The Malik Report
The Detroit Red Wings' 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers consisted of a hard-working performance belonging to one of those few NHL games that you can call a "thing of beauty," a game in which the Red Wings and Oilers went toe-to-toe instead of check-to-check and played honest, hard-fought and generally clean hockey while roaring up and down the ice in the kind of game you don't see very often in the muck-and-grind-and-trap-fests that seem to plague the NHL.
For the Red Wings, coming off a hard-fought game against the Blues, and facing a standard of officiating that was way, way tighter than it was in St. Louis, being able to both prove that it could adapt to a completely different and more Wings-like style of "turn and burn" hockey and bring their special teams out of the gutter was nothing less than monumental...
But the Wings also know that whether they can be deemed to have truly established a new identity or remain a team that takes two steps forward and an inconsistent step back will be determined by how they perform against the Los Angeles Kings today (12:30 PM EST, NBC/TSN/97.1 FM, and today the Wings are collecting smoke detectors for charity).
I watched the Fox Sports Detroit broadcast of the Wings' win over Edmonton, and unlike Hockey Night in Canada, they don't have a "GM Cam," so I missed out on this little gem in which Red Wings GM Ken Holland finds that he can't quite control...The TV at the Joe for Oilers GM Steve Tambellini:
Updated 3x with highlights and post-game clips at 6:01 PM: Jimmy Howard will start tomorrow, per Mike Babcock on 97.1 FM: Goodness gracious, great balls of fire, the Detroit Red Wings played a wonderfully, wonderfully entertaining game against an Edmonton Oilers team that nearly squeaked one out thanks to Nikolai Khabibulin's masterful performance, narrowly out-performed and out-played by the savvy, veteran Pavel Datsyuks, I mean Red Wings, who earned a 2-1 win in gutsy, glorious fashion.
But the Red Wings got the first goal, a fantatsic lateral-lateral-lateral play to Pavel Datsyuk, who ripped a hard shot past Khabibulin thanks to a great legal pick by Johan Franzen, the Wings survived Justin Schultz's late 2nd period PPG via a slap shot through a couple of Oilers and Wings that Jimmy Howard never saw, and in the third period of a penalty-filled game (so much for consistent refereeing), Franzen played into the equation again as Zetterberg, Super Datsyuk (Datsyuk narrowly out-performed Khabibulin) and Brunner got the puck back to Niklas Kronwall and he ripped a high, hard shot through Khabibulin with Johan Franzen in front.
The Red Wings and Edmonton Oilers face off today (2 PM EST, FSD/CBC/97.1 FM) as the Wings wrap up a slate of four games played over the course of six nights...and days...With a pair of matinee games.
There obviously won't be any morning skates today or tomorrow (when the Wings play the LA Kings at 12:30 PM EST, on NBC, TSN and 97.1 FM), so today's game-day updates are more "factoids" than hard news...
Though Oilers broadcaster Rob Staufer brings us the first of a couple of Oilers lineup updates, with Oilers coach Ralph Krueger's decision as to whether he's going to start Nikolai Khabibulin or Devan Dubnyk opposite Jimmy Howard likely to be revealed sometime before the game...
The question I've heard the most regarding Red Wings forward and 26-year-old phenom "Damien Brunner" is, "How did the Red Wings find this guy?" The answer isn't simple, but the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa sat down with Brunner to find out how he slipped through so very many cracks before spurning the Minnesota Wild, playing one more season in Switzerland and then agreeing to join the Wings after Mike Babcock and Ken Holland sold him on the team during last spring's World Championships.
The blunt answer is that, quite frankly, he wasn't always a star in the making, and as he told Krupa, he struggled so very much with the Kloten Flyers some five years ago that he was traded--and trades are as likely to occur in European hockey as Mickey Redmond is likely to fall in love with a composite hockey stick:
"In my second year and the beginning of the third year at [Kloten], the coach didn't see me on his roster or in an offensive role," said Brunner, who is tied for the Red Wings team lead with five goals and is second in shots with 34, as the team toils in a transitional year. "He thought I am not making any progress and I probably wasn't going to be good enough to play in that league. They sent me down to the B league for three games, and after that, I was traded."
Then, with the considerable help of a former Red Wings player, whose brief stint in Detroit is likely to be overshadowed by coaching Brunner for five years, his career took off. Brunner has arrived in the NHL and, quickly, established he belongs.
What remains to be determined is his ultimate contribution to the team the Red Wings are about to become, and whether he will be a star. The Red Wings may have landed yet another in a series of startling scouting finds.
But Brunner might not have become part of the answer in Detroit without the trade to Zug in the Swiss league, and its coach, Doug Shedden.
I highly suggest that you continue reading Krupa's story...
The Detroit Red Wings will play their third and fourth games over the course of five and then six nights starting today with a maintee game against the Edmonton Oilers (2:00 PM EST, FSD/CBC/97.1 FM) today and an even earlier tilt against the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday (12:30 PM EST NBC/TSN/97.1 FM and the Wings are holding smoke detector collections both today and tomorrow).
As we learned on Friday, the Red Wings will attempt to build upon Thursday's convincing win over the Blues this weekend--before playing St. Louis for the third and final time this month next Wednesday (also an NBC game)--minus the services of one Todd Bertuzzi, whose back is acting up, possibly with Joakim Andersson in the lineup, and with Jimmy Howard definitely starting Saturday and "Petr Griffin" possibly starting on Sunday.
Sorry this is so very late, but I kinda crashed after a pair of nights with little sleep and some fun fun fun moving of cars around the condo parking lot early in the morning. There's something of a modicum of good news on the back injury front! MLive's Ansar Khan reports that Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi is just dealing with the kinds of issues that those of us with bad backs and hip flexors (myself included) deal with in terms of wear and tear, and Bertuzzi isn't expected to be out for an extended period of time as his MRI came back showing no issues in terms of strains or sprains:
"Docs didn't see anything significant. Weekend off and see how he feels Monday,'' Holland said.
The Red Wings recalled forward Joakim Andersson (6-2, 200) from the Grand Rapids Griffins. Andersson has 10 goals, 17 assists and 55 penalty minutes in 36 games with the Griffins. He appeared in five games with the Red Wings last season, getting no points.
Holland said Andersson was recalled because the team wanted a extra forward nearby this weekend, just in case. The Griffins play in Oklahoma City this weekend, and it might have been difficult to get someone to Detroit at short notice.
"We don't want to wake up tomorrow or Sunday and need a body,'' Holland said. “We have different ideas for the lineup, we'll decide in the morning. (Andersson) brings a big body, he can penalty kill, he's a good defensive forward.''
Red Wings interim back-up goalie and top prospect Petr Mrazek's received as much attention for the image of Family Guy's Peter Griffin on his goalie mask, which is a creation of something of a legend in the mask-painting industry in David Gunnarson, but MLive's Ansar Khan and the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan found out that just because Petr Mrazek may indeed be a "Super Griffin," that doesn't necessarily make him a fan of the show:
“Our (equipment manager Brad Thompson) in Grand Rapids gave me that idea because he said my name is Petr and I play for the Griffins, so they Peter Griffin on it,'' Mrazek said.
He said he has received some good comments about the design, which he had done about three weeks ago. But, he's not a fan of the show.
“I don't watch that show, I saw just a couple of commercials,'' Mrazek said. "But, I like the idea.''
Definitely not a fan, as the ever-blunt Mrazek told Kulfan:
"I've seen the commercials," Mrazek said. "I don't like the show."
Red Wings Friday practice post in progress: Bertuzzi out, Andersson recalled, Howard starts Saturday
Updated 10x at 3:49 PM: Bertuzzi's out, the Wings have recalled Andersson, Howard starts on Saturday: I can't say that I think this is the brightest idea in the world, but even though the Red Wings have to follow up their big win in St. Louis with a pair of matinee games against Edmonton on Saturday and Los Angeles on Sunday (games 3 and 4 over the course of 6 nights), Wings coach Mike Babcock decided to put his team through a Friday practice, and there's a mixed bag of news on the injury front already:
MLive's Ansar Khan confirms...
I may be one of five people who had no problem with Red Wings forward Johan Franzen spearing David Perron after Perron smashed Franzen's face into the boards (since Franzen suffered a subdural hematoma after being concussed against the Colorado Avalanche in 2008, and you may remember how Gary Roberts welcomed Franzen back by punching him in the face repeatedly), especially as Franzen received a major and a game misconduct for spearing in the process...
And this morning, Sportsline's Adam Gretz (via On the Wings' Matt Saler) and MLive's Ansar Khan report that the NHL felt that the 5-and-a-game's worth of penalties was severe enough punishment for a player whose head remains a prime target for opponents who know that Franzen will snap if he's punched, slashed, facewashed or otherwise hit in a manner that involves attempting to break his face:
Franzen received a spear and then a face-rearranging cross-check to the face by Alexei Emelin and Dmitri Kalinin at last year's World Championships, too (remember? Covered it). He doesn't like being hit in the face.
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