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Roose: Jordin Tootoo’s found a happy place in New Jersey

DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose profiled Jordin Tootoo, who's healthy, happy and productive with the New Jersey Devils:

Once he completed rehab, Tootoo played one more season with the Predators before signing a three-year contract with the Red Wings in July 2012. But life threw another curveball at him when the Red Wings assigned him to their minor-league club in Grand Rapids.

It was with the Griffins that Jeff Blashill first met Tootoo, and grew to appreciate his commitment on and off the ice.

“It was tough situation. He didn’t want to be down there, but he handled himself great,” the Red Wings head coach said. “He helped our younger guys get better. He came to work every day. He helped me as a coach. He competed every night. He brings great energy. He can really hit. He can skate and is on the puck hard. He brings the competitive level of your team up and that’s what he’s done against us the two games he’s played against us. I’ve got lots of respect for Jordin and he’s done a really good job with Jersey.”

Though he has a team-worst minus-16 rating, Tootoo has earned increased ice time, even on special teams, with the Devils this season. He has three goals, two on the power play, and eight points in 38 games.

“You never ever are gonna as a player say you get too much ice time,” said Tootoo, who has a goal and two assists in two games wins over the Wings this season. “But I understand what my role is and whatever they need me to play I’m willing to do that. I’m just embracing it and enjoying it.”

Roose continues...

Update: Here's a bit more about Tootoo from the Free Press's George Sipple:

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Wings at the WJC: Finland defeats Sweden, advances to WJC final

Although none of the Wings prospects involved dented the scoresheet--Axel Holmstrom had 0 shots and Christoffer Ehn had 1 for Sweden, and Vili Saarijarvi had 1 shot for Finland--Saarijarvi's Finns defeated Holmstrom and Ehn's Swedes 2-1, and as such, Finland will play for the gold medal tomorrow at 1:30 PM EST in Helsinki.

HockeySverige.se captured Holmstrom's dejection after the loss:

TSN isn't geoblocking their highlights:

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Red Wings-Devils morning skate Tweets: Mrazek starts for Detroit; Cammalleri out for New Jersey

The Red Wings battle the New Jersey Devils this evening (7 PM EST on FSD/MSG Plus/TVA Sports/97.1 FM), with the Wings hoping to build upon their 4-3 win over Buffalo on Saturday and the Devils hoping to extend a 3-game winning streak.

If the Devils win this evening, they'll make some history, as NHL.com's Mike G. Morreale notes:

NJD to hold optional skate this morn in prep for DET. The last time the Devils won 3 straight vs DET in season was sweep in '95 SCF.

The Bergen Record's Tom Gulliti confirms that the Devils "took an optional"...

Optional morning skate for Devils again today.

But this could be big news as Mike Cammalleri is the Devils' leading scorer--with 35 points in 38 games--and has been nursing an upper-body injury:

No Mike Cammalleri for Devils' optional morning skate.

In his "5 Things to Watch" column, MLive's Ansar Khan did a fine job of setting the scene for tonight's game:

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Free Press’s Julian H. Gonzalez discusses the art of the hockey photograph

Via RedWingsFeed, the Detroit Free Press posted a 5-minute video of Free Press photographer Julian H. Gonzalez speaking about his journey covering hockey as technology has advanced over the past 30 years. This is fascinating stuff from a gentleman who's retiring after a long and distinguished career:

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The Wings This Week

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Here are five things to watch for this week:

- Who will Quincey replace?

Kyle Quincey expects to be available for Thursday's game in San Jose. He had surgery on Nov. 14 to remove bone chips in his ankle.

Quincey has been one of their more consistent defensemen since midway through 2013-14 and will add an abrasive element.

Who will he replace in the lineup? That's a tough call. Brendan Smith has played much better the past month and has seven points in eight games. Steady Alexey Marchenko has played all 32 games since being recalled from Grand Rapids on Oct. 24.

The Red Wings won't need to clear a roster spot for Quincey. They can carry eight defensemen since they have only 13 active forwards with Drew Miller (broken jaw) and Teemu Pulkkinen (dislocated shoulder) out.

- Mrazek securing starting job

Jeff Blashill didn't reveal his starting goaltender for Monday's game, but Petr Mrazek likely will make his third start in a row, which would be a season-high for either goalie. Mrazek has made 32 saves in each of his past three starts and gives the team a chance to win every time he's in.

Jimmy Howard, pulled from his past two starts, needs some time to work on his game in practice. He started the previous two games vs. the Devils this season.

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Prospect news: Griffins take out Moose; Walleye defeat Elmira; Turgeon scores 2

Of prospect-related note:

In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins opened a 2-game stint in the Prairie Province with a 4-1 win over the Manitoba Moose. Mark Zengerle scored twice, Anthony Mantha registered a goal and an assist, Eric Tangradi had 2 assists, Martin Frk scored a goal and Jared Coreau stopped 25 of 26 shots en route to the 4-1 victory. The Griffins' website posted a recap:

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The overnight report: Red Wings-Devils set-up

The Red Wings take on a team that's becoming something of an Eastern Conference rival in the New Jersey Devils Monday evening (7 PM EST ON FSD/MSG Plus/TVA Sports/97.1 FM).

The Devils are tied with the Wings in the Eastern Conference standings, holding down a Wild Card spot presently, and while the Wings are in a 3-5-and-3 stretch, the Devils have won 4 of their past 5 games...

And of course, the Devils have defeated the Red Wings twice, winning 3-2 in overtime on December 11th and 4-3 on December 22nd.

It's not too soon to suggest that this is a "4-point game" for the Wings, or an important game against a fellow competitor for a playoff spot, and I hope it's not irrational to suggest that the Wings also face a "gut check" tonight because it appears to have not taken the Devils' ability to rally from deficits seriously over its first two games against a team whose 20-14-and-5 record (the Wings are 19-13-and-7) may more accurately represent its potential.

The Wings are coming off of a hard-fought, 4-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday; the Devils are coming off of a 3-2 OT win over the Dallas Stars on Saturday, and Devils coach John Hynes told the Bergen Record's Tom Gulitti that his team can play even better hockey:

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On offensively blossoming Brendan Smith

Brendan Smith's offensive production has taken off lately, and he spoke with DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose and the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan about his blossoming offensive game:

“You always want to continue to get better, because if you’re not getting better than you’re just trying to find a way to get yourself out of the league,” he said. “I think everybody’s getting better, the league’s getting better, but myself, I think I’ve gotten better. I think I’ve been playing kind of the same style for a little bit, for a while here, and I think just playing more games, more repetitions, understanding your competition, all that stuff, has helped my game for sure.”

While it’s hard to overlook his offensive output lately, Wings coach Jeff Blashill has been impressed with Smith’s continued commitment to his primary responsibility.

“When he manages his game well, takes what is given and doesn’t force plays, and he doesn’t force even gaps he’s a really, really good player and that’s what he’s done lately,” Blashil said. “I think the defensive play comes mainly from his decision making throughout games. I think it’s been good overall.”

Besides the points, which include two goals, in the past eight games, Smith has amassed 13 shots on goal, leveled 14 hits, and blocked seven shots. He had 21 shots in the previous 23 games this season.

Roose continues, and Smith told Kulfan that he's been given a defined role from coach Blashill:

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Practice articles: Blashill satisfied with new lines’ performances; Devils practice shorthanded

After the Red Wings' Sunday practice in New Jersey, Wings coach Jeff Blashill stated that Kyle Quincey and Drew Miller will probably return sometime on the Wings' West Coast road trip.

For the present moment--as in Monday's game against the Devils--he's going to stick with the same lineup that he employed in the Wings' 4-3 win over Buffalo on Saturday, as he told MLive's Brendan Savage:

"I thought our compete level yesterday was really good," Blashill said. "I thought our puck management was real good. I didn't think we turned many pucks over. I thought we competed a high, high level. So did Buffalo. We tried to adjust the lines and you're always trying to adjust lines and put them in spots to be as successful as possible."

Brad Richards, Riley Sheahan, Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Tatar scored vs. the Sabres, the latter getting the game-winning goal with 2:50 left in the third period.

The line of Richards, Sheahan and rookie Dylan Larkin produced the first two goals. Richards scored after taking a pass from Sheahan during a 2-on-1 in the first period and Sheahan tipped in a shot by Brendan Smith in the second to give the Red Wings a 2-0 lead.

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Red Wings and Devils practice Tweets: no lineup changes, starter to be announced on Monday

The Red Wings and New Jersey Devils both practiced on Sunday, and the Bergen Record's Tom Gulitti covered New Jersey's practice:

Looks like a day off for Cory Schneider. Keith Kinkaid only goalie on the ice for Devils' practice. Also no Mike Cammalleri.

...

I don't see goalie coach Chris Terreri out there. I wonder if he's strapping on the pads right now.

...

And here comes Terreri in his goalie gear.

...

Devils say Schneider is resting.

Meanwhile, at the Prudential Center, per the Free Press's George Sipple:

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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.

 

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