The Malik Report
Even I will admit that, until Tuesday night's game against Dallas, anyway, I was scratching my head a bit about Jordin Tootoo. For somebody who supposedly came to Detroit to play more regularly and to register points, Tootoo had been playing anywhere between 7-10 minutes over the Wings' first five games, and he was registering a couple of hits and a shot here and there, but wasn't doing much else.
While Damien Brunner's dazzled us all on the scoresheet and aesthetically speaking--and again, I have to offer the, "It's early yet" caveat--I had begun to think, "Geez, here's another physical player brought into Detroit to be physical, and here he is being used in an extremely limited role, penalty parade included, and he can't seem to get his checking timed right or really get on the forecheck with the time he's getting. Are we seeing another Mike Commodore situation in the making here?"
Apparently not! Tootoo is being paid the 48-game equivalent of $1.7 million this season and will be paid $2 million over the next two seasons to play for 7-9 minutes a game, while Brunner's scoring goals while earning his pro-rated $1.35 million to deke and dangle and score.
Who's really giving the Wings bang for their buck?
It's still early in terms of the time having passed in Red Wings' 2013 season--the Wings have been playing for a week-and-a-half now, so we're 12 days into the schedule--but six games played represent 1/8th of the 48 games the Wings will play, or 12.5% of the Wings' schedule.
Many issues still ail the 3-2-and-1 Wings, even after their superb 4-1 victory over Dallas on Tuesday, and as the Wings will face off against the St. Louis Blues three times in February (starting on Friday), the Nashville Predators twice, the hungry-for-redemption Kings twice, the spoiler-happy Blue Jackets twice and a mixed bag of six other teams (Calgary, Edmonton, Anaheim, Vancouver, Minnesota and San Jose) during a month in which the Wings will play 15 times over the course of 28 nights (three sets of back-to-back games included): the power play is still awful, the penalty-killing unit isn't much better--and is having to kill far too many penalties--the Wings have yet to score a first-period goal...
And in terms of the team's injuries, Jonas Gustavsson (groin) is the player closest to returning this weekend. The team may have to wait at least another 7-10 days to get Darren Helm (back), Mikael Samuelsson (groin) and Ian White (lacerated quadriceps) back into the lineup, and Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder), Jan Mursak (shoulder) and Joey MacDonald (back) are at least two weeks away, if not longer in some instances.
This isn't exactly another, "Girls' guide to Watching the Rangers"--and kudos to Stanley Cup of Chowder's Sarah Connors for issuing a stern and thorough rebuttal to both the concept that women somehow can't be passionate sports fans, or those who believe that anyone who sees an athlete and is attracted to them suddenly becomes a sports "bunny"--but this well-intentioned article by MLive's Karen Dybis, offering a parent's guide to bringing children to Red Wings games has me a bit perplexed.
I had parents who were very thorough about going to public places or attending public events when I was growing up--they'd walk me through the routine, how long we'd be staying, where we were going to eat, how long a walk it would be to where we were parking, what constituted appropriate conduct, etc.--and if I or my friends started misbehaving, we were told to zip it and usually did.
Here are some of Dybis' points...Parents, what do you think about these suggestions?
Updated 2x at 2:19 PM: The Red Wings are enjoying a welcome and what will become an increasingly rare day off after their 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars last night, so today's crop of Red Wings-related stories, barring any injury news, will be pretty spartan. As I was wrapping up last night's overnight report, however, a story from Russia Today appeared around 4 AM EST, and it yielded a Magnum P.I.-style double-eyebrow-raising:
The 1000th career point from Russian forward, Pavel Datsyuk helped the Red Wings to a 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars in the NHL.
Datsyuk assisted Valtteri Filppula in the two opening goals, which pretty much sealed the deal for the Red Wings on the night he bagged the landmark achievement.
"Whenever he has the puck, you can always expect it's going to come your way," Filppula said of Datsyuk’s play in an interview with the NHL’s official website. "I've obviously played with him for a while now, but still, every once in a while you get surprised."
The game meant the Russian’s career scoring record reached 1,000 points, with 732 (240 goals 478 assists) coming in the NHL and the rest – in Russian hockey.
As stated in the quick take, the Red Wings did not resolve any of their statistical issues on Tuesday night. They took 5 penalties, were out-shot in two of three periods, they still have yet to score a first-period goal, their power play is now a woeful 3-for-35, and they gave up the game's first goal yet again.
Statistics matter a little less when you win, however, and the Red Wings rallied from a 1-0 deficit to defeat the Dallas Stars in convincing fashion, emerging with a 4-1 victory. The Wings definitely delivered a different kind of performance for Joe Louis Arena's crowd, and that started...At the start, when Jordin Tootoo chose to fight with Eric Nystrom just after the puck dropped at 7:38 PM (on very sloppy, soupy ice as we experienced spring-like weather in Metro Detroit on Tuesday and now early Wednesday morning, including sustained temperatures in the high 50's and thunderstorms), kicking off the game with a bang, and beginning a night in which Tootoo would engage in two fights and then earn significant playing time alongside Drew Miller on the Wings' fourth line.
Wings coach Mike Babcock was surprised with Tootoo's decision to drop the gloves so early, but he told DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose that he didn't mind it:
Sometimes doing this job involves living in a little bubble. On game days, like Tuesday, even though I'm not at the rink, I'm up to cover the morning skate, which the Red Wings hold for home games at 10:30 AM, and while I tend to get a "pre-game nap" in, I usually don't call it quits till somewhere between 3:30 and 4:30 AM the next day.
So while I was puttering along covering the Red Wings' morning skate news, following up on that post from 10:30 till about 3 PM, noting stories about Tomas Holmstrom's decision to wear #96, Chris Chelios's coaching aspirations, Ken Holland's stance on when he's going to be ready to make trades during this condensed soup can of a 2013 NHL season, and then watching the Wings play, holding my breath with the rest of you when Todd Bertuzzi took a stick in the eye, writing a quick take, and now, I'm edging toward the end of a Wings-Stars wrap-up and overnight report that I've been working on since I ate dinner at 11 PM (I tend not to eat dinner before games due to the late nights ahead).
Why blather on about this stuff? Well, while spending my day immersed in a little Red Wings news cycle bubble, I missed Wayne Gretzky telling NHL.com's Dan Rosen that Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg is in fact his favorite NHL player...
Updated 2x at 10:54 PM with some videos and initial Twitter-based player comments: The Detroit Red Wings have not managed to score a first-period goal yet. Their power play still kinda stinks. But the Red Wings managed to secure a 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars thanks to some inspiring fights by Jordin Tootoo--followed up by some superb play by the Miller-Abdelkader/Emmerton-Tootoo line--fantastic goaltending by Jimmy Howard, and persistent effort in overcoming the Stars' mob-the-puck-carrier defense and sneaky sticks.
Playing on ice that was as sticky as the May day's worth of 60 degrees and thunderstorm-y weather that we had in Metro Detroit, the Wings and Stars played messy hockey for the first 25+ minutes of the game, filled with penalties and phantom calls. The Stars did get the first goal thanks toa colossal mix-up between Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson and Pavel Datsyuk, yielding Loui Eriksson finding an easy rebound goal past Jimmy Howard, but the Wings responded in a hurry, with Valtteri Filppula depositing the first of two goals behind Kari Lehtonen a little under 3 minutes after Eriksson scored...
Updated w/ a picture at 9:45 PM: I don't know if we're gonna find a video of the play, but Todd Bertuzzi took a stick to the eye on a follow-through by Stars forward Jamie Benn. The refs called what is not but should be a double minor for high sticking as follow-throughs are exempt from penalties--though Kris Draper was nearly blinded by Paul Kariya on a similar play.
As Wings fans' collective breath was being held waiting for news on Bertuzzi because he dropped his gloves and went off bleeding, we can all exhale now, per MLive's Ansar Khan.
Fox Sports Detroit's Larry Murphy says that Bertuzzi has cuts both above and below the eye, and he's got quite the shiner going, but he's okay. Squinting a bit on the bench, but okay.
Update: here's a picture, via the Twitter community and Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji:
Red Wings executive Chris Chelios has been mentoring the organization's top defensive prospects for some time now, and over the past two seasons, he's begun to help the Grand Rapids Griffins' coaches hold practice on increasingly regular bases. This week, Chelios is taking partin Wayne Gretzky's fantasy hockey camp in Las Vegas, Nevada, and he spoke to NHL.com's Dan Rosen about his desire to eventually make coaching his full-time job, despite currently spending his time learning managerial ropes in the hockey operations category:
"Basically, I'm learning how to coach," Chelios told NHL.com Tuesday from the 11th annual Wayne Gretzky Fantasy Camp.
Chelios, who turned 51 last week, works primarily with the defensemen for the Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit's American Hockey League affiliate. His title is Advisor to Hockey Operations, but he sees himself as an on-ice coach, a helping hand to first-year coach Jeff Blashill.
"I spend three or four days a week there, go on the ice with them, work with the young defensemen," Chelios said. "It's been great. I'm really enjoying it. It's one thing to play and it's another to get behind the bench and coach. There's a lot to it. It's been a great experience for me."
Chelios made a pledge to his kids to remain as available as possible for them during their collegiate careers, and but his sons Dean and Jake are a year away from graduating from Michigan State University, where they play on Tom Anastos' team, and Chelios's daughters are of college age as well. As such, Chelios would like to become something more than an informal assistant to Griffins coach Jeff Blashill sooner than later, and within a few years, Mike Babcock may find someone he used to spar with in the locker room and on the bench instead aiding his cause--assuming he doesn't follow his sons along their desired path toward earning a living playing hockey professionally:
Because weather issues forced the Dallas Stars to fly into Detroit today, they didn't hold a morning skate. As such, the Dallas News's Mike Heika and DallasStars.com's Mark Stepneski offered their game-day updates within the last hour, and the Wings' website has just wrapped up their game-day coverage. Those stories and videos are located in the post dedicated to the news stories originating from the Red Wings' morning skate ahead of tonight's rematch between a team that wrecked the Wings' home opener and a Wings team absent first-period goals and boasting an underperforming 2-for-26 power play (the game starts tonight at 7:30 PM, and will air on FSD Plus, FS SW Plus and WXYT AM).
This afternoon, we're going to talk about two pertient issues involving the Red Wings' personnel in the present and future tenses (mostly future) for a little bit. According to ESPN's Craig Custance (in his Insider-only blog), the NHL and NHLPA have decided that every team will now have some chance of winning a draft lottery now involving
30 teams instead of 5 [edit: make that 14 teams instead of 5, with every team that doesn't make the playoff cut earning a spot in the draft lottery], and landing the #1 overall pick over the course of the new CBA...