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Red Wings-Blackhawks game-day updates: Holmstrom, Helm return ‘versus’ ornery Blackhawks

Updated 4x at 3:24 PM, and yes, Darren Helm and Tomas Holmstrom are playing tonight: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight (7:30 PM EST, NBC Sports Network w/ Emrick, Olczyk and McGuire/TSN2/WXYT), the Wings are still smarting from last night’s 4-3 loss to Chicago, and Ty Conklin will duel with Corey Crawford...With a reinforcement whose presence has been badly missed, via the Red Wings’ press release stating the following:


Detroit, MI…The Detroit Red Wings today announced that forward Tomas Holmstrom has been activated from injured reserve.  Holmstrom suffered a groin injury late in the second period of Detroit ’s 4-1 win at Nashville on Dec. 26, and has missed the last five contests.  The Wings also assigned forward Gustav Nyquist to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League.  Nyquist, 22, appeared in the last four consecutive games in his second NHL call-up, gathering one assist and going plus-1 while averaging just over seven minutes per game.

The Red Wings take on the Chicago Blackhawks tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET at the United Center

tomorrow evening

(NBC and 97.1 The Ticket).

As the Hawks’ scribes have already posted their morning skate updates via Twitter and I don’t want to overwhelm you with repeats, here’s a summation of what the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc, ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers, the Chicago Daily Herald’s Tim Sassone, Comcast Sportsnet Chicago’s Tracey Myers and NHL.com’s Brian Hedger had to say:

1. Corey Crawford will start against Ty Conklin;

2. Steve Montador will return from an “upper-body injury,” and per Sassone, Sami Lepisto will sit tonight. Montador assured Jahns that he’s

fully healed from whatever ailed him;

3. Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith didn’t take part in the morning skate, but theyr’e okay;

4. Sean O’Donnell’s playing in game 1,200 tonight;

5. As the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc notes, the Wings won’t have to face Mike Ricci II, a.k.a. Dan Carcillo, tonight (Carcillo smile: :{F);

6. And, per Rogers:

Conklin playing for Det. Just 7th game. 1-4, 3.23 GAA

Otherwise, the Leafs’ press is still pretty giddy about Toronto’s 4-3 win on Saturday, as evidenced by Sportsnet’s Mike Brophy’s take on the game…

The Toronto Maple Leafs, riding a two-game winning streak at home, faced their toughest challenge of the year and came out a winner. It wasn’t easy, but that in itself made the victory that much more significant. After building a 3-0 first period lead against the powerhouse Detroit Red Wings, the Maple Leafs got a little taste of Motown Manhandling. The never-say-die Red Wings owned the hosts in the second period, out-scoring Toronto 2-0 and out-shooting the Leafs 14-2 (the Leafs didn’t get their first shot on goal in the period until 13:24) and ultimately tied the game at 4:32 of the third period.

But the Leafs showed fantastic resilience. An unassisted goal by Toronto’s Joffrey Lupul at 7:10 followed by a gutsy defensive effort highlighted by a game-winning save by Jonas Gustavsson with 49 seconds remaining on Johan Franzen from point-blank in the slot ended the evening on a happy note for the home side. It was a nail-biter, to be sure. To have blown a 3-0 lead and lost might have been devastating for a team desperate to make the playoffs. To blow the lead and still win simply confirms what the Maple Leafs believe: They are a legitimate playoff contender.

Asked about a 3-0 lead being the hardest for a team to defend, Lupul laughed and said, “I always think that’s funny. Probably a one-goal lead is the hardest to defend because (the other team) is so close. We knew they were going to come out in the second period and play the way they can play. They are a good team and have been for a long time. We didn’t do what we wanted in the second, by any means, but sometimes you have to give the opposition credit. They hemmed us in our zone and didn’t turn the puck over at all. It was pretty frustrating, but we found a way to win.”
“It’s just nice to beat a really good team playing at the top of their game,” Lupul said. “You know what you’re going to get when that team comes in. They’re going to play a puck-possession game. They’re going to keep the puck and not turn it over. A lot of their best players are strong defensively, too, so they are a tough team to play against. To get two points is big for us.”
“We’re a group that definitely does not quit,” [Dion] Phaneuf said. “We worked hard right until the end. The main thing we talked about in between periods was we wanted to go right back after them. We bent, but we didn’t break. I thought it was a real test for our group and we responded in the right way.”
The coach, Ron Wilson, said he wasn’t surprised the Red Wings got the game back to even after falling behind 3-0. It doesn’t matter what kind of lead you have over the Red Wings, you cannot let down your guard.

“It seemed that we were kind of waiting for that to happen and then we’d go from there and start playing again,” Wilson said. “They started to play better near the end of the first period and I told our team the way the Red Wings finished the first period, they’re going to be even better in the second and we have to be ready. In the second we were on our heels for most of the period and we turned a lot of pucks over. It was partly us, but it was a lot Detroit. You see what kind of a team they are when they play like that. That’s a team of 20 pickpockets over there. They should all be arrested. I don’t know what the law is in Ontario, but they steal pucks from you all the time. It’s a good team to watch play when you are our kind of team to see how the game should be played all the time. Every one of their guys is relentless.”

As well as the slightly more reserved take from TSN’s Jonas Siegel:

1. The Leafs built up a three-goal lead in less than 12 minutes on goals from Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf and Dave Steckel. But as expected the Wings came firing back with a dominant second period, scoring twice and outshooting the Leafs 14-2. “We gave them too much ice and when they get that they’re one of the best teams in the league,” Carl Gunnarsson said. “We can’t do that, play on our heels and not be aggressive. We gave them way too much in the second and we’re just lucky they didn’t score more.”

“Second period we weren’t quite skating the way we should,” Wilson added. “We were on our heels almost the whole period, never really got a chance to forecheck, turned a lot of pucks over. It was partly us, but it was a lot Detroit. They were coming hard. You see what kind of a team they are when they’re playing like that.”

2. Kessel notched his team-leading 24th goal of the year to open the scoring on a penalty shot, but it was Joffrey Lupul who played hero, firing a backhand past a sprawling Jimmy Howard to break a 3-3 tie. Both players also added helpers in the win. “We were able to bury a couple goals, but we gave up a couple,” Kessel said. “We’ve got to shore up the defensive side of the puck a little more.” Alongside Tim Connolly, the Leafs top line was on the ice for the Red Wings second and third goals, outmanoeuvered by Detroit’s top unit of Pavel Datsyuk, Todd Bertuzzi and the aforementioned Franzen.
Johan Franzen was in the slot with an opportunity to tie the game, the clock ticking down to its very last seconds at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night.

“That one chance with about 40 seconds to go made my heart stop,” Ron Wilson said, “but the Monster came up big. In a situation like this you need your goalie to have a great game. He should’ve been the first star to be honest with you.”

Jonas Gustavsson made 37 saves, preserving a 4-3 victory with a game-saving stop on Franzen as he and the Leafs hung on for their third consecutive win after blowing a 3-0 first period lead.

“You know it’s just a few seconds left and you don’t really think,” Gustavsson said, “you just act out there. I was fortunate enough to stop that one.”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough Wings-Leafs talk for a good while…And we’re going to continue to hear about this game until—and after—the next time the Wings and Leafs meet again, regardless of whether that’s in June or for a pair of September pre-seson games.

Via RedWingsFeed, let’s mention the Ryan Suter/Ryan Smyth to Detroit and/or rut roh, Brad Stuart might be leaving talk from the overnight report and the Wings’ nuanced responses regarding realignment from the players’ perspective, even given that the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman reported that Niklas Kronwall was one of two player representatives who actually voted to go along with the plan (unless you want to talk about those issues, of course) and head to the land of statistical quips via the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff:

F Jan Mursak (ankle INJ) slated to return to #redwings Thursday following cond. stint in Grand Rapids. Could play that night vs. #Coyotes.
#redwings 2008 1st round draft pick G Thomas McCollum has assembled career-high 5-game win streak with #AHL Grand Rapids.
#redwings C Nicklas Lidstrom held without shot on goal by #leafs. Just fourth time it has happened this season. #NHL

Otherwise, I’ll post more as news rolls in.

Update #1: Via RedWingsFeed, the Twitter page you must follow and must bookmark as Lola by the Bay and Mike Serven do an amazing job of posting news before it hits anywhere else, along with some wonderful statistics and snark, here comes the Jimmy Howard penalty shot science:

Penalty shots are being awarded slightly *less* frequently than last season. 35 now near the midpoint vs. 78 total in 2010-11. #NHL
Last year, Detroit goalies faced 3 penalty shots all season. Jimmy Howard stopped 1 of 2 and Joey MacDonald got scored on once. #RedWings

As I recall, Dominik Hasek was the only Wings goalie who was actually *decent* on penalty shots over the past 15 or so years. Osgood would bite on dekes as well, and Legace would back right into the net. Lesson lesson, Wings: let that dude skate by.

• Shifting focus back to tonight’s game, NHL.com’s morning skate report:

Chicago has also lost four of its last five games during what appears to be a mid-season funk and now find themselves just five points ahead of the ninth-place Los Angeles Kings as the Detroit Red Wings come to the Windy City on Sunday night (7:30 p.m., NBCSN, TSN2).

“We had a little comfort there and that’s evaporated now,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said after Chicago’s morning skate on Sunday. “It’s an amazing race. You look at fighting for a division and fighting to be in the playoff race is there. We don’t want to be in that race where it’s fighting to get in, but we did lose a lot of … whatever you want to call it, whether it’s gravy or what, but we know that we want to be first in our division. That’s our motivation and we should be driven to try and make that accomplishment.”

It starts against the Red Wings (25-14-1), who sit just one point back of the Hawks in third place of the Central and two points back of the division-leading St. Louis Blues. Chicago (24-13-4) has already beaten Detroit once at the United Center and could have the upper hand because the Wings are coming into the game off a tough 4-3 loss on Saturday night in Toronto.

Detroit, which didn’t hold a morning skate, will start backup Ty Conklin in goal and might get injured forwards Darren Helm and Tomas Holmstrom back from groin injuries against the Hawks. Chicago will again be without rookie center Marcus Kruger (suspected concussion), but will get defenseman Steve Montador back in the lineup after a three-game absence because of an undisclosed upper-body injury. Hawks captain Jonathan Toews and top defenseman Duncan Keith missed the morning skate, but both are expected to play against Detroit.

Here is a look at what the lineups for the Red Wings and Blackhawks might look like on Sunday night:

Red Wings:

Johan Franzen-Pavel Datsyuk-Todd Bertuzzi
Valtteri Filppula-Henrik Zetterberg-Jiri Hudler
Drew Miller-Darren Helm-Danny Cleary
Chris Conner-Justin Abdelkader-Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom-Ian White
Niklas Kronwall-Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson-Jakub Kindl

Ty Conklin
Jimmy Howard


Michael Frolik-Jonathan Toews-Marian Hossa
Patrick Sharp-Andrew Shaw-Patrick Kane
Viktor Stalberg-Dave Bolland-Bryan Bickell
Andrew Brunette-Jamal Mayers-Jimmy Hayes

Duncan Keith-Brent Seabrook
Nick Leddy-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Sean O’Donnell-Steve Montador

Corey Crawford
Ray Emery

And Hedger confirms that Marcus Kruger remains out for Chicago, if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

• Sans a morning skate, here’s probably all we’re going to receive from the Free Press’s Helene St. James...

Holmstrom activated by Wings for tonight at Chicago, Nyquist sent to Grand Rapids

And we’re going to be very, very lucky if Gregg Krupa and Ansar Khan have caught up with St. James given that the Wings’ beat writers probably didn’t actually hit the pillow, as my adopted Ukrainian Baba used to say, until 4 or 5 Am given their commute from the Air Canada Centre to Lester B. Pearson Airport, their navigation thereof, customs checks, flight to Chicago, luggage pick-up at O’Hare and trips to their hotels via taxi.

• And, via Paul, from Sportsnet’s John Shannon, some words of wisdom:

n HOCKEYCENTRAL last Friday, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told us that the Union had in fact been approach in October to weigh in on the topic, to no avail. Opinions from both suggest the beginning of a Cold War.

One Manager told me, “Typical of Fehr, and his negotiating style”, while another said “If Gary wasn’t going to get his way, he didn’t want to waste anyone’s time”. Tag those comments on to those of someone sympathetic to the players, who told me “All Donald wanted to do, was be part of the process, long before October and long before the Board meeting in December”, and you get a sense of what we might be seeing over the next few months.

Truth be told, the League and Players Association have been in constant dialogue on many contentious issues for the past few months. Among the topics are escrow, supplemental discipline and concussions.

This realignment story is the first that has really become public, because the league wanted it to become public. Perhaps it’s a glimpse of the style of negotiations we will witness over the next few months, but I suspect not.

We can only hope that both sides understand the angst of hockey fans that worry more about wins, losses, goals and assists, than they do about Hockey Related Revenue, escrow and the Salary Cap.

Please, Don. Please, Gary….Not Again.

Last-second update from St. James—Helm is in as well!

Helm also in

Update #2: The Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema confirms Nyquist’s demotion

  • The Free Press’s Helene St. James confirms the move...

• ESPN Chicago posted a capsule preview of tonight’s game;

• Here are some game notes from ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers…

Chicgao Blackhawks’ players Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith will play Sunday evening when the Hawks host the Detroit Red despite not skating in practice Sunday morning.

Joel Quenneville didn’t disclose any injuries for the players but said they were both fine to play. Corey Crawford will take on Ty Conklin just nine days after the Hawks beat the Red Wings, 3-2. Chicago hasn’t won a game since, losing three straight, while Detroit is 2-1 during that span.
Defenseman Sean O’Donnell will become the 90th player in history to play in 1200 games when he takes the ice Sunday night.

“Just good fortune, good genes,” O’Donnell said of his good health. “Lots of stretching. I’m pretty good at having an awareness and pretty good at knowing when I’m in a vulnerable spot.
After producing a minus-6 over the last two games defenseman Nick Leddy is hoping for a better result on Sunday.

“It was definitely a couple of rough games but we have another one tonight [Sunday],” Leddy said. “Hopefully I can make up for it.”

Leddy said he talked with his coaches and they told him to “do things harder” and be more “assertive.” Leddy is minus-6 for the season.

And that’s it for now.

Update #3.5: via RedWingsFeed, The Checking Line’s Kyle Andrew Busch penned an article discussing the nuances of working the virtual turntables as an arena deejay, and it’s an intriguing read;

• And the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan tossed off a rare blog entry regarding Nyquist’s demotion, which might be a temporary one:

As expected, Tomas Holmstrom was activated for tonight’s game against Chicago.

Going back down to Grand Rapids was forward Gustav Nyquist, who played in four games and had one assist in about seven minutes of playing time per game.

It was nice to see Nyquist get a little bigger chance in his second promotion to the NHL. And just like during the exhibition season, you could see the potential in Nyquist’s game.

This guy has great offensive instincts that will serve him well in the NHL.

Don’t be surprised to see Nyquist contributing at the NHL level next season

For now, Nyquist is much, much better-served by playing 20 minutes a night on the Griffins’ top line, but I think that next year the Wings will have something of a pickle on their hands as Tomas Tatar is no longer waiver exempt, but Nyquist’s showing that he belongs, too…

Update #4: Here’s MLive’s Ansar Khan,‘s, “I don’t need a morning skate to pen a morning skate report” article:

The Detroit Red Wings will try to get goaltender Ty Conklin his first win in three months tonight when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks in a clash between Central Division rivals who are struggling on the power play (7:30, only on NBC Sports Network, formerly Versus). Conklin, who experiences long stretches of inactivity backing up Jimmy Howard, has lost his past four starts, after a 3-0 win at Colorado on Oct. 8, his first appearance of the season. Conklin is 1-4-0, with 3.23 goals-against average and .889 save percentage.

The Red Wings are 1 for 20 (five percent) on the power play in their past nine games. But they had only one power play in Saturday’s 4-3 loss at Toronto and none in Tuesday’s 5-4 win at Dallas. The Blackhawks have lost three in a row. They are 0 for 15 on the power play in their last five games and 1 for 23 (4.3 percent) in their past eight games.

Chicago beat Detroit 3-2 on Dec. 30 at the United Center, in their only meeting thus far.

Both of these clubs now are trailing the St. Louis Blues (53 points) in the division. The Blackhawks have 52 points and the Red Wings have 51 points, with a game in hand on both teams.

The Red Wings did not have a morning skate today, so there is no word on line combinations. One change sees Tomas Holmstrom replacing Gustav Nyquist, who was reassigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins. Holmstrom is back after sitting five games with a groin strain.

One more update: NHL.com’s Brian Hedger penned an article discussing Sean O’Donnell’s 1,000th game, and ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers penned a Hawks-centric morning skate report as well.

One more one more update: The CBC’s Cassie Campbell-Pascall profiled Ian White:

When I asked Ian White on Saturday what it’s been like to play with Nicklas Lidstrom, the smile was instantaneous.

“I have learned so much from him, he slows the game down and is always in the right position,” White said from inside the visitors’ locker room at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

It was around this time last year while playing in Carolina, having not scored a goal in 39 games, when White began wondering what was next for his hockey career. He spent the first 16 games playing for the Flames, the next 39 in Carolina and the last 23 plus playoffs in the Sharks organization.

He wondered if being on three teams in one year meant that his time was coming to an end in the NHL. The Flames did communicate to him that he was traded simply because ownership wanted to get rid of some payroll, and White (without a no-trade clause) was an easy solution.

But this summer, the phone rang and a two-year deal from the Detroit Red Wings was on the table. The first year at $3 million US and the 2nd at $2.75 million. But, believe it or not, things got even better. It was on the first day of training camp, and coach Mike Babcock told him he would be paired with Lidstrom.

White admitted that the Detroit system is more suited to his game rather than the dump and chase he has played in the past.

He was very gracious when he spoke of his other defence partners in the league like Luke Richardson and Hall Gill in Toronto, and Robyn Regehr in Calgary, but really he knows he will learn more in two years with Lidstrom than he probably did his entire NHL career so far.

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WestWing's avatar

I love the breathlessly hyped Toronto media accounts of last night’s game.  I must have turned it off before the Loafs skated the cup.  It was a midseason game in early January won by a rather desperate 7th place team fighting to hang on to a playoff spot, right?  Or am I missing something?  According to the Toronto media though, last night’s game may well have been not only the greatest one game statement that any hockey team has ever made, but very well may have also transcended the sport, and in fact now stands as the very event that defines this epoch in the natural history of the cosmos. Funny stuff.  The Canadian media—hilarious satire that seemingly writes itself.

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 01/08/12 at 05:48 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Ah yes, the unabashedly and perpetually hyperbolic Tronna hockey press coverage.

I lol’d in my belly.

Posted by SYF from A tall cool pint of Guinness on 01/08/12 at 06:40 PM ET

BrendonTO's avatar

As a Canadian(-en??) and Toronto-ian and a HUGE Wings fan I can confirm the glee floating around town after the Leafs beat the League’s best team (after barely surviving a comeback from a 3-0 deficit).  Start the parade now. 

Seriously though, you have to understand this is natural, because as much as you folk in the D have BY FAR the best hockey team, those of us in TO are BY FAR the most passionate about the game of hockey, and hence defeating the DRW has become my recent annual night of shame.

The Leafs are much better than years past and will likely make the playoffs, and excitement is running high in Earth’s hockey capital…..so if there’s any team I’m fine with the Wings having a losing streak against - it’s the Leafs at home.  You guys need to appreciate the DRW-level fandom (at the very minimum, in most cases going far beyond, and this is coming from a true dyed-in-the-red Wings fan) that Leafs fans have, the sophistication they bring to understanding the game (again, only matched….most times…by DRW fans) and the frustration they have with the team.  Brian Burke is the first quality, progressive hockey mind that has been running things here in a while, and yes I know ‘Burke’ and ‘progressive’ tend not to go hand-in-hand, but its the truth. 

On behalf of the Detroit Red Wings organization, Bravo on the progress and godspeed in the future.

Posted by BrendonTO on 01/08/12 at 07:11 PM ET

Alzy's avatar

Is there ANY chance, even a 0.01% chance of ever seeing the third pairing be Kindl-Commodore? I just don’t get it. I think the only other guy who’s gotten this much of a free pass during Babcock’s time here is Andreas Lilja, but Lilja was 4x the defenceman Errorson is.

Hopefully Homer’s ass means the PP rises from the grave, and Taz/God/Danger can provide that burst of energy when the team will undoubtedly needs it tonight.

Posted by Alzy from Cambridge, Ontario, Canada on 01/08/12 at 07:12 PM ET

BrendonTO's avatar

I’ll just add that yes, Ericsson hasn’t quite lived up to salary expectations (nor did any of us self-respecting Wings fans expect him to) but he hasn’t been god-awful either, and hopefully Tick Tock manages to find a way to package E52 into a deal come trade deadline time.

Posted by BrendonTO on 01/08/12 at 07:31 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Ericsson has an NTC.

Posted by SYF from A tall cool pint of Guinness on 01/08/12 at 08:10 PM ET


Posted by SYF from “Balls Hill” on 01/08/12 at 05:10 PM ET

From what I’ve read (ie. capgeek) it’s a modified NTC, which generally means management has some outs, though they may be limited.

Either way, has he been any worse than last season, which netted him a 3-year, $10M contract?  Sadly, I don’t see him going anywhere…  Of course, it would be great if he were in a different jersey and Brendan Smith was in the winged wheel next year…

Posted by Garth on 01/08/12 at 08:21 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Right, Garth.  I think also Ericsson still has the final say on waiving it.

Posted by SYF from A tall cool pint of Guinness on 01/08/12 at 08:23 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Will be listening to Ken and Paul tonight as I refuse to listen to Icky Eddie Olcyck drooling over the Hawks. Hopefully, the Hawks’ little losing streak will have them clutching their sticks a little too tightly tonight.

Time for Conklin redemption and a 60 minute relentless effort from our Wings with Homer and Helm back.

LGRW !!!!!

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 01/08/12 at 08:37 PM ET


Right, Garth.  I think also Ericsson still has the final say on waiving it.

Posted by SYF from “Balls Hill” on 01/08/12 at 05:23 PM ET

Modified NTCs allow for the player to be traded to a list of teams (10 I think?) determined by that player at the beginning of the season without permission. Being traded to any other teams would require waiving it.

Posted by RyanVM on 01/08/12 at 08:46 PM ET


Posted by RyanVM on 01/08/12 at 05:46 PM ET

I don’t know that there’s any one specific model for a modified NTC, I think it just means that it isn’t a straight-up NTC.  What you listed is one of the variations.  Others allow the player to provide a list of teams he WON’T go to.

Time for Conklin redemption

Either that or it’s time for the org to commit to finding a better backup, whether it’s through a trade or just bringing up Joey Mac.  SOMETHING needs to happen.

Posted by Garth on 01/08/12 at 11:05 PM ET

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About The Malik Report

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.