The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/05/12 at 02:46 PM ET
Updated 4x with a Helm/Holmstrom update at 2:14 PM: Well, Jimmy Howard (192,685 votes as a write-in, finishing sixth among goalies), Nicklas Lidstrom (476,979 votes, fourth among defensemen), Pavel Datsyuk (313,783, ninth among forwards) and Henrik Zetterberg (206,852 votes, 12th among forwards) didn’t make the All-Star Game’s starters’ cut, though it’s highly likely that Howard and Lidstrom will head to Ottawa via selections made by the NHL’s Hockey Operations Department later this month.
This morning/afternoon’s crop of Red Wings-related news begins on a good note, however, via MLive’s Ansar Khan:
Holmstrom and Helm are back at practice for Wings.
Wings practice lines: 93-13-44, 51-40-26, 20-8-11, 14-48-41; 5-18, 55-23, 52-22 (4); 35-29
Helm and Holmstrom, both nursing groin injuries, have left practice halfway through.
DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose confirms:
Back at City Arena for #RedWings practice before they take-off for Toronto and the annual Father’s trip. @DetroitRedWings #NHL
Darren Helm and Tomas Holmstrom are back at #RedWings practice today at City Arena. @DetroitRedWings #NHL
Helm and Holmstrom are first #RedWings players off the ice here at City Arena. Both were moving pretty good though.
Both players are recovering from groin injuries, and, no doubt, they’ll hope to be playing for their fathers and/or mentors during this weekend’s Fathers’ Trip Toronto and Chicago, which the Wings spoke warmly about with the Flint Journal’s Brendan Savage:
“Having all the dads around will be one of those weird feelings like you’re playing minor hockey again,” said rookie forward Cory Emmerton. “He’ll probably be telling you what to do, what you’re doing wrong. I’m looking forward to it.”
While many NHL teams have father-son trips, the Red Wings were one of the first to do it beginning during coach Mike Babcock’s first season with Detroit in 2005-06. Babcock thinks it helps break up the grind of the long NHL season.
“It’s a great thing for us,” Babcock said. “This year, we’re going to Toronto and Chicago, Original Six (cities). We’re going to the Hall of Fame the first night. It will be great for our guys. We’re excited about that. To me it just brings energy. I think it’s real important. You do as many things as you can during the year to have energy.”
Although veteran defenseman Mike Commodore is a new to Detroit after signing with the Red Wings as a free agent last summer, he went on father-son trips during his days with the Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets. But he said his dad, Wayne, who is coming in from Edmonton for the trip, still enjoys the experience.
“It’s a new experience for them to kind of see behind the scenes, what goes into it,” Commodore said. “They don’t fly private very often. I know for my dad, the first time doing that he was amazed by the plane, how easy it was to get on the plane, the food on the plane and all that stuff. It’s cool. It’s obviously for the fathers. It’s a lot of fun to have them around. It’s nice to have family around. It’s another road trip for us but it makes it a little different having our fathers along.”
I’m not sure whether Gustav Nyquist’s parents were able to stay over for the Fathers’ Trip, or whether he’ll head to Toronto with the Wings given that Helm and Holmstrom might return this weekend, but he spoke to the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema about the honor of being named to the AHL’s All-Star Team as the Grand Rapids Griffins’ one and only representative:
“It’s great news, obviously. I’m happy and honored to be chosen,” Nyquist said. “I’ve got to thank my teammates, obviously. It’s been a great time down in GR so far and I’ve had a blast. We’ve got a great group of guys down there.”
Nyquist leads the Griffins with 30 points (nine goals, 21 assists) in 30 games, a total that is tied for second among rookies and tied for 11th overall in the AHL. He is the first Griffins rookie forward to be chosen for an all-star game since Chris Bala in 2002, and the second consecutive rookie to be selected (defenseman Brendan Smith in 2011).
Nyquist was recalled by the Red Wings after Darren Helm suffered a groin injury, and has one assist and a plus-4 rating in four games. He registered the first NHL point of his career in Detroit’s 5-4 win against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night when he set up Cory Emmerton’s second-period goal.
Nyquist said his experience with the Red Wings has been “awesome,” and he enjoyed playing on an all-rookie line with Emmerton and Joakim Andersson, who was assigned to Grand Rapids on Wednesday.
“I try to learn something new every day up here,” Nyquist said. “I think every game I play I get more comfortable out there.”
Zuidema continues while speaking to Griffins coach Curt Fraser about Nyquist’s rookie professional campaign and other potential Griffins All-Stars…
• Via RedWingsFeed, Wings coach Mike Babcock isn’t a big fan of HBO’s 24/7 series, and Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy’’ Wyshynski reports that the NHL may or may not continue airing the series going forward;
• If you’re interested, Hockey’s Future posted a late clip of Petr Mrazek speaking to the media after the Czech Republic won the WJC’s fifth place game;
• And if you’re a Chris Conner fan, this is your wallpaper.
Update #1: Here’s the Grand Rapids Griffins’ weekly press release:
This Week’s Games
Fri., Jan. 6 - GRIFFINS at Abbotsford Heat - 10 p.m. - ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com
Sat., Jan. 7 - GRIFFINS at Abbotsford Heat - 10 p.m. - ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com
Back in the Swing: The Griffins often found themselves battling back in the final week of 2011, earning four of a possible six points. The team began the week by falling behind 4-0 in the first period to division-rival Lake Erie, but battled back to tie the game at five with just 20 seconds left in the third period. The Monsters prevailed when Tyson Barrie gave them the 6-5 decision just 35 seconds in to overtime. Grand Rapids fell behind 2-0 in the first period to Peoria on Friday, but scored three goals in the second period to take the lead heading into the final frame. After Jordan Pearce exited the game with an ankle injury, the Rivermen were able to tie the game against Joey MacDonald before former Griffin Danny Syvret scored with just 10 seconds left in overtime to hand the Griffins their franchise-record third straight overtime loss. Grand Rapids ended its four-game winless streak and extended its point streak to four games by defeating Milwaukee 3-2 in its 15th annual New Year’s Eve game.
West Coast: The Griffins will be in action twice this week, beginning 2012 with back-to-back road contests against the Abbotsford Heat. The Heat took both contests at Van Andel Arena this season, winning 5-1 on Oct. 28 and 5-4 in overtime on Dec. 21. Former Griffin Krys Kolanos was named first star of both games, recording seven points in the two Heat victories.
Close Calls: In addition to seeing eight of their past 13 contests go to overtime, the Griffins have had 12 of their last 15 games decided by just one goal, the sixth-most in the AHL. The Griffins have posted a 7-5-4-2 in one-goal games this season.
McCollum Steps Up: The Red Wings last Saturday reassigned goaltender Tom McCollum from the Toledo Walleye (ECHL) to the Griffins. McCollum had won three straight games with the Griffins from Nov. 29-Dec. 3 before being reassigned to Toledo on Dec. 7. The 22-year-old netminder started that night versus Milwaukee and made 29 saves to tie his career-best four-game winning streak (Oct. 24-Nov.13, 2009). McCollum sports a 5-3 record with a 3.03 goals against average and a 0.901 save percentage in eight appearances with Grand Rapids this season. He also sits seventh in the ECHL with a 2.68 goal against average, while holding a 5-6-1 record. McCollum was recalled due to an injury suffered by Jordan Pearce in last Friday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Peoria Rivermen. Pearce sprained his ankle after accidental contact from Rivermen forward T.J. Hensick.
Milestone Watch: Francis Pare continues to climb the all-time franchise leaderboard. With an assist on Friday versus Peoria, he passed Glen Metropolit to take possession of sixth place all time with 89 assists. Pare’s next goal will be his 70th as a Griffin, breaking a tie with Matt Ellis for sixth place in goals…If they suit up for both games this weekend, Greg Amadio will play in his 200th game as a Griffin and Brent Raedeke will play in his 100th…Tomas Tatar’s next goal will be his 50th as a Griffin, making him the 15th Grand Rapids player to reach that milestone…Tom McCollum is five games from 100 as a pro, while Willie Coetzee is six shy of that mark…Brendan Smith’s next point will be his 50th as a Griffin…Doug Janik is four penalty minutes away from 200 as a Griffin and 900 in the AHL.
Update #2: Don’t ask me why, but Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz reports that Sharks coach Todd McLellan doesn’t want to over-work Antti Niemi, but he feels that Niemi’s like Jimmy Howard: the more he plays, the better he gets;
• And from the Wings’ Twitter account:
After today’s practice, the Red Wings (and their dads) will depart for Toronto.
Howard on the fathers trip: It’s a chance to really bond as a team. The dads get excited for this once the schedule comes out.
Howard also cited the dads trip hitting two original six cities in Toronto and Chicago as a reason for everyone’s excitement.
Gustav Nyquist was named to the AHL All-Star Game yesterday. ‘It’s an honor, but I’m having too much fun up here right now.’
Nyquist, who is Swedish, will catch the WJC Final with teammates tonight. SWE and RUS will play for the title.
Helm: Felt good. Obviously the first day back on the ice. We’ll see how it feels tomorrow.
Helm is hoping to return at some point this weekend. Says he’d like to play in a game with his dad in the crowd.
Update #2.5: Do I need to tell you that the Toronto Star’s Daniel Girard has it down when listing two Wings prospects as standouts at the World Junior Championships:
• Petr Mrazek — The 19-year-old Czech Republic goalie and Detroit Red Wings fifth-rounder has stood out for his spectacular saves and dramatic celebrations. Thanks to a 52-save performance by the Ottawa 67’s netminder, the Czechs knocked off the Americans to get to the quarter-final where he made 43 saves in a heart-breaking 2-1 overtime loss to Russia.
• Teemu Pulkkinen — A Detroit Red Wings fourth-rounder in 2010, the Finnish forward, who turned 20 on Jan. 2, was an offensive force at this tournament as he was at the World Under-18 championships in 2009 and 2010.
What really impressed me about Pulkkinen, tons of goals included? The fact that he held Max Friberg off the scoresheet whenever Pulkkinen was tagged with checking Friberg during the Sweden-Finland game that Finland eventually lost. I knew that the slightly short and slightly husky Pulkkinen had Brett Hull-like natural scoring ability, but I didn’t know he could check so very well.
Update #2.5: DetroitRedWings.com’s Will Posthumus reports that the team will be doing a, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” trip to Toronto in terms of its staff due to the dads taking spots on the team plane, and the Wings want to remind us that the Hockey Hall of Fame is holding a meet-up for Wings fans on Saturday;
And the Wings will leave for Toronto just before 2 PM to enjoy an afternoon and evening in Toronto with their dads/mentors.
Update #3: Just in case you didn’t already know, ESPN’s Craig Custance, via his insider-only blog, notes that Wings defenseman Ian White, statistically and otherwise, was an excellent free agent signing:
Ian White, Detroit Red Wings (4.3 GVS) —The Red Wings started their free-agent conversation with White on July 1, but he wanted to get a good feel for the market before signing the two-year deal worth $2.87 million he eventually signed on July 2. Considering the crazy contracts signed by other defensemen in free agency, this one immediately had value.
“In the cap world, I think in order to be competitive you have to feel you’re getting bang for all your bucks,” GM Ken Holland said. “It’s impossible to think every player you sign is going to play at the salary or beyond.”
But Holland agreed with the findings of the formula. So far, this has been an incredible deal for the Red Wings. “If you would have asked me in the summer if he would be one of the leading plus/minus while playing 20 minutes and we would be in the top five or six goals against in the league? Probably not,” Holland said. “He’s certainly a guy who has played well for what we paid.”
Update #4: Here’s MLive’s Ansar Khan’s practice report:
Detroit Red Wings forwards Darren Helm and Tomas Holmstrom, both idled by groin injuries, returned to practice on Thursday, but each left about halfway through, as a precaution.
Their status for Saturday’s game in Toronto (7 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit) is questionable, at best.
“I don’t think so (Saturday), but there’s another practice tomorrow, so we’ll see what happens,’’ coach Mike Babcock said. “We’re set up to go without them. But they’re good players, when they’re available, we’ll use them.’‘
Helm has missed three games. Holmstrom has sat out four.
“See how I feel tomorrow, that will probably be a bigger indicator,’’ Helm said. “I wasn’t pushing myself too hard. Couple of times I tried to get up to full speed, but never went after it too hard. Felt good, didn’t feel it at all when I was skating.’‘
But he didn’t sound optimistic for Saturday.
“If it feels unbelievable, maybe,’’ Helm said. “We play back-to-back, so it’s pretty tough jumping into back-to-back with this kind of injury. So maybe Saturday off and shoot for Sunday (at Chicago). But if it feels really good, then we’ll see.’‘
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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.