Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Predators game 2 game-day updates: no lineup changes other than the obvious one

Updated 3x at 5:55 PM: As the Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators prepare to face off tonight (7:30 PM EDT start, FSD/FS Tennessee/CNBC/CBC/97.1 FM), NHL.com’s John Manasso reports that the Predators may or may not dress Hal Gill yet again…

Hal Gill out for Game 2, will travel to Detroit for Games 3 and 4. Says he’s getting closer. #Preds
...
Trotz will not confirm Hillen back in lineup for Gill. Will dress 7 D again for warmups. #preds

MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that Gustav Nyquist’s addition to the lineup as support in Darren Helm’s absence is the only change the Wings are making…

Optional skate for Wings today at Bridgestone Arena with about a dozen players on the ice.
...
Wings will start game with these lines and D pairs: 51-40-26, 93-13-44, 14-8-11, 20-48-96; 5-52, 55-23, 27-18; 35, 29.
...
Nashville defenseman Hal Gill said he’s not playing tonight

The Free Press’s Helene St. James reports that the Wings’ equipment staff has made a simple choice about Darren Helm’s gear…

Sad, empty stall http://pic.twitter.com/Q13k2r7E

And the Red Wings’ website is providing us some initial quips from both Nyquist and Red Wings coach Mike Babcock’s morning skate presser:

Today’s #Wings morning skate is underway at Bridgestone Arena. http://twitpic.com/999he9
...
From the looks of it, today’s morning skate is optional. Howie, Miller, Homer, Quincey, Emmerton, Conklin, Kindl and Sheahan are out there.
...
Nyquist: ‘It’s exciting. It should be a lot of fun out there.’ (On his playoff debut)
...
Nyquist: ‘You can’t really replace Helm. I just have to go out there and play my game.’
...
According to Mike Babcock, Nyquist for Helm is the only change to tonight’s lineup. He’ll play alongside Abdelkader and Cleary.
...
Babcock on Nyquist: “When he gets out there, he doesn’t play nervous. He just plays.”
...
Babcock on if he’s talked to 43: “I haven’t talked to him. I just texted him. You know how it’s like, the new world .. just like my kids.”
...
Babcock on Helm: “It’s going to be tough for him, but he’s a competitor. He’ll dig in real hard.”
...
Babcock on Cleary: “I thought he was one of our best forwards. I thought anyone who got involved physically was one of our better players.”

There are times I wish my U of M ID was still active, too:

Student rush tickets are available for Sunday’s game. $60 lower bowl/$25 upper bowl single seats with a valid student ID.

The Wings also point us to a profile of Wings owner Mike Ilitch which focuses on his desire to bring a World Series title to Detroit via the Tigers from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, and, well…

Via RedWingsFeed, CBS Detroit offers a lead-on suggestion regarding a picture from the Detroit News’s David Guralnick (in an article slamming the lack of a suspension for Shea Weber), and they’re not wrong:

As everyone knows Shea Weber was fined $2,500 for his hit on Henrik Zetterberg after the final horn sounded on Wednesday night. Today in the Detroit News there is a photo of Weber and a teammate fooling around in what looks to be a mocking way of the Red Wings.

Nashville’s Andrei Kostitsyn, left, playfully pushes teammate Shea Weber into the glass during practice at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Thursday, April 12, 2012. (David Guralnick/The Detroit News)

I have to head out to the public health system’s version of therapy today at 1:30, and probably won’t return till about 3:30 due to household obligations, so I’ll be in and out and will update this post with more game-day gnus as I am able. I’m sorry for the inconvenience.

Update: Already, Barry Trotz is into gamesmanship, responding predictably regarding the Red Wings’ desire to make Pekka Rinne’s life miserable. The Tennessean’s John Glennon delivers what I can only say is a typical Trotz comment from his morning skate presser (and if you want to read Joshua Cooper’s interview with Hal Gill, enjoy):

Trotz says #Redwings had lot of bodies in crease and if they’d scored goals, some wld have been called back. #Preds

And now many of those are the result of Rinne initiating contact and assuming the refs will buy what he’s selling, no-neck?

Update #1.5: Here’s Babcock’s presser:

You might like the Calgary Herald’s George Johnson’s take on the Weber situation, too:

So much for the loud huffing and practised postulating about a firm crackdown on head shots. Weber dips into petty cash and the Preds don’t miss their 30-minute-a-night defenceman for a second.

The folks in Nashville must be yukking it up louder than Minnie Pearl on laughing gas.

This was hardly a split-second reaction; one of those spur of the moment incidents that enter a grey, hazy area of debate.

Intent was obvious.

A suspension in some form was warranted. Essential, even.

But, gosh, well, these are playoffs and gosh, well, Shea Weber is mighty important to the Preds and gosh, well, the league wouldn’t want to actually be accused of in some way determining the outcome of a game or a series by actually taking a necessary stand on an important issue . . . and, well . . . gosh!

Update #1.75: MLive’s Ansar Khan’s story about the Wings needing to get in Rinne’s grill, if you will, didn’t hit till 7 this morning.

Update #2: Sorry again. I was slow on the up-take so I didn’t see that all of you noticed the Weber-Kostitsyn picture this morning…

• Via RedWingsFeed, the Detroit News’s David Guralnick posted a photo of Helm’s empty locker;

• ESPN’s Craig Custance reports no lineup changes for either team from what we saw during Thursday’s practices;

• The Nashville City Paper’s David Boclair offers some net-front comment battling from the coaches’ morning skate pressers…

“I don’t think we were hard enough on their goaltender,” Babcock said Friday morning. “I think their goaltender made a couple huge saves. … I don’t think you can be surprised by great saves, but you have to get enough [pucks] there to his feet to get second chances.”

Through the first two days of the postseason (seven games), Pekka Rinne’s 35 saves tied him with Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo for the most in a contest that did not include overtime. Game 2 is 6:30 p.m. Friday at Bridgstone Arena (SportSouth).

“You always expect that teams are going to try to get more in your face and maybe sometimes try to interfere with you and just put a lot of bodies in front of there,” Rinne said.

Nashville coach Barry Trotz was not concerned with the number of bodies in front of his goalie. He was, however, worried that the Red Wings were too close to Rinne in Game 1 when they were there.

“I know that they had a lot of their bodies in the blue paint,” Trotz said. “If they would have scored some goals they should have been called off – I do know that. They’re going to want to get net presence. That’s part of Detroit’s tactic over the years. I could say for us, we need a lot more net presence. We didn’t have a lot last game.”

As well as this quip from Babcock…

“We can talk about seeing-eye pucks all you want. That’s what you do in the playoffs is you go to the net, you throw pucks there, you hope it hits something and goes in. When it goes in against you, you say it was a seeing-eye puck. When it goes in for you, you say that was a great goal.” – Babcock on how the Predators scored two of their three goals in the opener.

The Tennessean’s Joshua Cooper took note of the Wings’ suggestions that running Rinne isn’t their plan…

“You don’t have to stand on top of him, you just have to stand in front of him, that’s what we’re going to do,” forward Henrik Zetterberg said. “Their D is doing a good job of boxing us out too so we need to be a little tougher and get to those areas.”

Though Detroit fired 37 shots on goal on Rinne in Game 1, they believe a lot weren’t tough shots — that Rinne saw many of them. They want to change that for tonight.

“I didn’t think we were hard enough on their goaltender,” Detroit Coach Mike Babcock said. “I think their goaltender made a couple huge saves. He got one tough break where we shot the puck, it came off him, then went behind net, hit the ref and came back out front, but he still managed to get there and make a great save. We have to get enough (pucks) at his feet to get second chances to go in.”

Despite some of this talk from Detroit, Nashville believes the Red Wings were in and around Rinne a good deal. And if they scored in some of those situations, the Predators believed a lot of those goals wouldn’t have counted.

“I know this, they had a lot of their bodies in the blue paint and if they scored some goals they would have been called off. I do know that,” Coach Barry Trotz said. “They’re going to want to get net presence. That’s part of Detroit’s tactic over the years.”

The Predators can handle this quite well, mostly because they have a goaltender who doesn’t get bothered by it in Rinne. Also, the fact that Rinne stands 6-foot-5 normally prevents him from being screened by the opposition.

“It helps for sure when you can look over people, and look over their shoulder and stuff like that. That helps for sure,” Rinne said. “Usually at that time, I’m standing upright and I don’t have my stick on the ice and stuff like that, so you have to make sure you’re quick to go down and seal the ice for whatever the shot is.”

The Tennessean’s John Glennon noted that both coaches expect to see more even strength play...

“I don’t think that’s going to happen again,” Babcock said. “I watched all the games in the league (Thursday) night. I never saw the same kind of thing happen. They’ll be more even strength.”

Even though Babcock’s Wings scored two power-play goals, he was bothered by the lack of five-on-five play because it kept a lot of players on the bench for long stretches.

“I didn’t think that was productive for our team because you didn’t get the people on the ice,” Babcock said. “If you’re 22 years old and a young guy and have to sit on the bench for six minutes, that’s one thing. When you’re 30-something and you sit on the bench … “

Trotz expects a more predictably called game as well.

“I think it will probably settle down a little bit,” Trotz said. “ I think that was probably one of those games that no one really has a clear answer on. It will probably settle into more of what you saw in the other (NHL playoff) games.”

Glennon noted that Justin Abdelkader and Gustav Nyquist are expected to step up...

“Last year when we beat Phoenix, (Abdelkader) became our second-line center in the playoffs,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Now is that’s because it’s a grittier time of the year and he is more apt to play like that? I thought he played well in (Game One). I thought he was one of the best players in the last game, to tell you the truth, and we need the same thing for him.”

Babcock pointed out that the Predators’ third line factored in all three of Nashville’s goals on Wednesday, saying the Wings would need offense from their lower lines as well tonight

“You can talk about seeing-eye pucks all you want, but that’s what you do in the playoffs,” Babcock said. “You go to the net and you throw pucks and hope it hits something and goes in. When it goes in against you, you say it’s a seeing-eye puck, but when it goes in for you, you say it’s a great goal. Those are the facts. There is going to be some cancellation on your top six forwards, so you need depth.”

Then there’s Nyquist, the 22 year-old rookie who will make his playoff debut tonight. He collected seven points – one goal and six assists – in 18 regular-season games for Detroit, but he does have a scorer’s background. When Nyquist played for Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League this season, he set the team’s rookie scoring record when he collected his 58th point in his 56th game. Nyquist is likely to start the game as Abdelkader’s left wing, but could conceivably move up into a top-six role if needed.

“He’s a good player, real good with the puck,” Babcock said. “He’s calm. He gives you confidence as a coach because he’s a guy who’s potentially going to be a top-six forward, but he’s not a high-risk player. He’s good defensively. He can really spin (defensemen) and make plays. So we need him to be effective. He played very well with Datsyuk and (Johan) Franzen (during the season), so that’s another potential thing we can do.”

• The Red Wings’ “Excuse-o-Matic” has some new twists in store for Wings fans;

• The Wings’ playoff game-day blog encourages you to send well wishes Darren Helm’s way;

• MLive’s Ansar Khan took note of Babcock and Trotz’s comments about refereeing sans Bettman in the house…

“I don’t think that’s going to happen,’’ Babcock said after today’s optional morning skate. “I watched all the games last night, I never saw the same kind of thing happen. I would have to say that’s not likely to happen, so there will be more even strength.’‘

The Predators (8.4 minutes per game) Red Wings (8.5) were the two-least penalized teams in the NHL during the regular season. But in Game 1, referees Chris Rooney and Brad Meier combined to call 17 penalties, and there 14 power plays, disrupting five-on-five play.

Tonight’s referees are Brad Watson and Mike Leggo.

“I think it’ll probably settle down a little bit,’’ Trotz said. “It was one of those games no one had a clear answer on. It’ll probably settle down to what you saw in the other games.’‘

Babcock is hoping to get more ice time for Todd Bertuzzi, who played only 12:29 because he wasn’t used on the power play and doesn’t kill penalties.

“Even though we won the specialty teams battle (2-0), I didn’t think that was productive for our team because you didn’t get the people on the ice,’’ Babcock said. “If you’re 22 and you to sit on the bench for six minutes and then you go in, that’s one thing. If you’re 30 something and you sit on the bench (that’s another).’‘

• Khan filed a report about Nyquist as well, noting that he might crack the “top six” before the night is out after starting alongside Justin Abdelkader and Danny Cleary…

Nyquist might end the night on a different line, coach Mike Babcock said. The talented forward gives the team some options in Game 2 against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena (7:30, Fox Sports Detroit).

“He need him to be effective. He played very well with (Pavel) Datsyuk and (Johan) Franzen, so that’s another thing we can potentially do and put Abby, Bert (Todd Bertuzzi) and Cleary together, which we like to do,’’ Babcock said. “So we’ll just see how it goes.’‘

Nyquist is in the lineup in place of Darren Helm, who is out for the playoffs after having surgery to repair severed tendons in his right forearm.

“He’s real good with the puck, he’s calm, he gives you confidence as a coach because as a guy who’s potentially going to be a top-six forward he’s not a high-risk player, he’s good defensively,’’ Babcock said. “The other thing about him is he’s not in hang-on mode, he thinks he’s a good player, he’s confident, you can talk to him, he’s not nervous when gets out there, he doesn’t play nervous, he just plays, has the puck, can spin the D and make plays.’‘

Nyquist had a goal and six assists in 18 games during the regular season.

“Helm’s out and you can’t really replace a guy like him,’’ Nyquist said. “I just got to play my game, get in on the forecheck, get some speed and bring some energy.’‘

And DetroitRedWings.com’s game-day preview involves Nyquist speaking to Ken Kal:

Update #3: Sorry for the delay. Move video? I gots it. John Manasso and Terry Crisp talked about the game for Fox Sports Tennessee…

 

<a href='http://www.foxsportstennessee.com/pages/video?videoid=74e96c64-46e2-448c-b6f2-2a8ecc908769&amp;src=v5:embed::' target='_new' title='Game 2 Preview: Predators vs. Red Wings'>Video: Game 2 Preview: Predators vs. Red Wings</a>

And Hal Gill…

 

Pekka Rinne…

 

Gabriel Bourque…

 

Alexander Radulov…

 

And Predators coach Barry Trotz delivered some chatter…

 

The Associated Press’s Teresa Walker noted that Hal Gill won’t play for Nashville…

Predators defenceman Hal Gill says he will not play in Game 2 against Detroit after testing his lower body injury at Friday morning’s skate.

Gill has not played since blocking a Sheldon Souray shot late in a win over Dallas on April 5. But he skated briefly Friday morning before telling reporters that while he’s improving, he’s trying to test the lower body injury without pushing himself too hard.

“I’m going to give it some more time,” Gill said. “I don’t think at this point I can help the team. We have some good players that could play so I’ll let them go.”

Nashville coach Barry Trotz said he would warm up seven defencemen again before deciding on a replacement for Gill. Ryan Ellis could be a possibility to make his post-season debut to help a power play that went 0 of 6 in Nashville’s opening win.

And you can read more about Gill from NHL.com’s John Manasso, who offers a prospective two-team lineup...

RED WINGS
Johan Franzen - Pavel Datsyuk - Todd Bertuzzi
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Jiri Hudler
Gustav Nyquist - Justin Abdelkader - Danny Cleary
Drew Miller - Cory Emmerton - Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom - Jonathan Ericsson
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Kyle Quincey - Ian White

Jimmy Howard
Ty Conklin

PREDATORS
Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Andrei Kostitsyn - David Legwand - Alexander Radulov
Gabriel Bourque - Nick Spaling - Patric Hornqvist
Matt Halischuk - Paul Gaustad - Brandon Yip

Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Roman Josi - Kevin Klein
Francis Bouillon - Jack Hillen/Ryan Ellis

Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback

A note about the relationship between Valtteri Filppula and countryman Pekka Rinne...

“You have a little bit of a Finnish connection and any time you face a Finnish guy, usually say hi to him and what’s going on there,” Rinne said. “He’s a nice guy, but now it’s a different time of the season but he’s pretty laid-back guy and I’m usually that way, too.”

Filppula said that part of what makes the 6-foot-5 Rinne successful is that he’s an excellent athlete. Filppula said he played against Rinne some back home, but more now in the NHL.

“Now you get to see him more and obviously he’s become better as you would hope,” Filppula said of Rinne. “He’s always been good size and really fast and I think that’s the biggest thing as to why he’s really good. He’s really quick and obviously never gives up and makes a lot of good saves after you think it should be a sure goal. He comes back and makes those key saves. Definitely, it’s a fun goalie to follow and hope for all the best, but not so much in this series.”

Rinne was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy last year but he does not have a star personality. He’s fairly low-key off the ice. Filppula said that as a result Rinne does not exactly have rock-star status in Finland.

“Well, I think for the Finnish audience, it’s tougher since he didn’t play that much back home,” Filppula said. “He came over here pretty early but I think now people see him play more and I think he’s definitely one of the top Finnish players to play. He’s really earned that right and everyone knows he’s a great goalie now. I don’t think he acts that way, which is a good thing.”

And well, we’ll get back to Manasso in a minute, because Rinne told NashvillePredators.com’s Doug Brumley that he’s prepared to be ran tonight…

The Predators are already quite familiar with their Central Division rival, but goaltender Pekka Rinne said Friday that a team learns a lot about an opponent over the course of a series. His takeaway from Game 1?

“They are never out of the game,” Rinne said. “You have to respect that team but not too much. You have to be aware of the situation at all times. Really strong team in the beginning of periods, at the end of the periods. Lot of experience. All those things. You can’t let down at any time, at any point of the game. You have to be aware when their top guys are on the ice because they are obviously really strong individuals who can change the momentum of the game in seconds.”

Immediately following Game 1 and again Friday morning, Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock claimed that his team let Rinne off the hook Wednesday by not crashing the net enough. Trotz, on the other hand, felt the Wings interfered too much in the goal crease—enough to disallow any potential goals that might have been scored as a result. For his part, Rinne knows he’ll see more of the same in Game 2.

“You expect you’re going to have bodies in front of you and you’re going to have people kind of interfering with you a little bit,” Rinne said. “I think you try to mentally prepare for it. Don’t get rattled by it. Just do your best finding the puck in whatever situation it is. That’s the biggest thing: Just try to find a hole where you can see the puck and be able to do your job.”

The Tennessean’s John Glennon took note of the fact that Alexander Radulov hopes to crank it up tonight…

Preds forward Alexander Radulov spent the last few weeks of the regular season adjusting to smaller North American rinks, but the playoffs represent yet another adjustment. Because of the increased attention to defense, it can make the ice even more congested and five-on-five opportunities can become even more rare.

“It’s like a war for every meter out there on the ice,” Radulov said. “That’s the way it’s supposed to be in the playoffs. It’s all about who is going to work.”

Radulov saw only 15:23 ice time on Wednesday, in part because the Predators were killing so many penalties. But he still noticed the different level of intensity in his first NHL playoff game since 2008.

“It was a little different than the regular season because it’s playoff time and everybody just goes like 200 percent,” Radulov said. “It was harder, but it’s interesting.”

And Josh Cooper’s wondering if the Predators will dress Ryan Ellis instead of Jack Hillen tonight:

When the Predators put Jack Hillen in their lineup on defense in place of Hal Gill for Game 1, they didn’t quite expect 14 total power plays for both teams. Nor did they think they wouldn’t score on their six times with the man-advantage. Because of all the special teams play, Hillen was on the ice for just 8:20. With Hal Gill out again tonight, and after Nashville’s power play misfired last game, the Predators coach staff may put Ryan Ellis into the lineup.

Though Ellis is a rookie and is considered a higher risk player than Hillen, he’s a proven power play quarterback and has more experience at the point than Sergei Kostitsyn, who took that position on Nashville’s second PP unit last game.

“If I had a crystal ball and said, ‘hey we’re going to have six power plays,’ I would say, ‘OK let’s go with Ellis,” Coach Barry Trotz said. “But you had the two least penalized teams come up with 14 power plays, very unpredictable. How lucky are you son? You picking red or black type of thing.”

On the Wings’ side of things, does it come as any surprise that the team’s announced that Sunday’s game is sold out?

Otherwise, NHL.com—many thanks to RedWingsFeed—posted a clip of Gustav Nyquist speaking to the media after the morning skate…

As well as a game preview from Dave Strader:

 

Wings coach Mike Babcock and Mr. No Neck told MLive’s Ansar Khan that they don’t believe we’ll see a Bettman-in-attendance bushel of penalties tonight…

“I don’t think that’s going to happen,’’ Babcock said after today’s optional morning skate. “I watched all the games last night, I never saw the same kind of thing happen. I would have to say that’s not likely to happen, so there will be more even strength.’‘

The Predators (8.4 minutes per game) Red Wings (8.5) were the two-least penalized teams in the NHL during the regular season. But in Game 1, referees Chris Rooney and Brad Meier combined to call 17 penalties, and there 14 power plays, disrupting five-on-five play.

Tonight’s referees are Brad Watson and Mike Leggo.

“I think it’ll probably settle down a little bit,’’ Trotz said. “It was one of those games no one had a clear answer on. It’ll probably settle down to what you saw in the other games.’‘

Babcock is hoping to get more ice time for Todd Bertuzzi, who played only 12:29 because he wasn’t used on the power play and doesn’t kill penalties.

“Even though we won the specialty teams battle (2-0), I didn’t think that was productive for our team because you didn’t get the people on the ice,’’ Babcock said. “If you’re 22 and you to sit on the bench for six minutes and then you go in, that’s one thing. If you’re 30 something and you sit on the bench (that’s another).’‘

And the Free Press’s Helene St. James also took note of their comments, too (no comment about this):

I watched all the games in the league last night,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I never saw the same kind of thing happen. So I would have to say that’s not likely to happen, so there’ll be more even strength.

“Even though we won the specialty teams battle last game, in the end, I didn’t think that was productive for our team. You didn’t get the people on the ice. If you’re 22, and you’re a young guy, and you’ve got to sit on the bench for six minutes, that’s one thing. When you’re 30-some, and you sit on the bench ... .”

One of the Wings’ modus operandi is to roll four lines, to not tax their top guys. But that’s hard to do when there’s so little five-on-five play. The Wings have had to make one alteration to their group already, of course, after losing forward Darren Helm in Game 1 to a season-ending forearm injury. Gustav Nyquist gets to make his NHL playoff debut tonight[.]”

Mostly, the Wings are obviously hoping that Gustav Nyquist will deliver some speed and offensive savvy tonight, as the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan noted...

The Wings held a sparsely attended morning skate Friday, with most players choosing to get ready with workouts off ice.

Coach Mike Babcock said the only change in the lineup from Game 1 was the previously announced move of Gustav Nyquist replacing Darren Helm (lacerated forearm), who was injured in Game 1.

“I’m sure they’ll talk to me a little bit but you can’t think about it too much,” said Nyquist of his NHL playoff debut. “Just another game but a little more important, obviously. I just have to go out there and play my game and do my best.”

Nyquist has impressed Babcock from the first time during the exhibition season.

“He’s real good with the puck and he’s calm, he gives you confidence as a coach,” Babcock said. “He’s not a high risk player. He’s not in hang-on mode. He thinks he’s a good player, he’s confident and he doesn’t play nervous. He just plays.”

And they’re also hoping that Justin Abdelkader and Danny Cleary continue to play inspired hockey while trying to fill Darren Helm’s skates by committee. NHL.com’s Manasso notes that Cleary’s working on painkillers...

Without giving away too much, Cleary said Friday that improved medication is helping him in the playoffs. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said he thought that Cleary was one of the team’s better forwards in Detroit’s 3-2 loss in Game 1 and that Cleary played a “heavy” game and not a “light” game on the periphery, as he was forced to do during the regular season when the knee bothered him.

Cleary played 15:49 and posted an even rating. Cleary was one of only four Red Wings not to be a minus in Game 1 and one of those four was center Darren Helm, who endured a playoff-ending laceration to his forearm and played only 3:06.

“How do I phrase this the right way? The medicine helped a lot,” Cleary said of Game 1. “It’s a little different in the playoffs. … The dose is a little better. It allowed to me to be able not to feel [the pain], so I felt like normal. It’s good.

“Let’s put it this way, medicine certainly helped—like a lot. The type that you take in the playoffs is a lot different. It was a huge difference. I felt like normal. I could skate.”

Cleary normally kills penalties with Helm so he said he did not think he would see more time on the penalty kill. But he said Helm’s loss was a blow to the team. Helm underwent surgery Wednesday.

“His loss is felt for sure,” Cleary said.

He said he had spoken to Helm and was asked about Helm’s spirits.

“How would you be, you know?” he said. “He’s pretty down, but at least he’s—in a way—healthy. You know, there’s no nerve damage, so that was a huge thing but his loss is going to be felt, huge, huge loss.”

ESPN’s Craig Custance took note of Cleary’s comments as well...

Detroit’s depth forwards were outproduced by Nashville’s bottom six in Game 1 of their first-round series, with Paul Gaustad and Gabriel Bourque scoring all three of the Predators goals. The Red Wings are adding the skilled Gustav Nyquist into the lineup in place of Darren Helm, but the player who could make the biggest impact on that Detroit third line is Dan Cleary. He’s been slowed all season with a knee injury but an upped dosage in pain killers during the playoffs is helping his skating.

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock called Cleary one of Detroit’s best forwards in Game 1 and sees signs that Cleary’s skating has returned now that the knee is less of an issue.

“Dan Cleary is a great skater who knows how to play. When you show team clips, Dan Cleary is usually in them all the time. This year he hasn’t been in them because he can’t skate,” Babcock said. “They’ve done a lot for him here to help him. He seems to be feeling better.”

When asked if it was playoff adrenaline providing the boost, Cleary credited something else.

“How do I phrase this? The medicine helped a lot,” he said. “It’s a little different in the playoffs than the regular season. It’s not medically fit to take this during the season. That’s why the playoffs, the dose is a little better. It allowed me not to be able to feel it. I felt normal. It’s good.”

And DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose offers a wee bit more about Cleary’s play:

“He said he felt good,” Babcock said. “Ideally, they’ve (doctors) done a lot for him here to help him and he seems to be feeling better. And if he’s feeling better he’s a better player because he has to get there, he has to skate, that’s his game. If he skates he can be physical. When you’re playing on one leg, you play light and he normally plays very heavy for his 210 pounds. When you play light you’re not very effective.”

The Wings certainly need Cleary to continue being effective on the penalty kill, especially now that his linemate, center Darren Helm (lacerated forearm) is out for the remainder of the playoffs.

“In order for us to win and move on everybody has to contribute, help out,” Cleary said. “So no better time than now to get some timely goals and play well defensively and that’s how it has always worked, the teams that advance and win series always got good depth.”

Before the start of the Western Conference quarterfinal series Cleary had indicated that he felt like he was at 50 percent, which raised eyebrows with Babcock.

“Yeah we talked just about, ‘Hey, let’s be honest with each other,’ ” Cleary said. “But I felt like 100 percent last game, so that was huge.”

Cleary will skate tonight on a line with center Justin Abdelkader and forward Gustav Nyquist, who is making his Stanley Cup playoffs debut. The hope, Cleary said, is that his line can create more inside chances to solve Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne.

“In the playoffs you need to have pressure on the goaltender to do things that he’s not normally used to doing,” Cleary said. “Pekka Rinne is a great goaltender, so we have to try to get some traffic on him, force him to make saves or kick out rebounds that he wouldn’t normally do and get some goals in and around the goal area.”

In the miscellaneous news department, Michigan Hockey Now re-posted an article by Dave Waddell in which Drew Miller and Justin Abdelkader’s statuses as contributing Michiganders is discussed, Fox Sports Detroit’s Dave Dye lamented the lack of a Weber suspension, and whoever is manning the Red Wings’ playoff blog offered the following keys to tonight’s game:

Carry it over: The Wings were outshot 13-5 in the first period of Game 1, taking four penalties in the process. The final 40 minutes were much different, as Detroit carried much of the play, including a 32-13 shots edge.

“We’re just going to come out and continue with the same effort we had in the last two periods,” said Brad Stuart following that game. “I think we’ll be all right. That’s the way these series tend to be.”

Stay out of the box: The Red Wings and Predators were the least penalized teams in the National Hockey League in 2011-12, which is what made Game 1 so frustrating to watch at times.

“The game was lacking flow,” said Kyle Quincey. “It’s too bad, it usually shouldn’t.”

Detroit killed off six penalties and scored a pair of power play goals, but that didn’t provide comfort to coach Mike Babcock.

“Even though we won the specialty teams battle last game, for me, I didn’t think that was productive for our team because we didn’t get our people on the ice.”

Case in point, Henrik Zetterberg played 25:48 in Game 1, while Todd Bertuzzi played just 12:29. More time playing five-on-five hockey will mean more time for the Wings depth across all four lines to shine.

Net-front presence on Rinne: Mike Babcock made an interesting point regarding Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne yesterday. You rarely beat him on the first shot, so your best chance is going to be on second opportunities. He talked more about Rinne’s work earlier this morning.

“I didn’t think we were hard enough on their goaltender,” Babcock said his team in Game 1. “I think their goaltender made a couple of huge saves. They got one tough break where we shot the puck and it came off of him, went behind the net and hit the referee, came right back out front but he still managed to make the save. To me I don’t think he can be surprised by great saves. I think you’ve got to get enough of them there to get second chances.”

 

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

MOWingsfan19's avatar

Watson tonight… yAY.

Posted by MOWingsfan19 from I really like our team on 04/13/12 at 03:49 PM ET

Avatar

Nyquist in is a good thing. Helm out is very bad. I’d rather seen Nyquist relieve Emmerton or Cleary coming into this series, but Cleary all of a sudden had some wheels and played pretty good. Musta been a awesome shot he received.

The Kostitsyn/Weber thing irks me. There joking about slamming someone’s head into the glass. C’mon.  I never want to see someone get hurt, but I wouldn’t mind seeing and erant puck break his jaw. Think the movie The Mighty Ducks when the Hawks take out Adam Banks.

Posted by T on 04/13/12 at 04:04 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I fully subscribe to the concept of upper mandibular dislocation as a means of retribution/karmic payback, but I don’t want to see anyone on the Wings pop Weber in a method which would harm their own team. But I’m just a grudge-holder…

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 04/13/12 at 04:17 PM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

20-48-96

48…. Serenity Now! Serenity Now!

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 04/13/12 at 04:24 PM ET

Avatar

Good to see that Weber took his punishment to heart. Nice job, Shanny.

Posted by Steve. from San Francisco on 04/13/12 at 05:33 PM ET

Avatar

Photo Caption:

The Nashville Predators receive the message Shanahan sent yesterday with the $2500 fine and practice some moves for their next match.

Posted by loojay on 04/13/12 at 05:47 PM ET

Chris in Hockey Hell's avatar

upper mandibular dislocation as a means of retribution/karmic payback

Um, this?

Posted by Chris in Hockey Hell from Ann Arbor, MI but LIVING in Columbia, TN on 04/13/12 at 06:22 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

George, was at school all day so just getting caught up with all your great stuff.

Forgive me for skipping the Goon Weber stuff.  I’m over it. 

LET’S GO RED WINGS !!!!!

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 04/13/12 at 07:07 PM ET

Avatar

Nice blog, big Preds fan but I can only hope that picture was taken out of context and wasnt’ what it appears to be. It’s horrible what happened to Helm too… Still should be a good game tonight though!

Posted by Zack from Nashville on 04/13/12 at 07:23 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

I hope that everyone in that sold out crowd at the Joe on Sunday screams, “Let’s Go Red Wings,” non-stop throughout the entire game, punctuated only by the loudest booing ever heard whenever Goon Weber is on the ice.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 04/13/12 at 08:07 PM ET

Add a Comment

Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.

Add your own avatar by joining Kukla's Korner, or logging in and uploading one in your member control panel.

Captchas bug you? Join KK or log in and you won't have to bother.

Smileys

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Feed

Most Recent Blog Posts

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.