The Malik Report
Red Wings off-day updates: Zetterberg, Franzen are good to go for round #2, where Wings must improve
by George Malik on 04/22/11 at 05:18 PM ET
Updated 4x at 4:40 PM: Slightly belated news from the Red Wings’ Friday practice, via the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan: Henrik Zetterberg’s officially been deemed fit to play after taking part in a full practice on Friday:
“I’m feeling better than yesterday, and that’s all I can ask for,” said Zetterberg, who missed the entire first-round sweep of Phoenix because of a left knee sprain. “As long as it goes that way, it’ll be good.”
Franzen (sore ankle), who didn’t play in Wednesday’s deciding game against Phoenix, didn’t practice but Babcock said Franzen will be ready to go for the next round.
“We’ll give him as much time as (needed) to make sure he’s feeling good,” Babcock said. “I’m not one bit concerned.”
The time off afforded the Wings because of sweeping Phoenix is a huge benefit, Babcock said.
“Absolutely 100 percent the rest is a benefit,” Babcock said. “The other option is having your defensemen run (in games). The chance of getting through healthy if you keep playing is slim, so this is much better.”
Kulfan also says that Chris Osgood’s hoping to back up Jimmy Howard next week. Take that for what you will, given Osgood’s status as having not played since New Year’s…
“Hopefully he’s in a situation here where we can get his conditioning up to speed and get going,’’ coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s one of our top two players up front. We’d like to have him back.’‘
Via the Red Wings’ website, here’s Zetterberg talking to the media…
As well as Nicklas Lidstrom, Brad Stuart and Pavel Datsyuk talking about Lidstrom’s status as a Lady Byng Trophy finalist…
And Mike Babcock’s post-practice talk:
Zetterberg told the Free Press’s Helene St. James that he’ll feel properly ready to play after a good, hard practice or two starting on Monday (the Wings get the weekend off)...
“That’s the one thing left,” Zetterberg said with a smile. “Feeling healthy and ready. Just have to prove myself next week in practice.
“If it would have been a Game 5 today, I think I would have played. This is definitely good for me having this week to do more rehab and then have next week to go full out and get back in playing shape.”
And that was the Wings’ theme of the day—thank goodness Game 5 isn’t tonight!
“You’re other option is to be getting your D run tonight,” coach Mike Babcock said. “The chance of getting through healthy if you keep playing games is slim. This is much better.”
Instead, they get to spend the weekend watching hockey.
“It’s great,” Niklas Kronwall said. “The other series, the longer they can play, the better.”
Update #1: The AP’s Larry Lage reports that Zetterberg looked good on Friday…
He seemed sharp in practice at Joe Louis Arena, pushing himself enough to create a huge gap between himself and a group that included Valtteri Filppula.
“That was a good sign,” Filppula said. “He’s really fast when he’s healthy.”
Franzen doesn’t rely as much on his speed, but the six-foot-three, 218-pound forward with a strong shot and a knack for scoring in the playoffs, is a key player for a team that hopes to hoist the Stanley Cup for the fifth time since 1997. He had a team-high 28 goals during the regular season and opened this post-season with a goal and an assist, giving him at least a point in 13 straight playoff games.
“I doubt he’ll have trouble starting the second round with us,” Niklas Kronwall said. “But I’m not a doctor or a trainer.”
And the Wings also spoke to DetroitRedWings.com’s Michael Caples about their tremendous depth in terms of scoring against Phoenix as 13 skaters scored goals…
“Well I think any time when you can spread it out, it’s going to be good for anybody,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said of the balanced scoring. “That means we’re not just having one line scoring, so it will be tougher for the other team to defend. Right now we’ve got four lines rolling, and that’s huge.”
But the Wings also felt that they played pretty decently overall…
“I think we played well defensively,” Filppula said. “Our D blocked a lot of shots, and Howie played great … that was huge. Definitely I think as a five-man unit, we played well defensively, we didn’t give up too many really good opportunities.”
“It makes it a lot easier [to sit out] when they win,” said Zetterberg, who expects to be back for Round 2. “It is tough to sit out and especially in the playoffs, just being in the locker room while the other guys are out there, but it makes it a lot easier when they’re winning and playing good. I think we just rolled the four lines, everyone really contributed. It was tough for them to have a match-up for us, and no matter who we put out there, all the lines created and played good both defense and offense.”
But the Wings are, obviously, very concerned about their leaky penalty-killing unit, and they know that they can’t and won’t move forward in the playoffs if they simply match the level of play they displayed against Phoenix::
[T]he Wings won’t be resting on their accomplishments from Round 1 while they await their next opponent. Coach Mike Babcock said he has been pleased by his team’s depth, but that they can still play “at a higher gear. Well there better be, or else you’re not going to keep playing – it’s that simple,” he said. “Unless you’re here and until you’re stretched and pushed, you don’t know for sure. But I like our group, I like what’s happened as far as the bottom catching up to the top, and we seem to have good depth, and we’re getting some good hockey out of guys.”
“I thought they were kept in the series by scoring on their power plays,” captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “So that’s something we have to adjust to and be able to tighten up. They were playing better, just finding openings. I thought we got a little bit spread out sometimes, and that’s when they find those lines for a shot or a pass for a quick shot, and out-manning us in front of the net.”
“Especially 5-on-5, I thought we played pretty well,” [Kronwall] said. “But there were a few times especially the last few games where the momentum switched, we weren’t as strong on the puck and in the defensive zone than we need to be, so that’s some of the areas we can improve, and obviously PK is something we’re going to have to do better.”
Update #2: WXYT posted videos of Nicklas Lidstrom and Ken Holland speaking to the media at Metro Airport yesterday:
Update #3: Here’s Chuck Pleiness’s practice report from the Macomb Daily...
“I’m feeling better than yesterday, that’s all I can ask for,” Zetterberg said. “As long as it goes that way, I’m going to be ready to go.
The Wings won’t know their second round opponent until late next week.
“Hopefully he’s in a situation here where we can get his conditioning up to speed and get going,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s one of our top two players up front. We’d like to have him back.”
Game 1 of the series with the Coyotes marked the first time Zetterberg had missed a playoff game since coming to the league in 2002-03. He had appeared in 97 consecutive games. Johan Franzen (sore left ankle) did not practice, but appears to be ready for Game 1 of the next round.
“Not concerned about that,” Babcock said. “I don’t know when he’ll start to practice. We’ll give him as much time as we can. He’ll have to do his conditioning in other ways.”
• And Dana Wakiji’s update on FoxSportsDetroit.com:
“Obviously it’ll be great to have him back,” Babcock said. “Hopefully he’s in a situation here where we can get his conditioning up to speed and get going. We have a good piece of time here, it looks like. He’s one of our top two players up front, and we’d like to have him back. He’s in a situation with his knee that he tells me his knee’s fine, it’s just a matter of figuring out with the brace and how to skate and all those things. He’ll be fine.”
“Just his presence on the ice is huge,” Kronwall said. “Obviously he works both ways, plays a lot of big minutes and contributes both offensively and defensively. He’s a big leader for us, not only on the ice but also off the ice. He’s a key guy for us.”
Another key playoff performer, Johan Franzen, who missed Game 4 of the first round with a left ankle injury, did not skate. Babcock said he was not worried about Franzen being ready for the second round.
“Not one bit concerned about that,” Babcock said. “I don’t know when he’ll start to practice. He’ll have to do his conditioning in other way,s but we’ll give him as much time as we can to make sure he’s feeling good.”
“When you get a guy like Z back, obviously your club’s that much better,” [Kris] Draper said. “We’re excited about it. We bought him an extra week of rest, and all that’s going to do is benefit him, let him get stronger. He’s excited to get back in there. You don’t want to miss any time at this time of year. The good thing is we didn’t have to force him to come in and play, and that’s huge for Hank.”
Zetterberg looked pretty good out there. He doesn’t look completely comfortable but he’s progressing. #RedWings #NHL
The Wings looked like they were having a lot of fun during practice. Guess that’s what happens when you’re the only team to sweep! #RedWings
Wings have wknd off. Here’s Draper on weekend plans:I’ll probably still come down to the rink.What else do u do this time of year? #RedWings
• Drew from Nightmare on Helm Street received the honor of writing the Phoenix Coyotes’ playoff eulogy on the Yahoo Sports’ Puck Daddy blog;
• But I’m the lucky one who found a ten fricking minute interview with Gregg Krupa from the Bakita and Grey Show on WBBL:
Latest update: The Detroit News posted a 16-image gallery from today’s practice;
• MLive’s Ansar Khan posted a day-after-the-day-after recap of the Wings-Coyotes series;
• The Columbus Dispatch’s Michael Arace penned a profile of former Wing and Blue Jackets coach Gerard Gallant, who’s currently helming the QMJHL’s St. John Sea Dogs;
• And the USHL’s website and the Sioux City Journal report that Omaha Lancers defenseman, incoming University of Minnesota defenseman and Red Wings prospect Ben Marshall was named to the USHL’s All-Rookie Team:
Ben Marshall (D), Omaha Lancers
The 18-year-old was sixth among USHL defensemen in scoring with 33 points (11g, 22a) in 56 games. Five of his goals were game-winners which were the most among USHL defensemen and tied for sixth overall in the League. Marshall finished the regular season tied for 10th in the USHL with a plus-20 rating and was second among defensemen with 142 shots on goal. The native of Stillwater, Minnesota is committed to play collegiate hockey at the University of Minnesota. He is also a 2010 NHL Entry Draft selection of the Detroit Red Wings (201st overall).
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