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.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ryno to return

Jim Nill confirmed that Johan Ryno will return to play in North America this season. Hat Trick Dick Axelsson will also play over here.

Ryno left Grand Rapids in November, 2007, two months into his first North American season. Ryno cited on- and off-ice reasons for heading back to Sweden.

A knee injury in October of 2008 kept him out of last season until January, 2009.

Ryno had a real good training camp in Traverse City in 2007. Hopefully, the return can bring life back to the big guy's chances of becoming a Red Wing.

Nill's thoughts on the 2009 draft

Red Wings vice president and assistant general manager Jim Nill on the just completed NHL draft ...

"It played out as well as it could have. We wound up with three guys that we really liked (Ferraro, Tatar, Nestrasil). That's why we moved down."

"The skill level is high (for those top three forwards). You hope one of them becomes better than you thought. That skill level gives them a chance to develop into something better."

"We added a little bit of everything."

"There was a lot of depth in this draft. After you got by the 20s, you knew there were 20 more guys right there."

"We think we had a successful draft. But 29 other teams are thinking the same thing right now. We'll see in 2-4 years. We're excited."

Finally, a Swede

With their seventh-round pick -- the 210th overall and the penultimate selection in the draft -- the Red Wings took their only Swede of the draft, defenseman Adam Almqvist.

The 5-10 left-handed shot hasn't risen above the junior level in Sweden yet. This season, he showed an offensive flash with the HV71 juniors, tallying eight goals and 36 points in 41 games. In addition, he was a plus-19.

Last winter -- his first in juniors -- he had seven points in 23 games and was a plus-4 with HV71.

Almqvist is an 18-year-old who is slight with just 167 pounds on his 5-10 frame.

Sixth-round pick a right wing

The Red Wings just took Mitchell Callahan with their sixth-round draft pick. Callahan is a right-handed shooting right wing who played for Kelowna of the WHL last season.

Callahan, a native of California, is a long-range prospect. He was 12th on Kelowna in scoring with 14 goals and 27 points in 70 games. He was a plus-11, which ranked 10th on the team.

Last season was the 17-year-old's (he turns 18 on Aug. 17) first in major junior hockey. Callahan showed a physical side with 188 penalty minutes, second on the team, third in the league. He's 5-11 and 175 pounds so let's call him a middleweight fighter.

Wings take another D-man in fifth round

Nick Jensen is the latest Red Wings' prospect, drafted in the fifth round with the 150th overall selection.

Jensen is a 6-1 right-handed shooting defenseman who played for Green Bay of the USHL last season. The 18-year-old was a league-best plus-34, but was the third leading scoring defenseman on the Gamblers behind a pair of 19-year-olds.

Jensen is a native of Minnesota, playing as a junior at Rogers High in the suburbs of the Twin Cities. He spent his senior year in Green Bay playing in the USHL.

Jensen is committed to playing at St. Cloud State University, but reports are that he will play one more season in the USHL before playing collegiate hockey.

Under NHL rules, the Wings may retain Jensen's rights as a collegian for a couple of years longer than they can with North American junior or European players.

Jensen has been labeled a good skating, puck-handling defenseman. Hi father, Jeff Jensen, was a 10th round draft pick of the Colorado Rockies in the 1978 NHL Amateur Draft.

Odds and ends

One concern I just saw about Ferraro ... he was a team-worst minus-23 with Red Deer. That doesn't mean he can't play defense, but it's not a good stat. On the other hand, Ferraro was by far the leading offensive threat on Red Deer with 37 goals (second highest was 20).

Nestrasil had 67 PIMs with Victoriaville, fourth on the team and second among forwards.

Defenseman is Wings' second 3rd-round pick

Gleason Fournier of Rimouski was taken by the Red Wings in the third round (90th overall). He was the first defenseman, first player other than a forward, selected by Detroit.

Fournier was the 62nd ranked North American skater by Central Scouting. He's 6-0 and thin at 176 pounds.

In his second year in the Q, Fournier had 28 points (including three goals) in 66 games. He played in the Memorial Cup with the host team and was a teammate of Red Wing prospect Sebastien Piche.

Fournier has shown average offense thus far, but has the potential to be a point producer.

He's a left-handed shot.

Fournier doesn't turn 18 until Sept. 8. In a predraft interview with Central Scouting, he listed the Red Wings as his favorite NHL team.

He was selected 90th overall. The Wings don't have another pick until the 150th overall (fifth round).

Czech forward is Wings' first third-rounder

With the pick acquired from the Lightning by moving down three spots, the Red Wings took a Czech forward, Andrej Nestrasil, who played last season with Victoriaville of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Nestrasil was rated No. 75 overall by ISS and was taken by Detroit with the 75th pick. Central Scouting didn't like him nearly so much, placing him 131st among North American skaters.

Nestrasil had 22 goals and 57 points in 66 games in the Q. He played for the Czechs at the World U-18 Championships. Skating is a downside, according to ISS, but he has good size (6-2, 200) and is a good offensive player. Nestrasil was second on Victoriaville in scoring in his first season in North America.

"He does an excellent job of protecting the puck and shows very good hands in tight places," said ISS.

Red Wings take Tatar with second 2nd-rounder

Tomas Kopecky and Marian Hossa were Red Wings last season. Tomas Tatar might be the next Slovak Red Wing.

The 5-10 center was taken by Detroit with its second second-round pick (60th overall). Tatar is an explosive offensive threat who made a big name for himself in the Slovak's successful World Junior Championships run, finishing fourth in that tournament in scoring. (Where he was a teammate of Tomas Kopecky's younger brother.)

Tatar played for Zvolen of the Slovak elite league last season. As does Ferraro, Tatar has the potential to be a top-six forward.

International Scouting Services rated Tatar No. 41 in this draft. The Hockey News had him at No. 51. He was No. 14 among European skaters as ranked by the NHL's Central Scouting.

"Tatar has great hands and a tremendous shot," said ISS. "He is a strong skater who can avoid defenders and create space in a multitude of manners."

Tatar's defense is rated as average by most sources, creating an offense/defense dichotomy.

Tatar told Central Scouting that his favorite team is the Detroit Red Wings and his favorite player is Martin St. Louis.

"He is smaller than others, but strong with the puck," said Tatar of St. Louis. "He has great hockey sense and scoring ability."

Red Wings take Ferraro with first 2nd-rounder

Landon Ferraro, a center from the Red Deer Rebels, was taken by the Red Wings with their first second-round pick, the 32nd overall.

"I can't be any happier," Ferraro told the NHL Network. "Obviously I was disappointed slipping yesterday. But I'm in a Red Wings jersey now. It's a great organization."

This is an excellent value. Ferraro was rated No. 17 overall by International Scouting Services. Ferraro is an excellent goal-scorer with great hockey sense. According to ISS, the downsides for this 17-year-old (he turns 18 on Aug. 8), are defensive play and size (5-11, 165).

The NHL's Central Scouting, however, disagrees about Ferraro's defensive play.

"He's very good defensively," said NHL Central Scouting’s Blair MacDonald. "He has very good defensive positioning; he's always on the right side of the puck. If there's a turnover he's in good position right away. And he comes back deep in his own zone to help. He's very strong defensively, as well as being an offensive threat."

Ferraro is the son of 400-goal scorer Ray Ferraro. Landon Ferraro was coached at Red Deer by former Red Wing Jesse Wallin.

"Ferraro is the most highly-touted of the (Rebel’s prospects)," said Wallin. "He's got great natural ability, he's got tremendous speed and he's got that knack to score goals that you can't teach. He's got that innate ability to find the net that makes him a special player."

Day 2 live blog

Day 2 will hopefully be the Red Wings' day at the draft. Two second-rounders. Two third-rounders. Time to make hay.

Join in the discussion as the Red Wings make their picks. Live blogging is open now.

Day 2 live blog

Friday, June 26, 2009

Who's left

OK. So the Wings have the second pick in the second round. Here's a look at some of the names that were highly rated and still on the board.

-- Landon Ferraro, center, Red Deer
He's a goal-scorer. Son of Ray Ferraro, Landon netted 37 goals in 68 WHL games. He's rated 17th overall by the International Scouting Services and 28th by The Hockey News. "Has the killer instinct that once he gets one he wants more," said ISS.

-- Drew Shore, center, US under-18 team
Shore is a quality two-way forward, a better defender than Ferraro. Rated No. 18 by ISS and No. 23 by The Hockey News, Shore is a good faceoff man and a pretty good playmaker. "Scouts project Shore as more of an energy/two-way center than an offensive producer," said THN.

-- Ethan Werek, center, Kingston
Was a good rookie in the Ontario Hockey League this season, netting 32 goals in 66 games. Werek isn't a skill-type player. He's got good hands, but doesn't have good skating skills or quickness. He could have played at Boston University, but went tot eh OHL instead to play for Doug Gilmour. The fact that he's only played one season in the OHL makes scouting him difficult because he doesn't have a long track record against top quality opposition. Ranked No. 26 by ISS and No. 34 by THN.

-- Carl Klingberg, left wing, Frolunda (Sweden)
At 6-3 and 205, Klingberg has good size and he uses it well. Klingberg is an explosive physical player with good speed. Has a very good shot, but doesn't use it as much as he should. "He's a guy who finishes his checks and goes to the net," said THN. Ranked No. 32 by ISS and No. 37 by THN.

-- Toni Rajala, left wing, Ilves (Finland)
Small (5-9), but a dynamic scorer. Rajala got 19 points in six games at the World U-18 Championships, breaking Alex Ovechkin's scoring record. The Wings have never shied away from small players, but Rajala isn't good defensively and that's something Detroit doesn't like. He's No. 31 in the ISS rankings and No. 49 in THN.

-- Richard Panik, center, Trinec (Czech)
This Slovak is a high skilled player who can score goals. Panik (wouldn't Panik in Detroit be a good headline?) might play with the Windsor Spitfires next season. His defense, however, needs work. Ranked No. 35 by ISS and No. 31 by THN.

Of course at this stage, who knows what name will rise and what name will fall. There are a bunch of other forwards in the late first/high second-round range still on the board.

The Red Wings seem set in net with Thomas McCollum being taken in the first round last summer and Jimmy Howard and Daniel Larsson in the system already. And the Wings have several young defensemen in the system with Jonathan Ericsson and Jakub Kindl. But perhaps Detroit will use the 32nd pick on a netminder or blue-liner instead of a forward.

Wings trade first-round pick

As they did in 2006, the Red Wings traded their first-round pick for two draft picks, tonight. Tampa Bay got Detroit's pick (29th overall) and took Carter Ashton. Detroit gained the 32nd overall pick (second in the second round tomorrow morning) and the 75th overall pick (a third-rounder).

Detroit didn't have a fourth-round pick this draft because of the Brad Stuart trade from a year ago.

"We have about five more names on our list still," said Detroit vice president and assistant general manager Jim Nill. "So we add a third-round pick. We knew we'd get a guy we wanted (at 32)."

The Wings have two second-round picks and two third-round picks when the draft resumes today.

Live draft blogging

Stop in and share what you think of the draft as it unfold.

Draft Blog

Bad cap news

According to TSN, the NHL salary cap is going up by just $100,000. That's bad news for a Red Wings team that is trying to sign Marian Hossa.

TSN story

The new salary cap is $56.8 million.

By my estimation, the Wings have approx. $52.27 million committed to likely NHLers next season. Included in this figure are: 1 goalie, 7 defensemen (no Meech), and 9 forwards (including Helm).

So, the Wings have approx. $4.5 million to sign 1 back-up goalie and 4 forwards and possibly 1 other skater.

First off, I don't think you're going to get just Hossa for a $4.5 million cap hit. But let's put that aside.

If the minimum signings are made, let's figure the cap room less one forward. So a back-up goalie ($800,000) and 3 forwards at an average of ($750,000) equals $3.05 million. And I don't think you'll get four players that cheap, but let's work with that.

That leaves approx. a $1.5 million cap hit for a premium forward. No Hossa. That does leave room for possibly bringing back Hudler and Samuelsson. I'd love to see both back.

But there's no way Hossa can fit. Even if he signed for a $3 million cap hit, that would leave an average of $375,000 for the other four players, which is well under the salary minimum.

Draft night live blog

Join me in a draft night live blog.

The Macomb Daily

I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on the picks as they happen.

Ilitchs don't renew JLA lease

According to Crain's ...

Ilitch story

Apparently, they're leaving open the option of creating a new lease between the Wings and Joe Louis Arena.

I really, really hope that doesn't happen. A new arena would be so nice. There are no warm fuzzys for JLA -- an arena that opened with stairs so narrow that fans became adept wintertime mountain climbers.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Red Wings’ super scout

Hakan Andersson was sitting at a Stockholm-area mall, having lunch with a friend when a 16-year-old boy walked up to him and said something quite unusual.

“Are you Hakan Andersson, the scout from Detroit?”

If you’re in the line of work that Andersson is, fame is nice, but a hurdle in getting the job done.

“First-time ever it’s happened to me in my entire life,” said Andersson of being recognized. “I think people around the rinks might know me, but that’s about it. I buy my ticket, walk in, stand in a corner, watch. I don’t want anybody to know. If you’re on what I call a little mission, watching a guy in a lesser-known league, then you want to be in the corner. You don’t want anyone to say, ‘I saw the Red Wings scout here last game.’”

Being where no one else is, seeing what no one else does, thinking the way no one else does … that’s Andersson’s profession.

The director of European scouting for the Detroit Red Wings – a franchise noted for its success in drafting European talent – has made a name for himself at the NHL’s annual draft. This year’s draft begins at 7 p.m. Friday night (Versus) with the first round and continues Saturday (10 a.m., NHL Network) with rounds 2-7.

Andersson has been a big factor in the Red Wings being able to stock their feeder system despite consistently drafting very low in each round.

The Red Wings select 29th overall tonight in the 30-team draft. Because of their success in both the regular season and playoffs, the Red Wings haven’t selected in the top half of the first round since taking Martin Lapointe 10th overall in the 22-team 1991 draft. Since taking Joe Murphy out of Michigan State first overall in 1986, the Red Wings have had only one first-round pick higher than 10th – Keith Primeau was taken third overall in 1990. In addition, the Red Wings didn’t have any pick in the first round in seven of the past 12 drafts.

But the Red Wings have maintained a pipe-line of talent stocked largely with low-round draft picks from Europe.

"Hakan certainly is one of the best in the business,” said Detroit vice president and general manager Ken Holland. “You've just got to look at his track record. … Obviously Hakan has been an MVP behind the scenes for us."

The first draft pick that was made solely on Andersson’s recommendation was Tomas Holmstrom being taken with the 257th overall pick (10th round) in 1994. Since then, the Red Wings have farmed Europe for these tremendous late draft picks: Pavel Datsyuk with the 171st overall pick (sixth round) in 1998; Henrik Zetterberg with the 210th pick (seventh round) in 1999; Jonathan Ericsson with the 291st pick (ninth round) in 2002; Valtteri Filppula with the 95th pick (third round) in 2002; Jiri Hudler with the 59th pick (second round) in 2002; and Johan Franzen with the 97th pick (third round) in 2004.

Since 1997, the Red Wings’ draftees have played in 3,188 NHL regular-season games. Of those games, 91 percent (2,890) were played by European draftees.

Success and anonymity are not usually compatriots. But Andersson has managed to keep future draft picks like Datsyuk and Zetterberg and Ericsson under wraps.

“When I was watching Jonathan Ericsson, I saw him two games and saw how good he is,” said Andersson. “Then I went another five, six games and just watched the stands to see if anybody’s there.”

Andersson landed Ericsson with the final pick of the draft. Just as he helped bring Zetterberg and Datsyuk and Holmstrom and the others to Detroit.

As he talked about his scouting talent, Andersson wore his 2008 Stanley Cup ring. Asked about it, Andersson took it off his hand and held it out.

“Read the inside of it,” said Andersson.

A single word was inscribed on the inside of the band … family.

“I really like that,” said Andersson. “That says a lot about this organization and what’s important.”

If all goes well Friday and Saturday, the Red Wings will add another member or two to their family.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Yzerman, Hull, Robitaille in hall

No surprise ... Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille -- teammates on the 2002 Stanley Cup champion Red Wings -- were all elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame today as was Rangers defenseman Brian Leetch. story

Who didn't get elected? Pavel Bure, Alex Mogilny, Adam Oates, Doug Gilmour, Dino Ciccarelli, Doug Wilson, Kevin Lowe, Gary Suter, John Tonelli, Andy Moog, Mike Vernon or Mark Howe.

Can't say that with a four-player limit, any of that list could bump the four that got in. Mogilny, Bure and Gilmour are right there. Lowe and Wilson are good choices for the future as well. And the Howe in Mark Howe now stands for Howe is this guy not in the hall of fame. I understand this year, but he definitely needs to be elected soon.

Former Wing Probert to figure skate


James Mirtle points out the CBC press release for an upcoming show that's like Dancing With The Stars, but pair figure skaters with former NHLers in a figure skating pairs competition.

Mirtle's post


Babcock to coach Canada at '10 Olympics

Team Canada boss Steve Yzerman apparently has made Mike Babcock coach for the 2010 Olympics in British Columbia, according to The Globe & Mail.

Babcock to coach Team Canada

Good call. Babcock has the two main ingredients to get this gig ... he's currently as hot as any NHL coach with back-to-back Stanley Cup final appearances and three trips to the final in the past six seasons ... and he's got a long history with Hockey Canada.

Babcock coached Canada to a gold medal at the World Junior Championships. He's also been the bench boss at the World Championships.

Babcock was born in Ontario, grew up in Manitoba and Saskatchewan and got his start coaching in the Canadian collegiate system. Babcock is a graduate of Montreal's prestigious McGill University and went from coaching college teams out west to coaching juniors in the Western Hockey League.

The guy's pretty darned Canadian and a great coach. This selection doesn't give much to argue about.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Cheli to work with US in '10 Olympics

Although no role has been specified, it appears that Chris Chelios will be part of the off-ice team for the United States at the 2010 Olympics, according to ESPN.

Captain America

Chelios, of course, is one of the best ... if not, the best ... American hockey players ever. His role in the tremendous 1996 World Cup of Hockey championship cannot be understated. It was the pinnacle of American hockey internationally. (No, I'm not forgetting 1980. But in 1996, the U.S. had top-level NHL players and beat all comers. In 1980, no NHL players ... Gretzky, Dionne, Trottier, Clarke, Lafleur, etc. ... were at the Olympics.) In 1996, all the best hockey players in the world were at the World Cup and America beat everyone.

Friday, June 19, 2009

NHL awards

OK, you've all heard that Datsyuk won the Selke and Lady Byng. But did you know that Lidstrom finished fifth in the Lady Byng vote or that Zetterberg was fourth in the Selke?

2008-2009 Hart Trophy Voting
Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)

1. Alex Ovechkin, WSH 1264 (115-14-2-2-0)
2. Evgeni Malkin, PIT 787 (12-71-27-9-8)
3. Pavel Datsyuk, DET 404 (4-14-38-19-19)
4. Steve Mason, CBJ 266 (0-13-21-18-16)
5. Zach Parise, N.J. 257 (0-5-20-31-29)
6. Sidney Crosby, PIT 103 (0-3-5-13-18)
7. Tim Thomas, BOS 100 (0-3-9-7-13)
8. Zdeno Chara, BOS 79 (2-3-2-8-4)
9. Joe Thornton, S.J. 27 (0-2-1-2-2)
10. Roberto Luongo, VAN 19 (0-2-0-1-2)
11. Jeff Carter, PHI 19 (0-1-0-2-6)
12. Jarome Iginla, CGY 19 (0-0-2-2-3)
13. Mike Green, WSH 13 (0-0-2-1-0)
14. Rick Nash, CBJ 13 (0-0-1-2-2)
15. Ryan Getzlaf, ANA 11 (0-0-1-2-0)
16. Evgeni Nabokov, S.J. 8 (0-0-1-1-0)
17. Nicklas Lidstrom, DET 7 (0-1-0-0-0)
18. Patrick Marleau, S.J. 7 (0-0-0-2-1)
Cam Ward, CAR 7 (0-0-0-2-1)
20. Miikka Kiprusoff, CGY 6 (0-0-0-2-0)
21. Henrik Zetterberg, DET 6 (0-0-0-1-3)
22. Chris Mason, STL 4 (0-0-0-1-1)
Eric Staal, CAR 4 (0-0-0-1-1)
24. Dan Boyle, S.J. 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
Marian Hossa, DET 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
26. Mike Richards, PHI 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Marc Savard, BOS 1 (0-0-0-0-1)

2008-2009 Norris Trophy Voting
Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)

1. Zdeno Chara, BOS 1034 (68-36-18-4-0)
2. Mike Green, WSH 982 (50-53-19-4-4)
3. Nicklas Lidstrom, DET 733 (14-34-58-19-8)
4. Shea Weber, NSH 186 (0-4-11-25-28)
5. Dan Boyle, S.J. 173 (0-2-4-38-25)
6. Duncan Keith, CHI 95 (0-2-4-14-19)
7. Andrei Markov, MTL 95 (0-1-9-10-13)
8. Mark Streit, NYI 29 (0-0-1-5-9)
9. Brian Rafalski, DET 27 (1-0-0-4-5)
10. Scott Niedermayer, ANA 27 (0-0-3-2-6)
11. Dennis Wideman, BOS 24 (0-0-2-3-5)
12. Dion Phaneuf, CGY 17 (0-0-2-2-1)
13. Sheldon Souray, EDM 16 (0-1-1-1-1)
14. Jay Bouwmeester, FLA 9 (0-0-1-0-4)
15. Kimmo Timonen, PHI 8 (0-0-0-1-5)
16. Brian Campbell, CHI 3 (0-0-0-1-0)

2008-2009 Vezina Trophy Voting
Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd)

1. Tim Thomas, BOS 127 (22-5-2)
2. Steve Mason, CBJ 33 (3-4-6)
3. Niklas Backstrom, MIN 31 (1-8-2)
4. Roberto Luongo, VAN 30 (2-5-5)
5. Evgeni Nabokov, S.J. 20 (1-4-3)
6. Henrik Lundqvist, NYR 14 (1-1-6)
7. Cam Ward, CAR 11 (0-2-5)
8. Miikka Kiprusoff, CGY 3 (0-1-0)
9. Tomas Vokoun, FLA 1 (0-0-1)

2008-2009 Jack Adams Award Voting
Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd)

1. Claude Julien, BOS 224 (35-14-7)
2. Andy Murray, STL 135 (15-17-9)
3. Todd McLellan, S.J. 98 (9-14-11)
4. Ken Hitchcock, CBJ 69 (5-9-17)
5. Brent Sutter, N.J. 36 (3-6-3)
6. Mike Babcock, DET 20 (3-1-2)
7. Joel Quenneville, CHI 15 (1-2-4)
8. Paul Maurice, CAR 11 (0-3-2)
9. Alain Vigneault, VAN 10 (0-1-7)
10. Barry Trotz, NSH 8 (0-2-2)
11. Bruce Boudreau, WSH 6 (0-1-3)
12. Peter DeBoer, FLA 3 (0-1-0)
13. Dan Bylsma, PIT 2 (0-0-2)
14. Ron Wilson, TOR 2 (0-0-2)

2008-2009 Calder Trophy Voting
Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)

1. Steve Mason, CBJ 1268 (121-6-2-2-0)
2. Bobby Ryan, ANA 829 (9-84-24-9-4)
3. Kris Versteeg, CHI 323 (1-8-26-35-22)
4. Pekka Rinne, NSH 319 (0-15-34-9-17)
5. Drew Doughty, L.A. 303 (0-14-22-26-17)
6. Blake Wheeler, BOS 157 (1-3-11-17-20)
7. Patrik Berglund, STL 128 (0-0-10-20-18)
8. T.J. Oshie, STL 30 (0-1-1-5-3)
9. Steven Stamkos, T.B. 22 (0-0-0-3-13)
10. Michael Frolik, FLA 12 (0-1-1-0-0)
11. Mikhail Grabovski, TOR 8 (0-0-0-2-2)
12. Zach Bogosian, ATL 7 (0-0-0-1-4)
13. Chris Butler, BUF 5 (0-0-1-0-0)
14. Matt Hunwick, BOS 4 (0-0-0-1-1)
15. Kyle Okposo, NYI 4 (0-0-0-0-4)
16. Jonathan Quick, L.A. 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
17. James Neal, DAL 2 (0-0-0-0-2)
Luke Schenn, TOR 2 (0-0-0-0-2)
19. Derick Brassard, CBJ 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Claude Giroux, PHI 1 (0-0-0-0-1)

2008-2009 Lady Byng Trophy Voting
Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)
1. Pavel Datsyuk, DET 933 (64-35-4-7-7)

2. Martin St. Louis, T.B. 662 (30-22-36-7-7)
3. Zach Parise, N.J. 521 (15-30-23-14-4)
4. Patrick Marleau, S.J. 203 (1-10-12-17-12)
5. Nicklas Lidstrom, DET 116 (4-3-3-12-4)
6. Daniel Alfredsson, OTT 113 (2-3-5-12-11)
7. Jarome Iginla, CGY 90 (3-4-2-6-4)
8. Brian Rafalski, DET 74 (2-3-3-2-12)
9. Phil Kessel, BOS 49 (0-3-3-3-4)
10. Ray Whitney, CAR 47 (2-0-2-4-5)
11. Martin Havlat, CHI 47 (1-1-3-3-6)
12. Brian Campbell, CHI 42 (1-2-2-2-2)
13. Louie Eriksson, DAL 41 (0-1-2-7-3)
14. Teemu Selanne, ANA 32 (0-2-3-1-0)
15. Jason Pominville, BUF 29 (0-0-2-4-7)
16. Brad Boyes, STL 25 (1-2-0-0-1)
17. Brad Richards, DAL 25 (0-1-3-0-3)
18. Daniel Sedin, VAN 24 (0-0-1-5-4)
19. Todd White, ATL 22 (1-1-0-1-2)
20. David Krejci, BOS 21 (0-0-2-3-2)
21. Mike Knuble, PHI 20 (2-0-0-0-0)
22. Simon Gagne, PHI 19 (0-2-0-1-2)
23. Milan Hejduk, COL 17 (0-1-1-1-2)
24. Henrik Zetterberg, DET 17 (0-1-0-3-1)
25. Kyle Wellwood, VAN 15 (0-0-3-0-0)
26. Shane Doan, PHX 14 (1-0-0-1-1)
27. Jiri Hudler, DET 12 (0-0-1-2-1)
28. Ian Laperriere, COL 10 (1-0-0-0-0)
Ryan Miller, BUF 10 (1-0-0-0-0)
Martin Skoula, MIN 10 (1-0-0-0-0)
31. Travis Zajac, N.J. 10 (0-1-0-1-0)
32. Nicklas Backstrom, WSH 10 (0-0-2-0-0)
33. Joe Thornton, S.J. 8 (0-1-0-0-1)
34. Slava Kozlov, ATL 8 (0-0-1-1-0)
35. Patrice Bergeron, BOS 7 (0-1-0-0-0)
Rod Brind'Amour, CAR 7 (0-1-0-0-0)
Sidney Crosby, PIT 7 (0-1-0-0-0)
Henrik Sedin, VAN 7 (0-1-0-0-0)
39. Andrew Brunette, MIN 7 (0-0-1-0-2)
J.P. Dumont, NSH 7 (0-0-1-0-2)
Niklas Hagman, TOR 7 (0-0-1-0-2)
42. P.J. Axelsson, BOS 6 (0-0-1-0-1)
Stephen Weiss, FLA 6 (0-0-1-0-1)
44. Craig Conroy, CGY 5 (0-0-1-0-0)
Pavol Demitra, VAN 5 (0-0-1-0-0)
Chris Drury, NYR 5 (0-0-1-0-0)
Roberto Luongo, VAN 5 (0-0-1-0-0)
Mark Recchi, BOS 5 (0-0-1-0-0)
Rob Scuderi, PIT 5 (0-0-1-0-0)
Devin Setoguchi, S.J. 5 (0-0-1-0-0)
Eric Staal, CAR 5 (0-0-1-0-0)
52. Patrik Elias, N.J. 4 (0-0-0-1-1)
Anze Kopitar, L.A. 4 (0-0-0-1-1)
Thomas Vanek, BUF 4 (0-0-0-1-1)
55. Patrik Berglund, STL 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
Dustin Boyd, CGY 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
Marian Hossa, DET 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
Patrick Kane, CHI 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
Vincent Lecavalier, T.B. 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
Henrik Lundquist, NYR 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
Jay Pandolfo, N.J. 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
Richard Zednik, FLA 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
Saku Koivu, MTL 2 (0-0-0-0-2)
64. Dustin Brown, L.A. 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Mike Cammalleri, CGY 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Sergei Fedorov, WSH 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Viktor Kozlov, WSH 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Andrew Ladd, CHI 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Michael Ryder, BOS 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Cory Stillman, FLA 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Steve Sullivan, NSH 1 (0-0-0-0-1)

2008-2009 Frank Selke Trophy Voting
Pts. 1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th
1. Pavel Datsyuk, DET 945 (55-48-8-5-4)

2. Mike Richards, PHI 942 (61-42-6-2-2)
3. Ryan Kesler, VAN 290 (1-9-33-14-10)
4. Henrik Zetterberg, DET 154 (3-3-8-17-12)
5. Mikko Koivu, MIN 154 (1-3-13-17-7)
6. David Krejci, BOS 109 (2-5-5-8-5)
7. Travis Zajac, N.J. 89 (0-3-10-5-3)
8. Zach Parise, N.J. 80 (2-2-9-0-1)
9. Patrick Marleau, S.J. 64 (0-1-5-7-11)
10. Jamie Langenbrunner, N.J. 58 (1-1-3-6-8)
11. Alex Burrows, VAN 35 (1-0-4-1-2)
12. Craig Conroy, CGY 33 (0-2-1-2-8)
13. Marian Hossa, DET 33 (0-0-3-6-0)
14. Andrew Ladd, CHI 30 (1-2-0-2-0)
15. Simon Gagne, PHI 26 (0-3-1-0-0)
16. Rod Brind'Amour, CAR 23 (1-1-1-0-1)
17. Jonathan Toews, CHI 22 (1-1-0-1-2)
18. Jeff Carter, PHI 22 (0-1-1-2-4)
19. Manny Malhotra, CBJ 21 (0-0-3-0-6)
20. Joe Pavelski, S.J. 17 (0-0-3-0-2)
21. P.J. Axelsson, BOS 17 (0-0-1-3-3)
22. Marc Savard, BOS 12 (1-0-0-0-2)
23. Ryan Getzlaf, ANA 12 (0-1-1-0-0)
24. Johan Franzen, DET 11 (0-1-0-1-1)
John Madden, N.J. 11 (0-1-0-1-1)
Blake Wheeler, BOS 11 (0-1-0-1-1)
27. Maxim Lapierre, MTL 11 (0-0-1-2-0)
28. Nicklas Backstrom, WSH 10 (1-0-0-0-0)
Antti Miettinen, MIN 10 (1-0-0-0-0)
30. Joe Thornton, SJS 10 (0-0-2-0-0)
31. Jay McClement, STL 10 (0-0-1-1-2)
32. Jordan Staal, PIT 10 (0-0-1-0-5)
33. Chris Drury, NYR 9 (0-1-0-0-2)
34. Blair Betts, NYR 8 (0-0-0-2-2)
35. Jarome Iginla, CGY 7 (0-1-0-0-0)
36. Rick Nash, CBJ 7 (0-0-0-2-1)
Alexander Semin, WSH 7 (0-0-0-2-1)
38. Daniel Alfredsson, OTT 6 (0-0-1-0-1)
Kris Draper, DET 6 (0-0-1-0-1)
40. Patrik Elias, N.J. 6 (0-0-0-2-0)
41. David Legwand, NSH 5 (0-0-1-0-0)
Derek Roy, BUF 5 (0-0-1-0-0)
Martin St. Louis, T.B. 5 (0-0-1-0-0)
Eric Staal, CAR 5 (0-0-1-0-0)
45. Samuel Pahlsson, CHI 5 (0-0-0-1-2)
46. Brian Gionta, N.J. 4 (0-0-0-1-1)
Martin Havlat, CHI 4 (0-0-0-1-1)
Shawn Horcoff, EDM 4 (0-0-0-1-1)
49. Evgeni Malkin, PIT 4 (0-0-0-0-4)
50. Loui Eriksson, DAL 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
Mike Grier, S.J. 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
Jere Lehtinen, DAL 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
Antti Miettinen, MIN 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
Travis Moen, S.J. 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
Dominic Moore, BUF 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
Alex Ovechkin, WSH 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
Jason Pominville, BUF 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
Marty Reasoner, ATL 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
Daniel Sedin, VAN 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
Patrick Sharp, CHI 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
David Steckel, WSH 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
Joel Ward, NSH 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
63. Rene Bourque, CGY 3 (0-0-0-0-3)
64. Eric Belanger, MIN 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Ryan Callahan, NYR 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Michal Handzus, L.A. 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Ian Laperriere, COL 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
R.J. Umberger, CBJ 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Stephen Weiss, FLA 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Stephane Yelle, BOS 1 (0-0-0-0-1)

Thursday, June 18, 2009


This comment on cracked me up. It's the fifth comment down on the item about Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final drawing hockey's biggest television ratings in 36 years.

Deadspin MASH reference

From a commenter with the screen name Karlifornia ...
"They should do it like M*A*S*H* and just go out on top."

That's just funny.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ericsson named Wings' top rookie

Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson was named the Red Wings' rookie of the year by the sports broadcasters.

The press release ... Detroit Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson has been named the 2008-09 Detroit Red Wings ‘Rookie of the Year’ by the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association (DSBA). Ericsson, 25, appeared in 19 games for Detroit during 2008-09 regular season, finishing with one goal, three assists and 15 penalty minutes while averaging 17:40 of ice-time. He also played in 22 postseason games for Detroit in 2009, missing just one game due to an emergency appendectomy. Ericsson registered four goals, four assists, 25 penalty minutes and was a +9 during Detroit’s Stanley Cup Final run.

“I’m honored to be selected as the DSBA Rookie of the Year” said Ericsson. “To be a part of the Red Wings organization is something special when you consider all of the great players who have played here, both past and present. Looking at the previous winners of the award, I’m thrilled to be joining such elite company.”


Here are the previous winners (not a bad list for Meech to join) ...

2007-08 - Derek Meech
2006-07 - Jiri Hudler
2005-06 - Johan Franzen
2004-05 - None awarded
2003-04 - Niklas Kronwall
2002-03 - Henrik Zetterberg
2001-02 - Pavel Datsyuk
2000-01 - None awarded
1999-00 - Jiri Fischer

1982-99 - None awarded
1980-81 - John Barrett

1979-80 - Mike Foligno
1978-79 - Willie Huber
1977-78 - Dale McCourt
1976-77 - Jim Nahrgang
1975-76 - Michel Bergeron
1974-75 - Bill Lochead
1973-74 - Bill Hogaboam
1972-73 - Henry Boucha
1971-72 - Marcel Dionne
1970-71 - Tom Webster

1969-70 - Al Karlander
1968-69 - Paul Popiel
1967-68 - Gary Jarrett/Roy Edwards
1966-67 - None awarded
1965-66 - Bert Marshall
1964-65 - Roger Crozier
1963-64 - Pit Martin
1962-63 - Doug Barkley
1961-62 - Bruce MacGregor
1960-61 - Hank Bassen

1959-60 - Murray Oliver
1958-59 - Len Lunde
1957-58 - Don Poile
1956-57 - Billy Dea
1955-56 - Glenn Hall
1954-55 - None awarded
1953-54 - Bill Dineen
1952-53 - Marcel Bonin
1951-52 - Glen Skov
1950-51 - Terry Sawchuk

1949-50 - Steve Black
1948-49 - Max McNab

Red Wings hope to shine at NHL awards show

The Stanley Cup is in Pittsburgh. Painful, but true.

A whole lot of other NHL trophies, however, could come to or come back to Detroit after tomorrow night’s NHL awards show from Las Vegas. The show will be broadcast on Versus at 7:30 p.m. and on Ch. 9 at 8:30 p.m.

Red Wings are finalists for five individual awards. Pavel Datsyuk is one of the top three vote-getters for the Hart Trophy (MVP), Pearson Award (MVP voted by players), Selke Trophy (defensive forward) and Lady Byng (sportsmanship). Nicklas Lidstrom is a finalist for the Norris Trophy (best defenseman). And Chris Chelios is up for the Masterton (perseverance).

Datsyuk being a finalist for the Hart Trophy is a rare thing in Detroit. Since Gordie Howe finished third in Hart voting in 1966, the Red Wings have had just two top-three finishers, Steve Yzerman (third in 1989) and Sergei Fedorov (first in 1994). Since Howe won the award in 1963, Fedorov (1994) has been the lone Red Wings Hart recipient.

Datsyuk is up against last year’s winner, Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin, and Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin, the NHL’s leading scorer.

Datsyuk finished fourth in the league scoring race this season, matching his career-high with 97 points while scoring a personal-best 32 goals. He ranked second among NHL players in takeaways with 89, placed third in plus-minus with a plus-34 rating, and won 56 percent of the 1,135 faceoffs he took.

Malkin followed up his break-out 2007-08 season by leading the NHL in points (career-high 113) and assists (78). He also led the league with 94 takeaways.

Ovechkin is vying to become the first repeat winner of the Hart Trophy since Dominik Hasek of Buffalo won in 1997 and 1998. Ovechkin won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy for the second straight season for again leading the League with 56 goals – the fourth time in his five NHL seasons that he’s eclipsed 50 goals. He finished three points shy of becoming the NHL’s first repeat scoring titlist since Jaromir Jagr in 2000 and 2001. Ovechkin’s 528 shots on goal were the second highest single-season total in NHL history behind Phil Esposito’s 550 in 1970-71. His 19 power-play goals ranked second in the League and his 10 game-winning goals ranked third.

Datsyuk finished ninth in Hart voting last season. Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom placed fourth and Henrik Zetterberg was 10th.

Lidstrom's fourth-place finish last spring was the best Hart showing for a Red Wing since Paul Coffey placed fourth in 1995.

Datsyuk, Ovechkin and Malkin are also the three finalists for the Pearson Award.

Datsyuk joins Mike Richards of Philadelphia and Livonia-native Ryan Kesler of Vancouver as finalists for the Selke Trophy – won last season by Datsyuk. Richards finished fifth in the Selke voting last year and Kesler was 11th.

Datsyuk is also up for a fourth trophy – the Lady Byng. The Russian has won the past three Lady Byngs. Martin St. Louis of Tampa Bay is a finalist as well and finished second to Datsyuk in the past two Lady Byng votes and finished third the year before that. New Jersey’s Zach Parise, who finished 25th in the Lady Byng vote last year, is the other finalist.

Lidstrom is continuing his run of dominance in the Norris voting. Lidstrom is a finalist for the top defenseman award for the 10th time in the past 11 seasons. Actually, in the previous nine seasons in which he was a finalist, Lidstrom finished either first or second in voting. This is the 13th straight season that Lidstrom has finished at least seventh in the Norris vote.

Washington’s Mike Green is a Norris finalist for the first time, having posted gaudy offensive numbers from the blue line -- 31 goals, 73 points and a plus-24 in just 68 games.

Boston captain Zdeno Chara is a Norris finalist for the third time. He finished third in the voting last season, fourth in 2006, second in 2004 and seventh in 2003.

Chelios is up against Steve Sullivan and Richard Zednik for the Masterton Trophy which goes to the player who exhibited to a high degree the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

Chelios’ 1,644 regular-season games played are the most among active players and rank fourth in League history -- he, Gordie Howe and Mark Messier are the only men to have played in 25 NHL seasons. At 47, he’s the oldest player in the NHL.

Crosby needs a history lesson

There are two pictures that have become part of the blue print of hockey's code of ethics: Bobby Baun scoring an overtime goal in Game 6 of the 1964 Stanley Cup final returning after being removed from the ice on a stretcher with a broken foot; and Montreal legend Rocket Richard, blood dripping down his face, shaking hands with Boston goalie Sugar Jim Henry, eyes blackened, after Game 7 of the Cup semifinals of 1952.

No, I'm not old enough to remember either event. Not quite.

But that's not the point. If you grew up playing hockey, the two traits for which those two famous photos stand were taught to you.

Baun is hockey's poster child for playing through pain. There aren't many games where there isn't some level of hurt involved. If Baun could do that on a broken foot -- and the man came back for a regular shift in Toronto's Game 7 win in the Cup final -- then being out of breath or having a bruise on your leg is not that great an ailment.

The Richard/Henry photo is the classic postgame handshake in this sport's history.
The Rocket had left the game early, having suffered a concussion. But he returned and scored the winning goal on Henry, who had played his Bruins within one victory of the Stanley Cup final.

The picture of the two battered men, respectfully shaking hands -- Henry is somewhat bent over, appearing to be slightly bowing to Richard -- says a lot about the handshake that ends an NHL playoff series.

The handshake is the ultimate sign of respect and tradition. It is the way that hard-fought series have ended for generations.

Sidney Crosby certainly lived up to hockey tradition in the style of Bobby Baun. Coming back in Game 7 against the Red Wings after suffering a painful knee injury was admirable.

But Crosby failed miserably when compared to his predecessors in the tradition of the handshake.

Crosby celebrated at one corner of the Joe Louis Arena ice surface last Friday while the Red Wings waited. He kept celebrating when Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom led his teammates to center ice. And Crosby continued to celebrate while Penguins like Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz -- Crosby's wingers -- were the first to greet the Red Wings at center ice.

Crosby made his way to the handshake line late, getting in just a half-dozen or so before returning to the Penguins' celebration.

And that was perhaps the best reason I've ever seen for not having a 21-year-old as your captain. It was an immature act by someone who needed to lead, not be in the conga line. Guerin acted like a leader on that team.

Crosby was not caught up in anything but his own moment when he didn't join the handshake line. Other than a network interview or two, there was no media allowed on the ice surface until 20 minutes after the game. There was no one allowed out there other than the people that came through the Pittsburgh locker room.

In other words, there wasn't a whole lot to get done other than shake hands. And if you ask me, shaking hands with the team that you just dethroned as hockey's champions would be something that I'd be quite eager to do.

Shaking hands after a series or tournament or individual game is something that Sidney Crosby has been doing since he was 4 or 5 years old. He did it at the World Juniors. I'm sure he did it at Shattuck St. Mary's. He did it playing Timbits hockey as a kid. It's not something that snuck up on him.

To me, Crosby joining the handshake line late made him look like a young man absorbed in himself, fixated on his personal glory.

That's not something you want in a captain. It's most certainly not something you want in the player who is the face of the entire league.

Rocket Richard found his way to the handshake line less than an hour after suffering a concussion. Sidney Crosby was unable to do the same.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Game 7 live blogging

I'm nervous. Maybe live blogging will help.

Bruce's Game 7 live blog

Spare time reading

After the Red Wings win the Cup tonight ... do your best Coach Norman Dale from Hoosiers as you read that, kind of like when he said "Ollie makes his second shot -- and he will make his second shot ... after that Cup win, if you're looking for something non-hockey to read, let me suggest the following ...

John Hetzler's blog about modern fatherhood ... Old Wahoo

A look at what goes on in the mind of a man ... She Might Be Right

From the notes

A couple of tidbits from today's press notes ...

-- Here are some individual stats in Game 7s (any round) ...
Tomas Holmstrom has 2 goals in 2 games and is 2-0.
Brian Rafalski is 5-1.
Kris Draper is 3-1 with 1 goal.
Kirk Maltby is 1-0. How hasn't he played in more?
Chris Osgood is 2-3 with a 2.44 GAA and .903 Sv%.
Ruslan Fedotenko is 3-0 with 3 goals and 1 assist. Get Lidstrom on this guy (jk).
Pascal Dupuis is 2-0 with 3 goals. Double-shift Lidstrom.
Marc-Andre Fleury is 1-0 with a 2.00 GAA and a .905 Sv%.

-- Here's a bio on the 1971 champion Montreal Canadiens. They are the only Cup winner to do the following ...
Have a rookie head coach hired in mid-season (Al MacNeil).
Win two Game 7s on the road.
Win the Cup after dropping the first two games of the SCF on the road.
Win Game 7 of the SCF on the road after the home team won the first six games.

If the Penguins win tonight, they'll become the second team to do any of those four things in winning the Cup. This isn't to say the Marc-Andre Fleury is Ken Dryden ... no, no, no, no ... but the parallels are interesting.

-- The Wings are 11-1 at home in this post-season with the only loss being a triple-OT decision to Anaheim. Only the 2003 New Jersey Devils have won more home games in one post-season, going 12-1. The Wings would match that with a win tonight and match that the Devils won a Cup final in which all seven games were won the by home team. (The 1988 Edmonton Oilers went 11-0 at home and are tied with the Wings for home wins in a post-season.)

So obviously, this is not a game tonight between the 09 Red Wings and 09 Penguins. It's the 71 Habs and 03 Devils. Who knew.

Pens' morning skate

Looks like the same-old for the Penguins with the exception of Petr Sykora being out and Miroslav Satan back in the lineup after a one-game scratch.

Here's how the Pens are working this morning ...




Red Wings' Game 7 morning skate

It's an optional skate this morning for the Red Wings as they've been doing for most of the Stanley Cup final. On the ice are Johan Franzen, Tomas Holmstrom, Darren Helm, Mikael Samuelsson, Jiri Hudler, Kirk Maltby, Joantahn Ericsson, Brett Lebda and Chris Osgood along with the GR guys. No Mike Babcock either as is the norm for optional morning skates.

UPDATE: Babcock just said that he'd have no lineup changes for tonight. That means, the Wings will look something like this ...




Wings, Pens set to make history

DETROIT – Mike Babcock gave Marian Hossa a quick quiz. Who scored the goals for Detroit when the Red Wings clinched the Stanley Cup in Pittsburgh in 2008?

Hossa played for the Penguins that night. Babcock coached the Red Wings.

Neither, however, could come up with a single name … and that was Babcock’s point.

“He didn't know, and neither did I,” said Babcock. “That's the facts. But I knew we won. Doesn't matter who scores the goals, none of that matters. What matters is do your part and allow the team to win.”

So as the Red Wings and Penguins approach tonight’s Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final at Joe Louis Arena (8 p.m., Ch. 4 and Ch. 9), the victors will forever be remembered as champions. Individual accomplishments will not be remembered as much as team accomplishments.

Tomas Holmstrom has won four Stanley Cups. But not even the greatest Red Wings fan could tell you what he did in clinching games. Kris Draper has the same number of rings, but was he centering the third line, second line or fourth line on the night that the Wings won in Washington in 1998?

What people remember is the lifting of the Stanley Cup by the champions, both people who watch the games and people who play the games.

“I think every kid's image, every player's image, they have an image of someone with the Stanley Cup,” said Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma. “I have several images, not just one person or one player. You know, I remember Scotty Bowman when he went out with his skates on and grabbed the Cup (in 2002 with Detroit). I remember Ray Bourque grabbing the Cup, and that kind of culmination of his career and the trade in that situation. It was something I remember. You know, there are other ones, other ones to remember. Certainly the one in '03 when we had to watch another team do it is certainly a memory that I'd like to but I won't forget.”

Bylsma was a player with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003, coached by Babcock, when they lost a Game 7 in New Jersey.

On the New Jersey Devils that spring was Brian Rafalski, who’s now on the Red Wings’ top defense tandem alongside Nicklas Lidstrom. Babcock called on Rafalski to speak about his Game 7 experience at the Red Wings’ Thursday morning meeting. Rafalski is the lone Red Wing to have played in a Stanley Cup final Game 7.

“He had some thoughts to share with the guys,” said Babcock. “But I think any kind of thing that's going to keep you poised and allow you to execute is a great thing. We'll see tomorrow (Friday).”

Babcock also tried to revisit great Stanley Cup clinching games of the past with his players, but ran into a bit of a generation gap.

“I talked about the '72 Boston Bruins winning the Stanley Cup,” said Babcock. “Then I said to Helmer (Darren Helm), ‘What year were you born?’ He said, ‘'87.’ I said, ‘Okay.’”

Despite the age difference, most everyone in the Red Wings’ locker room can relate this Game 7 to a previous championship experience.

Some like Helm and Kris Draper have played a one-game championship at the World Junior Championships. Others like Nicklas Lidstrom and Mikael Samuelsson have played a one-game championship at the Olympics. Justin Abdelkader was in a one-game championship for NCAA hockey.

“What a great thing,” said Babcock. “Is it any different than the gold medal game in the Olympics, or the gold medal game in the World Championships? Or even for a kid like Abby (Abdelkader), the gold medal game at the NCAA championships. Or for me when I coached in the CIU Championships or the World Junior? They're all one-and-done. So I think everybody's experienced this.

“In saying that though, I'm still a big believer that the greatest prize in hockey … and I haven't been to the Olympics, so I don't know ... but the greatest prize in hockey is the Stanley Cup. It's an unbelievable trophy. And just like they say at the start about winning the Stanley Cup, there are lots of people out here where I'm looking, guys covering the game that have won. To me, outside your family, it's the greatest thrill you'll ever have in your life.”

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Finally, a finale

Now I understand the true evil of this Stanley Cup final schedule.

Sure, starting this series with the first games on back-to-back days since 1955 sounded odd. OK, sounded stupid, very stupid.

But you know why? The schedule only sounded that way because it was odd and stupid, so there’s your logical explanation. One television network was afraid to put Stanley Cup final games on during weekday nights … so Saturday and Sunday were the answer.


So the players went out and destroyed their bodies some more. The Red Wings closed the Western Conference final on a Wednesday, were back in a game on Saturday and played five Stanley Cup final games in eight days.

I realize that players are often looked upon as spoiled millionaires in today’s society. But you should she the marks on their bodies, the line for the trainer’s table, the first-name basis that they’re on with entire medical staffs. Players sacrifice their bodies for all that money and that’s a steep price, one that’s not often reported.

And you’ll notice that when the players found out about the back-to-back games to open this schedule, their concern was this – the quality of hockey would suffer, not that their bodies would.

This was a desperate schedule, formulated by a league desperate for television exposure. And this was a schedule that leads to players being less likely to perform at peak value and more likely to be injured.

But that is not what happened.

The first six games of this Stanley Cup final were wonderful despite the schedule. The players put on a great show although they were in more pain than they should have been.

All of which leads up to Friday’s Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final (8 p.m., Ch. 4 and Ch. 9). Tied at three games, apiece, this series will be decided by one game, perhaps by one goal or one save.

And this is why I now understand the true evil of this Stanley Cup final schedule.

The league and television networks started this series as though they were trying to set a speed record, attempting to see if they could complete a best-of-seven series in three days.

But now that we’ve gotten to games that could decide this series, now that the anticipation is extreme … the league and networks have … slowed … this … baby … right … down.

Game 6 was the first time that either team could have won this series and there was a three-day wait for that game. Now, there’s the first Cup final Game 7 involving the Red Wings since 1964 and they made us wait three days again.

Now that’s just evil.

Even the players didn’t want to wait for this Game 7. Both sides would have rather gone out right after Game 6 to decide this series. They players would rather have had the back-to-back dates for games now, not at the start of this series.

Instead, they’ve spent the past two days trying to go about their business, trying to stay in a routine, trying to sleep at night, trying not to yell at the dog for just standing there.

This is human nature and I know this to be true first-hand. Just waiting to watch this game, I’ve found it difficult to stay in a routine, to sleep.

Friday night will be a game that is talked about for a long time. It will be a key moment in hockey history. It will change how players will be remembered.

And you know what? My poor dog isn’t happy about this schedule either.

Crosby commercial

I'm sorry, but I can't help but think of this Sidney Crosby commercial today.

"I never want to be in this picture again."

Will he be in that picture Friday night?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sykora out for Game 7

According to TSN ...

Sykora out

Sykora played well inserted into the lineup for the first time in this series in Game 6. I guess Miroslav Satan will be back in as a fourth-line winger.

Thoughts on SCF Game 6

-- If the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup, I really hope that Chris Osgood is the Conn Smythe winner. Once again, the Wings have the better goalie this round and Osgood's game last night was phenomenal. Marc-Andre Fleury overplaying so much with 15 seconds left in the game that his body was totally outside of the net. Sure, Fleury reached back with his stick and sure Scuderi did a fine job, but Fleury didn't look good on that one.

-- Fleury did look good on the Dan Cleary breakaway with 1:43 on the clock. Good move by Cleary under stress, being hacked. How Cleary felt that the slash was coming from his left and was heady enough to move the puck over to his right for a shot is beyond me.

-- Why is Pavel Datsyuk our best forward? OK, because he might be the best player in the world is a fine answer, but he's also a player who is slowed in his skating by an injury. That pass by Datsyuk to send Cleary in on a breakaway was unreal. So were his two back-door feeds to Henrik Zetterberg early in the game. But my point is this ... Datsyuk is playing above where he should be playing. But Zetterberg has slid backwards the past few games. Now, this is holding Zetterberg to his Conn Smythe level of play, but I hope he's on his game Friday and a dangerous offensive player. I don't know if Zetterberg's gassed or if the return of Datsyuk actually has him relaxing a bit more.

-- That ice must have been horrible last night. It was very warm in Pittsburgh and I haven't heard any player quotes about the ice, but you could see chances missed because of it. Those two back-door feeds from Datsyuk to Zetterberg looked like the puck hopped. There was another pass like that from the first line in the first period. With better ice, I think that Detroit would have scored in the first period. I know the Wings only got three shots on goal, but they had a handful of good opportunities where the puck bounced and no shot was taken.

-- Small point, but Jonathan Ericsson is mighty calm under pressure. Too calm. I'd like to see a little more urgency in getting the puck out of the defensive zone, a little more zip on the passes.

-- I really don't talk much about refereeing because it's such a blinders-on flashpoint with fans. But there were a few things in Game 6 I'd like to point out. Brian Rafalski was leveled behind the net by Chris Kunitz when the puck was closer to New Jersey than the Red Wings defenseman. I don't care if the whistle is being put away, you can't allow players to run players who aren't near the puck.

Nicklas Lidstrom was the victim of a can-opener on Pittsburgh's second goal. Ruslan Fedotenko put his stick between Lidstrom's legs from behind, so Lidstrom basically had to step over a three-foot fence to get to the puck. Fedotenko came from behind Lidstrom, passed him, picked up the puck and made a play. You have to call penalties that lead to clear puck possession changes. I'd understand it more if there was another Penguin along the boards who picked the puck up after Lidstrom was interfered with ... but it was Fedotenko himself who got the puck. It was way too obvious.

On the other side, I know that Jiri Hudler grabbed a stick on the Kris Draper goal. It was a stick hold, but the difference is this ... it didn't turn the puck over as the non-call on Lidstrom did and it came in a net-front battle and it was much more subtle. I bet you didn't see the Hudler stick hold until they showed the replay. You could see the Fedotenko can-opener as it happened. In a game in which penalties were being called at a moderate level, then I could see Hudler getting two for holding the stick. But there was a very high level for a penalty to be called last night and Hudler's play wasn't that obvious.

-- OK, one more point about the way the game was called. This series is totally getting away from the "New NHL's" stance on interference on dump-ins. And this goes for both teams. The league has been calling defensemen who hold up forwards after the puck is dumped in deep for a while. Defensemen would get clever and turn towards the end boards, but turn in a way that they impeded the oncoming forward. Fine.

Watch what's going on in this series. It's more like the line in football. Defensemen aren't even turning. The forward will go to step around the defenseman and the defenseman will step over in front of him like an offensive lineman. Why haven't those been called on both sides? Is this a change in philosophy for the NHL or just a situation happening in these playoffs?

-- All that said ... Game 7, so looking forward to it.

Game 7 experience

From Wings stat guru Greg Innis, the Penguins actually have more experience in Stanley Cup final Game 7s than the Red Wings. Four of the players in Friday's game have been in this situation before and three of those are Penguins.

Among Red Wings, only Brian Rafalski has played in a SCF Game 7, doing so with New Jersey in 2001 and 2003.

For Pittsburgh, Craig Adams was with Carolina when they beat Edmonton in 2006; Ruslan Fedotenko helped Tampa Bay beat Calgary in 2004; and Petr Sykora was a teammate of Rafalski's in New Jersey in 2001 and was with Anaheim when the Ducks lost in 2003.

Also on that Ducks team of 2003 was Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma, who was a player six years ago, and Detroit coach Mike Babcock.

Detroit goalie Ty Conklin was a backup with Edmonton in 2006 when the Oilers lost to Adams' Hurricanes.

Detroit /Pittsburgh connections

We’ve met before. Of this I’m certain.

The Detroit-Pittsburgh sports rivalry did not begin with the Red Wings and Penguins meeting in back-to-back Stanley Cup finals the past two seasons. These cities, separated by approximately 280 miles, have a sporting history that has intersected several times over the past century.

Not often noted is that a strong Pittsburgh Pirates franchise is the reason why the Tigers are in Detroit.

By the time that the American League and National League had battled for two years as rivals, the Pirates were a strong club with Honus Wagner, Fred Clarke and a vibrant fan base. The Tigers were a team in search of an identity and fans.

So when the two leagues finally signed a peace agreement in Cincinnati on Jan. 10, 1903, part of the accord included the stipulation that each league’s franchises remain where they are and that a majority of teams from each league must agree to a franchise’s move.

That was put in place specifically to stop the Tigers from being moved to Pittsburgh as an American League challenger to the Pirates. The National League was already fighting for fans with AL rivals in Chicago, New York, St. Louis and Philadelphia and didn’t want a fifth divided city.

The Tigers, of course, soon blossomed in Detroit. By 1909, they had won their third consecutive AL pennant and faced the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series – a playoff format agreed to verbally at that 1903 meeting, but not one considered as important as keeping Pittsburgh a one-team town and thus not written down and signed.

The Pirates won a seven-game Series that has lived for a century as a classic. Pittsburgh shortstop Honus Wagner outdueled Detroit outfielder Ty Cobb, including a famous tag at second base that split the Tiger’s lip.

Detroit and Pittsburgh literally fought each other in 1941 when their boxing representatives, Joe Louis and Billy Conn, met for the heavyweight title.

Conn was a light heavyweight, giving up 25 pounds to Louis. But the smaller Conn fought tremendously and was ahead on all scorecards through 12 rounds of the fight, staged at the Polo Grounds in New York. The 13th round, however, proved unlucky for Conn, who was caught by a Louis right to the jaw. Conn was thus knocked out at 2:58 of the 13th, failing to take the heavyweight title from Detroit’s Louis.

In 1946, Tiger Hank Greenberg led the American League in home runs and RBIs, the fourth time for each statistic that Greenberg led the circuit. But Greenberg turned 36 in the off-season and was traded to Pittsburgh in a deal that shocked Detroit.

Greenberg’s arrival marked a turnaround for the Pirates. The franchise altered its left-field fence for the power-hitting righty, putting in a double bullpen at Forbes Field that cut the left-field line distance from 365 to 335 feet and the left-center power alley from 406 to 355.

Originally known as Greenberg Gardens, left field at Forbes Field was renamed a year later in honor of Greenberg’s 1947 roommate, Ralph Kiner. Although Greenberg retired after his one season in Pittsburgh, his legacy lived on in Kiner, who won seven consecutive National League home run titles, crediting Greenberg for part of his success.

In 1958, after leading the Detroit Lions to three NFL championships in six years, quarterback Bobby Layne was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Thus began the Curse of Bobby Layne, who was credited with saying that the Lions “would not win for 50 years” upon being traded.

It’s been 50 years and the Lions haven’t won. They have the worst winning percentage in the NFL over the past 50 years. They haven’t been to a Super Bowl.

Layne didn’t accomplish much in Pittsburgh, but the Steelers went on to win six Super Bowls. In 2006, the Steelers won Super Bowl XL in Detroit’s Ford Field. Jerome Bettis, a Detroit native, was a key player on that squad. Pittsburgh-area native Kevin Colbert was the Lions’ professional scouting director for 10 years before becoming the Steelers’ director of football operations. Colbert was instrumental in drafting Ben Roethlisberger and Troy Polamalu.

One odd connection between Detroit and Pittsburgh was the two-sport career of Dick Groat. Famous for playing second base and being the NL MVP for the champion Pirates of 1960, Groat is lesser known for his basketball skills. The Pennsylvania native and Duke graduate also played the 1952-53 season with the Fort Wayne Pistons, averaging 11.9 points per game.

In 1991, the Penguins won their first Stanley Cup in franchise history – the first of two straight titles. Scotty Bowman was the Penguins’ director of player development in 1990-91 and then became the team’s head coach in 1991-92 when Bob Johnson fell ill. Bowman had future Red Wing Larry Murphy as a key member of his team. Murphy is one of 12 members of the Penguins’ ring of fame at Mellon Arena. Bowman left Pittsburgh and became the Red Wings’ head coach, winning three more Stanley Cups before leaving the bench.

Jim Leyland played baseball in the Detroit Tigers’ minor-league system and went on to be a manager on the Tigers’ farm. Leyland’s major-league debut, however, came as skipper of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Leyland led that franchise to three straight NL division titles in the early 1990s.

By 2006, Leyland was manager of the Tigers and in the World Series with home-field advantage won by the AL’s victory in the All-Star Game at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park. The Tigers, who also had Pittsburgh-area native Sean Casey in the lineup, went on to lose in five games to St. Louis.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sykora looks like he's playing

Petr Sykora, the man who scored the OT goal in Game 5 last year, looks like he's in tonight for Miroslav Satan on the Pens' fourth line. At least that's how they practice in the pregame skate. That's the only change apparent for either side.





Game 6 live blogging

Over at the mother web site ...

The Macomb Daily

Morning skates

UPDATE: Mike Babcock said that he plans to use the same lineup as he did in Game 5.


The Red Wings are on the ice right now for an optional morning skate. Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper are out there. Several regulars -- all of whom are expected to play -- aren't -- Zetterberg, Filppula, Cleary, Lidstrom, Rafalski, Kronwall, Stuart.

The Penguins' had a full skate with everyone on the ice.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Game 6 lineup

Coach Mike Babcock just said that Dan Cleary will definitely play in Game 6. He also said that Pavel Datsyuk will start the game on Henrik Zetterberg's wing. So, it looks like the same lineup as in Game 5.

Oh, and no McGill tie for Babcock. That's a change.

Draper good for Game 6

Although he left practice early today, Kris Draper just said that he's perfectly fine for Tuesday's Game 6.

Monday's practice

UPDATE: Kris Draper has left the ice. Hopefully we'll find out why after practice.


No Dan Cleary on the ice as the Red Wings just started their drills. They're working, however, as though Cleary will play in Game 6, using Ville Leino as a placeholder. Cleary missed practice time leading into Game 5, including the morning skate, but played in the game. All the other lines are the same with Pavel Datsyuk on Henrik Zetterberg's wing.




Saturday, June 6, 2009

Game 5 warmup lines

It looks like Leino will be scratched. Warmup lines ...





No changes for Pittsburgh.

Live blogging

As we speak ...

Game 5 live blog

Something creative

Some creative writing ...

She Might Be Right blog

Datsyuk to start on wing

Babcock just confirmed that Datsyuk will start on Zetterberg's win.

"We're going to start him there and see how he does," said Babcock. "If he looks like himself, we'll move him to the middle."

Also from this morning ...

-- Rafalski, Cleary and Abdelkader (flu) weren't on the ice. All three will be available for tonight's game, according to Babcock.

-- Who sits to make room for Datsyuk will be a game-time decision, according to Babcock.

Datsyuk on Z's wing

They're on the ice for the morning skate right now and guess what ... Pavel Datsyuk is working on Henrik Zetterberg's left wing. Maybe that's just for show and Datsyuk will center his own line in Game 5 tonight. maybe that's the way it's going to be. The knee-jerk reaction is that Datsyuk would play at center to give the Wings he and Zetterberg to match up against Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Then again, it worked out fine last year when Zetterberg and Datsyuk played on the same line.

Practice lines ...



Note that Dan Cleary and Brian Rafalski are not on the ice. I'd assume that both will be in the lineup tonight. Chris Chelios is a placeholder for Rafalski. If Cleary is in the lineup, I'd assume either Leino or Maltby would be scratched, but that's just a guess.

Will Datsyuk ignite Hossa

DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings will get back one high scoring forward for tonight’s Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final (8 p.m., Ch. 4). But they’re hoping to get back two high scoring forwards.

Pavel Datsyuk will be making his series debut against Pittsburgh tonight, according to Detroit coach Mike Babcock, ending a seven-game absence because of an injury that is officially listed as being in his foot.

Having his regular centerman back could be the tonic for Marian Hossa’s scoring woes. Hossa, the Red Wings’ leading goal scorer during the regular season, has no goals and two assists through the first four games of the Stanley Cup final. He has scored goals in only three of the Red Wings’ 20 playoff games.

“Him and Pav got off to a tough start in the playoffs and it didn't go good,” said Babcock. “And then that guy named Pav isn't here. I don't know if you've noticed that. So that affects lots of things. It affects lots of people. And it's been harder for him.”

Datsyuk resumed practicing with the team eight days ago, but didn’t start going hard in drills until Wednesday. Datsyuk practiced for 90 minutes Thursday morning and said he was going to be a game-time decision for Game 4.

But Detroit trainer Piet Van Zant texted Babcock at 3 p.m. Thursday afternoon saying: “He didn't think Pav would be going,” according to Babcock. “He still went for warm-up though. Pavel was pushing it to try to go. But Piet gave me the head's up.”

Apparently, Datsyuk was close to returning because Babcock announced that his MVP finalist would be in the lineup for Game 5, Friday afternoon, not waiting for any more game-day on-ice tests.

“We've heard all the chatter about him (Datsyuk) coming back,” said Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik. “It doesn't change anything for us to be honest. Even if he does come back, we all have a lot of respect for the player he is. But that being said, I don't know how effective he's going to be if he comes back and he's playing at whatever level he's playing at. Like I said, we're not too concerned about that. I think throughout the playoffs we've just been more concerned with the way we're playing.”

Datsyuk’s return will likely bump either Ville Leino or Kirk Maltby out of the lineup. Leino sat early in the post-season while Maltby played if that’s an indication of what Babcock will do tonight. That lineup change is also assuming the Kris Draper remains in the lineup and Justin Abdelkader out – a switch made for Game 4 in Pittsburgh.

Datsyuk’s return would be an obvious lift for the Red Wings, who have lost the past two games and watched the series be knotted at 2-2.

As Detroit’s leading point scorer in the regular season and with Hossa on his wing, Datsyuk’s line would force the Penguins to match up against two scoring lines.

Pittsburgh’s No. 1 match-up defense pair is Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi, who have been going against Henrik Zetterberg’s line. That would leave Orpik and Sergei Gonchar to check Datsyuk’s line.

Up front, Pittsburgh isn’t blessed with the same defensive talent as the Red Wings. Datsyuk and Zetterberg were both Selke Trophy finalist last spring. Draper is a previous winner of that award.

Both Datsyuk and Zetterberg could be used in a defensive role against Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Crosby has drawn Detroit’s top defense in this series, but Malkin has been the Penguins’ top offensive player.

Neither Crosby nor Malkin, however, is as defensively skilled as Datsyuk and Zetterberg.

“We'd like Pav to have the puck for 18 or 20 minutes like he normally does,” said Babcock. “That's a great concept. When he has the puck, they don't have it. It's not even playing defense, you just have the puck. You don't have to worry about it. Plus you're faster coming out of your zone. You're faster in the neutral zone.”

And that all suits Hossa’s game perfectly. The high-scoring winger played a lot of the regular season on Datsyuk’s right side. Hossa’s shoot-first mentality matched well with Datsyuk’s pass-first style.

“Here's always this talk when one of the best players cannot play,” said Hossa. “And it's basically, you know, it would be a huge boost and help for the team if Pav can play.”

Friday, June 5, 2009

Datsyuk to play in Game 5

Coach Mike Babcock said today that Pavel Datsyuk will make his return from a foot injury in tomorrow's Game 5.

"There's always this talk when one of the best players cannot play," said Marian Hossa. "And it's basically, you know, it would be a huge boost and help for the team if Pav can play. But, you know, he couldn't go, and we're still hoping for the next game."

Babcock was more definitive about Datsyuk's status: "He'll play."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Datsyuk scratched

Pavel Datsyuk was just officially announced as a scratch.

No Datsyuk

It looks like Datsyuk's not playing tonight.

Here's how the Wings worked during the pregame skate ...



Live blogging for Game 4

Head there right now. Run, don't walk.

Macomb Daily live blog

Twitter reminder

I'll post update on Twitter. Follow me at RedWingsBruce.

Bad sign

Pavel Datsyuk is still on the ice working out with Chelios, Kindl, Abdelkader, Lilja. When players are in games, they skate for 20-30 minutes in the morning. Datsyuk is at 75 minutes of a hard workout. Very unusual for someone playing that night.

UPDATE: Datsyuk just got off the ice after a 90-minute hard workout. He said that he'll be in the pregame skate and will decide after that. Datsyuk said that he worked out three times longer than usual in the morning skate to test himself further, to see how his legs would react to more of a game-like situation.

That said, a 90-minute hard workout in the morning is a very unusual thing to do the day of a game.

Datsyuk at the morning skate

UPDATE: Coach Mike Babcock just said that Pavel Datsyuk told him that he's planning to play, but the final decision hasn't been made yet. Babcock said it's not his decision, meaning Datsyuk and the trainers will make the final call. Babcock said that the only lineup change at the moment is Kris Draper in and Justin Abdelkader out. That said, everything points to Datsyuk's return, including the way he's practicing. Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said that he's expecting Datsyuk to play.


No surprise, but Pavel Datsyuk is on the ice now at the Wings' morning skate. That's a sign that he's still on track to return tonight from a foot injury.

More to come on his status.

The Penguins' morning skate had no surprises. Everyone was on the ice and the Pens worked out of the same lines they used in Game 3.


The Wings' skate was optional.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Prospects not signed

By not signing Zack Torquato or Randy Cameron – both 2007 draft picks of the Red Wings – to three-year contracts by June 1, the team lost rights to both players. Assistant general manager Jim Nill said that although the team has room within its 50-contract limit, decisions like this have to be made to leave room open for future signings.

“You watch them over the two years, their game hasn’t improved to the point where we think they made enough progress,” said Nill. “I told them both to go out and prove us wrong.”

Both Torquato and Cameron will be invited back to Red Wings’ training camp if they’re not drafted later this month by another organization, according to Nill.

Holmstrom and Rafalski available

Babcock said that Holmstrom and Rafalski are both available for Thursday's Game 4. They both took today's practice off to rest. The practice was officially an optional skate although those were the only two Wings absent.

Holmstrom was hit hard early in Game 3 on a check by Cooke seven minutes into play.

Datsyuk looks like he's returning

UPDATE: Babcock just said that Datsyuk is a game-time decision. "We have an optional skate tomorrow morning and we'll see how he responds after that and after today. I have to talk to (trainer) Piet (Van Zant) and see how (Datsyuk) looks." Datsyuk also said that he would be a game-time decision tomorrow.

That said, Datsyuk was practicing hard today, doing drills for the first time in a long time. The practice lines were shuffled as though they were preparing for Pavel being back. It sure looks like Datsyuk will be back unless his body takes a step backwards after today's workout.

Also, Babcock just confirmed that Draper is back in the lineup, but said that he doesn't know who's out. Well, it sure looks like Abdelkader is out. Leino and Maltby were Draper's wings in practice. Draper, Maltby and Leino were off the ice for a half-hour while Abdelkader worked out.


Pavel Datsyuk is practicing right now as though he's going to play in tomorrow's Game 4. First, he's working through all the drills and looking good. Until this point, Datsyuk (foot) was just skating on his own, not doing drills.

Also, Datsyuk is centering a line at practice with Valtteri Filppula on one wing and Marian Hossa on the other. There is no reason to shuffle the lines like that unless the Wings believe that Datsyuk will likely be available.

So that said, here were the practice lines ...



No Rafalski and no Holmstrom at practice. Obviously, the team is looking at Rafalski as playing in Game 4 and using Chelios as a placeholder. Holmstrom, it's tough to tell if he'll be playing from the practice lines. Homer took a big hit from Cooke seven minutes into Game 3.

Also of note is that Draper was centering the fourth line at practice, not Abdelkader. Draper might make his return after being a healthy scratch the past two games.

Datsyuk on the ice

Pavel Datsyuk is on the ice at Red Wings' practice right now.

More to come.

Gonchar a key

PITTSBURGH – Sergei Gonchar wasn’t sure which hurt more … his left shoulder which had been dislocated badly enough to need surgery or looking at the NHL standings.

By the end of Gonchar’s four-month rehabilitation stint from surgery, his Penguins were in 10th place in the Eastern Conference Standings with more losses than victories.

“It's probably one of the worst feelings I've had in my life as a hockey player, because that was the first injury in my life when I was out for such a long time,” said Gonchar. “I knew we had a good team, good group of guys, but unfortunately, things weren't going our way, and I didn't know where we were going to end up and how it was going to be. Then when I came back, I made a few changes.”

It was the Penguins’ Valentine. Gonchar – who hurt his shoulder in a preseason game – made his season debut Feb. 14. From that point on, the Penguins went 18-4-4, rising from 10th to fourth in the Eastern Conference standings.

“The regular season I think we were about a 500 team without him,” said Gonchar’s blue-line partner, Brooks Orpik. “I think a lot of the defensemen were pushed into roles that they weren't really all that comfortable with when he was out. I don't know, it's funny. He's a really quiet guy. Keeps to himself, pretty private person. But when he is in the lineup, he just seems like he has a really calming influence on everybody.”

Gonchar was notably in the lineup for Tuesday’s Game 3, scoring the winning goal on a power play, leading his team in ice time, matching up well defensively against Valtteri Filppula’s line and Darren Helm’s line.

Maxime Talbot and Sidney Crosby sat next to each other in the Pittsburgh locker room before Game 3, looking across at Gonchar on the opposite side of the room. Talbot and Crosby discussed how the Russian never got unnerved.

“We looked at him … And you look at him, and he's just so calm, he's just so relaxed and so poised,” said Talbot. “You look in his eyes and you know he's ready. He's been through a lot this year. It was a tough season. But as soon as he came back, I think it was a turning point of the season when he came back, the power play started going. And you know, he kind of gives you that confidence that, okay, I'm relaxed.”

Gonchar is 35. He’s from the same draft class that brought Kirk Maltby into the league; a draft peer of Matthew Barnaby, who now fires questions at Gonchar as a television analyst. There aren’t many left in the NHL from that 1992 class.

Gonchar was a 24-year-old with the Washington Capitals when they lost to the Red Wings in the 1998 Stanley Cup final.

He has built a career by being an elite offensive defenseman with good defensive skills.

Gonchar has had 11 seasons with 10 or more goals. Although his power-play work is what draws the most attention, Gonchar is extremely productive at even strength, having six seasons with 10 or more even-strength goals. (In contrast, Nicklas Lidstrom has never had a season with more than nine even-strength goals.)

But with the Red Wings struggling to kill penalties this post-season – Detroit has allowed 18 power-play goals in 19 games – Gonchar’s power-play work will play a key role.

“It's been a matter of just battling hard out there and finding ways to get pucks on net,” said Crosby. “When you've got a guy like Gonch back there who does a great job of it, we just try to get him the puck.”

The Penguins got a second dose of life without Gonchar in the second round of the playoffs. Gonchar was injured by a knee-on-knee collision with countryman Alex Ovechkin. Gonchar missed Games 5 and 6 of that series, but returned to help the Penguins win Game 7.

“For us, obviously, when he got hurt against Washington it was scary,” said Talbot. “But when he came back it was a huge boost. Because we know how important he is for our team, and not only our power play, but the whole team.”

Talbot's humor

Excellent sense of humor by Maxime Talbot after Game 3. Referring to the extended time in the first period of Game 1 (I've seen estimates of 25 seconds) that the Penguins played with six skaters and were not called for too many men on the ice, Talbot had this wonderful perspective:

“We were going good with six guys, eh? We cycled the puck a little bit. It was great.”

Of course, his delivery helped. He had me laughing out loud (is there a law that I have to put LOL nowadays?) when he said that. Very funny stuff from a very funny man.

The shadow knows

To me, by far the most interesting aspect of Game 3 was Coach Mike Babcock throwing Henrik Zetterberg over the boards any time that Sidney Crosby was on the ice. I mean Babcock came one step short of literally throwing Z over the boards. Babcock didn't worry about what wingers Zetterberg was out there with; he adjusted lines after. There were times that Zetterberg would replace his own linemate, Dan Cleary, on a change.

Babcock didn't care when Zetterberg was out last; the theory was that Crosby would be just as tired. He just made sure that Z, Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski were out there to contain Crosby.

Here's the only time that plan doesn't work ... when the Red Wings have a power play. Zetterberg can go with Crosby at even strength and on Pittsburgh power plays because Crosby is on the ice at the same time. But when the Wings have the man-advantage, Z is on the first unit and Crosby is on the bench. Fortunately, the referees only gave Detroit two power plays. (Joking. I didn't turn into a RW hater.)

If you told me this before the series, I would say I wouldn't want Z as a shadow. You're turning your top offensive player into a shadow, taking away from his full range of abilities. Let him play against Crosby most of the time, but don't kill Z to do it 100 percent of the time.

Well, the shadowing has worked. Zetterberg outdueled Crosby once again last night, getting a goal and an assist and being a plus-1. Crosby had one assist -- his first point of the series, a second assist -- and was a minus-1. Z even outshot Crosby, 4-3.

It was on a Penguin power play that Crosby was finally on the ice against Zetterberg for a goal, but that wasn't the fault of the shadowing. Zetterberg and his first-unit PK teammates couldn't clear the puck out of the zone for a line change and were on the ice for 1:23.

Zetterberg did look tired several times in Game 3 and played 24:19 -- the most ice time for any forward in this series. But that's just window dressing. The results were sterling.

"You could see what Mike (Babcock) was trying to do with getting Zetterberg out there on the change every chance the could get," said Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma. "I think the one advantage we had because they were trying to get Zetterberg out there so much, there were times when he got out there tired."

It wasn't Zetterberg, however, who cost the Red Wings a Game 3 victory. It was Detroit's supporting cast.

While Maxime Talbot, Sergei Gonchar and Kris Letang were scoring for Pittsburgh, Detroit didn't get much from Jiri Hudler, Mikael Samuelsson, Dan Cleary, Valtteri Filppula and the other forwards.

It will be interesting to see if Babcock tries to dictate matchups again in Game 4 despite being on the road.

"(Being at home) just makes it easier to get people on and off the ice smoother and get what you want," said Babcock. "But we had that for two games too. So it works out."

If Pavel Datsyuk returns, the plot will thicken. Zetterberg has been the Red Wings' shut-down forward all season, but Datsyuk is an amazing defensive player who won the Selke Trophy last spring.

Babcock could either forget the shadow of Crosby and be satisfied with Datsyuk and Zetterberg being on the ice for 40 minutes, making Crosby work in the spare time. Of Babcock could continue the shadow of Crosby and try to match Datsyuk up with Evgeni Malkin as much as possible.

Whatever the case, this game of matchups makes for fascinating viewing.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sammy's fine

Mikael Samuelsson said after Game 3 that he had a touch of the flu this morning and that he felt fine after the game. That's why he missed the morning skate.

Sammy playing?

I'm going to guess that Mikael Samuelsson will play tonight and Kris Draper will be a healthy scratch. Sammy was taking part in the players' pregame soccer kickaround just now. I'm guessing if you're too injured to play in the Stanley Cup final, you're not going to kick around a ball.

So, according to Coach Mike Babcock this morning, if Samuelsson is playing, a healthy Draper will sit again. Call it the curse of Yzerman. Draper is tied with Steve Yzerman for second on the Red Wings' list of career playoff games played at 196. (Nicklas Lidstrom is first with 229 entering tonight's game.)

That would make the lines tonight something like this ...




Of course, all that goes out the window if the Wings switched their lines up since the morning skate.

Live bloggin for Game 3

Update on Wings' injuries

Coach Mike Babcock just said that that it looks like Pavel Datsyuk won't play tonight but that he had a big improvement which could help him in a return for Thursday's Game 4.

Kris Draper might play tonight, according to Babcock, but only if Mikael Samuelsson doesn't play. Draper skated this morning and Samuelsson did not because of an undisclosed injury. If Samuelsson plays, Draper will sit. That means that the fourth line of Abdelkader, Maltby and Leino is together again tonight.

No Samuelsson at Wings' morning skate

Mikael Samuelsson wasn't on the ice this morning. Kris Draper was practicing as though he was going to play. Here are the lines they worked out of ...




Hudler is back up on Zetterberg's line. Perhaps they're anticipating not nearly as much Crosby time for that line and thus a defensive droppoff from Cleary to Hudler is palatable. The fourth and second lines remain intact. The new third line with Draper and Cleary on the wings is a pretty good checking unit if they're out for much time against Malkin or Crosby.

Penguins' Tuesday morning skate

UPDATE: Coach Dan Bylsma left open the possibility of changing his lineup tonight.

"It will be game-time decision," said Bylsma. "It's playoffs. We're dealing with the bumps and bruises, and we'll make some decisions at game time."


Pittsburgh used the same line combinations in the morning skate as they used in Game 2. The fourth line was Adams with Talbot and Satan. That doesn't mean that they won't go with seven defensemen and 11 forwards.

Crosby, Malkin and Staal had the same wingers as they have through the series.



Twittering around

If you're interested in news as fast as possible, follow me on Twitter ... RedWingsBruce ... for immediate updates throughout the Stanley Cup final. I'm sitting in a near empty arena in Pittsburgh right now, but that's not worth a tweet.

Monday, June 1, 2009

No news on Pavel

Coach Mike Babcock said that there's no news on Pavel Datsyuk's status. That means officially a game-day decision. Perhaps that means that no change in status means no change in his game status and that Datsyuk might not dress again.

"They haven't told me anything, and I don't expect anything new today," said Babcock.

UPDATE: Babcock asked if Datsyuk is ready: "Yeah, not really. He had another, I don't know what they call it, but another look at him. Whether it be an MRI or whatever. And everything seems to be good. So now it's a matter of when he's ready."

Draper healthy

Coach Mike Babcock said that not only is Kris Draper healthy enough to play in tomorrow's Game 3 of the SCF, Draper was good to go for Game 2, but was scratched.

Will Draper be in the lineup for Game 3?

"That's a good question," said Babcock. "I don't know what I'm doing. I'm not a big change guy especially when things are going good, we'll see."