Monthly Archives: May 2013

Blackhawks’ Bickell and Stalberg could be targeted by Wings once free agency opens

DETROIT — With free agency a little over a month away, the Red Wings’ shopping list could include two players off the team that just ousted them from this year’s playoffs.

Chicago Blackhawks forwards Bryan Bickell and Viktor Stalberg could be tops on Detroit’s list once free agency opens up on July 5.

Both are unrestricted free agents and 27 years old.

Bickell’s stock has really rose in the playoffs. After a nine goal and 14 assist regular season, Bickell has five goals this postseason and one assist.

Bickell, who was also a plus-12 during the lockout-shortened regular season, is in the final year of a contract that pays him $541,667.

The 6-4, 233-pound forward also showed his physical side when he dealt a crushing blow behind the Wings’ goal on Niklas Kronwall, who later was learned to have injured himself on the play.

Bickell and Stalberg played on Chicago’s third line most of the season.

Stalberg could be headed out of town after reportedly getting into it with Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville about playing time, mainly on the power play, in their first-round series with the Minnesota Wild.

Stalberg was benched for the first two games of the Western Conference semifinal series with the Wings.

Quenneville denied reports.

“Viktor knows the reasons why,” Quenneville said. “It has nothing to do with anything about our conversation. It was strictly nothing to do with that. At all. That situation wasn’t even addressed.”

Stalberg got back in the lineup for Game 3 against the Wings and remained in it.

Stalberg made $875,000 this season.

The Wings currently will be close to $12 million under the salary cap.

Chicago has roughly $2 million in cap space.

Other possible players the Wings could target Mike Ribeiro, Pascal Dupuis, Patrik Elias, Jaromir Jagr, Michael Ryder, Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, Nathan Horton, Mason Raymond, Ryane Clowe and David Clarkson.

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Samuelsson may need surgery to repair injured pectoral muscle.

DETROIT — It looks like Mikael Samuelsson may need surgery to repair in injured pectoral muscle.

He suffered the injury on March 31 and missed the final 13 games of the regular season. Returning for Game 7 against Anaheim, he reinjured it again and didn’t play against Chicago.

“He just never healed, but he feels better every day,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “There’s a chance he may need surgery.”

Samuelsson also suffered a pulled groin and broken finger this season, which limited him to nine games, four in the regular season and five in the playoffs.

Wings want a healthy Helm by training camp

DETROIT — One player Detroit missed basically all season was Darren Helm.

“We’ve got to get him healthy for next season,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “It’s probably going to take half the year to get him up and running.”

Helm played just one game this season due to reoccurring back pain.

He however won’t need surgery.

“He’s been to about four doctors and they say there is no structural damage,” Holland said. “The plan is to let him heal and have him ready for training camp. We need him healthy in September.

“In order to get him playing, doctors asked him to push through it,” Holland continued. “He tried that, felt good and then experienced pain. There’s no use for him to push through it anymore.”

Helm, 26, has been on the wrong end of a rash of injuries of late.

He missed the Wings’ week-long training camp and the first three games of the season with a back injury, which was the first of his playing career.

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.

Cleary, Kronwall and Howard all played hurt; DeKeyser could have returned next round

DETROIT – “Everybody is banged up this time of year.”

And that indeed was the case with a few of the Detroit Red Wings.

“All teams have banged up players this time of year,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview. “It’s a lot of hockey.”

The most significant injury of the bunch was Valtteri Filppula, who’ll be in a cast for 2-3 weeks and will need 6-8 weeks to heal, from a high-ankle sprain he suffered trying to get off the ice after his second shift of Game 7, Wednesday night in Chicago.

Filppula got tied up with the Blackhawks’ Andrew Shaw near the Wings’ bench and wound up on the ice and needed to be helped back to the dressing room.

He left the United Center with his left leg in an immobilizer.

Shaw first crosschecked Henrik Zetterberg and then Daniel Cleary tried to grab him while on the bench.

Shaw appeared to have slew-footed Filppula after a crosscheck to bring him to the ice awkwardly. The Blackhawks forward wasn’t penalized on the play.

Filppula can become an unrestricted free agent on July 5.

“We made him an offer in August and September,” Holland said. “I’m sure we’ll talk more.”

Here is the rest of the walking wounded that didn’t miss any of the Wings’ 14 games this postseason.

— Daniel Cleary: He suffered a second-degree separation of the left shoulder and a fractured left finger in Game 5 against Anaheim on hit by Daniel Winnik.

— Niklas Kronwall: He hurt his right hand against Anaheim and then suffered injured right shoulder on a hit by Chicago’s Bryan Bickell in Game 5.

— Jimmy Howard: He suffered a pulled hamstring in the Anaheim series.

Had the Wings advanced they probably would have gotten defenseman Danny DeKeyser back from a broken right thumb he suffered in Game 2 against Anaheim.

DeKeyser, who had surgery on May 7, was set to get cleared on Tuesday and could have returned as early as Game 3 in the series.

Filppula leaves United Center with left leg in an immobilizer

CHICAGO — Just two shifts into his Game 7, Valtteri Filppula had his night end.

Filppula got tied up with Chicago’s Andrew Shaw near the Wings’ bench and wound up on the ice and needed to be helped back to the dressing room.

He did not return and was seen leaving the United Center with his left leg in an immobilizer.

“He’s hurt,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said after the game. “He’ll be ready for camp.”

The Wings reported his injury as lower body.

Filppula left with either a knee or ankle injury.

Shaw first crosschecked Henrik Zetterberg and then Daniel Cleary tried to grab him while on the bench. Shaw then crosschecked Filppula high and the forward tumbled awkwardly to the ice.

The replay looked as if Shaw slew-footed Filppula to bring him to the ice.

“You guys watched the video, you decide,” Babcock said.

Shaw was not penalized on the play.

“He’s a big big part of this team, but our forwards were all over the place, working so hard, making it tough on them,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “I thought everyone really laid everything on the line. It’s tough to come up short.”

Filppula made the Wings juggle forwards on and off the line with Zetterberg and Cleary.

“Losing Fil didn’t help us but I thought we found a way, we had different guys moving up with me and Z,” Cleary said. “We played well. (Jimmy Howard) played great for us. We had a great goalie. Z, Pav, it was a fun year. It was a great season.”

Gustav Nyquist’s time on the line led to the Wings’ only goal in the 2-1 overtime loss to the Blackhawks.

“I don’t even know what happened to him, but when you lose a great player like that it’s tough,” defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo said. “I thought everyone did a good job filling in for him. I’m really proud of the effort the guys put in tonight.”

“He has been really good for us throughout the whole playoffs,” defenseman Jonathan Ericsson said. “To miss a player like that and to have to go short after that line had been playing so well we had to make adjustments, but that’s part of the game.”

Wings suffer heartbreaking loss to Blackhawks in Game 7

CHICAGO – The team that scores first in a Game 7 nine times out of 10 usually comes out victorious.

Make that 16 out of the last 16.

Brent Seabrook scored just three minutes and 35 seconds into overtime as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 of their Western Conference semifinal series, 2-1, Wednesday night at the United Center.

“Right now it feels a little surreal,” Jonathan Ericsson said. “We were confident coming into overtime, had a good feeling in the room. We said we were going to go for it and then it just ends like that, the whole season just ends like that. Like I said it feels kind of surreal, empty right now.”

It’s now 16 straight postseason Game 7s that the team that scored first has gone on to advance.

“I’m at a loss for words right now,” Carlo Colaiacovo said. “I’m more in shock more than anything. We battled really hard and I thought with how hard we competed in the third period we had the momentum going our way and heading into overtime we felt pretty good about our chances. Then all of a sudden, one shot and your whole season is over. It’s tough to swallow now, but I couldn’t be more proud of a bunch guys. We battled hard and earned everything we deserved. It’s just unfortunate it’s got to end this way.”

Chicago, which trailed 3-1 in the series, takes the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series 4-3.

Detroit last lost a series when leading it 3-1 in 1991, when it was ousted from the opening round by St. Louis.

The Blackhawks will host the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Saturday at 5 p.m. Los Angeles advanced after a 2-1 win over the San Jose Sharks in Game 7, Tuesday.

“Of course if feels really empty right now,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “I think we played a good game, we did a lot of good things, came back there forced overtime. You know, not surprised that they scored on kind of a fluke play there, it goes in when I think it hits Kronner’s skate and goes in.”

Patrick Sharp scored Chicago’s other goal early in the second period and Corey Crawford stopped 26 shots.

Zetterberg scored the Wings’ goal and Jimmy Howard made 33 saves.

It was Detroit’s fifth overtime game this playoffs, finishing 3-2.

Chicago improved to 2-1 in OT.

The series win was Chicago coach Joel Quenneville’s first against the Wings after losing the first five. It’s also his first win in three tries against Mike Babcock.

“It was a tight series, we played hard, it was a great Game 7,” Daniel Cleary said. “Guys should be proud of themselves. I thought we played a good game, had a good third period. It’s a good team we played. (I’m) proud and disappointed. We had three chances to close them out, just didn’t get it done.”

Just past the three-minute mark of overtime, Dave Bolland leveled Gustav Nyquist along the boards and Seabrook pounced on the loose puck and skated over the Wings’ blue line and wristed a shot over Howard’s glove to end things.

The shot deflected slightly off Niklas Kronwall.

“I think it went off me and went right in,” Kronwall said. “I didn’t get good enough gap control there, didn’t get up. He was able to walk down, I tried to block it and it went off me and in.

“Right now it’s just empty,” Kronwall added. “I thought we played a pretty good game, stuck with it and worked really hard. To go out like that is a tough way.”

The game remained tied despite what looked like an apparent goal from Niklas Hjalmarsson with 1:47 left in the third period.

However, referee Stephen Walkom had blown his whistle for an incident near the Wings’ bench that sent Kyle Quincey and Brandon Saad both off for roughing and put both teams down a man, just before Hjalmarsson’s shot beat Howard.

“I thought they should have had a penalty when they tripped Zetterberg and then I didn’t see the pile up, it was underneath my bench so I couldn’t really see what happened,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Our guy showed us the replay and the ref blew the whistle.

“These games are highly contested and real hard to officiate,” Babcock continued. “If this was a regular season game there would have been a parade to the penalty box with what goes on out there. That’s why the playoffs are so much fun is because they’re hard.”

Cleary agreed with the call.

“Steve made a call that he thought was the right call,” Cleary said. “I don’t think he saw Hjalmarsson coming down the slot. I mean, listen, referees are human. They make mistakes. I don’t know why everybody keeps getting on them for it. They try to do the best they can. It’s a fast game. Anybody can look from up top or look on TV and say shoulda, coulda. But you’re not the ice. You don’t know how it is out there.”

Trailing 1-0 to start the third, Zetterberg got the equalizer for the Wings just 26 seconds into the third period after getting a pretty feed from Nyquist.

Nyquist waited for Johnny Oduya to commit and chipped a puck over the Blackhawks defenseman’s stick and right to Zetterberg, who had nothing but an open net to shoot at as Crawford didn’t make a move to get back in his crease.

The goal was fifth of the playoffs and third in six career Game 7s.

Nyquist normally wouldn’t have been on that line, but an injury to Valtteri Filppula on just his second shift of the game forced the Wings to juggle up their forward units.

Filppula got tied up with Andrew Shaw by the Wings’ bench. Filppula was helped off the ice and back to the locker room and never returned.

Shaw first crosschecked Zetterberg and then Cleary tried to grab him while on the bench. Shaw then crosschecked Filppula high and the forward tumbled awkwardly to the ice.

The replay looked as if Shaw slew-footed Filppula to bring him to the ice.

“You guys watched the video, you decide,” Babcock said.

It took Chicago all of a 1:08 to open the scoring taking advantage of a horrible line change by the Wings, which led to a 3-on-1 going the other way.

As Kronwall and Ericsson went for a change, Kyle Quincey did jump over the boards and tried to break up the rush, but some precision tape-to-tape passing from Sharp to Michal Handzus to Marian Hossa and back to Sharp, who beat Howard cleanly with a one-timer, led to the goal.

The goal was Sharp’s seventh of the playoffs.

Detroit is now 14-10 all-time in Game 7s.

Two years ago, Chicago suffered a defeat in a Game 7, which was also in overtime, after dropping the first three games in the series with the Vancouver Canucks. Crawford was also the goalie for the Blackhawks.

In some ways, Wednesday night marks an end to an Original Six rivalry between Wings and Blackhawks

CHICAGO – In some ways, Wednesday night marked an end to an Original Six rivalry when the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks met in Game 7 of their Western Conference semifinals at the United Center.

Next season the Wings will be moving to the Eastern Conference which means the only way the teams will meet in the Stanley Cup finals.

“The next time we face them in the Stanley Cup playoffs it’ll be a lot of fun; that means we will have gotten someplace so that’s a good thing,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said Wednesday morning. “For me, I’ve mentioned this already, is I really like the city. They have high end players. I like the way the Blackhawks play because they play fast. I like coming in the building. Their captain is what a captain should be, he’s respectful of the game and does things right.”

This was the 16th playoff series between the storied franchises and 81st meeting overall in the postseason.

“There’s no better way to go out with these guys than a Game 7, win or go home game,” forward Justin Abdelkader said.

“We couldn’t have scripted it any better with hopefully a win for us,” defenseman Kyle Quincey said.

The teams have met twice in the Stanley Cup finals in 1934 and 1944 with the Blackhawks’ winning both series.

“They remind me of our franchise in a lot of ways,” Babcock said. “The history that’s around it, you bump into guys every time you’re in the building. I like that part of hockey. When you’ve been in a long time and you’ve had a lot of respect for the game, Original Six means something to you.”

The teams, who are separated by less than 300 miles of road, have faced each other in more regular season games than any other two clubs in NHL history.

The first meeting took place on Nov. 24, 1926. The Detroit Cougars beat the Black Hawks, 1-0, on a goal by Frank Frederickson with five minutes remaining in the third period. The assist went to Hobie Kitchen and rookie goalie Hap Holmes recorded the shutout.

“It was rough, a lot different when I was a kid,” Abdelkader said of the early years that he can recall of the rivalry. “The Proberts, McCartys, Kocurs, it was fun. All you have to do is look at the jerseys, Original Six, two of the best jerseys in the league. Just the tradition and what each organization is about, every time you put on the jersey you take pride in it.

“And the fans are just into it,” Abdelkader said. “They’re a big part of why the rivalry has been so good. It’s been fun to be a part of. To see both cities get behind their teams and the excitement and energy in both stadiums is always fun.”

With Chicago’s team falling on hard times for a bit, Colorado took over as the Wings’ biggest rival. From 1996-2002 the teams met five times in the playoffs.

And in Game 6 of their meeting in the 1996 Western Conference finals, Claude Lemieux checked Kris Draper from behind into the boards that sent the Wings forward to the hospital with a broken jaw, shattering a cheek and an orbital bone.

“That took over for a few years when they had those certain players and that one hit certainly sparked everything,” Quincey said. “But as soon as those players retired and the team and game changed that rivalry fizzled pretty quick.”

“Once Chicago got good again, they got (Patrick) Kane and (Jonathan) Toews and picked up a few other players the rivalry kind of renewed itself, got new energy,” Abdelkader said. “It’s tough when one team is really good and the other team is not so good, maybe it’s not going to be there as much, but when both teams are good and they’ve won a Stanley Cup over the past five years the rivalry intensifies that much more.”

The Pittsburgh Penguins were a rival for a few seasons after meeting the Wings in back-to-back finals.

“That was good there, but even those guys we played them in the finals, but we didn’t see them during the regular season,” Abdelkader said. “I’d have to say it’s Chicago for me.”

The Wings will play next season in a Division with three Original Six teams, Boston, Montreal and Toronto, along with Ottawa, Buffalo, Florida and Tampa Bay.

“Travel-wise it’s going to be good,” Abdelkader said. “It’s going to be a lot different. Travel-wise it just makes so much sense, but it’s going to be a bummer not coming here three or four times a year.”

Chicago will be in a division with Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg.

Columbus will also move from the West to the East, which will house of 16 of the league’s 30 teams.