The Malik Report
Red Wings prospect gnus: Tomas Jurco’s pro evolution, and Gustav Nyquist, an AHL ‘Star of the Month’
Red Wings prospect Tomas Jurco absolutely dominated play during his final two years in the QMJHL, scoring highlight-reel goals with almost predictable regularity as he won a Memorial Cup and two QMJHL titles with the Saint John Sea Dogs, so the most frequent question I've received about Jurco's status this season is, "Whatever happened to Jurco?"
The answer's simple: Jurco went from playing against 15-to-20-year-olds in the QMJHL to playing against men in the AHL, and as such, the YouTube magician has seemingly disappeared.
He is in fact playing for the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins, and RedWingsCentral's Matthew Wuest reports that Griffins coach Jeff Blashill had no illusions regarding a very big fish in a somewhat shallow pond finding himself performing like anything less than a minnow in hockey's equivalent of the Great Lakes:
Jurco, who was a teenaged rookie until he turned 20 on Dec. 28, has eight goals and eight assists for 16 points in 53 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins — a far cry from the 68 points he recorded in 48 games last season with the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs. Learning the ropes isn’t easy for a rookie at the best of times in the AHL. Throw in the fact that he was playing in a league stacked with locked-out NHLers for the first three months and it gets even harder.
“Tomas is learning how hard and how strong you have to be on the puck and how much you have to value the puck because it just won’t come back to you if you lose it,” Blashill says. “In junior, it comes back to you enough and in pro it doesn’t. He’s learning how to go get it more and when he has it to hold onto it longer. That’s confidence and it’s learning how to do it and it just takes time.”
The Central Collegiate Hockey Association is going away after this season because many of its constituent teams are joining the new Big Ten conference, so the CCHA championship will serve as the last in the venerable conference's history:
FINAL CCHA CHAMPIONSHIP AT JLA SATURDAY AND SUNDAY MARCH 23-24
… Little Caesars Family Four-Pack Offer As Low As $44 …
Detroit… The 42nd and final CCHA Championship weekend will be staged at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday, March 23 (Semi-Final Game #1 – 1:05 p.m. & Semi-Final Game #2 – 4:35 p.m.) and Sunday, March 24 (Mason Cup Final – 2:05 p.m.).
Tickets to the 2013 CCHA Championship are priced between $10 and $35 apiece and can be purchased at the JLA Box Office (313-396-7575), all Ticketmaster (800-745-3000) outlets and online at OlympiaEntertainment.com. Special Little Caesars Family Four-Packs – which include four tickets, four pizza slices and four soft drinks – are also available for purchase for this event beginning at only $44 per package. General admission upper bowl student seats, meanwhile, can be obtained for as low as $5 per ticket at the JLA Box Office only (a valid student ID must be presented at the time of purchase).
Miami, Notre Dame, Western Michigan, Ohio State and Ferris State all received automatic byes to the conference quarter-finals by virtue of having finished in the Top 5 of the CCHA’s final regular season standings. The remaining six squads will look to advance by winning their upcoming best-of-three first round series: No. 10 Bowling Green at No. 8 Lake Superior, No. 11 Northern Michigan at No. 7 Michigan and No. 12 Michigan State at No. 6 Alaska.
I figured that the Red Wings' "off day" wouldn't be a quiet one, but I didn't know it'd be this busy. A significant chunk of morning news, a Petr Mrazek "AMA" and some earnest trade deadline ponderings and an interview with Ken Holland have all popped up over the past two-and-change hours, and now MLive's Ansar Khan's followed up DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose's news about Darren Helm skating in his hockey gear with an incredibly substantive set of injury updates.
Wings GM Ken Holland offered the following to Khan regarding Darren Helm's status--and don't be surprised by Holland's comment that it's going to take Helm at least 2-3 weeks to get back into "hockey shape"...
“He pushed it harder today than yesterday; he'll wake up tomorrow and see how it feels,'' general manager Ken Holland said. “I'd say he's at least a couple of weeks away. It's not only the back, it's the conditioning.''
Helm saw a specialist in New York on Feb. 25. He discovered a small tear in a disc.
“We're a lot more optimistic today about him than we were a week ago,'' Holland said. “He's going to go on the ice a little each day. If there's no setbacks he'll push it more. It's a positive step in his rehab.''
Otherwise, the news isn't good regarding Valtteri Filppula, Mikael Samuelsson, Todd Bertuzzi or Carlo Colaiacovo:
As an adjunct to the off-day Red Wings news post: the Free Press's Helene St. James spent her off-day morning pondering what the Detroit Red Wings might be able to do to bolster their lineup as the trade deadline approaches. St. James duly notes that the NHL's standings are so jam-packed at present--especially in the West--that we're likely to have to wait until much closer to the April 3rd trade deadline to find out which teams are "buyers" and which ones are "sellers"...
But even though Wings GM Ken Holland told ESPN's Pierre LeBrun that he felt that the probable returns of Darren Helm (who DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose reported is skating today, in his hockey equipment, for the first time since suffering his back injury), Valteri Filppula (shoulder), Mikael Samuelsson (broken finger) and possibly Todd Bertuzzi (back) would serve as superb and compensation-free trade deadline acquisitions, Holland also suggested that he'd engage in his customary tire-kicking process (and Holland kicks every tire)...
Via RedWingsFeed, I'm sure this is going to be interesting...The Grand Rapids Griffins have chosen to allow Red Wings prospect Petr Mrazek to engage in an "Ask Me Anything" session on Reddit:
Amongst this morning/early afternoon's Red Wings news: the Wings received a new-CBA-imposed break from practicing today, and given the fact that they're about to play three games over the course of four nights, starting with tomorrow's game against Edmonton, Wings coach Mike Babcock's decision to pick today as a day off makes significant sense, especially given the number of injuries the Wings have sustained during practices. Somewhat surprisingly, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose reports that one player did take to the ice the morning after the Wings' 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche...
In terms of tailings from last night's game, MLive's Brendan Savage notes that "The Mule" woke from his post-hip flexor injury slumber in a big way last night...
The Detroit Red Wings neither started nor finished particularly strongly during what was sometimes less than an aesthetically-pleasing 2-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche, but the Wings' company line after the game involved two points of emphasis:
1. They weren't thrilled with the fact that Jimmy Howard had to stop 36 shots, including 16 in the third period, nor were they thrilled with their power play or overall effort;
2. But the Wings now sit in sixth place in the Western Conference with 26 points, six points ahead of an Avs team that could've pulled to within two points of them, 5 points above Thursday's opponent, the Edmonton Oilers, who dropped a 4-3 shootout decision to Columbus on Tuesday evening (Sportsnet's Mark Spector reports that the Avs were "snowed in" thanks to the blizzard blanketing Illinois, Indiana and Ohio), only one point behind the 3rd-place Vancouver Canucks, and 8 points ahead of the 15th-place Blue Jackets, who the Wings will play on Saturday and Sunday.
Okay, so the Wings didn't say all of that, but they tipped their hats to Jimmy Howard and Johan Franzen, they acknowledged that the West is very tight, and they promised to play better next time.
As for the Avs, they told the Denver Post's Mike Chambers that giving the Wings a run for their money felt like progress made, at least to some extent...
And now, for something not necessarily Red Wings-related:
Goalies are strange creatures, and I can confirm as much because I'm one of 'em. Before my back and a lack of health insurance sidelined me, I was happy to volunteer to fling myself in front of any and every sort of projectile that could be flung in my direction off the blades of hockey sticks, and it definitely takes someone slightly off-kilter to happily embrace such a fundamentally futile--and often painful--pursuit.
That being said, the viciousness and readily-admitted dirty play that took this goal-scorer-turned-checking forward back into the crease was replaced with focus and a certian sense of gallows humor, so I never became one of those super-intense, overly-competitive goalies that twitch and bark at you when you interrupt their superstitions, nor do I buy into certain somewhat superstitious maxims of the goaltending profession.
One of the biggest, "I don't know if it's true, but it works" maxims of goaltending is that wearing white or light-colored equipment makes you look "bigger," or tricks shooters into shooting pucks into you instead of shooting pucks past brightly-colored equipment. I liked losing black pucks and even orange street hockey balls in my black pads and blocker, and I wore a radioactive-lime green jersey...
But many goalies, and most NHL goalies, believe that white equipment yields better performance, and the Toronto Star's Andrew Livingstone reports that this annoys the hell out of equipment manufacturers...
The Windsor Star's Bob Duff has taken note of Red Wings fans' fury about the fact that Tomas Tatar isn't playing alongside Pavel Datsyuk, that Gustav Nyquist is plying his trade in Grand Rapids and that the Wings haven't taken some of their prized prospects and converted them into veteran additions, and he penned a must-read response framed within a recap of the Wings' 2-1 victory over the Avs earlier this evening:
Sure, they could go for it right now, recall Nyquist, trade a first-round pick and top prospect Calle Jarnkrok to Calgary for Jarome Iginla, but that would that truly be prudent?
In a few years’ time, when Datsyuk is gone and Zetterberg is in decline, the Wings envision Nyquist and Jarnkrok as their new dynamic duo, just as the aforementioned twosome stepped in for Steve Yzerman and Sergei Fedorov. The plan is to allow Nyquist to enjoy a dominant AHL season and let him start fresh in an 82-game season as one of the club’s top six forwards.
“He got called up and got sent down (earlier this season),” Detroit director of player development Jiri Fischer explained. “It’s not easy for a young player to stay 100 per cent unaffected by being called up and being sent down all the time.”
Updated w/ post-game clips, videos, and stats at 10:58 PM: Grr. The Detroit Red Wings' 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche was good to see--it was a relief, frankly, given that the Wings need to take as many of the 8 games they're playing over 2 weeks, and were off to an 0-and-1 start--it was great to see Johan Franzen score on a breakaway set up by Damien Brunner, awesome to see Niklas Kronwall rip a shot wide (gasp, with Abdelkader, Datsyuk and Cleary together, even after Mike Babcock gave Tomas Tatar a few shifts with #13), and it was great to see the Wings be able to turn and burn with the Avs in the 1st and 2nd periods...
But the Wings kind of fell apart after playing, "ONLY KRONWALL CAN SHOOT" on their 5-on-3, en route to blowing 2:57 of power play time (their only power plays of the game), and the Avs roared back after the Chuck Kobasew's boarding penalty on Brendan Smith (thankfully okay) expired, ripping 16 third-period shots on Jimmy Howard.
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.