The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/22/12 at 04:22 PM ET
Updated 5x at 4:33 PM: According to the Red Wings’ Twitter account, the Wings are making up for not having Sunday off by allowing the Vancouver Canucks to be the only team skating on Joe Louis Arena’s ice today (and Roberto Luongo already told the Vancouver Province’s Jason Botchford that he’s been “waiting for” the Wings game “for a while,” cue, “Streak-breaking” noises)...
The team has the day off today. The @VanCanucks are tomorrow’s opponent at Joe Louis Arena.
So we’re going to talk about today’s hot” trade rumor and the Quincey deal, at least to start.
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun has started something of a tizzy about having this to say about Buffalo Sabres forward Paul Gaustad, a 30-year-old checking center who happens to be 6’5” tall and weigh 212 pounds, and might be on the market:
He’s not the sexiest name out there, but he’s a player who could have an important impact for a contender. He’s a strapping third-line center who can kill penalties, provide lots of grit and physicality—which becomes a paramount element come playoff time—and is terrific in the faceoff dot. You’d want him on the ice with a minute left in a playoff game your team was leading.
“He had a slow start this year, I thought, but has picked it up in the second half,’’ an NHL scout, requesting anonymity, told ESPN.com this week. “He’s a big guy who can grind it out—you need those guys in the playoffs—but I’d be careful to make sure to pair him with better skaters. He doesn’t get up and down the ice too well. But he’s a good penalty killer, a good pickup for a good team that just needs to upgrade their size on their third or fourth line.’’
Now, it’s no sure thing that the Buffalo Sabres will move Gaustad, especially after another win last night, but if he is indeed made available before the Monday 3 p.m. ET deadline, here’s a list of teams—in no particular order—that I believe would be a good fit for him.
Detroit Red Wings: Gaustad would be just what the Wings need, adding a physical presence to their skilled forward set. Remember what the scout above said about putting him with speedier linemates? How about Darren Helm? That would be a good fit in my mind. The Wings are 20th on the PK and could use him there. I also think the Wings got pushed around a tad in back-to-back playoff exits to San Jose. Gaustad’s size would be welcome.
Vancouver Canucks: Like the Wings, the powerhouse Canucks could use a little more size and strength in their bottom-six group. The Canucks have few holes, if any, but a bigger forward for their third or fourth line would be a good addition. It’s why the Canucks also have interest in Travis Moen, although the Canadiens are telling teams they might not move him.
He also mentions the Sharks, Pens and Rangers, but you’re probably more interested in LeBrun’s bottom line:
In the final analysis, I like Detroit as the best fit for Gaustad—if he does indeed move—but all five of these teams could use him.
MLive’s Ansar Khan may have mentioned a more logical trade deadline target given Guastad’s likely asking price:
2011-12 stats: 59 games, two goals, nine assists, 11 points, minus-7 rating, 22 penalty minutes.
Career stats: 777 games, 66 goals, 127 assists, 193 points, minus-75 rating, 344 penalty minutes.
Contract: Final year, with a salary-cap hit of $2.65 million. He can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Strengths: A strong and hard-working defensive player who can match-up against opponents’ top centers. He’s a good penalty killer and decent in the faceoff circle. He has championship experience from winning the Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007.
Weaknesses: Extremely one-dimensional, he provides virtually no offense.
Why he’d be a good fit with Red Wings: He’s strong defensively, responsible, knows what it takes to win a Cup. He played for Red Wings coach Mike Babcock for two seasons in Anaheim. He would enable Justin Abdelkader to play the wing on the third line, if need be.
What it might take to get him: Middling prospect or second-/third-round pick.
Chances Red Wings will acquire him: The price would have to be low and their options limited. Babcock prefers to match-up his best players, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, against opponents’ top lines, not a checking-line center.
Would Pahlsson be a good fit as the Red Wings’ fourth-line center? Would you prefer Abdelkader or rookie Cory Emmerton to center the fourth line? Or should the Red Wings look for a more physical, gritty fourth-line player, knowing it will cost more?
We’ll find out over the next five or so days.
As for the player the Red Wings acquired prior to their 2-1 loss to Chicago, pro Hockey Talk’s Mike Halford believes that the wool may have been pulled over Avalanche GM Craig Sherman’s eyes regarding the Tampa Bay Lightning flipping Kyle Quincey from the Avs to the still-hated Red Wings, and while I can’t quote the entirety of Craig Custance’s ESPN Insider that’s exactly what it is, Ken Holland admitted that the deal went a little easier than normal given his familiarity with Steve Yzerman….
“They’re easy conversations because of our relationship,” Holland said by phone before Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. “At the end of the day the deal still has to make sense.”
Yzerman was busy on Tuesday, acquiring Kyle Quincey from the Colorado Avalanche for Steve Downie and then spinning Quincey into Detroit’s first-round draft pick. But his first attempt in turning Quincey into young assets was a wish list that included prospects Holland had no intention of parting with. Yzerman’s familiarity with the Red Wings system meant he knew exactly which players to target. Holland didn’t want to part with any of them.
“He said ‘Yeah, I know. Makes sense,’” Holland said.
Next came a conversation between Holland and assistant GM Jim Nill on Monday afternoon where they debated whether or not the better move was to trade their first-round pick, something the Red Wings haven’t done in years. The conclusion? Now is the time.
“We went back to Steve and said ‘We would be prepared to throw in the first if that has any interest to you,’” Holland said. It did. And on Tuesday, Colorado, Detroit and Tampa Bay completed the rare three-team deal.
And in addition to pointing out that Quincey happened to be leading the Avs in ice time, thus yielding a high price…
The Red Wings’ defense becomes one of the deepest in the league. Quincey was playing top pair minutes in Colorado, leading the team in icetime per game at 22:21. “That’s why he cost a first-round pick,” Holland said.
Holland also offered Custance an incredibly insightful comment regarding the 25-going-on-26-year-old Quincey’s acquisition as more than a moving part in case Brad Stuart or Nicklas Lidstrom leave the team, Jakub Kindl continues to have hiccups, and…a whole lot of other stuff:
“This move covers nine different scenarios,” Holland said. “It rebuilds the defense. What if a couple of these guys aren’t back? Or one or the other is back? It’s not made for any one reason, it’s made for a lot of reasons.”
And while I can’t quote any more, Holland reiterated that he’s going to “kick tires” and is interested in adding a depth forward if he can toss a mid-round pick away for said player.
Regarding Quincey a little more specifically, Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner states the obvious by suggesting that Ken Holland is making up for the mistake he made when he chose to keep Derek Meech over Quincey during the 2008-2009 season because the Wings thought that Meech’s versatility would assist the team more than Quincey’s defensive chops would, thus exposing Quincey to waivers after the team couldn’t trade Quincey to Dallas due to a herniated disc in his back which would eventually require surgery:
Quincey, 26, was originally drafted by Detroit in the fourth round in 2003. At 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds, he’s an above-average skater who can play the point on the power play. He also logs a lot of ice time and plays against the oppositions’ top forwards. Quincey’s skill set is above average, but he tends to get in trouble when he overthinks the game and could be more physical—especially in his own zone.
Quincey will become a restricted free agent this summer, but Holland has already said that Detroit will make him a qualifying offer. If the Wings cannot sign Quincey to a long-term deal, he’ll at least be in Detroit through next season.
By trading for Quincey, the Wings have added depth to their blue-line corps for their Cup run. Even more important, they’ve added top-four talent if upcoming unrestricted free agent Brad Stuart decides to leave Detroit and/or Nick Lidstrom decides to retire.
It also gives prospect Brendan Smith more time to hone his skills in Grand Rapids if he’s not completely ready to make the transition to the NHL.
Holland has always kicked himself for letting Quincey go, and I’m sure he’s extremely pleased to get him back in a Red Wings uniform. This deal was made as a long-term move. It gives the Wings several options, depending on how the free-agent market plays out this summer.
Give the Wings full marks because this trade was made for winning today with a definite eye on tomorrow.
Speaking of an “eye on tomorrow,” I posted this yesterday in the game-day update thread, but RedWingsFeed reminds me that I need to re-post what Ken Holland had to say about last summer’s moves, as well as the ones he made this season:
“We knew Brian Rafalski was retiring and we knew we needed a couple of defencemen, so we got Ian White and Mike Commodore, one for the power play, one for the PK, one with size, one with skill, and it’s turned out White has been the perfect fit for Nick [Lidstrom]. We also had Mike Modano, Kris Draper and Chris Osgood retire, and we lost a lot of leadership, but they were older guys and we knew we had young guys ready to take a bigger role and improve from within. Jimmy Howard has taken a step that way, [Jiri] Hudler’s bounce back has been big, [Valterri] Filppula has been better and [Jonathan] Ericsson too. [Justin] Abdelkader and [Darren] Helm have been better, Drew Miller we just tried to rebuild internally.
“Now we’re a lot younger, we have more guys who are in their mid-20s who are important to us and we have a sizable bit of cap room for next year.” That, of course, is subject to how the CBA works out, but there will be room no matter what, although Holland isn’t sure what he can pull off between now and the trade deadline - even though they’ve got enough cap room to take on a couple of Sidney Crosbys.
Getting defenceman Kyle Quincey Tuesday helps immediately, as well as providing insurance against Brad Stuart possibly leaving next year or Lidstrom retiring, but they could be a long way from finished. Holland believes the race in the Central Division has been the driving factor in this great Detroit sea-son, the Wings just looking across at their near rivals, not even really paying any attention to the Canucks until just recently.
“I think the race has been great for all the teams in it and I know our guys have just been concentrating on the division and trying to stay in front of St. Louis,” he says. “And we’ve been more focused on our road play, not even paying attention to what’s been going on at home until just a couple of games ago. In this conference, I think any team that finds itself leading this conference any time is surprised to find themselves there. I mean St. Louis wins every night, Vancouver seems to win every night ... Now that I think of it, yes. If you told me at training camp in September we would be where we are, I would have said, I’m surprised.”
As is typical in this environment, to be where the Canucks and Wings are at this point, you have to have had good fortune with health.
“We’ve been lucky to have our top guys be able to go out there every night,” says Holland, duly noting a little setback for Datsyuk, who is having his knee scoped and will be out two or three weeks. We’ve had Howard out now and we had Danny Cleary out there for a while, but I mean we all have four to six guys in this situation, where if they’re out for any length of time, it really hurts you. You can cover short-term, but over the long haul if you lose any one of those guys, it really affects you and we’ve been fortunate to have those guys healthy.”
More in about half an hour. I’m trying to monitor KK for the boss.
Update #1: From Gallagher via Twitter:
Canucks practice today, Wings don’t. Van likely optional pre-game skate, Wings likely not. Should be fun to see which team has more zip.
[Byron] Bitz skating today. [Chris] Higgins is not. Did take shot off hand last night
And the Vancouver Sun’s Iain MacIntyre:
Byron Bitz sighting on ice. Skating alone before Canuck practice, testing hip.
Only Chris Higgins missing from practice. Probable “maintenance day.” Byron Bitz stays for main event. With Hodgson, Hansen.
As per @sportsnetmurph, Higgins may have been cut on hand by slash vs. NASH. Canucks must be careful re infection.
• In the “No Foolin’” department, MLive’s Justin Rogers duly noted that Don Cherry continued spewing anti-Wings venom, insisting that the Wings would go nowhere in the playoffs because, unlike the Canucks, Bruins and Rangers, the Wings apparently have some sort of anti-fighting agenda
• If you’re interested in extended statistical/historical comparisons, MLive’s Brendan Savage notes that the Wings’ home-ice winning streak has yet to strying-into-the-stratosphere Wings home-ice dominance from the1995-96 season….
The 1995-96 Red Wings set an NHL record for regular-season victories while compiling a 62-13-7 record. Their 131 points fell one short of the NHL record set by the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens, who were 60-8-12.
In ‘95-96, the Red Wings finished 36-3-2 at home. They never lost more than two straight games at home and although they never had a winning streak as long as the current Red Wings, they won 12 games in a row twice and nine straight once.
Only one player was on both teams – defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, the Red Wings’ Hall of Fame-bound captain. Lidstrom was in his fifth NHL season back in ‘95-96.
• I’ll give you the intro to WXYT"s Jeff Riger’s “stop bashing the streak!” column and let you continue reading from there….
The day after the Wings 6 game winning streak comes to an end on the road, it still seems like every NHL pundit and fan is so eager to try throwing arrows through the validity of the current 23 game home winning streak. Whether it is people pointing out that overtime and shootouts now exist, or one columnist saying that Detroit still has to go 12-1-1 to equal the home brilliance set by the Wings back in 1996, (so they have really proven nothing) everybody is out to make light of this truly remarkable record.
And I get it!
With the exception of the team’s true fans, nobody likes the Wings. They are the Yankees of the NHL! Every season hockey fans get great glee and joy when Detroit gets knocked out of the playoffs, meaning somebody else gets to hoist the cup. People are sick of hearing about the Winged Wheel and the dominance of this franchise over the course of the last two decades. From the 4 championships to making the post season every year in both era’s to the ability to bring in players who have struggled everywhere only to flourish in the Motor City, people hate this franchise because they are jealous and you should love it! I definitely do.
But even I admit that now it has gone too far.
I’m not one of these guys that get upset anymore when all the Detroit bashing takes place on a given day. I’m used to it and actually sort of like it at times because it displays a total lack of creativity from the main stream media. Of course some of it is even true too.
But I admit that the negativity of the streak has gotten to me. I’m so bored of people telling me it’s not legit or that it means nothing. So I have decided to fight back!
Below I have compiled a list of the 5 most impressive stats and accomplishments that have taken place during the streak. The list is in no particular order.
• In no particular order of my own, the CBC’s Gord Stellick says that Wings coach Mike Babcock would want to coach Team Canada in the 2014 Olympics…If Steve Yzerman were to be his boss/general manager…
• DetroitRedWings.com’s Jake Duhaime spoke to Jimmy Howard about his return to action last night…
Howard didn’t just keep his team in the game, but gave them a chance to win by making stop after big stop, seemingly over and over again. Patrick Sharp was particularly snake-bitten, stopped four times, but three of those were golden opportunities, including a play that saw Howard slip from right to left, getting his pad in front of a shot from just outside the crease, off the centering pass from Patrick Kane.
“I could see his (Kane) eyes going back door,” Howard said. “You could see Sharp sneaking behind there and I just waited until he passed the puck across before lunging for it.”
The league leader in wins was arguably more outstanding in the second period, despite giving up a rebound goal to Jimmy Hayes at the 7:45 mark. Howard stopped Michael Frolik on a shorthanded breakaway, blanked Dave Bolland’s shot after he managed to beat the defense, and then robbed Kane on a breakaway opportunity at the game’s midway point.
“For me it’s just being patient,” Howard said. “When they get in close, you take away everything by attacking them. You just push it to them so they can’t elevate the puck.”
Meanwhile the Red Wings attack, without Datsyuk in the lineup, never could hit its stride. While they outshot Chicago 32-29, to the naked eye, the ice was tilted the other way for much of the night.
“I thought Jimmy was good,” Red Wings’ coach Mike Babcock said. “I don’t know how many shots we had, but I don’t think we put a lot of heat on their D or their goaltender.”
“You enjoy being out there and competing like that,” Howard said. “You enjoy being in close games. I like that.”
• And the Niagara Gazette’s Bill Hoppe offers us a Buffalo-based take on Paul Gaustad’s situation, noting that the Sabres have played very well, Gaustad included, of late…
The versatile American, an unrestricted free agent in July, has been at his best recently, centering a strong shutdown line with Nathan Gerbe and Patrick Kaleta. Gaustad has three goals, including the winning score Sunday, and seven points in the past 10 contests. At 56.8, he ranks ninth overall in faceoff percentage. He won 16 of 23 draws last game. He also kills penalties and can play center or wing.
With his stock rising, he could bring at least a second-round pick. But who says the 14th-place Sabres are sellers leading up to Monday’s trade embargo? Fresh off a 6-2 thumping of Pittsburgh on Sunday, a win tonight against the New York Islanders at the First Niagara Center could bring the Sabres (57 points) to within five of the eighth and final playoff spot with 22 games remaining.
“Right now, I’m not even going to comment,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said Monday when asked if he expected any moves. “I look at it like if we can win a game, we can close the gap to five points. You win that game (tonight), I think we can put ourselves in this. …I think we can put a run together, and I told the team that before Pittsburgh, that I still believe in you, that when we’ve been healthy and on the same page, we’ve been able to push ahead.”
And Gaustad would prefer to remain a Sabre:
The 30-year-old met with Sabres general manager Darcy Regier on Saturday, a meeting he’s downplaying as being about the team and not his future. Clearly, Gaustad, a homegrown player in his seventh season, doesn’t want to leave.
“I’ve always wanted to be a Sabre. I’ve always wanted to be in Buffalo,” Gaustad said. “I’ve come to grow up here. My adult life has been in Western New York. Winning here is one of my main goals in hockey.”
Gaustad said he discusses “all sorts of different things” with his agent.
“What I’ve told him and what I’ve said from the beginning is I have to focus on playing hockey,” he said. “That’s all I can control. There’s no point in talking or focusing on different things that I can’t control.”
Update #3: In the AHL and ECHL…The Grand Rapids Griffins and Ty Conklin will tangle with the Hamilton Bulldogs tonight, but in the interim, the Toledo Walleye have already played a matinee game, dropping a 3-1 decision to the Kalamazoo K-Wings. Nick Oslund, Gleason Fournier, Andrej Nestrasil, Bryan Rufenach and Andrej Nestrasil were held off the scoresheet, and Jordan Pearce sat on the bench in favor of Alec Richards;
The Halmstad, Sweden, native has 47 points (16-31—47) in 46 games, already landing among the franchise’s top five rookie seasons ever. Nyquist is tied with Kevyn Adams (22-25—47 in 1996-97) for fourth place, trailing teammate Francis Pare (24-24—48 in 2008-09) by one point. He’s also within striking distance of two familiar names on top of the list: Justin Abdelkader (24-28—52 in 2008-09) and Glen Metropolit (20-35—55 in 1997-98).
“We knew last year we were getting a special player,” Griffins coach Curt Fraser said. “He was here for a handful of games, and he was arguably one of the best players on the ice every night.”
Nyquist was the only member of his team selected to represent the Griffins organization at the All-Star Game.
“You like to see your guys get picked obviously, and it’s a real nice reward for strong play, but at the same time it’s a drain on the players when they go to it and it can be very difficult. In the past, we’ve had some players go, some young kids, and they’ve come back and they’ve been tired for a month,” Fraser said. “It looks like he has come back here and hasn’t been affected by it. He’s a little more mature, and hopefully it won’t slow him down at all and he’ll finish off here real strong.”
“It’s a big honor. I was actually a little surprised I was the only one selected,” Nyquist said.
Since the All-Star break, Nyquist has continued to lead the Griffins offensively. He’s recorded points in six straight games from Feb. 4-18 to tie the Griffins’ second-longest point streak of the season.
“The biggest goal right now is just to get in the playoff spot and go from there,” Nyquist said. “I think we have a good team, so once we get in the playoffs I think we can do some damage.”
Heading back to the big club, the Edmonton Journal’s Sam Valji took a gander at how the Quincey trade played out over the Twitterwaves, and the Denver Post’s Mike Chambers offers an Avalanche locker room post-script regarding Quincey heading to Detroit…
Avs defensemen Shane O’Brien and Ryan Wilson had this to day about the trade that sent D-man Kyle Quincey to Tampa Bay, and then ultimately to Detroit, in exchange for grinding small forward Steve Downie:
O’Brien said: “He’s a great guy and played some big minutes for us on the back end, plays hard every night. We’re definitely going to miss him — on the plane, in the room, just being around. At the same time it’s a good trade for us, we got a little grittier up front. Downs brings that, and he can put the puck in the net. I know that playing against him, personally, he’s tough to play against. He gets under your skin. For Q, he’s going to the Detroit Red Wings and a chance to win a Stanley Cup. I talked to him last night and he was happy. Closer to home and everything. I think it was a good trade for everyone involved.”
Wilson said: “(Quincey) was one of those guys everyone likes, and all the D loved him. He keeps the mood good, he’s a great player, but you know what, it is a business and we got a pretty good guy in return. I’ve known Downie since my first year of junior and I’ve stayed in contact with him. I think the guys are going to really like him.”
The Ducks have now made an entrance into the Western Conference playoff picture and that is helping convince franchise icon Teemu Selanne that he’d rather make a run at the postseason with them and not seek the chance of winning another Stanley Cup elsewhere. Several contending teams and their fan bases relish the idea of adding a future Hall of Famer with 657 goals on his resume but Selanne told the Register on Wednesday that he is not thinking about waiving his no-trade clause to seek a deal.
“We haven’t even talked about that,” Selanne said. “There’s good things going here right now. We all really believe we can make it to the playoffs. It hasn’t been on my mind at all.”
The Ducks are six points behind the eighth-place Kings in the Western Conference, having made up significant ground with a 15-3-4 run after being 20 points out on Jan. 6. They’ve won four times on the first seven legs of a trip that ends Thursday in Carolina and have gained 10 out of a possible 14 points. Had the club went south and fallen out of playoff contention, Selanne may have entertained thoughts of trying to hook on with another team to make a run at a Cup.
When asked directly if he plans to be with the Ducks for the remainder of the season, Selanne coyly said, “Right now, yeah.”
Asked whether that can change before Monday’s NHL trade deadline, the winger said, “You know what, I really believe that we’re going to make it. Like I said earlier, it would be selfish to even think about other options right now.”
Selanne did acknowledge that the Ducks’ road trip would be a factor in his decision making. He said that he hasn’t spoken to General Manager Bob Murray about the topic. Murray has said that he would not trade the immensely popular winger. A scenario of a possible deal would only take place if Selanne had requested to be moved.
“We all knew that this trip is going to be do or die and so far we have played so well here that I don’t even have to think about any other options. So that’s a good thing and I’m very happy about that. I know it’s my call. This road trip has helped me a lot.”
Update #3: Power rankings time.
1. ESPN’s Scott Burnside offers the following:
1.Detroit Last Week: 2: OK, 23 straight wins at home gets you the top spot. Sunday’s 3-2 win over San Jose might mean the last we see of Joey MacDonald for a while, as Jimmy Howard looks like he’ll be ready to go this week. Still, kudos to MacDonald, who was a huge part of keeping the home streak alive.
2. TSN’s Scott Cullen disagrees with Burnside’s assessment….
This Week 4 Last Week 5 Detroit Red Wings: 14-2-1 in their last 17 games, the Red Wings didn’t miss a beat with Jimmy Howard sidelined, though a resurgent Henrik Zetterberg (team-leading 11 points this month) and a six-game homestand helped make Joey MacDonald’s transition a smooth one. Now, how will they fare without C Pavel Datsyuk?
3. Fox Sports is going with the, “yeah, but Datsyuk’s been amazing” angle…
2 Red Wings: As good as Evgeni Malkin has been this season, he’s not even close to being the best all-around player in the sport. Pavel Datsyuk amazes us with his wizardry in all 200 feet of the ice every single night.
4. Sportsline’s Adam Gretz agrees:
1 Red Wings [last week] 1: Pavel Datsyuk has always been one of the most exciting, talented players in the NHL, but the goal he scored Friday night to extend Detroit’s home winning streak was simply amazing. Not only his move around one of the best defenseman in the NHL (Ryan Suter), but also the incredible passing of Henrik Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidstrom.
4. SI’s Adrian Dater gave the wings a pat on the back prior to Tuesday night’s game…
1 Detroit Red Wings Last Week: 1: The NHL’s points leaders were slated to get goalie Jimmy Howard and forward Daniel Cleary back for Tuesday’s game against Chicago. If that didn’t bring out your inner Wings envy, try this on for size: according to people with knowledge of the team’s future plans (if the following guys are on the open market July 1), Plan A this summer will be to sign Zach Parise as a free agent. Plan B is sign Ryan Suter. Maybe both plans will come to fruition. Be afraid of the Detroit Red Wings. Last week: 3-0-0
5. And Sportsnet’s Luke Fox gets a, “Yay, Joey MacDonald!” in via his list...
1 Detroit Red Wings [last week] 2: If most teams lose the NHL’s winningest goaltender to a broken finger, most teams would suffer a setback. The Detroit Red Wings, however, are not most teams. The winged wheel just plugs in backup Joey MacDonald and keeps motoring. MacDonald now has a better save percentage than All-Star Jimmy: .934.
6. But the Hockey News’s Adam Proteau, who believes that Pavel Datsyuk plays on a team that’s too deep to allow him to ever win a hart Trophy, drums up some, “And the Canucks will end the Wings’ home-ice winning streak” controversy…
1 Detroit Red Wings [last week] 1: League home win record is now Wings’, but their next opponent at home - the ultra-competitive Canucks, who are two points behind them in the standings - should be their toughest test yet
7. And I don’t know what the hell to think about the fact that the CBC’s Kevin Weekes doesn’t believe that the Wings deserve a spot on the top 15 teams in terms of goaltending.
Update #4: The Vancouver Sun’s Iain MacIntyre reports that Byron Bitz will play on Thursday for Vancouver, as will, according to CKNW’s Dave Sheldon, Chris Higgins, and Canucks forward David Booth spoke to NHL.com’s Kevin Woodley about finally playing at the Joe:
“The Joe is the only arena I have never played in my career,” Booth, who was 12 years old when he saw that Stanley Cup victory in person, told NHL.com. “I grew up watching the Wings with my family, even when I was in college, going to the games for the longest time. It was always special when we went down to The Joe and watched the Wings play. They have a great organization and it was great growing up with them.”
That it took until career game No. 344 for Booth to experience Joe Louis Arena from the other side of the glass is a function of scheduling and bad luck – during five-plus seasons in Florida, the Panthers only visited twice and both times he got hurt shortly before the games.
That this visit finally comes with a team modeled after the Red Wings feels a bit more like fate. The bad luck started in December 2007, when Booth hurt his knee just four days before a scheduled visit and was forced out of the lineup for eight games (he only missed nine all season). Then in October 2009, he was knocked out by the infamous Mike Richards blind-side hit less than a month before the Panthers played in Detroit.
Booth didn’t become a Canuck until nine days after their first visit to his hometown on Oct. 13, and was out with another knee injury when the Red Wings visited a few days before Christmas, before finally getting to play them in Vancouver on Feb. 2. It was just the third time he’d played the team he grew up cheering, and Booth’s excitement that day was tangible, but nothing compared to his thoughts of playing his first game in Detroit.
He went into the season with Florida’s visit to The Joe circled on his calendar, but even that date, April 1, seemed a cruel joke. Given his luck getting there it’s understandable that Booth was hesitant to talk for too long about his first visit before the Canucks left on their current six-game road trip. But he had no problem sharing his favorite memory. “Front row for that Stanley Cup win,” Booth said with wide eyes and a huge smile.
• Via Yahoo Sports, the Vancouver Province’s Steve Ewen reports that Wings prospect Marek Tvrdon has been suspended for a spearing incident;
• I will suggest that you can listen to Adrian Dater speak to Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski and Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek about the Avs “winning” the Quincey trade;
• Sorry this is late, but here’s a somewhat timely reminder from the Wings....
RED WINGS FAN DAY AT THE JOE
SET TO BE STAGED ON MARCH 11
Fun-Filled Event Presented in
Partnership with Meijer and Coca-Cola
Free Tickets to be Given Away at Upcoming
Events at Various Meijer Locations
The Detroit Red Wings, Coca-Cola and Meijer have teamed up to present the 2012 edition of Fan Day at Joe Louis Arena, scheduled to take place on Sunday, March 11 from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. This year’s Fan Day at The Joe will feature photo opportunities with the Red Wings’ 2008 Stanley Cup championship banner as well as Al Sobotka’s famed zamboni, autographs from members of the Red Wings Alumni Association, multiple interactive hockey zones, an open skate on the main ice surface at JLA and a wide variety of prizes and promotions for fans of all ages.
In order to obtain tickets to this fun-filled event, citizens of Hockeytown must attend an upcoming Red Wings alumni appearance at one of five Meijer locations throughout southeastern Michigan. All events will begin at 5:00 p.m. and last two hours, with alumni beginning to sign autographs at 6:00 p.m. The first 150 fans to arrive will receive a wristband guaranteeing them an autograph. Tickets to Fan Day at The Joe will be given away on a first-come, first-serve basis with a limit of four (4) tickets per family. The dates, Meijer store locations and special guests for all Fan Day at The Joe warm-up parties can be found below:
Monday, February 20, 2012
Special Guest: Darren McCarty
22600 Allen Road, Woodhaven, MI 48183
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Special Guest: Joe Kocur
16300 Fort Street, Southgate, MI 48195
Wednesday, February 29, 2010
Special Guest: Joe Kocur
5645 Jackson Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Special Guest: Darren McCarty
3565 Fairlane Blvd., Allen Park, MI 48101
Monday, March 5, 2012
Special Guest: Darren McCarty
40445 S. Groesbeck Hwy, Clinton Twp, MI 48036
• Getting back down to brass tacks, the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness spoke to Jakub Kindl about possibly losing his spot to Kyle Quincey, and Kindl has a positive attitude about the situation…
“I don’t know what they’re going to do about that,” Kindl said. “Quincey’s been a great defenseman for a while and I think he’s going to help us, too. I just have to stay ready,” Kindl added. “Injuries are a part of hockey, but I don’t wish anybody to get hurt, I just have to be ready. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Kindl has started the last eight games over Mike Commodore as Jonathan Ericsson’s partner on the blue line.
“I’ve been feeling very good lately,” Kindl said. “I’ve been playing more and more and obviously we’ve been winning and that helps, too. I think I’ve been playing my best hockey so far in my life. I just have to keep getting better and better and you never know what’s going to happen.”
Wings coach Mike Babcock said Quincey will help the team in all areas and he’ll be paired with Ericsson and play on the second power play unit.
“Should help on the penalty kill, should help at even strength and on the power play, he’s a good player, we’re thrilled to have him back,” Babcock said. “We think the deeper you are in the back and the better you move the puck the better chance you have to be successful. We’ll see what happens,” Babcock added. “No such thing as too much D at playoff time.”
• And finally, for the moment, anyway, NHL.com’s Brian Hedger reveals that the Red Wings’ Swedes didn’t know that Marcus Kruger was Swedish, either:
Stalberg said he said “Hey, what’s up?” in Swedish to Franzen and the Mule looked at him funny. “Don’t think he knew I was Swedish.”
Stalberg also said #Redwings Swedes don’t say much in Swedish on the ice. English. #Blackhawks
Update #5: One more thing, from the Grand Rapids Griffins:
The Grand Rapids Griffins and Grand Rapids Sled Wings will stage their seventh annual sled hockey game on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at Griff’s IceHouse at Belknap Park (30 Coldbrook NE).
In a new twist on the game’s traditional Griffins vs. Sled Wings format, each sled hockey squad will be comprised of players from both the Griffins and the Sled Wings, with the Griffins’ Garnet Exelby and the Sled Wings’ Tyler Anderson serving as captains for the two teams.
Festivities will begin at 6 p.m., when fans can try out a sled on the ice (minimum $1 donation) and get autographs from their favorite Griffins players. The game will begin at 7 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased at the door for $5, while children 2 and younger are free. All proceeds from the evening will benefit the Sled Wings program and the Griffins Youth Foundation.
The Sled Wings, who are sponsored by the Griffins Youth Foundation in partnership with Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, became the first junior-level sled hockey team in Michigan upon their founding in 2001, and they have gained a national reputation by winning various prestigious tournaments and continuing to develop high-caliber players. Anderson is in his third season with the U.S. National Developmental Sled Hockey Team, Chris Melton was a teammate of Anderson’s on that squad last season, and Susie Kluting was recently named to the newly formed U.S. Women’s Sled Hockey Team.
Sled hockey rules are virtually identical to traditional hockey, except participants sit on bladed sleds. Players use two shortened hockey sticks with a blade on one end and a pick (similar to a toe-pick on a figure skate) on the other end, which enables them to propel themselves across the ice. As in traditional hockey, checking, penalties, and hard slap shots are all abundant in sled hockey.
Sled hockey made its Paralympics debut in 1994. It originated in Sweden in 1940 and was introduced in the United States in 1989, with the first team based in Minnesota.
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