The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/08/11 at 01:30 PM ET
Updated 7x at 6:32 PM with one more slate of updates: The Detroit Red Wings will welcome back Valtteri Filppula (skate cut) when they host the Phoenix Coyotes tonight (7:30 PM, FSD/FSAZ/WXYT), according to WXYT’s Brad Galli, via RedWingsFeed:
Valterri Filppula will play for the #RedWings tonight, according to Mike Babcock
Babcock says Filppula in tonight against Phoenix
Update the first: From NHL.com’s Brian Hedger:
Filppula will play tonight, according to Babcock. Will wear Kevlar socks and says he will wear them even after cut heals. #Redwings
Via Facebook, “Fake Henrik Zetterberg” co-creator Greg DeLisio stated that the Wings will host a very specific doppelganger this weekend:
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: To all Fake Henrik Zetterberg fans. The Real Fake Henrik Zetterberg (Jakob Hawkins Hanenberg) will be in Detroit this weekend to attend the game against the Jets on Saturday, in costume of course. If you would like to meet him for an autograph of picture let me know.
Update #2: Okay, so this is going to be a rather scattershot set of updates. We’ll start with WXYZ’s Brad Galli, who reports good news regarding Jan Mursak (you’ll have to excuse my employ of inline Twitter updates in the future)
Jan Mursak said he expects to be back in two weeks. #RedWings
Anybody know the whereabouts of the infamous 2001-02 Titanium Ty Conklin 1/1 rookie card? I’m gonna try to talk to him about it Thursday.
Ty Conklin had no idea about his infamous rookie card from ten years ago. Laughed at the idea of it being the most sought after cars of 2002
NHL.com’s Hedger confirms...
Also spoke with Mursak, who skated on his own b4 today’s skate and for the start of the team skate. Says he’s about 2 Wks away. #Redwings
Babcock invoked the term “Lidstrom-like thinker,” to describe PHX Swedish 2nd yr d-man Oliver Ekman-Larsson today. #Redwings #coyotes
• While we’re counting “extra” media members, Michigan Hockey’s Michael Caples will attend tonight’s game as well…
• Let’s shift back to promotional news for a moment, and this is a bit of a surprise, per the Redford (Township) Observer:
Redford Township is offering Detroit Red Wings tickets, one game per month through the end of the season, in a unique pairing of the township and the hockey team.
Upper bowl tickets, in rows 5 to 12, are offered at $45 while those in rows 13 to 25 are $30. (The pricing exception is for the Tuesday, Dec. 27 game against the St. Louis Blues, when tickets are $25 and $40, respectively.)
Theresa Burgess, Youth Advisor in Redford’s Leisure Services, said it’s a program the township couldn’t pass because it receives $2.50 for every ticket sold, when the buyer specifies the purchase is from Redford. Redford is one of 30 parks and recreation departments in the state taking part in the offer, which is provided through the Michigan Recreation and Park Association and the Red Wings.
“We did it last year as well,” Burgess said. “It was fairly new then so we didn’t have a great response. We’re hoping for more interest as people learn about this offer.”
Games offered are: Dec. 27, 7:30 p.m., St. Louis Blues; Saturday, Jan. 21 at 7 p.m., Columbus Blue Jackets; Friday, Feb. 10, 7:30, Anaheim Ducks; Monday, March 26, 7:30 p.m., Columbus Blue Jackets; and, Sunday, April 1, 4 p.m., Florida Panthers.
• The Ogdensburg (New York) North Country newspaper reports that WRIF’s Meltdown has a friend in terms of rocking the Jimmy Howard all-star game write-in voting campaign (and that’s vote.nhl.com for those of you interested in casting a virtual ballot) [edit: Winging it in Motown’s Josh Howard has created some fantastic Vote for Jimmy posters, too!]:
A former weight training coach at Ogdensburg Free Academy is currently on a mission to get Ogdensburg’s own Jimmy Howard (starting goaltender for the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings) named to the NHL All-Star Roster.
The All-Star game is in Ottawa this year. Jim McCarthy, now a supervisor for OFA’s buildings and grounds department and formerly a supervisor of Jimmy’s weight training program, thinks it would be nice for Jimmy to get to play in a prestigious game like this, right in his own back yard.
“I am urging/challenging people of the North Country to help get Jimmy Howard named to this year’s NHL All-Star team. Us North Country folks have shown that we can generate a lot of support when put up to the challenge, so let’s not stop now.” he writes.
“Jimmy is currently leading the NHL in wins, is tied for second place for most shutouts and is third in goals against average. That being said… Jimmy was snubbed by the NHL! He is not even on the ballot,” McCarthy said.
• We’ll cover the realignment issue via WXYT and the Oakland Press’s Pat Caputo, who feels that the Wings received the short end of the stick in terms of their historical rivalries with the current Northeast and Atlantic Division’s Original Six teams:
The Original Six teams will play once a year in Detroit, which is always a big deal.
But honestly, is once enough? Detroit borders Canada. Much of Detroit’s hockey history is fueled by games with the Maple Leafs and Canadiens. They are the Red Wings two major rivals, kind of hockey’s version of the Red Sox and Yankees in baseball.
But how can that be when they visit once a year and it’s the Columbus Blue Jackets moving into Joe Louis Arena so consistently? One potential solution is to re-seed the teams after the first two rounds of the playoffs. Then you have a greater possibility of the Red Wings facing a team from the Original Six, or a rival like Pittsburgh, which has been heated since the two teams met in the Stanley Cup finals in back-to-back seasons not long ago.
The NHL is odd that way. In Canada, they protect the tradition of the game fiercely. Yet, the league office often looks at the NHL like it is some sort of roller derby circus. Realignment became necessary, though, because the league finally figured out that Winnipeg may have a fraction of the population of Atlanta, but far more hockey fans, and that you can’t force-feed the game into the Sun Belt.
Putting NHL franchises in some of these cities makes about as much sense as surfing on Lake Winnipeg. The league solved some of its issues with realignment. It’s an improvement. But only half-a-solution for the Original Six-starved hockey fans of Detroit.
I’ve swam in Lake Winnipeg…It’s warmer than Lake Superior.
• Shifting focus back to the Wings’ on-ice exploits, MLive’s Ansar Khan offered Mike Babcock’s take on Danny Cleary’s offensive struggles earlier this morning...
“If I’m Dan Cleary, I worry about forecheck, penalty killing, getting to the net,” Babcock said. “I don’t spend any time thinking about goal-scoring. You’d be amazed at how everything works out from there. Everybody wants to produce, and when you’re not producing you start carrying the weight of the world on your back and it affects how you skate and how you play.”
Cleary has just five goals and nine points in 26 games. He posted career highs in goals (26) and points (46) in 2010-11. He has been moved around to various lines, and was reunited with Henrik Zetterberg during Tuesday’s 3-2 loss in St. Louis because Valtteri Filppula missed the game due to a deep cut on his shin.
“Obviously, you want to play well. I’d like to play a lot better,” Cleary said. “Anytime you play with Z, it’s a great opportunity. So you make sure you take advantage of it. Just got to get back to having a clear mind and focus on a good forecheck and trying to get to the net. If you’re not playing the way you’re capable of, or scoring as much as you should be, you’ve got to focus on penalty killing, playing good defensively, being reliable.”
As well as Brad Stuart’s take on the Wings’ strong home record…
Detroit has won seven in a row at home since a 4-1 loss to Calgary on Nov. 3. Good starts have been a key. The Red Wings have not allowed a goal in the first period in their past eight games, since Los Angeles’ Mike Richards scored shorthanded at 6:37 of the first Nov. 19. Detroit has outscored its past eight opponents 10-0 in the first.
“You’ve got to start well, but you’ve got to finish well, too,” defenseman Brad Stuart said. “Just regroup and continue what we know we have to do for the whole game. Not a 20- or 40-minute effort, it’s got to be the whole game. It’s something we say every game, but it’s true. Teams are so good now, you give them a 10- or 15-minute window to climb back in, they’re going to do it.”
And an elegantly simple comment from Nicklas Lidstrom regarding the Wings’ power play, which produces goals at a pretty decent rate but doesn’t register “timely” ones:
“We scored some goals of late (on the power play), but not when you really need them,” captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “It’s something we’re working on. I think we have improved since the start of the year, but I think we can still improve on it and score some more timely goals.”
Okay, now lets’ get back to tonight’s game: MLive’s Ansar Khan confirms that Valtteri Filppula’s returning to the lineup while noting that said lineup might be in flux:
Detroit Red Wings forward Valtteri Filppula will return to the lineup tonight against the Phoenix Coyotes at Joe Louis Arena (7:30, Fox Sports Net Detroit). Filppula missed one game and the final two periods of the previous game after sustaining a deep cut on his shin late in the first period of Sunday’s 4-2 loss in Colorado.
“I felt OK, it’s obviously sore but I felt a lot better than the last time I skated,’’ Filppula said after the morning skate.
Cory Emmerton’s being swapped out for Filppula, and Babcock says he’s not going to set his lines in stone after an inconsistent performance against St. Louis:
“I know Helm and Cleary are playing together and I know Abby’s centering the fourth group,’’ coach Mike Babcock said. “I’ll work out the rest between now and game time.’‘
Update #3: WXYT’s Ken Kal spoke to WBBL’s Bakita and Bentley this morning, discussing realignment and the Wings’ streakiness. Excellent interview…
• Fox Sports Detroit’s John Keating’s also confirming Filppula’s return via Twitter...
• And DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose offered this update regarding Mursak:
Valtteri Filppula in #RedWings lineup for tonite vs. @PhoenixCoyotes_. Jan Mursak to begin practicing w/ team this week. @DetroitRedWings
Update #3.5: Via NHL.com’s Hedger:
Defenseman Michal Rozsival will come off IR and play tonight for #Coyotes v #Redwings, according to PHX coach Dave TippettDefenseman Michal Rozsival will come off IR and play tonight for #Coyotes v #Redwings, according to PHX coach Dave Tippett
Rozsival was out with an upper body injury since Oct. 10. He will replace D Chris Summers in the lineup for #Coyotes.
Klesla still day to day with a lower-body injury for #Coyotes.
Update #4: Here’s the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan speaking about Filppula’s status:
“It felt a lot better,” said Filppula after Thursday’s morning skate. “I felt a little sore but I felt better than last time I skated.”
Filppula is enjoying a breakout season with eight goals and 13 assists in 25 games. Filppula will wear a Kevlar sleeve under his game sock to protect the cut.
“It was the first time I wore it and it felt pretty good,” Filppula said of Thursday’s skate.
It often surprises me that people simply assume that Kevlar is only a material used for bullet-resistant vests: it’s actually a material that does an excellent job of dispersing energy from impacts, which is why it’s used as a protective, slash-resisting wrap around Easton’s hockey sticks, and it doesn’t tear or cut easily, which is why it’s used in items which protect people from shear cuts.
Kevlar is a remarkably versatile fabric and composite material, as is its cousin, “aramid” fibers.
Here’s the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness’s report about Filppula as well:
“I felt OK, just sore,” Filppula said after the team’s morning skate prior to tonight’s game against the Phoenix Coyotes. “I felt a lot better today than I did the last time I skated. Obviously, it freshly happened so it’s not good yet, but it’s a lot better than last time.”
Filppula left in the first period of Sunday’s loss in Colorado after sustaining a deep cut on his shin. He didn’t play Tuesday in St. Louis.
The Wings lost both games.
“I felt OK, it’s obviously sore but I felt a lot better than the last time I skated,” Filppula said after the morning skate.
Filppula is third on the team with 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists).
“I don’t know the lines,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I know Helm and Cleary are playing together and Abdelkader is centering the fourth group. I’ll workout the rest come game time.”
Also: No comment on Michigan Hockey’s attempt to suggest that there’s a debate as to whether Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman or Nicklas Lidstrom are the “better” or “best” Red Wings ever;
• In the promotional department, part 1: Fox sports Detroit’s John Keating says that former Detroit Tiger Dave Rozema, who happens to play for the Wings’ alumni team as well, will visit with Keating during the Wings-Coyotes pre-game show;
• In the promotional department, part 2, via my search engine monkeys: just about every Red Wing had some sort of stick or equipment endorsement deal as the Wings’ market is an “A”—there is no higher ranking—in the estimation of hockey equipment companies, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Justin Abdelkader has a profile page on Bauer Hockey’s website;
• And “down on the farm,” the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema posetd a “getting to know you” video interview with and profile of Wings prospect Landon Ferraro:
Size: 6-foot, 174 pounds
Hometown: Trail, British Columbia
So far this season: four goals, four assists, a minus-1 rating and 17 penalty minutes in 16 games
Last season: 10 goals, 17 assists and 51 penalty minutes in 41 games for Everett of the Western Hockey League
Age started playing hockey: 4
Favorite music: John Mayer and Dave Matthews Band
Favorite movie: “The Usual Suspects” (or so he once claimed)
Favorite TV show: “How I Met Your Mother”
Update #4.5: NHL.com’s Brian Hedger filed the following report from the Coyotes’ morning skate:
The Phoenix Coyotes are back at Joe Louis Arena for the first time since a first-round playoff series last spring that saw them lose the first two games here on the way to being swept by the Detroit Red Wings. In fact, Detroit has knocked Phoenix coach Dave Tippett’s Coyotes out of the playoffs for two straight seasons—despite the Coyotes always seeming to play the Wings tough in hard-hitting, close games. Are the Wings a sort of measuring stick for the upstart Coyotes, who come into Thursday night’s game seeking their third straight win?
It’s the first of four games between the two this season and Phoenix has already knocked off the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators earlier this week on this road trip.
“I don’t if it’s a measurement game, but what we’ve done is we’ve tried to set new standards,” Tippett said after Thursday’s morning skate. “When you’re playing against top teams, if you can go out and play well and beat top teams you set new standards.”
Beating the Wings certainly qualifies, even though both are currently deadlocked in the Western Conference standings with 33 points each.
“We’ve played pretty hard here and kept ourselves in a lot of games,” Tippett said. “This will be another one of those tests for us. Detroit’s a very good team.”
It might also help Phoenix to get some veteran help back on the blue line. Coyotes defenseman Michal Rozsival, who’s been on injured reserve since Oct. 10 with an upper body injury, will make his return against Detroit and replace rookie Chris Summers on the second pairing with David Schlemko.
Update #5: The Coyotes’ website just posted an audio clip of coach Dave Tippett’s morning presser;
• And DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose provides an update regarding Jan Mursak, whose broken ankle has mended to the point that he’s skating with the Wings again (you can read the part about a man and his dog spending quality time together on your own):
A native of Slovenia, Mursak returned to skating a few weeks ago. He was on the ice for the beginning of the Wings’ morning skate Thursday at JLA, where he hopes to soon return to practice full-time with the team.
“Hopefully I’ll be back playing again soon, too,” he added.
If things work out, Mursak said, he’ll be ready to make his season debut right around Christmas.
“I’m in pretty good shape,” he said. “I’ve been working hard in the gym, and on the ice today I was surprised how good it went, and hopefully the leg gets stronger and I’ll be back playing soon. I’m really anxious, it’s been awhile. I’ve been waiting for the time that I can start playing again and get back in the hockey rhythm.”
Then the ‘real’ hard part starts for Mursak, who once healthy must break into the Wings’ lineup.
“It was frustrating just because it happened right before the regular season even started,” he said. “Now it will be hard to come back and play on the level that the other guys are playing. I’ve been working out pretty hard and hopefully it will be easier than I think. But we have a lot of good players here, so I’ll have to fight for that spot in the regular lineup.”
Update #5.5: The Yotes’ website just posted a clip of Martin Hanzal praising the Wings...
Update #5.75: The Scoe’s Justin Bourne believes that Pavel Datsyuk is the best forward in the NHL not named Crosby:
Three Selke trophies as the league’s best defensive forward is amazing in itself, but to do it with such offensive wizardry is special. He’s definitely going to get overtaken by a few names on this list at some point (and maybe soon, given he’s currently 30th in NHL scoring with 24 points in 26 games), but for my money, he’s still the “next best” in the game. He’s too unique a talent to ignore.
Update #6: The Coyotes posted a clip of Shane Doan’s pre-game comments, and Ken Kal hammed it up with Johan Franzen, and his bobblehead, in the Wings’ game-day preview:
Update #7: The fallen-off-the-first-page update:
Mike Smith will be back in goal for the Coyotes after taking off Tuesday night’s game at Nashville, which Phoenix won, 3-2, behind 30 saves by backup goalie Jason LaBarbera. Smith will be seeking his 14th win of the season and the second of his career vs. the Red Wings in his fifth try.
Defenseman Michal Rozsival, who has been sidelined since suffering an upper-body injury in the season opener vs. San Jose, will return to the lineup tonight. Rozsival notched three goals and three assists in 33 games with the Coyotes last season after coming to the team in a trade with the New York Rangers.
Winger Ray Whitney, who recently played his 100th game with the Coyotes, will enter the game needing just one assist to reach 600 for his career. Only 74 other NHL players have reached that milestone.
Detroit (16-9-1) has lost two games in a row after winning seven straight. The Red Wings have played outstanding hockey on home ice this season and have lost just twice in regulation there in 13 matches (10-2-1). The Coyotes, however, are 2-1-1 in their past four regular-season games at Joe Louis Arena.
Right wing Johan Franzen has been leading the way offensively averaging a point per game in the first 26 games.
“They’re a good defensive team,” Franzen told reporters about the Coyotes. “When you fall behind, it’s tough to come back.”
The Wings are looking to halt a two-game losing streak. The Coyotes have won two in a row, winning at Chicago and Nashville.
“I like their depth,” Babcock said. “(Kyle) Turris and (Mikkel) Boedker are on their fourth line. Turris has played real well against us in the playoffs.”
Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith is 13-6-3 with a 2.26 goals-against average and .931 save percentage. “They went out and got Smith, who has been a huge talent, who things haven’t gone great for all the time ... but they seem to have this guy playing really well. All in all, they did a lot of good things in the off-season to improve their team, and now they’re playing well.”
• While NHL.com’s Brian Hedger spoke to Jan Mursak about his rehabilitation process:
“I skated a little bit on my own and a little bit at the beginning (of the team skate), too, and I felt pretty good,” said Mursak, who made his NHL debut last season but only played 19 games with the Wings. “I think soon I’ll start practicing full-time with the team and hopefully I’ll be back playing soon, too.”
Mursak said if he starts practicing full-time soon, he will probably travel with the Wings on next week’s two-game road trip to play the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators—just to keep skating with the team and working with the team’s athletic trainers. As for a timetable for a possible return, Mursak has a general timeframe in mind.
“I would say two weeks,” he said. “I’m in pretty good shape. I’ve been working hard in the gym and today, when I was on the ice, I was surprised how good it went. Hopefully the ankle gets stronger and I’ll be back playing soon.”
At this point, the wait is what hurts most. Mursak is a speedy forward who could be a big help on the forecheck like Detroit’s third-line center Darren Helm, and before the injury he was eager to see what he could do at the NHL level for a full season.
“I’m really anxious,” Mursak said. “It’s been awhile and I’ve been waiting for a time to start playing again. I just can’t wait to go on the ice and play some games and get back in that hockey rhythm.”
• In the prospect department, via RedWingsFeed, Yahoo Sports’ Neate Sager posted an interview he conducted with Wings prospect Petr Mrazek…
• The Detroit Free Press’s Gina Brintley offered one more reminder regarding the Wings’ charity promotion with the Salvation Army on Friday…
In an annual Christmas tradition, Detroit Red Wings players will serve as Red Kettle bell ringers at four metro Detroit retail locations, raising funds for the Salvation Army this Christmas. Players will compete against each other (friendly, of course) to see who can raise the most money to help those in need.
This is the sixth consecutive year the Detroit Red Wings and The Salvation Army are teaming up in “Red Wings for Red Kettles,” to help the nonprofit reach its $8.2 million Red Kettle campaign goal.
On Friday, Dec. 9, 2011, Detroit Red Wings players and coaching staff will be ringing bells in the following locations, and you’re invited to come by and help fill their kettles:
Ken Holland and Coach Mike Babcock, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., at Hiller’s, 425 N. Center St., Northville.
Cory Emmerton and Jakub Kindl, 4-6 p.m., at Kroger, 685 E. Maple, Birmingham.
Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm, 4-6 p.m., at Hockeytown Authentics, 1845 E. Big Beaver Rd., Troy.
Valtteri Filppula and Drew Miller, 4-6 p.m., at Kroger, 44525 Ann Arbor Rd. W, Plymouth.
• And finally, Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski did indeed plug Jimmy Howard’s All-star candidacy while ranking the league’s best All-Star game campaign videos.
So there, we were wrong about his take on Howard.
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About The Malik Report
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.