Maltby Out for Season, Lilja Cleared to Play

Salary cap woes for the Detroit Red Wings disappeared on Wednesday as veteran forward Kirk Maltby opted for season-ending surgery on his injured right shoulder.

The Red Wings will place Maltby on long-term injured reserve, freeing up $750,00 in cap space. Combined with Brad May being sent to Grand Rapids, the Wings have cleared enough room to activate now-healthy defenseman Andreas Lilja.

Lilja will be available to the Red Wings on Monday when they visit the Colorado Avalanche. It will be exactly one year and one day since he last played in the NHL, having suffered from post-concussion symptoms since a fight with Nashville’s Shea Weber on February 28, 2009.

Maltby’s recovery period is expected to be four to six weeks, meaning he could return for the playoffs, should the Red Wings make the postseason.

Red Wings Roster Moves Recapped

The recap of the Red Wings’ recent roster moves, heading into tonight’s game against Ottawa…

Brad May has cleared waivers and has been given ten days to decide whether to report to Grand Rapids or retire. He’s done as a Wing, at least until the playoffs, and his $500,000 cap hit comes off the books.

Kirk Maltby could be done for the season but hasn’t decided yet. He’s been battling a shoulder injury that requires surgery. If he decides to have the surgery he’ll be out for two months – the rest of the regular season. Putting Maltby on long-term injured reserve would save the Red Wings $700,000, which when added to the savings from waiving May is enough to bring back Andreas Lilja.

Lilja did not play in the last game of his rehab stint with the Griffins on Friday, having been called to Detroit. He remains on LTIR but is likely to be cleared to play sometime during the Olympic break.

Guessing the Odd-Men Out

Sooner or later the Red Wings will be healthy again. Given how much they miss their injured players right now, that’s a good thing. It is going to cause quite the roster crunch, though.

The Wings currently have one extra forward. Last night it was Ville Leino who sat in favor of Brad May. Bill at A2Y questioned why May would play when Detroit’s offense has been so anemic.

He admits that having Leino on the ice last night wouldn’t have made a difference but it got me thinking… How are the Red Wings going to put together their lineup when their four missing forwards come back?

There are thirteen healthy forwards right now, including Mattias Ritola who can be sent to Grand Rapids at any time so I assume he’s gone as soon as someone comes back.

Dan Cleary and Henrik Zetterberg could be back tomorrow in Los Angeles. Jason Williams is looking at returning later this month. Johan Franzen is expected back after the Olympic break. That’s four of twelve forwards right there.

I don’t see Todd Bertuzzi, Pavel Datsyuk, Valtteri Filppula, Darren Helm or Tomas Holmstrom losing their spots in the lineup. I also highly doubt that Kris Draper would be a casualty of the numbers. Justin Abdelkader could be sent to Grand Rapids but the Red Wings told him to find a house in the Detroit area so I’m assuming he sticks with the team.

We’re up to eleven of twelve roster spots.

Patrick Eaves, Ville Leino, Kirk Maltby, Brad May and Drew Miller. Only one stays. Who is it?

May, Leino and Maltby are my immediate choices to be left out. This leaves either Eaves or Miller. I think I’d keep Eaves due to his slightly better offensive potential.

The choice is not an easy one no matter how you look at it.

May In, Zetterberg and Cleary Remain Out Against Ducks

There will be a change to the Detroit lineup tonight but it’s not the one Red Wings fans have been waiting for.

Henrik Zetterberg will not return from his separated shoulder tonight in Anaheim. Both he and Dan Cleary are aiming for comebacks on Thursday in Los Angeles.

Instead, one-time Duck Brad May will face his former team, replacing Ville Leino in the Detroit lineup. May missed Sunday’s game in Phoenix with a lower-body injury.

Zetterberg Joins Wings’ Walking Wounded

So Henrik Zetterberg is set to have an MRI on his injured shoulder. I’m not a doctor or anything but I can’t recall any time when someone was sent bad enough to have tests done only for them to turn around and say “All clear, he’ll be back tomorrow.”

In short, Zata’s gonna miss some time even if he’s just sore.

Let’s do this math. NHL teams dress twenty players for every game. Two of those are goalies, leaving eighteen skaters.

Andreas Lilja. Johan Franzen. Valtteri Filppula. Jason Williams. Niklas Kronwall. Dan Cleary. Darren Helm. Jonathan Ericsson. Henrik Zetterberg.

That’s nine skaters right there. Nine. Going into Saturday’s game in Dallas you can expect the Red Wings to be playing with a roster half made up of players who weren’t even supposed to be on this team.

Justin Abdelkader was supposed to spend the season in Grand Rapids. Kris Newbury and Doug Janik have spent most of the season there. Brad May wasn’t even signed to an NHL contract when the Red Wings opened the season in Stockholm. Drew Miller – who scored a beautiful goal Thursday night against Tampa Bay – was playing for the Lightning when the season kicked off.

And yet the Red Wings sit six points ouf of first place in the Western Conference with three games in hand.

How insane is that?

Wings Losses Keep Twisting the Knife

I was ready to write about how the Red Wings played about as good of a game as you could expect in a 1-0 loss and then I saw that Dan Cleary suffered an “upper body injury” late in tonight’s game.

Of course he did. That’s how the Wings do it this year. It’s either a soul-crushing blowout, something controversial, or someone got hurt. Their last seven regulation losses, in reverse chronological order:

12/9 – Cleary hurt in 1-0 loss to St. Louis.
12/3 – 4-1 loss to Edmonton in which the Wings has nothing going.
11/27 – Shutout by Calgary, two goals called back
11/25 – Shutout by Atlanta
11/23 – 3-1 loss to Nashville. This one might not fit those three categories.
11/18 – 3-1 loss to Dallas. Brad May‘s “no goal.”
11/7 – 5-1 loss in Toronto. A blowout in which Jason Williams was hurt.

Unless you count the Nashville game, which I don’t but I recognize some would, every single one of those has something about it that twists the knife in just the right way to make you forget about anything good from the game.

Cleary Scores Late to Lift Red Wings over Rangers

Dan Cleary scored with just 2:03 remaining in the third period on Sunday night, carrying the Detroit Red Wings to a 3-1 win over the New York Rangers.

Cleary sent a shot from along the goal line at New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. With the puck between his pads, Lundqvist spun, inadvertantly knocking it into his own net.

Kris Draper added an empty net goal with the Red Wings on a power play to close out the game.

Despite outshooting the Rangers, Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard had to keep the Wings in the game at several points.

Howard stopped New York’s Ryan Callahan on a penalty shot in the second period while the Rangers still had a 1-0 lead. With the game tied in the third Howard made a series of important stops as Detroit killed off three consecutive penalties.

Brian Boyle opened the game’s scoring with 4:04 remaining in the first period. Boyle tipped a pass from Christopher Higgins past Howard while Justin Abdelkader and Jonathan Ericsson miscommunicated on the backcheck.

Pavel Datsyuk tied the game back up with 8:01 left in the second, putting home the rebound of a Henrik Zetterberg chance just four seconds after the end of a Detroit power play.

The Red Wings finished the night 1-for-3 on the power play. The Rangers went scoreless on four tries.

Howard made 28 saves on 29 shots against while Lundqvist stopped 28 of 30 Detroit chances.

Brian Rafalski returned to the Wings lineup after missing two games with a back injury, bumping Jakub Kindl back out of the lineup. Ville Leino was the healthy scratch up front with Brad May working back in.

Red Wings – Devils Pregame Notes

Brian Rafalski remains out, missing out on a return to New Jersey, where he started his NHL career. With Rafalski out, Jakub Kindl remains in thr Wings lineup.

Thankfully, Jonathan Ericsson was not seriously injured in Thursday’s loss to the Oilers so he’s in tonight.

Patrick Eaves returns from his ankle injury tonight, taking Brad May‘s spot.

Chris Osgood gets the start in goal.

This is Detroit’s first visit to Newark and the Prudential Center.

NHL “Explains” No Goal Call

The NHL has attempted to explain what happened on Brad May‘s no goal last night while simultaneously raising another question.

“In all cases we want to get the right call. In this case it appears we didn’t.”

That’s NHL senior vice president of hockey operations Mike Murphy during an appearance on NHL Live! today. Murphy clarified that the play was – in fact – deemed dead by the “intent to blow” rule.

“In this case Dennis LaRue was clear with what he saw and clear with what he interpreted and that was, ‘I had killed the play before the puck entered the net.’ When we scrutinize it and go through video review I think everybody would concede that the puck was in the net, and Dennis didn’t see that unfortunately.”

The question now is why did LaRue intend to blow the play dead? The puck was in the open, in the slot, on May’s stick.

There is no denying that this was the wrong call. At least the league agrees on that point. I am extremely disappointed that the league doesn’t seem to have a problem when LaRue’s description of what happened.

There is simply no reason to intend to blow that play dead. We deserve to know what LaRue thought he saw, not empty reasoning from an NHL suit.

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