The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/02/11 at 08:36 PM ET
Updated 3x at 9:15 PM with USA Today’s Kevin Allen on WDFN, Wings-Sharks hype and other notes: According to the Orange County Register’s Eric Stephens, the Detroit Red Wings will face an Anaheim Ducks lineup including Corey Perry when the two teams tangle tonight in Anaheim (10 PM, FSD/FS West/WXYT):
Corey Perry said he will play against Detroit after coming off the ice early during Tuesday’s practice due to an apparent lower-body injury. Though banged up, Perry has played in all 63 games this season and hasn’t miss one dating back to 2008-09.
The Ducks will not, however, have Saku Koivu in the lineup…
Saku Koivu skated for quite a while during the optional morning skate but he ruled himself out for tonight as it appears he’s still in the process of recovering from his injured groin muscle.
When asked if there’s been any progress, Koivu said, “I don’t know.” I’ve got to take it a day at at time,” he continued. “It’s the first time I skated today. We’ll see how it goes.”
And Ducks coach Randy Carlyle expressed support for the Ducks’ unlikely go-to netminder, Dan Ellis:
“We know he’s a battler,” Carlyle said. ”He’s going to battle. I think that is what we’re looking for. His compete level is very high. I think he’s getting accustomed to some of the things we like to do on our puck recoveries in the defensive zone. He’s very active tracking down pucks and playing the puck. He’s probably the most active goalie that we’ve had in a while where he has the ability to take the puck and clear the zone himself.”
Ellis said he’s quickly learning about the tendencies that his defensemen have, the odd bounces that pucks can take off the Honda Center glass and the occasionally choppy ice he’ll need to adjust to. But he already had high marks for his defense corps, saying that it’s one of the best he’s played with and “they communicate better than anyone I’ve ever played with.”
The Orange County Register’s Curtis Zupke posted a capsule game preview...
Ducks How they match up Red Wings
2.73 Goals per game 3.32
2.92 Goals-against avg. 2.87
22.2% Power play 21.7%
80.5% Penalty killing 81.8%
G Jimmy Howard has shut out the Ducks twice this season, including a 4-0 victory at Honda Center on Dec.3, and has a 1.34 goals-against average in three meetings … C Pavel Datsyuk has seven goals and five assists in 11 games since he returned from a hand injury, and LW Jiri Hudler has 14 points in his last 11 games … RW Corey Perry, who left practice with a lower-body injury, has 17 points in his last 11 games and is one goal shy of matching his career high 32 … Detroit entered Tuesday leading the NHL in five-on-five scoring … The Ducks and Red Wings ranks fourth and fifth, respectively, on the power play.
And the Ducks’ website posted a slate of pre-game comments from coach Randy Carlyle, Dan Ellis, defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky and former Wing Andreas Lilja:
On the Red Wings’ side of things, the Free Press’s Helene St. James reported the night’s scratches...
Justin Abdelkader is out among the forwards. Brian Rafalski is out on the back end, so the pairings will be Lidstrom-Stuart, Kronwall-Ericsson and Kindl-Salei. Jimmy Howard is starting in goal tonight, and Joey MacDonald is scheduled to start Thursday at San Jose.
The Wings have won six straight games on the road.
“For whatever reason, we’re playing better defensively,” captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “We’re more responsible with the third man high and playing better in our own zone, and I think our shift length is a little bit shorter, too, on the road. When you don’t have the last change, sometimes you have to change to get the matchups the way you want them, so that sometimes forces you to get on and off a lot more.”
And she reports that Johan Franzen was beaming about the birth of his son on Sunday…
Franzen arrived in town Tuesday night, having spent three days at home with his wife and newborn son. Cecilia Franzen gave birth to the couple’s first baby, Eddie Bo Johan Franzen, on Monday morning.
“It was fun—something else,” Franzen said. “I got a lot of photos and video clips I can watch, so I should survive.”
As did the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:
“It was something else,” said Franzen, who’ll be in the lineup Wednesday night against Anaheim after missing Monday’s game in Los Angeles. “Pretty special.”
Franzen created some confusion with teammates when he emailed a picture of the baby — but didn’t say whether it was a boy or girl.
“I said, ‘Baby Mule,’” said Franzen, whose nickname is Mule. “I thought they’d figure out it was a boy.”
Franzen admitted it was tough to concentrate on hockey in the days leading up to his son’s arrival.
“My wife said I was nervous,” Franzen said. “Maybe your mind wanders between periods. But once you’re on the ice, you don’t think about it.”
MLive’s Ansar Khan posted more comments from Franzen...
Franzen’s wife, Cecilia, gave birth to their first child on Monday, a boy they named Eddie Bo Johan.
“She liked Eddie, and Bo is her dad’s name. Usually we have three names back home (in Sweden),’’ Franzen said. “It was fun, something else.’‘
Franzen, who missed Monday’s game in Los Angeles, said it was tough leaving home on Tuesday, but added, “I got a lot of photos and video clips I can watch, so I’ll survive.’‘
And he posted both the Wings’ and Ducks’ lineups, confirmed that Joey MacDonald will start on Thursday, and noted the following:
Detroit is 3-0 vs. Anaheim this season, including a pair of 4-0 shutouts by Howard. No team has swept this season series since the Ducks entered the league in 1993-94.
Also of Wings-related note:
• The Macomb Daily’s Pat Caputo posted a very lengthy column about Jimmy Howard’s contract extension and the surprisingly negative reaction from fans, at least on sports talk radio, to Howard’s 2-year, $4.5 million contract:
I used to think goalie only ranked with the Lions’ quarterback and Tigers’ closer as sources of trepidation in this town, but if Matthew Stafford or Jose Valverde ever become as productive for the Lions and Tigers over the same period as Howard has for the Red Wings, they will get parades in their honor down Woodward Ave. Now, I’m not intimating that Howard still doesn’t have much to prove. It’s all about the playoffs. Howard was spotty in the postseason last year. Not awful, but clearly not good enough. But it was his first time.
And what have Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo and Buffalo’s Ryan Miller ever done in the playoffs? Luongo has a 12-year, $64 million contract. Miller makes over $6 million per year. Howard has done more than enough to earn his contract extension. It was a solid signing by the Red Wings. Howard’s earned his shot in net in the postseason.
Why is he being judged so harshly long before judgment day?
Says a lot more about the quirky nature of Detroit hockey fans than it does about Jimmy Howard.
• The Mercury News’s David Pollak is already playing up tomorrow night’s Wings-Sharks game as a playoff preview and a huge battle as the Sharks sit four points behind the Wings in the Western Conference standings (he asked Todd McLellan whether the Wings’ fans consider the Sharks to be a big rival, too):
[W]hile some in San Jose are treating the matchup as just another two points on the schedule, defenseman Douglas Murray wasn’t reluctant to look at the bigger picture. And that means both looking back to last spring’s playoff victory over the Red Wings and what may lie ahead this spring.
“We had home ice against Detroit last year and we got off to a great start against them. It’s huge,” Murray said of San Jose’s five-game knockout of Detroit to advance to the Western Conference finals.
“They’re definitely a team you usually have got to go through to win the Stanley Cup and we would much rather play in The Tank than over at Joe Louis.”
The Sharks’ veterans hope to send a message against the Wings tomorrow night…
“In Chicago, we battled against them a lot and you always got motivated when they came into town or you’re going into their barn,” said former Blackhawk Ben Eager, who is expected to play Thursday night after missing one game with an upper body injury. “You know you’ve got to be ready when you play against them because if you’re not, they’ll take advantage of you.”
“Blues-Red Wings has a lot of history, although the last 10 years have clearly been dominated by Detroit,” said Sharks forward Jamal Mayers, who played a decade with St. Louis. “Needless to say I don’t like them.”
But coach Todd McLellan feels that the fact that both teams have lost their home games to each other is merely an aberration:
“Both teams have very good road records, both teams are very comfortable playing on the road and in hostile environments and both teams are veteran teams,” the Sharks coach said. “So I wouldn’t say it’s a surprise that it’s gone that way so far. We’d like to change that trend obviously, but you’ve got to put the work in for that to happen.”
• The Red Wings rank third in Craig Custance’s “Power Poll” on the Sporting News’s website;
• Mikael Samuelsson offers the Red Wings-Canucks comparison of the day in speaking to the Vancouver Province’s Jason Botchford;
• Per Hockey East’s website, Wings prospect Gustav Nyquist was named the hockey conference’s player of the month for February:
ATHLETIC REPUBLIC PLAYER OF THE MONTH
Gustav Nyquist - Mainee
Junior forward; Malmo, Sweden
Nyquist scored 10 goals and added four assists for 14 points.. He recorded four power play goals, two short-handed goals and one game-winner. Opened February with a hat trick at New Hampshire and followed that up with a goal the following night to finish the weekend with four goals. He buried three goals and an assist in weekend split with Vermont. Nyquist had two of Maine’s three goals including the game-winner in Maine’s win over UMass-Lowell on Feb. 19 and followed that up with a goal and three assists in weekend week of No. 4 Merrimack. He notched points in seven of eight games in February and scored at least one goal in six of the eight games.
• According to the ladies and gents at Hockey’s Future, Wings prospect Teemu Pulkkinen has posted 49 points over the course of 51 games with Jokerit Helsinki;
• The Red Wings’ website posted a clip of Justin Abdelkader donating ball hockey equipment to Hill Elementary School in Troy, MI recently:
• Per the Griffins’ Facebook page, Grand Valley State University posted a little documentary about the Grand Rapids Griffins’ relationship with their fans at Van Andel Arena:
• If you’re interested, the Globe and Mail’s Eric Duhatschek posted a profile of Ellis;
• And Fox Sports Detroit’s John Keating offered a sporting rebuttal to Glenn Beck’s suggestions about Detroit.
One more update: Russia Today reports that the Czech national team has chosen to decline to invite Dominik Hasek to participate in the World Championships.
Update 9:11 PM: SI’s Stu Hackel also mentions Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg as possible Hart Trophy candidates.
Update 9:15 PM: USA Today’s Kevin Allen spoke to WDFN’s Sean Baligian today, discussing the trade deadline and the Wings’ lack of moves:
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