Monthly Archives: January 2012

All-Star memories

DETROIT — Jimmy Howard didn’t hear from any of his current teammates for his “lack of effort” in the fastest skater competition on Saturday, but he did hear from former teammate Kris Draper.

“He called and gave me a little pep talk,” Howard smiled. “He noticed I gave up a little bit. I almost went down on that first turn and I said, ‘Forget about this.’ I didn’t want to be the guy to take out those tires.”

Howard was also amazed at the number Zdeno Chara put up on the hardest shot, which was clocked at 108.8 miles per hour, breaking his old mark of 105.9 he set last year.

“I saw just how crazy I am,” Howard laughed. “When you’ve got some of those guys look like they’re barely even firing and it’s over 100 (mph). Why do I even stand in front of those guys?”

Pavel Datsyuk was taken first in the fantasy-type draft on Thursday. He had been hoping to go last so he’d get a car.

“I (was) picked last but on the wrong side,” Datsyuk smiled. “I was surprised (I was picked first) but I’m also happy, very happy.”

Datsyuk also said he wasn’t getting in the way for a Chara slap shot.

“I don’t want to stay in this line and the block shot, I hope Jimmy takes care,” Datsyuk said.

Wings coach Mike Babcock didn’t watch much of action over the weekend but was impressed by one thing.

“I watched Jimmy’s interview and was very impressed,” Babcock said. “My son kept yelling at me to come in and watch a little bit. I saw Pav had it on a string a few times, but I didn’t really watch it that much. It was obviously great for Pavel to be selected where he was. It tells you how good he is. Jimmy has come of age and is a real good goaltender. I was very impressed in the way he expressed himself as a man and how he thanked them for the foundation they built for him.”

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Wings seek remedy for road woes

DETROIT – With the All-Star break behind them, the Wings now have to focus on playing better on the road.

And they’ve got four games over the next seven days to try and do so, beginning tonight in Calgary.

“It would have been nice to open up at home, but we’ve got another week-long trip here so we might as well do it right away,” Nicklas Lidstrom said. “It’s going to be a pretty hectic schedule here for awhile so it’ll be good to get going tomorrow.

“We know we have to have a better road record so we’ve got to start playing better,” Lidstrom added. “Starting off on the road might be good.”

On the road this season the Wings are one game under .500, 13-14-0.

“We’ve got a few chances here,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “We’ll have a good start tomorrow, and hopefully, we’ll win a few more games and figure it out.

“I think we’re giving the other teams too many easy chances to score,” Zetterberg continued. “Normally, we play solid enough defense. When we don’t do that, it’s tough to win games.”

“I think if we knew what the difference was, it would be a lot easier to just fix it,” Niklas Kronwall said. “But I think it just comes down to hard work and doing it as a five-man unit out there for each shift.”

At home they will carry a franchise-record 17-game winning streak when they host the Edmonton Oilers a week from Wednesday.

“We’ve got to get back to playing like we do at home,” said Jimmy Howard, who leads the league with 30 wins. “It’s as simple as that, paying attention to detail on the road. To be able to have success on the road you’ve got to play a full 60 minutes.”

After playing in Calgary Tuesday, the Wings travel to Vancouver (Thursday), Edmonton (Saturday) and Phoenix (Monday).

The Wings’ last road game was easily their worst performance of the season away from Joe Louis Arena, a 7-2 drubbing by the Montreal Canadiens.

“We’ve obviously had at least two or three road games that have been very uncharacteristic of us, obviously Montreal was terrible,” Danny Cleary said. “Montreal, I couldn’t even come up with a good answer for you. It seems we definitely play with a lot more urgency at home. We play more disciplined, we play faster and we play a lot better at home. We’re a team that’s capable of doing it on the road, we keep talking about it, we’re an experienced team, we’ve got good matchups so that’s not an issue and we’ve got a good goalie.

“Our record speaks for itself on the road,” Cleary added. “We haven’t been good enough. For us to stay on top, we have to definitely get a better road record. This is a good chance for us, four games against four teams that are battling, too, so it’s going to be good for us but we certainly have to get going on the road.”

The Wings do have something to look forward to after this long trip, as 18 of their last 28 are at home.

“That’s huge for us,” Babcock said. “In saying all that, we’ve got four (road) games in (seven) days to worry about. We’ve got other priorities. Calgary has beaten us twice already this year, and this is an opportunity for us to go in and play better in situations where we haven’t been very good.”

Last season the Wings, who hold the best record in the league, struggled out of the break, going 2-3-0. They were shut out in two of those three losses.

“Every time you play a game it’s important,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Last year, we didn’t come out of the All-Star break flying, so it’s important to get off to a good start. The standings are very, very tight and the thing you always want to do as a team is you want to put as much heat on the general manager to help you out as you can. The better team you have, the more likely it is that he’s going to help you out.”

Wings look to get back to winning ways on road

DETROIT – With the All-Star break behind them the Wings now have to focus on playing better on the road.

And they’ve got four games over the next seven days to try and do so beginning Tuesday night in Calgary.

“It would have been nice to open up at home, but we’ve got another week-long trip here so we might as well do it right away,” Nicklas Lidstrom said. “It’s going to be a pretty hectic schedule here for awhile so it’ll be good to get going tomorrow.

“We know we have to have a better road record so we’ve got to start playing better,” Lidstrom added. “Starting off on the road might be good.”

On the road this season the Wings are one-game under .500, 13-14-0.

“We’ve got a few chances here,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “We’ll have a good start tomorrow, and hopefully, we’ll win a few more games and figure it out.

“I think we’re giving the other teams too many easy chances to score,” Zetterberg continued. “Normally, we play solid enough defense. When we don’t do that, it’s tough to win games.”

At home they will carry a franchise-record 17-game winning streak when they host the Edmonton Oilers a week from Wednesday.

“We’ve got to get back to playing like we do at home,” Jimmy Howard said. “It’s as simple as that, paying attention to detail on the road. To be able to have success on the road you’ve got to play a full 60 minutes.”

After playing in Calgary Tuesday, the Wings travel to Vancouver (Thursday), Edmonton (Saturday) and Phoenix (Monday).

Ryan Suter in the Wings’ future?

Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter does not have a new deal in place and will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, leaving open the door the Predators may move him at the trade deadline.

“Our deadline is July 1,” Nashville general manager David Poile told NHL.com Friday. “My first goal has been and still is to sign Ryan and we’re going to try to do it. The sooner we do that the better off I believe our franchise is in terms of making other decisions going forward. That’s what we have been working towards.”

“If they trade me they trade me, but I want to win and I’m going to do everything in my power to win,” Suter told NHL.com prior to the All-Star break. “If we’re winning, I hope that David will maybe go out and get that extra piece; work the other way rather than deal me, and we’ll take care of the rest later. I tell David, and I’m telling you right now, straight up, that I like it in Nashville and it’s a great place to live.”

Money is no issue for the Wings, who are nearly $6 million under the salary cap.

“There’s the odd trade at the deadline that changes the balance of power, but at the end of the day, when I look at the Vancouver Canucks last year, they made some real nice trades at the deadline that gave them some depth, brought them some grit and were important players,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said a few weeks ago. “Boston made two or three trades as well. They weren’t the big names, but they were guys that were the perfect fit.”

Columbus to host next year’s All-Star Game

The NHL announced Saturday that Columbus will host next year’s All-Star Game on Jan. 27, 2013.

Here is the press release from the league:

NEW YORK (January 28, 2012) – The National Hockey League (NHL®) today announced the selection of the Columbus Blue Jackets and the city of Columbus as hosts of the 2013 National Hockey League All-Star Celebration. The League’s mid-season showcase will take place Saturday, January 26 and Sunday, January 27 and will include the Molson Canadian NHL SuperSkills® and the NHL All-Star Game.

The 2013 NHL All-Star Game marks the first time the NHL All-Star activities will take place in Columbus, becoming the third consecutive first-time All-Star host city. Raleigh in 2011 and Ottawa in 2012 also were first-time hosts. The Blue Jackets and Columbus have experience in holding a signature NHL event, as they hosted the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

“We’re looking forward to bringing our All-Star celebration to Columbus,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “The Blue Jackets did a great job of hosting the NHL Draft in 2007, and I have no doubt they will raise the bar even higher when they welcome our All-Star celebration next January.”

“The Blue Jackets are honored to host the 2013 All-Star celebration in Columbus as we believe our city offers a truly unique setting for this special event,” said Blue Jackets Majority Owner John P. McConnell. “As much as it is a showcase for the NHL’s best players, it is also a celebration of hockey fans and having it in Columbus is a testament to the fantastic support of our fans and the strength of Central Ohio as a hockey market.”

Further details on the 2013 NHL All-Star celebration, including ticket information, special events and television broadcasting will be released at a later date.

Howard will take part in fastest skater; Datsyuk in puck control competition

The one skills event Wings goalie Jimmy Howard dreaded being picked for he got his name called in to participate in.

Howard will take part in the fastest skater competition for Team Chara. He will compete against Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick.

Pavel Datsyuk will be participate in the puck control portion of the challenge relay.

Datsyuk and Howard both will participate in the elimination shootout.

Here is the release from the NHL:

OTTAWA (January 27, 2012) — The National Hockey League announced today All-Star and rookie assignments for the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills CompetitionTM, Saturday, Jan. 28 at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa. A fan favourite that has showcased hockey’s top talent at NHL All-Star Weekend since 1990, the event will be broadcast live on CBC and RDS in Canada and the NBC Sports Network in the United States at 7 p.m., ET.

Team Alfredsson, captained by forward Daniel Alfredsson of the All-Star host Ottawa Senators, will compete against Team Chara, led by Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, throughout the night for points in the overall team vs. team competition. Individual champions also will be crowned. The NHL All-Stars and rookies will participate in six events:

* Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater™
* Allstate Insurance NHL Breakaway Challenge™
* Canadian Tire NHL Accuracy Shooting™
* G Series NHL Skills Challenge Relay™
* BlackBerry NHL Hardest Shot™
* Tim Hortons NHL Elimination Shootout™

Earlier today, team captains Alfredsson and Chara, with their respective assistant captains Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers and Joffrey Lupul of the Toronto Maple Leafs, selected the skills participants from the teams they picked last night at the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Player Fantasy DraftTM. The order of participation will be determined by the captains just before the start of each event. Each All-Star will be involved in no more than three events, excluding the Tim Hortons NHL Elimination Shootout™ finale.

Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater™ — order determined on the ice

Team Alfredsson Team Chara

Kris Letang, PIT (backwards) Brian Campbell, FLA (backwards)
Jonathan Quick, LA (goaltender) Jimmy Howard, DET (goaltender)
Carl Hagelin, NYR (rookie) Colin Greening, OTT (rookie)
Keith Yandle, PHX Phil Kessel, TOR
Erik Karlsson, OTT Marian Hossa, CHI

Event description: Five players from each team compete, four All-Stars and one rookie. The contest will consist of five preliminary races, with the player posting the fastest time from each team meeting in one final match race. The race format is new this year: one skater from each team is positioned side-by-side on the start line. Both skaters race toward the same end zone, both turn outward, skate to the opposite end zone, turn back and skate past center ice to the finish line. Six team points are available
— one each to the winner of the six individual races.

Allstate Insurance NHL Breakaway Challenge™

Team Alfredsson Team Chara

Sean Couturier, PHI (rookie) Ryan Johansen, CBJ (rookie)
John Tavares, NYI Patrick Kane, CHI
Logan Couture, SJ Corey Perry, ANA
Brian Elliott, STL (goaltender) Carey Price, MTL (goaltender)

Event description: A test of creativity a player can insert into a breakaway, three shooters (one rookie, two All-Stars) and one goaltender from each team will participate. Each skater will attempt three shots – with no limits. Shooters can start their attempt from anywhere with full access to the offensive zone, including behind the net. NHL penalty shot rules do not apply. Fans in-arena and watching on television in Canada and the United States will be able to vote for their favorite player by texting the number that corresponds to the player of their choice to 81812. The shooter with the highest fan vote will score one point for his team.

Canadian Tire NHL Accuracy Shooting™ — order determined on the ice

Team Alfredsson Team Chara

Matt Read, PHI (rookie) Cody Hodgson, VAN (rookie)
Jason Spezza, OTT Tyler Seguin, BOS
Steven Stamkos, TB Jamie Benn, DAL
Daniel Sedin, VAN Marian Hossa, CHI

Event description: Four players from each team (one Rookie, three
All-Stars) will compete, with four additional All-Stars from each team serving as passers. From 25 feet in front of the net, a shooter will take aim at four foam targets attached to the inner side of the goalposts, one target in each corner. The objective is to hit all targets in the fastest time. The player with the fastest time from each team will go head-to-head in the final round for the title of the NHL’s most accurate shooter. Five team points are available, one to the winner of each individual matchup.

G Series NHL Skills Challenge Relay™

Team Alfredsson Team Chara

Group 1 Group 1

Nick Johnson, MIN (one-time passer) Ryan Suter, NSH (one-time passer)
Shea Weber, NSH (one-timer RH) Dennis Wideman, WSH (one-timer RH)
Kris Letang, PIT (one-timer RH) Jarome Iginla, CGY (one-timer RH)
Steven Stamkos, TB (one-timer RH) Joffrey Lupul, TOR (one-timer RH)
Henrik Sedin, VAN (passing accuracy) Patrick Kane, CHI (passing
accuracy)
Milan Michalek, OTT (puck control) Pavel Datsyuk, DET (puck control) Logan Couture, SJ (stick handling) Gabriel Landeskog, COL (stick handling)
James Neal, PIT (target shooter) Marian Gaborik, NYR (target shooter)

Group 2 Group 2

Alexander Edler, VAN (one-time passer) Jordan Eberle, EDM (one-time
passer)
Keith Yandle, PHX (one-timer LH) Dion Phaneuf, TOR (one-timer LH)
Scott Hartnell, PHI (one-timer LH) Zdeno Chara, BOS (one-timer LH)
John Tavares, NYI (one-timer LH) Jamie Benn, DAL (one-timer LH)
Daniel Sedin, VAN (passing accuracy) Kimmo Timonen, PHI (passing
accuracy)
Craig Smith, NSH (puck control) Raphael Diaz, MTL (puck control)
Claude Giroux, PHI (stick handling) Evgeni Malkin, PIT (stick handling)
Jason Pominville, BUF (target shooter) Phil Kessel, TOR (target shooter)

Event description: Introduced to acclaim in 2011, this event will feature
16 players from each team (two Rookies, 14 All-Stars) and showcase a host of skills that include the ‘one-timer,’ passing, puck control, stick-handling and accuracy shooting. In the ‘one-timer’ event, three shooters (with the assistance of one passer) must score three goals over an eight inch barrier; in the passing event, one passer must complete a pass into each of six nets placed around the rink; in the puck control event, one skater will skate through a series of cones while keeping possession of the puck; in the stick handling event, one skater will control the puck through a series of obstacles; and in the accuracy shooting event, one player will take aim at four targets. Two groups from each team will go through the relay — one from each team in a pair of heats. Each skill must be completed before moving on to the next skill in this timed relay event worth a total of three points. The fastest team in each heat will earn one point and the team with the fastest combined time will earn one bonus point.

BlackBerry NHL Hardest Shot™ — order determined on the ice

Team Alfredsson Team Chara

Justin Faulk, CAR (rookie) Luke Adam, BUF (rookie)
Daniel Alfredsson, OTT Dennis Wideman, WSH
Jason Spezza, OTT Dion Phaneuf, TOR
Shea Weber, NSH Zdeno Chara, BOS

Event description: Fittingly, Team Chara captain Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins called his own number in this event. Chara not only won his fourth consecutive NHL Hardest Shot competition in 2011, but his blast of 105.9 mph broke the all-time record of 105.4 he set in 2009. Team Alfredsson, meanwhile, will be anchored by Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators, who recorded a 104.8 mph shot in finishing runner-up to Chara last year. Four players from each team (one Rookie, three All-Stars) will compete in five head-to-head matchups. One contestant from each team will square off in each round, valued at one point each. The highest recorded shot (by radar in mph) of two attempts will be scored. The player from each team with the hardest single shot will meet in a final match to determine the NHL’s hardest shooter. Five team points are available — one to the winner of each of the four preliminary matchups and one to the winner of the finale.

Tim Hortons NHL Elimination Shootout™

Team Alfredsson Team Chara

Carl Hagelin, NYR (rookie) Colin Greening, OTT (rookie)
Steven Stamkos, TB Pavel Datsyuk, DET
John Tavares, NYI Evgeni Malkin, PIT
Jason Spezza, OTT Corey Perry, ANA
Claude Giroux, PHI Tyler Seguin, BOS
Daniel Alfredsson, OTT Marian Gaborik, NYR
James Neal, PIT Patrick Kane, CHI
Milan Michalek, OTT Jarome Iginla, CGY
Jason Pominville, BUF Jamie Benn, DAL
Kris Letang, PIT Joffrey Lupul, TOR
Erik Karlsson, OTT Kimmo Timonen, PHI
Daniel Sedin, VAN Ryan Suter, NSH
Henrik Lundqvist, NYR (goaltender) Carey Price, MTL (goaltender)
Brian Elliott, STL (goaltender) Tim Thomas, BOS (goaltender)
Jonathan Quick, LA (goaltender) Jimmy Howard, DET (goaltender)

Event description: The battle between Team Alfredsson and Team Chara will be decided in this competition, when 15 participants from each side (one Rookie, 11 All-Stars, three goaltenders), compete in a time-honored game of “hockey survivor.” Shooters who score will move on to the next round in the shootout, with the All-Star goaltenders rotating after every third shooter.
The event will continue until one player scores and the other(s) do not in a single round — last goal wins. Every goal scored will count as one point for the goal-scorer’s team.

###

About 2012 NHL All-Star Weekend

The 2012 NHL All-Star Weekend comes to Ottawa, Canada’s capital, Jan.
26 through Jan. 29. The players take the ice in the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills CompetitionTM, at Scotiabank Place on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 7 p.m., ET, and for the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL® All-Star Game, at Scotiabank Place on Sunday, Jan. 29 at 4 p.m., ET. Live television coverage of both events will be provided by CBC and RDS in Canada and NBC Sports Network in the United States.

Fans in the Ottawa area are encouraged to take part in the festivities at the Scotiabank NHL Fan Fair™, a three-day fan festival at the Ottawa Convention Centre, Jan. 26-28.

For the latest NHL All-Star news and exclusive content, visit NHL.com and its dedicated microsite for the 2012 NHL All-Star Weekend, NHL.com/allstar. Follow the NHL on Twitter (@NHL) and on Facebook ( Facebook.com/NHL).

Teammates like the new ‘feisty’ Jimmy Howard

DETROIT – Danny Cleary came up with the best word to describe Jimmy Howard of late … “feisty.”

“You don’t want to be jamming at the wrong guy,” Cleary said after practice Tuesday. “The next thing you know, something happens to you that you don’t want to happen to you. That’s good for him. Sticking up for himself, he’s trying to keep people out of the crease.”

With 1.5 seconds left in Monday’s 3-1 win over the St. Louis Blues, Howard took exception to Alex Pietrangelo taking a two hander to his midsection after making a save. The Wings goalie took a swing at Pietrangelo before having a bit of a go with David Backes.

The two Blues each got two minutes for roughing and 10-minute misconducts. Howard received a single roughing penalty.

“You don’t want to see your goalie doing that all the time because he may go after the wrong guy,” Drew Miller said. “It’s good to see he’s got that competitiveness in him. He doesn’t want to get bumped around or hit with a stick.

“I think the guys on our team aren’t known for fighting, but guys get in between him and the player because it’s only going to go so far,” Miller added. “He picks his spots. In a game that was physical last night a guy gave him a shot in the chest and Howie gave him a shot back. He’s standing up for himself. You don’t always want your goalie doing it, but there’s a time and a place where you gave give a little push or a shove.”

“He hits guys,” Johan Franzen grinned. “We’re laughing. It’s fun to see him standing up for himself, hitting guys. Good for him. I think he likes it. Whatever works for him, keep doing it.”

“He plays with a lot of emotion,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “When it heats up like that he’s so focused that when someone punches him he’ll punch back. I’m glad he has a lot of padding on him. I’d rather see other guys standing up for him, but sometimes we don’t have enough time to get in there, he’ll go there first.”

“I think it’s great,” Niklas Kronwall said. “He’s got a little fire in him. He stands up for himself. He’ll be fine.”

Howard became an instant fan favorite when he face washed Pittsburgh’s Sydney Crosby back on March 23, 2010.

“I take responsibility for what I do,” Howard said. “I’m not dumb about it. I’m not going to do it if it’s 2-1 or something like that or when it can be a changing point in the game. With 1.5 seconds left there’s nothing wrong with defending yourself in that aspect.”

Howard joked later that he’s just following in his mentors’ footsteps. Mike Vernon and Chris Osgood both fought Patrick Roy during their time with the Wings and both fights are all over youtube.

“I learned from them, it’s just a trickledown effect,” Howard joked. “I saw (my highlight) this morning. When you’re watching yourself you kind of feel stupid and I look like it for a time sitting there going nuts in the crease. It was the heat of the moment so you’ve got to do it, stick up for yourself.”