Ten From Red Wings Organization Named to Olympic Teams

A total of ten players from the Detroit Red Wings have been named to the Olympic teams for their respective countries, as the final teams announced their rosters today.

Goaltender Jimmy Howard was revealed as a member of Team USA immediately following the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor last week. He is expected to be the third goalie behind Jonathan Quick and Ryan Miller, brother of Detroit’s Drew Miller. It will be Howard’s first Olympic experience.

Forwards Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco will represent their native Slovakia, each for the first time. After making his NHL debut and playing seven games with Detroit, Jurco was returned to the Grand Rapids Griffins last week.

Six Swedes lead the way for the Wings. Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel Alfredsson, Niklas Kronwall, Johan Franzen, Jonathan Ericsson and Jonas Gustavsson will represent Tre Kroner. Only Ericsson is a first-time Olympian of the group. Franzen and Gustavsson played for Sweden in 2010. Kronwall represented his country in 2006 and 2010. Alfredsson is the long-timer, making his fifth appearance after 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010.

Zetterberg, who was on the Swedish team in 2002 before transitioning to the Red Wings and again in 2006 and 2010, will serve as the team captain.

Rounding out the Sochi-bound Red Wings is forward Pavel Datsyuk, the team’s lone representative on the host Russian squad. He’ll be making his fourth (2002, 2006, 2010) Olympic appearance.

Though no Red Wings players were named to the Canadian contingent, that team will be coached by Detroit bench boss Mike Babcock.

Red Wings Call Up Defenseman Marchenko

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Friday the recall of defenseman Alexey Marchenko from the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Marchenko joins the team in Dallas, where he will replace Danny DeKeyser in the lineup. DeKeyser is day-to-day with a groin injury.

Detroit’s seventh-round pick from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Marchenko will be the third defenseman to make his NHL debut with the Red Wings this season, following Xavier Ouellet and Adam Almquist. In 33 games with the Griffins this season, he has two goals and 14 assists for 16 points.

The twenty-two year old came up through the CSKA Moscow system and was a teammate of Pavel Datsyuk during the 2012 NHL lockout.

Winter Classic Wrap-Up

Obviously with an event like the Winter Classic, there are two sides of the takeaways to think about.

As far as the game itself goes, I think there were a lot of positives for the Red Wings. They played a very solid game and were stopped by a goalie playing lights-out in Jonathan Bernier.

That said, they’ve got to find a way to win games when the opposition goalie plays so well. It’s the goalie’s job to shut you down, you’re not gonna get a lot of nights where you don’t have to find a way to beat him.

On the “event” side of things… That was pretty incredible. I’ve been comparing it to other outdoor games, which is a little unfair but is going to happen. The outcome takes it down a notch; there was something about going into Chicago and kicking the Blackhawks in the teeth.

It felt a lot like the Cold War to me. The snow and the temperature and the enormous scale were simply unprecedented. The game was hard-fought. As one of the people in the H2H3 crew (I can’t remember which, sorry) it was the magical moment that the league always tries to sell the Winter Classic as, even when you know they’re lying to you. It was visually beautiful even as we froze and even though we didn’t get the outcome we wanted.

The funny thing is this wouldn’t have happened if the NHL wasn’t trying so hard to claim the world attendance record and I think they fell short. There were too many empty seats. If the league wasn’t going for that record, the game would have been at Comerica Park and, while that proved to be an awesome venue throughout December, losing the scale provided by Michigan Stadium would have made this edition just another Winter Classic in a baseball stadium.

Finally, I’ve said this many times before but this game was the reason ties need to remain. Toronto was outplayed all game and stayed alive on goaltending alone. Detroit controlled play but couldn’t score enough goals. Why did one of those teams deserve to win more than the other? Sometimes that happens, we used to call those ties.

Winter Classic Cynicism and Rules

After talking about the magic of the Winter Classic last night, I ranted a little bit this morning on Twitter and want to follow up here so I can use more words.

Now I have no idea how feasible that really is. There’s no way they’d come right back to Ann Arbor (Washington hosts next year), there’s already an issue with too many outdoor games, and who knows how much U of M would charge them a second time around, especially if the Red Wings weren’t involved.

In another angle of Winter Classic cynicism… I’ve said before that changing sides in the third period of the outdoor games is done all wrong. I wish I could find where I’d said it because it just looks like sour grapes to bring it up today.

The league already has rules about when certain stoppages are supposed to happen. The first stoppage after six minutes into the period gets a TV timeout, for example (unless it’s after an icing). That’s a free timeout for both teams and certainly it might benefit one team more than another but they don’t try to make it “fair” by timing it for when both teams are equally tired.

There’s no reason to blow play dead just to make things “fair” to switch ends. Do it at the next stoppage. In the third period, that’s already a commercial break.

Or I suppose we could start blowing play dead for TV timeouts, too. Why not? Everyone would know it’s coming so it would make just as much sense as doing it to switch ends.

Pregame: Winter Classic 2014 – Maple Leafs @ Red Wings

Kicking this off now so I don’t have to worry about it in the morning. Let’s get the lineup stuff out of the way first…

Tomas Jurco has been sent back to the Grand Rapids Griffins, making him the unlucky one who plays in neither of the organization’s outdoor games this season as he was in Nashville with the Red Wings on Monday while Grand Rapids played the Toronto Marlies at Comerica Park.

On the flip side, Luke Glendening will get to play in both games, having been sent down to the Griffins in time for Monday’s game and called back to appear in the Winter Classic. And we’re told he will play. I’m sure one of the beat writers being shuffled back and forth between Ann Arbor and Detroit saw the actual practice lines but I’m out of the loop, having been at Comerica Park for the Alumni Showdown all day, so I’m assuming Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg will be put on the same line so the Wings needed an extra center. Or maybe they just want that option.

Daniel Alfredsson could miss the game. He’ll make the decision himself in the morning.

Jimmy Howard will get the start in goal even after his awful outing in Nashville. With Jonas Gustavsson hurt, you knew the team wouldn’t go with Petr Mrazek so that’s no surprise.

Here’s some super-sized stupid stats to go with the super-sized venue…

  • The Red Wings are unbeaten all-time in outdoor games. (Their only outdoor game being a win in the 2009 Winter Classic.)
  • The Red Wings organization has never won an outdoor game it hosted. (Griffins lost to the Marlies on Monday.)
  • No team in the Red Wings organization has ever hosted an outdoor game in their actual host city. (Grand Rapids hosted a game in Detroit, Detroit will host a game in Ann Arbor.)
  • The home team has never lost in regulation in any high-level outdoor hockey game in Michigan. (MSU tied U-M in the Cold War, U-M beat MSU in the Big Chill, Griffins lost in a shootout on Monday.)
  • The Red Wings are 1-2 all-time in “home” games played outside their normal home arena. (Lost to Washington in Milwaukee, 3/16/1993. Beat Hartford in Cleveland, 2/24/1994. Lost to St. Louis in Stockholm, 10/2/2009.)
  • The Red Wings are 11-4-3 all-time when playing in an arena other than the home team’s normal home arena.

Game time is 1:00 PM on NBC.

A Winter Classic Mini-Rant

We’re five hours from the start of the 2014 Winter Classic and I want to get a little rant out of the way so it’s not influenced by the outcome of the game, whatever that may be.

I recently described my plan for today to a non-hockey-following friend as “hanging out with 55,000 of my best friends and 55,000 asshole fans of the other team.” Okay, not all Leafs fans are assholes, but it’s the number that I have a problem with.

Red Wings fans have a rap for being conspiracy theorists but let me ask you this: How many other Winter Classic “host” teams have had to reserve half of their stadium for opposition fans?

I was in Chicago in 2009. There were a ton of Wings fans there but they didn’t give us our own sections.

The Winter Classic is a league event. The host team hands over a home date and the league does what they want with it. This time, unlike any other, they did everything they could to turn it into a neutral-site game.

Maybe that’s the new normal. Maybe Washington will be subjected to the same thing next year and it’s just coincidence that it started with the year Detroit hosted. We’ll see.