Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Sabres wrap-up: Wings add a pleasant twist to a familiar script

Updated with Khan talking to Holland at 8:57, and other goodies at 9:37: Whether it’s at home or on the road, the Red Wings and a 2-0 first-period deficit have become inseparable, to the point that it’s almost expected that, on any given night, the 2-0 deficit will either become the cause of yet another disappointing loss or the pleasantly surprising foundation of yet another almost miraculous comeback, with either result having the same likelihood of occurring. Thankfully for the Wings, who are en route from Lincoln, NB to Los Angeles, CA as I write this, a last—minute-of-the-third-period goal allowed the Drew Miller-less Wings to rally and defeat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 in a shootout.

Joey MacDonald played perhaps his best game during his second stint with the Wings, stopping 13 of the 15 shots he faced in the first period, 30 shots overall and 2 Sabres shooters, and Pavel Datsyuk’s power PPG in the 2nd and Jiri Hudler’s goal with 57.2 seconds left set up a shootout in which Datsyuk and Hudler scored on nearly the same move.

Thanks to their first win in three games, the Wings now head out West to play the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks and Phoenix Coyotes standing eight, thirteen, four and seven points, respectively,, above this week’s Western Conference foes. The Sabres, who remain in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, two points behind the Carolina Hurricanes, and despite the fact that they played strongly without the services of Jordan Leopold (“upper body injury”), they took no moral victory out of getting a point and finishing a 6-game home stand at 2-3-and-1, as Ryan Miller told the Buffalo News’s John Vogl:

“At this point, we have to be really disappointed in efforts like that because if you don’t get two points you’re not gaining much ground,” goaltender Ryan Miller said. “We should be really, really disappointed in that.”

The Sabres felt that they very literally gave the game away, as Andrej Sekera (who registered a goal and an assist while substituting for Leopold) told Vogl (who noted that the Sabres lost ground to the Hurricanes because they lost 4-3 to Montreal in a shootout):

“They end up scoring, and all the game’s work comes down to that last play, and we give it away,” right wing Patrick Kaleta said. “We’re in the lead, and we need to defend that. We need to be better. Points are valuable, any point you can get, but when we have a one-goal lead in the last minute of play, it’s my responsibility, my line’s responsibility to defend that and do our job for the team.”

Buffalo, not Detroit, looked like the team ranked third overall in the NHL. The Sabres outskated and outshot the Red Wings early, controlling possession time and the flow of the game. It translated to the scoreboard. The Sabres scored twice in a span of 2:04 midway through the first. Andrej Sekera, in the lineup after a three-game benching only because defenseman Jordan Leopold was out with an upper-body injury, keyed both goals. He scored the first on a backhand with 7:05 left and then set up Mike Grier’s tap-in.
The Red Wings cut the Sabres’ lead in half midway through the second period. Defenseman Tyler Myers blocked Datsyuk’s shot at the top of the circles. Miller leaned to his right to look around traffic in an attempt to find the deflection. Datsyuk found it first and fired home with 9:17 gone.Two octopi crashed to the ice from the stands, a tradition of Detroit fans. The Sabres crashed in the third, with the Red Wings taking 16 shots and scoring in the final minute. It was the sixth time the Sabres failed to win while holding a two-goal lead.

“We haven’t kept pushing when we’ve needed to,” said Miller, who made 35 saves. “It comes down to puck possession and zone. We played too much in our zone in the second and third periods, and that’s hard to do.”

The Wings fans,’ “Let’s go Red Wings” chants were nearly as loud as the, “Let’s go Sabres” ones, and in the shootout, Joey MacDonald, who tends to bite on dekes, stood his ground, stifling Drew Stafford and then the no-longer-perfect Thomas Vanek, as BuffaloSabres.com’s Rob Crean notes in his “Notes and Quotes”:

“I thought as the game went on they got stronger and they took over in the game. I thought we came out great, we just didn’t skate as well in the third. I thought they really came hard. We didn’t make enough plays.” Head Coach Lindy Ruff

• The shootout loss was the first of the season for the Sabres, dropping their shootout record to 5-1.

• Thomas Vanek, who had been a perfect 5-for-5 in shootout attempts this year, but was stopped for the first time all season by McDonald.
• After racking up a game-high seven hits Friday against Ottawa, Patrick Kaleta was credited for six hits against Detroit, all of which came in the first period.

•  Detroit made its first appearance in Buffalo since Oct. 13, 2009.

WGR 550’s Paul Hamilton weighed in via a sans-quotes recap/period-by-period commentary, but the Associated Press’s recap concludes the Sabres’ side of the story on a first-person basis…

“I think we sort of hit a wall at a certain point,” said Miller, who went 2-3-1 despite a 1.83 goals against average with a .945 save percentage in the Sabres’ six-game homestand. “We had our chances to win but we kept the door open. We played too much in our zone in the second and third periods.”

Before allowing us to transition to the Wings’ perspective:

Jiri Hudler saw the backhander work for Pavel Datsyuk so he gave it a try. He really liked the result.

Hudler followed Datsyuk’s goal in the shootout with one of his own after scoring the tying goal with 58 seconds left in the third period, and the Detroit Red Wings beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 Saturday night for their fifth straight road win. Datsyuk also scored in regulation as the Red Wings overcame a 2-0, first-period deficit.

“I told Pavel he did a great job on the move on the first one,” Hudler said. “Then I took his idea. I didn’t think (Miller) was going to guess we’d do the same move.”

Datsyuk and Hudler both went to the right side and used backhanded shots to beat Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller in the shootout. Detroit backup Joey MacDonald, who stopped 30 shots, made shootout saves on Drew Stafford and Thomas Vanek.

Datsyuk deked Miller down and fired a shot over his glove, and after Joey MacDonald stifled Thomas Vanek for the first time in the shootout this season, Hudler kicked out his left leg, went to his backhand and fired the puck off the crossbar. Thankfully, it bounced right back down onto Miller’s back, and before Miller could swat his glove at the puck, it ricocheted into the net. Game over, Wings win.

The Wings weren’t exactly thrilled with the manner by which they earned two points, as coach Mike Babcock told the Free Press’s George Sipple...

“We didn’t play as well as we wanted at the start—same as the last few games,” said Wings coach Mike Babcock. “If you compete at a real high level, you have a chance to be successful. If you don’t, you don’t. I thought Buffalo was all over us. We were good in the first 5 minutes. They were quicker than us in the first 15.

“It took awhile to get in, and I thought (Ryan) Miller was outstanding for them tonight and made some huge saves. We hit a couple posts on the power play in the second, but we were able to dig our way back.”

But Babcock also told Sipple that he’d let the team take its two points and run the 2,723 statute mile gauntlet to Los Angeles with ‘em:

“I don’t care where you are, home or on the road, a win makes you feel better,” Babcock said. “The flight’s half as long.”

The Wings did come on, almost predictably, in the second period, first out-shooting the Sabres 12-7 and then 16-7 in the 3rd period, slowing the game down before ramping the pace back up as they established possession and control of the puck. In all honesty, I thought that the Sabres out-Winged the Wings in the first period and for the first half of the second, but once a fantastic set of passes from Henrik Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidstrom set Pavel Datsyuk up for a power play goal at the 10:49 mark of the 2nd, the Wings woke up and began to slowly but surely out-Wing their opponents…

“I shoot and don’t watch,” Datsyuk said. “Tommy [Holmstrom] have good job on the screen.”

Datsyuk had a couple of chances in the third period on Miller, but was able to get another one by him in the shoot-out, beating Miller high on a backhand.

“I need to just try a shot,” Datsyuk said. “He fast side to side.”
“Bad start again, 0-2, and then we score and happy and lucky we score last minute to make it overtime,” Datsyuk said. “Shoot-out good for us. Good start for road (trip).

And Jiri Hudler was the beneficiary of a fantastic pass from Johan Franzen as he charged off the bench, jumping on the ice just as Joey MacDonald started to lift his legs over the boards and roaring into the right side of the slot, where a pinching Niklas Kronwall, who also had a standout game alongside the usual strong performers (Lidstrom, Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Bertuzzi, Helm and now Stuart), occupied the attention of the Sabres’ defenders. Franzen slid the puck out to Hudler, who went top shelf on Miller:

“I felt that last period we were on the puck a lot,” Hudler said. “We said, ‘Keep going, keep putting pucks on the net.’ I went straight to the net, and (Johan Franzen) did a good job hanging on to the puck. A lucky bounce right back to me.”

The Detroit News’s Eric Lacy takes up the narrative from there, duly noting that the Wings’ upcoming road trip will determine whether the Wings head home for Herm to Hockeytown 2 (you can still contribute by clicking the aforementioned link to the main site or going to The Production Line) in the second week of March with a solid cushion over their pursuers, or whether they’ll be swimming among them:

“There’s a lot of hockey left in the season, and we want to get every point we can,” he said. “It’s getting tougher and tougher.”

Hudler is right. The Wings trail the Canucks (87 points) by five in the Western Conference and face three games in California and one in Phoenix this week.

Datsyuk attacked Miller high for Detroit’s first shootout goal and broke the Sabres’ two-goal lead at 11:43 of the second period on a power play. The play ended what was a relatively stagnant period for the Red Wings, which included two shots from Niklas Kronwall and Danny Cleary that ricocheted off the right post in about a 90-second span.

Miller, an East Lansing native, wasn’t tricked often, though. The former Michigan State star stopped 35 shots. Joey MacDonald stopped 30 for Detroit and was pulled for what ended up being Hudler’s tying goal.

Babcock liked what he saw from MacDonald—eventually—as he told MLive’s Ansar Khan:

“When you’re playing against Miller it’s a tough test early,’’ Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought (MacDonald) was a bit nervous early, the puck came off him quite a bit, and then as the game went on he got better and our team got better as well.’’

MacDonald liked what he witnessed from his teammates in return for a superb, steady and efficient performance in the Wings’ crease…

“First period we were down a little bit, but we stuck with it,’’ MacDonald said. “We took over the game, started getting pucks to the net and putting a little more pressure on Millsie. He’s one of the best goalies in the league, he’s going to stop what he sees.’’

As for MacDonald’s performance in the shootout (see below for highlights), which involved MacDonald doing nothing more than standing his ground and dropping his right leg to stop Stafford, and then staying upright and blocking Vanek’s high shot attempt with the cuff of his glove…

“You never know what they’re going to do (in the shootout),’’ MacDonald said. “You just got to stay at the top of your crease, be nice and big and let them make the first decision.’’

As for the game-tying goal, Johan Franzen told Khan that his pass was tipped by Danny Cleary:

Said Franzen: “It’s hard to score on the first shot on (Miller); he’s square and big, you got to get a rebound to get a goal on him. Bear (Danny Cleary) did a good job in front of the net, deflecting my pass, and Huds got the rebound.’’

The Wings stopped in Detroit to drop off Franzen, who will witness the birth of his first child on Monday, and pick up Brian Rafalski, who should return against Los Angeles.

The story’s other sub-text, sans a Miller vs. Miller showdown, involved Mike Modano and Valtteri Filppula’s respective returns to the lineup. Filppula looked a little slow and sometimes uncertain in 16:37 of ice time, clearly a little rusty after missing two weeks with a sprained MCL, firing a shot, a blocked and missed attempt at the net and registering a giveaway and takeaway…

But Modano, who wore a brace to help prevent hyper-extending his right wrist, looked like a man who’d been skating at full speed for two months, roaring up and down the ice, meshing very well with Filppula and Holmstrom, and playing both solid defense and offering a superb level of offensive productivity, setting up players with seeing-eye passes and firing 4 shots (and a blocked and two missed shots) at Miller, and blocking a shot in the Wings’ end. The only booger for Modano was that he went 1-and-7 in the faceoff circle, but he really did look fantastic in his return.

While he might flag a bit conditioning-wise, the 6’3” forward gives the Wings size, speed and savvy on the third line, and thus allows Filppula and himself to get up to speed while taking some of the pressure off the Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and—let’s face it, it’s the truth—Helm lines to produce as the Wings never really found a way to get four lines rolling in Modano’s absence. Modano said that he felt OK…

“It was pretty good,’’ Modano said. “You get a little heavy as the game goes on, you try to not get caught out there too long. A couple times in our own zone you feel it pretty quick.’’

And he made sure to tell the Buffalo News’s John Vogl that he happily revisited the scene of

a crime

a very fond memory:

Detroit veteran Mike Modano played his first game after sitting out 41 with a lacerated wrist. Modano said he felt comfortable returning in Buffalo, the place of his greatest triumph. He was, of course, one of the stalwarts of the 1999 Dallas Stars who won the Stanley Cup here in the infamous No Goal game.

“There’s never a time you come back here where that doesn’t cross your mind,” Modano said. “It was a great time in our careers obviously. Getting back to the city of Buffalo meant a lot of great memories for sure.”

Franzen, who should be back for the Wings-Ducks game on Wednesday, had this to say to the Free Press’s George Sipple about Modano’s return:

When a reporter asked Modano how he felt in his first game back, Johan Franzen answered “powerful.”

“I don’t know if that’s the word,” Modano said. “What’s the opposite of that?”

Modano lost his first seven face-offs, before winning one in the third period to finish 1-for-8. He had four shots in 13:46 of ice time.

“It was a lot of 50-50 (draws) that just bounce sometimes a bad way,” Modano said. “Overall it was OK. A good start. Did some good things. First shift came together pretty good and had a good shot. Had a couple other chances. In the third came in off the side and just didn’t put a lot of them where I’d like to put them, but nonetheless had a couple good lucks at it.”

Modano admittedly had trouble adjusting to the Lexan “bumper” strapped to the back of his wrist—I think the best way I can describe it is to suggest that it looks like somebody reverse-engineered an old-school Sher-Wood “Tradition” elbow pad and took out the cap—but he managed to muddle along and get better, as will Filppula.

“Felt like first game back,” Filppula said. “The leg felt pretty good. That’s the main thing. It was fun to get back playing. That’s pretty much it from that game. Hopefully games start going better from here. You always have to play that first one and it felt like that. But had fun and hopefully I can do more in the next games.”

I hope the whole team can, because it took half a game for the Wings to shake off their poor showings against San Jose and Dallas before getting down to the business of playing like themselves and taking care of the Sabres. Things really will only get harder from here…

And, regarding the scratching of Drew Miller? I’m not one to usually question Babcock’s party line, but my friend Linda, who I’ve been typing back and forth with during hockey games since, um, 1999? had this to say, and I’m giving her the last word:

Are you kidding me? That is pretty freaking [bleepy] of Babs.

I agree with her.


Highlights: The Sabres’ website’s highlight clip is narrated by Rick Jeannaret:

The Red Wings’ website posted a 4-and-a-half minute highlight clip narrated by Ken Daniels and Larry Murphy:


The Wings’ website also posted a 2:31 clip of the shootout in its entirety:


Post-game: The Sabres’ website posted audio clips as well as videos of the following interviews, including…

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff’s post-game presser…


Ryan Miller’s post-game media scrum…


Andrej Sekera’s post-game scrum…


And Mike Grier’s post-game scrum…


You can listen to Steve Montador’s comments via audio only and WGR 550 offered comments from WGR Sabres correspondent Paul Hamilton;

The Sabres’ website also posted a clip of Andrej Sekera running over Jonathan Ericsson as its collision of the game.

Fox Sports Detroit posted Ken Daniels and Larry Murphy very accurately suggesting that Jiri Hudler’s comeback is a product of Pavel Datsyuk’s return, as well as Trevor Thompson’s post-game interviews with Jiri Hudler and Wings coach Mike Babcock, as well as Joey MacDonald’s take on his performance.

Photos: The Detroit Free Press posted a 9-image gallery;

Yahoo Sports posted an 18-image gallery;

NHL.com posted a 38-image gallery and posted a Jakub Kindl hit on Drew Stafford as its Frozen Moment of the Day;

The Sabres’ website posted a 29-image gallery;

And the Red Wings’ website posted a 33-image gallery and embedded an image in its website’s recap.


Shots 37-32 Detroit overall. The Wings were out-shot 3-2 in OT, and the regulation shots break down as 15-7 Buffalo in the 1st period, 12-7 Detroit in the 2nd period and 16-7 Detroit in the 3rd period.

Our PP went 1-for-2 in 1:31 of time; theirs went 0-for-1 in 2:00 of time.

MacDonald stopped 30 of 32 shots; Miller stopped 35 of 37.

Our goals: Datsyuk (18) from Lidstrom (37) and Zetterberg (49), power play.

Hudler (7) from Franzen (20) and Kronwall (20).

Faceoffs 32-26 Buffalo (Detroit won 46%);

Blocked shots 19-14 Detroit;

Missed shots 24-11 Detroit (total attempted shots 75-60 Detroit);

Hits 19-15 Buffalo;

Giveaways 8-7 Detroit;

Takeaways 8-4 Buffalo.

Individual stats breakdown:

Faceoffs: Henrik Zetterberg went 8-and-9 (47%); Datsyuk went 8-and-5 (62%); Helm went 4-and-7 (36%); Modano went 1-and-7 (13%); Filppula went 2-and-1 (67%); both Abdelkader and Cleary won single faceoffs.

Shots taken: Both Lidstrom and Datsyuk had 5 shots; Modano and Franzen had 4; Kindl, Zetterberg and Ericsson had 3; Hudler, Bertuzzi and Kronwall had 2; Abdelkader, Cleary, Draper and Filppula had 1.

Blocked shot attempts: Kronwall had 4 shot attempts blocked by Sabres players; Datsyuk had 3 blocked; Cleary had 2 blocked; Lidstrom, Ericsson, Filppula, Modano and Franzen had single shot attempts blocked.

Missed shots: Kronwall missed the net 4 times; Cleary, Datsyuk and Stuart missed the net 3 times; Salei, Helm and Modano missed the net 2 times; Lidstrom, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi, Filppula and Franzen missed the net once.

Hits: Kindl had 3 hits; Cleary, Draper, Helm and Bertuzzi had 2; Stuart, Kronwall, Franzen and Holmstrom had 1.

Giveaways: Lidstrom had 2 giveaways; Kindl, Datsyuk, Salei, Hudler, Filpula and Franzen had 1.

Takeaways: Datsyuk had 2 takeaways; Draper and Filppula had 1.

Penalties: Stuart was tagged for a minor penalty.

Plus-minus: Ericsson and Filppula were the team’s only plus players at +1; Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Stuart, Salei, Zettterberg and Bertuzzi finished at -1. The team finished at -4.

Points: Datsyuk and Hudler had goals; Lidstrom, Zetterberg, Kronwall and Franzen had assists.

Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 25:33 played; Lidstrom played 24:27; Ericsson played 24:14;

Stuart played 21:47; Zetterberg played 20:37; Datsyuk played 19:44;

Cleary played 18:03; Franzen played 17:36; Salei played 17:29;

Filppula played 16:37; Kindl played 15:51; Holmstrom played 15:48;

Bertuzzi played 14:46; Modano played 13:46; Helm played 13:24;

Hudler played 13:23; Abdelkader played 12:55; Draper played 11:47.

Also of Red Wings-related note:

• As noted on Saturday, Red Wings GM Ken Holland both nixed the Bogosian rumor and told Ted Kulfan that he’s probably not going to make a move before Monday’s trade deadline:

“We don’t expect to be very active,” Holland said.

The Red Wings have around $570,000 available under the cap. A long list of injuries forced Holland to bring up players from Grand Rapids, further cutting into the $750,000 team officials originally had planned to use at this time.

The only issue that would change the Red Wings’ approach would be the health of backup goaltender Chris Osgood, who has been out since Jan. 11 after undergoing sports hernia surgery. While Osgood has begun on-ice workouts, his health is of great importance to starting goaltender Jimmy Howard, especially with an inexperienced Joey MacDonald as the team’s only other goaltending option.

“But Chris is optimistic and upbeat and he’s happy with the progress he’s making,” Holland said. “If that were to change in the next few days, that could affect our thinking (about trades). But anticipate Chris playing again here soon.”
“We couldn’t continue to stay on that path,” Holland said of trading away picks for rentals. “We had an incredible run. But we needed to change and we’ve been able to maintain.”

• The Wings were also asked about the controversy surrounding the Detroit Pistons, whose veterans chose to boycott coach John Kuester’s practice in Philadelphia on Friday, and Kris Draper had this to say to the Detroit Free Press’s George Sipple:

“I heard about that, no-show at practice?” said Kris Draper, who said Henrik Zetterberg told him about it.

Asked if something like that would happen in hockey, Draper said he heard it did in juniors, but it wasn’t his team. He recalled a conversation he had with Stu Barnes, who played for the Tri-City Americans in the Western Hockey League and then went on to play in 1,136 NHL games with the Winnipeg Jets, Florida Panthers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Sabres and Dallas Stars.

“Ever hear that story?” Draper said. “The Tri-City Americans didn’t show up for practice. Stu Barnes told me that story once. I think it was the whole team.”

Draper said he wouldn’t comment on what happened with the Pistons.

“With guys that I’ve played with over 20-something years, junior hockey and the NHL — I couldn’t see it happening,” Draper said. “But like I said, it happened in junior hockey.”

Draper continued in speaking to the Detroit News’s Kulfan, who notes that Kuester sat out the players who drew his ire:

“If you didn’t have six guys show up, obviously with the (salary) cap and stuff, we’re playing short-handed for sure,” Draper said.

• Regarding Miller, before the game, he told Kulfan (same story link) that he and Ryan are going to help the Michigan State University Spartans look for a replacement for retiring coach Rick Comley:

“Maybe me and Ryan can retire and coach there,” he said, laughing.

In all seriousness, the brothers, both from East Lansing, appear willing to provide the school feedback during its ongoing search for a new coach. Rick Comley, MSU’s coach since 2003, plans to retire once the season is over, and a replacement has yet to be named.

“The alumni have voiced their opinion,” Drew Miller said. “They want someone that’s been around the program before, so hopefully they will take that into consideration.”

And Johan Franzen admitted that he was guilty of the high school student’s most classic sign of inattention these days, during a game in which he played 17:36 and registered 4 shots, looking more like himself than he has in a while, while speaking to Kulfan:

“I was checking [texts] between the period,” said Franzen smiling, when asked if he received any text messages from his wife. “I think I’ll make it (for the birth).”

• Also from Sipple:

Wings coach Mike Babcock remains “a big fan” of Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. Their friendship has only strengthened since Ruff was part of Babcock’s coaching staff for Team Canada, which won gold at the 2010 Olympics.

“Working with him at the Olympics, you get to know him good and get to know about his family,” Babcock said. “So you talk about that. Before we played Tampa I talked to him. He helped us out with that. We touch base.”

• The Free Press’s Steve Schrader also noted that the Wings’ games against the Kings, Ducks, Sharks and Coyotes are games against teams pursuing the Wings in the standings, and the Free Press published a poll in which readers suggested that the team simply needs to get healthy to contend for the Stanley Cup;

• In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins dropped a 3-2 decision to the Lake Erie Monsters in a game in which Brendan Smith might very well earn a suspension—he took a game misconduct and abuse of officials misconduct after protesting an elbowing call at the end of the 2nd period.

The Griffins’ website and Grand Rapids Press note that the loss pushed the Griffins back down to the North Division basement.

The Lake Erie Monsters’ website (which also posted a Flickr photo gallery) and Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Dennis Manoloff also offer recaps, with Manoloff saying that the Griffins’ first goal was protested, and as such, a potential 3-2 goal in the third period was waved off;

• In the ECHL, Thomas McCollum stopped 24 of 27 shots as the Toledo Walleye dropped a 3-0 decision to the Greenville “Road Warriors.” The Toledo Blade’s Mark Monroe reports that the Walleye were severely shorthanded:

The team’s defensive corps has taken a huge hit. Dave Phillips was injured, Simon Danis-Pepin was called up to Rockford of the AHL, Sebastien Piche was at home for personal reasons, and Scott Fletcher was serving a suspension for a fight in Friday’s game. Rookie forward Zack Torquato also was called up to Rockford.

Piche’s grandmother is very ill.

Update 8:57 AM: A late-breaker from Khan: Khan spoke to Ken Holland about the deadline, and Holland was incredibly specific:

“I don’t see us doing anything between now and Monday,’’ general manager Ken Holland said Saturday, before his team’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. “Partly because of philosophy, partly because of the way our team (has) played. The team did play well until Christmas, when we got (a slew of injuries). We haven’t been nearly as good, hopefully our best hockey is still ahead of us.’’

Holland said the Red Wings are about $600,000 (in non-prorated salary) under the cap, but they need to save that money in case they have to recall a player from Grand Rapids due to a rash of short-term injuries.

“Only enough to get (goaltender) Joey MacDonald up here, or to bring up Jan Mursak or another player,’’ Holland said.
“We made a conscious decision to carry a 23-man roster and spend close to the cap,’’ Holland said. “We’re trying to win now, (but) we’re trying to hang onto our assets — our picks and our young players. We’re trying to build towards 2013, ’14, ’15, so that we don’t have to go into a major rebuild somewhere along the line. We want to try to be positioned to be a playoff team next year and the year after, etc. The only way you can do that in a cap world is to draft, to develop. You got to have young people moving into your system.’’

As for Osgood…

“I have to take him at his word; he knows his body better than me,’’ Holland said. “I talked to him this morning and he tells me there’s no setbacks and he’s very happy where he’s at with his rehab.’’

And the state of the team overall…

“We’re second in the West,’’ Holland said. “We’re getting Mike Modano back (Saturday), hoping over the next six weeks he can get his game ramped up and make a difference. The other thing is, 13 teams in the West can make a case that they can make the playoffs. In the East, probably 10 or 11 teams think they got a chance. So there’s not a lot of sellers.’’

Update 9:37 AM: For the record, per the Tampa Tribune’s Erik Erlendsson, the “Will the Bolts go after Jimmy Howard as the solution to their goaltending issues?” gauntlet has been thrown;

• Via the Spokane Chiefs’ website: Wings try-out Brenden Kitchton, who had to be sent home from the prospect tournament on its second day with a broken hand, has posted 20 goals and 67 points this season with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs. Don’t be surprised if the Wings use a late-round draft pick on him or sign him if he’s passed over in the draft;

• According to the Portland Press-Herald’s Rachel Lenzi, Jimmy Howard no longer holds the University of Maine’s franchise record for minutes of shutout hockey played, as Dan Sullivan passed Howard’s 193:45 and finished with 202:49 of shutout time before Maine gave up a goal in their 7-1 win over Merrimack (Wings prospect Gustav Nyquist scored a goal in the Maine win);

• And the QMI Agency’s Dave Pollard offers two trade deadline quips of Wings-related note in a top ten list of deadline moves:

10. Leafs-Red Wings, 1997

THE DEAL: D Larry Murphy to Detroit for future considerations.

THE SKINNY: After less than two seasons in Toronto, Murphy was essentially run out of town by Leafs faithful unimpressed with his defensive play. Detroit gave up nothing to get the future Hall of Famer - the Leafs even paid some of Murphy’s salary - but the move paid off big time for the Red Wings, who went on to win the Stanley Cup that year and the next.
6. Blackhawks-Red Wings, 1999

THE DEAL: Chris Chelios to Detroit for Anders Eriksson and two first-round picks (1999, Steve McCarthy; 2001, Adam Munro).

THE SKINNY: Even more than a decade later, this deal still looks terribly one-sided. Chelios still had plenty left in the tank when the Wings made the trade and he went on to win the Stanley Cup twice in Detroit. And the players Chicago got in the deal?

Well, put it this way. Try to figure out where any of the three are playing now without using Google.

1999 was the year that I realized that nothing should completely surprise a hockey fan, because Chelios, Wendell Clark and Billy Ranford, all Wings nemeses, joined the team in the same day, as did all-time All-Star Goon team defenseman Ulf Samuelsson.

I was always terrified that Anders Eriksson—who was, at the time, projected to turn into the kind of player you see on the Wings today in Niklas Kronwall—McCarthy, an offensive defenseman, and Munro, a solid goaltender at the time, would burn the Wings, but as the years passed, Chelios ended up playing in far more NHL games than McCarthy (who currently plays for TPS Turku in the SM Liiga at 30 years of age, and has played in 297 games with the Blackhawks, Canucks and Thrashers) and Munro (who now plays in Italy at 29 years of age, with 17 NHL games to his name), and his influence upon the Wings has been so unbelievably profound in terms of not just the two Cups they won with him in the lineup, but also their approach to fitness, conditioning and even the way the team plays defense…

The Wings got so much more out of the deal than the Hawks did, Eriksson included (he went on to have a successful NHL career as a depth defenseman in 421 NHL games after his Wings career, played for the Blackhawks, Panthers, Maple Leafs, Blue Jackets, Calgary Flames, Phoenix Coyotes and New York Rangers, in addition to eight other AHL or international teams, all before heading home to first play for Timra IK and now MoDo Ornskoldsvik this season at the tender age of 36), that it’s ridiculous to say the least.


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MsRedWinger's avatar

I thought the same thing as your friend Linda about the scratch of Miller, especially since it had been widely publicized that the Miller family would all be in attendance at the game.  Guess family is not always the most important thing to Babcock, eh? 

I have to admit I’ve been a Hudler basher all season long.  Even when his play improved recently, it just didn’t seem to me like he was good on the puck or fighting battles in the corners.  And since he’s supposed to be a goal scorer, I was not happy with his level of production.  But if last night is the start of a new trend, no one will be “Happy"er than I will.

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 02/27/11 at 11:29 AM ET

Jeff  OKWingnut's avatar

“We felt fortunate that we had some real good chances down the stretch,” Babcock said. “I felt it was a reward for working real hard in the second and third.”

Repeat, ad nauseam.

Obviously they have a big problem being mentally prepared to start the game.  You’d think, after watching this movie dozens of times, they’d figure out a way to re-write the script.

Posted by Jeff OKWingnut from Quest for 12 on 02/27/11 at 12:23 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

Another amazingly thorough post game compilation.  I watched live the interviews with Ryan Miller.  The reporter to his left shoulder asked a couple of douchebaggery questions about finding the silver lining and forcing another question at the end when Miller obviously wanted to leave.

I would have liked to seen Ty Conklin’s answer to the reporter’s question about the silver lining.  Miller was pretty poised and considerate in stating that rather than a silver lining they should be “really really disappointed”.  Conklin would have paused and stared into space to communicate his real reaction “are you sh1tting me that is such a dumba** question you make me sick I can’t believe they let you into this locker room”.

Posted by RWBill on 02/27/11 at 12:36 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Two games in a row Nick Lidstrom has made a positioning error that has led to a goal.

I have been scared about nothing this season prior to this.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 02/27/11 at 12:39 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

I don’t know who you would have scratched.  The stage was set for Miller to play with Modano and Filppula returning, minus Franzen home for the birth of his child.

But Franzen decided to give it a go, so who would you scratch instead of Miller?  Eaves was already out, so I guess you’d scratch Draper at the last minute?

“Kris, Mule is going to play so just keep your civvies on.  Miller’s parents are going to be in attendance so I need to play Drew to complete this human interest story.”

I was a little surprised to learn he was a scratch and that Mule made the trip.

Following a couple of Suckfest games Babs needed to give the team the best chance to win, I won’t second guess it but sure it would have been cool to see the Miller boys face each other.

Posted by RWBill on 02/27/11 at 12:43 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 02/27/11 at 09:39 AM ET


I have nearly run through all my “Mentalist” episodes on the DVR, one more to catch up.

Maybe the Wings need to get Patrick Jane into the locker room to use his power of suggestion to get rid of the first period funk they seem to be in every game.

Posted by RWBill on 02/27/11 at 12:56 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I didn’t think that Nick could have done much. Either you stop the pass or you don’t. Stuart was also way out of position as he bit on going for a bodycheck. Against Dallas, yes, he made a mistake, but he did all he could on this one. You’re not the only one who watches him like a hawk, JJ.

Ms. Red Winger, you don’t want to know what my friend Linda said about Hudler before the game. She’s called him “Bag of Pucks” (as in he’s worth as much as a bag of pucks) forever, and she still can’t stand his inconsistency. He gets results, but he does so after so much floating, lurking and perimeter play that even with this “lost season” saved by playing with Pavel…I can’t deny that he makes me shake my head and call him “Yirzhi Gudler” (the transliteration of what his name’s spelled as in Russian, where there is no “H” in the Cyrillic alphabet) at least once a game.

I do think that it’s fair to question why Babcock would scratch Miller ahead of Draper or Abdelkader, who’s been particularly spotty of late. It is what it is, I suppose Babs would say, but it was also disappointing given that Miller’s mom, dad and brothers and sisters had driven from Lansing to Buffalo to take the game in.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 02/27/11 at 12:56 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

George, I would still trade the “Bag of Pucks” in a heartbeat if the right deal involving a veteran D man or goalie came along.  Last night was a thrill at the end, but I don’t see him contributing like this on a regular basis.  Even though his play has improved, he still spends most of his time floating around, not going after pucks, avoiding contact, and making bad passes - all in evidence last night.

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 02/27/11 at 01:05 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I didn’t think that Nick could have done much. Either you stop the pass or you don’t.

I understand that he was trying to maximize his ability to stop options there, but he left the guy in front of the net to make a move on the guy skating around in the corner.  If he stays on Grier, he can either stop the pass or stop Grier’s stick from making the play.  This leaves MacDonald to deal with Sekera the defenseman having to make a very difficult play to bring the puck out front and put it in.  Lidstrom made a mistake leaving Grier.

Stuart made the first mistake and he deserves his fair bit of scorn as well (along with Zetterberg, who had an opportunity to either angle Sekera off in the neutral zone or at least try to knock him a bit off-balance immediately after he played the puck off the boards).

Overall, Lidstrom had a decent game, it’s just that I’m not used to seeing mistakes like that from him.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 02/27/11 at 01:12 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

“We made a conscious decision to carry a 23-man roster and spend close to the cap,’’ Holland said. “We’re trying to win now, (but) we’re trying to hang onto our assets — our picks and our young players. We’re trying to build towards 2013, ’14, ’15, so that we don’t have to go into a major rebuild somewhere along the line. We want to try to be positioned to be a playoff team next year and the year after, etc. The only way you can do that in a cap world is to draft, to develop. You got to have young people moving into your system.’’

Makes sense to me.

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 02/27/11 at 03:52 PM ET

SYF's avatar

“We didn’t play as well as we wanted at the start…

Broken record.  Tired of hearing it to the point where I’m saying, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”  And I’m completely blown away by it when I’m talking about the Wings.

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 02/27/11 at 08:15 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Just checking out TSN:  Wings are 7-3-0 in their last ten games.  What did Holland say about winning in ten-game windows?  Win seven of them, right?

Somehow, that’s SUPPOSED to be reassuring.

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 02/27/11 at 09:38 PM ET

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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.