The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/22/11 at 05:26 PM ET
Updatedd 5x at 4:16 PM: As the Red Wings prepare to face off against the San Jose Sharks tonight (7:30 PM EST, FSD/Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area/WXYT), the Wings received good news regarding Chris Osgood’s recovery from sports hernia surgery, as the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness notes:
Osgood has been taken a few shots recently during his half-dozen times on the ice before the full team takes it. He’s hoping to get into a few practice drills as early at Wednesday.
“Hopefully tomorrow I’ll practice with the guys a little bit, not that much, just every day bump it up a little bit,” Osgood said Tuesday. “I’m pretty fired up about it.”
Osgood was on the ice Monday with two other injured Wings, Mike Modano and Valtteri Filppula.
“I feel real good,” Osgood said. “It was encouraging because there really was no pain at all today, just a matter of getting confident enough to move so I can stretch my let to that one side.”
Osgood confirmed to MLive’s Ansar Khan that he did indeed have multiple issues repaired during his surgical procedure, as he suggested to Fox Sports Detroit’s Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond last week, but he firmly believes that he’s healing up and will be ready to go shortly:
“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 were so many issues I had. But now that everything has been done I feel a lot stronger, a lot better. I’ll be back, it’s just a matter of when.’‘
Osgood said the two other issues were his groin and something involving “the scraping of the bone’’ that he can’t quite explain.
“I’ve been out long enough,’’ Osgood said. “Everybody jokes around about the ceremonies (for his 400th win) like I was retiring, but that wasn’t the case. I’ll be fired up to be back on the ice playing again.’‘
Osgood told Daniels and Redmond that there were tears in his groin and a few ligaments either scraping against bone or sheared off bones, so his surgery was pretty complicated, but he’s very happy with his progress—and as Khan suggests, that’s good news for Ken Holland:
“It was encouraging because there really was no pain at all today, just a matter of getting confident enough to move so I can stretch my leg to that one side,’’ Osgood said Tuesday, after the morning skate. “Hopefully tomorrow I’ll practice with the guys a little bit, just every day bump it up a little bit.’‘
As long as Osgood doesn’t experience a setback this week, Red Wings general manager Ken Holland likely won’t make a move for a goaltender by Monday’s trade deadline. The club only has about $600,000 under the cap and isn’t likely to create more space by moving a player. So its trade options would be limited anyway.
Osgood told the Free Press’s Helene St. James that he’s relieved to know that he’s finally ready to practice again…
“It definitely was in the back of my mind that I wouldn’t be able to come back this year,” he said. “I was worried about it, just because there were so many issues that I had. But now that everything has been done, I feel a lot stronger, a lot better.”
Osgood has taken shots since Friday, though mostly just from forwards Valtteri Filppula and Mike Modano, who are also recovering from injuries. Filppula (sprained left knee) said today he plans to undertake his first practice Wednesday, which probably makes it unlikely he’ll be ready to play Thursday against Dallas. Modano (wrist) reiterated that he’ll play Saturday at Buffalo.
Osgood was pleased about how things went for him today.
“I felt really good,” he said. “It was encouraging because there was really no pain at all today. It’s just a matter of getting confident enough to move to stretch my leg out to that one side and knowing I’m not going to hurt it. It was encouraging. Hopefully, tomorrow, I’ll practice with the guys a little bit, not that much, but every day, just bump it up a little more.”
And he’s shooting for a late-next-week return:
Osgood guessed he might be ready to play next week, when the Wings are on the West Coast. For now, the workload is on Jimmy Howard, who’ll start tonight’s game against San Jose.
Osgood also revealed the following to the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:
Osgood admitted that he faced some doubts about his ability to come back. Although the surgery was primarily to repair his sports hernia, work was done on Osgood’s groin and tendons.
The doubt about Osgood’s availability led general manager Ken Holland to sign free-agent Evgeni Nabokov as insurance, although Nabokov was quickly taken on waivers by the New York Islanders. Osgood understood why the Wings went after Nabokov.
“At that point we were in the unknown,” Osgood said. “I had so many things done. There was no date when I was going to come back — eight weeks, 12 weeks.”
Along with Osgood, Mike Modano (lacerated right wrist) and Valtteri Filppula (sprained left knee) are close to returning. Modano is projected to return Saturday in Buffalo, while Filppula hopes for Thursday against Dallas, or the Buffalo game. The rest of the regular season and the playoffs are vital for Modano, 40, who said how he feels, how he plays, and how the Wings do in the playoffs, all will contribute to his decision about playing another season.
“I want to make a real good push here and be the impact [player] they were hoping for me to be in the spring,” Modano said.
Khan also posted a projected lineup in a second game-day update while speaking to Sharks coach Todd McLellan…
“It’s Detroit. Players get excited about playing against the Red Wings,’’ Sharks coach Todd McLellan said after today’s morning skate. “They’re always a measuring tool. I think they get a little anxious because of how good their team is. There’s always the threat of being embarrassed. That’s often a motivating factor.”
Tonight will be Detroit defenseman Ruslan Salei’s 900th NHL game. The game starts at 7:30 on FSD.
No lineup changes for the Red Wings:
Here is San Jose’s anticipated lineup:
Patrick Marleau-Joe Thornton-Devin Setoguchi
Dany Heatley-Joe Pavelski-Torrey Mitchell
Ryane Clowe-Logan Couture-Kyle Wellwood
Ben Eager-Jamal Mayers-John McCarthy
Douglas Murray-Dan Boyle
Marc-Edouard Vlassic-Jason Demers
Niclas Wallin-Ian White
Antti Niemi (starting)
He noted this…
Here’s a note from Red Wings statistician Greg Innis: Bill McCreary, one of the referees for tonight’s game, will be making his final appearance in Detroit, as he plans to retire before the end of the regular season.
McCreary has worked more than 1,700 regular season games, as well as a record 43 Stanley Cup finals games. His first game was Nov. 3, 1984 (Pittsburgh at Washington).
And the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff spoke to Salei about reaching the 900-game milestone:
At first, Ruslan Salei was taken aback by all the attention, until he was reminded of the National Hockey League milestone that was beckoning for him. The Detroit Red Wings defenceman will play his 900th NHL game Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks. “Oh yeah, 900 games,” Salei finally remembered. “I guess I do have something to celebrate.”
Salei was away from the team briefly last week to be at the side of his pregnant wife Bethann, who is due to deliver their third child in early March. “She’s holding on, as of today,” Salei said. “So far, it’s on schedule.”
When Salei signed with the Wings, as a family, they decided it would be best if his wife remained at their Newport Beach, Calif. with their children. “It’s never easy being separated, but it was a decision we made,” he said. “She is more comfortable there. It’s tough sometimes, flying back and forth, but as long as she’s comfortable, that’s all that matters.”
His first season with the Wings has gone smoothly. Salei is known to Wings coach Mike Babcock from their days together in Anaheim, and that’s eased the transition. “It’s a fun team to play for, with a winning attitude,” Salei said. I’m having fun. The guys are great and the system is pretty easy to play. There’s pretty good chemistry here. Babs and I we know each other. He knows what I can do and he’s been straight up forward with me on what he wants me to do.”
Now that 900 beckons, Salei looks toward the next milestone – 1,000 games. “That’s the goal, but you can’t get to 1,000 if you don’t get 900,” he said. “You’ve got to get 900, then 901. One game at a time.”
Wings forward Valtteri Filppula (sprained knee) won’t go Tuesday, but is keeping his fingers crossed that he may be able to suit up Thursday at home against the Dallas Stars. “Wednesday is going to be my first full practice, so we’ll probably find out then (about Thursday),” Filppula said. “I felt really good today. I’ll play Saturday for sure and we should know about Thursday by tomorrow.”
Per the Wings’ website, here’s Mike Babcock’s game-day presser…
As well as Ken Kal’s slate of interviews with Wings players including Todd Bertuzzi:
Update 2:30 PM: Per DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose, Holland weighed in on his trade deadline options...
Osgood’s health is a concern for the Red Wings’ organization. On Tuesday’s “NHL Live” on XM Radio, Wings general manager Ken Holland indicated that he is prepared to search for a goalie by Monday’s trade deadline, if Osgood’s health is a concern.
“If he has a good week this week, we may stand pat,” Holland said. “Certainly he’s our No. 1 priority heading into next Monday.”
And he noted the comments made by Modano, who plans on making his return on Saturday…
“It feels fine to me with what I have to do, and what I try to accomplish on the ice,” said Modano, who tallied eight points before the Nov. 26 injury. “There is still some nerve issue there that the total sensation isn’t back, and that will be a long time. But it feels good shooting and as far as getting involved in traffic and pushing on it – it feels good.”
“I’m just trying to do anything possible to get into the best shape that I can,” Modano said. “Get prepared, and get ready mentally and physically and see if I can make a real big push here, and be an impact that they were hoping for me to be.”
As well as Filppula’s take on his status:
Valtteri Filppula (sprained MCL) skated again Tuesday morning, and hopes to be healthy enough to return for the Wings’ game against Dallas on Thursday.
“It definitely felt good today, so I’m happy about that,” Filppula said. “I’m really hoping for Saturday, for sure, but if it feels good (Wednesday), we’ll see.”
Update 2: On the Sharks’ side of things, the Mercury News’s David Pollak reports that the Sharks won’t have pain-in-the-butt forward Scott Nichol in the lineup, but the Sharks may go with seven defensemen…
Marc-Edouard Vlasic should be in the lineup tonight, but McLellan wouldn’t say whether he was taking advantage of Justin Braun’s presence and going with seven defensemen tonight, or using John McCarthy on the fourth line and sticking with six.
****Optional skate this morning, so no line rushes. But it’s hard to imagine McLellan changing around the top three lines after the succes the team’s success in that 4-0 victory over Colorado in the previous game.
Not skating this morning (in addition to Huskins and Nichol) were Dan Boyle, Douglas Murray, Niclas Wallin and Patrick Marleau.
He spoke to Mike Modano about his status…
“There’s still some nerve issue there,” Modano said this morning. “The total sensation isn’t back and that’s going to be a long time.
“But the strength is there, it feels good shooting and as far as getting involved in traffic and guys pushing on it, it feels good,” he added. “Big test is Saturday. It’s going to take time to get up an running, but 21 games from there till the end so there’s a lot of time left.”
And he added this quip...
Having shown some restraint to this point and waiting four paragraphs, I feel compelled to add this: It is cold up here. No surprise, but sometimes you get lulled by the sunshine and blue skies and decide, yeah, I can walk a few blocks. Brrrrr.
Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz offered a capsule preview of tonight’s game…
KEVIN KURZ’S 3 KEYS
1. Expect a chess match: As high powered as the Sharks and Red Wings can be on offense, both teams have been winning lately with solid team defense. Detroit has allowed just nine goals during its five-game winning streak, making things easier on goaltender Jimmy Howard, who has had his ups-and-downs this year.
2. Can Niemi keep it up? The reigning NHL player of the week, Antti Niemi will be making his 16th consecutive start in net. While that stretch has been beneficial as Niemi has found his rhythm, it’s tough to keep up that kind of pace, especially with more cross-country flights and late-night hotel check-ins as a three-game road trip against good teams begins.
3. Eye on Datsyuk: Pavel Datsyuk’s return from a hand injury has been a big factor in Detroit’s recent success. The perennial Selke Trophy candidate has nine points in the last seven games (5g, 4a), and he’s still arguably the best two-way player in the NHL.
The Red Wings’ website posted a YouTube-formatted interview of Dany Heatley talking about playing for Wings coach Mike Babcock during the 2010 Olympics…
As well as a comment about the Wings’ resurgent play of late…
On paper, it is a relatively simple concept.
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland likes to view the season in eight segments of 10 games each. If a team nets 12 points in each segment, they would finish the season with 96 points, more than likely enough to qualify for one of the eight-playoff spots in their respective conference.
Hockey is a game with constant motion, consistent ebb and flow, a game that toys with the body, mind and one’s emotions. And at times, an 82 game season can seem like 82 different rides on the same roller coaster. Some are naturally, going to be more memorable than others.
It wasn’t too long ago, as in right after the All-Star break, that Johan Franzen scored five goals in a game against Ottawa. That was followed by a four game stretch when the club only managed to score four goals, including back-to-back shutout victims against Columbus and Nashville. It was a low point in a season that hasn’t seen very many to this point.
And since, the club has put together one of its most impressive stretches of the season. The Wings went to Boston and put together a 60-minute effort on road-ice, then beat the Bruins again less than 48 hours later at Joe Louis Arena. With the fathers in tow, the club won back-to-back games in Florida, and a most impressive 2-1 shootout win in Minnesota, a game that resembled the NHL in May, as opposed to the NHL in February.
And MLive’s Ansar Khan posted a late-morning game preview, discussing the Sharks’ 12-2-and-1 record of late and the fact that the Wings’ point cushion over the playoff pack could disappear if they don’t keep winning…
“They got a good thing going, we got a good thing going,” Red Wings forward Kris Draper said. “It’s going to be a good matchup. We haven’t seen them in a long time. Since then, they put themselves right in the playoff mix. We’re doing things right and we’re playing well and we just want to keep that going.”
“We’ll need every point,” Todd Bertuzzi said. “Every time we look at the standings, we keep on winning and you don’t budge that much higher up.”
Said Howard: “There’s teams charging up from behind, so we got to continue to take care of business.”
Nicklas Lidstrom had this to say about the Wings’ defensive play of late…
“I think we’re paying more attention to details and I think we’re working harder and smarter, having the forwards coming back, and the (defense) trying to stand up and not give them a whole lot of room,” Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “If we get caught in our own zone, we’re doing a better job of sorting it out, not giving them clear-cut chances in the slot. We’re being more aggressive in our own zone and taking care of the puck when we get it.”
While Mike Babcock suggested that the Wings’ resurgence has more to do with a key personnel return than anything else…
“Pavel (Datsyuk) is back,” Babcock said. “So we all got better when Pavel arrived. Let’s not kid ourselves.”
And Jimmy Howard confirmed that he feels a little more like himself again:
Said Howard: “I’ve felt a lot better, but a lot it has to do with how well the guys are playing in front of me.”
Update: Of random Wings-related note:
• Per the Pioneer Press’s Charley Walters, Jari Kurri had hoped to scout Valtteri Filppula and Mikko Koivu for potential Finnish World Championship team spots on Sunday;
• Pro Hockey Talk’s James O’Brien reports that Pavel Datsyuk’s deke and dangle goal against the Lightning merited “goal of the week” status on NBC sports…
And he assesses the state of the Wings as Central Division leaders as follows:
1. Detroit Red Wings (37-16-6 for 80 pts; 59 Games Played)
Current streak: Five wins in a row.
Week ahead: Home vs. San Jose (Tuesday) and Dallas (Thursday), on the road vs. Buffalo (Saturday) and Los Angeles (Monday).
Thoughts: The Red Wings still trail the Vancouver Canucks by five points for the West’s top spot, but if they keep plugging along, they might be able to catch them.
• The Grand Rapids Griffins remind fans that tonight, the Griffins will take the ice playing sledge hockey against the “Sled Wings”;
• The Everett Herald’s Nick Patterson posted an update on Everett Silvertips forward/Wings prospect Landon Ferraro’s status in terms of returning from sports hernia surgery...
Tips center Landon Ferraro has resumed skating. Ferraro hasn’t played since Jan. 16 after undergoing surgery to repair a hernia. There’s still no definitive timetable for Ferraro’s return.
• I’ll allow you to read a comment from a former Penguin about so-called Stanley Cup justice on your own…
• And the “Gordie Howe International Bridge?” Probably a dead issue as MLive’s Jonathan Oosting says Michigan’s state government is referring to the span as “The New International Trade Crossing.”
update 4:16 PM: The Griffins demoted Thomas McCollum to the Toledo Walleye as he rather desperately needs some playing time.
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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.