The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/10/11 at 03:06 PM ET
Updated 6x at 6:18 PM: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to take on the Winnipeg Jets tonight (7 PM EST, FSD/WXYT/CBC), there’s good news for the miked-up Tomas Holmstrom and the Wings: Pavel Datsyuk did indeed take part in the Wings’ morning skate, and MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that he’s going to play:
No lineup changes for Wings tonight: 93-13-44, 51-40-26, 11-43-41, 20-8-96; 5-18, 55-52, 4-23, 35.
Update the first: Here’s Khan’s game-day post:
The Detroit Red Wings seek their ninth consecutive victory at home tonight when they face the surging Winnipeg Jets at Joe Louis Arena (7 p.m., Fox Sports Net Detroit). The Red Wings are 11-3-1 at home. Last season, they were better on the road (26-11-4) than at the Joe (21-14-6).
“If you’re not getting it done on the road you better be getting it done at home or you need to find somewhere else to play,’’ Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We’ve been good at home and haven’t been as good on the road. What’s the answer to that question? I don’t know. We were a real good road team last year and not as good at home. We’d like to do both.’‘
It’s the first meeting between the Red Wing and the new Jets, who relocated from Atlanta after 2010-11.
Also: WXYT’s Ken Kal engaged in a light-hearted, Christmas-themed game preview on the Wings’ official site. Kal and Darren Helm talk about the “new Jets”:
Update #2: Here’s NHL.com’s Brian Hedger’s game-day update:
“Important game for us tonight,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said after a brief morning skate. “It’s a good opportunity. You don’t catch teams that get in at four in the morning very often and, so, when the scheduler is helping you out you’d better take advantage of it.
The Jets (13-11-4), like the Red Wings (17-9-1), have fared much better at home than away from MTS Centre – where they improved to 9-4-0 on home ice against the Hurricanes . On the road, Winnipeg carries a 4-7-4 record and the Jets have come up short in both games against Central Division teams thus far. For Detroit, it’s a bit of a flip from last season—when the Red Wings were pretty good on the road and had some struggles at home. Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said there has been a difference between the way they’ve played in Detroit this year, as opposed to other arenas.
“We’re just putting pucks on net, retrieving them and not letting the other team’s D off the hook,” he said. “We’ve gotten on teams early and scored some early goals. In the NHL, it’s tough playing catch-up hockey.”
As for last year’s struggles at Joe Louis Arena, Howard said the difference now might be in the Wings’ mental approach on home ice.
“Last year, I don’t know what the case was,” Howard said. “Maybe we were trying to be too fancy. We’ve simplified things at home here of late.”
The Jets still have a handful of guys not playing because of various ailments, while Detroit’s biggest injury is to star center Pavel Datsuk (lower body). He left the game Thursday against Phoenix early and didn’t practice on Friday, but went through Saturday’s skate and will play. The 32-year old Datsyuk also had a little fun with reporters Saturday, especially when asked whether he needed Friday off to rest.
“I always need a day off,” he said. “Just give me a chance … I’ll use it. Not afraid to take a day off. “I’m now old, so maybe I’m starting to forget.
Datsyuk told Hedger that he may be a little sore during games, but he’s OK:
“A little bit, maybe,” Datsyuk said. “Just being careful, though – it’s not bad. Everything’s fine.”
According to Hedger, the Jets didn’t hold a morning skate as they lost an hour of time flying from the Central to Eastern time zones after beating Carolina in the Peg last night.
Update #3: DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose spoke to Darren Helm about playing against his “hometown” team:
Helm, who used to attend Jets’ home games with his youth teams, and sold 50/50 raffle tickets on the arena concourse with teammates and parents, is excited for the chance to soon play before family and friends back home.
With realignment set to begin next season, the Jets and Wings will be in the same eight-team conference, meaning that they will face each other at least five times each season with 2-3 games being in Manitoba.
“It’ll be nice. When they come here it’s no big deal, but going there is going to be nice,” Helm said. “I can play in front of my family instead of having them come all the way here to watch a game. It’s going to be nice to have them leave the house half and hour before the game, come down; get some time off, go home and get some home-cooked meals.”
The excitement for the Jets is overwhelming, and why not? Heading into Saturday’s game, Winnipeg has a 13-11-4 record and one-point out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“Most of the team out there I’ve talked to are pretty happy about it,” Helm said. “My friends and family pay a lot more attention to the Wings, I don’t think they care as much. But there’s a lot of people I grew-up with are real excited, pretty pumped about getting chance to cheer for a hometown team.”
Update #3.5: The Winnipeg Sun’s Kirk Penton confirms that the Jets won’t practice this morning.
Update #4: Here’s the Winnipeg Free Press’s Tim Campbell’s game preview:
It’ll be unfamiliar entities from opposite conferences tonight on Hockey Night in Canada but the Detroit Red Wings know one thing about their only contest of the season against the Winnipeg Jets — the ball’s in their court.
“It’s a good opportunity,” Wings coach Mike Babcock declared this morning after his team’s game-day skate at Joe Louis Arena. “You don’t catch teams that get in at four in the morning very often and so when the scheduler is helping you out, you’d better take advantage of it.”
The Wings, coming off a 5-2 spanking of Phoenix here on Thursday, are 8-2-0 in their last 10 and moving forward in the standings in the Western Conference with a mark of 17-9-1.
The Jets, winners of four straight and now up to 13-11-4 in the Eastern Conference, flew to Detroit right after Friday night’s 4-2 home win over Carolina and got in very late.
No surprise then, that Winnipeg, 8-2-1 in its last 11, skipped the morning skate today at Joe Louis.
The last Winnipeg team seen here was in April, 1996, where the second-to-last game of the original Jets era was played in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. That win still stands as a career highlight for now-Edmonton Oilers goalie Nikolai Khabibulin.
Update #5: Here’s the Free Press’s George Sipple’s update:
Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk didn’t spent much time on the ice during an optional morning skate today at Joe Louis Arena. He said he plans to play tonight against the Winnipeg Jets. Face-off is 7 p.m. today.
“Everything’s fine,” said Datsyuk, who sat out the third period of a 5-2 win over the Coyotes on Thursday after suffering a lower-body injury.
Datsyuk didn’t practice on Friday, but was in a joking mood this morning. When a reporter asked if he was limited in any way, Datsyuk cracked: “You can see me. I’m physically limited.”
Asked about having Friday off, Datsyuk joked: “I always need a day off. You give me chance, I use it.”
Datsyuk also spoke to NHL.com’s Brian Hedger about Valtteri Filppula’s play of late...
Filppula has scored points in five of his last seven games, including six goals. He now has nine goals and 14 assists heading into a game Saturday night against the Winnipeg Jets at Joe Louis Arena (7 p.m.,
“He’s just more confident now and more grown up,” said Datsyuk, who has eight goals and 18 assists while centering the top line. “He’s just a bigger player now and he will be a good All-Star.”
That’s pretty high praise coming from an All-Star caliber player like Datsyuk, but the Russian star really likes what he’s seeing from his Finnish teammate.
“[Filppula] is one of the best players on our team this year so far,” Datsyuk said. “He shoots, he scores. He has lots of help and he helps [Zetterberg] on the second line, too.”
Other Wings are seeing it, too – including Jiri Hudler, who’s currently playing opposite Filppula on the second line at right wing. Filppula missed a game in St. Louis on Tuesday with a deep cut on his shin from a skate blade, but returned Thursday wearing protective Kevlar socks to score a goal and add another assist in a 5-2 win against the Phoenix Coyotes.
“[Filppula] is a horse,” Hudler said. “He’s really strong. He’s a strong guy and he flies. It’s tough to take the puck from him. He’s got big legs and it’s tough to go around him, too.”
And here’s Brian Munz’s game-day update from TSN:
After extending their winning streak to a season high four games last night, the (13-11-4) Winnipeg Jets are in Detroit to play the (17-9-1) Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.
The Jets arrived in Detroit at 3am so they did not have a pre-game skate. Ondrej Pavelec will start in goal looking to extend his personal winning streak to three games. The rest of the Jets line-up tonight has yet to be announced by Head Coach Claude Noel.
Forward Bryan Little is on a five-game point streak (three goals and four assists). Forward Blake Wheeler, who had three assists last night vs Carolina, now has two goals and nine assists in his last 10 games.
The Red Wings are coming off a 5-2 victory against Phoenix Thursday which was their first win in three games. Detroit has scored at least one power play goal in their last six straight games.
Update #5.5: From the Wings...
Remember, it’s #SocialSaturday, which means fans coming to the game can #TweetYourSeat to win prizes.
Tonight’s prizes include Miller Lite Party Deck Passes, EA Sports NHL 2012, autographed pucks, card sheets and more.
Social Saturday Ticket Deal: $25 single seats for the 12/17 game vs LA. To Order: https://oss.ticketmaster.com/html/group_corp_start.htmI?l=EN&team=redwings&owner=5435008&group=969&err=&event=&customerID=… Password: helm
Update #6: Here’s the Winnipeg Sun’s Kirk Penton’s preview:
“You don’t catch teams that get in at four in the morning very often,” Wings head coach Mike Babcock said. “So when the scheduler is helping you out, you better take advantage of it.”
Steinbach’s Ian White, who is in his first year with the Wings, has been impressed with what he’s seen out of the Jets.
“They’re a hard-working group,” the defenceman said. “They’ve been getting better every week. They had a big win last week against Boston, and I’m sure they’re feeling good. They’ve won a couple in a row, so they’re going to come out hungry. I was laying in my bed (Friday) night watching their game at home, so hopefully they’re a little tired and we can come out of the gates strong. But it’s going to be a tough game.”
We can only assume Nik Antropov will make his return to the lineup on Saturday night, so these line combinations are somewhat of a guess. But here goes anyway.
Andrew Ladd-Nik Antropov-Kyle Wellwood
Evander Kane-Bryan Little-Blake Wheeler
Tanner Glass-Jim Slater-Chris Thorburn
Jason Jaffray-Alex Burmistrov-Tim Stapleton
Johnny Oduya, Dustin Byfuglien
Zach Bogosian, Mark Stuart
Randy Jones, Mark Flood
One more thing: Tonight, Tomas Holmstrom will hold court with referees Gord Dwyer and Marc Joanette, as well as linesmen Brian Mach and Scott Driscoll.
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