The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/22/12 at 08:28 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings flew back to Detroit with their figurative tails between their legs, having delivered a tepid-at-best performance in a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Wings played like a team that was missing Pavel Datsyuk, awaiting Kyle Quincey’s arrival and perhaps thinking about a rink to come as opposed to their slim 2-point lead over Thursday’s opponent in the Vancouver Canucks and 5 and 8-point leads over the Blues and Predators, respectively…
Or the fact that the Wings have yet to display any sort of consistency away from Joe Louis Arena—they’re 15-16 and 1—and that the Wings could have pounced upon the Toews-less Blackhawks—but instead were pounced upon while floundering like a freshly-caught fish while Jimmy Howard valiantly attempted to keep his teammates in the game.
The Blackhawks, however, find themselves in sixth place in the West, and minus the services of Jonathan Toews, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Steve Montador, played a better road game than the Wings did, and that had the Chicago Tribune’s David Haugh thinking about the Hawks’ need to add some playoff reinforcements:
When Blackhawks rookie forward Jimmy Hayes set up Marcus Kruger’s game-winning goal in an invigorating 2-1 victory Tuesday night over the Red Wings at the United Center, admit it. You asked yourself if Hayes, the player of the game who scored the Hawks’ first goal, had just enhanced his trade value or his standing in the organization with a clutch game against the best team in hockey. You wondered if dangling Hayes in a trade might bring the Hawks that elusive top-four defenseman they need or even a veteran scorer with playoff experience.
You can’t get Blackhawks trade scenarios out of your head because, especially now, general manager Stan Bowman’s next move could determine whether the season ends in April or with a parade in June. Playing at an elite level to beat the Red Wings for a fourth straight win shouldn’t send the message to Bowman that everything is fine and dandy now. It should increase the urgency to make a deal that addresses a need for a team suddenly looking the right player away from another Stanley Cup run.
Beating the Red Wings without Jonathan Toews showed the Hawks can find the mettle that had gone missing. Winning a tight one-goal game told the rest of the Western Conference the Blackhawks were back and believe again in improving goalie Corey Crawford.
“Corey was rock solid,” a pleased coach Joel Quenneville said. “I thought we had a purpose to our team game.”
I’ll spare you more of the same from ESPN Chicago’s Melissa Issacson as she also lets the players tell the game’s story:
“I think the message we were preaching during the losing streak was that we need to figure things out and we’re going to be better for it,” said Patrick Sharp. “I think you can see now that the overall team game is stronger and it has resulted in some wins.”
The victory, which snapped the Red Wings’ six-game winning streak, was significant in so many ways for the Hawks, not the least of which was goalie Corey Crawford’s 31 saves, the third game in a row he has allowed less than two goals. While it still may be too early to say he is now past his prior inconsistency, once again Crawford and his teammates will take it.
“That was another good game for us to play where we’re down for most of it again and then we just keep playing our game and try not to do too much to get back,” Crawford said. “We were playing a simple game, making the plays we should . . . and that’s the way we have to continue to play.”
Hawks’ general manager Stan Bowman still has six days, until the NHL trade deadline, to give fans a reason why they should consider their team a serious contender. But difficult as it may be to muster up too much optimism, neither is it fair to judge him before then. After the last few weeks, it’s satisfying enough just to beat Detroit, Datsyuk or no Datsyuk.
As Sharp put it when talking about the Hawks’ continuing power-play troubles, “We’re winning games ... we really don’t care.”
Comcast Sportsnet Chicago’s Tracey Myers, who’d profiled Crawford before the game, suggested that the Hawks earned all the style points they needed in defeating the Wings minus Chicago’s #1 center, #3 defenseman and #4 defenseman, snapping a 6-game winning streak for Detroit while overcoming a 1-0 deficit:
Offensively, the contributions came from the Blackhawks’ youngsters. Hayes, who was recalled on Friday, scored his fifth of the season to tie the game midway through the second. Kruger crashed the net barely two minutes into the third for the game-winner, the first of his NHL career. Hayes’ last two games are reminiscent of his strong play when he came up the first time this season.
“It’s just one of those things, being a big guy, you’ve got to be in front of the net. The shot got through, (there was) some traffic with Bickell there, and it just popped right on my stick there for a nice tap-in,” Hayes said. “The atmosphere was huge here. It was a big game for both teams, the one we needed to keep this going in the right direction.”
And Crawford took care of his part, too, winning his fourth consecutive game. The Blackhawks’ No. 1 goaltender has allowed just one goal in each of his last three starts. Coach Joel Quenneville called Crawford’s outing “rock solid.”
“He’s been awesome the last couple of (games),” said Patrick Sharp, who was stymied several times by Detroit’s Jimmy Howard. “It’s a tough position: you get credit when you win and take the heat when you lose. But in our locker room I can tell you we believe in him 100 percent. And to see the way he’s working away from games, it’s definitely paying off.”
“The last 10 minutes of that game they had barely any (shots),” Crawford said. “It’s another good game for us to play when we’re down for most of it. Again and we just keep playing our game, not trying to do too much to get back. We’re playing a simple game, making the plays that we should.”
The Blackhawks are playing with the pack mentality. They needed to against a team like Detroit. The losing streak is still in the Blackhawks’ minds, but more victories like this and it’ll be a distant memory.
“It’s a big boost (beating the Wings). They’re in first place for a reason,” Sharp said. “That (losing) streak was good for us. We’re playing a solid team game now, working hard.”
The Chicago Sun-Times’ Adam L. Jahns also liked the fact that the Hawks rubbed Wings’ fans noses in defeating Detroit, but let’s stick with the game narrative instead of that particular angle…
“We’re all doing the little things defensively,” said defenseman Duncan Keith, who is a plus-8 over the last three games. “With forwards back-checking hard and being a lot better in our own end and defensemen blocking shots, it makes everybody’s job easier. I think it’s frustrating for [Crawford] when we’re not playing well in front of him. We’ve given up some tough shots for him to make a save on. And he gets some of the criticism. It’s nice to play better in front of him, and he’s making the saves when we need them.”
Crawford (31 saves) was beaten by Valtteri Filppula 2:22 into the first period on a Wings power play and just 12 seconds before Kruger’s tripping penalty ended. But that was it. Crawford made several tough stops, including a crucial one on a redirection with 45 seconds left to preserve the victory. Quenneville called the 3-1 victory Sunday over the Blues “a goalie win,” and this one was the same.
“Corey was rock-solid,” Quenne-ville said. “He was big, strong and controlled rebounds. They put a lot of big bodies and traffic at the net. They test you on almost every shift. I thought he was excellent.”
After a flurry of chances in the second period, Hayes was finally able to beat Jimmy Howard after getting position at the top of the crease at 7:45. Kruger scored 1:53 into the third as Hayes and Andrew Brunette were all over Howard.
“I’m trying to establish my game here,” Hayes said. “It’s not just about playing time. It’s helping the team win.”
Howard (27 saves) turned away several quality chances, including one on Patrick Sharp on a nice setup from Patrick Kane on a power play. He stopped Michael Frolik and Dave Bolland on breakaways.
And the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc focused on the traffic the Hawks caused in front of Jimmy Howard:
Howard, who had missed Detroit’s previous eight games with a broken finger, repeatedly stopped open looks from the Hawks — especially during a wide-open second period — but couldn’t come up with two from the crease as the Hawks skated to their fourth consecutive win.
“Howard is having a great year (and) both of those goals were simple plays and rebounds,” said Kruger, who pounced on a loose puck during a goal-mouth scramble for the game-winner early in the third period. “That’s what we have to do when we play a goalie like that. Even when we were down one goal we stuck with our plan and found a way to win.”
Added Hayes: “No goalie is going to want to have any traffic in front of them, so when you get some big guys there you can create some havoc and get some chances.”
With the help of a stingy defense that has been stellar since the Hawks snapped a nine-game skid last week, Crawford held the Wings to a Valterri Filppula power-play goal in the first period to earn his fourth win in a row. The Hawks claimed the victory despite the absence of captain Jonathan Toews, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. The Wings were short-handed as well, as center Pavel Datsyuk is sidelined for two weeks following arthroscopic knee surgery.
“The last 10 minutes of that game they had barely anything,” said Crawford, who made 31 saves. “We were down for most of it again and then we just kept playing our game, not trying to do too much to get back. We were playing a simple game, making the plays we should and eventually we tied it up. That’s the way we have to continue to play.”
After Filppula gave the Wings an early lead, Howard turned aside glorious chances from Patrick Sharp, Michael Frolik, Dave Bolland and two from Patrick Kane before Hayes broke through midway through the second by tapping in a rebound of a Duncan Keith shot that Bryan Bickell got a piece of en route to the net.
“(The Hawks) definitely got their game going after the hiccup that they had over there (with their losing streak),” Howard said. “They played another great game in front of Corey and (he) came up (with) some big saves.”
ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers took note of Crawford’s resurgent play in his notebook….
Corey Crawford stopped 31 of 32 shots tonight to record his fourth consecutive victory. The netminder has posted a .958 save percentage over his last four starts, turning aside 115 of 120 shots.
And his “Rapid Reaction focused on the significance of the victory (if you want to read CSN Chicago’s Chris Boden’s take on the Hawks “wanting the game more than the Wings—and they did—get down with your bad self on your own)...
What it means: It’s a big win in terms of the Hawks playing another tight, defensive game and coming out on top. Just as on Sunday against St. Louis, getting down 1-0 did little to dissuade them. They kept at it and even though they missed on some great second-period chances, they were rewarded with Hayes’ tying goal. The power play stalled again, which meant the hard work 5-on-5 couldn’t let up, and it didn’t. It’s the first time all season the Hawks have given up less than two goals in three straight games as they improve to 33-21-7 and have won four consecutive. It’s a solid win without their captain in the lineup.
But his main recap focused on the playoff-like tenor of the game…
“This is playoff hockey,” Brent Seabrook said afterwards. “After that streak we really put ourselves in a hole. This is the kind of hockey we have to play. It’s good to see.”
The Hawks and Wings bring out the best in each other. They’ve played four games this season, splitting two apiece. All have been one-goal affairs. And all have felt like a playoff game.
“It’s a fun game,” Seabrook said. “They’re a great team. They play the game the right way.”
As for the Hawks’ stellar play on defense, some things don’t make sense. Taking almost 60 games to understand that tight defense wins games, especially when a power play is dry or you’re missing key players, is one of those things. But at least the Hawks are learning it now instead of when it’s too late.
“We checked [played defense] well,” Joel Quenneville said. “Even at 1-1 or down 1-0. We had a purpose to our team game. We had some smartness to our positions in all zones. We managed that puck pretty efficiently tonight.”
And again, cue Crawford’s “neener neener”:
“The last 10 minutes of that game, they barely had anything,” a beaming Crawford said.
In the Associated Press’s recap, the Hawks continued on their playoff/bunker mentality tack…
“Corey was rock solid,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “He was big, strong, controlled rebounds. They put a lot of bodies in traffic at the net. They test you on almost every shift. I thought he was excellent.”
Jimmy Hayes scored the tying goal in the second period and set up Marcus Kruger’s winning score in the third as Chicago earned its fourth consecutive victory since a nine-game losing streak.
“We stayed patient all game,” Kruger said. “Even down one goal, we stuck with our plan and found a way to win.”
“In 82 games, you’re going to play without some players on any given night,” forward Patrick Sharp said. “Losing [Toews] was big, but we rallied around each other and all stepped up.”
We now shift focus to a Red Wings team whose perspectives were equally blunt:
“I thought we played about 10 good minutes to start the game and then I thought we were careless with the puck and made poor mental decisions,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I didn’t think we gave ourself much of chance.”
While Howard was back in the net for the first time since Feb. 2 at Vancouver, the Red Wings were without leading scorer Pavel Datsyuk. The dynamic center had arthroscopic surgery Tuesday to remove fragments from his right knee and is expected to be sidelined for two weeks. Datsyuk leads the Red Wings with 43 assists and 59 points, playing a key role in Detroit’s record 23-game home winning streak. The Red Wings host Vancouver on Thursday.
“Pav’s been out before and he’s a huge part of our team but we’re going to need guys to step up,” Howard said. “This is an opportunity for other guys now to play in a role maybe they’re not used to playing in, maybe getting some more ice time, and they’re going to find a way to get it done for us.”
Or, as Babcock growled to NHL.com’s Brian Hedger...
“Today had nothing to do with no Pavel,” Babcock said. “We didn’t play. If you don’t play, you’re not going to win. That’s the toughest effort we’ve had in a long time. We’ve lost games on the road when we were better than that.”
Detroit also pulled off a trade on Tuesday to add defenseman Kyle Quincey in a three-team deal. The story of the night for the Wings, however, was the guy in net. Starting goalie Jimmy Howard took another tough loss in this building – he also dropped a 3-2 decision on Dec. 30 here – but looked razor sharp in his first action in almost three full weeks. Howard, who broke his right index finger on Feb. 2 in Vancouver, made 27 saves – many of them against odd-man rushes and breakaways. He was beaten only twice and both were on rebounds with traffic in front.
“I felt good,” Howard said. “Surprisingly I felt a lot better than I thought I was going to feel. They were good goals for them, guys just crashing and that’s how you score in this League.”
The Hawks’ offense was just a little too dominant for Howard to steal one. Chicago has turned around what appeared to be a sinking ship just a week ago. The Hawks’ win streak comes on the heels of an ugly nine-game winless skid that saw them fall from the top of the Western Conference to the sixth spot, and fourth in the Central Division. Now they’re gunning to jump back in the mix.
It was Detroit’s first loss in seven games, but also the Wings’ first game on the road in that span. The Red Wings remain scorching at home, with a 23-game winning streak and 26-2-1 mark at Joe Louis Arena. However, they’re merely ordinary on the road. Detroit’s record away from their home arena fell to just 15-16-1, which is a season-long trend they can’t seem to shake.
“The score was 2-1, but we didn’t play well defensively,” Babcock said. “We didn’t make enough good decisions with the puck to allow ourselves to play. We were average.”
And, as Ian White told Hedger, the Wings definitely had a game which may have a proper theme song in Weird Al’s “Dare to Be Stupid”:
“You look at the plays that were costing us, they were breakaways and stuff,” said Detroit defenseman Ian White, who was on the ice for Kruger’s goal. “Those weren’t match-up problems. We were just turning the puck over. We had mental lapses for whatever reason.”
White told the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan that the team’s 15-16 and 1 road record—as Kulfan notes, the Wings have lost 3 straight away from the Joe—simply doesn’t cut it:
“Fortunately we have a nice homestand where we’re getting a lot of wins,” defenseman Ian White said. “But we definitely have to find a way to start winning more on the road.”
Despite a superb effort from goalie Jimmy Howard, making his first start since Feb. 2, the Wings could muster little offense against the Blackhawks and made an uncharacteristic amount of turnovers. It wasn’t a good formula to win a game — be it on the road or home.
“We played about 10 good minutes to start the game and then we were careless with the puck,” coach Mike Babcock said. “We didn’t give ourselves much of a chance. We worked hard enough, but our brain wasn’t in gear.”
“You want to come in here and play well and play well defensively,” Babcock said. “The score was 2-1, but we didn’t play well defensively.”
The good news?
Well, aside from Danny Cleary registering a shot, giveaway, blocked shot and a -1 while playing 14:48, Jimmy Howard was indeed superb in returning from a broken hand while clearly, clearly playing with about 70% of his grip strength on his stick hand. His stickhandling was fine and his blocker looked strong enough to stop several breakaways with ease, and Howard didn’t mind the extra work….
“They were getting through the neutral zone and getting on top of us fast,” Howard said. “They had some breakaways but that’s part of the job, making those saves for the guys.”
“Surprisingly good, I felt a lot better than I thought I would feel,” Howard said. “I attribute it to working with the strength and conditioning coach, working with Jimmy (Bedard, goaltending coach) on the skating and doing the drills.” They (the Blackhawks) played well. We got some chances but … we didn’t seem to get a lot on the shots.”
Howard also shrugged off stopping at least three breakaways and probably half a dozen 2-on-1’s or 3-on-2’s while speaking to the Free Press’s Helene St. James...
Howard, on all the breakaways Chicago got in the second period: “The key to facing breakaways is being patient, and when they get in close, you take away everything by attacking them. You let them make the first move, and you just try to push into them so you know they can’t elevate the puck.”
But at the other end of the rink, the team that allowed the Hawks to pluck pucks off their sticks 17 times did little to make Corey Crawford’s life difficult:
Wings coach Mike Babcock, on the how the Wings played: “I didn’t think we put a lot of heat on their defense or their goaltender today at all.”
Babcock reiterated his brain-cramping point to St. James in her main recap:
“I thought we played about 10 good minutes to start the game, and then I thought we were careless with the puck and made poor mental decisions,” coach Mike Babcock said. “I didn’t think we gave ourselves much of a chance. Our goaltending was good. Our power play scored us a goal early, and then we basically gave them opportunities after that. I don’t know—I thought we worked hard enough, but our brain wasn’t in gear. We made it so hard by the decisions we made with the puck.”
“You want to come in here and play well, play well defensively,” Babcock said. “The score was 2-1, but we didn’t play well defensively. We didn’t make enough good decisions with the puck to allow ourselves to play. We were average.”
Open face, insert palm:
“I think we just kind of melted down,” Ian White said. “We weren’t really sticking to our systems, and we were turning the puck over a lot.”
Howard had to deal with a breakaway early in the second period after White lost the puck and Michael Frolik pounced, but Frolik shot just wide. Dave Bolland had a short breakaway chance denied by Howard a few minutes later. The Blackhawks broke him at 7:45, when Jimmy Hayes tapped a rebound into an open net during a scramble in front of the crease.
“I thought we were just mishandling the puck,” captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “We had the puck on our sticks and whether it was a bad play or mishandling the puck, all of a sudden they had breakaways.”
Sharp tried again from the front of the net during Chicago’s third power play, but Howard got his stick down in time, part of a dozen shots allowed by the Wings just in the second period.
“They were getting on top of us, fast,” Howard said. “They definitely had some breakaways there.”
Jimmy Howard may have been quoting Tenacious D’s “The Road” while speaking to MLive’s Ansar Khan:
“The NHL’s tough on the road,’’ Howard said. “It’s tough to come into other teams’ barns and get points. You just have to have that (fortitude) throughout he game. I thought the urgency was there. We got more shots on net. Just couldn’t find a way to get more pucks past Corey. He played great.’‘
“Today didn’t have anything to do with no Pavel, we didn’t play,’’ Babcock said. “If you don’t play you’re not going to win. That’s the toughest effort we’ve had in a long time. We’ve lost games on the road where we’ve played better than that.’‘
The Blackhawks were missing captain and leading goal-scorer Jonathan Toews, who’s listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. The Blackhawks scored both of their goals in similar fashion, by crashing the net. On the deciding goal, Jimmy Hayes circled behind the net with the puck and put a shot on goal. Kruger, in the ensuing scramble, knocked it in from the crease.
“Score was tied 1-1, you got to take care of your own end first and we didn’t do that,’’ Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said.
“Good goals for them, guys just crashing, that’s how you score in this league,’’ Howard said.
Howard, whose previous appearance was in a 4-3 shootout win at Vancouver on Feb. 2, was under siege in the second period. Defensive breakdowns enabled the Blackhawks to get numerous scoring chances, including several breakaways. Hayes tied it at 7:45, tapping in a loose puck in the crease after a few minutes of sustained pressure.
“We just kind of melted down,’’ White said. “We weren’t sticking to our system, we were turning the puck over a lot. Give them credit, they came out flying in the second. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot in the second with a lackluster effort.’‘
And that’s a fitting bottom line/last word. The Wings earned a power play 3:15 into the second, but they gave up odd-man rushes and breakaways to the Hawks while looking like Jakub Kindl did—as if they knew reinforcements were coming on Thursday—and it bit the Wings in the collective butt. They can’t play the same way if they are to continue winning at home against the Canucks on Thursday (talk around the league is, of course, that teams are salivating like Pavlovian dogs about ending the Wings’ home-ice winning streak) and then Quincey’s former employers on Saturday.
Highlights: NBC Sports posted a 1:31 highlight clip;
TSN posted a 53-second highlight clip;
And the Red Wings’ website’s clip is at least narrated by Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond.
The Free Press’s Helene St. James posted a video
KenDaniels and Mickey Redmond’s takes on the game, as well as comments from coach Mike Babcock, Jonathan Ericsson and Jimmy Howard...
And the Red Wings’ website posted clips of Babcock’s comments…
And Jimmy Howard’s as well:
Photos: The Chicago Sun-Times posted a 25-image gallery;
The Chicago Tribune posted 8 images in its “Blackhawks in Action” gallery;
Fox Sports Detroit posted a 5-image gallery;
Yahoo Sports posted a 43-image gallery;
Daylife.com posted 10 Reuters images in its Red Wings gallery;
NHL.com posted a 53-image gallery;
The Blackhawks’ website posted a 52-image gallery;
And the Red Wings’ website posted a 51-image gallery.
Part II: Pavel Datsyuk is more important than Kyle Quincey: I tried to cover as much of the Datsyuk chatter during the game-day updates, but here’s the bottom line: when your team’s co-MVP and leading scorer starts feeling pain in his knee and an MRI reveals two pieces of “gunk” or “debris” in February, you get the man’s knee scoped now because you don’t want him hobbling around and playing at 50% come April or May. That’s exactly why the Wings booked operating room time for Datsyuk on Tuesday, as Ken Holland told the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff:
“He said yesterday he could feel something not right in his knee,” Detroit general manager Ken Holland said. “They took an MRI, saw a fragment. They went in today, surgery is over. It was minor arthroscopic surgery. They cleaned up his ligament, and he should be ready to go in a couple of weeks.”
The Wings indicated that it was only a minor procedure, that Datsyuk would be back sooner than later.
“When they went in for the MRI yesterday, they could see a little bit of something not quite right,” Holland said. I talked to (Red Wings trainer) Piet Van Zant this morning. He said everything went great, the knee looks good, but certainly it was something that needed to be done. It’s a couple weeks minimum, three weeks maximum. Somewhere in that time frame and he should be back on the ice playing.
The Wings felt it was best to get the surgery done now, and not wait until closer to the playoffs to discover that Datsyuk’s conditioned had worsened, and he’d be lost for at least part of the post-season.
“The doctor said after being in there it was something that needed to be done,” Holland said. “Our concern was Pav complained yesterday and I don’t know if he complained much before, the doctor looked at it, do we wake up in a month and find out we need to do it? With two months to go before the playoffs start . . . fortunately we’ve had a good run, we’ve got some points banked away. The timing couldn’t have been better.”
Datsyuk’s situation won’t affect how the team approaches the Feb. 27 NHL trade deadline. “No,” Holland said. “He’s coming back. When you got Pavel Datsyuk – there’s not many Pavel Datsyuks out in the marketplace. It’s minor. After Saturday we’ve got one game in a week, so we’ll see. Again, it’s nothing major.”
Wings coach Mike Babcock agreed while speaking to the Free Press’s Helene St. James….
Coach Mike Babcock announced the news following a morning skate at United Center, revealing that hours earlier Datsyuk had had the procedure to clean up an old fragment. Babcock said the pain flared up “last game. It’s just a good thing for him and for us. He gets freshened up.”
The Wings adjusted their lines for Tuesday’s game against the Blackhawks, moving Henrik Zetterberg into Datsyuk’s slot on the first line and bumping Danny Cleary to the second line. They lost, 2-1.
“Pavel not playing is a big hole for us,” Cleary said. “It’s a big loss in all kinds of areas. So the onus has to fall on us just to keep playing the way we have.”
And Holland made a very intriguing comment to St. James:
“If you’re going anywhere in the playoffs,” Holland said, “you’ve got to have depth. You’re going to have injuries, and you’ve got to find ways to win games. When our No. 1 goaltender goes down two weeks ago, there was this media infatuation with what are we going to do with our backup goaltender. Well, Joey MacDonald has quieted that down. Dan Cleary is going in. It’s an opportunity for someone else. It’s going to affect our scoring, but you’ve got to find a way to grind out 2-1 and 3-2 wins.”
Part III: About Kyle Quincey: The Red Wings chose to send their first-round pick in this year’s entry Draft and ECHL’er Sebastien Piche to Tampa Bay for Kyle Quincey, who the Bolts acquired in exchange for Steve Downie.
For Holland, as he told NHL.com’s Brian Hedger (who also spoke to Holland about
Datsyuk, the Red Wings were more than willing to surrender a first-round pick to Steve Yzerman in exchange for a #4 defenseman who will probably wear #27 and play alongside Jonathan Ericsson to start, albeit earning time on the 2nd power play unit as well, while stacking the Wings’ blueline with another Brad Stuart-style defenseman who can comfortably play in any #2-to-#6 role, is a 26-year-old who earns a reasonable $3.125 million this season and is a restricted free agent this summer (Capgeek.com reports that the Wings can still add somewhere in the neighborhood of $19 million in salaries if they wish).
For the Bolts, as noted in Adrian Dater’s dissent entry, having a second first-round pick means more flexibility come the Entry draft, and, as the St. Petersburg Times’ Damian Cristodero and the Tampa Tribune’s Erik Erlendsson note, a “rebuilding on the fly” of Yzerman’s own as the team has converted Downie, Pavel Kubina and Dominic Moore into a team-aided total of 2 first-rounders and 4 second-rounders, all of which might be in play come draft day if the Bolts can find a starting goalie in June.
For the Avs, as the Denver Post’s Mike Chambers notes, Colorado gets a literal and figurative impact player while alleviating a logjam on defense.
And for the Wings and their fans, like you and me? Well, here’s what Ken Holland had to say to the Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell:
“If we could do it all over again, we’d make a different decision,” said Holland, who chose to keep Derek Meech over Quincey when the Wings had to choose between the two because of a roster crunch before the 2008-09 season. “We should have never let him go. It worked out great for him. He got an opportunity in L.A. and Colorado. As his name came up, we knew him, liked him. He became the player we hoped he would be (when he left).”
Holland said he tried to acquire Quincey directly from Colorado this week, but couldn’t come to terms with Avalanche GM Greg Sherman. However, things loosened up once Tampa general manager Steve Yzerman became involved.
“In the last 48 hours, Steve (Yzerman) called me and said he had a deal to get Quincey and asked if we’re interested,” Holland said. “We talked about picks and prospects. We didn’t want to trade a lot of prospects Steve was interested in.”
Holland said he was willing pay the price of a first-rounder because the Wings have hung onto all their draft picks since 2005 and have restocked their farm team. He also made it quite clear, the Wings are going all out to win the Stanley Cup.
“We got some kids (in the organization),” Holland said. “The time is now. We think he makes us better and deeper on the back end. That first-round pick, if it’s a good pick, he’ll play in Detroit five years from now. We got a 26-year-old defenceman who’s got experience in the league. He can play the penalty kill, second power play. It’s hard to find players who can play 20 minutes. He’s a restricted free agent. We expect him to be on our team going forward and he improves our team on the back end this year.”
Holland shrugged off any concern about Jakub Kindl while speaking to the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness, noting that since neither Kindl nor Commodore has won the Wings’ #6 spot on defense, Holland felt it was necessary to bolster the position:
“My worry is about the team, not an individual,” Holland said. “We like Kindl, we think he’s developing. It’s my job to get players for Mike Babcock. It’s his job to use them as he sees fit.”
“We expect him to be on our team going forward and he improves our team on the back end this year,” Holland said.
Holland added the team is still trying to add depth at forward before Monday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline.
“We all kick the tires,” Holland said. “I don’t have anything going. In the meantime we’re a better team now than we were two hours ago.”
Holland was equally blunt about the theory that Quincey is a high-priced rental while speaking to everyone who had a sound recorder, including the Free Press’s Helene St. James:
“We like the addition of Quincey,” general manager Ken Holland said. “He’s a guy who can play 20 minutes a night, he can play right defense, left defense, he can play in all situations. He can man a point on the second power-play unit. We believe this makes us deeper for the playoffs, and he’s not a rental.”
Quincey, 26, is a restricted free agent this summer, and Holland said plans are to keep Quincey beyond this season.
We all know what’s left unsaid here: with Brad Stuart at least seriously considering leaving Detroit to be closer to his family in San Jose after this season, the Wings chose to essentially add a potential replacement now, and Stuart and Nicklas Lidstrom’s future plans will obviously have a significant impact as to whether Jakub Kindl remains with the team over the long haul.
For now, the Wings are trying to stack the deck as much as possible, and yes, that means holding onto Stuart, Kindl and Mike Commodore as most of you can remember how badly hampered the Wings were when they lost both Niklas Kronwall and Mathieu Schneider to injuries in 2007. Going into the playoffs with 8 NHL defensemen and Brendan Smith, Doug Janik and Garnet Exelby waiting in the Wings in Grand Rapids, and Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, Chris Conner and Fabian Brunnstrom all ready to help the forward lines, the Wings have the depth they need to succeed.
Holland will obviously try to add a depth forward between now and Monday, but if that weird French rumor about the Habs wanting the best defensive prospect not named Brendan Smith in one Xavier Ouellet for all of Travis Moen, there’s no way in hell the Wings will pay that kind of price. Mid-round pick and/or a middling prospect. That’s it.
As for Quincey’s “malcontent status?”
He gained some notoriety in ‘09 after publicly complaining that he didn’t get a ring after the Wings won the ‘08 Stanley Cup, even though he wasn’t eligible because he didn’t play in the playoffs and appeared in only six regular-season games. Quincey downplayed the comments Tuesday, saying his focus is on playing for a Cup during the coming months. “By far, that’s the biggest plus with coming to Detroit, is winning.”
Coach Mike Babcock said he plans to use Quincey opposite Jonathan Ericsson on the third pairing. “Good for us. Obviously a guy who can play a lot of minutes.”
Quincey’s comments about joining Detroit mostly involved, “Yaaay, wooo!” or something to that effect, as noted by the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan...
“I hope I can get my own [ring] this year for sure,” said Quincey during a teleconference with reporters before Tuesday’s game in Chicago.
“Happiness,” Quincey said of his feelings. “Going to a great team and a chance to win a Cup, that’s a dream growing up as a kid. It’s exciting coming back home to where I was drafted and knowing pretty much every single one of those guys on the team.”
Quincey is over a brief flap about not getting a ring (“That was taken out of context,” said Quincey, as no non-regulars receive a ring), as he is with being put on waivers by the Wings in 2008.
“Back then I was just eager to get into the lineup,” Quincey said. “Obviously I’ve always wanted to play for Detroit, the team that drafted me.”
Looking over the roster, Quincey said he’s played with every one of the Wings’ players, except for defenseman Mike Commodore and forward Drew Miller.
“It’s pretty interesting, I don’t think any team around the league is like that,” said Quincey, who will be paired with Jonathan Ericsson on defense (with whom Quincey played in Grand Rapids). “Detroit is like a family and that’s a reason they win. When they get good people they hang on to them, which makes sense.”
Quincey continued while speaking to MLive’s Ansar Khan...
“By far that’s the biggest plus coming to Detroit, winning,’’ Quincey said. “Being there and being able to watch (in 2008, as a Black Ace) and be a very small part of that, you want to get back to that. This is a chance to do it. I’m excited to be part of that playoff push and be on the ice and matter and count. They’re going to be leaning on me, which is all you want as a player.’
“Going to a great team that has a chance to win a Cup,’’ Quincey said. “That’s your dream as a little kid growing up. Going back home where I got drafted. I know pretty much every single one of the guys on the team (he said Drew Miller and Mike Commodore are only players he hasn’t played with), which is kind of rare.’‘
The Red Wings waived Quincey at the start of the 2008-09 season, electing to keep Derek Meech instead. Quincey was disappointed, but acknowledges it was best for his career. He was claimed by Los Angeles and blossomed with the Kings. He continued to play a key role for the Avalanche.
“I was just so eager to get in the lineup,’’ Quincey said. “When I got put on waivers everything was so new to me and going so fast I didn’t know what any of it meant. Next thing I know I’m on a flight to L.A., and everything just worked out so well there. I had a chance to play in the NHL, which was my dream. I didn’t think it was going to happen in Detroit.’‘’
“Kenny (general manager Holland) and I had a great talk today and he was saying they have a lot of players like Jimmy (Howard) and Fil (Valtteri Filppula) and (Justin) Abdelkader and (Darren) Helmer, all around 26. The future looks very bright for them and Pav (Datsyuk) and Hank (Zetterberg) aren’t too old themselves. I think it’s very exciting, and I think the Red Wings will be very good for years to come.’‘
“Just from the outside looking in, they got great chemistry on the top four,’’ Quincey said. “I played with Johnny in the minors. If that’s where I start, that’s fine with me.’‘
For the record, if we’re looking at the Free Press’s trade deadline cheat sheet, I’d guess that the Wings would be interested in Moen or Samuel Pahlsson from the Blue Jackets, but those are just my educated guesses….
But Holland dropped a heavy hint as to his plans while speaking to USA Today’s Kevin Allen:
Holland originally had talked to Colorado general manager Greg Sherman about acquiring Quincey, who started his career in Detroit.
“I didn’t like any of the names he brought up, and he didn’t like any of the names I brought up, and that’s where it ended,” Holland said. “Then a couple of days ago, (Tampa Bay general manager) Steve Yzerman called and said I might get Quincey. Are you interested?”
Yzerman was on Detroit’s management team before taking the job with Tampa Bay.
“It seemed like rental players were going for second-rounders,” Holland said. “So why not move up one round and get a player that might be up awhile?”
Quincey, 26, considered a solid, safe defender, probably would play in Detroit’s third pairing, taking the spot usually occupied by Jakub Kindl or Mike Commodore. Quincey will be a restricted free agent, an important factor because the Red Wings potentially could lose Brad Stuart to free agency and Nicklas Lidstrom to retirement next summer.
“We hope Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart both come back,” Holland said. “But we like the depth we could have next season.”
And if either leave, the Wings will most certainly be active in the free agent marketplace.
Part IV: In Grand Rapids, Ty Conklin got to work preparing to play for a team that desperately needs his help on Tuesday. The Red Wings chose to give Joey MacDonald the back-up’s job he earned over the past two weeks and waive Conklin on Monday.
He cleared on Tuesday morning, and as the Griffins sent Jordan Pearce down to Toledo, they may have sent an equally strong message—the Walleye need some goaltending help, too (though Pearce will probably split time with Hawks prospect Alec Richards), but right now, the Wings’ and Griffins’ brass may be more concerned with salvaging Tom McCollum’s pro career by having him work with Conklin every day in practice and getting Conklin back in playing shape for his return to Detroit as the #3 goalie come playoff time than anything else.
As the Griffins’ website notes, Conklin’s going to get some steady work right away…
Conklin joined the Griffins for practice today, as the team prepares for the first of four straight games against North Division opponents. After hosting Hamilton on Wednesday at 7 p.m., Grand Rapids will play back-to-back games this weekend, hosting Lake Erie on Friday at 7 p.m. before visiting Toronto on Saturday at 5 p.m
And Conklin spoke to the Grand Rapids Press’s Peter J. Wallner about his demotion and immediate future:
“It’s never fun to get sent down,” said Conklin. “But it’s a good situation where I get a chance to play some games and it’s not too far from my family, so I’ll make the best of it.”
Conklin became expendable after the Red Wings opted to keep Joey MacDonald, a former longtime Griffin, as the backup to Jimmy Howard. MacDonald won six games in a row for the Red Wings, posting a 1.66 goals against average and .934 save percentage. Conklin’s last appearance came Feb. 4 when he allowed three goals in the first period before he was replaced by MacDonald.
“The way Joey’s played and the way it’s gone the past couple weeks, I’m not surprised at all,” Conklin said of being waived.
Conklin signed a one-year, $750,000 free-agent contract with the Red Wings in the summer, but has played sparingly. He has appeared in 11 games with a 3.40 goals against average, .878 save percentage and a 3-5 record. He hopes to play a lot.
“That’s what I’m hoping to do,” he said. “Obviously, you have to perform if you want in the net. But, hopefully, it’s an opportunity to play some games.”
And the Griffins coach expects him to play a lot.
“We’ll throw him in right in the fire tomorrow,” Fraser said. “People have to be a little patient and give him a chance to get going. But, boy, if he plays up to his capabilities, he’s going to really help us and turn some of these close games into wins for us.”
The March to March: Grand Rapids will finish out its busy February home schedule this week, with home games against Hamilton on Wednesday and Lake Erie on Friday. Although they will still play four of their next five at Van Andel Arena, the Griffins are looking at a March schedule that sees them play a season-high nine road games, all against a tough West Division that has four of the conference’s top eight spots. Grand Rapids will make up for its AHL-low 50 games played in a hurry, as it will play 13 games in 24 days – nine on the road, four at home – to begin March, while never having more than two days off in that span.
So that’s tons of work for Conklin and McCollum as well.
Part V: Also of Red Wings-related note: As noted on Tuesday, only Mike Babcock could spill the beans about the Red Wings’ desire to build a new rink and a “mall” on the empty plot of land at Woodward and Temple, just north of I-75, and plea for some state assistance and get away with it. Cough cough ahem cough cough, per the Detroit News’s Louis Aguilar:
“A new facility, no question,” Babcock said Tuesday on a 97.1 The Ticket sports radio talk show, when asked if he preferred that the Wings continue to play at Joe Louis Arena or at a new arena.“If you want the city to come back, you got to revitalize downtown. And a big part of that’s going to be the new arena, and the mall and the stuff going around it,” he said. “And that’s very important. That’s why we need the state to jump onside, and the sooner the better, if we’re going to revitalize Michigan. It’s got to start right here in Detroit.”
Ilitch Holdings spokeswoman Karen Cullen said, “Our organization has been on record as stating we would like a new arena downtown.”
Gov. Rick Snyder’s office did not respond for comment. When he ran for governor in 2010, Snyder’s campaign said he preferred that private interests finance a new arena and that any state money should be loans with repayment guarantees.
• In a “for the record” of a different kind, per Fox Sports Detroit’s Trevor Thompson:
Just saw #ChrisChelios in the press box and he said he’s only missed sons Jake & Dean play 3 times all year long and he’s lovin’ it. #MSU
• Also in the alumni department, per the Toledo Walleye:
Meet former Detroit Red Wings enforcer Darren McCarty at the Friday, February 24 Walleye game! McCarty is a four-time Stanley Cup Champion and 15 year NHL vet! McCarty will be recognized in a pregame on-ice ceremony, and will also be signing autographs (free!) for fans on the main concourse during the game. Call 419-725-9255 for tickets or order online!
McCarty will be signing autographs in the Madison Street Plaza, by section 108, for 45 minutes, starting at the beginning of the first intermission. Autographs will be free; photos of McCarty will be available for purchase.
• Let’s make a deal: I won’t grumble about Grantland’s Katie Baker’s suggestion that the Wings’ home-ice winning streak deserves and asterisk if you don’t have a problem with me not jinxing things by suggesting that 97.1 the Ticket’s Jamie Samuelssen might be pushing it by suggesting that the Wings’ winning streak, when it ends, will signify another “magic number” in Detroit sports history;
The poll surveyed 257 players on several topics, including which player they would pick to start a franchise; the Canadian city they feel is most suited for an NHL club; the cleanest player; both underrated and overrated teams; both fighting and the instigator; best referee; coach they would most like to play for; most demanding coach; assistant coach they think should be the next head coach; best and worst ice; and their favorite arena.
For the second straight year Datsyuk was named the cleanest player and hardest to take the puck from. He was also named the league’s smartest player; the most difficult player to play against; toughest forward to play against; and goalies said he’s the most difficult player to stop. Datsyuk leads the Wings with 43 assists and 59 points. He leads the league with 81 takeaways.
Captain Nicklas Lidstrom was the only other Wings’ player to finish on top of a category, as he was named the best role model, finishing three percentage points ahead of Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby. Lidstrom was third as smartest player and toughest defenseman to play against.
Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg also finished in the top five as the cleanest player.
Other Wings to receive mention in the poll included center Darren Helm, who was third as fastest skater and tied for fourth as best skater, and Jimmy Howard tied for fifth as the most difficult goalie to score on.
Mike Babcock finished third in two categories: which coach would you most like to play for, and which coach demands the most of his players.
Joe Louis Arena was fourth in favorite rink and third in best ice.
The Wings finished second to Chicago as the team that players would most like to play on.
• This will probably make you feel better: The Hockey
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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.