Smith Suspended, Sent to Griffins

Defenseman Brendan Smith has been suspended for the remainder of the preseason and five regular season games after his hit to the head of Chicago’s Ben Smith. According to the Freep’s Helene St. James, he will be assigned to Grand Rapids, leaving his suspension to be served later.

On the suspension… I think it’s fair. I’d guessed it would be three and three but I don’t think three and five is too much. I’d rather see the NHL be overzealous than underprosecute.

That said, I’m very interested in seeing Brendan Shanahan‘s video explaining the suspension.

I was initially surprised to see that Smith will be sent to the Griffins to start the season but I don’t think I should have been.

Smith can’t play in the NHL until he serves the suspension. The Wings plan on carrying 14 forwards and 7 defensemen this season, so they have no room to let Smith ride out the suspension right now.

If they send Smith to GR today, he can’t be called up and play if an injury happens. But if an injury happens, they already have a seventh defenseman, they don’t need Smith to be ready to jump in. Instead if, say, Jakub Kindl gets hurt a month from now and goes on the IR, Mike Commodore steps into the lineup and Kindl’s roster spot is open. Smith gets called up with no intention of him playing as he burns off games from his suspension.

That’s how I see it, at least. We’ll see.

Brunnstrom Scores Twice but Red Wings Fall to Blackhawks, 4-3

Pro tryout Fabian Brunnstrom scored two goals for the Detroit Red Wings Wednesday night but it wasn’t enough for a youth-heavy lineup to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks, as the ‘Hawks rallied for a 4-3 win.

Despite icing a lineup with none of their top players, the Red Wings held a 3-1 lead midway through the game. Two power play goals and a third at even strength would put Chicago past Detroit in the second half of the game.

Patrick Kane, making his first appearance of the preseason, got the Blackhawks on the board with 9:14 left in the first period, taking a drop pass from Jonathan Toews as Toews cut to the net from the right side, then snapping a shot past Detroit goalie Ty Conklin for a power play goal.

Brunnstrom scored his first with 4:25 remaining in the period, tipping a centering pass from Gustav Nyquist past Blackhawks’ netminder Corey Crawford just as a Detroit five-on-three expired.

Drew Miller put the Red Wings up by a goal with 39 seconds left in the opening frame when he was left all alone in front of Crawford. Chris Conner sent a pass from behind the net to Miller who buried it.

Brunnstrom’s second of the night came at 8:08 of the second. Cory Emmerton put the puck on net on a wraparound chance and Brunnstrom was on the doorstep to bury the rebound.

Brent Seabrook blasted a shot past Conklin just 1:28 later on a Chicago power play to make it 3-2.

Only 1:29 into the third Duncan Keith dumped the puck into the Detroit end. Conklin left his net to play it but it bounced off a stanchion and out to Ben Smith, who buried it as Conklin dove to get back into position.

The game’s defining moment came at 5:26 of the final period. As Ben Smith broke in to the Detroit zone, Red Wings’ defender Brendan Smith lined him up for a hit. Ben Smith held up at the last second and Brendan Smith missed his check, driving his shoulder into Ben Smith’s head. Ben Smith was down on the ice for several minutes and Brendan Smith was given a five minute major and ejected.

During the five minute major, Doug Janik was called for interference, giving Chicago a five-on-three. With the two-man advantage, former Red Wing Marian Hossa beat Conklin from the stop of the right faceoff circle to put the Blackhawks out in front at 8:58 of the period.

Conklin finished the night with 20 saves on 24 shots. Crawford stopped 17 of 20 Detroit chances.

The Red Wings went one for two on the night on the power play while the Blackhawks scored on three of their six chances with the extra attacker.

The Wings’ next preseason game is Friday when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Postgame Thoughts: Red Wings @ Blackhawks

Well, let’s do this in two parts.

The Good
Fabian Brunnstrom showed that he wants Jan Mursak‘s spot in the Detroit lineup. Two goals by being in the right place at the right time, keeping his stick on the ice, and having soft hands. Overall, a really strong effort.

Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar want it, too. They were all over the ice. I think either of them could take Mursak’s spot, but it’s Brunnstrom’s to lose because he’ll be harder to send down to Grand Rapids right now, having to clear waivers.

As I tweeted after the game, a youth-heavy Detroit lineup played a pretty solid 60 minutes. I’d go as far as to say that was the best pure effort the Wings have put forth this preseason. Not the results they’ve gotten in some of the games, but better effort.

The Bad
Brendan Smith’s hit on Ben Smith. Brendan Shanahan is going to have something to say about that one.

There needs to be a suspension. It was a clear hit to the head, which is a Very Bad Thing in the NHL right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the rest of the preseason and three games. I could see it being more if Ben Smith has a lingering injury.

That said, I could also see it being less. Ben Smith is breaking in on goal and Brendan Smith lines up his hit. Ben Smith lets up, causing Brendan Smith to miss his intended hit and go straight into Ben Smith’s head. That’s one way of looking at it.

Either way, Brendan Smith screwed that hit up. Was it that he aimed high for a dirty play or that he failed to adjust and missed an intended clean hit? I’d like to think the latter but I don’t like either option. If he was so close to making the NHL, he shouldn’t be missing hit like that. If he’s so dirty, he should be playing a more effective physical game in general.

For curiousity’s sake, I’m looking forward to what punishment will be handed out and can only hope it won’t hurt the Wings too much.

Cleary and Stuart Out for Preseason

The Detroit Red Wings announced today that forward Danny Cleary and defenseman Brad Stuart will miss the remaining three games of the team’s preseason schedule.

Both are hopeful for Detroit’s regular season opener on October 7 when the Red Wings host the Ottawa Senators.

Cleary’s injury came in Friday’s loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. It is described as an upper-body injury.

Stuart has been nursing a sore groin but played in the Red & White Game in Grand Rapids Tuesday night. He is expected to skate Thursday but will sit out the remaining games as a precaution.

Detroit has already lost forward Jan Mursak to injury this preseason, having fractured his ankle in Sunday night’s win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Thoughts on the Red & White Game

The thing to remember about Tuesday’s Red & White game in Grand Rapids is that, while it was an event in the sense that the Red Wings were making an appearance somewhere they usually don’t, it was still just a scrimmage.

Not a lot of hitting, not a lot of defense, and almost all of the players who were kept out will be on Detroit’s roster in a week, not Grand Rapids’. I harped on that before the game and will touch on it again in a few paragraphs.

The first period was relatively boring. Jimmy Howard and Ty Conklin were solid in net but there weren’t a ton of chances.

Things picked up in the second and third, with a ton of penalties being called and Thomas McCollum and Jordan Pearce having taken over in the creases. The Red Team had two five-on-three goals in the middle period alone and added another on the remaining power play after a five-on-three. The White Team had a goal with a two-man advantage as well.

In short, you can’t use the game as much of an example for how certain players play. Yeah, Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist have some speed and hands, but it’s a lot easier for them to dance around Niklas Kronwall when Kronwall isn’t invested in stopping them. It was a little bit like an All-Star Game – put on a show for the fans, have some fun, don’t get hurt.

A bunch of players sat out the game, which I ranted about a little bit when the rosters were released. It turns out, those players are all expected to be in action tonight in Chicago so they were kept out to be a little more rested.

Worth noting, Justin Abdelkader was supposed to be kept out (he, Darren Helm, and Patrick Eaves will be the Wings’ top line tonight) but apparently when you request 140 tickets to a game, you get to play. Several rows of Section 109 were his friends and family.

I took a ton of photos (much easier to do when you’re not trying to watch the game as closely) but I don’t know yet how many turned out. They won’t get posted right away because I’m doing some work on the DH.N multimedia system and I want to get that done before adding the photos. I’ll post something when they’re online.

Wings Make 16 Cuts

Per Petrella over at TPL, the Wings have announced sixteen cuts, bringing the number of players on their preseason roster down to 39.

Tryout goalie Ramis Sadikov was the only player cut outright has he has no pro contract. Nick Oslund is also without a deal but was invited to the Grand Rapids Griffins’ training camp with the possibility of earning an AHL job.

Louis-Marc Aubry, Mitchell Callahan, Willie Coetzee, Gleason Fournier, Jamie Johnson, Thomas McCollum, Andrej Nestrasil, Francis Pare, Trevor Parkes, Sebastien Pice and Brent Raedeke were all assigned to Grand Rapids. Greg Amadio, Adam Estoclet and Bryan Rufenach were also sent to Grand Rapids but they were bound for the Griffins anyway, as they are on AHL-only deals.

Aside from Sadikov, all of the cut players will appear in tonight’s Red & White game in Grand Rapids.

Rosters Released for Red & White Game in Grand Rapids

The Red Wings announced the rosters for their Red & White game in Grand Rapids on Tuesday.

The White Team, featuring Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk clearly has the star power but the Red Team seems to have more depth, not that it matters much in an intra-squad scrimmage.

White Team
Henrik Zetterberg
Pavel Datsyuk
Tomas Holmstrom
Tomas Tatar
Justin Abdelkader
Gustav Nyquist
Andrej Nestrasil
Jamie Johnson
Willie Coetzee
Mitch Callahan
Brent Raedeke
Nick Oslund

Nicklas Lidstrom
Ian White
Garnet Exelby
Logan Pyett
Sebastien Piche
Gleason Fournier

Jimmy Howard
Thomas McCollum

Red Team
Johan Franzen
Valtteri Filppula
Danny Cleary
Jiri Hudler
Joakim Andersson
Todd Bertuzzi
Chris Conner
Louis-Marc Aubry
Francis Pare
Adam Estoclet
Landon Ferraro
Trevor Parkes

Niklas Kronwall
Brad Stuart
Travis Ehrhardt
Bryan Rufenach
Greg Amadio
Brian Lashoff

Ty Conklin
Jordan Pearce

Ansar Khan points out that a number of players are sitting out the match, which has me disappointed. Khan’s list is as follows: Darren Helm, Patrick Eaves, Drew Miller, Fabian Brunnstrom, Ryan Johnson, Jonathan Ericsson, Mike Commodore, Brendan Smith, Jakub Kindl, Doug Janik, Joey MacDonald.

For a game that has been billed as a chance for West Michigan fans to see the Red Wings close to home, it’s odd to me that so many of those Wings are sitting in place of players the fans in GR will see all season.

Red Wings Need Shootout to Down Blackhawks

Icing their “A” team, the Detroit Red Wings still needed a shootout to defeat the “B” team of the Chicago Blackhawks Sunday night, picking up a 4-3 victory in the tiebreaker.

Todd Bertuzzi scored a highlight-reel goal and Henrik Zetterberg added another with only Brandon Pirri scoring for Chicago.

Detroit had led 2-0 and 3-1 but the Blackhawks rallied both times.

Valtteri Filppula opened the game’s scoring, snapping a shot from the high slot past Alexander Salak on a Detroit power play at 7:35 of the first period.

Zetterberg made it 2-0 with 47 seconds left in the period, snapping a shot over Salak from in close off a feed from Johan Franzen.

Pirri scored his first of two goals shorthanded at 7:32 of the second, blasting a shot from the top of the left circle past Ty Conklin, off the post and in.

Nicklas Lidstrom made it 3-1 with Detroit’s second power play goal of the night just 1:23 later. Just as a five-on-three expired, he took a pass at the top of the right faceoff circle from Ian White and rifled it past Salak.

Jimmy Hayes pulled the Hawks to back within one with 3:59 left in the middle period, beating Conklin from right in front after being left all alone to take a pass from Ben Smith.

Pirri tied the game at 9:33 of the third, capitalizing on a Brendan Smith turnover. Smith gave the puck up to Hayes in the right circle who worked it on to Pirri in the slot for a shot past Conklin.

The Red Wings are next in action on Tuesday night when they’re in Grand Rapids for their second Red & White game of the preseason. The next night they’ll be in Chicago for a rematch with the Blackhawks.

Detroit lost forward Jan Mursak to a fractured ankle when he crashed awkwardly into the boards in the second period. He is expected to miss two months.

Postgame Thoughts: Blackhawks @ Red Wings – 9/25

Now that I’ve finally got a chance to put my thoughts down, let’s go back to Detroit’s 4-3 SO win over the Chicago Blackhawks…

Getting the most painful thing out of the way first we go to Jan Mursak‘s injury. He went into the boards right in front of me so I lucked out in not seeing how his leg bent, but you could tell by how he was helped off that it wasn’t a small thing. They’re saying he’ll miss two months (likely starting with a rehab stint in Grand Rapids). You have to think that means Fabian Brunnstrom or Ryan Johnson will make the team in his spot now.

Also painful, the fact that for the second time this preseason, Detroit’s “A” team needed a shootout to beat their opponent’s “B” team. The Wings just shot themselves in the foot too often tonight. It’s not going to work out in their favor when they’re up against a better team.

Tonight it seemed like the Detroit D (the entire team, really, but it was especially noticeable in their own end) was being a little too crafty with their passing. Specifically, using these little touch passes with not enough touch, so the puck didn’t quite get where it was intended to go.

While we’re talking negatives, Ty Conklin didn’t look all that good tonight. The first goal probably shouldn’t have happened, maybe not the second either, and there were two solid Chicago chances that went off the post. That said, he made a great shorthanded stop on Michal Frolik in the second, so it wasn’t like he was awful.

Detroit’s top line of Henrik Zetterberg, Valtteri Filppula and Johan Franzen looked really good. Filppula had three points on the night and Zetterberg had the shootout winner but aside from that they were moving the puck well and getting chances.

The pairing of Nicklas Lidstrom and Ian White looks good, too. They seem to have a little chemistry already and White has a shot from the point that I think will fit in well on this team.

Aside from that, there were a few individual plays I really liked.

Gustav Nyquist had a couple rushes where he just jumped through a bunch of defenders to get the puck into the zone. He’s got some speed and can really handle the puck. An example of the latter would be his near-goal in the second period. He came out of a mess of people at the side of the goal with the puck. Either both teams thought the play would be stopped or no one actually saw him get it, ’cause he was all alone but just couldn’t finish.

Cory Emmerton, centering Nyquist and Brunnstrom, is growing on me. I kept watching Brunnstrom, wanting to be impressed, and it seemed like it was Emmerton doing all the work.

Brunnstrom clearly has talent. I can’t say what he’s doing wrong but something isn’t clicking. I think he’s worth a two-way contract as long as he’s kept on a short leash.

Jakub Kindl needs to shoot more. Common refrain from last year hasn’t changed.

That’s all I’ve got for right now. I’ll post a link when I get my photos from the game loaded into the site but I’m updating the multimedia section right now so I might finish that first. In the meantime, here’s my favorite from the night:

Postgame Thoughts: Red Wings @ Penguins

Quick thoughts on tonight’s game…

Detroit looked slower and sloppier. Is that because the team was only half Red Wings, because of rust, or because they got outplayed by Pittsburgh? Probably a combination of all three.

The Datsyuk line looked good early (though I can’t say enough how weird it was to see him in #24) and I liked the jump Fabian Brunnstrom had.

On the blueline, I feel like Exelby played more than Commodore but maybe it’s only for bad reasons that I noticed Exelby. Just made it hard to judge Commodore.

I’m not going to read too much into this one but I will say it’s nice having hockey back.

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