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Red Wings-Canucks off-day news: Wings hope to return to form on Wednesday

Updated 2x with some very late-breaking stuff at 10:13 PM: Very briefly, for the moment, anyway, the Red Wings plan on returning to their dominant ways against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday, as noted by the Free Press’s Helene St. James...

Wings just got done practicing here in Vancouver. No changes to lineup for tomorrow against Canucks. Wings say it’s good “measuring game”
Zetterberg on the Sedins: “They’ve been playing with each other for basically their whole lives, so they’ve got pretty good chemistry.”

And MLive’s Ansar Khan:


Two fast, skilled and talented teams that are playing their best hockey of the season will meet Wednesday in a marquee match-up, when the Detroit Red Wings play the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena (10 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit). The Red Wings are 12-3-0 in their past 15 games. The Canucks are 12-2-0 in their past 14, following a 9-9-1 start.

“It’ll be fun. They’re a good team, they’re playing well. We look forward to playing them,’’ Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said after practice today at Rogers Arena. “We weren’t very good in Edmonton last night (3-2 win). We ground out a win, started to skate as the game went on.’‘

He said of the Canucks: “They play with good organization, structure, good goaltending. We’ve had lots of good games with them over the years. I expect it to be the same tomorrow.’‘
The Red Wings and Canucks are near the top of many NHL power polls, but Babcock believes another team clearly is No. 1 right now.

“Right now Boston looks like the best team in the (NHL), but (Vancouver) was the best team in the (NHL) all season last year, by far,’’ Babcock said. “Last year at this time I didn’t think they (Bruins) were (the best team). They got a good four lines and a big D and two good goaltenders. But it doesn’t matter who’s the best team right now. It matters who’s the best team in June.’‘

DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose reports that Canucks fan Michael Buble laced up the skates to practice with the Canucks on Tuesday, but I’ll add more to the off-day news mix a little later.

Update: Amongst the Canucks’ press’s offerings:

• If you want to start freaking out about Roberto Luongo, the Vancouver Provincie’s Cam Charon will indulge you;

• Canucks coach Alain Vigneault explained why he allowed Michael Buble to join the Canucks for practice (pictures here, including a few pictures from the Wings’ practice, and Canucks.com’s Derek Jory covered the event as well) to the Vancouver Sun’s Elliott Pap:

Canuck coach Alain Vigneault thought having Buble around for a while was a nice change of pace for his skaters. The Canucks have played eight games in six cities in 16 days – they’re a solid 6-1-1 – and will take on the Detroit Red Wings Wednesday night at Rogers Arena.

“It was a different moment from a busy schedule for us,” Vigneault commented. “I think the boys enjoyed having him in the room. He’s a big Canucks fan and a great ambassador for Canada and for Vancouver. When he came in this morning, we gave him the opportunity to showcase his skill set and he did. It was good.”

• The Canucks’ website offers both a feature story about the Sedins and off-day interviews with Dan Hamhuis, who talks about the Wings a bit…

Roberto Luongo gabbed about Buble, but Ryan Kesler’s obviously a little more interested in laying against the Wings (and the former Avs fan says that you can eliminate the Wings’ defenders’ skill by hitting them)....


As is Canucks coach Alain Vigneault:


The Canucks are relatively healthy, but the Vancouver Province’s Ben Kuzma noted the following injury update from Vigneault:

Vigneault: Ballard still experiencing back problems and being held out to solve problems, Ebbett may play against Red Wings.

NHL.com’s Brian Hedger just wrote his game preview, so here’s the full injury report for both teams:

Injury report: Forward Jan Mursak (broken ankle), forward Patrick Eaves (broken jaw) and Chris Conner (fractured hand) are all on IR for the Wings; Defensemen Aaron Rome (broken thumb) and Keith Ballard (back spasms) missed Monday’s game against the Wild, while forwards David Booth (knee) and Aaron Volpatti (shoulder) are also out for the Canucks.

The Canucks’ press also tends to post its off-day notebooks early, so here’s what they’ve got to say about the Wings and their personnel:

• The Vancouver Sun’s Elliott Pap assesses the match-up directly...

Detroit has 21 wins, 43 points and 107 goals scored. Vancouver has 20 wins, 42 points and 110 goals scored. Both teams’ top offensive players are European. Both teams’ top offensive defencemen are Swedish. Since Nov. 19, the Red Wings are 12-3-0. Since Nov. 20, the Canucks are 11-2-1. So there isn’t much to choose between them, which makes Wednesday’s game a rather appealing one.

“You’ve got two teams that, in our mind, play the right way,” Canuck head coach Alain Vigneault said Tuesday. “Detroit plays a high-paced game and they like to play fast. There are a lot of components to our game that are probably similar to theirs.”

Although neither team employs a so-called ‘goon’, Vigneault noted that toughness comes in a variety of forms.

“Toughness is sometimes going to those tough area and be willing to take the hit, or winning the 1-on-1 battle in the corner to protect the puck,” he explained. “It’s not always about finishing your check or winning a fight. There is a lot more to it and I think Detroit is a great example of that. Their players just play and they play through whatever is thrown at them. That’s a great quality for a team to have.”
“Both teams have been engineered the same way, I would think,” said Canuck winger Alex Burrows. “It’s a strong defence, solid goaltending and skill up front. Both teams would like to play whistle-to-whistle. Both teams don’t want to get involved after whistles, and get involved in scrums. That’s why we think we can be successful. They’re one of the best teams in the last decade and they showed that a bunch of times. So it’s going to be a fun matchup again.”

Roberto Luongo is 9-10-5 lifetime against the Wings but was wearing a ballcap in the Oct. 13 game as Cory Schneider took the loss. Bobby Lou is rolling now and is 7-1-1 in his last nine decisions. On the season, he is 13-6-2 with a 2.48 goals against average and .910 save percentage. He’ll face Red Wing ‘keeper Jimmy Howard, who leads the league in wins with 20.

“Detroit’s been at the top of the conference for many years,” noted Luongo. “They have elite, world-class players and their goaltender has been playing unbelievable so far this year. They have guys who play the system well and play the right way and they’ve had a lot of success with that. They’ve won Cups and we’re trying to do the same. It’s exciting for us to play one of the top teams. That’s what gets you going. When you’re facing one of the best, you get up for games like that. They are the ones you look forward to.”

• While the Vancouver Province’s Ben Kuzma, shall we say, pumped the Canucks’ tires while invoking the usual Wings-Canucks comparisons:

As much as the defending Presidents’ Trophy winners resemble the resilient Red Wings and have been purposely constructed to mirror a franchise that has advanced to the post-season for 20 straight seasons, the Canucks are somewhat divided in whether they’re a better team than last season. It will take a Stanley Cup championship, but the potential to take that one last step has been strengthened by experience, greater depth and more versatility.

You see it in the value of Chris Higgins, the resurgence of Mason Raymond, the improvement in Jannik Hansen and the potential of Cody Hodgson. You can see how a healthy David Booth would solidify a second wave of attack and how a third line of Higgins-Hodgson-Hansen would trump the combination of Raffi Torres-Maxim Lapierre-Hansen in the Cup final last spring because of a better ability to contribute offensively. A number of current fourth-line combinations seem better suited for the rigours of post-season play than Tanner Glass and Victor Oreskovich. If the top four stay healthy on the back end and Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider maintain consistency, you can make the argument that this is a better team.
The Canucks are first on the power play and seventh on the penalty kill, fourth in offence and sixth in defence. By comparison, the Wings are fifth on the power play, 21st on the penalty kill, third in offence and fifth in defence.

With Henrik and Daniel Sedin again challenging for the NHL scoring lead, the challenge on Wednesday at Rogers Arena will be for the Canucks to match the Red Wings in the puck-possession game and patience. The Wings seldom panic and scored twice in a three-minute span of the second period on Oct. 13 at Joe Louis Arena to secure a 2-0 victory over the Canucks in the clubs’ only previous meeting this season. But that was when the Canucks struggled to find their way. They’re 15-6-1 since a 5-5-1 October and their 20-11-2 record rightfully mirrors the Wings who are 21-10-1.

“We’ve all been through a lot and I think that’s going to help us along the way,” said Luongo, who gets the start against Detroit. “We’re better equipped to handle certain situations. We’re very similar (to Detroit) with guys who play the system well. Even our fourth line is generating a lot and playing the body well and a lot of time they spend the whole shift in the other zone. Those are little intangibles that make a big difference in the end. For me, it’s just exciting to play one of the top teems and that’s what gets you going.”

Passing another litmus test will prove that the Canucks can raise their game to a level often missing when they face cellar-dwellers. What to read into it in December is harder than come April. Are they better now?

“That’s tough to say,” said centre Ryan Kesler. “I like to think every year you get better. We know what it takes, we’ve just got to prove it. I don’t want to say we mirror the Red Wings. We have our own style and we’re pretty good at it. But it’s always fun playing the best in the game and they’re right up there.”

• As for opposition profiles, the Province’s Ben Kuzma talks about Valtteri Filppula’s offensive resurgence after being paired with Henrik Zetterberg...

[C]oach Mike Babcock knew Filppula had more to give and he’s been trying to mine that out of him for quite a while, using the usual mantra for great skaters who don’t have to venture into the really difficult areas of the ice to earn a living. But if they can force themselves to go inside on a rush or through traffic in front of the net, considerable rewards can be reaped. Whether Filppula is able to do this all year or not remains to be seen, but he’s certainly on pace to have his best NHL season, and Todd Bertuzzi is convinced it’s because of his position change.

“He’s a winger,” says Bertuzzi. “It’s that simple. In our system there is so much defensive responsibility for the centre and when you’ve been the third-line guy behind those two you have to be thinking defensively first and that’s been his mindset. Now he’s on the wing, he’s got fewer defensive responsibilities… in our zone just having to watch the one D and he’s developed great chemistry with Zetterberg. He’s got the speed and skill, he can shoot and playing in his old role definitely took away from his offence. What we’re seeing here is just the tip of the iceberg if you ask me. I think he’s gonna take off.”
“Playing with Hank is easy because he’s easy to find on the ice and moves the puck so well you just give it to him and he’ll find you,” says the 27-year-old Finn who looks to be a shoo-in to crack the 20-goal mark, which is something he’s had on his mind. “I still think a little bit like a centre in my mind but here you play where they want you and when you’re playing with Hank and Huds (Jiri Hudler) it’s pretty good.”

Babcock has been on Filppula to get to the net more, in part because he knows his great stars are going to show up in the playoffs but it’s the performance of others in the top six that is going to put them over the top. You can’t win unless you have most guys firing at or somewhere near their best, something the Canucks discovered last spring.

“I’ve always been on him to go to the inside,” says Babcock whenever he’s asked, and Filppula seems to be listening. “It’s something I’ve really tried to be conscious of and work on, particularly playing with Hank and Huds, because both of them shoot a lot and there’s a lot of second-chance opportunities from rebounds. Getting some goals like that is nice and I definitely like to score.”

Filppula is the first to admit there’s something cultural at play here, admitting there’s some truth to the stereotype that Russians and Canadians like to score, Swedes and Finns prefer to pass.

“I think there’s definitely something there but I like to score and 20 has always been something I’ve wanted to reach and now that I’m older, more experienced and had a chance to get stronger training over a few summers, that’s definitely something I’d like to passed.”

• And the Vancouver Sun’s Cam Cole spoke to Tomas Holmstrom about, well, the occupational hazards of manning his usual position in front of opposing teams’ goaltenders:

“Well, there’s lots of wear and tear. You’re going to get cross-checked, you’re going to get slashed,” he said Tuesday, having spent some quality post-practice time on the trainer’s table in preparation for tonight’s tilt against the Vancouver Canucks.“But it’s not like the old NHL—then you had three cross-checks to the neck before you even got to the net. Now, you just stay there and when the puck’s coming, that’s when everything’s starting. Now it’s more like positioning.”
“Oh, I’ve had some concussions. Four or five, maybe,” admitted Holmstrom, recalling one in the 2007 Western final when he was planted into the glass by Anaheim’s Chris Pronger. “Yeah, I was gone when I was falling to the ice. But, I was in the dressing room and back out. It would be different now. You need some luck, and you really have to work on building up your back in the summer, come in really good shape. If you’re not, your body’s going to break down. And you’ve got to be aware, too, of when stuff is coming to you. You have to protect yourself.”
“You’ve got to give the guy tons of credit, because there’s lots of guys who won’t go near that net, as you know,” said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. “What I always see with those guys is, when the puck’s coming at the net, the guys that don’t want to be there, they can never find the puck, because they’re looking for who’s going to cross-check ’em. The guys that don’t care, they find the puck and they score, or they go get it back. That’s what he’s done better than anybody. Tommy’s an unbelievable teammate, he’s a warrior, he’s all about winning, and he found something he does better than anybody else, and it’s allowed him to play a lot, it’s allowed him to be on the first power play every single night. That’s what the good ones do. There’s a chunk of pie, and if you don’t grab your piece, someone else is taking it.”
“Nobody wants to go there, I’ll go there. It’s a good spot to be,” he said, smiling. “Maybe it is [stubbornness]. I’m coming back, you know. If it means I take a beating, I take a beating.”

[Wings defenseman Mike] Commodore said the thing that stands out about Holmstrom is how hard he works at his craft. Holmstrom has never kept track of the numbers, but figures he practices tipping “50 to 100 pucks every practice. You’ve got to do it. You want to keep getting better. But it starts with a good screen, and you try to tip it, and then the rebound comes ... but you never lose sight of the puck, you always know where it is.”

“I hated him,” said Commodore, of the years he spent on other teams, trying to deal with Holmstrom. “And I’m not the only one. A lot of defencemen do hate him. He’s tough to move. And he’s been around a long time, so when you’re pushing and shoving him in front of the net, he whacks you back, and he’s never getting a penalty, and it irritates you no end. I think he’s just been around so long, he gets away with it—and that’s OK. That’s how it should be.”
“For sure, the body’s banged up here and there,” said the affable Swede. “But it doesn’t really matter what you do. If you’re a painter, you’re going to have a bad neck. If you work at a computer, you have a bad wrist and your eyes go. You’re going to have some kind of baggage when you’re done.”

‘Long-term?” said Babcock. “Well, Tommy’s got bad knees anyway, so obviously there’s a price to be paid. But I think he’s more than willing to pay it.”

Update #2: Let’s keep the mutual compliment carousel going, via Todd Bertuzzi, speaking to the Canadian Press about the Sedins:

Detroit winger Todd Bertuzzi, in town for a game Wednesday, said the bond that his former Vancouver teammates have is quite special and rare. The twins have come a long way since they entered the NHL as 18-year-olds and struggled to establish themselves as regulars.

“They’re men now,” said Bertuzzi. “They obviously came in young and had some high expectations. Playing under the pressure of what they were supposed to do early was a lot for them to handle, but they stuck with it and the organization stuck with them. They’re getting paid back in ten folds right now.”

Bertuzzi attributes much of the Sedins’ consistency to their opportunity to be linemates throughout their careers. Twin telepathy aside, the chance to play alongside each other since their rookie season in 2001-02 has paid dividends.

“If you’re paired with a guy, you get that instant chemistry,” said Bertuzzi. “To be able to do it for 10 years now, or whatever it is, you’re going to have that kind of chemistry. You don’t see a lot of line combinations sticking around that long. They seem to have done a pretty good job together.”

• “Of note,” part 1, from SI’s Ray Flowers:

[Ian] White leads the Red Wings with a plus-23 mark. Guess what? That leads the NHL, one ahead of Tyler Seguin.

• “Of note,” part 2, from ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun:

This season’s Winter Classic hasn’t even been played yet in Philadelphia and some fans have asked me where I think the game will be played in January 2013. The event generates so much interest that you can’t blame them for asking. Everyone wants a piece of this thing. I would certainly put the Detroit Red Wings in the mix as a possibility.

“Ever since we played in the one at Wrigley Field (Jan. 1, 2009), it was such a positive experience; we’d love to host one,” Red Wings GM Ken Holland told ESPN.com on Monday. “We think it would be a wonderful thing for our city, our franchise and our fans. We’ve expressed that to the league and they know we’re interested.”

Given Detroit’s stature in the league as an Original Six franchise and as the model organization it has been the past two decades, the league owes it to the Red Wings to give them one in my opinion, and I think it’ll happen whether that’s next season or within the next few years.

You can also add the Minnesota Wild and their passionate hockey fans as people wanting to host a Winter Classic, and that organization has also made that clear to the NHL.

“We’d take a game any year,” Wild GM Chuck Fletcher told ESPN.com via email Monday.

And don’t forget the Washington Capitals. In announcing the Caps-Penguins Winter Classic for Jan. 1, 2011, during a news conference at the June 2010 Stanley Cup finals, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman promised a game in D.C. “within the next two to three years.” Caps owner Ted Leonsis confirmed to ESPN.com via email Monday that his organization still wants to host a Winter Classic, but has not had any talks on the matter yet with the league.

“We will host one, one day—but no year specifically was ever promised to us,” Leonsis said.

• “Of note,” part, “Pfft, right,” via Mike Halford’s “Did You Know?” 2005-2006 season factoids:

Detroit won 58 games thanks to playing in an awful Central Division and the unbalanced schedule.

I don’t know if he remembers how nasty those games were against what used to be a pretty strong Blues team, a Hawks team that was once build around Tyler Arnason, Kyle Calder and Mark Bell, or that the Predators have never been mincemeat against the Wings;

• “Of note,” part, “Aww, that’s kind of nice, despite the fact that you mention a bunch of goony dudes after talking about Homer,” via the Hockey News’s Rory Boylen, more or less writing a Christmas version of a “What I’m Thankful For” column:

As much as I love to watch the Sidney Crosbys, Pavel Datsyuks and Steven Stamkoses (Stamkoi?) of the league I also love how diverse the skill sets are in the NHL and hockey in general. I love the work ethic and drive of Tomas Holmstrom, who specializes in taking a beating in front of the net just to redirect a shot. I love the ferocity with which players such as Milan Lucic, Derek Dorsett and Steve Ott play that brings fans to their feet at any given moment. I love Martin Brodeur’s calm and calculated approach as much as I love Tim Thomas’ off-the-wall unpredictability. I love the fearlessness and art of shot-blocking players such as Dan Girardi and Brett Clark have mastered. And, even though I sometimes loathe them for the style, I love how Brad Marchand, Sean Avery, Jordin Tootoo and the like have a knack for getting under your skin.

• And “Of note,” part, “Dammit, I hate power rankings,” per Sportsline’s Adam Gretz...

4 Red Wings [last week] 7: Pavel Datsyuk is starting to heat up. After a slow start to the season, Detroit’s best overall player has 12 points in the month in December, and has recorded at least two points in nine of his past 14 games.

And SI’s Adrian Dater:

5 Detroit Red Wings Last Week: 5:  Their goal differential (+36, 107-71) is the best in the West. Even with a mediocre road record (8-8), these guys are on pace for another 100-point season. Pavel Datsyuk is heating up, his wicked backhand goal at Pittsburgh part of a solid win. Last week: 3-1-0

Changing gears, DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose asked Chris Conner about his experiences with HBO’s “24/7: Road to the Winter Classic” when he was a member of the Penguins last season:

“I tried to stay away from the cameras a much as possible,” said Conner, who played 60 games for the Pens, but was a healthy scratch for the New Year’s Day at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field. “It was hard because their presence was pretty overwhelming at first. They were at everything, they were constantly around, the meetings they were in with cameras, everywhere. But the longer it went on the easier it became, and everyone adapted to it.”

The four one-hour long episodes featured mostly star players, particular Sidney Crosby and Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin, along with their coaches the Pens’ Dan Bylsma and then-Capitals’ bench boss Bruce Boudreau. But for four long weeks, players, coaches and staff had every move caught on film for the documentary, whether it was used for the series or ended up on the cutting room floor.

“I don’t think I spoke in it,” Conner said. “There were other guys that were in it, but I thought it was great, especially since they gave fans an inside look. It’s pretty accurate, and last year it was pretty wild when the Penguins were on that big winning streak, and at the same time the Capitals were on their big losing streak. You could see both ends and what goes on.”

The cable network captured an Emmy Award for last year’s production. And yes, they are back at it again this fall following the New York Rangers and the Flyers in advance of the 2012 Winter Classic set for Jan. 2 at Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia.

“I didn’t go out of my way to avoid the cameras, but I’m kind of shy to begin with,” Conner said. “Some people love to be in the spotlight, and you could see who really thrived on it. I just went about my business and didn’t do anything extra because the cameras were there.”

• Wings coach Mike Babcock “shares memories” of a very different kind via the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff:

Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, former Windsor Spitfires coach Tom Webster and ex-Red Wings defenceman Jesse Wallin all share their personal memories of their time with Canada’s world junior team in the new book Thirty Years Of The Game At Its Best, a series of essays about Canada’s participation in the annual tournament since the birth of Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence

Webster coached Canada at the 1989 tournament in Anchorage, Alaska, finishing fourth, while Wallin, currently coach of the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels, was part of the 1997 gold-medal winners in Geneva, Switzerland coached by Babcock, and captained Canada’s dismal failure the following year in Hameenlinna, Finland, where the Canadians finished eighth.

Babcock’s memories of that 1997 triumph are nothing but positive. “It was phenomenal,” Babcock recalled. “Anything that has to do with your nation is spectacular. At that time, I was coaching junior hockey. It was the ultimate for me at that point. It was the highest level I’d ever been at. We went to Geneva, and it was an opportunity to win five (gold medals) in a row, or to be the goat that didn’t get that done. It was nice to win and it was a thrill. We had great players and we worked hard, and we’re able to get it done in the end.”

And the Grand Rapids Griffins only play one game this week, hosting the Abbotsford Heat this Wednesday, and as such, their weekly news release focuses quite heavily on that specific match-up:

Heating Up: December has treated the Griffins well, as they’ve earned points in seven of their last nine games (5-2-0-2), including a 4-2-0-2 record this month. They’ve won three straight games at home for the first time since March 4-16, a streak they’ll look to continue when the Abbotsford Heat come to town on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

No Easy Task: The Griffins have just one game this week before they begin their five-day Christmas break, hosting the Abbotsford Heat on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Although the Griffins have played well on home ice of late, winning their last three games at Van Andel Arena, Abbotsford boasts the best road record in the league at 14-3 and holds an AHL-best seven-game point streak, winning six consecutive games before losing to Hamilton in overtime on Sunday.

Fireworks: The first meeting between Abbotsford and Grand Rapids this season, a 5-1 win for the Heat on Oct. 28, featured the AHL’s second-highest penalty minute total of the season, with 118 minutes between the two clubs. Eighty-eight of those minutes came in the second period when a scrum erupted in the Griffins’ crease and sparked several fights, including one between the Griffins’ Joey MacDonald and his goaltending counterpart, Leland Irving. The goalie fight was just the second involving a Griffin since at least the start of the 2000-01 season. The only other fight in that stretch occurred on April 9, 2006, when Jimmy Howard and Rochester’s Michael Leighton battled during the first period of a 6-4 Americans victory in Rochester. A repeat bout is unlikely, though, as Irving is currently with the NHL’s Calgary Flames.
North Division Outlook: The North Division was the most tightly-contested division in the AHL heading into last week, and the race only got tighter after the weekend. Toronto’s eight-point lead in the division sits at just five now, as the Marlies (34 points) have lost three straight games in regulation. The remaining four teams are separated by just three points, with Rochester (29 points) sitting in second place after surpassing the Griffins with a Sunday victory over Houston. After splitting a weekend series with the Griffins, Lake Erie (28 points) is holding on to third place, but Grand Rapids (27 points) has played one fewer game than each team in front of it. Hamilton (26 points) is gaining ground from the North Division’s basement after putting together a five-game point streak (3-0-0-2).

Milestone Man: Although he already ranks first in franchise history in games played, wins, shutouts, saves and minutes played, Joey MacDonald continues to hit milestones and work his way up the franchise all-time leaders in other categories. Last Wednesday versus Rockford, MacDonald eclipsed 11,000 minutes spent in between the pipes, while recording his 5,000th save as a Griffin the same night. MacDonald made that victory, his 105th with the club, his 11th shootout victory, tying him with Ian Gordon for second place in franchise history. He trails only former teammate Jimmy Howard in that category, who tops the charts with 16 shootout victories.

Update #2.5: One more thing, from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Roman Augustovitz:

Nick Jensen, a sophomore defenseman for St. Cloud State, was named the WCHA’s defensive player of the week. Jensen, of Rogers, had a hat trick as the Huskies beat Denver 5-1 on Saturday.

The 6-0, 193-pound Jensen had six shots on goal, blocked six shots and was a plus-2 as the Huskies split with DU. The Pioneers won the first game of the series 3-2 in overtime.

Jensen is the first Huskies defensemen to score three goals in one game since Bret Hedican on Feb. 15, 1991 vs. Wisconsin. He is a Detroit Red Wings’ draft pick and had four goals and 10 assists this season in 20 games.

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redxblack's avatar

Is Mike Commodore still a healthy scratch?

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 12/20/11 at 10:51 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Bertuzzi with the GWG.

Should be a good one.

Posted by SYF from A tall cool pint of Guinness on 12/20/11 at 10:53 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Yes on Commodore, but it does not appear to be personal. Khan’s listed the probable lineups for both teams.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/20/11 at 11:11 PM ET

Michiru Kaioh's avatar

I wish someone would have the guts to bench Ericsson and play Commodore in his place.

I keep reading about how solid and steady he’s been this season, but the only “steady” thing I’ve seen from him his being “steadily” out of position, “steadily” taking bad penalties, and “steadily” turning the puck over.

My eyes see him make a bad pinch that leads to an odd man rush against a handful of times each game…he tries to play the game like a skilled, offensive defenseman, and he isn’t one of those. If we’re going to have a huge, hulking, slow-footed defenseman out there, I’d rather it be someone who at least knows who he is, and is willing to use his size to play physically.

Posted by Michiru Kaioh on 12/21/11 at 03:09 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Here is what I will say about Ericsson: He is someone who will always draw controversy and will never, ever yield agreement upon regarding his play.

The problem with Ericsson is that his offensive prowess is so limited that he’ll never be able to atone for all of his mistakes with goals scored, and as such, he’s either just steady enough to meet expectations as he continues to mature, or he’s just leaky enough to be deemed Andreas Lilja II, especially because he’ll also never be the extremely physical and downright nasty defensemen many fans hoped he’d evolve into.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/21/11 at 09:47 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

The Canucks are first on the power play and seventh on the penalty kill, fourth in offence and sixth in defence. By comparison, the Wings are fifth on the power play, 21st on the penalty kill, third in offence and fifth in defence.

Looked like a pretty close match-up until I saw the above.  Looks like the Nucks have an edge on special teams.  So…  we’ve gotta be rock solid on the penalty kill and Jimmah has to be “on it” tonight.  Should be a very exciting game.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Ericsson and I’m starting to think it was a mistake that he was ever encouraged to be a defenseman.  Don’t know why anyone expected him to be “extremely physical and downright nasty.”  He’s a Swede!  And if he had been developed as a forward, I think he could have been a pretty darned good one.  But that’s just my gut feeling - we’ll never know for sure.

Here’s hoping Bobby Lou is leaky tonight.


Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 12/21/11 at 11:07 AM ET

SYF's avatar

“You’ve got to give the guy tons of credit, because there’s lots of guys who won’t go near that net, as you know,” said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. “What I always see with those guys is, when the puck’s coming at the net, the guys that don’t want to be there, they can never find the puck, because they’re looking for who’s going to cross-check ’em. The guys that don’t care, they find the puck and they score, or they go get it back. That’s what he’s done better than anybody. Tommy’s an unbelievable teammate, he’s a warrior, he’s all about winning, and he found something he does better than anybody else, and it’s allowed him to play a lot, it’s allowed him to be on the first power play every single night. That’s what the good ones do. There’s a chunk of pie, and if you don’t grab your piece, someone else is taking it.”

This.  Ten million times this.  I doubt we’ll ever see another player quite like Homer.

Posted by SYF from A tall cool pint of Guinness on 12/21/11 at 05:07 PM ET

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