The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/04/12 at 04:04 PM ET
2x at 3:30 PM: Gustav Nyquist was named to the AHL’s All-Star Game roster: Earlier this morning, the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema penned an article discussing Westland native Chris Conner’s attempts to regain his spot with the Red Wings after being assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins to earn regular playing time as he returns from a broken hand…
“You grow up playing the game, and obviously putting on that (Red Wings) jersey was a great experience,” Conner said after Griffins practice Tuesday morning at Van Andel Arena. “I definitely want more of it.”
There’s a good chance he won’t have to wait long to get his wish. Conner had been playing well with the Red Wings, providing tenacious speed and high energy, and likely will be recalled soon. After going scoreless in his first three games in Detroit, he had a goal and two assists in his past three games before the injury, playing with Danny Cleary and Darren Helm on the third line.
“It was awesome. I worked hard to get to that level and it was definitely exciting,” Conner said. “I embraced it, but obviously you want to keep going and now get back there and do the best you can.”
The 28-year-old left wing was injured early in the third period of a 4-1 win against the Penguins. He felt his hand jam, but didn’t think much about it. He even finished the game, but the hand didn’t feel right and X-rays later revealed a fracture.Conner said the hand now feels good and he’s ready to go.
Conner also said both [Gustav] Nyquist and [Joakim] Andersson seemed to be adjusting well to life in the NHL. There’s a chance he could switch places with either player in the next couple of days.
“I thought they were doing well,” Conner said. “They’re good players, they’re young players, but you can tell they’re going to be good players and play at that level for a long time.”
Well, Conner need not worry about losing his job anymore. Zuidema reports that the Wings recalled the 5’8” (maybe) Conner this morning, sending big Joakim Andersson (6’2” with room to grow sideways) down in the process:
After practice at Griff’s IceHouse on Wednesday morning, Griffins coach Curt Fraser said the team expects to get forward Joakim Andersson back from the parent club Detroit Red Wings, but lose Conner before this weekend’s pair of games at Abbotsford.
“Andersson is on his way back, but we lose Conner,” Fraser said. “A little trade off, but we’ll be glad to have Andy back. If we have him playing between Bruno (Fabian Brunnstrom) and (Jan) Mursak, that will be a real good line for us.”
Conner hasn’t played since breaking his left hand in a game with the Red Wings on Dec. 13. In six games with Detroit, he had one goal, two assists and a plus-2 rating.
Mursak’s about two weeks out from returning from his conditioning stint, and we’ll find out about the respective statuses of Darren Helm and Tomas Holmstrom’s groins tomorrow, but guessing from the comments Wings coach Mike Babcock made to the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan, we need not worry about any sort of roster crunch until the beginning to middle of February.
Also: The Wings posted this press release a wee bit late
Detroit Red Wings forward Darren Helm will be appearing at the Meijer Superstore in Royal Oak (5150 Coolidge Highway) later today from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Helm will be signing autographs on a first-come, first-serve basis with a limit of one (1) per person. The first 150 fans to arrive at the location will receive a priority wristband guaranteeing a signature. The Volunteer Energy Red Patrol team will also be on hand at Meijer beginning at 5:00 p.m., hosting a variety of interactive hockey games and holding prize giveaways.
Four more Red Wings appearances at Meijer are scheduled to take place in the coming months. The dates, times, locations and player names for these four appearances can be found below:
DARREN HELM: Thursday, Feb. 16 (5:00 – 7:00 p.m.)
3175 S. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, MI 48037
Sunday, Feb. 26 (1:00 – 3:00 p.m.)
30800 Little Mack Road, Roseville, MI 48066
PATRICK EAVES: Wednesday, March 7 (5:00 – 7:00 p.m.)
22600 Allen Road, Woodhaven, MI 48183
Thursday, March 8 (5:00 – 7:00 p.m.)
13000 Middlebelt Road, Livonia, MI 48150
• The Wings’ Facebook page re-posted a notice about the meet-up at the Hockey Hall of Fame prior to the Wings-Leafs game on Saturday;
• And the latest episode of Fake Henrik Zetterberg is out:
• Looking back at last night’s wacky 5-4 win, many Wings fans might agree with Dallas Stars coach Glenn Gulutzan’s comments to ESPN Dallas’s Richard Durrett if we were to swap out “We” for “The Red Wings”:
“I just thought we made a couple of lazy mistakes and we made a couple structural mistakes that we shouldn’t make,” Gulutzan said. “They’re the team that can make you pay pretty quickly, as you see. I thought our compete level was up but you can’t make mistakes like that against this club.”
The Stars had issues trying to cover the speedy Wings and when they made mistakes, Detroit pounced on them. Dallas fell behind by two goals at the end of one and were down by two at the end of two periods. They scored with just under six minutes left, but weren’t able to tie it despite a furious attempt at the end.
Kari Lehtonen didn’t have his best night, though he did try to keep the Stars in it with some big saves in the first period. But Gulutzan noted that Lehtonen didn’t get enough help in front of him.
“We just made too many mistakes,” Gulutzan said. “Our [defensemen] were backing off the line too much and we had some lazy mistakes. If you’re going to be lazy, it’s going to cost you.”
&bull In the, “One that really did get away” department, Per NHL.com’s Bill Meltzer, Wings European scout Hakan Andersson sounds genuinely bummed regarding the Anahiem Ducks’ selection of Swedish forward Max Friberg last summer:
Although strong on his skates, Friberg has average size (5-foot-11, 195 pounds) and only slightly above-average natural skill. He was not initially considered a fast-track player to the Elitserien (Swedish Elite League) level. That is why the now 19-year-old winger was still available when Anaheim chose him in the fifth round (No. 143) of the 2011 Draft. However, as he has shown during his eye-opening performance at the 2012 World Junior Championships, Friberg compensates for any perceived shortcomings with work ethic and desire. Once Friberg gets his feet moving, he has above-average quickness, which makes his all-around skating ability an asset in actual game settings.
Friberg’s play at the World Juniors has been a major reason why Sweden will oppose Russia in Thursday’s gold-medal game.
He leads the tournament in goal scoring with nine tallies in five games —which does not include his crucial shootout goals in Sweden’s semifinal victory against Finland and a round-robin victory against Switzerland. His 11 points rank second to top Washington Capitals prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov’s 13 points for Team Russia.
“I feel that he’s a good character person,” Detroit Red Wings European scout Hakan Andersson told NHL.com. “He works hard in practice, skating is fine, good speed, skill is OK. His defensive game is OK in terms of effort, and his physical game is OK here [at the junior international level].”
“He might be having the tournament of his life here,” said Andersson. “I want to see him do this more consistently before I can say he’s an NHLer. Over the years, I have seen players who are good in this tournament and then still don’t make it to the NHL.”
• Also regarding the World Junior Championships, Hockey’s Future’s Kevin Forbes duly notes that the WJC contains its share of European participants who ply their trades within the Canadian/American Major Junior Hockey system:
• Oh, what a crazy world the Wings are about to wander into: the Toronto Star reports that Toronto’s mayor says that the Maple Leafs should hold a Winter Classic, and that if the Leafs have to be the Wings’ opponent at next year’s Classic, they should hold the event at Michigan Stadium instead of Comerica Park because that’s what Nazem Kadri wants.
In Toronto-speak, this equates to, “Well if the mayor and Kadri say so, cue the Leafs and Wings in Toronto! NOW!”
• And the Sporting News’s Jesse Spector offered this reality-based comment about the Wings’ status as a playoff contender based on some hard numbers:
It has become clear, as the halfway point of the season nears, which teams are elite—the ones who are pounding the snot out of their opponents on a regular basis. The Boston Bruins, through Jan. 3, have a 123-68 scoring margin for the season, a plus-55 differential that trumps all. The Detroit Red Wings are at plus-40, the Vancouver Canucks at plus-32 and the New York Rangers at plus-31.
Those are the teams with the fewest question marks, and the ones that, if they fail to make the playoffs, it can only be assumed that as the team was going down a flight of stairs, the player at the back tripped, and everyone broke their legs. There are other teams that are locks, as well, but the four listed are the ones that, according to statistical projections, have a 99 percent or better chance of making the playoffs.
Update #2: Per the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema:
Rookie forward Gustav Nyquist was the lone member of the Grand Rapids Griffins named to the 2012 American Hockey League All-Star Classic when rosters were announced Wednesday afternoon.
Nyquist leads the Griffins with 30 points (nine goals, 21 assists) in 30 games. He also is tied for second in the league in rookie scoring despite the fact that he was recalled by the parent club Detroit Red Wings on Dec. 29. In four games with Detroit, he has one assist and a plus-1 rating.
The Griffins have several other candidates who could have been considered for all-star slots. Forward Tomas Tatar is second on the Griffins with 27 points (nine goals, 18 assists), while Jamie Johnson leads the team with 14 goals. Defensemen Brendan Smith and Doug Janik also have been solid in their own end, and Smith is tied for 15th in scoring among AHL defensemen with 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) and Janik is tied for 20th with 16 points (four goals, 12 assists).
If Nyquist remains with the Red Wings through the all-star game, another member of the Griffins likely would replace him.
Update #3: click at your own risk, but that dude who asks people to pay to read his rumors still insists that the Wings are interested in Alex Semin and Ales Hemsky. I still think that the Wings need a bottom-six forward with size and grit, but that’s just me;
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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.