The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/07/12 at 06:37 PM ET
Updated 2x with home-ice talk, injury news and a charitable note at 5:35 PM: The Detroit Red Wings returned to Metro Detroit a little earlier this afternoon to get some rest and prepare to play the Edmonton Oilers tomorrow, and “tomorrow” is the operative word regarding goaltender Jimmy Howard’s status being reevaluated by the team’s doctors, per the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan...
Looks like Jimmy Howard won’t be seeing hand specialist until tomorrow.
Quick update: MLive’s Ansar Khan confirms via Twitter:
Wings’ GM Ken Holland said no updates on Jimmy Howard (finger) or Danny Cleary (knee), as neither saw the doctor today.
A pair of pundits weighed in on Detroit’s goaltending already, and the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman mentioned Howard’s broken finger as a major reason why the Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues have reason to hope that they can catch Detroit in the Central Division (via his “30 Thoughts” column)...
Look, the stars are aligning very nicely in Nashville. They’ve got arguably the best goalie in the West. After some 46-time Norris Trophy winner in Detroit, they’ve got the two best defenceman. And, with Jimmy Howard out of the lineup, a shot at catching the Red Wings for first place in both the division and conference. (As of Feb. 7, they are four points back with a game in hand.) Avoiding that brutal four-vs-five first round series is critical.
The Red Wings are patient, as patient as it gets. The plan was to stay the course with Ty Conklin and Joey MacDonald until Howard gets back. That’s the big question: Do they really know how long this absence will last? Doesn’t look like Mike Babcock trusts Conklin. You run the danger of letting Nashville and St. Louis (five back, three in hand) close in on you. No playoff series is easy, but you’ve got to avoid that four/five West matchup at all costs.
And Friedman made a reference to a subplot of tomorrow night’s game as well:
18. Ales Hemsky showed something by getting up after being “Krownwalled” during the late HNIC game on Saturday. It’s kind of surprising how many players put themselves in that position, knowing that if the puck is coming around the boards, Niklas is going for the big hit.
In a similar vein, 97.1 the Ticket’s Jeff Riger attepted to handicap the biggest storylines surrounding the Wings for fans who don’t turn to hockey until after the Superbowl…
Who will win the Wings backup goalie gig?: As of now Jimmy Howard has solidified himself as one of the best goalies in the game and obviously Detroit’s number one man. But who is the second string? Who will the Wings be forced to trust if something happens to Howard, a guy that is out right now suffering from a broken finger?
The way I see it, Detroit has three choices when it comes to their back up. Ty Conklin, Joey MacDonald or trade for someone at the deadline. Right now it’s not looking like Conklin can be the choice or is even trustworthy. Conk’s got lit up in the 1st period on Saturday night in Edmonton allowing 3 goals on just 9 shots before being replaced by MacDonald. In fact Conklin, throughout the course of the year has not been dependable at all going just 3-5-0 with a 3.40 goals against average and a .878 save percentage. You have to wonder how many chances Conklin will have left to prove himself?
As for MacDonald, he is a lifelong minor leaguer; however that in it will not exclude him from the conversation. Joey Mac knows what it takes to play in the NHL, but does he have what it takes? MacDonald is 31 years old and has played in limited action with 4 different teams, and never once has he got to remain in the NHL for an entire season. I have seen games where MacDonald has been lights out in both a Wings and Islanders uniform, however he never get the chance to start a season with a NHL team, instead he is forced to play in the AHL. Right now MacDonald is, maybe the best opportunity to finish the season on the Wings roster if he seizes the chance. If MacDonald plays well before Howard comes back, he could very well be the backup.
As for the third option… Trading for a back up, I don’t foresee happening. There are many possibilities out there for the Wings to look at if they want to, however I would assume the majority of money that Detroit has to spend will go to the likes of a forward that can play on the 3rd or 4th line and has the ability to kill penalties. So again, the competition seems like it will come down to Conklin or MacDonald. My money is on MacDonald!
Other storylines to watch for are…: Henrik Zetterberg is having a down season as far as points are concerned, Z has all the ability in the world to bounce back and finish strong, but will he? Zetterberg has just 38 points and 9 goals this year. He is a plus 9!
Can the home success continue? Detroit is in a real good spot the remainder of the year as they have just 10 road games left for the season. The Wings are 20-2 and 1 at the Joe and 15-16 and 1 on the road.
In the trade rumor department, top-six-forward version, ESPN’s Craig Custance took note of the fact that Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford will only deal Tuomo Ruutu if teams meet an incredibly high standard in terms of bang for Carolina’s buck (TSN’s Bob McKenzie says the Hurricanes are asking for a 1st round pick and a decent prospect or a “top prospect” in exchange)...
It also might help Rutherford get his high asking price for forward Tuomo Ruutu. Ruutu is one of the most sought-after forwards on the trade market. Rutherford hasn’t made any calls out to his colleagues to shop Ruutu; he’s only receiving them. And there’s no shortage of interest. Teams such as the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Detroit Red Wings, the Nashville Predators and the Boston Bruins would all be thrilled to add the versatile forward.
But, as he did with Gleason, Rutherford is open to signing Ruutu to an extension, something rival GMs will have to keep in mind when they make their offers. The Hurricanes left for a West Coast trip at noon Monday, and Rutherford will be meeting with Ruutu this week during the trip to get a sense of exactly what Ruutu wants to do leading up to July 1.
“At that point, we’ll make a decision,” Rutherford said. “I’m keeping all options open on that.”
And Custance addressed the Wings’ needs during an ESPN chat as well:
GBK (Lincoln Park): Craig, who’s coming to Detroit? Nabakov? These last two games have shown that McDonald/Conklin won’t be able to hold down the fort, and given they are in the toughest division in hockey, winning the Central is extremely important.
Craig Custance: When I spoke with a Detroit source this weekend he put the chances of the Red Wings adding a goalie at 50/50. That was before Conklin struggled so those odds might have changed. Jimmy Howard is obviously the guy there and they need to figure out if they want to give up assets just for insurance. I think the jury is still out on the Detroit goalie situation.
Jeremy (Detroit): Craig,Is a lockout for next year a realistic thing or is it just fear and speculation. I understand anything can happen but is it pretty much understood on both sides that a lockout would kill the sport after all the momentum it has been gaining? Also, Kubina seems like a good depth guy for Detroit. Is that something Stevey Y and Kenny are rumbling over or no?
Craig Custance: Jeremy - I’m an optimist but you also have to be realistic about things. It’s possible we see a lockout. It’s still really early on here in CBA talks so I’m sticking with my optimism that if there’s a work stoppage it won’t be a long one. Detroit would love to add depth on defense to take some pressure off Kindl in the playoffs. Not sure about Kubina though, haven’t heard his name.
And ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun answered an unusual “rant” with trade deadline implications:
WingsFan1993: Pierre, I’m going to do the impossible. I’m going to call out the Wings’s OFFENSE. Yeah, I said it. Not the lackluster special teams, not the lack of depth in the nets, THE OFFENSE. I am SICK and TIRED of watching this team spend 40 minutes to get ONE goal on the road. They fall asleep, take far too long to get the rush going, and end up getting down one, two, or even three goals early on because they can’t put the biscuit in the basket. This needs to be addressed RIGHT NOW. How did Chiarelli do it last year? He tinkered. His mentality was one that wins Stanley Cups: enough is NEVER enough. Either Holland opens the cupboard and makes a few hard decisions to bring in a scorer who can get this stagnant road offense going, or we’re in DEEP trouble. This team has proven they cannot function without Howard, as well, and a serviceable rental in the nets would help as well… Get a scoring winger. It’s plain and simple. We have plenty of bottom-six PKers, and once Eaves returns and gets back to game-shape and game-speed, the PK will improve. Meanwhile, our PP has dropped to 14th overall and is, along with the offense in general, in need of a major boost. It’s a winger or bust, Pierre. It’s as simple as that. I don’t ask much of Holland, just make a decent deal to improve the depth of the roster. Let’s admit it, even with how outrageous the hopes, expectations, and costs most GM’s are putting out, that’s not an impossible task with as much cap room and expendable prospects that we have. This is a win-now fan base and we’re not afraid to get angry. Even at the Wings.
My take: Hard to believe I’d ever have to answer a rant about the Wings’ offense in my entire career. Overall this season, they sit sixth in the NHL in goals per game with a 3.07 average. Not too shabby. However, to your point, oh clever one, the discrepancy between home and away is quite evident. The Wings have scored at an electric clip at home, averaging a whopping 3.83 goals per game at Joe Louis Arena, but only 2.52 goals per game on the road. Of course, that mirrors the home and away records of the Wings, who can’t lose at home (20-2-1) but are only 15-15-1 on the road after losing in Phoenix on Monday night. Know this, the Wings are looking to add a forward, and given Ken Holland’s excellent track record at getting what he wants, I’m going to bet on him delivering that forward before Feb. 27.
In more statistically-inclined news, Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski pointed out that the Red Wings have the sixth-highest-paid defensive corps in the league, but he also offers a twist in his analysis of teams which spend more money on defense than they do goaltending…
What’s interesting here, at least in contrast with conventional wisdom in the modern-day NHL, is that it’s not enough to load up the blue-line with high-priced talent and then hope a value goaltender can make it work.
The Red Wings’ model of a well-compensated top four and a thrifty netminder worked because the lead defenseman was Nicklas Lidstrom and the goalie — say what you will of Chris Osgood — was one of the most clutch playoff performers in the NHL. Looking at the results this season, here’s what the model should be: Invest heavily on a top defenseman and your goalie.
Winning [It] all comes down to “W”s. The Blues have 22 home wins (most in the NHL) , but they have played 29 games. The Red Wings have 2 less wins, but have done it in just 23 games for a winning percentage of 87 percent. That’s impressive and it gives the Red Wings the overall win in this discussion. However, as impressive as both teams have been this year, I don’t think the record books will be altered in any way. The ‘76 Flyers and ‘96 Red Wings had 36 wins at home. This year’s Red Wings would need 16 wins over the final 18 home games just to match it. So no record, but definitely impressive home seasons for both teams
Regarding the opponent which hopes to wipe out the Wings’ home-ice winning streak, the Oilers lost 6-3 to Toronto on Monday night, and TSN reports that the Oilers have lost a significant piece of their lineup due to a re-injury…
The Edmonton Oilers will be without their top rookie again.The team announced at practice Tuesday that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be out of the lineup for the next seven to 10 days as he deals with a sprained shoulder.
Nugent-Hopkins injured his shoulder after getting hit by Leafs forward Mike Brown early in the third period of Monday’s 6-3 loss in Toronto. He did not return to the game. The hit aggravated the same shoulder he injured back on Jan. 2, when he slid into the boards in a game against the Blackhawks.
“It’s the same shoulder, but a different injury,” Nugent-Hopkins said on the team’s Twitter account. “It’s not close to my first shoulder injury. Hopefully, I can be back soon.”
The Oilers recalled left-winger Magnus Paajarvi from the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League. Nugent-Hopkins was leading the team in scoring at the time of the injury, and currently sits fourth on the team.
The Edmonton Journal’s Joanne Ireland reports that Oilers coach Tom Renney may or may not coach on Wednesday…
Meanwhile, coach Tom Renney, hit in the head with a puck in Monday’s morning skate, did not work the game and was not on the ice with the team Tuesday.
“He was a part of our team meeting earlier,” said associate coach Ralph Krueger. “It’s important for him to get some rest. We need to take it day to day with him.”
The Oilers’ acting head coach addressed Nugent-Hopkins’ injury while speaking to the Edmonton Sun’s Derek Van Diest...
“It’s disappointing, Nuge was arguably our best defensive player early in the season and to see him in pain is something we don’t like to experience,” said Oilers associate coach Ralph Krueger. “I believe that Nuge is a player who brings us a dimension we don’t have, which is what makes great players special, he does something nobody else does. Of course you miss a player like this.”
And EdmontonOilers.com’s Ryan Dittrick offered a sort of state-of-the-team summary in his The Team Today blog…
Following a 6-3 loss in Toronto one night ago, the Oilers hopped on the team’s charter and darted to the Motor City, arriving at 12:30am ET, and having heads hit their pillows an hour later in downtown Detroit. Although the orange and blue’s loss in yesterday’s East-West showdown snapped a three-game winning streak, the Oilers kept with the home side until the bitter end, battling hard and maintaining the team’s never-quit attitude.
“I thought we started very well,” said Ladislav Smid, whose 20:03 TOI was highlighted with a team-best +3 rating. “We got the lead early, but we had a couple turnovers that resulted in their goals. I don’t know what happened [in the second period]; too many turnovers, we weren’t really good with the puck. [Toronto] used that against us. It was a tough one. I really thought we could have won the game.”
“We didn’t show the respect that we’ve shown in playing the top clubs in the West,” added Associate Coach Ralph Krueger, who was still manning the bench as Head Coach Tom Renney recovers from being struck with a puck during yesterday’s morning skate at Air Canada Centre. “We had such a good run playing against teams that we really respected, and it looked almost like we thought we had an equal here. We had a lack in commitment to the man coming into the zone. We weren’t heavy enough on the puck. We weren’t strong and decisive enough and on top of that, we had turnovers that we can’t be happy with. There are lots of things to learn from, but the group worked really hard in the skate today. You can see that they want to move forward and have a better game in Detroit, and I’m certain we’ll have it.”
While Krueger noted that his team needed to “purge” the 6-3 loss, the Oilers are getting an opportunity to, once again, go up against a team that they’ve had (very) recent success against.
“We’re going to build on what we did well against Detroit (on Saturday in a 5-4 shootout win),” he said. “We’ll be looking at that in the morning and trying to copy-paste the habits that made us strong in that game. It was one of the better games for us this season. [Detroit has] the best home record in the National Hockey League, so we need to bring our ‘A’ game. The reaction and anger is in the group, and that will make us stronger against Detroit.”
I can’t quote his whole article, but Dittrick notes that Jeff Petry, Shawn Horcoff and Cory Potter have Michigan connections via a certain university which wears green and white, too:
Along with Petry, Shawn Horcoff and Corey Potter are also MSU alumni. While the latter’s path to the bigs was more lengthy and involved, he capped his NCAA endeavour with a similar, point-loaded campaign. The 28-year-old rookie is struggling of late and could potentially be scratched tomorrow vs. Detroit, but he’s still excited to get the opportunity to come back as an NHLer.
“It’s always fun coming back to Michigan,” he said. “I played some pretty fun games here at the Joe (Louis Arena) with Michigan State. I’ve played with a lot of players around the league and there’s a couple on Detroit that have played here, too. It’s a fun experience to come back here and I’ll have a bunch of friends and family in tonight, so it’ll be nice to have them come and enjoy the game.”
The Oilers’ website also posted a video of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins speaking to the press, a clip of their acting coach’s off-day presser…
And some off-day comments from Cory Potter, Ladislav Smid and Jeff Petry:
Shifting focus back to the Wings, MLive’s Ansar Khan took note of Drew Miller’s emergence as an everyday player while scoring ten goals via the razzing of his linemates in Darren Helm and Danny Cleary…
“He’s doing a good job of letting me and Danny do all the work,” Helm said, jokingly. “He’s just sitting in the good spots. That’s what good goal-scorers do, they find a way to get in that spot and get open, and the puck comes to them. Hopefully that continues. I have no problem grinding out in the corner, neither does Danny, if Millsie’s going to be there scoring. It’s a line where all of us don’t mind doing that if we get success like that.”
Is Miller close to shedding his grinder label and becoming a sniper?
“No. We’re going to keep him grinding,” Helm said. “He’ll need 20 or 30 to get out of that status. We don’t need his head that big, he’s already chirping and talking enough, even though he only has 10.”
Said Miller: “You always want to score more points and play more and establish yourself as a player in this league and that’s something I thought I could do. From here, it’s keep moving forward.”
“I think our line’s been playing well offensively and defensively,” Miller said. “I think we complement each other well and get a little more chemistry every game we play together.”
Helm believes his line can contribute offensively on a consistent basis, but its primary objective is to be strong without the puck.
“We’re three guys that are pretty good defensive players,” Helm said. “We seem to be clicking and getting offense. But, defensively, we’d like to see the puck go in less when we’re on the ice.”
If you happen to have Jimmy Howard backstopping your fantasy hockey team, ESPN’s Tim Kavanagh suggests that you find another goaltender;
And in Grand Rapids Griffins-related news, the Griffins are apparently offering a deck of Griffins-themed playing cards on Saturday, and GriffinsHockey.com’s Kristi Page filed a fantastic article on Brent Raedeke, who projects to be a Drew Miller-style forward down the line:
“Brent felt his way along last year, but this year now he is starting to score some goals,” said [Griffins coach Curt] Fraser. “I think Brent has just thrown everything aside and he’s learned that being the first one on the puck makes a huge difference, hitting the net when you shoot makes a big difference, and being strong on the draws makes a big difference.”
With all of the hard work Raedeke has put in he is glad to see that it is paying off with more playing time during the games.
“Last year playing on the fourth line most of the year and being in and out of the lineup, you don’t get as much opportunity,” he said. “This year I have been working as hard as I can and I have been getting some more chances. With my line mates, Willie Coetzee and Trevor Parkes, we have been doing pretty well and I’ve been able to put the puck in the net a few times which has been nice. Getting those chances and burying them when you get them is the most important thing.”
This season, Raedeke has appeared in 41 of 45 games, and has able to establish himself as a mainstay in a Griffins lineup that is currently healthy. Contributing to his additional playing time and offensive success is his background as a defensive-minded player.
“I try to do the best I can on defense,” Raedeke said. “I take a lot of pride in it. Play patient, play smart, and play good defense and if you do that you are going to get offensive chances. It’s definitely helped me playing defense first and working from underneath. You get chances that way and I think that’s really helped me in my career.”
With seven goals and six assists so far this season this Griffins center has earned the respect from his coaches and will be looking at much more ice time during the rest of the year.
“I think Brent has really grown as a player,” said Fraser. “He is starting to contribute a lot more and he is getting more comfortable with the competition level here. From the start of the year until now, he has improved 100%. Jim Paek and I have a lot of confidence in our young kids and Brent is one of those guys that we can throw into any situation and be confident that he can do a great job.”
Update: The Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness spoke to the Wings’ players about returning home to play 18 of their last 28 games at home:
“I miss my family, so it’s going to be really nice to spend some time at home,” said Johan Franzen, as Detroit prepares to play the next six games at home beginning Wednesday night against the Edmonton Oilers. “We’re confident at home, that’s for sure. We like playing in front of our fans. Hopefully we can keep that good trend going and have a good run here.”
“The schedule has been pretty tough,” Niklas Kronwall said. “I’m sure most teams would say the same thing for the last month and a half or so. Obviously, we would have liked to come out with two points (Monday), that way the road trip would have been a lot better. At the same time it’s good to come home and get a little refreshed, try to take advantage of our home ice.”
“Returning home is something we’re looking forward to and yet we still know we have games every other night, so there’s no time to really relax,” Kronwall said. “We just have to take it easy for night and get back on it when we get home.”
“Now we have to get re-charged, get some home cooking and get playing and get everyone skating again,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “You still have to play, we have to get playing and get playing at a high level.”
The Wings have won a franchise-record 17 straight at home and are just three wins away from tying the 1929-30 Boston Bruins and 1975-76 Philadelphia Flyers for the longest in NHL history.
“Most of the (home) games we’ve been able to come out with a lot more energy and just outwork the other team most of the nights,” Kronwall said. “The nights we haven’t had a good start we’ve somehow been able to find a way.”
“They definitely do play well (at home),” Edmonton forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. “You have to weather the first 10 minutes and play your game after that. We want to go after them. We know they travelled from Phoenix (Tuesday) and that’s not an easy schedule for them. We have to go after them. We can’t play a different game than we played them in Edmonton. We have to realize it’s a 200-by-85 rink no matter where we’re playing.”
Pleiness offers injury updates as well:
There were no updates on injures to Danny Cleary (knee), Pavel Datsyuk (wrist), Jimmy Howard (finger), Brad Stuart (flu). Cleary has been playing with a sore knee that may require a cortisone shot to fix that would sideline him for a week.
“I’m hoping that eventually it will get better,” Cleary said. “It just hasn’t gotten any better.”
Datsyuk took just one faceoff in Monday’s 3-1 loss to Phoenix.
“It’s nothing major, we just decided that for the next few games he won’t take any faceoffs,” Babcock said.
Howard was expected to have his broken finger looked at when the Wings returned home but did not on Tuesday. Wings coach Mike Babcock would not commit to a starting goalie for Wednesday night against the Edmonton Oilers. Joey MacDonald started Monday after coming on in relief of Ty Conklin on Saturday in Edmonton.
“After two periods we had given up 14 shots and I thought Mac gave us a chance, yet we didn’t score enough goals for him,” Babcock said after the game.
Update #2: The AHL’s weekly press release took note the performances of the AHL’s rookies, including Wings prospect Gustav Nyquist…
Gustav Nyquist is Grand Rapids’ leading point-getter this season with 14-28-42 in 41 games, placing him second in the AHL in rookie scoring. Nyquist, who had his first two-goal game as a pro in the Griffins’ 5-2 win over Hamilton on Feb. 4, has appeared in five NHL games with Detroit this season as well.
• MLive’s Peter J. Wallner took note of Joey MacDonald’s recall’s effects on the Grand Rapids Griffins….
In Grand Rapids, the Griffins have turned to McCollum and Pearce in the absence of MacDonald, who had started 26 games and seven in a row.
“They’ll both get their chances but we’ll go with whose producing wins,” said Grand Rapids coach Curt Fraser. “But it’s tough to plan it because we’re still looking for team consistency and goaltenders have to find a way to be more consistent as well.”
The Griffins have three consecutive home games Friday through Sunday, and Fraser said Pearce will get the first shot. He played well in Saturday’s 5-2 victory against Hamilton. He took over from McCollum in the third period of Friday’s 5-2 loss.
“It was nice to get in that period and perform well because it had been a while,” said Pearce, who hadn’t played since an ankle injury Dec. 30. “I though Saturday went well for the most part, so I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”
Fraser also has confidence in McCollum, who had won five in a row before Friday.
“He’s more than capable but at the end of the day, all of them know they have to produce wins,” he said.
One will get two starts this weekend and presumably the best will get the start when the team heads to Chicago on Feb. 15.
• At the other end of the spectrum, Kamloops This Week’s Marty Hastings reports that Gordie Howe handled himself pretty decently during a Q and A with reporters in Kamloops, British Columbia;
• And he may be playing in Magnitogorsk, Russia, but Sergei Fedorov’s charitable foundation is teaming up with a huge PR firm to assist its efforts:
JumpStart Ink is launching The Fedorov Initiative as part of its commitment to help The Sergei Fedorov Foundation raise money for underprivileged kids. The public relations and copywriting firm is announcing ten percent of its 2012 profits will be donated to the foundation on a quarterly basis. In addition, the company will help raise public awareness for the foundation through a series of social media efforts.
The Sergei Fedorov Foundation is a 501( c ) charitable foundation. The non-profit organization is dedicated to helping the overall welfare of children facing adversity as a result of medical, financial or educational challenges. The Sergei Fedorov Foundation helps children world-wide. Sergei Fedorov is a Stanley Cup winner and Olympic Silver Medalist. The NHL star started the foundation in 1998 by donating his entire 1998 -1999 salary to ensure its longevity. Recently, The Sergei Fedorov Foundation was permitted to accept tax deductible donations from outside parties.
“I’m proud to have our company play a role with The Sergei Fedorov Foundation. A part of our company’s mission statement has always been to give back. Because this organization helps other causes, like the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Smiles for Children, I believe our donations will be properly used where needed the most.” Says Helene Vece, CEO of JumpStart Ink and PRSA Member.
JumpStart Ink will be launching its Fedorov Initiative on February 7th through a special section located on the company’s own website. The section will share videos, foundation information, and donation links for The Sergei Fedorov Foundation. JumpStart Ink will also send out a special newsletter encouraging their clients, and media contacts, to keep The Sergei Fedorov Foundation in mind when it comes to corporate giving.
JumpStart Ink is a licensed corporation with clients world-wide. The company specializes in affordable business to business services in the areas of copywriting, public relations, marketing and creative services. JumpStart Ink also runs a book publishing and music recording services division.
Update #2.5: SI’s Ray Flowers gives Johan Franzen due praise from a fantasy hockey expert’s perspective:
Johan Franzen has been an amazing playoff performer in his career, but he has never been able to extend that success (27-plus goals in three of the past four seasons) to the regular season. That’s been different this year. The winger has 20 goals and 43 points in 54 games for the Wings. Ten of his goals have come on the power play and nine have gone for game winners. He’s been a fantasy beast.
Niklas Kronwall has tied his career best with 11 goals, but his point production has slowed of late. He has no points in five games and just three points in his last 14 games. He’s also a team-worst minus-5 and is one of two Detroit skaters who has appeared in more than five games that is a minus skater (the other is Tomas Holmstrom at minus-4).
It appears likely that Jimmy Howard will miss upwards of four weeks with his broken finger (some reports suggest up to six weeks). Obviously, this ruins Howard’s run to the most wins in a regular season by a keeper, and it also opens up a spot in Detroit. Ty Conklin has been awful this year, posting a .878 save percentage in 11 games, so it appears that Joey MacDonald could be given a shot to run with the job. Over his 17 appearances with the Wings dating back to last season, Joey Mac has posted a strong set of numbers (2.47 GAA, .918 save percentage) so don’t expect the Wings to fall apart defensively.
Why the hell are pundits pulling the 4-to-6-weeks-to-heal line? He’ll be back as soon as he can play through pain, and that might happen in a few days.
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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.