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Red Wings-Flames game-day updates: Wings must focus on the present, not the Kronwalling

Updated 6x with tons of stuff at 8:47 PM, and Helene St. James says that Mike Commodore will play instead of Jakub Kindl tonight: The Detroit Red Wings are currently engaging in what is a very, very optional morning skate head of tonight’s match-up with the Calgary Flames (9:30 PM EST, FSD/TSN/WXYT), but the Wings have no option as to putting their controversial loss to the Canucks behind them. Let’s get to what substantive news exists as of this moment regarding today’s match-up, via Fox Sports Detroit’s John Keating…

Ty Conklin starts in goal for Wings in Calgary tonite. Flames without Alex Tanguay, whom Sutter just said has played best hockey last 4 gms.
Very limited morning skate for Wings in Calgary after tough loss in Van last nite. Det and Cal split first 2 mtgs, both at JLA. #RedWings
Jan Mursak pre- skate in Calgary, reports he’s feeling REALLY good now. Off to GR before back w/wings. http://t.co/mvUrhtDs
This is the extent of the morning skate for the Wings in Calgary. Commodore, injured guys and Conklin starting in goal. http://t.co/2Wvz1rXC

MLive’s Ansar Khan confirms...

Only injured players and conklin on ice at saddledome. conklin starting tonight. only win on 10-8

The Calgary Sun’s Randy Sportak offers this Flames morning skate report...

Another day, another Flames player injured.Left winger Alex Tanguay has joined the wounded brigade for the Flames, victim of an undisclosed injury suffered in Tuesday’s 2-1 win over the Minnesota Wild.

“I was somewhat surprised after the game,” head coach Brent Sutter said of Tanguay’s injury. “He’s played some of his best hockey here in the last four games for us this year. I was surprised he would be out on a day-to-day basis. We’ll just see where it goes.”

Tanguay joins D Brett Carson (upper body), C Matt Stajan (ankle), RW David Moss (foot), D Anton Babchuk (hand), D Mark Giordano (hamstring) and G Henrik Karlsson (knee) on the shelf.

The club summoned RW Greg Nemisz, the 2008 first-round draft choice in anticipation of Thursday’s clash with the Detroit Red Wings. Nemisz played one game earlier this month, and saw 6:26 of rather un-memorable action.

“I wasn’t myself. I felt I over-thought the game and was a little sluggish. I feel good and have a better mental approach,” said Nemisz, who skated on a line with fellow rookies Roman Horak and Paul Byron in the morning skate. “I’ve just got to play my game with a little more energy than last game. It’s good to get a second chance here.”

Sutter said Nemisz’s first game with the Flames this season wasn’t a true look at him.

“In fairness to him, too, that was a tough situation. He had a 6 a.m., flight, played the night before, three games in three days, I believe,” Sutter said. “No, he didn’t have one of his better games or the game we would have like to see, but he gets that opportunity again now with a whole different setup. Hopefully it’ll help him out and he’ll respond the right way.”

And CalgaryFlames.com’s erm, staff also tossed off a game preview…

After going winless on a four-game trip (0-2-2), the Flames returned home Tuesday with a 2-1 victory over Northwest Division-leading Minnesota. Jarome Iginla scored the go-ahead goal and added an assist to help Calgary (15-15-4) improve to 6-0-1 in its last seven at home.

“We’ve been in a lot of close games. It’s nice to have one go our way,” Iginla said. “We haven’t actually played that bad, even on the road. You get to overtime, you get to shootouts, but unfortunately the results didn’t go our way, so it feels really good to win a close game.”

This will be Calgary’s last home game before heading back onto the road for a season-long seven-game trip while the World Junior championship is in town.

Iginla has been the key figure behind Calgary’s strong play at home, collecting five goals with three assists in the team’s four-game run there. He has six goals and four assists during a five-game point streak against Detroit.

“Three or four times tonight you saw him in front of the net battling. That’s when Iggy is at his best, when he’s a power forward like that,” teammate Curtis Glencross said. “He’s a tough guy to move in front of the net, and he was rewarded for his hard work on the goal.”

The Flames will likely need continued production from their captain as they look to win five straight at home for the first time since a six-game run Dec. 23, 2008-Jan. 13, 2009. Also productive lately is Olli Jokinen, who has four goals and eight assists in his last eight games. Miikka Kiprusoff rebounded with 29 saves against the Wild after allowing nine goals in his previous two starts. He has been in net for each game during Calgary’s 6-0-1 home run, posting a 1.98 goals-against average.

As well as some stating of the obvious via CalgaryFlames.com’s Torie Peterson:

The Red Wings are playing the second of back-to-back games and are coming off a 4-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. The Flames are looking to come at the tired team hard and capitalize on mental errors made by the skilled crew from Detroit.

“It’s tiring, playing the night before,” TJ Brodie said. “Having to travel, you loss a little bit of sleep and they lost an hour too. We’ve just got to come out and play our game. Keep out feet moving.”

The season series is knotted up at one apiece and Tom Kostoplous believes the team has to take what transpired in the first two games and form a strategy to break through the Red Wings defensive corps.

“They have a good team,” he acknowledged. “We have a lot of respect for them as a team. I think it’s just how solid they are on defence. Sometimes, we get frustrated with our forecheck because we’re not generating as much as usual.

“We’ve got to stick to our game plan the whole 60 minutes.”


As for last night’s events…As Wings fan, I’m grateful that athletes tend to live in the moment much more easily than we do, because the media’s still atwitter (and this used to mean something not involving 140 characters, kids) regarding the events which transpired during the Wings’ 4-2 loss to Vancouver on Wednesday night. Let’s go to the video for review’s sake:

Here are Niklas Kronwall and Ryan Kesler colliding and then commiserating…

Here’s what Kesler did to Henrik Zetterberg afterward…


Here’s Jannik Hansen’s collision with Jimmy Howard…


And here’s what Kevin Bieksa had to say about Mr. Kronwall:


As Paul already posted, here’s what ESPN’s Craig Custance and Pierre LeBrun had to say about last night’s tilt:

Craig Custance: The most intense game of the night came later between the Red Wings and Canucks, a matchup I’d love to see rekindled in the playoffs. Lots of debate about Niklas Kronwall’s hit on Ryan Kesler. Kronwall clearly left his feet, but it didn’t look like Kesler’s head was targeted. Maybe I’ve spent too much time in Detroit, but I didn’t have an issue with the hit, although Kronwall needs to stop leaping into guys. Kesler’s biggest issue was that Kronwall refused to drop the gloves after the hit, but that’s another debate altogether.

There was more than just one incident. Jimmy Howard went after Jannik Hansen after he felt he was interfered with. I know this is a touchy subject with Howard, who doesn’t think he gets the same protection opposing goalies get against Tomas Holmstrom. But what a win for the Canucks, who have now won three straight and are one point behind Minnesota. It won’t be long until we forget their slow start, don’t you think?

Pierre LeBrun: If we get Wings-Canucks in the playoffs, Craig, count me in. You and I can collect the air miles together and cover what would be one heck of a series based on last night’s thriller. I’m a huge Ryan Kesler fan, but I think he’s dead wrong on saying Niklas Kronwall had to drop to gloves after that big hit. It was clean in my opinion, and there’s no need for a fight because of that. It’s annoying to me that today’s players feel a fight is warranted whenever there’s a loud hit—even if it’s clean. A fantastic game, though, and the Canucks are on a roll and then some, having won 12 of their past 15 games. And if you’re the Minnesota Wild, you better get ready to hand over the penthouse keys in the Northwest Division, because there’s no way you’re staying there for much longer.

Of note, Roberto Luongo was sensational last night, and it seems like those days when Canucks fans were booing him are long gone. Bobby Lu is back. Vancouver and Boston, last spring’s Cup finalists, are on serious rolls. So much for the Cup finals hangover.

Sportsnet’s Mark Spector offers a different take on what he felt was a fine win by a sore winner…

There was a hellacious hit from Niklas Kronwall on Ryan Kesler that could have been two minutes for charging, but was not. There was Kesler, dropping his gloves and trying to fight through the linesmen at Kronwall, which earned him two minutes—as it does in every rink to every player who throws down like that.

There was Jannik Hansen, either hooked or deftly falling as he crashed the net on the ensuing Red Wings power play. Detroit couldn’t believe the goal stood. Vancouver couldn’t believe it wouldn’t, or that Howard didn’t get the same two minutes Kesler had when he went after Hansen post-goal.

“I thought their player pushed ours in the net and their goaltender jumped our player and that was fine—that’s allowed,” Alain Vigneault said.

It was the key goal in the game, a shorty that made the score 4-2, and Howard was completely eliminated from the play by a sliding Hansen. Detroit didn’t like it, of course, but in the end the breaks evened out by our watch, as they always seem to do.

“I got a good push (from Zetterberg) coming across and I don’t believe it was my fault,” Hansen said. “The Kes call went the wrong way and it was nice to stick it back in their face.”

In whose face, we wonder? The Red Wings’ faces? The officials’?

Yes, the Canucks are back. They’ll beat you on the ice, then immediately start digging a hole off of it, with comments like Hansen’s that officials and opponents across the NHL will read before the week is done. Why a fine game like this one, which turned on a gritty, edge-of-the-rule-book drive like the one Hansen made, has to end up in anyone’s “face” is a mystery. The goal could easily have been disallowed but wasn’t, yet still, bad calls played a leading role in the post-game rhetoric.

TSN’s Darren Dreger also happened to on TSN Radio...

And while the Vancouver Province’s Jim Jamieson added just a wee bit more napalm to the fire…

Luongo said he had no sympathy for Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard, who went after Jannik Hansen after the Dane bowled him over on a shorthanded breakaway that turned into the 4-2 goal by Alex Edler.

“I didn’t have any sympathy, especially because I got one on my own side in the first period,” said Luongo. “What goes around comes around.”

On the Red Wings opening goal, Todd Bertuzzi appeared to push defenceman Sami Salo into Luongo – who fell and couldn’t stop Bertuzzi from putting in a rebound.

“It’s always upsetting you feel you were interfered with. I was pissed off after the third goal,” said Luongo. “I don’t think it should have been a goal. Sami was all over me. He said Bert pushed him.”

And MLive’s Rob Otto did what Otto does in discussing the Howard-Hansen collision

MLive, December 21:  “Z never pushed him. I watched the replay,” Howard said. “Hansen leans into him, he loses his footing, just steamrolls me…I’m just sick and tired of getting run over. It’s every single game.”

It’s that attitude that makes Howard even more beloved here in Detroit because Wings’ fans dig it when their goalies getting into scrapes.

Think back to Mike Vernon and Chris Osgood, and what is one of the first things that comes to mind?  It’s the fights against the Avalanche.

We can all close our eyes and see Vernon coming out of the net to get involved in a fight against Colorado, eventually going toe to toe with Patrick Roy.

And one year later, Chris Osgood did the same thing against the exact same guy, accepting Roy’s taunts and dropping the gloves.

Goalie fights.  Howe awesome is that?

It’s almost too bad Roy retired, because you know Howard would like a shot.  Maybe he should play a couple weeks in the QMJHL and see if he can tempt Roy to come off the bench of the Quebec Remparts.

A couple seasons ago, Jimmy Howard was a huge question mark between the pipes.  He has more than proven himself, and has quickly become one of the top players on this team.  His attitude is only enhancing his popularity here in Detroit.

And perhaps the strangest comments come from “Stevie in the KT” from the Vancouver Province’s “Legion of Blog”:

The Canucks won the, *ahem* spirited affair 4 – 2 , but the real story came during the 3:00 minute mark of the third period when feisty blueliner, Niklas Kronwall, was obviously upset about the lack of a really authentic Smorgasboard at the pregame meal (I mean, seriously, lox instead of pickled herring? Philistines!) and took it out on Ryan Kesler with an absolutely devastating check.

And since this is the new NHL, Kesler decided to take exception to the hit and go back at Kronwall, challenging him to a fight. And by “challenging” him to a fight, I mean,  he jumped him after the hit.  Kesler ended up with a two minute roughing minor for his vigilante justice, but now, maybe Kronwall will think twice before stealing his crops or drawing with the crushed berries on someone else’s side of the wall.

Come on, Kesler, we used to be cool! Look, did Kronwall leave his feet? Yes,I believe he did. Was it a “dirty” hit? I don’t believe so. Will it result in a call from the league office? I don’t think so.

As for me, I’m starting to get tired of the after whistle antics of one, Ryan Kesler. I understand there’s a certain edge to his game, but it seems to me like the chirping and complaining has grown exponentially over the last two seasons. Whether it’s calling out Alan Ladd as a coward or last night’s attempt to “knee-capitate” Zetterberg, Kesler is only helping make the case that the Canuck’s are the league’s most hated/over sensitive team.
The real hard cheese of the whole “Kronwalling”  (Look, I love wordplay, but I don’t think Kronwalling is quite there as a verb yet. And for Christ’s sake I don’t even want to know what “Averying” is) is that it overshadowed a really strong performance by the Canucks against another Stanley Cup contender.

This was arguably Luongo’s strongest game to date as he stopped 38 of 40 Red Wings’ shots. And a number of those were of the “Jesus with a Blocker” variety. Hodgson continued his strong play, notching a goal on a shot that may or may not piss Kent off even more. I’m just glad he got it in before enjoying his usual spot on the bench in the third period.

I’m not saying I’m anti Kesler. I love what he does for the team, but can’t he do it without acting like someone stole his candy after every game?  Whatever the NHL equivalent of,  ”act like you’ve been there before” is, I just wish Kesler was doing that. Without an in control Kesler, the Canucks are just less so. To me, he’s the most valuable player on this team. Playing with an edge? Yes. Playing like a bowling ball thrown by an 8 year old? No.

I’d ask you to weigh in and let me know what you think about the Kesler-Kronwall hit, the Kesler-Zetterberg hit, the Hansen-Howard hit and the Canucks’ comments after the game, but I’m guessing that you’re gonna do that anyway…

Update #1: Here’s the Calgary Herald’s Scott Cruickshank’s Flames morning skate report:

To the shock of everyone, including coach Brent Sutter, the Flames will not have the services of Alex Tanguay tonight against the Detroit Red Wings.

“I can’t even pinpoint anything on it,” Sutter said after Thursday’s morning skate, which also did not include forwards Rene Bourque (suspension), Matt Stajan (ankle) and David Moss (foot). “I will say that I was somewhat surprised after the game (Tuesday against Minnesota) . . . he’s played some of his best hockey in the last four games of the whole year. I was quite surprised to see that he was going to be out on a day-to-day basis. We’ll just monitor it and see where it goes.”

Being minus-40 leaves the following Flames lines (including a bona fide kid line — honestly):

* Glencross/Jokinen/Iginla

* Comeau/Backlund/Stempniak

* Byron/Horak/Nemisz

* Kostopoulos/Morrison/Jackman

• ESPN’s Scott Burnside spoke to Wings coach Mike Babcock recently about the team’s better overall play...

3. Wings are looking good: One of the games of the week, if not the entire month, saw the Detroit Red Wings visit the Vancouver Canucks Wednesday night, with the Canucks topping Detroit by a 4-2 count. The game featured two of the hottest teams in the NHL, both of whom have put behind them sluggish starts to assume what most see as perennial positions as Western Conference powers and Stanley Cup contenders. Every year it seems that whenever the Red Wings hit a bit of a lull, as they did earlier this year when their offense was struggling, people predict that the Wings’ run of greatness is about to end. And yet every year the Wings seem to plough through those rough patches as only the elite teams know how to do. Still, even head coach Mike Babcock has been pleasantly surprised by a team that had to fill the void created by the retirement of Brian Rafalski.

“I just think we’re a better team than I anticipated going in (to the season),” Babcock told ESPN.com this week.

The Wings have turned out to be deeper and more physical and seen more growth out of some players than had been expected, Babcock said. Valtteri Filppula is one of those growth players up front, as he has 26 points in 32 games. His 10 goals are tied for second on the team. Johan Franzen, enjoying a nice bounce-back season after being waylaid by injury last season, leads the team with 14 goals, another pleasant surprise. Dan Cleary has shaken off a slow start, and playing with Darren Helm on the team’s third line has made the Wings more difficult to defend against. Justin Abdelkader has given some oomph to the team’s fourth line, Babcock noted. Defensively, the coach also praised the positive growth of Jakub Kindl and Jonathan Ericsson.

The Red Wings have been especially impressive at home, where they have won 10 straight.

“We’ve been more assertive at home and come out with more jump,” he said.

The Wings lead all NHL teams with 67 goals at home in just 16 home dates, a little more than four per game. Does this mean Babcock is sitting with his feet up smoking a big stogie down in the basement at Joe Louis Arena waiting until the puck drops on what will be the Wings’ 21st straight trip to the postseason? Uh. No.

“Look at our division,” he said. “It’s tight, tight, tight.”

As of Thursday three of the five Central Division squads, Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis, were firmly entrenched in the playoff grid, with Nashville one point out.

• In the prospect department, not related to the Wings: the Houston Chronicle’s Mike Damante reports that Minnesota Wild prospect and Houston Aeros forwardKris Foucault’s hero is Pavel Datsyuk;

• In the prospect department, related to the Wings and possessing the same hero as Foucault: the Pipeline Show’s Darren Millard states the obvious about Tomas Jurco’s likely importance to the Slovak World Junior team’s hopes:

Tomas Jurco - The Saint John Sea Dog will be the straw that stirs Sovakia’s drink. He’s big and skilled and went through the CHL playoffs to win a Memorial Cup last year. Jurco will be looking to improve on his one point he notched in last year’s event, and the Detroit Red Wings are excited to see him and how the 2nd round pick from last June measures up against the rest of the World. He’s not on an Island with Slovakia, but the high end skill is pretty thin.
Wild Card: If Marek Tvrdon wants to face his junior head coach he’ll have to lead Slovakia to a medal round berth and hope they draw Canada and Don Hay. The two are together with the Vancouver Giants. Tvrdon would also be taking on his line mate Brendan Gallagher.

• In the prospect department, “slightly older” version: the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema interviewed Grand Rapids Griffins forward Fabian Brunnstrom;

• Zuidema also doled out some Christmastime characterizations of various Michigan sports figures, including one you’ve probably heard of...

Santa Claus—Mike Ilitch. His big bag of presents has delivered a division title to the Tigers, kept the Red Wings competitive for two decades and nearly was enough to purchase the Pistons. There are plenty of reasons for Detroit fans to feel jolly these days.

And I guess we go back to the well now. DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose (in a story that states was posted to the website at 1:59 AM EST, but actually hit the web after I went to sleep at 7 AM EST) offers the final Wings’ press’s take on the team’s loss to Vancouver…

The Wings’ early third-period momentum clearly silenced the Rogers Arena crowd as Detroit began its power play. But 15-seconds later, it quickly evaporated when Hansen stole the puck from Jiri Hudler at the blue line and raced through the neutral zone to set-up the game’s final goal.

“We were doing a lot of good things at the end of the second and beginning of the third,” Zetterberg said. “We felt we had a comeback in us, but it was a timely goal for them, they got momentum on their side.”

Late in the game, Kesler, perhaps still angry with Kronwall’s hit, went after Zetterberg by sticking his leg out in what looked like an attempt to injure as the two players passed each other in the neutral zone.

“He comes with his knee. I see him, he sees me,” Zetterberg said. “I think he was a little frustrated by the big hit he got from Kronner and he was just going around and trying to find stuff.”

When asked about the move on Zetterberg, Kesler seemed to indicate that no such action occurred, saying, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, who suffered a concussion due to a collision with Bruins forward Milan Lucic, had this to say to the Canadian Press about the spate of goalie-running:

“I think it’s just the way the game’s going,” Miller said before Thursday’s game against the Maple Leafs. “Obviously, I pay attention to other games in the league and I think it’s becoming a little bit of the guys are trying to arrive at the net without a plan. Two nights ago, you saw it with (Winnipeg’s Evander) Kane driving through (Islanders goalie Al) Montoya, last night I saw (Detroit’s) Jimmy Howard get run over in Vancouver and they even scored a goal off the play.”

Montoya suffered a concussion on Tuesday after getting slammed into by Kane. Howard voiced his displeasure after Wednesday’s loss in Vancouver, saying he was “sick and tired of getting run over.”

Miller believes the best way to curb the trend is calling more penalties.

“I’ve heard some funny analogies,” he said. “I ran into (former referee) Bill McCreary the other day and he just said ‘If it’s an alligator pit, they’d stop.’ But it’s not—you know, it’s where you go to score goals. These guys have the ability to stop on a dime, turn, cut, take a hit. Just a little more attention has to be paid and the only way they pay attention is if you penalize them.”

Update #2: So if you haven’t read it somewhere else, the Freee Press’s Helene St. James and MLIve’s Ansar Khan report that Niklas Kronwall won’t be suspended for his hit on Kesler.

Also: Here’s Khan’s morning skate report...

Detroit Red Wings goaltender Ty Conklin will be seeking his first win since Oct. 8, during a rare start tonight against the Calgary Flames at the Saddledome (7:30, Fox Sports Detroit). Red Wings coach Mike Babcock had planned on giving workhorse Jimmy Howard the night off in this final game before the Christmas break.

“Jimmy’s been playing so well, it’ll be nice to get in there and get some action,’’ Conklin said today after the morning skate.

Conklin was terrific in his first appearance, making 29 saves in a 3-0 victory at Colorado. But he hasn’t been as sharp since, though he has started only three other games. He is 1-3, with a 3.26 goals-against average and .889 save percentage.

“Just trying to stay sharp in practice,’’ Conklin said. “Aside from one game (7-1 loss at Washington on Oct. 22), I felt pretty good for most of the time. When you don’t get in there that often you want to make sure you take advantage of the opportunities you get.’‘
“It’s always difficult, it’s something that’s been my role for most of my career,’’ Conklin said. “I’m certainly used to long breaks this year, but that’s just the way it is.’‘

Howard was looking forward to the mental break, as much as the physical one.

“We need Ty to play. He deserves to play,’’ Howard said. “He’s been working his rear end off. He’s one of the first guys on (the ice), last guys off every single day.’‘

And the Free Press’s St. James confirms...

“Jimmy’s been playing so well, but it’ll be nice to get in there,” Conklin said this morning after a very optional skate at the Saddledome. “I’ve just tried to stay sharp in practice. I’ve felt, aside from one game, pretty good, most of the time. But when you don’t get in there that often, you want to make sure that you take advantage of the opportunities you do get.”

Conklin’s only victory dates to the second game of the season, when he stonewalled the Avs on 29 shots. Conklin is 1-3 with a 3.26 goals-against average and .889 save percentage.

He’ll face a Flames lineup missing several key players, as Rene Bourque is suspended, and David Moss (Michigan), Alex Tanguay and Matt Stajan all are out with various ailments.
Workhorse Miikka Kiprusoff is in goal. He’s 15-11-2 this season, with a 2.49 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.

Detroit coach Mike Babcock wasn’t at the skate, but the Wings aren’t expected to make any changes, other than in net.

This is the Wings’ last game of the trip and last before Christmas. They won Monday at Edmonton, improving to .500 on the road, but dropped to 8-9 after defensive breakdowns left them on the short end of a 4-2 decision Wednesday at Vancouver.

For those keeping track: The Wings are 4-2 this season in the second of back-to-back games.

And here’s the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan’s morning skate report:

“I’ve just been trying to stay sharp in practice,” said Conklin, who shut out Colorado on Oct. 8 in his season debut. “Aside from one gane I’ve felt pretty good. When you don’t get in there often you want to get take advantage of your opportunities.”

Conklin is used to the back-up role and knows how to handle it and accept it. It’s one of the reasons the Wings signed him last summer after Chris Osgood retired.

“It’s always difficult but it’s something that’s been my role for most of my career,” Conklin said. “Certainly it’s been long breaks this season, but that’s just the way it is. Jimmy has been playing so well. It’ll be nice to get in there.”

Howard was glad to see Conklin get an opportunity to play.

“We need Ty to play, he deserves to play,” said Howard, who leads the league with 20 victories. “He’s been working his rear end off. He’s one of the first guys on the ice and one of the last ones off it every day. He works his tail off and deserves to go out and play.”

Update #3: NHL.com’s Aaron Vickers filed morning skate reports for both the Flames…

The Calgary Flames will be without winger Alex Tanguay tonight against the Detroit Red Wings, much to the surprise of coach Brent Sutter.

“I can’t even pinpoint anything on it,” said Sutter, who ruled out illness as the cause of Tanguay’s absence. “I will say I was somewhat surprised after the game (against Minnesota). He’s played some of his best hockey here in the last four games that he’s played all year for us. I was quite surprised to see that he was out on a day-to-day basis.”

The Flames have recalled Greg Nemisz from the Abbotsford Heat, who will skate with Roman Horak and Paul Byron. All three have spent time in the American Hockey League this season.
Calgary’s projected lineup for tonight’s game:

Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Blake Comeau - Mikael Backlund - Lee Stempniak
Greg Nemisz - Roman Horak - Paul Byron
Tom Kostopoulos - Brendan Morrison - Tim Jackman

Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
Derek Smith - Scott Hannan
TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving

And the Wings:

Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard will get a rare night off as the Red Wings try to tackle the Flames in Calgary tonight. In his place, Ty Conklin will draw into the crease for just his fifth start and sixth appearance this season.

“Jimmy’s been playing so well, too, and it’ll be nice to get in there and get some action,” Conklin said.

Keeping focused while waiting for an opportunity to get back between the pipes has been the mandate in practice for Conklin, who hasn’t played since a Dec. 4 loss against Colorado.

“Just trying to stay sharp in practice,” he said. “When you don’t get in there that often you want to make sure you take advantages of the opportunities you do get. It’s always difficult. It’s been my role for most of my career. That’s just the way it is.”

Outside of Conklin’s start, the Red Wings are expected to ice a similar roster that dropped a 4-2 decision to the Vancouver Canucks last night.

In the multimedia department, the Flames’ website posted Brent Sutter’s game-day presser…

As well as comments from Greg Nemisz and Tom Kostopolous…


And Todd Bertuzzi and Jakub Kindl:


Update #4: I’m not touching Pro Hockey Talk’s Jason Brough’s take on Miller and Howard’s discontent with being run so very regularly. Brough’s a Canucks fan and I’m a Wings fan, and that’s that. I’m staying away from Justin Bourne’s milking of the Kronwall hit, too.

Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy’s take on the plays, however, has to be at least mentioned (via RedWingsFeed as usual):

THE KRONWALL HIT: For the most part, I don’t have a problem with Niklas Kronwall’s check on Ryan Kesler. Kronwall caught Kesler with one of his trademark hits. He made the forward think he was heading back to defend and as soon as the Kesler looked down to locate the puck; Kronwall pounced and delivered the devastating blow. I know the video shows that his feet were off the ground when he made contact, but that’s the case with almost any big hit. Kronwall was off the ice for a moment before making contact and Canucks Nation is upset about it. Compounding the fan’s anger was the fact that Kesler received the only penalty of the skirmish that followed as he tried to engage Kronwall in a fight after picking himself off the ice. After the game Kesler said he didn’t think the hit was dirty, and Kronwall admitted that if indeed he did leave his feet that he would be getting a call from Sheriff Shanny. Overall, advantage Detroit.

EDLER GOAL: Moments after Kesler left the ice for roughing the Canucks broke in shorthanded on Jimmy Howard. Jannik Hansen had a step on Henrik Zetterberg and when he tried to cut in on goal he lost an edge and plowed into Howard leaving the Wing’s goaltender defenseless and unable to stop Alex Edler as he rifled in the rebound. It was a backbreaking goal for Detroit and Howard was hot. He went after Hansen delivering a blocker to the bucket. The Red Wings were upset the goal stood as they felt Howard was shoved into the net by Hansen—even if Zetterberg applied some pressure to the Dane’s back. The Canucks were upset that Howard was not given a roughing penalty so soon after Kesler was sent to the box for a lesser offence. But really, if you’re a Vancouver fan, you’d much rather have the goal stand than a no-goal call and an ensuing power play. No? So in the end, advantage Vancouver.

• Sports Illustrated suggests that Mike Commodore is one of 50 sports figures worth following on Twitter:

11. Mike Commodore, Detroit Red Wings: Most of Commodore’s tweets are funny, but he often will discus specific topics with his followers. However, his staple is signing off his tweets with, “Stay Single My Friends.”

• And in the prospect department, I highly, highly recommend that you read the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema’s profile of Brent Raedeke, which more or less summarizes his Kris Draper-eque work ethic:

For the past couple weeks, Brent Raedeke has stayed out on the ice long after the rest of his Grand Rapids Griffins teammates have finished practice.

Usually that time is filled by rookies goofing around as they clean up the loose pucks, but Raedeke has wanted to put in a little extra time.

“Just working on little things, like trying to get the puck up quick,” the second-year forward said. “In games, if the puck is up around the net you want to try to get it up as quick as you can because the goalies are down. Spinning out of the corner, trying to beat guys to the net and create chances. Game-like situations, I try to work on that in practice as much as I can.”

Update #5: The Vancouver Province’s Legion of Blog’s “J. Bowman” makes fun of Niklas Kronwall and praises Manny Malhotra for punching Danny Cleary in the face;

• Via the SNY Rangers Blog, Mark Howe and Adam Graves were promoting the Winter Classic atop the Empire State building;

• The Globe and Mail’s Alan Maki praised 497-goal-scorer Jarome Iginla;

• The Wings’ website’s offering a ride on the Zamboni at the Joe for “liking” the Michigan Lottery’s Facebook page;

• Sportsnet posted a game-day video from Calgary (good luck getting it to work if you’re in the U.S.), as did TSN;

• And both Puck Daddy, via video…

And Yahoo Sports’ Nicholas J. Cotsonika weighed in on the Kronwall hit:

MINUS: Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall threw a trademark hit on Wednesday night, catching Canucks center Ryan Kesler coming up the wall in Vancouver’s end. Kronwall didn’t target the head; he took the body. But he jumped into the hit, a bad habit he has been trying to break for a while. Kronwall, early last season: “I’ve had some problems in the past with leaving my feet. That’s something I’m trying to work on, because obviously that’s something you don’t want to see in the game.”

Update #6: The Canucks are talking, of course. The Vancouver Sun’s Elliott Pap spoke to Canucks assistant GM Laurence GIllman in Chicago, where he’s watching the club’s AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves (that must be awkward):

Meanwhile, there will be no further punishment for either the Red Wings or Canucks resulting from Wednesday’s third-period shenanigans that included Wings defenceman Niklas Kronwall’s hellacious flying hit on Ryan Kesler, and Kesler’s subsequent knee-on-knee check to Henrik Zetterberg. Neither player was penalized for those specific actions.

“The league must feel they were legal hits,” commented Gilman.

According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, the league also felt that Alex Edler’s back-breaking short-handed goal against Detroit should not have counted after Jannik Hansen, with a nudge from Zetterberg, took out Wings netminder Jimmy Howard. That appears to back up Detroit coach Mike Babcock’s assertion that Hansen did not deserve a penalty but that the Canucks didn’t deserve the goal, either.

“The goalie has to be able to make a play,” Babcock said. “I think that’s what the rules are.”

• Ryan Kesler was all but gloating about the game while speaking to the Vancouver Province’s Ben Kuzma:

“It always feels good to get a win against those guys personally and team wise,” said Kesler. “Bragging rights for next summer, right? We played fast and got in on a couple of their older defencemen to make them turn it over so, yeah, it feels good.”

Yes, the Livonia, Mich, native relished a 4-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday. And as much as you have to admire Kesler’s bravado by confronting Kronwall, a willingness to drop the gloves would have risked injury and how would it look today if the Vancouver Canucks announced that their Selke Trophy winner and a key cog in their offensive machine is out with a broken hand or separated shoulder? And what of the optics of sticking his leg out and dropping Henrik Zetterberg in the neutral zone later in the third period? Imagine if the contact had been more brutal and resulted in an injury to the Red Wings star and even a suspension for Kesler?

With 17 points in his last 15 games and 24 points in 29 games after returning Oct. 18 from offseason hip surgery, Kesler is once again explosive while also ramping up his battle level and finish. While Henrik and Daniel Sedin are among top five NHL scorers and again contending for the Art Ross Trophy, Kesler is the straw that stirs the drink. Vital to the league’s top-ranked power play and seventh-ranked penalty kill, he’s a two-way dynamo who’s so driven that he can sometimes lose focus. Being a total team guy means putting personal agendas aside, but you’d have a hard time convincing Mike Gillis that Kesler did anything wrong Wednesday.

The Canucks general manager admires the centre’s passion and productivity and loved the edge he brought to a regular-season game that played out like a postseason pressure-cooker. He had no problem with challenging a clean hit in which Kronwall left his feet and he labelled the Zetterberg collision as a hockey play. First, the Kronwall chronology.

“Ryan reacted the right way,” stressed Gillis. “We’re very pleased he wasn’t injured, but you always have to be aware when players like that are on the ice because he’s going to take a chance and nail you if he gets it. It appeared to me that was a full-body check and he didn’t target the head, but you always have a problem with an unsuspecting player gets hits that hard and Kronwall is known for making those type of hits. Ryan was clearly upset by the check and was trying to defend himself and make sure that Kronwall knew there was going to be some accountability. That’s hockey. I have a bigger issue when a guy like Andrew Alberts, who hits a guy cleanly and has to fight the other team’s goon [Minnesota’s Brad Staubitz on Monday]. To me, that absurd and ridiculous. People talk about taking fighting out of the game and a guy delivers a good clean hit and that guy doesn’t fight, but then you have to fight the other guy.”
Then what about the collision with Zetterberg? Kesler said he didn’t know what reporters were asking about when they referenced it and Gillis didn’t seem to think it was a big deal.

“I don’t think that was intentional,” added Gillis. “Ryan has never struck me as a player who has ever intentionally tried to injure another player.”

Uh huh.

• I’ll let you read the Vancouver Province’s “NucksIceMan’s” take on the game on your own, however, and the same goes for Pass it to Bulis‘s take on the game;

• Somewhat ironically, TSN’s Kerry Fraser suggested that the goal Alex Edler scored on Jimmy Howard should not have counted due to Jannik Hansen’s interference, but he went to long lengths to pick on Tomas Holmstrom, too:

[Y]our reference to Tomas Holmstrom brought back many memories of keeping my eyes glued this goal crease pest right up to the last Red Wings game that I worked just prior to my retirement. The Nashville Predators were the guests at Joe Louis Arena on this night. I documented the last crease penalty I called on Holmstrom in the Detroit chapter of The Final Call entitled, Hockeytown, USA. I share it with you now Mark and for those who wish to read on.

“Nashville and Detroit played hard, and as I anticipated, I would have to step up from my position at the blue line and call a penalty on Holmstrom at 19:04 of the first period. Mickey Redmond, a former 50-goal scorer for Detroit and long-time colour commentator on Wings television broadcasts, didn’t agree (imagine that), but it was a phenomenal call. Some things that the untrained eye might take several replays, even in slow motion, to detect, we officials only have a fraction of a millisecond to see and make a judgment on. This was one of those times, and from 65 feet away.

The Wings were cycling the puck low in the Nashville end zone. Holmstrom came out of the corner from a scramble behind the net and occupied his favourite real estate, right at the top of –if not inside—the blue paint of the goal crease, his back and butt in the face Pekka Rinne. As one of the non-puck carriers, Tomas was part of my area of coverage, along with the other players who weren’t immediately involved in the action around the puck. Wes (McCauley) covered everything to do with action on the puck.

Tomas never seems to want to take up space on his own; he usually attracts a crowd, which he uses to his advantage by jamming up the goal crease even more. With the puck on its way to the front of the net, Tomas grabbed the stick of Nashville defenceman Shea Weber, tap-danced over Rinne’s pads, and pulled Weber down to the side of the goal crease, all the while flipping a one-handed shot at the goal with his stick. Before the puck floated overtop of the net, I had my hand in the air to signal a penalty against Holmstrom. With all the action around him, Pekka Rinne didn’t realize there was a delayed penalty being called against Detroit, so he remained in his crease until the whistle blew once Detroit gained possession of the puck. Tomas had that confused look of innocence on his face as he went to the penalty box for the remaining 56 seconds of the period.

Prior to the start of the second period, I was standing near the penalty box when Holmstrom skated over to occupy the real estate I had rented him for the next 64 seconds. Again flashing me that confused look, Tomas asked me what I’d seen—notice, not what he’d done! I explained that I’d seen him engage the Nashville defenceman at the edge of the crease, grab his stick, and pull him down, while trying to make it look as though he was the one being fouled. A wide grin broke out across Holmstrom’s face, as he smiled and said, “That’s why you’re the best!” and then stepped into the penalty box.

Tomas Holmstrom makes things happen. He creates opportunities for his team and takes a huge beating in front of the net to do so. He is just as valuable to the Detroit Red Wings as any of their other star players, and they have a boatload of them, including Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, and Todd Bertuzzi.”

• Another personality weighed in on events in one Ken Kal, who spoke to The Fan 960 about last night’s game:

Download file

• Howard was talking about the hit he took, too, speaking to DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose about getting bumped and ground:

“Sometimes, as a goalie to make the save, you have to put yourself in a vulnerable position and the last thing you want to do is ring your head off of one of the posts or anything like that,” Howard said. “But you know, I’m a tough guy and I have no problem with guys going toward the net and trying to create scoring opportunities.”

The third-period play resulted in a Canucks’ goal, which was allowed to stand in the Wings’ 4-2 loss at Rogers Arena. Now, nobody in the Wings’ dressing room is suggesting that Hansen deserved a penalty, but at the very least, referees Marc Joannette and Tom Kowal should have waved off the goal by sighting incidental contact.

“The calls happen both ways,” Howard said. “We had some this year, or a couple of them, where it’s happened. You can see why calls are made, but then you see something like last night where you can see there should have been a little bit more, but it’s purely a judgment call out there.”
Wings backup goalie Ty Conklin – who will get the start against the Flames – agrees with Howard. And while a penalty shouldn’t have been accessed to Hansen, the league should make a bigger deal out of goalie safety, and not subjecting them from being fodder for hard-charging forwards.

“I don’t think either of us thinks it was a penalty. It wasn’t a penalty,” Conklin said. “It’s not like he was calling for a penalty, but that kid comes sliding into the net, cut to the net, fell into Jimmy, and interferes with him trying to make the second save. I don’t think any of us are asking for a penalty, but I thought it should have been whistled down.”

Howard isn’t sure, one way or another, if it’s ‘open season’ on goaltenders, but he does acknowledge that some teams have tried to rattle him, similarly to what the San Jose Sharks tried to do last May in the Western Conference semifinals.

“Oh, yeah, probably most definitely, but that stuff really isn’t going to take me off of my game,” Howard said. “I haven’t seen anything that has really warranted real punishment, I mean, the guys are a lot stronger, a lot bigger, and a lot faster out there, and sometimes it just happens out there with the speed of the game.”

Neither Howard nor Conklin felt that Kronwall’s hit on Kesler merited Kesler’s glove-dropping, either, but again, they’re a bit biased.

• In the “Local Hockey” category, part 1: DetroitRedWings.com’s Zack Crawford profiles the coaches taking part in the Great Lakes Invitational;

• In the “Local Hockey” category, part 2: Michigan Hockey Now posted an unranked list of the “50 most influential people on Michigan hockey”;

• In his NHL notebook, Yahoo Sports’ Nicholas J. Cotsonika had this to say about the Wings…

Look who is tied for the league lead in plus/minus: Ian White, at plus-22 in 29 games. He was a minus-10 in 16 games with the Calgary Flames last season, who traded him to the Hurricanes, who traded him to the Sharks. But he signed with the Wings as a free agent and is now paired with none other than Nicklas Lidstrom, a seven-time Norris winner. That helps.

• And the Sporting News’s Craig Custance made some Wings mentions in his ESPN Chat:

Rich (canada): I use to be a Ryan Kessler fan,but latly after watching him i am realizing my opinion of him is becoming less, he is a good hockey player but watching him run around sticking, slashing, trash taking cheep shots at other players then turn around and calls Kronwall out after a big hit saying he needs to answer the call out! i have seen him chicken out a bunch of times when called out by tough guys, but Kronwall who is not a fighter hits then he acts tough! lost alot of respect for him!

Craig Custance: Rich - I thought Pierre made a strong point in our daily debate this morning. There’s no need for a guy like Kronwall to fight if the hit isn’t a cheap shot and I didn’t have a problem with Kronwall’s hit. As an American, I’m required to like Ryan Kesler so I can’t join you in your criticism of him.
Andrew (Toronto): So what’s happened with Jimmy Howard? Always talented, his GAA has dropped nearly a goal a game. Has he just gotten that much better, or did Detroit alter its system?

Craig Custance: Andrew - There’s been a slight system change with the addition of two new assistants which may be part of it but when you talk to people in the organization about Howard, they mention his growth and confidence. Ty Conklin has been shaky at best (he’ll go tonight in Calgary) so the Red Wings need Howard to maintain this pace. Mike Babcock has already said that he doesn’t mind riding Howard a bit. He’s still young and they think he can manage the workload.


Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


mrfluffy's avatar

Do you think Howard went after Hansen because he ran him? Or because Hansen gets up to celebrate and crosschecks Lidstrom for no friggin’ reason?

Kronner leaps into his hits half the time (last night no exception) and should get called out on it, but last night’s reaction from the ‘Nucks after a nice win come across as petty to put it politely. I may even root for Chicago this year in the playoffs if these two teams meet.

Hey Bieska, what do you think of Hansen’s crosscheck on Lidstrom when celebrating? Pretty classy, right?

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 12/22/11 at 05:12 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Maybe if there’s still some anger among our players it will help them counter the fatigue tonight.  We need the two points tonight, so I hope everyone will get mentally prepared to play hard - there are a few days off coming.  And Conks, you are well rested.  Please make up your mind to stop the puck - no matter what.


Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 12/22/11 at 05:54 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Honestly, I’m tired of it.  The ‘Nucks won.  CGY’s on the docket.  Two points need to be earned to keep pace in the Central.

Bring on the LB.

Posted by SYF from A tall cool pint of Guinness on 12/22/11 at 06:23 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.