The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/24/12 at 04:59 PM ET
Very briefly: as the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the Carolina Hurricanes tonight (7 PM EDT, FSD+/FS Carolinas/
1270AM, online stream linky here), DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose reports that Nicklas Lidstrom will be a “game-time decision” as he tests out his still-sore left ankle, but the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan reports that Jakub Kindl will definitely play as he returns from a strained quadriceps muscle, and MLive’s Ansar Khan, the Free Press’s Carlos Monarrez, Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji and NHL.com’s Brian Hedger (who also penned stories about the Wings’ injuries in general, Jimmy Howard and Nicklas Lidstrom) all report more or less the following, depending on how one reads the tea leaves:
It sounds like Lidstrom is less enthusiastic about returning tonight, probably with a “skate fender” on his left skate boot, than coach Mike Babcock is about Lidstrom coming back; Johan Franzen at least skated full-out today and expects to return “sometime next week” from his back injury; according to Khan and Wakiji, Jonathan Ericsson could return as early as Monday as the Wings kick off—and I never thought I’d be saying these words in March—a crucial set of back-to-backs against Columbus, which took out the playoff-desperate Hurricanes last night (expect Peter Karmanos to be in attendance this evening), and while both Franzen and Howard told Wakiji and Hedger that they’d love to get a “couple” of practices in before playing, Babcock sounds particularly impatient about the concept of Howard returning to the winless-in-six (and/or 2-6-and-2 in March and/or 3-8-and-3 since February 19th) Wings any later than Monday night’s game against Columbus, saying this to Wakiji:
“You know, when he hurt his groin he missed some time and now he’s hurt it again, I imagine we’re extra cautious with him,” Babcock said. “And yet Howie’s got to get playing and get playing lots of games. No. 1 you have to get in the playoffs and No. 2 you’ve got to be ready to play at a top level. You can’t win without your goalie being good, so it’s important Howie gets back and gets going.”
I don’t mean to not get into more detail for anything other than expediency’s sake, but it’s just hard to figure out who’s saying what right now. Babcock offers one line to the press and the players offer another, and at this time of year, everyone who’s nursing an injury is “day-to-day,” and it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw Lidstrom and Kindl playing tonight, and perhaps Ericsson, Franzen and Howard all re-joining the team on Monday, nor would it surprise me if Lidstrom stays out of the lineup until Monday and we don’t see any of Ericsson, Franzen or Howard until next Friday’s game against Nashville.
In any case, Conklin continues to get to stake his claim on the Wings back-up’s job this evening as things don’t sound particularly good regarding Joey MacDonald (bulging disc in his back) suiting up at any time over the next one to two weeks (he might return at the same time that Darren Helm does—during the Wings’ first playoff game on either April 11th or April 12th).
At the other end of the developmental spectrum, in addition to performing the pre-cursor to signing Riley Sheahan, who certainly sounded like he wanted the hell out of Notre Dame while speaking to DetroitRedWings.com’s Roose, the Grand Rapids Griffins signed training camp try-out Ramis Sadikov to an amateur try-out to back up Tom McCollum this weekend.
One gets the feeling that Jordan Pearce and his slick Vaughn pads may be headed elsewhere to earn a better shot at NHL playing time if the Wings choose to give McCollum one more year to prove himself while breaking Petr Mrazek in (and that appears to be the plan for next season), but Sadikov, who had a terrible season for an even worse Erie Otters team, is the kind of raw, athletic and frickin’ huge (6’4,” 225-lb) goalie that might bolster the Wings’ goaltending pipeline via a season spent with the Toledo Walleye.
If you’re keeping score at home, barring a miraculous comeback, free agent defenseman Danny Dekeyser’s college season could end today, depending on the outcome of today’s Western Michigan University-University of North Dakota NCAA playoff game, and the ever-wild card that is Dick Axelsson told Expressen’s Henrik Sjoberg that he won’t return to Modo Ornskokdsvik per a conversation with Modo GM Markus Naslund and coach Ulf Samuelsson.
Sorry for the rusty entry. I’m not sure whether I’m going to do a “quick take” or recap. My excuse is lame—most people would be immersing themselves in work instead of trying to figure out what to think about the mom having a health scare and the aunt in the middle of another one, but it’s been a rough week at the home office. Real rough.
There are two other items of Wings-related news note to mention: First, the Wings have changed the start time of their last regular season game, an afternoon matinee against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, April 7th, from 4 PM EDT to 1 PM EDT;
And the Grand Rapids Griffins teamed up with Occam Photography to create a 13-and-a-half minute-long video entitled, “The Road to the NHL”:
Update: The Red Wings’ website posted clips of Ken Kal speaking to Nicklas Lidstrom in his game preview…
Wings coach Mike Babcock’s morning presser…
And Lidstrom’s post-morning skate media scrum:
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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.