Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings practice day news: Line shifting rules the day? Helm speaks

Updated 12x at 5:45 PM: The Red Wings’ coaches chose to shake things up in the personnel department a day after Detroit dropped a 3-2 decision to the Nashville Predators, and the Wings’ personnel tweaks ahead of a must-win Game 4 had nothing to do with the recalling of 11 Black Aces from Grand Rapids. MLive’s Ansar Khan provides the details thereof...

Wings’ Cleary is wearing red, skating on top two line. Bertuzzi and Nyquist skating on third line.
Wings skating with these lines: 51-40-26, 93-13-11, 14-8-44, 20-48-96; 5-18, 55-23, 27-52; 35. 29; extras 41, 39, 15, 4
Looks like Babcock has reunited Lidstrom with White. Ericsson is paired with Quincey.

Nyquist now on 4th line with Emmerton and Holmstrom. Miller on 3rd line with Abdelkader and Bertuzzi.

But during his morning presser, the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan reports that Wings coach Mike Babcock suggested that his tweaks don’t necessarily mean a thing:

Babcock indicated don’t put much stock in lines today at practice - sounds like how the game goes will decide who skates with whom
“Whoever plays the best is going to play the most. Doen’t matter what their name is.” - Babcock
Better start mandatory say Wings

The Red Wings website’s Twitter account provides more quips from the players and their coach…

Reminder: Tickets for Round 1, Home Game 3 (A.K.A. Wings-Preds Game 6) go on sale today at noon.
PHOTO: Justin Abdelkader gets his stretch on during the #Wings Monday practice at Joe Louis Arena. http://twitpic.com/9akho4
PHOTO: Mike Babcock huddles with his team during the #Wings practice on Monday. http://twitpic.com/9akn3l
Nick Lidstrom has been skating with Ian White, while Jonathan Ericsson is with Kyle Quincey for practice.
Howard: “It’s about bearing down a little bit more, digging in and finding a way to win.”
Howard: “It’s about living in the moment. Just playing the game and not looking too far ahead or behind.”
Lidstrom: “We know that tomorrow is going to be another tough game. We need to come out with a sense of urgency.”
Babcock: “We believe we have a good team and we’ll get ready for tomorrow.”
Babcock: “The night we won, our fourth line got two goals. It’s a game of breaks.”
Babcock was asked about the fact the #Wings last 10 losses have been by one goal. The response was beautiful ...
Babcock said that he doesn’t remember what happens in detail, but only if his teams win or lose. His words ... “Just win.”
Babcock on whether his team has created enough chances: “If they go in, we’ve had enough, if they didn’t go in, we didn’t have enough.”
Babcock said that he utilized who Lidstrom was paired (White, Ericsson) with based on matchups in Game 3.

ESPN’s Craig Custance also offers us some initial quips from Babcock...

Mike Babcock on the extracurricular activity going on in the other playoff series. “I just think it’s a bunch of guys having a good time.”
Babcock on the team’s penalty issues: “The great thing about this stuff is we’re in control of it, we’re going to fix it.”

Darren Helm also spoke to the media today, and NHL.com’s Brian Hedger provides our initial quips from Helm:

Helm said doctors have told him it should take about 3-4 months to fully recover ... #RedWings
Helm: “Kind of a fluke thing where I was coming down and his skate was coming up. Look at it as a fluke and move on from that.” #NHL
Helm on Radulov: “It was just a fluke thing. Nothing he really could’ve done.” #RedWings
Helm says he’ll likely wear kevlar sleeve when he gets back
Helm says he’s still in quite a bit of pain and hasn’t moved emotionally from disappointment of what happened yet. #RedWings
Helm on talking to Modano: “I’ll probably talk to him more in the future about it. I’m not quite over it yet.” #RedWings
Helm says initially he was scared leaving the ice, didn’t know how deep the cut was. Knew it was bad, though. #RedWings

ESPN’s Craig Custance took note of Helm’s comments as well…

Darren Helm speaking for first time since tendon injury: “I don’t think I’ve really gotten over what happened.”

As did the Tennessean’s Joshua Cooper...

Darren Helm talks http://pic.twitter.com/rW1yoeIS
Helm says 3-4 months to recover from the laceration
Calls the play a “fluke”
Helm on Radulov: “There’s nothing he could have done…”

MLive’s Ansar Khan also took note of Helm’s comments…

Helm: “Not really too happy with anything that’s going on. I don’t think I’ve gotten over what’s happened. Angry with situation.’‘
Helm: “Pain-wise, it still hurts. ... Battling back from my knee and then to have this happen, it’s tough.’‘
Helm expects full recovery, said it’ll take 3-4 months. Called it a fluke play (Radulov skate blade cut right forearm tendons).
Helm said he’ll wear Kevlar wrist protection in the future.
Helm said he’s talked a little to Modano, who had tendons severed in wrist last season. Modano said his golf swing is fine, so that’s good.

And here are a few more from DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose:

#RedWings C Darren Helm is speaking to the media about his season-ending injury that occurred in Game 1 of the #DetNsh series
Helm: “Maybe it’s becoming more of a fluke thing. His skate was coming up, It was a fluke and I’ll move from there.”
Helm hasn’t heard from Alex Radulov following the Game 1 accident, but doesn’t expect to hear from the #Predators forward, either.
Helm: “We were to the hospital right away and I was happy with how everything moved along (surgery-wise).
Helm did speak to Mike Modano about his wrist which was cut during the 2010-11 season with the #RedWings.
Helm: “I knew it was a pretty serious injury and I just wanted to get off (the ice).” I can’t bend my elbow right how.”
#RedWings C Darren Helm: “When I have to watch a game that’s the hardest. It’s difficult. Emotionally I’m just trying to handle it.”

Also of Red Wings-related note this afternoon: You want more of Barry Trotz insisting that the dastardly Red Wings are running his goalie? MLive’s Ansar Khan provides that quip…

“They were crashing the crease. They were in the blue paint. They were bumping into him,” Trotz said. “He doesn’t really get fazed by that. That’s something that’s got to stop in our series here. You’re seeing it all the time, there are guys in the blue paint. They aren’t pushed there, they’re just there.”

And Jimmy Howard offered an intriguing quip as to why the Predators’ power play finally clicked:

“They threw a little bit of a different look there at us,” Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “Instead of just working it on the half-wall, they were going down and in and bringing guys through. But we responded to it, and after we gave up that power-play goal we were really good on the PK.”

• CBS Detroit’s Doug Karsch both provides us with an awesome Pavel Datsyuk wallpaper and a look at the Wings’ pre-game playoff festivities:

• If you care, the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff offers another conversation with Predators defenseman and former Windsor Spitfire Ryan Ellis;

• In the alumni department, DetroitRedWings.com’s Zack Crawford spoke to former Red Wings and Maple Leafs organization members Dan Maloney and Walt McKechnie about their “Dual Citizenship,” and the Brighton Patch’s Nicole Krawcke reports that the Red Wings’ Alumni Association will hold one of their last games of the season this Saturday, April 21st, in Brighton, MI, playing against the Well Church;

• And in light of the Grand Rapids Griffins’ 3 playoff-less seasons, the Grand Rapids Press’s Peter J. Wallner offers 5 reasons why the Griffins should retain Curt Fraser’s coaching services:

1. Development. The Red Wings have depended more and more on player development within the organization. Instead of free agents, the roles have grown for homegrown talent such as forwards Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader, Cory Emmerton and Jan Mursak and defensemen Jonathan Ericsson, Jakub Kindl, – all developed under Fraser’s watch since 2008. The Red Wings also should have two others stick next season in Nyquist and Smith, and perhaps Chris Conner, Joakim Andersson and even young prospect Riley Sheahan.

2. Organizational shift. The Griffins no longer have a general manager with the resignation in June of Bob McNamara after 15 years with the organization. The Red Wings, between general manager Ken Holland and assistant GM Jim Nill, handled the signings and the callups. It will be Detroit’s decision whether to re-sign Fraser. There were 86 transactions listed this season, not counting players who will join the Red Wings as “black aces” for the rest of the NHL playoff run. It was a year of learning and adapting between the Red Wings and Griffins.

3. Injuries. The Red Wings have really been a banged up bunch this season, especially key players such as defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom (ankle bruise), forward Pavel Datsyuk (knee) and goaltender Jimmy Howard (groin). That meant the extended absence of players such as Smith, Nyquist, MacDonald, Doug Janik and Fabian Brunnstrom. The Griffins had their share sidelined, too, with Chris Minard (concussion) missing the first 26 games, Travis Ehrhardt (shoulder) out 31 games starting in October, Brunnstrom (concussion) out for eight games in March and Mitch Callahan (shoulder) missing the rest of the season after March 22. That’s a lot of juggling.

4. Goaltending. Howard’s groin and MacDonald’s back spasms caused pain back in Grand Rapids. MacDonald left the Griffins when Howard was first hurt, which hurt the team throughout February until Ty Conklin arrived. But when Conklin returned in mid-March, the Griffins didn’t get the performances they needed from Tom McCollum and Jordan Pearce to sustain a playoff drive.

5. Effort and organization. The Griffins seldom appeared to be going through the motions in the later stages of the season. On the occasions they did, Fraser called them out – publicly as a team and probably individually in the locker room. He runs hard practices, manages lines well in the face of change and is willing to honestly extend praise or criticism in evaluating the team’s play.

Update #1: We’ve already got a practice story in the mix from the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness, who quickly filed a blog entry regarding Jimmy Howard’s takes on both his play and the Wings’ need to rebound in game 4:

Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said in the locker room that he doesn’t feel he needs to steal a game in order for the Wings to win.

“I’m not thinking like that at all,” Howard said. “I think I need to go out there and give a little bit more. Not a lot just a little bit. We’ll find the back of the net. We’re two really close teams out there. We’re serving back and forth here, we have to go out and take care of business tomorrow night.”

Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne made 41 saves in Game 3, 18 of which came in the third period.

“When your standing down there, not getting much work at all, you’re thinking to yourself you have to come up big for the guys at least once,” Howard said. “I make the save last night and you look a lot better than you do.”

Howard gave up a 2-on-1 goal to Sergei Kostitsyn in the third period to give the Predators a 3-1 lead and give Nashville a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal series.

“Every playoff game is a must win,” Howard said. “It’s a sprint to 16. When we drop the puck tomorrow night we need to play like we did the last five minutes of the second period and all of the third. It seems whoever scores first wins and whoever it playing catchup hockey isn’t sticking to their game plan.”

Update #2: Here’s more from Helm, via the Tennessean’s Joshua Cooper:

Darren Helm discussed his lacerated forearm, which he suffered in Game 1, today with reporters for the first time this series. And he absolved Alexander Radulov, whose skate sliced Helm, of any blame or wrongdoing in the situation that led to Helm’s injury. Not that Radulov knowingly did anything wrong on the play to begin, but it was still a positive gesture by Helm toward Radulov.

“It just happened where I kind of came down and his skate was coming up. That’s all I can look at it as a fluke and move on from that,” Helm said.

Helm’s right arm was immobilized in some sort of black splint or cast. He said recovery will take 3-4 months.

“It was pretty much, as soon as I went off the ice, I looked down and I saw a pretty big gash and blood was coming out pretty good,” Helm said. “As soon as I looked down I knew it was a fairly serious injury and I wanted to get off and I couldn’t do anything out there with one arm.”

And here’s the Detroit Free Press‘s Helene St. James’ Helm update:

“Not really too happy with anything that’s going on right now with myself,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve really gotten over what happened. I’m still pretty angry with the situation. It still hurts quite a bit. Pain-wise, it still hurts a lot. Having to watch, again, is probably the worst thing of all.”

Helm had just come back to play after being sidelined since March 17 by a sprained MCL. He was out on a penalty kill when, by fluke, he got cut by the skate blade of Nashville’s Alexander Radulov.

“The way I tried to battle back after my knee, and to come back and have this happen first period, it’s pretty tough.”

Helm underwent surgery to repair lacerated tendons that same night, at Vanderbilt Medical Center. He didn’t suffer any nerve damage, but he is out for the playoffs and immobilized in a big cast for at least another month.

“They said I should make a full recovery, so I’ve got to be positive with that,” Helm said.

The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan also spoke to Helm:

“I was scared, I didn’t know how severe it was, whether it was really deep or hit a nerve or artery, how bad it was,” Helm said. “As soon as they slowed the bleeding and I was able to wrap my head around the injury, I got frustrated and mad. I just sat there by myself and took some deep breaths.”

Helm had made a speedy recovery from a knee sprain to get back into the lineup for Game 1. To have such a devastating injury occur after having only played three minutes of the first period was tough to take. And it still is for Helm.

“It’s not easy … when I get away from the game it’s easier for me,” Helm said. “When I have to watch a game, that’s when it’s hardest. There’s a lot of hockey being watched in my house right now. It’s difficult emotionally. I’m just trying to handle it.”

Helm said he’s talked briefly to former Wing Mike Modano, who had a similar injury last year, and missed roughly three months — which is expected to be the timeframe for Helm’s recovery. Helm is expected to be ready for the start of training camp in September.

Helm hasn’t heard from Predators forward Alexander Radulov, whose skate came down as Helm’s arm on the “fluke play”, and doesn’t expect to.

“There’s nothing he could have done, just a fluke thing,” Helm said. “An accident, move on.”

In terms of the rest of Monday’s practice news, MLive’s Ansar Khan took note of the line change caveat issued by Babcock…

Danny Cleary practiced on a top-two line with Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen, while Todd Bertuzzi skated on the third line with Justin Abdelkader and Drew Miller.

“(Gustav) Nyquist was in the top six group in the game (Sunday), Bert and Cleary played on the bottom six last night, we’ll see what happens tomorrow,’’ Babcock said. “(Chris) Conner was playing right wing with those guys (Datsyuk, Franzen), too and then he was centering them, but I don’t think he’s in tomorrow, so I wouldn’t spend a lot of time worrying about that.’‘

Babcock also reunited Nicklas Lidstrom with Ian White on defense, pairing Jonathan Ericsson with Kyle Quincey.

“We did last night during the game, they played lots together,’’ Babcock said. “But we like Ericsson and Lidstrom together on match-ups, too, and when we need the puck moved a little crisper … we thought Whitey was having a good game. So all these questions about who’s playing with who, I’m going to watch and whoever plays the best is going to play the most. It doesn’t matter to me what their name is.’‘

As did the Free Press’s Helene St. James:

“Conner was playing right wing with those guys, too, and then he was centering them as well, and I don’t think he’s in tomorrow, so I wouldn’t spend all that time worrying about that,” Babcock said. “Nyquist was in the top-six group during the game and Bert and Cleary played, if you want, in the bottom six last night. I don’t know. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

And this shouldn’t surprise us one bit:

In an utterly unsurprising development after Detroit Red Wings practice today, players talked about how they have to stay out of the penalty box - and getting off to a good start when next they meet the Nashville Predators. The Wings trail, 2-1, headed into Tuesday’s Game 4, falling just short Sunday. Henrik Zetterberg scored with less than a minute to play in regulation, part of a 19-shot barrage the Wings sent the way of Pekka Rinne.

“Getting off to a good start, especially in the playoffs, is important,” Brad Stuart said. “We saw that our desperation level from the first to the third is noticeable, the difference, because we needed a goal in the third. So why don’t we have that same kind of desperation from the beginning of the game, where yeah, we need to get the first goal, let’s have that attitude and come out and throw pucks to the net, go to the net, create some havoc in their zone, instead of waiting till we’re down a goal and trying to come back.”

The Windsor Star posted today’s first video in the form of an interview with Nicklas Lidstrom (turn your volume up for this one):

And on the Predators’ side of things, this was bound to happen, per the Tennessean’s Joshua Cooper:

Hal Gill skating at practice. #preds #RedWings #NHL
This is Gill’s first full team practice of the series #preds #NHL #RedWings

Update #3: Cooper must be able to update his blog via his smart phone:

Hal Gill is currently on the ice and skating with the Predators. This is Gill’s first full team practice with Nashville this series. He has missed every game with a “lower body” injury after blocking a shot in his leg, foot, ankle area from Sheldon Souray on April 5 against Dallas.

Also, Barry Trotz has shifted and moved around the lines somewhat, moving David Legwand down to one of the bottom two units and shifting Jordin Tootoo out of the rotation. Here they are:

S. Kostitsyn – Fisher – Erat

A. Kostitsyn – Spaling – Radulov

Bourque – Gaustad – Hornqvist

Halischuk – Legwand – Yip


And he’s not sure if Gill is in, per his Twitter account:

Gill practicing with Hillen and Bouillon with Ellis. Makes me wonder if Gill is out tomorrow
Klein is also playing with Josi at practice

• In a very different vein, from RedWingsFeed, puck the Media’s Steve LePore reports that the Wings-Predators game did very well in the ratings department;

• The Grand Rapids Press’s Peter J. Wallner spoke to a few of the Wings’ Black Aces about joining the big club…

The 11 players are goaltender Tom McCollum; defensemen Travis Ehrhardt, Garnet Exelby, Doug Janik, Brian Lashoff and Brendan Smith, and forwards Joakim Andersson, Louis-Marc Aubry, Fabian Brunnstrom, Francis Pare and Tomas Tatar.

“It will be great to be up there and be a part of the playoffs, work hard and see what happens,” said Andersson, a co-captain on the Griffins who spent a week with Detroit in late December and again for two days in March for five games total.

Andersson, a center who finished fourth on the team with 51 points (21 goals), welcomed the opportunity whether he plays or not.

“Just being around those guys, to watch the games and learn what I can from all the guys there,” Andersson said. “During the games I was there, guys and coaches were telling me what to do and what I can do to be a better player on that level.”

Brunnstrom, a forward who had 12 goals and 35 points in Grand Rapids, will be making his seventh trip to Detroit. He was called up on six occasions this season and also played in five games.

“Maybe I will watch some of better guys on Detroit and see what they do differently from the regular season,” Brunnstrom said. “I can see how they prepare, maybe off the ice, see if they’re the same or if they change or what. Maybe I can learn something out of that which could be valuable in the future.”

• And the Detroit News’s David Guralnick provides our first picture of Darren Helm:

As usual, photo courtesy of the Detroit News’s David Guralnick

Update #3.5: Now Cooper reports that Hal Gill left the ice after skating for 20 minutes…

Update #4 : WXYZ’s Tom Leyden filed a report about Helm…

“I’m not really to happy with anything that’s going on right now with me,” said Helm.  “I don’t think I’ve really gotten over what happened.  I’m still pretty angry with the situation.”

Helm had just returned to the lineup after missing a stretch due to a sprained left knee suffered against San Jose on March 17.

“It still hurts quite a bit,” said Helm.  “Pain-wise, it still hurts a lot.  Having to watch, again, is probably the worst thing of all.  The way I battled back from my knee and to have this happen in the first period, it’s pretty tough.”

And WXYZ posted a video report regarding Helm’s comments:

Helm also spoke to DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose about his recovery process:

“They said it should make a full recovery so I got to be positive with that,” said Helm, wearing a black immobilizer on his forearm. “I’ll start doing some rehab stuff pretty soon and they said it will probably take about three to four months until it’s fully recovered.”
Helm is the second Wings’ player to have an arm seriously cut by a skate blade. Mike Modano suffered a significant wrist injury when he was cut by a skate blade in November 2010.

“I don’t know how many times this has happened in the NHL in the past 10 or so years,” Helm said. “Twice to our team in the last two, which maybe might be more than a fluke-thing. It just happened.”

Last December, Valtteri Filppula missed a game when he suffered a deep laceration to his lower right shin in a game at Colorado. Ever since, the Wings’ forward has worn Kevlar socks to prevent similar injury in the future. Helm said he’ll begin wearing Kevlar wrist protection.

“I’ve seen a couple guys wearing Kevlar-like sleeves with wrist guards,” he said. “That is definitely something that I’ll be wearing in the future.”

Update #5: Here’s even more from Helm, via the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness:

“At first I was scared,” Helm said. “I didn’t know how severe it was. I didn’t know if it went really deep and hit a nerve or artery. As soon as they slowed down the bleeding I was able to wrap my head around the injury, how long I’d be out. That’s when I got frustrated, I got mad. I kind of sat there by myself and took some deep breaths and calmed myself down.”
Helm is the third wing to suffer an injury due to a skate blade in two seasons. Earlier this season Valtteri Filppula was cut on his lower right shine by a skate blade. Last year Mike Modano suffered a similar injury and missed roughly three months And this has gotten Helm to seriously consider wear more protection on the ice.

“I don’t know how many times this has happened in the NHL in the past 10 or so years, but it’s twice to our team in the last two, which maybe might be more than a fluke thing. It just happened where I came down as the steel was coming up. I have seen some Kevlar wrist guards that have been coming out,” Helm added. “I saw Fil wearing one. I’ve seen a couple guys wearing Kevlar-like sleeves with wrist guards. That is definitely something that I’ll be wearing in the future.”
“It’s not easy coming here,” Helm added. “When I get away from the game, it’s a little bit easier for me. When I have to watch a game, that’s when it’s the hardest. There aren’t a lot of people watching at my house right now. It’s difficult.”

By the end of the press conference Helm did find a way to crack a smile when he was asked if he had talked to Modano.

“I did ask him how his golf swing was and it didn’t seem to affect him so I’m happy with that,” Helm said. “I’ll talk to him a little bit more probably when things settle down for myself. Like I said, I’m not quite over what happened. I’ve definitely got one arm right now,” Helm added. “I can’t do anything with it. I try to keep it elevated. I can’t really bend my elbow. It still hurts. I’ve got some people at home helping me out right now which is good. It’s one arm. I can’t use my hand at all right now.”

The Red Wings’ website has also begun to post some off-day videos, though Ian White’s comments are the only ones available for the moment:

Update #5.5: The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan filed an off-day report which focuses on what the Wings feel is most important to focus upon going into Game 4…

“It’s a priority for everyone, you want to get started on time,” said coach Mike Babcock, who noted teams that score first during the regular season win 80 percent of their games — and it doesn’t change much in the playoffs. You have to start on time for sure and it’s a priority each and every night,” Babcock said. “And it’s going to be a priority tomorrow night.”

Staying out of the penalty box also was a recurring theme during Monday’s practice. The Wings have been whistled for 20 penalties in this series through three games — a surprisingly high number for the least penalized team in the league.

“We have to stay out of the penalty box,” defenseman Ian White said. “We have lot of emotion but we have to control it.”

• The Tennessean’s Joshua Cooper reports that the Predators plan on making some tweaks as well, though they might not involve adding Hal Gill to the lineup…

Hal Gill skated for part of Nashville’s practice Monday. It was the first team practice Gill had taken part in since the playoffs started. He exited midway through drills when they became more contact/shooting-oriented. Gill hasn’t played in the postseason this year with a “lower body” issue.

“He’ll be just day-to-day and we’ll see where he is tomorrow,” Coach Barry Trotz said. “He said he felt a lot better. I said don’t push it too hard. He was fine, he actually stayed out there for quite a while.”

Also, Trotz has shifted and moved around the lines somewhat, moving David Legwand down to the fourth unit and putting Jordin Tootoo out of the rotation. Paul Gaustad got put on the third line and Nick Spaling moved up to the second unit.

“We might just look to change things a little bit, a little different plan,” Trotz said.

• And these quotes from Johan Franzen, per NHL.com’s Brian Hedger, worry me:

Did Franzen lose his cool jabbing at bench: “No. [Legwand] held me. If he does it again, I’m going to do it again.” #NHL #RedWings #Preds
Franzen: We’re a good team 4-on-4 so if he’s going to do that again, I’m happy to do it. Maybe I’ll drag him out onto the ice and sit on him
Franzen on stick jab and #Preds interference: “The ref wouldn’t have called him if I wouldn’t have done that.” #RedWiings #NHL
Franzen: “You know what’s a penalty, but it gets called sometimes and sometimes it’s not getting called.” #RedWings #Preds

MLive’s Ansar Khan confirms Franzen’s remarks.

Update #5.75: NHL.com’s Hedger and the National Post’s Michael Traikos posted Helm stories as well.

Update #6: NashvillePredators.com’s Jay Levin filed a pre-practice update update:

Lines from today’s practice:
  White - Fisher centering Erat and S. Kostitsyn
  Gray - Spaling centering A. Kostitsyn and Radulov
  Yellow - Gaustad centering Bourque and Hornqvist
  Green - Legwand centering Halischuk and Yip
  Burgundy - Smith centering Tootoo and Wilson

- For the first time this series, Hal Gill practiced with the full group. Coach Trotz mentioned that Gill skated longer than the coaches had anticipated he’d be able to today. He’ll be a game day decision tomorrow, but seems to be getting close to returning to game action.

- Gaustad was complementary of his two new linemates, Bourque and Hornqvist, commenting on how hard they play and their ability to retrieve pucks, especially on the forecheck.

• The National Post’s Michael Traikos offers some quips from Trotz...

#Preds coach Trotz on Gaustad switching hands for faceoffs: “I saw one guy in junior do that and I thought it was crazy.”

And the Wings…

#Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard on #Pens #Flyers series: “Whoever wins, they should burn the tape and move on.”
#Red Wings Nicklas Lidstrom on Brendan Shanahan: “I think whatever he does, he’s going to have a happy side and an unhappy side.”
#Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock on what it means to lose last 10 playoff games by one goal: “It means we’ve lost by one goal.”

And the Wings’ website has finally posted a slate of off-day videos, starting with Helm’s presser…

Some post-practice comments from Cory Emmerton…


And Wings coach Mike Babcock’s off-day presser:


And this? From Hedger? It just makes me angry:

Weber on getting booed all game: “Whatever happens, you’ve just got to be ready for the next game and we’re gonna be.” #Preds #RedWings

Oh boo hoo.

Update #7: NHL.com posted an off-day video report from Dave Strader…

Via RedWingsFeed ESPN posted a video of Justin Abdelkader speaking to Craig Custance…


And DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose filed an extremely thorough article about the Wings’ concerns regarding their discipline: as they try to pounce upon the Predators tomorrow:

“I thought someone told me it was like 80 percent of the time during the regular-season when you score first you win, so I don’t think that’s any different now,” said coach Mike Babcock, whose team went 32-9-3 when scoring first this season. “It’s a priority for everyone, you want to get started on time. We lost the first four face-offs (Sunday), that led to forechecks … anyway you look at it that leads to momentum, that probably leads to you taking a penalty and more momentum, so you got to start on time for sure and it’s a priority each and every night.”

While eight other playoff teams have collected a dozen game-misconducts or match penalties between them already in the conference quarterfinals, the Wings uncharacteristically are third among the 16-team playoff field with 19 minor penalties. Only Philadelphia and Vancouver has more with 20 minors each. Their 6.3 minor penalties per game is their highest playoff total for the Wings since the 2006 playoffs. That spring, they averaged seven minors per game and lost to the Edmonton Oilers in a six-game opening round series.

“I think you see that in playoff hockey, where your intensity is a lot higher and your sense of urgency is up a little bit too,” Wings coach Nicklas Lidstrom said. “Sometimes emotions take over. That’s where you’ve got to keep your cool and not get sucked into some of the penalties. You can still react to it, but you have to be aware of it and you have to have that in the back of your mind that you can’t do certain things now.”

Emotion took over late in the second period of Sunday’s Game 3 after Johan Franzen checked Ryan Suter in front of the Predators’ bench. From there, David Legwand reach over the bench and grabbed the back of Franzen’s jersey, to which he retaliated, spearing the Detroit native with his stick. While both sides received minor penalties, the Wings gained the upper hand on the ensuing 4-on-4, which resulted in Pavel Datsyuk’s goal that cut the Wings’ deficit to 2-1 at 15:03 of the period.

“He held me. If he does it again, I’m going to do it again,” said Franzen, who is second in the playoffs with four minors penalties. “He got called for it and I’m happy for that. We’re a good team 4-on-4, so if he’s going to do that again, I’m happy to do it. Maybe I’ll drag him out onto the ice and sit on him. I would take that any day. If I could get Pav and Hank out there playing 4-on-4 instead of 5-on-5 you’d play like that all day if you could. A lot more room to create stuff.”
Though the Predators owned the league’s best power play during the regular-season, the Wings have limited them to 1-for-16 on the man-advantage through the first three game But without two of their top penalty-killers – Darren Helm (lacerated forearm) and Lidstrom, who isn’t playing on the unit with his sore ankle – the Wings can’t continue to provide opportunities for the Predators’ specialty team to grab gifts.

“It is called a little tighter but at the same time we have to be more disciplined, can’t be taking stick penalties or undisciplined penalties, we just got to be smarter,” center Justin Abdelkader said. “They have a good power play, we can’t keep going on the kill and waste time 5-on-4 when we could be playing 5-on-5.”

Update #8: MLive’s Brendan Savage reports that Darren Helm, who’s right-handed, is at least not on his own regarding learning how to use one hand, his left hand, for the next two or three months:

“I’ve definitely got one arm right now. I can’t do anything with it. I try to keep it elevated. I can’t really bend my elbow right now. It still hurts. I’ve got some people at home helping me out right now, which is good. I can’t use my hand at all right now.”

And the London Free Press’s Morris DallaCosta reports that Barry Trotz is still trying to bait the refs regarding Pekka Rinne “getting ran”:

“There isn’t the same level of nasty stuff going on [as other series],” Trotz said. “It’s very controlled and calculated. Detroit likes to get into the crease and bump Pekka Rinne whenever they can but that’s Detroit, we know that. There’s some things we like to do to Howard as well.

Update #9: Okey dokey, NHL.com’s Brian Hedger is providing us with the first substantial Predators off-day news, confirming that Hal Gill practiced, that Trotz shook up his lines, and he notes that the Predators’ blueline is out-scoring Detroit’s:

Both teams tout active, productive two-way defense corps led by stars in the top pairing. So far, though, it’s been the Predators receiving the bigger edge from their blue line. Nashville has gotten three goals and two assists from its defense, led by captain Shea Weber’s two goals, while Detroit has gotten just one goal, by Ian White, and three assists. It hasn’t just been offensively, however. Weber and Ryan Suter are logging a lot of minutes without injured veteran Hal Gill playing, and the second two pairings also have contributed big plays and points.

“We try and chip in whenever we can,” said Kevin Klein, who had a goal and an assist in Game 3, and also saved a sure game-tying goal by deflecting a shot with the shaft of his stick. “Obviously [Suter and Weber] carry most of the load offensively. They create so many opportunities while playing solid defense. They’re two of the best defensemen in the world and we’re lucky to have them.”

Not just for the obvious reasons, either.

“It’s nice for the next four or five guys to just fly under the radar and do our thing and let them get all the praise,” Klein said. “It’s good. It keeps the pressure off the young guys, too.”

Star goalie Pekka Rinne helps the Predators’ defense as well, but said Monday that it’s a two-way street—especially in Nashville’s defense-oriented system.

“They’ve been our backbone for a long, long time and they’re always there for us,” Rinne said of his defensemen. “They’re creating offense as well as making a lot of great defensive plays and blocking shots and giving our forwards pucks at full speed for good breakouts and all that stuff. It’s a really big part of our team.”

And shifting focus back to the WIngs for a moment, WXYT’s Jeff RIger filed a pretty lengthy off-day report…

Head coach Mike Babcock was questioned about forward Valteri Filppula numerous times throughout his media session on Monday morning. Filppula has failed to be a plus player in 3 games and has registered just 6 shots while playing with Henrik Zetterberg and Jiri Hudler the majority of the time. “He does what he thinks is right” Babcock said. “He’s been a good player all year long; he has to be a good player for us right now. The whole key at this time of year is real simple, if you are on the outside you are not going to score, if you are on the inside you’re going to score. When you pass up a chance to shoot the puck when are you getting your next chance to shoot the puck?”

There has been a lot of chatter about goalie Jimmy Howard, a guy that many fans blame for the game 3 loss. Howard was unable to stop a 3 on 1 break in the 3rd period which resulted in a Sergei Kostitsyn goal that turned out to be the game winner. Howard was asked at practice if opposing goalie Pekka Rinne has outplayed him and if so, by how much? “I don’t know, that’s for you guys to discuss, the chat rooms and on the radio.” Howard said. “I just need to go out there and give the guys another game. Just give them a chance, as a goalie that is all you are looking to do, just give your team a chance.”

As much as the Wings want to move on from the end of game 1, an incident where defenseman Shea Weber smashed Zetterberg’s head against a turnbuckle, the media will not let them. Captain Nick Lidstrom was asked after the morning skate if he believes Weber is a dirty player? Lidstrom replied “I think it was a dirty think that he did to Hank, but besides that I don’t know if he’s a dirty player? Not from my recollection….no.”

Lidstrom also talked about the multitude of penalties the Wings have been called for in just three games of this series. In case you are wondering, there have been a total of 39 penalties called, 21 have been on Detroit. “It happens in all playoff series one way or the other” said Lidstrom. “That is where you try to keep your cool and not do it. We have seen in other series too where a lot of stuff has been going on where you kind of get sucked into things. Teams try to do that in the playoffs, they try to take advantage of anything they can and especially get a power play goal or get somebody in the box.”

Of course a story of this year’s playoffs has been penalties and the number of fights, dirty hits and suspensions that have gone along with it. Babcock was asked if this year’s postseason is more violent than in years past? “No” the head coach said. “I just think it’s a bunch of guys having some good times. I like watching it, looks like fun to me.”

As well as interviews with Nicklas Lidstrom and Jimmy Howard which won’t regrettably embed in the same entry. Not sure why WXYT’s code acts the way it does.

Update #10: ESPN’s Craig Custance took note of the Wings’ one-goal loss problems…

Detroit’s loss to the Predators in Game 3 was their 10th consecutive playoff loss by one goal. The last time an opponent beat the Red Wings in the playoffs by two or more goals was on April 25, 2010, when the Coyotes beat the Red Wings 5-2 in Game 6. For Mike Babcock, it’s another reminder of just how delicate the balance is between success in failure during the playoffs has become.

“There’s not many series going on where they score a touchdown each game; [Pittsburgh and Philadelphia] is the first one in a long time,” he said. “One shift is going to turn the game.”

Captain Nicklas Lidstrom said the stat points out the danger of surrendering an early lead and trying to play catch up during the postseason, something Detroit had the talent to do during the regular season.

“We’ve been trying to come back from behind and not having the lead in some of the games, that’s hurting you,” Lidstrom said.

NHL.com’s Hedger offered substantial quotes from Babcock about both “getting started on time” and penalties…

“I thought someone told me it was like 80 percent of the time during the regular season when you score first you win, so I don’t think that’s any different now,” Babcock said after Monday’s practice. “It’s a priority for everyone. You want to get started on time. We lost the first four faceoffs last night. That led to forechecks … any way you look at it, that leads to momentum. That probably leads to you taking a penalty and more momentum, so you got to start on time for sure and it’s a priority each and every night.’‘

The Predators owned the faceoff battle early in Game 3, winning 75 percent of the draws through the first 15 minutes of the game and taking a 1-0 lead on Shea Weber’s power-play goal just 2:48 into the game. The Red Wings again struggled with committing early penalties in that game and it wound up costing them with not only Weber’s goal, but lost puck possession and offensive flow. Johan Franzen was called for two slashing penalties in the second period, with the second one leading to a five-on-three Nashville power play.

The Red Wings killed it and actually gained some momentum from it, but that’s not the ideal way Babcock wants his team to get its offense going—especially playing without injured penalty-killing forwards Patrick Eaves and Darren Helm.

“When I look at the tape those are both penalties,” Babcock said of the infractions by Franzen and Kyle Quincey to create Nashville’s 23-second two-man advantage. “Stay out of the box. Real simple. It takes a ton of energy to play four against five. Normally we could have [Eaves and Helm]. They eat up a ton of those minutes, so now [Pavel Datsyuk] and [Henrik Zetterberg] are doing it. I’d rather have them shooting it in the net than keeping it out of the net, so it’s a waste of energy just because I was careless with my stick. But the great thing about this stuff is we control all of it and we’re going to fix it.’‘

If they don’t, it could be more of the same as the two losses to the Predators—both of which saw Detroit fall behind early while trying to find its footing following multiple penalties. That’s why with a pivotal Game 4 on tap Tuesday, the Red Wings really are focusing on hearing the alarm this time.

“Both teams right now have teams that can really frustrate the opposing team [with a lead],” Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard said. “It seems like right now, whoever scores first has the momentum throughout the game.”

And he offers some of Babcock’s quips about his potential lineup changes, starting with Ian White playing alongside Nicklas Lidstrom:

“We like Ericsson and Lidstrom together on match-ups, too,” Babcock said. “When we need the puck moved a little crisper … we thought [White] was having a good game.”

Prior to Lidstrom’s injury, he and White had plus/minus ratings in the upper 20s and were sitting near the top of the League in that stat.

In other apparent lineup switches Monday, veteran Danny Cleary worked as a top-six forward with star center Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen on the second line. That moved Todd Bertuzzi to the third line at right wing to work with center Justin Abdelkader and rookie Gustav Nyquist.

“All these questions you’re asking about—who’s playing with who—I’m going to go to the game and I’m going to watch, and whoever plays the best is going to play the most,” Babcock said. “It doesn’t matter to me what their name is.’‘

Fox 2 also posted a video of Babcock and Helm’s pressers…

And the Predators’ website posted clips of Sergei Kostitsyn…

Pekka Rinne…


And coach no-neck speaking to the media:


Update #11: One more update. The Detroit News’s Daniel Mears posted a Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


42jeff's avatar

Babcock indicated don’t put much stock in lines today at practice - sounds like how the game goes will decide who skates with whom

There ya go Mikey.  Who needs chemistry anyway?

Posted by 42jeff from The greater Howard City, MI metroplex on 04/16/12 at 02:02 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Aside from mentioning that I’m not a fan of the “Fire Babcock” line of thinking, which is an “easy out” in my opinion that took root in November….

He’s being honest, and, given Barry Trotz’s extremely technical, by-the-book line matching, smart. When your horses aren’t producing (see: Filppula, Hudler, Bertuzzi, Cleary, everybody not named Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen, Lidstrom or Kronwal, as usual), you make changes and hope that the horses respond.

To me, again, the team’s still struggling to regain the form that disappeared in February, they desperately miss Helm and Eaves in terms of forechecking and defensive play, and Babcock and Lidstrom, among others, are doing their damnedest to try and right the ship.

If it does in fact sink, there will be more than enough blame to go around, and we should keep in mind that whether one likes it or not, the head coach is going to be here until he chooses to no longer coach here, if that ever happens. I believe in him.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 04/16/12 at 02:09 PM ET

Jeff  OKWingnut's avatar

I believe in him.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 04/16/12 at 01:09 PM ET

He can only play the roster he has been provided.

But the “fire Babcock” crowd isn’t all wrong.

There is a leadership element missing - somewhere.

The evidence has been repeated often this season, and here in the playoffs too.  DET, all to often, fail to start the games on time.

Part of that blame has to be on the coaches.  Part of the blame on the GM for not getting the right players.  Part of the blame on the players themselves.

Posted by Jeff OKWingnut from Quest for 12 on 04/16/12 at 02:49 PM ET

jimathor's avatar

Totally agree Jeff, I think the leadership issue is, as I said last night, on the team.

Even when Z gets his head rammed against the boards, they’re all so awfully nice and polite about it.

They need to get angrier and louder in the dressing room, or acquire someone who will.

Posted by jimathor from The land of Sir Humblepatch of Bumblehound on 04/16/12 at 03:09 PM ET

SolidTG7's avatar

They’ve scored 7 goals in 3 games, no one is really producing much of anything.

Posted by SolidTG7 on 04/16/12 at 03:29 PM ET


I think I like those forward lines.  In the other thread i know there was some complaining about Nyquist being “demoted” to the bottom 6, but i think him and bertuzzi on the third line makes that line more of a threat.

Posted by jwad on 04/16/12 at 03:38 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

This is all next year Wings stuff.  Are there any Black Aces that can play better than a Wing on the roster.  I say YES.  That is Babs decision and will have to live with his decisions. 

Hope he is right but ...

“No matter what his name is.. By Babs”  is total BS and the root of some of the Wings problems.

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 04/16/12 at 03:39 PM ET

DocF's avatar

Aside from mentioning that I’m not a fan of the “Fire Babcock” line of thinking, which is an “easy out” in my opinion that took root in November….

from our Fearless Leader.

George, I will admit that I am not a fan of Babcock one little bit.  I have been in favor or replacing him for at least three years.  He does not communicate with his players.  He is stubborn, more stubborn than our dachshund, actually.  His thinking gets in ruts and he does not seem to be able to get out of them.

Now for a short run, like the Olympics, he is great.  But, look at the players and staff he had.  I could coach that group and win.

I have been thinking about this for quite awhile now.  I want Jiri Fischer as head coach.  I would love to see Kris Draper as his lead assistant.  Bring in Mark Howe to coach the defense.  These guys played with intensity, are smart guys, and can relate to the players.  It will work.


Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 04/16/12 at 04:09 PM ET


Whenever the Wings talk about something, I expect the opposite. Slow start once again.

Posted by Jeremy from Toledo, OH on 04/16/12 at 05:55 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

George, thanks for all the great stuff!

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 04/16/12 at 07:09 PM ET


Ericsson is paired with Quincey.

This is only for practice. Right? It should better be only for practice…

Posted by Alex on 04/16/12 at 08:34 PM ET

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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.


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