The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/08/11 at 10:43 AM ET
Paul already covered the regrettable news regarding former Red Wing Joey Kocur’s DUI, so it seems appropriate to start this survey of the Red Wings’ press from Monday night and Tuesday morning with a story from Todd Bertuzzi fan Sarah Casey, filed by the Detroit News:
Todd Bertuzzi, faithful hockey player, dad and friend changed the life of a boy who didn’t have the social life every teenager deserves. From the countless acknowledgments to the smiles he created with just a wink, he deserves a lot more than “booing” when he touches the puck.
It all began at a Canucks game 10 years ago in Vancouver. When the Canucks, playing the Red Wings, came out for their pregame warm-up, Adam Casey stood by the glass, jumping up and down and chanting. Adam, 23, doesn’t say much, his vocabulary limited because of cerebral palsy. But when he talks, it’s always about Bertuzzi — “Tuzzi, Tuzzi!”
The stadium gradually began to fill up. A crowd stood above the dressing room walkway. They waited for the stars below so they could quickly snap a picture. Adam was on the opposite side of the ice, on the floor. Adam’s jersey was on backward, showing Bertuzzi’s “44.” As Bertuzzi entered, the crowd cheered. Adam jumped and screamed, and reached into his pocket, taking out his Todd Bertuzzi hockey card covered in a clear plaque. He banged the plaque on the glass at Bertuzzi’s back — to no avail. Adam’s father heard the rumors: It was hard to get any NHL player’s attention.
“You’ll never get Bertuzzi’s attention,” some fans said. But Adam kept banging the glass. While some players were shooting pucks, others were stretching. And stretching directly below Adam was Bertuzzi. So Adam threw his plaque at the glass — hard. Bertuzzi finally caught sight of Adam, who smiles.
The story continues, and it’s worth your time.
• Also in the charitable vein, the Red Wings’ Facebook page reports that Darren Helm visited Clinton Valley Elementary School (the second link goes to a YouTube video of Helm trying a “trick shot”) on behalf of the Red Wings’ Foundation;
• And don’t forget that Patrick Eaves is trying to raise $10,000 for the Michigan Humane Society.
• Shifting gears to more substantial Red Wings news, the Wings return to practice today after a day off on Monday, and the Free Press’s Helene St. James noted that Brad Stuart and Jimmy Howard offered a few comments about the Wings cranking up their intensity over the Wings’ last 16 regular season games:
“This is when you start to see more excitement from everybody,” defenseman Brad Stuart said. “January, February, it’s a bit of a grind, and we’ve played a lot of games in the last two weeks, so it’ll be nice to play some home games and start to get ready for what matters most, which is the playoffs.”
On Wednesday, the Wings host the Kings, whom they demolished, 7-4, last week in Los Angeles. Getting beat like that tends to stay with a team, but the Wings have their own monkey to chase after blowing a three-goal lead Saturday at Phoenix.
“I think it’s just paying attention to details,” goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “We need to establish that again, and I think it’s just keeping our game simple at home and not overdoing things.”
The Wings remain second in the West, but the Sharks trail them by only four points, and the Blackhawks have used an eight-game win streak to edge within six of the Central Division lead. Much of the focus for the Wings is on re-establishing themselves at home, where they’re 2-4 since Feb. 1.
“We need to get on a roll at home,” Stuart said. “I don’t think there’s anything to it, but you do want to feel good about playing at home. You want other teams to come in and know they’re going to be in for a tough night, which I don’t know if that’s the case right now just because of looking at our record. I think we can do a better job.”
• In his weekly notebook, the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan shifts gears in looking toward the future of the Red Wings’ roster, making projections as to whether certain players will return to play for the Wings during the 2011-2012 season, and which restricted or unrestricted free agents might move on:
Ruslan Salei: He’s been steady and unspectacular — just what the Red Wings needed. But can there be an upgrade? And is it time for Jakub Kindl to play more or to promote Brendan Smith?
Jonathan Ericsson: As long as Ericsson doesn’t ask for the moon, and figuring the comfort level with his Swedish teammates, he’ll return.
Mike Modano: So much will depend on the rest of the season. Can Modano (41 on June 7) provide an offensive lift? Will he meet his own expectations? It’s obvious he enjoys playing here, but both sides will need to see results.
Kris Draper: There’s a feeling what happened to his friend, Kirk Maltby, awaits Draper (40 on May 24). There are a bunch of young forwards in Grand Rapids, and that could mean an end to Drapes’ career.
Patrick Eaves: The Red Wings probably wouldn’t mind Eaves returning, but after a productive season, he could get a better offer somewhere else.
• As you already know, I’m no fan of power rankings, but, for the record, here’s Monday’s crop, starting with ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun...
4 ([last week] 3) Red Wings [record] 39-19-8: A 2-1-2 road trip wasn’t grand but nothing to be concerned about. Home games with Los Angeles and Edmonton this week before a Saturday night fling at St. Louis.
Continuing with those of TSN’s Scott Cullen...
This Week 2 Last Week 1 Detroit Red Wings 39-19-8: Finished their recent five-game road trip with a 2-1-2 mark, but it’s tough to hold onto top spot following a winless week. Also a little strange to see the puck-possession Wings allowing at least 38 shots in three of the last seven games.
Key Injuries: D Brian Rafalski (back).
And quips from Sportsnet’s Mike Brophy...
3 [last week] 3 [Red Wings] (39-19-8) : The Red Wings uncharacteristically blow a three-goal third-period lead in dropping a 5-4 OT decision to Phoenix.
The Hockey News’s Adam Proteau...
4. Detroit Red Wings [last week] 3 [record] 39-19-8 [last ten] 5-3-2: Most potent offense in the league belongs to Wings (3.26 goals per game), but they rank 19th in goals-against per game (2.88)
And a particularly harsh assessment from Sportsline’s Wes Goldstein:
7. Red Wings [last week] 5: A poor finish to a tough road trip out West may have ended the Wings’ hopes of capturing the conference crown.
Also of Wings-related note this morning:
• According to fans on Letsgowings.com, Wings prospect Teemu Pulkkinen escaped serious injury after getting whacked on the knee by Mika Noronen;
• In the appearance department, Tomas Holmstrom will sign autographs at the Meijer on Wixom Road and Grand River in Wixom, MI from 5-7 PM EST today;
Quickie updates: ESPN’s Sean Allen notes that fantasy hockey players might want to pick up Mike Modano as a power play specialist;
Wings prospect Ben Marshall was named the USHL’s defensive player of the week;
The Pistons are declining comment on the Forbes report that Mike Ilitch is back in the bidding mix for the Pistons;
And all I can say is that Bertuzzi’s lawyer has more integrity than his counterpart, by at least a country mile.
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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.