The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/09/12 at 02:27 PM ET
Updated 5x at 5:12 PM: Quincey took a dumb penalty but Canada still defeated Switzerland 3-2, and Henrik Zetterberg had 2 assists and Johan Franzen scored a goal in Sweden’s 5-2 win over Germany: One member of the Detroit Red Wings has completed his Wednesday game at the World Championships, and there are two games left to go for Wings participants:
Tomas Tatar didn’t register any points in Sloakia’s 4-2 win over Kazakhstan, but he played 11:32, had 2 shots and continued to show both puckhandling skill and forechecking grit despite being boxed into a somewhat limited role. Former Wing Tomas Kopecky scored 2 goals for Slovakia as well.
Two games remain on the schedule: at 1:15 PM EDT, Kyle Quincey and Canada will face off against Switzerland, and at 2:15 PM, Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall, Henrik Zetterberg and Calle Jarnkrok—who Expressen’s Mattias Ek reports has made the list of ten finalists for the “Guldpucken” award, which is voted upon by Expressen readers, all face off against Germany at 2:15 PM.
In terms of accessing said games, I have to warn you that the site I’m linking you to has a ton of spyware and pop-up ads, so you will basically need to have some sort of script-blocking and/or ad-blocking and/or cookie-blocking and/or Flash-disabling software, but if you can’t find streams on Justin.tv, Firstrow.eu or elsewhere, I’ve found the most reliable and numerous streams come from /livetv.ru/en/allupcomingsports/2/, and I’m not adding in the http before the links because they can be so harmful to an unguarded computer that they’re blacklisted by our blogging software.
Otherwise, if you missed it, the Detroit Free Press’s Helene St. James and the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan report that Danny Cleary did indeed have significant knee surgery on Tuesday, but Wings GM Ken Holland reports that all went well;
• In the prospect department, Tomas Jurco and the Saint John Sea Dogs will attempt to take a 3-0 lead in the QMJHL final when they face off against the Chicoutimi Sagueneens tonight, and Hockey’s Kevin Forbes lists Jurco as the third-best winger in the QMJHL—behind two fellow Sea Dogs, and ahead of one more teammate on what is an incredibly, incredibly deep team coached by former Wing Gerard Gallant:
3. Tomas Jurco, Saint John Sea Dogs
NHL Rights: Detroit Red Wings
Drafted 2nd round, 35th overall, 2011
Despite being drafted just last summer, Tomas Jurco is due to make the jump to pro hockey this fall, thanks to his late 1992 birth date. Being ahead of the curve is nothing new for the Slovakian sniper, who originally burst onto the scene in 2009 as a 16-year-old rookie with Saint John.
Jurco had an immediate impact with 26 goals and 51 points in the 64 games of his rookie year and some were disappointed when his sophomore effort simply totaled 31 goals and 56 points in 60 games, but the Slovakian was working hard to improve other aspects of his game. That extra work has paid off in his third season, where he posted 30 goals and a career high 68 points in just 48 games, despite being hampered by injury.
Perhaps the most notable improvement that Jurco has made is in his consistency. Listed at 6’2 and 193 lbs, Jurco is much more effective when he uses his size to find space on the ice and drive the net. This can be seen in the playoffs this spring, where Jurco has 10 goals and 22 points in 14 games thus far. He also played for Team Slovakia at the World Juniors, leading the team with eight points in five games.
As mentioned, thanks to Jurco’s December birthday, he’s eligible to graduate to pro hockey next season. Although he may start his pro career in the AHL, Jurco has the tools to be an NHL player in the very near future.
• In the current player department, from CBS Detroit, the Sports Xchange posted a belated assessment of the Wings’ 2011-2012 regular season and playoff performances, as well as what’s ahead for the Wings:
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Goaltender Jimmy Howard was on his way to a special season, on pace to shatter the team and NHL record for wins in a season, when he suffered a broken index finger on Feb. 2. After he returned, he twice missed short stints with a groin strain. Overall, he still had a strong season, going 35-17-4 with a career-best 2.12 goals-against average. His strong and consistent play gave the team a chance to win on most nights.
MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYER: It was a tough season for versatile forward Danny Cleary. He was plagued most of the season by a sore knee that will require offseason surgery. The knee was drained several times and required a couple of cortisone injections late in the season. He needed a pain-killing injection before each playoff game. As a result, he struggled much of the season and had just 12 goals and 25 assists in 75 games.
BIGGEST NEEDS: They desperately need a sniper, a pure goal-scorer to support Pavel Datsyuk. Johan Franzen led the team with 29 goals but was too inconsistent. If Nicklas Lidstrom retires, they also will need a top-tier defenseman, someone who can log 23-plus minutes per game and play in all situations. It wouldn’t hurt to add a decent-sized, physical fourth-line player who wears on the opposition’s defense.
FREE AGENT FOCUS: Much of their offseason plan hinges in Lidstrom’s decision to play another season or retire. It’s 50-50. Defenseman Brad Stuart likely won’t be back, but his spot essentially was filled by the late season acquisition of Kyle Quincey. Longtime net-front dynamo Tomas Holmstrom is expected to retire. Diminutive forward Jiri Hudler might cash in after scoring a career-high 25 goals. He likely will be offered more on the open market than the Wings are willing to give him.
—RW Johan Franzen came under quite a bit of criticism for his inconsistent regular season and poor playoff series, but it’s highly unlikely that he will be traded. He is a proven goal-scorer (led the team with 29) and has a reasonable salary cap hit ($3.95 million). His offense would be difficult to replace for that amount of money.
—C Henrik Zetterberg re-established himself as a premier player and clutch performer late in the season and in the playoffs following an uncharacteristically slow start (nine goals, 26 assists in 52 games). He heated up over the final 30 games, putting up 34 points (13 goals, 21 assists) and finished as the team’s leading scorer with 69 points. He was their best player in the playoffs, when he typically elevates his game.
—LW Gustav Nyquist impressed the team with his skills late in the season and earned a spot in the lineup for the final four playoff games. He hangs onto the puck and has good vision, with the ability to set up linemates and create scoring chances. He will need to gain strength in the offseason in order to win more puck battles along the boards and in the corners. The team is excited about his future.
• In the alumni department, the Wings are celebrating their third May birthday of the month (after Nicklas Lidstrom and Mike Babcock) as former Wing Steve Yzerman turns 46 today, and as such, via RedWingsFeed, Michigan Hockey Now re-posted Darren Eliot’s argument as to why he believes Steve Yzerman is the greatest Red Wings player ever (with USA Today’s Kevin Allen making Gordie Howe’s case and Michael Caples making Nicklas Lidstrom’s case):
Steve Yzerman and the Red Wings’ organizational progression from Dead Wings to model franchise are intertwined to the point of being indistinguishable. They are one and the same. It was certainly a case study in proving the adage that it is about the journey, not the destination. But in the ultra-competitive and often cruel world of professional sports, winning is the destination and validates the journey. To that end, Yzerman and the Wings first vied for the Stanley Cup in 1994-95 – the first time the Wings had gotten to the Final since 1966 – only to lose to the New Jersey Devils. It wasn’t until 1997 that Yzerman and the Red Wings reached the ultimate destination – thirteen years into the symbiotic odyssey.
The next season was all about overcoming the grief of losing teammate Vladimir Konstantinov to debilitating injuries suffered in an auto accident as the team was out celebrating the ’97 championship. Yzerman was now in full bloom as a leader, keeping the team together and coming through when it mattered most – the playoffs – winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Red Wings repeated as Stanley Cup victors by sweeping the Washington Capitals. It is the last time a team has won back-to back titles to date, which gives credence to the feat, especially given the back drop. In one of the most poignant sports-meets-reality moments ever, Yzerman as captain took the Cup and immediately gave it to a wheelchair-bound Konstantinov as the team gathered around. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, as everyone in attendance knew they were witnessing an immortal gesture rapt in the euphoria of winning, underscored by the very real example of our shared mortality.
Yzerman and the Wings won it all again in 2002, when a completely exhausted Yzerman told me after the Game 5 clincher against the Carolina Hurricanes, “I’m too tired to take my equipment off. I’m just glad I don’t have to put it back on again tomorrow.” The exhaustion of the grind to win it all was evident, but so too was the joy in celebrating with his daughter. The boyish face was still there, but you had to peer around nicks and accumulated abrasions to see it now. He had delivered his team to the final destination and the scars on Yzerman’s face gave testament that the journey was anything but easy and certainly not linear. The kid who arrived 18 years earlier as an 18-year-old now had kids of his own. Yzerman was now leadership personified.
And he played a few more seasons, the 2004-05 lockout deferring retirement until a last hurrah in 2006 and overcoming yet another knee surgery – this one usually reserved for senior citizens, not iconic athletes. Yet, the definitive on-ice season that proved Yzerman had grown like few others ever in the game – just as he had done so off the ice as a franchise linchpin and leader – was 2000. In that season, at 34 years of age, Yzerman won the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s best defensive forward. This from the same guy who amassed 155 points in 1989 – only Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux have ever put up more points in a season.
Change that: It wasn’t the same guy. And that is the point. That is why Steve Yzerman is the most important and thus, the greatest Red Wing player ever. He was thrust into a situation where a team needed saving. He was brought into to be the centerpiece of that salvation. He proved to have the character and conviction to see it through, from wunderkind scorer to the best two-way player in the game; from fresh-faced rookie to legendary leader and from Stevie Y to simply ‘The Captain’. No shortcuts and no doubt: Detroit Red Wings & Steve Yzerman, Steve Yzerman & Detroit Red Wings. Forever linked, each defining the other, as you would expect from the greatest player in team history.
• Somewhat ironically, the Free Press re-posted a Mitch Albom column penned in 1992, wondering how the Wings could rebound after a second-round ouster at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks;
• In the, “For Further Reading” category, if you missed J.J. from Kansas’s Nashville Predators playoff eulogy on Puck Daddy’s blog, it’s an excellent read—and, by Puck Daddy standards, involved tremendous restraint from J.J. in terms of cheap shots taken;
• Ditto in terms of “For Further Reading”: Canadian Hockey Online’s Christopher Nardi had a conversation with Wings coach Mike Babcock about his experiences as Team Canada’s coach at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver;
• Also regarding Babcock, TVA Sports in Quebec posted a snippet from Le Journal De Montreal’s Jean-Francois Chaumont (in French), in which Chaumont spoke to Babcock about possibly coaching the Montreal Canadiens one day.
There’s no way that Babcock leaves the Red Wings until he chooses to do so, and Babcock understands that he’s not necessarily fit to be the Canadians’ coach (and this is roughly translated):
“Absolutely, I’d love to one day,” Babcock told the Journal de Montreal during a practice with the Canadian team in Helsinki. “However, I’m a man of principles and beliefs. First, I don’t speak French, and if I wanted the job, I’d have to learn French. That’s very important. Montreal is a beautiful city, and there would be several coaches interested in this position before me.”
Babcock made comments different from many of his counterparts in recognizing the distinct side of Montreal, the only bilingual city in the NHL.
“To me, it makes no sense to be with the Habs without mastering both languages,” he said. “It’s difficult enough in the NHL, and in a market like Montreal, if you don’t speak French with the media, you’re forgetting at least half your fans. If you win every day, you don’t talk about it, but with parity in the NHL, you won’t win every game.”
• And finally, WDIV Local 4 posted a teaser for an interview with Shawn Burr which will air tonight at 11 PM EDT.
Burr finally found a bone marrow match to help battle his Acute Myeloid Leukemia on Tuesday, but Burr and the Shawn Burr Foundation continue to press forward with their initiative to encourage fans to join the bone marrow donor registry via a painless cheek swab.
Update: CBS Detroit posted an awesome wallpaper-sized image of Jimmy Howard making a glove save taken from a net cam along with its “roster report”;
Update #2: Canada defeated Switzerland 3-2 despite the fact that Kyle Quincey took a stupid slashing penalty which led to Switzerland’s 2-2 tying goal early in the 3rd period. Quincey played 12:07 alongside Luke Schenn. Quincey finished at +1 and had no shots.
Update #2.5: Via RedWingsFeed, let’s just say that Quincey isn’t doing anything to live his reputation down, cost of his acquisition included. Pro Hockey Talk’s Mike Halford labels the trade a “bad” deadline deal:
To Detroit: D Kyle Quincey
To Tampa Bay: 2012 1st-round pick, D Sebastien Piche
Quincey’s minutes decreased to the point where he was barely playing 16 per game in the first round. Detroit’s early exit also means the Lightning now get a pretty decent pick.
Update #3: Henrik Zetterberg registered two assists, on the 3-1 and 5-2 goals, and Johan Franzen scored that 5-2 goal as Sweden defeated Germany—you guessed it—5-2.
Zetterberg finished the game with 2 assists, a 14-and-9 record in the faceoff circle, a shot and a +1 in a remarkable 23:08 of ice time;
Franzen scored a goal, had 6 shots, finished at a +1 and played 20:19, going to the net and staying there;
Niklas Kronwall did take a penalty which led to the Germans’ 1-1 goal, but he also produced some borderline “Kronwalling” hits and played solidly while taking 2 shots and finishing even in 21:14 of ice time;
And Calle Jarnkrok continued to look awesome while centering Jakob Silvferberg and Daniel Alfredsson, going 12 and 2 in the faceoff circle, roaring up and down the ice, taking a shot and setting up all sorts of scoring chances in 13:45 of ice time.
To quote IIHF.com’s Lukas Aykroyd:
The physicality picked up in the second period. In the opening minute, German rearguard Dennis Reul plastered Swedish scoring leader Loui Eriksson into the boards just after he crossed the blueline. Due to a Franzén hit, there was an extended delay 3:19 into the period for a dislodged pane of glass to be replaced deep in the German zone.
At 6:38, Tre Kronor regained the lead. On a one-timer from the right faceoff circle, Stålberg converted a fantastic cross-ice pass from Niklas Hjalmarsson as [Dennis] Endras lunged helplessly across.
[Erik] Karlsson stretched Sweden’s edge to 3-1 on the power play at 8:14, sending a rising slapshot from the right point past Endras as Franzén provided the screen.
That was set up by Zetterberg…
The Germans got back into it on Reimer’s goal with 3:02 left in the middle frame, as he skated in, took a drop pass from Christopher Fischer, and fired the puck through the legs of a kneeling Niklas Kronwall and past a surprised Fasth.
Unfazed, the Swedes made it 4-2 just two and a half minutes into the third period. Johan Larsson sent a perfect cross-ice feed on the backhand to Niklas Persson, who simply had to fire it into the open side.
At 8:32, Franzén bulled his way to the net and banged in his own rebound off the rush to put Sweden up 5-2. There was no way Germany was going to mount a comeback after that.
With Joel Lundqvist done for the tournament after suffering a facial fracture against Denmark, defenceman Staffan Kronwall was shifted to forward for this game. The 28-year-old is the brother of Niklas Kronwall, and played for the KHL’s Severstal Cherepovets this season.
Also, from RedWingsFeed, here’s Cory Emmerton answering a “Kids Club” question on DetroitRedWings.com:
Update #5: MLive’s Brendan Savage posted a Worlds roundup as well.
Update #5.5: USA Hockey’s website reports that Jimmy Howard will start versus Belarus on Friday.
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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.