The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/06/12 at 04:26 PM ET
Updated 9x at 7;24 PM: Stuart’s out: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the Phoenix Coyotes tonight (8 PM EST, NBC Sports/TSN2/WXYT), MLive’s Ansar Khan reports via his Twitter account that gentleman who earned a start between the pipes will indeed tend the net for the Wings, and the Wings might have a problem on defense:
Brad Stuart only player not skating for wings at morning skate in phoenix. update shortly
Here are lines for wings at skate: 93-13-44, 51-40-26, 20-43-11, 48-8-96 (39): 5-18, 55-52, 4-22; 29-31
Ken Holland said Brad Stuart has flu but is probable for tonight.
Danny Cleary left Wings skate early. Been bothered by fluid in knee lately. will update shortly
Babcock said [MacDonald] starting and [Cleary] will play. its his 800th game
The Free Preess’s Helene St. James confirms...
Brad Stuart probable with flu tonight
Per Holland: Stuart is at team hotel. Got same bug that kept Lidstrom out of Montreal game.
And the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan confirms that Stuart is iffy:
Stuart is probable but has the flu
Update #1: The Free Press’s Helene St. James pokes fun
Danny Cleary, dealing with sore left knee, first said he’s probable to play, then said he’s definitely in. Has to keep Miller’s ego in check
But Ansar Khan reports that all is not well with Cleary:
Wings’ Cleary said the knee is really sore but he’ll play tonight. But he might have it drained and get cortisone when they return.
If Cleary were to get it taken care of when team returns, he estimates he’d be out a week.
DetroitRedWings.com’s BIll Roose also posted several updates from this morning’s skate…
#RedWings at Jobing.com Arena for morning skate, Conklin, MacDonald, Bertuzzi firsts on ice. twitpic.com/8gk29k
Bad finger and all, #RedWings goalie Jimmy Howard is at morning skate here in Phoenix. http://t.co/YBilvpKo
Everyone but Brad Stuart at #RedWings morning skate here in Phoenix. Will find our more during media availability. @DetroitRedWings
Mike Babcock confirms that Joey MacDonald will get start in net for #RedWings vs. @PhoenixCoyotes_ @DetroitRedWings #NHL
Danny Cleary didn’t finish morning skate, but #RedWings coach Mike Babcock says forward will play in #NHL career game No. 800 tonight.
Here’s @ #Coyotes lineup for tonight’s #NHL game vs. #RedWings at http://Jobing.com Arena. https://twitpic.com/show/large/8gknbr
No changes for Phoenix…Mike Smith will start.
#RedWings F Danny Cleary (knee) is 75 percent sure he’ll play in career game No. 800 tonight. If he’s not able to, Jan Mursak will play.
Here’s a bit more from St. James:
Jimmy Howard daily update: “My finger is still broken.” Went on ice, didn’t take shots, still working on equipment.
Cleary likely to get knee drained, synvisc injection, later this week because of nearly debilitating pain in knee
Cleary on Pavel winning the Wings’ Superbowl pool: “I had to convince him to take the Giants.” Does he get a tip? “I don’t get nothing.”
Holmstrom on how he and Datsyuk celebrated winning #RedWings Superbowl pool: “High-fives. Hugs.”
Whenever the Red Wings head to Phoenix to take on the Coyotes it works like a home game away from home. When the two teams face off tonight (8:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN) it should be more of the same for Detroit, but this time they’ll be facing a desperate Coyotes team looking to get back into the playoff mix.
Phoenix has won just six games out of their last 20 (6-9-5) and have slipped into a tie for 11th in the Western Conference with Calgary. On the upside for the Coyotes, they’re just four points back of Minnesota for eighth. When you’re struggling the way the Coyotes are, it’s all about accentuating the positives.
As for the player positives, Ray Whitney and Radim Vrbata have been about as good as it gets for Phoenix. Whitney leads the team with 45 points and Vrbata leads the way in goals with 24. The Coyotes are a team that struggles to score, however, as they’ve only got four players in double-digits in goals. At the very least, the Coyotes won’t be dealing Shane Doan away at the deadline.
One guy who has been strong this season is Mike Smith in goal. His season numbers are solid but with the Coyotes in a funk, he’s had a hard time of late. With Detroit in town he’ll have to be on top of his game.
The Red Wings come in without Jimmy Howard as he’s out with a busted pinkie finger. That leaves Detroit’s goaltending up to the backup tandem of Ty Conklin and Joey MacDonald. Conklin hasn’t inspired any confidence this season and MacDonald may wind up stealing the starting job away while Howard is out.
All that aside, Detroit has been playing great of late losing just twice in their last 11 games. Detroit will hope that Jobing.com Arena treats them like home one more time this season. Detroit is 3-0-0 against the Coyotes this season and won in a shootout in Phoenix back on January 19.
MLive finally posted Ansar Khan’s article about the Wings’ power play...
“Our power play, for the skill level we have on our team, isn’t good enough, so that’s a reflection of the coaches,’’ coach Mike Babcock said. “We got to do a better job. And it’s a reflection of the players. We got to bear down in that area.’‘
The Red Wings are 6-for-65 (9.2 percent) on the power play in their past 22 games. They went 28-for-130 (21.5 percent) in their first 31 games. They averaged 4.19 power plays in their first 31 games, but only 2.95 power plays in the past 22 games.
“Our power play hadn’t been wearing on the other team, hadn’t been grinding, grinding, grinding, spending two minutes in the zone,’’ Babcock said. “I thought we did that (Thursday in Vancouver, despite going 0-for-4).’‘
The Red Wings wrap up a four-game road trip Monday at Phoenix (8 p.m., NBC Sports Network), where they will attempt to sweep their four-game season series against the Coyotes. Detroit’s power play ranked among the NHL’s top five for much of the season but has dropped to 16th at 17.4 percent. Players say they have been too stationary. They are best when their point men are criss-crossing and their forwards are cutting through the slot looking for passes and rebounds.
“Motion and not taking the shots,’’ captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “Sometimes we’re guilty of making that extra pass. When we get the shot through, we have to get the puck back. That’s been one of our problems, too, puck retrieval.’‘
The players who comprise the top unit most of the time (Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, Tomas Holmstrom, Lidstrom and Ian White) are carrying the load, having accounted for 23 of their 34 power-play goals. Nobody is struggling more than Henrik Zetterberg, who has only six points (goal, five assists) on the power play. He averaged 30 points on the power play the previous six seasons. Jiri Hudler and Todd Bertuzzi, who have combined for 28 goals and 53 points at even strength, between them have just eight power-play points, including one goal (by Hudler).
“We got to score,’’ Bertuzzi said. “We all, collectively, got to do more. (Be) simpler or more movement or something. Those are opportunities we can’t lose.’‘
The Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness posted an update regarding Patrick Eaves’ status this morning…
Patrick Eaves’ fractured jaw has healed, but the Wings forward has yet to return to the ice. The fear is now that he may have suffered a concussion as well when he got hit in the ear on a shot by Nashville’s Roman Josi on Nov. 26.
“I don’t think he’s doing great,” Detroit general manager Ken Holland said. “We have no timetable for his return, but I’m not optimistic it will be anytime soon.”
Eaves, who has not been cleared to even workout off ice, was expected to be sidelined up to eight weeks due to the injury. He’s been out 10 weeks already.
“It’s got nothing to do with the jaw,” Holland said. “We told him there’s no need to come to the rink until you feel good.”
With the NHL trade deadline approaching, there are no shortage of rumors involving the Detroit Red Wings. Ken Holland is on record stating that he is looking to add to his defensive depth. Other analysts have speculated that Detroit is pursuing a top six forward and until recently that speculation centered on Edmonton’s Ales Hemsky. The latest speculation is that the Red Wings, who have a number of skilled forwards, are hoping to land a forward with a bit more grit to his game.
With Jimmy Howard’s broken finger sidelining him up to two weeks and Ty Conklin’s lackluster play, adding goaltending depth may be at the top of Detroit’s wish list. The Red Wings are one serious injury to Howard away from having a longer than anticipated offseason.
While trade deadline speculation can be entertaining, the reality is that unless Detroit is willing to give up a key prospect, high draft choice(s), or current roster players a big move is unlikely. The past few years have shown the price for players at the deadline can be high even for a rental player. While the Wings have some needs heading into the deadline, they won’t trade away key assets and draft pics that could damage their long term depth. If General Manager, Ken Holland, does make a move on or before the February 27th trade deadline, expect the deal to be modest and likely won’t include names like Tuomo Ruutu or Jeff Carter.
Update #2: Here’s Khan’s morning skate report:
Goaltender Joey MacDonald gave the Detroit Red Wings a chance to win Saturday in Edmonton by playing strong in relief of Ty Conklin. Tonight, MacDonald will make his first NHL start of the season against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena (8 p.m., NBC Sports Network exclusive).
“We talk about opportunity, here’s opportunity, see what he can do with it,’’ coach Mike Babcock said after the morning skate.
MacDonald stopped 22-of-23 shots in the final two periods and overtime during the 5-4 shootout loss to the Oilers. Now he has a chance to run with the backup job, as Jimmy Howard will probably miss at least two weeks with a broken right index finger.
“I didn’t sign here to be down in Grand Rapids,’’ MacDonald said. “You got to keep working hard wherever you are and when you get the opportunity, take advantage of it.’‘
“Whenever you come up and get a chance to play in a couple of games right away, that’s what you want,’’ MacDonald said. “You don’t want to be sitting around and watching. You want to get right in there. Same thing tonight, just hold the fort. You know these guys are going to come out hard.’‘
Defenseman Brad Stuart is expected to play, despite missing the morning skate with the flu. If he Stuart plays, Mike Commodore will sit out. Jakub Kindl is in, either way. Danny Cleary (sore left knee) left the ice early because of the pain, but he was confident that he’ll play tonight. It would be his 800th NHL game. Cleary said if the knee continues to bother him, he might have to get it treated this week (drained, cortisone shot), which would idle him for a week. Jan Mursak will be scratched, unless Cleary can’t play.
Here’s Helene St. James’ morning skate report:
Update from Jobing.com Arena: Joey MacDonald is starting in goal for the Detroit Red Wings, and defenseman Brad Stuart is questionable tonight because of flu.
General manager Ken Holland said Stuart likely will play in tonight’s game against the Phoenix Coyotes (8 p.m., NBCSN). Forward Danny Cleary, who is dealing with a very sore left knee, first said he’s probable to play, then said he’s definitely in. He’s one game from 800, and playing it here would be apropos, considering he played for Phoenix in 2003-04, before fully resuscitating his career when he joined the Wings in ‘05.
If Stuart can’t go, both Jakub Kindl and Mike Commodore will be in the lineup. Not much keeps Stuart out of a game, though. Coach Mike Babcock said Commodore will be out if Stuart is in. If Cleary ends up not going, Jan Mursak is available.
Babcock said he’ll take the afternoon to decide whether to put Henrik Zetterberg back between Todd Bertuzzi and Johan Franzen, as was the case in the last period of Saturday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers. Pavel Datsyuk has played on that line most of the season.
MacDonald earned the right to start after coming to the Wings’ rescue in Edmonton, subbing in at the start of the second period after a poor first by backup Ty Conklin. The Wings called up MacDonald on Friday, after Jimmy Howard suffered a fractured bone in his right index finger.
“It’s a good opportunity, especially when you just get called up,” MacDonald said this morning. “That’s what you want—you don’t want to be sitting around and watching. You want to get right in there and give the team a chance to win. Same thing tonight—just hold the fort. You know these guys are going to come out hard.”
We’ve also got some power rankings lists to go over, oh boy:
• NHL.com’s Dan Rosen believes that the Wings are the NHl’s second-best team…
2 Detroit (35-16-2) [last week] 2: If the Wings’ time without Jimmy Howard is extended, will Ken Holland make a deal for a goalie? Ty Conklin was yanked Saturday after allowing three first-period goals
• Scott Burnside agrees with Rosen via ESPN’s power rankings....
2. Detroit Last Week: 2: The Wings still are trying to figure out how long starter Jimmy Howard, who leads the league in wins, will be out of action. And Ty Conklin did little to assuage fears of Red Wings fans that they need to shore up their netminding for the playoffs after his performance against Edmonton on Saturday. But the Wings remain atop the Central and are 9-1-1 in their past 11.
• And Fox Sports’ Joe Rosen harps upon a familiar theme:
2. Red Wings [up] 1 [highest/lowest] 2/20 : Jimmy Howard is likely to miss at least two weeks with a broken finger. It’s not a good sign that in the first period of his absence, Ty Conklin stopped six of nine shots and was pulled for 31-year-old journeyman Joey MacDonald.
And in case you didn’t already know so, NHL.com’s ustin Goldman says that Howard’s injury makes things tricky for fantasy hockey players….
Update #3: Here’s a slate of Grand Rapids Griffins charity events from their press email list:
GRIFFINS COMMUNITY EVENTS - FEB. 7-9, 2012
TUESDAY, FEB. 7: 6 p.m. - Nearly every Griffins player and coach will attend the Griffins Booster Club’s annual silect auction and dinner to benefit the Griffins Youth Foundation at Applause Event Center (2728 Birchcrest SE).
6-7 p.m. - Travis Ehrhardt will practice with the Griffins Youth Foundation’s 79er teams at Griff’s IceHouse (30 Coldbrook NE) as part of the Growing With the Griffins program.
6:10-7 p.m. - Gustav Nyquist will practice with Kentwood Amateur Hockey’s mites team at Kentwood Ice Arena (6230 Kalamazoo Ave. SE, Kentwood) as part of the Growing With the Griffins program.
WEDNESDAY, FEB. 8: 5-6 p.m. - Landon Ferraro will practice with Rockford Amateur Hockey’s mites/ADM team at Walker Ice Arena (4151 Remembrance Rd. NW) as part of the Growing With the Griffins program.
THURSDAY, FEB. 9: 5-6 p.m. - Sebastien Piche will practice with the Griffins Youth Foundation’s 1-2-3 teams at Griff’s IceHouse (30 Coldbrook NE) as part of the Growing With the Griffins program.
6-7 p.m. - Francis Pare will practice with the Griffins Youth Foundation’s girls teams at Griff’s IceHouse (30 Coldbrook NE) as part of the Growing With the Griffins program.
The Griffins will play three games in three nights this weekend, but they’re not too busy during the week…so the team clearly chooses to ensure that the players are engaged in team events on a very regular basis.
Update #3.5: Here’s the Detroit News’s Ted Kuflan’s morning skate report:
This is the opportunity Wings backup goaltender Joey MacDonald has been waiting for. MacDonald, who was called up Friday and played so well in relief Saturday in Edmonton, will get the start Monday night against Phoenix.
“Whenever you get a chance to play, especially when you get called up right away, you want to get in there, you don’t want to be sitting around watching, you want to play,” said MacDonald, who replaced an ineffective Ty Conklin against the Oilers on Saturday while Jimmy Howard (broken index finger) remained out.
Coach Mike Babcock said the backup goaltender’s job is wide open behind Howard. If MacDonald outplays Conklin during Howard’s absence, there’s a good chance MacDonald will win the job.
“That’s why I signed here, it’s an opportunity to take advantage of it. And last summer when I did sign, I didn’t sign to be in Grand Rapids,” MacDonald said. “You have to work hard wherever you are and when you get an opportunity, take advantage of it.”
Brad Stuart (flu) didn’t take part in the morning skate, but Babcock expects him to play Monday. If Stuart can’t play, Jakub Kindl would return to the lineup on defense.
Up front, Danny Cleary’s knee continues to bother him but he also expects to play. Cleary, though, is likely to get fluid drained from the knee within the next week or two, as the persistent pain has increased. That procedure could keep Cleary out of the lineup for a week.
Update #4: In no particular order: McGill University held a reception for Wings coach Mike Babcock during the All-Star break, and their Flickr account posted a gallery thereof;
• If you’re interested, St. Cloud State University posted a video discussing Wings prospect and SCSU alum Nick Oslund’s status as a member of the Toledo Walleye…
• In other news related to Red Wings prospects and minor league affiliates, the Grand Rapids Press’s John Gonzalez reports that the Grand Rapids Griffins will hold a promotion straight after Larry Murphy’s heart this Friday night:
1. Grand Rapids Griffins. Take the guys out for “dollar beer, dollar dog” night on Friday at the Griffins game, then bring your date to either games on Saturday and Sunday to Van Andel Arena. That’s right, the Griffins play three games this weekend at the Arena—7 p.m. Friday and Saturday against the Houston Aeros and at 5 p.m. Sunday against the San Antonio Rampage. Tickets are $14-$34, at The Zone inside the Van Andel Arena, Star Tickets outlets, 800-585-3737, and startickets.com. More info at 616-774-4585 or griffinshockey.com.
• In other news related to beer and eating, the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan reports that Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom probably had the best times at the Wings’ Superbowl party on Sunday:
Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom were the big winners in the Red Wings’ Super Bowl pools because of the New York Giants victory.
The rub here is neither an NFL expert by any stretch. Neither is a huge football fan, Datsyuk in particular (he struggled to name any New York Giants – and he didn’t in the end) but isn’t that typical of pool winners, in general? It’s usually the least likely participant, that wins.
“It’s unbelievable,” said forward Danny Cleary, who ran the pool. “I had to convince him (Datsyuk) to take the Giants. “They’ve (Datsyuk and Holmstrom) done a lot of winning this (regular) season. But the key is consistency, so we’ll see how next season goes.”
Holmstrom said the winning is important because of the bragging rights he’ll have in the locker room.
• In slightly more serious news, the Vancouver Province’s Gordon McIntyre notes that the Wings’ 3-point lead over the Vancouver Canucks includes a much better shootout record than Vancouver possesses;
• Cross your fingers regarding Rotowire.com’s Brian Rutherford’s predication regarding Johan Franzen’s production…
Currently best in the league, Detroit (@PHO, vs. EDM, ANH, PHI) has a favorable schedule that could allow them to start Jimmy Howard all week, if Howard (32-11-1, .924 SV%) was healthy. The Red Wings number one guy broke his pinkie and will miss anywhere between 2-to-6 weeks for recovery. Ty Conklin and Joey MacDonald will steer the way for now. Either way, the Red Wings won’t play on back-to-back nights at all this week. Not sure how much that will help Dan Cleary, who apparently has been playing through pain from a cyst behind his knee. He may miss a few games this week to get a cortisone shot and drain the cyst. However, with 10 players having already registered 20 or more points this season, it’s safe to go with just about anyone from Detroit. Johan Franzen has been very quiet over the last few weeks and is due for an explosion of sorts. With the exception of their first meeting with Philly, Franzen has a combined 10 points in his previous seven games this season against this week’s opponents. Left-winger, Jiri Hudler (50 percent owned in CBSSports.com leagues), has four goals in his last four games.
• NHL.com’s Corey Masisak also offers this assessment of the Red Wings’ trade deadline status…
DETROIT RED WINGS
Record: 35-16-1, 71 points (first in the Western Conference)
Goals for: 3.10 (fifth in the NHL)
Goals against: 2.33 (sixth)
Power play: 17.8 percent (T-14th)
Penalty kill: 80.9 percent (T-23rd)
Key injuries: G Jimmy Howard (due back late February)
Acquisition space: $15.676 million
Skinny: The Red Wings have been dominant at even strength and boast one of the deepest, most talented rosters in the League. What should scare other teams is Detroit GM Ken Holland also has plenty of salary-cap room with which to work and one of the best collections of prospects to deal from if draft picks aren’t enough to make a transaction happen.
Detroit might be first in the West, but the Red Wings could use a depth defenseman and one more top-nine forward. Both preferably would be able to help the penalty kill. Also, don’t rule out Holland searching for an upgrade in goal behind Howard. The Wings could use a better insurance policy than Ty Conklin, and it could give Howard an extra day or two off while still allowing Detroit to end up with the No. 1 seed.
Sellers looking for forward prospects will enjoy negotiating with Holland. He hasn’t been a GM known for making a lot of moves at the deadline, but he’s got plenty of ammunition to do so this month.
“I’m big on defencemen, and I think Nick has been the best at his position,” begins general manager Ken Holland. “We’ve had the most valuable player, in my opinion, in the last two decades,”
Under Holland, the best GM in the business, the Red Wings can survive anything. He’ll likely lose legendary low-post artist Tomas Holmstrom to retirement this summer, and power forward Todd Bertuzzi doesn’t have many years left. But Holland will have over $17 million in expiring contracts after this season, to go along with the $5 million in cap space he currently has.
“We’ve got some kids coming …” Holland said. “We’re like everyone else. You’ve got to find players through the draft, or find veterans (as free agents). I’m big on the Original 6. Hopefully the history and the tradition of the Detroit Red Wings is kind of intriguing to some players down the road. Like it was to Dominik Hasek, like it was with Marian Hossa. That can turn the wheel for you.”
Undoubtedly, with Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, plus this management team and its winning culture in place, the Red Wings remain a Top 3 destination for UFAs. But here’s where we come back to Lidstrom. He has been a UFA magnet, as players leap at the chance to play with a Hall of Famer like Lidstrom. That powerful drawing card could disappear at any time, not to mention the major advantage of having the best player on the ice every time the Red Wings have lined up to play a hockey game over the past 20 years.
“We haven’t missed the playoffs in the 20 years that Nick has been a Red Wing. The past 11 years we’ve had 100 points or more. He’s won seven Norris Trophies and was (a finalist) another three or four times,” Holland said of Lidstrom, who was plus-2 in a 5-4 loss at Edmonton Saturday. “I’m a former goaltender, played pro for nine years. For me, premier, elite, defencemen are the most important players in the game. They defend, they attack, they transition to offence, they play against the other team’s best offensive players, they play on the penalty kill …It’s going to be a very sad day in Red Wings land whenever Nick decides he isn’t going to play anymore.”
The Boston Bruins missed the playoffs the next two springs after trading Ray Bourque to Colorado in 2000. It took the Bruins nine years to win their next playoff series. That Boston organization was not this Detroit organization however, the NHL leaders with 72 points, entering Monday’s game in Phoenix. Holland and right-hand man Jim Nill—along with a scouting staff led by Mark Howe and European super scout Hakan Andersson—keep the cupboards stocked. Of the top 11 scorers on the Red Wings today, eight are 31 years of age or older. This would mark critical mass in a lot of organizations, yet you have to believe Detroit will find a way to stay ultra-competitive.
“We’ve tried to be patient,” Holland said. “In 2006, when we lost to Edmonton in the first round of the playoffs, we had 124 points and Edmonton went to the finals. I sat with Jim Nill in his office afterwards, and there were questions: Did we have too many Europeans? Were we too small?”
At that moment, Datysuk had played 52 playoff games and delivered only nine goals. There was legitimate conversation around the NHL about whether this guy had game or not. Today, that conversation would get you laughed out of the bar. Or perhaps beat up, at The Detroiter in Greektown.
“At the end of the day,” said Holland, “Jim Nill, Mike Babcock and I believed we were on the right path, and to continue down it.”
Update #5: NHL.com’s Jerry Brown suggests that the Coyote will ice the following lineup:
Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Lauri Korpikoski - Boyd Gordon - Shane Doan
Raffi Torres - Daymond Langkow - Mikkel Boedker
Taylor Pyatt - Kyle Chipchura - Gilbert Brule
Keith Yandle - Adrian Aucoin
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Rostislav Klesla
Derek Morris - Michal Rozsival
The Coyotes are looking for a second big win in three days after Saturday’s 5-3 win over San Jose. Each of Phoenix’s top six forwards had two-point games and Smith bounced back from a back loss to Anaheim with 32 saves. With Morris back in the lineup, the Coyotes are missing only defenseman David Schlemko, who is out for the season following foot surgery.
• If you want to read Fox Sports Arizona’s Craig Morgan’s article about Ray Whitney‘s 1,200th NHL game, you may do so on your own;
The Coyotes will look to defeat the Detroit Red Wings for the first time in four tries this season when the teams play a nationally televised game at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 6 p.m. (Arizona time). Phoenix (23-21-8) is 0-1-2 vs. Detroit this season and has lost seven straight games to the Red Wings dating to last season’s playoffs.
“We’ve got another battle ahead of us, so it’s going to be important just to take one game at a time and not look too far ahead and just compete like we did (on Saturday),” said Coyotes goalie Mike Smith, who will start tonight.
The Coyotes are hoping to build on momentum gained after beating San Jose, 5-3, on Saturday night at Jobing.com Arena. With 30 games left on their schedule, including four in six nights this week, the Coyotes are four points behind eighth-place Minnesota in the Western Conference standings.
“This is going to be a tough week for us,” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said after Monday’s morning skate. “We start with Detroit tonight. The last two games we’ve played against them have been very tight; we lost (both) in a shootout unfortunately. We know how they play. Their top players are real top players. It’s a game where we have to go in and play a sound, sound game. They’re a team that will capitalize if you make mistakes. If you’re not willing to put the work in they’ll go right by you.”
Detroit (35-16-2) will enter the game with a League-high 72 points but without All-Star goalie Jimmy Howard between the pipes. Howard, who leads the NHL with 32 wins, suffered a broken finger last week in a game vs. Vancouver. Joey MacDonald, whom the Wings recalled from the American Hockey League on Friday, is expected to start tonight.
The Red Wings are 9-1-1 in their last 11 games. Pavel Datsyuk is leading the way offensively with 53 points, which are tied for seventh-best in the NHL.
Defenseman Ian White is having a solid first season with Detroit with 25 points and a plus-31 rating, which ranks second best in the League behind only Boston forward Tyler Seguin (plus-33).
• MLive’s Ansar Khan also filed a Twitter update regarding Jimmy Howard…
Wings’ Howard skated again today after team was done (without facing any shots). He’ll see the doctor Tues. or Wed. for a further update.
• Via RedWingsFeed, 97.1 the Ticket, which is promoting its SportsFest on February 18th, will reunite Stoney and Wojo via an on-location broadcast at Joe Louis Arena prior to Wednesday night’s Wings game;
• And here’s another pair of power rankings, per Sportsnet’s Luke Fox...
2 [last week] 2 Detroit Red Wings: Detroit’s huge 4-3 victory in Vancouver was tempered by a loss to Sam Gagner’s Oilers on Saturday. After Monday night in Phoenix, the Wings can look forward to a six-game stretch at home, where they are practicably unbeatable. Fun fact: The last two times the New England Patriots lost the Super Bowl (1997 and 2008), the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup.
And the Hockey News’s Adam Proteau:
1. Detroit Red Wings [last week] 1: Johan Franzen leads the Wings with nine power play goals.
Update #6: DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose spoke to Danny Cleary about playing in game 800 tonight:
“I’ve been in the league a long time and I’m very fortunately to have 800 games,” Cleary said following Monday’s morning skate in the desert. “But there are guys in here with a lot more than 800.”
If Cleary plays, he will join teammates Nicklas Lidstrom (1,547), Todd Bertuzzi (1,069), Tomas Holmstrom (998) and Brad Stuart (849) in reaching the 800 games-played plateau. However, it’s not known whether Cleary will play tonight, especially since he left the ice shortly after the Monday’s morning skate began. The Red Wings’ forward has been bothered for a few months now by a painful Baker’s cyst which formed behind his left knee. The cyst ruptured last Wednesday, even landing him in a Vancouver hospital for a day. Despite the pain and discomfort though, Cleary said he’s roughly 75 percent certain that he’ll play against his old team. “It’s really sore today. I had a hard time skating on it, but hopefully it gets a little bit loose.”
Now in his 14th NHL season, Cleary is in his seventh campaign with the Wings, for whom he has played the majority of his pro games with. He’s played nearly 59 percent of his NHL games with the Red Wings, and despite the knee pain, is currently on a four-game points streak (a goal, four assists), which is his longest of the season. It’s also with Detroit that he has sustained three debilitating injuries – two pretty serious – in three consecutive seasons with a broken jaw (2008), scratched cornea (2009) and fractured ankle (2010). The eye injury was a concern, but having his jaws wired for three weeks isn’t something Cleary would wish on any hockey player.
“That was a tough one to handle there,” he said. “When you’re in front you have to be very careful, guys shooting high, I don’t want to get hit like that again. I’ve had a couple of good ones. The eye was scary, but the jaw was worse.”
“I’ve only been playing in front of the net for like the last six years, since I’ve been in Detroit,” said Cleary, who was prolific scoring machine in juniors. “Certainly, there’s a price to be paid for going around the net.”
Wings coach Mike Babcock agreed with Cleary, a former first-round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks, who has compiled 150 goals and 204 assists with a plus-36 rating in 799 career games.
“There’s lots of guys who are playing with a chronic knee,” Babcock asserted, “that’s part of being in the league and part of playing for a long time, that’s what happens. Tomas Holmstrom has been playing with the same thing in both (knees) for a long, long time. So you have to find a way to manage it and that’s the hardest thing for a guy.”
Update #7: From ESPN’s Scott Burnside’s :
Andy (Houghton, MI): Do the wings survive without Howard or do they make a move to bring in a more consistent backup?
Scott Burnside: Andy; A lot of angst in Red Wing nation since it was announced Jimmy Howard had suffered a finger injury and might be out a few weeks (it seems a bit fluid yet how long Howard will be out). Joey MacDonald will get the start tonight against Phoenix but I will be surprised if GM Ken Holland doesn’t move to add some goaltending insurance. Evgeni Nabokov is the obvious target given that he’s actually played in the NHL of late and given the team’s interest in him a year ago. It would appear that Ty Conklin inspires little confidence in head coach Mike Babcock and his teammates so I don’t think the status quo will cut it much longer in Detroit.
Timmy G. (Clovis, CA): So when can we expect the next big trade? Teams like Toronto are wanting to make moves now so they can continue their push for the playoffs. So who gives first?
Scott Burnside: Timmy; This is a great time of the year because it’s like a 30-player poker game. Teams like Toronto want to add but the number of sellers is smaller now than it will be in two weeks which means the price is higher ie. for a Tuomo Ruutu. In two weeks there might be a couple of guys like Ruutu and thus the asking price comes down. Also for teams looking to add the longer they wait the easier the additions are against the cap. But the flip side is if you wait too long you may miss out on the player or kind of player you want. Hal Gill, for instance, will be highly sought after given his playoff experience. I expect the Flyers will be interested but do they move now or try and save cap space and see if the price comes down in two weeks? In short, soon. But when is soon? Not sure.
Zach (Chicago (via Michigan)): Could Johan Hedberg or Curtis Sanford be possible trade targets for the Red Wings? Looks like a backup goalie might move to the top of Ken Holland’s wish list.
Scott Burnside: Zach; Sanford possible unlikely on Hedberg given how well the Devils are playing.
Update #8: According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Tuomo Ruutu’s asking price, assuming he doesn’t remain with the Hurricanes, is a “significant” (read: first-round) draft pick and a “solid prospect or top prospect alone,” payable to Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford.
I don’t think the Wings are interested in that kind of price to pay for depth…
• And DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose spoke to Joey MacDonald about starting tonight’s game:
“Whenever you come up and get a chance to play in a couple of games right away, that’s what you want,” said MacDonald, who relieved Ty Conklin after the Oilers raced to a 3-1 lead. “You don’t want to be sitting around and watching. You want to get right in there. I think last game was a great example, get right in there and give the team a chance to win. Same thing tonight, just hold the fort. You know these guys are going to come out hard.”
Tonight’s game at Phoenix will mark MacDonald’s first NHL start since last March, when the Wings dropped a 10-3 decision to the St. Louis Blues. It’s also the first time that the soon-to-be 32-year-old goaltender (his birthday is Tuesday) has ever faced the Coyotes. Last July, MacDonald signed a two-year contract to remain in the organization with the hopes of getting a shot to return to the NHL.
“That’s why I signed here, it’s an opportunity to take advantage of it,” he said. “I didn’t sign to be down in Grand Rapids. You got to keep working hard wherever you are and when you get the opportunity take advantage of it.”
With All-Star goalie Jimmy Howard possibly on the shelf for two weeks with a fractured right index finger, MacDonald wants to show that he can be a suitable alternative in the meantime. The journeyman goaltender is in his second stint with the Wings. Last season he appeared in 15 games and posted a 5-5-3 record with a 2.58 goals-against average.
On Saturday, he helped keep the Wings in the game against the speedy Oilers, who cruised to a 3-1 lead. The Wings managed to storm back to take a 4-3 lead, before the Oilers tied the game, forcing overtime and eventually a shoot-out where the home team won.
“When you get an opportunity to play, even if it’s down in Grand Rapids, you get in a groove,” MacDonald said. “Playing eight or 10 in a row down there, you can come here and jump into a game right away, makes it a little easier.”
Holland just said he’s been told Brad Stuart will not play for #RedWings tonight against #coyotes
Stuart wasn’t on ice this morning, has flu bug that’s been going around, already hit Nicklas Lidstrom & Mike Babcock
• MLive’s Ansar Khan confirms...
Holland said he doesnt think Stuart will play tonight. “He’s pretty sick.”
• Also via RWF, here’s a video preview of the game from the Wings’ website…
• We will cover Ted Kulfan’s notebook about drew Miller and shot-blocking after the game…
• And Ken Kal spoke to NHL Live as well:
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.