Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Wild wrap-up and overnight report: despite Bertuzzi’s injury, Wings take strides forward

The Detroit Red Wings will probably have to play against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday without the services of Todd Bertuzzi, who sounds “questionable” at best after slightly pulling his groin during the Red Wings’ 6-0 win over the Minnesota Wild on Friday night, but as I suggested in the “quick take,” the Red Wings displayed so much jam, grit, patience, poise and even swagger during what was a pretty darn tightly-contested game until Darren Helm gave the wings a 3-0 lead 37 minutes into the game, and especially until Valtteri Filppula gave the Wings a commanding 4-0 lead 3:25 from the end of the second perio…

That it’s hard for the subjective wings fan in me to feel anything less than nearly absurdly optimistic about the Wings’ ability to overcome the absences of Pavel Datsyuk (knee, out for about another week), Lidstrom (ankle, out till at least Tuesday) and Jonathan Ericsson (wrist, out for about a month) because the Wings built upon their 5-2 victory over Columbus in terms of both style and substance, spending just as much time out-working the Wild as the Wings did eventually out-classing their opponent.

Will the Wings miss Big Bert if, as Ken Holland suggested to MLIive’s Ansar Khan, the team shuts him down for the weekend as a preventative measure? Definitely, but the Wings lost Bertuzzi’s services three minutes into the second period, a few minutes before they broke the game open, and a long time before the Wild started mucking things up late in the third period, and the Wings did pretty well without him.

The Wings played tremendously resilient hockey while receiving clutch performances from both their stars and depth players, and to put it bluntly, the Wings reclaimed the Central Division lead (they now have 3 more wins than the Blues), nuzzled to within a point of the Canucks, and have essentially succeeded in warming up for the desperate Blackhawks, who won a 2-1 decision over Ottawa on Friday—as well as upcoming games against Philadelphia (Tuesday), a potential playoff opponent in the Kings (Friday) and a “four-point game” against Nashville next Saturday—while finally giving Jimmy Howard (19 saves) the kind of defensive support and offensive “run support” he deserves from his teammates.

As far as the Wings’ opponent was concerned, Friday night’s game represented an opportunity to build upon their 5-4 shootout loss to Montreal on Thursday while proving that adding Nicklas Backstrom to a long list of injured players would not further derail their tenuous playoff hopes.

Instead, the Wild lost Cal Clutterbuck and Nick Palmieri to “lower-body injuries,” and while it took a while for the Wings to hand the Wild’s butts to ‘em on a platter, the fact that they gave up a goal all of 35 seconds game, an that things went downhill from there, was tremendously disappointing for Minnesota, as Josh Harding told the Pioneer Press’s Brian Murphy:

“Awful,” Harding summarized. “It starts with me. I wasn’t very good tonight. No excuses. No nothing. Not much to say here. We didn’t have it.”

The Wild’s worst road loss in a decade buried them deeper among the Western Conference also-rans as they fell to 8-20-7 since occupying the NHL’s top spot on Dec. 10. Compounding their misery, the Wild lost wingers Cal Clutterbuck and Nick Palmieri to upper-body injuries and their status is uncertain for Sunday’s home game against the Colorado Avalanche.

Down two skaters and playing for the second time in as many nights after battling back for a point in a shootout loss at Montreal, the Wild gave the Red Wings five power plays and allowed all six goals at even strength. No matter, it appeared as though the Wild constantly were killing a penalty, chasing Detroit’s super-skilled forwards around the defensive zone and frequently coughing up the puck the few times they actually had it.

The Wings may have laid a goose-egg in 9:55 of PP time, but they also finished at a remarkable collective +30 and registered 16 points.

“It’s one thing if we don’t score a goal, but we were so bad defensively tonight,” groused coach Mike Yeo. “We gave them the first two goals and put ourselves in a tough spot and didn’t respond after that. That’s too good of a team to feel that way. It seems like our heads, we lost those along the way as well.”

Nine different Detroit players recorded points led by Filppula, Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall, who tallied three apiece. Rookie Brendan Smith’s first NHL goal late in the first period made it 2-0. The Wings added three more in the second, including a pair 1:07 apart. Ian White actually skipped his unassisted goal past Harding like a stone across a placid lake. Zetterberg provided the final indignity by burying a pinballed puck into an empty net to end the night for Harding, who has allowed 38 goals in his past 11 appearances.
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“First shift into the game, we’re down 1-0, coming into a building that, as the game goes on, we have to grow our confidence,” Yeo said. “The opposite happened. We put ourselves in a tough spot and we were chasing all game.”

Harding blamed himself for the loss, but as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo suggests, it’s not as if he received much help:

Dany Heatley was a minus-4. Kurtis Foster, pasted to the bench other than two shifts in the third period, and Justin Falk were each minus-3. Matt Kassian and Palmieri were the only two Wild skaters not on the ice for a Detroit goal. The Wild has been scored on first a league-high 40 times (17-18-5), but lately it’s coming before players even have a chance to drip a bead of sweat. Friday’s came 35 seconds in when Harding coughed up a bad rebound and Filppula scored.

“I felt great in warmup and fell apart right away,” Harding said.

Falk had a tough period, three times not moving the puck quick enough until finally giving it away. The last, he skated into traffic, fell and moments later, former Badger Brendan Smith, in the lineup for Lidstrom, scored his first NHL goal.

“We gave them the first two goals,” Yeo said.

Things were worse in one of the most one-sided periods you can ever imagine. The Wild looked as if it was on a 20-minute penalty kill. The puck only came out when Wild players rushed for a line change to send the next five poor souls on the ice.

“Definitely frustrating to watch them skate around and pass the way they did,” Foster said.
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“We didn’t give Hards any help out there,” Heatley said. “We just gave them too much respect right off the bat. We gave them too much room out there and let them do what they wanted to do.”

The Pioneer Press’s Murphy tossed off a narrative recap as well…

RECAP: It was another miserable visit to Joe Louis Arena for the Wild, who appeared overmatched, as usual, against the high-octane Red Wings in Detroit. Valterri Filppula scored his first of two goals 35 seconds into the game off a fat Josh Harding rebound, and that was all that was needed for the Wild to curl into the fetal position.

Rookie Brendan Smith scored his first NHL goal off another rebound in the crease, and the Wings poured it on with three goals in 10 minutes in the second period.

Nine different players recorded points, led by a trio with three apiece. Filppula added an assist to his two goals. Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and two assists, and defenseman Niklas Kronwall matched them with three assists.

Detroit, which outshot the Wild 35-19, scored all six of its goals at even strength, chasing Harding with 14:30 remaining. The Wings have outscored Minnesota 48-22 during a 9-0-3 run at home. The Wings improved to 15-3-1-3 all time against the Wild at the Joe.

MEANING: Minnesota’s goaltending is a mess. Niklas Backstrom is out two to four weeks with a strained groin, while Harding continued his second-half swoon. The impending unrestricted free agent has yielded 38 goals in his last 11 appearances.
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ETC.: The defeat was the Wild’s worst on the road since a 7-1 loss at Phoenix in April 2002….Minnesota has allowed the first goal 40 times in 65 games.

The Star-Tribune’s Russo also offered some off-the-cuff observations in his blog…

In losing 6-zip at Detroit, the Wild suffered its third six-goal loss in history tonight at Detroit – tied for the second-most lopsided loss in team history. The biggest margin of defeat was the 8-1 treat at the X to Montreal last night.

Right from the opening shift, the Wild was chasing when Josh Harding gave up a rebound on a harmless-looking Henrik Zetterberg shot. Valtteri Filppula got to it and tucked it behind Harding, who gave up six goals on 29 shots before being pulled for Matt Hackett 5:30 into the third.

What to say about this game? The Wild was awful, never had the puck, was pinned in its own zone for what seemed like 60 minutes. Other than that, things went well.

And in offering “five takeaways” from the game, MinnesotaWild.com’s Mike Doyle mentioned the one bone of contention the Wild had with the referees. It happened late in the third period:

• Darroll Powe brings it every single night, and tonight, even in a tough loss, he should’ve been rewarded. However, it was not to be. Powe put home, what looked to be, his fifth goal of the season, only to have it taken away by the ref. Allegedly, Powe pushed Wings’ goalie Jimmy Howard into the net along with the puck. However, with the benefit of replay, we saw Powe get knocked into Howard by his own defenseman. Regardless of a replay or not, even if he did knock into the goalie, Powe was battling for a loose puck and the play shouldn’t have been blown down or called off.

We’ve all heard of home ice advantage. Typically, it is a figurative saying for the boost players feel from their cheering fans. However, at Joe Louis Arena, the term takes on a literal meaning.

Doyle growled about the non-goal call in his game commentary as well, and from a very strict point of view, I would also suggest that the Wings got a break…

But having seen these kinds of goals waived off (we’re going to go with “waive” versus “wave” here because Merriam-Webster suggests that “waive” has more appropriate meanings—plural—in this scenario) against the Wings, these calls might be silly, but they’re also based upon subtlety, and even as a subjective Wings fan? Powe did take his focus off the puck when it rolled off his stick blade, and a split second before Brendan Smith came into play and shoved everyone into the net, Powe just leaned into Jimmy Howard with his stick and shoved Howard’s pad into the net. Based upon the criteria that the referees have been using all season, it’s a “no-goal,” even if the call is as cheesy as a wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano. That’s the criteria.

• On Detroit’s fifth goal, Ian White’s slap shot looked more like a rock skipping across one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes than a puck sliding across a sheet of ice. The puck bounced, at least once, on its way over Josh Harding’s glove. Seriously? A one-in-a-million shot. Maybe White should play the lottery.

Speaking of the lottery, when the puck is wrapped along the wall and slides by the Michigan Power Ball sign behind the net, it occasionally takes a funny bounces out in front of the net. That just so happens to be the end opponents have to defend twice. Coincidence? I think not. It didn’t hurt the Wild tonight, but I will bet [your] Power Ball winnings that the Wings have scored a goal with a fortuitous bounce off the boards this season.

That depends on when Al Sobotka reinforces the boards with plywood, several times a season. The bounces change and the Wings have to re-learn how the puck bounces off ‘em. We’ve learned that the boards give and take away, too, so they are what they are.

The Wild didn’t get into town till 2 or 3 AM on Friday morning, and Russo followed ‘em, so that’s that for the Wild press. We’ll allow the Associated Press’s very truncated recap to shift our focus from the Wild’s perspectives to those of the Red Wings’ players and coach…

This is what happens when Valtteri Filppula shoots the puck. Filppula had two goals and an assist, surpassing 20 goals for the first time in his career, Jimmy Howard made 19 saves for his 11th career shutout, and Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and two assists in the Detroit Red Wings’ 6-0 win over the Minnesota Wild on Friday night.

The Red Wings snapped the two-game skid at home that followed their NHL record 23-game winning streak in Detroit. Filppula has been reluctant to shoot the puck in his previous five seasons. But this season, he’s putting shots on net more often and already has career highs in goals, assists and points (53) in 64 games.

“He’s always been a good passer, but he refused to shoot,” Zetterberg said of Filppula. “This year, he’s shooting more.”
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“I don’t think about points too much,” [Filppula] said. “I think when you’re playing well ... I always knew that the points come when you’re doing good things. But definitely, it’s always nice to get goals and definitely 20 is a good number for me.”

Ian White had a goal and an assist, and Brendan Smith and Darren Helm also scored for the Red Wings. Niklas Kronwall had three assists. It was Howard’s sixth shutout of the season.

And NHL.com’s Brian Hedger will allow us to continue the Filppula-based narrative;

“Two of the better players in the League are missing from our team and those are big losses, but we just have to try to keep winning without them,” said Filppula, whose goals gave him a career-high 21 this season. “Certainly it gives opportunities for other guys, too, which is good. We’ve had good depth on the team during the season and when you have a couple of key guys out you really need that depth.”

The Wings, who moved within a point of Vancouver for the top spot in the Western Conference and the overall standings, keep getting production from different areas. In this game, for instance, they got their second goal from a rookie defenseman – Brendan Smith – who made it 2-0 late in the first with his first career goal in his first regular-season home game. He also did it in front of his parents and grandfather, Lester Smith Sr.

“It was huge to have my grandfather here,” Smith said. “I mean, when we were little kids, there are three of us and we only had two parents, so he had to jump in there and drive us. He’s always been there for us and he was the reason for us getting to practice a lot of times and games. He’s pretty much the third parent there for us … so he’s on Cloud Nine.”

If some of the Red Wings are, too, it’s understandable. Almost buried in the impressive display of puck possession and offense was goalie Jimmy Howard picking up his 33rd win and stopping all 19 shots he faced for his sixth shutout of the season. It was also Howard’s first victory in four starts since returning from a fractured finger that kept him out for eight games. He faced just five shots in each of the first two periods, as the Wings kept Minnesota’s Josh Harding (23 saves) scrambling at the other end, so what was Howard’s toughest task all night?

“Making sure you’re following the puck at the other end, but [I’ve] got to give props to the guys,” Howard said. “They got a lot on [Harding] quick and we played our half-ice game most of the night.’‘

When the Wings didn’t, Howard played rock-solid hockey, gobbling up rebounds like a trash compactor and steering the ones he couldn’t corral to proper spots, even when the newly-acquired Kyle Quincey got caught running out of position or Smith and Kindl showed their “greenness” on occasion.

For now, especially given that Bertuzzi left the game early and given that Johan Franzen’s trying to regain his confidence while playing alongside Darren Helm and Drew Miller, the Wings are a one-line team again, but that’s okay because Henrik Zetterberg’s return to his usual position between Jiri Hudler and Filppula has allowed Filppula to his high-scoring ways while giving Zetterberg a needed offensive kick in the pants, too:

“We found good chemistry,” Zetterberg said. “We played most of the season together and it’s nice to have that consistency. It’s fun to play with those two. Fil’s a real good skater and Huds does a real good job in front of the net. If you were to say he’s a net-front guy before the year, I don’t think you would believe that. But he’s working real hard and I don’t think he’s getting enough credit for what he’s doing for me and Fil.”

Zetterberg made sure to spread out his praise while speaking to the Macomb Daily’s Paul Harris...

“We had all four lines playing well. We need to do that,” Zetterberg said.

Valtteri Filppula scored twice to reach and surpass the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his career.

“He’s always been a good passer but he refused to shoot,” Zetterberg said. “This year he’s shooting the puck.”

Zetterberg had a goal and two assists himself. He has two goals and six assists in his last three games. Rookie defenseman Brendan Smith got his first NHL goal.

“He’s a real good player. We’ve known that for a long time,” Babcock said. The coach added he really like the way the defense pairing of Smith and Jakub Kindl played.

And I’m gonna take that cute from Harris to take a hard left (I usually say left because I’m left-handed) and focus on Smith, via DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose:

“He’s a real good player, we’ve known for a long time,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Just a matter of giving him an opportunity. I thought (Jakub) Kindl and him were excellent again, in back-to-back games. Smitty’s a good skater.”

During the fourth shift of his first home game for the Wings, Smith scored the goal that he later said he’ll never forget. With his parents (Deidre and Lester) and his grandfather, Lester Smith Sr., at the game, Smith he gave Detroit a two-goal cushion in the first period.

“It was huge to have my grandfather here, I mean, when we were little kids – there are three of us and we only had two parents – so he had to jump in there and drive us,” Smith said. “He was the reason for us getting to practice a lot of times, and games. He’s pretty much the third parent there for us and he’s always been there for us, so he’s on Cloud Nine so it’s pretty exciting to have him here for my first goal.”

Smith’s goal was the result of his hustle. With the play deep in the Wild’s zone and Justin Abdelkader trying to whack the puck passed goalie Josh Harding, it was Smith who slipped down toward the crease undetected and slapped home a loose puck at 16:04.

“They had been going glass-out the whole time and made the D come out a lot, but at the same time they weren’t watching the play so I think (Danny) Cleary made a great play on the defenseman and striped the puck,” Smith said. “Once I saw that Cleary stripped the puck from (Marco) Scandella I jumped up in the rush and beat my forward, and it was kind of like a gimme.”

Smith described the goal as a “cookie”—as in something he simply had to reach up and grab—but he understands that he’s got to keep his play simple (you’ll have to read Roose’s article as it’s full of fantastic quips from Smith, especially about “picking Nicklas Lidstrom’s brain”) while attempting to convince the Wings’ coaching and management staffs that he can and should earn a full-time job on the team going toward the playoffs, and that he’s ready to graduate to the NHL on a full-time basis starting next season:

“They’re testing me out and seeing if I can be relied on and I think that is the biggest thing,” Smith said. “Now I’m playing to keep myself in the lineup here and obviously for next year, too. I think a lot of that will be determined by my play and stuff that I’m doing in the gym, because I obviously have to get a little bigger. And I’ll have to play like I did in Columbus and keep it going.”

Zetterberg offered a telling comment about Smith and the rest of the Wings’ call-ups this season while speaking to the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan...

“Players who’ve come up have played real well, and they’ve shown they’re ready to play when they get the call,” Zetterberg said. Smitty (Brendan Smith) comes up and scores his first goal. It’s a credit to those guys.”

Smith had four career NHL games under his belt but none had been at Joe Louis Arena. To score in his home debut, with his parents, grandfather and two family friends in attendance, was a thrill.

“I don’t know if I’ve come down from cloud nine yet,” Smith said. There aren’t words to describe the feeling. I saw a bit of the reaction (from his family) on camera when I scored. It’s a pretty cool feeling for myself and my family.”

Niklas Kronwall, who also deserves his share of praise for stepping up and returning to form while Lidstrom’s been out, made an ironic comment about Filppula’s goal-scoring given that Johan Franzen’s currently going through one of his famous crises of confidence (don’t worry, he’ll be okay, I promise)...

“He’s starting to realize how good he really is,” Kronwall said. “When Mule (Franzen) started, he was on the fourth line and when he got the chance he’s been on fire ever since. You see the same thing with Fil, now. He’s playing unbelievable.”

Filppula shrugged praise off, of course, as Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner noted…

“When you get to play a lot the expectations get higher,” said Filppula.  “It feels pretty good. The last record was 19, so it’s nice to get that over with. I don’t think about points that much.  When you’re playing well, I always believe that the points will come when you’re doing good things.  Definitely it’s always nice to get goals and 20 is a good number for me.”

And Regner also pointed out that Zetterberg’s done a pretty damn good job of redeeming himself offensively:

After Zetterberg scored his 15th goal of the season at the 5:30 mark of the third period to give the Wings their 6-goal margin of victory, the Wild pulled Harding. Former Windsor Spitfire and Plymouth Whaler Matt Hackett finished the game for Minnesota between the pipes. Zetterberg scored his sixth goal in his last 11 games. When asked why his goal scoring has picked up, Zetterberg deadpanned, “the puck is going in.”

Howard ended up making 19 saves for one of the easier shutouts of his career. Detroit’s win snapped a brief two-game home losing streak that came after the Wings’ NHL-record streak of 23 home victories. The win came with one negative, as Todd Bertuzzi suffered a groin strain in the second period and did not return to the game. General manager Ken Holland said that Bertuzzi was questionable for Sunday afternoon’s home game against Chicago.

“He’s day to day, has a tender groin. We’re not taking any chances,” Holland said. “We’ll evaluate him tomorrow. It’s nothing serious. Nothing significant. This time of year, we want to be very cautious.”

Babcock cut to the chase about Zetterberg and the Wings’ task at hand going forward while speaking to Michigan Hockey’s Matt Mackinder...

“(Zetterberg) has been getting better for a long time and he didn’t have the start he wanted,” said Babcock. “He’s been playing better and better and then the points started to come. I think him and ‘Fil’ and ‘Huds’ have been real good for us, obviously, and they’re leading the club right now.”

Howard’s shutout was preserved when an apparent goal by Darroll Powe late in the third period was ruled no goal when the on-ice officials determined Powe was pushed into Howard. Looking ahead, the Red Wings host Chicago on Sunday afternoon.

“They beat us last time we played them and it was a game we felt we had an opportunity in,” Babcock said. “We came and played really well in that game, so we’re looking forward to (Sunday).”

And as for Friday night’s win? Simple, as he told the Free Press’s Helene St. James:

“I thought we had good energy. I thought we skated good, the D moved the puck, and the forwards got on it. Zetterberg’s line was obviously dominant for us. It was a good win for our team. We’ve got teams coming up here that are real stiff competition, and we needed this win here. You can’t afford to drop one like this at home.”
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Jimmy Howard, on staying focused: “It’s just making sure you’re following the puck down at the other end. But I’ve got to give props to the guys, they got on them quick and we played our half-ice game the majority of the night. It’s great to see—we needed guys to step up, and that’s exactly what’s happened.”

Niklas Kronwall agreed with his coach while speaking to St. James...

“I think everyone is chipping in,” Kronwall said. “Obviously, Hank’s line is really on fire right now. But I think we’ve gotten good production from each and every line. And great goaltending. I thought we skated a lot better than we have in the last few weeks. We came out with a lot of energy right off the hop, and we stayed on it. We didn’t let it get away from us.”
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“All four lines are playing well,” Zetterberg said, “and everyone needs to do that when you don’t have Swede and Pav in the lineup.”

And here are Filppula and Smith describing their goals:

The guys who were available responded with a scoring pace that was fast and furious. In the opening minute, Zetterberg rushed the puck into Minnesota’s zone and shot the puck on net, and Filppula showed off his deft hands with a quick backhand, stunning goaltender Josh Harding.

“The rebound came right to me,” Filppula said. “It was close to the net, so I was still able to move next to the goalie and had a pretty much empty net. I’m happy about that. We got a good start, and that was important.”

The Wings made it 2-0 on another net-front goal late in the first period. Bertuzzi found Danny Cleary in the low slot, and Smith ended up connecting on Cleary’s rebound after Justin Abdelkader had taken a whack at scooping it in.

“I knew I had all the contact on it,” Smith said, “but before that, I saw Abby swing at it and miss. I wheeled in there and took advantage of it. A lot of the boys were calling it a cookie—it’s kind of like stealing a goal. It was pretty funny.”

MLive’s Ansar Khan, who also penned a mostly quote-less recap, but given the way he manages to summarize Filppula’s development into the kind of consistent borderline NHL star that the Red Wings hope Brendan Smith might become one day, I think it’s appropriate to let Khan’s recap take us out:

“He’s got to be feeling pretty good about himself,’’ coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s got good confidence on the ice. The more you shoot the puck, the more you go to the net, the more you’re going to score. If you’re going to have growth in your career it usually happens around this time, and you take off.’‘

Filppula eclipsed his career high of 19 goals set in 2007-08. He also has a career-best 53 points (previous high was 40 in 2008-09).

“There seems to be that extra edge that everyone thought he had, and he’s really playing with that this year, taking the puck to the net, shooting the puck,’’ Kronwall said. “He’s really making a statement this year. He’s a great player and I think he’s just reaching another level and has even more to give.’‘
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“When you get to play a lot, the expectations, at least for me, get higher and you want to do more to help the team,’’ Filppula said. “I don’t think about points too much. I always knew that the points will come when you’re doing good things. But definitely, it’s always nice to get goals and (21) is a good number for me.”
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Zetterberg scored at 5:30, his 15th of the season. He has 19 points (six goals, 13 assists) in his past 13 games. Like Filppula, he credited his linemates.

“We found good chemistry and it’s fun to play with those two,’’ Zetterberg said. “Fil’s a real good skater and Huds does a real good job in front of the net. If you were to say he’s a net-front guy before the year I don’t think you would believe that. But he’s working real hard and I don’t think he’s getting enough credit for what he’s doing for me and Fil.’‘

Going forward, and especially going into the playoffs minus any forward additions at the trade deadline, the Wings will need Zetterberg, Filppula, Hudler, the HEMI line, a hopefully healthy Bertuzzi and Datsyuk, when he starts scoring and gets his confidence back, Franzen, and of course players like Lidstrom, Kronwall, Stuart, White, the newly-acquired Quincey, maybe even Smith, Ericsson and Kindl, that incredibly underrated Mursak-Emmerton-Holmstrom line and of course Jimmy Howard to continue to fulfill their potential.

Multimedia:

Highlights: Here’s the Red Wings’ website’s highlight clip, narrated by Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond:

Post-game: If you’re interested, the Wild’s website posted an MP3 of their radio post-game podcast, as well as a Flash audio clip thereof;

Fox Sports North posted a 2:19 interview with Wild coach Mike Yeo;

The NHL Network interviewed Brendan Smith from the Joe’s “Cisco Arena Cam” after the game;

Fox Sports Detroit posted Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond’s takes on the game, as well comments from Valtteri Filppula and Red Wings coach Mike Babcock:

 

<a href='http://www.foxsportsdetroit.com/pages/video?videoid=4510af06-a054-4107-bc5f-83e71103fdc1&amp;src=v5:embed::uuids' target='_new' title='Babcock, Filppula on big win'>Video: Babcock, Filppula on big win</a>

Via RedWingsFeed, Fox Sports posted a YouTube clip of Kyle Quincey’s post-game interview with Mickey York;

The Red Wings’ website posted clips of Valtteri Filppula….

 

And Brendan Smith’s post-game comments…

 

And We All Bleed Red on YouTube posted clips of Brendan Smith’s first intermission interview, the Slovenian Jan Mursak fan club, Fox Sports North discussing Henrik Zetterberg grinding it out along the boards and Brendan Smith displaying his defensive chops

Photos: The Detroit Free Press posted a 23-image gallery;

The Detroit News’s David Guralnick posted a 21-image gallery which includes a bonus picture of Tomas Holmstrom as I won his Twitter contest to earn a little extra attention to the first player mentioned to him prior to game time;

Fox Sports Detroit posted an 8-image gallery;

Fox Sports North posted a 5-image gallery;

The Pioneer Press embedded an 18-image gallery in Brian Murphy’s recap;

Yahoo Sports posted a 31-image gallery;

NHL.com posted a 42-image gallery;

The Wild’s website posted a 42-image gallery;

And the Red Wings’ website posted a 42-image gallery.

Statistics:

Shots 35-19 Detroit overall. The Wings out-shot Minnesota 13-5 in the 1st, out-shot Minnesota 12-5 in the 2nd, and out-shot Minnesota 10-9 in the 3rd period.

The Wings went 0 for 5 in 9:55 of PP time; the Wild went 0-for-3 in 4:01 of PP time.

Jimmy Howard stopped 19 shots; Josh Harding stopped 23 of 26; Matt Hackett stopped 6 of 6.

The 3 stars, per Michigan Talk Radio’s Rich Kincaide, were Brendan Smith, Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula.

The Wings’ goals: Filppula (20) from Zetterberg (38) and Kronwall (15);

Smith (1) from Abdelkader (13) and Cleary (18);

Helm (8) from Franzen (26) and Kronwall (16);

Filppula (21) from Zetterberg (39) and Kronwall (17);

White (7), unassisted;

Zetterberg (15) from Filppula (32) and White (23).

Faceoffs 37-25 Minnesota (Detroit won only 40% of their draws);

Blocked shots 15-8 Minnesota;

Missed shots 21-9 Detroit (total attempts 71-36 Detroit);

Hits 28-23 Minnesota;

Giveaways 8-4 Detroit;

Takeaways 4-4.

Indiidual stats:

Faceoffs: Helm went 6-and-12 (33%); Zetterberg went 5-and-12 (29%); Abdelkader went 6-and-5 (55%); Emmerton went 4-and-4 (50%); Franzen went 4-and-2 (67%); Abdelkader lost his only faceoff; Mursak lost his only faceoff.

Shots: Abdelkader, Zetterberg and Filppula had 4 shots; White and Helm had 3; Smith, Cleary, Quincey, Kronwall and Franzen had 2 shots; Kindl, Hudler, Mursak, Emmerton and Holmstrom had 1.

Blocked attempts: Zetterberg and Franzen had 3 attempts blocked by Wild players; White, Helm and Kronwall had 2 attempts blocked; Quincey, Mursak and Holmstrom had single shot attempts blocked.

Missed shots: Cleary and White missed the net 4 times; Abdelkader missed the net 3 times; Helm and Franzen missed the net 2 times; Kindl, Miller, Filppula, Kronwall and Holmstrom missed the net 1 time.

Hits: Mursak led the team with 4 hits; Quincey and Filppula had 3; Cleary, Stuart, Kronwall and Holmstrom had 2; Smith, Kindl, Abdelkader, Zetterberg and Helm had 1.

Giveaways: Kindl, Abdelkader, Miller, Quincey, Zetterberg, Filppula, Kronwall and Howard had giveaways.

Takeaways: Filppula had 2 takeaways; Cleary and Kronwall had 1.

Blocked shots: Bertuzzi blocked 2 Wild shots; Smith, Kindl, White, Stuart, Hudler and Kronwall blocked 1.

Penalties taken: Cleary took 2 minor penalties; Smith and Hudler were tagged with single minors.

Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a staggering +30.

White finished at +4; Hudler, Quincey, Zetterberg and Filppula were +3; Kronwall finished at +2; Smith, Kindl, Abdelkader, Cleary, Miller, Stuart, Mursak, Helm, Bertuzzi, Emmerton, Franzen and Holmstrom finished at +1.

Points: Filppula finished with 2 goals and 1 assist for 3 points; Zetterberg scored 1 goal and added 2 assists for 3 points; Kronwall had 3 assists for 3 points; White had a goal and an assist for 2 points; Helm and Smith had goals; Abdelkader, Cleary and Franzen had assists.

Ice time: White led the team with 23:16 played; Kronwall played 22:42; Stuart played 21:07;

Filppula played 20:06; Quincey played 19:48; Zetterberg played 19:38;

Hudler played 19:18; Kindl played 1802; Franzen played 16:18;

Helm played 15:46; Holmstrom played 15:45; Smith played 15:08;

Abdelkader played 13:01; Cleary played 12:57; Miller played 12:47;

Mursak played 11:20; Emmerton played 11:00; Bertuzzi played 8:01.

Part II: About Bertuzzi: Here’s what we know about Bertuzzi’s groin injury, via MLive’s Ansar Khan:

Post-game update on Detroit Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi: General manager Ken Holland said Bertuzzi, who left Friday’s 6-0 win over the Minnesota Wild, in the third period, has a sore groin and is day-to-day.

“We’re not taking any chances,’’ Holland said. “We’ll evaluate him tomorrow. He’s questionable for Sunday (at home vs. Chicago). It’s nothing serious. This time of year we want to be very cautious.’‘

Holland went a step further while speaking to the Free Press’s Helene St. James:

Todd Bertuzzi left after the second period with a sore groin. “He’s probably out Sunday,” general manager Ken Holland said, adding that Bertuzzi would be re-evaluated today. If he can’t play, the Wings would need to call up someone.


Part III: Red Wings notebooks: Much of this morning’s notebooks involve subject matter that was covered during the course of the day on Friday, but there’s some new stuff as well. As such, I’ll direct you toward what I found in a late-breaking post about Smith and Kindl form NHL.com’s Brian Hedger and take note of the the Free Press’s Helene St. James’ report about Lidstrom’s injury (seems like a bruised toe to me, but they’re still calling it a bone bruise in his “ankle”)...

Two sets of X-rays have ruled out a fracture, but he’ll be re-evaluated Monday. Until then, “I can ride the bike. I’m not pushing off with my toes, but I can still ride the bike, and work out that way. Swelling is still there, but it is a lot smaller than it was a few days ago.”

Lidstrom was injured when he was hit by a puck. “It just hit me right in that spot where even though the skate is protected, it’s still going to hurt. It’s been lingering longer than I was hoping for,” he said.

But her notebook focuses on Valtteri Filppula’s maturation for the most part, as noted by his teammates:

“I think he’s had the opportunity to play more in more situations, play more minutes,” linemate Henrik Zetterberg said. “You always knew he had it in him, and now that he has the chance, it’s really nice to see that he really takes care of it and is scoring goals.”

Niklas Kronwall said: “There seems to be that extra edge that everyone thought he had. He’s really playing with that this year, taking the puck to the net, shooting the puck. He’s really making a statement this year.”

It’s the natural effect of “playing with a lot of confidence in practice,” Jimmy Howard said. “He’s really bearing down and firing the puck. It’s no shock to any of us in the room with the way he’s been working.”

Filppula has heard about his shot for so many years he smiles at the mere mention of it. “I don’t know if I’m ever really confident in my shot,” he said, “but I definitely have been shooting more and getting good opportunities to shoot, too, getting in good areas.”

Filppula will be 28 this month. He has just entered what’s considered a player’s prime years, and is playing like it. “He’s feeling good about himself,” coach Mike Babcock said. “If you’re going to have growth in your career, it usually happens around this time. Good for him.”

• Kyle Quincey’s been running around a little too much for my liking, but the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan notes that Quincey played pretty well on Friday, and he didn’t re-injure that pulled groin, either…

Quincey returned in Friday night’s 6-0 victory over the Wild, playing 19 minutes and 49 seconds, with three hits.

“I was hoping (to play in Columbus), you always want to play,” said Quincey, whose return forced the Red Wings to send Doug Janik to Grand Rapids. “Missing Columbus was frustrating, but it helped me in the long run.”

Quincey was expected to be paired with Ian White . Quincey felt he pulled something Feb. 25 against Colorado but played through it. He doesn’t believe this will be the type of groin injury that lingers.

“(It’s an) isolated injury, kind of fluky thing that just happened,” he said. Janik, meanwhile, left a good impression with coach Mike Babcock as a sound defensive player and penalty killer.

“He fits in well, a good player, good security for us,” Babcock said of Janik, who played 18 minutes against Columbus.

And this quip’s worth mentioning, too:

Babcock is pleased with the development of young forwards Cory Emmerton and Jan Mursak . “They’re harder on the puck and that makes them harder to play against,” Babcock said.

• Jakub Kindl played extremely solid hockey on Friday, and he spoke to MLive’s Ansar Khan about hitting the 100-game mark while earning a more regular shift than he’d anticipated down the stretch due to Jonathan Ericsson’s injury and the Wings’ decision to trade Mike Commodore:

“I didn’t expect I was going to be back (in the lineup) that quick,’’ Kindl said. “I knew I was going to be (No.) 7, and that unless someone got hurt I wasn’t going to play. E’s been great for us, you don’t want to see him down, but injuries are part of hockey. Now is my time to step up again and show them I can play.’‘

When Lidstrom returns, the club must decide whether to send rookie Brendan Smith back to the Grand Rapids Griffins or sit Kindl. For now, the young defensemen are paired together.

“We’ve just got to keep it simple,’’ Kindl said. “Smitty is a good player. He can skate and carry the puck. We’ve just got to talk to each other and help each other out.’‘
..
“I’m just working on getting pucks and trying to make plays,’’ Kindl said.

He knows what he has to do better, but he will only get that chance if there is an injury or two because the team otherwise is set with its top six.

“When you look at the depth of our defense it’s not easy (to crack it),’’ Kindl said. “I believe in myself. I’m a good player. I’m getting better every day. I’m learning a lot of things from all these guys. I’m 25 and still have a whole future ahead of me. I want to play on this team and I’ll do whatever it takes to play here. Whenever I have a chance I just have to show I want to be here and I deserve to be here.’‘

I wish I could tell you whether the Wings plan on allowing Kindl to do more than enhance his trade value this summer given the fact that they’re giving Smith a long look, but I think that they’re going to delay that decision until the summer. For the moment, they need to see what Smith and Kindl can bring the team if they’re needed in the playoffs, and, obviously, depending on what Lidstrom and Stuart decide to do, and whether they choose to pursue a free agent now that they’ve got Quincey in the fold, something tells me that we won’t know whether Kindl will be here next October until…Next October.

• Speaking of “seeing what someone can offer,” Doug Janik will be a free agent this summer, but he acquitted himself well during his call-up, and Janik spoke to the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness about attempting to turn some heads on Tuesday:

“Everybody wants to be in the NHL and it’s been awhile (for me),” Janik said. “I got called back up and got a chance. It’s always nice when you get called back up and your team wins. It was short but I enjoyed it.”

Janik gets back in time to help the Griffins’ push to make the playoffs.

“We’re a few points back right now, but we have three games in hand on just about everybody,” Janik said. “With the addition of Ty Conklin it’s made for a good run here and hopefully tonight I’ll go down there and we’ll keep it going.”

Also of note from Pleiness:

Quote of the day: “Looking at the standings every day is a great thing,” Babcock said. “We’re focused on winning. The league is tight, if you don’t get points, if you don’t get prepared, teams can beat you and you end up not feeling as good as you want looking at the standings.”

• If you haven’t heard about it yet, in the charitable news department, the Free Press’s George Sipple notes that the Red Wings’ Alumni Association will take part in a charity hockey game to raise funds for Cerebral Palsy research today in Hazel Park;

• I thought this quip from the Pioneer Press’s Brian Murphy was particularly insightful…

Red Wings veteran Tomas Holmstrom has won four Stanley Cups, so while flattered to be a part of Detroit’s recent NHL-record 23-game home winning streak, the longtime agitator said it is a conversation starter compared with striving for another championship.

“Every game was like a playoff atmosphere for the crowd. It was a lot of fun, and you need to get your points,” Holmstrom said. “But that’s not your goal for the season.”

And DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose offered an intriguing tidbit regarding where both the Wings and Blackhawks will practice on Saturday:

The Blackhawks arrived in Detroit in the early morning hours Saturday from Ottawa where they played Friday night, and their equipment was taken directly to the visitors’ clubhouse at Comerica Park. With Joe Louis Arena unavailable Saturday, the Blackhawks will dress at the ballpark and bus to City Sports Arena where they have an afternoon practice scheduled.

The Joe’s booked for a concert by the Black Keys tonight at 8, so we’ll see how the ice holds up on Sunday afternoon as the Joe is, shall we say, a little underpowered in terms of its cooling and dehumidification systems’ abilities to handle multiple events. That’s why the Wings bring in gigantic dehumidification units for the playoffs.


Part IV: In the AHL and ECHL: The Grand Rapids Griffins opened a rare 3-games-in-3-nights slate by allowing the Rochester Americans to out-shoot them 37-34 and take a 2-0 lead, but they rallied to secure a 4-3 victory thanks to a two-goal performance from Joakim Andersson, a goal and an assist from Francis Pare and a 34-save performance form Ty Conklin.

The Grand Rapids Griffins’ website provides a recap, YouTube-formatted post-game interviews and a 15-image Flickr photo gallery, and the Grand Rapids Press’s Peter J. Wallner reports that the Griffins have a rough go ahead as they’re gonna travel to Hamilton by bus on Sunday and then play two more home games (after Saturday’s tilt versus Oklahoma City) between tomorrow night and March 30th.

• In the ECHL, Thomas McCollum stopped 34 of 36 shots and 4 of 5 shootout shooters as the Toledo Walleye defeated the Wheeling Nailers 3-2 in a shootout. Andrej Nestrasil was held off the scoresheet but registered one of the Walleye’s two shootout goals and Bryan Rufenach registered a goal and an assist for Toledo.

The Walleye’s website and the Toledo Blade’s Mark Monroe provide recaps, and the Blade’s Ashley Streichert talked about the Walleye’s pink-painted rink and honoring of breast cancer survivors during Friday night’s game. The Walleye’s YouTube channel also posted a rare slate of highlights.


Part V: Also of Red Wings-related note: Bonus Swedish! What did Henrik Zetterberg tell Aftonbladet’s Per Bjurman? Datsyuk and Lidstrom might be getting some well-deserved rest due to their injuries, but the Wings miss ‘em and need them to return as soon as possible, and while the Wings were able to pounce on a tired Wild team, the Wings know that their division is insanely tight, which means that the Wings have to try their best to win every game they can…Which Zetterberg thinks is “fun.”

• I know that our Swedish friends get irritated when I say this, but I do agree with the Montreal Gazette’s Mike Boone when he suggests, in an article about the Gazette being asked if the Canadiens were interested in having a Russian translator, that Nicklas Lidstrom’s 20 seasons in Detroit have more or less rendered his accent Midwestern;

• And I’ll conclude my little “notes” section by suggesting that you have a laugh at a letter sent to the London Free Press about the shameful, shameful fact that sporting stars are allowed to wear facial hair. The gent who penned the letter probably isn’t a Red Wings fan…


Part VI: Player ratings, beta version: I really, really, really don’t want to do this, but you asked me to, and so I’m gonna try to offer some assessments of the Red Wings players’ performances against the Minnesota Wild.

I guess it’s time to suck it up, look at the stat sheet and get to work. I’m going to go with the O-S-I grade system, which is a grade school version of grading where you get an “Outstanding,” “Satisfactory” or “Needs Improvement” grade. I think it’s much more “friendly” and constructive than an A-B-C-D-E/F grade system, and as I went to Catholic school, where a 92 was a B+ and an 85 was a B-, I’m guessing that you and I have different views of what constitutes an A-grade or C-grade performance.

#2 Brendan Smith: Outstanding. Smith didn’t just score a goal, register 2 shots, a hit and a blocked shot in 15:08 of ice time—he managed to balance standing out at the right times with his offensive confidence and ability to jump into the play with keeping his defensive game very simple. I already knew that his passing, shooting and skating were already NHL-caliber, but it’s his positioning that’s really impressing me. He’s rarely caught in the wrong spot.

#4 Jakub Kindl: Outstanding. Kindl didn’t dent the scoresheet, but while serving as Smith’s senior partner, he displayed demonstrative, self-assured abilities and plain old looked like he could play 18 minutes and muck and grind in his own, non-physical-but-physical way. I’m wondering if he’s added some strength during the course of the season, because he’s harder to push around these days.

#8 Justin Abdelkader: Satisfactory. Standards are high for Abdelkader these days, and while centering Bertuzzi and Cleary, and eventually an assorted cast of characters, he co-led the team with 4 shots, won more faceoffs than he lost and crashed the net while proving that he can be just as effective as a center as he can be as a grinding winger.

#11 Danny Cleary: Satisfactory. Cleary’s picked up his game of late, and in addition to registering an assist, he was physical, gritty and downright speedy at times.

#18 Ian White: Outstanding. While having to cover up for Kyle Quincey’s mistakes, white still registered a goal and an assist, led the team in ice time and continued to prove that he can do much more than benefit from Nicklas Lidstrom’s presence. Smart pinches and strong skating helped him along the way to a spectacular night.

#20 Drew Miller: Satisfactory. Miller didn’t stand out, but he did his usual job of playing mistake-free hockey in all three zones.

#23 Brad Stuart: Satisfactory. I don’t think Stuart will ever be able to bear down on clearing attempts—that seems to be his one weakness—but he registered 2 shots and 2 hits and looked very, very steady alongside Niklas Kronwall.

#26 Jiri Hudler: Satisfactory. He didn’t register a point but was +3, blocked a shot and, as Zetterberg suggested, went to the net and the “hard areas” of the ice like he’s been doing it forever.

#27 Kyle Quincey: Needs improvement. I don’t mean to be so harsh on a player who finished at +3, had 2 shots and 3 hits, but as great as Quincey’s been in terms of playing assertive hockey while making me wonder if somebody took Stuart’s steady defense and grit and Kronwall’s offensive abilities and shoved ‘em in a cloning machine to make Quincey, he’s running around far too regularly and is way out of position, and that’s costing the Wings

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Comments

MsRedWinger's avatar

Wow, George.  Great stuff.  Thanks!

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 03/03/12 at 10:58 AM ET

Sal's avatar

Hey George—Appreciate the player ratings, but don’t kill yourself trying to do everyone, especially if you don’t enjoy doing them.  I suggest you just pick out the highlights & lowlights.  If someone has a terrific game, say so and why you think so.  If Franzen is loafing again, call him on it.  Don’t worry about the satisfactories. 

Appreciate everything you do, especially digging up the stuff from the international press.

Posted by Sal from the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains on 03/03/12 at 11:19 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I’d agree with Sal. I really like reading the player-by-player rundown, but if it’s something you hate doing, then you can always pick out a handful of standouts and then people can take to the comments to discuss the rest.  Speaking of which:

#23 Brad Stuart: Satisfactory. I don’t think Stuart will ever be able to bear down on clearing attempts—that seems to be his one weakness—but he registered 2 shots and 2 hits and looked very, very steady alongside Niklas Kronwall.

I was actually very impressed with how often he was willing to join the rush when the transition game caught one of the wingers below him in the zone and it made more sense for him to step up.  It shows confidence in the Wings’ transition system and in the forwards’ defensive abilities to take that D-spot for 10 seconds. 

#2 Brendan Smith: Outstanding. Smith didn’t just score a goal, register 2 shots, a hit and a blocked shot in 15:08 of ice time—he managed to balance standing out at the right times with his offensive confidence and ability to jump into the play with keeping his defensive game very simple. I already knew that his passing, shooting and skating were already NHL-caliber, but it’s his positioning that’s really impressing me. He’s rarely caught in the wrong spot.

I know that Smith is still getting sheltered minutes, matchups, and zone starts, but I like it as another developmental step. He’s more than shown that he’s ready to step up from the speed of the AHL to the speed and skill of NHL 3rd and 4th-lines, and I think he will soon be able to step up to a more complete NHL defensive role. As it stands, I was VERY impressed with his skating, especially how confidently he moves the puck across the blue line.

You’ll often see guys get the puck at the top of the zone standing a bit flat-footed, which allows the coverage guys to immediately get into shooting lanes. What Smith was doing was already starting his feet moving by the time the puck got there; this gave him may more options to shoot it on net, drive into the zone, or pass it off to a guy who can be more open than he otherwise would when the defender has to start moving after the winger has already started bearing down on him.  I don’t want to necessarily say that I’m “all-in” on Smith, but I have a feeling that as early as next season, he’s going to be one of the league-leaders for defenseman as far as lowest percentage of shot attempts blocked. 

#39 Jan Mursak: Outstanding. Mursak led the Wings with 4 hits, blazed up and down the ice and made the most of limited ice time in front of a raucous cheering section.

I was such a fan of the Mursak fans. I was really hoping he’d pot one for them. He definitely played more like a scoring winger than a grinder in this one.

At any rate, thanks for the writeup George.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 03/03/12 at 11:53 AM ET

Avatar

It seems like with every passing game, Mursak is making more of a name for himself. Great game last night for him.

Posted by RyanVM on 03/03/12 at 12:14 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

#26 Jiri Hudler: Satisfactory. He didn’t register a point but was +3, blocked a shot and, as Zetterberg suggested, went to the net and the “hard areas” of the ice like he’s been doing it forever.

I thought satisfactory was generous as his passes were going everywhere except to a Wings player. He did turn the right way while standing like a popsicle stick in front of the net, so I guess he gets a bonus for that!  Shot the Fing puck sometimes Hudler.

I wondered for a few games how Mursak and Helm compare in speed, Mursak is fast!

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 03/03/12 at 12:21 PM ET

Joe Z.'s avatar

Hi George, bad thing you hated doing the beta .  I hope you’ll keep it up because I liked it a lot.

Posted by Joe Z. from Austria on 03/03/12 at 02:32 PM ET

gusoline's avatar

Hi George,  Thanks a lot for the player rankings; they are great!  But I do agree that if you hate doing them (Sorry) to just stick to the highlights and lowlights.

Keep up the great work either way.

Posted by gusoline on 03/03/12 at 05:25 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Ice time: White led the team with 23:16 played; Kronwall played 22:42; Stuart played 21:07;

Even the Pinkys on hfboards were pissed off that the Wings signed White and he is putting up career numbers.  It’s all about the culture in Hockeytown and Wings have it in spades.

RE:  Mursak.  I even said it in the last LB.  He needs to be patient but at the same time, give Uncle Mike a pleasant little headache by making the right plays and playing smart hockey.

Posted by SYF from Alana Blanchard's Bikinis and Surfboards on 03/03/12 at 06:39 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.