Archive for January, 2008

James Mirtle attends Phoenix game

Update (01. Feb, 9:18 AM): James has posted his recap. - Matt

Apparently, James Mirtle was at the game last night.

Am I jealous? Very.

Poor college student that I am, I hope to follow his advice at some point this season:

… if you’ve been looking for an inexpensive trip to an NHL game and you live within driving distance of Joe Louis Arena, this is probably the year to do it.

He says he’ll  “likely have some sort of recap up … later today.”

Niklas Kronwall injures shoulder

Update (7:47 PM): I should note that I was, of course, wrong on the Hay PTO, which was completely unrelated to Kronwall’s injury. Bad guess on my part. - Matt

Update (3:08 PM): Good news: Ryan Doherty reports that the results of a CT scan of Kronwall’s shoulder were negative, which means there is no tear. Bruce MacLeod calls it a sprained shoulder.

Nik himself told Doherty he’ll be out a week, though Ansar Khan puts it at 10 days.  Apparently because the injury is not as serious as it seemed at first, the team has decided not to call up anyone from Grand Rapids.

Also, according to Doherty, Brett Lebda (wrist) will return to the lineup Friday after sitting out last night’s game. - Matt

Update (10:16 AM): The AHL transaction wire indicates that the Griffins have signed defenseman Darrell Hay to a professional tryout, which should mean news of the call-up of either Kyle Quincey or Jonathan Ericsson is coming soon. - Matt

Update (10:00 AM): George Malik clarifies the injury, calling it a “sternoclavicular cartilage” issue. It’s Kronwall’s sternum, not strictly his shoulder, that was hurt on the play. - Matt

Update (9:58 AM): Thanks to Megan for posting the following comment on the possible call-ups below:

Of the two that could be called up, Ericsson would be the better choice. He’s the second best defenseman on the team, posting a +4 rating and 19 points (via griffinshockey.com). Quincey has struggled more than usual this year. He is -3 with 9 points. From games that I’ve been to, you can see that he is not playing at the level he played at last season. He tends to lose the puck and this often leads to scoring chances for the opposing team.

- Matt

The Wings came back from a 2-1 deficit to beat the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 in regulation last night, but they lost a key piece of their blueline in the process. At 10:50 of the third period, Niklas Kronwall went shoulder-first into the boards following a hit by Craig Weller and left the ice in pain.

Early reports are indicating it’s a clavicle injury – a shoulder injury, essentially. Piet Van Zant told Helene St. James more specifically that the injury is “to the joint that connects the sternum to the clavicle.” He’ll be out at least a week.

It’s already assumed that there is a tear in the cartiledge, but he’ll be undergoing an MRI to determine the extent of the damage, as noted by The Hockeytown Blog.  We should hear more today.

Ansar Khan reports that the Wings will call up either Jonathan Ericsson or Kyle Quincey while Kronwall is recovering. They could see the ice as soon as Friday due to Brett Lebda’s sore wrist. Babcock sees this as an opportunity to gauge the depth of the defense, as he told Bruce MacLeod:

“We’ve got some kids in the minors … that I wanted to look at anyways. We’ll find out what kind of depth we have.”

I’m told the Griffins’ defensemen haven’t exactly been stellar this season, so don’t expect standout performances.

We are just under four weeks from the trade deadline. If Kronwall’s injury turns out to be another of his season-ending deals and not a 1-2 week thing, we will almost certainly see Ken Holland make a move.

I only got to watch the first period of the game last night. I’ll probably have some comments on that later today.

GameDay: vs. Phoenix (27-21-2, 56 Pts) 7:30 ET

Update (7:13 PM): HockeyTownTodd has his usual pre-game numbers posted.

Also,  PB of One Fan’s Perspective has posted on the Coyote’s win over Columbus last night and has some comments on the game tonight. - Matt

Update (2:16 PM): Richard Nickerson of Coyotes Corner has posted his preview of the game.

He has some good keys for the Coyotes, though the second one (physicality) has become a little bit outdated over the past 2-3 seasons. This Red Wings squad doesn’t get intimidated by physical play like the team has in the past. Their win over a very physical Ducks team last week is only the most recent demonstration of that change.  - Matt

Update (1:50 PM): George Malik points out that Phoenix “super-pest” and NHL-leader in PIMs Daniel Carcillo returned to the lineup last night and will be dressed tonight.

It’s a shame Aaron Downey won’t be on the Wings’ bench, but I suppose Dallas Drake acts as a bit of a deterrent, as well. - Matt

Update (1:00 PM): Thanks to Sarah for pointing out in the comments the significance of the AHL move mentioned in the  9:23 update below:

… the Redenbach loan was in exchange for the Griffins sending their current enforcer (ed. – Adam Keefe) to San Antonio (Phoenix’s AHL affiliate) because Darren McCarty is expected to join the team, pending NHL clearance.

See Bruce MacLeod’s post on the McCarty situation. - Matt

Update (12:55 PM): A bit of a correction to the 12:37 update: Ansar Khan reports that the MRI results have not yet come back, but Lebda doesn’t consider the injury to be serious. - Matt

Update (12:37 PM): Bruce MacLeod has more details on Lebda’s injury, noting that, despite the fact that the defenseman participated in all three practices this week, the training staff prescribed rest.

An MRI was done on the wrist, but apparently no significant problem was found.

MacLeod says Lebda’s status for Friday and Saturday’s Colorado and Boston games will be determined tomorrow.

Helene St. James has some quotes from Lebda himself. - Matt

Update (12:20 PM): The Hockeytown Blog’s Ryan Doherty reports that  Brett Lebda is out tonight with a wrist injury that he suffered during the first period of the Anaheim game.

Brett finished the game with 13:00 in TOI, so the injury can’t be too serious, but the team can afford to be cautious with him. He told Doherty that he’s day-to-day, leaving in question his status for Friday’s game against the Avalanche.

Derek Meech will take Lebda’s place in the lineup and should see time with Chris Chelios.

Doherty also indirectly confirms the return of Dallas Drake and Henrik Zetterberg by reporting Aaron Downey and Matt Ellis as healthy scratches. - Matt

Update (11:28 AM): It’s worth noting that Phoenix’s game in Columbus last night wasn’t your run-of-the-mill road win. The Coyotes came back from two deficits and scored three third period goals to pull out a 4-2 decision over a pretty solid Blue Jackets team.

Early on, there’s little doubt they’ll be pumped from vaulting into the 8th spot with the win, but they may start to run out of gas just as the game hits the third period, during which the Wings play their best defensive hockey. - Matt

Update (10:35 AM): As hot as Peter Mueller has been, Radim Vrbata has been hotter: he produced a hat trick last Thursday and netted one more goal last night to bring his total to four in two games. Expect him to receive some special shutdown attention tonight. - Matt

Update (10:30 AM): Officials for tonight:

Referees: Dave Jackson (8) and Tom Kowal (32)
Linesmen: Greg Devorski (54) and Scott Driscoll (68)

Via NHL Media. - Matt

Update (9:23 AM): OklahomaWingNut has posted his GDT at Kukla’s Forums.

Also, an AHL note: the Coyotes sent Tyler Redenbach to the Griffins on loan. - Matt

Tonight is the fourth and final game between these two teams this season. The Wings lead the series 3-0 with wins October 20th (5-2), December 1st (3-2), and December 29th (4-2).

The Coyotes are 9-3-1 in 2008, with their only losses coming to Edmonton (5-2, 10. Jan), Minnesota (4-1, 13. Jan), Columbus (4-3, 17. Jan), and Chicago (2-1 SO, 19. Jan). They began the month of January with four consecutive wins before they hit a patch of alternating wins and losses. Since the shootout loss to the Blackhawks on the 19th, they have won three in a row, including games against the Sabres (6-2), Predators (4-3 OT), and Blue Jackets (4-2). With the win over Columbus, which came last night, the Coyotes improved to 6-6-2 against the Central Division.

Phoenix is fourth in the Pacific Division, ahead of only Los Angeles. Their 27 wins and 56 points is good for the 8th spot in the West, though two other teams also have  56 points with fewer wins.

Shane Doan leads the Coyotes with 48 points, but Radim Vrbata is the leading goal-scorer with 22. Rookie Peter Mueller has five goals in his last five games, bringing his total to 15. Doan (16), Vrbata and Mueller are three of the five 10-or-more goal-scorers on the team; Steven Reinprecht (12), and Fredrik Sjostrom (10) are the others.

Dan Carcillo (knee) is the only Coyote listed as out.

Ilya Bryzgalov will get the start for Phoenix.

For the Coyotes’ perspective, see Coyotes Corner,  Hip Shot Blog, One Fan’s Perspective (and this guest post at Behind the Jersey) and True Coyote Love.

In Coyotes news not related to the game, they are sponsoring PGA Tour golfer Jeff Quinney for a year. Bizarre.

The Wings are 8-2-1 in January, with two blocks of four wins sandwiching a three-game skid. They began the month with a pair of wins over Dallas (4-1, 3-0) and a win each over Chicago (3-1) and Colorado (1-0).  They then lost in a shootout to Minnesota  (6-5) on the 10th and proceeded to lose their next two games, beginning with a 3-2 decision in Ottawa. Three nights later, they dropped one to the Thrashers, 5-1. Beginning with a 3-2 shootout win over Vancouver on the 17th, however, the Wings pulled out of that skid and continued on with three consecutive road wins: San Jose (6-3), LA (3-0) and Anaheim (2-1).

Detroit is atop the Central Division, the West, and the League with a 37-10-4 record and 78 points.

Henrik Zetterberg is the team’s leading goal-scorer (28) and point-getter (61). Pavel Datsyuk is not far behind in points, with 58. Six Red Wings have 10-or-more goals: Dan Cleary (19), Tomas Holmstrom (19), Pavel Datsyuk (17), Valtteri Filppula (15) and Jiri Hudler (11). Hudler has not scored in five games, however, and is among the coldest of the Wings’ scoring forwards. Datsyuk is goalless in his last seven, making him the offensive forward most due for a breakout game.

The Wings should be healthy tonight, with Henrik Zetterberg (back) slated to return after missing two games. Dallas Drake (knee) is also scheduled to dress for the first time in five. Aaron Downey and Matt Ellis will both be healthy scratches.

Dan Cleary apparently won’t miss any more time after sustaining a nasty black eye in a fight with Chris Pronger in the first period against the Ducks on Wednesday. The swelling forced him to miss the game, but it has since gone down.

Bruce MaCleod provided the following lines from practice yesterday:

Datsyuk-Zetterberg-Holmstrom
Samuelsson-Franzen-Cleary
Hudler-Filppula-Kopecky
Drake-Draper-Maltby

I suspect things will look somewhat different tonight:

Datsyuk-Zetterberg-Holmstrom
Samuelsson-Filppula-Cleary
Franzen-Draper-Maltby
Drake-Kopecky-Hudler

Projected pairings:

Lidstrom-Rafalski
Kronwall-Lilja
Lebda-Chelios

As usual, expect some mixing there as the game goes on.

Chris Osgood is scheduled to start. That’s a good move by Babcock, who is no doubt looking to restore his goaltender’s confidence after the shellacking he suffered in the All Star Game on Sunday.

For more of the Wings’ perspective, see Snapshots, Abel to Yzerman, HockeyTownTodd, Behind the Jersey, No Pun Intended, Red Wings Nation, yzerman is god, Detroit Hockey, LetsGoWings, and Winging It In Motown.

Tonight’s a key game for the Wings as they look to pick up where they left off before the Break. They are well-rested and should be ready to face a hot Phoenix team in what could be a preview of the first round of the playoffs. The Coyotes are no longer pushovers and should make things interesting, though they won’t be all that fresh, having played in Columbus last night. If the Wings bring their “A” game, Phoenix will be hard-pressed to pull out another road win.

1/28 Zetterberg Update

Ansar Khan reports that Henrik Zetterberg will play tomorrow night against the Coyotes. He had no setbacks today during practice and is feeling good. Mike Babcock told Khan that he will not ease Zetterberg back into the lineup, eloquently saying, “If he’s playing he’s playing, if he’s not playing, he’s not playing.”

St. James: Wings have “secured” Brunnstrom

Update (28. Jan, 9:45 AM): George Malik has a follow-up post on the situation. Basically, no official agreement has been reached, if Ken Holland is to be believed (why not?), though there is a good chance that the Wings are at the forefront of the race for the guy. - Matt

Interesting blurb from the Freep’s Helen St. James today:

The Wings are, however, believed to have secured the services of Fabian Brunnstrom, an almost 23-year-old forward who’s become a star in the Swedish Elite League. They’re on a level playing field with other NHL clubs as to what contract can be offered, but have the advantage in offering him a locker room filled with seven countrymen.

What exactly does that mean? That first statement is pretty, but she then ends with a statement that gives the impression that the Wings only have a greater chance of signing him due to the presence of so many Swedes. Which is it?

(via Snapshots)

On the Dodge/NHL SuperSkills Competition

Update (7:41 PM): I should be a little more specific: along with the camerawork issues, I felt that the pacing of the Competition was not tailored for a TV audience. CBC (and, I assume, Versus) had hardly any time to show a replay or conduct an interview before the next player was going. When you watch a game, you know it’s paced for TV, but that just was not the case last night.

If you think the Competition is more for the fans in the arena, then this isn’t a problem. If, however, it’s for fans watching on TV, it should matter and it’s something the League should look at next time if they’re set on broadcasting the thing.

Also, Brian has left a great comment on the breakaway challeneg below. - Matt

Because I’m home and so rarely get the chance to watch HNIC, I watched the Competition mostly on CBC last night.  I did switch over to Versus on occasion and saw that they were using the same footage for everything except ice-level interviews.

In doing so, I noticed something: the SuperSkills Competition does not translate well to TV, whether it’s the experienced hockey people at CBC/HNIC or the new kids on the block at Versus. It was especially noticeable in the relay event as the camera cuts made following along difficult. The audio competition between the TV guys and the arena announcer got a little old as well.

Keep in mind that I’m talking about CBC here. Those who love to berate Versus should be reminded that both stations used the same camera work.

There were entertaining moments, to be sure. I just think that the Competition worked better as a form of entertainment for the fans in Atlanta than for the fans watching on TV. I don’t know, maybe they could try the traditional wide angle shot of the rink rather than having a guy on skates with a camera shooting from behind the players.

Or they could just not show the Competition on TV.

I’ll be heading back to school this afternoon and have a fair amount of homework, but I plan on watching the Game (on Versus – no CBC in West Michigan) if I can.