The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/28/12 at 02:52 PM ET
Updated with prospect news at 1:04 PM: Yesterday, the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan offered an update regarding Joey MacDonald’s recovery from a slightly herniated disc in his back, and today, MLive’s Ansar Khan also spoke to MacDonald—who will probably back up Jimmy Howard next season—about the state of an injury which more or less forced the Wings to bring Ty Conklin up and, to some extent, overplay Howard down the stretch:
“I had two injections (of cortisone) already, can see a big improvement,’’ MacDonald said. “I can do another (injection) in 10 days. It’s going in the right direction. I’m working out, doing stuff I wasn’t allowed to do for three weeks.’‘
MacDonald, who had back surgery in 2006, is hoping to put on his equipment and get on the ice in the next week or so to test his back.
“I still believe if we would have continued on I would have been skating probably within the next week or two (but not playing),’’ MacDonald said. “I’m going to stick around here for another 3-4 weeks. Before I leave [for Nova Scotia] I want to be 100 percent, ready to rock.’‘
As Khan notes, unlike Conklin, MacDonald thrived while substituting for an injured Howard and February, and played well overall despite an inconsistent workload:
MacDonald won seven games in a row and went 8-5-1, with a 2.16 goals-against average and .912 save percentage.
“Disappointed in the end, when I got hurt, but getting the opportunity to come in and play a lot, put in tough situations, like when we had that home streak going, I thought overall it was good,’’ MacDonald said. “Even down in Grand Rapids I thought I played well. Getting a chance up here to prove I can be the second guy (was good).’‘
The Windsor Star’s Bob Duff provides us with some seriously head-shake-worthy material today in discussing the stifling defensive hockey successfully implemented during this year’s playoffs with one player who couldn’t get the job done at the other end of the ice and one player whose defensive gaffes contributed in no small part to the Wings’ early ouster:
“It’s getting tighter every year,” Detroit Red Wings forward Johan Franzen said of defensive systems once again becoming prevalent in the NHL. “You see St. Louis has been playing really well, and they’ve been doing it for a few years now. It’s so hard to score on some teams. You watch (the) L.A.-Vancouver (first-round series) a lot, and how do you score on them? It’s so tight, and they’ve got all their forwards playing great defensively, and their Ds are great. And when you finally get a shot on net, there’s (Kings goalie Jonathan) Quick, who you can’t score on some nights.”
Wings defenceman Kyle Quincey played in Los Angeles, so he’s quite familiar with the way the Kings’ style of game. “I played in that system and really got to know it,” Quincey said. “Both styles have their pros and cons. I think it’s whoever plays their system the best. St. Louis is the real deal, and they’re doing it better than anyone else right now. L.A. is clicking and they have some great defence. You live and die by it a little bit. I’ve been playing in games where we got nothing generated offensively. The other team, say the Wings, they score on the power play, or Pav (Datsyuk) and Hank (Henrik Zetterberg) make a great play and now you’re down 2-0 and how are you going to come back and generate offence? At the same time, if you get that first goal, it’s like the old Minnesota (Wild) thing. They get the first goal and they’re so good at clamping down and being defensively strong it’s really tough for the other team to equal it up.”
None of the teams left in the West have ever won a Stanley Cup. The Blues played in three finals from 1968-70, but were swept in each one, and have never been past the conference final since. Los Angeles lost its only Stanley Cup final appearance in in five games to Montreal in 1993. Nashville has never advanced beyond the second round, and Phoenix previously won a playoff series in 1987, when the Coyotes were still the Winnipeg Jets. That franchise has also never been past Round 2 of playoff action.
“That’s what they want, right?” Franzen asked. “That’s where the league is going. They don’t want the same teams every year.”
Sometimes citing one’s sources can be tricky business, but he found it first: Hockeybuzz’s John Toperzer notes that the IIHF’s website has posted a slate of preliminary rosters for each and every one of the 16 teams taking part in the World Championships.
The Red Wings’ players are all accounted for in Johan Franzen, Jonathan Ericsson, Niklas Kronwall and Henrik Zetterberg (Sweden), Valtteri Filppula (Finland), Pavel Datsyuk (Russia), Jimmy Howard and Justin Abdelkader (USA), Tomas Tatar (Slovakia) and Jakub Kindl (Czech Republic), but Wings prospect Calle Jarnkrok is at least on Sweden’s preliminary roster as well, and he’s taking part in the Swedes’ exhibition games.
I don’t think that he’s going to make the final roster due to the team’s forward depth in terms of older and more experienced players (just as Niklas Kronwall’s brother, Staffan, may be squeezed out depending on the number of eliminated NHL’ers who choose to join the Swedes between now and May 4th), but the fact that Jarnkrok is getting a chance to impress coach Per Marts, GM Johan Garpenlov and the rest of Team Sweden’s braintrust while playing alongside Avs super-rookie Gabriel Landeskog is good news for the future.
And finally, the Grand Rapids Griffins posted this press release a few days ago, but didn’t publicize it:
The Grand Rapids Griffins’ annual youth hockey camp will offer players the chance to improve fundamental hockey skills under the guidance of several Stanley Cup champions from July 30-Aug. 3 at Griff’s IceHouse at Belknap Park (30 Coldbrook NE, Grand Rapids).
Griffins assistant coach Jim Paek will again serve as the lead instructor, while Detroit Red Wings center and Muskegon native Justin Abdelkader and Washington Capitals right wing and Kentwood native Mike Knuble will each make a one-day appearance during the camp. Children ages 6-16 will be separated into groups by age and will participate in a variety of drills to improve their skills, learning basic stride development and advanced skating techniques while practicing stickhandling, shooting and passing.
The camp runs from 8:30 a.m.-3:15 p.m. each day, comprising a total of 12 hours of ice time and 12 hours of dry-land training and off-ice video sessions. The cost of $300 per child includes a camp jersey, t-shirt, hat and a daily lunch provided by popular local eateries such as Peppino’s, Subway, McDonald’s and Hungry Howies.
For more information and a registration form, please click here. Questions can be directed to Kelly Pawlak at (616) 774-4585 ext. 3025 or Bob Kaser at ext. 3027.
Between you and me, I think that Knuble is exactly the kind of big-bodied (albeit not as fast as he used to be), cagey veteran the Wings need to sign this summer to crash and bang on their fourth line, but that’s wishful thinking.
Quickie update: If you missed it, Gustav Nyquist and Brendan Smith were the only Wings prospects to crack Hockey’s Future’s Top 50 Prospects list (no Jarnkrok? No Pulkkinen?), with Nyquist not quite cracking the top 25…
28. Gustav Nyquist, LW, Detroit Red Wings
Height: 5-11, Weight: 185, [Fall ranking] Not ranked
Detroit’s top forward talent on the horizon is Swedish prospect Gustav Nyquist. The 22-year-old winger was named to the AHL All-Rookie team for his 58 points in 56 games for Grand Rapids and still saw action in 18 regular season games with the Red Wings. Nyquist is a skilled playmaker and plays confidently with the puck on his stick. He is a swift skater and not shy about sticking his nose in the dirty areas. A dependable defensive player, Nyquist’s determined style made him well-suited for checking duty during his stints with Detroit. Despite playing a limited role in many of his games, the rookie was not riding any coattails in Detroit and stood out in his opportunities to skate with the scoring lines. A potential top-six point producer, Nyquist’s energy and defensive acumen could also fit in a checking role in Detroit as soon as next season.
And Smith missing out on the top 15 by one spot:
16. Brendan Smith, D, Detroit Red Wings
Height: 6-2, Weight: 195, Fall ranking - 36
There is not much to dislike about this all-around defenseman with size. Brendan Smith had another strong season in the AHL, but his NHL debut was even more impressive as he contributed at half-a-point per game despite only averaging around 15 minutes of ice time. Big, mobile, and physical, Smith is very close to being ready for the NHL. He can still improve on the smaller details of his game, like his pivots. With at least one of Nicklas Lidstrom, Brad Stuart, or Kyle Quincey potentially departing from the Detroit Red Wings next season, Smith will get his shot at a permanent NHL roster spot.
I don’t think that the Wings will let the reclamation project that is Quincey go….
And one more Wing made a recent Hockey’s Future list in Ryan Sproul, who HF’s Jason Menard deems to be the Ontario Hockey League’s 3rd-best defenseman:
3) Ryan Sproul, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
NHL Rights: Detroit Red Wings
Drafted: 2nd round, 55th overall, 2011
Sproul takes up a lot of room on the Soo blue line, but has plenty of time - and space - to grow. At 6’4, Sproul uses his reach effectively and combines that with a hard, accurate shot from the point. At 185 pounds, he has plenty of room on his frame to grow.
The Mississauga, ON native showed flashes of his potential in his breakout 2010-11 campaign, where he finished the season with 14 goals and 33 points in 61 games. However, his minus-15 rating reflected his transition to the OHL - and the challenges that the Greyhounds faced last year.
This season, buoyed by the arrival of Jack Campbell (DAL) in a mid-season trade, Sproul showed the refinement of his game. He improved all of his offensive numbers, finishing the year with 23 goals and 31 assists, but the greatest improvement came in his own end, where he completely turned around his plus-minus totals to finish plus-16.
Sproul combines solid skating with good positioning. Although some questions remain about his defensive abilities, he did manage to answer many of his critics with a solid season.
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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.