The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/12/11 at 09:48 AM ET
First: I very appreciatively received a little time in the spotlight via the Red Wings at the Herm 2 Hockeytown 2 gathering on Friday evening, but the $14,274,00 raised for Children’s Hospital of Michigan was in no small part a tribute to the collective passion and goodwill of Red Wings fans from around the world, including our beloved Chief (let’s hope he’s safe, wherever he may be) and Abel to Yzerman…But the people who really got the job done were die-hard members of The 19 in Jen MacRostie, Ellen Manuszak, the infamous Mike Serven, the Production Line’s Michael Petrella, Chris Hollis, all the event organizers and our help from the Red Wings’ organization, and mostly the generosity of a good thousand-plus Wings fans who are spending this weekend putting names on Twitter handles, Facebook pages and KK profiles while having a fantastic time together.
As for the game The 19 took in on Friday night, the Red Wings’ 2-1 overtime win resulted in the most intense, heartfelt and passionate outpouring of emotion at Joe Louis Arena I’ve witnessed in a game taking place before April in a very, very long time, but the game’s result served as nothing more than a temporary anesthetic. When it wore off, most of the H2H2’ers were plain old baffled as to why the hell the injury-depleted Edmonton Oilers could make the Detroit Red Wings look so very pedestrian, or yield such an unbelievably painful-to-watch 59-and-change minutes of hockey before the Red Wings finally remembered how to play like themselves. It was witnessing a team flailing through an identity crisis on ice, and it wasn’t pretty.
In theory, anyway, I could leave you with this clip of Datsyuk’s goal and two quotes and go to bed, quite frankly, because after Datsyuk did what Datsyuk does…
Thanks to the fact that Jimmy Howard made up for a bad goal against, in spades, via these saves toward the end of the second period…
Henrik Zetterberg had this to say about his team’s flopping, flailing, remarkably inconsistent and overly hard-fought effort to the Associated Press’s Noah Trister...
“The last two weeks, it’s almost like we were one of the worst teams in the league,” Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg said. “We’ve got to realize we’re a good team. When we have our chances, got to believe in ourselves and make plays instead of just panicking and stressing and doing the wrong plays.”
And before the Wings took a two-hour flight to St. Louis, where they’ll take on the Blues tonight (8 PM EST, FSD/FS Midwest/WXYT, and the Blues have won three straight, including a 4-1 win over Montreal on Thursday), Jimmy Howard offered this incredibly astute comment to WXYT’s Jeff Riger as to how much Friday night’s game means, should the Wings continue to trade wins and losses while playing frustratingly inconsistent and disinterested hockey down the stretch:
Post-game on 97.1 The Ticket Wings goalie Jimmy Howard speaking about the first win in four games: “We need to carry over the effort into tomorrow. We need an ‘A’ game,” says Howard. “We never gave up, we just kept battling and battling.”
The Wings need to keep their “A game” going and have to keep improving if they’re serious about at least holding onto their status as the kings of the Central Division hill and one of the West’s top 3—or preferably, top 2—teams, serious about rounding into playoff form and serious about playing Red Wings hockey, period, on a nightly basis.
That being said, the Oilers, who were playing without the services of Ales Hemsky, Taylor Hall and Sam Ganger, felt that they deserved a better fate. Devan Dubnyk stopped 42 of the 44 shots the Wings fired at him, and in addition to killing off 9:52 of Wings power play time (including 1:25 of a 5-on-3 disadvantage), the Oilers’ defenders blocked 15 Wings shots and forced the Wings to fire another 19 wide, essentially halving what would have been a 78-shot barrage.
And, perhaps less than surprisingly, an Oilers team that received a “hand” on a waved-off goal Todd Bertuzzi’s hand may or may not tipped argued that the Red Wings’ game-winner never should have counted, as they told the Edmonton Sun’s Derek Van Diest:
Nicklas Lidstrom scored the tying goal [with 25 seconds left], banking a shot in off Andrew Cogliano’s skate.
“I really didn’t think we were going to get scored on,” said Dubnyk. “I felt fine at the end, but it’s tough because I don’t play the puck to go off my guy. When he took that shot it, was going towards the other side of the net where everybody else was. If that’s their player’s stick, it’s a different story, but it was a tough break obviously and there’s not much you can do on those ones I guess.”
The goal in overtime was equally as difficult to swallow. Pavel Datsyuk scored after slashing the stick out of the hands of Jeff Petry and snapping a shot through a screen.Apart from not being awarded a slashing penalty on the overtime winner, the Oilers felt play should have been blown dead on the tying goal after Jason Strudwick played the puck during a delayed penalty call.
“It’s tough, but we need to find a way to win those games, even though it was a great effort and it shows that we can play against a team like this,” Dubnyk said. “If we can play against these guys, we can play against anybody, but we need to knuckle down and be sure to play every game this way.”
Oilers coach Tom Renney insisted that his goaltender did just fine…
“He’s been good all year, he played very well for us,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “He looked solid, he looked big, he trapped the puck well. He was an efficient goaltender. They did get a lot of shots and they loaded up pretty well on their power play, but he was big for us.”
And he extended his seals of approval to the entire team, as Van Diest noted:
“I’m dam proud of our hockey club tonight,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “We stuck to our game plan, we stuck with the strategy that we thought would help us win. We fought hard and we tried to win a hockey game. I was a little concerned about a couple of calls that weren’t made, but that’s the way it goes.”
Datsyuk’s goal came after the Red Wings forward slashed the stick out of defenceman Jeff Petry’s hand. The puck eventually came back to Datsyuk in the slot and he fired a shot past Devan Dubnyk, who was outstanding in the contest, turning away 42 shots.
“We have to earn our way through this and that’s OK,” said Renney. “You shouldn’t get anything handed to you if you want to be a great team. Every single day we’re trying to work on grit.”
I happened to think that the Oilers’ goal was caused off a turnover by a horse-pucky thug, but I’m just a biased Wings fan…
Ryan Jones, who was the Oilers most utilized forward on the night playing nearly 25 minutes, scored the only goal of the contest for his team, getting the puck after finishing a check on Tomas Holmstrom along the boards and snapping a shot goaltender through the pads of Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard.
The Oilers were equally proud of their ability to trap the Wings to a standstill at time…
“For us it’s a matter of the more simple we keep it, the better team we’re going to be,” said Jones. “When we stretch out of our element, we seem to pull away from each other and teams can pick us apart a little more. If we stay within our systems and play together, we’re a hard team to beat. We create a lot of turnovers and we use our speed. We saw that tonight, we had a few breakaways that if one of those goes it, it’s a whole different ball game.”
“It was probably one of our more intelligent games, quite honestly,” said Renney. “When you want to please your fans, when you’re young and you’re trying to win people over, you sometimes have a tendency to try to do too much. We’ve been guilty of that this year and we’ve said a number of times that maybe we should put our own team up on the white board as the opponent. But we are growing and we are learning, and tonight, they wrapped their heads around a game plan that we thought might give them some success and to a man they were all in.”
And Renney did name names, so to speak, in discussing the game’s outcome with the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson:
“We fought hard and tried to win a hockey game ... I’m a little concerned about a couple of calls that weren’t made, but that’s the way it goes,” said Renney, who was scratching his head when neither ref saw Datsyuk slash Petry. “Not sure how that happens to be honest, and on the delayed (cross-checking) penalty to Jason before Lidstrom’s goal, he touches the puck to pop it over to his partner, and the play’s not stopped. I thought we deserved a better fate, but we’re growing and I can’t be prouder of this group, despite what people think.”
That’s okay…The Wings thought they’d touched the puck on a couple of delayed calls that required Howard to make some sterling saves, and the Oilers made sure to go away as loudly as possible, all while winding a bit of a yarn on top of what really was a superb effort:
“I’m in front of the net with (Johan) Franzen, and next thing you know I have no stick,” said Petry, who was in no man’s land as Datsyuk circled for the kill and got a shot through a forest of legs and arms.
“Never saw the puck at all,” said Dubnyk, who made 42 stops.
The Oilers, who got a goal from workhorse Ryan Jones in the sixth minute of the game on “my ’oil twisted wrister, my signature shot,’’ showed equal parts of guts and gumption. They dressed 12 forwards but only played 11 because coach Tom Renney couldn’t find a way to get slugger Steve MacIntyre into the game for even a shift in the nail-biter.
Cogliano was high-sticked earlier in the third by Drew Miller, in the same spot on his lip where he’s taken half a dozen raps this season. He threw his helmet in disgust as he went for stitches, but was back for the wild ending.
Smid, who played 27-1/2 minutes, played hard and mean and played much of the game with only one hand. It’s going to be swollen today after Lidstrom’s shot nailed him. “He was a horse out there and Laddie’s an example of our team getting nicked up and banged up and sacrificing ... this is a whole lot different than what’s been happening at this time of the season (in other years),” said Renney.
As for the Bertuzzi call?
The Wings thought they had tied it with 22 seconds left in the second period, but after the NHL’s War Room in Toronto looked at their bank of video replay screens they determined that Todd Bertuzzi had deliberately got his left glove down on a Lidstrom shot. Bertuzzi was muscling for space with Gilbert and it did appear that Bertuzzi intentionally tried to deflect it with his glove.
That would make it five games in a row in which the Wings were denied a goal for or forced to surrender a goal against due to a discretionary call.
Hit of the night: The Oilers brought a unique brand of physical play tonight that certainly turned heads and helped to quell the overbearing skill of the Red Wings power-play. Tomas Holmstrom, who parks at the top of the crease during each opportunity, was roughly treated by the entire Oilers defence group tonight. Jim Vandermeer in particular brought a number of violent cross-checks that helped to remove the Wings forward from the area, thus negating the immediate threat at the goal-mouth.
The Unsung Hero: Ryan Jones was once again a force for the Oilers and most certainly one of the team’s stand-out performers. Tonight, Jones played a season high 24:50, including 3:21 shorthanded, while recording three hits and four shots on goal. For much of the night, his goal scored in the opening period appeared to stand as the game-winner, but the Red Wings spoiled the fun. Overall, another fabulous night for the 26-year-old that has now scored 15 goals on the season.
38: The Oilers dominated the opening period, but the Red Wings pushed back hard in the final two periods and overtime. In total, the home side recorded 38 shots in the final two periods, including the extra session, while the Oilers could only manage 19 in that same period of time.
Play of the game: With the Oilers pressuring on a second period power-play opportunity, Red Wings netminder Jimmy Howard came up huge for his squad to keep the game within reach. In a sequence that featured a number of glorious scoring chances, recent call-up Alex Giroux had the best look as Edmonton appeared to lock in on a two-goal advantage. With a sprawling Howard leaving the gaping cage in sight, Giroux corralled the puck at the top of the goal crease before releasing a low shot along the ice. It appeared to be going in, but Howard arrived with a circus-like stretch to deny the sniper with his left pad.
Yeah, about that…Taking Zetterberg’s comments to the AP in context, both he and his Eurotwin some-time line mate (Babcock reunited the Stuart-Kronwall pairing on defense, at the expense of Nicklas Lidstrom, who had to shepherd Jonathan Ericsson, but the four forward lines were mix-and-match central, with only Miller-Helm-and-Draper remaining relatively intact as Babcock tried every other trick in the book up front), Pavel Datsyuk, were admittedly frustrated as could be—at and with themselves:
“The last two weeks, it’s almost like we were one of the worst teams in the league,” Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg said. “We’ve got to realize we’re a good team. When we have our chances, got to believe in ourselves and make plays instead of just panicking and stressing and doing the wrong plays.”
The Red Wings went 0 for 6 on the power play, including a two-man advantage they had for 1:25 in the third. Both teams called timeouts during that 5-on-3 situation, but Dubnyk was able to stop Datsyuk when he tried to jam the puck in from to the left of the goal.
“We were definitely frustrated. We had lots of chances,” Datsyuk said. “Their goalie played well today - big guy.”
Edmonton outshot Detroit 8-6 in the first period and had most of the best scoring chances early. Jones was stopped by Howard on a breakaway, then Alexandre Giroux split two defenders but couldn’t convert. The Oilers finally did score on a harmless-looking shot from the left boards by Jones that slipped under Howard’s right pad for his 15th goal of the season.
It was a bad, bad, bad goal, and Howard seemed to have trouble sealing the ice with one pad down during warm-ups, so…If you were in the stands, you kinda saw it coming.
Detroit took 17 shots on goal in the second, but the one time the Red Wings put the puck past Dubnyk, the goal was disallowed after a review. Lidstrom’s wrist shot from the point was deflected in by Todd Bertuzzi’s left hand before Bertuzzi was knocked to the ice.
Before that, Detroit came up empty on three power plays in the period, and Howard had to make three big saves in succession while Edmonton had a man advantage late in the second to keep the deficit at one goal.
The Wings readily admitted to Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji that their effort was less than pretty, and without Howard in the net, bad goal included, the Wings wouldn’t have earned a single point:
Howard, who had saves on breakaways and 2-on-1s in regulation, had to make a couple of tough saves, one on Kurtis Foster early in overtime and another on Gilbert Brule a minute and a half later, to keep his team in contention.
“Jimmy, he just did unbelievable, especially in overtime,” Pavel Datsyuk said.
Finally, at 4:18 of overtime, Datsyuk got the puck from Johan Franzen, waited for an Oilers player to go down to block the shot and fired the puck past Dubnyk. What could have easily been zero points ended up being two for the Wings.
“We were definitely frustrated,” Datsyuk said. “We had lots of chances, but we can’t score on them. Their goalie played well today, big guy. He played well today. We’re happy we scored and won in overtime.”
Coach Mike Babcock said the game was just what he expected, and ended up as a tribute to the Wings’ perseverance.
“Anytime you’re in the tank like we’ve been, it’s always ugly when you come out of it,” Babcock said. “We were able to stick with it and find a way to get one in, and in the end get ourselves two points so we can get back on track.”
Let’s take a moment and pause, via a quote-less recap from the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan...
Ryan Jones scored his 15th goal at 6:40 of the first period, a harmless-looking shot from the top of the circle Wings goalie Jimmy Howard let go through his legs.
But Howard responded after that to play a fine game. In the second period, he made point-blank saves on Shawn Horcoff and Alex Giroux on an Oilers power play. Howard also poke-checked the puck from Jordan Eberle as Eberle came rushing on a 2-on-1.
An apparent tying Wings goal with 21 seconds left in the second period was waved off when Lidstrom’s shot from the point was batted in by Todd Bertuzzi’s glove. ...
[Detroit] tied it with 24 seconds in regulation on Nicklas Lidstrom’s goal, then Pavel Datsyuk won it in overtime with 42 seconds left. Lidstrom’s goal, his 14th, deflected off the stick of Edmonton forward Andrew Cogliano and past goalie Devan Dubnyk.
Datsyuk scored his 21st from the circle, beating Dubnyk, who was screened.
Before embracing the depths of the Wings’ near-incompetence, especially, as Kulfan notes, on the power play:
Why are the Red Wings so ineffective on the power play when they’re enjoying a two-man advantage? It’s been an issue, it seems, all season.
They were on a 5-on-3 for over 90 seconds in the third period tonight against Edmonton and failed to score.
Any thoughts Nicklas Lidstrom?
“For whatever reason, we haven’t executed well on it,” Lidstrom said. “We’re sometimes forcing passes and trying to get it through when it’s not there, instead of just taking what they’re giving us because we have two more players on the ice. We’re forcing it instead of reacting to what’s open for us.”
Mike Babcock has his own theory as to why the Wings’ power play is struggling in general, as he told the Free Press’s Carlos Monarrez, and he didn’t believe that any of his theory applied to Friday night’s mess:
POWER OUTAGE: The Wings are 0-for-10 on the power play since Johan Franzen scored with the man advantage in the first period against Phoenix on March 5. On Friday, they went 0-for-6, including not scoring with a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:25 despite taking five shots.
“Our biggest concern on our power play is our entries, getting into the zone,” Babcock said. “We had lots of attack time tonight. We didn’t score.”
Henrik Zetterberg noticed, saying this to the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness about the Wings breaking a 4-game losing streak and a 3-game losing streak at home:
“It was nice to get two points,” Henrik Zetterberg said and then took a deep breath. “We needed to win here at home. It was nice we showed we can score when it’s tight. I think we’re squeezing our sticks a little too much.”
Detroit, which plays at St. Louis tonight, is now just 8-10-2 over its last 20 games at home after beginning the season 10-1-2 at Joe Louis Arena.
“We’ve got to realize we’re a good team and we’re good players,” Zetterberg said. “We’re not where we’re at in the standings for nothing.”
“It’s almost like we’re hitting the panic button instead of making good plays when we have the puck,” Zetterberg said. “We just hesitate to make the right play. We’re shooting when we’re supposed to pass and pass when we’re supposed to shoot. We’ve just got to focus and believe in ourselves.”
Jimmy Howard, who, again, made up for his ugly goal against by all but willing the Wings to at least a point, made sure to distribute credit to his teammates…
“We never gave up,” Howard said. “We just kept battling and battling. We remained focused, got one there late and then it was Pavel being Pavel,” Howard added. “When you see something like that you realize what an amazing player he really is.”
Offering this take on his own efforts to MLive’s Ansar Khan:
“I just stood back there and wanted to give the guys a chance,” Howard said. “We deserved it. We played an excellent game. The guys did a great job firing pucks at the net.”
Babcock, for the record, wasn’t particularly upset by Toronto’s decision to wave off Lidstrom’s tipped-by-Berrtuzzi goal, telling Khan that it, “Probably shouldn’t have counted,” nor was he happy with his team’s level of competition playing against the trapping Oilers early on…
“In the first period we weren’t engaged enough,” Babcock said. “They made it hard, their 1-3-1, stacked it up at the blue line and the red line until we started putting the puck in and getting it back in the second period.”
But he appreciated his team’s ability to best the massive 6’5” Dubnyk…
“The kid’s huge. He looks like he’s 6-6, there’s no net,” Babcock said. “In order to score, you’re going to have to get some second chances. We were able to persevere. I think it’s important for us to understand we won tonight because we continued to work and continued to do things right and we were rewarded.”
And both Nicklas Lidstrom….
“When I got the puck, they had a guy come out in the shooting lane and I couldn’t get it on net, so I tried to shoot it wide for a tip and it got deflected by one of their players and luckily it went in,” Lidstrom said. “I think the goalie reacted to the shot going wide and he couldn’t get back into position.”
And Datsyuk attributed their goals to equal parts luck and effort:
“First (Niklas) Kronwall did a good job; he just kept everybody on one side and gave it to me and then (Johan Franzen) did a big screen,” Datsyuk said. “I just needed to shoot fast.”
In the end, both Lidstrom and Babcock were satisfied with the result, but, as they told the Detroit Free Press’s Monarrez, getting there wasn’t always pretty:
“It means a lot,” Lidstrom said of the home win, “especially how hard we worked tonight, how hard we worked to get the win tonight and continue to shoot the puck and coming after them shift after shift, especially in the third period. It seemed like they were backing in and were just trying to defend themselves. So it was great to see us stick with us tonight.”
Lidstrom’s goal came as part of the Wings’ final tenacious flurry that exemplified what coach Mike Babcock had been asking of them after their loss to Los Angeles on Wednesday.
“I think it was important for us to understand we won tonight because we continue to work and we continue to do things right,” Babcock said. “And then you’re rewarded. If you don’t work and you don’t compete, you’re not going to win in this league.”
And it sure didn’t look like the Wings were headed to a win in the first period, when they looked slow and were outshot, 8-6. It didn’t help that Wings goalie Jimmy Howard let in a soft goal when Ryan Jones scored with a low shot from the top of the left circle at 6:40. Howard’s right pad caught a piece of the puck, but it trickled in.
“Yeah, the first period we weren’t happy with,” Lidstrom said. “I thought they had some breakaways, they had some clear-cut chances early in the game. But I thought once we got our legs going, we did play a lot better with the puck, and even without the puck in our zone I thought we did well. But the start was not something we wanted.”
The first 59 minutes weren’t fantastic from the stands, either, but what a finish—especially if that finish turns out to be the start of a truly special late-season run.
Highlights: TSN posted a 1:57 highlight clip;
Sportsnet posted a 2:21 highlight clip:
NHL.com’s highlight clip is narrated by Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond:
Post-game: The Oilers’ website posted a clip of comments from Ryan Jones (jerk), Jason Strudwick, Devan Dubnyk and Tom Renney…
As well as an extended audio clip from said interviews, and NHL On the Fly’s recap of the game…
And the Red Wings’ website posted a clip of Pavel Datsyuk, Jimmy Howard, Nicklas Lidstrom and Mike Babcock speaking to the media:
Photos: The Detroit Free Press posted an 8-image gallery;
The Detroit News posted an 18-image gallery;
The Edmonton Sun posted an 11-image gallery;
Yahoo Sports posted a 30-image gallery;
Shots: 44-27 Detroit overall, breaking down as 8-6 Edmonton in the 1st period, 17-10 Detroit in the 2nd period, 17-7 Detroit in the 3rd period and 4-2 Detroit in overtime.
The Red Wings went an ugly 0-for-6 over the course of 9:52 of PP time, including 8:27 of 5-on-4 time and 1:25 of 5-on-3 time.
The Oilers went 0-for-4 in 7:17 of PP time.
Devan Dubnyk stopped 42 of 44 shots; Jimmy Howard stopped 26 of 27.
Our goals: Lidstrom (14) from Datsyuk (33) and Franzen (21);
Datsyuk (21) from Franzen (22) and Kronwall (21).
The 3 stars, per the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan, were Devan Dubnyk (#3), Pavel Datsyuk (#2) and Nicklas Lidstrom (#1).
Faceoffs: 43-27 Detroit (61%);
Blocked shots: 15-8 Edmonton;
Missed shots: 19-4 Detroit (for a total of 44 shots at or past Devan Dubnyk and 34 shots fired wide or into Oilers players, or a total of 78 attempted shots for the Wings; the Oilers attempted 39 shots);
Hits: 27-24 Detroit;
Giveaways: An ugly 12-3 Detroit;
Takeaways: 7-6 Detroit.
Individual stats breakdown:
Faceoffs: Zetterberg went 16-and-7 (70%); Filppula went 9-and-5 (64%); Modano went 4-and-6 (40%); Helm went 5-and-3 (63%); Datsyuk went 4-and-3 (57%); Abdelkader went 3-and-0; Cleary went 1-and-2 (33%); Franzen lost his only faceoff; Hudler won his only faceoff.
Shots: Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Kronwall and Franzen all led the team with 6 shots apiece; Zetterberg and Holmstrom took 4; Cleary took 3; Kindl, Abdelkader and Stuart took 2; Miller, Helm and Ericsson took 1.
Blocked shot attempts: Modano hit Oilers players 3 times; Lidstrom, Hudler, Zetterberg and Kronwall had 2 attempts blocked; Kindl, Cleary, Datsyuk and Franzen had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Kronwall missed the net 3 times; Kindl, Lidstrom, Abdelkader and Datsyuk missed the net 2 times; Cleary, Stuart, Zetterberg, Helm, Bertuzzi, Ericsson, Modano and Franzen missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Miller, Kronwall and Franzen had 4 hits; Ericsson had 3; Cleary, Salei, Hudler and Bertuzzi had 2; Lidstrom, Abdelkader, Helm and Filppula had 1.
Giveaways: Ericsson had 3 giveaways (surprise!); Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Filppula had 2; Bertuzzi, Modano and Holmstrom had 1.
Takeaways: Modano had 2 takeaways; Datsyuk, Stuart, Helm, Bertuzzi and Kronwall had 1 takeaway.
Blocked opponent shots: Lidstrom, Miller and Kronwall blocked 2 shots; Salei and Bertuzzi blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Drew Miller took a double minor; Filppula and Holmstrom took single minor penalties.
Plus-minus: Miller, Stuart and Helm finished at -1; Kindl, Lidstrom, Zetterberg and Kronwall finished at +1; Datsyuk and Franzen finished at +2.
Points: Datsyuk had a goal and an assist for 2 points; Franzen had 2 assists; Lidstrom had a goal; Kronwall had an assist.
Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 29:16 played; Lidstrom played 24:14; Datsyuk played 22:49;
Zetterberg played 22:20; Stuart played 21:14; Filppula played 18:20;
Franzen played 18:15; Cleary played 17:45; Ericsson played 17:24;
Salei played 17:19; Bertuzzi played 16:11; Holmstrom played 15:41;
Kindl played 14:04; Modano played 11:55; Abdelkader played 11:47;
Hudler played 11:41; Helm played 11:22; Miller played 8:22.
Part 2: Red Wings notes and stuff: The comments made to MLive’s Ansar Khan by Babcock and Lidstrom, prior to the Wings-Oilers game, sound unbeilevably ironic given Friday’s result:
“Each year I think it’s important to go through some adversity,” Babcock said. “I don’t think it hurts anyone to have their nose out of joint or have to dig and have to understand how hard you have to play to be successful. The bottom line is we’re not playing hard enough or long enough.”
The Wings insisted that they’re well aware of the fact that the San Jose Sharks are only three points behind the Wings for second place in the West, and that the Hawks, who the Wings face three more times, are seven points behind their Central Division rivals:
“You can look at the standings and see how tight it is,” Nicklas Lidstrom said. “Teams are in playoff mode, battling for playoff spots. That’s the kind of mentality we have to have.”
“If we take care of our business, we’re in a good spot,” [Brad] Stuart said. “We’re where we want to be right now. It’s just a matter of making sure we’re working towards maintaining that.” He said recent team meetings have focused on doing things “the Red Wing way. That’s doing things hard, doing things smart and doing it for 60 minutes,” Stuart said. “Our urgency level needs to increase. All the little details of the game have to be better. It sounds simple, but that’s what it is.”
“You feel like you’re going to flip a switch at some point, but we’re facing a lot of teams that are in desperation mode as far as playoffs are concerned,” [Mike] Modano said. “You’d love to win that division and get a top-three seed, secure home ice in the first round and go from there.”
• Somewhat disturbingly, Brad Stuart had this to say about his slightly twisted right ankle to the Detroit News’s Carlos Monarrez…
Red Wings defenseman Brad Stuart is walking a fine line, which isn’t easy with a sore ankle. Stuart suffered the injury when he fell awkwardly in Wednesday’s loss to Los Angeles. He sat out Thursday’s practice as a precaution, but he was back in the lineup Friday night against Edmonton.
With the final stretch before the playoffs, it’s tough for teams to find a balance between winning and keeping players healthy.
“Yeah,” Stuart said. “I mean we’re kind of walking that line where we’ve got to win games, but we’ve also got to be a little bit cautious about injuring yourself more than you need to. We are getting ready for the playoffs, but at the same time we need to start winning games, too. It’s that fine line. You’ve just got to be sure you’re not going to do more damage than you need to.
And Monarrez offers an update as to Chris Osgood’s game-readiness as well:
Goaltender Chris Osgood (sports hernia) has been out since Jan. 11. He had been expected to return as early as tonight 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.”
• The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan offered a few injury updates...
Brian Rafalski (back spasms), Patrick Eaves (groin) and Chris Osgood (sports hernia) all practiced but likely won’t be available until Wednesday’s game against Washington.
Before noting that Danny (not Dan) Cleary hosted a team of Newfoundland-born youngsters, a cousin included, during Friday’s morning skate:
“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 land-wise, 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.”
“The NHL is the pinnacle and growing up and watching it and admiring it, you hope one day you can get there,” Cleary said. “I was able to and I know these kids have that same dream.”
• DetroitRedWings.com’s Dave Burke spoke to the younger Cleary about visiting the Joe:
Friday morning, Cleary gave his 15-year-old cousin, Ben Cleary, and his high school hockey teammates, a special memory when the team traveled to southeastern Michigan for the Motown Cup Tournament Series this weekend. The Gonzaga High School hockey team, from St. John’s, Newfoundland, watched the Wings’ morning skate and will watch Friday’s game at Joe Louis Arena when the Wings host the Edmonton Oilers. It has already been a whirlwind experience for the Vikings’ team, which arrived in Detroit on Thursday.
“We got here yesterday at about 12 o’clock, just hung out around the hotel, it was a pretty cool experience just coming from Canada,” Ben Cleary said. “We flew from Newfoundland to Toronto and drove from Toronto to Detroit. So far the team has had a blast. It’s crazy, I’ve only been to one hockey game when we played in a tournament in Montreal and saw the Leafs play the Canadiens, but it’s unreal just being in Detroit for the first time. Then Danny gave us some passes to come on down.”
The timing of the tournament couldn’t have been better with the Wings being home, “Later on this tournament we’ll be playing on the Joe’s ice so it’s been fantastic.”
• Both Burke and the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness noted the plight of Doug Janik, who hopped off a plane headed to Oklahoma City, OK, headed down to Joe Louis Arena to join the Wings for Friday’s practice, just in case Brad Stuart wasn’t ready to play, and then proceeded to head right back to Oklahoma City, not knowing whether his gear was in tow (Janik at least, per Capgeek.com, was paid around $2,700 for the inconvenience):
On Thursday, Janik was getting ready to get on a connector flight that was taking the Griffins to Oklahoma City when he got the news he was getting called up.
“We had just landed, I turned my phone on and got the call,” Janik said. “The GM from Grand Rapids called me and luckily I was already here in Detroit. I got off the plane and took a cab over.”
There was, however, one problem: The team’s equipment went directly to Oklahoma City. That left Janik scrambling to find equipment on Friday. His biggest concern was finding a pair of skates. Janik wears a Reebok size 9 1/2 skate. He wound up wearing a pair of Todd Bertuzzi’s Bauer size 10 skates.
Last season Janik got called up after the Griffins bused six hours from Grand Rapids to Peoria, Illinois. He flew to Detroit right after. Janik’s equipment concern didn’t end there. He didn’t know what he would be wearing in Friday’s Griffins’ game since his equipment was on its way to Detroit.
“I knew coming here I could be playing in Oklahoma City (Friday) or playing in Detroit,” said Janik, who has four goals and 13 assists in 46 games this season with Grand Rapids. “You always want to play, but I understand the reality of my situation. But it’s never disappointing to be called up.”
• And, finally, Mike Modano spoke at length about the severity of the wrist injury he suffered in December while talking to the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson about the nature of skate-to-wrist cuts as Sam Gagner was sidelined by an inadvertent skate nicking #89’s hand as he took a slug of water:
“Mine happened so fast, in a blink of an eye, but I could sense and feel something was wrong,” said Modano. “Then I felt the blood and knew the news wasn’t going to be good. I’ve been in the same situation thousands of times where skates were flying around, and finally this was my time. It wasn’t a glancing slice, it was a real dig-in thing. The hand feels good now, but it was immobilized for a long time and I needed four or five weeks of rehab.
“There’s still a bit of issue with a nerve, which they said would be the last thing to come back,” said Modano, who has a huge scar and wears a specially designed hard plastic wrist guard. “They said that would take a full year to heal.”
Modano, 40, is into his fourth decade in the NHL after being drafted first overall in the 1988 entry draft. With 1,486 games to his credit, he’s pretty much seen it all -with the exception of seeing a player having a tendon severed while sitting on the bench.
“That’s a first for me, hearing that,” said Modano.
Part 3: Red Wings-Blues Preview: Out of the frying pan, into the fire. The Wings head into St. Louis today to face off against a Blues team (8 PM EST, FSD/FS Midwest/WXYT, and yes, it’s the last EST game as we do that God-damned “Spring Forward” thing on Sunday) which isn’t quite dead yet—they’re 10 points back of the 81-point playoff cut-off line—but they’ve won 3 straight games, including a 4-1 win over Montreal minus the services of Alex Steen or Barret Jackman, who were both injured in Wednesday’s win over the Blue Jackets.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford says that the Blues who remain from this year’s slate of injuries and trades are already, admittedly, playing for jobs and leadership roles on next year’s roster…
If there’s one story to follow down the stretch, other than a depleted Blues lineup reeling off a surprising three-game winning streak, it’s the question, “Who can be a leader?” There has been much speculation that [David] Backes will be the Blues’ next captain, but the team has decided to hold off awarding its “C” until more evaluation this summer. Depending on who earns that distinction, the Blues could have a couple of “A’s” to hand out, too. But one plan is firm, and that’s the guarantee that management will be watching the final 14 games of the regular season to see if any candidates emerge.
“Our leadership group was changing (before the injuries),” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said, “but now we’ll see who steps up.”
In Thursday’s 4-1 victory over Montreal, the Blues’ first game without Jackman and Steen, the team patched “A’s” on the jerseys of veteran forward Andy McDonald and young defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. McDonald, 33, the second-oldest player on the team behind Ty Conklin (34), was a surprise omission for a letter at the start of the season, while [Alex] Pietrangelo has been the opposite, surprising observers with his maturity level at age 21.
“You look at who had the A’s on — Andy McDonald and Petro — two guys that have done nothing but provide great examples for the work ethic and the play that’s necessary moving forward,” Blues coach Davis Payne said. “The voice inside the room and the example on the ice are two different things, but I think (the team) responded very well to the guys who wore them.”
And the Post-Dispatch’s Dan O’Neill reports that the Blues are very happy with their play of late:
Only three Blues players skated on Friday at St. Louis Mills, as the Blues had an optional practice. Depleted by injures, the Blues face another daunting task when it plays host to Detroit on Saturday. Andy McDonald, who had a three-point game against Montreal, has been encouraged by the manner in which the Blues have won recently. The team rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the third period at Columbus, then protected a one-goal lead in the third on Thursday. It hasn’t allowed an opposition goal in the third during a three-game winning streak.
“It’s encouraging with a younger team,” McDonald said. “Closing it out in the third period with a 2-1 lead, being able to play strong and solid, protect the front of the net, those are things that are going to win hockey games down the road. It’s a good sign for us.”
Coach Davis Payne echoed the sentiments, saying the Replacement Blues are realizing they can prevail by sticking to a game plan. Keep in mind, Payne is coaching many players he coached in Peoria, players familiar with his system.
“I think like anything in team sports, when you’re committed to doing things a certain way, you’re giving yourself a chance to create an advantage ... you’ll be amazed what can happen,” he said. “These guys are understanding that game by game. I think our guys especially (Thursday) realized there’s a lot of (opposing) skill out there on the ice… You line up roster against roster, it becomes a difficult task if we’re going on what it looks like on paper. But if you’re committed to a team game, that’s just the formula you need. We took some opportunities where we might have had some guys challenging the offensive end a little more, but we resigned ourselves to just get back in the right position.”
So you can assume that the Blues will be playing the same tune, no pun intended, regarding allowing their younger players opportunities to step up and prove themselves against superior teams (in terms of the standings) before tonight’s game.
O’Neill sets up tonight’s game as follows...
BLUES PREVIEW: The Blues have won three in succession after snapping a four-game losing skid. The team has been hit hard by injuries, with regulars Alex Steen, Vlad Sobotka, Barret Jackman and David Perron out. In the meantime, the lineup is dotted with prospects who spent most of the season at Peoria. Nonetheless, the team has scored 13 goals in the last three games, one of the better offensive bursts of the season.
RED WINGS PREVIEW: The Red Menace ended a season-high winless streak of four games (0-2-2) by beating Edmonton in overtime Friday night. The Wings had gone 7-10-2 in their last 19 games at home. That said, the same team is 22-9-4 on the road and tied with Boston for the most road points earned (48) in the league. The reason is truly simple — the Wings tend to put away the flash and play a simple game on the road.
WHAT TO WATCH: Going into action Friday, Detroit star Henrik Zetterberg had gone seven games without a goal and had two goals in his last 24 games. But he also had contributed 18 assists in that stretch. The Blues are riding a hot hand in Andy McDonald, who has nine goals and 21 points in 19 games since returning from a concussion injury. Netminder Jaroslav Halak is 2-0 since returning from a hand injury and stopped 27 shots to beat his former team, Montreal, on Thursday.
INJURIES: Blues — F Alex Steen (high ankle sprain), Vlad Sobotka (ankle), F David Perron (concussion symptoms), Barret Jackman (hand), out; Philip McRae (lower body) day to day. Red Wings — G Chris Osgood (sports hernia), D Brian Rafalski (back), day to day; F Patrick Eaves (groin), out.
And NHL.com’s Brian Hunter offers this preview:
Last 10: Detroit 4-4-2; St. Louis 4-6-0
Season series: Fifth of six meetings this season between these Central Division rivals. Detroit has won three of four, including a split of the previous two games at the Scottrade Center. Henrik Zetterberg of the Red Wings leads all scorers with 1 goal and 7 assists. Patrik Berglund paces the Blues with 3 goals and 3 assists.
Blues [team scope]: The odds are stacked against St. Louis reaching the playoffs this season, but one thing working in the Blues’ favor is the recent return of No. 1 goalie Jaroslav Halak. The team had been struggling while relying on a tandem of rookie Ben Bishop and veteran Ty Conklin, but in Halak’s two games back in net they’ve finished off a home-and-home sweep of the Blue Jackets and earned a 4-1 win Thursday over the Canadiens, his former team.
“It was an emotional game for me,” said Halak, who made 27 saves. “I spent a few years in Montreal, and especially last year, we went so far in the playoffs. It was a great run, and I had a lot of fun there. But this is my new home, and I’m happy to be here.”
Who’s hot: The ageless Lidstrom, who turns 41 at the end of April, has 2 goals and 5 assists in his last seven games for the Red Wings. … Andy McDonald has 4 goals and 3 assists in his last four games for the Blues. David Backes has 1 goal and 3 assists in his last three games.
And the Free Press’s Monarrez managed to squeeze out an almost obligatory quote from Mike Babcock, regarding the Wings’ starting goaltender:
The Wings visit St. Louis at 8 tonight. They hold a 3-1 series advantage against the Blues, but each of the past meetings has been decided by one goal. Babcock said he would decide on the plane whether Howard or Joey MacDonald would start.
The Wings don’t play again until they host the Capitals on Wednesday, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Howard play tonight.
Per the NHL’s media website, Marc Joanette and Greg Kimmerly will referee tonight’s game, with Derek Amell and Andy McElman working the lines.
Part 4: Also of Red Wings-related note:
• The AHL likes to line up teams’ AHL affiliates when their NHL teams face off as often as possible, so the Griffins, Doug Janik included, played against the Oklahoma City Barons on Friday night, and not all went well. The Griffins lost 6-5 in overtime, giving up 4 second-period goals. Jordan Pearce gave up 6 goals on 39 shots against, Sergei Kolosov finished at a -4 and the Griffins actually blew a 5-4 third-period lead forged from a 4-2 rally.
• In the ECHL, Thomas McCollum stopped 33 of the 35 shots he faced in regulation and overtime but only 1 of 4 shootout shooters as the Toledo Storm dropped a 3-2 decision to the Trenton Devils. The Walleye’s website and Toledo Blade provide recaps;
• In Sweden, Daniel Larsson, Adam Almqvist and the Swedish Eliteserien’s reigning champions are, in technical terms, in serious-arse trouble. HV71 now faces a 3-0 deficit in their first-round series against AIK Skelleftea via a 3-1. Larsson gave up 2 goals on 25 shots against and Almqvist didn’t dress.
Update 8:35 AM: Also in the “Oh, Crap” department, per the Bangor Daily News’s Larry Mahoney, Red Wings prospect Gustav Nyquist’s college hockey career will be over if the University of Maine doesn’t avenge its 5-4 loss to Merrimack on Friday night with 2 straight wins as they’re in a best-of-three series;
• FYI: Per the Post-Star’s Tim McManus, former Adirondack Red Wings coach and ESPN commentator Barry Melrose will be inducted into the Adirondack Hockey Hall of Fame tonight;
• In the statistical department, per the Newark Star-Ledger’s Rich Chere:
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, since the NHL schedule went to 82 games in 1995-96, the most points accumulated by a team over its final 41 games (second half of the schedule) is 70 by the Detroit Red Wings in 1995-96 (33-4-4).
The Devils have picked up 42 points in the second half so far, with 16 games to play. That’s a maximum of 74 points.
• A few Wings-related comments regarding hits to the head also slunk under the radar, via The Sporting News’s Craig Custance:
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