The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/13/12 at 06:01 PM ET
Updated 5x at 4:31 PM: The Detroit Red Wings held practice in anticipation of tomorrow’s matinee game against the Chicago Blackhawks (12:30 PM EST, NBC/TSN/WXYT), and it sounds like the Wings’ much-needed muscle against what the Blackhawks press insists is a team out for revenge on the Wings’ dastardly, injury-inflicting deeds may or may not play on Saturday. The Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness reports that Todd Bertuzzi is iffy for Saturday with a groin injury, and Mike Commodore won’t play due to a sore foot/ankle after blocking a shot…against Chicago last weekend:
Todd Bertuzzi didn’t practice. He’s suffering from back/groin issues and his status for Saturday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks will be a game-time decision.
“I’ve just got to see in the morning how it’s feeling,” Bertuzzi said. “I’m hoping to (play) I just needed some time to fix a few things. I’ll come here prepared to play and then see how it is in warm-ups.”
Bertuzzi took the pre-game skate Thursday prior to the Wings’ game against the Phoenix Coyotes, but was scratched after.
“My back gets a little bit tight and sore and then if affects my groin a bit,” Bertuzzi said. “I’m just trying to be cautious a bit. I don’t need to be out for a lengthy period of time over something like that.”
The Free Press’s Helene St. James confirms...
Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi didn’t skate today because of a lingering issue with his back, but coach Mike Babcock anticipates having Bertuzzi available Saturday. The Wings host the Blackhawks for a 12:30 p.m.. game that will be televised nationally on NBC. Detroit is going for its 14th straight victory at Joe Louis Arena.
Bertuzzi missed Thursday’s game with a sore back, and while Babcock said he expects Bertuzzi to play, Bertuzzi held off declaring himself ready to return pending taking pre-game warm-ups Saturday.
“I’m hoping to,” he said. “I just needed time to fix a few things. I’ll come here prepared to play, see how it is in warm-ups.”
Bertuzzi said he is being extra careful because “my back gets a little bit tight and sore and then it affects my groin a bit. I’m just trying to be cautious because I don’t need to be out for any length of time.”
If Bertuzzi can’t play, Danny Cleary will take over the spot on the line with Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen. The Wings have Jan Mursak available, so are fine as far as numbers go.
As does MLive’s Ansar Khan:
“I just got to see in the morning how it’s feeling,’’ Bertuzzi said. “I just needed some time to fix a few things. I’ll come here prepared to play and then see how it is in warm-ups.’‘
He said of the injury: “My back gets a little bit tight and sore and then if affects my groin a bit. I’m just trying to be cautious a bit. I don’t need to be out for a lengthy period of time over something like that.’‘
The Red Wings will be seeking their 14th consecutive home victory, which would tie the franchise record set in 1964-65.
St. Louis and Chicago are tied for first in the Central Division with 55 points. Detroit has 53 points but has played one fewer game than the Blackhawks. The Red Wings and Blackhawks have split two games this season in Chicago; the Blackhawks won 3-2 on Dec. 30 and Detroit won 3-2 in overtime last Sunday.
Mike Commodore said he’s not playing Saturday. His left foot still is sore from the shot he took last Sunday in Chicago.
The Free Press’s Helene St. James also tosses off a wonderful quip from Babcock…
Babcock on 700th game/future: “I’m 48. My kids aren’t even out of school yet, and my wife doesn’t like me that much. What would a guy do?”
The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan spoke to the Wings about playing against Chicago tomorrow…
Saturday’s Red Wings’ game against the Chicago Blackhawks (12:30 p.m., NBC) has the makings of a special atmosphere, as the Wings go after a franchise-record tying 14th consecutive home victory. A national television audience, bitter division rival, and the chance to tie a record, which was set in 1965. It doesn’t get much better.
“Always fun to play these type of games, especially against Chicago,” forward Tomas Holmstrom said. “It’s an early game. You just have to be ready when the puck drops. When we play them it’s always tight games, with a lot of speed. I’m sure it’ll be like that this time, too.”
Chicago (25-13-5, 55 points) and Detroit (26-15-1, 53 points) and St. Louis (25-12-5, 55 points) are battling for first place in the Central Division.
“These (divisional games) are very intense games,” forward Drew Miller said. “There’s never a night off. In the past, there would be some games that maybe wouldn’t be as hard but in our division every game is a tough game and one you have to get up for because teams are getting up for us.”
As did the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff:
The Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings are rivals in the NHL’s Central Division, but for the longest time this season, they were also strangers. That situation has rapidly changed, as the two clubs will meet Saturday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena for the third time this season, and the third time in as many weeks.
With the tightness atop the division – Chicago leads with 57 points, followed by the St. Louis Blues at 56 and Detroit at 55 – every game between the teams feels like a must-win scenario. “The Central here is very top at the tight between us, St. Louis and Chicago,” Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard said. “Points are at a premium, so every single night, we’ve got to find a way to get them.
“Every game, it’s a constant rotation. We’ve got to find a way to keep going.”
Thursday, Howard was named to the NHL All-Star Game for the first time, and he can’t wait to get to Ottawa’s Scotiabank Place for the Jan. 28-29 all-star weekend, which will be held about an hour away from where he was raised in upstate New York. “I’m going to really cherish going to Ottawa and representing the team,” Howard said.
He understands the high-scoring all-star contests are rarely a showcase for netminders, but isn’t concerned. “It doesn’t matter,” Howard said. “I’m going to go there and have fun, take it all in, and get to meet some of the guys from around the league that I look up to.”
Howard garnered his 100th NHL win in Thursday’s 3-2 shootout decision over the Phoenix Coyotes in his 172nd game, making him the fifth-fastest goalie to do so in Red Wings franchise history. Only Dominik Hasek (156 games), Chris Osgood (158), Manny Legace (163) and Terry Sawchuk (165) reached 100 wins faster in a Detroit uniform than Howard.
Update: From the Wings’ Twitter account:
Don’t have tickets to the game tomorrow? Sneaky’s Sports Bar and Grille (22301 Allen Road, Woodhaven) is the place to be to win, win, win!
Sneaky’s is hosting a Bud Light Viewing Party, where fans can win a signed Jimmy Howard jersey, autographed sticks, pucks and more!
Friday’s practice is underway at the Joe. Bertuzzi has not been spotted so far. http://t.co/F0HiQCxb
Kris Draper is currently shooting an anti-bullying PSA at the Joe. http://t.co/sxuuaOzP
Todd Bertuzzi missed today’s practice with a lower body injury. He is day-to-day.
Pavel Datsyuk is also taking part in today’s PSA shoot. http://t.co/PRYTgRlT
PHOTO: Fil and Cleary await their turn in front of the camera. Members of the team are shooting an anti-bullying PSA. http://t.co/wxVRdmjm
And we’re not even going to go here.
DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose also took note of last night’s milestones:
“It doesn’t get any better than that. What a great day. It’s been awesome,” said Howard, who stopped 23 shots in a 3-2 shoot-out win over Phoenix. “I think the highlight of my day was probably when I woke-up from my nap and my little guy had a T-shirt on that said, ‘My Daddy Rocks.’ ”
Howard has been a solid rock of confidence for the Wings all season. Despite leading the league with 25 wins, Howard has stepped up in crucial moments to make outstanding saves all season.
“A goalie’s only as good as the team in front of him,” he said. “I’m very lucky to be able to play behind these guys, play behind a great team, I think that’s why I’ve been able to progress at my own rate and coming into this season I felt like I could take more on my plate and be more of a game-changer for the guys.”
Howard is the fourth fastest Wings’ goalie to reach 100 NHL wins, doing so in 171 career games, behind Chris Osgood (158), Manny Legace (163) and hall-of-famer Terry Sawchuk (165). In all, nine goalies have compiled at least 100 wins in a Wings’ uniform, including Harry Lumley (317), Roger Crozier (163), Tim Cheveldae (128), Greg Stefan (115), and Dominik Hasek (114).
Not to be outdone, but Thursday’s outcome also produced milestones for coach Mike Babcock and forward Danny Cleary, who collected his 200th career assist on Johan Franzen’s third-period goal. Babcock became the third fastest coach – and 27th overall – in league history to 400 career wins. And Saturday, Babcock will become the 37th league coach to reach 700 career games coached.
“It’s no different than Howie for wins or Cleary with assists,” said Babcock of his milestone night. “They’re marks you think about later in life and you look at and can be proud of. It’s hard to even coach long enough in this league to get 400 wins and to be in that company of those with you.”
Update #2: According to ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers, the Blackhawks didn’t practice today after defeating the Wild 5-2 on Thurdsay evening, but Rogers reports that the Hawks will receive a reinforcement on Saturday:
The Chicago Blackhawks activated center Marcus Kruger from injured reserve and assigned forward Ben Smith to Rockford of the AHL, the team announced Friday.
Kruger has missed nine of the past 10 games recovering from a concussion originally suffered against Pittsburgh on on Dec. 20.
Smith scored his second goal of the season on Tuesday against Columbus, but with the return of Kruger the Hawks roster was over the 23-man limit.
Forward Daniel Carcillo has two games left to serve on a seven-game suspension but is also injured. He could be placed on injured reserve after the Hawks’ weekend set of games which would open a roster spot.
The Chicago Tribune’s Adam L. Jahns discussed Kruger’s return...
Over the past week, Kruger participated in long, grueling practices, filled with physical activity. He said he was feeling better afterward every single day.
“I was just doing some conditioning to keep in shape; it’s good,” Kruger said. “And a lot of fun. ... I’m just focused on getting back and getting healthy.”
The standout play of rookies Jimmy Hayes and Andrew Shaw made Smith expendable at this time. In his second stint with the Hawks this season, Smith recorded a goal and a plus-2 rating, playing primarily on Jamal Mayers’ fourth line.
“We’ve got number problems; we’ve got roster problems,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “[Kruger] looks like he could be back here, playing on the weekend, so we’ll have to look at some options here, but we’re right at the [roster limit].”
Smith, who recalled when Patrick Sharp went on injured reserve with a fractured wrist, said scoring helped his confidence.
“I was trying to get pucks to the net and got a little lucky,” Smith said. “We’ll take those every time. I didn’t really have too much on that play. I got lucky it went over his shoulder and glove.”
Smith was battling with Jimmy Hayes, Andrew Shaw—and Kruger to some extent—for a roster spot. The 23-year-old Smith had two goals in three stints in nine regular season stints with the Hawks this season. During the Hawks’ 5-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night, Smith had no shots on goal in 8 minutes, 15 seconds of ice time.
Meanwhile, both Hayes and Shaw continue to impress as they both scored against the Wild. Hayes has three goals in seven career games while Shaw has two in five. They, along with Smith, were recalled following injuries to Kruger (concussion), Daniel Carcillo (knee and seven-game suspension) and Patrick Sharp (wrist).
Kruger missed his eighth consecutive game with a concussion after being injured Dec. 26 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Kruger, 21, has three goals and seven assists in 34 games this season with the Hawks in his first full NHL season.
“We’ve got number problems, we’ve got roster problems,” coach Joel Quenneville said following the Hawks’ victory. “(Marcus Kruger) looks like he could be back here, playing on the weekend, so we’ll have to look at some options here, but we’re right at the (roster limit).”
NHL.com’s Brian Hedger is the one who stirs up silt today by talking about >Marian Hossa’s defection to Chicago:
They are questions that aren’t asked very much because Marian Hossa is already in his third season with the Chicago Blackhawks. They’re also an afterthought because nearly every team in the League has lost a talented player or two to salary-cap issues—including Hossa’s Blackhawks after winning the 2010 Stanley Cup.
Still, what if the Detroit Red Wings had been able to keep Hossa after a memorable one-year run in 2009 instead of letting him walk? What if that bitter defeat to his former Pittsburgh Penguins teammates in the 2009 Cup Final was merely the beginning of Hossa’s stay in Motown?
“Oh, what could’ve been … “
It has to be a vexing thought to this day for the Red Wings (27-15-1), who are set to host the Blackhawks (26-13-5) on Saturday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena (12:30 p.m., NBC, TSN2) for the third meeting of the season between the old rivals and first in Detroit.
Like anybody who’s been on Hossa’s teams during his 14-year career, Red Wings general manager Ken Holland and Detroit coach Mike Babcock grew fond of the soft-spoken Slovakian star both on and off the ice. Red Wings players did, too. As it turned out, however, they only got to spend one year with him as a teammate.
“That’s the system,” Holland told reporters in Detroit. “It’s a cap League. It’s a draft-pick League. It’s a develop-player League. I’m proud of what we did prior to 2005. I think we managed the money well, or spent the money well, but there’s no doubt we had a financial advantage over two-thirds of the teams in the League.”
I’ll let you read the rest of the article on your own, and will point out that Holland did his best to keep both Johan Franzen and Marian Hossa, but Hossa’s agent, Rich Winter, was so stuck on getting his player a front-loaded contract that the Wings had to pawn Hossa’s negotiating rights off on the Kings after the Entry Draft, and it was only after Hossa hit the open market that he signed a deal with Chicago for about $8 million more than the Wings were offering.
To me, it’s a sore spot as I feel that Hossa could have stayed in Detroit had he and Winter wanted to not squeeze every last buck out of the highest bidder, and I happen to believe that Hossa’s a lot like his father, who was a professional hockey player as well, and his brother Marcel, who bounces from KHL team to KHL team insisting that each team will help him win the Gargarin Cup like the team before it couldn’t—he’s never minded moving around to chase what he feels are bigger and better opportunities to win, no matter whose feet he skates upon in attempts to do so.
Also very cool note from the NHL:
Fans in the United States will be able to watch the Detroit Red Wings aim for their 14th consecutive win Saturday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena while facing off with their Central Division rival the Chicago Blackhawks on both NBCsports.com and NHL.com.
The 12:30 p.m. ET game is being featured as NBC’s Game of the Week. The Blackhawks lead the Central Division with 57 points, but the Red Wings could leap them in the standings via a tiebreaker if they win in regulation.
Detroit is 16-2-1 this season at home and hasn’t lost at The Joe since Nov. 3 against Calgary.
Update #3: From RedWingsFeed:
101FM in Detroit or online: http://www.wrif.com/listenlive/ #RedWings RT @wrifmeltdown: I will have All Star goalie Jimmy Howard on the show at 4:30.
Update #4: From the Wings:
RED WINGS’ FIRST MILITARY MONDAY SET FOR JAN. 16… Ongoing Promotion Presented in Partnership with 3-Dimensional Services and in Association with the United States Air Force …
Detroit, MI… The Detroit Red Wings in partnership with 3-Dimensional Services and in association with the United States Air Force will be presenting the first Military Monday of the 2011-12 season on January 16 when the Buffalo Sabres visit Joe Louis Arena for a 7:30 p.m. clash with the reigning Central Division champs. As part of the season-long Military Mondays promotion, the first 10,000 fans in attendance for this game will receive a souvenir dog tag courtesy of the Red Wings and 3-Dimensional Services.
Joe Louis Arena’s Quicken Loans Budd Lynch Veterans Suite, named after the Red Wings’ longtime public address announcer and World War II veteran, is also being sponsored by both 3-Dimensional Services and the United States Air Force at all Monday night home games this season, with dozens of active and retired members of the U.S. Armed Services being afforded the opportunity to enjoy an NHL game from the premium seating location.
Furthermore, both of this month’s Military Monday games will feature a special ticket offer for veterans and active members of the armed forces. Anyone with a valid military I.D. can take advantage of a special discount of between $7 and $8 per ticket depending upon desired seating location. Tickets are limited and are only available prior to game day by calling Chad Wardie at (313) 396-7577.
2011-12 MILITARY MONDAY SCHEDULE:
January 16, 7:30 p.m. vs. Buffalo Sabres
January 23, 7:30 p.m. vs. St. Louis Blues
March 19, 7:30 p.m. vs. Washington Capitals (featuring on-ice USAF swearing-in ceremony)
March 26, 7:30 p.m. vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
About 3-Dimensional Services
The 3-Dimensional Services Group has earned a reputation as a world class supplier of functional prototypes, low volume production and custom manufactured components to industries such as: automotive, appliance, consumer products, and the Department of Defense to name a few. Log onto to www.3dimensional.com to learn more about the “unbelievable” prototyping company.
About The Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings hockey club, an Original Six member of the National Hockey League and 11-time Stanley Cup Champion, was purchased by Michael and Marian Ilitch in 1982. Other Ilitch companies in the food, sports and entertainment industries include: Little Caesars Pizza, Blue Line Foodservice Distribution, Ilitch Holdings, Inc., Olympia Entertainment, Olympia Development, Little Caesars Pizza Kit Fundraising Program, Champion Foods and Uptown Entertainment. Michael Ilitch owns the Detroit Tigers. Marian Ilitch owns the MotorCity Casino Hotel. For more information, visit http://www.DetroitRedWings.com.
• Per MLive’s Ansar Khan, via Twitter:
During 13-game home win streak, Wings have outscored opponents 59-19. They are 11-for-51 on the PP (21.6%) and 36-for-44 on the PK (81.8%).
• And WXYT"s Jeff Riger posted clips of Mike Babcock talking about his future...
Mike Babcock always is focused on the next day, practice and game. He very rarely seems to let achievements and personal goals go to his head. So it was no surprise that Babcock pretty much downplayed winning his 400th game Thursday night when the Wings edged out the Coyotes in a shootout 3-2. When I asked the head coach what 400 victories meant to him he responded “they are marks that you can think about later in life and look at it and be proud. It’s hard to even coach in the league to get 400 wins, never mind to be in the company of the people that are with you.”
Babcock’s next milestone is Saturday at Joe Louis Arena as he will coach in his 700th game, a mark that even he was unaware of when it was brought up. Babcock has coached a gold medal Olympic team, he has won a cup and he is considered one of the best in the game today so it is only natural that a reporter might wonder if the man known for his great hair has thought about retirement? Babcock replied “oh my God, well I’m 48, my kids aren’t even out of school yet for crying out loud and my wife doesn’t like me that much so what would a guy do? I’d drive her crazy, I got to do something! I never really thought about it much, I know I am employed by these guys until they fire me and I like being here. I’m going to work as hard as I can and try to do as much winning in the meantime.”
(here’s the link if the video doesn’t work: http://detroit.cbslocal.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=6636816, and here’s some Babcockian wallpaper)
As well as an interview with Jimmy Howard:
Thursday night was a big night for Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard. Not only did the net minder win his 100th game and his 25th of the season but he also was named to his first All Star game as well. The All Star selection no doubt was made more special to Howard considering he was not even on the ballot when it came out early in the season.
I got a chance to catch up with Howard, Friday afternoon at practice where he talked about how special both his Thursday accomplishments were. “I don’t think it has really sunk in yet, I think it’s pretty surreal” Howard said. The goalie went on saying “coming into this season I didn’t expect to be in the All Star game or here right now but things have been going really well and the confidence is sky high.” The 3rd year Maine native is 25 and 10 this season with a 2.09 goals against average and .924 save percentage.
Watch the entire Jimmy Howard interview below where he talks about being an All Star, a crazy idea for the NHL All Star game and if he is a Tim Tebow fan as well? IN case you didn’t know, the art of “Tebowing” made it into the NHL as former Wolverine and current King Jack Johnson did it Monday night after scoring a goal. Howard answers the question; if there is room for celebrations like that on the Wings or even in the NHL?
• Also: Fox Sports Detroit’s John Keating spoke to WBBL’s Bakita and Bentley this morning:
Update #5: DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose also took note of Babcock’s 400-wins/700-games-coached milestones:
“I think when you first come to the league you’re on a tryout, just like all of the players, you’re on a tryout and trying to survive,” said Babcock, who spent two seasons in Anaheim before moving to Detroit in 2005. “As you’ve seen, the National Hockey League eats up coaches. But it eats up a lot of people. I think it’s the greatest exposure of weakness in anything. … It’s just the way it is, and that’s what the best are supposed to do. I think survival of the fittest in some ways.”
“I feel very fortunate that I was able to get off to a good start in Anaheim and get my confidence,” Babcock said. “I think confidence is everything in this league if you’re going to be a head coach. If you get confidence I think you have a chance to make good decisions on a more consistent basis and be steady on the rudder, and therefore, have a chance to win year in and year out. To me that’s the measure. In order to do that though, that doesn’t happen without Nick Lidstrom, Hank, and Pav and Howie and these guys. You have to have good players, it doesn’t matter. You can’t win without good players in this league, it doesn’t matter what the coach does, he isn’t going to score any goals.”
Babcock ranks third among active NHL coaches with a .641 winning percentage in the regular-season. But he holds the best active coaching winning percentage (.625) in the playoffs, and his 70 playoff wins ties him for ninth-place with his friend and Chicago coach Joel Quenneville. In his seventh season in Detroit, Babcock has already re-written the Wings’ record book, amassing a 331-141-63 mark and his astonishing .678 winning percentage is better than those set by Tommy Ivan (.653), Bowman (.655) and Dave Lewis (.668).
While Babcock flirts with some impressive NHL company, he stands along as the only coach in the world to gain entry in the Triple Gold Club, guiding teams to the 2010 Olympic gold medal, 2008 Stanley Cup, and 2004 World Championships. Babcock earned a college degree in physical education and did some post-graduate work in sports psychology. His education has provided him with a solid understanding of just how sports work and how complacency doesn’t.
“When you look at what you did in year one, or you look at what you did when you were involved in this championship, you can’t believe how dumb you were. But that’s the game, that’s the business,” Babcock said. “We do things different – a lot different – from year to year to year, just because you have to, because what you did before doesn’t win. You’ve got to come up with new ways, and new ways of selling and new ways of teaching, but in the end you need players.”
And no, he won’t retire anytime soon:
“Well, I’m 48, you know my kids aren’t even out of school yet, for crying out loud, and my wife doesn’t like me that much, so what would a guy do? I’d drive her crazy,” Babcock said. “I’ve got to do something. I don’t know, I’ve never thought about (retirement) much. I’m employed by these guys until they fire me and I like being here and I’m going to work as hard as I can and try to do as much winning in the meantime.”
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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.