Blogs > Red Wings Corner

Up-to-the minute updates and insights from the Red Wings locker room at home and on the road. By Chuck Pleiness of The Macomb Daily.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Playoff goals/60 minutes

The following are lists of the average number of goals scored and allowed per 60 minutes of playing time with individual Red Wings on the ice during the post-season.
A few notes ...
-- How good were Dan Cleary and Kirk Maltby on the penalty-kill? With Cleary on the ice, the Red Wings outscored their playoff opponents, 3-1, while a man short. With Maltby, the Wings posted a 2-2 score while short-handed.
-- Pavel Datsyuk was one of the Wings' top short-handed forwards during the regular season, but slumped in the playoffs. Mathieu Schneider was on the ice for a remarkable four opposition power-play goals in just 8:08 of ice time.
-- There was a severe drop-off between the Wings' first power-play unit and second. Mikael Samuelsson did a nice job stepping into Schneider's skates on the point, averaging about the same G/60 minutes. The top forward unit of Datsyuk-Zetterberg-Holmstrom was clearly better than the second unit as it was during the regular season.
-- Kris Draper was on the ice for no even-strength goals against in the first round, two in the second round, and eight in the third, ballooning his defensive stats. Todd Bertuzzi was the only Detroit forward who was worse defensively at even strength.
-- Two pleasant surprises were Chris Chelios and Robert Lang. Chelios wasn't on the ice for much offense during the regular season, but the Wings outscored opponents 11-5 at even strength with Cheli on the ice in the post-season. With Lang, the Wings outscored opponents 8-2 at even strength. Lang was not on the ice for an even-strength goal allowed in the first or third round while generating offense at a level similar to Datsyuk and Zetterberg.


Forwards GF-GA
Hudler 4.72-0.00
Holmstrom 2.91-1.82
Bertuzzi 2.34-2.68
Franzen 2.29-0.51
Lang 2.27-0.57
Datsyuk 2.26-1.58
Zetterberg 2.05-1.59
Filppula 1.62-2.27
Samuelsson 1.47-0.88
Cleary 1.40-1.68
Draper 1.04-2.61
Maltby 0.77-1.54
Calder 0.58-0.00
Defensemen GF-GA
Lebda 3.20-1.42
Chelios 2.70-1.23
Schneider 2.18-0.62
Lidstrom 1.62-1.80
Lilja 1.49-2.55
Quincey 1.14-1.14
Markov 0.91-1.45

Forwards GF-GA
Holmstrom 9.89-0.76
Datsyuk 9.01-0.64
Zetterberg 8.08-0.62
Hudler 7.38-3.69
Lang 6.83-0.98
Cleary 5.83-0.00
Calder 4.81-0.00
Franzen 4.43-0.00
Bertuzzi 3.51-1.17
Flippula 0.00-0.00
Defensemen GF-GA
Lidstrom 8.61-0.48
Samuelsson 7.42-0.00
Schneider 7.15-1.02
Chelios 4.88-2.44
Lebda 2.19-2.19

Forwards GF-GA (ranked by GA)
Cleary 4.39-1.46
Filppula 0.00-2.59
Maltby 3.42-3.42
Franzen 1.14-4.54
Draper 0.99-4.94
Zetterberg 0.00-6.09
Datsyuk 0.00-6.24
Defensemen GF-GA (ranked by GA)
Markov 1.08-2.16
Lidstrom 1.31-3.92
Chelios 1.29-4.51
Lilja 1.03-6.21
Schneider 0.00-29.51

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Red Wings' playoff grades

For the first time in five years, the Detroit Red Wings reached the Western Conference final. For the first time in 11 years, however, the Red Wings lost in the conference final.
As the Anaheim Ducks and Ottawa Senators prepare to battle for what will turn out to be one of those franchises’ first Stanley Cup, it’s time to look back at the Red Wings’ post-season and assess individual performances.
The team as a whole fared quite well, overcoming the loss of Niklas Kronwall for the entire post-season and Mathieu Schneider for the final seven games as well as lesser injuries to Tomas Holmstrom, Brett Lebda and Todd Bertuzzi to advance to the third round.
There was even the mystery of Kyle Calder, who went from playing 15 minutes per game to five minutes per game to being benched in favor of Tomas Kopecky to being listed as behind Jiri Hudler on the depth chart. Was Calder hurt? Was he just ineffective or was there another reason?
Here’s a look at how the Red Wings fared as the team went 10-8 in the post-season, coming within 48 seconds of taking a 3-2 series lead over the Ducks. (Grades are for the 18 games of the post-season only. Marks are lowered for missing time either through injury or benching.)

DOMINIK HASEK A: A healthy Hasek is a goalie who can lead a team to the Cup. This spring, Hasek gave the Red Wings their best playoff goaltending since … Dominik Hasek in 2002. With a 1.79 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage, Hasek was better than in the regular season. He let in a couple of softies, but even at 42, no goalie shuts the door better when his team has a chance to win.

CHRIS CHELIOS A-: Chelios started the playoffs averaging 16 minutes per game, but was consistently losing 24 to 26 minutes per game after Schneider went down. He was first on the team in blocked shots (33). He was third among defensemen in hits (behind Andreas Lilja and Danny Markov). He helped Kyle Quincey look like a veteran. He had the highest plus-minus among blue-liners (plus-7) and wasn’t a negative in any of the three rounds. He even became a regular on the second power-play unit. Chelios couldn’t have been better.
BRETT LEBDA C: At first glance, Lebda had an off post-season. His speed was taken away when he crashed feet first into the boards and twisted his ankle, missing six games. Lebda wasn’t as noticeable on the rush as he was in the regular season although that started to return in Game 4 of the Anaheim series. Lebda loses marks for being absent for six games. But on the plus side, he came back early to help the team and good things happened when he was on the ice (plus-4).
NICKLAS LIDSTROM A+: Lidstrom had too many giveaways (NHL-worst 25 through three rounds). OK, that’s the bad of it. On the good side, Lidstrom led the Wings in scoring, had at least one goal in every series and did a remarkable job against Jarome Iginla, Joe Thornton and Teemu Selanne. Lidstrom was a big key to the power play, but did finish as a zero plus-minus, including being a minus-3 in the Anaheim series.
ANDREAS LILJA B+: Yes, he gave the puck away. Yes, it turned around the conference final. Lilja had too many giveaways (third worst on the team with 23) for a player whose game is supposed to be safety first. But were it not for that one giveaway that led to the Selanne goal in Game 5, however, Lilja would be talked about as a remarkable playoff find. He sat a lot of the season as the seventh defenseman, but he logged 19 minutes per game in the playoffs, not missing a contest. He led the Wings in hits by a wide margin (55) and was second in the league to Sammy Pahlsson through the conference final. The way that Lilja played, it’s debatable whether the team lost much being without Kronwall.
DANNY MARKOV A-: Although everyone deals out the credit for containing the opposition’s top line to Lidstrom, Markov was being sent over the boards as well by Coach Mike Babcock every time that Selanne, Thornton and Iginla touched the ice. His defense-only style paid dividends in the first two rounds, but against Anaheim, Markov slumped, being a minus-4.
KYLE QUINCEY C+: It’s tempting to give the rookie a higher grade. It’s difficult to find many mistakes made by Quincey in his 13 post-season games, but keep in mind that he was being heavily protected by Babcock. When Quincey became a regular, the Wings’ use of three defense tandems was abandoned. Babcock went with two pairs and then rotated his fifth and sixth defensemen in with one of the top four. Still, the 21-year-old with more NHL playoff experience than regular-season experience, Quincey proved that he’s going to be a regular in the league.
MATHIEU SCHNEIDER B-: His shattered wrist really hurt the Red Wings’ chances. In the first round, Schneider had four points, including a goal, was a plus-3 and had a league-high 34 shots on goal. His troubles getting shots through the San Jose defense in the second round are well documented (four shots on goal in five games), but he still managed two points, including a goal, and was a plus-1.

TODD BERTUZZI C+: Big Bert missed the first two games because of his back injury and then had a setback late in the Anaheim series. In between, Bertuzzi had a few flashes (three goals), but too few. Bertuzzi’s biggest highlight was likely when he fought Dion Phaneuf and slammed the Calgary defenseman onto the ice.
KYLE CALDER F: Hopefully, we’ll find out the truth about Calder’s disappearance. He was getting quality minutes in the Calgary series, but didn’t produce much. That continued with a 15-minute Game 1 against San Jose, but after that, his ice time plummeted. Calder didn’t reach 15 minutes of ice time in any two games combined over the next seven games. Was he hurt? Did he fall out of favor? We do know this, Calder was benched by Game 3 of the conference final after tallying one point (an assist) in 13 playoff games.
DAN CLEARY A: Best bargain on the team. You could make an argument – a very very strong argument – that Cleary was the Wings’ MVP of the post-season through the first round. His hit on Phaneuf and subsequent assist was a series-turning moment. Cleary was fourth on the team in scoring and had at least one goal in each round. He was second among forwards in blocked shots (to Kris Draper) and second among forwards in hits (to Kirk Maltby). Better still, for a guy who had some turnover troubles in the regular season, Cleary had just seven in the post-season – 12 Red Wings had more. He can win a faceoff, is a regular on the power play and penalty-kill.
PAVEL DATSYUK A+: He entered the playoffs with a three-year long goalless drought in the post-season and came out with a team-high eight goals. Datsyuk didn’t perform as well on the road as he did at home, but overall, he was marvelous. Babcock moved him back to center and he won 56 percent of his faceoffs. He also had an NHL-best 26 takeaways through the conference final – a stat he led the league in during the regular season. Keep in mind that when Datsyuk and Zetterberg were split apart, it was Datsyuk’s line that drew the opposition’s top checking unit.
KRIS DRAPER C-: Everything fell apart for Draper’s line in the conference final. Draper had no points, one shot on goal and was a minus-7 against Anaheim. He didn’t register an assist in the entire post-season and was without a point in 17 of the 18 games. His line performed well against Calgary, not scoring and not allowing goals, but started to stumble against San Jose before floundering against Anaheim.
VALTTERI FILPPULA B-: There were two big playoff highlights for Filppula. He scored the first goal of the Red Wings’ post-season and had two goals through two games. He also made the remarkable set-up on Robert Lang’s goal – winning the battle at the blue line and making a good pass -- in San Jose that turned that series around. Overall, Filppula wasn’t as effective as he was in the regular season, despite getting time on the top line. It was, however, worth gold in experience for a young player who should become a regular for years in Detroit.
JOHAN FRANZEN B+: Franzen proved himself to be a valuable playoff commodity – a second-tier forward who plays tough and produces big goals. He had the overtime goal that ended the Calgary series – part of a five-point, plus-7 first round for the big Swede. Franzen’s performance slipped after that round as he went without a point in 10 of the next 12 games. Still, Franzen finished as a team-high plus-eight and was a minus in just two of 18 games. And he bounced back nicely from being sawed in half by Jamie McLennan of Calgary.
TOMAS HOLMSTROM A-: Homer would get a solid A were it not for being absent for three games because of a nasty eye injury. Holmstrom was the one Detroit player that the national writers raved about as they watched the Red Wings in the playoffs. His work just outside the crease has become close to perfect. Holmstrom scored a team-high three goals against Anaheim.
JIRI HUDLER C-: Unfortunately for Hudler, he was the 13th forward on a 12-forward team. Funny thing was that when Calder played, Hudler was ahead of Kopecky. Then when Kopecky was put in the lineup, Hudler was ahead of Calder. The rookie did manage to get into six games (Babcock must have been looking the other way) and was a plus-2 with two assists. Hudler’s post-season performance didn’t drop off from his regular-season play. He created offensive opportunities and was responsible defensively. Had he played more, Hudler would receive a B or higher.
TOMAS KOPECKY C: Kopecky was put on a shelf Dec. 14 when he broke his collar bone in four places. The young Slovak, however, worked hard at rehab and made himself available for the playoffs. When Calder’s game went south, it was Kopecky who was inserted in the lineup to provide some size and physical play. In four games, he saw very limited ice time and took a couple of penalties.
ROBERT LANG B+: Lang scored the biggest goal of Detroit’s post-season … sending Game 4 in San Jose into overtime when his wrist shot beat Evgeni Nabokov. Lang finished as a plus-5 and had just two of 18 games as a minus player. He cut down on his turnover rate from the regular season, although he still had too many (21). One odd thing about Lang’s post-season is that he turned into a poor faceoff man. He’s the only Detroit center who was below 50 percent on draws, finishing well below at 39.5 percent.
KIRK MALTBY C+: Maltby was more physical in the post-season than in the regular season and continued to be a leader in drawing opposition penalties. He teamed with Cleary to form a dynamic penalty-kill duo up front. Maltby’s post-season had a good beginning, adequate middle and sub-par end. He was a plus-2 against Calgary and a minus-2 against Anaheim.
MIKAEL SAMUELSSON B: Sammy is a tough one to grade. He didn’t show much against Calgary, then heated up for three goals in two games against San Jose. Then in the Anaheim series, he turned into a set-up man with six assists and no goals. Two things weigh heavily in Samuelsson’s favor. He was a thorn in the opposition’s side with enemy players going out of their way to try to get at him. And he filled in nicely on the point on the first power-play unit when Schneider went down. The Red Wings’ power play was still productive with Samuelsson on the blue line.
HENRIK ZETTERBERG A-: All Wings fans would love to see what would have happened this spring had Zetterberg’s back been at 100 percent. It was noticeable during the Calgary series that Hank wasn’t able to do what he wanted on the ice. Still, he scored six goals – two in each series -- and was an effective weapon. One disappointment was that when centering his own line late in the playoffs, Zetterberg wasn’t able to produce more with Datsyuk’s line drawing the toughest defenders.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Bertuzzi's locker clean-out comments

"I don’t feel like moving anywhere any more. I’m very happy here. It’s one of those dressing rooms that you want to be a part of. It’s something special. Especially for the next couple of years, this team can do some damage. I’ll talk to Kenny and go from there."

"I’ll be healthy. I need a month to take off and get healthy. I came back a little bit early, but it wasn’t the back that hurt me for the last couple of games. The back’s getting better."

"I know that getting healthy and getting a full year under my belt, I know I can do some damage here. The key is just to get healthy. In order to play my style, you have to be healthy. It just wasn’t meant to be. I’m still fortunate that I got the opportunity to come here and play. It was pretty special."

About Hasek ... "When you’ve got the best goaltender in the world, you want to see him back. … Obviously everyone who’s coming back is pulling for him to come back."

Cheli talks about not shaking hands

Chris Chelios talked today about not shaking hands with the Anaheim players after Tuesday's Game 6 loss that ended the Red Wings season. He sounded like a man who was facing the possibility that he might have played his final game (although there is a good chance he'll return next season). Also like a man who saw a lot of things happen this past winter, including an employee at his restaurant being killed by an ex-employee who is the son of another restaurant employee. Add into that his son finishing his final year of high school in the area and preparing to head out west to play in the USHL and these are the comments that Chelios made after clearing out his locker, Friday:
"I’m the biggest believer in tradition, having honor and showing class. To be totally honest -- this is not an apology I couldn’t lie – with all sincerity, trying to keep it together in the last 20 seconds of the game realizing we were going to get knocked out, it was almost a blackout kind of thing. Going to the room, coming back and shaking hands with the coaches. Whether you’re going to get sick and throw up or bawling your eyes out. It’s a situation where I’ve found myself not being able to control my emotions maybe twice in my life. The first thing I thought about a day later was to explain to my sons why because I try to teach them everything you’re supposed to do. I mean this with all sincerity … no disrespect to the Ducks, no animosity towards them … I just couldn’t control it. I don’t want to get into the details. I’ve always done the right thing and tried to do the right thing. Set a great example for the Detroit Red Wings and my family. … I’ve been through a lot off the ice as well as on the ice which might have had something to do with it. In the last 20 seconds, a lot went through my head."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hasek's early thoughts on retirement

"It's very possible it was my last game," said Dominik Hasek immediately after Tuesday's season-ending loss in Anaheim. "Two, three weeks ... I'll make the decision. It's my future. It's me and my family. I love this game. I love to compete. I hate to have a long summer. But I have to think about what I want in the future."

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tuesday morning skate update

Todd Bertuzzi's status for tonight's game is that he's a game-time decision. He practiced this morning, but he went out a back door without speaking with the media. Coach Mike Babcock said this: "I don't know. He's a game-time decision. It's basically can a guy go, can a guy not go."
Niklas Kronwall also had his first practice with the team since going down with a fractured sacrum. Kronwall skated for the third consecutive day, but Tuesday was his first time on the ice with his teammates running through drills. "It's a step in the right direction," said Kronwall. "Obviously, I would have liked to be able to do more out there, but it is what it is. I've just got to try to take one step forward every day. It feels better than it did yesterday."

Bertuzzi skates Tuesday morning

Todd Bertuzzi is on the ice now testing his sore back during the Red Wings' morning skate. More later on how his back responded.

Stanley Cup final schedule

The NHL released the schedule for the Stanley Cup final today ...
Game 1 Monday, May 28
Game 2 Wednesday, May 30
Game 3 Saturday, June 2
Game 4 Monday, June 4
Game 5 Wednesday, June 6
Game 6 Saturday, June 9
Game 7 Monday, June 11

Monday, May 21, 2007

Bertuzzi a maybe

Todd Bertuzzi had back troubles during Sunday's Game 5 -- troubles that kept him on the bench during the last half of the third period and overtime. Bertuzzi didn't practice with the Red Wings, Monday, at the Honda Center and is a maybe for playing in Tuesday's Game 6. Coach Mike Babcock said that if Bertuzzi can't play, Jiri Hudler will be in the lineup.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Lilja's disaster


“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same
… Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And -- which is more -- you'll be a Man, my son.”
-- from Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If”

Andreas Lilja rarely has to handle even one question after a hockey game, let alone 100.
Stay-at-home defensemen aren’t that helpful to reporters who are looking for comments on a particular goal or a pass turned around an outcome.
But on Sunday afternoon, Andreas Lilja was the most sought-out player in the Detroit locker room.
For most of yesterday’s Game 5 of the Western Conference final, it looked as though Lilja would be questioned on the goal that he scored to give the Red Wings a 1-0 lead. He fired a shot that beat Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Lilja pumped his arms and smiled, knowing that he hadn’t scored in more than 12 months time and that his teammates would surely ride the heck out of him on that night’s plane ride to Southern California – the sort of teasing of which a defensive defenseman dreams.
That goal gave the Red Wings an advantage that they held until the final minute of regulation time when the Ducks scored after pulling their goalie.
Then 12 minutes into overtime, Lilja came around behind the Detroit net with the puck pursued by a Duck. When he couldn’t get free of Andy McDonald, Lilja tried to toss the puck over to the outside away from harm. But his pass was a misfire and when Lilja and McDonald skated this way, Teemu Selanne skated that way with the puck.
Last man back can’t lose the puck. It’s a basic rule of hockey.
Lilja said after the game that all he saw when he looked back was the puck going in the net. It happens that fast.
Lilja said a lot of things after Sunday’s disappointment and I’m here to tell you that is something worthy of note this morning.
You’re going to read and hear a lot of commentary about the gaffe made by Lilja and how it cost the Red Wings.
Of course it did. You don’t need to be told that.
What I saw after Sunday’s game, however, impressed me just as much as the outcome of the game depressed me.
Andreas Lilja sat on the small stool at his locker and answered every reporter, looked into every bright camera light without squinting, dealt with every question (although they were mostly the same question asked over and over and over).
And that is not easy. Nor was it necessary.
Of the 20 Red Wings who played yesterday’s game, about six or seven were available for questions after the game. Only two or three were still around 15 minutes after the game. That’s the way it is after every game, regular season or playoff.
Lilja could easily have made his way to the back areas where players work out after games and avoided reliving a game that was once the best of his playoff career, but turned into the worst.
But Lilja didn’t hide.
“It happens,” said Lilja of his turnover. “It’s not supposed to happen, but it happens.”
What’s not supposed to happen is that dreams are not supposed to turn into nightmares that fast.
The questions eventually went away with the reporters and Lilja was left alone on his locker stool. He looked down and silently unwrapped the brace that he wears on his left knee during every game.
No brace. No crutch. No alibi.
Hockey players make mistakes. It happens.
Men rarely handle them as well as Andreas Lilja did Sunday.

Early post-game quotes after Game 5

I messed up. I can’t really think about the game right now. I was trying to get it to the outside of McDonald.
It happens. It’s not supposed to happen, but it happens.
It hurts. But we have to put this behind us and move on. There’s nothing more to it.
What is there to say. There’s nothing anybody can say.

In the overtime, you make one mistake and that can cost you the game. That’s what happened today.
Nothing is over. This team has proved before that we can win even when we are down 3-2. We’ve done it before. There’s no reason why we cannot do it again.
We didn’t get our bounces. We had many good chances and didn’t get it in. They scored a flukey goal at the end (of regulation). If we continue to play like we did today, we have a good chance to win in Anaheim.
It happens in hockey if you don’t score goals. We had a few power plays, a 5-on-3, and we couldn’t score. They pull the goalie and score on a deflection off my defenseman’s stick. It was a lucky goal, but it still counts the same as the others.

We had some good chances on the power play, but we couldn’t score on them. We had some second chances, but couldn’t bury it.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Who's the D?

Coach Randy Carlyle still isn't saying whether Ric Jackman or Aaron Rome will be the defenseman inserted in the Ducks' lineup tonight. Chris Pronger is serving a one-game suspension.
"Both of them are going to have to move the puck and play solid defense," Carlyle said of Jackman and Rome. "That's the key. For their contribution, Jackman has more offense on his side. I would say that Rome is a bigger-bodied guy -- 6-3 about 230 pounds. He's more of a defensive defenseman so ... Have to make that decision on whether we want more offense or whether we want more defense."

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Pronger suspended for Game 4

The NHL has suspended Anaheim defenseman Chris Pronger for Thursday's Game 4 for his hit on Tomas Holmstrom mdiway through the second period of Game 3. Pronger pushed Holmstrom's head into the glass causing two cuts on the Swede's forehead that required 13 stitches. Rob Niedermayer was given a five-minute penalty and game misconduct on the play (Niedermayer hit Holmstrom at the same time), but the league reviewed the hit today and suspended Pronger.
Here's what Anaheim general manager Brian Burke said about the decision: "We disagree completely with Colin Campbell's decision here. But we respect the process. ... I think at no point is Holmstrom's face facing the boards. At no point is Chris (Pronger) delivering a hit towards the boards, a dangerous hit. He's coming in to finish a check at a 45-degree angle."

Burke went on to talk about Pronger's reaction: "He's sour about it. that's why he's not talking to you guys (media). The league doesn't like us swearing. I don't want Chris to talk to anyone today."
Holmstrom on the play: "You're around the net … 5-0 … they're going to get frustrated. They have to do something. Stuff happens out there. But those head shots, you've got to take them away from the game. ... Who knows? If I get a concussion or can't play any more in the series, maybe it's more. That was probably fortunate for him."
Babcock on the suspension: "Well, I told you, Tomas is a tough guy. Everybody saw it. He's got cuts, he's got 13 stitches. It's not like it's a boo‑boo here we're talking about. This is a guy who wants to play, and we're about playing.
"If you think there was any thought process into, Oh, how can we milk this? That's not how it works. I said already, I don't believe that's how the league should work. Did you do something? Did you not do something? Make a decision. The league did. We're fine by it. Let's go. "

Fine line

How's this for a fine line between being good and bad in the playoffs? The Anaheim Ducks have won nine of their 13 post-season games. Seven of those victories have been one-goal games. In fact, in their last seven games, the Ducks have just one win in regulation time, earning three overtime victories, losing two in regulation time and one in overtime.

Line dance

After splitting up the Euro twins midway through Game 2, Mike Babcock kept Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg separate in Game 3. Datsyuk centered a line with Tomas Holmstrom and Valtteri Filppula and Zetterberg centered Johan Franzen and Mikael Samuelsson.

Holmstrom's OK

Tomas Holmstrom needed 13 stitches to close two cuts on his forehead after having his head slammed into the boards with 8:20 remaining in the second period of Game 3. Holmstrom returned at the start of the third period, however. He said after the game that he was diagnosed as not having a concussion.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Calder's reaction

Kyle Calder's reaction to being benched in favor of Tomas Kopecky for tonight's game ...

"We're here to win. That's the bottom line. I'll do whatever it takes to win. It's unfortunate, but I have to find a way to get back."

Why the slump after the good start with the Wings?
"I'm not really sure. It's just one of those things. You have to find a way to get better and get the feet moving and get some more energy."

Something changed after Game 1 in San Jose. I know there's the theory that Calder hurt his hand (left-handed hand shake after the Calgary series), but Game 1 against San Jose was the same for him as the entire Calgary series. Then the severe drop in ice time.
In the first seven games of the post-season, Calder averaged 12:58 of ice time. In that same span, Kirk Maltby average 11:35.
In the seventh game (Game 2 against San Jose), Calder's ice time dropped to 7:40. He averaged 5:34 in the seven games starting with that Game 2.
So what happened? I don't know. He went from only one game with less than 11:42 of ice time in the first seven games to no games with more than 7:40 in the next seven games.
Was it an adjustment to size? Why wait until now then?
Was it an injury? Did it happen then in Game 1 vs. San Jose rather than against Calgary?
I don't know what's going on. I guess as with the Datsyuk injury of last spring, we'll find out more in a year.

Tuesday's morning skate

-- Shawn Thronton skated and should be in the lineup for Anaheim tonight.
-- Tomas Kopecky will be on a line with Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Orange County ... strange land

Forgive me, for I am a stranger in a strange land. But in Orange County I'm not seeing the signs of hockey culture. (An oxymoron, I know.)
I have not seen any kids play hockey on a driveway or move nets to the curb when someone shouts, "Car!" I have not heard any locals dissect the local NHL team. And I do not see anyone outside of the Ducks' arena wear anything with the word Ducks, colors of the Ducks or anything resembling a cartoon Duck not named Daffy in these parts.
So forgive me if it surprises me that this is the place from which Detroit was attacked as not being the hockey town that it once was.
One day before the start of the Western Conference final between the Anaheim Ducks and Detroit Red Wings -- a series which resumes with Game 3 Tuesday night -- the Los Angeles Times printed a column by Helene Elliott that assailed Detroit as having lost its status as Hockeytown because the Red Wings have not been able to sell out a single playoff game this spring.
Let's get the terminology straight first. There's a difference between the upper-case Hockeytown and a lower-case hockey town.
The former is a marketing label. Just like America's Team, Hockeytown was a brilliant campaign. The problem is that a lot of people started taking Hockeytown one step further and believing that Detroit was the best lower-case hockey town, period.
It's not. It's a damn good hockey town. You could make a good argument that it's the best hockey town in the nation, although the state of Minnesota probably has Michigan beat. But until you've had lunch at a deli in Montreal in the middle of summer and listened to every table chattering about the Habs' defensive pairings or been to Vancouver and realized that the citizens there don't just follow the Canucks, they follow everything hockey ... then you don't understand how far behind Detroit is from Canadian cities in hockey.
In other words, the logo Hockeytown can't be disputed. It's Detroit. It's Joe Louis Arena. So there's no argument that Detroit is Hockeytown just like Dodge trucks are Ram tough. It's a slogan.
So I assume that the attack based on non-sellouts in the playoffs is that Detroit is losing ground as a hockey town.
Forgive me if I take offense to someone from Southern California takes a sledge hammer to Detroit's love of hockey. Heck, the paper that printed that column doesn't send a writer on the road during the regular season because it feels that there's no local interest.
Anaheim slamming Detroit as not being a hockey town is like Butte going on a rampage saying that Memphis has nothing to do with music. They're not in any position to open their mouths.
Let the people from Toronto fire away if they wish. That's valid. Let someone from Minneapolis start a friendly rivalry with Detroit about which town cares more about hockey.
But Hockeytown is what Detroit is. It's a marketing label that cannot be removed until those selling the product decide to do so.
And Hockeytown is a hockey town. There's the history of an old franchise that was around when our grandparents, our great-grandparents went to games. And there is a current love of the Red Wings that still is strong.
I'll take my chances with the hockey fans of Detroit compared with the hockey fans of southern California.
To take a shot at Detroit because only 19,000 people find it affordable to buy playoff tickets instead of 20,000 on any given night isn't right.
But I guess that's what they do in this strange land.

Monday practice update

-- Coach Mike Babcock said that Kyle Calder won't play in Tuesday's Game 3 against Anaheim ... but it won't be Jiri Hudler who replaces him. Tomas Kopecky, who has been out since Dec. 14 with a broken collar bone, will dress instead of Calder. Kopecky practiced with Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby, Monday.
"We're putting Kopy in because we think he can skate, we think he can take the body, we think he can generate the forecheck for us," said Babcock.

-- Anaheim top-line forard Chris Kunitz will miss the remainder of the Western Conference final. He'll have surgery on his hand. Kunitz missed Game 2 with the injury.
-- Dominik Hasek has played 28 consecutive post-season games without allowing more than three goals in regulation time. The last time that he allowed four goals in regulation was in Game 3 of the second round of the 2002 post-season when St. Louis beat Detroit, 6-1.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Some Game 2 Notes

-- Kris Draper finished as a minus-4 with no shots on goal. He was just 38 percent in the faceoff circle, losing draws to Sammy Pahlsson on both the Ducks' third and fourth goals.
-- Forward Kyle Calder played just 3:56 and didn't step on the ice from the halfway point of the second period on.
-- Defenseman Kyle Quincey played just 4:14 and didn't play from the early portion of the third period on.
-- Goalie Dominik Hasek allowed four goals ... something he hadn't done in his previous 23 playoff games. That streak dates back to Game 2 of the Western Conference final of 2002.

Kunitz Out For Game 2

Anaheim top-line left wing Chris Kuntiz won't play in tonight's Game 2 because of an upper-body injury.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Hasek On His Contract

Dominik Hasek was asked after Thursday's practice about Ken Holland's statement that he'd like to re-sign Hasek for next season.
"I heard about it," said Hasek. "During the playoffs I don't think is a good time to talk about it. When my teammates ask me about it, I say, 'Guys, now we have to focus on the game.' We'll see. We'll sit down after the playoffs and make a decision. But I don't even talk to my teammates about it now."

Thursday's Practice

The Red Wings practiced with the same lines that they used last game. Jiri Hudler skated on a line of black aces along with Tomas Kopecky and Josh Langfeld.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Goals Per 60 Minutes Played

Here are the Red Wing individual averages for goals (on ice for) per 60 minutes of ice time through two rounds of the playoffs:
EVEN STRENGTH (for-against)
Hudler 4.72-0.00
Holmstrom 3.76-1.88
Franzen 3.29-0.41
Lang 2.44-0.81
Datsyuk 2.42-1.38
Zetterberg 2.41-1.72
Team Average 1.99-1.10
Bertuzzi 1.96-1.96
Filppula 1.56-1.56
Samuelsson 1.40-1.40
Draper 1.14-0.76
Maltby 1.04-0.52
Cleary 0.87-0.87
Calder 0.63-0.00
Lebda 4.77-0.79
Chelios 3.16-0.79
Schneider 2.18-0.31
Team Average 1.99-1.10
Lidstrom 1.69-1.13
Lilja 1.13-1.63
Markov 1.09-0.81
Quincey 0.84-1.67

Holmstrom 9.37
Hudler 7.38
Zetterberg 7.22
Franzen 6.82
Team Average 5.63
Lang 5.18
Calder 4.81
Cleary 3.18
Bertuzzi 0.00
Lidstrom 7.86
Schneider 7.16
Chelios 6.04
Team Average 5.63
Samuelsson 1.79
Lebda 0.00

SHORT-HANDED (against)
Filppula 0.00
Cleary 1.92
Maltby 2.42
Franzen 3.19
Draper 4.30
Team Average 4.35
Datsyuk 6.89
Zetterberg 7.25
Markov 1.63
Lidstrom 2.90
Chelios 3.73
Team Average 4.35
Lilja 7.33

A few thoughts ... Is there any reason not to play Hudler? Calder hasn't been nearly as effective and didn't even get five minutes of ice time in Game 6 against San Jose. And if it's home-road matchups and fear of Hudler's size, it's not like Calder is big or a shut-down defender. ... Lang has had a very good post-season, especially when you consider that he's produced in road games when Datsyuk and Zetterberg have been silent (one combined point in six road games). ... The first power-play unit is very good, but there's a big dropoff after that. ... Lilja and Datsyuk were two of Detroit's best penalty killers during the regular season, but they're having a tough time in the playoffs. ... The Draper line has been a true shut-down unit, but can't score. ... Filppula has been ineffective. Other than the two goals he scored in the first two games of the playoffs, the Red Wings have been outscored 3-1 at even strength win him on the ice.

Wings Sign Grigorenko

Igor Grigorenko, Detroit's top draft pick in 2001 (second round, 62nd overall), signed a one-year, $858,800 contract with the Red Wings. Grigorenko, who has played his entire career is Russia, will be in training camp this fall competing for a spot on the roster. The 5-foot-10, 209-pound right wing had 14 goals and 27 points in 49 games this season with Lada Togliatti of the Russian Elite League. The contract is two-way and will pay Grigorenko $70,000 if he plays in the minor leagues.
The 24-year-old was in a major car accident, May 16, 2003, suffering a broken left femur and two fractures in his left tibia. It was while in the hospital for those injuries that Grigorenko had a life-threatening embolism in his lung, from which he eventually recovered.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Western Conference Final Schedule

I hope this doesn't jinx anything, but if the Red Wings advance to the next round, here's the schedule ...

Friday, May 11, at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 13, at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, May 15, at Anaheim, 9 p.m.
Thursday, May 17, at Anaheim, 9 p.m.
Sunday, May 20, at Detroit, 3 p.m.
Tuesday, May 22, at Anaheim, 9 p.m.
Thursday, May 24, at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.

Lebda To Play Tonight

Brett Lebda said after the morning skate that he'll play in tonight's Game 6 in San Jose. Lebda, who has missed the past six games with an ankle injury, is needed by the Red Wings with Mathieu Schneider being sidelined with a broken wrist. Nicklas Lidstrom and Mikael Samuelsson should be the first power-play pairing on the blue line, but Lebda will likely be the third defenseman over the boards on the man-advantage.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Schneider's Words Of Wisdom

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- They could hear the ebb and flow of the crowd noise at Joe Louis Arena in the background, the highs and lows as the game went on.
Mathieu Schneider asked Brett Lebda to come into an office deep down in the arena, Saturday afternoon, as Game 5 of the Red Wings/Sharks playoff series was happening.
Schneider's wrist was throbbing. He was checked by San Jose's Patrick Marleau not long before and used his arms to cushion the impact. Schneider's wrist was thus broken on a harmless looking play.
Before going to the hospital, Schneider saw Lebda in street clothes in the locker room, watching the game. Lebda was close to returning from an ankle injury that kept him out for two weeks.
Schneider, 37, pulled Lebda, 25, aside, closed the door and started to talk. Schneider knew that his injury meant the end of his playoffs. Lebda was going to go into the lineup in his place.
It was a moment that touched Lebda. You could see his motivation as he suited up for Sunday's practice at the HP Pavilion.
"Between me and him, we had a heart-to-heart, (telling me) what to do now," said Lebda. "I don't want to say passing the torch because this is a huge loss for our team. But he gave me some words of wisdom and it really touched home with me. … Just little things of what to do and what to expect. He knows the way I play."
Unless he has a setback at today's morning skate, Lebda will be in the lineup tonight for Game 6 (9 p.m., FSN).
The Red Wings already have one call-up from Grand Rapids, Kyle Quincey, playing on the blue line. If Lebda isn't ready to go, call-up Derek Meech is the next option.
"What we're not going to do is put Lebs in a position to be hurt," said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. "If he's ready to go, he's playing. If he's not ready to go, Meechy will go. … There's nothing we can do about it. It wasn't our plan. Obviously we'd like Nik Kronwall to be playing, Lebda to be playing and Mathieu Schneider to be playing. Those are good, good, good players. They're not (playing). What do you do? Next. To me, this time of year, you've got to find a way to win."
Lebda's two rounds of playoff experience will be a welcome addition as will his power-play abilities. With Schneider out, Detroit went with Nicklas Lidstrom and forward Mikael Samuelsson as the first power-play pairing and Chris Chelios and Danny Markov as the second.
Schneider, Lidstrom and Kronwall were the Red Wings' top three defensemen this season in terms of ice time.
"Hopefully Lebs will be back in the lineup," said Chelios. "We've got a couple of other kids here too who also can play and have a little bit of experience. You can't replace Schneids -- the skill level of a defenseman like that. We'll have to pick up the slack. I guess the big thing is just get the puck to Nick (Lidstrom). Since he's your best player, he'll make the right play. Basically, I'm just out there for the support. If I can chip in, great."
While Lebda's return is imminent, what's ahead for Schneider is a second opinion, then likely surgery which will leave him in a cast for eight weeks.
"He can be part of the coaching staff (the rest of the playoffs)," joked Babcock. "Wiley, old veteran like that … might as well have him on board."

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Lebda Ready To Go

General manager Ken Holland said after Saturday's game that Brett Lebda will be ready to play in Monday's Game 6 in San Jose. The Red Wings lost defenseman Mathieu Schneider to a broken wrist during Game 5.

Schneider Out For Rest Of Playoffs

Mathieu Schneider suffered a broken wrist in the first period of Saturday's game and will not play again in the post-season. Either Brett Lebda will return to action or Derek Meech or Jonathan Ericsson -- both up from Grand Rapids -- will be pressed into duty.
Mike Babcock: "(Lebda) When he's ready, he'll play. We have Meech and Ericsson here now. There's nothing you can do. I kind of expected to have Kronwall, Lebda and Schneider, but that's just life."

Schneider's Out

Mathieu Schneider will miss the remainder of Game 5 with a forearm injury. Hit by Patrick Marleau in the neutral zone, Schneider left the game after three shifts (1:49) and will not return. No word yet on the severity of the injury for the player who scored the overtime winner in Game 4.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Friday Practice Update

-- Brett Lebda practiced for the first time during this series. The defenseman won't dress for Saturday's Game 5, but because he had no setbacks, Lebda's one step closer to playing.
-- Kirk Maltby confirmed that he signed a three-year deal before end of regular season.
-- Bill Guerin did not practice with the Sharks and will not play Saturday.
-- Tomas Holmstrom said it was a skate blade problem that kept him out of the end of overtime in Game 4. But Holmstrom wouldn't expand on any answers and doubt still lingers as to why Chris Chelios said it was a physical problem that kept Homer unavailable in overtime.
-- Mike Babcock said that the lineup will remain the same unless there are injuries.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Guerin Doesn't Travel

The San Jose Sharks arrived in Detroit Thursday, but Bill Guerin did not. The Sharks' big trade-deadline acquisition was back in norhtern California with a facial laceration after taking a teammate's shot in the mouth. Guerin is likely to miss Saturday's Game 5.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Hudler scratched

With Tomas Holmstrom back in the lineup, the Red Wings scratched forward Jiri Hudler for the fourth time during the post-season. All four games that Hudler has missed were on the road. Coach Mike Babcock said that he prefers to control matchups with Hudler, using the last change of the home team to avoid bad matchups.

Wednesday's Morning Skate

Forward lines from Wednesday's morning skate ...
Jiri Hudler practiced with the scratches and will likely be scratched for tonight's game.

Lebda Doesn't Practice

His sore ankle kept Brett Lebda off the ice again Wednesday. He hasn't skated since testing his ankle before the series. Lebda said Sunday that he was hoping to return for Saturday's Game 5, but that now looks unlikely.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Lebda Doesn't Practice

On Monday, Brett Lebda said that he planned to practice Tuesday, hoping that to be his first step to returning in Saturday's Game 5. Lebda's ankle, however, didn't allow him to skate today. He worked out and stepped on the ice in running shoes and shorts, sending some passes to teammates during the optional practice.

Homer's Back

Tomas Holmstrom is back and at practice at the HP Pavilion, sporting a half visor to protect his damaged eye. His eye has a yellowish color to it, the residue of blood that pooled there after being struck by Craig Conroy's stick a weeks and a half ago. Holmstrom will return to his spot on the top forward line and on the power play in Game 3, Wednesday. Coach Mike Babcock said that he didn't know which foward will be scratched to make room for Holmstrom.

Datsyuk And Lidstrom Finalists

The NHL announced Tuesday that Nicklas Lidstrom is a finalist for the Norris Trophy and Pavel Datsyuk for the Lady Byng. Lidstrom's competition comes from Anaheim -- Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger. Lidstrom has won the award four times, including last year. Datsyuk is up against Colorado's Joe Sakic and Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis for the Lady Byng -- a trophy that Datsyuk won for the first time last year.
The award winners will be announced June 14 in Toronto.

NHL Awards

The NHL's individual awards finalists will be announced at 1 p.m. EDT today. Look for these Red Wings to possibly be among the three finalists for the following awards: Nicklas Lidstrom, Norris; Pavel Datsyuk, Lady Byng; Henrik Zetterberg, Selke; Mike Babcock, Adams. Personally, I'd like to see Datsyuk get some attention for the Selke as well, but that's not likely.
The award winners will be announced June 14 in Toronto.