The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/26/11 at 04:37 PM ET
Updated 6x at 3:19: Ted Kulfan confirms that Ken Holland has shot down the Bogosian trade rumor: Barring any unforeseen baby news, the Detroit Red Wings should receive two additions to the lineup when they face off against the Buffalo Sabres tonight at 7 PM EST (FSD/MSG-B/WXYT). Mike Modano will return tonight, and the Detroit News’s Eric Lacy
says that Valtteri Filppula’s ready to go as well, though Wings coach Mike Babcock doesn’t expect either player to jump into the lineup and dominate play:
“It’s the wrestling in the corners that’s gets you exhausted, it’s the stopping on defense when the legs don’t want to stop,” Babcock said. “It’s all those little things that make it hard for you. The NHL is fast, so it can be a struggle.”
Filppula and Modano are expected to form a line with Tomas Holmstrom. Modano told reporters at the morning skate he feels no pain, can handle faceoffs, and expects to get time on power plays.
“It’s frustrating and it took a long time, but I’m ready,” he said. “(Team doctors and I) are really pleased with how the healing went.
“You just hope you’re mentally, as well as physically, ready to go.“Filppula has been sidelined since Feb. 7 with a knee injury and Modano has missed 41 games since his right wrist was sliced open by a skate blade of Columbus’ R.J. Umberger.
MLive’s Ansar Khan confirms as well...
“We got net presence there, we got a guy who can shoot it and a guy who can transport it. Hopefully, it’ll be a good line,’’ coach Mike Babcock said after an optional morning skate. “We think we’re a better team with those guys in. Anytime you’ve been out for a while sometimes you’re not as smooth as you’d like to be and sometimes you’re good right off the top and then you go in the tank for a couple of weeks. But we’re confident he’s a real good player and he can help us.’‘
Modano will replace Brian Rafalski at the point on the first power-play unit. Rafalski (back spasms) didn’t make the trip but will join the team on its flight, when it returns to Detroit after the game, on the way to Los Angeles.
Darren Helm, who didn’t practice Friday due to a sore foot, is good to go.
Babcock said he would decide later today who he will scratch, as they have one extra healthy forward.
Khan confirms that the Wings’ lineup will stay the same otherwise (i.e. Cleary-Datsyuk-Hudler, Franzen-Zetterberg-Bertuzzi and the Helm-Miller pairing are the Wings’ other forward lines, and on defense, it’s Lidstrom-Stuart, Kronwall-Ericsson and Salei-Kindl, with MacDonald in the net), and here’s his prospective Sabres lineup:
Thomas Vanek-Tim Connolly-Jason Pominville
Tyler Ennis-Jochen Hecht-Drew Stafford
Nathan Gerbe-Paul Gaustad-Patrick Kaleta
Rob Niedermayer-Cody McCormick-Mike Grier
Chris Butler-Tyler Myers
Jordan Leopold-Steve Montador
Shaone Morrison-Mike Weber
Ryan Miller (starting)
The Windsor Star’s Bob Duff, however, stole the show this morning by not only posting a very definitive Chris Osgood update, saying that Osgood’s firmed up his return date, expecting to return to the game on March 9th against LA…
“I feel better now,” Osgood said. “At first, I wasn’t happy to do it (the surgery), but now I’m happy that I did do it. I feel a lot better. I’ll be back, it’s just a matter of when. I’m pretty fired up about it.”
Osgood has been taking shots for over a week now and has noticed steady improvement with each passing day. “There’s really was no pain at all,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting confident enough to move so I can stretch my let to that one side.’”
He admitted that at first, there were doubts within his mind that hockey might be over for him this season. “A little bit, because I thought I was just going to get my hernia done and it was two other things,” Osgood said. “It definitely was in the back of my mind that I wasn’t going to come back this year, just because there was so many issues I had. But now that everything has been done I feel a lot stronger, a lot better.
As to the procedure he underwent, Osgood admits he’s still pretty ignorant on the subject. “I don’t know the terminology, it was mostly my groin,” he said. “A sports hernia and something involving the scraping of the bone that I can’t quite explain.”
Most of all, Osgood is tired of being the butt of jokes within the Detroit dressing room, especially after the recent ceremony prior to a game recognizing his 400th NHL victory. “I’ve been out long enough,” Osgood said. “Everybody jokes around about the ceremonies like I was retiring, but that wasn’t the case. I’ll be fired up to be back on the ice playing again.”
Two sources confirm #redwings have kicked tires regarding #thrashers Zach Bogosian, but say deal unlikely to happen. #NHL
#thrashers asking price for Bogosian - Hudler, Ericsson or Kindl and high draft pick - too big a price for #redwings to pay at this point.
If #redwings were going to pull trigger on Bogosian deal, you’d think they’d have grabbed a depth D off waivers today, but they didn’t.
If #redwings did land Bogosian, teamed with Brendan Smith, they’d be much better situated for eventual life after Lidstrom. #NHL
@mpetrella I’ll be a little bit surprised if #redwings resign Ericsson. He’ll be offered big bucks by someone.
@mpetrella Ericsson’s never been the same player since he had his appendix out during 08 playoffs. Puzzling.
@BrandonPeleshok Don’t think they want to be in position to have to rely on Meech or Janik as playoff regularss, not when Cup opp. is there.
I’m not surprised about the Wings kicking the Bogosian tires as Ken Holland literally leaves no stone unturned—I’m sure he knows the asking price of every attractive defenseman, forward and goaltender—but the Wings don’t want to lose a possible Jiri Fisher-minus-the-physical-side-in-the-making in Kindl—and as Duff says, even if the Wings were to add Bogosian, they’d have to add another defenseman to the mix because you don’t take somebody like Ericsson off the roster without replacing him with someone who can play big NHL minutes instead of calling up someone from the Griffins…
Though at this point, I don’t think any of us are all that stunned at Duff’s suggestion that the Wings won’t re-sign Ericsson barring a miraculous turnaround. With Kindl starting to mature, Salei providing an affordable #6 defenseman’s worth of contributions and Smith in the pipeline, Ericsson’s channeled his inner Andreas Lilja far too regularly, and the Wings have a bigger free agent priority in terms of re-signing Jimmy Howard. Howard will probably take up the Wings’ available cap space this summer.
Update: Okay, here’s the rationale behind my statement: If the Wings were to subtract a top-four defenseman, and for better or for worse, that’s the role Ericsson plays on the team right now, they can’t go into the playoffs assuming that Bogosian will just be able to hop in alongside Rafalski and move along.
The Wings’ seven-man defensive corps (in order of super-vs-not-so-super: Lidstrom, Rafalski, Kronwall, Stuart, Salei, Kindl, Ericsson) and defensive depth (the Wings can only call up Janik and Smith easily, but Meech has to be placed on re-entry waivers, so you never know what will happen there) is decently deep for a long playoff run, but at this point in the season, you want your team to be overbuilt to the point that you’ve got six defensemen who are NHL veterans on your roster, first and foremost, even before a Kindl or a Bogosian.
We’ve all seen what happens when the Wings lose two or three of their top four defensemen (see: Kronwall and Schneider in 07), so the blueline has to be overbuilt to the point of having eight players who should be NHL regulars on another team…
And in terms of forwards, while Duff doesn’t say this, if the Wings subtracted Hudler, they’d have to add someone with 20-goal potential, and adding Bogosian ($3.375 million cap hit) would gobble up any cap space that they could possibly employ to compensate for the loss of a top-six forward (which Hudler is, for better or worse). Losing Hudler would leave the Wings with only one extra forward, and again, in April and May, you want to have at least fourteen players who should be NHL regulars, if not 15, should you lose two or three of your best players due to injuries. I’m not sure if the Wings would be comfortable going into the playoffs with Mursak, Emmerton and Tatar having to play regular shifts should the team sustain heavy losses.
Shifting gears, big time…
The Buffalo Sabres have had a jump in their step the past two games, and it is no coincidence that the pair of efforts has resulted in victories. The team has a tough test tonight in the Detroit Red Wings, who come to HSBC Arena well rested from an overnight stay in Buffalo.
The Sabres had an optional skate at the Arena on Saturday morning with just a handful of players taking part. Chris Butler, Drew Stafford, Nathan Gerbe and Shaone Morrisonn were a few working on their skills while other players took part in off-ice work. Head coach Lindy Ruff would not divulge his starting goaltender for tonight, but hinted that Ryan Miller will be back in net.
Patrick Kaleta has been a big reason why the energy has picked up at the downtown arena. The Angola-native appears to have found a nice balance between delivering the big hit and not taking a penalty in the process. Kaleta doled out 7 of Buffalo’s 24 hits in their win over Ottawa last night. By comparison, the Senators only registered 9 hits in the 4-2 loss.
The forward says the new ownership events of the week have been one reason for the renewed energy saying, “the fans are excited, and the players are excited and the coaching staff is excited, so, we’re just gonna keep continuing it and that’s a big part of it.”
Kaleta and his teammates aren’t taking any game for granted from this point out, and he believes that two points, no matter the opponent, are very important as we turn the page toward March: “we also know that the season is winding down and we’ve gotta make a push here.” That includes taking the necessary precautions to keep in game shape, according to Kaleta.
As did the Buffalo News’s Mike Harrington:
You can do whatever you want with numbers but it’s hard to argue the Sabres’ consistency in winning the last two games: Four goals, 39 shots on goal and 24 hits in each has produced wins over Atlanta and Ottawa.
“The energy in our game is better again,” coach Lindy Ruff said today as most of the Sabres took the morning off to prepare for tonight’s game against Detroit. “We came out of that five games in eight
nights and there was not a lot of energy. We want to push the tempo but if you’re not getting there, you can’t. Our chances were way down, our opportunities were way down. Our last two games, the energy in our game is that much better.”
One of the Sabres’ best players the last two games has been Patrick Kaleta, who had season-high totals of six shots on goal and seven hits Friday night. He has 11 hits and 10 shots the last two games and has shown discipline in his play, taking the hit when it’s available rather than running all over the ice nilly-willy.
“I’ve talked to Lindy before and sometimes I get too rambunctious and a little bit too enthusiastic,” Kaleta said. “But I felt these past two games have been my best two games of the season with moving my feet and getting the puck to the net, being a threat. When the hit’s there I’ve got to take it and that’s what we’ve been working on.”
That’s a conversation I’ve had with him. There’s times where [a big hit] is available and there’s times where you have to be sound position player, be a good player. Their line [Kaleta-Paul Gaustad-Nathan Gerbe] really played well. ... Offensively, the way they controlled play, they garnered puck possession and that line did a nice job for us.”
Update #2: Per Paul and Herm, Pierre LeBrun suggested that Duff’s pulling a “Wings want to sign Carl Hagelin despite the fact that he’s a Rangers prospect who the Rangers will sign” level of wishful thinking-by-posting-a-rumor-mongering:
Regarding all the Detroit/Bogosian chatter, Ken Holland says via text that there’s ZERO truth to it; hasn’t spoken once to Atl about him
Update #3: Per DetroitRedWings.com’s Dave Burke, before the Wings left for their road trip, they talked at length about their desire to steady the ship on the road tonight:
“I think the big difference is we keep the game pretty simple. It’s not pretty, but we give ourselves the best chance to win,” defenseman Brad Stuart said. “For whatever reason we don’t seem to want to do that as home as much, we get on the road and we keep it simple.”
Maybe a five game road trip, which the Wings begin in Buffalo on Saturday, is what they need?
“Yeah maybe, we’ve definitely been better on the road,” Stuart said. “We can’t assume that it’s going to come easy for us, we just have to continue to keep the game simple.”
Stuart’s also completely fine with fans booing at the Joe when the Wings don’t perform up to their own standards…
“There’s nothing wrong with that, we expect the best of ourselves,” he said. “The fans are the same, when we come out with sub-par efforts at home you know, what do you expect? They have a right to be a little bit upset with us. It’s to be expected, we should be better and we know we have to be better. I’m sure we will be when we get back from this road trip.”
Stuart also tells Burke that he’s looking forward to seeing his family next week. I’ve never understood why Stuart’s wife insists on staying in San Jose with their two children two years into Stuart’s tenure with the Wings, but that’s their family’s decision…
And Mike Modano spoke to both Burke…
“Yeah I’m excited, basically I’ve had two summer breaks in one year so it’s a long time coming, but I’m excited to get started and get the first couple of weeks out of the way and get back up to speed,” Modano said. “Game speed and conditioning and tempo will be the biggest thing to get used to. Coming in at the tail-end when everybody is fighting for playoff spots is pretty intense. I’ll just have to get my thoughts and speed and legs up to speed with these guys, play the game and try not to do too much, just keep it simple.”
And MLive’s Ansar Khan about his return, with Danny Cleary offering helpful advice about Modano’s attempts to get back into the swing of things:
“I told him it’s going to take you 10-11 games no matter what you do to get everything back to where he was in Game 20, when he was flying, making plays,” Cleary said. “The first thing is your legs, then it’s your timing, then it’s your hands, then it’s your shot, your position.But he’s going to be a huge help for us. He’s still got it. He can shoot, pass, skate, create plays.”
Modano had two goals, six assists and a minus-3 rating in 20 games. After a slow start, he was playing better before the injury. He’ll have a maximum of 21 games before the playoffs.
“It’s more than plenty,” Modano said. “I’m sure there’s going to be some moments where I’m sucking some wind and hurting a little bit. It’s just the nature of the beast. Just can’t get too discouraged or frustrated too fast. It’s going to be the same as coming into the start of the season where you just have to keep pushing, show up day in and day out and work through it, get your game legs under you, get up to speed and tempo with everyone else.”
Babcock said Modano and Filppula will provide speed and energy for a team coming off two losses, following a season-long five-game winning streak.
“It’s apparent the last two (games) we haven’t had the kind of energy we want,” Babcock said. “It would be nice to get everyone on deck and get playing the way we’re capable of playing and do it for a period of time that you’re comfortable.”
Update #3: I was wondering whether Modano would be wearing longer-cuff gloves to protect his wrist, but the Free Press’s George Sipple reports that Modano will be wearing something made out of Lexan, the same kind of plastic that’s used in the danglers that Jimmy Howard and Chris Osgood wear to protect their chins from pucks:
Modano said he’ll be available for face-offs. “That was kind of the last thing we worried about,” Modano said. “Last couple days it felt fine doing that.”
Modano will be wearing a wrist guard that was crafted by Jeremy Murray, who also made the custom clear face mask worn by Richard Hamilton of the Pistons. Modano said it was tough coming up with something that he could get comfortable wearing and tried “three or four different gadgets” over the past week.
“We had a seat belt strap, but it didn’t work,” Modano said. “I always felt the bumper on the back would be the best, once we strapped it down and held it into place.”
One day after defeating a youthful Ottawa team that had several AHL call-ups on its roster, the Sabres will host one of the most experienced teams in the league as the Detroit Red Wings pay a visit to HSBC Arena for the only time this season.
Lindy Ruff, who won a gold medal for Canada while coaching with Detroit’s Mike Babcock at the 2010 Olympics, acknowledged that it’s always a big game when Detroit is in the building.
“They’ve got a lot of veteran players that are proven good players that know how to play, they know what it takes this time of year. For us, we know that if we give them opportunities, they can take advantage of it. They’re a team that’s as good as any team in the league. I think every team realizes that when you’re playing the Red Wings, you’re playing one of the teams that consistently has been one of the best teams in the league.”
Update #5: The Sporing News’s Craig Custance thinks that the Wings will try to pick Ty Conklin off the waiver wire, but cap issues and the fact that another team will probably claim Conklin first make that unlikely;
Also of Wings-related note:
• Griffins defenseman Greg Amadio had his long hair shorn off for Locks of Love on Friday night;
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.