The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/15/11 at 01:58 PM ET
Updated 10x at 5:18 with Cheli, Abdelkader/Helm Grind Line stuff, and no, you cannot throw octopi in Detroit: Things continue to get curiouser and curiouser regarding the status of Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg, as noted by the Tweets of the reporters attending today’s Wings and Coyotes’ practices. Zetterberg apparently skated on his own, as noted by the Sporting News’s Craig Custance...
No surprise. Babcock said Zetterberg out for Game 2. He skated again today on his own.
As confirmed by Todd Walsh, Brian Hedger (twice...erm hree times), WXYZ’s Tom Leyden, Fox 2’s Jennifer Hammond and the Windsor St.ar’s Bob Duff... But Babcock told Hammond and the press that Zetterberg will make the trip to Phoenix:
According to Babcock Zetterberg will make trip to Phoenix for sure “We’re hoping he’s playing.”
And here’s the audio of Babcock’s presser from Walsh:
Red wings personal have been told they are not allowed to comment on the Dead Spin article about the guy who was fined for throwing octopus
Ditto for the City of Detroit, so the Wings’ players have chimed in instead, via Riger...
Dan cleary hasn’t heard about the fan but said he didn’t think 500 dollars would deter fans from throwing it because its a great tradition
#Wings players I talked to support Tradition of throwing Octopus on the ice. Franzen says $500 fine is steep and joked “I’ll help pay it.”
So the Wings talked about keeping home-ice advantage to the Wings’ Jake Duhaime instead…
Cleary: We’ve got a good crowd and this is a special building to play in. We have to make it a tough place to play.
And the Free Press’s Helene St. James reports that Babcock weighed in on the octo-drama, sort of...
“I like calamari as much as the next guy,” Babcock said. “I don’t like batter on it but I like it spicy and cooked. It’s part of the tradition here. I just hope the guys that come on to scrap it off aren’t digging up the ice. I hate when they dig up the ice. I want it to be smooth. So other than that, I don’t have a bunch of concerns or a whole lot of thoughts on it.”
Before suggesting that the Wings’ main focus for Game 2 involves “getting started on time”:
“It was Game 1 at home in the playoffs, and I thought we were a bit nervous early,” coach Mike Babcock said. “We took some penalties and I thought that made our start look worse than it was.”
The Wings took four penalties in the first period, including two overlapping ones that set Phoenix up with a 90-second two-man advantage.
“We can’t take the penalties, especially the stick penalties, and I’m talking the hooking penalties,” Babcock said. “We high-sticked someone, we took, I think, four other stick penalties. They (the league) told us before how it’s going to be, and we didn’t handle it the right way.”
Update: The Wings did talk about getting a boost from their hometown crowd, as noted by MLive’s Ansar Khan…
The Joe Louis Arena crowd was the loudest and most energetic it has been all season during Wednesday’s playoff opener, and the Detroit Red Wings are hoping and expecting for a similar atmosphere in Game 2 against the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday (1 p.m., NBC).
“It was just a good atmosphere, people were excited,’’ Todd Bertuzzi said. “The regular season just drags on and on and on and it’s kind of tiresome, not only for them but for us, too, so it’s exciting when the playoffs are around. Kind of except the same thing for Game 2.’‘
Some of the keys the Red Wings focused on following Friday’s practice:
—Be more disciplined with their sticks because the NHL has instructed referees to call it tighter. Detroit was shorthanded five times less than 25 minutes into Game 1 but weathered the storm.
—Continue to play more gritty than the Coyotes. The Red Wings held the edge in hits (33-28), blocked shots (18-8) and takeaways (16-5).
Henrik Zetterberg (knee) skated before practice but coach Mike Babcock officially ruled him out for Game 2. He continues to be listed as day-to-day but the team doesn’t expect him to play in at least the first five games.
• Here’s a quick video of Babcock talking about Zetterberg from WXYZ’s Tom Leyden:
And Babcock on octopi:
And the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan confirms Zetterberg’s status:
Henrik Zetterberg won’t play Saturday in Game 2 of the Red Wings-Coyotes series. Coach Mike Babcock said Zetterberg (sprained left knee) skated on his own Friday before the team worked out.
“He skated by himself (but) he’s not going to play in Game 2,” Babcock said. “He continues to be day to day. I just talked to him and asked him whether he’s going to play. He’s not.”
Zetterberg was hurt April 6 in Carolina, missed the final two regular-season games, and will miss his second consecutive playoff game.
Babcock said Zetterberg will make the trip to Phoenix with the Wings after Saturday’s game and wouldn’t rule out Zetterberg for Monday’s Game 3 or Thursday’s Game 4.
As does the AP’s Larry Lage...
Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock says Zetterberg won’t be in the lineup Saturday in Game 2 against the Phoenix Coyotes. Babcock says Zetterberg will make the trip when the series shifts to Arizona and hopes he plays soon.
Zetterberg has been skating and trying to strengthen his left knee in the weight room after practices.
The Red Wings won the opener of the first-round rematch without Zetterberg. He had 80 points during the regular season, 18 more than any teammate. The Swede missed the last two games of the regular season and Game 1 after getting checked by Carolina’s Bryan Allen in loss to the Hurricanes.
And DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose:
Zetterberg skated alone for 15 minutes Friday morning at Joe Louis Arena, but did not join the team for its practice.
“Hank skated, by himself, and he’s not going to play in Game 2,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He’ll continue to be day-to-day. And I just talked to him, I just asked him if he was playing, so … he’s not.”
Zetterberg will make the trip to Arizona for Games 3 and 4 at Jobing.com Arena. But his status for the two upcoming road games is still day-to-day.
“Zetterberg’s making the trip, for sure,” Babcock said, “and we’re hoping he’s playing here soon.”
Aside from noting that Kris Draper wears Crocs (via the Wings’ website) and that single tickets remain available for Saturday’s game, I can offer you more stories about the Valeri Kharlamov Trophy winner from Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner....
When I co-wrote the book “What It Means to be a Red Wing” Datsyuk agreed to be in the book and wanted to be interviewed at a Starbucks near his home. When I arrive at the crowded Starbucks, Pavel is sitting by himself, talking on his cell phone. He sees me and tells me, “Art, get anything you want. I have Starbucks card!” I grab a cup of coffee and interview him for an hour or so. We’re sitting there talking, I have a microphone in my hand and nobody comes near us. After the interview is concluded, Datsyuk leaves and I go up to the two high-school-age girls working behind the counter.
“Do you know who that guys was I was talking to?” I ask them.
“We know he ain’t American,” they tell me.
“You know the Red Wings, right?” I ask.
“Yeah, Steve Yzerman,” they say.
“He plays with Steve Yzerman. His name is Pavel Datsyuk and he’s one of Detroit’s best players,” I tell them.
“No way, that guy’s not an athlete. He’s way too small,” the girls respond.
After I assure the girls that Datsyuk is a Red Wing and that not all professional athletes are behemoths, they get all excited. They tell me that Datsyuk is in there all the time and they can’t wait to tell their friends that a real live Red Wing comes into their store. Thinking about it later, I realized that Pavel goes there because nobody knows who is. He can go there to mellow out without be approached by anybody. A tremendous feeling of guilt overcame me. I had to tell him what idiotic thing I had just done. The next day after a game, I come clean with Datsyuk. I tell him I’m really sorry for blowing his cover. Pavel looks me straight into the eye, shakes his head and says, “Art, Art, Art, I would be very angry with you if there wasn’t a Starbucks on every street corner.”
And I can offer you a few tailings from Thursday via the Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell...
Hearing Todd Bertuzzi’s comment it’s been a long time since he’d heard his name chanted by a crowd in a positive fashion brought a smile to Ed Jovanovski’s face. Jovanovski and Bertuzzi were teammates in Vancouver at the time of the Steve Moore incident seven years ago and remain friends.
“It’s good to see,” Jovanovski said of the crowd reaction. “Going through a tough time like that (Steve Moore incident), it seems like its dragged on forever. It’s not over yet. He’s got a big heart and he cares for his teammates. We had good times in Vancouver together. You just wish the best for him because he’s been dragged through the mud quite a bit the last few years.”
That Detroit is the place that Bertuzzi has finally found a home and peace of mind is somewhat ironic. He was a loathed figure back in 2002 when the Canucks and Wings clashed in the opening round of the playoffs.
“In talking to him, he’s found a home here,” Jovanovski said. “He really enjoys it and likes the system here. He’s not called upon to score 40 or 50 goals like in Vancouver. He just can go and do his work. (Mike) Babcock has been really good for him. Sometimes you just find a place you feel comfortable.”
And MLive’s Ansar Khan:
Johan Franzen struggled late in the regular season, picking up just two goals in his final 27 games. He looked like a different player on Wednesday, assisting on Pavel Datsyuk’s goal and scoring on a laser-like wrist shot. And Cleary thinks he knows why.
“He’s been happier the last few days,” Cleary said. “He just hates the regular season, I think. We all know how important he is for our team. When he’s going, he’s very hard to stop. If he gets on a roll, it’s complete dominance physically. His skating, he’s so powerful working without the puck, and his shot is world class.”
Babcock, on former defenseman Chris Chelios helping run practice Thursday for the Black Aces (playoff reserves): “I don’t know if Cheli’s a coach, or a scout, or a GM or a vice president. He is probably whatever he wants to be. It’s just good having him around. He’s been down there (with the Grand Rapids Griffins) helping those kids, watching their games.”
Update #2: Here’s Phoenix Coyotes announcer Dave Strader speaking to WDFN’s Ryan Ermanni…
Here’s Babcock’s presser from the Wings’ website:
And WXYZ’s Tom Leyden’s video report:
Update #3: Here’s Leyden’s full video report:
Per Red Wings release, this BADASS shirt will be available at Hockeytown Authentics and the Joe for a limited time http://twitpic.com/4l7clh
$5 of every purchase will be donated to The Kid Rock Foundation.
Here’s the Red Wings’ release:
LIMITED-EDITION ‘MADE IN DETROIT’ NICKLAS LIDSTROM T-SHIRTS FOR SALE DURING PLAYOFFS
… Five Dollars from Every T-Shirt Sold will Help Benefit the Kid Rock Foundation …
Detroit, MI… Throughout the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, fans of Detroit Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom will be able to obtain a one-of-a-kind apparel item donning the award-winning defenseman’s likeness, with a limited-edition Made In Detroit T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan ‘Born in Sweden, Made in Detroit’ available for purchase at all official Red Wings retail outlets including Hockeytown Authentics in Troy and the Joe Louis Arena Store.
Retailing for $25 apiece, $5 from each Made In Detroit Nicklas Lidstrom ‘Born in Sweden, Made in Detroit’ T-shirt sold during the Red Wings’ playoff run will be donated to the Kid Rock Foundation, a philanthropic entity founded by Michigan-born music star Kid Rock.
Update #4: The Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness believes that Mike Modano will remain out for Saturday, too:
The Detroit Red Wings will go with the same lineup in Game 2 against the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 2 Saturday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena, which means Mike Modano and Jakub Kindl will be healthy scratches. Here are the lines:
Johan Franzen-Pavel Datsyuk-Tomas Holmstrom
Danny Cleary-Justin Abdelkader-Todd Bertuzzi
Jiri Hudler-Valtteri Filppula-Drew Miller
Kris Draper-Darren Helm-Patrick Eaves
Nicklas Lidstrom-Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson-Brian Rafalski
Niklas Kronwall-Ruslan Salei
Henrik Zetterberg (left knee) skated for a second straight day before practice, but will not play in Game 2. Wings coach Mike Babcock continues to list Zetterberg as day-to-day. However, the team doesn’t expect him to ready to play until at least Game 6.
• If you’re interested, ESPN’s Matthew Barnaby and Barry Melrose have a Game 2 preview up;
• Here’s Craig Custance’s Zetterberg report:
“I just talked to him. I asked him if he’s playing. He’s not,” Babcock said. “He’ll continue to be day to day.”
The positive news is that Zetterberg will join the Red Wings on the trip to Phoenix for Games 3 and 4 in the Western Conference quarterfinals.
“We’re hoping he’s playing here soon,” Babcock said.
• Tom Leyden’s full video report on WXYZ includes quips from Danny Cleary, Jiri Hudler, Todd Bertuzzi, Niklas Kronwall and Mike Babcock:
• The Windsor Star’s Bob Duff reports that Derek Morris remains “day-to-day” for Phoenix.
There is a group of forwards who are automatics every single night. There’s a group of forwards who are near-automatics every night, based on how they are playing right now. And then there are three or four guys who will battle for the last two or three spots. (I say two or three spots because one spot will disappear when Henrik Zetterberg returns from his knee injury). Modano is in that final group. Right now, Darren Helm should play because of his speed and because of his huge plays in playoffs past. Draper should play because of his speed, his defense and his face-off ability. Justin Abdelkader should play because his muscle has been a boon to this team the last couple of weeks. So Modano sits, which is tough to watch but happens to almost every great player at some point.
Here are two things that Modano can count on:
1.) He won’t play until the Wings lose. Nobody is more superstitious than a hockey coach. Thus, no lineup changes will come until Phoenix wins a game in this series. And if that win doesn’t come until Game 3 or Game 4, there might not be a change anyway. That goes out the window, of course, if someone gets hurt, which leads us to ...
2.) Someone will get hurt. It happens every year to every team. Chelios languished in the press box during the 2009 playoffs, then got on the ice because of an injury during the Chicago series and actually had a chance to clinch the Western Conference in overtime of Game 5 at the Joe. Only Babcock knows where Modano sits in the pecking order, but the Stanley Cup playoffs are more violent than any other playoff, and the reserves always seem to find their way onto the ice.
We know this isn’t why Modano signed here, and I doubt this is what the Red Wings envisioned. But all parties agreed to the deal with one goal in mind: winning the Stanley Cup. And Babcock has a better grasp on what it takes to get there than anyone.
• Via Todd Walsh, here’s Shane Doan talking to the media:
• The Coyotes’ website also posted Tippett’s presser audio;
Update: Per Custance, in case you didn’t already know, Johan Franzen’s a clutch playoff performer:
Johan Franzen, Red Wings. Before the playoffs started, Franzen admitted his focus is much sharper during the playoffs. On Thursday, Danny Cleary joked that Franzen hates the regular season. Regardless, there’s no denying Franzen is one of the best playoff performers in the game today. When the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 2008, he topped all playoff performers with 13 goals, including five game-winners. He has 36 career playoff goals—11 of them game-winners.
• Via the Coyotes’ website, here’s Dave Tippett’s presser…
An interview with Shane Doan…
And an interview with Ray Whitney:
Update #7: Per NHL.com’s Brian Hedger, part 1:
Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov was asked on Friday about Detroit’s longstanding tradition of fans hurling octopi onto the ice to help bring good luck to the Red Wings. Does it bother him at all?
“No,” he said. “They’re not throwing the whole octopus on me … otherwise, I would stink.”
Veteran defenseman Derek Morris again didn’t skate on his own or with the Coyotes at their practice on Friday and Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said he’s still day-to-day in his recovery from an upper-body injury.
David Schlemko played in Morris’ place for Game 1.
“He’s been pretty good,” coach Dave Tippett said. “He was fine the other night. It’s not as if he hasn’t played this year. He’s played a lot for us and with the injuries to our blue line that we’ve had, he’s a young player that’s come along and given us quality minutes. He’s a good puck-mover. Smart player.”
Injured Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg (lower body) skated on his own for the second straight day, but will not play in Game 2 on Saturday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.
Zetterberg, who missed the last two games of the regular season and Game 1 against Phoenix on Wednesday night, is still being listed as day-to-day with the injury. He will also make the trip with the team to Phoenix as he continues to show progress.
“Zetterberg’s making the trip for sure,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said after the Red Wings’ Friday practice. “We’re hoping he’s playing here soon.”
After committing five penalties in the first 25 minutes of Game 1 and six overall, the Red Wings know they can’t keep parading to the penalty box and completely shutting down the Phoenix power play.
Detroit killed off all six penalties in the first game, but it’s probably best not to keep testing goalie Jimmy Howard and the penalty killing units so often.
“We can’t take the penalties, especially the stick penalties,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “We high-sticked someone, we took, I think, four other stick penalties. I mean, they told us before (the game) how it was going to be and we didn’t handle it the right way.”
Luckily, the penalty killers and Howard were up to the task on more than one occasion.
“In the end, we were fortunate that Howie made an unbelievable save on (Radim Vrbata) on a 5-on-3 when he was by himself, he made a great save on (Ray Whitney) when they got a nice carom off the backboard and he made a breakaway save on (Shane Doan),” Babcock said. “Otherwise we don’t win the game. That’s the facts. These things can all be helped with better discipline and recovering with your feet instead of your stick.”
• Per DetroitRedWings.com’s Michael Caples, Homer’s been warned...
“What we did with Homer was we had a lot of called-off goals during the year, we didn’t like it,” Babcock said. “So instead of having his heels in the paint, we got a six-inch imaginary line there - we use the same thing with (Danny) Cleary, making sure our guys are outside the paint. And yet, we want to be right there at the edge, making sure we’re not disrupting the goalie’s play, but being there and being available for rebounds and pushing the goalie back.”
Bertuzzi doesn’t feel like talking about fighting, but he’ll talk about the crowd chanting his name:
“What happened the first game is over with,” Bertuzzi said, “and we have to prepare ourselves for this next game. It’s going to be a tough one, but it’s one that we really need.”
“It’s just a good atmosphere,” he said. “I think people were excited. The regular-season just drags on and on and on. It gets tiresome for them and us, so it’s exciting when the playoffs are around, and I kind of expect the same thing for Game 2.”
And a Derek Meech mention, 2.6 million fans and other stuff included, the Wings say that goaltending will probably decide the, well, playoffs:
“Just in watching all the playoff games, I think the goaltending has been pretty exceptional,” Babcock said Thursday afternoon. “With the exception of one of the games I saw, I think the goaltending has been top-notch.”
That top-notch goaltending has led to four shutouts in the eight opening games of the conference quarterfinal round. While the Wings and Coyotes combined for six-goals on Wednesday, the rest of the opening-night games featured 13 goals – five of those coming from the Nashville-Anaheim series. On Thursday, the three NHL games featured only eight goals. In total, the first eight playoff games averaged 3.375 goals per game, much closer to the average goals one team scores during a regular-season game. Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said that he’s not surprised that goal-scoring dropped when the postseason began.
“Everyone wants to play better defense, everyone wants to tighten up defensively,” Lidstrom said. “Everyone wants to play well in front of their goalie. There are some great goaltenders in this league, too. So low-scoring games and shutouts, I’m not surprised to see that in the playoffs.”
“I think with everything you just try to tighten things up,” Kronwall said. “Make sure it’s harder for them to come to a shot and always try to make Howie see the puck. We know we haven’t played our best in the regular-season but that’s history now, right now we have to look forward and make sure that we do what we do to be successful in our own zone.”
• This doesn’t go anywhere: Alan Walsh with Eric Belanger:
Update #8: From NHL.com, good ratings abound:
In the U.S., VERSUS set a network record by averaging 534,328 viewers with their opening night triple-header, the best opening night in its six years of Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage and a 12 percent increase over last year. In Canada, CBC earned a 29 percent increase over last year by averaging 1.58 million viewers for its two opening night playoff broadcasts, highlighted by its coverage of Chicago-Vancouver, up a whopping 207 percent over the comparable game last year (Colorado-San Jose). TSN’s telecast of New York-Washington delivered 664,000 viewers; good for a 38 percent gain compared to last year’s opening playoff broadcast featuring two U.S. based teams (Philadelphia-New Jersey, 481,000 viewers).
Locally, Comcast SportsNet’s scored with its Game 1 coverage of the Washington-New York series, posting a 6.2 rating in the D.C. market, making it the second-highest Capitals rating in network history, behind only Game 7 of last year’s first-round series vs. Montreal (8.10) and up 21 percent over last year’s Game 1 against Montreal. The game also earned strong ratings in New York despite head-to-head competition from the Knicks, Yankees and Mets. The 3.4 local rating in New York on MSG Plus made it the highest-rated Conference Quarterfinal telecast for the Rangers since 1997. On ROOT Sports in Pittsburgh, the Penguins earned a massive 16.2 for its win over Tampa Bay. Detroit responded to the Red Wings Game 1 victory over Phoenix with a 9.4 rating on Fox Sports Detroit, while the Blackhawks drew a 5.1 on Comcast SportsNet for its Game 1 loss in Vancouver.
Update: DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose spoke to the Wings’ players about that ugly 1 PM start:
When reporters asked him about his plans for Saturday, Wings forward Jiri Hudler wouldn’t divulge much information. “Get sleep tonight, obviously going to eat, then I’ll get ready,” he said with a smile. When he was asked about what his pre-game meal would consist of, Hudler declined to answer. “I can’t comment, sorry,” he said.
However, other members of the Wings were more open about their pre-game plans. Johan Franzen said that while he hasn’t decided on what his pre-game meal will be (“I’ll decide in the morning”), he has faith in his wife’s cooking abilities. And Niklas Kronwall expects to have spaghetti with meat sauce, some oatmeal, and maybe some eggs. The Wings’ defenseman doesn’t expect the changes to affect the Wings’ play.
“You have to get up at a different hour, at a certain time,” Kronwall said. “You have to think a little bit more about when to eat and what to do at a certain hour, a little bit more than on a regular day when everything’s a routine … but it takes two seconds to figure that out.”
Says Nicklas Lidstrom:
“Once you get going, it’s not hard at all. It’s just a matter of getting going early, having that mindset of being ready when the puck is dropped and getting your legs going, especially in warm-ups, get your legs going in warm-ups and you’re ready to go when the puck is dropped.”
“The only real difference is that we’re not coming down here and skating in the morning,” [Jimmy Howard] said. “The biggest difference is going out in warm-ups and getting a good warm-ups in.”
Wings coach Mike Babcock, who gets up at 6:17 in the morning, every morning, likes it:
“I like this a lot,” Babcock said. “You can come down here, you don’t have the morning skate, which I think is a waste of time at this time of the year, you get ready for the game, and plus, we’re traveling to Phoenix, I think it sets you up for a Game 3 better, we get out there right after the game, and for me, it’s a real good situation for us.”
Roose also spoke to Johan Franzen’s teammates about Franzen’s prolific playoff scoring, introverted nature and apparently fantastic golf game:
“He hasn’t been scoring lately, but he’s been making plays for us,” Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “I think some people try to overlook that. It’s not like he’s been playing bad for some reason. He’s been setting up other guys and he’s a helluva player. But of course, with that shot of his we all know that he can get on a pretty good role in the playoffs. And I thought he had a great start in Game 1.”
“For him it just seems when the playoffs come around – and I hope I’m not jinxing it now – but he has that extra dimension where he goes full out every shift and anytime he gets it he shoots it,” Kronwall said. “That’s what we need from him.”
Franzen’s 0.934 points per playoff game are astonishing, leaving one teammate dumbfounded this week at the news of just how vast Mule’s spring success has been.
“Wow! That’s outstanding,” said Kronwall when told of the statistic. “I didn’t know that. I don’t know how to explain it. Some guys just have that little extra edge; I don’t know how to explain it.”
Henrik Zetterberg offered the most astute observation regarding someone who literally lives in a small cottage that’s on an island in the middle of a lake in Sweden during the summers, suggesting that this season was probably a learning experience for a person who deals an anxiety disorder:
“I think with his contract and the way he’s been playing the last year there’s more weight on his shoulders,” Zetterberg said. “He feels that responsibility and when he thinks that he doesn’t score enough, sometimes it can be tough. It’s kind of a new situation for him, and I think he’s learning to deal with that.”
Update #whatever: After noting Mike Modano’s status (he won’t go in till the team loses), Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner spoke to Jiri Hudler about being back on the team and back in Detroit after spending last year in Russia, where Dynamo Moscow folded after being eliminated in the first round of the KHL playoffs…
“For me it’s like Christmas (playoff time), I’m really excited, I’m really happy to be here,” Hudler said. “Joe Louis is a great rink, great fans and a great group of friends on the same team. It’s good.”
“Everybody has been so supportive, it’s better than it was before,” said Hudler. “They (the fans) know that I love this town. I’ve always been a Red Wing…that’s gotta tell you something. I feel like…a good percentage of people like me here. I have no idea.” (Laughs).
He spoke to Niklas Kronwall about shaking off rust in Game 1…
“Anytime you’ve been out you’re a little rusty,” said Kronwall about his return. “In general I felt pretty good out there. Still there were some mistakes; I’d like to do better next time.”
As far as Detroit’s constant parade to the penalty box, Kronwall was not pointing a finger, blaming the officials.
“We have to do a better job, in the first game here I definitely think that most of those penalties actually were penalties,” said Kronwall. “You can’t argue with that. The refs want to set a standard during the playoffs to try and keep the same level all through the playoffs.” They told us they were going to be more picky and they were. It’s up to us to get our head around that and move forward.”
And he spoke to Chris Osgood about mentoring Jimmy Howard:
“It’s pretty easy,” said Osgood, “just being around Jimmy is the biggest thing. He likes having me around. We don’t talk about hockey all the time, but when he needs to know something we’ll talk or he’ll ask me something. Other than that, we never really talk about a mentoring role. He likes to have my presence around him. Whenever he needs to lean on me he knows that I’m there for him. Because as a goalie here, it can be a lonely place…to have guys that are going to support him no matter what is comforting, it gives him that comfort level to just go out and play.”
• The AP’s Larry Lage and CP’s Kevin Woodley spoke to Coyotes forward Vernon Fiddler, Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall and Vancouver Canucks forward Maxim Lapierre about shot-blocking, but I’ll stick with the Fiddler/Kronwall comments and let you read Lapierre’s remarks on your own:
“It’s one of the things I’m paid to do,” Fiddler said nonchalantly. “I’ve got to get in front of pucks, especially on the penalty kill. It’s part of my game that I like to do because it’s something you have to do to win. But it’s not always fun. Al MacInnis hit me when I was playing for Nashville and I was limping for about four weeks.”
Fiddler said he chooses not to wear Skate Fenders, a relatively new piece of equipment made in Gaylord, Mich., because they get in the way. Kronwall, who used his body to block two shots during Phoenix’s 5-on-3 power play in Game 1, is happy the piece of polycarbonate fits over his laces and around his ankles to protect him from whizzing pucks. He chose to go without Skate Fenders until Chicago’s Brent Seabrook launched a shot that hit his foot a couple years ago.
“I was lucky I didn’t break anything in my foot, but that’s when I figured I might as well try it,” Kronwall recalled. “You don’t feel them because they’re very light and they give you a little more protection. You’re still going to feel it, but it’s going to help you not get hurt.”
NHL teams began using Skate Fenders last year - both Philadelphia and Chicago had players wearing them in the Stanley Cup finals - and more than half the teams have used them in some way this season.
Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard is thankful he’s got teammates willing to do whatever it takes to keep the pucks from reaching him. They blocked 18 shots on Wednesday night, allowing 28 to get to Howard in a 4-2 victory.
“When guys tee it up from the back end, it takes a lot of guts to get your body in the way,” Howard said. “Kronner stopped two slap shots that were huge for us during the 5 on 3. If one of those got past him and me, who knows what would’ve happened in that game?”
• And, lest I forget, the Wings game will be carried on WDIV Local 4 in Detroit on Saturday, and Mickey Redmond will appear on a post-game show alongside Bernie Smilovitz. FYI.
Update #10: Here’s Chris Chelios on WDFN’s Sean, Terp and Killer show:
• And NHL.com’s Brian Hedger discusses the emergences of Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm as the heirs apparent to the Grind Line’s legacy:
They might’ve ratcheted up their intensity for the playoffs, but Abdelkader and Helm have approached the entire season that way. Helm played in all 82 games and finished with 12 goals, 32 points and a plus-9 while centering the Wings’ checking line. Often playing the wing alongside him was Abdelkader, who also bounced around from the fourth line all the way to the top line—playing 74 games and chipping in 7 goals with 19 points and a plus-15 rating. In the faceoff circle, Helm won 52.6 percent of draws while Abdelkader won 52.8 percent. Together, they’ve become quite the young duo of energetic role players that Red Wings coach Mike Babcock loves to suit up.
“They think they’re going to work hard enough, long enough that they’re gonna find a way to be better than you are—and they’re going to be long-time Red Wings and pros because of it,” Babcock said. “They make the people around them better because of their off-ice conditioning, because of their attitude, because of the energy they bring each and every day.”
Abdelkader is, of course, centering Danny Cleary and Todd Bertuzzi in the absence of Henrik Zetterberg…
“It’s been a great opportunity,” [Abdelkader] told NHL.com. “(Cleary and Bertuzzi) are two really good players and I think we can be a strong line. We’re big and can all skate and hang onto pucks. That’s important come playoff time. We can wear on their D and be physical. That’s key for us.”
And “Danger” Helm has slowed down to let his hands catch up with his feet:
“In junior, I always put up more points and was counted on to score more—but coming here, it was an adjustment to get into the defensive role a little more,” Helm told NHL.com. “It’s a tough League. You can’t just jump from junior to the AHL or NHL and not expect there to be a lot of differences. That took a little getting used to, but my speed definitely helped make up for the mistakes I made early on.”
“He’s a guy that is going to continue to get better,” Draper said. “Tremendous speed and he’s just getting more confident every game. He’s killing big penalties, taking big faceoffs and continues to create chances with his speed. Stuff like that is contagious. When you see what he does, you just kind of want to get over the boards and do the same thing.”
Kirk Maltby agrees with Hedger’s suggestion that Abdelkader and Helm, or Helm and Abdelkader, might have been picked on as “Dumb and Dumber,” but #8’s emulation of #18’s play and #43’s tendency to look like #33 are very apparent to Maltby:
“Those two guys in particular, they can start wearing defensemen down on the forecheck,” Maltby told NHL.com. “They like to finish checks. They get in there quick and not only create turnovers, but by Game 4 or Game 5 of a series, the d-men are looking over their shoulder and maybe are getting physically fatigued—which can lead to mental mistakes. It’s guys like them that do those kinds of things throughout the course of a series to help you win.”
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