The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/23/11 at 01:56 PM ET
Updated with audio and video at 3:48 PM: As Paul already posted, things continue to get stranger and stranger on the injury front as the Detroit Red Wings prepare to tangle with the Vancouver Canucks tonight (7:30 PM, FSD Plus/Versus/TSN/WXYT). The Red Wings had to sign OHL graduate Troy Passingham to an amateur try-out after Chris Osgood decided that he wasn’t ready to play tonight, as the Free Press’s Helene St. James reports:
Osgood decided after the morning skate he’s not yet ready to dress, and because the Wings have had to call up Jan Mursak to offset the injuries up front, there’s no salary cap space.
Passingham, a 20-year-old out of Mississauga, Ontario, has been signed to a 24-hour amateur tryout. He’s just finished up his season with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, going 9-10-3 with a .879 save percentage and 4.76 goals-against average. Passingham was on the sofa hanging out with his girlfriend Tuesday afternoon when his phone rang “My agent called me yesterday and then an hour later (assistant general manager) Jim Nill called me and we got everything set up,” Passingham said. “I was pretty excited. I was just sitting there at my girlfriend’s house in Windsor when I got the call. Obviously there was a lot of excitement and it was a really long day yesterday, but I’m here now, so that’s good.”
The Wings usually have a players’ name plate above the locker he occupies, even for guys who are just called up from the minors. The uniqueness of Passingham’s situation, however, left him seated beneath a generic “RedWings” plate. Passingham didn’t mind.
“At least it’s a name people recognize,” he said, laughing.
Passingham spoke to MLive’s Ansar Khan about his new home, if you will…
Osgood’s status will be determined later this afternoon, or after pregame warmups. Passingham, 20, will only dress if Osgood can’t go. Passingham played for Windsor and Sarnia this season as an overage junior.
An excited Passingham said he found out Tuesday when he got a call from Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill.
“I’m just happy to be here and watch these guys play hockey,’’ Passingham said. “I was at my girlfriend’s house in Windsor and I got the call. Obviously, there’s a lot of excitement and a really long day yesterday but I’m here now, so it’s good.’‘
Passingham (6-foot-4, 223) was 18-15-5 this year between Windsor (3.24 goals-against average) and Sarnia (4.76 GAA).
“San Jose had to do this (eralier this season) You’re allowed a 24-hour ATO for one game, we did it with (Justin) Abdelkader when he came out of college (in 2008),’’ Nill said. “We’re getting down because of injuries to forwards, we had to create cap room for that. Just waiting to talk to Ozzie to see if he can back-up.’‘
And as for the Wings’ situation up front, Jiri Hudler (neck) tells Khan that he’s going to give it a go, but Mike Babcock isn’t so sure, suggesting that the warm-ups will determine whether the Wings go with 12 forwards of 11…
“I want to play,’’ Hudler said. “I’m still and sore and stiff, but what are you going to do? I don’t want to sit around and watch TV. It’s a big game for both teams. It’s getting tighter and tighter in the West. We need points.’‘
“We’ll see if he’s ready at game time,’’ Babcock said. “If he’s ready he’s going to go in. I’d rather have 12 (forwards) and six (defensemen) than seven and 11.’‘
Forwards Pavel Datsyuk (lower-body injury), Johan Franzen (groin) and Todd Bertuzzi (back) are out and listed as day-to-day. Datsyuk said he hopes to start skating on Thursday but didn’t know if he would be ready for Saturday’s home game against Toronto.
“We’ll see after tomorrow,’’ Datsyuk said. “It’s much better.’‘
Babcock’s also going with a unique experiment up front, swapping out right wingers onto his Danny Cleary-Henrik Zetterberg pairing:
“(Mursak) might play against the Sedin twins tonight,’’ Babcock said. “He’s got that kind of speed and he’s tenacious and works hard.’‘
Update: The Vancouver Province’s Ben Kuzma explains what the Wings did cap-wise to make this work:
With four forwards getting Wednesday off to rest nagging injuries — Pavel Datsyuk (lower body), Johan Franzen (groin), Jiri Hudler (shoulder) and Todd Bertuzzi (back spasms) — the Wings had to get creative to find some salary cap space to recall a forward. By loaning goaltender Joey MacDonald to Grand Rapids, the club was able to clear enough space to recall left winger Jan Mursak. He has played 18 NHL games this season and has one goal and 19 shots and is a minus-3. In 51 AHL games this season, Mursak has 35 points (13-22). He was a sixth-round draft pick by Detroit in 2006.
The Wings will dress 11 forwards and eight defencemen against the Canucks in the season series finale. They lead it 2-1-0.
Troy Passingham was sitting at his girlfriend’s house in Windsor, Ont. when the phone rang. It was the Red Wings calling. It was no joke.
With the Red Wings resting four injured forwards for Wednesday’s clash with the Vancouver Canucks, the club loaned goaltender Joey MacDoanld to Grand Rapids to create enough salary cap space to recall winger Jan Mursak from the AHL affiliate. However, with Chris Osgood only starting to practise after sports hernia surgery and maybe not fit enough to serve in a back-up role against the Canucks, Passigham was summoned. The 21-year-old OHL grad may sign an amateur tryout contract to serve as the backup to Jimmy Howard, if Osgood can’t go.
And what if Osgood can’t be the backup and Howard gets hurt?
“Obviously, that’s in the back of your mind, but I’m just happy to be here and watch these guys play,” said Passingham. “Obviously there was a lot of excitement [when the Wings called] and a really long day. You get butterflies, but that’s hockey. You’ve just got to be ready. Maybe, I’ll be sitting on the bench. Maybe I’ll read a book.”
Passingham went 9-10-3 with the Sarnia Sting this season and had a 4.76 goals-against average and .879 saves percentage. He also played with the Windsor Spitfires and went 9-5-2 with a 3.24 GAA and .898 GAA.
The Vancouver Province’s Tony Gallagher also touched upon the situation regarding the Wings’ starter...
The Detroit Red Wings will have a lot of things going for them when the NHL playoffs begin but one worry will be in goal. While they claim to be very happy with their No. 1 Jimmy Howard, he only has 12 NHL playoff games experience and he’s been so spotty this year the club has to be worried. And if he’s having problems, the options are extremely limited as their use of some overage junior named Troy Passingham in tonight’s game for cap reasons would lead you to believe. Chris Osgood isn’t close to returning to the lineup although he’s doing his utmost to get back from sports hernia surgery, working with goalie coach Jim Bedard, but so far progress has been limited. Joey McDonald is the present backup out for salary cap reasons but he’s hardly likely to strike fear into any teams heart, any Detroit opponent likely more concerned about how to get shots.
“I’m not worried about Jimmy because he’s been in the pressure situations before and come through perfectly,” says Bedard. “If he hadn’t been through what he went through last year I might be but he was fine emotionally and technically. Ossie we’re working hard with to try to get back but sand is pouring through the hourglass and physically he had so much done down there (pointing to the lower groin area) that pushing off to get to the other side just isn’t there yet. And he’s working hard, doing two a days, making sure he warms up properly, doing everything right and he wants to do more but we have to hold him back. These things just take time.”
Howard was sensation in one of Detroit’s earlier wins in Vancouver but then he has a game similar to the one he had here Monday night when he gave up four goals and got the hook in favor of McDonald, at which time the Wings came back and got four goals to send the game into extra time.
But while the Wings might be concerned about their goaltending depth, that’s always the case. They won a Stanley Cup when there was a goaltending controversy of sorts in Detroit when many believed Scotty Bowman had a tough decision as to whether to go with Mike Vernon or Osgood. Vernon won the Smythe trophy in the playoffs. Osgood won the Cup the following year in ‘98 despite giving up four goals from centre ice, then he won it again in 2008 when nobody thought he was good enough. A lot of people are not sure Howard is good enough to win a Cup, just the position the Wings like to be in.
At the other end of the ice, again, per Gallagher...
Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo and Red Wings agitating forward Tomas Holmstrom found themselves having a friendly chat before tonight’s game at the morning skate.
It’s expected once the teams get on the ice and if they should ever get into a playoff series against each other, the tone of the discussions might be a little less cordial.
“I told him to stay in his crease,” said Holmstrom with a big smile on his face when asked about the exchange that seemed like two friends jabbing each other. “And he told me to stay out of the paint. I’m not sure that those things are going to happen though.
Luongo laughed off the exchange saying ‘Hey, I play in the paint and stay there all the time now so it shouldn’t be a problem.’
Luongo was referring to his new deeper style whereby he plays deeper in the net but both athletes know that as soon as anything is on the line, their paths will once again be crossing.
Update #2: In the multimedia department, the Red Wings’ website posted Mike Babcock’s game-day presser…
As well as a reminder about Novi’s street re-naming ceremony tomorrow…
And WXYT’s Jeff Riger posted a game-day post...
Can you smell it? Spring is in the air, the snow is all gone and the drive to Joe Louis Arena feels that of a playoff aura. There are just 9 games left in the regular season and the next contest could be a preview of the Western Conference finals as the Vancouver Canucks come to town on Wednesday night. Detroit has lost a couple in a row while the Canucks are 8 and 2 in their last 10. “They play really well defensively, they play a good system” said Nick Lidstrom about Vancouver, “They have the best power play in the league and penalty killing is tops as well so it will be a good test for us.”
Detroit trying to rebound after what could have been the most exciting game of the season as the Wings fell behind 4-nothing to the Penguins on Monday night only to come back and tie it at 4 before losing in a shootout. Jimmy Howard was pulled from the game after allowing the 4 goals on 15 shots, saying “it happens, you know the season is long. You just have to let it go and push forward because the season is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.” The Wings will be without Pavel Datsyuk, Todd Bertuzzi and Johan Franzen once again as all three are suffering from lingering injuries. Jiri Hudler and Chris Osgood are questionable. Mike Babcock was asked if it were the playoffs could all his injured players play. “Oh yeah they would be playing!”
And interviews with Babcock…
And Kris Draper:
HOW THE WEST WAS WON
If there’s one team that doesn’t have any sympathy for the Canucks and their injury woes, it’s the Red Wings. Detroit, who dropped the first game of their five-game home stand on Monday to the Penguins by a 5-4 score in a shootout, will be looking to snap their two-game winless skid tonight without the services of Jiri Hudler, Johan Franzen, Pavel Datsyuk, and former Canuck Todd Bertuzzi. They will get goaltender Chris Osgood back in the lineup although he will serve in a back-up capacity only.
The Red Wings still have a chance to reel in the Canucks for top spot in the Western Conference but tonight’s game will be more or less a must-win for them if they want that chance to ensure themselves of home ice advantage through the first three rounds in the playoffs. Detroit enters the day trailing Vancouver by eight points with tonight’s contest being the teams will meet head-to-head in the regular season.
A win for the Red Wings tonight won’t necessarily mean they’ll be able to catch the Canucks in the standings in their final handful of games remaining but it would mean they’d clinch the season series over Vancouver in their favor. Detroit currently leads the series with two wins to just one for Vancouver but both teams have earned four points apiece with both of Vancouver’s losses coming beyond regulation time. The Canucks were on the wrong end of a 5-4 overtime decision in their last visit to the Joe Louis Arena.
The Canucks will continue their road trip on Friday when they make their first visit in over two years to the Philips Arena to face Dustin Byfuglien and the Atlanta Thrashers.
NHL.com’s Dan Rosen also sets up tonight’s game...
VANCOUVER (47-17-9, 103 points) at DETROIT (43-21-9, 95 points)
Where they stand: Vancouver is first in the Western Conference; Detroit is second in the West
What’s at stake: A regulation win for Detroit would get the Red Wings within six points of Vancouver for first in the West, as well as move them closer to clinching a playoff spot. A win helps Vancouver close in on the Presidents’ Trophy. The Red Wings and Canucks each will have eight games remaining after Wednesday.
How it’s going: The Canucks haven’t played since Friday, when they had their seven-game win streak snapped by Phoenix. They’ve been coping with the loss of checking center Manny Malhotra, whose career might be in jeopardy due to what reportedly is a severe eye injury. Malhotra is second in the League in faceoff winning percentage, and in his absence the Canucks might turn to recently acquired center Maxim Lapierre to handle draws. Defenseman Kevin Bieksa might return after missing 15 games with a foot fracture.
The Red Wings mounted a thrilling comeback from a three-goal third period deficit against Pittsburgh on Monday, but they still lost in the shootout. Injuries are the big issue with the Wings now as Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen and Jiri Hudler missed Monday’s game. Todd Bertuzzi joined the injury list Tuesday and coach Mike Babcock said all four likely will miss Wednesday’s game. Babcock did say all four would play if it were a playoff game.
Upcoming: The Canucks move on to play in Atlanta on Friday, in Columbus on Sunday and in Nashville next Tuesday before returning home. They will play their final five games in Western Canada, with three at home, one in Edmonton and one in Calgary. The Wings continue their five-game homestand against Toronto on Saturday and against Chicago and St. Louis next week.
And the Sporting News’s Craig Custance spoke to Passingham…
Babcock walked over to the goalie, said a few words and announced his name to the curious reporters. It was OHL Sarnia goalie Troy Passingham.
“You want to spell that for them?” Babcock said.
With Sarnia’s season over and Passingham not ready to head home to Mississauga, Ont., he was hanging out at his girlfriend’s house in Windsor, Ont. His availability and proximity to Detroit made him the perfect emergency backup. He got a call on Tuesday from his agent saying it might happen. A call from Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill confirmed it would.
“It was a lot of excitement and a really long day yesterday,” Passingham said.
It’s unlikely he’ll see action against the Canucks. But if Osgood can’t go and something happens to Jimmy Howard, well a guy can dream, right?
“That’s in the back of your mind,” he said. “Everybody is chasing the dream.”
As did the Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell:
The Detroit Red Wings signed former Windsor Spitfire goalie Troy Passingham to a 24-hour amateur tryout contract Wednesday as insurance in case veteran netminder Chris Osgood can’t serve as Jimmy Howard’s back-up for tonight’s game against Vancouver.
A decision on Osgood, who is recovering from sports hernia surgery, won’t be made until closer to game time. The move allows the Wings to send Joey MacDonald to Detroit’s farm team in Grand Rapids and recall forward Jan Mursak.
Detroit will still be short one forward tonight as Pavel Datsyuk, Jiri Hudler, Johan Franzen and Todd Bertuzzi are all out with injuries. The Wings will go with 11 forwards and seven defenceman against the Canucks.
Passingham first got word from the Wings Tuesday that he may be needed.
The 20-year-old split this past season between Windsor and Sarnia after helping the Spitfires win their second straight Memorial Cup last season.
The Hockey News’s Ken Campbell is in Detroit for tonight’s game, and he spoke to Passingham, too:
Prior to yesterday, Troy Passingham’s hockey future boiled down to choosing between Carleton and Acadia for next season. But for one fleeting moment, he got to soak up the NHL life and everything that comes with it. The 20-year-old goaltender, who played as an overager with the Ontario League’s Sarnia Sting and Windsor Spitfires this season, signed a 24-hour professional tryout contract with the Detroit Red Wings and, depending upon the status of Chris Osgood, could be Jimmy Howard’s back-up Wednesday night when the Red Wings host the Vancouver Canucks.
He was unwinding after a grueling year in the OHL at his girlfriend’s place in Windsor, Ont., when he got an emergency call from the Red Wings. It would be unnatural for him not to dream about Howard going down in the warmup and turning in a 40-save shutout, but he is realistic about the whole thing. After all, there’s a chance he might not even dress for the Red Wings. Osgood’s status was unclear after the morning skate for two reasons: he is coming off sports hernia surgery and his wife is expecting the couple’s fourth child at any time.
“I’m still chasing the dream,” said the 6-foot-4, 223-pound native of Mississauga, Ont. “I’m still playing hockey and I’m a young guy. I’m 20 years old and I’ll take it as far as I can.”
Passingham won a Memorial Cup with the Spitfires last season and won 35 games as the starter, but lost his job when the team acquired Philipp Grubauer from the Belleville Bulls at the trade deadline. And when Dallas Stars first round pick and U.S. world junior hero Jack Campbell signed with the Spitfires this season, Passingham played just 17 games for the Spitfires before being dealt to the Sarnia Sting. He was available to the Wings because his season ended last weekend after the Sting failed to make the playoffs.
Shifting gears, the Vancouver Sun’s Jim Jamieson posted a game-day update...
“It’s going to be one of those games where Roberto and I are going to have to be on top of our games,” Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard said of tonight’s game.
“I like 40 shots, you guys know that,” joked Roberto Luongo, who is expecting to see plenty of rubber as the teams close out their four-game season series.
The fact is there is a mutual respect between these two teams and they enjoy playing one another.
“It’s always fun to play the Canucks, especially when they are in the lead and we are chasing them,” Holmstrom said. “They are a good hockey team and it is going to be a good test for us tonight. There’s usually lots of speed and hitting and good goaltending. I look forward to it, I think the whole team is looking forward to a big game tonight.”
“I think any time you play a good team, especially Detroit who has been a powerhouse for so long, it’s a fun game to play,” added Canuck winger and NHl scoring leader Daniel Sedin. “And they play a fun way, too. They like to attack and it tends to open up things a little bit.”
Kevin Bieksa’s officially good to go for Vancouver, too:
“I think any time you are out for an extended period you come back and you get a little bit of the butterflies back, but that’s a good thing,” Bieksa said. “We’ll see how I feel before the game, but it’s going to be a big game for us. I always enjoy playing in Detroit, I have a lot of family and friends who come out.”
Update #4: Here’s Ted Kulfan’s game-day report...
With Chris Osgood still nursing his hernia injury and his wife expecting their child very soon, and with the Wings already at the salary cap, the team could be forced to sign [Troy] Passingham to a 24-hour amateur-tryout contract for Wednesday night’s game against Vancouver.
The tryout contract enables the Wings to remain under the salary cap. Osgood’s availablity, general manager Ken Holland said, will be determined later this afternoon. Until then, Passingham, 20, is preparing as if he’s going back up Howard. He even took part in Wednesday’s morning skate.
“I’ll be happy to be watching these guys play,” said Passingham, who would back up Jimmy Howard, sitting on the bench. “Maybe I’ll read a book.”
In the multimedia department: Ken Kal spoke to Mike Modano this morning (and he plugs the fact that playoff tickets go on sale Saturday)...
The Canucks’ website posted a game preview with Team 1040 analyst Dave Tomlinson…
As well as an interview with Kevin Bieksa….
And coach Alain Vigneault’s game-day presser:
Update #5: Here’s DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose’s story about Passingham...
Troy Passingham was enjoying an easy-going Tuesday morning, hanging out at his girlfriend’s place in Windsor and playing “Call of Duty”. Then his cell phone rang.
“My agent called in the morning and said that I might get a phone call, and that I might be coming to Detroit for a day,” said Passingham, a 20-year-old from Mississauga, Ontario.
The call he was expecting eventually came when Jim Nill phoned. The Red Wings’ assistant GM wanted to know if the OHL goalie was available to fill-in as a back-up Wednesday should veteran goalie Chris Osgood not dress against the Western Conference-leading Vancouver Canucks. Osgood has been out since undergoing surgery to repair a sports hernia in January. The team activated him from injured reserve last week, but lingering soreness has kept him sidelined. If Osgood can’t back-up Jimmy Howard on Wednesday, then the Wings will sign Passingham to a 24-hour amateur contract.
“I guess we’ll see how Ozzie feels and maybe I’ll get a chance to sit on the bench tonight,” he said. “That will be pretty awesome to see a game this good, basically from the front row.”
If by the unlikely chance that the 6-foot-4 Passingham does get in against the Canucks, he would more then likely become the tallest goalie to ever suit-up for the Red Wings.
Earlier this morning, MLive’s Ansar Khan posted a story in which the Red Wings talked about tonight’s match-up….
“The key is just to worry about our own game,” Detroit forward Kris Draper said. “If we can keep winning and put ourselves in a situation to catch them and win the West, then great. The focus is on fine-tuning our game and getting ready for the postseason.”
The Red Wings lead the season series 2-1, losing 6-4 on the road and winning 5-4 in overtime at home and 2-1 in a shootout in Vancouver. Heading into Tuesday’s games, the Canucks led the NHL in goals per game (3.20), goals against per game (2.29), power play and penalty-killing. Their up-tempo, puck-possession style has been compared to Detroit’s.
“They play a good style of hockey, they have a good organization,” Canucks forward Ryan Kesler said. “I don’t want to say we model ourselves after them, but there are a lot of similarities between the organizations.”
Said Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo: “How many years have they been at the top of the standings, fighting for Cups? Seems year after year. So there’s no doubt about it, they’re a model franchise. We always take pride in playing these guys.”
“Both teams like to have the puck, both teams have a chance to dominate territorially at times,” Babcock said. “We’re going to have to play better for longer than we did (Monday in a 5-4 shootout loss to Pittsburgh).”
And in the “Also of Red Wings-related note” category....
• MLive’s Rob Otto spke to Nicklas Lidstrom about tomorrow’s street re-naming in Novi, where the street leading to Novi Ice Arena will be re-named after the Wings’ captain:
In the same way the intersection of Third and Atwater Streets that meet at Jefferson in front of Joe Louis Arena was renamed Yzerman Drive, the winding stretch of road leading to the Novi Ice Arena will from here on out be known as Nick Lidstrom Drive.
It’s something the Avesta, Sweden, native understands is an amazing reward for his years of dedication to Detroit and Oakland County.
“I’m very honored to be recognized like that from the City of Novi,” says Lidstrom. “I spent a lot of years there at the arena with my kids and it’s a tremendous honor to have a street named after me.”
Lidstrom has won four Stanley Cups, six Norris Trophies, a World Championship and an Olympic Gold Medal. He has been recognized as one of the best, if not the best, European player to ever lace up skates, and was the Player of the Decade for the 2000s.
The recognition will keep coming for Lidstrom and he deserves every bit of it.
Thursday, the City of Novi takes their turn by permanently adding Nicklas Lidstrom to a street sign. A few years from now, the City of Toronto will be calling to add his name to the roll call at the Hockey Hall of Fame.
• In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema reports that the Grand Rapids Griffins have signed the Toledo Walleye’s leading scorer, Mike Hedden, to an amateur try-out;
• In the developmental hockey vein, RedWingsCentral’s Matthew Wuest breaks down the Wings’ Major Junior Hockey-playing prospects’ playoff scenarios...
With the CHL playoffs set to begin later this week, the Red Wings boast a number of prospects who could make a splash on top teams. Perhaps the best bet for long playoff runs are forwards Trevor Parkes and Louis-Marc Aubry, a duo that helped the Montreal Juniors to a 46-win, 102-point season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and have them ranked fourth in the CHL.
Parkes, a free-agent signing in September, led the team in scoring with 33 goals among 62 points in 60 games, while Aubry, a third-rounded in the 2010 draft, has seen his production slow since a return from injuries.
Other players who could make noise on top teams are Ottawa 67’s goalie Petr Mrazek and Kelowna Rockets right-winger Mitchell Callahan. Mrazek posted 33 victories to lead Ottawa to a 93-point campaign, fourth in the Ontario Hockey League. Callahan is a top-six forward for a Rockets team that finished second in the Western Hockey League’s Western Conference with a 43-28-0-1 record.
Callahan has already been to one Memorial Cup tournament, finishing as a runner-up with the Rockets in Rimouski, Que., in his draft year in 2009.
Other players who will participate in the CHL playoffs are forward Andrej Nestrasil (P.E.I. Rocket, QMJHL); defenseman Gleason Fournier (Rimouski, QMJHL); and forward Landon Ferraro (Everett, WHL).
And he offers a quip which is worth noting as the Wings may be on the fence regarding Nestrasil:
Nestrasil, by the way, finished the season on fire, piling up 18 points in his final 12 games, and earning a QMJHL three-stars-of-the-week selection. With a good playoff run, he’ll have a chance at a contract.
Yet another update: The Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle talks about the Sedin twins, who could lead the NHL in scoring…
With nine games left, Daniel has a seven-point lead, with 93 points compared to 86 for both his brother and Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos.
“They’ve got an opportunity to do something really out of the ordinary, something that I don’t think has ever been done,” Vigneault said. “One brother win it one year, and the other brother win it the other year. When you think about how competitive the NHL is, how strong the teams are, for that to happen in consecutive years by twins is amazing. It was important to Daniel to be there for the birth of his daughter, which is totally normal, and it’s the right thing to do. But for him to not miss a game, he’s happy and his brother’s happy, too. I’m sure that deep down they’re thinking about this thing that’s never happened before.”
Daniel Sedin said he felt last season was a turning point for both brothers, as they broke out in a big way. Henrik was producing points even when Daniel was out of the lineup, the first time they’d been apart for a long stretch in their careers, and now reunited, they feel as strong as ever.
“That was big for us,” he said. “We realized we can play pretty good without each other and when we’re together, we can be a little bit better. It was important for us to see we could do it without each other, too.”
Red Wings starter Jimmy Howard had high praise for the Sedins, who he had to face often as a rookie last season. Howard has a 5-3-0 record against Vancouver, but his numbers are far from stellar, with a 3.28 goals-against average and .900 save percentage.
“They’re very dangerous,” he said. “They work so well together. They click. You have to pay special attention to them because they’re so crafty with the puck.”
As well as Passingham’s story. He reports that Passingham had to literally spell his name out to reporters, and RedWingsCentral’s Sarah Lindenau posted a profile of the Wings’ would-be goalie that isn’t because Osgood’s now on the LTIR:
On Wednesday, The Red Wings announced that they had signed 20 year-old goaltender Troy Passingham to a 24-hour amateur try-out contract. The 6-foot-4, 223 pound netminder play is coming off his overage season with the Sarnia Sting of the OHL where he posted a 4.79 goals against and a .879 save percentage.
The move is one was made because the Red Wings do not have enough salary cap space to recall both forward Jan Mursak and Joey MacDonald. The Red Wings had hoped Osgood would be ready to backup Howard tonight against the Vancouver Canucks, but with his recurring post surgery soreness ruled him out for the night. Detroit also clearly does not want to disrupt Petr Mrazek’s playoff run to backstop Jimmy Howard for the night.
Passingham is an undrafted free agent who tried out for the Carolina Hurricanes earlier this year and participated in the Traverse City prospects tournament. This season he started with the Windsor Spitfires, but was stuck behind Dallas Stars first rounder, Jack Campbell, and was eventually moved to Sarnia. He’s likely headed to the Canadian College ranks next fall if an NHL contract doesn’t materialize. The Red Wings are unlikely to sign him beyond the emergency period based on thier goaltending pipeline.
Update half a gazillion: This post has no structure, sigh…
Okay, so Mike Milbury rambled about the Wings wanting to take out the Hawks in the first round, but that’s not particularly relevant to tonight’s game, so let’s go with some intriguing pre-game quotes from the Province’s Ben Kuzma instead...
“I told [Luongo] to stay in the crease and he told me to stay outside of the crease,” Holmstrom said of the playful banter. “They’re a tough team and they have a good chance to go all the way and we have to go through them probably. This a big test for us for sure. Usually, there’s lot of speed and hitting and good goaltending and I look forward it and the whole team does. We’re not happy with the way we’ve been playing and we’ve got lots to work on. We need to play the way we’re going to play in the playoffs.”
“Sometimes, we feel the pressure as well, but having the experience and guys who have been there before helps and knowing what you have to bring when it really matters,” said defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom. “You want to be playing your system well and just gear up for the playoffs.”
“Detroit is a powerhouse and plays a fun game and they tend to open up things a bit,” said Daniel Sedin, who leads the series with three goals. “But we need to realize us being [Stanley Cup] favourites is because we’re playing good for 82 games and we don’t need to change anything. Teams below us maybe do. We’ve been keeping our minutes on a good level, so that’s no problem. We’ve had a good thing going all year and we shouldn’t stop now.”
Bieksa will draw back into a shutdown role with Hamhuis and probably could have picked an easier game. Henrik Zetterberg has two goals and five points in the season series and had seven points last season. He can shoot from any angle and be effective, but he’s only part of the problem.
“They’re one of those teams where you can’t focus on one or two guys,” said Bieksa. “Maybe we’re not focusing on him enough to shut him down. But we’ve got nine games to figure it all out before the playoffs.”
Dan Cleary agrees while suggesting that this game is not, in fact, the be-all-end-all match-up:
“Game 74 is not as important as Game 83,” summed up the Wings winger.
Update umpteenth and five: Sportsnet posted a game-day video…
Several Wings and Canucks talked to DetroitRedWings.com’s Jeff Sanford about the probability of the CCHA losing the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Ohio State University to the new Big 10 hockey conference;
And the Griffins’ “Afternoon Shift” blog entry talks about Joey MacDonald’s yo-yo season in historical context.
Update: NHL.com’s Brian Hedger also took note of the players’ comments regarding tonight’s game:
“They’ve got a good shot to go all the way,” Detroit forward Tomas Holmstrom said, following Detroit’s optional morning skate. “So, if we want to go all the way we’ve got to go through them, probably. (Still), we’ve had lots of years where we’ve been in the front so no one could catch us, but (the playoffs) is a different season. It starts from zero.”
That’s why the Red Wings—who are 2-1 against Vancouver this season—are resting up Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, Todd Bertuzzi and possibly Jiri Hudler, who will be a game-time decision. Detroit coach Mike Babcock said all four would play if it were the playoffs, but since it’s not it’s best to get them healthy. Canucks star forward Daniel Sedin understands the logic, but still wants Vancouver to keep charging hard for the West’s No. 1 seed regardless of their sizeable lead over the Red Wings, San Jose Sharks and Phoenix Coyotes.
“If you’re a little bit injured, it’s a good call to rest your players,” said Sedin, who arrived in Detroit on Tuesday night after staying home for the birth of his daughter. “That’s what you should do. But if you’re healthy, you should play. We’ve had a good thing going for the whole year and we shouldn’t stop now.”
Not when the next opponent is Detroit, which has become one of the League’s most respected teams for its consistent success year after year. The Red Wings and Canucks also have the potential to play exciting, high-scoring games. In two of the three games they’ve played so far, the two teams have combined for nine and 10 goals.
“Anytime you play a good team—especially a team like Detroit, that’s been a powerhouse for so long—it’s a fun game to play,” said Sedin, whose 38 goals and 93 points lead the Canucks. “They play a fun way, too. They like to attack and that tends to maybe open up things a little bit.”
Updated again: The Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle posted quips of Alain Vigneault…
And Mike Babcock…
Speaking to the media in his game-day story.
TSN posted its game-day update video as well.
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