Monthly Archives: February 2013

Move East for Wings seems very likely this time

DETROIT – It looks like the Detroit Red Wings will indeed get their way when realignment comes around as early as next season, with a move to the Eastern Conference.

That’s if the plan a plan is approved by the Board of Governors and the Players’ Association.

“We have been in discussions with the Players’ Association for the past several weeks on the issue of realignment and we are trying to get to a solution that everybody can live with,” Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told NHL.com. “There are no perfect answers here, so we have to do the best we can in trying to adequately address a number of competing concerns. Once we get to a point where we have the Union’s go-ahead, we will present it to our Board of Governors for its consideration. We certainly hope to be in a position to announce something in the relatively near term.”

The proposed move would take Detroit and Columbus out of the Western Conference and move them to the East.

“I think it looks awesome,” Daniel Cleary said.

“Us going to the East, that would be a no-brainer,” Niklas Kronwall said.

If the proposal passes, the Wings would move into Central Division with three Original Six teams – Boston, Montreal and Toronto – along with Buffalo, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Florida.

“If that’s how it looks, that would be great for us,” Cleary said. “It’s huge. Anybody that’s played in Detroit understands the rigors of going out west, and the hard part is coming home, when you lose that much time. We have one team in our conference in our time zone. It’s taxing but we’ve been doing it for a lot of years. It would be great to move over.”

In the proposed schedule matrix teams would play the other conference both home and away.

“Home-and-home with each team, if that’s the case, would be great for the game,” Kronwall said. “That way all the fans get to see the Crosbys, the Datsyuks and the Zetterbergs.”

Last year, the Board of Governors approved a switch to four seven- or eight-team conferences, but the PA refused to agree to the change.

That proposal so the Wings in an eight-team conference, along with current Central Division foes Chicago, Columbus, Nashville and St. Louis, while adding Dallas, Minnesota and Winnipeg to the mix.

“It would be outstanding, it would be great, unbelievable,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said last week when the rumors started of the move to the East. “Travel’s huge, there’s no question about it. It wears you right out. It would be a good thing for us. I’d have to learn a whole new league but that’s all right, too.”

Due to an unbalance of teams – 16 in the East and 14 in the West – an adjustment needs to be made to the playoffs.

According to a report by ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun the league would introduce a wild-card element to the postseason.

The top three teams in each of the four divisions would qualify with the final four spots going to the two teams in each conference with the next best records.

“I think it would be great for us from the travel standpoint, even though we’re all used to it now,” Jimmy Howard said. “We know how to deal with it. We’ve traveled back and forth, across the United States quite a bit. To move to the East I think that would be a lot of fun to play a lot of games in the Eastern Time Zone. It would be great for our fans too, not having to stay up until all hours of the night to watch us.

“I think the travel sometimes takes years off of all of our lives,” Howard continued. “It’s one of those things that you have to deal with.”

The other divisions would look this this: Pacific Division (Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose and Vancouver); Midwest Division (Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg); Atlantic Division (Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington).

“I’m just excited that they’re talking about it again,” Kronwall said. “I definitely think where we’re at, with the new CBA finalized, we can get back to the table and get a completely different dialogue (with realignment).”

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Helm sees specialist

DETROIT — Darren Helm saw a back specialist in New York on Monday, who thinks he may have seen something different on the MRI.

“He gave him some medication,” Holland said. “We’re going to see where he’s at 4-5 days. When we’re back in town we’ll see how he’s responded to the medication, Friday or Saturday.”

Helm, who has played one game this season, has been on the wrong end of a rash of injuries even before the season began.

He missed the Wings’ week-long training camp with a back injury.

He hit by a puck on Nov. 2 during an informal skate in Troy, breaking an orbital bone.

On March 17, he missed the final 10 regular season games with a sprained MCL. Then, in his first game back, the playoff opener against Nashville, he had tendons in his forearm sliced by a skate.

The Wings have missed Helm’s speed and last season Babcock called him the best third-line center in the league.

Quote of the day … Henrik Zetterberg

DETROIT — Henrik Zetterberg on Damien Brunner leading the team with 10 goals. Brunner scored two goals in Sunday’s 8-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks.

“It is amazing,” Zetterberg said. “I played with him over in Swiss and I saw that he has that special touch. You don’t see him for a long, long time and all of a sudden he comes up there and scores a goal. He has that kind of sense to be in the right spot in the right time and he has a good shot. On the first one (Sunday) he had good patience there and on the second one he turned around and shot and it goes top shelf. It is remarkable with this tough schedule. He’s not used to playing these many games in a short amount of time. So it’s good to see his consistency and hopefully he can keep it going.”

Wings lock Lashoff up for three seasons; “We think he’s played well enough that we see him as an NHL defenseman,” Holland says

DETROIT – The Wings have liked what they’ve seen from rookie defenseman Brian Lashoff so much that they signed him to a one-way deal for all three years at $725,000 a season.

“He’s played 18 to 20 minutes a night and a lot of nights he’s playing against the other team’s best players,” Wings general manager Ken Holland to The Macomb Daily. “He’s been on the penalty kill. We like him. He’s rangy. He’s 6-foot-2, he competes hard. He’s got the ability to make good outlet passes and he’s 22 years of age.”

He’s in the final year of a deal worth $524,000 and was set to become a restricted free agent in July.

“We think he’s played well enough that we see him as an NHL defenseman, certainly going forward starting next year,” Holland said. “He’s in the NHL this year, but he’s on the last year of his entire level contract. This deal gives him some security and us a young defensemen locked up for three years that we feel is only going to get better.”

Lashoff, 22, was supposed to spend the entire season in Grand Rapids, but when the blue line got decimated with injuries – Jonathan Ericsson, Jakub Kindl, Carlo Colaiacovo, Ian White and Brendan Smith – he was recalled from the Griffins on Jan. 21.

He scored a goal in his NHL debut against Columbus.

“He’s well positioned,” Holland said. “He makes young mistakes, but that’s part of having young people. They make mistakes and they have to learn from it. We feel like he has potential.”

Lashoff, who’s 6-foot-3, 212 pounds, has a goal and two assists this season with four penalty minutes and a minus-4 rating in 15 games.

Lashoff, who was undrafted, played his way onto the 2010 USA World Junior team that won a gold medal.

“We invited him to training camp on a tryout,” Holland said. “He kind of bounced around his first year pro between Toledo and Grand Rapids on left wing and defense.

“Last year as a second year pro he established himself as a real legitimate American League defenseman,” Holland continued. “This year the plan was for him to spend the entire year in the American League, but with injuries. The good thing for us, with the work stoppage he got another half year of pro and he stepped into the NHL and has done a real great job for us.”

Wings’ power play finally catches fire

DETROIT – After going 2-for-19 with the man advantage in the last six games, the Wings struck for three power play goals on five chances in Sunday’s 8-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks at Joe Louis Arena.

“It was great to see the power play be rewarded,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We have been snake bitten on the power play, it hasn’t gone very well. We haven’t scored goals very good.”

The three power play goals in a game was a season high for the Wings, who three times had scored twice with the man advantage.

“It was fun to see the puck go in,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “We had been struggling a little bit. I think we’ve been doing some good stuff in the end, but really haven’t gotten goals, but we got them today.”

Detroit’s power play goals came from Daniel Cleary, Zetterberg and Damien Brunner.

The Wings scored all three power play goals in the second period on four chances.

“We’re always happy the power play came up this time,” Brunner said. “It’s something you have to take out of this game and hopefully it gives us confidence.”

The Wings’ penalty kill was also 2-for-2 on Sunday. It’s the second straight game that unit hasn’t given up a power play goal.

“The PK was good and the power play got going, so when special teams are good it is easier to win games and you see that today,” Zetteberg said.

Quote of the day … Damien Brunner

DETROIT — Damien Brunner when he was told he’s two off the pace for the league lead in goals scored.

“I am? I have to be honest with you, since I got here, I feel like I have no time to study the stats because I’m always sleeping, recovering and eating. I know I have 10, but I have no idea who is leading the league with 12.”

Other injury news … Franzen should play Wednesday; Smith and Colaiacovo expected back next Sunday at the latest

DETROIT — Wings general manager Ken Holland said they’re shooting for forward Johan Franzen (hip flexor) to return to the lineup Wednesday in Los Angeles against the Kings, unless he re-injuries it in practice Tuesday.

Defensemen Brendan Smith and Carlo Colaiacovo, both out with shoulder injuries, are expected to return by next Sunday at the latest, or possibly in one of these two games on the West Coast.

Forward Mikael Samuelsson is still out between 2-4 weeks with a broken finger.

“It’s a 4-5 week injury,” Holland said. “We’ll see after two weeks if he can play with a splint.”

Forwards Darren Helm and Todd Bertuzzi, both sidelined with back injuries, are progressing.

Helm is scheduled to see a specialist in New York on Monday.

“(Helm) is progressing but not nearly as fast as we had hoped,” Holland said. “The specialist deals with muscles and ligaments. We just need to start ruling out this or that. We think it’s a ligament strain or sprain, but it’s not healing as fast as we had hoped.

“Bert had a good week and he’s happy with how his back has felt,” Holland added. “I saw him Thursday and he was feeling significantly better.”