The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/08/12 at 10:40 AM ET
Updated 4x with a list of best “42-and-older” NHL’ers at 1:13 PM: As an addendum to The “early overnight report”: the closest thing to a team of Red Wings is running into the injury bug at the World Championships. Sweden, which employs a little under half of the Wings’ participants at the Worlds, lost Fredrik Petersson‘s services thanks to a broken wrist during the Swedes’ first game; Jonathan Ericsson left the game with what is now a bruised SI joint as well, and this morning, the Tre Kronor found out that Joel (brother of Henrik) Lundqvist will miss the rest of the tournament with a fractured orbital bone.
And Ericsson? Aftonbladet’s Hans Abrahamsson and Erik Karlsson report that Ericsson did not practice today, and won’t return to action until next week:
When the team took to the ice today at lunchtime, the Detroit defenseman was not on the ice.
“He’s getting rehabilitation. We want to have a little more perspective there, not test it every day. It’s impossible to say what the forecast is for him a day from now,” says team doctor Bjorn Waldeback.
The player himself isn’t particularly hopeful..
“I tried to go on the ice [yesterday] and it didn’t feel good, so we’ll take a few days of treatment now and we’ll see after that,” Ericsson said after yesterday’s victory against Denmark.
How are you feeling?
“I felt bitter when I felt worse on the ice than I’d hoped or believed I would, so it wasn’t fun. We’ll try to find other solutions and see what can happen.”
[Sweden coach] Par Marts has already written off Ericsson for the game against Germany tomorrow, and, according to Bjorn Waldeback, his chances of playing against Russia on Friday or Italy on Saturday are small.
“I doubt the game in three days against Russia. I’ve got to be completely honest, [I thought it would be] enough to wait out the two last games (Sunday and Monday). And when he didn’t play after them, it got pessimistic.”
Back over on this side of the pond, Ericsson’s status as the most unpopular Wing among Wings fans changed slightly after his absence due to a broken wrist illustrated how critical the defenseman is to the Wings’ penalty-killing unit, and after a spotty regular season and playoff performance (despite leading the team in goals during the regular season), there may as well be a mob forming with torches and pitchforks ready to toss Johan Franzen onto an already-prepared pyre.
Franzen’s comments regarding his confidence and strong performance at the Worlds thus far seem to have made Franzen’s many—and earned—detractors particularly furious, and the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan added some fuel to the fire by reiterating some of Franzen’s locker room clean-out day comments…
“We didn’t have a good ending to the season,” Franzen said. “You have to come into the playoffs with confidence, otherwise it’s so tight. We played the first four games, we took it to them, but when we made some mistakes and they scored as soon as we gave them one chance. It’s demoralizing when you have the pressure much the whole game and you make one mistake and they put it in the net. But we still should have found a way to win more games.”
Franzen, who scored one goal in the five games, was one of many Wings who didn’t have a good playoff series.
“(I) couldn’t really get anything going,” Franzen said. “That’s the way it was. I don’t really know why, (I) just couldn’t get it in the net. It’s always frustrating when you lose, that’s the most frustrating thing.”
Interestingly, when asked about his lackluster production in the playoffs, Franzen was philosophical about it. First he took the funny path, saying of his goal, “Don’t forget it was a game-winner. Don’t forget it. Don’t you ever.” Duly noted. In fairness, let’s also remember that his involvement in the goal was that Brad Stuart’s shot glanced off Franzen’s leg.
Franzen frankly admitted that he “didn’t really get anything going. I don’t really know why.” Recalling the 2008 playoffs—when he had 13 goals en route to the Wings’ championship—Franzen said, “I had one goal the first four or five games, too. You never know when you’re going to get going.”
This spring, Franzen never got going for the Wings, and it does them little good that he has gotten hot at the World Championship. Sure, it doesn’t hurt any potential trade value, but at a cap hit of $3.9 million, and with a better history of scoring in the playoffs, it’s doubtful he’ll be moved.
Part of it right now, too, is the opponent—Denmark has four NHL players on its roster to Sweden’s 14; Sweden’s other victories have come against Norway and the Czech Republic.
Perhaps, though, Franzen’s productivity is also because he and his countrymen—including fellow Wings Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson—are enjoying what they’re doing. That was the theory put forth by Franzen: That the Wings’ focus for next season should be on enjoying themselves.
“Probably we need to have more fun out there,” Franzen said. “Get some confidence. We looked like a tired team most of the games. We need to get some joy back and start believing in ourselves and knowing that we’re a good team.”
Franzen’s cap hit is one thing, but his status as the Wings’ most natural scorer, ups and downs included, and the realities of his contract—per Capgeek.com, Franzen will earn $5.25 million in real-world dollars during the 2012-2013 season, $5 million for each of the subsequent three seasons, and then $3.5 million, $2 million and two seasons of $1 million, so if a team were to, say, be willing to invest in Franzen for the next four years, they’d actually be paying him $20.25 million.
That makes him virtually untradeable, so I would advise those of you who are wondering if Franzen weighs the same as a duck to hope that Franzen’s resurgence in terms of both production and optimism at the Worlds forebode a return to form next season.
And on a morning where MLive’s Brendan Savage has hit the nail on the head by asking Wings fans whether their overwhelmingly negative reactions to the fact that Franzen, Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall are performing so well for Sweden, and that Pavel Datsyuk, Valtteri Filppula (both of whom still look physically sore and mentally drained from their NHL seasons), Jimmy Howard, Justin Abdelkader and even Kyle Quincey have dared to heed their countries’ call to continue playing hockey so they can pursue their own desires instead of preparing for their next NHL season with the Red Wings…
It is worth noting that Franzen himself was a bit shocked by his production, as he told Hockey24.se’s Nathaniel Soderberg and Olle Liljebad—but that he is indeed more optimistic about himself and his teammates’ ability to get things done…
Johan Franzen had 3 points in 8 World Championship games. That was before Monday’s game against Denmark, which was the Detroit star’s best after the fact at the championship. The 32-year-old didn’t know whether he should be happy or not that he [now has 4 points].
“Okay, already? Ouch” says Franzen with a wry smile, and he continues: “It’s my first time playing at the World Championship as a productive player, so it’s strange.”
Against Denmark, it was Franzen and fellow NHL’ers Henrik Zetterberg and Loui Eriksson, on the first line, that was behind much of the offense. The trio registered seven points together.
“It feels good. We’ve started well in every game, but then we’ve started to back off without thinking about it and haven’t played the same game. We must try to push at all times, even when we have the lead,” said Franzen.
On the power play which registered the 3-0 game in the middle of the first period, there was a masterpiece. The pass-pass-pass play between “Zata” and Franzen, who eventually found Louis Eriksson facing a completely open goal at the far post.
“Yes, it was successful, and when our passing game is so perfect it’s hard to keep up.”
And there’s no doubt that even though he’s playing goalie caddy for the Czechs, Petr Mrazek (cue the positive press from the overnight report) is soaking in the atmosphere at the Worlds to his betterment, there’s no doubt that Calle Jarnkrok, who’s now playing with Daniel Alfredsson and Jakob Silfverberg, is growing by leaps and bounds while playing for Sweden, and there’s no doubt that Tomas Tatar’s gaining confidence as well while playing for Slovakia, albeit in a third-line checker’s role.
Tatar was practically gushy about the opportunity to play for his country in an interview with TASR, a Slovak equivalent of the Associated Press (alongside SITA). This is an incredibly rough translation of an interview posted on Cas.sk, but Tatar’s enthusiasm shines through:
“Baby, I don’t care, I came to play hockey!
Tomas Tatar, a young hockey player, is playful and happy on the ice and in life. At the World Championships in Helsinki, while his mission is a lot of fun, he’s not there to enjoy himself.
And while looking forward to two days off after the game against Kazakhstan [tomorrow],” he swears, however, that he’s not “okay [to play?], baby.”
On Thursday, the team will take tours and engage in off-ice training. It could be shut down after an hour of practice on Friday, and on the weekend, the agenda involves games against Belarus and Switzerland. Those are key games in their fight for the World Championship, and, specifically, [positioning] in the quarterfinals, which may also directly play into their qualification for the 2014 Olympic games in Sochi.
“I’m looking forward to some time off. Finally, I’ll have some time to burn somewhere. But I don’t even know what will be a priority for me, the port, markets, or monuments and shopping. But after that I won’t peek at babes…Seriously, it’s not prohibited…But I don’t want to look around for girls. I’m here for playing hockey, and girls can go away,” he repeated to TASR.
So far, he hasn’t been able to pursue our personal interests. Friday was the first game, and on Sunday and Monday he had two successive games, and he plays on Wednesday: “So far I haven’t seen the center of the city, it’s just busing from the hotel to the rink and back.” The Slovaks virtually live away from the action, in the airport district.
But on Thursday, the Slovak ice hockey players will come to their senses, about that, Tomas Tatar is confident: “We have to go ride go-carts, or do something like that.”
So it’s not all fun, games and girls for a 21-year-old who’s on a mission. That’s never bad news, even if we Wings fans would rather have Tatar skating as a black ace, if not a fourth-liner, here in Detroit, and in that sense, not all is lost.
Update #1: Via RedWingsFeed, We All Bleed Red on YouTube captured Kyle Quincey’s interview with TSN yesterday…
A baffling, frustrating penalty given to Jimmy Howard for daring to make a slick poke check save against Slovakia…
Some of Howard’s better moments against both Slovakia…
Justin Abdelkader’s exploits against the Slovaks…
And the appearance of a special guest on the ice in Helsinki:
Update #2: According to Sovetsky Sport’s Dmitry Ponomarenko, Pavel Datsyuk practiced on a line with Nikolai Kulemin and Evgeni Malkin today;
And Sport-Express is reporting that Alexander Radulov has turned down an invitation to play for Russia.
Update #3: The Windsor Star’s Rob Benneian is just fine with the Wings playing at the Worlds…
Zetterberg registered two assists and was named the player of the game for Sweden in a 4-1 win over the Czechs.
Filppula has been among the time on ice leaders among all Finnish skaters (only team captain Mikko Koivu has played more, averaging :18 more per game), which is encouraging both from a Red Wings standpoint and as a matter of personal pride. I’ve been telling anyone who would listen for the last four years that Valtteri Filppula was going to be ‘the guy’ for Finland at the 2014 Olympics. He tied Teemu Selanne as the highest scoring Finn in the NHL this year and I’d wager that the soon-t0-be 42-year-old Selanne won’t be playing two years from now.
Datsyuk, Franzen, Kronwall and Tatar have each scored for their respective countries, while a 20-year-old Jarnkrok has looked very comfortable as the number three center for Sweden. In fact, among Swedish forwards only Marcus Kruger has taken more shifts than Jarnkrok’s 49 through two games. Jarnkrok was instrumental in Brynas winning the Swedish Elite League title this year and will likely join the Wings in two years once his contract is up.
Howard is undefeated with a lopsided win over France and a big 5-4 OT win over Canada. Abdelkader has been centering the American third line, which has been an effective unit for the United States. Just three American forwards have taken more shifts than Abdelkader has through two games. Abdelkader is a restricted free agent and will likely be resigned by the Red Wings, but he’ll need to find another level next season if he hopes to avoid being buried by the surge of youngsters looking to take roster spots in Detroit in the coming years.
• And Johan Franzen talked to Kuriren.nu’s Peter Noren about Tomas Holmstrom’s potential retirement. Here’s the majority of that conversation…
“He’s still perhaps the best in the NHL in terms of goal-scoring on the power play. If he wants to play more, we’d be just as happy as he would be,” says Detroit teammate Johan Franzen to Norrbotten’s Kuriren when we met the NHL star at the Globen arena.
Only Nicklas Lidstrom’s played longer for the Detroit Red Wings than Holmstrom, who’s become a cult figure on the team.
And missing “Homer’s” social aspects would be a great loss—especially for Johan Franzen.
“There would be a big hole for him. I’ve sat next to him since my first day in Detroit, and he’s a lot of fun. Both the Swenglish and English. Everyone will miss him. You can’t replace him. He’s a legend in every way,” says the Detroit star.
“Both in English and Swenglish.” Holmstrom’s teammates often joke with him that his English is not completely flawless. Although he’s lived in the U.S. since 1996.
“He gets enough shit anyway, so I won’t say any more about his English. But I think he’s doing it on purpose, he likes the attention. But he’s certainly better than (Pavel) Datsyuk,” Franzen says with a laugh.
A the same time, the Detroit scorer understands that the 39-year-old Holmstrom is thinking along those lines. And he would support Holmstrom’s decision if he chose to quit.
“It depends on whether he wants to play with his children after his career is over. It’s up to him then, he’s got problems in his knees. He’s received a beating over the years. It’s a decision he has to make with his family, and make sure that he still has some quality of life when he stops playing hockey. That he can kick a little ball with the small ones and so on,” says the 32-year-old.
Also: the Grand Rapids Griffins are taking a survey asking fans to weigh in on their website as they will redesign it this summer.
Update #4: If you’re interested, MLive’s Phillip Zaroo posted a list of his top 10 NHL’ers to play over the age of 42…Nicklas Lidstrom excluded.
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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.