The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/10/12 at 03:48 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings’ participants at the World Championships that played on Wednesday—Kyle Quincey, Tomas Tatar, Johan Franzen, Calle Jarnkrok, Niklas Kronwall and Henrik Zetterberg—all won their games, and that’s becoming particularly important as we reach the one-week mark.
The top four finishers in the Helsinki and Stockholm-based groups will advance to the quarterfinals a week from today, and with most teams having played either 3 or 4 of their 7 round-robin games, here’s how the standings shake down:
Quincey’s Canadians have played 4 of their 7 round-robin games, and lead the Helsinki-based teams in Group H with 10 points via 3 wins and an OT loss; Valtteri Filppula’s Finns are right behind with an unbeaten record and 9 points; Tomas Tatar’s Slovaks sit in third place with a 2-and-2 record and 6 points, and Jimmy Howard, Justin Abdelkader and Team USA sit in fifth place with a 1-1-and-1 record and 5 points.
The Wings’ gaggle of Swedes lead all teams and lead Group S with 4 wins and 12 points; Pavel Datsyuk’s Russians are right behind with 3 wins and 9 points, and Petr Mrazek’s Czechs are in fourth place with a 1-1-and-1 record and 5 points.
May 10: 9:15 a.m. – USA vs. Belarus [on the NBC Sports Network].; 9:15 a.m. – Denmark vs. Russia; 1:15 p.m. – France vs. Finland; [2:15 PM Czech Republic vs. Latvia]
According to USA Hockey’s Brian Pinelli, the Americans engaged in some team-wide R&R in Helsinki on Wednesday, but despite the team’s 1-1-and-1 record, Jimmy Howard will make his fourth start this morning.
Looking forward to where most of Wednesday’s participants have trained their gazes, things get very interesting on Friday:
May 11: 9:15 a.m. – USA vs. Kazakhstan [on the NBC Sports Network]; 1:15 p.m. – Finland vs. Canada; [2:15 PM] – Russia vs. Sweden
Datsyuk versus the Wings’ Swedes? That might be the best match-up of the tournament thus far…
And looking back on Wednesday’s action, I need to add a caveat: I know that for many Wings fans, almost three weeks removed from our team’s playoff ouster, we’re either slightly annoyed, really irritated by or plain old pissed off about the concept that so many players who struggled down the regular season stretch and playoffs have seemingly suddenly regained the kind of form we expected them to display against Nashville…
And especially given that, as the Wings’ website notes, Johan Franzen has 2 goals and 5 points in 4 games played, going to the front of the net and staying there and even bumping a pane of glass loose against Germany, and Henrik Zetterberg’s registered 6 assists in 4 games while arguably playing as Sweden’s best forward, well…
These kinds of developments are downright infuriating to many of you, and I understand that. Regardless of how well or how poorly the Wings do at the Worlds—and I’m sure that some of you would argue that the confidence-building exercises 9 roster players and 3 prospects are engaging in while playing an ocean away from Detroit—the players’ exploits either “don’t count” or “don’t matter” to you.
Maybe you even feel that the players’ enthusiasm for focusing on World Championship gold instead of Stanley Cup silver is nothing less than treasonous.
I get that, and you’re right that they don’t count, because each and every one of the Wings’ roster players can’t atone for the mistakes they made between February and early May until next October, if not a year from now. This is more or less “bonus hockey” for them and “bonus hockey” for those of us who are able to to watch the games online, but it does matter because, especially in the cases of players like Franzen, salvaging confidence going forward is nothing less than essential, and in the cases both the players who do well and players who fall short on team-wide bases, wining and losing have ways of imbuing equal amounts of desire and determination to train even harder and prepare for better seasons with the Wings, hoping that they and their teammates who are currently rivals can smile together at this time next year.
With that, we’ll dig into Wednesday’s results: Tomas Tatar played 11:32 and had 2 shots but no points in Slovakia’s 4-2 win over Kazakhstan, and I dug through every Slovak website that I know of because the press’s focus was squarely trained upon Tomas Kopecky, who scored two goals.
Tatar finds himself on the third line, and is more or less playing a checking role, but he’s enthusiastically embracing his role, and he continues to skate hard, deke and dangle with grace and poise while trying to be sound defensively and as physical as he can be.
Kyle Quincey didn’t receive much attention while playing 12:07, mostly paired with Luke Schenn, in Canada’s 3-2 win over Switzerland. He had no shots, and took a penalty which resulted in the 2-2 tying goal, but he was also on the ice for Ryan Getzlaf’s game-winner, and not faring in the Canadian Press or Edmonton Sun’s Terry Jones’ recap is a good thing.
You can watch TSN’s 2:17 highlight clip from the game if you wish.
And the Wings’ Swedes, perhaps as expected, had the most individual and collective success in Sweden’s 5-2 win over Germany.
Henrik Zetterberg registered two assists, on the 3-1 and 5-2 goals, and 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 the 5-2 goal, had 6 shots, finished at a +1 and played 20:19, going to the net and staying there—and he shook a pane of glass loose with a thundering check;
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. He did indeed receive the occasional shift with Loui Eriksson and Franzen because Zetterberg played so very much on special teams.
IIHF.com’s Lukas Aykroyd describes the Swedes’ win as follows:
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.
And NHL.com’s Worlds roundup describes the Swedes’ win thusly:
Henrik Zetterberg assisted on two of Sweden’s goals, including Erik Karlsson’s game-winner, and Loui Eriksson regained the tournament scoring lead as the host nation Swedes remained undefeated following an easy win over Germany.
The Swedes overmatched Germany for most of the game and it appeared they might earn an easy victory when Marcus Kruger put a pass from Gabriel Landeskog behind German keeper Dennis Endras just 1:17 into the game. Germany unexpectedly got back into the game when Philip Gogulla took Kai Hospelt’s pass from behind the Swedish net, beating Viktor Fasth with just one second remaining in the period.
Perhaps awakened by the late German goal, Sweden stormed out of the gates in the second, overwhelming Endras with shots before Viktor Stalberg gave Sweden the lead with his third goal of the World Championship, tying him with seven other players for the tournament lead.
Sweden padded that lead just 96 seconds later with Nikolai Goc serving a hooking penalty for Germany. Zetterberg fed Karlsson at the right point before the Norris Trophy candidate fired a rising shot into Germany’s net. Loui Eriksson’s assist on the power-play marker gave the Stars winger seven points for the tournament, moving him past Evgeni Malkin for sole possession of the tournament lead.
Patrick Reimer would score for Germany before the end of the second period, but Niklas Persson and Johan Franzen replied in the third period for Sweden, which outshot the Germans by a 45-17 margin in front of their home crowd.
The Swedish press mostly focused on the fact that Joel Lundqvist and Fredrik Petersson’s injuries forced a Kronwall—Staffan, not Niklas—to play as the team’s 12th forward, and on a day when, as Hockeysverige.se’s Uffe Bodin noted, it was announced that Staffan will officially join the new Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team this fall, the fact that he played solidly on the fourth line was one of the day’s biggest stories.
He told Nyheter24.se’s Emil Annetorp and Marie Hallman that he engaged in a little friendly banter with Zetterberg, but mostly, he was grateful about the fact that he didn’t embarrass or exhaust himself:
He was really happy afterwards, and even joked when asked whether he helped Henrik Zetterberg: ““No, I did talk to Zata about playing on the power play with him, but he didn’t agree to it. I told him that I’d carry the puck on the power play, so he could go to the front of the net, but he wouldn’t listen, he wouldn’t buy it, he just laughed at me, but I was serious,” says Staffan, with a twinkle in his eye.
Erik Karlsson also told the Swedish news agency TT (you might like the picture that’s included in Dagens Nyheter’s version of that recap) and Hockeysverige.se’s Uffe Bodin that he owed his goal to Franzen’s screening of Dennis Endras…
But Franzen told HockeySverige’s Peter Sibner that the Swedes have room to improve after more or less surviving playing against a German team that traps like the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets used to do…
‘It feels like the Germans had the best defensive game, by the books, that we’ve met. They’re aggressive, they push us in the corners and played well for as long as they could. In the last period, I think we had more space,” says Johan Franzen to Hockeysverige.se.
“It was a tough game for us, we played solid defense for the first two periods, but gave them a little too much respect. I think Sweden is clearly the best team we’ve played so far,” says German coach Jacob Kollker.
On the plus side, key scorers like Johan Franzen and Viktor Stalberg scored goals tonight, again. Even Erik Karlsson scored his first goal of the tournament.
“It’s good to score so that we get confidence as we go ahead,” says Franzen.
“But we don’t have guys like Joel Lundqvist today, someone who goes in and slams bodies and does the job when we’re not playing well. We worked them down anyway in the end,” says Niklas Hjalmarsson. “It will be pretty damn fun to meet the Russians on Friday. That will be a real showdown.”
That’s the theory, and as the Swedish Don Cherry, Leif Boork, gushed about a “Soviet”-looking Swedish team led by a great player and humble gentleman in Zetterberg, and Uffe Bodin gave Zetterberg a five out of five pucks grade for the game, it’s worth noting that Swedish coach Par Marts wasn’t happy with his team’s defense, and told Expressen’s Mattias Ek that, for the Swedes to succeed against Russia, they need more from their second line:
“I also think that “Silver” (Jakob Silfverberg) and Calle (Jarnkrok) must take a step up. They did so today, but we need more people who produce offense,” says Par Marts.
Elsewhere in Stockholm, Sovetsky Sport’s Dmitry Ponomarenko notes that Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin, Dmitri Kalinin, Ilya Nikulin, Alexei Tereschenko and Semyon Varlamov spent their post-practice time at the Russian Embassy, celebrating Victory Day over the Germans in World War II.
Pavel Lysenkov posted a photo gallery from the Russians visit, but as the vast majority of the Russian press took the day off—Victory Day is like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July wrapped into one big celebration, with military parades, fly-overs, government officials making speeches and proclamations, fireworks, you name it, it’s a big mash-up of Soviet and Russian pride—so only Allhockey.ru’s Igor Kakurin pointed out that “Coach Bill” isn’t exactly getting the most out of his offense, though that’s not the fault of Datsyukr or Malkin, who are doing their best to power a team that’s a little KHL-heavy and short on puck-moving defensemen.
Back over on this side of the Atlantic, the one Red Wings prospect who’s still playing hockey is on the cusp of his second QMJHL title in a row. Tomas Jurco scored the salt-away goal and added an assist as his Saint John Sea Dogs defeated the Rimouski Oceanic 6-4.
As noted on Wednesday evening, Wings GM Ken Holland told MLive’s Brendan Savage that Danny Cleary’s knee surgery hasn’t exactly resolved the degenerative issues caused by bone-on-bone grinding, so Cleary will have to be “monitored” over the summer and during training camp;
In free agent speculation, I’m not nearly as optimistic as the Chief regarding the possibility of the Wings landing both Ryan Suter and Zach Parise—or either player—and I don’t necessarily think that his comments made to the Tennessean’s Joshua Cooper tipped his hand as to whether he’s staying in Nashville or leaving town:
Question: How are you handling the distraction of your contract situation?
Suter: “Yeah, well, right away after (Game 5) someone asked me, it kind of made me mad and that’s kind of why I didn’t want to … I’ve kind of been avoiding you guys because after the game I got asked it, and I got kind of caught off guard, because you’re in playoff mode and you lose and you don’t think about it. Now all of a sudden it’s brought up and I haven’t really had time to sit back and talk with my family and figure out what we want to do. This morning I had a meeting with David (Poile) and we talked about everything and the future, and how everything will go, and I think we’re going to meet again in a couple of weeks and kind of make a decision.”
Question: Will your agent be involved?
Suter: “Yeah, I mean, it’s such a big decision for me and my family. I think that obviously it’s best to go through him, but whatever he talks about I need to know.”
Question: Is the two week wait period in order to unwind?
Suter: “Your emotions are so high throughout the year, and you try not to have any distractions, and you’re so focused and now that the year is over you want to get away from everything and wind down and you got meetings going on and get back home with your family, but I think the time is to get away from everything.”
Question: How much is your family a factor in your decision?
Suter: “Wherever I sign I want to be there for the rest of my career , and that affects my family, my wife, my kid, if we have more kids, everything plays into it.”
I tend to think more along the lines of the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan, who points out that, despite insistent rumors suggesting that Suter and Parise both want to come to Detroit, there are 28 teams that would gladly back up Brinks trucks to Suter and Parise’s off-season homes if it would mean bringing either player to town, especially in a very weak free agent class.
Kulfan doesn’t add much to the contextual department, but the title of his NHL Insider column alone, “Predators’ demise opens doors for Wings, others,” says enough:
[N]ow, the Predators have a roster with 15 unrestricted or restricted free agents, including defensemen Ryan Suter (unrestricted) and Shea Weber (restricted, possible Norris Trophy winner).
Suter is a player the Red Wings, among others, covet. Whether he makes it to July 1 as a free agent or re-signs with the Predators is the multi-million dollar question. Suter said after his team was eliminated he hadn’t thought about free agency and was focused on the playoffs.
[Predators GM David] Poile and Predators ownership have been cautiously optimistic they can keep the defensive tandem together, along with goaltender Pekka Rinne (who signed a seven-year contract this season), within a tight budget.
“I can’t speak for (Suter and Weber),” coach Barry Trotz said. “Let them talk about that. But I believe we’re in a good position that everybody will be back, absolutely. And I think they believe in the group.”
Said Poile: “I suspect by virtue of this business, we’ll have a lot of changes next year, but the thing I believe in and hope that we can retain the most is the foundation that we have. You look around at some of the players that maybe have unrestricted free agency. (There are) some players that may not want to come back, and we may not want them. But having said that, I hope the core wants to stay here.”
It’s possible. We simply won’t know for a few weeks, and in the interim, I’m not going to count chickens when we don’t even have any eggs to talk about.
In charitable news, this isn’t quite as big a deal as the WDIV//Shawn Burr Foundation bone marrow registry, but if you’re interested, the Ted Lindsay Foundation is holding a charitable motorcycle ride in Algonac, MI on Saturday, May 12th—this Saturday…
And also of Red Wings-related note: The Hartford Courant’s Jeff Jacobs reports that Gordie Howe and Mark took in an AHL playoff game between the Connecticut Whale and the Norfolk Admirals, and they weren’t alone—Ray Bourque (whose son Ryan is a member of the Whale) and Rangers exec Mark Messier were in town as well;
• Don’t forget that today is the last day to vote for Pavel Datsyuk as he faces off against T.J. Oshie in EA Sports’ NHL 13 Cover Vote;
• And in the programming department, Tomas Tatar and Slovakia, Kyle Quincey and Canada and the Wings’ Swedes will all be in action at the Worlds on Saturday, but I’m not going to be here: one of my dearest friends is graduating with her master’s degree in substance abuse addiction and counseling, and I will be attending her graduation. It’s an all-day event, but if there’s something big regarding the Wings’ players going on, Paul will cover for me.
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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.