The Malik Report
Updated with audio and video at 3:48 PM: As Paul already posted, things continue to get stranger and stranger on the injury front as the Detroit Red Wings prepare to tangle with the Vancouver Canucks tonight (7:30 PM, FSD Plus/Versus/TSN/WXYT). The Red Wings had to sign OHL graduate Troy Passingham to an amateur try-out after Chris Osgood decided that he wasn’t ready to play tonight, as the Free Press’s Helene St. James reports:
Osgood decided after the morning skate he’s not yet ready to dress, and because the Wings have had to call up Jan Mursak to offset the injuries up front, there’s no salary cap space.
Passingham, a 20-year-old out of Mississauga, Ontario, has been signed to a 24-hour amateur tryout. He’s just finished up his season with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, going 9-10-3 with a .879 save percentage and 4.76 goals-against average. Passingham was on the sofa hanging out with his girlfriend Tuesday afternoon when his phone rang “My agent called me yesterday and then an hour later (assistant general manager) Jim Nill called me and we got everything set up,” Passingham said. “I was pretty excited. I was just sitting there at my girlfriend’s house in Windsor when I got the call. Obviously there was a lot of excitement and it was a really long day yesterday, but I’m here now, so that’s good.”
Between the Vancouver media’s assertions—to Wings coach Mike Babcock’s face, no less—that the Red Wings have “conceded the Western Conference title” to the Vancouver Canucks by choosing to sit out Todd Bertuzzi (sore back), Johan Franzen (groin), Jiri Hudler (neck) and Pavel Datsyuk (???) for tonight’s match-up between the Red Wings and the team which has an 8-point lead over the Wings and suggestions such as the following from the Hockey News’s Ken Campbell, you’d think that tonight’s Wings-Canucks tilt (7:30 PM, Versus/TSN/Fox Sports Detroit Plus/WXYT) is either a prelude to a Western Conference Final showdown and/or the be-all-end-all game which will prove, once, for all, and forever, whether the Canucks have surpassed the Wings, as Campbell suggests:
When the Detroit Red Wings look across the ice during warmup Wednesday night, they’ll be looking at a mirror image. It appears the Vancouver Canucks have grown up and become the Red Wings, minus the Stanley Cups, of course. The question now is whether grasshopper (the Canucks) can snatch the pebble from Master Kan’s (the Red Wings) hand and win a championship. There’s a chance the Canucks and Red Wings will give a preview of a playoff showdown when they hit the ice in their last regular season meeting. And if the first three games of this season were any indication, we can only hope this won’t be their last of 2010-11. Western Conference final, anyone?
As the Vancouver Canucks’ press corps has played up, “The Canucks are just like the 2008 Red Wings” comparisons since, um, December, I expected the Canucks’ press to ham it up ahead of Wednesday night’s tilt (7:30 PM, Versus/TSN/Fox Sports Detroit/WXYT), but during Mike Babcock’s off-day presser, he was essentially told by the Vancouver Province’s Ben Kuzma that, by declaring Johan Franzen, Pavel Datsyuk, Jiri Hudler and Todd Bertuzzi out for Wednesday night’s game (the Wings have at least called up Jan Mursak now that Chris Osgood’s healthy), the Wings, who are eight points behind Vancouver, have “conceded” the Western Conference title. Babcock happened to disagree with Kuzma’s suggestion, as the journalist in question notes in his pre-pre-game set-up:
“I don’t think we’ve conceded anything,” said Babcock. “Since I’ve been here, we’ve just tried to win every day. You’d like to finish as high as you can. The higher the better, and the better you feel about yourself, but that doesn’t guarantee anything. We’ve tried it all different ways and whichever way you do it, you embrace it.”
Updated with Hat Trick Dick news and an Osgood/Franzen/Bertuzzi assessment from Ken Holland at 6:40 PM, and the Red Wings have recalled Jan Mursak and sent Joey MacDonald down to Grand Rapids: Bad news on the injury front for the Red Wings; According to MLive’s Ansar Khan, Todd Bertuzzi’s sore back will place him on the Wings’ increasing list of injured players going into tomorrow’s game against Vancouver:
“I don’t think we’ll have Franzen, Datsyuk, Hudler or Bertuzzi available for tomorrow,’’ coach Mike Babcock said after today’s practice
It would be the first game Bertuzzi has missed during his second stint in Detroit. He has played in 155 consecutive games as a Red Wing.
“He’s had aches and pain for a while and he just can’t go,’’ Babcock said. “So we’ll give him a few days.’‘
Jiri Hudler did practice on Tuesday, but is “iffy” for tomorrow with a sore neck…
Sweden has an official website, and in light of the fact that the City of
Novi will re-name a street in honor of Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom, Anders Wallin posted a profile of Lidstrom, who suggests that there are three reasons that he’s back in contention for the Norris Trophy at 40, after declaring that he’s “had the best job in the world for 20 years”
“Summer training has meant that I’ve been injury-free and always been able to play many matches during a season,” he says. “Then I’ve been lucky in that I’ve always been in a good team and have grown in confidence the older I’ve become. Finally, I think it has to do with positioning, your grasp of the game — knowing where to be on the ice.”
The acclaim showered on him is one of the things that drives Lidström to constantly seek improvement.
“I read what’s written about me and it acts as a spur,” he says. “It makes me want to maintain the same level of play — or better — in every match.”
Lidstrom won’t necessarily commit to playing beyond this season, but he sounds like he’s still enjoying what he does for a living:
The Detroit Red Wings managed to pull off a near-miraculous comeback against the Pittsburgh Penguins, rallying from a 4-0 deficit, but they came up short in terms of results because they couldn’t complete their comeback, and dropped a 5-4 shootout decision to the Penguins on Monday night.
After a solid five minutes’ worth of hockey, the Wings seemed to collapse into their classic mid-January, “We’ll just tread water until our injured players come back” form, looking like a team that rather desperately missed Pavel Datsyuk’s two-way play and the offensive pop that Johan Franzen and Jiri Hudler give them while getting out-worked, out-hustled and out-played as the Penguins chased Detroit all over the ice and made Jimmy Howard, who didn’t have a terrible game despite pumping out quite a few rebounds, look much worse than he actually played, scoring 4 goals on 15 shots against someone who the Wings admittedly hung out to dry. After Joey MacDonald took over, the Wings finally settled down and started playing like themselves again, scoring 4 consecutive goals…
But they seemed to run out of gas once they tied the game, and their three shooters made Brent Johnson look unbeatable before James Neal scored the shootout winner on the Penguins’ third attempt. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari offers a “just the facts” recap…
After this past weekend’s worth of on and off-the-record furor from general managers regarding the NHL’s decision to shove a new concussion-diagnosing profile down the league’s collective throat without consulting its GM’s, coaches or medical personnel, TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that the league is at least doing its best to clarify its expectations while addressing the concerns of team doctors:
Last week, NHL general managers who faced the cameras and endured the media scrums following the Florida meetings seemed pleased with the NHL’s new concussion initiatives and swift introduction of enhanced protocol to better diagnose the injury. Yet, over the weekend, reports indicated some unnamed GMs aren’t happy with how the issue is being handled, or implemented.
To date, the league has hosted two of four planned conference calls - mandatory for all team doctors and trainers and optional for NHL coaches and general managers. These calls have been hosted by the NHL’s Julie Grand and Dr. Ruben Echemendia, the director of the NHL/NHLPA concussion working group, and are designed to educate all involved.
Sources say the calls have included a ton of questions, comments and complaints, but have also helped quell a lot of fears and have eliminated some of the misconceptions. For example, it was believed an on-ice official could order a player into protocol. In fact, the officials are not authorized to do so, but they can advise the bench of the symptoms they may have observed, thus encouraging the team’s medical staff to take the necessary steps.
Continue with Coyotes and Cooke talk.
Updated at 7:02 PM: Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg spoke in very specific and concrete terms when he was asked what the NHL should do in terms of dealing with Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke’s latest suspend-able offense, as he told the Sporting News’s Craig Custance:
Henrik Zetterberg isn’t one to make outlandish statements. The Red Wings star forward typically lets his play do the talking. But when asked what he would do if he were handing out the suspension for Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke, he didn’t hesitate.
“At least the season,” Zetterberg said. “I don’t think he should play any more this year. And then we just have to see what we’re going to do after that.”
Zetterberg later clarified that when he says season, he means the whole thing. Playoffs included.
“He keeps doing stuff over and over,” Zetterberg said. “I think the suspensions he gets doesn’t really bother him. He keeps going out and doing that stuff.”
“We have to be harder on suspensions. Especially guys who do this over and over again,” he said. “We have to respect each other as a player. You can’t go out and hurt a guy like that. It could be career-ending.”
Latest update at 6:50 PM: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight (7:30 PM, Versus/TSN 2/WXYT), Wings coach Mike Babcock revealed that the team may use a slightly unfamiliar name up front in one Ruslan Salei, as reported by the Free Press’s Helene St. James:
The Red Wings are so low on personnel that they’re calling on defenseman Ruslan Salei to play tonight against Pittsburgh, as they may be down to 10 forwards. Forwards Pavel Datsyuk (lower body), Johan Franzen (groin) and Jiri Hudler (shoulder, neck, fever) are out. Todd Bertuzzi didn’t skate this morning because of a sore back but will take the pregame warm-ups and see how he feels. Mike Babcock was certain Bertuzzi will play.
Today’s morning skate was Salei’s first practice in a week, as he’s been home in California for the birth of his second daughter. Salei didn’t know he was playing right after the skate, but Babcock expressed no doubt.
“Salei will be our seventh D and our 12th forward if we choose to use him there,” Babcock said.
St. James also reports that Chris Osgood hopes to return to the lineup by Wednesday, assuming he experiences no further setbacks…
The Detroit Red Wings face off against a playoff nemesis tonight in the Pittsburgh Penguins (7:30 EDT, Versus/WXYT), and they’ll do so minus the services of Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen and Jiri Hudler.
While the fact that neither team likes the other very much thanks to their Stanley Cup Finals meetings in 2008 and 2009 might play into both teams’ levels of energy and engagement in the game, and their history certainly makes for a “good story” in the media, the absences of Datsyuk and Sidney Crosby take some of the bloom off this would-be rose, and, perhaps moreover, the bottom line for both teams is simple—as NHL.com suggests, the Wings and Penguins are in tight races for playoff positioning, and they want to earn two points in the standings more than anything else:
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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.