SHARE
Posted On Sunday, 02.12.2012 / 2:07 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Despite streak Babcock looks for more

DETROIT -- Yes, the Detroit Red Wings have rattled off 19 straight wins at Joe Louis Arena since last losing here on Nov. 3 to the Calgary Flames.

It doesn't mean all of the wins have been pretty, especially the last few in the stretch. Since beating the Buffalo Sabres 5-0 on Jan. 16 to set a new team record for consecutive home wins, they've eked out wins by just one-goal margins in three of the past four wins at Joe Louis Arena -- including two by shootout.

On Friday night, win No.19 came by shootout in a game the Wings were largely outplayed by the Anaheim Ducks -- with Detroit looking slow and a little tired for long stretches. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock hopes that trend changes on Sunday night (7:30 p.m., NBCSN) -- when they try to tied the NHL record with their 20th straight home win.

"We've got to play way better than we have played," Babcock said. "Our energy level this last little bit hasn't been as good and our goal to just skate and play the kind of game we want to play at a high level hasn't been there. We've found ways to just grind out games with good goaltending and defense, and yet we think we can be better than we've been … and we have to be."

Is he concerned about the recent trend?

"No, it's just the ebbs and flows of the year," Babcock said. "You're not always as good as you can be, and that's why you grind it out. The next morning, like [Detroit general manager]Ken Holland always says, you look in the paper and you've got two points and it's a Picasso. You find a way to do it and keep grinding. If you can win when you're on a down cycle, that's a great thing."
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Sunday, 02.12.2012 / 1:33 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Kindl excited to play against childhood idol

DETROIT -- Jakub Kindl isn't just eager to get on the ice against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday night at Joe Louis Arena  because it will be his fourth straight start on the blue line.

His giddiness on Sunday morning also wasn't because the Detroit Red Wings have a chance to become just the third team in NHL history to win 20 straight home games. It was a more personal reason, stemming from his childhood growing up in the Czech Republic as a huge fan of Jaromir Jagr -- who plays right wing for the Flyers' top line.

The 25-year old Kindl has never played against Jagr, so Sunday's game will be special for him.

"I'm excited because I've been dreaming of one day playing against him," said Kindl, who owns a signed copy of Jagr's autobiography that came out in the late 1990s. "Here I am and the dream finally came true. I'm playing one of the best hockey players born."

Kindl's favorite Jagr memory is when he helped the Czech Republic win the gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

"When they won in Nagano '98, I think I was about 10," Kindl said. "I was watching it in the school. We were skipping class to watch the finals. It was the biggest [deal], so I'm really looking forward to tonight."

Even if he winds up in a one-on-one situation against the skilled 6-foot-3, 240-pound Flyers forward?

"If I get the chance to be out there against him, I've just got to be good defensively because he's a very strong guy on the puck, especially one-on-one," said Kindl, who's 6-3, 216 pounds. "I've got to watch out if I get a chance out there."

Kindl doesn't know if he'll get to meet Jagr after the game, but does plan to request one of his sticks.

"I've never met him," Kindl said. "I'm going to request a stick, but it feels kind of awkward for me. I'll do my best, though, because I think there are going to be a lot of guys asking him for his stick, too. I'm going to have to find a way."

Detroit also has Czech-born forward Jiri Hudler playing right wing on the second line.

"Huds knows him better than I do," Kindl said. "He played against him in Russia [KHL] a couple years ago, and he knows him better. I think they played on the national team a couple times, too."
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Sunday, 02.12.2012 / 1:01 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Mule's stall falls prey to practical joke in Detroit

DETROIT -- After he came off the ice following a morning skate at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday, Detroit Red Wings forward Johan Franzen found his locker stall barricaded by a wall of red and white tape.

Rather than try to cut through it, Franzen hung most of his pads on a hook outside the stall and stuffed his shin pads into the upper portion of the locker through gaps in the tape.

Franzen [a.k.a 'The Mule'] didn't seem entirely amused, either.

Though Franzen didn't reveal by name who he thought was the primary suspect, he did boil it down.

"I think one of the young kids is growing up a little too fast here," Franzen said, smiling. "One of the fastest guys, youngest guy."

The fastest skater on the team is third-line center Darren Helm, who's 25 and was seen walking around the Wings locker room wearing a smile like the cat that swallowed the canary. It should be noted that Helm used to locker next to legendary Wings prankster Kris Draper -- who retired after last season and now has a front office position in Detroit.

Helm admitted seeing the tape job happen, but denied any involvement.

"I plead the Fifth," he said.

Second line center Henrik Zetterberg was also asked if he'd had a hand in the tape job.

"Yeah, actually I saw it," Zetterberg said. "So, it wasn't me. I have nothing to do with this one."

What kind of message did "The Mule" think was being sent with the joke?

"I don't know," Franzen said. "He's been all over me all morning. Stole some of my equipment and now he did this. I don't know how to take that. Maybe I have to do something with his car. I probably will … make it disappear or something."

Did Franzen do anything to start it?

"Nope," he said, laughing. "Not at all."

As for the tape job idea, Franzen acknowledged it was at least creative.

"It's interesting," he said. "I'm not going to touch it, so the guy who did this gets a little bad feelings because he gave the equipment managers [another] job. That's the only way to get it to stop. I'm going to leave this and go shower."

Asked if even Draper could've done something like that, Franzen dismissed the notion.

"He would never spend as much time on anything like this," Franzen said. "It'd be quick. Something with scissors."
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Sunday, 02.12.2012 / 11:59 AM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected Flyers-Red Wings lineups

Philadelphia played on Saturday afternoon and had an optional morning skate in Detroit on Sunday that was sparsely attended, but here is how the Flyers and Red Wings will likely line up on Sunday night:


FLYERS

Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
Brayden Schenn - Danny Briere - Wayne Simmonds
Matt Read - Max Talbot - Zac Rinaldo
Jody Shelley  - Sean Couturier - Tom Sestito

Kimmo Timmonen - Bradon Coburn
Marc-Andre Bourdon - Matt Carle
Erik Gustafsson - Andrej Meszaros

Sergei Bobrovsky
Jason Bacashihua

RED WINGS

Johan Franzen - Pavel Datsyuk - Todd Bertuzzi
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Jiri Hudler
Drew Miller - Darren Helm - Justin Abdelkader
Jan Mursak - Cory Emmerton - Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson - Jakub Kindl

Joey MacDonald
Ty Conklin
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Sunday, 02.12.2012 / 11:57 AM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Howard's finger improving for Red Wings

DETROIT -- After facing live shots in a practice on Saturday for the first time in 10 days, Jimmy Howard took more shots on Sunday morning and continues to takes steps toward returning from a broken index finger on his blocker-side hand.

Howard, who said the pain in the finger subsides each day, is aiming to return for the Detroit Red Wings on Friday at home against the Nashville Predators in a Central Division showdown.

"There's no reason to rush back," Howard said. "Give it a couple more days to heal and allow me to get a couple more practices under my belt, so I can get my game back to where it was."

Howard had posted a League-high 32 wins prior to leaving the starting lineup after beating the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 in a shootout on Feb. 2 at Rogers Arena. Howard's finger was broken early in the third period against the Canucks on a shot by Maxime Lapierre.

"I went out there again and took shots again today," Howard said after Detroit's optional morning skate on Sunday at Joe Louis Arena. "It's just going out there and basically getting confidence in that it's not going to hurt or anything like that. The pain level has been going down every day."

Backup Ty Conklin started the first game that Howard missed, but was replaced by Joey MacDonald mid-game. The journeyman goalie has played well in three straight starts since, including the last two in a row at home to put the Wings on the verge of tying the NHL record for consecutive home wins (20) on Sunday night (7:30 p.m., NBCSN) against the Philadelphia Flyers.

"Joey's stepped in and done a tremendous job," said Howard, who has a notch cut out of his goalie stick to help reduce the effects of vibrations from a puck hitting it. "It's great. We've got to continue to get points, and Joey's doing a hell of a job."

Howard said his main goal right now is just to get his body and eyes back into game-ready condition.

"After not seeing shots for 10 days, following the puck around was really difficult," he said. "Just working here and doing the drills, hopefully I can get myself right back in there. It's going to take a few days to get your timing back. It's just amazing how fast it goes. I'm trying to treat the practices here as a game."

As for that consecutive home wins record, which Howard prevailed in the first 17 games?

"You come this far, now you want it," Howard said. "Everyone in this dressing room, you're not really talking about it, but you know it's in the back of everyone's mind. To put this many consecutive wins together at home, now you want to continue to keep it going. Now that's right on top of us, we're not really talking about it in the dressing room but I think it would be an absolute great achievement."

MacDonald, however, said that he's trying not to put any added emphasis on the game in the way that he's preparing to play.

"I'm trying not to think about it," he said. "It's there. You know about it. I'm just going to go into it like I did the last couple games. Just go in, try to stay nice and calm and relax in there. You know the guys in front of you are going to do a nice job, so just keep building on it."
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Friday, 02.10.2012 / 2:56 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Boudreau extols virtues of two ageless wonders

DETROIT -- Despite being 41, Teemu Selanne is leading the Anaheim Ducks in points with 18 goals and 32 assists and doesn't show any signs of slowing up despite his increasing age.

"He never has a bad day," said Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau, who has now had some time to study Selanne up close after taking over on Nov. 30 as Ducks coach. "He's very receptive to when you're talking to him. He wants to play every night. He never wants to take a day off. Some nights he skates faster than others, but when he's on top of his game, he looks like he’s a 25-year old."

In that regard, Selanne is a lot like Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom -- who's also 41 and still the Wings' top defenseman.

"I'd like to know the water they drink and what they do in the offseason," Boudreau said. "They must keep themselves in incredible shape in the offseason. Their lifestyle must be great. But if Nick is anything like Teemu, the passion for the game is got to be up there with anybody's."

Passion, Boudreau said, is the No. 1 factor that allows guys like Selanne and Lidstrom to keep going at such a high clip.

"That's a big part of hockey," Boudreau said. "Sometimes when you get older, it gets difficult to wake up in the morning and drag yourself to the rink because your bones and your body are sore every day. And I never see [Selanne] come to the rink without a smile on his face. If Nick is the same way, then it's like they've both found the Fountain of Youth. Wish they'd share it with a couple of us older guys."

Having them both play in the same game on Friday night at Joe Louis Arena, facing each other once again with Detroit's 18-game home winning streak on the line, certainly gives the game an added appeal from a fan's perspective.

"[Selanne] is our leading scorer and Nick's the perennial all-star, anchor of their defense, anchor of their power play and I'd venture to guess that in the last minute of a game … if you're a Detroit Red Wing, who do you want on the ice whether you're winning or losing?" Boudreau said. "It's going to be Nick Lidstrom. They're right up there. Outside of Bobby Orr, nobody's won as many Norris Trophies when his career is up, as Nick Lidstrom. He's going to rank in the top three defensemen all-time in this League and Teemu's going to rank in the top 10 forwards of all time. You've got two of the greatest players in the history of the game playing tonight."
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Friday, 02.10.2012 / 2:48 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Selanne brushes off talk about trade to Red Wings

DETROIT -- The closer the calendar gets to the Feb. 27 trade deadline, the more Teemu Selanne's name is likely to be thrown out for public consumption.

There are already rumors swirling about the League-leading Detroit Red Wings having interest in adding the skilled 41-year old Selanne to their already-talented collection of forwards. Selanne is good friends with Finnish Wings forward Valtteri Filppula, so people are already starting to connect the dots and wonder if he'd waive the no-movement clause in his contract for a Stanley Cup chase in Motown.

However, Selanne on Friday morning at Joe Louis Arena warned not to get too caught up in trade talk concerning his name just yet.

"I'm trying to avoid that question," Selanne said, when asked whether he'd accept any potential deals before the trade deadline. "Obviously, everybody in this room believes that we can make the playoffs and that would be almost wrong to think about any other options. That's not in my mind right now. Let's see what happens. My main focus is right now and today."

The Ducks are 11-2-2 in their last 15 games and 10 points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference going into Friday's action. They're also starting an eight-game road trip on Friday night against the Red Wings, which Selanne is real interested to see play out.

"This road trip is going to pretty much decide which direction we're going to go and everybody's looking ahead and up," he said. "Hopefully we can do it and let's see what happens after that. The way things went in the first half [of the season], it was really tough. That's why I think it's time to enjoy every moment and make sure that our way is going up in the standings, not going down. This is the time to push now and enjoy it."

As for fans in Detroit already having Selanne's name highlighted as a potential "perfect fit" with Filppula with the Wings, Selanne chuckled.

"We don't go that far," he said, smiling. "[This trip] is so important for everybody right now and we know the urgency, what we have to do. But that's the only focus we have right now. Everything else is stuff to put aside and forget from now on."
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Friday, 02.10.2012 / 1:46 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Lidstrom and Holmstrom ready for milestone game

DETROIT -- It's fitting that two of the Detroit Red Wings' most accomplished stars, captain Nicklas Lidstrom and forward Tomas Holmstrom, will reach impressive career milestones tonight at Joe Louis Arena.

The 41-year old Lidstrom will be playing his 1,549th game in a Red Wings uniform, which will tie him with legendary Alex Delvecchio for second-most in team history behind only Gordie Howe’s 1,687. Meanwhile, the 39-year old Holmstrom will be playing the 1,000th game of his NHL career -- all with the Red Wings -- which will make him just the sixth player in franchise history to achieve such a feat.

The five ahead of him are Kris Draper (1,137), Steve Yzerman (1,514), Lidstrom, Delvecchio and Howe.

Both Lidstrom and Holmstrom are Swedish, as well.

"It's a real nice night for both of them," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "I was bugging Tommy (Holmstrom), saying he missed a game a while back just so he could go at the same time as Nick. They do everything together, so why not do this together? Any time you get a chance to tie Alex Delvecchio, that's a special, special thing. I don't know if Nick wants to hang around long enough to tie Gordie, but good for us and good for them. They've been very important parts of this team and they still are with leadership from Nick and just the drive and enthusiasm that 'Homer' brings to the rink each and every day."

Lidstrom has been good friends with Holmstrom ever since they came to the Wings in the 1990s, so seeing his buddy reach a milestone like 1,000 games is special even for him.

"He's always had bad knees, had some problems with them, but he's always battling through … not just the knees, but other injuries, too," Lidstrom said of Holmstrom. "He's had two hernia surgeries, numerous surgeries on his knees. Seeing him battling through those things and knowing he's in pain … he's icing down both knees after most every practice. Just his determination and his willingness to battle through it to be on the ice, it shows a lot about his character."

Holmstrom feels likewise about Lidstrom tying Delvecchio.

"It's huge for him, too," Holmstrom said. "He's played a bunch of games."
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Friday, 02.10.2012 / 1:30 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Wings' Cleary OK with sitting out

DETROIT -- Danny Cleary will miss his first game of the season tonight when the Red Wings host the Anaheim Ducks, but the Detroit forward actually is relieved about it.

Well, technically speaking, it's his left knee that's most relieved after having fluid drained from it Thursday. The procedure likely will cost him the next three games, starting with tonight's game, but Cleary isn't fretting over it.

"I had 20 (cubic centimeters) of fluid drained … there was, like, two 'baker's cysts' in the back of my knee," he said after Detroit's morning skate Friday. "It's a great relief in regards to flexion and being able to walk. I had a cortisone shot put in later in the evening, so it feels a lot better today."

The cortisone injection typically comes with a 3-5 day recovery period, which is what will keep Cleary out of the lineup. The 33-year old forward has 11 goals and 16 assists this season while playing right wing on Detroit's third line, which has become one of the team’s most productive two-way line combinations.

Though he's had knee issues in the past, Cleary said this particular procedure is a new one for him to go through. He left Wednesday's game against Edmonton -- which Detroit won 4-2 to extend its home winning streak to 18 games -- in the second period after taking a big hit from Oilers forward Ben Eager.

The hit, however, had nothing to do with his decision to get the knee drained.

"It's been bothering me for two months now," Cleary said. "Then all of a sudden the last three or four weeks it started to fill up with fluid. Before we went on the (last) trip out to Vancouver and Calgary it was sore, so I knew I had to get it done. In Wednesday's game I just couldn't skate."

Cleary said it simply was better to have it done now, rather than wait
until the playoffs crept even closer.

"I'm actually very happy to get it done (now)," Cleary said. "It was a big relief. It had to get done at some point. I'm hoping that it really works and that the cortisone shot does its job."

Entering the Detroit lineup in Cleary's place against the Ducks will be rookie Jan Mursak, who will play left wing on the fourth line, with rookie Cory Emmerton at center and veteran Tomas Holmstrom -- playing his 1,000th NHL game -- at right wing.

Slotting into Cleary's spot at right wing of the third line will be Justin Abdelkader, who had been manning the middle on the fourth line for much of the season.

It will be just the fourth game of the season for Mursak, who was challenging to start the season with Detroit in training camp when he broke his ankle against Chicago in a preseason home game.

The injury kept him out for the first 35 games of the season and he's been a healthy scratch in 17 of the 20 games the Wings have played since he was cleared to return.

"Hopefully now, when I can get a few games in a row (my timing) will get a little better and I can make the most out of it," said the speedy Mursak. "I have no problems with my ankle anymore, so I can be the same me as I was before the injury. That's good. There's just little things that I have to do better. I have to be a little better in the defensive zone and I think it will come through the games I play."

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock will be watching to see if it happens.

"We really thought he was going to be a big part of our team," Babcock said. "He broke his ankle. Well documented. He hasn't been able to get into the lineup on a regular basis. (He has) great speed, great tenacity and great shot. He's going to be a real good player for us over time. We just haven't found him a way into the mix. It's a good opportunity and now he's got a chance to keep a job if he works hard and does good things and plays with poise. Good things can happen for him."

Here is how the Red Wings and Ducks might line up tonight:

DUCKS
Bobby Ryan - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Matt Beleskey - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Jason Blake - Nick Bonino - Andrew Cogliano
Niklas Hagman - Rod Pelley - George Parros

Francois Beauchemin - Cam Fowler
Luca Sbisa - Lubomir Visnovsky
Toni Lydman - Sheldon Brookbank

Jonas Hiller will start in goal, with Iiro Tarkki the backup.

RED WINGS
Johan Franzen - Pavel Datsyuk - Todd Bertuzzi
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Jiri Hudler
Drew Miller - Darren Helm - Justin Abdelkader
Jan Mursak - Cory Emmerton - Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson - Jakub Kindl

Joey MacDonald will start in goal, with Ty Conklin the backup.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Wednesday, 02.08.2012 / 2:48 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Renney plans to be back behind Oilers' bench tonight

DETROIT -- In case you're wondering whether coaches have to undergo the same kind of baseline testing for concussions that players do, ask Edmonton Oilers bench boss Tom Renney.

"Yes, they do," said Renney, who missed Monday's game in Toronto with concussion-like symptoms after he accidentally was hit in the head with a puck during the Oilers' morning skate. "Failed it twice. It’s a good thing they had the Coke machine in Toronto or I would not have known who we played last."

Renney was back on the ice for the Oilers' skate on Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena and plans to coach from the bench when they face the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night. Missing Monday's game was tough to accept, but he had no choice in the matter based on how he was doing physically.

"I didn't want to," Renney said. "I'm having a hard time. My blood pressure's rising right now as we speak and I'm feeling light-headed. I couldn't have coached, quite honestly."

He was in good enough shape on Wednesday to joke around about the incident with reporters, but said if things take a turn for the worse between the skate and game time, he won't hesitate to let associate coach Ralph Krueger run the bench for a second straight game.

"I'll be fine … if I don’t yell," said Renney, who estimated that it took about 12 stitches to close the wound. "Good luck for me, eh? No, I'm good. I'll give it a good go here tonight. If I have to step back, I will."

It was suggested by a reporter that it might've been for the best that he missed Monday's 6-3 loss to the Maple Leafs, mainly because he probably would've given his vocal chords a workout.

"I know I would've," Renney said, smiling. "I might've been throwing water bottles."

On a more serious note, Renney said he won't start wearing a helmet for protection in practices but did think it was a subject worth debating -- especially at lower levels of the sport.

"It's tough to answer, because in amateur sports [coaches] should be [wearing helmets]," Renney said. "We have to protect those people who have other occupations other than coaching hockey. So, in order to do that I think people should be protected. I wouldn't do it myself … although there's an argument to be made."

There is also a personal, firsthand experience that can be used for educational purposes. Renney said he learned a lot about rehabbing knee injuries while going through the process himself last summer, and now has experienced what it’s like for hockey players who get similar head injuries.

"I [injured] my knee this summer and went through a long rehab with that and that gave me a great appreciation for our training staff -- who deserved the gift certificates for meals I gave them -- and certainly for the players who have to go through rehab," he said. "Certainly with the head, it's a whole new ballgame. [It's] good to experience that and have an appreciation for what they go through."

Renney also got an interesting text from a fellow member of the coaching fraternity who was also injured in a practice on Monday. Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff had three ribs cracked when he was accidentally run into by Sabres defenseman Jordan Leopold.

"He texted me," Renney said of Ruff. "He said, 'It was a rough day for coaches. I just snapped three ribs.'"
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
First | Prev | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44-49 | Next | Last
Quote of the Day

Now we have an 'X' next to our name, which is nice. Now we have to keep trying to climb and catch these guys.

— Lightning goalie Ben Bishop on clinching a Stanley Cup Playoff berth and trailing the Canadiens by one point for the division lead
AMP No Bull Moment of the Week