The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/12/12 at 03:33 PM ET
The Detroit Red Wings will practice in Los Angeles while I’m out of the office, regrettably (parent to skin cancer 6-month check-up > remaining at home office), so here’s a skim smattering of Red Wings-related news to tide you over:
• While we’ll wait until after practice today to receive news regarding the respective statuses of the soon-to-be-returning Jimmy Howard (groin) and Todd Bertuzzi (groin), as well as updates on Pavel Datsyuk (knee) and Nicklas Lidstrom (bone bruise in his ankle), the Wings officially recalled Gustav Nyquist from the Grand Rapids Griffins in case Bertuzzi’s not good to go tomorrow night.
Via RedWingsFeed, the Free Press’s Helene St. James offers an assessment of the Wings’ injury situation while noting that the Wings won’t practice until 5:30 PM EDT, which means that real injury updates won’t start rolling in until 6 PM Detroit time:
No real news yet today on the Detroit Red Wings front, other than that they officially recalled forward Gustav Nyquist.
That was already the plan when he was sent back to Grand Rapids on Sunday morning, to play for the Griffins in their evening game. Nyquist scored a goal in a 5-2 win over the Houston Aeros, giving him a team-leading 20 goals and 55 points in 54 games. No wonder the Wings like him so much. He has given them three assists and has a plus-two rating in seven games for Detroit this season; two of those assists came this past weekend.
The Wings don’t practice till 5:30 p.m. Eastern. They arrived in southern California on Sunday night and begin a three-game trip with a date against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday.
General manager Ken Holland told the Free Press on Sunday that goalie Jimmy Howard is ready to play after missing three games with a sore groin. That leaves question marks next to forwards Todd Bertuzzi (groin) and Pavel Datsyuk (knee) and Nicklas Lidstrom (bone bruise). Check back later this evening for updates on those players.
• Speaking of potential prospects, NHL.com’s Michael Blinn mentions the usual prospect associated with the Red Wings in listing the top un-drafted NCAA free agents who are eligible to sign with NHL teams…
Danny Dekeyser, D, Western Michigan
Size: 6-foot-3, 186 pounds
2011-12: 38 games, 5 goals, 11 assists
Career: 80 games, 10 goals, 23 assists
While his offensive numbers may not jump off the page, the Broncos blueliner brings other attributes to the table. The hulking defenseman eats a lot of minutes for Western Michigan, and uses them effectively to shut down opposing forwards and block shots. While the sophomore’s game is of the defense-first variety—he’s a finalist for the CCHA Best Defensive Defenseman Award—Dekeyser has contributed 16 points, including 2 power-play goals, proving that he can contribute offensively when called upon.
But it’s worth noting that both of the following players skated with Nyquist during his tenure at the University of Maine:
Spencer Abbott, F, Maine
Size: 5-foot-10, 175 pounds
2011-12: 37 games, 20 goals, 39 assists
Career: 149 games, 53 goals, 90 assists.
Has there been a more consistent player at such a high level this season? Abbott, a senior, raced up the national leaderboard by averaging more than 1.6 points per game; he’s been held pointless in just 10 games, and just once in back-to-back games. He’s had 11 games with at least three points, and his highlight was a 5-goal, 4-assist performance in a two-game set against Vermont in early December. He’s improved upon his totals every season, and his game appears ready for the next level.
Brian Flynn, F, Maine
Size: 6-foot-1, 185 pounds
2011-12: 37 games, 17 goals, 29 assists
Career: 150 games, 68 goals, 86 assists
Over his four-year career in Orono, Flynn has been as consistent as they come, averaging 17 goals and 38 points per season. He’s 12th on the Black Bears’ all-time scoring list. The senior has proven he can score goals, as well as play set-up man—he and Abbott have meshed with junior Joey Diamond to form possibly the best line in the NCAA. Making Flynn an even more attractive candidate is his good size, and experience playing alongside such high-flying players as Gustav Nyquist.
Organizationally speaking, the Wings’ most pressing needs involve adding an offensively-minded defenseman and goaltending depth to their stable of Grand Rapids Griffins players, but if they feel that any of the players on Blinn’s list are worth going after, they’ll do their best to sign said players.
• The Hockey News revealed players 10-6 in its Top 50 player rankings as voted upon by 150 NHL players, and as noted last week, Nicklas Lidstrom is ranked #7 and is the highest-ranked defenseman on the list.
Henrik Zetterberg was ranked the 20th-best player, and Pavel Datsyuk will be revealed as the 2nd-best player behind Sidney Crosby tomorrow;
• Speaking of lists, here’s an initial crop of power rankings, starting with NHL.com’s Dave Lozo’s “Super 16”:
10. Detroit (44-22-3) [last week] 6It’s hard to judge a team missing so many of its key contributors. With Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and Jimmy Howard, they are elite. Without them, they are competitive, but it’s been a struggle.
And continuing with ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun’s rankings:
5. Detroit Last Week: 2: The Red Wings have done well surviving injuries to big-name players. But they can’t fall too much further behind the Blues if they want to keep a shot at winning the Central.
Before concluding with those of Sportsnet’s Luke Fox:
8 Red Wings [last week] 4: Like fellow perennial Western powerhouse the Canucks, the Red Wings have been rather ordinary this month, having won only one of their last four. Worse: they’ve lost three of their last five at their previously impenetrable home rink.
• Regarding potentially “old and busted” prospects, Dick Axelssons poke to Expressen’s Toma Bjorklund, and he scored his first goal since January in Modo’s first-round playoff game against Skelleftea on Saturday, but he admits that in addition to having battled groin problems, now he’s got a knee injury, and because he doesn’t expect to receive a particularly appealing contract offer from the Red Wings (who may or may not qualify him) or anyone else in the NHL, Axelsson says that he’s open to anything once his season ends.
I think that it’s a safe bet that Axelsson, who’s gotten into a boatload of trouble on his own during his tenure in the Swedish Eliteserien and has spent the past season a wee bit too preoccupied by his vilification by Farjestads BK fans, Skelleftea fans (he almost signed with the team) and anyone else who badgers him on Twitter, Facebook or in real life, he needs to get out of Sweden and re-start his career somewhere else. I don’t think that he’s mentally tough enough for the cultural shock that comes with playing in the KHL, though he might chase big money there, but it is entirely possible that Axelsson will play in Finland, Switzerland, Germany or in some other European country’s pro league next season.
• And finally, Fox Sports Detroit’s John Keating reports what I can only describe as terrible news.
The man who first treated me like a legitimate media person from a major MSM outlet, Fox Sports Detroit’s media relations director, Tim Bryant, has passed away while on vacation in Florida, and he was only 53 years old:
im had a job that was hard to define, but he was pretty much everywhere. If our network was in the news, if an interview was requested, if one of our events was particularly well-watched, he was there.
A longtime media relations director for teams in pro sports, Tim came to us in 1998 from the other side. He worked for the Stars — in Minnesota and after they moved to Dallas — and basically created the PR side for the San Jose Sharks. During the past 15 years, many interactions I’ve had with the Sharks included a reference to principles Tim had put in place, the culture he had created for that team.
He also had some delightful geek in him. For every Tigers game at home, there’s a stats person who feeds some numbers to Mario during the course of our broadcasts. It was full circle for Tim, who did it as a hobby, just to get to the ballpark at the end of a full day at the office.
His trip to Florida was an annual excursion with one of his best friends from his hometown of Kansas City. Two pals watching spring training baseball and catching up with lives spinning by. Tim was supposed to pick up his friend Dan from the airport in Florida on Sunday morning. When Tim didn’t show, Dan, who knew Tim had some health concerns, became alarmed. Tim, we’re told, had died in his sleep.
While watching college basketball on Sunday, I received a text from a co-worker:
“I can’t believe the email I just received.”
It was the notification of Tim’s passing. I couldn’t get a breath. They’re still not coming easily.
We have sons about the same age. Danny was Tim’s life. There was no father more proud. His wife, Teresa, had been incredibly giving when my wife was battling breast cancer.
This is a great family with a great hole in it now.
His professional family feels the same sense of loss.
I just don’t want to walk by his office.
My most sincere condolences go out to the Fox Sports Detroit family. Bryant was a really special human being.
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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.