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Red Wings-Blues game-day updates: Howard, Datsyuk still out, Salei and Kindl competing for #6 spot

Updated 10x at 7:04 PM: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the St. Louis Blues tonight (7:30 PM EDT, FSD/FS Midwest/WXYT), Yahoo Sports’ Nicholas J. Cotsonika reports that Jimmy Howard isn’t quite ready to return from a shoulder injury...

Jimmy Howard said he will not dress for Red Wings tonight against the Blues but expects to play Saturday at NSH

But it sounds like when Howard returns, so will Datsyuk, per the Red Wings’ Twitter account:

Datsyuk: Still not sure about tonight. I still not skate like Helmer ... fast.
Reporter asked Datsyuk, if not tonight, will he be ready to play on Saturday? ‘If not tonight, practice tomorrow,’ Pav responded.
Babcock: I am assuming he’s (Datsyuk) is going to go on Saturday.

Cotsonika also offered a n interesting tidbit regarding Todd Bertuzzi’s hit on Ryan Johnson:

Bertuzzi said he tried to do right thing when he saw Johnson was vulnerable Monday night. Eased up and body loosened, hit him with armpit.

One problem: Bertuzzi still left his feet, and his elbow still rose up and hit Johnson in the head. That’s why he ended up taking the 5-minute major.

Update 11:45 AM: Per Fox Sports Detroit’s Trevor Thompson:

#Wings #PavelDatsyuk out again vs #Blues. #RuslanSalei sits too. #TomasMcCollum backs up #JoeyMac in net. #NHL

No Salei…Hmmm…

Update #2, assorted update style: Per Red Wings feed, here’s Babcock’s game-day presser:

• Two tidbits of Griffins-related note: the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema posted a “Getting to Know You” video featuring Travis Ehrhardt, and, per Griff11 on RedWingsCentral’s message boards:

The Griffins Booster club had their annual awards banquet last night

Mr Hustle. Jordan Owens
Unsung Hero Jordan Pearce
Best Dman Meech
Best Forward Tatar
MVP Jamie Tardif

• In charitable hockey news, the Port Huron Times-Herald reports that the Red Wings’ Alumni Association earned $12,000 for St. Clair County Community College on Sunday;

• And in case you didn’t already know this, the Hockey News’s Adam Proteau suggests that one might want to watch the Wings’ back-to-back (with a game in between) tilts against the Blackhawks on April 10 and 12.

Update: Here’s MLive’s Ansar Khan’s morning skate report:

Joey MacDonald will get his second consecutive start in goal tonight for the Detroit Red Wings against the St. Louis Louis Blues at Joe Louis Arena (7:30, FSD). Jimmy Howard (sprained left shoulder) practiced this morning and said he expects to play Saturday in Nashville. Thomas McCollum will dress as the back-up tonight.

“Pretty much I can do everything (on the ice),’’ Howard said. “It’s getting better. Still a little stiff, some soreness in there.’‘

Pavel Datsyuk will miss his sixth game in a row because of a lower-body injury but hopes to return on Saturday.

“I’m more comfortable, stronger,’’ Datsyuk said. “Time has helped me a lot.’’ Asked if he’s quicker on the ice, he said, “Still not skate like Homer, fast.’‘

Kris Draper and Ruslan Salei are the healthy scratches.

Update again: I said I’d post the referees’ assignments in my game preview, and here they are: Ian Walsh and Eric Furlatt will referee tonight’s game, with Andy McElman and Thor Nelson working the lines.

Update again and again: here’s some refreshing honesty from MLive’s Ansar Khan, who states the obvious—Jakub Kindl’s played so very well over the second half of the season that he’s on the verge of taking Ruslan Salei’s job away from #24:

Veteran Ruslan Salei and rookie Jakub Kindl are competing for the sixth spot on defense for the Detroit Red Wings with six games remaining in the regular season. It’s an unexpected competition. Salei’s season-long grip on the job is slipping, as he’s missed three games and a few practices a couple of weeks ago to be with his wife in California when he delivered their third child.
“I want someone to take the job. I don’t want to rotate them,’’ coach Mike Babcock said. “So it’s up for grabs. One of them better grab it.’‘

Asked what he wants to see from each player, Babcock, “I’ve already talked to them about that. They know, let’s just see. It’s a situation where we want to win each and every night. We want to give ourselves the best chance to be successful in the playoffs. They’re both different type players. So bring what you bring.’‘

Update/edit: Salei told Khan that he’s not happy about the development…

“I’ve been playing the whole year and now he feels like we have to fight for it, so I guess I have to fight for it,’’ Salei said. Asked if he was surprised to be battling for his job this late in the season, Salei said, “I got some time off with my newborn, so I guess it had a little effect on my game.’‘

But Kindl’s obviously delighted with the development:

“Whenever I have the opportunity I just got to show (Babcock) I want to take the job,’’ Kindl said. “I don’t way to say it’s a battler between us. I want to play, he wants to play. It’s coach’s decision.’‘

Update: Here’s Helene St. James’ game-day update on the Detroit Free Press’s website:

“I’d like to see [Datsyuk] play right away, but he didn’t practice today like he’s playing,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I’m assuming he’s ready to go on Saturday.”

Jimmy Howard (left shoulder) skated this morning and said he’s aiming to be ready on Saturday.

“It’s getting better,” Howard said. “Still a little stiff and soreness in there.”

Howard said he would have more treatment with the training staff, so Thomas McCollum will again back up for Joey MacDonald. Kris Draper and Ruslan Salei are the healthy scratches tonight. Babcock made it clear today that there’s a competition between Salei and Jakub Kindl to be the team’s sixth defenseman in the playoffs.

“I want someone to take the job,” Babcock said. “I don’t want to rotate them. I want someone to take the job. It’s up for grabs. One of ‘em better grab it.”

Asked what he wants to see out of them, Babcock said: “Well, they know. I’ve already talked to them about that. They know and let’s just see. It’s a situation where we want to win each and every night and we want to give ourselves a best chance to be successful in the playoffs. They’re both different type players. So bring what you bring.”

The random update update: With Riley Sheahan and the University of Notre Dame in the Frozen Four, NHL.com’s Bob Snow spoke to two Wings with Frozen Four experience about their memories of competing for national titles…

“You need a lot of things to go your way to make it to the Frozen Four. Anyone can win it all at that level,” said Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, whose Maine Black Bears lost the 2004 title game 1-0 to Denver. “We went to the dirty areas and that brought success.”

Detroit teammate Justin Abdelkader will never forget the run his Michigan State Spartans made in 2007—and his last college goal.

” ‘Did this really happen?’ ” Abdelkader asked himself immediately after scoring the winning goal with a minute to play, giving the underdog Spartans the NCAA title against Boston College. “You never know when that chance will come.”

• If you’re keeping score at home, SI’s Stu Hackel is the umpteenth pundit to question whether the Wings can “get ‘er done” in the playoffs with Jimmy Howard coming off a shoulder injury;

• And, via Red Wings Feed on Twitter, SB Nation Detroit’s Sean Yuille reports that the Pistons may be sold to Tom Gores after all.

Update: The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan weighs in on the Salei-Kindl situation:

The two have been alternated by coach Mike Babcock the last four games. Kindl will play Wednesday night against St. Louis, while Salei is a healthy scratch.

“I want someone to take the job,” Babcock said. “I don’t want to rotate them. I want someone to take the job. It’s up for grabs. One of them better grab it.”

Both defensemen are aware playing time is at stake.

“I’ve been playing all year and now he (Babcock) feels we have to fight for it (the position),” Salei said. “I guess I have to fight for it. I got some time off with my newborn and I guess that had an effect on my game.”

Said Kindl: “He has been rotating us lately so whenever I have that opportunity, I have to show them I want to take the job. I just have to be ready when I get the chance.”

And if you’re interested, Pat Caputo and Ken Kal posted a video on WXYT yesterday evening, talking about possible first-round playoff scenarios:

Update: The Red Wings’ Twenty Straight website offers a playoff memory regarding a particularly personally painful year…

• And, per TheAHL.com:

The American Hockey League announced today the 2010-11 AHL All-Rookie Team, as voted by AHL coaches, players and media in each of the league’s 30 member cities.

The team consists of one goaltender, two defensemen and three forwards:

2010-11 AHL All-Rookie Team
Goaltender - Eddie Lack, Manitoba Moose (49gp, 27-19-3, 2.16gaa, .928sv%, 5so)
Defenseman - Erik Gustafsson, Adirondack Phantoms (65gp, 5+33=38pts., 22 PP pts.)
Defenseman - Brendan Smith, Grand Rapids Griffins (57gp, 12+20=32pts., 4 GWG)
Forward - Luke Adam, Portland Pirates (49gp, 25+29=54pts., +22)
Forward - Zac Dalpe, Charlotte Checkers (56gp, 21+30=51pts., 7 PPG)
Forward - Rhett Rakhshani, Bridgeport Sound Tigers (61gp, 20+35=55pts., 10 PPG)
Brendan Smith, Defense (Grand Rapids Griffins):

A first-round draft choice (27th overall) by the Detroit Red Wings in 2007, Brendan Smith turned pro in 2010-11 after three years at the University of Wisconsin and leads all AHL rookie defensemen in goals (12) while adding 20 assists for 32 points in 57 games. The 22-year-old native of Mimico, Ont., scored a goal just 3:09 into his professional debut on Oct. 8 and has pieced together three separate four-game scoring streaks this season. Smith has also potted four game-winning goals, ranking second among AHL blueliners.

Update: The Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema confirms the Smith news, as does the Griffins’ website:

Smith, 22, ranks among the AHL’s top defensemen with 12 goals (1st among rookies, T6th overall) and 32 points (T4th rookies, T25th overall) through 57 games. Despite having missed 17 games due to injuries, he stands among the Griffins’ leaders in goals (1st defensemen, 7th overall), assists (20 – 2nd defensemen, 9th overall), points (2nd defensemen, 10th overall), plus/minus (plus-7 – 3rd defensemen, 5th overall), penalty minutes (113 – 2nd defensemen, 3rd overall), power play goals (five – 1st defensemen, T4th overall) and game-winning goals (four – 1st defensemen, T1st overall).

In Grand Rapids history, only two rookie defensemen have registered more points than Smith’s 32, and both are currently playing in the NHL: Florida’s Clay Wilson (37 in 2005-06) and Colorado’s Kyle Quincey (33 in 2005-06). Overall, Smith’s point total ties for the 12th-highest ever by a Griffins rookie.

The Mimico, Ontario, native becomes the third Griffin to be named to an AHL All-Rookie Team, joining current Detroit Red Wings Justin Abdelkader (2008-09) and Jimmy Howard (2005-06). This marks the second significant AHL honor for Smith this season, who became the first rookie defenseman in Griffins history to be chosen for an all-star game. However, he was forced to miss the 2011 AHL All-Star Classic due to injury.

• Here’s Chuck Pleiness’s report on the Salei-Kindl situation...

“I’ve been playing the whole year and now he feels like we have to fight for it, so I guess I have to fight for it,” said Salei, who will be a healthy scratch for the second time in the last three games. “I got some time off with my newborn, so I guess it had a little effect on my game.”

Kindl will be paired with Brian Rafalski tonight.

“Whenever I have the opportunity I just got to show (Babcock) I want to take the job,” Kindl said. “I don’t way to say it’s a battler between us. I want to play, he wants to play. It’s coach’s decision.”

Joey MacDonald will get his second straight start in goal. Jimmy Howard (sprained shoulder) practiced and expects to play Saturday in Nashville.

Pavel Datsyuk (lower body) also hopes to return against the Predators. He will miss his sixth straight game tonight.

Kris Draper is also a healthy scratch.

DetroitRedWings.com’s Jeff Sanford Penned an article about the Salei-Kindl battle as well…

For Salei, winning the position battle is about sticking to what he knows best.

“Just play my game,” a clearly frustrated Salei said. “I’ve been playing the whole year, and now that (Babcock) feels like we have to fight for it, so I guess I have to fight for it.”

Salei missed three games in mid-March to be with his wife as she gave birth to the couple’s third child. The missed time could be a reason why he finds himself in a less-than-secure spot on the Wings’ bench.

“Well, I got some time off with my newborn and I guess it had a little effect on my game,” he said. “And I am where I am right now. I think that I missed the practice time most of all.”

The other scratches for tonight’s game are Pavel Datsyuk (lower body injury) and Kris Draper. Also sitting out is goalie Jimmy Howard, who is still recovering from a shoulder injury sustained in last Saturday’s win over the Maple Leafs. However, Howard did say he expected to play this Saturday at Nashville.

• As an FYI, the Sporting News’s Craig Custance ranks the WIngs as the ,a href=“http://aol.sportingnews.com/nhl/story/2011-03-30/nhl-power-poll-young-kings-look-to-overcome-injuries”>league’s 4th-best team in his power rankings;

• Todd Bertuzzi addressed the Ryan Johnson hit this morning, as DetroitRedWings.com’s Jeff Sandford noted….

“I thought he was in a really bad spot so I tried to ease up and go with my side and tried to hit him more with my butt in the stomach than anything,” Bertuzzi said after Wednesday’s morning skate. “I know if I went straight on I could have hit him pretty hard. If it was a guy who hits all the time and knows how to hit properly, I could’ve hit him really hard. He had his head down coming around the net, coming around the corner trying to make a hockey play, which you have to respect. ... I could’ve hit him really hard so I tried to ease up. When I eased up, your body goes a little bit loose and I caught him with one of my armpits.”

In a season plagued with serious and high-profile head injuries, the line between a strong hockey play and an illegal cheap shot is thinner than ever in the NHL. Bertuzzi’s hit on Monday illustrates how difficult the balancing act can be.

“If you see a guy like that you got to finish your check,” Bertuzzi said. “That’s what we’re paid to do and told to do. But at the same time you don’t want to, I don’t want to put the guy through the boards. For what? But I got to finish my check on him and make sure that he knows I’m there and I got to try to get the puck. At the same time, I try to do the right thing, and it almost kind of got away a little bit. I’m glad he’s fine. You don’t want to see anyone get hurt.”

It was reported that following the hit on Johnson, Bertuzzi met with the Blackhawks’ center during the first intermission, and apologized.

“It was just something me and him discussed, and we’ll just leave it at that,” Bertuzzi said.
“I think Bert has had one incident,” Babcock said. “The incident went real bad on him. … I think it’s something we talk about day after day after day for no reason. There hasn’t been anything that I’ve seen him do since he’s been with the Red Wings, in the two and a half or whatever years he’s been here, that indicate any of that. He finished the check last game. There’s going to be some contact to some heads in the league when guys are not trying to do it. That’s the reality.”

• And WXYT’s Ken Kal let Pavel Datsyuk interview him and Drew Miller interview Thomas McCollum in his “Game Day” feature:

Update: The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan spoke to both Bertuzzi and Pavel Datsyuk:

“I went in there to finish a hit and I thought he was in a really bad spot, so I tried to ease up” Bertuzzi said Wednesday. “I went in with my side and tried to hit him with my butt in the stomach. If I went straight on, I could have hit him pretty hard, but I just wanted to make sure he was all right.”

Bertuzzi sought out Johnson in the Chicago locker room soon after the play to make sure Johnson was fine.

Coach Mike Babcock said Pavel Datsyuk (lower body) will not play Wednesday night against St. Louis, but Datsyuk was optimistic he could be ready for the weekend.

“It feels good,” Datsyuk said. “I’ll practice tomorrow. I’m more comfortable and stronger. The time (off) has helped me a lot.”

Jimmy Howard (sprained left shoulder) said he should be ready to play Saturday in Nashville. Joey MacDonald will start against the Blues, with Tom McCollum in reserve. Kris Draper is also a healthy scratch against the Blues, with Drew Miller in the lineup.

Update #10: SI’s Brian Cazenueve ranks the Wings as the sixth-best team in the league in his power rankings;

• In the alumni department, former Wing Sergei Fedorov’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk is now down 3-1 against Salavat Yulaev Ufa (Salavat Yulaev was a Baskhir hero of Pugachev’s revolution, naming your team after an anti-Czarist is like calling your team the “300” or the William Wallaces or something), which defeated Metallurg 4-2 on Monday night;

• In the prospect department, sticking with Europe for a moment, via Hockey’s Future’s Brian Gardner and Ian Altenbaugh, Calle Jarnkrok suffered a dislocated shoulder while playing for Brynas IF in the Eliteserien playoffs, but that didn’t dim the fact that the broomstick-skinny center had a great season:

Calle Jarnkrok, C - Brynas (SEL)
Drafted by the Detroit Red Wings
2nd round, 51st overall, 2010

Featured for the second time in this space, Calle Jarnkrok has continued to exceed expectation in the Swedish Elite League. One of a handful of junior-aged forwards on the Brynas roster, the 19-year-old center stepped up into the team’s top six forwards, playing over 16 minutes per game in all situations.

Jarnkork finished the regular season ranked seventh on the team in points, with 11 goals and 27 points in 49 games. He stepped up in the postseason, ranking second on the team with three goals despite playing in only three playoff games. A shoulder injury knocked him out of the lineup for the final two games of the year as Brynas fell to Farjestad in five games.

While Teemu Pulkkinen’s excellent year in the SM-liiga may be getting more of the headlines, Jarnkrok also enjoyed an excellent rookie season against pro competition. With the shoulder injury keeping “Iron Hook” out of the World Championships, he will likely continue to fly under the radar heading into next season.

The gents also suggest that Jesper Samuelsson has yet to disappear off the map, despite the fact that he’s playing in the semi-pro 3rd division:

Jesper Samuelsson, C - Vita Hasten (SWE Div. I)
Drafted by the Detroit Red Wings
7th round, 211th overall, 2008

Detroit has had unprecedented success with their late draft picks, particularly European players that were seemingly overlooked by every other organization. When Jesper Samuelsson was drafted in 2008 from Vita Hasten, the same Swedish Division I team from which Jonathan Ericsson was drafted, many pegged him as a prospect to watch.

His development in Sweden has not gone all that well, however, and Samuelsson is more or less an NHL prospect in name only. After an offensive breakout for Vita Hasten heading into the draft, Samuelsson bounced between the Elite league and Allsvenskan for the next two season, unable to produce the same offense against bigger and better competition.

The 22-year-old center returned to Vita Hasten in an attempt to rediscover his offense, scoring 10 goals and 33 points in 31 games this season. The next step will be finding a way to make those numbers translate at the higher levels as he continues to develop in Sweden.

• Back over on this side of the pond, but regarding a Swedish prospect, Mr. “He’s Got His [Stuff] Together,” Gustav Nyquist, is going away from college hockey as an All-Star, as the Portland Press-Herald’s Rachel Lenzi reports:

Maine forwards Gustav Nyquist and Tanner House earned All-New England honors in college hockey. Nyquist, who turned professional with the Detroit Red Wings last week, was named to the 2010-2011 New England Men’s Division I All-Star Team for the second consecutive year while House, who turned professional with the Edmonton Oilers after his senior season, was named the recipient of the Frank Jones Award, given to the top defensive forward in New England.

Nyquist scored 18 goals and 33 points in 36 games, led Maine in scoring for three consecutive years and and was one of 10 Hobey Baker Award finalists this year. House scored 10 goals and 25 assists in 36 games and was a plus-8 for the Black Bears.

“It’s further affirmation that they’ve left a great mark on Maine hockey,” Maine Coach Tim Whitehead said this afternoon. “It’s very difficult to get recognition as a defensive forward and Tanner’s done that twice, both in Hockey East and with All-New England. Gustav has developed into an elite player and is making the step to pro hockey, and this is yet another honor for him.”

• Fellow NCAA alum Brendan Smith spoke to Grand Rapids’ WOOD TV about his inclusion on the AHL’s All-Rookie Team...

“It’s a great honor,” Smith said. “Anytime you get recognized for something, especially being a rookie, it’s an honor.”

Despite missing 17 games due to injury, Smith ranks among the AHL’s top defensemen with 12 goals (1st for rookies and 6th overall) and 32 points (4th for rookies and 25th overall). In fact, only two rookie defensemen in Griffins history have registered more points than Smith’s 32 in a single season and both are now playing in the NHL. Florida Panther defenseman Clay Wilson posted 37 points, while former Red Wing and now Colorado Avalanche defenseman Kyle Quincey posted 33 points for Grand Rapids, both during the 2005-06 season.

“That’s a great honor for Brendan,” said Griffins head coach Curt Fraser. “He’s got a bright future ahead of him with the Detroit Red Wings. He’s done a great job for us.”

The 22-year-old Smith is also just the third Griffins player ever named to the AHL ALL-Rookie Team, joining current Red Wings Justin Abdelkader (2008-09) and Jimmy Howard (2005-06).

“Obviously, I work off and have been playing a lot with Janny (veteran Doug Janik) this year and he’s been helping me,” Smith said. “All of the vets have been helping me, encouraging me and giving me words of wisdom, so I think I gotta give them all the credit.”

• And, in the multimedia department, USA Today’s Kevin Allen spoke to WDFN’s Sean Baligian and Killer Kowalski today about both Wings and NHL-related topics…

Download file

And as part of the Wings’ and WDFN’s promotion spotlighting 20 straight years of Wings playoff appearances, Dallas Drake spoke to Baligian and Kowalski about his double tenure with the Wings:

Download file.

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Chris from NOHS's avatar

I really don’t think his leaving the feet is the issue (it barley happened and only did after the contact), the only issue was that the hit was sloppy and the elbow did come up, even if it was not used as the point of impact.

Posted by Chris from NOHS from Columbus, OH/Grand Rapids, MI on 03/30/11 at 01:40 PM ET

WestWing's avatar

RE: The Bertuzzi Hit (aka How a Molehill Became a Mountain)

Was it wreckless?  Yes.  Was it a penalty?  Yes.  Does it merit any comparison whatsoever in terms of intent to the very blatant headhunting that Matt Cooke did to get his suspension?  Absolutely not.

The amount of scrutiny and hysteria surrounding this thing has received owes itself to one thing and one thing only:  It’s because he’s Todd Bertuzzi.  End of story.

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 03/30/11 at 03:37 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.