The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/24/11 at 02:28 PM ET
Updated 7x at 4:44 PM: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the Dallas Stars tonight (7:30 PM, FSD/FS Southwest/NHL Network/WXYT), the Wings received mixed news on the injury front. MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that Patrick Eaves has “soreness in his groin” but did not sprain his knee during a collision with Torrey Mitchell during Tuesday’s game against the Sharks, meaning that he’ll return after the Wings’ road trip…
“I’ll see the doctor tonight and get the full report (from Wednesday’s MRI),’’ Eaves said Thursday. “Not a knee, I lucked out there. Hopefully (out) just a little while.’‘
Eaves said he just saw the replay of the hit on San Jose’s Torrey Mitchell.
“I hit the guy, kind of went up in the air and as I was coming down kind of got into a split situation, didn’t feel very good,’’ Eaves said.
Khan reports that Chris Osgood’s timeline for returning from sports hernia surgery mirrors Eaves,’ which isn’t great news given the Wings play four of their five West Coast road trip games over the course of six nights.
Eaves also spoke to the Free Press’s George Sipple about his status, while Wings coach Mike Babcock raved about Eaves’ interim replacement:
Eaves had an MRI on Wednesday but said today he didn’t know the results yet. He said he planned to speak a team doctor tonight.
“Hopefully it’s just a little while,” Eaves said. “Hopefully I’ll be back before you know it.”
Jan Mursak was called up from Grand Rapids to replace Eaves tonight against the Dallas Stars. Before he spoke to reporters after the morning skate, Wings coach Mike Babcock went up to Mursak and welcomed him back. Mursak, has played in 17 games this season with the Wings.
“We really feel that he’s an NHL player in waiting,” Babcock said of Mursak. “He’s got a good shot and good courage, puts a lot of heat on the other team’s defense and we look for that tonight.”
Somewhat ironically, the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema posted a “getting to know Jan Mursak video today.
Update 12:32 PM: Khan also reports that Brad Stuart’s feeling much better now that he had the braces designed to protect his teeth and jaw removed:
“It’s a great feeling to wake up and be able to run my tongue over my teeth and not feel metal and sharp, pointy things sticking into my gums,’’ Stuart said. “It was definitely a day I’ve been looking forward to for a little while.’‘
He said the wires were wrapped around each tooth, under the gum, to support the bands, providing stability as his broken jaw healed.
“They put me under, took them out one by one, because it was in my gum line around each tooth,’’ Stuart said. “Feeling sore today, but I’m happy to have them out.’‘
“I could probably have a steak before, but the problem was that those things dug into my gums, so every time I tried to chew anything it would hurt,’’ Stuart said. “Now I’m pretty much free to do whatever what I want without that discomfort.’‘
As for Osgood…
Goaltender Chris Osgood said he will not return during the upcoming five-game road trip. He’ll continue to practice while recovering from his Jan. 11 surgery for a sports hernia. He is hoping to be be ready to play the first game after the trip, March 9 vs. Los Angeles, but that’s just an estimate.
“That’s the day I’m shooting for, but I can’t guarantee if I will be or not,’’ Osgood said.
Update 12:47 PM: Here’s what Eaves had to say to the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:
“I hit the guy, and I saw the replay this morning, kind of went up in the air and when I came down, I got (into) this split situation,” said Eaves, describing the way he landed. “It didn’t feel very good.”
Eaves had an MRI exam Wednesday and will see doctors Thursday night to get the results. But he’s confident the injury won’t keep him out for long.
“It’s not the knee, I lucked out there,” Eaves said. “Hopefully it’s just a little while and I’ll be back before you know it. I’ll be here getting treatment and healing (while the Wings are on the road).”
Jan Mursak, who was recalled from Grand Rapids, will replace Eaves in the lineup.
Mike Modano (lacerated right wrist) and Valtteri Filppula (sprained left knee) will return Saturday in Buffalo. The Wings are host to Dallas on Thursday night before going to Buffalo.
I’m not sure how this one slipped under the radar screen, but here’s Mike Heika’s preview of tonight’s game from the Dallas News, too:
Key matchup: Jamie Benn vs. Nicklas Lidstrom
Expect the young Stars forward to see plenty of the Red Wings’ seemingly ageless 40-year-old defenseman.
Key stat: 8-3-0
The Stars are 8-3-0 against the Red Wings over the last three seasons, including 2-1-0 this season.
Modano (wrist) has been out since November, but he is expected to return to play Saturday against Buffalo. … Dallas has lost five straight and is 2-10-1 in its last 13 games. … To make room for the return of Burish or Barch, the Stars assigned C Aaron Gagnon to the Texas Stars on Wednesday. … The Stars lost, 7-3, to Detroit in their last meeting Dec. 29. … Detroit C Henrik Zetterberg ranks seventh in the NHL in scoring with 18 goals and 48 assists (66 points).
Update 1:08 PM: The Windsor Star’s Bob Duff spoke to Stars forward Steve Ott about the Stars’ slide:
“It’s a combination of a lot of things,” said Ott, who has scored 10 goals and leads the Stars with 136 penalty minutes. “You can blame it on injuries, you can blame it on the team not playing well as a group. All that factors into losing. The bright side of it is we played one of our best games of the season against New Jersey and ended up losing 1-0, so there’s definitely a lot of silver linings we can take, the good good aspects out of the bad, you could say.”
The Stars will welcome back forwards Krys Barch and Adam Burish from the injured list for Thursday’s game, but the status of leading scorer Brad Richards, out with a concussion and perhaps on the trading block, remains uncertain. “We’re starting to get that healthy team back and by next week, we should get even more boys back, and Richards hopefully soon, too,” Ott said. “There’s a lot of positives to build on down the stretch.”
Currently fourth in the NHL’s Pacific Division and 10th overall in the Western Conference with 68 points, Dallas plays five of its next six games on the road before launching a seven-game homestand. “It’s not going to be any easier,” Ott said. “We’ve got Detroit (Thursday), we’ve got Nashville Saturday, and then we go on a road trip against all our division – Phoenix, Anaheim, L.A. and San Jose. You either can be left behind, or you can pick up points and continue to move ahead.”
Ott wasn’t surprised by the trade earlier this week that sent power forward James Neal and defenceman Matt Niskanen to Pittsburgh for defenceman Alex Goligoski. “Nealer’s such a great hockey player, and he’s going to be for a lot of years and score a lot of goals, but you have to give something to get something,” Ott said. “And for us, we needed a good puck-moving defenceman that can play a lot of minutes, and Goligoski is one of those players. They’re pretty valuable in this league.”
Stars coach Marc Crawford was forthright in stating the current state of urgency in the Dallas dressing room. “If we were using the national emergency scale, we’d be at the highest level,” Crawford said.
Update 1:21 PM: Per ESPN Dallas’s mark Stepenski:
The Dallas Stars will be getting both Adam Burish and Krys Barch back in the lineup for tonight’s game at Detroit, according to a team official.
Burish and Barch have been out the last eight games since suffering fractured orbital bones in a February 3 game at Boston.
With Barch and Burish returning, the Stars now have 13 healthy forwards and it appears Jason Williams could be the odd-man out tonight.
Kari Lehtonen gets the start in net for the Stars, who are trying to snap a five-game overall losing streak and a seven-game losing streak on the road.
• Per the Wings’ website, here’s Mike Babcock’s game-day presser:
Update 3:16 PM: The Wings’ website posted Ken Kal’s game-day interviews with Mike Modano, Valtteri Filppula and Brad Stuart:
The NHL posted another video preview of tonight’s game:
The Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness posted another Eaves update:
Eaves has soreness in his groin. He said he’ll get the results from an MRI Wednesday sometime today.
“I’ll see the doctor tonight and get the full report,” Eaves said. “(It’s) not a knee, I lucked out there. Hopefully (I’ll be out) just a little while.”
Eaves collided with San Jose’s Torrey Mitchell on Tuesday.
“I hit the guy, kind of went up in the air and as I was coming down kind of got into a split situation, didn’t feel very good,” Eaves said.
WXYZ’s Matt Dery posted an Osgood update:
Red Wings skate with Dallas at the Joe tonight. Jimmy Howard gets the start in goal for Detroit. Chris Osgood said this morning after the skate he is targeting March 9th against the Kings as his return date.
The Dallas News’s Mike Heika also posted an update regarding the Stars’ roster...
Adam Burish is in tonight, and Krys Barch could be, as well. Neither can fight, so both will have to bring energy in different ways.
Jason Williams was last on the ice, so he could be your healthy scratch, but I just think Williams would have a good game against his old team. He fits what the Stars would seem to need tonight.
Marc Crawford said he had not made a decision on which forward would sit, but said it was nice to have an option.
``We really haven’t had that for two or three weeks, so it’s different for us,’’ Crawford said. ``It will be a decision we put a lot of thought into.’‘
Kari Lehtonen in goal for the Stars.
Jimmy Howard for the Red Wings.
As well as a prediction for tonight’s game:
This prediction game thing was a lot more fun when the team was winning.
The Stars actually match up well with Detroit and they have a strong history against this team (8-3-0 over the past three seasons, including 2-1-0 this season), but I just can’t see picking the Stars to win right now.
Let’s go with:
Detroit 4, Stars 2
• For some reason, the NHL’s game notes for tonight’s game still don’t include the names of the referees working tonight’s game;
• In developmental hockey news, Wings prospect Thomas McCollum stopped 22 of 25 shots, and Sebastien Piche registered 3 assists, as the Toledo Walleye defeated the Wheeling Nailers 6-3 on Wednesday night, and Walleye coach Nick Vitucci had this to say about McCollum to the Toledo Blade’s Mark Monroe:
Toledo outshot the Nailers 40-25. Goalie Thomas McCollum, who was reassigned to Toledo from Grand Rapids, finished with 22 saves. McCollum (4-1-0) will be with the Walleye through the weekend to get minutes after not playing much this month.
“He made some big saves look easy because of his positioning,” Vitucci said.
• Heading back to Grand Rapids, the Grand Rapids Press’s Zuidema posted a profile of Derek Meech:
After appearing in 126 NHL games and hoisting the Stanley Cup in 2008, it would have been easy for Meech to pout and sulk about returning to the American Hockey League for what most likely will be a full season. If the Red Wings recalled Meech, he would be subject to re-entry waivers and Detroit also would be responsible for half of his salary and the cap hit if he was claimed. But Meech had no interest in adopting a negative attitude.
“I don’t know how anybody could do that,” he said. “I’m playing a game that I’ve always loved to play and I’m making a living doing it, so there’s never a time when it’s a good excuse to mope around or anything like that.”
His presence certainly has been a bonus for the Griffins. In 230 games with the Griffins before this season, Meech had 17 goals, 48 assists and was an all-star in ’07. This year, he has seven goals, 19 assists and a plus-13 rating in 53 games. Coach Curt Fraser said Meech, who is an alternate captain, has been invaluable for the Griffins with his leadership and skill.
“We were lucky to get him to start off with, and when we got him here for the year, we made a commitment to help him get back to the NHL,” Grand Rapids coach Curt Fraser said. “He’s played a ton in every situation and he’s taken full advantage of this. We’re glad to have him. He’s the best defenseman in this league.”
Meech has faith that his days in the NHL aren’t over. He was happy for teammate Doug Janik, who had a seven-game stint with the Red Wings in October, and is trying to be as consistent as possible while also helping the Griffins.
“You can’t really think about too many things,” Meech said. “You’ve just got to focus on the task at hand and what we’ve got going on here, and that’s basically going out and trying to get wins every night.”
• As an FYI from the Westland Observer:
Join the Westland Wild Wings as they seek a win against the Detroit Red Wing Alumni in a hockey game will be played Saturday, March, 12, at the Mike Modano Ice Arena, 6210 N. Wildwood.
The puck drops at 7 p.m.
Tickets are available at $10 for adults and $5 for children. Kids under age 3 are free. Seating is limited to 800, so don’t be slow in getting tickets. They’re available at the mayor’s office in Westland City Hall, the Bailey Recreation Center and the Mike Modano Ice Arena.
Proceeds of the event will go to fund improvement to the Mike Modano Ice Arena.
• And, per the Adcraft Club of Detroit, former Wing Darren McCarty and the Sporting News’s Craig Custance will engage in a discussion/speaking engagement at the Olympia Club in Joe Louis Arena on March 10th.
One more update: The Red Wings’ website posted a YouTube clip of players talking about their favorite movies…
Michael Caples spoke to Jan Mursak about returning to the big club and signing a 2-year contract extension…
“I was really happy when I signed the contract already and I didn’t have to wait until the summer, and have to worry in the summer about that,” he said. “It’s way easier now; I can just concentrate on my own play and not worry about my future.”
“I’m just trying to do the best that I can any game I play,” he said, “so I’m just happy to be here and not worry about how many games I get. I just want to do the best I can. Of course, I played quite a bit of games now, and every game that I’ve played I was more comfortable, but there’s a big difference between the American Hockey League and the NHL, and when I went back, the first game I had a little bit of a problem, because it’s so different, but hopefully I’ll do good (Thursday) and I don’t have any problems.”
When asked what advice he would give to his linemate, Abdelkader – another player familiar with the drive between Grand Rapids and Detroit – said Mursak doesn’t need to change much.
“He’s had a great opportunity obviously, playing so many games up here,” Abdelkader said. “Any time you get the opportunity, just go out there and do your best and work hard. I think everything else will take care of itself. So to have the opportunity to come up and play as many games as he has this year, it’s good experience for him, and just go out and work hard and take care of business.”
“Well, I’m happy to be back,” he said. “Even if I’m playing in Grand Rapids, I want to do my best, and when I come here, do the same thing. Hopefully I can help the team win.”
And DetroitRedWings.com’s Dave Burke spoke to Jason Williams about returning to Detroit…
“I still talk to Dan Cleary and Kris Draper a bit, Todd Bertuzzi, and obviously if I see anybody I stop and say, ‘Hi’,” said Williams, who played scored 55 goals with 76 assists in 277 games in two stints with the Wings. “Those guys there that I mentioned are the guys I really keep in touch with and talk to via text message. You know, wherever you go you meet new guys, but those are the guys I’ve really still kept in touch with.”
Valtteri Filppula about his progress in returning from a sprained MCL…
“Not back tonight, thinking about Saturday,” Filppula said. “I feel pretty good about it right now. When I skate harder I usually have to wait till the next morning to see how it feels, but I feel pretty good right now. It was a little sore today. I went out there though and it felt pretty good, so that’s the main thing.”
As well as his goals in terms of providing an offensive impact…
“Trying to play the same way I’ve been playing, well defensively and hopefully every once in a while get some offense,” he said. “The team is playing really well now so it will be fun. Important road trip for us definitely need some wins out of there, we’ve been playing really well on the road so hopefully we can keep going the same way.”
And the Wings insisted to Burke that they won’t overlook the Stars by any means:
“There’s still a lot of hockey to be played and you have a bad week and a couple of teams have a good week and you look at that board and you kind of see how they move,” Wings center Kris Draper said. “That’s something we’re well aware of, but we’ve put together a nice little win streak. We want to challenge Vancouver for the top spot and put ourselves in a great position for the playoffs and that’s what it’s all about.”
Wings coach Mike Babcock knows the Stars have been up for his team of late, posting a 5-2-0 record against Detroit over the last two regular-seasons.
“We had success against Dallas the last time we played them, prior to that we hadn’t beat them in a long time,” he said. “We’ve got to look after ourselves at home; we haven’t been as good at home as we would like to be. We have been better on the road lately, so the bottom line is we’ve got to be better.”
NHL.com’s Brian Hedger posted Wings and Stars notes as well:
Modano, Filppula target Saturday: The Red Wings are real close to getting back to full strength on the upcoming five-game road trip that starts in Buffalo on Saturday.
Veteran center Mike Modano said he’ll make himself available to play for the first time in nearly three months against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night, while center Valtteri Filppula (knee sprain) said he’s also hoping to return for that game. With the NHL trade deadline rapidly approaching, getting their injured players back is almost like pulling off a trade for Detroit’s stretch run—especially in Modano’s case, following a long absence after wrist surgery.
“That was mentioned a couple times, that it feels like they made a trade for somebody,” Modano said. “Hopefully it pays off, but I’ll make myself available for Saturday and go from there. The fun part is just starting. Spring’s right around the corner, so I think that’s the part we’ve all been gearing toward and this team seems to thrive at that time of the year. I think it’ll be fun to be a part of it. I just can’t get too discouraged or too frustrated too fast.”
Detroit also lost another forward in Patrick Eaves, who left Tuesday’s loss to the San Jose Sharks in the second period and will not make the five-game road trip. He has a lower-body injury that he said is not a knee injury.
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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.