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Red Wings-Kings set-up and overnight report: depleted Wings face crucial set of back-to-backs

Update: I posted this entry in the wrong weblog, so I’m re-posting it here: In theory, the Red Wings’ two-day break between their loss to Philadelphia on Tuesday and a crucial set of back-to-back games against the Los Angeles Kings tonight (7:30 PM EST, FSD/Prime Ticket/97.1 FM) and Nashville tomorrow (8 PM EST—and yes, we “spring forward” on Sunday morning—FSD/FS Tennessee/97.1 FM) would set up the Wings for a productive final West Coast Swing with reinforcements in tow.

Instead, as we learned on Thursday afternoon, barring a morning skate miracle, the Red Wings will not play either tonight or tomorrow while employing the services of Todd Bertuzzi (groin; at least “out” long enough that the Wings recalled Gustav Nyquist), Jimmy Howard (groin, skated before practice on Thursday), Nicklas Lidstrom (sore ankle, skated before practice on Thursday), Pavel Datsyuk (knee, skated in gear on Thursday), Jakub Kindl, “upper-body,” didn’t skate) or Jonathan Ericsson (broken wrist, did skate, 3-4 weeks out). It’s possible that we could see everybody but Ericsson return by the time the Wings visit LA next Wednesday, if not by next Saturday in San Jose at the latest, but for now, the Wings have to make due with who’s available.

“Worse” from a Red Wings perspective, thanks to wins by the Blues, Canucks and Predators on Thursday, the Wings sit four points behind the Blues in the Central Division and Western Conference standings, they’re 3 points behind the Canucks and the Predators, who have (if I recall things correctly) a fantastic record against Detroit in back-to-backs in Nashville, now sit only 4 points behind Detroit in the Central Division.

Moreover, tonight’s opponent, the Los Angeles Kings, sit in ninth place in the Western Conference, only one point behind the 8th-place Sharks (you read that right), and the Kings’ 3-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday snapped a 3-game winning streak and a 4-3-and-1 record of late—which is better than Detroit’s 2-4-and-1 record since the Wings established their 23-game home-ice winning streak.

The Wings are at least 3-and-2 since they lost both Datsyuk and Lidstrom’s services, but they’ve lost 2 in a row, and given that Jack Johnson scored the gamer for Columbus in their reunion with Jeff Carter, the Kings are going to be a wee bit pissed off heading into tonight’s tilt.

The Associated Press’s recap of the Columbus-Los Angeles game is obviously a necessary read…

Jack Johnson spent almost five full seasons with the Los Angeles Kings. Yet he’s found a home in just six games with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Mark Letestu scored twice and Johnson had a goal against his former teammates to lead the Blue Jackets to their fourth straight win Thursday night, a 3-1 victory that ended the Kings’ three-game winning streak.

“This one felt good. This has been a really great change for me,” Johnson said after getting a goal in his second straight game for his new team—and the first against his old team. “I’ve been excited to come to the rink every day. These guys here have a blast here at the rink and it’s carrying over onto the ice. Guys are loose and having fun. That’s what this game is supposed to be all about.”

Meanwhile, the Kings lost a game they badly needed. They came into the contest in a tight battle for the last playoff spot in the West. Instead, they were outplayed for most of the night.

“It was a disappointing start,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “You break down Columbus’ last three games and they’ve had 2-0 leads on all three teams, Phoenix twice and Colorado. That was our focus, to not get behind and to try and match their energy early. We weren’t all able to do that.”
...
Anze Kopitar scored a short-handed goal for the Kings. Jonathan Bernier had 33 saves.

Sutter was asked about the recent inconsistent play of Carter and former Flyers teammate Mike Richards.

“I’m not going to single any of that out,” Sutter said. “The only thing that kept us alive tonight was Jonathan Bernier and our penalty kill. Other than that, it was pretty much right across (the board).”

And while LAKings.com’s Rich Hammond is the only beat writer traveling with the Kings on their four-game road trip, ESPN Los Angeless’s Dan Arritt offers “Eight Keys to the Game, including the following:

THE FACTS: Traded from the Los Angeles Kings to the Columbus Blue Jackets two weeks earlier, Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson scored what turned out to be the winning goal Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena in Columbus, Ohio, lifting the league’s worst team to their fourth consecutive victory.

THE STAT: The Kings can’t seem to win the games they’re supposed to win. They had an opportunity to move back into the top eight in the Western Conference standings with a victory, but instead fell to 9-9-3 against the other bottom eight teams.

TURNING POINT: With the score tied 1-1 in the final minute of the first period, Johnson jumped into the play, located a loose puck in the high slot and shot it past Kings backup goalie Jonathan Bernier with 8.5 seconds remaining. It was Johnson’s second goal in two games and marked the first time in his career he has hit double digits in goals.

HOT: Kings right wing Dustin Brown made a beautiful pass to Anze Kopitar for a short-handed goal that tied the score 1-1 with 7:38 remaining in the opening period. Brown has points in six consecutive games, his longest points streak since he scored in seven straight in December 2010. The Kings have also killed 23 straight penalties.

NOT: Kings center Mike Richards tweeted a few hours before the game that he was bothered by some loud vacuuming outside his hotel room door all afternoon, which likely interrupted his pregame nap. Richards has been snoozing on offense for most of the past month, failing to score a goal for the 22nd straight game.

GOOD MOVE: While Brown has been the team’s best offensive player lately, he hasn’t forgotten his physical game. He softened up the Blue Jackets with 10 hits while earning his most ice time in a month (20:56).

BAD MOVE: The Blue Jackets scored their third goal when Bernier gave up a rebound and both Rob Scuderi and Kyle Clifford failed to see the puck lying in front of the crease. Mark Letestu saw it, moved in and scored his second goal of the game with just less than 17 minutes remaining in the second period.

While we’re talking stats, here’s one of note from the Kings’ official Twitter account...

. @CarlsJr post-game stats: Both Kopitar and Brown extended scoring streaks tonight. Kopitar’s streak is at 5 games and Brown’s is it 6 gms.

And the Kings’ post-game comments, from the aforementioned Rich Hammond on his LAKingsInsider blog, were pretty predictable. Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi offered the following...

(on the poor start…)
SCUDERI: “We talked about it before the game, that they [the Blue Jackets] have been playing real good hockey lately. Especially in the first period, they’ve had leads on all the teams they’ve played, playoff teams in the last couple games. We came out flat. They jumped on us and got a lead. We were trying to play catch-up the rest of the game.’’

(on whether it was a “trap’’ game, or whether the Kings just played poorly…)

SCUDERI: “I don’t think a trap game exists for us the rest of the season, given how badly we need the points. They’re playing good hockey right now. I think we could have come out sharper in the first period. Once they got the lead on us, we played some good hockey and had some good chances, but not enough to get ourselves back in the game on the scoreboard.’’

Kopitar, who idolized Sergei Fedorov as a youngster in Slovenia (yes, tonight’s game involves a meeting between two Slovenian-born players), told Hammond that the Kings may have taken a team which has nothing to do but play the “spoiler’s” role a little too lightly…

(on the game…)
KOPITAR: “Our start wasn’t very good. Once they got off to a lead, it’s catch-up hockey. That’s always tough, no matter who you’re playing.’’

(on facing the Blue Jackets, who are playing well and have nothing to lose…)

KOPITAR: “Definitely. A couple years back, we were in that same position, where we pretty much played for fun. Nothing is on the line for them, but you definitely can’t discredit them. They still have a solid team and they outplayed us tonight. There’s no excuse to it. We just have to get the job done.’’

And as I probably don’t need to tell you that Jeff Carter wasn’t delighted with being booed every time he touched the puck, or, per the AP’s recap, visited a rink where fans were swapping out the “Carter” nameplates on the backs of their #7 jerseys for “Johnson” for free thanks to the Blue Jackets as Johnson chose to wear Carter’s number. Here’s what Kings coach Darryl Sutter had to say to Hammond:

(on the game…)
SUTTER: “A disappointing start. You break down Columbus’ last three games, they had 2-0 leads on all three teams, even though it was Phoenix twice, and Colorado. That was our focus, was not to get behind and try to match their energy early. We weren’t all able to do that.’’

(on giving up the third goal, after a solid start to the second period…)
SUTTER: “I think it [the effort] was really sporadic, to be quite honest. You’re just trying to find guys that are going. We just needed a better…you could call it effort, but a more focused sort of game. We didn’t get it.’’

(on not being surprised by Columbus’ recent strong play…)
SUTTER: “That’s exactly right. They had beaten Phoenix twice and beaten Colorado. They deserved to win those games, too. They deserved to win tonight, too.’’

(on needing more from Richards and Carter…)

SUTTER: “I’m not going to single any of that out. I think the only thing that kept us alive tonight was Jonathan Bernier and our penalty killing. Other than that, it was pretty much right across.’’

Aside from the fact that Jonathan Quick will start tonight, it’s a safe guess that Hammond’s lineup posted prior to the Blue Jackets game will serve as LA’s lineup this evening:

KINGS LINEUP
Dustin Brown-Anze Kopitar-Justin Williams
Dwight King-Mike Richards-Jeff Carter
Dustin Penner-Jarret Stoll-Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford-Colin Fraser-Jordan Nolan

Rob Scuderi-Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell-Slava Voynov
Alec Martinez-Matt Greene
...
Jonathan Quick

The Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman sets up tonight’s game as follows...

Records: Kings 31-24-12. Red Wings 43-21-3.

Record vs. Red Wings: 0-2.

Update: Ghosts of teammates past…. Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson scored against his former Kings’ teammates on Thursday night in Columbus, helping end the Kings’ three-game winning streak. So who is next? If form follows, it will be Red Wings defenseman Brad Stuart. He played 63 games for the Kings in the 2007-08 season. The injury-riddled Red Wings are 2-4-1 in their last seven games. In two meetings this season, Detroit has outscored the Kings, 12-3. including the Red Wings’ 8-2 victory at Detroit on Dec. 17. That was shortly after Terry Murray was fired and just before Darryl Sutter took over as coach.

The Associated Press offers a fine and more Red Wings-centric preview...

Detroit seeks to avoid its fourth loss in five home games Friday night when it faces Los Angeles. The Red Wings (43-21-3) have played their last four games without reigning Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom, and they fell to 2-4-1 during Pavel Datsyuk’s current absence with a 3-2 loss at Philadelphia on Tuesday.

Detroit also played without standout goaltender Jimmy Howard, who left after the first period of a 2-1 loss to Chicago on Sunday with a groin strain. Howard said his injury is nothing serious, but he will miss Friday’s game along with Datsyuk, Lidstrom, Todd Bertuzzi and Jakub Kindl.

Joey MacDonald is 7-3-1 with a 1.82 goals-against average in 11 appearances this season filling in for Howard, and he’ll likely get the start Friday.

Datsyuk skated in practice Thursday for the first time since having arthroscopic knee surgery Feb. 21 and hopes to return soon.

“He’s going in the right direction,” coach Mike Babcock told the team’s official website. “Soon I think you’ll see Nick back and Bert back soon too. By the end of the weekend for sure.”

Detroit has fallen four points back of St. Louis and three behind Vancouver in the West, and it has lost three of four at Joe Louis Arena following its record-setting 23-game home winning streak.

The Red Wings haven’t had much trouble this season against Los Angeles, however, outscoring the Kings 12-3 in winning both meetings. They won 8-2 at home Dec. 17 and 4-1 on Nov. 19 at Los Angeles, which had a three-game winning streak snapped with a 3-1 loss at Columbus on Thursday.

And here’s NHL.com’s John Kreiser’s preview:

LAST 10: Los Angeles 4-5-1; Detroit 5-4-1

Season Series : It’s the third of four meetings this season. Detroit has won the first two easily, including an 8-2 victory on Dec. 17 in the Kings’ previous visit to Joe Louis Arena.

Big Story: Injuries have helped knock the Wings off their perches atop the Central Division and the Western Conference. But at least Detroit knows it’s headed for the playoffs—and that’s more than the Kings can say after missing a chance to move into the top eight in the West after losing at last-place Columbus on Thursday. Winning in Detroit at any time is difficult; beating the Wings at Joe Louis Arena in the second half of a back-to-back is among the NHL’s toughest assignments.
...
Who’s Hot: Anze Kopitar scored L.A.‘s lone goal on Thursday and has seven points during a six-game points streak. Captain Dustin Brown has five goals and 10 points during the same span. … Henrik Zetterberg had Detroit’s first goal on Tuesday and is 3-6-9 in his last five games.

Injury Report: The Kings continue to be without forwards Simon Gagne (concussion) and Kevin Westgarth (hand). … In addition to its three stars and Bertuzzi (groin), the Wings are without defensemen Jonathan Ericsson (broken wrist) and Jakub Kindl (upper body), as well as forward Patrick Eaves (concussion).

Stat Pack: The Kings have won three of their last four visits to Detroit after going through a streak in which they dropped 11 of 12. … The Wings have gotten terrific play from Joey MacDonald, who has gone 7-3-1 with a 1.82 goals-against average while filling in for Howard this season.

Red Wings GM Ken Holland did quite a bit of talking on Thursday, and some of it involved his depleted lineup as well as his agenda for presenting 3-on-3 overtime to his fellow GM’s on Monday, but something strange happened during Thursday’s Red Wings practice:

After a night of talking about the power play, the Wings and their press corps did nothing to further delve into the team’s adjustment on a 6-for-50 PP over the last 12 games (per the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan), and I’m gonna say this pretty bluntly:

Maybe because they were working in their usually unusually tight constraints, or maybe because so much stuff happened on the injury front on Thursday, or maybe because they have to go on the Wings’ four-game road trip and know that they’ve got to cover back-to-backs in Detroit and then in Nashville tonight and tomorrow, head out West, and then cover back-to-backs in LA and Anaheim (something tells me that LA traffic makes that trip a little more interesting than one would think), fly out to San Jose and then prepare for three more weeks of hockey before the playoffs start…

Just like the Wings’ players, the beat writers have to conserve their energy and prepare for the grind to come, too, and while that’s completely understandable, that leaves us with very, very little to talk about regarding tonight’s game, save this quip from Wings coach Mike Babcock about the reason the Wings swiped the playoff-desperate Grand Rapids Griffins’ leading scorer ahead of Grand Rapids’ back-to-backs in Houston on Saturday and Sunday:

The Wings recalled Gustav Nyquist from Grand Rapids and he’ll start on a line with Justin Abdelkader and Danny Cleary. Nyquist has appeared in five games this season in Detroit, averaging just over eight minutes of ice time and has just one assist.

“Based on what he has done up here there’s nothing to base it on,” Babcock said. “He’s been a dominant player wherever he has been. I think he’s eighth in scoring in the American (Hockey) League and done a real good job.

“We expected him to hit the wall and he hasn’t he’s kept on going,” Babcock added. “He’s got unbelievable sense. Strong on the puck and good without it, he’s an NHL player.”

Otherwise, as noted in the dedicated Kronwall post, the off-day report and what turned out to be an evening’s worth of solid news in the Holland post, Wings fans like you and me mostly cringed when we heard that Henrik Zetterberg (???) joined Jakub Kindl and Todd Bertuzzi in the ranks of the non-practicing, and…I’ll let Pleiness take it from here:

Datsyuk did take part in a full practice and Ericsson was limited. Lidstrom and Howard each skated briefly on their own before practice.

“I can still feel the pain,” said Lidstrom, who skated for the first time since suffering the injury on Feb. 25. “So it’s still day-by-day and hopefully each day I’ll get better. It’s been almost two weeks now so I think I need a practice or two before playing in a game. I doubt that I’ll be playing on Saturday.”

Babcock hopes to have three of his players back after Saturday.

“(Datsyuk’s) going in the right direction,” Babcock said. “Soon I think you’ll see Nick back and Bert back, by the end of the weekend for sure.”

Datsyuk joked, “It was nice to come back and skate with teammates. They helped me a lot. There’s not too much pressure. They slowed down I think, making me feel better. For sure not (playing) tomorrow, but I’m on my way, a happy way.”

So while Datsyuk offered the usual smirk-worthy comments to the Free Press’s Carlos Monarrez...

Datsyuk practiced for the first time since arthroscopic knee surgery Feb. 21. Datsyuk mostly went through drills away from the rest of the team.

“I feel good,” he said. “It’s nice to come back and skate with teammates and they helped me a lot, not too much pressure. They slowed down, making me look better.”

Datsyuk also indicated the upcoming trip might be his best chance to return to the lineup.

“Every day closer,” he said. “But I go with the team to West Coast and we’ll see.”

Lidstrom offered more worrisome news about his bone bruise to the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan—and folks, these things take for-farking-ever to heal:

“I tried to skate, but I can still feel the pain,” said Lidstrom, who has missed four games. “It’s still day by day, and hopefully it’ll get better. Probably on that West Coast trip, if it feels better, if there’s no pain when I put the skate on.”

Lidstrom has had tests on the ankle and there’s no sign of a fracture.

“It’s just a deep bone bruise,” he said. “I’ve been hit in the ankle before but this hit the right spot and it’s been hurting. When I push off, it hurts and that’s the main thing. It’s getting better every day. My motion is getting better on the movements in the foot. That’s encouraging.”

As we’ve learned in anecdotes all delivered in the past tense, Lidstrom plays through sprains and all kinds of “owies” that would sideline the average hockey player, so the fact that he’s in too much pain to play through it is worrisome.

Jonathan Ericsson did practice as well, but Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji offered a non-quote quote which merits re-posting and then some given the fact that we may not really see, in alphabetical order, Bertuzzi, Datsyuk, Howard, Kindl or Lidstrom back in the lineup until next Saturday’s game against San Jose given that the Wings probably won’t hold anything more than an “optional” morning skate on Saturday, definitely won’t practice on Sunday (they’ll fly out West and gather at the Kings’ practice facility on Monday), will hold quick morning skates in LA and Anaheim, and probably won’t practice next Thursday:

Ericsson said Babcock wants the injured players to do only as much as they can during practice.

“It’s a little bit restricted out there,” Ericsson said. “I’m just trying to be on the drills that I can be out there. I don’t want to lose too much with my conditioning or skating out there on the ice. Can’t do too much with the puck. I’m just trying to do what I can.”

Ericsson had his stick during practice but wasn’t using it too much, which isn’t surprising. He broke his wrist on Feb. 25, and it usually takes four to six weeks to heal.

So, via Twitter, MLive’s Ansar Khan offers us what is probably going to be the Wings’ lineup tonight, tomorrow, and maybe even next Wednesday and Thursday (with the exception of, knock on wood, Henrik Zetterberg):

Wings practicing with these lines: 51-13-26, 20-43-93, 11-8-39, 96-48; 55-23, 27-18, 2-37, 52; 31-36

So that’s a probable lineup of:

Filppula-Zetterberg-Hudler

Miller-Helm-Franzen

Cleary-Abdelkader-Nyquist (that’s where Babcock said he’d start in Wakiji’s article)

Holmstrom-Emmerton-Mursak

Kronwall-Stuart

Quincey-White

Smith-Janik

MacDonald (starting)

The Wings have looked like they desperately miss Datsyuk, Howard and Lidstrom over their past two losses, but they need to win tonight and tomrorow’s games to kick-start their winning machine again and, well, I’ll conclude the game preview with this quip from Josh Cooper, who covers Saturday’s opponent for the Tennessean:

Looking ahead, this game [Nashville’s 4-2 win over Colorado] sets up the Predators well for Saturday’s contest against the Red Wings. They’ve rediscovered their defense, and picked up their confidence a bit. Their offense was in attack-mode most of the night. If Detroit loses Friday against Los Angeles, the Predators could conceivably pull within two points of the Red Wings. If Nashville plays the Red Wings in the postseason, home ice will be critical. Detroit has only four regulation losses at home all season. The Predators only have eight. Passing Detroit would also be symbolic for Nashville. The Red Wings have been their antagonist for so long in the division. Then again, we’re probably getting ahead of ourselves here …

 

Part II: An excellent article that’s worth your time: The Off Wing View’s Rob Benneian delivered an article far superior to the off-day notebooks by heading to Windsor to watch Ryan Sproul and the Soo Greyhounds defeat the Windsor Spitfires 2-1 in overtime.

With only ten days left in the OHL’s regular season, and the Greyhounds sitting on the cusp of playoff contention, the Greyhounds have to more or less win out to make the cut without help, but Sproul’s assist on Thursday gives him a remarkable 18 goals, 28 assists and 46 points over 56 games played. He missed a a handful of games due to a broken jaw, but Sproul’s production barely suffered due to his injury, and he was happy to see one Red Wings GM Ken Holland visit him in person on Thursday…

“I don’t really know when they (the Red Wings scouting team) are coming, so I try to play my hardest every game, and if they’re here, they’re here and I’ll see them after the game. It’s the second time I’ve seen Ken this year. I saw him in Sarnia about four months ago.”

“Defensively, I’m trying to work on my game and tonight I played well defensively, and I have been I think. Being out there for the overtime goal was huge. I need to be harder on the puck, that’s stuff I work on. Being aware of guys in front of the net, not getting sucked into battles in the corner, so hopefully they’re happy.” It (the jaw) is not a hundred per cent yet, I’ve still got some wires. Hopefully in a couple of weeks it will be a hundred per cent.”

And it’s Benneian’s conversation with Ken Holland that is nothing less than fantastic. I can’t quote the whole thing, but given that Holland talked about the Wings in the present tense with WBBL’s Bill Simonson on Thursday afternoon, I’d suggest that you read the entirety of Benneian’s article because Holland delivers a master class in the Red Wings’ Way of drafting and developing prospects.

Let’s go with his take on Sproul and then toss off a “Continue Reading,” because that’s where the payoff will exist:

“I’m here tonight to watch, I don’t see these guys a lot, mostly I go on reports. Young players to me are a work in progress. If they’re really good offensively and really good defensively, they go right to the NHL. Most young players have to work on some part of the game whether it’s strength of defensive play or their compete. We like his instincts, we like his reach. He’s got to work on the defensive side of the puck but again that’s something all young players have to do, they have to work on something.”

“I saw him in the prospect tournament, I liked his instincts to jump up and join the rush. Maybe sometimes he takes some risks. We’ve got a young kid in Brendan Smith who was the leading scoring defenceman in college hockey in Wisconsin two years ago, and he’s going through the process right now of finding that balance of offense and defence. I think sometimes you need to go pro, but you look at the tools. I’m looking more at the tools. We’ve got someone (in Sproul) who is 6’3″, he’s got some hands, he’s got some hockey sense and he’s got some instincts. Now, through the experience of playing junior hockey and eventually playing pro hockey you’ve got to fine tune those areas of the game. If he was the full package he would have went number one overall. Obviously he went in the second round because there were some areas of his game that needed improvement, but we’re happy he’s improved. Obviously, he’s offensive minded, he’s put some stats on the board. They (Soo Greyhounds) obviously had a great first 25-30 games to the year, and all of a sudden they’ve played their way into fighting for a playoff spot. I’m looking forward to seeing him tonight.”

Continue reading for the bad-ass awesome part.


Part III: Also of Red Wings-related note: I think we’ve talked as much out of Niklas Kronwall’s hit on Jakub Voracek as is humanly possible, but if you missed the “Kronwall to keep on Kronwalling post, Kronwall offered an intriguing comment about the scrutiny which his hit received while speaking to the Free Press’s Carlos Monarrez…

“Everything is getting reviewed, which I think is a good thing,” Kronwall said. “You just try to play the game and let Shanny and his guys take care of the rest.”

Voracek received stitches on his face from Kronwall’s hit. On Thursday, he missed the morning skate and was expected miss the game against Florida. Kronwall said he did not try to injure Voracek and hoped he returns soon, but that he would not change his hard-hitting style of play. Babcock expressed the same sentiment.

“I think Kronner’s got to continue to play his game,” Babcock said. “Targeting the head; he didn’t target the head, the guy was leaning forward. He didn’t want to hurt him in any way. That’s not his intention. I think we all know that real well in here. There’s no issue that way. But he’s got to be a competitor and play hard and that’s part of the game.”

And Kronwall told MLive’s Ansar Khan that he’s well aware of his tendency to pop up after he makes contact with his opponents, which leaves his critics howling that Kronwall leaves his feet before he makes hits. As it turns out, Kronwall’s worried about that, and he’s also very conscious of the fact that, like in soccer, one’s best served by checking one’s opponent with his elbow down:

“It’s not always easy to judge right away whether it’s a good hit or not,’’ Kronwall said. “You always want to think it’s a good hit, but you can’t really tell until you see the replay because everything happens so fast. In the past there’s been times I’ve come off my feet. That’s something I’ve been trying to work on. I think that’s still a learning curve, and I’m getting better at it. If you hit someone with your shoulder usually you’re going to hit him in the chest or in his shoulder and you’re good to go.’‘

Voracek, however, leaned his head forward. He received stitches in his upper and lower mouth and is listed as day-to-day.

“It’s always unfortunate when someone gets hurt,’’ Kronwall said. “Hope he gets back (soon). He’s a heck of a player.’‘

Kronwall knows referees keep a close watch on his hits. But that isn’t going to change what he does.

“The moment you start thinking too much about it, that’s when you get in trouble,’’ he said. “Your arm comes up or you lift off your feet.’‘

• In the, “Well, we kind of know what’s going to happen here” department, it should come as little surprise that, when USA Today’s Kevin Allen polled a host of pundits regarding their Norris Trophy picks, they’re going with Zdeno Chara, Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, but Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray believes that defenseman Erik Karlsson should not only be a candidate, but should also be compared to a certain Red Wings defenseman who’s owned the Norris over the past decade:

“I think he plays a little bit like Nick did early in his career,” said Senators general manager Bryan Murray, who coached Lidstrom in Detroit years ago. “Nick took chances early in his career, but he knew how to get his body back in good position. And Karlsson is very fast about getting back.”

• And finally, I didn’t know this, but the CBC’s Tim Wharnsby reports that former University of Michigan goalie Steve Shields is coaching at Michigan Tech, where they probably had a lovely display of the Aurora Borealis last night.

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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.