The Malik Report
Updated with a Swedish interview with Mattias Janmark at 4:17 AM: The Detroit Red Wings hope to wrap up their four-game Western Canadian swing with a win in Winnipeg this evening (8 PM EST, FSD/TSN/97.1 FM), but the Wings' attempt to finish a slate of 4 games in 4 cities played over the course of 6 evenings hit a bit of a snag when Brendan Smith's decision to fight Will Acton proved to be a supremely selfish one.
While the 9-4-and-2 Wings come into tonight's game on a 3-game winning streak thanks to victories over Vancouver last Wednesday, Calgary on Friday and Edmonton on Saturday, they were already feeling the pinch of Jonathan Ericsson's absence on the blueline (Ericsson's on the LTIR until November 15th due to a partially-separated shoulder), and Jonas Gustavsson's stiff neck necessitated Petr Mrazek's recall from Grand Rapids.
On Sunday, we found out that Smith tweaked his left shoulder during his fight, and the Red Wings recalled Adam Almquist from Grand Rapids as a result. The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan confirmed Smith's status, and explained why the Wings recalled Almquist over Xavier Ouellet....
The Grand Rapids Griffins ended up sweeping their week's slate of three games, defeating the Charlotte Checkers 5-2 last Wednesday, the Lake Erie Monsters 6-4 on Friday, and taking out the Rockford IceHogs by a 3-1 tally on Sunday afternoon. Tom McCollum stopped 34 of 35 shots in Petr Mrazek's stead, as the Griffins website's recap notes:
Watch the fight below, may be a left shoulder issue...
update 3:22pm, St. James tweets it is short-term IR for Smith.
added 3:55pm, via Ansar Khan tweet,
Wings defenseman Brendan Smith out 1-2 weeks w/ slightly separated shoulder from fight last night, Ken Holland said. Adam Almquist recalled.
The Detroit Red Wings packed their bags and took a late-night flight to Winnipeg--a city that I cannot deny only polar bears like me love at this time of year (hey, the Wings' off-day will be mostly above freezing, so no complaining! It's not -15 Fahrenheit!)--with momentum on their side and a very happy native of the Winnipeg suburb of Selkirk in tow.
The Wings have rattled off 3 straight wins since their 4-game losing streak, defeating Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, with Saturday's win coming via 5-0 tally. Saturday's game earned Petr Mrazek his first NHL shutout and this gentleman his first goal in what seemed like forever to both Darren Helm, the Red Wings and Wings fans:
The Grand Rapids Griffins' third game of the weekend takes place today in Rockford, so the Red Wings' ECHL affiliate had the spotlight to itself on Saturday night--and had the spotlight to itself in a big way as both the Stanley Cup and Wookiees, Stormtroopers and Darth Vader were in attendance as the Walleye wore X-Wing pilot-inspired jerseys and their opponents wore Darth Vader-inspired jerseys on Star Wars Night (with both sets auctioned off for charitable purposes).
The Walleye earned a measure of "revenge" against the "empire," too--if you're willing to call the Kalamazoo K-Wings the bad guys. Kalamazoo defeated Toledo 6-4 on Friday evening, but the Walleye Struck Back on Saturday, and Red Wings prospect Trevor Parkes led the way.
Parkes registered a goal and 2 assists, Marek Tvrdon scored a goal, Max Nicastro took 3 shots and Richard Nedomlel was "ejected" from the game at its conclusion (he got 2, 10 and a game misconduct), all as the Walleye defeated Kalamazoo 3-1.
The Walleye's website provides a spartan recap...
The Detroit Red Wings may have struggled with some mental and physical fatigue after having played 3 games over the course of 4 nights coming into Saturday night's battle with the Edmonton Oilers...
But the Oilers didn't prove to be much of an opponent. Save a couple of goalposts and Brian Lashoff taking a tipped shot off of Stephen Weiss in the visor, there were no "scary" moments en route to Petr Mrazek's 14-save shutout and the Red Wings' 5-0 trouncing of the Oilers, giving the Wings 3 straight wins and their second-ever sweep of Alberta and British Columbia.
The Red Wings-Oilers game will be delayed a little bit due to the Pavel Bure jersey retirement ceremony ceremony in Vancouver (yay "fall back?"I I know I'll be up till 5 or 6 with the extra hour because newspapers publish later during "fall back"), and the Red Wings posted a very meaty Game-Day Preview video which includes substantial chats with Petr Mrazek and Darren Helm, as well as Wings coach Mike Babcock's game-day presser, so enjoy:
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
Helm admits he was pretty down some days with the back problems, especially. He originally hurt the back doing squats.
“There were a couple of dark days that swamped my mood, where I’d second-guess things. I was a little concerned it would come to this day, whether I’d be playing again,” said Helm, who saw four doctors who couldn’t find any structural damage in the back.
“The back felt good going into this past camp, then I pulled my left groin then I got down to Grand Rapids and tweaked my right groin, maybe because I played back-to-back games” said Helm. who will will play on the fourth line Saturday with Drew Miller and Mikael Samuelsson.
“I’m sure he’ll be bagged 15 seconds into shifts,” said coach Mike Babcock, who will play it by ear to see how much ice-time he gets.
Will he be as lightning quick as he was before, when he’d blow by checkers?
“I guess we’ll find out tonight. I’ve been a pretty good practice player,” he said.
He's anything but the Red Wings' player anymore, but this move absolutely baffles me, per Flames Nation's Kent Wilson, who reports that Rito Berra and Karri Ramo will now be Calgary's goaltending tandem, with Joey MacDonald heading to the Abbotsford Heat:
MacDonald was fine in the Wings' 4-3 win over Calgary, but...Well, I still don't get this one.
Updated 14x at 4:55 PM: The Detroit Red Wings hope to build upon their 2-1 win over Vancouver and their 4-3 win over Calgary, aiming to continue their winning ways against the Edmonton Oilers this evening (10 PM EDT, FSD/CBC/97.1 FM), and as Paul noted, Darren Helm will play this evening. MLive's Ansar Khan reported that Helm's playing, and he clarified Johan Franzen's status, too:
The Wings, as expected, have activated Darren Helm, who'll make season debut tonight, and placed Jonathan Ericsson on long-tern IR.
Johan Franzen is out tonight but expected to play Monday in Winnipeg, Ken Holland said.
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