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The Malik Report

Red Wings-Ducks game-day updates: Bertuzzi in, MacDonald starts, Lidstrom ‘shut down,’ Nyquist to GR

Updated one last time at 9:20 PM: Putting mid-day chatter behind us, the Red Wings will tangle with the Anaheim Ducks tonight (10 PM EDT, FSD/FS West/97.1 FM), and while it should come as little surprise that the Red Wings’ website reports that the Wings engaged in an optional morning skate (so did the Ducks, who NHL.com’s Curtis Zupke confirms will start Jonas Hiller, and Corey Perry and Luca Sbisa may or may not play), and our biggest lineup news comes from the Free Press’s Helene St. James, who reports the following...

Bertuzzi says he’s playing tonight against Ducks
MacDonald starting tonight, Howard back on Saturday as starter

And MLive’s Ansar Khan explains why “Joey Mac” is starting tonight:

Bertuzzi said he is playing tonight.
MacDonald starting in goal tonight for Wings. The plan was to not play Howard back to back coming off groin injury

How optional was the Wings’ skate? DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose provides a list of its full-time attendees…

#RedWings are on the ice here at Honda Center for optional skate w/ 31, 35, 4, 13, 44, 39, 52, and 2 participating.

And the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa—give his Twitter account a follow, folks—provides the details of the Wings’ skate:

lidstrom, datsyuk, howard, bertuzzi, kindl, macdonald, ericsson, coach bedard on ice for optional skate in anaheim.
lidstrom skated briefly and slowly before sitting on the bench to consult with equipment person about skate on injured ankle.
smith and mursak on the ice. bertuzzi shooting hard on howard and macdonald. lidstrom back in dressing room.
wings routinely have an optional skate the morning between games on consecutive nights.

Grumble, via Khan:

Lidstrom dressed but didn’t go on ice after trainer looked at ankle on bench at skate in Anaheim. Limped back to room. Now riding bike.
Very optional skate for Wings, as expected. Datsyuk, Bertuzzi, Kindl, Ericsson, Smith and goalies on the ice.
Datsyuk said he is not playing tonight after skating for “27 minutes and 37 seconds.” not sure about Saturday in San jose

And St. James:

Datsyuk skated again, remains hopeful for Saturday

Amongst the Red Wings Twitter account’s quips:

Players are about to hit the ice for an optional morning skate in Anaheim.
Jonathan Ericsson watches Jakub Kindl on the bike. say.ly/GRv1zL1
Howard, Bertuzzi, Kindl, Datsyuk and Smith are among the players on ice right now.
Lidstrom is currently riding a stationary bike in the hallway outside the locker room. He did not skate this morning.
Brendan Smith’s bracket, including his Final Four of Michigan State, Kentucky, Florida State and North Carolina. twitpic.com/8watcz
Datsyuk: I am skating every day better and better, but it is tough to say.

Of significant viewing note from Fox Sports Detroit...

Wings-Ducks tonight at 10 on FSD. Nick Lidstrom joins Ken Daniels and Larry Murphy in the booth at the start of the second period. #RedWings

From the other end of the ice, per the Ducks, Corey Perry’s a “game-time decision”:

Reminder: Saku Koivu will be honored for his 1,000 game milestone before tonight’s #NHLDucks-#Wings game. http://yfrog.com/oeu9hzbcj
#NHLDucks warming up for morning skate. Both Luca Sbisa and Corey Perry Perry out there, will provide available updates later.
Per Boudreau: Bonino back in tonight. Perry and Sbisa will be gametime decisions. #NHLDucks
In addition to honoring Koivu pregame, Selanne will be recognized during a TV timeout for passing Jari Kurri on the @NHL scoring list.

NHL.com’s Curtis Zupke confirms…

Perry and Sbisa skating at the Ducks’ skate. Looks like a lot of the vets took the optional.
Jonas Hiller off the ice first. Tonight would be his 30th straight start.
Boudreau said Perry and Sbisa are gametime decisions. Sbisa is closer. Bonino is good to go, Boudreau said.

And the Orange County Register’s Eric Stephens:

Nick Bonino (lower) is back in tonight for Ducks.
Boudreau said Perry and Sbisa are available but doesn’t mean they’ll play. Translation: Sbisa more possible, Perry doubtful.
Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk won’t play for Wings tonight against Ducks. Todd Bertuzzi (groin) is possible for return.
Roster move - #NHLDucks reassign C Ryan O’Marra to #AHL @SyracuseCrunch.

If you really, really, really want to read Jeff Miller’s gabba about Ducks injuries prior to the morning skate, or Miller’s article about Kyle Palmieri, you may most certainly enjoy them on your own.

In non-game-day news, via RedWingsFeed, RedWingsCentral’s Matthew Wuest reports that the Wings will probably retain Dick Axelsson’s rights, but Axelsson, who’s struggled with groin and knee injuries and hasn’t done a great job of avoiding the distractions that are Facebook and Twitter wars with fans who were angry that he signed with Modo Ornskoldsvik instead or Skelleftea AIK or re-signing with Farjestads BK, or because his initial profile picture showed him sporting a double chin…

Let’s just say that the Wings will qualify him, but don’t plan on giving the 25-year-old Axelsson a roster spot next season:

“We still own his rights, but he needs to play really big in those (international) tournaments and at the world championship for us to have some interest in him,” said Red Wings director of European scouting Hakan Andersson. “The way to show (you’re ready for the NHL) is to make the national team and be a player there.”

The 6-foot-2 188-pounder had an injury-plagued season and produced nine goals and 11 assists for 20 points in 36 games, finishing with 79 shots and a minus-7 rating. He has two goals in MoDo’s first two playoff games.

Former Vancouver Canucks star Markus Naslund is MoDo’s general manager, while ex-Colorado Avalanche great Peter Forsberg is his assistant. The lure of playing for former NHL legends convinced Axelsson to sign with MoDo after winning his second Swedish Elite League championship in three seasons with Farjestad.

“One of the reasons he went there was because it’s run by Naslund and Forsberg, and they promised they would make an NHL player out of him,” Andersson said. “That’s what they told Dick, and his season has been up and down.”

He won’t return to Modo. Axelsson might try to chase KHL money, but he’s not ready for the culture shock, so he’d be better served playing in Finland, the Czech Republic, Germany or Switzerland.

• Also in prospect news, from Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner: Regner mentions that Pavel Datsyuk was named the 2nd-best NHL’er by 150 of his peers in the Hockey News’s Top 50 NHL Players issue (I’ve covered that at some length),but I’m waiting for their Future Watch issue to become available digitally (my Zinio subscription does not include the issue), so Regner provides the highlights thereof:

Future Watch is an issue for geeks and non-geeks alike. Every team’s prospects are graded, and each organization is ranked 1-30 on its drafting prowess. The issue also rates the Top 50 prospects in the NHL and the Top 10 prospects of each team. The ratings and rankings are based on the opinions of NHL GMs and scouts from all 30 teams. The Top 50 prospects list was compiled by a panel made up of 14 NHL scouts and general managers.

Detroit had three prospects rated in the Top 50, with Brendan Smith being the top-rated Detroit prospect at No. 16. Swedish center Calle Jarnkrok was next at No. 32, closely followed by countryman Gustav Nyquist at No. 34.  Rounding out the rest of the Red Wings’ 10 top prospects, according to THN, are: left wing Tomas Tatar, Notre Dame center Riley Sheahan, right wing Tomas Jurco, goalie Petr Mrazek, right wing sniper Teemu Pulkkinen, defenseman Ryan Sproul and defenseman Xavier Ouellet.

As an organization, the Wings were ranked 21st on drafting, and their prospects overall received a C+ grade.

That’s pretty typical for the Wings.

• And this is a gem, via We All Bleed Red on YouTube, needs no explanation:

Update #1: From DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose:

PHOTO: The #Ducks line combos and D-pairings vs. #RedWings tonight. twitpic.com/8wauz1

That’s the following lineup:




• Here’s the Orange County Register’s Eric Stephens’ game-day update...

Right wing Corey Perry and defenseman Luca Sbisa could miss their second consecutive games for the Ducks when they face the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night at Honda Center. Both sat out the Ducks’ 3-2 overtime road loss to Colorado on Monday. Perry has an injured right shoulder that occurred in Saturday night’s game against Dallas while Sbisa developed back spasms in the morning skate on Monday and couldn’t go.

It was the first missed game of the season for both key players. Perry saw his streak of 272 consecutive games come to an end. Perry and Sbisa both hit the ice for the morning skate on Wednesday and Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said the two were available before quickly adding, “I just don’t know whether they’ll play or not.”

“We’ll see by game time. They’re both being worked on. It’s the proverbial game-time decision.”

Sbisa appears to be more of a possibility than Perry, who remains day to day but left the morning session early after a quick skate. Sbisa said he felt good Monday morning until he got a sharp pain during a shooting drill.

“We were doing one-timers,” he said. ”I took a one-timer and it just seized right up. I felt like someone stabbed me through the muscle into the lung.”

Center Nick Bonino is expected to play after missing two games because of a lower-body injury.

• And the Free Press’s Helene St. James offers a morning skate quip from Boudreau:

Very optional skate for the Detroit Red Wings this morning at Honda Center, but the Ducks are prepared to take on a charged opponent. The Wings take on the Ducks tonight at 10 (FSD) looking to amend for an uninspired 5-2 loss Tuesday night at Los Angeles. The way the Wings played in that game has Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau concerned.

“I worry more about the fact that they lost last night, and good teams very rarely put two bad games together in a row. And they’re a really good team. So I expect them to be a lot better.”

The Wings won’t have Nicklas Lidstrom (bone bruise) or Pavel Datsyuk (knee) available. Boudreau said Corey Perry (shoulder) is a game-time decision, but it didn’t sound like Perry will play.

And here’s an, erm, uh from Khan:

Nyquist’s equipment being packed up. Looks like he’s being sent to Grand Rapids. Will check.

Update #1.5: From St. James:

Pavel Datsyuk on how his knee feels: “Outstanding, out of game tonight. Two more days, we see.” #RedWings
Pavel Datsyuk on how long he skated today: “27 minutes, 37 seconds.” On how he’s starting each day: “It’s my morning word: Hopeful.”
Babcock not at #RedWings morning skate, so no word on who goes out with Bertuzzi in, but Gustav Nyquist has been the fill-in guy.

Update #2: Not completely unexpected, per St. James:

Not a good update on Nicklas Lidstrom - he said he “felt worse” today, skated only a little bit, will shut it down for a couple of days.
Lidstrom: “I was more sore today when I skated, so that’s why I was out there for just a few minutes. It was more sore today.” Bone bruise

Update #3: Here’s MLive’s Ansar Khan’s game-day update:

Bertuzzi said he will return to the lineup tonight for the Detroit Red Wings against the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center (10 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit). He has missed four games with a strained groin.

Lidstrom (deep bone bruise in right ankle) skated briefly, but has had a bit of a setback.

“It was more sore today when I skated,’’ Lidstrom said. “I don’t think it’s good when you’re more sore, so they want me to be more cautious about it.’‘

He said X-rays didn’t show any fractures.

“It is discouraging, disappointing that I haven’t started feeling better,’’ Lidstrom said. “It’s frustrating when you want to be out there playing and you can’t.’‘

He said there has been some talk about taking a week off from skating to see how the ankle, which is still a little swollen, reacts.

“We’ll talk more about what the next step will be,’’ Lidstrom said. “It’s still day to day.’‘

Pavel Datsyuk (arthroscopic knee surgery) skated extensively for the third day in a row but will not play tonight. He is not sure if he’ll be ready for Saturday’s game in San Jose.

,b.Update #4: Here’s Helene St. James’ game-day update:

Lidstrom is pretty much out indefinitely at this point: He tried going on the ice this morning at Honda Center but said, “I was more sore today when I skated, so that’s why I was out there for just a few minutes. It was more sore today.

“I don’t think it’s good when you’re more sore. So they want me to be more cautious about it.”

Lidstrom has been dealing with a deep bone bruise on the outside of his right ankle after getting hit by a puck Feb. 25. There is no fracture, Lidstrom said, but there is still swelling. And at this point, there’s talk of shutting things down for a bit.

“We’ve talked about it,” he said. “I’m sure they’ll talk more to the coaching staff and see what the next step will be, but it’s still day-to-day. It’s discouraging that I haven’t started feeling better, as it’s going on two weeks now.”

Lidstrom is missing his eighth straight game tonight, when the Wings take on the Ducks (10 p.m., FSD).

“Every game I have played against Detroit, Nick has been there,” [Teemu] Selanne said. “It’s going to be weird. He has been very lucky about staying healthy in his career. It’s amazing how many games he has been able to play without injuries.”

Selanne and Lidstrom have battled in the NHL and internationally. Lidstrom famously scored the gold medal-winning goal in the 2006 Winter Olympics to lead his Swedes past Selanne’s Finns. There’s a strong rivalry between the two countries, but funnily enough, Selanne has what looks like a Swedish flag tattooed on his right ankle. While the Finnish flag features a white background with a blue Nordic cross, the Swedish flag is a blue background with a yellow cross. Here’s the story of how it came about, as told by Selanne.

“It was accident. It was my bachelor party. And in our friend group, the tradition is that the guys decide what kind of tattoo the groom gets, always on the right or left ankle. So I was blindfolded. I didn’t know where they take me. And they put me in a chair, and I start hearing buzz, so I knew something was going to happen. But I didn’t know what the boys were deciding they were going to put on my ankle. So this guy, who did it in Helsinki, when he realizes it was me, like, he was just panicking. Like, oh, my God. So he wasn’t really thinking clearly. So he put the Finnish—it was supposed to put blue cross and white, but he put it opposite, and he realized it halfway through, that he screwed up. So now it looks more like Swedish flag.”

Update #4.5: Per Khan:

Wings expected to reassign Nyquist to Grand Rapids later today.

And it sounds like Krupa’s writing up his report:

bad news. nicklas lidstrom is more sore and he shut down his brief skate even quicker than expected. not expected to return anytime soon.
todd bertuzzi said he is good to go tonight and looking forward to it. he said he hopes to but up to playing speed soon.
Joey macdonald in net tonight. wings say routine move after jimmy howard played last night. howard to play saturday against sharks.

Update #4.75: Here’s a montage of the Ducks’ game-day comments from the Ducks’ website:

Update #5: Here’s Gregg Krupa’s morning skate afternoon update from the Detroit News…

When general manager Ken Holland first announced that the Red Wings’ mainstay for two decades had gone down with the deep bruise he said it might keep Lidstrom out of the lineup for a few games. But Holland allowed that bone bruises are sometimes more stubborn.

This one is proving to be so.

Lidstrom skated even more briefly Wednesday at the Honda Center than he had in the previous two days, when the Wings were preparing to play the Kings.

“I was more sore today when I skated,” Lidstrom said.

“I don’t think it’s good, so they want me to be more cautious about it.”

Lidstrom said there has been some discussion of shutting him down completely, until the healing shows more signs of progress.

“We’ve talked about it and I’m sure they’ve talked to the coaching staff about what the next step will be.

“But it’s still day-to-day.”

And Fox Sports Tennessee’s John Manasso penned a lengthy column which pours napalm on Wings fans’ jitters:

A few hours before his team took the ice on Saturday against the Nashville Predators, Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock made a telling statement.

“Right now, their lineup probably is deeper than our lineup,’’ he said.

That’s not supposed to happen to the Red Wings, who annually rank among NHL’s highest in payroll and has represented the gold standard in the league over the last 15 years, winning four Stanley Cups. That’s especially true when measured against an opponent that ranks in the bottom five in payroll, even if it’s one of the league’s more competitive and well managed franchises.

Injuries can strike any team and lately they have taken a heavy toll on the mighty Red Wings’ descent. Just a few weeks ago, Detroit was celebrating the longest home winning streak in NHL history and held the top overall record in the league.

Entering Wednesday’s game at Anaheim, Detroit has lost four out of five and is 3-6-1 over its last 10, falling to the fourth spot in the Western Conference. Those same Predators are nipping at their heels, just two points behind Detroit for second in the Central Division. Nashville, fifth in the West, holds a game in hand and with only 13 games remaining (11 for Detroit after Wednesday’s game), the next few weeks could determine which team has home ice advantage for a potential first-round playoff series.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Detroit’s 3-6-1 slide has occurred with center Pavel Datsyuk, considered by some the best all-around forward in the league, out after having a procedure on his knee. Nicklas Lidstrom, the seven-time and reigning Norris Trophy winner as the NHL’s best defenseman, has missed seven in a row. Power forward Todd Bertuzzi has missed four straight and starting goalie Jimmy Howard just returned on Tuesday in a 5-2 loss to Los Angeles after missing three in a row. Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson has missed seven in a row.

That’s enough to take the starch out of any team.

“I mean, our record’s not even close, so reality is we haven’t done good enough,’’ Babcock said. “But we’ve battled hard.’‘

Update #5.5: Finally, here are NHL.com’s Curtis Zupke’s Ducks updates…

Corey Perry and Luca Sbisa will be game-time decisions for the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday when they host the Detroit Red Wings.

Sbisa suffered back spasms before Monday’s game and had to sit out, the first game this season he’s missed. He took part in a very optional morning skate for the Ducks and appears to be closer to returning for Wednesday’s game.

Perry left the ice early and might miss a second straight game with a sore shoulder, the result of a hit by Stephane Robidas of Dallas last Saturday. His streak of 272 consecutive games played ended Monday.

“They’re both being worked on,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. “It’s a proverbial game-time decision.”

Boudreau said Nick Bonino is ready to play after he suffered a lower-body injury. Ryan O’Marra was re-assigned to Syracuse.

And his Wings report:

Detroit Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi confirmed he will return after a four-game absence from a groin injury.

“I feel like it’s pretty strong right now,” Bertuzzi said. “I just have to get my timing back and all that. But as far as the groin, it feels a lot better than what it was.”

As a spectator, Bertuzzi said at least one aspect of the team’s has stood out when he’s watched his teammates.

“We haven’t put the puck in enough and we’ve made some uncharacteristic mistakes and it has cost us goals,” he said. “I think back to basics—taking care of our zone first and when we get some chances, bury them.”

Here’s the rest of the lineup the Red Wings likely will use tonight:

Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Jiri Hudler
Drew Miller - Darren Helm - Johan Franzen
Justin Abdelkader - Danny Cleary - Todd Bertuzzi
Tomas Holmstrom - Cory Emmerton - Jan Mursak

Brad Stuart - Niklas Kronwall
Ian White - Kyle Quincey
Brendan Smith - Doug Janik

Joey MacDonald will start in goal, with Jimmy Howard the backup.

And I don’t know what to think about this video from the Wings…

Detroit Red Wings on WhoSay

Update #6: Amongst our weaponry….

• NHL.com’s Curtis Zupke provides a Pavel Datsyuk update:

Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk continued to skate and strengthen his surgically repaired knee on Wednesday and said it felt “outstanding.”  He could return Saturday when the Wings play the San Jose Sharks.

“Two more days,” he said. “We’ll see … every day (it’s) better, better. But it’s hard to say.”

While Datsyuk improves, defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom will miss an eighth straight game because of a bone bruise in his ankle. It is the most consecutive games Lidstrom has missed during a 20-year career.

“It’s quite an amazing accomplishment,” said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. “I worry more about the fact that (Detroit) lost last night. Good teams very rarely put two bad games together in a row, and they’re a really good team, so I expect them to be a lot better with or without him.”

• Boudreau offered a few more quips and quotes to the Free Press’s Helene St. James...

Great stuff from Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau today on why the #RedWings are such a successful franchise. (part 1)
(part 2) Boudreau: “Daniel Cleary was a very average player till he came to Detroit ...
(part 3) Boudreau: “Todd Bertuzzi’s career was on the downslide till he came to Detroit. Then all of a sudden, now they’re great players
(part 4) Boudreau: “You get into Detroit, and that culture of winning is the only thing that’s acceptable.” #RedWings

• Here’re the Wings and Ducks’ expected lines, per the Orange County Register’s Eric Stephens:

Here is the expected lineup that the Ducks will put on the ice tonight against the Detroit Red Wings at Honda Center. Jonas Hiller will start in goal for the 30th consecutive game, which is the high in the National Hockey League this season. It will also be Hiller’s 65th game. Nick Bonino will return to the lineup after missing two games because of a lower-body injury.

Bobby Ryan-Ryan Getzlaf-Kyle Palmieri

Niklas Hagman-Saku Koivu-Teemu Selanne

Andrew Cogliano-Nick Bonino-Devante Smith-Pelly

Jason Blake-Rod Pelley-Matt Beleskey

Francois Beauchemin-Cam Fowler

Lubomir Visnovsky-Nate Guenin or Luca Sbisa

Toni Lydman-Sheldon Brookbank

– And here is the expected lineup for the Red Wings, who’ve been dominant at home but have won only one of their last seven road games after a 5-2 loss to the Kings at Staples Center. Joey MacDonald (8-4-1, 2.01 GAA, .918) will get the nod after Jimmy Howard went Tuesday night. The Wings will be without stars Nicklas Lidstrom (bone bruise in ankle) and Pavel Datsyuk (knee surgery) but expect to have Todd Bertuzzi (groin) after a four-game absence.

Valtteri Filppula-Henrik Zetterberg-Jiri Hudler

Drew Miller-Darren Helm-Johan Franzen

Justin Abdelkader-Danny Cleary-Todd Bertuzzi

Tomas Holmstrom-Cory Emmerton-Jan Mursak

Brad Stuart-Niklas Kronwall

Ian White-Kyle Quincey

Brendan Smith-Doug Janik

• FOTMR Adam Brady of AnaheimDucks.com offers a pre-game ramble (I don’t know if you remember me getting in a big spat with Brady a few playoffs ago, but we’re not exactly pals, because he’s as objective as I am):

It’s usually a heck of a night when the Red Wings are in this building, but these aren’t quite the Red Wings we’re used to.

Detroit will be without two of their legends—defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and center Pavel Datsyuk—when they revisit Honda Center to face the Ducks tonight. The 41-year-old Lidstrom is set to miss his eighth straight game (he’s never missed more than seven in a row) because of a deep bone bruise in his ankle. Datsyuk has been out since mid-February after having knee surgery, but could be back by this weekend. Meanwhile, Todd Bertuzzi has been out with a sore groin but says he’s returning tonight to face his old team.

(Here’s something weird I learned today: I checked to see when Datsyuk won the Hart Trophy, and he never has. I was certain he won at least one. Did you know that since 1963 only one Red Wing has won the Hart? Sergei Fedorov in 1994. Crazy.)

Detroit had also been without goalie Jimmy Howard (groin injury) for three games, but got him back last night in LA, where the Wings suffered a 5-2 loss to the Kings.

The Ducks, of course, aren’t feeling sorry for the Wings in the least, especially because both Corey Perry and Luca Sbisa are questionable to return from injuries tonight. Perry snapped a 272-game streak when he sat out the overtime loss in Colorado with shoulder soreness. Sbisa missed his first game of the season with back spasms that flared up after he took a shot in the morning skate in Colorado. “I felt like someone stabbed me through the muscle into the lung,” he said.

Both are gametime decisions, though Bruce Boudreau indicated this morning that Sbisa is more likely to be in the lineup than Perry. “I just don’t know whether they’ll play or not,” he said. “We’ll see by game time. They’re both being worked on. It’s the proverbial gametime decision.”

With or without them, the Ducks are seeking their first win of the season against the Red Wings—or at least the 20 guys in the Red Wings jerseys tonight. One of the few stumbles on that successful eight-game trip the Ducks slogged through last month was the 2-1 shootout loss at Joe Louis Arena that led it off.

Joey MacDonald beat the Ducks that night, only giving up one George Parros goal, and he’ll be back in there tonight. Anaheim actually had MacDonald in their system after trading a seventh-round pick to Toronto for him in 2010, but he never played a game for the Ducks. In net tonight for Anaheim will be ... okay, you know that already.

• We have two Todd Bertuzzi updates from DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose...

Meanwhile, the Wings will get Todd Bertuzzi back in the lineup Wednesday. Bertuzzi missed the last four games with a sore groin.

“I feel like it’s pretty strong right now,” Bertuzzi said. “It’s just going to take some time to get my timing back, but as far as the groin, it feels a lot better than it was. Just try to keep it simple.”

The Wings, who are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games and 1-4-0 in their last five road games, need a win, Bertuzzi said.

“It’s just winning games, winning games and getting our confidence back and getting ourselves ready for the playoffs,” he said. “Guys are working hard, we just haven’t put the puck in the net enough. I think we’ve made some uncharacteristic mistakes and it’s cost us goals.

“It’s back to the basics and taking care of our zone first and when we get our chances bury them. We just have to win games, that’s what it comes down to.”

And MLive’s Ansar Khan, who also talked to Jimmy Howard about his mending finger:

“I feel like [my groin’s] pretty strong right now,’’ Bertuzzi said before the game. “Obviously, it’ll take some time to get my timing back, but as far as the groin, it feels a lot better than it was.’‘

He said or regaining his timing, “Hopefully it comes back right away. Just keep it simple, shoot the puck, take the body.’‘

Pavel Datsyuk skated hard for the third day in a row, but missed his 11th consecutive game while recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Feb. 21. He said he is not sure if he will return Saturday in San Jose.

“Two more days, we’ll see,’’ Datsyuk said. “I’m skating every day better and better, but it’s hard to say.’‘

He said the knee does not feel sore after skating.

Here’s the Howard part:

“Games are a lot different than practice,’’ Howard said. “Once you get everyone out there and criss-crossing and everything, it takes your eyes a game or two to get back to finding the puck. That’s the biggest thing, keeping track of the puck.’‘

Howard will start Saturday in San Jose. He said the broken right index finger he sustained on Feb. 2 is almost completely healed.

“The doctor said through this week continue wearing the brace and then I should be fine without it,’’ Howard said. “After Saturday’s game, I’ll get rid of it. I don’t even notice it or think about it anymore. I can do everything again.’‘

• In the multimedia department, the Wings’ website posted a game-day preview:

• In the rear view mirror, if you care to read ‘em, LAKingsInsider’s Rich Hammond penned a slate of Wings quotes, a set of “Key Three observations, post-game notes and an explanation of how Drew Doughty’s goal happened, all well into the very late morning or early afternoon Detroit time;

• In the interactive media department, part 1, from the Hockey News’s Darryl Dobbs’ fantasy hockey mailbag:

Talk to me about Brendan Smith and his ability/inability to put up enough PIM to warrant rostering him while he develops. Can one expect 100 PIM next year in Detroit with 20+ points as a very safe bet?  I could use PIM and am thinking of moving one of my starters for a forward upgrade – I’d use Smith to fill that vacant spot. Think he’ll get enough PIM to warrant such a move? 

And Brendan Smith Part II…

It looks like Detroit is in a very good situation.  With Lidstrom, Ericsson & Kindl. What do you see for Brendan Smith?  He certainly has played well enough to warrant a spot on the team as it sits right now, but what happens when they are at full health?  What do you project for him over the next three years?

Poolies are really excited about this guy and rightfully so. Potentially, he’s a top-pairing defenseman who could rack up the penalty minutes. He’s making his presence felt quickly and on 29 NHL teams he’s on their Top 4. But the crazy penalty minutes that he’s been getting at other levels couldn’t possibly translate into the NHL. Not while putting up big points at the same time. If you look at the Top 50 defensemen in scoring, not one of them is on pace to reach 100 penalty minutes.

I think to start, Smith should come in around 30 points and 100 penalty minutes (or close to it). But by Year 3, he’ll be up over 45 points and you’ll find that his PIM settle in that 70-80 range. Eventually he could be a rare 60-point defenseman.

• And in the interactive media department, via a chat ESPN’s Craig Custance held with readers earlier today:

Jeremy (Windsor): What do you think about the Red Wings recent troubles? Do you think they should have done more at the trade deadline?

Craig Custance: Jeremy - I liked the Quincey move by Ken Holland and would have liked to see Detroit pick up a guy like Paul Gaustad, but they just didn’t have the ammunition to do it. Buffalo wasn’t budging on the demand for a first-round pick. I think their struggles are simply health related and Holland sounded optimistic he’d get all the important pieces back in place for the playoffs. If Detroit is healthy, or mostly healthy, they’re still one of the league’s most dangerous teams. The one positive to the injuries has been Detroit’s ability to get a look at Brendan Smith. Smith has opened some eyes with his play and if Babcock thinks he gives Detroit the best chance to win, he’ll be in the lineup when the playoffs start.
al (denver): with vancouver and detroit looking human these days, would you say that if the predators add radulov, they are the team to beat in the west?

Custance: Al - that’s a tough one. I still like Vancouver but boy, Nashville would look pretty darn good. They’d have the best top pair in Suter/Weber. They’d have the best goalie in Pekka Rinne and then you’d have a potential star up front in Radulov. There’s always the risk of chemistry issues when a guy like Radulov shows up at this point in the season, so we can’t assume it would be a flawless transition. But Nashville sure would be a tough out if they got him.
NHL (Playoffs): If you could have 2 of your dream matchups this year from the East and West, which would they be? Why those picks?

Custance: The picks of a sports writer have less to do with hockey and everything to do with ease of travel, logistics in covering practices/games, hotels and best places to go eat and unwind after a game. So based on that and the teams in the playoff mix, the ideal for me would be—East final: Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia; West final: Nashville vs. Chicago.

And finally, Helene St. James reports via Twitter that the Wings will send Gustav Nyquist back to Grand Rapids after the game, probably to aid in Grand Rapids’ playoff push. The Griffins have home games against the Toronto Marlies and Hamilton Bulldogs on Friday and Saturday, so if someone can’t go against the Sharks, expect the Wings to call up another body on Friday. Nyquist is so incredibly important to the Griffins that the Wings can’t really keep him up with the team as a spare. Not yet, anyway.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


Alzy's avatar

So if Bertuzzi’s in, and Nyquist is being sent back, that mean lines are, I assume…


Nyquist being sent back. Could it mean the team thinks Datsyuk will be ready for Saturday?

Posted by Alzy from Cambridge, Ontario, Canada on 03/14/12 at 05:41 PM ET

Joe Z.'s avatar

this lidström stuff scares the hell out of me

hopefully babcock will put miller on the second line with bert and mule. miller deserves it.

Posted by Joe Z. from Austria on 03/14/12 at 06:06 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

I’m no hockey coach, but according to my armchair observations:

That video clip of Zetterberg shows at least one of the things that is wrong with the PP.  Three guys are above the face-off dots.  (I know that happens some times, but it seems endemic to me.)  The refusal or inability of our forwards to grind it out along the boards and keep the puck deep is allowing defenders to cheat up high.  I understand the tendency to defer to the point, we have some cannons/snipers back there, but they aren’t going to be open as long as the opponent’s PK doesn’t respect what your PP can do down low. 

Most of the shorties given up this year have been caused by a defending forward checking up high on the point.  Look at the Kopitar goal last night.  I could be wrong, he could have been just lucky or plain old doing his job, but he seemed to have a good idea where that puck was heading once it left Smith’s stick.  I would put money down that the scouting report on the Wings for most teams around the NHL includes something about the PP’s tendency do drop the puck back to the point.  Your PP is going to be pretty easy to defend if all a PK has to do is crowd the forwards and interrupt play at the point.

I think our power play units would benefit immensely from the presence of Darren Helm, Drew Miller or Justin Abdelkader, who seem to be the only players on the team who would be willing or able to buck the Wing’s offensive tendencies.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 03/14/12 at 06:09 PM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

They should have kept Nyquist and let Cleary go on short term iR (allowable?).  But Nick being done might mean the Wings are, too.

Posted by MoreShoot on 03/14/12 at 07:04 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Ever since the home winning streak ended this season has simply sucked. Things better change in a hurry if we’re going to go into the post-season with any momentum…or hope, for that matter.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 03/14/12 at 08:54 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Go Wings!

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 03/14/12 at 08:55 PM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

go into the post-season with any momentum…or hope, for that matter.

Nick is hope spelled backwards

Posted by MoreShoot on 03/14/12 at 09:52 PM ET


I think our power play units would benefit immensely from the presence of Darren Helm, Drew Miller or Justin Abdelkader, who seem to be the only players on the team who would be willing or able to buck the Wing’s offensive tendencies.

Posted by bezukov from South of Detroit on 03/14/12 at 04:09 PM ET

I’ve been thinking the same thing!  Why NOT use those guys & switch things up?  Can’t hurt, amirite?!


Posted by raputathebuta from eastpointe, mi on 03/14/12 at 10:55 PM ET

SolidTG7's avatar

So if Bertuzzi’s in, and Nyquist is being sent back, that mean lines are, I assume…

Bertuzzi-Franzen-The Corpse of Cleary

Nyquist being sent back. Could it mean the team thinks Datsyuk will be ready for Saturday?

Posted by Alzy from Innisfail, Alberta, Canada on 03/14/12 at 03:41 PM ET

Thats more like it

Posted by SolidTG7 on 03/14/12 at 11:26 PM ET

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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.