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The overnight report: Red Wings-Bruins set-up

The Detroit Red Wings face a particularly stiff task in battling the Boston Bruins this evening (8 PM EST on NBCSN/97.1 FM). Boston has won 4 of its past 5 games and 8 of its past 10, while the Red Wings have dropped both 9 of 10 (1-5-and-4) and have dropped out of the Atlantic Division playoff race...sort of.

Remarkably, the Red Wings' 11-13-and-6 record and 28 points are only 4 behind the Boston Bruins' 14 -9-and-4 record and 32 points--though they have 3 games in hand over the Wings--so tonight's game is not without playoff implications.

The same could be said for both Friday's game against Toronto and the Wings' December 23rd rematch with the Bruins in Boston, but that's also assuming that the Wings don't drop their games against New Jersey or Philadelphia (on the 19th and 20th, respectively).

Long story short, no, the Red Wings are not out of the Northeast Division playoff race, despite their terrible record over the last 10 games, but the mediocre Wings really, really need to win some not-so-mediocre games over the next week-and-a-half to not really find themselves out of the playoff race at Christmas.

Our friends from Boston haven't played a game since Saturday's 3-1 win over the New York Islanders, and the Bruins' roster is in some flux due to injuries to Ryan Spooner (who's "close") and Adam McQuaid (who's not). The Boston Herald's Stephen Conroy reports that the B's will start Wing-killer Tuuka Rask opposite Jimmy Howard...

Coach Bruce Cassidy announced on Tuesday that Tuukka Rask, winner of his last four starts, will play against the Wings on Wednesday and Anton Khudobin will face the Caps on Thursday. Rask's numbers against either team aren't his best but they're better against Detroit. He's 9-5-2 with an .894 save percentage and a 2.74 goals-against average. Against Washington, he's 1-10-5 with an .889 save percentage and 3.07 GAA.

Khudobin, meanwhile, is 4-3-1 against the Caps with a .919 save percentage and a 2.54 GAA.

Whether that's the right combination to nail down four points in 48 hours remains to be seen, but if the 18 skaters in front of the goalies can continue to play like they have been recently — they've won eight of their last 10 games — that will go a long way toward their objective.

And Bruins are getting ready for, um, an atmosphere that may not exist on a night where Southeastern Michigan is supposed to get 4 to 8 inches of snow and Little Caesars Arena has struggled to find both attendance and home-ice advantage (according to DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji, the Wings are 5-6-and-5 at home):

“Detroit's going to be a tough game. I remember playing there in preseason and it was the first game (in the new Little Caesar's Arena) so they had lots of fans there and it way pretty loud. We have to be ready for that,” said Jake DeBrusk. “And obviously Washington, they're coming to town and they're playing really well right now. We just make sure we save our energy, keep our legs, play the right way and get out front as fast possible. If we take care of business and play our game, it will help us going into that second game. But you don't want to look too far ahead. These points really matter to us and we're looking to get 'em.”

Cassidy said that Ryan Spooner, still on injured reserve with a recurrence of a groin injury, will travel with the team and remains day-to-day. But judging from practice, it doesn't look like he'll be in for Detroit. He skated on a fifth line with Matt Beleskey and Frank Vatrano and did not take part in the team's power-play work.

With the Bruins coming at the 23-man roster limit, they will have to make a corresponding roster move to activate Spooner.

Kevan Miller, whose wife was at the hospital giving birth, did not practice and his status for the Red Wings' game is undetermined, said Cassidy.

NBC Sports Boston's Joe Haggerty picks up the narrative from there...

The problem with Spooner’s return at this point, however, is that the Bruins have a third line of Danton Heinen, Riley Nash and David Backes that’s been gaining traction in recent days and had a monster game vs. Arizona last week. A return from injured reserve for Spooner would mean that the Bruins finally have to make a tough roster choice. Either put a player such as Frank Vatrano on waivers or send a young player such as Sean Kuraly down who deserves to stay based on his performance.

With Spooner’s status in question for the next two games, here are the line combos and D-pairings from Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena with Tuukka Rask set to get the start Wednesday night in Detroit:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Bjork

Heinen-Nash-Backes

Schaller-Kuraly-Acciari

Vatrano-Spooner-Beleskey

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Postma

McQuaid

Rask

Khudobin

BostonBruins.com's Adam Russo also filed a practice report, and the B's website posted off-day interviews with Torey Krug and coach Cassidy:

Wait, There's More

  • Per Cassidy, Tuukka Rask will start in goal on Wednesday night in Detroit, while Anton Khudobin will get the nod on Thursday against the Washington Capitals back in Boston.
  • Adam McQuaid continues to progress in his recovery from a broken right fibula, but did not travel with the team to Detroit.
  • Matt Beleskey skated with a visor on his helmet after taking a puck to the cheek during Monday's practice.
  • A day after skating on his own before practice, Peter Cehlarik did not take the ice on Tuesday: "They may have given him a day today," said Cassidy. "He will be approaching three weeks [since the injury] on Friday. They originally forecast four weeks before a re-evaluation."

Might be the time to get the best betting odds too.

If you're interested in taking a look back at the Bruins' win over the Islanders, both the Associated Press and NHL.com provide recaps, and you can watch highlights of the game here:

The Red Wings spent Tuesday's practice talking about "process" again, and coach Jeff Blashill wasn't alone, as noted by the Free Press's Helene St. James...

“That’s one of the things we talked about this morning, when you are doing the right things and still losing, it’s easy to try to do something different,” forward Frans Nielsen said Tuesday. “But we have to try and remember that we’ve been creating a lot of scoring chances and playing some good hockey lately. So try not to get frustrated.

“We have to keep believing in what we are doing. We are playing good enough to get a win, so we just have to keep digging in and playing the same way. We can’t get frustrated about it. We can’t start cheating or playing a different way.”

Coach Jeff Blashill echoed at practice what he said after Monday’s 2-1 overtime loss to Florida.

“One of the hardest things in life to do is to trust the process when you are not getting results,” he said. “In any facet of life. A mistake people make is they go away from the process. They panic too early and they don’t stay with it. You have to trust the process.

“We out-chanced them before the goal went in 19-6 last night. We’ve out-chanced our opponents, 49-34, over the last three games, and the worst of that was the Winnipeg game. Being frustrated doesn’t help you. If we stay with it, I believe we will get the results over the long term.”

Blashill continued while speaking with the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...

“One of the hardest things in life to do is to trust the process,” Blashill said after Tuesday’s practice. “When you’re not getting results. Mistakes that people make is they get away from the process when they’re not getting (results). They panic too early and they don’t stay with it.”

After defeating Winnipeg and ending a seven-game winless streak, the Red Wings have gone winless the last two games. This, despite playing, they felt, arguably better than they did while defeating the Jets.

“We have one point to show for it (an overtime loss Monday to Florida),” Blashill said. “That’s not good enough. We get that. Are you frustrated? Sure you’re frustrated. But that doesn’t help you. You have to understand if you keep playing that way and keep trusting the process, we know the guys getting scoring chances have scored in this league, and we believe they’ll score again. So stay with it. If we don’t stay with it, we’ll cost ourselves. If we stay with it, we’ll get the results we want over the long term.”

Blashill is confident this roster is sticking with the message.

“The one thing I believe in is the group’s character for sure,” Blashill said. “It has separated this organization for a long time and it’ll allow us to stay with it, because of the character we have.”

And Hockeybuzz's Bob Duff:

Selling success stories to teams in the midst of failure can rank up there with convincing a Michigander currently huddling from sub-zero temperatures that the one thing lacking from their life is a brand-new air conditioner.

This is the challenge facing Blashill.

“The biggest challenge I think you have as a coach and I think the biggest challenge you have as a group is to not let emotions override your view of what you did,” Blashill said. “Nobody is saying this is good enough, nobody wants to be down. No chance. But I think if you look at it through a clear lens, not a frustrated lens, you say OK, if we replicate that again, I think we’re in a great spot. You’ve just got to keep replicating it.

“It’s easy to not believe that. I think lots of people around that aren’t in the middle of athletics don’t always believe that. It’s hard to do but that’s what you have to do, because if you stay with it, you end up getting the success you want and you look back and say, thank goodness we stayed with it.”

They need to find the pipeline to that success in short order. Wednesday, the Wings play host to the Boston Bruins, who hold down the third and final Atlantic Division playoff spot, four points ahead of the Wings. But with Boston holding three games in hand on Detroit, it’s not a stretch to suggest that this is a must-win game for the Wings.

Otherwise...MLive's Ansar Khan spoke with Danny DeKeyser about his attempts to regain his form after returning from an ankle injury...

DeKeyser, in 10 games since returning, has no points and a minus-11 rating.

"I think it's been taking me a little bit to get going to where I want to be," DeKeyser said. "I felt good (in Monday's 2-1 overtime loss to Florida), I thought my legs were better, I was moving a bit better on the ice, felt stronger. At the same time, I was out six weeks, so it's going to take a little bit to come back from that. It's been 3-4 weeks now (since his return), so I'm starting to feel better, feel like I'm getting into it now."

DeKeyser suffered a hairline fracture in his ankle when he was hit by the puck Oct. 10 in Dallas. He missed 17 games.

"It's not like a wrist injury where you can keep your legs going and keep skating during the recovery process," DeKeyser said. "I had to completely be off the ice to heal. You never want to be off the ice that long. Sometimes it takes a little bit to come back from something like that."

And Blashill explained why Tyler Bertuzzi was reassigned to Grand Rapids on Wednesday, as noted by DetroitRedWings.com'sd Dana Wakiji:

Promising Detroit forward Tyler Bertuzzi was sent back to the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins after Tuesday's practice.

With Luke Witkowski back from his 10-game suspension and the Wings pleased with the play of veteran forward David Booth, it isn't a surprise Bertuzzi was returned to the Griffins.

Bertuzzi appeared in only one game, Saturday's 6-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues. He was held scoreless and was minus-3 in 9:13 of ice time.

"My biggest thing on Tyler, and I said after the game that night (Saturday), is do we have enough minutes for him? He's different than Booth in that he's at the beginning stages of his career," Blashill told reporters after practice and before it was announced Bertuzzi was being sent down. "If we don't have enough minutes for him, then he's better off playing in GR, so that when injuries arise or opportunities open with more minutes, he's more ready to jump through that window of opportunity."

The theory is simple: if David Booth can score a goal here or there playing 5-8 minutes a game, or Luke Witkowski can drop the gloves, that's better than not giving Bertuzzi the 15-20 minutes he can receive playing a key offensive and instigating role for the Griffins. It's not a bad theory.

Also: MLive's Khan posted the Wings' practice lineups...

The Free Press's Helene St. James posted a 6-minute clip of comments from Frans Nielsen and coach Blashill...

And the Wings posted a 1:50 Twitter video of coach Blashill's remarks:

 

Red Wings notebooks and also of Red Wings-related note: The Hockey News's Jared Clinton posted a list of players who are "struggling to hit their stride," and Trevor Daley certainly merits inclusion on Clinton's list:

Trevor Daley, Detroit Red Wings: Put aside for a moment the fact that the Red Wings’ Daley signing was one of the more puzzling decisions of the off-season and look purely at it from a production point of view. If Detroit wanted to add some offense to their back end, bringing Daley aboard seemed a sure way to do it. While Daley is no Erik Karlsson or Brent Burns, the two-time Stanley Cup-winning rearguard had scored more than one-third of a point per game over 700-plus games dating back to the 2007-08 campaign. He has a history of producing. You wouldn’t know that, though, if you were to take this year’s numbers alone into account.

Through 28 games in Detroit so far, Daley has two points, both assists, and is scoring at a rate of .07 points per game. Defenders who have played half as many games and have nowhere near the offensive ability have managed more points. And it’s not as if Daley’s defensive play is making up for it. At 5-on-5, he has the second-worst possession rate among Red Wings blueliners and second-worst goals for percentage.

The Red Wings have to hope Daley figures it out, though, and have to hope he does so fast. He inked a three-year, $9.5-million deal in the summer, but it’s not a contract that was signed with the expectation he would be on pace for six points with subpar defensive numbers.

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Comments

MikeMac's avatar

There are five stages of grief that are a part of a framework allowing us to live with what we’ve lost.  This pretty much sums up my last six years:

Denial - “Dangit, we’re still a cup contender!  Right?!”
Anger - “Oh, for cryin’ out loud - why did they resign Cleary?!  We’re supposed to be playing for the cup, not just backing into the playoffs!”
Bargaining - “Look, if they would just stop with the bad, long term contracts and let the kids play, I’ll stop with all the negative blog posts! Really, I promise! “
Depression - “They’re gonna resign KH next summer.”
Acceptance - “I go to games at the LCA mainly for the shopping, and I’m at peace with that.”

Posted by MikeMac on 12/13/17 at 08:31 AM ET

hockeyfreak13's avatar

Posted by MikeMac on 12/13/17 at 07:31 AM ET

Nice. That’s about the same for me as well. Although I would change the last stage to:

Acceptance - “They’re gonna re-sign KH next summer”

Posted by hockeyfreak13 from Grand Rapids on 12/13/17 at 09:50 AM ET

Colin's avatar

Posted by MikeMac on 12/13/17 at 07:31 AM ET

I don’t know who you are, where you’re from, or when you joined TMR, but this might be the best comment/commentary I have ever read.

Posted by Colin from Ken Holland's new yacht, "Incompetence" on 12/13/17 at 09:53 AM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

Concur with above. All of it. MikeMac has had a few well thought out comments recently, and it is refreshing.

Posted by ilovehomers on 12/13/17 at 10:16 AM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

It’s fight night at the Licka!  For a mere $150/seat + parking + excessively expensive food, you and about 4000 other true fans can have the night you deserve.

Posted by MoreShoot on 12/13/17 at 10:18 AM ET

Avatar

This seems like the kind of game to put $100 on the Bruins.

I also think this is the first media story that has been openly critical of Trevor Daley. Yeah I know he plays hard minutes. Yeah I know he’s being asked to do too much. Yeah I know we’d be even worse without him. Got all that. But for a guy playing 20+ minutes, including PP, and he has ZERO goals, 2 assists, minus 11, and a bunch of ugly advanced stats. What was the point of locking him up for 3 years? Could have just signed someone else to a 1-year deal with the intention to sell at the deadline, like we did with Vanek. Could have also more aggressively pursued a longer-term top 4 d-man via trade. Anaheim settled on Henrique for Vatanen. We’ll offer Nyquist or Tatar, and a top prospect like Svech. How about that? Don’t like it. How about AA and a lesser prospect? At least Vatanen is a guy that can be a core top 4 for the next 5-10 years.

Posted by fatsavage on 12/13/17 at 10:28 AM ET

Colin's avatar

Posted by fatsavage on 12/13/17 at 09:28 AM ET

When does he play on the power play?

Posted by Colin from Ken Holland's new yacht, "Incompetence" on 12/13/17 at 10:49 AM ET

Avatar

Posted by fatsavage on 12/13/17 at 09:28 AM ET

When does he play on the power play?

Posted by Colin from Ken Holland’s new yacht, “Incompetence” on 12/13/17 at 09:49 AM ET

Daley has been used on the PP here and there. It’s been almost 20 minutes so far this season. Not a single point to show for it. That’s like playing an entire period of hockey on the PP and he hasn’t even picked up a secondary assist. And this isn’t a terrible PP either. We’re converting at 20%, 11th best in the league.

Sorry if you assumed that I meant he was our top option. He obviously isn’t. But he has been used and done nothing with it.

Posted by fatsavage on 12/13/17 at 10:58 AM ET

hockeyfreak13's avatar

Anaheim settled on Henrique for Vatanen. We’ll offer Nyquist or Tatar, and a top prospect like Svech. How about that? Don’t like it. How about AA and a lesser prospect?

Again, KH could have offered this and been rejected. You’ll probably never know. Anaheim wanted an established center. Detroit couldn’t offer that.

Posted by hockeyfreak13 from Grand Rapids on 12/13/17 at 11:01 AM ET

Colin's avatar

Posted by fatsavage on 12/13/17 at 09:58 AM ET

I didn’t say you were, but as far as I know he hasn’t played a regular PP shift since Kronwall came back. I agree though, his signing was a waste. I said as much when it happened.

Posted by Colin from Ken Holland's new yacht, "Incompetence" on 12/13/17 at 11:06 AM ET

Avatar

Again, KH could have offered this and been rejected. You’ll probably never know. Anaheim wanted an established center. Detroit couldn’t offer that.

Posted by hockeyfreak13 from Grand Rapids on 12/13/17 at 10:01 AM ET

Right. Of course. Like how maybe we made a better offer for Burns but Minny didn’t want to help us. Maybe we tried to acquire Seguin, but Boston really, really wanted Louie Eriksson. Maybe we would have made a better offer for Dougie Hamilton, but nobody even told us he was even available. Maybe we offered Stamkos $27M/year but he really liked the beach.

Like at some point you run out of excuses and have to judge people on actually getting stuff done. Sure. Anaheim wanted a center. Was there any way to be creative and swing a 3-way deal? We know Montreal was listening to offers on Galchenyuk…was there any way to acquire him, and then flip him to Anaheim for a package featuring Vatanen? But yeah, maybe we tried right?

Posted by fatsavage on 12/13/17 at 11:18 AM ET

Colin's avatar

Posted by fatsavage on 12/13/17 at 10:18 AM ET

I’m with savage on this.

Henrique for Vatanen was a steal for New Jersey. We didn’t have the center but a 3-way deal could have been done.

Posted by Colin from Ken Holland's new yacht, "Incompetence" on 12/13/17 at 11:33 AM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

$8.1 million for Daley & Dekeyser who combined have produced:

0 goals

2 assist

- 22 +/-

$5 mill per year for Dekeyser ????

sick

Posted by Down River Dan on 12/13/17 at 11:33 AM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

Henrique for Vatanen was a steal for New Jersey. We didn’t have the center but a 3-way deal could have been done.

Columbus might want more scoring, but they are not in a hurry yet.

Posted by MoreShoot on 12/13/17 at 12:00 PM ET

hockeyfreak13's avatar

Like at some point you run out of excuses and have to judge people on actually getting stuff done.

I’m in full agreement with you here. KH has done a pretty awful job at making moves to keep this team competitive. I’m not defending him. But proposing unlikely trade scenarios doesn’t help your argument.

 

Posted by hockeyfreak13 from Grand Rapids on 12/13/17 at 12:04 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

...so tonight’s game is not without playoff implications.

Oh, George, you crazy optimist you.  LOL

“One of the hardest things in life to do is to trust the process when you are not getting results,” he said. “In any facet of life. A mistake people make is they go away from the process. They panic too early and they don’t stay with it. You have to trust the process.

After reading that, I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to shoot Blashill in the head or myself in the head. But I guess my decision will be made for me if I read that kind of Blash-crap a few more times because my head will simply explode on its own.

Posted by MikeMac on 12/13/17 at 07:31 AM ET

That would be hilarious if it wasn’t so damn true. But very well written anyway.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 12/13/17 at 12:28 PM ET

Avatar

I’m in full agreement with you here. KH has done a pretty awful job at making moves to keep this team competitive. I’m not defending him. But proposing unlikely trade scenarios doesn’t help your argument.

Posted by hockeyfreak13 from Grand Rapids on 12/13/17 at 11:04 AM ET

OK. I didn’t think sending an AA package for Galchenyuk was so unlikely. Both players were subject of multiple rumours. Both potentially looking for a fresh start with new organizations. You already noted that Anaheim was seeking a centre for Vatanen. Henrique fit that bill. But pretty sure Galchenyuk would have been interesting to them as well. 3-way trades do happen. Ottawa-Nashville-Colorado just completed one a month ago…

Posted by fatsavage on 12/13/17 at 01:02 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

Ah yes, more idiotic conjecture about the vatenen trade. Let’s do a KK search and see what was said about this last month…highlight, ctrl + c, ctrl + v.

Why didn’t Anaheim want our overpaid players who aren’t producing to their contract level and a prospect that is currently slumping hard in the AHL?

You know, these same guys that aren’t playing up to standards, that we criticize every day…but yes, the Anaheim Ducks surely would give up a top 4 defenseman, who is totally infallible in every way according to those that don’t even really watch him, for tatar/nyquist + “jurco 2.0”?

The only thing that’s missing is a comment about “It worked for me in NHL 2017!!!!”

Posted by ilovehomers on 12/13/17 at 01:15 PM ET

Avatar

Ah yes, more idiotic conjecture about the vatenen trade. Let’s do a KK search and see what was said about this last month…highlight, ctrl + c, ctrl + v.

Could start by spelling his name correctly.

Why didn’t Anaheim want our overpaid players who aren’t producing to their contract level and a prospect that is currently slumping hard in the AHL?

I started with Nyquist/Tatar since every trade proposal we make always starts there. Notice I then said…don’t like that (because they probably wouldn’t)...and then pitched AA + prospect. Is AA overpaid and not producing? I then pitched a 3-way trade where Anaheim ends up with Galchenyuk. I guess you stopped reading?

You know, these same guys that aren’t playing up to standards, that we criticize every day

Do I criticize Nyquist and Tatar everyday? Don’t think so. They are decent complimentary wingers. They put up 35-50 points here. Would likely perform better with better talent around them. Imagine having more than 1 d-man who can complete a breakout pass? But yeah, I don’t see them criticized here every day.

…but yes, the Anaheim Ducks surely would give up a top 4 defenseman, who is totally infallible in every way according to those that don’t even really watch him

,

I’ve never seen anyone suggest he was infallible. Like not even once. Done with this conversation. You’re clearly here to exaggerate and pick fights. Have a great afternoon.

Posted by fatsavage on 12/13/17 at 01:48 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

I really do apologize for using the word “idiotic.” It’s something I should internalize. smile

Posted by ilovehomers on 12/13/17 at 01:52 PM ET

hockeyfreak13's avatar

OK. I didn’t think sending an AA package for Galchenyuk was so unlikely

That’s the first time you mentioned that trade in this thread. I do think that a trade involving AA and Galchenyuk could have happened. I’m not so sure that Anaheim would be interested in Galchenyuk, however. Anaheim decided to trade Vatanen because they were in desperate need of a reliable center who could fill top line duties while Getzlaf and Kesler were out. I don’t think Galchenyuk fits that bill.

Posted by hockeyfreak13 from Grand Rapids on 12/13/17 at 02:08 PM ET

Avatar

Wanting more complex trade activity out of Holland admittedly seems hazardous.

We know what happened the last and only time in memory.

Posted by Lefty30 on 12/13/17 at 02:57 PM ET

Colin's avatar

I don’t think Galchenyuk fits that bill.

Posted by hockeyfreak13 from Grand Rapids on 12/13/17 at 01:08 PM ET

I would content that Galchenyuk could be that player with a change of scenery, but then again Anaheim wanted a sure thing.

Posted by Colin from Ken Holland's new yacht, "Incompetence" on 12/13/17 at 07:28 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.