The Malik Report
Updated 3x at 11:21 AM: The Detroit Red Wings didn’t exactly play flawless hockey in defeating an injury-depleted Buffalo Sabres team 4-1 on Friday night, but as the Wings kicked off a December in which they’ll play 14 more times over the next 29 days, and given that they didn’t get into Denver until after 3 AM, emerging literally (see: Justin Abdelkader is OK despite getting his bell rung by Brayden McNabb) and figuratively unscathed thanks to a strong start and 40 minutes of “Red Wings on cruise control” hockey…Is about as much as Wings fans could possibly hope for as their team ground out
its seventh straight win.
The Sabres, however, took few positives from a game in which the Wings staked out a 3-1 lead over the course of the game’s first fourteen minutes; the fact that they lost both Nathan Gerbe (skate cut) and Patrick Kaleta (groin) to injuries added, well, injury to insult, but Robyn Regehr offered no excuses for his team’s performance to BuffaloSabres.com’s Kevin Snow:
MLIve’s Ansar Khan provides good news for Red Wings fans who were worried about Justin Abdelkader’s status after he took a heavy (and clean) hit from Brayden McNabb during the Red Wings-Sabres game, but not-so-good news regarding Sabres forward Nathan Gerbe, who got dinged by the toe of Paul Gaustad’s skate:
Abdelkader did not return to the game but said he will practice Saturday in Denver and be ready for Sunday’s game in Colorado.
“Just trying to get around him, he came up a little high; I didn’t see the replay,’’ Abdelkader said. “I just had to go through all the tests. Everything is fine.’‘
Also, Sabres forward Nathan Gerbe (Oxford) was cut in the nose and lip by the skate blade of a teammate late in the third period. Coach Lindy Ruff said he was in a lot of pain, but no surgery is needed and he is questionable for Saturday’s game in Nashville.
The Detroit Red Wings weren’t going to play near-flawless hockey forever, and after steamrolling an injury-ravaged Buffalo Sabres in the first period of their 4-1 win, the Wings took their collective foot off the gas pedal, got a little casual and way too fancy after three straight penalties taken in under 10 minutes shook ‘em up a bit, and…
Well, as the Chief suggested, Jimmy Howard has been in, “I can bail you out, boys, no worries” mode all year long, and between Howard stopping 19 of 20 second and third-period shots against and the Wings’ ability to stifle the Sabres’ offense just enough to regularly expose the Sabres’ lack of depth, the Wings endured an honest-to-goodness road letdown without surrendering anything more than some pride (assuming that Justin Abdelkader emerged from the “quiet room” no worse for wear, anyway).
I’m going to have to ask you to pardon the “freighter in a dry dock for two years’” worth of rust on The Malik Report for the next two-to-four weeks as I’ve been out of the loop, and in that spirit, here’s a very late reminder regarding a very important in-person appearance which you might want to make at Joe Louis Arena’s box office tomorrow, per DetroitRedWings.com’s Greg Monahan:
For the second time this season, the Detroit Red Wings will make a limited number of $9 tickets available to fans for select homes games during the remainder of the 2011-2012 regular season. The specially-priced tickets go on sale this Saturday, December 3 at 10:00 a.m. and are only available at the Joe Louis Arena Box Office. The deal will apply for all home games from January through the end of the regular season slate in early April, including six premium home games where tickets will start at $19.
Updated 2x with some insider info at 4:17 PM: Ahead of what’s supposed to be a potentially fabric-of-the-NHL-chaging meeting of the NHL’s Board of Governors on Monday—assuming that what is truly a collection of power brokers generally consisting of hard-liners, dinosaurs, curmudgeons and a mostly aged and intransigent bunch doesn’t simply say, “Well, we don’t know what the hell’s going to happen with Phoenix, anyway, so can we delay this decision till we know where the Coyotes will play during the 2012-2013 season (if we have one)?” or perhaps to simply say, “Look, the Blue Jackets are losing money, so they go East,” or perhaps, “Moving the Predators East makes the most geographic and territorial sense given that the Thrashers are gone”...
The Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell spoke to Ken Holland and the Wings’ players about their desire to no longer force their fans to burn the midnight oil on such a regular basis, and as we already know by now, if you mention, “Red Wings” and “Eastern Conference,” you’re bound to generate enough web hits that the media’s been milking this topic like the low-hanging fruit it is all season long.
In any case, Holland suggests that the same-old, same-old won’t cut it, despite the Wings’ willingness to be a “good citizen”:
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:
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