Archive for February, 2007

Zetterberg out 2-3 weeks

Bad news: the Freep reports that Henrik Zetterberg will miss 2-3 weeks with an inflammed disk in his back. He had spasms in practice on Monday during practice, and through no problem was found on the initial MRI, a second scan revealed some damage, which Ken Holland says is nothing significant. However, he is expected to rest 7-10 days in hopes that the inflammation subsides.

As bad as it is to have Hank out for so long, a down time of 2-3 weeks means he won’t miss playoff time. There’s the good news.

Matt Hussey, who was sent back to GR today, will return to Detroit to help fill in, beginning Friday against Chicago.

Aside from Zetterberg, the Wings’ injury list stands at Dan Cleary (2-3 weeks, knee sprain), Todd Bertuzzi (2-4 weeks, back) and Mikael Samuelsson (1-2 weeks, broken foot).

As Helene St. James points out, the Wings fortunately have a fairly light schedule to round out the year, with not as much travel as they’ve had over the past couple months, and fewer teams against tough opponents.

However, they do play the Predators four more times (March 6th, 13th, 14th, and 29th), three of which will come before any of the injured Wings, except perhaps Samuelsson, are likely to return. Not good, especially given those games are very important in the race for first place in the Division/Conference.

Griffins Update: 02/28/07

Update (10.36AM)- Sadly, the Griffins lost in OT last night in Rochester. Bootland did manage to get them one point, however, with his goal 14 seconds before the end of the third. That point puts them 3 points ahead of Peoria, though the Rivermen do have four games at hand.  -Megan

The Griffins have improved greatly since December. They had a mediocre January, going 6-5. However, they went 8-2 in February, for a 14-7 record in 2007. This was highlighted by a six game win streak from January 27 through February 17. They have one more game, tonight at Rochester, to close out the month. Their record currently stands at 29-22-4-2. This record is good enough for the final playoff spot of the Western conference, two points ahead of Peoria.

Matt Ellis has been all but phenomenal. He scored his first career hat trick on February 16, lifting GR to a 5-2 win over the San Antonio Rampage. He scored one short handed goal, one power play goal, and one even strength empty net goal against the current team of last season’s AHL MVP, Donal MacLean. The next night, Ellis scored the game-winning goal in a 4-2 victory over the same team. This was his 20th goal of the season, making him just the fifth Griffin ever to earn back-to-back 20-goal seasons. On February 19, he was named AHL Player of the Week for the period ending February 18. He is the first Griffin to receive this honor this season. During that period, Ellis had 4 goals, 2 assists, and 6 points in 3 games. On the season, he has 21 goals, 42 points, 9 power play goals, 4 short handed goals, a +/- of 0, and 38 PIM in 52 games. In 7 games with Detroit, he has 0 points and is -1.

Howard and Liv have played well. Howard has played 34 games total, going 16-14-4 with 4 shutouts, a 2.81 GAA, and a .905 save %. Liv has improved greatly, going 12-10-2 in 24 games with 2 shutouts, a 2.99 GAA, and a .896 save %.

Overall, the defense has played well. One guy that stands out to me is Derek Meech. He is really coming into his own this season. In 53 games with Grand Rapids, he has 5 goals, 17 assists, 22 points, 3 short handed goals, 34 PIM and is +3. He works hard every shift, evidence by his two blocked shots on one shift in the Griffins’ 1-0 SO win over Syracuse on Saturday. He got hit in the wrist on the first one and was clearly in pain for the rest of the shift. He is currently out with an injury to his right wrist.

Eric Himelfarb is impressing me lately. He is probably the hardest worker on the team. In 48 games, he has 12 goals, 12 assists, 24 points, 4 short handed goals, 32 PIM, and is -1 . He gets a lot of chances every game, and a lot of breakaways, but he has trouble finishing.

Darryl Bootland continues to play well. In 53 games, he has 16 goals, 12 assists, 28 ppoints, 3 PPG, 183 PIM, and is +9. Hopefully he’ll keep it up, have a good camp, and finally make the Wings.

The Griffins seem determined to not only make the playoffs, but to do well, as evidenced by a recent flurry of roster changes. On the 19th of this month, the Griffins obtained LW Tony Voce from the Philadelphia Phantoms on loan. In 45 games, Voce has 8 goals, 22 points and 50 PIM.

On the 23rd, Grand Rapids got RW Adam Keefe from the Manitoba Moose. In exchange, they loaned RW Brendan Brooks to Manitoba. Keefe has 2 goals, 4 points, and 91 PIM in 22 games. Brooks had 9 goals, 17 points, and 44 PIM in 51 games.

On the 26th, they traded RW Ryan Keller to the Syracuse Crunch for C Ben Simon. Keller had 9 goals, 17 points, and 26 PIM in 38 games. Simon has 9 goals, 21 points, and 77 PIM in 56 games this season. His AHL totals are: 336 games, 60 goals, 149 points, and 363 PIM. He has also played 81 NHL games, 68 with Atlanta (6 in ’01-’02, 10 in ’02-’03, and and 13 in ’03-’04) and 13 with Columbus in ’05-’06. In those games, he has 3 goals, 4 points, and 47 PIM.

On the 27th, the Washington Capitals “reassigned” RW Jonas Johanssen from Hersey to Grand Rapids. In return, we loaned RW Scott Barney to the Hersey Bears. In 40 games with Grand Rapids, Barney had 4 goals, 12 points, and 26 PIM. Johansson was Colorado’s first pick of the 2002 draft. In 44 games with Hersey, he had 5 goals, 24 points, and 48 PIM.

Today, the Griffins signed D Jim Jackson to a professional tryout. In 54 games this season with Gwinnett of the ECHL, Jackson has 11 goals, 29 points, and 78 PIM.

In addition to all these changes, D Dan Syvret was recalled by Edmonton, and Matt Ellis, Matt Hussey, and Josh Langfeld are all up with Detroit.

Hopefully, the trades and will provide some much needed offense down the stretch. If Grand Rapids can continue to win, they should be able to keep their playoff spot ahead of the Peoria Rivermen.

Wings 4, Blackhawks 1

Update (1:50 PM): Thanks to reader Justin for pointing out in the comments that I forgot to mention Calder’s number. He chose #17, which Brett Hull and Doug Brown have also worn in recent years. - Matt

I didn’t take notes on the game, so this will be brief:

… The obvious place to begin is Kyle Calder. The guy walked off the bench, headed to the net, and one-timed a Johan Franzen pass to score his first goal as a Red Wing on his first shift and first shot, at 1:46. He added an assist in the second and watched as Franzen did the rest, scoring a highlight reel goal on a long rush to the net. Overall, I was impressed with Calder. He showed good hustle, threw his body around some, and sparked the second line to a four-point, +5 night.

The NHL hasn’t split up the highlight reel into individual goals yet, so you’ll have to watch the whole thing if you want to see the goals.

… Dominik Hasek looked strong last night. He was a minute from a shutout, but the Hawks did score a consolation goal. It was disappointing.

… Valtteri Filppula played 19:38, which is far more than I expected him to get. He looked good with Datsyuk and was in on some good offensive chances. Jiri Hudler finally got some respectable ice-time, 14:29.

… Tomas Holmstrom continued his scoring tear, with two goals.

… Brett Lebda had to leave the game in the third period because he got in a fight and his jersey wasn’t strapped down. The fight came as a result of a nasty hit by Mikael Holmqvist, who caught Brett in the face with his elbow along the endboards. Holmqvist came flying in at top speed, left his feet and nailed him with his elbow, knocking Lebda flat on his back and then skated off. Andreas Lilja took a shot at him, but didn’t get very nasty before Brett himself got up and started swinging. It soon developed into a full-fledged fight, and I’m sorry to say Lebda got his butt kicked. Somehow, Brett was given a roughing penalty and a fighting major (how does that work? it basically amounted to an instigator penalty, so why not call it that?) plus the game misconduct for not having his jersey strapped down, while Holmqvist was given a major and a charging penalty.

Another hit to the head and another mere slap on the wrist as punishment.

… Another dangerous play came later in the period, when Duncan Keith nailed Kyle Calder from behind near the boards and sent him head first into them at an awkward angle. He’s fortunate Calder’s okay, because it could have gone very badly. It was an unnecessarily rough hit, with Keith leaving his feet and using all his force. Pretty nasty.

… Anyway, it was a pretty good game by the Wings, but not so much for the Hawks, who looked pretty bad. I imagine they’ll put up a better effort for the rematch on Friday in Detroit. The Wings remain in 4th place, as they have two fewer wins than the Predators.

… Dave at Gorilla Crouch also has a game reaction posted.

The Wings’ new look up front

Well, with the two trade deadline deals significantly altering the Wings’ forward corps, I thought I’d put out what I think are likely lines.

I don’t think the Wings are interested in breaking up the top line, which just so happens to be one of the hottest in hockey. So, Holmstrom-Zetterberg-Datsyuk likely stays the same. For tonight, Valtteri Filppula will fill in for Zetterberg.

The two acquisitions were made with the aim of regaining a productive second line, so I see Robert Lang playing between Todd Bertuzzi, when he’s healthy (projected to be mid-March), and Kyle Calder. Until Bertuzzi suits up, it looks like this spot will be filled by Johan Franzen, and then Mikael Samuelsson, when he returns. However, if Calder proves to be less of a scorer than the Wings appear to hope he’ll be, his spot could be filled by Samuelsson as well. Clarification (08. Mar, 7:20 PM): last sentence should end, “with Bertuzzi taking the other wing.” - Matt

The third line will likely consist of Dan Cleary, Kris Draper, and Kirk Maltby. Cleary showed a scoring touch earlier in the season, but that seems to have become dormant as he has re-assumed his role as a defensive forward. Still, that line can be a scoring threat as all three players create good energy. With Cleary out, Matt Ellis or Josh Langeld will probably see time here, though Calder could as well, if Samuelsson takes his spot on the second line.

For now, the fourth line will be a bit of a revolving door. With three Griffins on the roster, it is likely they will play together fairly often, but that leaves Jiri Hudler without a clear spot. I suspect we’ll see something like Hussey-Hudler-Langfeld/Ellis tonight, and Filppula-Hudler-Langfeld/Ellis once Zetterberg returns. If the regulars all become healthy, Hussey, Ellis and Langfeld will go back to GR and the fourth line will be a bit of a toss-up, with the only sure pieces being Filppula and Hudler, though one of them will sit out each night. The two remaining spots could be filled by whoever is slumping out of the Calder, Franzen, and Samuelsson group.

So, there are my thoughts. Of course, we can never be sure about what Babcock will do, though the #1 line seems to be about as close to a surety as we’re likely to get. The others, not so much. The combos I list, and their qualifications, are the best guesses I can offer.

Norstrom, Smyth moved

The Los Angeles Kings have dealt their captain, Matthias Norstrom, to the Dallas Stars, according to TSN. Not sure yet what they got in return. Norstrom has 2 goals and 9 points in 62 games this season.

The bigger news is that the Edmonton Oilers were unable to resign their star. Spector’s cites Newsday as saying that Ryan Smyth has been traded to the New York Islanders for two prospects (Ryan O’Marra and Robert Nilsson) and a first round pick.

Bertuzzi to Wings

Update (Matt, 7:50 PM): Ansar Khan has an informative blog post up on the deal, including a breakdown of its conditions and a reaction. Check it out. - Matt

Update (Matt, 4:35 PM): George Malik has comments by Bertuzzi from the phone interview TSN did after the trade. Basically, Todd is excited to be a Wing and thankful that they have faith in him. He’s not 100% yet and isn’t going to rush his return, especially since the Wings are so comfortable in the standings, but sounds like he could be pretty close.

He’s going to be on WXYT 1270 AM (Detroit area) at 5:30 PM ET today. You can listen in at their website, just click Listen Live. - Matt

Update (Matt, 4:07 PM): I feel pretty dumb after my post yesterday on the Wings’ trading situation, in which I said, “it’s time to give up the idea of the Wings making a big acquisition,” among other related things.This is a Big Name acquisition, though I suppose part of my point still stands: that the Wings weren’t going to get someone they had to pay a high price for. They got a big name off the market, but overall they lost very little overall in the process. Both players they’ve brought in have a good shot at being big contributors.

At this point, it looks like Holland did a pretty good job. - Matt

Update (Matt, 3:45 PM): Okay, I’ve had some time to digest the deal and here’s my reaction: I think I’m going to find it a little hard to accept Bertuzzi as a Wing because it’s instinctual for me to think of him as the enemy (and not because of the Moore incident, per se). Plus, his health is a concern and will remain so even if he’s passed muster with the team’s health professionals.

However, if healthy, he can bring a lot to the team both in offensive ability and physicality. He’s what many Wings fans have lusted after for years, and now we finally have someone who, on paper, at least, can fulfill that desire for a big, bruising power forward.

When Chris Chelios came here, he was as hated a player and now he’s a fan favorite. I’m not saying that’ll happen with Bertuzzi, but I suppose it’s possible.

I’m conflicted. I felt dirty when I first read about the trade, but now excitement is rising. I’m interested in seeing how it all works out and I wish he were suiting up tonight. - Matt

Update (3:00): Here’s a little information on Shawn Matthias, the prospect we gave up for Bertuzzi. Red Wings Central has him ranked 13th in the prospects. He is currently playing for Belleville of the OHL. He was our second choice (47th overall) in the 2006 entry draft, and was not currently signed. He’s a good sized center and has 13 goals and 34 points in 67 games for Belleville this season. -Megan

Update (2:47): TSN just gave details. Apparently Florida gets another 2nd rounder if Bert re-signs. The conditional pick is based on team performance and Bertuzzi’s play. - Sarah

Update (2:36PM): It’s official. Bertuzzi is now a Wing. Not sure who the prospect is yet. Apparently someone in juniors. I’ll update as soon as I have more details -Sarah

TSN reports that the Florida Panthers have agreed on a deal to send Todd Bertuzzi to the Red Wings in exchange for a conditional draft pick and a prospect. The announcers caution that, given Bertuzzi’s injury status, the deal is pending until the official conference call with the league.

Guerin to San Jose

Update (Matt, 1:55 PM): Hockey’s Future’s recent Sharks NCAA prospects update has a small profile on Barriball, who sounds like a pretty good prospect, though young and inexperienced. Still, I think the Sharks got off a lot easier than the Wings would have had they been intent on getting the Blues to give Guerin up to them. - Matt

Update (1:25PM): Sportsnet reports that the Blues apparently got more than we thought from San Jose. On top of a prospect and a draft pick, the Blues got Ville Niemenen. That may very well have been the difference between San Jose’s offer and Detroit’s — Ken Holland is not willing to give up another roster player. The prospect the Sharks gave up was Jay Barriball, their 7th round pick (203rd overall) in the 2006 entry draft. - Megan

Update (12:29PM): Now that I think of it, the the Blues probably didn’t want to deal Guerin to a divisional rival (as Bill has been reminding us since yesterday) unless the compensation was just too good to pass up. I doubt the Wings would have been willing to give much more than San Jose did and San Jose had the advantage of being a time zone away. - Sarah

Looks like you can scratch Guerin off the list of potential trades for the Wings.

TSN is reporting that Bill Guerin has been traded to the San Jose Sharks. Details are scarce at the moment. Reportedly, San Jose gave up a first round pick and a non-roster player.

If that’s true, it doesn’t seem like the price should have been too high for the Wings (who seem to deal picks without a second thought), but perhaps the Blues were demanding a top prospect whom the Wings braintrust was unwilling to part with.