The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/22/11 at 04:01 PM ET
The Detroit Red Wings received Monday off after playing 3 games in 3 cities over the course of just under 72 hours over this past weekend, and tonight, they return to Joe Louis Arena to play a San Jose Sharks team (7:30 PM EST, FSD/CSN Bay Area/WXYT) that’s won eight of their past ten games, has won three straight games (including a 3-0 shutout of the Avalanche on Saturday) and boasts one of the NHL’s “Three Stars of the Week” in goaltender Antti Niemi, who boasts a 0.98 goals-against average and .963 save percentage over the Sharks’ three wins.
In other words, the Wings have to face their usual caliber of opponent in their first game back after a road trip. As the Sharks’ winning streak has earned them nothing more than a fourth-place standing in the Western Conference, one point behind the 3rd-place Coyotes and only four points ahead of the 11th-place Chicago Blackhawks, the Wings certainly can’t match the desperation of the Sharks.
As the Wings prepare to tangle with the playoff pack and/or possible first-round opponents over the next two weeks—the Wings play the Sharks (twice), Stars, Kings (twice), Coyotes and Ducks, as well as a just-out-of-the-playoff-picture Sabres team—however, the Wings’ play can’t falter much, five-game winning streak included, because if the Wings lose to the teams chasing them, their seven-point lead (80 to 73 points) over Phoenix and twelve-point lead over the Blackhawks (68 points) could disappear in a hurry. The next two weeks’ worth of games will determine whether Detroit cruises toward its customarily 1st or 2nd-place playoff spot, or whether they’ll end up in de-facto playoff series against the teams that want to do nothing more than tear into the Wings’ heels.
The Sharks are beginning a 3-game road trip that the Sharks’ website says is their last venture into the Eastern Standard Time Zone for the regular season, with tilts against the Wings, Penguins and then Flames on tap, and the Sharks insisted that they understand the magnitude of the games ahead:
“They all are [critical],” Head Coach Todd McLellan said of describing the difficult road games. “We’re playing two of the teams that have been perennial Stanley Cup contenders right off the bat. It’s not going to be an easy task and (with the) with the way the Flames have played and the streak they’re on, we’ll have our hands full.”
“Calgary is playing extremely well, Detroit is one of the top teams in the League and Pittsburgh, even though they’re battered and bruised, are going to give us a lot to handle,” Dan Boyle said.
“Three big games,” Joe Thornton said. “We feel comfortable playing on the road. It will be three tough games, so we have to be on our game.”
“You just concentrate on one game at a game and concentrate on the day’s game,” Thornton said. “Then you look at who you play tomorrow.”
The Mercury News’s Mark Emmons notes that the Sharks have only two players who’ve been ruled out for tonight’s game in back-up goaltender Antero Niittymaki and defenseman Kent Huskins, with Scott Nichol (upper body?) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (upper-body) at least relatively likely to return vs. the Wings. Otherwise, the Sharks are healthy, and again, they told Emmons that tonight’s game marks the start of a make-or-break-it stretch:
[T]he Sharks will tell you every game is “big” in the crowded Western Conference. But, yes, they know this road trip is especially difficult.
“Yeah, we’ve got three tough ones coming up,” captain Joe Thornton said. “Detroit is always tough and Pittsburgh has been playing hard lately. And Calgary is one of the hottest teams in the NHL. They’ve put themselves back into playoff contention.”
Added McLellan: “We’ve got two perennial Stanley Cup contenders right off the bat, then the Flames are on a streak. So we’ll have our hands full.”
According to Emmons, the Sharks have racked up a 12-2-and-1 record of late while playing “playoff hockey” from an offensive standpoint, which is both good and bad if you’re a Sharks fan, because Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau aren’t exactly tearing up the scoresheet:
It’s also clear the Sharks, who are 16th in the NHL in goals per game at 2.73, have learned how to win without burning out red light bulbs. Their 4-0 victory over reeling Colorado on Saturday qualified as an offensive explosion. That game also marked the first time since Dec. 23 that the Sharks won a game by more than two goals. So while coach Todd McLellan would like more scoring, he is not about to mess with the current success.
“We’re sticking to the same formula and the same recipe,” McLellan said Monday. “If they continue to give us everything they have on the defensive side, eventually the offense will come. At the end of the day, they have to produce a little more offensively. But it will not be at the cost of play at our own end.”
Perhaps what happened to the Sharks is playoff-style hockey arrived early this season. With so many teams packed together in the West, the fight for points each night has produced high-energy encounters similar to what’s seen in the postseason. For the Sharks, that has translated into lots of tight-checking, one-goal games that come down to the final horn. And that also means there is precious little space on the ice for players such as Thornton. Normally a points machine, Thornton has only three assists in the past eight games.
“There have been times where I felt like I controlled the game, and then I look at the score sheet and I have no points and I’m minus-1,” said Thornton, who leads the Sharks with 49 points. “Sometimes the goals and assists really don’t reflect how you’re playing.”
“No question that’s our attitude,” said Heatley, who has only 20 goals thus far after scoring 39 a season ago. “But we’ve got to get goals from somebody. We don’t care where they come from, but it’s my job to score. It’s a lot of guys’ job on this team. We want to contribute offensively.”
Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area’s Brodie Brazil chalks the Sharks’ 12-2-and-1 record since January 15th up to three contributing factors:
Antti Niemi: The netminder is showing us how he won a Stanley Cup last year in Chicago. Nemo is 11-2-1 in the last 15, with a 1.77 GAA, and a .939 Save Percentage. But the most impressive number might be 3… as in his amount of shutouts over the last 8 contests. I asked him if recent games are a reminder of his outstanding efforts in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last year. His answer was that the confidence is definitely there in the same way he felt last spring. Not only is he comfortable, but so are the defensemen in front of Niemi. Their amount of blocked shots has dramatically increased, while their amount of defensive miscues have dramatically decreased. All of this makes Niemi the “chosen one” in nets… meanwhile he is also the only realistic choice, considering the recurring injury to Antero Niittymaki. Still, things are good in San Jose’s own third of the ice.
Devin Setoguchi: Despite trade rumors, the potent forward has led San Jose in goals since January 15th, with eight. Three, of course, came on the Feb. 19th tilt with Colorado, where Devin registered his first career NHL hat trick. More than numbers, it’s clear to see how Seto is getting back to the type of play that scored him 31 goals in 2008-09: he’s skating, he’s slashing, he’s play-making. Head coach Todd McLellan has got him consistently skating on the top line with Thornton and Marleau, not to mention getting ‘top line’ ice-time each game ... and for good reason.
I’m sure that he’s drawing penalties left and right, too, cough cough.
Special Teams: With and without the puck, San Jose has been good when they are on, or killing the man-advantage. The Power Play is clicking to the tune of 10 for 39, (25.6%) in the last 15 games. Meanwhile the Penalty Kill has been a very respectable 39 for 48 (81.3%). Special teams are everything in the postseason, so why not ramp them up right now?
Emmons sets up tonight’s game as follows...
Red Wings update: Detroit (37-16-6) has kicked it up a notch as injured players have returned. A 2-1 shootout victory over Minnesota on Sunday gave the Red Wings their fifth consecutive win.
Sharks update: D Marc-Edouard Vlasic (upper body) should be back in the lineup, but D Kent Huskins (bumps and bruises) probably will not play. Also, C Scott Nichol (upper body) didn’t practice Monday and is listed as day-to-day after slamming into the glass in Saturday’s 4-0 victory over Colorado. G Antti Niemi, who has started in 15 consecutive games, was named the NHL’s “First Star” of the week. He went 3-0 with a 0.98 goals-against average and a .963 save percentage. For the week, he stopped 78 of 81 shots.
And NHL.com’s Mike G. Morreale posited the following preview, and he reminds us that the Sharks added Ian White from the Carolina Hurricanes to bolster their blueline:
Season series—This is the third of four meetings between the Western Conference rivals. The Red Wings won the series opener 5-3 on Nov. 30 at the HP Pavilion, while the Sharks earned a 5-2 victory in Detroit on Dec. 6. In their most recent meeting, rookie Logan Couture scored twice and goalie Antti Niemi made 25 saves.
Big story—Sharks general manager Doug Wilson addressed a need along the blue line last Friday when he acquired Ian White from the Carolina Hurricanes. Wilson dealt a second-round pick in the 2012 Entry Draft for White, a 27-year-old who played 55 games this season with Calgary and Carolina, totaling 2 goals and 16 points. He had an assist—the 100th of his career—Saturday against Colorado in his first game with the Sharks, and played 18:08 paired with Niclas Wallin.
Sharks [team scope] —San Jose is 12-2-1 over its last 15 games and sits fourth in the Western Conference with 72 points, one behind third-place Phoenix. The team is coming off a 4-0 victory—its third straight win—against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. Devin Setoguchi collected his first career hat trick and Niemi stopped 25 shots in the win. It was Niemi’s fifth shutout of the season and the 12th of his career.
Who’s hot—The Sharks’ Setoguchi has 12 points in his last 12 games (8 goals, 4 assists). … Red Wings forward Jiri Hudler is making the most of his opportunity playing on a line with Pavel Datsyuk, scoring 2 goals and 9 points in seven games together.
The biggest “stories” of the day for the Wings will probably involve the progress of Chris Osgood, who’d hoped to ramp up his goaltenders’ movements in attempting to return from hernia surgery, and Valtteri Filppula and Mike Modano, who hope to return to action by the end of the week from a sprained left MCL and torn tendons in his left wrist, respectively, because these players will push themselves pretty hard over the next three or four days’ worth of practices and game-day skates.
Filppula might return as early as Thursday, when the Wings play the Stars, while Modano won’t return until Saturday against Buffalo, and Osgood hopes to get back into games in two weeks or so, but as the trade deadline’s now six days away, Osgood will keep Ken Holland up to date as to whether he feels any tweaks or experiences any setbacks because there isn’t much time to fortify the crease if Osgood’s recovery goes south.
Before the Wings headed home from Minneapolis on Sunday, however, they told the Free Press’s Helene St. James that they’re well aware of the challenges which a team as white-hot as the Sharks present:
“It’s always good hockey when we play against San Jose,” Kris Draper said. “They’ve got a good thing going, and we’ve got a good thing going, so it’s going to be a good matchup. We haven’t seen them in a long time and, since then, they’ve put themselves right in the playoff mix.”
The Wings won, 5-3, on Nov. 30 in San Jose but lost, 5-2, to San Jose a week later at the Joe. Last week the Sharks, who are fourth in the West, solidified their blue line by acquiring Ian White, a puck-moving defenseman who’ll help them all around.
“They always play well and they’ve got a good, deep team,” coach Mike Babcock said. “They added White on the back end to make them better, and they seem to be playing real well.”
The Wings didn’t practice on Monday, which is good given the driving conditions around Metro Detroit after a foot’s worth of sticky snow and sleet, so the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan duly noted that Filppula and Modano’s returns will result in the formation of a new third line...
Babcock said after Sunday’s victory he’ll pair Filppula and Modano, when they return, with Tomas Holmstrom, creating a whole new line. It’s an intriguing mix, to be sure. Said Babcock, “That’ll be another real good line — two guys (Filppula and Modano) who can fly and shoot the puck and make plays.”
Which means that, most likely, Drew Miller and Kris Draper will end up in the press box while Patrick Eaves and Darren Helm welcome Justin Abdelkader to their third-turned-fourth line…
And Kulfan noted that the Wings’ turnaround and improved defensive play of late have not-so-coincidentally coincided with Pavel Datsyuk’s return from a broken right hand:
“We got better when Pavel came back,” said Babcock after Sunday’s 2-1 shootout victory in Minnesota. “Let’s not kid ourselves; it really helps when he’s back.”
Datsyuk actually returned from a fractured right hand two games before the win streak began. He was part of the debacle against Nashville. But he was still getting up to speed. Consider Datsyuk now back to his normal self. In the five-game win streak, Datsyuk has seven points (four goals, three assists). He’s back to playing Selke Trophy-winning defense, he won five-of-seven face-offs against Minnesota, he provides a calming leadership role, and he makes players around him better. Consider new linemates Jiri Hudler and Danny Cleary. The two have combined for 17 points since skating on the same line as Datsyuk.
“Anybody who plays with Pavel has good chemistry,” Cleary says. “Give him the puck and try to get open.”
While the Wings are playing better, they should be even better in the days ahead with Mike Modano (lacerated right wrist) and Valtteri Filppula (sprained left knee) returning this week.
“When everyone comes back, we’ll have a real good, deep team,” Babcock said.
That’s the theory, but they’ve been pretty darn decent lately, especially after Brad Stuart returned (and the Wings’ excuses for running around in their own zone disappeared) and they shored things up defensively, but the Wings have to keep the good times rolling for as long as humanly possible because they really will face a slate of teams that will either face them in the first round or compete with them for the same playoff spots, depending on the results of the next half-dozen or so games, over the next two weeks, and it all starts tonight against the Sharks.
Per the NHL’s media website, Bill McCreary and Chris Rooney will referee tonight’s game, and Steve Barton and Scott Driscoll will work the lines.
No word as to whether the NHL’s sent a memo to its referees regarding cracking down on the spate of obstruction and interference that’s crept back into the game since New Year’s, but both teams play by the same inconsistently-enforced rulebook.
Also of Red Wings-related note:
• In light of the Red Wings beat writers’ profiles of Todd Bertuzzi ahead of his 1,000th game and the Wings’ 2-1 shootout win over the Minnesota Wild on Sunday, the NHLPA’s website spoke to Bertuzzi and asked him to talk about breaking in with the New York Islanders way back in 1995…
“It’s gone by so quickly,” the Sudbury, Ontario native told NHLPA.com, just prior to the special occasion. “In my first year, I remember speaking with (former NHLer) Derek King when we were with the Islanders. He pulled me aside and said, ‘Remember this, kid. Enjoy everything because it’s going to go by fast.’ I’ve been looking back on that the last little while. And he was absolutely right.”
His role models during the formative portions of his career…
“I was very lucky during my time with the Islanders to be surrounded by so many great veterans,” recalled Bertuzzi, who shares the Canucks record for longest point-scoring streak of 15 games with Petr Nedvěd. “Mick Vukota, Mathieu Schneider, Pat Flatley, Kirk Muller, Wendel Clark – I grew up watching these guys and then I was lucky enough to get play with them. In Vancouver, it was a wonderful group. I’ve been fortunate to have played with some great people over my time in the league. And now, here I am in Detroit. The quality of people and the people I play with here is amazing.”
His take on the evolution of his game…
“Coach (Mike) Babcock has really helped me out,” praised Bertuzzi, of Detroit’s bench boss. “I’ve changed my game over time and I say that in a positive way. It really is a positive. I’ve been able to transfer my game into a more well-rounded approach. It’s been good for me. I suppose I’m also happy that I’ve been a top-six player for a long period of time,” he continued. “There were times I didn’t always deserve it, but I appreciate all the support I’ve had over the years.”
And his ultimate goal, winning the Cup:
“That’s always the dream,” said Bertuzzi. “Even before you play in the NHL, you wonder what it would feel like to win the Cup.”
Overall, however, Bertuzzi has this to say about reaching the 1,000-game mark:
“I keep coming back to how quickly it’s all gone by,” said Bertuzzi. “But I’m very thankful and grateful to play the game I love.”
• As the Free Press, Detroit News and WDIV just figured out that The Sporting News’s fan poll re-structuring their 10 Greatest NHL Teams list resulted in fans picking the 2001-2002 Wings Cup-winning team as the NHL’s best ever…
The Free Press’s Jamie Samuelssen decided to hop into the list-making business and compose a list of the top seven currently playing athletes in Detroit:
7) Henrik Zetterberg, Red Wings: The leading scorer for on the team. A Conn Smythe winner. Durable. One of the most consistent players in the league. He’s having a great season though he was an obvious snub for the All-Star Game. And after two down seasons points-wise, he seems to be a lock to eclipse the career high of 92 that he hit in 2008.
3) Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings: As talented as anyone on this list. He almost seems to be the product of some science lab. And remember that before he signed his last contract extension, there were some who wondered whether he could come through in the clutch. He followed that angst with 16 points in 2007 and 23 points in the Cup run in 2008. Prior to this year, he never missed time due to injury. And you get the sense that if he played for a less talented team, he’d win scoring titles in bunches. Instead, he plays his role and still dominates.
1) Nicklas Lidstrom, Red Wings: Hockey people claim that he’s lost a step and he’s not the same player he was a few years ago. Perhaps that’s true. But the average dope like me doesn’t see it. He’s still the most valuable athlete in Detroit along with Cabrera. He still is underrated in the sport, because it’s totally absurd that he’s never been a finalist for the Hart Trophy. And I still don’t think I’ve ever seen him sweat. Here’s a ridiculous sports hypothetical (and future blog): What would Lidstrom’s legacy be in sports if he played baseball or basketball? What if he had the exact same career that he’s had, but played a more popular sport? I think he’d be Tim Duncan. A great winner. A great leader. A surefire top 10 player of all time, and arguably the best who ever played his position.
If IQ tests and perfect SAT verbal scores are to be believed, I’m supposedly pretty damn smart, and the only difference in Lidstrom’s game from what I can tell is that he’s had to learn how to play with two hands on his stick because of the tendinitis in his right elbow which famously forced him to miss the 2009 All-Star Game. He’s changed his style of play to compensate for a reduced reach and has continued to evolve into a more effective player in my book. That being said, when you read, hear about and see all the work that people like Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Lidstrom put in after practice and in the weight room to keep learning how to do new things on the ice and get in even better shape off it, I think it’s pretty hard to suggest that players who work that hard slow down. They evolve, and if and/or when they lose a step of skating speed, they make up for it by finding new ways to remain effective.
• Sticking with lists, the first crop of this week’s power rankings hit the wires on Monday. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun subscribes to the “steady state theory regarding the Wings’ surge of late:
3 ([last week] 3) Red Wings [record] 37-16-6: The Winged Wheel is healthier now and back on track with five-game winning streak.
The CBC’s Scott Morrison agrees with LeBrun’s assessment:
3. DETROIT RED WINGS
Record: 37-16-6 (80 pts)
Last 10 games: 7-3-0
Don’t look now but they’ve won five in a row and are climbing.
Sportsnet’s Mike Brophy figures that the Wings are the third-best team in the NHL as well...
3 [last week] 4 [Red Wings, record] (37-16-6): Todd Bertuzzi celebrates his 1,000th NHL game by scoring the shootout winner against Minnesota.
As does Sportsline’s Wes Goldstein...
3. Red Wings [last week] 3: Todd Bertuzzi had six goals and a shootout winner in Detroit’s five-game win streak.
But Goldstein also added a few paragraphs praising the Wings’ turnaround of late:
They’ve been forgotten at times this season, which can happen when you fall short of a third consecutive Stanley Cup Finals appearance. But that’s always a mistake when it comes to the Detroit Red Wings. Problem for this team in the post-lockout era is that anything short of a Finals appearance means it fell short. So when the Red Wings lasted only two rounds last spring, the end overshadowed the fact Detroit needed a late tear just to make the playoffs.
The Red Wings were hit hard by key injuries last season and were below the cutoff line until players came back and turned Detroit into the league’s best team, finishing 16-2-3. That was around mid-February coincidentally. The Red Wings are far better off in the standings now, the return of key players recently is making a difference as well. Pavel Datsyuk came back Feb. 7 from a hand injury that cost him two weeks without missing a beat, picking up five goals and four assists in seven games. Brad Stuart is back. too, and the Red Wings are expecting Valtteri Filppula and Mike Modano.
And in the meantime, the Red Wings are one of the league’s hottest teams with five consecutive wins and have a big lead in the Central Division. Detroit started last week on the heels of a home-and-home sweep of the Bruins that was dominant enough to push Boston into some pretty significant trades in the days that followed. The Wings then had a statement win in Tampa Bay before finishing their road trip with efficient wins in Florida and Minnesota.
They’re getting very good work in goal again from Jimmy Howard, who has allowed just six goals on 117 shots in his past four starts, and they are ramping up the game that does very well come playoff time. In case anyone has forgotten.
• Late-breaking multimedia: Chris Chelios spoke to WDFN’s Sean Baligian and Killer Kowalski on Friday, but the audio clip of the interview didn’t post to the Wings’ website until Monday afternoon. Give it a listen as his last-minute comments about the NHL not being on ESPN anymore are…very, very interesting:
There was a pleasant surprise at the end of Everett’s practice today at Comcast Arena. Just as practice was finishing up, there was Landon Ferraro, in his full gear, joining in with the team’s post-practice activities.
Ferraro, who last played on Jan. 16 before undergoing hernia surgery, still is in the process of recovering, and his return isn’t imminent. However, this is a sign that he is progressing, and it tends to suggest there’s a chance Ferraro could return before the regular season is over. If that’s the case, that’s a nice bonus for the Tips.
• Also regarding developmental hockey, the Detroit News’s David Goricki penned an article profiling the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks and the USHL in general as it’s the only junior A hockey league which allows players to retain their NCAA eligibility, as well as an article discussing their star players’ statuses as draft-pick-worthy NHL prospects;
• In a set of articles which parallel Goricki’s to some extent, the New York Times’ Jeff Z. Klein looked at the number of registered hockey players in each and every one of the fifty states (and Washington DC), as well as the growth and/or declines in hockey participation in said states. Michigan trails Minnesota by about 2,000 registered hockey players (53,450 versus 51,404), but we’ve lost about 7.8% of our hockey-playing population between 1998 and 2010, which reflects Michigan’s economic difficulties more than it does anything remotely related to a state’s passion for hockey;
• I’m not allowed to say what I think regarding the Vancouver Province’s Iain MacIntyre’s continued insistence that the Vancouver Canucks’ ability to keep winning despite losing six defensemen means that they have a better blueline and a better team than the 2007-2008 Red Wings did;
• In the “events” department:
1. NHL.com reports that Wings GM Ken Holland will make an appearance on their NHL Live radio show sometime between 12 PM EST and 2 PM EST today, February 22nd;
2. Tonight, the Grand Rapids Griffins will play a charity hockey game against the “Sled Wings in Grand Rapids. If you’re interested in the Griffins’ slate of promotional events, they’re posting ‘em in one place and on one web page now;
3. On Wednesday, Patrick Eaves will sign autographs at the Meijer on Warren Road and Newburgh in Westland, MI from 5-7 PM (Tomas Holmstrom will wrap up the “Red Wings Days at Meijer” promotion on March 8th in Wixom);
4. On Thursday, per DetroitRedWings.com’s Rick Bouwness, the Wings are holding a diaper collection event when the Wings host the Dallas Stars:
WHO: Huggies® Every Little Bottom and the National Hockey League (NHL) have teamed up to launch “Hockey for Huggies,” a partnership to help collect diapers and monetary donations for moms and babies in need.
WHAT: In support of Hockey for Huggies, all 30 clubs in the NHL are hosting diaper drives throughout the month of February.
The Red Wings are collecting diapers at their home game on Thursday, February 24 to benefit Detroit Area Diaper Bank, an organization that distributes diapers to local families in need. Fans are encouraged to bring an unopened pack of diapers to the game or make a cash donation in exchange for a chance to win prizes.
Fans can also text the name of their favorite NHL team (e.g. for Detroit Red Wings, text “Detroit,” “Red,” “RedWings” or “Wings”) to 501501 in the US and 20222 in Canada to donate $5 and help diaper babies in their community. For a calendar of all Hockey for Huggies diaper drive nights or to donate online, visit NHL.com/huggies.
Learn more at NHL.com/huggies or EveryLittleBottom.com.
WHERE: Joe Louis Arena, 600 Civic Center Dr., Detroit, Michigan 48226
WHEN: Thursday, February 24, 2011 @ 7:30 p.m. EST.
5. On Saturday, the Wings are selling $9 tickets for four March games via in-person-only sales at Joe Louis Arena’s box office:
The 11-time Stanley Cup champion Red Wings will be giving the best sports fans in the country the opportunity to witness some world-class hockey at an incredibly low rate in the coming weeks, as the team will be releasing a limited number of single-game tickets priced as low as $9 apiece for a quartet of home games in March/April. These special discounted tickets will be available for purchase at the Joe Louis Arena box office (313-396-7575) only, and will go on sale this coming Saturday, February 26 beginning at 1 p.m. EST.
Citizens of Hockeytown electing to take advantage of this amazing offer are able to purchase a maximum of two (2) tickets to a maximum of two (2) games while quantities last. A full list of games for which these discounted tickets will be made available can be found below:
Wednesday, March 9 – 7:30 p.m. vs. Los Angeles Kings*
Wednesday, March 23 – 7:00 p.m. vs. Vancouver Canucks
Wednesday, March 30 – 7:30 p.m. vs. St. Louis Blues
Sunday, April 3 – 5 p.m. vs. Minnesota Wild
*The fist 10,000 fans in attendance will receive a complimentary ‘ultimate fan’ bandana courtesy of AT&T
6. One more event/free advertising tidbit: the Griffins are holding a Social Media seminar on March 23rd between 6 and 7 PM at Van Andel Arena.
• Finally, the snowstorm that pelted Southeastern Michigan and Southwestern Ontario seemed to slow down even the interweb, but the Owen Sound Attack’s website reports that the team defeated Oshawa 4-3 in a shootout on Sunday, when the team raised a banner honoring Kirk Maltby’s contributions to the franchise:
Before 3234 fans on the night that our Owen Sound franchise honoured one of their all-time best players – raising a banner for Kirk Maltby – the Oshawa Generals and our Attack put on a pretty good show.
On hand for the pre-game ceremony was Kirk Maltby, along with his wife Wendy and children Ella, Landon and Leighton. Also present were Kirk’s parent’s Fred and Sue, Kirk’s mother in law Madeline and former Billet Parents Wilmer and Mable Beckett. Former Owen Sound Platers General Manager Ray McKelvie and Attack President Dr. Robert Severs both said words on behalf of the organization, while Kirk’s eldest daughter Ella assisted in raising her father’s banner.
Declining comment on the ice during the ceremony due to the overwhelming reaction, Kirk wishes to say, “thank you to all of the wonderful Owen Sound fans who supported me during my time in Owen Sound and throughout my NHL career. The support shown for me and my family on Saturday night was second to none. A special thanks to Wilmer and Mable Beckett who will always be considered my ‘second parents’. Once again, thank you to the city and fans of Owen Sound.”
Maltby spoke to the Owen Sound Sun-Times’ Bill Walker about the event as well (and, as noted on Sunday, the Sun-Times’ story includes a video of the banner-raising ceremony):
“I’m very honoured,” the 38-year-old Cambridge native said on Sunday prior to ceremony at the Owen Sound Attack’s game against the Oshawa Generals. “When I was told what the organization was going to do I didn’t really know how to react and I was very surprised. It wasn’t something I expected.”
Maltby had 96 goals and 88 assists in 191 games with the Attack, capping it with a 50-goal season in 1991-1992.
“For me being here in Owen Sound, it was the first year that (the team) was here after moving up from Guelph,” said Maltby. “It was an exciting year as a rookie and then we beat Sudbury in the first round (of the playoffs) in seven games in triple overtime in Sudbury. It was great.”
Maltby won four Stanley Cups with Detroit and he played for Team Canada at the 2005 World Championships. He retired after last season and joined the Red Wings as a pro scout.
“Without being greedy I would have liked to have won that fifth Cup instead of losing it,” Maltby joked. “To say that I would have played over 1000 games and won four Stanley Cups and represent my country in international play, I would have called your bluff on all that. That’s part of why it was easier for me to retire this year and start my new career and spend more time with my family. I have no regrets as far as my playing career goes.”
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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.