either later this week or as late as next weekend. But the fact the Wings will hit the ice against Chicago on Monday night with Joey MacDonald and Thomas McCollum as the tandem of record should be a sobering thought for Wings fans everywhere.
Oh good, look at a reporter, delighted because he was right about a point.
DetroitRedWings.com’s Dave Burke brings us back to earth with a discussion of what tonight’s game means to the Wings’ players and coach, especially given that the Wings are tied for 2nd place in the West with the San Jose Sharks, and are 9 points ahead of the Hawks:
“It’s been tight like this for the last 10 games; it feels like the playoffs have already started, it’s real tight. You don’t want to give up anything,” Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson said. “Every game here down the stretch is important and we might even end up playing Chicago. We just have to battle and play our best game.”
“For us the biggest thing is to get into the playoffs feeling good about ourselves,” Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “Pay attention to details and just know that our game is on the right track. We’ve been playing somewhat well of late and have been paying more attention to details which is something we need to do. I think it’s really good to play these teams that are right on the bubble. Chicago has got a really good team, so it will be a really good game tonight.”
“We just have to worry about one game at a time,” [Blackhawks defenseman Brent] Seabrook said. “It’s so tight, you can look at all the different scenarios and all that, but it’s about playing your game. You would obviously like to get the highest seed possible and the best way to do that is going at it one game at a time.”
“We’ve got two teams tonight that both there power play and penalty kills are hot, so something has got to give,” [Wings coach Mike Babcock] said. “I think we should just stay out of the box and not have to worry about it. For whatever reason you get into a rhythm and you feel like you’re going to score when you’re out there and it’s a positive thing. So specialty teams are going to be a big part of the game tonight. We need the points.”
For Babcock, the Wings need to mind their own business and not worry about whether the Blackhawks are in or out of the playoffs.
“We know were going to be playing them tonight and they’re going to be a desperate team, they have to be they’re holding on to the last playoff spot and trying to move ahead,” he said. “We’ve always had good games against them, we’ve got a lot of respect for the way they play and the players on there team. So it should be fun.”
DetroitRedWings.com’s Jake Duhaime offers some reassuring words about MacDonald, too:
It could have been much worse.
As I walked out of the Joe on Saturday, Jimmy Howard was right behind me. Suit and tie, showered, telling everyone he’d be fine. It was like nothing had ever happened.
An MRI and a sprained shoulder isn’t the best birthday present a 27 year-old could ask for. Yet, avoiding a serious injury with the playoffs around the corner was a blessing in disguise.
The Red Wings won Saturday’s game over Toronto 4-2, with Howard’s replacement, Joey MacDonald, getting a much-deserved W in the record book. Joey Mac has not allowed a goal in 109 minutes and 45 seconds. His goals-against-average is a stellar 2.05 and he has a knack for keeping his team in the game under any circumstances.
And in six of those occasions, they’ve come in relief. Fingers-crossed the Tigers have a bunch of Joey MacDonald types coming out of the bullpen this season.
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