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Red Wings-Kings game-day updates: Howard in, Bertuzzi/Datsyuk to return later, Lidstrom out for trip

Updated 7x at 5:54 PM w/ video: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the Los Angeles Kings tonight (10:30 PM EDT, FSD/FS California/97.1 FM), the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa has jointed the Twitterverse, and he offers a succinct summary of the news from the Wings’ morning skate:

Wings skating at staples center in l.a., before the game tonight. all hands on deck. Lidstrom skated briefly, before others.

There might be a subtle tweak to tonight’s lineup, however, per MLive’s Ansar Khan:

Wings’ Nicklas Lidstrom skated briefly but has left the ice as the team prepares for the morning skate at Staples Center.
Franzen practicing at center on line with Cleary and Nyquist. Other lines are 51-40-26, 20-43-8, 96-48-39. Datsyuk and Bertuzzi also skating
Defense pairs are same: kronwall-Stuart Quincey-white smith-Janik. Kindl skating again as is Ericsson

But the news regarding the Red Wings’ injured players is a mixed bag:

Babcock said he doesn’t expect Lidstrom to play on trip

The Free Press’s Helene St. James confirms, and reports that Todd Bertuzzi (groin) might return on Wednesday, with Pavel Datsyuk probably returning from knee surgery on Saturday:

Lidstrom skated by himself before morning skate today, continuing recovery from deep bone bruise
Nyquist skating with Franzen and Cleary this morning
Morning yoga on ice for #redwings at Staples Center pic.twitter.com/t7ZoHSTk
Datsyuk waiting his turn at morning skate pic.twitter.com/dwsmRTVz
Cleary practicing screening pic.twitter.com/IXKAkb0X
Babcock says no Lidstrom this trip
Datsyuk maybe Saturday, Bertuzzi Wednesday

Ditto for the Red Wings’ official Twitter account (with some promotional stuff included:

MEET-UP! Make @ConeyDogLA your pregame destination tonight, as we host a Social Media Meetup from 5-7. We’ll be there tomorrow as well.
MEET UP PART DEUX: Next Wednesday, we’ll be at the NHL Store prior to our game against the Rangers. Come on out! on.fb.me/ziQ7os
Nick Lidstrom is the first player on the ice here at STAPLES Center.twitvid.com/JPPCY
Brad Stuart works on his hockey stick prior to taking the ice in LA. instagr.am/p/IHw4HYx42k/
Like yesterday, Lidstrom took a few laps and left the ice for off-ice workouts. Stayed out there a little bit longer.
Win a spot in our @CocaCola Youth Hockey Clinic, featuring DRW Alum Kirk Maltby. #greatforthekids bit.ly/yE46TH
Babcock said that he expects to have Bertuzzi back tomorrow and Pavel back at some point on this trip.
Babcock said he doesn’t expect to see Lidstrom on this trip.
PHOTO: Drew Miller during Tuesday’s morning skate at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles. say.ly/SOw1zt0
Babcock: ‘To me, we’ve been a bit of a rush team and not as much of a grind team.’
Babcock said that the key to improving the power play is to simplify it. Compared it to training camp.
Babcock said teams will go back to the basics on the PP a few times during the season. ‘We’ll get one and we’ll go on a roll.’
Babcock on Howard ... ‘He’ll be ready to go.’

The Wings’ Facebook page posted a trio of pictures from this “morning’s” pre-game skate…

And DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose offers a pair of picture Tweets:

PHOTO: Some wall art inside Staples Center. twitpic.com/8vvfwz
PHOTO: Here is #LAKings line combinations and D-pairings for tonight’s #NHL game vs. #RedWings twitpic.com/8vvo6h

According to LAKingsInsider’s Rich Hammond, the Kings’ lineup will look as it did in the game preview, with no surprises from the Kings:

Jonathan Quick was the first goalie off the ice, so he’s the starter tonight. Davis Drewiske, Brad Richardson and Kevin Westgarth are the extra skaters this morning, so there don’t appear to be any lineup changes tonight. Simon Gagne and Scott Parse are still doing post-practice skating, but Gagne said he doesn’t know if/when he might be able to return to practice. He’s scheduled to be evaluated again tonight

Hammond also penned an article about the great Slovenian rematch in Jan Mursak facing off against Anze Kopitar at what Hammond says is 4:30 AM Slovenian time. As it turns out, Mursak and Kopitar are about the same age, though Mursak obviously took a longer road to the NHL:

``He’s a great player, and I played against him quite a bit growing up,’’ Kopitar said of Mursak. ``I know him quite well. We had a few national-team duties, in our younger years, when we played together.’’

The potential for a first Slovenian vs. Slovenian matchup got derailed in the latter part of last season and then the two countrymen, already with a great shared history, had an unfortunate connection. Late last season, Kopitar suffered a devastating injury when he broke his ankle and tore ligaments. After a summer of recovery, Kopitar returned for training camp. Then, in a September preseason game, Mursak suffered almost exactly the same ankle injury and missed four months.

``It was kind of the same,’’ Mursak said. ``I think his was a little worse than mine. He had some ligaments injured too. You never know when injuries are going to happen, but it was kind of weird that we both got the same injury in such a short period of time.’’

Now, though, both are healthy, and while Kopitar is trying to push his team toward the playoffs, Mursak is trying to become a regular contributor on one of the NHL’s top teams. Both are playing on high-profile teams, which raises the question: are they helping to raise the profile of the sport back home? A handful of Slovenians are playing professional in Austria and Sweden. Kopitar’s father, Matjaz, is the coach of Slovenia’s national team and Kopitar’s younger brother, Gasper, is playing junior hockey in Iowa. Mursak noted, before last week’s game in Detroit, that newspapers and television stations in Slovenia had been promoting the game, and Kopitar said hockey seems to be growing in his home country.

``Yeah, I think so,’’ Kopitar said. ``I know quite a bit of people are waking up at 4 o’clock in the morning to watch our games. I guess it’s become a little bigger, and that’s nice to see, obviously. (Mursak) is a good friend of mine, but as soon as we step on the ice, he’s on the opposite side. I’ll play hard and he’s going to play hard, and we’ll see what happens.’’

This time, it’s on Kopitar’s turf. Last week, Mursak had some home cooking before the Kings arrived. A few days earlier, a group of Slovenians, playing an amateur hockey tournament in nearby Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, came to Joe Louis Arena and provided raucous, flag-waving support of Mursak Mursak had hoped to see his fan club again, when Kopitar came to town.

``It would be fun if they would come,’’ Mursak said. ``I want to see how they would cheer for.’’

In the prospect department, the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff offers some points from the Grand Rapids Griffins’ weekly press release via Twitter to remind us that the Griffins play the Texas Stars tonight…

#AHL Grand Rapids 6-2-1 since G Ty Conklin was assigned by #redwings.
Curt Fraser will become the first head coach in #AHL Grand Rapids franchise history to log 300 games in tonight’s game at Texas.
Ty Conklin has played for 2 teams that lost G7 of SC final (06 #Oilers, 09 #redwings) and 1 that lost G7 of Calder Cup final (03 Hamilton).

And he offers good news on the Jakub Voracek front:

#Flyers F Jakub Vorecek expected to return to lineup tonight vs. #devils for first time since absorbing hit from #redwings Kronwall.

Also in the prospect department, per the QMJHL (and sometimes I think they just plug their French press releases into Google’s translation software and copy and paste the results):

Xavier Ouellet, André Bouvet-Morrissette and Anton Zlobin were named today the TELUS three stars of the week for the period spanning March 5th to the 11th, 2012.

Armada Blainville-Boisbriand defenseman Xavier Ouellet won the first star of the week with 4 points in 3 games including, 2 goals. Wednesday, in 4-3 shootout win against the Victoriaville Tigres, he was named the 2nd star of the game after having scored late in the 2nd period. Friday, versus the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, Storm Phaneuf got a 5-0 shutout win over the Huskies as Ouellet contributed 2 assists. Finally, Saturday, the team played against the Rimouski Océanic to finish the week off with a 3rd win in 3 games by defeating the Oceanic 4-2. Ouellet registered a goal in the win.

• And I just can’t really give you an answer as to whether the Production Line’s Michael Petrella’s right about DannyDekeyser being the reason the Wings traded Mike commodore to the Lightning (i.e. to free up a spot on the 50-man roster). Dekeyser has ties to Jim Nill and his family, he attended last summer’s prospect camp and looked like a mash-up of Kyle Quincey, Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronwall, yes, he plays at Western Michigan University, where Jeff Blashill coached him prior to joining the Wings, and yes, he grew up in Detroit and has been incredibly heavily scouted…

But he can go wherever he wants once WMU’s season ends, and from the Twitter posts made by the Bob McKenzies of the world, everyone from Bryan Burke to Jay Feaster to Steve Yzerman has met Dekeyser and attempted to sell the young man on playing for their team, and other teams can offer two things the Wings won’t in a rookie-max contract of $875,000 per season plus signing and performance bonuses, as well as a shorter and more direct route to the NHL.

It’s entirely probable that someone like Dekeyser would be better served by a year or two spent in the AHL, but as we’ve seen by the actions and signing histories of he most highly-valued college-aged and European free agent prospects went un-drafted but were courted, wined and dined like players with NHL resumes, those players tend to go to teams where they’re either promised an immediate or almost immediate chance to play in the NHL.

I have no clue as to whether Dekeyser’s willing to give up hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential salary and bonuses, as well as a Fabian Brunnstrom-signs-with-Dallas style promise of starting his career as part of a team’s top six or top four defensemen, for a “hometown discount” which would involve at least another season riding buses in the AHL simply because he has such strong ties to the Wings.

Also of Red Wings-related note: Per RedWingsFeed, here’s a six-and-a-half minute long video of Ken Holland chatting from the GM’s meetings…

• And our friends at CBS Detroit/97.1 FM want to remind us of Danny Cleary’s injury issues:

Right wing Danny Cleary has had his left knee drained three times over the past month and has received a cortisone shot. But he continues to experience soreness, which is slowing him down. He likely will need surgery after the season. For now, he must manage the pain. He will have it drained again on Sunday in hopes that he’ll feel better during the upcoming three-game trip to California.

—Because of injuries to a few regulars, rookie left wing Gustav Nyquist was called up from Grand Rapids (AHL) and took advantage of his opportunity to play the past two games. He picked up a pair of assists and showed some of the skills that make him the organization’s top forward prospect, one who could be in the NHL full-time next season.

The shifty Nyquist has good hands, is patient with the puck and is a tremendous passer. He leads the Griffins with 54 points (19 goals, 35 assists).

“It’s always tough coming into this building, especially on back-to-back nights. I thought we created some chances, had a lot of shots (on) net, the power play did some good things. But we got to bear down.”—Wings C Justin Abdelkader.

Update #1: Hee’s ESPN Los Angeles’s Dan Arritt’s game preview

Five storylines to track:

1. Mystery men – Sitting courtside at the Clippers game Monday night was Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, two of the best players on the Kings. As they were shown on the multiple big screens that hover over the floor, there was, well, really no response. Almost as if they were unrecognizable. That would’ve never happened in Philadelphia, where both played for six seasons before they were traded to the Kings in the last nine months. One thing’s for certain, the Kings have supplanted the Clippers as the most unrecognizable pro sports team in L.A. Only a deep playoff run could possibly reverse that. At this point, the bigger challenge is just making the postseason for a third straight year.

2. Playoff picture – At least the Kings can cross the Ducks off the list of competition for one of the final Western Conference playoffs bids. Anaheim lost its third straight game Monday night in Colorado, leaving the team nine points back of the eighth-place Avs. Unless the Stars and Blackhawks accidentally pull their emergency chutes down the stretch, they can probably coast to the finish line, leaving five teams drag racing for the final two playoff berths. As it stands now, the Coyotes, Avs, Sharks, Flames and Kings are bunched within three points and have anywhere from 11 to 14 games remaining. To say this is a must-win is almost laughable. At this point forward, every game will fall into that category.

3. Defensive wizards – While the defensive pair of Rob Scuderi and Drew Doughty can’t seem to finish a shift without the puck hitting their net, rookie Slava Voynov and his veteran partner, Willie Mitchell, continue to pick up the slack. Voynov has made the trade for Carter last month look better and better each game, more than competently replacing Jack Johnson. In the eight games since the trade, Voynov has contributed a goal and three assists, all while building up a plus-6 rating. Mitchell’s numbers have been even better since he swapped partners, owning a goal and four assists with a plus-9 rating. He was a plus-2 in the previous 55 games, mostly playing alongside Johnson.

4. New coach, same result – The Red Wings have been especially tough on the Kings this season, just ask any of the three coaches they’ve beaten. They’ve won all three games in different, but no-less frustrating fashions. They initially won, 4-1, at Staples Center on Nov. 19, essentially beginning the losing skid that cost coach Terry Murray his job. Five days after Murray was fired and with interim coach John Stevens behind the bench, they completely embarrassed the Kings, 8-2, in Detroit. And then last week, with a third coach calling the shots in Darryl Sutter, the Red Wings erased a one-goal deficit with under five minutes remaining and won in regulation, 4-3.

5. Detroit still dinged – Like last week, the Red Wings are expected to be short-handed when they take on L.A. Seven-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom will miss his eighth straight game with a deep bone bruise in his right ankle, his longest stretch of inactivity in his 20-year NHL career. Pavel Datsyuk, who still leads Detroit in points (59), despite missing the last nine games following arthroscopic knee surgery, also will not play, coach Mike Babcock told reporters following practice in El Segundo on Monday. Forward Todd Bertuzzi (groin) and defenseman Jakub Kindl (strained oblique) are also sidelined for Tuesday’s game. Unfortunately for the Kings, No. 1 goalkeeper Jimmy Howard is set to return from a groin strain that kept him out the last three games.

The Los Angeles Times’ Helene Elliott offers a spartan set of Tweets:

Kings are in 11th place at the moment but 2 points out of 8th, 3 points out of 7th. Crazy, and will probably stay this way til the end.
Colin Fraser, who overcame foot surgery to become regular 4th line center, nominated for Masterton by LA chapter Pro Hockey Writers Assn.

Update #2: Fox Sports Detroit’s Trevor Thompson posted two tidbits via Twitter...

#Wings Ast coach, Bill Peters just called guys in to a power play meeting at morning skate at Staples Center. Will it click tonite vs #Kings
Henrik Zetterberg set to be my on-ice pre-game interview tonight on #RedWingsLive on @FOXSportsDet 10pm #Wings v #Kings #BeThereOrBeSquare

• From DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose:

Here are the #RedWings line combinations and D-pairings for #NHL game vs. #LAKings tonight: is.gd/gQxjc8 @DetroitRedWings

Roose’s list mirrors Khan’s report:




• Of community-related note from the Griffins:



1-2 p.m. - Six Griffins staffers will prepare sack suppers for children at Kids’ Food Basket (2055 Oak Industrial Dr.).

1:30-2:30 p.m. - Travis Ehrhardt, Brian Lashoff, Trevor Parkes and Tomas Tatar will visit kids at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital (100 Michigan St. NE).


9:30 p.m. - Following the Grand Rapids-Hamilton Bulldogs 7 p.m. game at Van Andel Arena, the special jerseys worn by the Griffins - designed by Fraser Davidson of London, England - will be auctioned to the public inside the Fifth Third Vault restaurant, with proceeds benefiting PennyBen and the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge.

And the Griffins are also offering a contest whose winner acquires tickets to the Griffins’ final two regular season games in Hamilton, Ontario and hotel, gas and a rental vehicle for said trip.

Update #3: Here’s Khan’s game-day article:

The Detroit Red Wings are debuting a bit of a different look tonight, with Johan Franzen slated to center a line between Gustav Nyquist and Danny Cleary. The Wings take on the Los Angeles Kings at 10:30 p.m. at Staples Center (FSD). They’ll be without Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Todd Bertuzzi, Jonathan Ericsson and Jakub Kindl, all of whom are injured.

That has forced some reshuffling, over several games, of every line but Henrik Zetterberg’s with Valtteri Filppula and Jiri Hudler. While things can always change before a game begins—and certainly once it’s under way—at least as of today’s morning skate, one line had Franzen with Cleary and Nyquist. The other two lines were Darren Helm with Drew Miller and Justin Abdelkader, and Cory Emmerton with Tomas Holmstrom and Jan Mursak.

“We’ll see what happens,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Basically, I’m trying to get Helmer in a spot where he can do what he normally does. You know, I want energy, and I think him, Abby and Millsy might be able to give me that. I haven’t decided 100% for sure. Game-time decision.”

Having Franzen at center gives the Wings a line with a big body in the middle and two skilled wingers. “That’s what we’re looking to do,” Babcock said. “They’ve got to play with size, though. To me, we’ve been a bit of a rush team and not so much of a grind team. It’s got to be different here today. We can’t expect to be successful playing like that.”

Nicklas Lidstrom’s obviously a little pissed off about being injured—St. James points out that his bone bruise has yielded the longest stretch of missed games in his career, sitting at 7 including tonight’s game, and that number will hit 9 by the time the road trip’s over:

“It’s still frustrating when you’re not able to play,” he said. “After awhile, you get sick and tired of sitting around and watching the guys playing. You want to be a part of it and be on the ice with them.”

Caution, of course, rules what Lidstrom can do, and he isn’t stopping and turning yet. “The trainer said if I’m pushing it too much, I can re-aggravate it again, so you’ve got to be careful. At the same time, you want to get back on the ice and get back skating.”

Datsyuk, who is recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, gave a thumbs-up to his progress. “Little bit better, but yesterday, long practice, so tired. Today, short practice, feel good.” He sounded like Saturday was realistic but said he needs to feel “more balance, more stop-and-go, and quick turns. I’m still kind of careful. But every day, more movement, more confidence, and this feels good for me.”

Bertuzzi said he was optimistic about the Ducks game. Asked whether he felt cautiously optimistic or wildly optimistic, he smiled and said, “just optimistic.”

Here’s MLive’s Ansar Khan’s update focuses on Lidstrom’s recovery process:

“(Trainers) told me the more stress he puts on it the better off it is for him,’’ Babcock said. “There’s no time line for him as of yet. I think we’re going to see Pavel (Datsyuk) on this trip. We’re going to see Bert (Todd Bertuzzi) tomorrow, but I don’t think Nick (is playing) on the trip.’‘

Lidstrom wasn’t prepared to declare himself out for Saturday, saying he’ll see how he feels in the next couple of days, but he wasn’t optimistic, either.

“It’s not good stopping or turning or doing any quick starts and stops,’’ Lidstrom said. “I just wanted to be out there and get a feel of getting the groins going and doing some laps and just being on the ice again The trainers said if it’s too much of a pain, if you’re pushing it too much, you might reaggravate it again, so you got to be careful with it.’‘
“Being able to stop and do quick turns and crossovers more than I can do right now, those are things you want to make sure you can do before you start pushing it too much,’’ Lidstrom said.
“I didn’t think it was going to take this long, it’s been somewhat frustrating not being able to come back earlier,’’ Lidstrom said. “After a while you get sick and tired of sitting around and watching the guys playing. You want to be a part of it.’‘

Bertuzzi’s definitely touch-and-go for Wednesday…

“I’m going to skate tomorrow and then go through the routine as if I’m going to play and then make a call,’’ Bertuzzi said. “It’s better, especially skating with the guys. I got the strength back and I don’t have that fear of it pulling any more.’‘

And Babcock did not promise to refrain from placing his lines in a blender if they don’t work initially:

“We’ll get into the pregame skate and see what happens,’’ Babcock said. “Baiscally I’m trying to get Helmer in a spot where he can do what he normally does – (provide) energy. I think him, Abby and Millsie might be able to give me that.’‘

Update #4: Here’s some more Kings stuff from LAKingsInsider’s Rich Hammond:

The Kings get another crack at the Detroit Red Wings tonight, for the most part, they would like to replicate their effort from four days ago in Detroit. The Kings would like to make two changes, both fairly obvious, one being the way they handled the final five minutes and the other being the way they handled the Filppula-Zetterberg-Hudler line, which factored in three of Detroit’s four goals. Darryl Sutter said that the Kings will need to do a better job in the middle of the ice.

SUTTER: “We can get a little bit better in some of our detail, from an individual standpoint. I think that we didn’t manage their centermen as well as we could, our centermen vs. theirs. Zetterberg’s line had three goals. If you want to win games, you shut down top players.’’

The Red Wings are expected to be shorthanded once again. Goalie Jimmy Howard is expected to return tonight, but not expected to play are Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Todd Bertuzzi, Jonathan Ericsson and Jakub Kindl. Justin Abdelkader, who missed last week’s game because of flu symptoms, will play tonight. Sutter said that having the last line change, as the home coach, won’t change his strategy much compared to the game in Detroit.

SUTTER: “We had, for the most part, Kopitar’s or Richards’ line out there, and Scuderi and Doughty. They’ve been very successful at doing that, if you look at their plus-minus. Other than Drew and Robbie lately, they’ve all done a pretty good job. I don’t think it’s so much from a coaching standpoint, with the (last) change, it’s just the players having a little bit more awareness of who they’re playing against.’’

• Via RedWingsFeed, here’s the Red Wings website’s game preview:

• And NHL.com has Curtis Zupke covering the Wings-Kings and Wings-Ducks games, and he confirms both teams’ lineups and offers a game-day notebook which offers a rather obvious quote from Johan Franzen about Jimmy Howard returning to the Wings’ crease…

“Joe has been great when he’s been in the net, but of course we want Howie back,” Johan Franzen said.

As well as a quip from Franzen about moving to center alongside Nyquist and Cleary so that the HEMI line could be reunited…

“I did it in the pre-game skate today, so we’ll see what happens,” Babcock said. “Basically I’m trying to get Helmer in a spot where he can do what he normally does. I want energy. I think him, Abby and Millsy might be able to give me that. I haven’t decided 100 percent for sure. Game-time decision.”
“To me, we’ve been a bit of a rush team and not much a grind team,” Babcock said. “L.A., the last time we played them, got the game on the walls and ground us. That’s why we weren’t on the inside and we weren’t at their net enough to play in their zone. It’s got to be different here today. We can’t expect to be successful doing that.”

Franzen has played pivot in his career but hasn’t done it much this season.

“That’s where I feel most comfortable—at the center position,” Franzen said. “But I might be a little rusty. It’s been a while since I’ve played center, but hopefully after a few shifts I’m back into it.”

And a note about the Wings’ poor power play:

Detroit is 0-for-20 on the power play over the past five games and 3-for-41 in its last 11 games.

Babcock said the Wings have to take a “real simplified approach, much like we would do at training camp. Normally you do it four or five times a year. But this is an ongoing thing for us. I think it’s in our head more than anything. The way to get out of it is to simplify and shoot the puck, and we’ll get one and get on a roll.”

Update #5: The Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa just filed his game-day post, offering these assessments of Datsyuk and Ericsson’s statuses…

Datsyuk looks fast and is working a lot on his shots and puck-handling skills, but he says there are still things he cannot do on the ice, especially quick stops and starts. The Wings are holding out hope he might return against the Sharks, Saturday, after arthroscopic surgery on a knee, Feb. 21.

Ericsson practiced hard and even took some shots, despite his healing, fractured wrist. But he said he cannot rotate his left hand, the bottom hand on the stick, and that there is still some pain. Regardless, Ericsson was not expected back until the end of March.

As well as Babcock’s take on reuniting the HEMI line and creating the Nyquist-Franzen-Cleary line:

“So, I haven’t decided 100 percent for sure. But it will be a game-time decision.”

The Helm, Miller, Abdelkader line is an aggressive, forechecking unit. Babcock said after the game in Nashville on Saturday he thought the Wings’ vaunted forecheck was a little spotty. Uniting Franzen and Cleary gives the Wings some size together on a line against a sizeable Kings team.

“That’s what we’re looking to do,” Babcock said. “But they’ve got to play with size, too. To me, we’ve been a bit of a rush team and not much of a grind team. To me L.A., the last time we played them, got the game on the walls and around us, and that’s why we weren’t on the inside and at the net enough, and that’s why we weren’t inside their zone. It’s got to be different, here, today.”

Update #6: Seriously, per the Free Press’s Helene St. James:

Here’s what Johan Franzen thinks he might have to play with when the Detroit Red Wings take on the L.A. Kings tonight: a spatula. Franzen said this morning he was out of sticks, and when equipment manager Paul Boyer had a barbecue spatula handy (who doesn’t?), Franzen joked, “I may have to use that tonight. I have to see what I can scrabble together. I didn’t have any at home, so I’m out of sticks.”

Boyer assured the Free Press this afternoon that Franzen will have real sticks tonight.

Franzen was in a good mood this morning. While talking to him about young Gustav Nyquist, his likely winger for tonight, Franzen said Nyquist is better at one thing than Valtteri Filppula: “He’s got a better shot than Fil.”

With Easton’s stick factory located in Tijuana, Mexico, Franzen should be OK, but I’m certain that they’re a little tired of him using SE 16 -painted sticks as Easton tries to prmomote their Stealth RS, EQ 50 and new Mako lines (they’ve more or less discontinued the Synergy 16). They’ll still make players almost any stick model they want, but they want the paint/decals to look similar to the new stuff.

You will, however, have to find the picture of Boyer’s stick spatula by clicking on her story!

Update #7: NHL.com’s Curtis Zupke offers this quip from Jimmy Howard….

Btw, Jimmy Howard was indifferent to the trapezoid talk; says he’s been taught to stay in net and let the defensemen handle the puck.

And the Free Press’s Helene St. James posted a short video of the Wings skating:

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


SYF's avatar


Awesome.  And if Smitty somehow finds himself behind those three guys, oh man…

And the Slovenia story is a good one.  Glad to see the sport picking up in their country.

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 03/13/12 at 05:23 PM ET

CaptainDennisPolonich's avatar

TPH missing at least 3 more games.

Dats now three weeks out from surgery that had a 2-3 week recovery.


Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from The Land of Fake Boobs and Real Nuts on 03/13/12 at 06:51 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

I am not sure I am excite having Big Body? Franzen (at Center of all places) and ailing Cleary with Nyquist!  Both underachieving with Cleary having an excuse but Franzen s/b on 4th Line with Mursak and Homer with less ice time!

We will see but I don’t expect anything but the old no effort , disinterested Mule!

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 03/13/12 at 06:51 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

One possible advantage to the Lidstrom injury? He’s getting an early taste of retirement and it sounds like he hates it. Four More Years!

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 03/13/12 at 07:35 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 03/13/12 at 05:35 PM ET

Stop trying to cheer me up, you clever bastage.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 03/13/12 at 07:39 PM ET

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About The Malik Report

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.