The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/26/11 at 02:27 PM ET
Updated 4x at 3:10 PM with more video and pictures: Red Wings forward Johan Franzen’s ankle sprain is apparently a little more severe than the Wings had hoped, but MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that Franzen did skate again today…But it’s entirely possible that, should the Wings’ second-round series start on Thursday, Franzen will be touch-and-go:
“He’ll play if he’s ready and if he’s not ready he won’t play. It’s just that simple,’’ [Wings coach Mike] Babcock said. “But it’s my anticipation that he’ll be ready. Now, I’ve been wrong before, but the Mule’s going to play.’‘
Franzen, who hurt the ankle in Game 2 vs. Phoenix, when he sustained facial injuries on the hit by Shane Doan, said he’s feeling “better and better.’‘
“It’s not hurting, that’s for sure,’’ Franzen said. “Skated a little bit yesterday, a little today. Hopefully go a little harder tomorrow.’‘
Franzen said it would be good to get a full practice in before playing, but it’s not vital. He’s been working out off-ice mostly by riding the bike. Defenseman Ruslan Salei did not practice today because, Babcock said, “He had a boo boo.’’ He said Salei will play in Game 1.
General manager Ken Holland said the next round will start Thursday or Friday. If the NHL wants a game every night, it’s looking like it will be Thursday for Detroit because it’s highly unlikely the league would make the winner of tonight’s Vancouver-Chicago game start the next round on Thursday. It’s also doubtful the league would have Boston and Philadelphia start on Thursday if both of those clubs wrap up their series tonight.
The Free Press’s Helene St. James confirms...
Franzen added he should be ready to play in Game 1 of the next round, which likely will start Thursday. The Wings won’t know their opponent until after tonight’s Vancouver-Chicago game (if Vancouver wins, the Wings are off to San Jose, if Chicago wins, the Wings host Nashville). At the very least, the Wings will have forward Henrik Zetterberg back after he missed the entire first round because of a sprained left knee.
“Absolutely,” he said. “It’s been a long time since I played a game, so it’s really exciting to get it going.”
In other injury updates, defenseman Ruslan Salei missed practice. Here was the priceless exchange between reporters and coach Mike Babcock on the subject:
Reporter: Is Salei hurt?
Babcock: Not really. He had a boo-boo.
Babcock didn’t specify whether the boo-boo was on Salei’s upper or lower body. Salei himself didn’t say much, other than to nod when asked whether he’ll be ready to go for the next round.
As does the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness, who confirms that, in Franzen’s eyes, anyway, he’ll be good to go on Thursday:
“Just moving around a little bit, see how it felt,” Franzen said. “It’s not hurting, that’s for sure. Skate a little bit yesterday, a little today. Hopefully go a little harder tomorrow.”
Franzen said it ‘would be good’ to get a full practice in before playing again.
“I don’t know how (I was injured),” Franzen said. “When I got hit in the corner, it happened there.”
Franzen said he got his left ankle numbed up for Game 3 but then it felt worse. It was his first time with them since taking the pre-game skate prior to Game 4 of the Wings’ opening round series with the Phoenix Coyotes. Wings coach Mike Babcock was unsure of Franzen’s status for Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Edit/update: Here’s what Babcock had to say to Pleiness about Franzen and, apparently, Salei:
“I didn’t spend a whole lot of time looking at him,” Babcock said. “He was out there skating and that’s a start.”
The Wings won’t know the start date of their next series until after Game 7 of the Vancouver-Chicago series, which is being played later tonight.
“We’ll see (if he’s ready) when we start,” Babcock said. “We’ll see how he does and how he responds and go from there. When he’s ready he’ll play.”
Ruslan Salei did not practice Tuesday. He is expected ready for Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.
“He’s got a boo boo,” Babcock said.
Via the Wings’ website, here’s Babcock’s off-day media scrum…
And here’s Franzen speaking to the press:
Update #1: The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan provides some Franzen clarification...
Johan Franzen did some skating at the start of practice.
He was in full equipment, took part in some drills, but has since gotten off the ice.
And he just filed this report:
Franzen said he rolled his left ankle when he was checked into the boards during Game 2 against Phoenix by Shane Doan. Franzen played in Game 3 and scored a goal—he numbed his ankle for that game—but the injury worsened, so he sat out Game 4.
“I skated a little bit yesterday, did a little more today and, hopefully, it’ll be better tomorrow,” Franzen said. “Just wheeling around a little bit and see how it felt.”
Having the time off this week has been beneficial for Franzen.
“It’s not hurting that’s for sure,” Franzen said.
There is no determination of when either series would begin, although Thursday is beginning to look like a possibility (rather than Friday) for either series because of the need for a game on national television that evening.
Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji also took note of Franzen and Babcock’s comments:
“Skate a little bit yesterday, a little bit more today,” Franzen said. “Hopefully, go a little harder tomorrow. Just wheeling around a little bit to see how it felt.”
“I didn’t spend a whole lot of time looking at him, I was looking at everyone else,” Babcock said. “But he was out there, he was skating and that’s a start. We’ll see when we start. We’ll just see how he does and how he responds and go from there. When he’s ready, he’s going to play.”
Franzen injured his left ankle in Game 2 when he was hit by Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan, the play in which he had to get more than 20 stitches. Although Franzen was able to play in Game 3, the injury worsened and he had to sit out Game 4. Mike Modano took his spot in the lineup.
“We got a deep team and everyone can come in and play good for us,” Franzen said. “That’s good to have.”
Franzen said walking around doesn’t bother him and having the extra time between series to get treatment has helped. He’s been trying to maintain his conditioning through off-ice workouts.
“That’s what I’ve been doing mostly, sitting on a bike,” Franzen said.
Update #2: Here’s DetroitRedWings.com’s Michael Caples’ report:
“Just wheeling around a little bit, see how it felt,” Franzen said about Tuesday morning.
While Franzen has been limited to riding a bike for exercise, he was positive that he’ll play whenever the Western Conference semifinals begin. Wings coach Mike Babcock also expects Franzen to be ready.
“He’ll play if he’s ready, and he won’t play if he’s not ready,” Babcock said. “It’s that simple. But it’s my anticipation that he’s going to be ready. Now I’ve been wrong before, but I think the Mule’s going to play.”
Franzen hopes to participate in a full practice before Game 1 starts, which is expected to be Thursday or Friday in Detroit (against Nashville) or in San Jose. He said the time off between rounds certainly hasn’t hurt his recovery, but even if he can’t play, he has confidence in whoever will fill his spot.
“Yeah … we have a deep team,” Franzen said. “Everyone can come in and play, and play good for us, so yeah, it’s good to have.”
• Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner also reviewed the Wings-Coyotes series, with Brad Stuart weighing in on the spate of penalties the Wings took early in the series:
“There’s a bit of an adjustment going in to the first couple of games of the playoffs, where the refs are told to tighten up the calls,” Wings defenseman Brad Stuart said. “As players having played a full season at one standard and then all of a sudden going to another standard takes some adjustment. That’s what was happening during the first few games; we were trying to adjust and taking too many penalties.”
Give the Wings credit. They did modify their game and were able to cut down on the number of penalties, but their penalty kill was still awful. Detroit’s penalty kill checks in at a dismal 66.7 percent, which ranks 14 out of 16 playoff teams. If they can’t figure it out soon, the Sharks or Predators will feast on the Wings’ ineptitude.
“We just got to get it fixed,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “There was a chunk of our season where we absolutely dominated on the penalty kill. As soon as it starts going this way (becoming ineffective), you start getting on your heels. You don’t want to be on your heels. And especially going ahead, you’re going to have to be real good on the penalty kill.”
If the Red Wings are going to win the Stanley Cup, they will have to continue to have balanced scoring, need their best players to be their best players, get solid goaltending from Jimmy Howard, somehow remain healthy and have a little luck.
Wings GM Ken Holland isn’t worried about how his team might fare:
“We played the type of hockey we needed to play to be successful this time of year,” Detroit GM Ken Holland said. “The last couple of months, we were really inconsistent. We’re now consistent with balanced scoring, guys blocking shots, and we’re getting timely saves. Whether it’s Chicago, Detroit or Pittsburgh, whoever wins there’s a formula. We’re doing a lot of the things that you need to do to win.”
• Here are this morning’s Twitter updates from the Wings’ Twitter account:
Al Sobotka was grilling for the team yesterday, something that has become an annual Joe Louis Arena tradition. http://bit.ly/gNXLIz
When we have the schedule for round two, we’ll pass it along here! Visit DetroitRedWings.com to buy your tickets for playoff games at JLA.
Practice is in the books. Media asking players if they plan to watch tonight’s VAN-CHI game.
Everyone, including Franzen skated today.
Babcock cites depth as a reason why teams move on at this time of year. Will watch the CHI-VAN game, but has no rooting interest.
Regarding the soccer ball from hell?
@MattSpeed Believe it was Datsyuk’s. The ball was last spotted in his locker.
• And Wings forward Justin Abdelkader spoke to WDFN’s Matt Sheppard this morning:
Update #3: Very cool…Ken Holland spoke to WJR’s Paul W. Smith this morning:
Kris Draper spoke to Smith yesterday:
And it’s time for some “wows.” Jiri Fischer conducted an interview with WWJ Newsradio 950 last Wednesday in an interview that just posted on WWJ’s website…
It’s been over five years since Jiri Fischer’s lifelong dream came crashing down, as he collapsed in front of a shocked crowd at Joe Louis Arena. A serious heart problem ended the career of the budding Red Wings’ star. Today, Fischer says there are three things he’ll always remember like yesterday: his wedding, the birth of his son, and that day in November, 2005, when his heart stopped.
“But I still have a window of about a window of 30 to 40 minutes, besides a couple flashes from the ambulance, that I still haven’t got back. So, maybe I was in between here and the other side,” Fischer said.
Speaking to WWJ’s Sandra McNeil, the former Red Wings’ defenseman described as painful, both mentally and physically, being forced to retire from the ice at age 25. Fischer said he’s tried to learn from the experience, including re-examining his life.
And Ilitch Holdings sports and entertainment properties CEO Tom Wilson spoke to WCSX’s Jamie Samuelssen today:
Update 3.5: Here’s a Twitter update from the Wings’ account...
Correction from an earlier tweet, Ruslan Salei did not practice, but was in the locker room after. Should be ready for Game 1.
And WXYT posted a clip of Ken Kal and Pat Caputo talking about the Wings:
Update 3.75: How about Nicklas Lidstrom talking to The Fan 590’s Greg Brady and Jim Lang? Okay:
Update #4: Okey dokey, here are the Wings talking about “playoff memories”...
And DetroitRedWings.com’s Michael Caples got taped up in the Wings’ locker room after practice, as the Detroit News’s David Guralnick reveals in his 23-image practice gallery.
Update 4.5: Here’s Jake Duhaime’s annotation regarding the playoff memories video:
For Brad Stuart, the memory of Lanny McDonald capping off his NHL career by skating with the Stanley Cup at the Montreal Forum takes the cake. Stuie’s guy was Al MacInnis, noted for his blistering slap shot and scoring presence. Also on that Calgary club? Current Red Wings assistant coach Brad McCrimmon and right winger Hakan Loob, an inspiration to Nicklas Lidstrom.
“They would show the Stanley Cup Final live in Sweden and I would watch the Swedes. Guys like Loob for Calgary and Mats Naslund in Montreal, I remember watching those guys.”
The Red Wings haven’t missed the playoffs in Lidstrom’s illustrious NHL career, but there were times, like during Mike Modano’s childhood, where the postseason was an afterthought.
“The Wings were never in the playoffs, Toronto wasn’t, so I don’t know, I was a big Montreal fan growing up,” Modano said. “Only being able to watch Toronto and Detroit, there weren’t a lot of playoffs happening.”
That pales in comparison to Drew Miller, who was just six the last time the Red Wings weren’t playing in late April and May. His moment, like many fans, happened when the team won the Stanley Cup in 1997, though the Michigan State product admits to being a Joe Sakic fan as a kid.
“Just to be around the hype and the atmosphere after they won, I wasn’t living in Detroit, but being an hour away, everyone was excited and it was good for Michigan.”
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