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Red Wings off-day news: Holmstrom, Helm still out; Kindl in, Howard near 100 wins

Updated 5x at 4:25 PM: As the Red Wings prepared for Saturday’s game against the Maple Leafs (7 PM EST, FSD/CBC/WXYT) in Toronto on Friday, Wings coach Mike Babcock didn’t deliver encouraging news regarding the states of Tomas Holmstrom and Darren Helm’s respective groins while speaking to MLive’s Ansar Khan:

“They haven’t been made eligible to us at all, so I don’t know when they’re going to play, but they’re not going to play this weekend, probably,’’ coach Mike Babcock said after practice today at the MasterCard Centre. “I don’t know if they’ll play in Chicago, but I doubt it. If they’re not playing tomorrow, why would we play them the next day?’‘

Both players skated for the second day in a row Friday and both said they felt better and hoped to play Sunday.

“They feel I shouldn’t play back to back games coming off a groin injury,’’ Helm said. “I’m hoping (to play Sunday). It felt really good today.’‘

Said Holmstrom: “Chicago, for sure.’‘

We’ll see about that.

General manager Ken Holland said if one of those players is ready to play in Chicago, Gustav Nyquist will be reassigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Also, Babcock said defenseman Jakub Kind will return to the lineup Saturday in place of Mike Commodore. He has sat out six games as a healthy scratch.

That last move is a bit…Unusual…Given the Leafs’ toughness, but so it is.

Amidst the usual media firestorm and oodles of fans, Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson made a snarky comment which the Free Press’s Helene St. James shared both on Twitter and in an article...

The money quote of the day goes to Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson, who had this to say about Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom in advance of Saturday’s meeting between the two Original Six rivals.

“Why doesn’t he retire, anyway, and give us all a break?” Wilson said following Leafs practice at Mastercard Centre in greater Toronto.

Wilson laughed as he said it; like others - for example, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville - there’s ultimately nothing but appreciation and respect for how Lidstrom, 41, plays.

“I know when I’ve coached along the way here, we’ve used him as an example to show, in terms of video - if you don’t have good things to show about your own team, you always show Nick Lidstrom highlights: This is how he moves the puck, this is how he defends. And he’s not a physical player at all, and yet he defends as well as anybody. Even at his age, to be able to put points up on the boards - just his shooting from the point, he rarely gets his shot blocked. he little subtle things that he has in his game are great teaching tools for younger players to use him as a model.”

And I suppose we’re all supposed to be literally and figuratively atwitter by this quip from Wilson to the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle:

Ron Wilson said he chatted with Mike Babcock today about potential Winter Classic between their teams. “Which would be really cool,” he said

On the Leafs’ side of things, Sportsnet’s Mike Brophy reports that Colby Armstrong won’t play due to a concussion, but the Leafs Do expect to employ Dion Phaneuf’s services on Saturday, per Sportsnet and RedWingsFeed:

Dion Phaneuf isn’t expected to miss any time after getting hit in the face by a shot from the point Thursday night against the Winnipeg Jets. Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson told the local media Friday afternoon that Phanuef, who left Toronto’s 4-0 win over the Jets with a bloodied mouth, was home resting on Friday.

Wilson said there were no breaks and his captain should play on Saturday when the Leafs host the Detroit Red Wings. “His mouth’s pretty swollen,” Wilson said Thursday night after the game. “Right now he didn’t lose any teeth.”

Jonas Gustavsson, who earned a shutout for the Leafs Thursday vs. Winnipeg, will start Saturday against Detroit. The Swedish netminder has back-to-back victories for Toronto and Wilson said he will ride the hot hand at this time of the year.

In other news, Mike Brown and Mike Komisarek are both expected to make their returns to the lineup on Saturday. Wilson did not specify how he expects to shuffle the lineup to accommodate the returning players. Colby Armstrong, on the other hand, will not return any time soon as the veteran forward suffered a setback in his recovery. The Leafs bench boss said there is no timetable for Armstrong’s return. The Leafs have won their past two contests and currently sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

The Toronto Star‘s Bob Mitchell confirms Phaneuf’s status…

“Dion is resting at home. There is no break or anything like that.” Wilson said after practice at the MasterCard Centre. “We list him as day to day but I actually expect him to play Saturday.”

Phaneuf, 26, was struck on left side of his face late in the third period by a blast from Jets captain Andrew Ladd.

After the game, Wilson said Phaneuf didn’t lose any teeth but would be having an X-ray to determine if anything had been broken. He left the ice bleeding from the mouth.

There had been concern that Leafs might lose Phaneuf for an extended period of time and that his appearance in the NHL All-Star game in Ottawa on Jan. 29 might be in jeopardy. He was voted into the game by fans as one of two defenceman to earn automatic berths earlier Thursday.

Phaneuf had been having a strong game until he was injured. He hit a post on one blast from the point and earned his 21st assist (he also has 6 goals) of the year on Tim Connolly’s 7th goal that put Toronto up 2-0 in the second period.

Last season, Phaneuf missed 16 games when a skate blade sliced through his leg. Before being injured against the Jets, Phaneuf had logged 23:35 of ice time, most among Toronto’s defenceman and had also blocked three shots.

Defenceman Mike Komisarek has recovered from a broken arm (missed 21 games) and is ready to play. If it turns out that Phaneuf can’t play, then Komisarek’s activation from the injury reserve list won’t cause much of a ripple.

But if both play, then a defenceman has to sit in the press box.

And the National Post’s Michael Traikos took note of several quips from both teams’ practices:

Win or lose, Jonas Gustavsson does not like to dwell on past games. That being said, the Leafs goaltender allowed himself to savour a 24-save shutout against the Jets on Thursday.

“I think it’s easier to let a win like that go than a loss, to be honest,” he said. “Today, I saw this as a new day. I see the Red Wings here practising, so I’m preparing for that game.”

Based on Wilson’s recent “win and you’re in” philosophy, Gustavsson is expected to start against the Red Wings on Saturday.
...
The Red Wings, who practised at the Leafs training facility on Friday, spent the previous night watching the World Junior Championship final at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

For captain Nicklas Lidstrom, watching Sweden defeat Russia in the gold medal final was a special moment.

“It was great to see,” said Lidstrom, one of six Swedes on the roster. “It’s been 30 years since the last time. I thought the kids played real hard, real well too. So it was fun to watch.”
...
Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said he does not quite agree with GM Brian Burke’s comments that the NHL is moving away from so-called enforcers.

“You can play in the league if you’re an enforcer if you can fly and play,” he said. “You can’t play in the league as an enforcer if you can’t. All you have to do is look at Boston. [Milan] Lucic plays on their top line, [Zdeno] Chara plays on the top set of D. Those guys don’t back down from anybody.


If you’re interested, again, via Twitter, The Fan 590 posted some Maple Leaf post-practice audio a bit early...

But this is more interesting to me: In addition to this morning’s interview with Wings coach Mike Babcock, Wings GM Ken Holland spoke to Jeff Blair a few hours ago:

Download file

(Note to Canadians…It is NOT Val-TER-ri Fil-PEW-lah)

Shifting focus completely back to the Wings, St. James took note of another Wing who watched the World Junior Championships’ finale on Thursday night...

The Wings watched the game Thursday night, after a private tour of the Hockey Hall of Fame, part of the two-game fathers trip that encompasses Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre and Sunday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center.

Sweden beat Russia, 1-0, in overtime. Good, Datsyuk said, for all his Swedish teammates: captain Nicklas Lidstrom, forwards Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Tomas Holmstrom and Gustav Nyquist, and defensemen Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson.

“They happier,” Datsyuk said. “I never see them mad, they always happy in locker room, but this is another reason they maybe more happy today.”

And St. James confirmed Khan’s news about Darren Helm and Tomas Holmstrom as well:

“I’m not allowed to play tomorrow,” Helm said after skating at the Maple Leafs’ practice facility in greater Toronto. “They feel like I shouldn’t play back-to-back games coming off a groin injury. But I felt really good today. I haven’t missed a game in a long time, so having to watch three or four games, it sucks.”

Holmstrom said much the same. “I’m not going to play both games, so I don’t think I’m playing tomorrow. But today was really, really good. So probably Sunday, that’s what it looks like. But they don’t want me to play tomorrow.”

That means Chris Conner will be in the lineup against the Leafs. As soon as Holmstrom, Helm or both come back, the Wings will send down Gustav Nyquist, general manager Ken Holland said, because they don’t want Nyquist to just sit. He’ll either play in Detroit or Grand Rapids.

Forward Jan Mursak is also on the horizon, at last, after breaking an ankle during exhibition season. Holland said Mursak will be at the morning skate Thursday in Detroit and might play that night against Phoenix.

And finally, for now, anyway, DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose took note of the fact that Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, who will probably start on both Saturday and Sunday, hopes to become the fourth-fastest Wing (behind Terry Sawchuk, Chris Osgood and Manny Legace) to hit 100 wins:

When the Red Wings and Maple Leafs tussle this Saturday for the 276th time in series history, goalie Jimmy Howard will be looking to make history of his own.

Not only will he be making his first career start at Air Canada Centre, he’ll be looking to become the ninth goaltender to register 100 wins in franchise history. If he’s fortunate to secure the win, Howard will be the fourth fastest Wings’ goalie to reach the NHL milestone, doing so in 170 career games, behind Chris Osgood (158), Manny Legace (163) and hall-of-famer Terry Sawchuk (165).

The other goalies to win at least 100 games in a Wings’ uniform are Harry Lumley (317), Roger Crozier (163), Tim Cheveldae (128), Greg Stefan (115), and Dominik Hasek (114).


Update: The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan spoke to the Wings about the decision to hold an Original Six fathers’ trip:

“Toronto and Detroit, Hockey Night in Canada, you know we’ve all watched it growing up,” said Ken Holland, general manager and executive vice president of the Wings. “It’s special. At the beginning of the year, we talked with Nick Lidstrom and a couple of the players about a dad’s trip, and this was one option. And the players thought this would be a wonderful weekend for their dads: Original Six, at Toronto, at Chicago. So, it’s going to be a special night, tomorrow night. Toronto’s playing well. We’re in the thick of things in the West. So it should be a great hockey night.”

Toronto features the outstanding offensive combination of Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul, who lead the NHL in the number of games in which a pair of forwards have provided scoring. Kessel or Lupul have scored a goal or assisted on a goal in 32 or 40 games.

“That’s outstanding and that’s showing consistency, right there,” said Ron Wilson, the coach of the Maple Leafs.

Said Lidstrom: “They seem to have the knack of finding the back of the net, and they’re playing really well together. You’ve got to take their time and space away from them, and play close to them. But they’re good players. So we’re going to have to have some help from the forwards back-checking, as well.”

Wilson clearly does not think Lidstrom needs much help.

Marveling at Lidstrom’s continuing success at the peak of performance in the NHL, Wilson said that he has used videos of the play of the Wings’ captain to instruct his team.

“Why doesn’t he retire, anyway, and give us all a break?” Wilson said, jokingly. “I know when I’ve coached along the way we’ve used him as an example, in the video: ‘This is how he moves the puck. This is how he defends.’ And he’s not a physical player, at all, and yet he defends as well as anybody.”

• “Uh, um,” from 97.1 The Ticket’s Mike Stone:

4. The Red Wings are taking their annual road trip with their fathers this week. The stops this year are Toronto, Chicago, and Long Island. Hopefully the dads will be able to see some sights in New York City and not be confined to Long Island.l don’t know about you, but Broadway, Ground Zero ,and Times Square are slightly more appealing than anything Long Island has to offer. I don’t think playing golf at Bethpage Black or Shinnicock Hills is an option in January.

• Here’s a warmer, fuzzier father-son discussion from the CBC’s Chris Iofrida, talking about memorable moments over the course of the All-Star Game’s history:

And Howe: The final score was 6-3 for Wales, but this was all about celebrating 51-year-old Gordie Howe’s contribution to the game. Back in the NHL after the WHA disbands, Howe returns to Detroit as a Hartford Whaler to play in his 23rd and final all-star game. The last player introduced, Howe is honoured with an ovation several minutes in length.

Only two of the other players in the game in Detroit had been born when Howe played in his first all-star game. Not content to be just a sentimental figure, Howe contributes an assist to his team’s cause to finish with 19 all-star points in his career.

• Also All-Star related note, part 1: According to NHL.com’s Dan Rosen...

The Rangers’ overtime win Thursday was significant for more than just the fact that it preserved their lead in the Eastern Conference standings. John Tortorella also clinched a spot on one of the benches in the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game.

The coach of the team in each conference with the best points percentage through games played on Jan. 9, which is the exact halfway point of the season, also gets the opportunity to be a part of the All-Star festivities in Ottawa from Jan. 26-29.
...
The race for the spot next to Tortorella on an All-Star bench is jumbled with five Western Conference coaches still in the running. They are Vancouver’s Alain Vigneault, Chicago’s Joel Quenneville, San Jose’s Todd McLellan, St. Louis’ Ken Hitchcock, and Detroit’s Mike Babcock.

The Canucks lead the West with 53 points through 41 games and they play twice more before the cutoff. Chicago is second with 52 points in 40 games and it also plays twice more before the cutoff. If both teams win out, Vancouver will have a miniscule lead in points percentage over the Blackhawks.

San Jose is still in the running with 48 points through 37 games. The Sharks, though, play only one more game before the cutoff, meaning McLellan needs to win and get help.

Detroit and St. Louis are tied with 51 points each, but the Red Wings have two games remaining before the cutoff while the Blues have just one.

• Also of All-Star-related note, part 2, per MLive’s Ansar Khan:

NHL will announce rest of all-stars on Jan. 12. captains shortly after that.

  • Also of note regarding the All-Star Game’s personnel, part 2: ESPN’s Craig Custance also addressed the All-Star fan vote in an insider-only mailbag, but I suppose I can share one question’s worth of content:

I am an avid Detroit Red Wings fan. So it comes at no surprise that I am both shocked and angered at the fact that Jimmy Howard, who is eighth overall in save percentage, fourth overall in goals-against average, second overall in shutouts, and first overall in wins, is not on the All-Star ballot. But imagine my surprise when I go to write in his name on the ballot (as the official Red Wings website is advertising its fans to do) and the NHL’s own voting website refuses to recognize my selection. At first I think this is just a fluke, and there must be some disagreement between my computer and the NHL website. So I try it on another computer and I get the same results. Every other name I type in is recognized, including players who haven’t even played a single game this season.

Frankly, I think the entire system for all-star selection is broken and needs to be completely overhauled. My evidence to this is the fact that someone who has played in only eight games this season (Sidney Crosby), albeit because of a legitimate injury, is fourth overall in voting, and someone who is leading the league in wins (Howard) isn’t even in contention. Please explain to this simple fan of the game why things are the way they are.—Steve Garrett, Kalamazoo, Mich.

Hey Steve—I don’t have a good answer as to why you weren’t able to get your write-in vote counted. And really, I don’t have a good answer as to why Howard wasn’t on the ballot in the first place. I think it’s safe to say that he won’t be left off again next season, and regardless, will have a spot on the roster in Ottawa this year. I spoke with Howard’s father yesterday and he said his small hometown made a huge organized push to get his son votes, and somebody must have been able to get it to work because he finished sixth among goalies in votes with 192,685. That’s a heck of an effort for a write-in candidate. I think the voters’ voice will be heard when it comes time for the NHL hockey operations department to name a team.

Also, as an FYI, why yes, Mike Babcock took note of the fact that the Anaheim Ducks are open for trading business…

“You know what? I haven’t run into Ken Holland, he was at the World Juniors but I’m sure on this flight [to Toronto] we’ll have time to talk,” Babcock said.

And via RedWingsFeed again, Capgeek.com reports that the Wings could add oodles of $alarie$ to their roster:

These teams can add the following cap hit(s) at the deadline: #Panthers $42.6m; #RedWings, #23.5m; #Blackhawks, $22.1m; #Bruins, $13.6m.

  • Back to Laff Land via Sportsnet’s transcription of Babcock’s interview:

Despite Brian Burke’s criticisms on the diminishing role of NHL enforcers, Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock believes the game of hockey is fine just the way it is. Joining Brady & Lang on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Friday morning, Babcock was asked about Burke’s concern over the perceived lack of accountability in today’s NHL. Although not opposed to the role of enforcers, the 2010 Olympic gold-medal winning coach believes there is a more effective way to display tenacity.

“I sure like team toughness, I can tell you that right now,” Babcock said in the interview. “The best kind of toughness, in my mind, is the way Boston has it. Their high-end players—you got (Milan) Lucic, a high-end player that plays all the time that has elite toughness; you got a (Zdeno) Chara on the back end that’s a high-end player that plays all the time and has toughness. So, to me that’s the best way to have your toughness, to be team tough.”

Enforcers like Leafs forward Colton Orr—who was sent down to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League on Thursday—have seen their roles in the NHL diminish of late, something Babcock believes can be attributed to the pace of the game.

“The reality is the league has gone this way because the league is so fast you can’t get these guys on the ice,” Babcock said. “I don’t think it’s as much about not wanting toughness as it is about, how do you play them? How do you get them out there if you can’t fly up and down the rink? How do you play in today’s game?”
...
Babcock, however, said he is not concerned about the state of the game one bit and argues that there is not a lack of respect in hockey, especially compared to previous decades.

“I think (the state of hockey) is better than it’s ever been. I think the respect factor is there,” Babcock said. “I just watched the ‘72 Summit Series, they had a thing on it (on television) the other night … I watched how they played in those days and how they whacked each other, and that’s respect? I mean, give me a break. There’s a ton of respect out there. The problem is the guys have gotten too big, too fast, too strong and the rink’s the same size.”

• I don’t know what to make of these quips from SportsBusiness Journal’s Matt Schiffman, regarding a future Winter Classic:

DETROIT NEXT? Rumors have circulated that the Red Wings will be the next team to host the game. LeBrun said, “Detroit, an Original Six club with avid fan base, would be a great choice for next year.” He said he would also like to see games in Minnesota, Denver and Yankee Stadium, once the Pinstripe Bowl’s contract at the venue expires. LeBrun noted the Maple Leafs have their 100th anniversary celebration “coming up in four-five years (and) I think a game in Toronto would make sense.” When choosing venues, the Boston Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont said he would suggest the NHL “target any arena where a good amount … of the seats are at least 10 feet above ice level.” After attending the games held at Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, he said the league should probably consider football stadiums more strongly than baseball venues because ballparks “are borderline horrid watching venues.” He said, “So many of those seats are barely above ice level that the in-stadium, or in-ballpark, viewing, by my measure, is deplorable.” However, if the NHL does decide to use baseball stadiums, Dupont suggested it “would be better in these huge ballparks to build bleachers on one side of the rink, and maybe put 3,000 or 4,000 (spectators) in those bleachers.”

• RedWingsfeed gives us a good closer to what is a disjointed update…

And finally, I figured an afternoon update would be helpful, but I am going to take the rest of the afternoon off. The appointment I had today was very, very draining and uncomfortable, as most legal-type things are.


Update #2: More from the Free Press’s Helene St. James:

Red Wings Mike Babcock kept an eye on the Maple Leafs’ practice this afternoon, and when it was done, nodded to Toronto coach Ron Wilson, who skated over and opened a door to chat. What was the subject? First and foremost, the recent death of Johnny Wilson, Ron’s uncle, who was a former Wings player and head coach.

“Babs knew my uncle, and that’s what he really wanted to express his condolences,” Wilson said.

Hockey, of course, also came up - as did the possibility of meeting up next season in a marquee game. While it’s not yet official, all indications are it will, in fact, be the Red Wings who host the 2013 outdoor Winter Classic, it’s just a matter of negotiating whether it will be at Comerica Park, owned by Mike Ilitch, or at Michigan Stadium.

So far, it’s been an All-American team event, but a Wings-Leafs game would just make sense on so many levels.

“We talked about our team, his team, a little bit,” Wilson said, “and the potential of an outdoor match next year, which would be really cool.”


Update #3: The Globe and Mail’s Eric Duhatschek weighed in on some mid-season NHL Awards picks:

Norris (top defenceman): Zdeno Chara, Boston. Runners-up: Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit, Erik Karlsson, Ottawa. If it were just about scoring, Karlsson would be the runaway winner, but he needs to improve his defensive play to be considered a legitimate contender. Chara continues to suffocate opponents’ top forwards defensively and Lidstrom remains uncommonly effective at the age of 41.

Vezina (top goalie): Lundqvist, Rangers. Runners-up: Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles, Jimmy Howard, Detroit. The two top defensive teams, Boston and St. Louis, have both adopted a goalie rotation of late, which will make it harder for Tim Thomas/Tuukka Rask and/or Brian Elliott/Jaro Halak to get consideration for the award. Lundqvist has been phenomenal, as noted above. Quick, meanwhile, has taken on the Miikka Kiprusoff role for Darryl Sutter in L.A. and kept the offensively challenged Kings in the playoff mix; while all Howard does for Detroit is win.


Update #3.5: Two more, then a nap: the CBC’s Kevin Weekes mentioned Jimmy Howard pretty prominently in his “goalie power rankings”:

6. DETROIT RED WINGS  Okay,these rankings are based on play of the tandems. However, I’ll make an exception for the fact that Jimmy Howard leads the NHL in victories. Ty Conklin still gives the Red Wings a chance, when he plays, but ice time is tough to come by with Howard being this good so far.

• And this play was named one of NHL.com’s plays of the week:

Update #4: Grumble. One more from NHL.com’s EJ Hradek, who’s looking forward to Sunday’s Wings-Hawks game:

On Sunday, at the United Center in Chicago, the Hawks and Wings get together for their second meeting of the season. On Dec. 30, Brent Seabrook provided the difference for Chicago in a 3-2 win over Detroit in front of an announced crowd of 22,166 in the Windy City.

Seabrook has been a bit of a problem for the Wings during his career. In 42 career games, the usually defensive-minded blueliner has 7 goals and 18 assists against Detroit.

Through Thursday, the Hawks and Wings find themselves in a virtual deadlock atop the Central Division. Chicago holds a slim one-point lead, but has played one more game than Detroit.

Wings coach Mike Babcock will be looking for more out of stars Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen in this meeting with their “Original Six” rival. The talented trio combined for just one shot in the loss. Babcock felt his team didn’t spend nearly enough time in the offensive zone. He’ll be pushing his team to remedy that on Sunday.


Update #5: Here’s what Wilson had to say about the returns of Mike Brown (yes, the one who whacked Hudler in the playoffs) and Komisarek as they pertain to facing the Wings while speaking to theToronto Sun’s Lance Hornby…

“We bottomed out (New Year’s Eve) in Winnipeg in certain areas (of the PK),” Wilson said. “Since then our focus has been good, we’ve used some different guys such as Darryl Boyce and Joey Crabb. In their careers, they’re bubble guys who will do anything, like stick their heads in front of a shot, knowing if they don’t, they wouldn’t be here. That kind of intensity has helped our PK a lot.”

If Komisarek and Phaneuf are both back, someone will have to sit. The Leafs sent Korbinian Holzer back to the farm for at least one game but will recall him if Phaneuf doesn’t recover. Winger Colby Armstrong was not on the ice Friday after two days of practice following a concussion and Wilson admitted there had been “a little setback” that will be assessed in the coming days.

The disciplined Detroit lineup is once again among the league leaders in vital statistics, fifth in goals, third-best in goals-against and second lowest in penalty minutes per game. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg continue to haunt the opposition with their speed, while Nicklas Lidstrom hasn’t missed a game and plays almost 24 minutes, despite turning 42 when the Wings presumably commence their 21st straight spring in the playoffs.

“Why doesn’t he just retire and give us all a break?,” joked Wilson. “I’ve used him as an example on video through the years. If you don’t have good things about your own team to show, give them Lidstrom highlights. He’s not a physical player at all, but he defends as well as anyone.

“As a team, they create speed by moving the puck fast. And the one thing the Wings have got and have drafted are big power forwards, the Johan Franzens, the Tomas Holmstroms. We’re still a ways from that, but a lot of teams look to Detroit as a blueprint.”

Jonas Gustavsson will get his third straight start on Saturday in Toronto’s net, having beaten the Wings 5-1 in his only other start against them, the 2009 Hall of Fame Game.

• TorontoMapleLeafs.com’s Matt Iaboni offers the following prospective Leaf lineup…

PROJECTED LINEUP

Forwards:

Lupul-Connolly-Kessel

Kulemin-Grabovski-Crabb

MacArthur-Lombardi-Kadri

Boyce-Steckel-Brown

Defense:

Gunnarsson-Schenn
Gardiner-Franson
Aulie-Komisarek
Phaneuf

Goalies:

Gustavsson
Reimer

 

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Comments

MsRedWinger's avatar

George, thought you were going to be “absent” today.  Thanks for all this!

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 01/06/12 at 06:16 PM ET

Chris in Hockey Hell's avatar

“while all Howard does for Detroit is win”

And yet this d-bag has him finishing third.

Posted by Chris in Hockey Hell from Ann Arbor, MI but LIVING in Columbia, TN on 01/06/12 at 06:31 PM ET

SYF's avatar

And yet this d-bag has him finishing third.

Posted by Chris in Hockey Hell from COLUMBIA, TENNESSEE on 01/06/12 at 04:31 PM ET

You mean, you didn’t know?  He doesn’t have elite Corsi numbers and he doesn’t make highlight reel saves.  And he plays for the Wings so therefore he’s automatically disqualified from Vezina considerations…just like the Jack Adams.

/snark

Posted by SYF from Alana Blanchard's Bikinis and Surfboards on 01/06/12 at 07:36 PM ET

Chet's avatar

let’s talk about a real issue re: howard:

i only have a vague recollection of stats on this subject, but isn’t howard on pace to play way more games than the average cup-winning goalie plays in the regular season? howard may not even know better, but as of dec. 31, he’s started to look fatigued. he’s gotten this far because he’s an amazing goaltender in or nearly approaching his prime, but at this pace, it’s hard to think he could make it through 4 rounds of playoffs without some leaks.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 01/06/12 at 09:58 PM 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.