The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/11/11 at 02:29 PM ET
Updated 11x with a Zetterberg interview on Sportsnet at 2:44: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the Edmonton Oilers tonight (7:30 PM EST, FSD/Sportsnet West/WXYT) in front of hundreds of Herm 2 Hockeytown 2 bloggers, Wings fans and even a Norwegian…
The Wings have received good news regarding Brad Stuart (ankle), per Fox Sports Detroit’s John Keating:
Brad Stuart will go tonight. Feels “lucky”. Doug Janik already on his way back to Griffins.
Mr. Keating knows how to work Twitter…
Jimmy Howard in goal tonight. Babcock not yet decided about tomorrow in St. Louis. Either Howard or MacDonald. Ozzie not til next wk.
On Thursday, the Wings held a team meeting, and, as MLive’s Josh Slaghter notes, their biggest priority heading into tonight’s game involves making life miserable for tonight’s probable starter, Devan Dubnyk:
“We weren’t on top of their net long enough and hard enough,” coach Mike Babcock said of Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to the Kings. “You can tell yourself the next day that their goalie played good. Well, why did you let him? There’s no goalie that keeps it out all the time if you have a guy on his pads and someone’s standing on the side and you keep banging away, (getting) second chances. We had a lot of really good chances, but they were individual-type chances instead of seconds and thirds.”
“We normally would have a meeting like this the second game of the playoffs because you think you’re getting to the net and then you get to the playoffs and you’re not getting to the net,” Babcock said. “It’s impossible to score then.”
Several top-six forwards are mired in goal-scoring slumps. Henrik Zetterberg has two goals in his past 24 games (18 assists). Johan Franzen has one goal in his past 16 games (five assists). Valtteri Filppula has one goal in his past nine games (no assists). Todd Bertuzzi has no goals in his past nine games (one assist).
“We haven’t gotten the ugly goals, where you’re getting the puck to the net, you have guys going to the net and getting the rebounds and scoring on those kinds of chances,” Nicklas Lidstrom said. “Those are the kind of goals you get in the playoffs.”
Jimmy Howard, who’s seen his share of traffic of late, agrees with his captain, suggesting that secondary and tertiary scoring opportunities are they key to breaking through the team’s offensive slump:
“Just throwing pucks at the net and retrieving them. Just continue to give opposing goalies a hard time,” Howard said. “It’s a battle to get to the front of the net and create havoc, but if we continue to play like we played (Wednesday), then I don’t think it should be a problem.”
Update 11:36 AM: More from Keating:
Kris Draper scratched tonight but Babcock quickly added “not because he didn’t play well weds. Someone has to sit”
Brian Rafalski targeting next week for a return. Will go to St louis only if a d-man gets banged up tonight.
On Red Wings Live pregame tonite. High school memories, Homer on winning a “homer”. And how Ozzie caused a broadcaster to miss a plane! 7pm
Update 11:40 AM: MLive’s Ansar Khan confirms:
Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brad Stuart will play tonight against the Edmonton Oilers at Joe Louis Arena (7:30, FSD) after testing his sore right ankle this morning.
Doug Janik, recalled Thursday from Grand Rapids in case Stuart couldn’t play, was reassigned to the Griffins, meaning he has to catch a flight to Oklahoma City for tonight’s game.
Defenseman Brian Rafalski (back) said he will return Wednesday at home against the Washington Capitals.
Update 12:10 PM: Khan confirms that Janik’s equipment didn’t arrive in Detroit in time for tonight’s game, but he earned about $2,700 (per Capgeek.com) for his troubles, so he and his gear are headed back to Oklahoma City. Khan also posted the Wings’ probable lines:
Right wing Patrick Eaves (groin) skated and said he is feeling better, but he won’t play this weekend and doesn’t know when he’ll return. Goaltender Chris Osgood (hernia surgery) won’t dress this weekend. He hopes to return Thursday in Columbus.
Update 12:23 PM: Also of Red Wings-related note:
• In the prospect department, the St. Cloud Times reports that Wings prospect Nick Oslund was named to the WCHA"s All-Academic team, and Mick Hatten notes that Wings prospect Nick Jensen has posted a pretty darn solid 22 points for the St. Cloud State University Huskies as a freshman defenseman;
• Also in the prospect department, the Everett Herald’s Nick Patterson reports that all is well with Everett Silvertips forward and Wings prospect Landon Ferraro, who’s just returned from sports hernia surgery;
• In case you missed it, the Detroit News’s Brian O’Connor notes that Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch is estimated to have a net worth of around $1.7 billion, per Forbes’ annual list of the world’s richest people;
• And I’m not commenting on this quip from the Free Press’s Steve Schrader:
You’ve heard it before. Detroit is really a football town, no doubt about it.
All it really lacks is a football team.
He’s not promising a 16-0 season or anything like that, but defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch is the latest to say the Lions are about to give the people what they want.
“Oh, man, you could feel it late in the year when we strung some wins together,” Vanden Bosch told a Nashville, Tenn., radio station. “We still did not have a great season, and we sold out seven of eight home games.
“Our fans have been tremendous and the support we get is tremendous and you can feel the excitement building and the fans, this is labeled Hockeytown, but you can feel that this is a football city, and it is a great sports city.
“You know I think the people respect what we are doing here and they know we are close and they can feel that this thing is turning around and once we can get this organization turned around and this team back in the playoffs consistently, this town is just going to be crazy.”
Update 12:54 PM: According to Yahoo Sports, Ken Kal will appear on Puck Daddy Radio;
• And here’s what Brad Stuart had to say to the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan about his status:
Brad Stuart (twisted ankle) will be in the lineup Friday night against Edmonton. Stuart was off the ice Thursday but said he felt better than expected at Friday’s morning skate.
“Actually a little bit,” Stuart said. “It wasn’t too bad. Once you get warmed up, it was pretty good.”
He also spoke to Danny Cleary about hosting a group of youngsters from Newfoundland this morning:
“For a lot of them, this is their first time at an NHL practice or game,” said Cleary, one of only four players in the league from the remote, Easternmost province.
Cleary, San Jose’ Ryane Clowe, Boston’s Michael Ryder and Calgary’s Adam Pardy are the lone Newfoundlanders in the NHL.
“We have a fairly big province landwise, but there’s only a 500,000 people, and only having a couple of guys in the NHL, a lot of kids look up to us,” Cleary said. “It’s good for the kids to get a chance to see a practice, and you never know, one of those guys could play in the NHL. That’s what you hope for.”
Update 12:57 PM: Per the Red Wings’ Twitter account:
Fans attending Friday’s game at Joe Louis Arena can sign this ‘Get Well Soon’ card for Shawn Burr. http://twitpic.com/48ihwl
Update 1:02 PM: Here’s a lineup update from the Free Press’s Carlos Monarrez...
Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brad Stuart, who suffered an ankle injury against the Los Angeles Kings, will be in the lineup for tonight’s game against the Edmonton Oilers at Joe Louis Arena.
“I feel like I’m good to go,” Stuart said after today’s morning skate.
Backup goaltender Chris Osgood (sports hernia) has been out since Jan. 11. He had been expected to return as early as tonight or possibly for Saturday night’s game at St. Louis. But coach Mike Babcock said Osgood won’t return for a while longer.
“He’s not even available till next week,” Babcock said, “so he’s not playing tomorrow for sure.”
Here’s Babcock’s game-day presser as well:
update 1:11 PM: Here’s an Oilers perspective from Edmonton broadcaster Dan Tencer:
So, what is it about this 42 point number? Hemsky gets to 42, gets hurt. Hall gets to 42, gets hurt. Gagner gets to 42, gets hurt. Jordan Eberle is next poised to reach the milestone…better get him some Kevlar.
In all seriousness, the Oilers have a pretty potent Starting five on Injured Reserve right now. Gagner at center with Hall and Hemsky at wing, with Ryan Whitney and Theo Peckham patroling the blue line. When you think about it, that’s probably close to the best unit the franchise could ice right now.
It will be tough, then, to overcome their cumulative loss to the lineup. Outgunned in the final 40 minutes despite a valiant effort in Philadelphia, and out of gas during the final 40 minutes in Washington, things don’t get easier for the Oilers on this trip. A growly Red Wings team will host them tonight, losers of four straight, then off to Pittsburgh where the Penguins (sans Crosby and Malkin, mind you) have their sights fixed on a home playoff seed.
It’s going to take every ounce of fortitude that the 20 men in uniform have over the last 14 games to keep this train from going off the rails. Perhaps more impressive than the display of new talent this season has been the shift in culture, eradicating the frequent nights of questionable effort that we saw as last season wore on. I don’t expect to see a dramatic drop-off in effort from the players, but that’s not to say that it won’t be tough.
Speaking frankly, they’ll be outskilled and outmanned in every game they play for the rest of the year. The results might not come, or might be few and far between. Because of the injury struggles and the sheer will that many of their opponents will exert with the light of the playoffs in the near distance, this depleted Oilers team has its work cut out for it.
I said they’d be outskilled and outmanned in these games…but outworked? That’s up to them. Draw on job security, pride or the love of the game…it doesn’t matter. At this point in the season, motivation is motivation, wherever it comes from. We’re about to get an excellent glimpse at exactly how big a step this franchise has taken this year, and how many pieces to the puzzle are actually in place.
Update 1:35 PM: Here’s Chuck Pleiness’s game-day update:
Defenseman Brad Stuart tested his sore ankle during the morning skate and he feels he can play tonight against the Edmonton Oilers.
That means Doug Janik, who was recalled on Thursday from Grand Rapids in case Stuart couldn’t play, will join his Griffins teammates in Oklahoma City for their game tonight.
“I understand the reality of my situation,” Janik said after the morning skate. “You never know what’s going to happen.”
Defenseman Brian Rafalski (back) skated again this morning and said that he continues to feel better everyday on the ice. He plays to return on Wednesday at home against the Washington Capitals.
Update 1:50 PM: The Hockeytown Blog’s Jake Duhaime reveals the Red Wings’ secret weapon to fitness success…um, softballs?
Update 2:11 PM: Here’s Ken Kal’s game-day interview with Darren Helm…
And Mike Modano talking to the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson about the skate cut which sliced a tendon in Sam Gagner’s hand...
“I’ve played a long time and this is a first for me, hearing about something like this,” said Red Wings’ centre Mike Modano, who had three tendons sliced in his right wrist early in the season, but in the heat of the action, when a skate blade punctured the wrist. “On the other hand, skates are flying all over the place when guys are hopping on and of the bench. There’s lots of close calls.”
Before Matheson offers this game-day preview:
With [Ales] Hemsky, [Taylor] Hall and Gagner out, that accounts for three of the Oilers top six forwards. And they traded Dustin Penner to Los Angeles, so they’ll be without four against the Red Wings.
[Oilers coach Tom] Renney will have Liam Reddox centre a line with Gilbert Brule on right wing and Linus Omark on left. Shawn Horcoff, struggling to score with only two goals in his last 27 games, will be between Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi. Andrew Cogliano will centre for Alex Giroux and Ryan Jones. The fourth line, which might not get a lot of work against the Wings, will have Colin Fraser in the middle with J.F. Jacques and Steve MacIntyre. MacIntyre wouldn’t normally play against Detroit. He only played two minutes against Washington on Wednesday night.
Defenceman Jeff Petry will play his first-ever NHL game in his hometown after his call-up Thursday for Alex Plante. Petry has played at Joe Louis Arena many times, however, in tournaments with his Michigan State team and also with the Little Caesar’s minor hockey program. But not against Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg or Nicklas Lidstrom. “Lidstrom? My idol growing up, for sure,” he said.
The Wings have lost four in a row and they could be a very hungry bear against Oilers’ goalie Devan Dubnyk, although some of their forwards are in deep funks — Zetterberg has two goals in his last 24 games; Johan Franzen one in 16 after scoring five goals against 0ttawa in early February.
“If there’s lots of work, that’s fine, I’m ready,” shrugged Dubnyk, who faced 17 first-period shots in Philadelphia Monday night and kept it from being a blowout.
One more update, 2:23 PM: The Oilers’ website’s game preview posted audio clips of Gilbert Brule, Magnus Paajarvi, Linus Omark, Jeff Petry and Oilers coach Tom Renney discussing tonight’s game, as well as a game preview from Jack Michaels and Bob Stauffer, whose comments you can watch in the following video:
Update the tenth: Henrik Zetterberg engaged in a 1-on-1 interview with Sportsnet. Zetterberg’s agent is somehow related to…Magnus Paajarvi?
Here’s Derek Van Diest’s game-day update, discussing Dan Petry’s call-up:
“It’s a great time to get called up and getting a chance to play in front of the hometown crowd,” Petry said. “I played here with Michigan State and for Little Caesars (minor hockey) but it’s special playing here for the first time at this level.”
Petry, 23, grew up idolizing the Red Wings and their all-world defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom. His father Dan, was a former Major League pitcher with the Detroit Tigers. The Oilers selected Petry in the second round – 45th overall – of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. He started the season with the Oklahoma City Barons but was called up after Christmas and played in 21 games before getting sent back down to the AHL. During his first stint with the Oilers, he collected a goal and a pair of assists.
“I felt really good when I first came up,” Petry said. “After the all-star break, however, I felt like I was having trouble controlling the puck. It was good to go down and get my confidence up, hopefully I can play as well as I was before.”
In 41 games with the Barons this year, Petry scored seven goals and added 17 assists.
“I just had to regain the aspect of controlling the puck and having it feel comfortable on my stick again,” Petry said. “Coming back up, I just want to be able to make plays and be a hard guy to play against.”
Update 11 2:39 PM: here’s the Swedish Angle, from EdmontonOilers.com’s Greg Ciampa:
Oilers Linus Omark and Magnus Paajarvi have an opportunity tonight to go head-to-head against some of their Swedish heroes, including Henrik Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidstrom.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Paajarvi of the opportunity to face off against them tonight. “Of course, I have to take that all away when I go on the ice but Detroit is the team you watch back home with all the Swedes.”
“Forsberg was my biggest idol, but on this team it’s Zetterberg,” Omark said, talking about the player he watched closest growing up.
One trait that Paajarvi takes from his fellow Swedes is their work ethic. The Oilers rookie can often be found late on the ice after practice working on his skills, something Lidstrom and Zetterberg are known to do.
“You can learn so much from just watching them and just looking at all the details that they do. If you can try to train similar to them you have a good chance to become good.”
Paajarvi’s father, Gunnar Svensson is at the game tonight and is Zetterberg’s agent.
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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.