The Malik Report
The question I've heard the most regarding Red Wings forward and 26-year-old phenom "Damien Brunner" is, "How did the Red Wings find this guy?" The answer isn't simple, but the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa sat down with Brunner to find out how he slipped through so very many cracks before spurning the Minnesota Wild, playing one more season in Switzerland and then agreeing to join the Wings after Mike Babcock and Ken Holland sold him on the team during last spring's World Championships.
The blunt answer is that, quite frankly, he wasn't always a star in the making, and as he told Krupa, he struggled so very much with the Kloten Flyers some five years ago that he was traded--and trades are as likely to occur in European hockey as Mickey Redmond is likely to fall in love with a composite hockey stick:
"In my second year and the beginning of the third year at [Kloten], the coach didn't see me on his roster or in an offensive role," said Brunner, who is tied for the Red Wings team lead with five goals and is second in shots with 34, as the team toils in a transitional year. "He thought I am not making any progress and I probably wasn't going to be good enough to play in that league. They sent me down to the B league for three games, and after that, I was traded."
Then, with the considerable help of a former Red Wings player, whose brief stint in Detroit is likely to be overshadowed by coaching Brunner for five years, his career took off. Brunner has arrived in the NHL and, quickly, established he belongs.
What remains to be determined is his ultimate contribution to the team the Red Wings are about to become, and whether he will be a star. The Red Wings may have landed yet another in a series of startling scouting finds.
But Brunner might not have become part of the answer in Detroit without the trade to Zug in the Swiss league, and its coach, Doug Shedden.
I highly suggest that you continue reading Krupa's story...
The Detroit Red Wings will play their third and fourth games over the course of five and then six nights starting today with a maintee game against the Edmonton Oilers (2:00 PM EST, FSD/CBC/97.1 FM) today and an even earlier tilt against the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday (12:30 PM EST NBC/TSN/97.1 FM and the Wings are holding smoke detector collections both today and tomorrow).
As we learned on Friday, the Red Wings will attempt to build upon Thursday's convincing win over the Blues this weekend--before playing St. Louis for the third and final time this month next Wednesday (also an NBC game)--minus the services of one Todd Bertuzzi, whose back is acting up, possibly with Joakim Andersson in the lineup, and with Jimmy Howard definitely starting Saturday and "Petr Griffin" possibly starting on Sunday.
Sorry this is so very late, but I kinda crashed after a pair of nights with little sleep and some fun fun fun moving of cars around the condo parking lot early in the morning. There's something of a modicum of good news on the back injury front! MLive's Ansar Khan reports that Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi is just dealing with the kinds of issues that those of us with bad backs and hip flexors (myself included) deal with in terms of wear and tear, and Bertuzzi isn't expected to be out for an extended period of time as his MRI came back showing no issues in terms of strains or sprains:
"Docs didn't see anything significant. Weekend off and see how he feels Monday,'' Holland said.
The Red Wings recalled forward Joakim Andersson (6-2, 200) from the Grand Rapids Griffins. Andersson has 10 goals, 17 assists and 55 penalty minutes in 36 games with the Griffins. He appeared in five games with the Red Wings last season, getting no points.
Holland said Andersson was recalled because the team wanted a extra forward nearby this weekend, just in case. The Griffins play in Oklahoma City this weekend, and it might have been difficult to get someone to Detroit at short notice.
"We don't want to wake up tomorrow or Sunday and need a body,'' Holland said. “We have different ideas for the lineup, we'll decide in the morning. (Andersson) brings a big body, he can penalty kill, he's a good defensive forward.''
Red Wings interim back-up goalie and top prospect Petr Mrazek's received as much attention for the image of Family Guy's Peter Griffin on his goalie mask, which is a creation of something of a legend in the mask-painting industry in David Gunnarson, but MLive's Ansar Khan and the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan found out that just because Petr Mrazek may indeed be a "Super Griffin," that doesn't necessarily make him a fan of the show:
“Our (equipment manager Brad Thompson) in Grand Rapids gave me that idea because he said my name is Petr and I play for the Griffins, so they Peter Griffin on it,'' Mrazek said.
He said he has received some good comments about the design, which he had done about three weeks ago. But, he's not a fan of the show.
“I don't watch that show, I saw just a couple of commercials,'' Mrazek said. "But, I like the idea.''
Definitely not a fan, as the ever-blunt Mrazek told Kulfan:
"I've seen the commercials," Mrazek said. "I don't like the show."
Red Wings Friday practice post in progress: Bertuzzi out, Andersson recalled, Howard starts Saturday
Updated 10x at 3:49 PM: Bertuzzi's out, the Wings have recalled Andersson, Howard starts on Saturday: I can't say that I think this is the brightest idea in the world, but even though the Red Wings have to follow up their big win in St. Louis with a pair of matinee games against Edmonton on Saturday and Los Angeles on Sunday (games 3 and 4 over the course of 6 nights), Wings coach Mike Babcock decided to put his team through a Friday practice, and there's a mixed bag of news on the injury front already:
MLive's Ansar Khan confirms...
I may be one of five people who had no problem with Red Wings forward Johan Franzen spearing David Perron after Perron smashed Franzen's face into the boards (since Franzen suffered a subdural hematoma after being concussed against the Colorado Avalanche in 2008, and you may remember how Gary Roberts welcomed Franzen back by punching him in the face repeatedly), especially as Franzen received a major and a game misconduct for spearing in the process...
And this morning, Sportsline's Adam Gretz (via On the Wings' Matt Saler) and MLive's Ansar Khan report that the NHL felt that the 5-and-a-game's worth of penalties was severe enough punishment for a player whose head remains a prime target for opponents who know that Franzen will snap if he's punched, slashed, facewashed or otherwise hit in a manner that involves attempting to break his face:
Franzen received a spear and then a face-rearranging cross-check to the face by Alexei Emelin and Dmitri Kalinin at last year's World Championships, too (remember? Covered it). He doesn't like being hit in the face.
Updated at 9:04 AM: The Detroit Red Wings flew back to Metro Detroit to greet anywhere from 2-6 inches of snow a little less encumbered by concerns about their team's trajectory after defeating the St. Louis Blues 5-1 on Thursday, giving the Wings a 2-and-1 record in what will be a four-game series with the Blues as of next Wednesday's meeting, and righting the Wings' ship with the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings coming to town for matinee games on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
The Wings played like a team that consisted of completely different players from the Wings team that struggled so mightily against Calgary and Columbus, and the team may very well have bested its performance in its 5-3 win against the same Blues one week ago tonight because the Wings' "best players" didn't have to take the team on their backs to defeat the Blues.
Or, as KMOV's Scott Bierman put it, the Blues couldn't "contain [the] Red Wings' low-scorers":
I put this clip in the quick take, but I'm guessing that it probably deserves its own thread. I hope that the NHL doesn't call Red Wings forward Johan Franzen for this, because Franzen was assessed a 5-minute major and a game misconduct for spearing David Perron after Perron absolutely mashed Franzen's head into the glass via a "hit the numbers" check from behind.
Mind you, I'm a biased Wings fan, and this video--from Paul--is narrated by the Blues' announcers, but Perron got 2 minutes, Franzen got 5, and that should be the end of it.
Update: Via RedWingsFeed
Updated with highlights at 11:39 PM: The Detroit Red Wings realized that they couldn't out-check or out-hit the big, bad and mean St. Louis Blues on Thursday, so the Wings out-Blued 'em.
The slightly bipolar Wings displayed an absolutely sterling work ethic in plain old out-battling, out-working, out-hustling and out-mucking St. Louis, showing a surprising willingness to dump and chase the puck to bang Blues defensemen's bodies and showing a smart understanding of the Blues' defensive style, utilizing short instead of long passes to send 5 men into the sea of Blue...
And it was the "bottom six" who broke through, and Petr Mrazek who carried the day, with the Wings winning 5-1 and Mrazek stopping 27 of 28 shots for his first NHL win in his first NHL game.
Unlike Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is...Let's say, "Given to Malik Report-style rambling" on a consistent basis. The man's fascinating as all hell get out, but he's also extremely verbose, and sometimes his astute observations also involve some "out there" comments.
MLive's Brendan Savage received an unusual take on the Red Wings' struggles while speaking to Hitchcock earlier this afternoon, with Hitchcock insisting that the Wings' 4-2 loss to Columbus last Saturday and the team's 4-1 loss to Calgary on Tuesday were the direct result of having played Hitchcock's Blues--a game the Wings won--six days ago:
"The game in Detroit ... was the best hockey game we've played in," Hitchcock said. "The game was really well played by both teams. Both teams put a lot of energy into it. What's interesting to me is neither team recovered from that game physically. Detroit went into Columbus and got beat, looked tired. They looked a little bit tired still against Calgary. We looked really tired (in Tuesday's 3-0 loss to Nashville), even with two days off. I don't think the fans realize that was a Game 7 playoff game. That's exactly what it was. The players poured so much into that this early in the season that neither team had anything left for the next outing."
Mike Babcock, who'd attempted to recruit Hitcock as an assistant coach before he took the Blues' job, offered a Babcockian response...
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.