Posts tagged “Valtteri Filppula”

Filppula returns; top two pairings adjusted

Update (1:30 PM): Helene St. James has more from Babcock on the pairing mixing:

“We did it during different times of the year, and we did it during the Nashville series. We have two real physical guys on the back end who hunt down guys, and we like players we play against to be a little bit nervous. We’re just making sure we’ve got everything covered.”

Okay, but I’m with George Malik in hoping this is just to throw the Stars off. – Matt

Update (12:48 PM): MacLeod has added a post-practice update to the same post:

Filppula was off the ice before special-teams drills as a precaution. Coach Mike Babcock said: “We’re going to find out tomorrow. That was the first time he’s skated in a while. We didn’t want to push it.”

– Matt

Bruce MacLeod reports that Valtteri Filppula has returned to the ice after missing two practices with a twisted leg. That should mean he’s in for Game 1, barring a setback today or tomorrow.

As a result of Fil’s return, the lines have reverted to their second round look. Kirk Maltby is the odd man out again.

Datsyuk-Zetterberg-Holmstrom
Franzen-Filppula-Samulesson
Cleary-Draper-Drake
Hudler-Helm-McCarty

Also, MacLeod notes that Babcock has mixed up the top two pairings, putting Brad Stuart with Nick Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski with Niklas Kronwall.

Lidstrom-Stuart
Kronwall-Rafalski
Lebda-Chelios

I’m not a fan of that idea. It didn’t work so well in the first round, if you recall. It’s certainly an odd decision going in to Game 1, as the Wings have home ice advantage and the last change. They should be able to get the matchups they want without splitting up the pairings that have worked so well throughout the run. Here’s hoping it’s just a practice experiment.

5/6 Notes

Update (4:50 PM): Kukla’s Korner has transcripts of the Dave Tippett and Marty Turco/Brenden Morrow calls. – Matt

Update (3:11 PM): Alanah at Kukla’s Korner has the transcript from Henrik Zetterberg’s conference call posted. It’s a long read, but a good one. – Matt

Bruce MacLeod reports that Valtteri Filppula (twisted leg) did not skate for the second day in a row. Filppula told Helene St. James, “I feel better,” and that he’ll try to skate tomorrow.

Although Mike Babcock is telling the media he expects Filppula will play Thursday, the team continues to prepare for his possible absence by using all new second and third lines. This is just prudence in action because Fil’s status for Game 1 is dependent on whether or not he can make the Wednesday skate. If he can’t, it looks like the team will have to go with the adjusted lineup and hope that three practices is enough to gel the units together. Given the experience level of all six forwards involved, that shouldn’t be a problem, however.

On the Stars side of things, Mark at Andrew’s Dallas Stars and NHL Blog, has an update here. On a semi-related note, my series preview is coming Thursday, early in the afternoon.

Paul Kukla has the NHL press release on the officials for the Conference Finals here.

Also, via Snapshots comes the latest on the Fabian Brunnstrom sweepstakes. Basically, we should know where he’s headed in a week to ten days.

Lastly, the NHL hosted media conference calls with Mike Babcock, Henrik Zetterberg, Brenden Morrow and Marty Turco, and Dave Tippett today. I expect transcripts to be made available soon. I’ll post them when they show up on the Media site.

5/5 Notes

Ansar Khan reports that Valtteri Filppula missed practice today due to a leg injury he suffered during Game 4. Apparently, he twisted his leg when he hit a rut during the third period. He “downplayed” it to Bruce MacLeod and said that he hopes to be ready for Game 1 of the Conference Finals on Thursday.

Fil may be optimistic about his chances to play, but it looks like Mike Babcock isn’t taking any chances. MacLeod points out that the lines from practice today were juggled in such a way that indicates the team is preparing for the possibility of not having Filppula’s services:

Datsyuk-Zetterberg-Holmstrom
Cleary-Franzen-Samuelsson
Drake-Draper-Maltby
Hudler-Helm-McCarty

Rather than rotate someone in on the second line, Babcock chose to make some adjustments. Notice Johan Franzen has moved to the middle and Dan Cleary has been promoted from the third line. In this arrangement, Kirk Maltby would finally see some playoff ice time.

Of course, this arrangement is dependent on Filppula’s health. If he’s able to go Thursday night, expect the lines to revert to their second round look, with Maltby as the odd man out again. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are extra cautious with him, though. There’s no particular reason to rush him back if there’s any doubt about his leg. In the event that Filppula cannot go, it will be interesting to see how Franzen adjusts.

Ansar Khan also writes that Chris Chelios (lower body) is ready to play. Apparently, something he’s “had for six years” acted up and that, together with lack of urgency in Game 4, resulted in his replacement by Andreas Lilja. He practiced on the third pairing today, so Lilja should be a healthy scratch again.

Lastly, Khan has the times for the third round games:

Game 1: 7:30 ET
Game 2: 7:00 ET
Game 3: 8:00 ET
Game 4: 8:00 ET
Game 5*: 1:30 ET
Game 6*: 8:00 ET
Game 7*: 7:30 ET

Those are all nice and early. Thank you, NHL.

3/27 Notes

Update (8:01 PM): From the “why make it public?  file: Dave Waddell got the location of Brad Stuarts broken finger from the man himself:

“I have pretty good grip with my other three fingers (on his right hand), so that’s a good sign.”

For those keeping score at home, that’s his top hand, which should mean his return will come earlier than expected since his lower hand does most of the serious gripping. Stuart is confident about being back in time to play in Game 1. Here’s hoping he’s mostly, if not all, healed by then because that hand will have a big target on it now that the whole world knows the location of the injury.

Waddell also has something on the McCarty versus Downey situation. Key quote from Mike Babcock:

“We’re giving Mac an opportunity (tonight), Downs probably won’t be playing (tonight), but that’s just so Mac can get into a game. That’s no reflection on what Downs has been able to do with us.”

Still, both players will be competing for roster spots. George Malik sums it up nicely:

One might see McCarty’s ready-to-play status is healthy competition for Dallas Drake and, to a lesser extent, Jiri Hudler or Tomas Kopecky as a 3rd/4th line presence who can excel on the forecheck instead of a replacement for Downey’s role as a pure “policeman.”

Of course, McCarty’s ability to excel on the forecheck at the NHL level these days has yet to be proven. – Matt

Update (2:14 PM):Ansar Khan reports that Dominik Hasek will not play tomorrow and that Chris Osgood will start.

… He also says that Tomas Holmstrom is supposed to undergo further testing today. Apparently Mike Babcock doesn’t know the results of yesterday’s tests, but told Khan that it’s looking positive. I’ll believe it when I see Homer back in the lineup.

… Khan clarifies MacLeod’s comments on Samuelsson by saying the Swede left practice early. According to Babcock, he’s questionable for tomorrow.

… Dallas Drake told Khan he’s ready to go, but Babcock wouldn’t commit to it.

… Brad Stuart told Khan that he’s optmisitc he’ll be back in time for Game 1.

… Khan also confirms that Aaron Downey will be scratched tomorrow.  – Matt

Update (12:56 PM): MacLeod has more:

…  I don’t know why this didn’t register with me before when I looked at the lines: Mikael Samuelsson did not skate today. MacLeod says it’s because he has “tightness in his groin.” Apparently the team is being cautious, so his status for tomorrow is unknown.

… Dominik Hasek could play tomorrow, depending on how he feels tomorrow morning.

… It looks like Blues fans will be disappointed: Aaron Downey will be a healthy scratch, with Mark Hartigan (unfortunately) getting a spot instead.

… It looks like Valtteri Filppula will be back tomorrow. – Matt

Update (11:52 AM): Just after I publish, I see Bruce MacLeod’s latest:

… Hasek did not practice today, so he must be out tomorrow. Jimmy Howard already made the drive down I-96 and practiced with the team this morning.

… Darren McCarty’s debut is still on.

… Tomas Holmstrom “took a quick twirl,” but didn’t stay any longer than that.

… Valtteri Filppula stayed out there the whole time, though MacLeod casts doubt on his status for tomorrow night by saying “[he] might be back in the lineup soon.”

… Lastly, the line combos from practice:

Datsyuk-Zetterberg-Cleary
Hudler-Franzen-Filppula
Kopecky-Draper-Maltby
Hartigan-Drake-McCarty

Don’t read too much into Drake’s presence on the fourth unit. He practiced Monday as well, but  didn’t play Tuesday. There’s still a chance he could sit out once again.

The defensive pairings haven’t changed:

Lidstrom-Rafalski
Kronwall-Chelios
Lebda-Lilja

 – Matt

… The big news is that Darren McCarty will make his re-debut with the Wings tomorrow night against the Blues. It will be his first game in the Winged Wheel since May 3, 2004, and his first in the NHL in nearly a year. No word yet on who he’ll be skating with, but don’t expect a full-fledged reunion of the Grind Line. He probably won’t be getting third line minutes.

Thanks to Christy Hammond at Behind the Jersey, who was kind enough to give me tickets, Megan and I will be at the game. No pressure Mac, but a repeat of your last home debut would be nice.

… Tim Miller, writing over at Bleacher Report, has a good take on the whole McCarty return. He provides some needed perspective on the situation. Referring to Friday, he writes,

A great game, and a great story, but one that a Red Wings fans should hope ends on April 6th when their top 12 forwards, including Holmstom and Flippula, are deemed healthy enough for the post-season.  The lineup that has driven this team to the President’s Trophy and gives them the best shot at post-season success.

Miller goes on to cite McCarty’s speed problem, his effective disappearance in Calgary, and the fact that he’s returning from a rib injury, which he says is “not a the best injury to have for a grinder.” Indeed.

I’m thrilled to see the success of Mac’s comeback attempt, but I’m keeping my expectations low. I joked about his hat trick above, but I don’t actually believe he can reproduce his AHL performance in the NHL. The question is whether or not he can fill a role on a team that is already very-well rounded. On one hand, I hope he can, but on the other, I’m with Miller. Mac is not going to be the one piece that puts the Wings over the edge because they already have all the pieces. If his addition does nothing more than give them the option of inserting him into the lineup, that’s fine because it’s really all they need.

Helene St. James reports that Dominik Hasek (flu) is on antibiotics. If he can’t practice today, the Wings will recall Jimmy Howard, who they sent back to Grand Rapids yesterday. Here’s hoping the flu bug doesn’t spread any further.

… Barring a setback in today’s skate, Valtteri Filppula (knee, groin) is expected to return tomorrow night. Dallas Drake, on the other hand, is questionable with a bruised sternum.

With Fil and Mac in the lineup and Drake out, the lines should look something like this:

Filppula-Datsyuk-Franzen
Samuelsson-Zetterberg-Cleary
Kopecky-Draper-Maltby
McCarty-Hudler-Downey

… The status of Tomas Holmstrom (abdomen/groin) for the remainder of the season is still unknown. The results of his tests should come out today. It’s not looking like he’ll be back before the end of the regular season.

Ted Kulfan reports that Brad Stuart (broken finger) will start rehabilitation today or tomorrow. The goal is to have him back by Game 1 of the first round.

… The Wings will have an open practice on Saturday. The doors open at 11:00 AM and the skate starts at noon.  If you bring new or used hockey equipment, you get in free. Otherwise, it’s a $5 donation. The money and the equipment will go toward inner-city youth hockey programs.

Ansar Khan has a nice piece on the possible Selke candidacies of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Arguments can be made for both players, who should finishe 1 and 2 in any case. However, I think Datsyuk’s reputation as an offensive forward hurts him. It seems to me that his two-way ability is one of the best-kept secrets in Hockeytown. Zetterberg’s two-way game is well-publicized and has been ever since he entered the League. Datsyuk, on the other hand, is only getting acclaim for his defensive play more recently.

Even I have a hard time imagining Pavel winning the Selke over Hank, but that may just be my homerism for #40 coming through.

…  Over at Abel to Yzerman, IwoCPO suggests the Avs hire Patrick Roy as head coach after they fire Joel Quenneville. That would be … interesting.

… Lastly, I can’t let this pass without comment. The idea that Aaron Downey is a coward or classless is ridiculous. The guy has been the epitome of class all season and, by all accounts, is universally respected in the Wings’ locker room. He has been very smart to pick his fights wisely and so it’s no surprise to me that he turned down King Tuesday night. There’s no law, written or unwritten, that says he has to answer every challenge. Downey’s job is to spark his teammates with big hits and the occassional fight, not to allow himself to be goaded into dropping the gloves.

I’m sorry Blues fans, but if you’re looking for someone to call a coward or classless, look to your own team. Downey is a much better man than, say, Barret Jackman, who was, is, and always will be, a donkey.

If Downey decides to drop the gloves in defense of his character tomorrow night, I fully expect to see him acquit himself well. If he choses to keep his gloves on, I’ll certainly think no less of him.

3/8 Injury Update

Helene St. James, Ansar Khan, and Bruce MacLeod all have Tomas Holmstrom out tomorrow with a groin/abdominal injury. Apparently, Homer has dealt with such pain before this season, but it’s more severe this time around. According to Khan, he’ll have an ultrasound on Sunday.

The absence of Holmstrom means Mark Hartigan will be in the lineup.

… All three beat writers say Nick Lidstrom (knee sprain) is still scheduled to play tomorrow, though his status won’t be finalized until after the pre-game skate.

… Brett Lebda did not practice today due to an illness and is not going to play tomorrow. Either Jonathan Ericsson or Derek Meech will fill in for him. Babcock did not specify.

… Khan says Chris Chelios (bone chip, right leg) is in playing condition, but the team is being cautious. Apparently we can expect him back Tuesday.

… According to MacLeod, Darren McCarty has his own locker stall now, but he did not practice today due to his rib injury. He will not play tomorrow.

… Valtteri Filppula practiced today after missing yesterday’s with a sore thigh. He’s expected to play tomorrow.

3/7 Post-practice Update

Bruce MacLeod has the latest from the Joe:

… Nick Lidstrom (knee) participated in battle drills today and is headed for a Sunday return. The team will finalize his status on Saturday after practice.

… Chris Chelios (bone chip, right leg) is feeling better and hopes to be ready to play against Nashville. However, MacLeod says it’s unlikely he’ll dress and that he’s it’s a better bet he’ll return Tuesday.

… Darren McCarty is in town, but only to undergo treatment for a rib injury he suffered Sunday. He played through it Wednesday night, but must have aggravated it during that game.  MacLeod says he may play for the Griffins Saturday night. He’ll be back in Detroit on Monday as his conditioning stint will be over.

… Valtteri Filppula apparently has a leg injury that kept him out of practice. Mike Babcock said he’ll be okay for Sunday, though.

…  Tomas Kopecky skated and suffered no ill effects from the big hit he took late in the game Wednesday night.