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Notebook: Better late then never

by Kevin Fitzhenry / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT - Prior to Wedneday’s game, the Red Wings recognized forward Dan Cleary and athletic therapists Piet Van Zant and Russ Baumann as the Carhartt ‘Hardest Working’ Red Wings of the month for both January and February.

The January presentation was delayed due to an injury suffered by the winner – Cleary, who has missed 12 games with a fractured jaw.

“Early on, the first two weeks were really hard,” said Cleary, who had surgery to repair his jaw, which is still wired. “Obviously, I couldn’t open my mouth so eating was really difficult. Being able to do everyday things was tough. These last few days however, have been really good.
Cleary has seven goals and six assists and was a plus-11 in 12 games in January.
Van Zant and Baumann were honored with the February award for their tireless efforts for getting the Wings back on the ice.

“They are very good at what they do,” Cleary said. “They have a good spirit about them and a good personality, so it makes it a lot easier when we’re down in the dumps; they seem to be able to pick us up. We had a lot of guys go down at the same time and it’s tough.”

FOND FAREWELL: Fan-favorite Darren McCarty assisted on the game-winning goal for the Grand Rapids Griffins in what was likely the final tune-up game before the Detroit fan-favorite returns to Hockeytown.
McCarty assisted on Ryan Oulahen’s third-period goal that propelled the Griffins to a 5-3 win over the Toronto Marlies at Van Andel Arena on Wednesday.
McCarty, whose 14-day conditioning assignment ends next Monday, also earned Grand Rapids’ nomination for the AHL Player of the Month for February, with nine points (5-4—9) and 21 penalty minutes in 12 games.

MILESTONE: Detroit forward Dallas Drake is two games away from playing 1,000 games in his career. He is also one assist away from 300.

ROAD WARRIORS: St. Louis began a franchise-long nine-game road trip on Wednesday. The trip includes stops in all four time zones and will total 8,718 air miles. After Wednesday’s game, the Blues traveled to Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, San Jose, Anaheim, Montreal, Ottawa and Chicago.

HAPPY HUMP-DAY: With their 4-1 win over St. Louis, the Red Wings are now 11-0-0 on Wednesday nights.

RIVALRY CONTINUES: Wednesday’s game marked the sixth of eight games between the Red Wings and Blues this season. The season-series is now tied with each team winning three times. The last meeting came on New Year’s Eve at Joe Louis Arena when the Blues posted a 2-0 win. Eight of the last 14 games between the Blues and Wings have been decided by one goal. Three games this season, including two of Detroit’s victories have been shutouts.

CAPTAIN’S COURAGEOUS: On Feb. 8, Blues defenseman Eric Brewer was named the 19th captain in franchise history. The British Columbia native was the New York Islanders’ fifth overall pick in 1997. He played two seasons on Long Island before being traded to Edmonton, where he spent four seasons before going to St. Louis. Keith Tkachuk, Paul Kariya and Barret Jackman were named assistant captains.

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