Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

The overnight report: Red Wings-Devils set-up—injured teams collide

The Detroit Red Wings will kick off a 3-games-in-4-nights stretch against the New Jersey Devils this evening (7:00 PM on FSD/Sportsnet/MSG/97.1 FM), and the 18-20-and-7 Red Wings may be catching the 24-13-and-8 Devils at the right time.

New Jersey has won 2 of its past 3 games, but that stretch broke a 6-game losing streak, and over the course of the Devils' 3-1 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday, the Devils lost back-up goaltender Keith Kincaid, defenseman Brian Gibbons and forward Taylor Hall. Hall is expected to play on Monday, but the other losses are at least somewhat significant, as noted by NewJerseyDevils.com's Amanda Stein:

The New Jersey Devils were handed some bad news on Sunday afternoon. Both goaltender Keith Kinkaid and forward Brian Gibbons have been placed on the injured reserve list.

Kinkaid has a groin injury, sustained at the 12:15 mark of the first period on Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia, while Brian Gibbons broke his thumb on the penalty kill just 41 seconds into the second period, blocking a shot.

The Devils practiced on Sunday as they prepare for a back-to-back set of games, hosting the Red Wings on Monday and visiting the Bruins on Tuesday.

"Like we always say, it's about who's in the lineup, not who's out," coach John Hynes said. "And the focus has to be on the group that is playing tomorrow, and make sure that we're ready to play the right way."

With Gibbons out, forward Blake Coleman will draw back into the lineup against Detroit on Monday.

Taylor Hall was the only other player missing from practice. He took a maintenance day, and his status against the Red Wings will be evaluated on Monday morning. The expectation is that Hall will be good to go against Detroit.

Goaltender Cory Schneider was on the ice for practice, he has missed the last two games battling an illness. Schneider says he's back to 100 percent.

NJ.com's Chris Ryan spoke with Schneider about his status...

"I think I'm good to go," Schneider said. "Couple good skates (Saturday and Sunday), and obviously with Keith's status, it's also pretty important that I get back. Glad I feel good, and just ready to go."

Kinkaid suffered a groin injury while attempting to make a save in the first period on Saturday. He will be reevaluated in a few days. The Devils will be without Kinkaid for at least three games this week prior to the All-Star break. Schneider said he feels good enough to play all three if the Devils coaches decide to go in that direction.

With AHL goalie Eddie Lack also working his way back from an injury, the Devils will stick with Appleby as their second goalie for now. Appleby, who made his NHL debut on Saturday in Kinkaid's place, is now a normal call-up on the active roster, which stands at 22 players.

Gibbons was diagnosed with a broken thumb after blocking a shot early in the second period on Saturday. He will be reevaluated on Monday.

"Brian has to get looked at again to give us more of a time frame, and Keith, same thing," Hynes said. "A lot of times it takes 24, 48 hours, things settle down, and they can get an x-ray and see exactly how long they think they'll be out."

And NorthJersey.com's Andrew Gross picks up the narrative from there:

All-Star and leading scorer Taylor Hall also missed Sunday’s practice as a maintenance day, the same reason he was held out of Friday’s practice. Hall did match his career high by extending his point streak to seven games on Saturday with a secondary assist on rookie Jesper Bratt’s second-period power-play goal.

[Devils coach John] Hynes said the expectation is for Hall to play on Monday.

Hynes added Blake Coleman, a healthy scratch the past three games, will re-enter the lineup for Gibbons.

With both Kinkaid and Gibbons on injured reserve, the Devils now have a roster spot available to activate defenseman Mirco Mueller off long-term injured reserve. Mueller, 22, fractured his left clavicle on Nov. 12 but played two games this weekend with Binghamton on a conditioning stint.

But Hynes said he wasn’t sure whether Mueller would be available to play for the Devils before the All-Star break.

“It’s tough to tell,” Hynes said. “He’s been off for so long and he just came back. He just played back to back games Friday and Saturday and we’ve got Monday and Tuesday. That’s a lot of hockey for a guy coming back. We’ll try to do the right thing for him.”

Gross posted a video of coach Hynes' off-day comments as well:

The Devils experienced a setback of a different kind in Saturday's 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, and both the Associated Press and NHL.com provide recaps thereof, as well as a highlight clip from said game...

And the AP's game preview will wrap up our examination of the Devils' side of the ice:

[Corey] Schneider (17-9-6, 2.74 GAA) is expected to return from his illness after the Devils went 2-1 with Keith Kinkaid starting. Kinkaid recorded wins over the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals but allowed three goals in the first period of Saturday’s 3-1 loss at Philadelphia.

Kinkaid also left the game with a lower-body injury and Sunday was placed on injured reserve with a groin injury. Kinkaid’s absence means Ken Appleby will be Schneider’s backup after making his NHL debut Saturday.

Since making 31 saves in a 3-1 win over Detroit, Schneider has allowed 21 goals on 159 starts. And since Schneider’s last win, the Devils are 2-4-2 in their last eight games with six losses by two goals or less.

Jesper Bratt scored the lone goal Saturday but it appeared the Devils were late in getting into the flow of an afternoon start.

“If you’re missing your legs, if you’re missing your intensity off the bat and you’re missing your details off the bat, it’s a bad recipe,” Devils center Brian Boyle told reporters. “We didn’t do enough to stop the bleeding.”

The Devils will play without left winger Brian Gibbons. Gibbons is tied with Bratt and Miles Wood for the second-most goals on the team with 12 but he was placed on injured reserve with a broken thumb from blocking a shot in the second period Saturday. Taylor Hall will play after sitting out practice due to a maintenance day.

Hall leads the Devils with 17 goals and 48 points. During a seven-game points streak, Hall has five goals and seven assists after setting up Bratt’s goal.

“It was just one of those games where we gave up quality opportunities to start the game, and didn’t really give ourselves a chance, at least to start the game,” Hall said. “I think we’ve got to keep things a little more simple and just try to get to our game as the period goes on.”

As you probably know by now, the Red Wings have recalled Joe Hicketts to bolster their defense as the Wings are in a 1-and-4 stretch, and coach Jeff Blashill is hoping that the 5'8," 177-pound Hicketts will serve as a spark, as Blashill and Martin Frk told MLive's Ansar Khan:

"For how small he is, he can really hit," Frk said. "He can be really physical. He can move the puck very well. His first pass is very good. He was one of our best D there last year. He's a good player. He's a little small but he's playing like he's a tall guy."

Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill wouldn't reveal who Hicketts will be paired with and said it remains to be seen how long he'll be with the team. Daley, injured in the second period of Saturday's 3-1 loss to Carolina, is out at least the next two games and might not return until after the All-Star break.

Hicketts has two goals and six assists in 43 games for the Griffins. He had a strong rookie season in the AHL, with seven goals and 34 points in 73 games. He picked up a goal and seven assists in 19 playoff games during the Calder Cup championship run.

"He works every day hard," Frk said. "For how small he is, he's really strong. I was surprised how strong he is. He's definitely a great guy off the ice, too, as well. He's a special player."

Hicketts, one of the final cuts in training camp, impressed the team with, among other things, his willingness to hit bigger players.

"Joe has a couple things I love," Blashill said. "He's got swagger and he's got a great brain for the game. I think we could use some of that swagger. We need a little more offense from our back end. He hasn't had an unreal year, production-wise, but certainly his point production last year as a rookie, his point production his last few years of juniors was great. He had a great training camp for us."

Blashill and Frk continued while speaking with the Free Press's Helene St. James:

“He had a great training camp for us, so we’re going to give him a look. I don’t if it will be a long look or a short look – he’ll have something to say about that, but again, the swagger with which he plays and his ability to make plays offensively would be the reason why we’re bringing him up.”

Hicketts was not drafted. The Wings first signed him in September of 2014, after he made a favorable impression at training camp. He had 61 points in 59 games in 2015-16 with his junior team, the Victoria Royals (Western Hockey League) and then turned pro. Hicketts represented Canada at the 2015 World Junior championship (three assists in seven games), winning gold, and represented Canada again at the 2016 World Junior championship (three points in five games).

“He’s excelled at every level,” Blashill said. “His skill set doesn’t scream NHL in terms of skating, size, body, all that, but he’s proven people wrong his whole life.  He was one of the best defensemen when he played for the Canadian World Junior team, was out there in big moments. He was a big piece of the Calder Cup championship team last year in Grand Rapids. He brings stuff to the table that I think can help our team.”

The Wings have lost four of their last five games, and have just 10 goals during the stretch, four of them from one game.

Maybe Hicketts can provide a little spark.

“He can definitely play power play,” Frk said. “He’s got a good shot. Also for how small he is, he can hit really hard. He can be very physical. His first pass is always good.”

Otherwise, the Red Wings issued injury updates of their own, as noted by Hockeybuzz's Bob Duff...

Forwards Luke Glendening (wrist) and Justin Abdelkader (lower body) could be back sooner rather than later. Abdelkader and forward Darren Helm (lower body) each joined practice on Sunday for the first time since their injuries.

“I think Glenny’s getting real close,” Blashill said. “There’s potential for Glenny for Tuesday night against Philadelphia at home. Abby’s got a chance to play Thursday against Chicago. I think Helm will be after the all-star break.”

And the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...

Excluding Daley, the Red Wings are expecting to gradually have a couple of injured players return. Blashill is hopeful Luke Glendening (wrist) could return Tuesday when the Red Wings host Philadelphia. Glendening has been out since Dec. 21.

Justin Abdelkader (lower body), Blashill said, could return Thursday, but Darren Helm (lower body) isn’t expected until after the All-Star break. Both Abdelkader and Helm were injured Jan. 13 against Pittsburgh.

Who noted the following:

Blashill wants to see a better start than what the Red Wings produced Saturday against Carolina.

“It wasn’t even close to good enough,” Blashill said. “We have to be way better in totality in the first. We played as loose as we had in a long time and we can’t play loose. (Goaltender) Jimmy (Howard) made big saves to keep us in a good spot. We got better as the game went along but we have to make sure people earn ice and we’re hard to play against.”

DetroitRedWings.com's Arthur J. Regner also spoke with Blashill about the workload his team is experiencing in the middle of a 4-games-in-6-nights stretch, which necessitates fewer practices (something that the coach is no fan of):

Sunday was scheduled to be a full practice for the Wings before they traveled to New Jersey for Monday's tilt against the Devils.

However, Blashill changed his mind, deciding Sunday's practice was optional where the players did not have to show up at Little Caesars Arena. He based his decision on how the Wings looked against the Hurricanes in Saturday's 3-1 loss.

"The challenge in this league, the number one challenge in my mind as a coach, is the balance between getting your work in and having great habits and being battle-tested, all those types of things, and energy and rest," Blashill said. "My point to that was we didn't seem to have as much energy (Saturday) as I would have liked us to have. I don't know why. If I knew for sure, I would have made sure we had tons of energy.

"But my job is to evaluate that, so I felt today was a day that was needed at this point to have an optional practice because of the fact that we need our energy level to be great come Monday. That's the number one thing.

"Sometimes you practice - this used to happen in college and the American League - you'd have some unreal practices through the week and then you come out in the game and it almost felt like they'd spent their compete energy in practice. I'm not saying that's what happens, but sometimes it feels like it does."

In the multimedia department, the Free Press's Helene St. James posted a clip of Blashill's off-day remarks...

As did the Red Wings' website...

And MLive's Ansar Khan:

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


Be the first to comment.

Add a Comment

Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.

Add your own avatar by joining Kukla's Korner, or logging in and uploading one in your member control panel.

Captchas bug you? Join KK or log in and you won't have to bother.


Notify me of follow-up comments?


Most Recent Blog Posts

About The Malik Report

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.