The Malik Report
Red Wings overnight report: Wings at the Worlds, day 7; Babcock has a chat; Tomas Jurco, QMJHL champ
by George Malik on 05/11/12 at 09:34 AM ET
Updated 4x at 9:33 AM: The Detroit Red Wings’ players participating in the World Championships had excellent outings on Thursday—Justin Abdelakder scored a goal and added an assist and Jimmy Howard stopped 23 shots as the U.S. defeated Belarus 5-2, Valtteri Filppula had 3 assists as Finland defeated France 7-1, and while he didn’t fare in the scoring, Pavel Datsyuk had an excellent outing in Russia’s 3-1 win over Denmark.
With most teams having played 4 or 5 of their preliminary round games, and round robin standings taking on more and more importance, things get particularly interesting today, per the schedule post and MLive’s Brendan Savage:
May 11: 9:15 a.m. – USA vs. Kazakhstan [on the NBC Sports Network]; 1:15 p.m. – Finland vs. Canada; [2:15 PM] – Russia vs. Sweden
With the top four teams in each group advancing to the quarterfinals, Finland (Valtteri Filppula) leads “Group H” with a 4-and-0 record and 12 points; Canada (Kyle Quincey) sits in second place with a 3-0-and-1 record and 10 points, the Americans (Abdelkader, Howard), who USA Today’s Kevin Allen reported will start Stars goalie Richard Bachman today, sit in third place with a 2-1-0-and-1 record and 8 points, and Slovakia (Tomas Tatar) sit in fourth place with a 2-0-0-and-2 record and 6 points.
In “Group S,” Sweden (Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall, Calle Jarnkrok, Jonathan Ericsson) and Russia (Pavel Datsyuk) are tied for 1st place with four wins and 12 points, and the Czech Republic (Petr Mrazek) is relatively close behind with 8 points.
Saturday’s schedule is pretty busy as well, though it includes some, let’s say “easier” games…
May 12: 5:15 a.m. – Slovakia vs. Belarus; 1:15 PM Canada vs. Kazakhstan : 2:15 p.m. – Italy vs. Sweden
And Sunday’s games get a little more difficult for the Wings players’ teams involved:
May 13: 9:15 a.m. – USA vs. Finland [on the NBC Sports Network]; 10:15 AM– Russia vs. Czech Republic; 1:15 p.m. – Switzerland vs. Slovakia
In terms of Thursday’s action, Abdelkader played a starring role in the Americans’ 5-2 win over Belarus, with Abdelkader earning the game’s “best player” award via a goal, an assist (on the 2-0 goal), 4 shots, a 7-and-7 record in the faceoff circle and 15:52 played on the 3rd line…
and as the Americans surrendered a 2-0 lead while playing rope-a-dope hockey, and Belarus tied the game at 2-2, Jimmy Howard was instrumental in the win, holding the U.S. in the game until they found their footing late in the 2nd period and in the 3rd, stopping 23 of the 26 shots he faced. He had no chance whatsoever on any of the goals he surrendered.
Andrew Podnieks offers a superb narrative…
The Americans got off to just the start they needed to diminish the Belarusian spirit. Abdelkader scored just 1:39 into the game from in close, and then five minutes later Cam Atkinson scored on a wrist shot in the slot while being covered by two defencemen.
Belarus coach Kari Heikkila changed goalies soon after, removing Andrei Mezin and inserting backup Vitali Koval, who played the rest of the game. The Belarussians got back into the game late in the period when Alexei Kalyuzhny made a great deflection halfway down the shaft of his stick off a Dmitri Korobov point shot to beat Jimmy Howard in goal.
The Americans ran into a bit of penalty trouble, starting with a minor and misconduct to defenceman Jack Johnson at the end of the first for checking to the head and neck area. Early in the second Kyle Palmieri took an unnecessary goalie interference penalty, and Belarus capitalized. Mikhail Grabovski passed the puck down low to Yevgeni Kovyrshin, and his shot was stopped by Howard. Alexei Ugarov got the rebound and swiped it in to tie the game, 2-2.
Teams had plenty of scoring chances the rest of the period, notably Kalyuzhny who stripped Cam Fowler of the puck at the U.S. blue line and went in alone short-handed. Howard made a fine save.
At the other end, Koval made a nice save on an in-close chance from J.T. Brown. The only other goal of the period came late, on a lucky play. Nate Thompson came around the Belarus net and fired the puck in front. It went off the skate of Kovyrshin and past a surprised Koval to give the U.S. a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes.
Justin Abdelkader (Muskegon, Mich./Detroit Red Wings/Michigan State University) scored his first goal of the tournament off a sharp-angle deflection at 1:39 of the first period to give the U.S. an early lead. Cam Atkinson (Riverside, Conn./Columbus Blue Jackets/Boston College) followed suit with a snap shot from the high slot at 6:31 to double Team USA’s advantage. Belarus got on the board at 16:15 and Team USA carried a 2-1 lead after the opening 20 minutes.
Belarus tallied a power-play goal at 2:50 of the second period to even the game at 2-2. Nate Thompson (Anchorage, Alaska/Tampa Bay Lightning) lit the lamp with a sharp angle shot with 1:39 remaining in the second period to give the U.S. a 3-2 edge at the end of 40 minutes.
Bobby Ryan (Cherry Hill, N.J./Anaheim Ducks) tipped in a blast from the point at 12:10 of the third period to stake the U.S. to a 4-2 advantage and just over two minutes later, Paul Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./Colorado Avalanche/University of Denver) charged into the offensive zone and made a slick move before tucking the puck through the legs of Belarus netminder Vitali Koval at 15:34. Belarus rounded out the scoring with 10 seconds remaining in regulation while holding a 6-on-3 advantage thanks to two U.S. penalties and an extra attacker.
The U.S. Men’s National Team resumes Group H play on Friday (May 11) against Kazakhstan. Faceoff is 4:15 p.m. local time (9:15 a.m. EDT). The game will be broadcast live in the U.S. on NBC Sports Network and scoring updates will be available on Twitter. Use the hashtag #2012MWC to join the conversation surrounding the tournament.
Justin Abdelkader, who had a goal and an assist, was named Team USA’s Player of the Game
USA Today’s Kevin Allens snagged some quotes from Abdelkader...
After claiming a 2-0 lead in the first seven minutes of the game on goals by Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader and Columbus’ Cam Atkinson, the Americans allowed Belarus to tie the game 2-2.
“Hopefully, we will learn from that,” Abdelkader said, via a cell phone from Helsinki. “We can’t sit back. We just have to be smart when we have the lead … it was good to see us come out in the third period and play the way we did.”
And coach Scott Gordon, speaking about Howard’s play:
Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard made 23 saves in the game, including a breakaway stop when the Americans were on a power play with the game tied 2-2.
“That was a critical point in the game,” Gordon said. “It was a huge save. It could have been the turning point in the game.”
“I liked the way the second period ended, and it carried over to the third period,” Gordon added. “Other than on the power plays, we didn’t give up a whole lot of the third period.”
And, this morning, the Free Press’s George Sipple reports that Abdelkader’s dad was very proud of his son’s performance:
Back in Mona Shores, Joe Abdelkader started his morning by clicking on a usahockey.com poll asking which player would score first for the U.S.
“He was looking for that first goal of the tourney,” Joe said of his son. “I don’t usually vote on those things. This time I said, ‘I’m going to vote.’ “
Abdelkader wasn’t listed, so his father clicked the option “Other.” Since that worked out for his son, Joe Abdelkader, a retired schoolteacher, said he’ll probably continue to click on the poll.
Joe said he and his wife, Sheryl, had considered making the trip overseas to watch their son play, but opted not to, in part, because Justin and Red Wings goaltender and U.S. teammate Jimmy Howard had decided to room together during the tournament.
“We said, it’s probably a good time for them to get to know each other even more,” Joe said. “It’s great for both of them. I’m sure you get to know each other as a teammate, but I think when you’re rooming with each other in that short period of time, you get to know each other even more.”
Michigan Hockey’s Michael Caples Michigan Hockey Now found non-geo-blocked highlights:
And, via RedWingsFeed, We All Bleed Red on YouTube posted clips of Abdelkader’s goal…
A superb save by Howard on a shorthanded breakaway…
And a slate of Howard saves from the game:
Later on Thursday, in Helsinki, Valtteri Filppula registered three assists, went 1-and-1 in the faceoff circle, took 3 shots and finished at +2 in 14:16 of ice time in Finland’s 7-1 win over France. IIHF.com’s Risto Parkarinen’s recap only involves two mentions of Filppula:
Jussi Jokinen scored twice for Finland, Mikko Koivu scored one and added three assists for four points, and Valtteri Filppula collected three assists in a game in which Finland scored four powerplay goals.
Maybe the French players got tired, or maybe there was just no stopping Finland tonight. Three minutes and 23 seconds after Jokinen’s 3-0 goal, Finland scored another one. Valtteri Filppula played the puck to Jesse Joensuu who did a spinarama behind the net, and sent the puck to the slot. Filppula fanned on it, but behind him was Janne Niskala who fired a wrist shot through Lhenry’s five-hole, to make it 4-0 at 37:12.
If you dig Finnish, here’s a quick highlight clip from the game…
I did find some quips that Filppula made to the Finnish news agency STT, but I can only offer you an incredibly rough translation thereof:
[In the Finnish Lions]-France game, one of the main contributors to success was the fact that the team was able to spread out its offensive success throughout the lineup. Many players’ stats were boosted by a point, which feeds self-confidence and removes pressure to perform.
“It’s very important that a player might do so. Additionally, it was good that we got a large winning margin of goals,” said Valtteri Filppula, who registered three assists.
On Friday, Finland is facing a much tougher opponent than the French in Canada.
“Friday is a game where it’ll be easier to see where we’ll go as a team,” Filppula said.
The arena had a good atmosphere even though it was a weeknight and the Finns faced underdog France. The audience cheered and made “waves” even before Finland had started to paint the scoreboard with delights.
“In fact the audience was very loud. Hopefully it will continue in the same way in the following games,” Filppula said.
The interview repeats in Ilta Sanomat and Iltalehti with different photos of Filppula, YLE did post a gallery from the game, and Filppula looked forward to today’s game while speaking to MTV3’s Kasperi Kunnas:
One of the Lions’ hardest-working players against France was Valtteri Filppula. The Detroit Red Wings’ scoring forward registered 3 assists in the 7-1 win. Filppula has 2 goals and 3 assists for 5 points in 4 games.
“It’s always fun when we score a lot of goals. We played quite nicely from the start, and things went well overall,” Filppula said to MTV3.
“Especially today, by a large margin. We scored a few goals, which is important to us. We hope to be able to continue.”
The Lions’ next opponent, Canada, is light-years ahead of France in every aspect. In that sense, the overwhelming victory doesn’t measure the Lions’ level, but Filppula says each game is useful.
“Personally, it’s important to win all the games. The same is true for every team. The team needs to play together. On Friday, there’s a game which will be easier to show us what’s going on at this moment.”
And back in Stockholm, Pavel Datsyuk didn’t fare in the scoring in Russia’s 3-1 win over Denmark, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.
Datsyuk’s playing very, very well, skating strongly, winning faceoffs, playing superb defense and trying very hard to spark his linemates, Capitals prospect Yevgeny Kuznetsov and Maple Leafs forward Nikolai Kulemin while dekeing and dangling in the offensive zone, despite fact that it’s pretty clear that he’s being employed in a more defensive role, with Evgeni Malkin’s line being given much, much more license to roam and stray from the team’s defensive scheme to score goals.
Datsyuk finished the game with 18:18 in ice time, and he had 2 shots, went 8-and-6 in the faceoff circle and finished at +1 (as Dmitri Kalinin score a goal with Datsyuk on the ice, and Datsyuk should have been credited with the second assist).
The Russians did, however, seem to be resting up and cruising to as easy a win as possible over Denmark in anticipation of today’s grudge match against Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall, Calle Jarnkrok and Sweden, and as noted on Thursday, Datsyuk’s teammate offered a fair chunk of praise for his teammate while speaking to the Swedish news agency TT’s Goran Sundberg about his scrap with Evgeni Malkin in the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals and tangling with Russia tomorrow:
“That was in the heat of the moment and it was very emotional, and I don’t know if either of us realized what happened until afterwards. There are no hard feelings at all, we’ve met many times and spent time other side as well,” said “Zata” who hasn’t been involved in any fights before or since.
He’s full of admiration for Malkin.
“He may have been the single best player in the NHL this season. He has it all—size, skating, strength and great hands,” says Zetterberg.
But most of all he praised his teammate from Detroit, star two-way center Pavel Datsyuk.
“There is probably no one who can do the stuff he does. We who see him every day know that he’s very unique. He’s a complete player, and he’s not only focused on offense, but also defense,” says Zetterberg, and continues: “There will be a hell of a challenge [for us] to beat both of them, but great fun. It’s fun to play in these games.”
Zetterberg took it easy on Thursday, watching the practice, playing some soccer and wrote autographs for Tre Kronor fans at the open practice at Hovet.
He tells me he really appreciates playing on Par Marts’ national team, where offense and energy are the watchwords.
“I think it’s great fun and enjoy it here so it’s easier to play. It’s different from what I’m accustomed to. Both I and “Frasse” (linemate Johan Franzen) have great fun here,’ and it’s probably one of the things we looked forward to [the most] when we said yes—to come here and play fun offensive hockey.”
AllHockey.ru’s Igor Kakurin reports that Datsyuk was a little playful about the match-up while speaking with Russian and Swedish journalists:
“You’ll see your friend Henrik Zetterberg before the game,” asked the Swedish journalists to Datsyuk.
“A friend? What friend? Tomorrow, he’s not my friend.”
Against the Danes, Datsyuk said they played well, skated well and had a chance to tie the game in the third period. And that’s no joke—from the 40th to 60th minute they took 20 shots! One hit the crossbar over [Konstantin] Barulin. In the first two periods, Russia took 20 shots.
What do you think about playing with Sweden?
Datsyuk: “Tomorrow is the day and tomorrow I’ll think about it.”
Datsyuk probably just didn’t want to talk about it. He was asked something about Zetterberg—on a team, as they say, you play together, and you know all about each other. “It’s a question for anyone? For the KGB? Or for whom?” said Datsyuk in the same tone of the second and third question.
“What is Kay-Gee-Bee?” Asked the other reporters.
“This is the Russian intelligence service,” Datsyuk said.
“Ah, ha ha ha…” they replied.
Then Datsyuk tossed an equally playful answer to Sportbox.ru’s Denis Gusev...
Question: So you’re certain to know the tendencies of his game?
Datsyuk: “So you say, and I say! Now you scatter, and all of your friends report to him!”
An alternate translation comes from Gazeta.ru‘s Oleg Kosholev:
You probably know some of his tendencies, because you practice so much together.
“I know, but won’t tell you. You’re friends with him, and you’ll immediately flee and tell him everything.”
Datsyuk also spoke to Championat.ru’s Maria Rogovskya about the game and today’s showdown:
“I saw that I had the puck, and immediately tossed it. Wow, we did it!”—speaking about Dmitri Kalinin’s goal against Denmark.
How do these shots happen?
“It happens, but this time it was lucky. I would have kissed it if I could.”
The next game is against Sweden. Have you seen their games?
“Only in my room on the TV. And all our practices have begun on the days of games.”
They have 14 players from the NHL…
“On Friday, I’ll get a look at them…
Do you agree that the Swedes are playing the best hockey in the tournament?
“Based on what I’ve seen, we won’t be easy.”
“The Danes played well”—said Pavel Datsyuk, summing up the game. “We constantly pressured them, but they skated well. The best opponent was, of course, the goaltender. He stopped a lot of shots, allowing the team to rely on a draw almost to the end.”
How will you beat the Swedes?
“We just finished this game. I’ll think about the next one tomorrow.”
You’ll play against Henrik Zetterberg, your friend…
“Tomorrow, he’s not my friend.”
But have you talked to him during the tournament?
“What are you from the KGB? This is a secret.”
You probably know all the features of his game because you play so much together.
“I know, but I won’t tell you. You’re all friends with him, and now you’ll run and tell him.”
And as I don’t want to spend from 6 AM, when I’m writing this, until long after the Russia-Sweden game translating all the compliments the Russians and Swedes are dishing out about each other and their star players, I will note that the Wings’ website provides a nice Wings at the Worlds Stat tracker…
And from here, we’ll take a gander at the Swedish press as its coverage applies to today’s game, with one exception:
According to TV4.se‘s Isak Angerbjorn, Jonathan Ericsson won’t play today…
When the Tre Kronor skated this morning in anticipation of their heavyweight match against Russia, there was no defenseman Jonathan Ericsson again Apart from Ericsson, the rest of the players will come to play tonight.
Jonathan Ericsson still has trouble with his lower back injury. He was not on the ice when the Tre Kronor warmed up for the game against Russia tonight, and will be forced to sit out another game.
“Jonathan won’t play in the games against Russia or Italy. So we believe we’ll have him back against Latvia,” said Tre Kronor doctor Bjorn Waldeback.
It’s still unclear which way it will go for him.
“It’s hard to say if he’s on the right track. Clearly, in any case he’s not getting any worse than he’s been recently, anyway,” says Waldeback.
Otherwise, the injury situation is good. Victor Hedman and Henrik Zetterberg were at the warm-up and are expected to play despite injuries suffered in the game against Germany.
“There’s no problem, they can skate as usual,” says team doctor Bjorn Waldeback.
Expressen’s Henrik Sjoberg also reports that Johan Franzen didn’t practice on Thursday because he got slashed on the right foot against Germany, but Franzen insisted that he would play today, and Expressen’s Jonas Solberger and Axel Pileby both report that Franzen skated today and will play,
Aftonbladet’s Emil Karlsson reports that Staffan Kronwall will continue to play as a forward for Sweden.
Otherwise, Expressen’s Sjoberg caught quips from Zetterberg and Datsyuk about each other and their potential teammate, Calle Jarnkrok...
Henrik Zetterberg: My first memory of Pavel is at my first camp in Traverse City. It was the first time I saw him and played with him,” says zetterberg, and continues. “We both had difficulties with English. We understood each other pretty well anyway, and we spent lots of time together during the first two or three years before the lockout. We were the only ones at the same age as well,” says Zata.
How is Pavel, then?
“He got an incredibly good sense of humor. The more English he learned, the more people have learned how funny he is. He’s a very quiet man on the sidelines, and is a divinely-gifted hockey player,” said Zata.
Who’s the best, Malkin or Datsyuk?
“Overall Pavel is better. He won the Selke Trophy three years in a row, and that doesn’t happen unless you’re a really good hockey player.”
Last summer, Pavel and Henrik met on Swedish soil.
“We met most of the time at the Olympics and World Championships outside Detroit, but he was at my wedding, too, when I got married. It was fun, right in the middle of his hockey school he left Russia and flew back on Sunday. But he spends most of his time with his family and he likes to travel as well when he’s on vacation,” says Zetterberg.
When Sport-Expressen asked Datsyuk about Calle Jarnkrok, draft pick of Detroit, and potential teammate in the future, he says:
Heard the name before?
He’s a draft pick of Detroit.
“I’m too old to use my memory for those things,” says Datsyuk, and then he repeated it: “I’m too old to use my memory for that stuff.”
Tonight, the superstars Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk meet.
“It’s fast on the ice, you have to live on instinct and not focus on one player. One can’t just think about what Pavel does in practice and what you’ve seen him do. He’s divinely gifted, but Russia has a good team,” says Zetterberg.
Nyheter24.se’s Olle Liljeblad also captured Datsyuk’s media availability, as did Aftonbladet’s Hans Abrahamsson, while Expressen’s Magnus Nystrom spoke to Niklas Kronwall about battling Evgeni Malkin…
“I say Malkin [is better than Zetterberg or Datsyuk] right now. He had an awesome season. When Sidney Crosby was injured, it was Malkin who carried Pittsburgh,’ says Niklas kronwall, who is teammates with Zetterberg and Datsyuk.
You know the weight of what Kronwall said. He could easily select a teammate, but he emphasizes the “hockey monster” Evgeni Malkin.
Malkin won the NHL’s scoring title with 50 goals and 99 assists, totaling 109 points in 75 games. Malkin has registered 100 or more points in 3 of his last 6 seasons in the NHL. The dream threshold of 100 points was only passed by Mats Sundin once in his 18 years in the NHL, and Peter Forsberg hit it twice.
Malkin already has three 100-point seasons and he’s only 25. Malkin has already won the Stanley Cup and won its most valuable player award. Henrik Zetterberg’s 31 years old and also won it. Zetterberg won the Stanley Cup once.
In context, 33-year-old Pavel Datsyuk has won the Stanley Cup twice and was named the NHL’s best defensive forward three times. Kronwall celebrates and understands all three. But he describes Malkin a the worst threat to the Tre Kronor this evening.
“He’s extremely skilled. You have to play close to him early, don’t let him come into the zone with speed. He’s so incredibly strong and difficult to stop when he comes with speed and he likes that and skates through. He’s so strong and has a large range, so it’s difficult to take the puck away from him.
You’ve nailed many of the best players in the NHL. Did you get a really good hit on Malkin?
Kronwall was silent for a moment.
“No, I haven’t. He’s so hard to get at.”
It’s a little fun to see the respect between these superstars. Henrik Zetterberg also called Malkin “the world’s best player.”
And when I met Malkin once, he couldn’t stop talking about Zetterberg. Malkin said: “Zetterberg’s a player I like to watch. He’s the most complete, all over the ice, reads the game well, good defensively, one of the ones I study to see the details of the game.”
I’m running out of time to finish this report, so I’ll post Sport-Express’s Andrei Kuznetsov’s “exception” in an interview with Zetterberg just before the U.S. game, or during it…
Also from the World Championship, Wings coach Mike Babcock spoke to IIHF.coms’ Andrew Podnieks in the first part of a 2-part interview…
“Every time I come to the World Championship it feels special because I’ve done it. I’ve been here,” he begins a conversation which sheds light on just how he does what he does. The start, then, is the U20s, his first international opportunity. “When I got the World Junior job in 1997, Canada had won four in a row, and I was thinking, ‘Oh, my God, I have to make it five.’ The streak is going to stop eventually. You have to keep doing well to be reinforced to get the next opportunity. I’ve been blessed to have had really good players. I know there aren’t many players who are Triple Gold Club members, and to do it as a coach is tough. And to win the World Juniors as well, which isn’t part of the Triple Gold, is very special. I feel honoured.”
Babcock has coached in Canadian junior hockey and university hockey, coached in Great Britain, in the AHL and NHL. What is it that drives him? What is it about a job that can be so thankless that he embraces so whole-heartedly?
“The people,” he replies, without hesitation. “Think about it. You’re around the best of the absolute best. You’re around a bunch of hard drivers who are trying to maximize their potential. You’re in a team game in which everything has to work together for you to be successful. And the other thing I like about it is that you’re only as good as your last shift, your last game. What have you done for me lately? The best of the best in all fields, if they have that attitude, they’re maximized. The rest are getting way too comfortable and probably are not getting every ounce out of themselves that they could.”
Babcock’s energy and drive are the stuff of legend, but his philosophy allows him to stay younger in mind and spirit than perhaps many of his colleagues. Nonetheless, he takes a needed respite to rest his active hockey brain.
“I take a break every summer,” he explains. “You’d be amazed when I leave the rink and I go home to my family, they energize me. I think about them. I live in the present. When I’m at hockey, I think about hockey. When I’m home in the summer chasing bears or moose or hunting or water-skiing at the lake every morning at six-thirty, I think about that. I work, and I work hard, but it’s not even work – it’s what you do. But it’s not like I’m thinking about that 24/7. I’d be worn out and dead.”
Despite Babcock’s incredible success, the idea that if he never coached again he’d have accomplished all there is to accomplish doesn’t wash.
“Nah. I want to win the Cup again, and I want to have a shot of going back-to-back at the Olympics. The way I look at it is this: some people would say from the outside that type A personalities are never happy. To me, that’s where the fun is. You’re in the action. What could anyone do that is better and more fun than what I do?”
Back over on this side of the pond, Red Wings prospect Tomas Jurco registered two goals and three assists as the Saint John Sea Dogs defeated the Rimouski Oceanic 8-0, capturing the QMJHL championship for the second straight season.
Jurco finished the playoffs with a remarkable 13 goals, 16 assists and 29 points in just 16 games played, and the Sea Dogs will now advance to the Memorial Cup, hoping to defend that title as well.
And Jurco earned the “third star” selection from Yahoo Sports’ Neate Sager...
No. 3 star: Tomas Jurco, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
Jurco (2G-3A) was the second star in Saint John’s coronation, also notching five points in the Rimouski routing. The Detroit Red Wings high second-round choice scored twice in the first period, getting the first goal 4:14 in before knocking a bouncing puck into the net for the 4-0 tally. The Slovak also had assists on all three of [Stansilav] Galiev’s goals. The big night gave Jurco 29 points in 16 playoff games, fourth in the QMJHL behind Coyle, Galiev and Minnesota Wild prospect Zack Phillips.
And Sager pondered the Sea Dogs’ historical significance as they advance to the Memorial Cup, where they’ll play against the host team in the Shawinigan Cataractes and probably the London Knights and Edmonton Oil Kings.
Also of Red Wings-related note: According to NHL.com, we’ll find out whether Pavel Datsyuk advanced to the final 8 of EA Sports’ NHL 13 Cover Vote at 11 AM today;
• DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose penned a “By the Numbers” take on Jiri Hudler’s 2011-2012 season:
5: The number of goals Hudler scored this season, which is the second time in his career that he reached the 20-goal plateau, netting No. 20 in a 4-3 loss to Colorado on Feb. 25.
200: Recorded his 200th career point with an assist on Valtteri Filppula’s first-period goal in a 2-1 loss at Chicago on Feb. 21.
48: Finished ninth among Red Wings’ forwards with 48 hits, including four hits in a 3-2 win at Chicago on Jan. 8. His hit total was a personal career-high for the Czech forward.
4: He had a pair of four-game point streaks last season, including a season-opening streak when he totaled two goals and two assists in wins over Ottawa (Oct. 7), Colorado (Oct. 8), Vancouver (Oct. 13) and Minnesota (Oct. 15). He four goals and an assists between Dec. 31 and Jan. 8, helping the Wings to a 3-1-0 stretch.
• And the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan may have summed up Wings fans’ feelings about the World Championships pretty darn well in his blog:
There’s no question this is a tournament filled with fine hockey and is important in Europe. But for North American fans, this time of year, it’s extremely difficult to get motivated with the NHL playoffs raging right now.
Not to mention the start times, because of the obvious time difference, make it difficult to watch.
Update #0.5: Welcome to the “Mixed zone,” where the players have to literally run a gauntlet of media members, per IIHF.com’s Paul Romanuk:
Update #0.75: Crap! I forgot to re-post this: the Red Wings posted the following press release regarding their equipment sale, which will take place on Saturday:
RED WINGS TO HOLD EQUIPMENT AND MEMORABILIA SALE IN TROY ON SATURDAY
… Game-Worn Jerseys From the 2011-12 Season, Used and Unused Gear Available for Purchase; Equipment Manager Paul Boyer to Make Special Appearance …
Detroit, MI… The Detroit Red Wings will be holding an equipment and memorabilia sale at Hockeytown Authentics in Troy (1845 E. Big Beaver Rd.) this coming Saturday, May 12 from 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Fans will be able to obtain a piece of Red Wings history, as game-worn jerseys from the team’s record-setting 2011-12 campaign will be available for purchase. This past season’s jerseys were unique in that they featured a special patch honoring the memory of Brad McCrimmon, Ruslan Salei and Stefan Liv – former Red Wings family members who lost their lives in September’s Yaroslavl Lokomotiv plane crash tragedy in western Russia .
Various game-worn jerseys from previous seasons, used and unused equipment (sticks, skates, etc.), limited-edition autographed memorabilia items and select Detroit Tigers paraphernalia will also be available for purchase on Saturday. Red Wings Season Ticket Holders will have exclusive access to this special sale between 10:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. The general public will then be able to take advantage of the incredible items up for sale from 11:30 a.m. until the store closes at 7:00 p.m. Longtime Red Wings Equipment Manager Paul Boyer will be on hand to answer any and all queries from the Hockeytown faithful between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
Update #1: The Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell penned an article about Windsor’s annual Roger Neilson Coaching Clinic at the University of Windsor, which will take place from June 8-10:
Among the speakers at this year’s clinic, which costs $495 for the three days, will also be former Windsorite Mike Eaves (head coach University of Wisconsin), Buffalo’s director of pro scouting Jon Christiano and Sabres goalie coach Jim Corsi, Detroit Red Wings assistant coach Bill Peters, Larry Huras (coach Lugano, Swiss Elite League) and master of ceremonies Jim Ralph (Toronto Maple Leafs radio colour commentator).
Starkman is also awaiting word on final commitments from one or two NHL head coaches.
• Ken Holland is quoted about the second round in an uncredited article about the number of overtimes taking place in the second round:
The NHL playoffs have been so competitive this spring that players don’t seem to know when to quit. With two rounds still to be played, NHL teams have played 21 overtime games, the fifth-highest single-sea-son total in league history.
“This is the top eight teams from the East and West,” Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “The teams that lose lots of games in regulation during the regular season aren’t in this tournament.”
If two more games go into over-time, this season would rank third overall. The league record for over-times is 28, set in 1993 when the Montreal Canadiens won 10 consecutive overtime games en route to the Stanley Cup championship. There were 26 overtimes in 2001.
The Phoenix Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks played five overtime games in the first round.
• As the Sault Star’s Peter Ruicci notes, Wings prospect and Soo Greyhounds defenseman Ryan Sproul was named to the Ontario Hockey League’s Third All-Star Team on Thursday, and to say he has a bright future is a huge understatement:
In 61 games, the six-foot-four, 195-pounder produced 23 goals and 31 assists good for 54 points.
In voting done by league general managers, Sproul finished with 28 points, sixth-highest among defencemen. That put him on the third team alongside Beau Schmitz of Plymouth. Players received five points for a first-place vote, three for a second-place vote and one point for a third-place vote. With 93 points, Dougie Hamilton of the Niagara IceDogs earned a spot alongside London’s Scott Harrington (60 points) on the first team. The second-team defencemen are Ottawa’s Cody Ceci (55) and Kitchener’s Ryan Murphy (46). Schmitz finished with 30 points.
“It’s an incredible honour to be mentioned with guys like that,” Sproul said from his Mississauga home. “I think I became more of an all-round player this year and my goal is to just keep getting better, while helping make this team a winner.”
“We’re thrilled for Ryan,” said Greyhounds general manager Kyle Dubas. “This is well-deserved.”
A second-round draft choice (55th overall) of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings in 2011, Sproul finished his rookie season with 14 goals and 19 assists in 61 games. His plan is to come into Hounds training camp in late August bigger and stronger.
“I’m going to the gym four times a week,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to the season, for sure. I already miss not playing.”
“The best is yet to come for Ryan with regards to his impact in the OHL ,” Dubas added. “And we’re absolutely excited about that.”
• And Wings coach Mike Babcock spoke to Saskatoon’s News Talk 980’s John Gormley about his motivational book about the 2010 Olympics, Leave No Doubt:
Update #2: Here’s NBC Sports’ highlight clip of yesterday’s game, per Pro Hockey Talk’s Joe Yerdon:
“What do I think about the Russian team,” Johan Franzen asked. “This is a very strong team. First of all, we need to stop Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Datsyuk. They’re the two best players in the world. Although aside from Malkin and Datsyuk their team has a lot of skilled players. The main thing—don’t rush to the players, because they can pass to their teammates. Our main task—to make sure that the Russians don’t have the puck whenever possible. I don’t think our game plan will be different from our previous games. We will attack aggressively, try to keep the puck. But today, we face a serious contender. It wasn’t boring to play in the previous games, but we had to pay more attention to defense, and it’s hard to overcome those mistakes. But we haven’t lost our concentration, and the game against Russia, that’s not possible. Who can stand up to Alexander Svitov? We have Victor Hedman!”
“Who is better, Datsyuk or Zetterberg?” Johan Franzen reconsidered. “This is a very difficult season. In the NHL we play on the same team, have two great players, both are excellent passers, just at different speeds. Pavel is the less speedy player, but he’s smart and skates well. Zetterberg is a good strider. I would put them on the same level.”
• CAS.sk’s Juraj Kubis offers us a conversation with a slightly grumpy Tomas Tatar—and this is very, very roughly translated Slovak:
From anger, he broke his stick! Slovak forward Tomas Tatar threw his stick at the boards and it broke at today’s practice.
“It was terrible, I’m going to send it back to the manufacturer,” he said after losing two separate passes from Marcel Hossa.
Did you relax during your free time yesterday?
“I enjoyed it, it helped me and it should have. I enjoyed riding go-karts, I’ve already ridden them, but not as many laps as yesterday. It was interesting.”
You face two difficult, decisive games. What do you see?
“The entire team believes that we can advance to the quarterfinals. We want to win the remaining group games. We have many experienced players, and we won the last two games, which left us in a good mood.”
Two years ago in Germany, you also played Belarus, and they won going into the semifinals, taking second place. Do you remember that tournament?
“I remember. we had a tournament where the team played well, but we got it wrong. I hope we can win in Helsinki again. I think we have an experienced team now, and will make it to the quarterfinals. Then we will have met our goal, and can surprise.”
What do you expect from the Belarussians?
“They play good defensive hockey. They’re going to check and be unpleasant to play. We have to play well defensively.”
And the Swiss?
“A difficult opponent to hit, are dedicated, that game will be the hardest for us in the group.”
You’ve trained for breakaways, do you dare to do them in a possible shootout?
“It’s the coach’s decision, but if it comes to that possibility, I’ll definitely go. He believes I could. It’s good to have practiced these situations, we have to be ready for it.”
Update #4: Petr Mrazek also spoke to iSport.cz’s Robert Sara about his, well, goals:
The youngest player on the team: Saw Nagano, and says he wants to be like Hasek.
Stockholm. Five months ago, he captivated Czech fans, and many saw in him a new Hasek. Now Petr Mrazek, World Junior Championship hero, is a member of the senior team—as the third goalie.
He was the architect of not only the triumph that the Czechs still consider the biggest in their hockey history. Dominik Hasek was in his role cast as a man who unknowingly rose up. “I was six, I watched it on TV, and in Nagano, Dominik motivated me so much that I’ve said it once that I want to do so, too,” says Petr Mrazek.
Now he is 20 and a few months ago, when he shone at the World Junior Championship in Canada, many said he was the new Dominator. But he just says, “I listen to it, but Dominic was the only one.” But it’s clear that it matters to him.
The aforementioned championship named him the best goaltender of the tournament, and a Canadian newspaper reported that while he has a Czech passport, everyone in Canada would buy him a free beer. “I haven’t tried it,” Mrazek confesses. “The championship, I’ll remember it forever, because it was a great arena.”
However, even now at the tournament in Sweden, where he serves as the third goalie, he didn’t even have to come here. At seventeen, he decided to leave overseas without the consent of Vitkovice, and so the Czechs forbade him from representing their team. Everything changed only at the end of the last year when he was invited by federation president Krale.
“For anyone who can’t represent your country, it’s a difficult penalty. But I knew I couldn’t do anything about it, so I ignored it.” It’s long believed that it was because of his American tour…Ten years ago, when his father went to Canada for the first time, he brought home a puck machine. A special machine that fires pucks and allows goalies to practice alone. “Parents are the foundation of success, without them, it wouldn’t happen. With the puck machine I practiced goalie saves in the garden in Viktovice,” he says.
But that isn’t the end, at 13, his father sent him to Vancouver for a special camp. “I went with a friend. We couldn’t speak a word of English, but it was interesting and opened our eyes on how to train like Canadians. Suddenly, they were way ahead of me.”
At that point, he was still dreaming of the NHL instead of the Czech Extraliga, and his club, Viktovice. When at 17 years (already he and the Extraliga were arguing), he came as the third goalie at the World Junior Championship, was there. “I saw the goalies and knew that I could learn in America. I got an offer, and I talked about it with my parents, about school and stuff. It was a difficult decision, but I’m happy.”
He wont a spot with the Ottawa 67’s, and was drafted two years ago by the Detroit Red Wings, and he knew he’d made the right choice. At the end of this year, he experienced moments of fame in Canada, known for his emotional expressions after his teammates’ goals. “But I’m an awfully quiet man.”
Even then coach Hadamczik said that he’d like to try him out among adults, and when he refused to name Tomas Popperle to the team as the third goaltender, the chance came. “I didn’t hesitate because it’s an experience for next season. I can watch big games, practice with guys from the NHL. I know I’m just at the beginning, but I can show the coach, and he knows there’s a chance that I can play in the future.”
Maybe being born in Sweden, is the new Hasek.
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