The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/31/11 at 06:37 AM ET
The words Red Wings fans like myself might use to describe Detroit’s horrific 10-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday generally involve four-letter terms. The game was nothing less than horrific, and it comes with consequences—the loss may very well cost the Wings 2nd place in the Western Conference, and now the Wings find themselves in a bit of a race for the Central Division title going into Saturday’s game against Nashville.
The Wings went 1-2-and-2 (read 1-and-4) on a 5-game home stand, boast a sub-.500 record at home, they set all sorts of, “We’ve either never done that or haven’t been that bad at home since forever” statistical records, and they were just, to quote Judith Viorst, “Terrible, horrible, no good [and] very bad” against St. Louis, going a collective and earned -30 while offering the kind of home game that only the die-hards (or masochistic types—take your pick) watched all the way through. If there is any good news regarding Wednesday’s game, it comes in two fronts: first and foremost, it appears that no Wing suffered a serious injury to anything other than their pride, and, perhaps more importantly, it didn’t happen in April.
If you’re willing to step off the ledge and try to digest what both the Blues and Wings had to say about this trainwreck, hold your nose and come along with me for an unpleasant recap. If not, after the jump, just scroll down to the “Red Wings prospects in the playoffs” section. I can’t blame you for not wanting to engage in what is essentially the sporting version of an autopsy.
Still here? Well you’re braver than I am: if this wasn’t my job, I might very well skip this part myself.
The St. Louis Blues aren’t going to make the playoffs, but while dealing with the absence of TJ Oshie for disciplinary reasons, players playing for jobs and pride took a gigantic bite out of a playoff-bound Red Wings team, and they were understandably delighted with themselves, as they told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford, who first offered this take on the game...
The Blues netted the most goals in a game at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena in their history, blasting the Red Wings 10-3 tonight.
They topped the previous record set in 1991, when they toppled the Wings 9-4.
Nine players scored for the Blues, who were led by Chris Porter’s two goals. The other goals were from David Backes, Matt D’Agostini, Patrik Berglund, B.J. Crombeen, Roman Polak, Vladimir Sobotka, Chris Stewart and Cam Janssen.
Janssen ended a drought of 114 games without a goal. D’Agostini and Berglund each notched their 20th goals of the season. Fifteen players had points for the Blues.
Blues 10, Red Wings 3 ... Final.
Before venturing into a jubilant Blues locker room:
“It’s going to be quite a shock for some people,” forward Matt D’Agostini said. “But we were playing hockey the way we were prescribed to do it, and it just paid off tonight. A couple of lucky bounces, but we’ll take them.”
“We weren’t trying to show them up by any means,” [Kevin] Porter said. “We were just going out and playing hard.”
The Wings have sure as hell had their share of sh…I mean crappy breaks go their way in front of both nets over the past dozen games, and Janssen’s goal…well, it counted:
“It did go off his shin pad,” Blues coach Davis Payne said.
The only call that went the Wings’ way was the referees’ decision to blow the initial tenth goal dead…
[Patrik] Berglund’s goal gave the Blues a 9-3 lead, and the offense nearly made it 10 with Sobotka’s second of the game with 9:07 left. But with the red light flashing, officials blew the play dead because of unsportsmanlike penalties against the Blues’ Kevin Shattenkirk and Detroit’s Johan Franzen. They were getting ready to drop the gloves.
“I didn’t know we had scored a goal on the play until I got to the penalty box,” Shattenkirk said. “They announced no goal and I looked over at the bench and everyone was laughing at me. Not a heads-up play on my part. I’ve got to pick my spots.”
The Blues, of course, got the last laugh:
“We had a lot on our minds,” Janssen said. “We kind of just brushed everything aside and said, ‘We’re going into a hard building to win, and we’re going to play’ — and we worked. All four lines contributed points and that’s just a good feeling to have, to beat a team of that stature and to come out with a victory like that. Mind-boggling, but a great win.”
Payne suggested that the Blues not only laid out the Wings, but also laid down a foundation for future success, as noted by NHL.com’s recap...
“The guys know how important it is to start creating success now,” coach Davis Payne said. “We could talk about what hasn’t happened this season, but we’re just focused on working to lay the groundwork for us down the road. Good habits aren’t something you just turn on, you have to work to create them.”
And, uh, well…Yuck:
The Wings allowed an opponent to reach double figures in goals for the first time in more than 17 years as the St. Louis Blues rolled to a 10-3 victory before a stunned sellout crowd at Joe Louis Arena.
Chris Porter had his first two goals of the season, Cam Janssen had his first of 2010-11, and a total of nine Blues scored as St. Louis became the first NHL team to reach 10 goals since Dallas accomplished the feat in a 10-2 win against the Rangers on Feb. 6, 2009. The Blues scored 10 against the Wings for the first time since a 10-5 win in St. Louis on Dec. 1, 1984.
“We just kept pushing and it started steamrolling,” Janssen said.
The Red Wings gave up eight goals in the first two periods of a game for the first time since 1986—and the first time ever at The Joe. They allowed 10 in a game for the first time since Wayne Gretzky tallied 6 points in a 10-3 loss at Los Angeles on Oct. 9, 1993.
The AP’s Larry Lage shifts focus to the Wings’ side of the story, and it ain’t pretty, from an ashen Mike Babcock’s take on the game to the only bit of levity on the night from Tom (not Thomas) McCollum…
“Thank God it’s over,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “It looked like it was never going to end there for a while. It was unacceptable. Any way you look at it - more than a touchdown - it’s ugly.”
Joey MacDonald, playing for the injured Jimmy Howard, was chased after giving up five goals midway through the second period. MacDonald was back in net for the third period after Thomas McCollum, called up Monday from the East Coast Hockey League because Chris Osgood is also injured, gave up three goals on eight shots in a debut he’d like to forget.
“Things can only go up from here,” McCollum said.
The Wings were at least blunt in their assessment—and believe me, I understand that talk’s cheap to fellow Wings fans at present, but at least the boys owned up to it, from the leadership on down:
“We have to find ourself again,” Henrik Zetterberg said.
Especially, in the Motor City. Detroit is 10-12-4 at home after starting the season 10-1-2 at home in Joe Louis Arena.
“Definitely not good,” Zetterberg said.
David Backes of all people may have said it best:
“You’re usually trying to keep them from putting up double digits,” Backes said.
Instead, Versus’ Steve Lepore, who I’ll suggest is an Adrian Dater-in-the-making (take that for what you will), was able to dole out the following factoids:
1. Nine different Blues scored, with rookie Chris Porter the only player out of the 12 that tallied to cash in twice. They were only the 2nd and 3rd goals of Porter’s career.
2. The Red Wings gave up eight goals in the first two periods of the game. That was the first time this has happened since 1993.
3. The Red Wings gave up 10 for the first time since October 9, 1993, when Wayne Gretzky put up six points in a 10-3 Detroit loss to Los Angeles.
4. The Blues scored 10 in Detroit for the first time. They scored 10 against the Red Wings in St. Louis on December 1, 1984. It was the most they’ve scored in Detroit since January 25, 1991, when they beat the Red Wings 9-4.
5. Joey MacDonald gave up seven goals on 39 shots, for a save percentage of .821. 21-year old Thomas McCollum came on in relief and gave up three goals on eight shots.
6. Cam Janssen scored for the third time in 257 career games, spanning 6 years. It was his first goal since January 15, 2009 against Colorado.
7. The Red Wings have now won just once in their last seven, and are just one point ahead of third-seeded San Jose.
The Wings have also given up, by an informal estimate, 35+ shots over the vast majority of those last seven games—the 47 given up on Wednesday almost seems like it’s just a few notches above average—with the exception of perhaps Joey MacDonald, nobody’s looked fantastic of late, and I thought the most telling TV comment came from Larry Murphy, who suggested that, despite his 61 points at 41 years of age, the -3 that Nicklas Lidstrom took and games like this might end up costing him the Norris Trophy.
The Free Press’s Helene St. James also offers some ugly but undeniable facts…
WORST SINCE: This is the worst loss at home since the Flyers won, 11-6, on Feb. 23, 1988. It’s also the most goals the Red Wings have allowed since that game.
And she notes that one of the Wings’ better players, at least offensively (the Franzen-Filppula-Bertuzzi and Abdelkader-Modano-Holmstrom lines at least exhibited some solid chemistry, and Helm and Eaves are obviously good with whoever they play), was tagged by the refs early and often:
SAY WHAT? Franzen was whistled for tripping 18 seconds into the first period and for roughing 14 seconds into the second period.
Franzen took 3 minors overall…
And St. James, like Lage, spoke to, again, a Wings coach that looked gray and about ten years older than his usual self…
“We weren’t very good obviously,” said Wings coach Mike Babcock. “The puck kept going in our net. We didn’t play good enough, we didn’t compete hard enough, we weren’t good enough—that’s the bottom line. Thank God it’s over. It looked like it was never going to end there for a while. Obviously, we all have to take a look at ourselves and do a better job because this was unacceptable.”
Unacceptable might be the proper term to describe how the Wings played in front of Thomas McCollum, relieved MacDonald for all of 14:37 in the second period because, after two solid minutes of play, the brain farts resumed. McCollum told St. James that he wasn’t exactly delighted to go into what was a 5-2 game at the time…
“I’d be lying if I said I was super comfortable going in there,” McCollum said. “Obviously, I didn’t play my best. But things can only go up from here.”
And MacDonald, who had to relieve McCollum so that the, “Things got really, really ugly” was shouldered by a veteran in the 3rd period, suggested that the Blues looked like they were on a perpetual power play:
“They came out and threw almost 20 shots on goal and had a couple kicked in off skates,” MacDonald said of the Blues. There weren’t “many battles we won in our D-zone. They had some fortunate bounces for them, but still D-zone—it seemed like they had an extra guy out there tonight. They had an open guy every time out front and capitalized.”
The most telling comments, of course, came from the captain…
Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said there was no explanation: “We got embarrassed at home. We got embarrassed in front of our home crowd and booed off the ice and rightfully so. We were just awful tonight.”
Lidstrom couldn’t remember a worse performance. “Everything went wrong for us and we just dug ourselves a hole with turnovers. Getting outworked early in the game and they set the tone.”
But Babcock, for once, admitted that the course of events got to him emotionally, as the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness noted...
“And they had one (goal) called off,” Babcock added. “Anyway you look at it it’s more than a touchdown and it’s ugly. Players watched it and went through it, I did the same thing and it’s going to be here right till we play next. “
Detroit finishes the month of March 5-5-4.
“They weren’t great, they were just like the rest of us,” Babcock said about his two goalies. “The harder you try sometimes the more disorganized you look.”
And Zetterberg gave Lidstrom a run for his money in the bluntness department:
“It’s two weeks before the playoffs and we should be playing a lot better than this,” Zetterberg said. “If we play like this in the playoffs it’s going to be an early exit.
“Today we really got outworked,” Zetterberg added. “You just have to go home and forget about it and come down tomorrow and work your (tails) off.”
He didn’t use the word tails. Or “asses.” He said “balls,” and the Wings haven’t played with any of late.
He continued, as Pleiness noted in his recap...
“It was embarrassing,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “They outplayed us at every level. It’s disgusting to play a game like that. I don’t know what to say. It really got out of hand.”
Pleiness also offers these unpleasant numbers…
Detroit still holds a six-point lead over the Nashville Predators, who host the Wings on Saturday, in the Central Division standings. Both teams have five games left in the regular season.
Chicago is eight points back with six games left, two of which are against Detroit.
Though he does mention two good things, if you can think of them as such given the craptastic game you probably turned off (and I can’t blame you if you did) on Wednesday night.
The Wings have a least one power play goal in nine straight games. During that stretch they’re 11-for-27 with the man advantage.
And, and perhaps moreover, the Wings assigned McCollum to Grand Rapids after the game, which means that Jimmy Howard will be ready to go—as will Pavel Datsyuk—when the Wings step into their resident house of horrors at 3 PM EDT on Saturday (a.k.a. the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville).
So do we have to continue to navel-gaze at a sunken battleship row? Yep. The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan also took note of the players’ comments...
Lidstrom couldn’t recall a more humbling loss at Joe Louis Arena.
“I don’t think so,” Lidstrom said. “We were out-battled, outworked, and just had a terrible game. Everything went wrong for us.”
“We wanted to finish the home stand with a win and then to go out and do this, it’s disappointing,” Zetterberg said. “It was a disgrace.”
As well as an admission of culpability by the coach:
“[The goaltenders] weren’t great (but), they were just like the rest of us,” coach Mike Babcock said. “It’s about the team and our team wasn’t any good tonight. As a group of players and the coaching staff, the whole crew, we didn’t get the job done.”
More than anything, the lack of battle on the Wings’ part bothered Babcock.
“We didn’t compete hard enough, we didn’t work hard enough, thank God it’s over,” Babcock said. “It looked like it was never going to end for a while. We have to look at ourselves and do a better job because this wasn’t acceptable.”
MLive’s Ansar Khan also took note of Lidstrom’s blunt comments…
“No explanation really, it’s just that we got embarrassed at home, we got embarrassed in front of the home crowd,” Lidstrom said. “We got booed off the ice and rightfully so. We were just awful tonight. We got outbattled, outworked, just had a terrible game.”
As well as some astute technical observations but Lidstrom and MacDonald about some issues which have plagued the team for the past, again, dozen or so games:
“We didn’t help out our goaltending at all,” Lidstrom said. “They were first on pucks in front of our net, they were there for rebounds.”
“There weren’t many battles we won in the D-zone,” MacDonald said. “They had an open guy every time out front and capitalized on their opportunity.” It seemed our D were coming back our way all night long. It’s tough on everybody when we’re playing the whole night in our own end.”
McCollum, who was reassigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins after the game because Jimmy Howard (sprained left shoulder) is ready to return Saturday in Nashville, said, “Obviously, I didn’t play my best, but things can only go up from here.”
Several players picked him up by telling him it wasn’t his fault, but McCollum said, “I think most of those goals I definitely could have had.”
While Lidstrom hoped that the Wings would move on quickly from this game as its lessons were painfully obvious…
“A game like tonight, we just want to forget about it, move on,” Lidstrom said. “We know we got outworked. And that’s something we can correct. It’s not a matter of systems or how we’re playing. It’s just a matter of working harder and smarter and doing your job.”
He also told Khan that Babcock wasn’t the one peeling the paint in the locker room. The players chastised themselves, and, as Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji noted, Henrik Zetterberg and the rest of the Wings seem to at least understand the implications of getting their asses handed to them all of six games before it’s, “Win or golf”:
“If they score 10 goals, it’s not fun to be on the losing side,” said Henrik Zetterberg, with a flair for the obvious. “You just gotta go out and be better. We can’t have this happen.”
The net result for the Wings’ five-game home stand was one lousy win against the Toronto Maple Leafs. They lost in a shootout to the Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin-less Pittsburgh Penguins, lost in overtime to the Chicago Blackhawks, lost a tight one to the West-leading Vancouver Canucks and then lost by a touchdown to the Blues, third to last in the conference.
“We wanted to finish off the home stand good with a win and we go out and do this,” Zetterberg said. “Disappointing. Today we really got out-worked. I think that our losses at home, we did good things but (Wednesday), it’s a disgrace.”
Now the question is, are the Wings good enough to go very far in the playoffs? After a night like Wednesday, it’s tough to think so. For their part, the Wings are concerned but not panicking. Yet.
“Two weeks to playoffs, we should be playing a lot better than this,” Zetterberg said. “It all depends how we handle this now. We just gotta regroup (Thursday) pull ourselves together. We have a good team, we’re the second team in the West for a reason. We can play good hockey, we just gotta find ourselves again and do the right things. Everybody has to trust each other to do their part and we will have a good run.”
It’s not time to push the panic button, but I’ve broken my “concern” one.
If anything, I’ll take one positive out of this, and it’s the accountability that Lidstrom and Zetterberg displayed after what was truly a horrific game. The Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell offers a fitting observation in His recap (and he also penned a quote-less account of an affair that can only be described as the Red Wings offering all the substance of an impromptu hockey puck made of horse droppings):
It’s been 25 years since the Detroit Red Wings gave up eight goals in two periods and nearly two decades since they surrendered 10 goals in a game. In what was truly an awful performance, the St. Louis Blues thumped the Wings 10-3 Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena.
“It’s disgusting actually to play a game like that,” said Detroit forward Henrik Zetterberg, who patiently waited on his stool until teammate Nick Lidstrom finished talking so he could have his say. “It’s embarrassing. It really got out of hand.”
At least that 12-3 defeat in Edmonton March 14, 1986 came at the hands of guys named Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier and Gretzky also had his finger prints all over the Los Angeles Kings’ 10-3 win Oct. 9, 1993. However, this debacle came at home against an injuryriddled Blues team, which had lost the night before and has nothing to play for but pride. Displaying a defensive structure that wouldn’t stand the test of a decent road hockey game, Detroit was devoid of energy and interest.
“It was disgraceful,” Lidstrom said. “We got booed of the ice and rightfully so. “It’s (the worst performance since I’ve been here). We got outbattled, outworked. We just had a terrible game.”
Yes, and at least the Wings’ leaders admitted as much.
Now it’s time to move forward, Wings, and ensure that your deeds match your words, and that your playoff run eliminates the questions and doubts swimming in the heads of the Wings’ most ardent fans and their detractors alike this morning. I don’t normally say stuff like this, but after the past dozen games, and especially given how many eggs you’ve laid in front of paying fans over the course of the last three months…
You kinda owe us a product worth paying for in April.
Lowlights: At least the Wings’ website provides six minutes of hell on ice narrated by Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond…
WXYZ posted a post-game video…
And the Red Wings’ website posted Babcock’s presser and comments from Nicklas Lidstrom—and Red Wings TV’s resident theme song, U2’s “Daddy’s Gonna Pay for Your Crashed Car,” certainly describes the wreck of a game witnessed by far too many paying fans very well:
Photos: The Detroit Free Press posted a 14-image gallery;
The Detroit News posted an 18-image gallery;
Yahoo Sports posted a 23-image gallery;
NHL.com posted a 45-image gallery;
The Blues’ website posted a 42-image gallery;
Statistics: Shots 47-44 St. Louis overall, breaking down as 19-11 St. Louis in the 1st, 15-14 Detroit in the 2nd and 18-14 Detroit in the 3rd.
The Red Wings went 1-for-3 in 4:05 of PP time, including 0-for-1 on a 5-on-3; the Blues went 2-for-4 in 7:20 of PP time.
Halak stopped 41 of 44 shots; McCollum stopped 5 of 8; MacDonald stopped 32 of 39.
The Wings’ goals: Modano (4) from Holmstrom (18);
Bertuzzi (16) from Franzen (25) and Filppula (22);
Zetterberg (24) from Lidstrom (46) and Franzen (26), PP.
Faceoffs 39-30 Detroit (57% won by Detroit);
Blocked shots 11-10 St. Louis;
Missed shots 12-11 Detroit (total attempted shots 68-67 St. Louis);
Hits 25-23 Detroit;
Giveaways 11-9 Detroit;
Takeaways 12-3 Detroit.
The Wings finished at a collective -30.
Faceoffs: Zetterberg went 12-and-9 (57%); Filppula went 9-and-10 (47%); Helm went 10-and-6 (63%); Abdelkader went 7-and-4 (64%); Modano won his only faceoff; Hudler lost his only faceoff.
Shots: Cleary and Eaves led the team with 6 shots apiece; Miller had 5; Rafalski, Zetterberg and Holmstrom had 4; Lidstrom, Abdelkader, Bertuzzi, Filppula, Ericsson, Modano and Franzen had 2; Kronwall had 1.
Blocked attempts: The Blues blocked single attempts from Kindl, Eaves, Miller, Stuart, Rafalski, Helm, Bertuzzi, Filppula, Ericsson, Kronwall and Holmstrom.
Missed shots: Eaves and Modano missed the net 2 times; Kindl, Lidstrom, Abdelkader, Cleary, Miller, Helm, Filppula and Franzen missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Kindl, Bertuzzi, Ericsson, Kronwall and Franzen had 3 hits; Abdelkader and Eaves had 2 hits; Lidstrom, Cleary, Miller, Stuart, Helm, Zetterberg and Modano had 1 hit.
Giveaways Stuart had 3 giveaways, as did Kronwall; Cleary, eaves, Rafalski, Ericsson and Franzen had 1.
Takeaways: Eaves, Hudler, Bertuzzi and Holmstrom had 2 takeaways; Lidstrom, Miller, Stuart and Kronwall had 1.
Blocked opponent shots: Rafalski blocked 2 shots; Kindl, Abdelkader, Cleary, Stuart, Hudler, Zetterberg, Kronwall and Modano blocked 1 shot.
Penalties taken: Franzen was tagged with 3 minors; Hudler and Zetterberg took minor penalties.
Plus-minus: Hudler was -4; Lidstrom, Cleary, Rafalski and Zetterberg were -3; Kindl, Ericsson and Holmstrom were -2; Stuart, Helm, Bertuzzi, Kronwall, Modano and Franzen were -1; Eaves, Miller and Filppula were even, so the team finished at a collective -30.
Points: Franzen had 2 assists; Zetterberg, Bertuzzi and Modano had goals; Lidstrom, Filppula and Holmstrom had assists.
Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 22:53 played; Stuart played 22:42; Ericsson played 21:01;
Kindl played 18:42; Zetterberg played 17:44; Lidstrom played 17:26;
Cleary played 16:57; Helm played 15:49; Rafalski played 15:35;
Hudler played 14:51; Eaves played 14:38; Miller played 14:33;
Abdelkader played 14:33; Holmstrom played 13:56; Franzen played 13:22;
Filppula played 13:09; Modano played 12:21; Bertuzzi played 10:28.
Wings notebooks: Both the Macomb Daily’s Pleiness and the Free Press’s St. James used their notebooks to focus upon the pre-game topic of note—that an obviously annoyed Ruslan Salei’s returned from his paternity leave to find that Jakub Kindl’s played so well that Mike Babcock’s going to give Kindl every opportunity to take Salei’s job (Kindl played 18:42 and had 3 hits, a blocked shot, a missed shot and a blocked shot attempt, though he did finish at -3, on Wednesday).
Salei really is, as St. James notes, ticked off about the situation:
Salei, 36, has two goals, eight assists and 10 points in 70 games and seemed like a lock to be the sixth defenseman earlier this season. He has an even plus/minus rating with 42 penalty minutes.
“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 Wednesday morning.
Salei, a veteran stay-at-home defenseman, had time off to go back to California to be with his wife and newborn baby and has been minus-2 in his last four games.
“I guess it had a little effect on my game,” Salei. “I think I missed practice time most of all.”
St. James also provides two injury updates:
Pavel Datsyuk missed his sixth straight game Wednesday with a lower-body injury. “I’d like to see him play right away, but he didn’t practice today like he’s playing,” Babcock said. “I’m assuming he’s ready to go on Saturday (at Nashville).” ... Goalie Jimmy Howard (left shoulder) hopes to return Saturday: “It’s getting better. Still a little stiff and soreness in there.”
• I mentioned this a couple of months ago, and have tried to post reminders, but the Detroit News’s Eric Lacy adds quite a bit of spice to the fact that Claude Lemieux and Darren McCarty will sign autographs from 2-4 PM at the Gibraltar Trade Center Mt. Clemens this Saturday, April 2nd. McCarty tells Lacy that he’s buried the hatchet with Lemieux, at least off the ice…
“As a hockey player, I would still kick his (butt),” said McCarty, who retired two years ago after 15 seasons.
“I have nothing to say bad about Claude as a person — off the ice,” McCarty said. “But as a player, no, I don’t have respect for him. He played the way he did, and I’ll be the first to tell you he took Drapes’ face.”
“There’s a hockey mentality, players can beat the (snot) out of each other, and then can go out and have a beer, get something to eat,” he said. “(Any issues between Lemieux and Draper) are between them, I played my big brother role, I did what I felt I had to do at the time.”
Saturday marks the first time McCarty and Lemieux sign autographs together, but not the first time they’ve met since retiring. The first meeting occurred last year in Toronto, for a filming of the TSN show “Off the Record.” To this day, Lemieux refuses to say if McCarty got the best of him in the fight, often tabbed as “Bloody Wednesday,” “Fight Night at The Joe,” or the “Brawl in Hockeytown.”
But let’s just say that Lemieux sounds like he’s doing it for the money more than McCarty is, and McCarty’s the one with two alimony payments.
“Let’s not mix the two,” Lemieux said. “You asked me about the signing, and I’m happy to do it. No, I haven’t talked to (Draper), and that’s it.”
McCarty’s birthday happens to be on Friday…
Prospects in the playoffs: Wings prospect and Montreal Juniors forward Trevor Parkes helped the Montreal Juniors punch their ticket to the second round of the QMJHL playoffs on Wednesday. While Louis-Marc Aubry was held off the scoresheet, Parkes registered a goal and an assist in the Juniors’ 4-2 win over Halifax, sweeping the series 4-0;
• In a nearly polar opposite situation, Andrej Nestrasil posted two assists for the PEI Rocket, but couldn’t help the Rocket avoid a 4-2 loss to the Shawinigan Cataractes which places the Rocket in a 3-1 hole;
• And the same can be said for Gleason Fournier’s Rimouski Oceanic. Fournier was held off the scoresheet as Rimouski dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to Gatineau, which now leads their series 3-1;
• In the WHL, you can say the same regarding Landon Ferraro, who registered 3 assists in the Everett Silvertips’ 5-4 loss to Portland. The Winterhawks lead Everett 3-0. Ferraro, who’s the Silvertips’ captain, was grasping at straws while speaking to the Everett Herald’s Nick Patterson:
The eighth-seeded Tips trail Portland 3-0 in the best-of-seven series. Only one team in WHL history — Spokane in 1996 — has ever rallied to win a series after trailing 3-0. The Tips will try to mount a last stand in Game 4 tonight at Comcast Arena.
“It’s been done before,” said Everett captain Landon Ferraro, who had three assists. “They’re going to try and put us away (tonight), but our guys don’t want to go home now. We don’t want our time in Everett to be done yet. I think it’s going to be our best game yet (tonight) to make sure we get to Game 5. That’s all we’re thinking about right now, get to Game 5. We have to make sure we come out just like we did tonight, but clean up our game a bit.”
“We had a couple really good chances at the end,” Ferraro said. “Then with 18 seconds left I lose that draw clean, where I have to keep it at my feet at least and give our guys a chance to get another shot on net. I thought we had it, I thought we were going to get it for sure, it seemed like our night and I thought we were going to pull it out.”
• We’ll end on a positive note, however, as Mitchell Callahan posted two assists as his Kelowna Rockets defeated the Prince George Cougars 4-2, sweeping their series 4-0;
• And, okay, in the “real end” of this segment, the Plymouth Whalers aren’t doing badly, either. They rebounded from a rough outing vs Kitchener by defeating the Rangers 6-5 in overtime, and they now lead their series 3-1.
Also of Red Wings-related note: As the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Dwyre notes, today is Gordie Howe’s 83rd birthday. His sons, Mark and Marty, are now both running his business and doing the talking for Mr. Hockey, and they spoke to Dwyre about their father, who’s no longer living on his own:
“He loves to be around people and to talk to kids,” Mark says, “but he gets a little confused sometimes.”
That’s not to say that Gordie Howe does not still lead a fairly robust life. Since Colleen died two years ago of Pick’s disease, a rare form of dementia, Gordie Howe has rotated living with his three sons. Two are former pro hockey players, Marty and Mark, and a third, Murray, is a radiologist. A daughter, Cathy, lives in Texas. Marty runs the family’s business ventures and Mark, who had a stellar 16-year career in the NHL, is the chief pro scout for the Detroit Red Wings, the team with which he finished his career and the team of Gordie’s fame. Now, in the later years of his life, Gordie Howe has gone fishin’.
“Back in February,” Mark says, “Marty had him down in Florida for a three-day fishing trip. They had a couple of sails [sailfish] on and were trying for tarpon but didn’t raise any.”
And in a few months, when things get quieter in the off-season for Mark, Gordie will move in with him in Jackson, N.J., just north of Atlantic City, and will live the life of a Hemingway novel. He will be the old man and the sea.
“I’ve got a 43-footer, and we’ll live on the boat a lot,” Mark says. “The shore house is only a couple of blocks away, but we’ll stay on the boat and do our own clamming. And when the weather is nice, we’ll be out 70 miles offshore, looking for 60- or 70-pound tuna. He loves fishing. We’ll be out there noon to noon the next day, or more, and he’ll sleep a little, but he’ll carry his own weight. It’s a tough trip, taxing on me, but he’ll do fine.”
• Wings prospects Willie Coetzee, Sebastien Piche and the un-signed Bryan Rufenach are playing for the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye, and the Toledo Blade’s Mark Monroe notes that the Walleye are in a rough spot in terms of trying to make the playoffs, especially with McCollum headed to Grand Rapids:
The path to the ECHL playoffs continues to get steeper and steeper for the Toledo Walleye. The team must win all three of its remaining games in the regular season without its No. 1 goalie. They also must get help from the teams that play Cincinnati and Elmira, who they are chasing for the eighth and final playoff spot. The Walleye are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference. They trail Cincinnati, which won Wednesday, by six points.
Toledo also must be perfect without the services of goalie Thomas McCollum, who has been called up to Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League. McCollum, 21, had started 14 straight games for the Walleye. He had three shutouts and an 11-9-2 record with a 2.76 goals against average.
Joe Palmer will assume the goaltending duties for the final three games. Palmer has a 4.23 goals against average and a 9-12-1 record in 25 games this season. Palmer has not played since Feb. 20.
“He’s a very capable goaltender,” Vitucci said. “The year has not gone the way he had hoped either. But we have all the confidence in the world in Joe.”
• And while, per Sean Yuille, CBS Sportsline’s Ken Berger claimed that Tom Gores is all but signed, sealed and delivered as the next owner of the Detroit Pistons, the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa and Vincent Goodwill, who have been following the situation since Mike Ilitch first bid for the Pistons, the Palace and Palace Sports & Entertainment, report that the Pistons’ current ownership is nowhere near completing a sale for the team, and both the Ilitches and an unspecified third bidder are still viable options for Karen Davidson as her negotiations with Gores drag on.
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