The Malik Report
Updated 2x at 4:14 PM: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the a returning Ryan Miller (update: Possibly? He’s been cleared to return but even NHL.com’s not sure whether Miller or Jonas Enroth will start tonight, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was noncommittal while speaking to the Sabres’ website and WGR 550’s Bill Hamilton believes that Miller will back up Enroth) and the rest of the Buffalo Sabres tonight (7:30 PM EST, FSD/MSG Buffalo/WXYT), the injury-riddled Sabres are both welcoming Miller and Tyler Ennis back into the lineup and are welcoming a rookie who the Buffalo News’s John Vogl can only describe in one manner to the NHL…
The numbers—6-foot-8 and 260 pounds—already tell you Joe Finley is huge. But the Sabres’ newest defenseman stood up on skates while meeting with the media Thursday afternoon and I was right next to him. And let me tell you, he is H.U.G.E. Finley is up from Rochester and will likely pair with Brayden McNabb Friday night while making his NHL debut against the Detroit Red Wings. Not an easy spot. But the 24-year-old, a former No. 1 pick of the Washington Capitals, has overcome serious injuries the last two years and is grateful for the chance.
“I really just took it upon myself to focus on things I can control and that’s trying to play a real simple, solid brand of hockey,” Finley said. “I’ve been fortunate to do that so far. Things are moving in the right direction but there’s a long way to go to being here fulltime, that’s for sure.”
The news regarding Eaves’ injury didn’t stop the Wings from sending Fabian Brunnstrom back down to Grand Rapids, however, and just as Wings GM Ken Holland downplayed Eaves’ surgery as something the Wings have become familiar with while speaking to the Free Press’s Helene St. James...
General manager Ken Holland said this afternoon he expects Eaves to miss 6-to-8 weeks, though “we’ll know more after he’s had the surgery. But Danny Cleary had a broken jaw, Brad Stuart, and that’s about the time they missed.”
Holland also told the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness that, given Brunnstrom’s status as the team’s 13th forward Cory Emmerton’s strong showing as the team’s new fourth line center has essentially bumped Brunnstrom from the lineup), and given the fact that Jan Mursak is starting to progress in terms of his return from a broken ankle, the team doesn’t really need to call an extra body up from Grand Rapids:
Updated at 1:15 AM with player reaction: From the Red Wings’ PR department…
INJURY UPDATE FOR PATRICK EAVES
Detroit, MI… Detroit Red Wings forward Patrick Eaves suffered a fractured jaw when he was struck by a puck during the third period of the Red Wings 4-1 victory over the Nashville Predators on Saturday (11/26) evening at Joe Louis Arena. Eaves was transported to the Detroit Medical Center where he will remain overnight. Further evaluation will take place over the next several days to determine if surgery is required. No timetable has been set for Eaves’ return to the lineup.
Oh boy…And if you haven’t seen it, here’s what happened:
As I’m covering for the boss your previously-regularly-scheduled Wings coverage won’t return till Monday, but here’s a quick update ahead of tonight’s game between the Red Wings and Nashville Predators (7 PM EST, FSD/FS Tennessee/WXYT): the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness reports that Cory Emmerton’s streak of games played as the Wings’ fourth-line center will come to an end tonight, but Mike Babcock’s “ride the hot goalie” theory will continue as the Wings try to solve Pekka Rinne and his glove hand tonight:
After making 41 saves in a shootout win over Boston Friday afternoon, Jimmy Howard will be back between the pipes for the Wings. It’ll be his 15th straight start.
Patrick Eaves will be back in the lineup, replacing Cory Emmerton. Eaves has been a healthy scratch in the last five games.
The Wings top two forward lines remain the same. The bottom two will have Darren Helm centering Jiri Hudler and Eaves, while Justin Abdelkader centers Drew Miller and Tomas Holmstrom.
Update: Here’s something of an explanation for Howard’s start, per the Free Press’s Helene St. James:
This is becoming a pretty familiar sight for Red Wings fans, and that’s not a bad thing:
I’ll let you guess who the Free Press’s Mike Brudenell’s speaking to in a wide-ranging Q and A about a certain broadcaster’s imminent honoring by the Hockey Hall of Fame, with one hint: his favorite color is camouflage:
Question: A broadcaster for 32 years—longer than your short but colorful playing career: a life in itself to you?
Mickey Redmond: We take a lot of this stuff for granted. We come and we go and do our job ... but I’ve always been very happy and content to go to Joe Louis and broadcast a game and wear my emotions and feelings on my shirtsleeve. To broadcast ... be part of the Red Wing alumni and go out and skate ... and put smiles on kids’ faces and raise money for great causes ... it’s hard to package that all together, but it’s the greatest thing, and I feel so blessed to be where I’m at and do what I do. It’s as good as it gets.
The Red Wings won perhaps their most important hockey game played in November in a good ten years via a 5-0 win over a tired Anaheim Ducks team on Saturday night, and if the usual suspects played into the winning effort: Jimmy Howard stopped 22 shots and while padding stellar statistics and continuing to shine when the Wings’ confidence wanes; while he didn’t register an a point, Tomas Holmstrom stirred the drink on the power play via both superb screening, puck-tipping and rebound retrieval, and he added four shots and two takeaways to the Wings’ cause while continuing to prove his worth at even strength (who the hell knew that the Wings’ fleet-footed third and fourth-liners occasionally need a 38-year-old to slowly but authoritatively carry the puck up ice to slow down the pace of play?)...
And then there was the captain.
The Detroit Red Wings are very obviously in trouble. They’re playing indecisive, downright jittery hockey at times, with a confidence level so low that you can almost sense that when the opposing team either scores the first goal or ties the game up, all the air’s gone out of the S.S. HindenWing, and you might as well put the game in the “L” column and key up the cliches and roster tweaks (I think it’s Tomas Tatar’s turn in the rotation).
The 5-5-and-1 Red Wings are not, however, embarking upon the long downhill slide that the media’s been predicting for the past fifteen years, nor are they too old, too slow, too small or too ill-equipped to play by whatever the hell Evil Drew Sharp believes are the “new realities” of the NHL—which they’ve been dealing with for six seasons now.
As Paul noted this morning, a certain Red Wings defenseman who tends to knock his opponents into next week was picked Minnesota Wild captain Niklas Kronwall prior to getting near the puck via a shoulder to the head, directly resulting in the Wild’s game-winning goal, but MLive’s Ansar Khan thankfully reports that the only reason Kronwall was unavailable to the media after the game had more to do with the NHL’s concussion protocol than anything else:
Quick update from the start of today’s Detroit Red Wings practice at Joe Louis Arena: Defenseman Niklas Kronwall is skating and general manager Ken Holland said he is fine and will play Thursday against Calgary (7:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net Detroit).
Kronwall was shaken up in Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime loss to Minnesota, when he took a shoulder or elbow to the head from Mikko Koivu seconds before Devin Setoguchi’s overtime goal.
I’m not sure that I’d call Koivu’s hit on Kronwall an intentional head shot—maybe it was a gratuitous hit that didn’t need to be so high—but I do think it was a penalty as Koivu prevented Kronwall from getting to the puck by bumping #55 prior to the puck entering the players’ respective vicinities. The fact that Devin Setoguchi got tied up with Jimmy Howard by running him prior to scoring the game-winning goal didn’t help, either…
Update: One more thing, via a press release: Gustav Nyquist’s first go-round with the Wings was a short stint:
I’m gonna make this real simple for once and only once:
• No Draper, Osgood or Rafalski yielding a huge challenge in terms of filling leadership and moxie voids, to the point that you can almost feel the Wings’ players clutching up and clenching their sticks too tightly;
• Offense gone dry under a system of play that leans too heavily upon the puck possession standard that either Jeff Blashill and Bill Peters have yet to tweak or the players have yet to implement the suggestions thereof;
• Bad breaks and of course, as we all wear tinfoil around here, bad calls in addition to bad pinches, a dud of a power play and the kinds of fundamental mistakes that are as simple to correct as they are predictable for the Wings to make;
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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.