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Red Wings-Blues set-up and more Mrazek and Pulkkinen at the WJC

Okay, so the Red Wings-Blackhawks wrap-up and the ensuing notebooks and more gabba about Petr Mrazek and Teemu Pulkkinen’s performances at the World Junior Championships gave the blog software indigestion. So here’s a separate entry regarding the Red Wings’ game against the St. Louis Blues tonight (7 PM EST, FSD/FS Midwest/WXYT) and all that follows:

I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news isn’t good—the Wings won’t face Alexander Steen because he’s got a concussion. The bad news isn’t good, either: while the Blues didn’t hold a grudge regarding Johan Franzen bumping Kris Russell (who’s out with a “hip pointer”), they’re going to have both T.J. Oshie, Vladimir Sobotka and Jamie Langenbrunner in the lineup tonight (they did not play during the Wings’ 3-2 victory on Tuesday) per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford.

The Blues felt slighted by luck in their 2-1 shootout loss to Nashville on Friday, as noted by the Associated Press’s recap:

The Blues got a goal from T.J. Oshie. Halak stopped 33 shots.

“It’s frustrating for the whole team, especially for someone like me who takes pride in scoring shootouts,” said Oshie, as the Blues have not won a shootout since March 7, 2011. “To see the effort that Jaro put forth for us tonight and to not get him that extra point ... it’s unacceptable I think.”

The Blues and Predators have played a number of one-goal games, and Friday was no exception.

“That’s the way the script goes, but we need to find ways,” Blues captain David Backes said. “We’re doing all the work. We’ve just got to reap the benefits from it.”

A Blues giveaway enabled Halischuk to get his eighth of the season when he poked a loose puck in the crease past Halak just 2:16 into the game for a 1-0 Nashville lead. The Predators thought they made it 2-0 at 8:54 of the first, but David Legwand’s redirection was waved off for a kicking motion. They went to a video review and it was confirmed that Legwand kicked puck into the net.

The Blues picked up the pace and tied the game 1-1 on Oshie’s 12th of the season, after picking up Backes’ power move to the goal and lifting a shot through traffic over Rinne with 6:20 left in the first.

“After the first five minutes, we started to play really well,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “But we’re not able to extend leads or extend the game. We’re leaving it out there. Since I’ve been here, this is the third time we’ve had a chance to win the shootout outright with the last shooter and not being able to do it is frustrating for the players and frustrating for Jaroslav.”

The Blues have gone 0-for-5 in shootouts this season, which left Oshie steaming, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford noted:

“Its frustrating for the whole team, especially for someone like me who takes pride in scoring shootouts,” said Oshie, who is one for five but has the teams only shootout success. “To see the effort that Jaro put forth for us tonight and to not get him that extra point ... its unacceptable, I think. We might be grabbing sticks a little tight. We’ve got some guys that have never scored a shootout goal. They’re making good moves; its just not going in for them.”

Rutherford sets up tonight’s game thusly...

Blues preview: Four days after a 3-2 loss in Detroit, the Blues will be back at Joe Louis Arena for the second night of back-to-back games. The club will have a different top offensive line this trip, following the announcement that Alex Steen has concussion-like symptoms. On Friday, T.J. Oshie played with David Backes and David Perron. Brian Elliott will be back in goal after Jaroslav Halak got the start Friday.

Red Wings preview: Detroit will put its 11-game home winning streak on the line tonight against the Blues. Goaltender Jimmy Howard was the star of Tuesday’s win over the Blues, as he has been several times recently, making 29 saves. Howard led the NHL with 22 victories and had a 1.95 goals-against average, which ranked fourth in the league, before Friday’s game in Chicago.

What to watch: Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk had no points in the first two meetings between the clubs, but Datsyuk had a goal and an assist in Tuesday’s game, giving him 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) in his last 19 games. In 55 career games against the Blues, he has 64 points (21 goals, 43 assists).

And here’s NHL.com’s Brian Hunter’s preview:

Season Series: Fourth of six meetings between these Central Division rivals. St. Louis took the first two, Detroit the most recent—all three were one-goal affairs. Alex Steen of the Blues leads all scorers in the series with 3 goals, one a game-winner.

Big Story: With the Blackhawks one of only six teams idle Saturday, either the Blues or Red Wings will seize the opportunity to take over second place in the Central Division and pull within three points of Chicago, also the current leader in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy. Each team will be playing the second of a back-to-back set and comes off a tough one-goal defeat Friday.
Who’s Hot: Oshie has 5 goals and 3 assists in his last nine games for the Blues. … Bertuzzi has 4 goals and 6 assists in his last 11 games for the Red Wings.

Injury Report: Steen missed Friday’s game for St. Louis with concussion-like symptoms, while defenseman Kris Russell was placed on injured reserve and is expected to miss three weeks with a groin injury. Also on injured reserve are forwards Andy McDonald (concussion) and Ryan Reaves (hip) and defenseman Kent Huskins (ankle). … Detroit forward Darren Helm missed Friday’s game with a groin injury, while forwards Patrick Eaves (jaw), Chris Conner (hand) and Tomas Holmstrom (groin) are on injured reserve.

Stat Pack: The Blues are 1-for-17 on shootout attempts this season. They’ve lost their last six penalty-shot tiebreakers dating back to March 7 victory over the Blue Jackets. … Danny Cleary picked up his 200th career assist Friday on Abdelkader’s goal.


Part II: Red Wings notebooks: Bonus Swedish? Niklas Hjalmarsson added nothing to the mix while speaking to Aftonbladet’s Per Bjurman; Niklas Kronwall lamented the fact that the Wings took 4 penalties and Gustav Nyquist had this to say about playing alongside Joakim Andersson and Cory Emmerton:

Yes, I think [the game] went quite well. The longer the game went on, the more we got into it, and we created some chances. But it’s sad that we lost,” says Nyquist.

• Starting simply with English-language notes, I believe the Free Press’s Helene St. James’ comment about Mike Commodore, who registered an assist, 3 shots, 2 hits and a blocked shot over the course of 12:18 of play could be translated into, “He’s stolen a Jakub Kindl’s job”:

After appearing in just three games through Dec. 21, defenseman Commodore has played in four straight, and got his first point. Jakub Kindl has been a healthy scratch four straight games.

• The Wings also liked the efforts of their rare all-under-25-year-old line of Joakim Andersson, Cory Emmerton and Gustav Nyquist, as St. James noted:

“I thought the Emmerton line was good,” Babcock said. “Nyquist gave us a spark; Andersson was good, made good decisions.”

It was just the second game of their careers for Nyquist and Andersson, each 22 years old. Emmerton is 23 and has now played all of 29 games.

“Yeah, I’m the oldest guy, and I’ve got the most games played,” Emmerton said. “It’s a weird feeling, but I think we’ll be fine. We’ll have some enthusiasm, some energy, just try to have as much offensive-zone time as possible. They’re both good players. I’m excited to play with both of them.”

Nyquist is a talented player with future top-six forward potential. He didn’t have a good debut when he played Nov. 1 against Minnesota, but Babcock wrote that off to it being Nyquist’s first game, saying, “he had stage fright. He was outstanding in exhibition, he was comfortable, then we brought him up and it didn’t go for him. And then when he was nervous, I was nervous.”

Nyquist also spent that game on an offensive line, whereas his role Friday was simply to get the puck deep and wear out Chicago’s defense. For Nyquist, it was an opportunity to look more like the confident, self-assured player he was during exhibition season.

“It was a little different, and I was a little nervous,” he said. “But it was a great experience. I’m thankful for every minute I get out there.”

Andersson was called up earlier in the week when Tomas Holmstrom (groin) went on injured reserve, while Nyquist got called up Thursday. Serendipitously enough, Nyquist’s parents and brother are visiting from Sweden, and were in Chicago for the game.

Fox Sports Detroit’s Ken Daniels said that Nyquist’s family had to drive from Chicago to Grand Rapids and back to watch him play…

• The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan took note of Justin Abdelkader’s performance on Friday…

Babcock said Helm’s injury isn’t “a big problem, but it’s a problem.” Justin Abdelkader stepped into Helm’s spot and was arguably the Wings best player, with a goal, a team-high four shots and two hits.

But that served as something of a napkin note compared to Kulfan’s discussion of the fact that the Central Division, with perhaps only the exception of the Columbus Blue Jackets, has become one stocked with contending teams:

After Friday’s games, including the Blackhawks’ 3-2 win over the Red Wings, Chicago (52 points, first in the West), Detroit (47 points, fifth), St. Louis (47 points, sixth) and Nashville (44 points, seventh) all are in playoff position, leaving only Columbus out.

“The division has gotten better and better over the years,” Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “Every game is like a playoff game within the teams in the division.”

It’s definitely felt like that for the Red Wings this week, ending the stretch with a road game Friday against the Blackhawks followed by a home game tonight against the Blues.

“Big games in the standings, and it’s just going to keep going that way,” Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg said.

• Is this a compliment? The Chicago Daily Herald’s Tim Sassone thinks so:

“Hopefully he retires one of these years,” Kane said on Friday. “I’m sick of playing against him.”

Kane was joking, of course, because the NHL certainly will be a lesser place when the 41-year-old Lidstrom decides to hang up his skates. Watching Lidstrom play almost 24 minutes a night in every situation for the Red Wings, Kane knows the seven-time Norris Trophy winner likely won’t be going anywhere too soon.

“He hasn’t slowed down at all,” Kane said. “Looks like he has five or six years left in him.”

Lidstrom is one of those rare players, with Sidney Crosby and even Jonathan Toews, who draws universal praise from his peers and opposing coaches.

“There’s no dropoff, it’s pretty amazing,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “If you look back over time, the intelligence level of top-end players, Nick’s going to be in that elite, elite class. He’s just always in the right spot. He’s still an elite player. He eliminates you in ways where the play is over and all of a sudden it’s their puck.”

Nobody has more of an interest to keep Lidstrom in a Detroit uniform than Red Wings coach Mike Babcock.

“I’m a big believer that’s why Mr. Bettman changed the schedule, so Nick wouldn’t have to travel as far and he’d play longer,” Babcock said.

Here’s a bit more about Lidstrom from the Hawks, and Lidstrom himself, via MLive’s Ansar Khan...

“He’s not a guy who’s going to run you over or hit you a lot, but he’s got one of the best sticks I’ve played against, as far as knocking down pucks and checking pucks away,” Kane said.

Said Blackhawks forward Dan Carcillo: “He’s always in the right position and never puts himself in a vulnerable position.”
“It’s pretty amazing,” Quenneville said. “You got to commend him on how he prepares himself, how he conditions himself. You look back over time, the intelligence level of top-end players, Nick’s got to be in that elite, elite class. He’s just always in the right spot. He contains, he’s got a tremendous stick, a great gap. Whether he’s physical or not, he eliminates you in ways where the play is over and all of a sudden it’s their puck. Not too many people have that ability in how they position themselves as well as he does. You got to admire him.”

Last season provided no better example of how deceptive plus-minus rating can be, when Lidstrom finished a minus-2 and still won his seventh Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman. The minus rating, the first in his 19-year career, was not indicative of his performance, but it still bothered Lidstrom.

“That’s something I wanted to improve on going into this season, having a better plus-minus, especially when you play a lot of games against the top lines,” Lidstrom said. “You take a lot of pride in being a plus player.”

Lidstrom’s plus-18 rating heading into Friday’s game at Chicago ranked fourth in the NHL. His career plus-447 was eighth on the all-time list, since the NHL began tracking plus-minus in 1968.

I can’t quote all of Khan’s notebook, but he also reports that David Bolland knows all too well that Pavel Datsyuk tends to pop players who are about to check him in the shoulder with a shoulder check of his own, and the news regarding Darren Helm’s groin injury (no tear, no MRI) is better than that regarding Tomas Holmstrom’s ailment (small tear):

“I felt it after the St. Louis game (Tuesday), but didn’t think it was anything major,” Helm said. “The day off I didn’t do anything to provoke it. Then practice (Thursday) it slowly started coming on. Right now just sore, precautionary. Don’t want to do anything more to aggravate it. This is my first time ever dealing with a groin (injury).”


Part III: In the AHL and ECHL: Not everybody can have a Petr Mrazek day.

The Grand Rapids Griffins dropped a 4-3 OT decision to the Peoria Rivermen, surrendering a 3-2 lead in the process, and the Griffins lost their back-up goalie, too. The Griffins’ website posted a recap and a Flickr photo gallery from the game, the Grand Rapids Press posted an 11-image gallery and, more importantly, the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema explained what happened to Jordan Pearce:

Goaltender Jordan Pearce left the game with a sprained ankle late in the third period with Grand Rapids leading 3-2, but Peoria managed to tie the score late, and former Griffin Danny Syvret scored with 10.7 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Rivermen a 4-3 win before a crowd of 8,165 at Van Andel Arena.

“They’ll re-evaluate Pearce again in the morning, but he’s out (Saturday) for sure,” Grand Rapids coach Curt Fraser said. “Hopefully it will be short.”

It wasn’t certain whether the Griffins would recall Tom McCollum from the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL for Saturday night’s game against Milwaukee.

Pearce, who was looking for only his second win of the season and first since Nov. 12, sprained his left ankle moving out of the way of Peoria’s T.J. Hensick and Grand Rapids’ Brian Lashoff, who crashed into the net during a rush. He was replaced by Joey MacDonald with 4:03 remaining in the third after making 27 saves.

Moments later, the Griffins’ Fabian Brunnstrom was given a goaltender interference penalty after he clocked Peoria’s Ben Bishop in the head. The Rivermen quickly capitalized when Jonathan Cheechoo’s pass to T.J. Hensick bounced off the stick of Griffins defenseman Doug Janik and into the net with 3:02 left in the period.

“The guy just tried to throw it back door, it hit off my stick and went in,” Janik said. “Joey can’t stop that, it’s my fault.”

If you want to feel warm fuzzies, the Griffins’ YouTube channel posted a clip of the Griffins’ favorite 2011 memories.

• The Toledo Walleye had a worse night, at least on the scoreboard. They were shut out 3-0 by the Cincinnati Cyclones, and as the Walleye’s website notes, Thomas McCollum’s 26-save performance may have been the game’s only highlight.


Part IV: Speaking of the World Junior Championships: Yes, Petr Mrazek had a good day. As noted earlier, Mrazek stopped 52 of the 54 shots he faced in backstopping the Czechs to a 5-2 win over Team USA which eliminated the Americans from medal contention.

The Canadian Press posited a few Mrazek quotes in its Czech Republic-USA recap:

The Detroit Red Wings prospect turned back point-blank shots and goalmouth redirections, stopped a penalty shot and even got a little help from his goalpost in the win at Rexall Place.

The victory by the Czechs assured 3-0 Canada would win Pool B and get a bye to the semifinal. The rival U.S. (1-2) was sent to the relegation round later Friday when Finland hammered Denmark 10-1.

“I was so focused before the game because it was the America and I’m playing in (North) American hockey,” said Mrazek, with the Ottawa 67’s of the Ontario Hockey League. “I wanted to win this game. The guys helped me a lot in the zone, with rebounds. It’s a win for the team.”

Mrazek also spoke to NHL.com’s Mike G. Morreale about his team’s win…

“I think that was one of the best games that I played in my life,” Mrazek said.

Holik scored the winning goal by collecting a rebound at the left post and backhanding an attempt by goalie Jack Campbell, giving the Czechs their first lead of the contest with 7:34 remaining. Filippi then extended the lead off a turnover in the U.S. end off a feed from captain Tomas Nosek with 2:41 left on the clock to ultimately seal the deal. That goal sent the entire Czech team into celebration mode as Filippi skated up ice, pumping his fist before sliding onto his back near his player’s bench. Mrazek would eventually topple, head-over-skates, on the pile of Czech players.

“Their goalie was good and lucky, and you need a little bit of both,” U.S. coach Dean Blais said. “He was in the right place at the right time. We had guys in for rebounds. Hockey is an emotional game and when you have a good game like he did, he celebrated the way he thought. I had no problem with it.”

Holik would close out the scoring into an empty net with 1:26 on the clock. While the goals came in bunches for the Czechs in the final 10 minutes of the third, the game was all about the sensational play between the pipes of Mrazek.

“I was so focused before the game because it’s America, right, and I’m playing American hockey [with the Ontario Hockey League’s Ottawa 67’s],” Mrazek said. “I wanted to win this game.”
“Even the president of the Czech Ice Hockey Association [Tomas Kral] called to say how happy he was,” assistant coach Jiri Fischer said. “It’s funny how hockey can bring a country together.”

In case you didn’t catch it, Yahoo Sports’ Neate Sager goes into detail about the fact that Mrazek’s enthusiasm ticked the U.S. off, and Mrazek defended his celebrations while speaking to Yahoo Sports’ Sunaya Sapurji:

“After the penalty shot I felt great,” said Mrazek. “I believed that we could score some goals after that and win this game.”
The Americans threw everything they had at the Czech goalie once Petr Holik scored 59 seconds after the penalty shot to give the Eastern European country the lead. In the third period alone, Mrazek made 21 saves.
The showman in Mrazek came out once Tomas Filippi scored his second of the game to pad the Czech lead at 4-2. The goalie left his crease and went running towards the blueline to jump on his celebrating teammates.

“With all the saves that he makes he can do it,” said Musil of the celebration. “The U.S. team probably hates it, but it gives us energy and we built on it after.”
On the goal to make it 5-2, Mrazek jumped into the Czech bench and after the game he was mugged by the coaching staff as the crowd of more than 14,700 chanted his name.

“I wanted the fans to stand up here and I think 16,000 (stood) up,” said Mrazek. “It was an incredible feeling for my team.”
“I don’t care if the U.S. team, if they don’t like my celebration,” said Mrazek. “If I did some celebrating the Canadian fans stood up and they enjoyed it. I am happy with that.”

IIHF.com’s Andrew Podnieks offers a few more quips while explaining what the Czechs’ win means:

Goalie Petr Mrazek was nothing short of brilliant, stopping 52 of 54 shots, including a penalty shot by Josh Archibald with the game on the line in the third. Mrazek later took a shot at the empty American net and missed by inches becoming the first goalie in U20 history to score.

“Mrazek was amazing. He stopped everything. You can’t beat that,” said Tomas Filippi, who scored two goals, as did Holik.

“I think this was the best game I played in my life,” Mrazek said. “We felt incredible here. Nobody thought we would play in the quarter-finals here, but we played like a team and we can go far. I think the important thing was that we didn’t take any penalties in the last period and scored three goals.”
The result sends the Czech Republic to the quarter-finals, and it gives Canada a bye to the semi-finals now as no other country in Group B can equal Canada’s nine points except Finland or the Czechs (but not both), both of whom Canada has defeated.

It also presents a remarkable change in tenor to the much-anticipated Canada-U.S. game tomorrow night as the Americans will have to play in the relegation round starting Monday. This marks the first time since the U20 went to a playoff format in 1996 that the Americans have been in the relegation round.

For the record, I didn’t say it. Ted Kulfan did:

Mrazek has been considered a top-level prospect for quite a while now. He was a 5th round pick in 2010 and has been outstanding while playing in the Ontario League (OHL).

Judging by how he’s playing in this world juniors, the Wings have quality depth at the goaltending position for years to come.

What Thomas McCollum hasn’t become, maybe Mrazek will be one day.

The Calgary Sun’s Jason Moddejonge adds a bit more:

After trading a goal with the U.S. in each of the first two periods—with Tomas Filippi answering T.J. Tynan’s power-play marker and Tomas Hertl responding to Bill Arnold’s go-ahead tally on the man-advantage—the Czechs made a crucial error when Jiri Riha tripped up Archibald on a breakaway.

But Mrazek came up with his second save on a penalty shot in the tournament.

“I don’t want to say something bad against the referees or anything, but I don’t think it was bad enough for a penalty shot,” said Mrazek, who also made a stop against Team Canada’s Mark Stone on a previous penalty shot.

If the call bothered him, Mrazek certainly didn’t show it, amping up the energy and visibly cheering on his teammates the rest of the way. It fueled the fire for three goals in the last seven and a half minutes. Filippi scored his second of the game, which was sandwiched by a pair of goals by Petr Holik, including the game winner and an empty netter to round off the scoring.

“I wanted, a little bit, to make the fans stand up here and I think 15,000 people stood up, so that was an incredible feeling for our whole team,” Mrazek said of his celebrations, which didn’t earn him any fans on the U.S. bench. “Well, I don’t care about the U.S. team if they don’t like my celebration. I think that was the best game I played in my life.”

The CBC’s Tim Wharnsby covered the negative reaction to Mrazek from the U.S. side, and here’s what Czech assistant coach/Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer had to say to the Calgary Herald’s Vicki Hall about the Wings prospect’s enthusiasm:

“Petr obviously stood on his head all game,” said Czech assistant coach Jiri Fischer. “He’s an extremely passionate guy. A lot of people have noticed him the last few games, and it trickles down all the way through the team. So it’s nice to have that energy on the ice.”

In his other life as the director of player development for the Detroit Red Wings, Fischer can’t help but gush about the potential of his club’s fifth-round pick (141st overall) in the 2010 NHL entry draft.

“He’s a direct result of great scouting once again,” Fischer said. “He really keeps proving himself over and over in the OHL. On the international scene, because of certain reasons, he wasn’t allowed to participate last year. So this is his coming-out tournament, and people are really starting to notice him.”

And, via RedWingsFeed, Fischer offered a bottom line to Sportsnet’s Patrick King:

“He’s got a lot of passion so I don’t have a problem with him doing whatever he does when he’s stopping pucks.”

TSN posted a 2:10 highlight clip from the game and a 30-second clip of post-game comments from Mrazek and the Czechs, and NHL.com’s EJ Hradek talked about “Mr-O-zek” as well (as my Czech ancestry and Americanization of my name trumps the Arab ancestry from the far past, I pronounce my name “MAL-ik,” with the “mal” rhyming with “pal,” and as all Czech surnames place the emphasis on the first syllable, it’s MRAZ-ek, with the “raz” part sounding like “ah’s,” not “oh’s.” As such, Tomas Tatar should technically be TAH-tr, not Ta-TAR):

And here’s the penalty shot save, via Pro Hockey Talk’s James O’Brien:


Teemu Pulkkinen also had a great day while beating the snot out of Denmark, scoring 4 straight goals, adding an assist and taking 13 shots as Finland beat Denmark 10-1. This happened for a strange reason, as noted by IIHF.com’s Andrew Podnieks (clicky the 10-1 link for his recap):

Teemu Pulkkinen tied an IIHF U20 record with four goals in the third period to lead Finland to a 10-1 romp over Denmark in Edmonton and a place in the quarter-finals. The result also sent the Americans to the Relegation Round. Denmark, winless in four games, is also headed to relegation from Group B.

Although the win was by no means a surprise, the day’s events in Edmonton have been completely shocking. The Americans woke up this morning dreaming of playing New Year’s Eve against Canada with a bye on the line. By the time they went to sleep, they were irrevocably headed to the Relegation Round.
“We wanted to play the whole 60 minutes,” Pulkkinen said. “We didn’t play so well, but Denmark wasn’t so good. We got easy goals. We need to be better against the Czechs.”

A Danish win tonight would have given the U.S. a slim chance to advance, but that was all but scuppered when Danish coach Todd Bjorkstrand benched five players for disciplinary reasons. Even with a full roster of 20 a Danish victory would have been a longshot, but with a depleted roster, loss was all but certain.
Joel Armia and Teemu Pulkkinen with the final four goals counted in the third, acknowledging their efforts with little fanfare and the game easily won. Pulkkinen’s efforts tied Jan Vodila’s record for most goals in a period. Czechoslovakian Vodila accomlished his feat on December 27, 1979, against the U.S. He also had a second-period assist to give him a five-point night.

“In the first two periods I didn’t score, I had good chances, hit the post. Then I just kept shooting and I was lucky,” Pulkkinen said.

TSN posted a 1:39 clip of highlights from the game;

• In a battle of Wings prospects, Mattias Backman registered an assist and a +2 for Sweden and Marek Tvrdon scored the Slovaks’ only goal (on an assist from Tomas Jurco) as Sweden whacked the Slovaks by a 9-1 tally.

IIHF.com’s Szymon Szemberg explains the ramifications of the Swedes’ win:

Slovakia will play Switzerland on New Year’s Eve in a game that will decide which team will make the playoffs and which will head to the Relegation Round. Later the same day, Sweden will face Russia for a group win and a bye to the semi-final. Since winning the bronze medal in 1999 in Winnipeg, Slovakia has been to the Relegation Round on nine occasions.

“It was a bad game for everyone on the team,” said Slovakia’s Marek Tvrdon. “Tomorrow is a new day.”

TSN posted a 36-second highlight clip from the game.

• So what happens next? The Czechs play Finland at 4 PM EST, the U.S. faces Canada at 7:30 PM EST and Russia plays Sweden at 10 PM EST. TSN and TSN 2 will air all three games in Canada, but you can only see the U.S.-Canada game on the NHL Network in the U.S.


Part V: Also of Red Wings-related note: Bonus Swedish, part 2? Dick Axelsson registered an assist in Modo Ornskoldsvik’s 2-1 loss to Skelleftea, but after the game he told Aftonbladet’s Nils-Peter Dufva that the referee who gave him 3 penalties, one Morgan Johansson, is the, “Worst in Sweden.” During Axelsson’s last penalty he apparently kept banging his stick on the glass to express his dissatisfaction with a spate of penalties which doomed Modo;

• If you missed it, Scotty Bowman will receive the Order of Canada this spring, and the Free Press notes that Gordie Howe’s a recipient thereof, too;

• And while SI’s Adrian Dater wants to see a Wings-Avs Winter Classic in Denver, and the State of Hockey might go bonkers if Gary Bettman and the NHL don’t hold a Winter Classic in Minneapolis-St. Paul next season, the Wall Street Journal’s Mike Sielski offers a quip from the NHL’s chief operating officer which might indicate that it’ll be Minnesota (probably with the Jets involved), then New York (Rangers-Habs?), and then Michigan:

There’s one more potential advantage to the Rangers’ inclusion in this season’s Classic—at least for New York.

The city is all but certain to serve as the setting for the game within the next few years. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia already have hosted the Classic after their teams played in it as visitors, and in 2010, NHL officials toured Citi Field to evaluate its feasibility as a site for outdoor hockey.

“We should be coming to New York,” NHL chief operating officer John Collins said. “Why wouldn’t we want to do a game here?”

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MsRedWinger's avatar

I believe James Howard (geez with all the games he’s played, can we forgive a whiff or three?), and the Wings will rebound tonight and compete hard again against the Blues.  I hope the rookie line stays as it was last night - that line can really be a difference maker if the Wings can stay out of the penalty box.  One change I would make - just for giggles - would be to sit Ericsson and play Kindl with Commodore.  I would love to see what Kindl could do with a solid partner as he played much better when paired with Stuie than he did when paired with E52.

And I loved Mickey Redmond’s nickname for Stuart last night:  “John Wayne - the Quiet Man.”  John Wayne Stuart.  Me likey.


Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 12/31/11 at 11:04 AM ET



i love hockey we dont have it much in scotland tho ...

Posted by icj from glasgow on 01/01/12 at 03:35 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.


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