The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/03/12 at 05:18 PM ET
Updated 6x with Filppula-Zetterberg-Hudler line talk at 6:43 PM: Given the Red Wings’ already shorthanded status, given the, “Rut roh, Raggy” level of bad news of late (see the Brad Stuart stuff from earlier this morning) and given that the Wings still managed to defeat the Minnesota Wild 6-0 on Friday night, MLive’s Ansar Khan fired off a Twitter update which more or less forces one to wait and hope for better news once Khan and NHL.com’s Brian Hedger wandered into the post-practice media scrum at the Joe (both the Wings and Hawks practiced at City Sports Arena due to a Black Keys concert at the Joe tonight, but the Wings bus back to the Joe, usually in their gear, after said practice two miles east of the Joe)...
Bertuzzi and Cleary not skating today for Wings, in addition to Datsyuk and Lidstrom.
So as to not crank up your or my anxiety levels, I did what a blogger’s got to do sometimes: I sat on my butt and hoped for better news, reading Calvin College’s press release about the Grand Rapids Griffins’ career fair on Wednesday, April 4th, MLive’s Brendan Savage’s latest fan feedback article and the Hockey News’s latest crop of player-determined rankings (no Wing’s been named to the Top 50 player list in the countdown from 50-35) while waiting and hoping for good news.
I also read a lovely little comment from Brendan Smith...
Thanks to everyone who sent me all those wonderful comments last night after my game.
Read a few quips about last night’s Griffins 4-3 comeback win (clicky for the Griffins website’s recap) over the Rochester Americans on Friday (clicky for the Grand Rapids Press’s Peter J. Wallner’s recap) from the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff...
Ty Conklin (4-0) joined Mathieu Chouinard (5-0, 2000-01) as only #AHL Grand Rapids G to W 1st 4 starts with 4-3 win Friday over Rochester.
Gustav Nyqvist tied #AHL Grand Rapids rookie record for A of 35, set 14 years ago by Glen Metropolit.
And took note of some promotional news from the Wings...
It’s time for this week’s U.S. Park Social Saturday Ticket Deal! $42 seats for our game against CBJ on 3/26
TICKET DEAL: $42 seats for our game against CBJ on 3/26. To order: https://oss.ticketmaster.com/html/go.htmI?l=EN&t=redwings&o=5435008&g=1057 Password: smith
Our friends at AT&T are giving away tickets to each home game this season. Click the link to learn how to win. http://uverseonline.att.net/sports/org/detroit-red-wings
So do we have Good Gnus, or Bad Gnus, Gary Gnu (you have to be over 30 to remember who Gary Gnu is, sorry)?
Good Gnus, per Khan:
Babcock said Bertuzzi will be game time decision. Cleary was maintenance day and will play Sunday.
And more of the same from Hedger:
As expected, no Datsyuk or Lidstrom at #Redwings practice. No Bertuzzi (groin) or Cleary either. Ericsson obviously still out w/wrist.
Bertuzzi gametime decision tomorrow vs. #Blackhawks, Lidstrom definitely out. Datsyuk out, still not skating. #Redwings
Datsyuk says there are no magic pills that will make him heal faster ... but he wishes there were. He also claims he’s an inch taller. Ha!
Asked Pav if he’s lopsided now that surgery supposedly added an inch. He said he was leaned an inch to one side before, but even now. Lol.
For Datsyuk, it’s all about swelling and pain tolerance. One he skates, he’ll only be a few days from returning, but until he skates…We’re gonna have to wait. He could be anything from three days away and ready to go in Philly on Tuesday to being out for another 7-10 days. And if you’ve ever seen Datsyuk walk, he limps like Lurch because one of his legs really is shorter than the other.
Erm, as I’m writing this on the fly, make that 7-10 days, per Khan:
Datsyuk said he might start skating Sunday morning but at least expects to be on ice this week. Hopes to return during Calif. trip.
Datsyuk also says he’s targeting the upcoming California trip a week from Tues. for possible return. Also, he says “California” like Arnold
The Wings won’t have a morning skate on Sunday due to their 4 PM EST start (the game will air on FSD/CSN Chicago and the NHL Network U.S, which means Center Ice and GameCenter Live subscribers are screwed unless they have the NHL Network on their cable or satellite systems, and FSD’s John Keating reminds us that the Wings’ pre-game show will air at 3:30 PM EST), but the Wings could accommodate Datsyuk taking a spin beforehand, depending on how long it takes the rink crew to dismantle the Black Keys’ stage.
The Red Wings’ Twitter account confirms the Bertuzzi/Cleary news…
According to Mike Babcock, Todd Bertuzzi will be a game time decision tomorrow. Dan Cleary was given the day off and will play on Sunday.
And especially as the Wings ought to call someone up today as the Griffins will play their second game in 3 nights tonight (against Oklahoma City), and then immediately hop on the bus for a 5-hour drive to Hamilton, what did they do?
Well, it’s more sitting on one’s hands time, waiting for another update before posting this. I’m sorry for “holding out” on you, but sometimes you have to get the whole story before you post…
More fidgeting, reading about Andreas Lilja being a particularly regular healthy scratch in Philly, and reading the AP’s early Wings-Hawks game preview (the Hawks were practically gushy about their 2-1 win over Ottawa on Friday, and they currently sit in sixth place in the Western Conference)...
The Blackhawks (35-24-7) began their current stretch without captain Jonathan Toews with a 2-1 home win over Detroit on Feb. 21, but they followed that with three straight losses. They’ve bounced back with consecutive wins over Toronto and Ottawa, with Marian Hossa totaling three goals. His power-play tally provided the winning margin in Friday’s 2-1 victory over the Senators, and Patrick Sharp assisted on both goals to snap a five-game point drought.
“This was huge, especially that it was on the road,” Hossa said. “We weren’t good lately on the road, so we need some wins on the road. So, this is good for the first game of a road trip.”
Chicago had dropped 13 of its previous 15 road games before Friday. Its three-game trip gets tougher with visits to the Red Wings and Blues, owners of the two best home records in the league. For the Blackhawks lately, however, Joe Louis Arena hasn’t been the daunting destination that it’s been for the rest of the league in 2011-12. Chicago is 5-0-1 in its last six visits, while the Red Wings are 24-1-1 in their last 26 there.
Success in Detroit would likely be tougher without Toews, who has five points and a plus-5 in Chicago’s last six road games in the series. He also scored on a penalty shot in a 3-2 home win to open the season series Dec. 30. The Blackhawks haven’t given much information on Toews’ injury - reportedly a concussion - but he’s likely to miss his seventh straight game Sunday. Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson is a better bet to return after missing 11 of the last 12, also possibly with a concussion.
It’s unclear who will be in net for Chicago. Corey Crawford has started all four games against the Red Wings this season - he’s 6-2-2 with a 2.08 goals-against average against them in his career - but he was pulled in favor of Ray Emery after a shaky first period against Toronto. Emery made 25 saves to beat Ottawa.
Detroit’s Jimmy Howard stopped all 19 shots he faced Friday, ending a personal three-game skid, but he has a 3.00 GAA while losing five of seven to Chicago.
Sounds like the Wings have to get their asses in gear at home tomorrow as the Hawks have “owned” ‘em of late…
Um, any good news from the Joe, or clarification regarding a call-up, Mr. Khan, Mr. Hedger?
Ask and you shall receive, I suppose, from Mr. Khan:
@georgemalik Holland said he will tell a player after tonight’s Griffins game that he’s being recalled in case Bertuzzi can’t suit up
I hate to say it, but in its own way, it’s good news that Bertuzzi might be able to play tomorrow. If he can play without re-injuring his groin, the Wings need his “big body” to back off the plucky and currently rookie-laden Hawks.
And here’s Khan’s text update:
Detroit Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi did not skate today and is listed as a game-time decision for Sunday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks at Joe Louis Arena (4 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit). Bertuzzi left Friday’s 6-0 win over Minnesota after the second period with a groin strain.
General manager Ken Holland said he will go to the Grand Rapids Griffins game tonight against the Oklahoma City Barons and recall somebody after the game, just in case Bertuzzi can’t play.
Danny Cleary also did not practice today, but coach Mike Babcock called it a maintenance day and said he is playing for sure.
Pavel Datsyuk (arthroscopic knee surgery on Feb. 21) continues to work out off-ice. He said he’s not sure when he’ll start skating but said he’s thinking about going on the ice Sunday morning.
“Much better every day, my movement, on the bike, I do everything almost,’’ Datsyuk said. “I wish it’s some magic pills.’‘
The soonest he will return is during the three-game trip to California that begins March 13 in Los Angeles.
“That’s what we’re looking, but for sure I take sun cream for California trip,’’ Datsyuk said. “Definitely I want to go to California.’‘
Meanwhile, at CSA, per Hedger:
#Blackhawks have arrived at City Sports Center ice rink for practice. I guess they dressed for it at Comerica Park and bused over here.
No Toews on the trip as of yet, would be surprised if he shows up in St. Louis, though. #Blackhawks
Update #0.5; It’s worth noting that Holland and Jim Nill are taking in oodles of Griffins games of late. The Griffins have a halfway decent chance of making the playoffs if they continue to ride the wave of confidence that Ty Conklin’s’ given them, but the Wings are also doing some serious-ass “Black Ace” scouting.
Update #07.5: Per DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose:
Here’s my first photo to go global. It’s of #RedWings Zetterberg & Herman Liv winding up on a Swedish media website: is.gd/sQK27Q
Update #1: Here are some Blackhawks practice updates from ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers...
Line rushes same as last night. [Niklas Hjalmarsson] paired w O’donnell as 4th d pair right now
That would be a negative. He did not RT @KristinaMassey5: @ESPNChiHawks So Toews didn’t travel with the team to Detroit?
Toews out for final 2 games of trip per [Hawks coach Joel Quenneville]
Hammer [Hjalmarsson] will not play Sunday either
Emery in net tomorrow .
On ice today again RT @peacecompassion: @ESPNChiHawks any more sightings of Barry Smith ?
As well as the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc...
#Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson won’t play vs. Red Wings tomorrow. Jonathan Toews won’t join team on trip.
#Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews still not skating and out for next two games at least. Joel Quenneville maintains Toews still day-to-day.
Ray Emery will be in goal for #Blackhawks vs. Red Wings tomorrow night.
#Blackhawks’ Quenneville on if Toews’ injury could be long-term: “We’ll look on the optimistic and bright side that he’s going to be back.”
And Comcast Sportsnet Chicago’s Tracey Myers:
#Blackhawks practice under way. Looks like all the healthy guys are here. No, Toews and [Steve] Montador are not.
[David] Bolland had stitches by his right eye after a collision with [Ottawa Senators forward Jason] Spezza last night. Wearing visor today. #Blackhawks
Hjalmarsson feeling better today but out tomorrow. Emery in net. #Blackhawks
Toews not skating yet, will NOT be on this road trip at all, Q said. #Blackhawks
Hjalmarsson said it’s basically a matter of conditioning now. Kitchen skated him hard today. #Blackhawks
Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi did not practice today, after suffering a groin injury in Friday’s 6-0 win over the Wild. It’ll be a game-time decision whether Bertuzzi plays on Sunday when the Wings host the Blackhawks (4 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit) at Joe Louis Arena.
“He says he’s playing, but I don’t think he makes that decision,” said Wings coach Mike Babcock.
Forward Dan Cleary also missed practice today, but coach Mike Babcock said it was just a “maintenance day.”
“He’s playing for sure,” Babcock said of Cleary’s availability for Sunday.
Forward Pavel Datsyuk, still recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, said he might attempt to skate for the first time on Sunday morning. Datsyuk joked that he wished he had “magic pills” to speed up his recovery. Asked if the knee was still sore, Datsyuk said: “Much better every day, my movement. I can do bike. I do everything almost. Need time.”
Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom also remains out with a deep bone bruise in his ankle. Lidstrom watched Friday’s game from the press box.
“He said he was looking pretty good in his suit,” Babcock joked about Lidstrom. “He wondered if we wanted him to stand on the bench he was looking so good.”
Update #1.5: From Fox Sports Detroit’s John Keating:
The Black Keys in concert @ JLA forced Wings to “dress and drive” to practice rink today. Wings-Hawks@3:30 Sun on FSD. pic.twitter.com/vCtJ3vMf
And here’s a bit more about the Hawks from the Chicago Sun-Times’ Adam L. Jahns:
Jonathan Toews (concussion) is yet to begin skating. Niklas Hjalmarsson (concussion) won’t play vs. Detroit. #Blackhawks
Jonathan Toews (concussion) also won’t be joining the #Blackhawks on their trip.Niklas Hjalmarsson may play vs. St. Louis Tuesday.
Update #2: The Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness reports that the Wings will recall somebody tonight:
Todd Bertuzzi (groin) will be a game-tme decision for Sunday’s home game against the Chicago Blackhawks. Wings GM Ken Holland replied in a text message, that he’s on his way to Grand Rapids to watch the Griffins tonight and he’ll inform a forward afterwards that he’ll be heading back to Detroit and possibly playing on Sunday.
Danny Cleary didn’t practice, but will play Sunday.
Pavel Datsyuk has yet to resume skating, but it could be any day now that he returns with his teammates at practice. He had arthroscopic knee surgery on Feb. 21.
“(It’s) much better every day, my movement, I can do bike, I do everything almost,” he said. “But I need time. I wish I had some magic pills.”
He’s looking to return when the Wings head to California beginning March 13.
“That’s what we’re looking, but for sure I take sun cream for California trip,” Datsyuk said. “I want to go to California. I go to Hollywood.”
Update #3: here are some updates from the Hawks’ side of things, with ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers updating the status of Jonathan Toews and several other Blackhawks…
“Still progressing but no change,” Quenneville said after practice on Saturday. “He’s not on the ice. He’s not going to be on the trip.”
Toews has missed the last six games with an upper-body injury and continues to work out off the ice back in Chicago. The Hawks are 3-3 without him in the lineup.
Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson also won’t play Sunday as he’s missed 11 of 12 with an upper-body ailment as well.
“He’s real close, he’s real close,” Quenneville said of Hjalmarsson. “He says he’s feeling much better. He’s going through some real conditioning skates here. He’s really progressing here.”
Hjalmarsson thought he might be able to play against the Red Wings on Sunday, but he is still getting back into game shape.
“Being gone for that long you just want to get your conditioning back,” Hjalmarsson said. “That’s what I’m working on and [I’ll] take it from there.”
The Wings’ Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom will miss the contest with injuries. Ray Emery will stars his second consecutive game looking for his third win in a row overall.
On Jan. 20 this season, the Hawks led the league in points and were cruising toward the playoffs. Since then, an almost inconceivable collapse — lowlighted by a nine-game losing streak — has them in desperation mode. It is exactly the scenario the Hawks wanted to avoid when they set out on this campaign.
“That’s for sure,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “That wasn’t our goal when we began the season, but that’s the battle we’re in. We were in a good spot earlier, and now we’re in a tough spot. It’s up to us to try to move ahead and get back to the place we were at earlier. Over that nine-game (losing) stretch we gave up a ton of ground. Now it’s up to us to at least recapture some of that.”
Since the halcyon days of mid-January, they have gone 6-11-1, including the nine consecutive losses that set their free fall in motion. After Friday night’s 2-1 victory over the Senators, the Hawks stand in sixth place in the Western Conference.
“It’s frustrating,” veteran winger Patrick Sharp said. “We were in a good position for a long time and things got away from us. You can’t look back and say, ‘What if?’ You have to realize the situation you’re in. We know what’s going on with the standings, so it’s a matter of going out and playing hard and getting the points we want.”
That is easier said than done. The Hawks have a rough road ahead of them as they look to hang on to a postseason spot at the least, let alone improve their current standing. Of their 16 remaining games, 11 are against teams currently holding playoff positions. They still have two contests remaining on this three-game trip — against the conference rival Red Wings and Blues — before heading home to face the Rangers, who are running away with the Eastern Conference.
“We would love to be in first right now with 95 points but … we put ourselves in this position and we can’t hide from that,” winger Viktor Stalberg said. “We have to find a way out of it.”
Further down the line, the Hawks face two matchups with the Blues and single games against the Stars, Capitals, Canucks, Predators, Devils and another with the Wings. In order to avoid another night of watching and waiting while someone else determines their fate, the Hawks will have to play with intensity each time they take the ice.
“It wasn’t fun (last season) because you had to wait for somebody else to do it for you, and you just hope for the best,” winger Marian Hossa said. “It’s much easier when you do it on your own. This year we started really well and we were in first for a long time. We’re in a situation where we don’t want to be. But there are still lots of games left and we can improve.”
Subjectively speaking? Here’s hoping that the Wings knock Chicago right out of the playoffs.
Update #4: It took a long-ass time, but NHL.com’s finally published Brian Hedger’s off-day update:
Todd Bertuzzi thinks he’ll be fine to play for the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday afternoon against the Chicago Blackhawks at Joe Louis Arena, but his coaches and the team’s medical staff will make the final call.
Bertuzzi strained his groin in the third period of Friday’s 6-0 victory against the Minnesota Wild at Joe Louis Arena and didn’t return to the game. Afterward, Red Wings general manager Ken Holland deemed the injury to be “nothing serious” and said the Wings want to approach it very cautiously with Detroit already headed for the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 16 games remaining in the regular season.
Bertuzzi didn’t skate with the Wings during Saturday’s practice and was re-examined. Detroit coach Mike Babcock said Bertuzzi is a a “gametime decision” for Sunday’s game.
“He says he’s playing, but I don’t know if he makes that decision,” Babcock said, smiling.
Forward Danny Cleary also didn’t skate at Saturday’s practice, which was held at City Sports Center’s rink because Joe Louis Arena was being prepped for a concert on Saturday night featuring The Black Keys.
Cleary was taking a “maintenance day” and will play Sunday. Also not participating in Saturday’s workout, as expected, were captain Nicklas Lidstrom (ankle), center Pavel Datsyuk (knee) and defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (fractured wrist).
Lidstrom is definitely out for Sunday’s game and will miss his third straight game with a deep bone bruise to his ankle, while Datsyuk continues to rehab his knee after having arthroscopic surgery to clean up a loose ligament fragment nearly two weeks ago. Ericsson is expected to be out at least another three weeks.
Update #5: Here’s one more late-breaker from Hedger:
Pavel Datsyuk has yet to begin skating on his own after having arthroscopic knee surgery nearly two weeks ago, but he continues to make progress rehabbing off ice and feels like he’s still on track to return with the two- to three-week timeline. Datsyuk is targeting Detroit’s road trip that will start on March 10 in Nashville before heading West to play the three California-based teams for his return to action. He might not be ready at the start of the trip, but plans to be on the team plane when it leaves.
“That’s what we’re looking [at], but for sure I take sun cream for California trip,” Datysuk said, smiling. “Hoping to practice with team before that trip. Definitely I want to go to California. I go to Hollywood.”
How does the knee feel now?
“Much better every day, my movement, I can do bike, I do everything almost,” Datsyuk said. “But I need time. I wish I had some magic pills.’‘
He also doesn’t know exactly when he’ll get back on the ice to start skating and test it out on his own.
“Nothing planned,” he said. “[Sunday] we’re thinking about.”
In three of the four previous meetings with the Chicago Blackhawks, the score was 3-2. Detroit has won twice by that score in overtime, while the Blackhawks won in regulation. Chicago won the other game, 2-1.
“Probably be 3-2 tomorrow, we’ve just got to make sure we got 3,” Babcock smiled. “They’re all good games and we’ve had a number of good games with their club going back four years. They’re always fun and spirited and I expect the same tomorrow.”
“It’s always fun games to play against Chicago,” Kronwall said. “It’s turned into quite a rivalry the last few years. If you look at all our games, they’re tight games, they’ve got a heck of a team.”
And here’s a collection of quips and quotes about the success of the Valtteri Filppula-Henrik Zetterberg-Jiri Hudler line;
“I think all three of them, they want the puck in all situations, all aspects of the game, whether it’s in your own zone or up ice, they’re always putting themselves in positions where they can get the puck and get open for each other,” Niklas Kronwall said. “They’re skating really well and they’re shooting the puck and getting it back.”
“Huds is at the net, Fil and Z make the plays, they’ve all got real good hockey instincts and Z’s skating really well,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Fil always skates well, they just seem to have chemistry, so good for them.”
“To be good you’ve got to have your best players being good and those guys are in that group of players, we need them to be good each and every day,” Babcock said. “Obviously, Fil’s taken a huge step and Hudler’s gotten back to the kind of player he was a few years ago.”
“(Hudler’s) smart, he puts himself in the right areas,” Kronwall said. “He’s not the biggest guy but he puts himself in a spot where the D-man, it’s tough to get him away from there. He’s got good balance and that leads to good net presence.”
Update #6.5: Gabba gabba gabba, per the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons:
When [Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian] Burke took over in Anaheim, he wanted [Randy] Carlyle as his head coach. In order to do so, he let the contract of the existing coach expire without re-signing him. That coach: Mike Babcock ... Can Carlyle adjust his coaching style to deal with a different kind of Leafs lineup? Absolutely. Babcock was a dump and chase coach in Anaheim who runs a puck possession game in Detroit. The best coaches coach the team’s they are given. One of [Ron] Wilson’s problems in four years in Toronto was: He coached a style the Leafs weren’t capable of winning with .
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About The Malik Report
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.