Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings at the Worlds, Quarterfinal wrap-up and foreign language fly-bys: upsets rule Thursday

Updated 3x at 12:02 PM: The vast majority of the Detroit Red Wings’ participants at the World Championships—including Justin Abdelkader, Jonathan Ericsson, Johan Franzen (Expressen, Aftonbladet and Marie Hallman report that he plain old came down with a fever), Jimmy Howard, Calle Jarnkrok, Niklas Kronwall, Kyle Quincey Henrik Zetterberg—were eliminated on Thursday, and were eliminated for a simple reason:

Single-game elimination is a cruel business, so much so that I would very well trade some of the beautifully free-wheeling play I’ve watched at the World Championships for some of the trap-happy hockey displayed in the NHL playoffs, and, well…At the World Championships on Thursday…because bad starts, shaky goaltending, lapses in concentration and plain old puck luck are the reasons why the Semifinals and Medal Round shake out as follows:

Saturday, May 19th:

• 7:30 AM EDT: Slovakia (Tomas Tatar) vs. Czech Republic (Petr Mrazek, not playing for the Czechs);

• 11:30 AM EDT: Russia (Pavel Datsyuk) vs. Finland (Valtteri Filppula)

NBC Sports will televise one of the above-mentioned games at, according to their schedule, 9 PM EDT.

Sunday, May 20th:

• 9 AM EDT: Bronze Medal Game: Semifinal 1 loser vs. Semifinal 2 loser

• 1:30 PM EDT: Gold Medal Game: Semifinal 1 winner vs. Semifinal 2 winner.

NBC Sports will televise the Gold Medal game on tape delay, at 9 PM EDT

So we’ll be back to being wary of spyware and ad-ware to watch streams on justin.tv, livetv.ru/en/, firstrowsports.eu and the like this weekend because on Thursday full of hockey on the NBC Sports Network, from 6 AM until 5 PM, was more than enough for American audiences. Sigh…

Anyway, Thursday’s results were downright shocking, with one exception:

• In the first quarterfinal, Tomas Tatar registered an assist as Slovakia rallied from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to defeat the heavily-favored Canadians 4-3;

• In perhaps the only predictable result of the day, Pavel Datsyuk registered an assist on the game-winning goal in Russia’s 5-2 victory over Norway, though the Russians didn’t take the lead for good until 55 seconds into the 3rd period;

• In a plain old bizarre game, Jimmy Howard stopped 28 of the 31 shots he faced, but could not be saved from strange but earned bounces, a game-tying goal with under seven minutes in the 3rd period assisted by one Valtteri Filppula, and the Finnish gamer with 8 seconds left in regulation as Finland defeated Team USA 3-2;

• And the day ended with a head-scratcher: Henrik Zetterberg registered a goal and an assist and Jonathan Ericsson, playing in his first game in two weeks, helping Sweden negate a 3-1 deficit against the Czech Republic, but Milan Michalek swiped the puck from Niklas Kronwall with all of 29 seconds left in regulation and roofed a shot over a very, very shaky Viktor Fasth, giving the Czechs a 4-3 victory—in Stockholm.

As such, Tomas Tatar’s underdog Slovaks will try to play giant killers for the second game in a row against the slithery Czechs, and then Filppula and Datsyuk will highlight a battle of bitter rivals when the Russians and host Finns tangle later on Saturday morning, with three of the four Wings’ remaining representatives at the Worlds guaranteed to come back to North America wearing a medal…

But the only player who’s Wings property that’s guaranteed of playing past Sunday is Saint John Sea Dogs forward Tomas Jurco (DetroitRedWings.com’s Rick Bouwness penned a fine profile of Jurco on Thursday afternoon), whose team will attempt to defend its Memorial Cup title starting on Saturday evening in Shawinigan, Quebec.

 


In terms of Thursday’s games, I’m not sure how much foreign-language press you’d like me to add as there was more than enough English coverage, and especially in the losers’ cases, there are only so many words, in any language, for, “We weren’t good enough,” but here’s my best attempt at a “fly-by” of the foreign-language press given my migraines, combined with reviews of each and every game and a wee bit o’ multimedia:

 

First, if I could summarize the reason that Canada lost to Slovakia in a few sentences, I’d steal the following from the Canadian Press’s Chris Johnston’s game recap:

Two bad penalties. Key players caught out of position on a back-breaking goal. The inability to protect a lead in a tight game.

These types of mistakes have prevented Canadian players from the golden opportunities more than anything else recently, and on Thursday, they came against a “far inferior” opponent, as general manager Kevin Lowe described Slovakia following a shocking 4-3 quarter-final loss.

“They had no business being in the game,” Lowe said of the Slovaks.

Yet there they were with time ticking down at Hartwall Arena. Slovakia was well aware of the situation and played the role of spoiler perfectly, patiently sitting back and hoping for Canada to slip up.

What happened next was nothing short of a meltdown. First, captain Ryan Getzlaf’s line with Corey Perry and Evander Kane got caught up ice when Milan Bartovic raced in and tied the game with a rebound off the rush at 13:25. Then, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was assessed a boarding penalty. Just as Canada killed that one off, Getzlaf was given a kneeing major for an open-ice hit on Juraj Mikus at 17:28.

Four seconds later, Michal Handzus tipped home the winning goal.

This paragraph also summarizes Tomas Tatar’s contribution to the game, at least from a statistical standpoint:

Goaltender Cam Ward stopped Tomas Tatar on a spirited rush early in the third period before Bartovic tied it 3-3 at 13:25, following up on his shot and knocking home the rebound. Shortly after, the Slovaks rang a shot off the crossbar and eventually found the winner after Getzlaf’s penalty.

IIHF.com’s Lukas Aykroyd, Johnston and the Edmonton Sun’s Terry Jones provide recaps, with Jones reiterating the Canadian superiority complex from GM Kevin Lowe:

Team Canada general manager Kevin Lowe had a theory Thursday after watching the team he put together lose 4-3 to Slovakia in a quarterfinal.

“European teams are now playing Canada as defensively as possible,” Lowe said. “They’re saying ‘We can’t beat these guys unless we play a system with as few mistakes as possible.’ There’s a fine line when it comes down to allowing creativity. We don’t want to stop allowing it. But it seems like we keep giving the opportunities to the teams we’re playing ... while they’re playing robotic hockey against us.

“(The Slovaks) had no business being in the game. They had a far inferior hockey team. They had a game plan which they were sticking to and they got the win. There’s a fine line at this level about playing like robots.”

But defense is easier to coach to championships than the kind of offensive, attacking hockey that the Wings have successfully employed to the tune of four Stanley Cups and six Stanley Cup Final appearances since 1995, and when you only need to win one game to advance, anything can happen.

Statistically, Kyle Quincey was quiet but solid, finishing with 2 shots and an even plus-minus rating in 12:02 played, partnered with Luke Schenn;

And Tatar was awesome, crashing, banging, dekeing and dangling, registering an assist, 3 shots, a +1 and 14:07 in ice time, playing on the Slovaks’ third line with Mikus and Michel Miklik.

Via the Wings, here is what Tatar himself had to say on his Twitter account:

Yes we did it!!! Proud SLOVAKIAN! Thanks to all fans:) you were great.

In Slovak...All I found of interest is a report that Tatar’s linemate, Juraj Mikus, has a Charley horse and possibly a slightly tweaked knee, but coach Vladmir Vujtek told SITA, the Slovak news agency, that Mikus may very well play on Saturday despite essentially being kneed by Getzlaf.

And in the multimedia department...TSN posted an 8:41 highlight clip and a shorter version thereof...

NBC Sports posted a highlight clip:

Breaking sports news video. MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL highlights and more.

And if you’re interested, Hokej.sk, SME.sk and CAS.sk posted photo galleries from the game.

 


In the second Quarterfinal, Russia did roll over Norway, but it took a while for the big Russian machine to get going. Pavel Datsyuk, who will be up for voting in EA Sports’ NHL 13 “Cover Vote” from Friday until May 23rd, registered an assist, went 12 and 8 in the faceoff circle, took 2 shots and finished at a +2 in 15:48 of ice time, dazzling alongside his “new” linemates in Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin, and while Datsyuk gushed to IIHF.com’s Lukas Aykroyd after the game…

This team is as good as any I’ve played on,” said Russia’s Pavel Datsyuk. “Not only are we able to attack, but [we also] play good defence. We play together as a team and it shows in this tournament.”

It took a while before the names piled up on the scoresheet:

Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Popov, Nikolai Zherdev, and Ilya Nikulin also tallied for Russia, while Alexander Syomin added two assists. Tournament scoring leader Patrick Thoresen (7-11-18) had a goal and an assist, and Per-Åge Skrøder added a single for Norway.

Coming in from the NHL’s Washington Capitals, Ovechkin and Syomin made their tournament debuts, while Yevgeni Ketov was a healthy scratch. Defenceman Dmitri Kalinin sat out to complete his three-game ban for a dangerous cross-check on Sweden’s Johan Franzén.

Russian starting goalie Semyon Varlamov outdueled Norway’s Lars Haugen as Russia enjoyed a 45-21 edge in shots.

“[Norway] played not to make mistakes,” said Datsyuk. “We were patient and got lots of shots. It was too bad we couldn’t score more, but give them credit – they played well.”

They did indeed, rallying from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits, but once a new villain in Red Wings fans’ eyes scored, on an assist form Datsyuk, the game was Russia’s to win:

Yemelin made it 3-2 Russia 55 seconds into the third, accepting a Pavel Datsyuk pass near the blueline, using Lars Erik Spets as a decoy, and floating a high one over Haugen’s glove.

Statistically, again, Datsyuk registered a href=“http://stats.iihf.com/Hydra/272/IHM272358_74_3_0.pdf”>an assist, went 12 and 8 in the faceoff circle, took 2 shots and finished at a +2 in 15:48 of ice time…

In Russian....I guess we can loosely call RIA Novosti and Russia Today’s recaps as English in the loosest sense of the term;

Datsyuk told Championat.ru’s Maria Rogovskaya that the team calmed down after Emelin scored, and coach Bilyaletdinov seconded that theory while speaking to Sovestsky Sport’s Pavel Lysenkov (and as Allhockey.ru’s Ivan Medvedev notes, that was particularly important given that the Malkin line was shut down for most of the game);

And Datsyuk did ham it up a bit with Sport-Express’s Andrei Kuznetsov and Mikhail Zislis, Sportbox.ru’s Denis Gusev, Sovetsky Sport’s Dmitri Ponomarenko, Pavel Lysenkov and W. Slavin and Gazeta’s Oleg Koloshev, saying that he familiarized himself with the two “Sashas” by locking them in a room and only talking about hockey for 24 hours, and mostly praising the Norwegians’ defensive play before suggesting that the Russians would break through, and that for now, they were worried about getting on the plane to Helsinki instead of winning the World Championship on Sunday.

And in the multimedia department...TSN posted a 5:48 extended highlight clip and a shorter 1:22 highlight clip;

Here’s NBC Sports’ highlight clip:

Breaking sports news video. MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL highlights and more.

And if you’re interested, Sportbox.ru, Championat, Gazeta, Sovetsky Sport, Lenta.ru and Sports.ru posted photo galleries from the game.

 


In the third Quarterfinal, Jimmy Howard may or may not have had a chance to stop Finland’s 1-0 goal, Jesse Joensuu’s first goal, which picked the goalpost just over his blocker (the Don Cherry in me wants to point out to you that Hoard’s defenseman’s stick also screened that shot), but after that, Howard played remarkable hockey while his teammates faltered in front of him, stopping 12 third period shots and 28 of 31 overall as Team USA lost 3-2 to Finland on a bouncing goal which Joensuu scored with all of 8.3 (you’ll read the recaps say 9) seconds left in regulation time.

Per IIHF.com’s Risto Pakarinen:

At 13:37 into the second period, Jesse Joensuu fired a wrist shot from the top of the right faceoff circle and beat Howard on his stick side, giving Finland a 1-0 lead in the game, a step closer to the semi-final against Russia. But the U.S. fired right back. The announcer was still reading the names Antti Pihlström and Kukkonen, who picked up assists to the Finnish goal when the puck was in the Finnish net.

Joey Crabb and Jeff Petry cycled the puck on the right side of the Finnish zone, Petry fired a hard pass to the net, straight to Kyle Palmieri’s stick and he had an easy task to tap it in to tie the game, 1-1, just 21 seconds after the Finnish goal.

Finland started the third period strong, with their top line cycling the puck, pushing Team USA on their heels. In the next shift, Justin Faulk snapped the puck towards the Finnish net, Vehanen made a pad save but Bobby Ryan grabbed the rebound and fired it through Vehanen’s five-hole to give the Americans the lead in the game, just 1:39 into the third period. It was Ryan’s fifth goal and Faulk’s eighth point in the tournament.
...
With 6:58 remaining in the period, Valtteri Filppula sent the puck to the net, and it got deflected off Mikko Koivu’s skate into the net to tie the game. Jack Johnson has lost his stick a moment earlier, and couldn’t defend like he wanted.

And then…

Jesse Joensuu scored his second goal of the night with nine seconds remaining in the game as Finland beat Team USA 3-2 to advance to the semi-final against Russia on Saturday afternoon (14:30).

Or, as USA Today’s Kevin Allen put it:

The Americans had scrapped for 11 days, beaten six teams, including Canada, in Helsinki, to give themselves a fair chance at winning their first non-Olympic world championship since 1933. But Finland scored two goals in less than seven minutes, including one with 8.8 seconds left in regulation, and suddenly Team USA has plane reservations to come home empty-handed. Former New York Islanders player Jesse Joensuu’s late goal gave Finland a 3-2 win that eliminated the Americans in the quarterfinals.

“We all know in a single-elimination tournament, anything can happen,” said U.S. captain Jack Johnson, a Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman. “And it happened to us.”

The Americans defeated Finland 5-0 in the preliminary round and had taken a 2-1 lead in the rematch when Anaheim Ducks forward Bobby Ryan scored his fifth goal of the tournament at 1:39 of the third period.

“I think (the Finns) came in with a lot more compete and battle,” said U.S. coach Scott Gordon. “They wanted to initiate contact.”

The Finns were able to do that without being called for a single penalty in the game. The only significant change the Finns made was using Finnish League goalie Petri Vehanen, instead of Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen, who lost the first meeting against the USA and was injured.

“They didn’t change a lot,” Johnson said. “They eliminated their turnovers in the neutral zone.”

The Americans go home with a 6-2 record. The USA has not won a medal at the world championships since capturing bronze in 2004.

USA Hockey’s website penned a recap, as did NHL.com...

Statistically, Howard was excellent in stopping 28 of 31 shots (including 12 of 14 in the third period);

Justin Abdelakder was fantastic in the forechecking department, mucking, grinding, losing his helmet repeatedly, spending the end of the second period getting cross-checked in the throat, and going 7 and 7 in the faceoff circle, taking no shots but finishing at +1 in 14:03 of ice tie;

But Filppula played 19:24—which didn’t account for what seemed like playing every other shift on the Mikko Koivu’s left wing—and he registered an assist and 2 shots, really serving as the straw that stirred the drink on with Koivu and Jussi Jokinen.

His assist on the 2-2 goal was icing on the cake for a player who’s become as dynamic as Abdelkader’s become strong-skating and sandpapery over the course of the past two weeks.

In Finnish? According to YLE’s Sami Laine, Justin Abdelkader wished Valtteri Filppula nothing but the best, saying that the Americans simply ran into a better Finnish team, and that Abdelkader had a blast playing for the U.S. despite the fact that his team let its guard down…

And in the multimedia department, Filppula spoke to the press in English in IIHF.com’s post-game clip…

Howard did not shy away from the microphones while speaking to USA Hockey’s website…

TSN posted a clip of the gamer, as well as an extended highlight clip;

NBC Sports posted a long, 2:03 highlight clip…

Breaking sports news video. MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL highlights and more.

And if you’re interested, USA Hockey, Iltahleti and Helsingin Sanomat posted photo galleries from the game.

 


And in the last of the Quarterfinals, Johan Franzen may have come down with a fever, but Franzen’s ugly mug had nothing on his teammates’ performances in their bizarre home-ice flop in the form of a rally from a 3-1 deficit which resulted in a 4-3 loss to the Czech Republic.

I’ll let IIHF.com’s John Sanful tell the tale...

As he had done in Sweden’s final Preliminary Round game against Latvia, Loui Eriksson scored the first goal of the game. Johan Franzén worked along the wall behind the net passing the puck to Henrik Zetterberg. Zetterberg thread a pass between David Krejci to Eriksson who patiently skated around Jakub Nakladal for a high percentage shot that beat [Jakub Kovar]
...
The Czech Republic settled things down and were able to answer back with 8:10 remaining in the period when Petr Nedved scored. Ondrej Nemec was able to fight off a check to find Nakladal for a wrister that was redirected by Nedved. Then with 3:04 remaining the first period Milan Michalek found Jiri Novotny in front to make it 2-1.
...
The score remained 2-1 until Martin Erat gave his team a two-goal lead with a power play goal at 10:27 [of the second period]. A tripping call on Jonathan Ericsson was, to say the least, wildly unpopular with fans in attendance. But the Czechs converted with a Krejci backhand pass from the side of the net to Erat in front. For Ericsson, it was only his second game played at these World Championships.

With 45 seconds remaining in the second period the Globe Arena spectators erupted when Zetterberg scored to cut the deficit to 3-2. He worked the puck one handed behind the net, bringing it out in front of the goal and banging in a rebound off Kovar.

45 seconds into the third Ericsson equaled the score at three when he threw a shot on net that made its way through. At 19:15, it was a new game.

The period was the most entertaining of the three as the pace was strong and both teams played up and down hockey.

With 29 seconds left in the game, Milan Michalek created a turnover from Niklas Kronwall who was attempting to move out of the zone. Michalek took the puck and drove to the net putting it high over Fasth at 19:31.

While I cannot deny that the Czechs’ 2-1 goal went in off Ericsson’s butt, but he did not surrender the turnover, as TSN repeatedly stated—Jonas Brodin coughed the puck up—and Ericsson actually played very well…

But I also cannot deny that, aside from Zetterberg, who was clearly the best Swedish player on ice, every Swedish Wing had up-and-down games, with Calle Jarnkrok clearly struggling away from Daniel Alfredsson (who was paired with Patric Hornqvist and Nicklas Backstrom instead of Jarnkrok and Jakob Silfverberg—as noted by Expressen’s Tomas Pettersson, Mike Babcock’s right in suggesting that Jarnkrok’s about “5 kilos” too light to play in the NHL, for now, anyway—Kronwall sometimes dominant and sometimes seeming lost on the big ice, Ericsson shaking off obvious rust (MLive’s Brendan Savage duly notes that Ericsson last played on May 4th) and Franzen looking OK before he succumbed to a fever…

And I simply don’t understand how a Swedish team seemingly both stacked with NHL talent and a superb blend of players accustomed to big ice could whiff so mightily in front of their home fans, nor do I understand why Viktor Fasth was so brilliant at times and so unbelievably shaky at others. He whiffed on his biggest, best audition for the NHL, and he whiffed big time.

In Swedish...I don’t want to linger too much on the Swedish commentary for a simple reason: You and I heard it approximately a month ago. Poor decision-making. Not “getting started on time.” Missed offensive chances and catastrophic defensive mistakes. Unlike the Wings, according to Aftonbladet’s Emil Karlsson, the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation president suggesting that the coach’s performance and, at best, three-quarters-full stands merited nothing more than, “No comment.”

The word, “Fiaskot” needs no English translation, and anything less than a medal was going to be a “fiaskot.”

So what did I find, in surveying almost 50 articles, that’s hopeful?

Kronwall taking too much responsibility for the game-winning goal while speaking with Expressen’s Jonas Solberger and Axel Pileby, Aftonbladet’s Tomas Ros, Emil Karlsson and Malin Wahlberg, the Swedish news agency TT, anyone who would listen…

With Daniel Alfredsson answering questionsPeter Sibner rightfully deems Sweden’s best—and perhaps its best player of the tournament—one Henrik Zetterberg, speaking to Expressen’s Sebastian Mattson, TT, SVT, Svenska Dagbladet, dropping an F-bomb while speaking to Aftonbladet’s Tomas Ros and Fredrik Jonsson, all saying that the Swedes didn’t start well enough, made inexcusable mistakes, didn’t win one-on-one battles, and then very patiently reiterating his points of emphasis to Marie Hallman…

And Jonathan Ericsson telling Hallman and Eurosport’s Jens Dahlkvist that mistake-prone hockey won’t cut it, with just as much anger as he displayed when the Wings lost to Nashville.

Statistically, Johan Franzen, who Jim Butler posted a lovely hospital room picture of on Twitter, had an assist, finished at +1 and took 3 shots in only 6:24 of ice time;

Zetterberg was named the Swedes’ best player, finishing with a goal, an assist, a 10-and-13 faceoff record, 5 shots, a +3 and 21:13 of ice time;

Jonathan Ericsson had a goal, took 4 shots, finished at a +1 and played 17:33;

Niklas Kronwall took 1 shot, finished at a -1 and played 21:40;

And Calle Jarnkrok lost his only faceoff and looked strong, if a bit undersized, in 9:11 of ice time.

In the multimedia department, NBC Sports actually posted a really solid highlight clip from the game:

Breaking sports news video. MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL highlights and more.

And iDnes.cz posted a photo gallery from the game, and Hockeysverige.se’s Isabel Boltenstern plain old posted a stellar set of images from the day if you’re interested.

 

Put bluntly, and simply, for once: Iregardless of whether the Wings’ players participating at the Worlds are moving on to the semifinals or are heading back home to pack up their stuff and prepare for the off-season, whether they’re excited as all hell get out or just plain angry, everybody’s taken a step forward, from Zetterberg to Mrazek, and everyone in between, and that bodes well for the team they’d prefer to be employed by at this time next year.

Because the bottom line is that gold is nice, but 35 pounds of sterling silver is better, and in its own strange way, the World Championships have done a pretty good job of allowing some Wings to find confidence they were sorely lacking (Franzen, Abdelkader), forcing some Wings to further refine their games (Kronwall, Howard) and encouraging others (Zetterberg) to take the bull by the horns and lead by example, early and often, next season.

 


And as this is essentially an “overnight report,” also of Red Wings-related note: As previously noted, Pavel Datsyuk faces off against John Tavares in EA Sports’ NHL 13 Cover Vote between today, May 18th, and next Wednesday, May 23rd;

The Red Wings want you to remember that, and how do I know? They’ve got a specially-themed wallpaper up on DetroitRedWings.com to promote voting;

• Again, Tomas Jurco’s Saint John Sea Dogs will attempt to defend their Memorial Cup title starting on Saturday in Shawinigan, Quebec, and the Memorial Cup’s website provides a team preview, if you will:

Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL champions)

Regular Season Record: 50-15-0-3

Playoff Record: 16-1

How they got here: After winning their third straight QMJHL regular season title, the Sea Dogs followed up with their second straight QMJHL championship. They lost just one game during their impressive playoff run, which included a first round sweep of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, a second round sweep of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, a five-game win over the Chicoutimi Sagueneens and a sweep over the Rimouski Oceanic in the QMJHL championship series.

MVP: Charles Coyle claimed the QMJHL playoff MVP award after scoring 15 goals and 34 points in 17 games during the QMJHL playoffs. The Minnesota Wild prospect joined the Sea Dogs in December after a season and a half at Boston University.

Coaching: Former NHL’er Gerard Gallant has enjoyed nothing but success since taking over the Sea Dogs’ coaching reigns in 2009. He played an honest game and brings that same mentality to the bench.

How they will win: The Sea Dogs have been on a huge roll for the past three seasons and come into the Memorial Cup as the defending champions and favourites to win it all once again. They have lots of depth - especially up front - and the experience to give them a head start in the quick tournament.

Yahoo Sports’ Neate Sager offers five reasons why the Sea Dogs are the favorites to repeat, and the London Free Press’s Ryan Pyette is describing them as “almost unbeatable,” but DetroitRedWings.com’s Rick Bouwness’s conversation with Jurco is the best read of ‘em all:

Winning a second straight Memorial Cup would be a great accomplishment,” said Jurco, in an exclusive phone interview with DetroitRedWings.com. “Our team has a lot of talent and a lot of character and it is amazing being a part of such a special group. Hopefully we can play well at the tournament again this year and win another title for the city of Saint John.”

After winning 50 games and earning their third straight QMJHL regular season title, the Sea Dogs blew away the competition in this year’s President’s Cup playoffs. The Port City’s major junior squad went 16-1 in the postseason en route to repeating as league champs and earning a berth in the four-team Memorial Cup tourney where they’ll battle the OHL’s London Knights, WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings, and the Shawinigan Cataractes –  tournament hosts – of the QMJHL for junior hockey’s ultimate prize.

Despite missing time with an upper body injury, Jurco tallied 13 goals and 16 assists during Saint John’s recent playoff run, good for fourth place on the star-laden squad in scoring. In the QMJHL championship series against Rimouski, Jurco registered five goals and five assists during an impressive four-game sweep of the Oceanic.

Jurco’s coach, former Red Wings sniper Gerard Gallant, has been impressed with his skilled winger’s postseason performance.

“Tomas played really well in the playoffs and was outstanding for us in the Q finals,” Gallant said. “He put up good offensive numbers but he’s been a good all-around player as well. He was one of our best forwards at the (Memorial) Cup in Mississauga last year and we’ll be looking for him to step-up with another big performance this time around.”
...
Turning 20-years-old later this year, Jurco will be eligible to play in the American Hockey League next season. While a promising professional career awaits, the 6-foot-2, 193-pound puck magician is first intent upon ending an incredible three-year run with Saint John in historic fashion later this month.

“I’m definitely looking forward to playing at the next level in the future, but right now my focus is on playing well the next couple of weeks in Shawinigan,” the dynamic playmaker said. “I can’t think of a better way to wrap-up my junior career than helping the Sea Dogs win another title.”

• Sigh. Bowuness also reminds us why I’ll miss Brad Stuart in offering a synopsis of Stuart’s 2011-2012 season “By the Numbers”:

21: The 32-year-old tallied 21 points (6G-15A) this past season, his best total since joining the Wings in 2008. He was one of only two Detroit defensemen to skate in at least 80 games, finishing the campaign with 81 appearances (Kronwall, 82).

177: Stuart led all Red Wings players and finished tied for 16th amongst all NHL defensemen by dishing out 177 body checks on the season.

800: Detroit’s 5-2 home win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on October 21 was the 800th game of Stuart’s career. The Rocky Mountain House, AB native is one of only 26 active defensemen to be a member of the NHL’s Octuple Century Club.

• And finally, with the Worlds’ semifinals slated for Saturday and no NHL games on tap for today, I need to rest my eyes (a week of migraines, yay—not) and take a slow day after what is now 20:05 on the clock. I’ll poke around today and will update the blog as necessary, but if it’s okay with you, things will remain low-key today.


Update: The IIHF hasn’t explained this part very well. Per the Free Press’s Helene St. James:

More than bragging rights in the Wings’ locker room is at stake for Filppula: If the Finns win Saturday, they’ll head to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, as the International Ice Hockey Federation’s top seed, regardless of what happens in the final.

Also: the New York Times’ Ben Shipigel penned an article on shot-tipping which includes the following:

“If you don’t work at it every day, you can lose the timing,” said Tomas Holmstrom of the Detroit Red Wings, who is considered one of the N.H.L.’s top tippers. “If you’re off for a while, you have to get the touch back. So you always have to be doing something with it.”


Update #2: MLive’s Brendan Savage is asking Wings fans whether they’re spoiled.” Not if you’re grateful for every second that you’re a Wings fan, even after big disappointments;

• This is interesting, per Crain’s Detroit Business’s Bill Shea:

The nonprofit Detroit Sports Commission has launched its first membership benefits program, offering ticket discounts and other benefits.

Other perks for “D-Sports Nation” program members will include pre-sale opportunities, invitations to member-only events and preferred volunteer opportunities with advance registration rights, the organization said in a statement today.

Membership is $60 and can be bought at http://detroitsports.org/dsportsnation

.

Participating so far are the Detroit Red Wings, Olympia Entertainment, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and the athletic departments of Wayne State University, Oakland University and University of Detroit Mercy.

Talks are ongoing to add the Detroit Tigers, and plans are in the works to approach the Detroit Lions and Detroit Pistons to join the effort, organizers said.

The program is aimed at boosting the organization’s profile, organizers said.

“Our goal is to expand our network of supporters, while providing unique opportunities, and sports-related benefits,” said Dave Beachnau, Detroit Sports Commission executive director, in a statement. “Ultimately, they become ambassadors of the Detroit Sports Commission in furthering our mission of producing quality sporting events for the region.”

The commission markets Detroit for amateur and college sporting events, and acts as a go-between for media and corporate relations and provides organizational services.

• And for now, as I’m running on 3 hours of sleep over the last…29…Svenska Dagbladet’s Jan Maljard’s conversation with Wings skill development coach Thomas Storm will have to go the Google translation route. Sorry.

Update #3: Valtteri Filppula told Sport-Express‘s Alexei Morozov that Pavel Datsyuk has no weaknesses, Ilta Sanomat’s Tuomas Nyholm that playing against Jimmy Howard and Justin Abdelkader yesterday didn’t make him flinch for a second, and YLE’s Ilkka Palomaki that he’s trying his best to learn form Datsyuk whenever possible;

• Igor Larionov is in Helsinki, and he briefly talked to Ilta Sanomat’s Vesa Rantanen about reviving Torspo Hockey;

Scary: Allehanda.se’s Jon Haggqvist says that we’re only 87 days away from the Swedish Eliteserien’s preseason;

• And many thanks to Sports.ru’s Artem Zyryanov for mentioning my take on Russia’s world championship Quarterfinal victory over Norway yesterday!

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

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Every dream of a hockeyplayer is to go and play in USA (I’m from Sweden).

Great post!

Kind regards,
Kamrem

Posted by Kamrem from Sweden on 05/22/12 at 06:24 AM 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.