Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings off-day news: clean hockey is still effective hockey

Updated 4x at 6;34 PM: The Detroit Red Wings may not have earned their day off after dropping a 5-1 decision to the New York Islanders, but the Wings’ physical and mental fatigue was incredibly apparent in their plain old doofy play as they wrapped up a slate of 14 of 19 games on the road, three games in four nights and continued to play a slate of 11 January games over 19 pre-All-Star break nights.

Updated 5x at 7:13 PM: While the Wings were in New York, the Sporting News’s Jesse Spector both spoke to Jimmy Howard about his evolution into an elite netminder and pondered the team’s status as an effective team despite playing the antithesis of Big Bad Bruins hockey:

In 42 games, the Red Wings have been assessed 42 minor penalties and six majors—all for fighting, the lowest total of scraps in the league. Detroit has not had a single misconduct penalty, as opposed to the NHL-high 10 each called against the two teams that are trying to make back-to-back Finals appearances.

“I wish we were the biggest, toughest, ugliest team in organized hockey. That’s not how we’re built, so you coach what you got. How’s that? No pride in that!” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said on Tuesday, drawing a laugh. “No, I take pride in the fact that we’re real disciplined. … We’re just built a different way, and you’ve got to win in your own way. Team toughness for us, toughness is how hard we are on the puck, and how we pursue it, how we keep coming. It’s got nothing to do with fighting and stoppages.”

In a season when the concussion epidemic has put a sharp focus on cleaning up the game, teams around the NHL would do well to emulate the Red Wings, who play a smooth and speedy brand of hockey personified by Pavel Datsyuk, a four-time winner of the Lady Byng Trophy as hockey’s most gentlemanly player.

Todd Bertuzzi and Jonathan Ericsson are tied for Detroit’s team high with 37 penalty minutes this season, which puts them in a tie for 94th-most in the NHL. Tied with them: the Canucks’ Aaron Volpatti, who has five teammates with more penalty time.

As the Red Wings avoid penalties, so do their opponents—Detroit had had only four more power plays this season than times shorthanded. Referees get to put their whistles down and allow the game to be played the way it should be.

“We have a pretty good power play,” said defenseman Mike Commodore, in his first season with Detroit after previously playing for New Jersey, Calgary, Carolina, Ottawa and Columbus. “So I know that when teams come in to play against Detroit, I’d always be careful about taking penalties—you take too many, and you’re out of the game (on the scoreboard). We have a puck-possession, speed team, and it’s been like that for a while, and working pretty good.”

And I have to apologize for doing the same thing that Fox Sports Detroit’s Trevor Thompson reported that Howard did on Tuesday—I “slept in” by the standards of someone who’s usually writing game wrap-ups at six in the morning—so this off-day post will be updated and is very much so a work in progress—but I’m going to leave you for now with IIHF.com’s Risto Pakarinen’s recap of HV71 Jonkoping’s ceremony retiring Stefan Liv’s #1 on Tuesday night (clicky for a 10-minute Swedish video which includes clips of Jimmy Howard [in English], Jonathan Ericsson, Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg and more than a few other NHL’ers [mostly in Swedish] saying, “Stefan will always be number 1):

He wasn’t born there, he was born in Poland 31 years ago. He didn’t die there, he died in a plane crash in Russia four months ago. But it was Jönköping, on the southern shore of Vättern, one of Sweden’s great lakes, that embraced Stefan Liv. And it was Jönköping that Stefan Liv embraced back. It was Stefan Liv’s home, his happy place. Of all the happy places in Jönköping, Kinnarpsarenan, the home rink of HV71, was one of the happiest ones for both Liv and the people who were so proud of him.

On Tuesday, Stefan Liv’s number 1 was raised to the rafters of Kinnarpsarenan, an honour he had dreamed about. His plan had been to play a couple of years in the KHL, then come back to HV71 and Jönköping, and add a few titles to the three he had already won with the club.

“[He thought that] the retiring of his number would be ultimate proof that he had been as important to the club as it had been to him,” said Anna Liv, Stefan’s widow, in a message to the fans, read by Magnus Carlsson, HV71’s conditioning coach, the Livs’ close friend, and the pastor who performed the couple’s wedding ceremony in the summer of 2011.

“We all wish that this day would have come in ten, fifteen years from now, and that Stefan would be standing here on the ice and hear the fans. But I am convinced that Stefan is with us today, and that he’s very proud and honoured,” she said.

Before Anna Liv’s message, a tribute film was played on the jumbotron, with messages from former teammates over the course of Liv’s career. They all repeated the same, wonderful message about Liv as the ultimate teammate.

“He was always smiling, always in a good mood,” said Jimmy Howard, Liv’s teammate and roommate in 2006-07 with the Grand Rapids Griffins in the AHL. “When I think of him, I think of that smile,” he added.
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“Even at the 2006 Olympics, while he didn’t play much, he was such an integral part of the team,” said Nicklas Lidström.

Update the first: Fake Henrik Zetterberg‘s second-to-last episode of the season is up:

Update #2: Via Paul, Lighthouse Hockey’s Kevin Schultz posted a clip of Mike Babcock’s reaction to Islanders coach Jack Capuano’s timeout taken with 22 seconds left in a 5-1 game. Capuano was unapologetic about the move after the game, stating that he called a timeout on an icing call because he didn’t want Kyle Okposo, John Tavares or Matt Moulson to get hurt via a fatigue-related injury, and that he’d do the same thing again:

Update #3: Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski believes that Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom and Jimmy Howard should all be included on the NHL’s All-Star Game roster, as does NHL.com’s Corey Masisak. The rest of the roster will be announced on Thursday (not Tuesday, I got it wrong, sorry, but hey, Stan Fischler can say that the Wings pulled Ty Conklin after the first period last night, so I’m blaming a case of Fischleritis);

• In the mid-season awards category, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun suggests that Jimmy Howard is the best goalie not named Henrik Lundqvist or Jonathan Quick while naming his Vezina Trophy picks (winning the Vezina in Detroit is like winning the Jack Adams Award [coach] or Hart Trophy [MVP] as a Wing—it’s nearly impossible due to the team’s depth):

3. Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings: He leads the NHL at the midway point with 24 wins and he’s full value for it, because earlier in the season, he was keeping the Wings in games as they struggled to find their form. He’s been a workhorse and is putting up a career season.

But he gives predictable answers regarding Nicklas Lidstrom’s Norris Trophy candidacy and Pavel Datsyuk’s Selke Trophy candidacy—not enough statistical dominance:

4. Nicklas Lidstron, Detroit Red Wings: The seven-time Norris Trophy winner isn’t putting up points like he did last season (23 points as of Wednesday morning; he had 62 in the 2010-11 season) but his stellar defensive play and vision on the ice, keying the transition game, remains as all-world as ever.
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4. Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings: As usual, Datsyuk is leading the NHL in takeaways with 59 as of Wednesday morning, although a slimmer lead than usual.

TSN’s Scott Cullen doesn’t even mention Howard as a Vezina Trophy candidate, and says this about his Hart and Norris picks:

HART TROPHY
Winner: Claude Giroux, Philadelphia
Runners-up: Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh; Marian Hossa, Chicago
Comment: This still seems like a fairly open race, so while Giroux and Malkin are top candidates right now, Jonathan Toews, Pavel Datsyuk, Phil Kessel and Daniel Sedin are well within range. Hossa may be a bit of a surprise, but his two-way game has been top-drawer all year, no matter which linemates he has played with in Chicago and he’s the only player in the league with at least 40 points and a plus-20 rating.

NORRIS TROPHY
Winner: Shea Weber, Nashville
Runners-up: Zdeno Chara, Boston; Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit
Comment: While Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson is my top-ranked blueliner thus far, he doesn’t face the opposition’s best lines on a nightly basis like these three stalwarts. Weber faces additional pressure to produce offensively for a Predators team lacking the kind of supporting cast that Chara and Lidstrom have at their disposal in Boston and Detroit, respectively. Duncan Keith and Dion Phaneuf have also played well enough, against top competition, to warrant consideration.

• TSN is also asking fans to weigh in as to their Jack Adams Award picks, and Babcock did finish highly in a strange category, via RedWingsFeed: Justin Bourne suggests that the Wings’ resident Alpha Alpha Male and king of testosterone-y, aggressive and often playfully confrontational interactions with the media making him the third most “beerable” coach in the NHL:

3. Mike Babcock: Ah. The hardened, battle-scarred hero. Quite possibly the smartest man in the NHL. The only reason he’s not higher up is because I’ve heard the story of this alleged exchange with him.

In 2010, someone I know was at a party with Babcock. In the background, a TV was playing a re-run of a Stanley Cup Final game that the Babcock-coached Red Wings win. He’s watching intently. The Red Wings take a penalty.

“That’s a bullshit call.” - Genuinely angry.

“Mike, you guys win that game…and the series. Why are you even watching that?”

“….Still. Total bullshit.” – Doesn’t flinch, continues watching the game.

Ooookay. Dude may take hockey a little too seriously.

That’s why Babcock doesn’t want to be followed around by 24/7 cameras if/when the Wings host the Winter Classic: the man is ridiculously anally retentive when it comes to ensuring that his interactions with the media as to not incur any questions about his coaching style.


The man is genuinely admirable and is thoughtful, incredibly generous with his time and money (see: very quietly going to Children’s Hospital on a regular basis, hosting a family whose child or children are dealing with cancer for every home game, etc.), but he also has the biggest ego on the team and is arrogant enough to give a Death Stare to anyone who confronts him about having made incorrect calls and/or mistakes.

It’s just how he is, and while it makes him a wonderful coach, it also makes dealing with him something akin to walking across a minefield, onto which Babcock likes to toss bricks and grenades, while barefoot. The term “viciously competitive” probably describes him well.

• In the statistical mid-season category, from NHL.com’s John Kreiser, here are some significant figures related to the Wings:

2—Penalty minutes in games between the Rangers and St. Louis Blues on Dec. 15 and Detroit and Dallas on Jan. 3, the fewest in any game this season.

3—Teams tied for the most points in the Central Division, the only division without a clear leader at the midway point of the season. Detroit, St. Louis and Chicago all had 53 points, though the Wings were technically first because they had more non-shootout wins than the Blues and the Hawks were third because they played one more game.
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24—Wins by Detroit’s Jimmy Howard, four more than any other goaltender in the first half. Nashville’s Pekka Rinne and Ottawa’s Craig Anderson were next with 20.

• Shifting gears, I know you’re a little more bullish on suggesting that Ken Holland make a significant move than I am (I’d be happy with a Taylor Pyatt at this point), so you might want to take a gander at Adam Proteau’s list of the ten players most likely to be traded, or at least coveted, at the trade deadline;

• In the multimedia department, part 1: Darren Helm spoke to WBBL’s Huge Show today:

Download file

• In the multimedia department, part 2: The Red Wings’ website posted a clip of Wings hits and fights, but for some reason, I can’t embed it here (and I tried, believe me, I tried, hacking a little code along the way);

• In the multimedia department, part 3: Tomas Holmstrom—who is a “teddy bear” everywhere except when he’s actually on the ice—took part in an assembly at Maples Elementary School in Dearborn, and the Wings’ Twitter account reports that all went well:

Students at Maples Elementary in Dearborn eagerly await Tomas Holmstrom. http://t.co/liUGqvG0
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Holmstrom is visiting the kids as part of the DRW School Assembly Program, presented with the DRW Foundation and Michigan Blue Cross. #BCBSM
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The guest of honor, Tomas Holmstrom awaits his cue here at Maples Elementary. #BCBSM http://t.co/1Cit0fp8
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Holmstrom is led to the stage by a processional of drums. #BCBSM http://t.co/GmVWBNe3 http://t.co/HDkWUUAH
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Holmstrom telling the kids that he started playing hockey since he was four. Also, that he’s been in Detroit for the last 15.
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Holmstrom said he picked 96 as a number because it was the year he broke into the league.
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Holmstrom and the DRW staff at the Maples Elementary assembly are currently talking about education and dedication as two keys to success
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Got to give credit to the Maples student who asked Holmstrom if goalies liked him because he was around the net do much.
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Holmstrom’s answer: Some of the goalies that don’t like me that much have retired ... Ed Belfour, Patrick Roy ... I’m still here though.

WDIV just played a video of Holmstrom at the assembly—smiling the whole time amidst people who share his level of mental maturity (ha!)—and WDIV’s Katrina Hancock posted a few quips from the assembly:

At Maples Elementary with Tomas Holmstrom! The children are pumped! http://t.co/dOVjiXwZ
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600 students at Maples Elementary listening to Holmstrom. http://pic.twitter.com/S6RzCiT0
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Holmstrom teaching street hockey! http://t.co/FYxrrKeV
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@PuckingHockey yes we’re in the gym but they get the idea!
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Holmstrom tells the children to eat healthy food! Fruits veggies fish and chicken! Yum!

[edit/update: the Red Wings’ website posted a 20-image gallery from the event];

• In the multimedia department, part 4: to finish update #3 on a pleasant note, from Fox Sports Detroit, here’s Cory Emmerton harassing his dad at the Hockey Hall of Fame:

<a href='http://www.foxsportsdetroit.com/pages/video?videoid=2352693d-b204-4241-b541-8da0d1fd5c6e&amp;src=v5:embed::' target='_new' title='Father-son road trip'>Video: Father-son road trip</a>

Update #4: TV stuff, part 1, per an NBC press release:

NBC SPORTS GROUP CONTINUES NHL COVERAGE WITH FIVE STRAIGHT DAYS OF HOCKEY

NBC’s First NHL Game of the Week starts this Saturday with Chicago against Detroit at 12:30 p.m. ET

Sunday night hockey continues on NBC Sports Network when Montreal hosts the New York Rangers on Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. ET

“The last two games were one-goal nail biters…No lack of fire power or firebrand personality with these two teams.”- Mike “Doc” Emrick on Chicago vs. Detroit

NEW YORK, N.Y. (January 11, 2012) – The NBC Sports Group will air five NHL games over five days beginning with NBC’s first exclusive NHL Game of the Week when the Detroit Red Wings host the Chicago Blackhawks this Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET. The next night, the NBC Sports Network will air exclusive primetime coverage of the New York Rangers taking on the Montreal Canadiens at 7 p.m. ET.

The NBC Sports Network continues coverage on Mon., Jan. 16, at 7:30 p.m. ET when the Dallas Stars face the St. Louis Blues and on Tues., Jan. 17, at 7:30 p.m. ET when the Nashville Predators take on the New York Rangers. The week concludes with exclusive coverage of the Buffalo Sabres against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wed., Jan. 18, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The team of Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick (play-by-play), Eddie Olczyk (analyst) and Pierre McGuire (‘Inside the Glass’ analyst) will call the action for NBC’s Sunday game and NBC Sports Network’s Wednesday night game. Emrick and McGuire will call Monday’s game in St. Louis.

Dave Strader (play-by-play) and Brian Engblom (‘Inside the Glass’ analyst) will serve as announcers for Sunday and Tuesday’s primetime coverage. Liam McHugh and analyst Mike Milbury will be in Detroit covering all the intermissions for NBC’s coverage. Additionally, McHugh hosts NHL Live, NBC Sports Network’s pre- and post-game studio show, and is joined by expert analysts Mike Milbury and Keith Jones.

Something tells me I shouldn’t go to Saturday’s game. I would throw one shoe at Emrick and Olczyk in the broadcast booth, I would throw another at McGuire, and I would steal someone’s shoes to find Milbury and throw one at him.

• In the TV department, part 2: TSN’s Ray Ferraro spoke to the Globe and Mail’s Bruce Dowbiggin about tales from his perch between teams’ benches:

Ferraro, too, likes buildings (such as Toronto) without glass partitions where he can converse with the backup goalie and get the full measure of the venom or strategy. “Last year in the playoffs. (Detroit’s) Johann Franzen jumped on the ice and the Red Wings got a too-many-men penalty. He got back to the bench for his next shift and when he got up to go on again I could hear (Detroit coach) Mike Babcock yell, ‘Mule, sit down’. The funny thing is that’s the game in which Franzen scored four goals.”

• In the tangentially-related business: per MLive Ashley C. Woods, yes, Journey Fans, Steve Perry knows that there is no real “South Detroit.”

I’m not necessarily delighted by that line or song, but hey, I’m not going to be ESPN W.‘s Sarah Spain and dole out a bunch of “rules” for fans to abide by or point out “jersey fouls” (hell, I wear a “Malik #59” Red Wings jersey and point out to people that you should NOT buy jerseys at the rink or at Hockeytown Authentics because the number size is too small, equivalent to 10-point font on a 12-point jersey, but it is what it is)—as long as you keep your swearing appropriate, and don’t try to get in fights with or mock your fellow fans and do your best to not stand up to in front of me right before a Wings goal because you have to go to the concessions or visit the restroom, you’re okay by me;

• In more serious fan-related news, the AP’s Dan Gelston, Larry Lage and Dave Campbell spoke to executives with the Stars, Wings and Wild, respectively, to discuss the fact that the NHL will not realign next year. There’s quite a bit of posturing involved, including Stars president Jim Lites suggesting that the NHLPA’s all but hung another millstone around the neck of a “bankrupt franchise,” but Ken Holland takes a more moderate tack:

“For us, it was a compromise because we were hoping to go to the East,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “But we realized there were a lot of issues for a lot of teams, so we agreed to realignment because we thought it was in the best interest of the Red Wings and the league.”

• In the injury department, the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema spoke to Griffins forward Chris Minard about his battle with post-concussion symptoms, and Griffinshockey.com’s Logan Buckley spoke to Jan Mursak about his two-and-a-half-month recovery from a broken ankle suffered way back in October:

Instead of lamenting the untimely layoff, Mursak saw a little bit of luck in an otherwise horribly unlucky accident. “That’s my first big injury so, it was kind of hard on me at the beginning but, everything that happens is good for something else,” he said. For Mursak, that “something else” was the opportunity to improve his overall strength. With the help of Detroit’s training staff and a fearsome gym regimen, he set about making the most of his time on injured reserve.

“When the guys were playing, I was just working super hard on the things I was able to,” Mursak said. “All the time I was hurt, I was working pretty hard in the gym, and I tried to stay in shape as much as I could. But there’s a difference between gym shape and hockey shape so, it took me a few games to get back in the hockey rhythm.”

After putting up 35 points (13-22 – 35) in 54 games for the Griffins a season ago, Mursak posted one assist and a minus-three rating in the first five games of his conditioning stint with Grand Rapids. Though his stat sheet does not read the way he would like this season, Mursak has been pleased with the progress he’s made in his first handful of competitive games in three months.

“For me to get back to being comfortable on the ice again, it helped me a lot,” Mursak said. “I wish I would produce a little bit more, but the chances are there, and I know sooner or later it’ll start going in.”

Still able to skate with the speed that makes him such an eye-catching player, Mursak has enjoyed his return to action while keeping in mind his ultimate goal for the remainder of a season he’s determined not to lose.

“Skating really well is the most important thing,” he said. “The ankle doesn’t bother me at all anymore; there’s no pain. Hopefully when I go back to Detroit, I can keep playing well and stay in the lineup for the rest of the season.”

If the Wings haven’t already given Mursak word that he’s to come back to Detroit, he’s going to be officially called up after tonight’s Griffins game.

• The Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness notes that the Wings have some work to do in terms of getting back into hockey shape defensively speaking as they’ve given up an average of almost four goals per game during their 4-game road trip:

“We’re not doing things right,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “I don’t think we’re sticking to our plan. We know what to do but we don’t do it. We have to be better individually. Do your part and don’t try to do too much. Just go out and play good D.”

In that four-game stretch, the Wings are 2-2-0.

“That’s where we have to play a lot better with the puck, we haven’t done that, paid attention to details, that’s what we’re lacking,” Niklas Lidstrom said. “It’s a concern where you’re letting in four goals and you have to score five or six to win games, it’s hard in this league.”

Despite the sudden jump in goals against, the Wings’ still rank sixth in the league in goals-against average (2.36).

“We have to find a way to tighten up our defensive part of the game,” Niklas Kronwall said. “We’ve been doing way too mistakes here as of late and (Tuesday) it was even worse. All of us in here have to do a way better job, we have to get back to the basics, look ourselves in the mirror and just back on track here,” Kronwall added. “Right now we’re not really playing the way we want to be playing the game.”


As well as the fact that the Wings’ road record, which remains at 2 games under .500, has yet to right itself:

“We’ve got to get back to the details of the game, when you’re trying to do too much you turn the puck over, you’re bound to give up odd-man rushes and those lead to goals,” [Brad] Stuart said. “We just got to tighten those areas of our game up. It starts with being committed to the smaller details of puck management.”
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“It’s not just going to happen, we have to commit to it but certainly we feel comfortable at home. There should be no excuses going back but we all have to individually prepare to do those things,” Stuart said.

• And if you’re interested, Sportsnet’s Luke Fox took a statistical and historical look at the phenomenon that is the Gordie Howe Hat Trick (a goal, an assist and a fight).

Update #5: Again, in case you didn’t already know it, the Wings were on the road from New Year’s on because the Detroit Auto Show used Joe Louis Arena as the venue for new car debuts and/or press conferences;

• In the public participation department, the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame is accepting nominations for its 2012 Induction Class from now until February 10th;

• In case you didn’t already know it, per ESPN’s Katie Matiash,Ian White is a pretty darn good fantasy hockey defenseman:

There’s no real argument to be made: Ian White has fit in beautifully on the Detroit Red Wings’ line following the retirement of Brian Rafalski. With 20 points in 38 games, White is on track to blast his former personal best totals. Furthermore, the 27-year-old is actually eclipsing his power-play partner and future Hall of Famer, Nicklas Lidstrom, in plus/minus. Plus-22 versus plus-17, for the record.

• This quip from the CBC’s Tim Wharnsby, via his list of power rankings, merits an even bigger, “Well, duh, captain obvious”:

7. DETROIT RED WINGS (26-15-1) They need to get their road game straightened out. Eleven wins in 24 games away from Joe Louis Arena is not going to cut it. (Last Week: 4)

• As if we expected him to say something different? TSN’s Kerry Fraser, former referee and loudmouth extraordinnare, offers the following assessments of the penalty shots awarded to Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel and the Chicago Blackhawks for Ian White’s hook on Kessel and Tomas Holmstrom closing his hand on the puck in the crease in Chicago, respectively:

1) On the Phil Kessel breakaway, Ian White reached from a deficient position well behind Kessel and used his stick in a fork-hook attempt to spring the puck off the attacker’s stick. In doing so, the bottom hand of Kessel was contacted and altered his final move just prior to the shot. Phil Kessel was denied a more reasonable scoring opportunity due to the contact/foul by Ian White.

2) Tomas Holmstrom is allowed to “sweep” the puck within the goal crease, so long as he uses an open palm in a “hand pass” motion (picture turning your hand on its side with baby finger to wrist contacting the ice and sweep without turning your hand down and over the puck.) At the instant the puck is covered with the hand or body within the goal crease, a penalty shot must be assessed.

As Holmstrom dove over Conklin, his first order of business was to prevent the puck travelling with forward motion from sliding over the goal line. In order to do this, he exposed the back of his hand to the referee and covered the puck in the process, which gave the appearance of a cover and drag motion even in the replay. This action constitutes a penalty shot.

• In the prospect department, I mentioned that University of Notre Dame defenseman Riley Sheahans having an offensive breakout of sorts, and Western Michigan Unversity’s preview of WMU’s home-and-home series with Notre Dame this weekend confirms it…

Sheahan, a first round draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings, is having just one point shy of tying a career-high for points in a season at 21 on seven goals and 14 assists through 20 games this season. Sheahan is also one of the top defensive forwards in the league, using his large 6-foot-2, 205 pound frame to his advantage.

• And finally, for now, anyway, in the prospect department, part 2: Tomas Jurco continues to reiterate the fact that he doesn’t want to be known for being a YouTube sensation any more than Sheahan does while speaking to Open Ice Hockey’s Tieja MacLaughlin:

“I want to be known as a good hockey player, not just the guy with the stick and puck.”

The Kosice, Slovakia native became an instant You Tube sensation after an awe-inspiring video of his stick handling skills went viral.

“I was just a kid playing around,” said Jurco. “I was only 13 or 14, I never thought it was going to be so popular.”

Jurco insists those days are behind him now. That’s not to say however, that the crafty winger has done any less of a job helping the puck find the back of the net in his third season in the QMJHL.

The stick work and puck movement of this 2010-11 Memorial Cup champion is hard to miss and at 6-foot-2, 193 pounds, Jurco is just as much of a physical presence as a goal scorer. With the Saint John Seas Dogs this season, Jurco has put up 45 points (21 goals, 24 assists) and is plus-28 in 30 games.

His fancy dangles also helped him edge first overall draft pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the Showdown Breakaway Challenge at the 2011 CHL/NHL Top Prospects competition.

The Red Wings prospect suited up for Team Slovakia at the Under-20 World Junior Championships over the holidays, where he put up eight points (one goal, seven assists) in five games. The Slovaks went on to a sixth place finish.

“I’m really happy with my team,” said Jurco. “I think we played good and I think we made a lot of people happy back home and that’s what we came for.”

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Comments

Chris in Hockey Hell's avatar

“Referees get to put their whistles down and allow the game to be played the way it should be.”

Um….what?

Posted by Chris in Hockey Hell from Ann Arbor, MI but LIVING in Columbia, TN on 01/11/12 at 07:58 PM ET

MOWingsfan19's avatar

‘Bout time something got Uncle Mike pissed off.

Posted by MOWingsfan19 from I really like our team on 01/11/12 at 08:15 PM ET

Avatar

he didn’t want Kyle Okposo, John Tavares or Matt Moulson to get hurt via a fatigue-related injury

That’s a pretty good reason if the Islanders are a one-line team (they are) and those three compete hard every shift (they definitely came closest that game), and the coach wouldn’t do the same if it were others trapped on the ice. Either way, it’s a silly thing to be upset about. With the way his team played, I don’t know why Babcock chose then to visibly become upset.

Posted by bleep bloop on 01/11/12 at 09:19 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

I wouldn’t be mad at Vinny Prospal pick up.  He’s got the work ethic of a wing and is producing ona team that isn’t.  He’d be a great pick up.. same with Ruutu

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 01/11/12 at 09:31 PM ET

Michiru Kaioh's avatar

I’d kinda like a Travis Moen pickup at the deadline.

Posted by Michiru Kaioh on 01/11/12 at 10:13 PM ET

SYF's avatar

NBC SPORTS GROUP CONTINUES NHL COVERAGE WITH FIVE STRAIGHT DAYS OF HOCKEY

Please don’t forget Friday Night Ice - the live college hockey games on NBCSN.  Some real good games are lined up and granted, they’re mostly ECAC but it’s still a good fanbase to build upon.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 01/11/12 at 10:20 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Tomas Holmstrom is allowed to “sweep” the puck within the goal crease, so long as he uses an open palm in a “hand pass” motion (picture turning your hand on its side with baby finger to wrist contacting the ice and sweep without turning your hand down and over the puck.) At the instant the puck is covered with the hand or body within the goal crease, a penalty shot must be assessed.

Would say the same thing as Seabrook’s overtly obvious infraction now made famous by the subversive omission by the NBC broadcast crew.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 01/11/12 at 10:23 PM ET

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One other nugget: Multiple Red Wing questions in chat today with Pierre LeBrun. The most interesting answers to me included PIerre saying that (1) Hemsky is still a possibility, but that if Ryan Suter somehow comes available (I can only hope) at the trade deadline, that Detroit will be among the dozen teams calling, (2) Explains the Wings loss to the Islanders as no Datsyuk+Conklin, but particularly, PARITY (he used capital letters), and (3) “The plan all along for Ken Holland was to use that cap space he has to make a move before Feb. 27”—good night.

Posted by Bugsy on 01/12/12 at 02:57 AM ET

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I know you’re a little more bullish on suggesting that Ken Holland make a significant move than I am (I’d be happy with a Taylor Pyatt at this point)
I wouldn’t be mad at Vinny Prospal pick up.
I’d kinda like a Travis Moen pickup at the deadline.

I understand looking for someone with some size, but other than that I just don’t get the idea that the Wings need more depth wingers.

They’ve got about a dozen bottom six forwards as it is and a ton of cap space.  I want to see Ken Holland make some kind of a splash that will differentiate and improve on the team that has lost to the Sharks two years in a row and as of now is not appreciably better than either of those teams.

On top of that, the Blues, Wild and Blackhawks all have a comparable amount of cap space and you know they’re all likely to make some kind of move to get better.

If they don’t make some kind of significant move then they’re essentially giving up on being a serious contender this year.

Posted by Garth on 01/12/12 at 02:58 AM ET

Michiru Kaioh's avatar

I understand looking for someone with some size, but other than that I just don’t get the idea that the Wings need more depth wingers.


I can understand that, and if we can get a bigger upgrade, like an Iginla or a Ryan, I’d love that.

But we’re 3rd in the league in goals per game, or something of that nature. When I watch the Wings, what it looks like to me is that when we play poorly, it’s generally because we’re too finesse, not enough grit and energy. I think adding some size, grit, toughness, physical play, I think that could bring a lot of positives and help us play more consistently “engaged” hockey.

Posted by Michiru Kaioh on 01/12/12 at 03:01 AM ET

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Posted by Michiru Kaioh on 01/12/12 at 12:01 AM ET

I will say this: I wouldn’t at all be against adding some grit and toughness, but not as the only move.

Detroit needs a true top-six forward.

Some grit would be nice (although there are certainly some “skill players” who bring a bit of an edge with them).

An upgrade on defense is unnecessary (unless somehow they can finagle a Suter or Weber out of Nashville).

Posted by Garth on 01/12/12 at 03:07 AM ET

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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.