Monthly Archives: November 2011

Brunnstrom gets another chance to impress

DETROIT — Quick update from the Wings’ morning skate.

Fabian Brunnstrom will get another chance to get noticed and earn a regular spot in the lineup.

Brunnstrom will dress in his fourth game with Detroit tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“It’s important to play games,” Brunnstrom said. “When I’m here I’m trying to practice good. Like I said before it’s a tough lineup to get into. It’s good to play some games.

“I probably picked the hardest forward lineup to break into,” Brunnstrom added. “I knew it was going to be very hard. At the same time I’m right where I want to be, on this team. It’s just a next step to get into the lineup. We’ll see how long that takes.”

Brunnstrom will skate with Danny Cleary and Darren Helm.

“Brunner’s got to shoot the puck,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Brunner’s at a stage now, he’s getting an opportunity, he’s got to grab hold of it. It’s like with all players in the game, you get an opportunity, if you make good on that opportunity you keep getting it and if you don’t eventually it slips away on you.

“He’s been in the league before,” Babcock added. “Actually, he was the YouTube sensation, or something like that, we were all recruiting him. He went to Dallas, things went good, now he’s back, he’s earned the way to play on our team. Now he’s got to find a way to play every day.”

Brunnstrom has just one assist in four games with the Wings and is a minus-2.

“He’s at the stage of his life where he’s got to grab hold,” Babcock said. “He’s got to find a way to not just have the puck but to get it to the net, to get it to the scoring areas, to be hard out there. If he does that then he has a chance to be a real good player. So the ball’s in his court, I’m looking forward to watching him.”

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Injury update

DETROIT — Johan Franzen did not practice Tuesday, but will play against Tampa Bay.

“I tried to get three days off from skating, hopefully it will be better this time,” Franzen said.

Patrick Eaves’ surgery was successful. He will have his jaw wired shut for two weeks.

“Patty’s doing as well as you can do with a broken jaw,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Time’s going to tell, obviously there’s pain.”

Quotes of the day

DETROIT — “(Steven) Stamkos is a riot to watch,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I like to see a guy that fast, that young, that hungry, skates like that, his ability to be as strong as he is when he pulls away from people. He flat out just wants to shoot the puck every time he gets it, I love that.”

Stamkos leads the Lighting with 15 goals and 25 points.

“(Martin) St. Louis is nothing but class, does everything right, he’s a great player, he distributes the puck so well and plays with such tenacity,” Babcock said. “For a man his size to be as good as he is has been amazing. And he does it year after year after year.”

Yzerman brings 1-3-1 passive on-ice trapping style to Detroit

DETROIT – The Captain returns to Joe Louis Arena tonight and he’s bringing with him the now-so-infamous passive 1-3-1 on-ice trapping style.

It’s a style that grew lots of attention when the Philadelphia Flyers refused to move the puck out of their zone earlier this season.

“We played it all of last year,” Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman said Tuesday after his team wrapped up practice at Troy Sports Center. “A lot of teams play it. We don’t do anything different than anyone else. There’s not much to say about it.”

The Lighting won that game on Nov. 9, 2-1 in overtime.

“Again we’re not doing anything we didn’t do last year,” Yzerman said. “We’re going to play the way we play. We’re trying to win games.”

Martin St. Louis was on the ice when the Flyers held onto to the puck in their own zone for nearly 30 seconds without trying to advance it out. The refs eventually blew the whistle to stop the play.

“We won that game,” St. Louis said. “That was our main goal. We’re not worried about what people think of how we play. Every team traps it up. We have a certain kind of trap, but at the same time we can go some time. We’re not worried about that.”

The Wings beat Tamp Bay 6-2 in their only meeting last season.

“We didn’t have to deal with any 1-3-1 because we moved quick,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “If we play a slow game we’re going to have to get through the 1-3-1.

“We’re quicker right now,” Babcock added. “If you’re as big as Boston, you can play more of a trench warfare type of game, even though Boston plays quick. We can’t play that game. We’re not going to be successful. We got to play quick.”

Henrik Zetterberg said they played a similar style in Sweden a number of years ago.

“It got really boring,” Zetterberg recalled. “We had 12 teams that did the same thing, it’s not really fan-friendly hockey. But still they (Lightning) have some skill guys. They still score a lot of goals. I don’t see them that often but I don’t think it would be fun if both teams played like that.

“You’ve got to have patience,” Zetterberg added. “They will not come after you if you have the puck. We’ve got to have patience and make good decisions in the neutral zone, try to move the puck in their end and keep it there.”

Niklas Kronwall feels the Wings can use the Lighting’s 1-3-1 trap to their advantage.

“A lot of time you see the other teams come with a lot of speed but they’re not so strong on the puck through the neutral zone or they’re not careful with the puck,” Kronwall said. “You’ve got to make sure it goes deep every time. If they create a turnover in the neutral zone or inside their blue line, they’re coming flying the other way.”

Eaves out 6-8 weeks; Holland won’t callup another forward ‘just to sit’

DETROIT – A player suffering a broken jaw is nothing new to the Wings’ locker room.

Patrick Eaves is the latest casualty.

Eaves will have surgery Monday to repair his fractured jaw and is expected to be out six-to-eight weeks according to general manager Ken Holland.

Eaves was taken off on a stretcher after being hit on the right-side of his face with a puck off the stick of Nashville defenseman Roman Josi with 2:14 left in third period in the Wings’ 4-1 win over the Predators.

Eaves was conscious when he was taken off and was bleeding from his right ear.

Holland said he didn’t think Eaves ever lost consciousness.

“They did a CAT scan and everything else is OK,” Holland said. “When you get a direct blow to the head and there’s a helmet to soften the blow it’s not surprising he’s got a broken jaw. That’s bad enough, but the good news is there are no injuries beyond the broken jaw.”

Defenseman Brad Stuart broke his jaw last season when he was blindsided by Calgary’s Tom Kostopoulos.

In 2008, forward Danny Cleary suffered the same injury.

Both were given the six-to-eight week timetables to returning to the lineup.

Recently, defenseman Ian White returned from a fractured cheek bone that only sidelined him four games.

“If you think about it, what if it’s his jaw? I was out for seven weeks,” Cleary said after White got injured. “It’s terrible. You don’t want a broken jaw, ever.”

Holland said he’s going to talk to coach Mike Babcock before deciding what to do with the open spot on the roster. The Wings have 12 healthy forwards after assigning Fabian Brunnstrom, whose wife is expecting the birth of their first child any day now, back to Grand Rapids on Sunday.

Cory Emmerton was a healthy scratch Saturday.

“I’m not going to call up anybody from Grand Rapids just to have as an extra forward,” Holland said. “We’re also about a month away from (Jan) Mursak coming back. He’s started skating a little bit.”

Mursak broke his ankle on Sept. 25 and is expected back before or just after Christmas.

Holland expects him to ramp up his skating this week.

“It looks like he’s on schedule,” Holland said.

Lidstrom, Howard each get an A+ in Wings’ first-quarter grades

DETROIT — The Wings want to get off this rollercoaster-of-a-ride that has been the first quarter of the 2011-12 season.

After opening the year with five straight wins, the Wings went winless in their next six, losing five of those games. They went on to put another four-game winning streak before dropping their next two, which made it five straight losses on the road.

Detroit ended its four-game road trip with two straight wins, which has grown to five straight after a convincing three wins in four nights highlighted by a shootout win over the defending Stanley Cup champs.

“I’d rather not think about that one because after that we all know what happened,” said Henrik Zetterberg, when asked about what happened the last time the Wings won five straight this season. “We’ll live in the moment. We are happy with how we’re playing now.”

“It has been a rollercoaster if you look at the five-game segments,” Nicklas Lidstrom. “We won five, we lost five, then we were 5-1 or 4-1 or something, so we’ve been kind of up and down.”

Despite that the Wings sit just two points behind Chicago for the top spot in the Western Conference. However, the eighth, ninth and 10th seeds – St. Louis, Edmonton and Los Angeles – are just three points behind Detroit in the standings.

“It has been weird, definitely,” Niklas Kronwall said. “Not the way we want to be, obviously. Winning and losing every once in a while, that’s not what we do in here. We always have more consistency than we’ve had. I don’t think we’ve played that many really bad games. All in all we’ve been OK, but not good enough to win on some nights.”

The Wings rank eighth in goals scored and fifth in goals against. The power play is seventh, but the penalty kill as struggled sitting at 19th in the league.

Here are individual grades at the first quarter of the season.

Forwards

Justin Abdelkader (C+): 2 goals, 3 assists, +1 – As interchangeable of a forward the Wings have; can play in the top six, grind things out and throws his body around.

Todd Bertuzzi (C): 1 goal, 4 assists, +4 – If his line of Franzen and Datsyuk remains intact his offensive numbers will improve as will his time on the power play.

Fabian Brunnstrom (Inc.): 0 goals, 1 assist, -2 – Wings coach Mike Babcock said he sees him as a top six forward one day.

Danny Cleary (C-): 4 goals, 3 assists, -3 – After a career-high 26 goals last season the start to this year has been quite disappointing as far as offensive numbers go.

Pavel Datsyuk (B): 6 goals, 13 assists, +1 – After a slow start to the year he seems to heating up with four goals and five assists in his last six games.

Patrick Eaves (C): 0 goals, 1 assist, 0 – Could not find his way back in the lineup after missing some time with a bad back; fractured his jaw on Saturday.

Cory Emmerton (C-): 1 goal, 1 assist, +4 – Has been held pointless after a goal and an assist in the season opener, but has been a reliable center on the fourth line.

Johan Franzen (B+): 10 goals, 12 assists, +10 – In 12 of the Wings’ 14 wins he has 22 points. In the eight other games (0-7-1) he’s been held pointless.

Valtteri Filppula (A-): 7 goals, 12 assists, +8 – He’s nearly halfway to his career high in points (40) for a season and we’re just a quarter of the way through.

Darren Helm (B): 2 goals, 2 assists, +1 – Continues to show signs that the Wings have another Kris Draper type player on their hands.

Tomas Holmstrom (B): 3 goals, 6 assists, 0 – He continues to dazzle us with how he’s the best in the league when it comes to net-front-presence. All three of his goals have come on the power play.

Jiri Hudler (B-): 2 goals, 10 assists, +4 – After a fast start he cooled down, got benched and know he’s chipping in every now and then, which is already ahead of last year’s numbers.

Drew Miller (C+): 2 goals, 4 assists, +7 – No longer in a rotation to get playing time on the fourth line.

Gustav Nyquist (Inc.): 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 – Showed signs he’s for real in the preseason.

Henrik Zetterberg (B): 5 goals, 8 assists, +1 – Just like his one-time linemate, it’s been a slow start to the season, but he’s got two goals and four assists in his last four games.

Defensemen

Mike Commodore (Inc.): 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 – A sprained MCL didn’t help his bid at winning a job on the blue line; he’s played in just three games.

Jonathan Ericsson (C): 0 goals, 2 assists, +2 – Hasn’t been an offensive threat like the Wings had hoped so therefore hasn’t seen much if any power-play time.

Jakub Kindl (B-): 0 goals, 4 assists, +2 – As been as solid as any sixth man on the blue-line’s depth chart could be and has shown a nice physical upside.

Niklas Kronwall (B): 6 goals, 4 assists, 0 – The Wings were smart locking him up with a long-term deal early in the season and making him an alternate captain.

Nicklas Lidstrom (A+): 6 goals, 10 assists, +8 – He’s playing like he’s got another year in him.

Brendan Smith (Inc.): 0 goals, 2 assists, -1 – In his brief time in Detroit showed he’s an NHL defenseman; Wings want him to play minutes so that’s why he’s in Grand Rapids.

Brad Stuart (B-): 3 goals, 1 assist, +4 – Already a goal behind trying is season high output with the Wings; had a career-high 10 goals his rookie season in San Jose.

Ian White (B): 4 goals, 7 assists, +11 – Has been everything the Wings were looking for when they needed to replace Brian Rafalski, he’s already matched his goal output from a year ago.

Goalies

Jimmy Howard (A+): 13-5-1, 1.87 GAA, .930 SV% – Has been the Wings’ best player night after night with 19 starts in 22 games; he leads the league in wins and shutouts.

Ty Conklin (D): 1-2-0, 3.33 GAA, .880 SV% – After a 29-save shutout in his first game he imploded with seven goals against in his next start and hasn’t found his way back into the lineup.

Brunnstrom sent back to Grand Rapids

DETROIT — As expected the Wings re-assigned Fabian Brunnstrom to Grand Rapids.

Here is the press release from the team.

RED WINGS REASSIGN BRUNNSTROM TO GRAND RAPIDS

Detroit, MI… The Detroit Red Wings today announced that 26-year-old forward Fabian Brunnstrom has been reassigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League. Brunnstrom has appeared in four games for the Red Wings (0G-1A-1P) and three games for the Griffins (1G-2A-3P) thus far on the 2011-12 campaign, his first with the organization.

The Red Wings (14-7-1) have won five consecutive games and will look to make it six in a row when they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning (11-9-2) on Wednesday, November 30 at 7:30 p.m. at Joe Louis Arena (Versus, 97.1 The Ticket). Wednesday’s game will also feature the return of Red Wings legend Steve Yzerman for his first game in Detroit since taking over as Vice President and General Manager of the Lightning. Tickets to all Red Wings home games are available at the Joe Louis Arena Box Office (313-396-7575), all Ticketmaster (800-745-3000) outlets, and online at DetroitRedWings.com