Alumni Showdown Rosters

Possibly lost in the shuffle yesterday between the Griffins/Marlies tilt at Comerica Park, the Red Wings’ visit to Nashville, and other build-up to tomorrow’s Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, Bill Roose had the rosters for Detroit’s two alumni teams for today’s Alumni Showdown.

Kocur was listed as wearing his usual #26 but announced that he would don #24 in honor of Bob Probert.

Outdoor Hockey Weather Reference

With an expected game-time temperature of somewhere around 17 degrees Fahrenheit on Wednesday, one thing is pretty certain for the 2014 Winter Classic: It’s going to be cold. Not the -8 degrees it was in Edmonton for the original Heritage Classic but no one would expect that in Michigan anyway.

For reference, the last outdoor game at Michigan Stadium – the 2011 “Big Chill at the Big House” between Michigan and Michigan State – started at 41 degrees, knocked all the way down to 34 with wind chill.

At Wrigley Field in the 2009 Winter Classic, where the Red Wings visited the Chicago Blackhawks, it was all of 32 degrees.

The game that started the recent trend of outdoor hockey matchups, the Cold War game between U of M and MSU at Spartan Stadium in 2001, nearly didn’t happen due to rain in the week leading up to the event. It dropped below freezing in time for everything to come together.

Pregame: Red Wings @ Predators – 12/30

The Red Wings visit the Nashville Predators tonight in their last game before the Winter Classic on Wednesday, and they’re getting healthy just in time.

Jimmy Howard will get the start in goal, returning from a knee injury. Petr Mrazek will be his backup as Jonas Gustavsson has a sore groin. Assuming Howard makes it through the game healthy, he’s slated to start at Michigan Stadium.

Darren Helm will also return, which was all but assured yesterday when Luke Glendening was sent down to the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Johan Franzen remains sidelined with concussion symptoms, meaning today’s lineup is likely what we’ll see on Wednesday.

From Helene St. James, the forward lines will be as follows:

Bertuzzi – Datsyuk – Tatar
Nyquist – Zetterberg – Alfredsson
Abdelkader – Helm – Jurco
Miller – Andersson – Cleary

That leaves Eaves and Samuelsson as the healthy scratches. Poor Eaves, not demoted to GR in time for tonight’s game at Comerica Park and not expected to play at Michigan Stadium either.

Speaking of tonight’s Griffins game, that’s where I’ll be so I don’t know how much of the Wings game I’ll catch. Griffins start at 5:00 so theoretically I can get home for most of the Wings game but we’ll see.

Stupid fact of the day: The Red Wings visit the Predators in their last game before the Winter Classic. In the original 2012-13 schedule, they would have hosted the Predators in the first game after the Winter Classic.

Game time is 8:00 on FSD.

Postgame: Red Wings @ Panthers – 12/28

Tough to get a read off that game ’cause there really were about four distinct “games within the game” going on.

First period was disjointed but the Red Wings pretty clearly controlled things. Hardly the best play from them but better than Florida, and that was enough. Both goals came on the power play but I don’t think it was necessarily the case of they only scored because they were on the power play, if that makes any sense. It wasn’t a case of the Panthers getting into penalty trouble (penalties were even in the period), it was that the Wings controlled play and, through that, converted on their power plays.

The first half of the second period was absolutely mind-numbing. Detroit, as is the norm of late, was content to hold the lead while the Panthers hadn’t found their game yet.

The second half of the middle frame was all Florida as the Wings were still sitting back and the Panthers finally started to click. No surprise that Florida tied things up, it could have been much worse for the Wings if not for the play of Jonas Gustavsson. If there were two more minutes on the clock, I’m certain the Panthers would have gotten another one.

Detroit regrouped and pounced quick to retake the lead in a third-period that would be frantic all around. Florida didn’t let up and got back within a goal quick. Again, Gustavsson comes up huge and preserves the lead late.

First star: Gustavsson by a mile. Second is Zetterberg, scoring in his return. Third is Datsyuk for doing awesome work on the hold in and pass for Zetterberg’s goal. Honorable mention to Brendan Smith, who played goalie rather nicely to help out Gustavsson on a couple plays and scored the go-ahead goal in the third (from Kyle Quincey, no less).

Pregame: Red Wings @ Panthers – 12/28

Alright, it’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these. It’s also been awhile since Henrik Zetterberg has been in the lineup. Coincidence? I don’t know.

Zetterberg is back tonight as the Red Wings visit the Florida Panthers, the first game since December 1 for the Red Wings’ captain. So is Justin Abdelkader, who has recovered from his concussion.

Johan Franzen and Darren Helm are not back. Franzen is still experiencing dizziness and Helm… Who knows? Both are doubtful for the Winter Classic, let alone next Monday’s game in Nashville.

Jonathan Ericsson is newly-injured so Jakub Kindl slides back in on the blueline.

Jimmy Howard thinks he’ll be set to go on Monday but Jonas Gustavsson gets the start tonight, opposite Scott Clemmensen.

Stupid stat of the day: Detroit is 35-31-21 all-time in their first game of the season after Christmas.

Game time is 7:00 PM on FSD.

Ericsson Out Three-to-Five Weeks

Add Jonathan Ericsson to the list of the Red Wings’ walking wounded.

The defenseman left Detroit’s 3-0 loss to the New York Islanders on Monday early and it was announced today that he suffered fractured ribs, which will leave him shelved for three to five weeks.

Detroit general manager Ken Holland said that he would not make a call-up from the Grand Rapids Griffins to replace Ericsson, as Jakub Kindl has been a healthy scratch and will return to the lineup.

The Red Wings were playing just their second game with a healthy defensive corps following the return of Danny DeKeyser from a separated shoulder.

In addition to Ericsson, the team is still missing goalie Jimmy Howard and forwards Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, Johan Franzen, Stephen Weiss and Henrik Zetterberg.

Thoughts on 24/7, Episode 2

There was a lot of buzz prior to Saturday’s airing of HBO’s 24/7 Red Wings/Maple Leafs: Road to the NHL Winter Classic about camera crews having been denied access to the Detroit and Toronto dressing rooms during twin Tuesday-night losses. For a show that’s supposed to give an unprecedented all-access look into the world of these teams, the revoking of that access came as a shock.

As it turns out, it also wasn’t entirely true. Detroit head coach Mike Babcock was shown ejecting the camera crews with significant profanity; whatever followed wasn’t aired. In Toronto, bench boss Randy Carlyle’s rant was recorded from the hall; we didn’t see the crews sent out.

I’m willing to bet Babcock’s words are in HBO’s footage somewhere. Likewise, Carlyle removing the cameras was probably caught on tape. There was a deliberate editing to that five minute segment, telling a single story of collapse with two teams.

It was the sports movie formula flipped on its head. The plucky underdog faces early adversity, gets a rousing speech from the coach, then rallies for an inspirational win? Not here. These were two supposedly-talented teams facing a challenge and failing to rise to the occasion. No inspirational speech, just a berating. No comeback.

It was painful to watch the Red Wings drop that game to Anaheim but HBO made it look beautiful. No voice-over explaining anything. No player interviews. Five minutes of two teams completely unable to get anything going, played in slow motion, set to a haunting soundtrack with nothing but clips of play-by-play and the mic’d-up players and coaches themselves to provide punctuation.

We didn’t get to hear what Mike Babcock said in that dressing room but I don’t think we needed to. We were shown enough.

Pre-Christmas Roster Updates

The Red Wings remain a heavily-injured team heading into the Christmas break but will have good news tonight as forward Gustav Nyquist returns from a groin injury.

This comes one game after defenseman Danny DeKeyser returned from a shoulder injury that kept him out for fifteen games.

To make room for Nyquist’s return, Jordin Tootoo was sent back to the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Justin Abdelkader is expected to return from concussion on Saturday. Darren Helm (shoulder) could return for that matchup against the Florida Panthers. Johan Franzen has been ruled out for Saturday but is hopeful for next Monday against the Nashville Predators.

Similarly, both Henrik Zetterberg and Jimmy Howard are aiming to return for returns in the game prior to the Winter Classic.

Stephen Weiss, though, will remain out through the Olympics, having undergone successful surgery for a sports hernia this morning.

Luke Glendening, Patrick Eaves, Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan and Petr Mrazek remain with the Red Wings, called up from the Griffins to fill out the roster, remain with the club for the time being.