Monthly Archives: January 2011

Emmerton, Mursak sent back to Grand Rapids

The Wings sent Jan Mursak and Cory Emmerton back to Grand Rapids during the All-Star Break.

If all goes as planned, the two may stay there since Pavel Datsyuk and Danny Cleary are expected to return to the lineup for Detroit’s game in Ottawa on Feb. 2. Tomas Holmstrom is also close to returning.

Here is the press release from the Griffins.

GRAND RAPIDS – The Grand Rapids Griffins on Thursday welcomed back center Cory Emmerton and right wing Jan Mursak on assignment from the Detroit Red Wings.

Emmerton, 22, made his NHL debut and scored the Wings’ lone goal during their 4-1 loss to Chicago last Saturday, becoming the 115th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL. He also appeared in last night’s 3-1 win over New Jersey and averaged 8:20 in ice time through the two contests.

Detroit’s first choice (41st overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Emmerton notched Grand Rapids’ season-high six-game assist streak (Oct. 23-Nov. 6) and ranks among the Griffins’ leaders with 17 assists (T3rd) and 23 points (T5th) in 33 games, despite missing 12 contests due to injury in December.

Mursak, who turned 23 on Jan. 20, averaged 8:30 in ice time over 14 games with Detroit since his Dec. 27 recall. That night, he made his NHL debut during Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win at Colorado, becoming just the second Slovenian-born player to play in the NHL (Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar). Two weeks later, while again visiting the Avalanche, Detroit’s fifth choice (182nd overall) in 2006 notched his first NHL goal in the Wings’ 5-4 loss.

Mursak, who recorded a season-high eight-game point streak (Oct. 16-Nov. 6) for Grand Rapids, also ranks among the Griffins’ leaders with 10 goals (T4th) and 23 points (T5th) in 33 outings.

Both Emmerton and Mursak are expected to be in the Griffins’ lineup on Friday when they host the Rockford IceHogs at 7 p.m.

Interesting stat

DETROIT — Wednesday’s game featured the top three active NHLers that have played for the same team the longest. Nicklas Lidstrom heads the list with 1,461 games, while Kris Draper and New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur have each played 1,111 games.

Holmstrom getting close to returning

DETROIT — Tomas Holmstrom skated on his own Wednesday as he recovers from a broken right hand.

There is a slight chance he could return the first game after the All-Star break, Feb. 2 in Ottawa.

“Who knows, maybe I can,” Holmstrom said. “It’s just how I can handle the pain. Hoping a week can make it good.”

Holmstrom was injured on Jan. 14 in Columbus.

“It takes three weeks to heal the bone, so hopefully around that time,” Holmstrom said.

Kindl making good use of extra ice time

DETROIT — Jakub Kindl had a lot of time to think about what’s keeping him off the ice in Detroit.

With Brad Stuart out with a broken jaw, Kindl got back in the lineup and has seen his ice time go up each and every game.

“I feel more comfortable as the game goes on,” Kindl said. “I feel I’m getting more opportunity and I feel great.

“It’s all about confidence,” Kindl added. “It’s always better when you go out there more often instead of every fifth shift and have three shifts in a period. I’m just trying to compete out there hard, don’t get beaone-on-one and play simple and everything comes after naturally, I know I’m capable of moving the puck.”

On Saturday he played nearly 17 minutes. The game prior he recorded his first NHL goal.

“In Grand Rapids I played in every situation,” Kindl said. “Whenever I had the chance I tried to jump up and join the rush. It’s the same thing as down there. Just kind of read the play and just be solid defensively, and everything will come naturally.”

Kindl, who was the Wings’ highest draft pick in 20 years when he was selected 19th overall in 2005, was a minus-6 in his first seven games of the season. He’s now just a minus-1.

“I think he’s been excellent,” Babcock said. “He’s playing with confidence, making real good outlet passes. I think he can get a lot bigger and stronger over the next few years, and he’ll be a better player.”

Youth being served in Detroit

DETROIT – Just like last season, the Wings’ young talent in Grand Rapids has come up and provided just what the team needed to stay in the Western Conference playoff picture.

The last few years it was the likes of Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader that came in and kept the team afloat as a rash of injuries went through the dressing room.

This season the influx of Griffins have seemed endless over the last month and a half with forward Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Holmstrom, Mike Modano and Danny Cleary all shelved for an extended period of time with injuries.

Jan Mursak, Tomas Tatar and now Cory Emmerton have been the recent callups from Grand Rapids. And thus far, all have filled in like Wings coach Mike Babcock had hoped.

“He’s earned a lot of confidence,” Babcock said of Mursak. “He’s earned our confidence. There’s two parts of it. Not only do you have to believe you can play, we have to think you can play, and we believe that.”

Mursak played in his 14th game with the Wings Wednesday night.

“His speed is a huge asset,” Babcock said. “He seems to have good hockey sense. He seems to know how to play with and without the puck. He’ll be an NHL player.

“He’s not shy at all, he’s committed, he’s gritty, he looks like a good player,” Babcock added. “So now time will tell and we’ll see what kind of career he’s going to have.”

In 33 games with the Griffins, Mursak has 10 goals and 13 assists.

Mursak was a sixth-round draft pick for the Wings in the 2006 draft.

Emmerton scored in his first NHL game on Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

“He really impressed me in training camp,” Babcock said. “Cory came out of juniors a skilled player but he didn’t work hard enough, wasn’t committed enough. His time in the minors he’s improved his work ethic and his off-ice conditioning.”

Emmerton was Detroit’s first pick in the 2006 draft, 41st overall. A knee injury sidelined him for 12 games in Grand Rapids.

“He always had the hockey sense and the tools,” Babcock said. “We think he has a chance to be a good player over time, so it’s just a matter of time.

“He’s going to end up finishing most of the year in Grand Rapids, getting his game back, since his knee injury, to the highest possible level and when he gets called up again to make good on it,” Babcock added.

Emmerton, who has six goals and 17 assists in 33 games this season with Grand Rapids, has been knocked for his inconsistency in play, which Wings general manager Ken Holland pointed out at training camp in Traverse City.

“He plays well in training camp, but he needs a good year in the American (Hockey) League,” Holland said. “It’s hard to set your sights on the NHL when you’re sort of an average (AHL) player. The NHL is another step up. You’re not going to the NHL and be better in the NHL than you were in the (AHL). We still like him. He’s 22 years old. He made some strides last year, but he needs to have a very good year this year.”

Tatar, who was sent down after Saturday’s loss to the Blackhawks, had one goal in nine games with Detroit.

Cleary shooting for Feb. 2 return

DETROIT — Danny Cleary took part in his first full practice since fracturing his ankle on Dec. 26 against Minnesota.

“Today was the best it’s felt so far,” Cleary said. “(Babcock) keeps asking me every day.”

Cleary hopes to return the first game after the All-Star break, Feb. 2 in Ottawa.

“You want to play as soon as you can,” Cleary said. “Today was definitely the first day it’s felt less pain, I had more movement. I was able to skate a little better.

“It hurts to stop and shoot and turn – pretty much everything I have to do – but the pain I’m hoping is going to go away gradually,” Cleary added.

Cleary said he was going to continue to skate during the break.

“It’s not like a strain or a sprain, it’s got a definitive break or fracture, you have to let it heal first,” Cleary said. “You don’t want anything else to get hurt. It’s (been) four weeks. We projected 4-6 weeks so I think by Feb. 2 it’ll be just over the five-week period.”

Wings giving up too many goals against of late

DETROIT – If there’s one thing the Detroit Red Wings aren’t accustomed to doing, it’s digging pucks out of the back of their own net.
That however hasn’t been the case of late.

In the last six games the Wings have given up 24 goals, an average of four a game. They’re 2-3-1 during that stretch.

“(It’s) awful,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said Tuesday after practice. “So we’ve got to fix it. We had it going not bad at one time this year and probably in the last 20 games it hasn’t been any good.

“If you go through it, our penalty killing, our goals against and our save percentage, everything’s all together,” Babcock added. “So we’re in it together and we got to do a better job.”

In the last 20 games, the Wings have allowed 69 goals, or an average of 3.45.

“We haven’t played as well as you have to defensively,” Nicklas Lidstrom said. “Our goals against the last 15 games have shown that. You have to play a lot better defensively to have success in the playoffs. We know we have to tighten up in our own zone.”

Detroit ranks 18th in the league by allowing 2.92 goals against per game.

Last season, the Wings finished ranked seventh in the league by allowing 2.52 a game.

In three of the last four seasons prior to that they ranked no lower than third in goals against – 2007-08 (first, 2.18); 06-07 (second, 2.33); 05-06 (third, 2.51).

“That’s what we talked about for a while, not letting up a lot of goals and try to win games giving them one goal or something like that, so we don’t have to score five,” Johan Franzen said.

During that 20-game stretch, Detroit has given up five goals in three games and eight times have allowed four goals.

Nabokov suspended by Islanders

According to the Associated Press, the New York Islanders have suspended Evgeni Nabokov for not reporting to the team after being claimed off waivers on Saturday.

Here is the AP story…

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) — The New York Islanders have suspended goalie Evgeni Nabokov for not reporting to the team after being claimed off waivers from the Detroit Red Wings last week.

The 35-year-old goaltender signed a one-year contract with Detroit on Thursday.

Nabokov, who played with the San Jose Sharks for parts of 10 seasons, had spent this season with SKA St. Petersburg of the Russian KHL and hadn’t yet played for Detroit.

The NHL’s collective bargaining agreement states that anyone who plays in a professional league before signing an NHL contract must clear waivers.

Once he signed his one-year deal with the Red Wings, he became available to the Islanders.

New York owns Nabokov’s rights and could keep him out of the NHL for all of next season should Nabokov not report.

Nabokov has been disappointed that he won’t be joining the Stanley Cup-contending Red Wings. Instead he is now under contract with the Islanders, who are far out of the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Nabokov hangs up on Snow

According to the Associated Press, Evgeni Nabokov hung up on New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow on Saturday.

Here is the AP story….

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) — New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow says goalie Evgeni Nabokov hung up on him shortly after the veteran goalie was claimed off waivers on Saturday.

Snow reached out to the 35-year-old Nabokov shortly after the Islanders claimed him from the Detroit Red Wings — the team with which Nabokov signed a one-year contract on Thursday. Snow said when he identified himself on the phone, Nabokov immediately hung up.

Snow finally talked to Nabokov on Sunday and was told that Nabokov didn’t realize who he was speaking to when abruptly ending the call.

Nabokov failed to report to the Islanders, clearly disappointed that he won’t be joining the Stanley Cup-contending Red Wings. Instead he is now under contract with the Islanders, who are far out of the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Crosby out of All-Star Game

This is the news the NHL wasn’t hoping to hear.

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, the poster-child for the NHL, won’t play in the All-Star Game as he continues to recover from a concussion.

The team is expected to make it official in the next few days.

Crosby still could travel to Carolina to participate in off-ice All-Star Weekend events.