Postgame: Red Wings @ Blue Jackets – 1/21

Well I’ll be damned if that wasn’t an exciting finish. Let’s take a step back, though.

With the Red Wings up by two and dominating in the second period, that game never should have made it to the shootout. The Wings got sloppy (again) and Columbus made them pay.

The Jackets’ first goal never should have happened. Once again, the Kyle QuinceyBrendan Smith pairing got split and let someone in behind them, and Jimmy Howard got burned on the breakaway. If we can count on that happening once a game, it won’t be a good season.

And, of course, the injuries keep piling up. Carlo Colaiacovo is expected to miss weeks after being hit hard into the boards in the third period. If Jonathan Ericsson can’t go tomorrow, the Wings only have three signed defensemen in their system. Adam Almquist, Max Nicastro and Gleason Fournier. Almquist has at least spent the whole season in GR, as opposed to Nicastro and Fournier who have spent time in Toledo, but Almquist looks terrified of contact at the AHL level. Not ready for the NHL.

On the plus side, Brian Lashoff steps into a hole on the blue line to make his NHL debut and scores. He may have been the second or third best defenseman on the ice for the Wings tonight. Hell of a job by him.

Also great to see Johan Franzen looking like he cares. Great individual effort carrying the puck on the play to set up Ian White for the second goal, playing like the big man he is. And I mentioned it at the time but I love his defensive effort late in the OT, lying down to block a clearing attempt.

I also said this at the time, but I thought for certain I’d be bitching about Niklas Kronwall not shooting when he had the chance on the play that led to the tying goal. Great patience to see and get the puck to Datsyuk.

And, of course, Damien Brunner. Highlight-reel shootout game-winner in his second NHL game. Video will be going on the site shortly.

So not a perfect game by any means but the effort and the outcome were needed after the debacle in St. Louis on Saturday.

Red & White Game Rosters Announced

The Detroit Red Wings announced the tentative rosters for tomorrow’s Red & White Game at Plymouth’s Compuware Arena earlier today.

Pavel Datsyuk will be a game-time decision, having arrived back in Detroit from Russia late Monday. Darren Helm and Mikael Samuelsson will be kept out due to injuries.

Red Wings Call Up Three in Preparation for Camp

The Detroit Red Wings announced three call-ups from the Grand Rapids Griffins on Sunday as they open their training camp at Compuware Arena in Plymouth. Defensemen Brendan Smith and Brian Lashoff and forward Damien Brunner join the team.

The call-ups for Smith and Brunner are mere formalities while Lashoff’s promotion is expected to be temporary.

Smith had been taking part in informal skates with Red Wings players for the past week, since an agreement on a new CBA between the National Hockey League and the NHL Players’ Association was announced. He was formally still a member of the Griffins, however, listed as a scratch in Grand Rapids’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Peoria Rivermen on Saturday night.

With seven defensemen already on the Red Wings’ roster, Lashoff is unlikely to make the team out of camp. He’s the longest-tenured blueliner signed by the Red Wings skating with the Griffins, so he’s expected to be their first call-up in case of injury during the season.

Brunner was never actually with the Griffins but he was assigned there just before the lockout. He’s been playing with Zug of the Swiss league, sharing a line with Henrik Zetterberg.

The Red Wings’ abbreviated camp begins Sunday. All players except for Pavel Datsyuk, who remained in Russia to take part in the KHL All-Star Game, are expected to be available.

On the Red Wings’ Glut of Forwards

With the Detroit Red Wings set to return to the ice as soon as Wednesday, and games set to begin as early as January 15, questions about the team’s lineup will soon be answered.

On defense, things are pretty well set. Brendan Smith will make the jump from the Grand Rapids and newcomer Carlo Colaiacovo, will battle with Jakub Kindl for a spot on the third pairing when he returns from an injury suffered while playing for Canada in the Spengler Cup. Brian Lashoff may get a look as the seventh defenseman while Colaiacovo is out but that’s really the only question mark.

In the crease, Jimmy Howard is the established starter and Jonas Gustavsson will be his backup. Joey MacDonald is on a one-way contract and not likely bound for Grand Rapids as Petr Mrazek and Tom McCollum have things locked down there. In all likelihood, Ken Holland will look to deal MacDonald in what little time he has before the start of the season.

Up front, however, things are much less certain.

The Red Wings will likely carry 14 forwards for the season, though they could go with 15 while Colaiacovo is injured. Patrick Eaves remains sidelined by post-concussion symptoms but even without him, the team has 16 NHL-ready forwards signed.

You can assume that everyone who had a job last year will be back, minus the likely-to-retire Tomas Holmstrom. This means that Justin Abdelkader, Todd Bertuzzi, Daniel Cleary, Pavel Datsyuk, Cory Emmerton, Valtteri Filppula, Johan Franzen, Darren Helm, Drew Miller, Jan Mursak, Mikael Samuelsson, Jordin Tootoo and Henrik Zetterberg have the inside track. That’s 13 skaters right there.

Then you’ve got Damien Brunner, who’s never played in North America but developed remarkable chemistry with Zetterberg while the pair played in Switzerland during the lockout. Based on that chemistry alone, you’d have to think he gets a shot in Detroit, which puts the team at the 14 they’re likely to carry but doesn’t account for the possibility of Eaves’ return.

On top of that is Gustav Nyquist, who showed he was NHL-ready last season and currently leads the Griffins in scoring.

My guess, and I hate to say it, is that Nyquist ends up staying in Grand Rapids. Jan Mursak will be the expendable forward if Eaves comes back, waived or traded to make room. We’ll see what happens in the next week.

Red Wings Assign 22 to Griffins

In advance of the NHL lockout expected to begin this weekend, the Detroit Red Wings assigned 22 players to the Grand Rapids Griffins, their afflilate in the American Hockey League.

The complete list of players assigned is as follows:

Adam Almqvist
Joakim Andersson
Louis-Marc Aubry
Damien Brunner
Mitch Callahan
Willie Coetzee
Landon Ferraro
Gleason Fournier
Tomas Jurco
Brian Lashoff
Thomas McCollum
Petr Mrazek
Andrej Nestrasil
Max Nicastro
Gustav Nyquist
Francis Pare
Trevor Parkes
Jordan Pearce
Brent Raedeke
Riley Sheahan
Brendan Smith
Tomas Tatar

Of those, only Pearce and Pare had needed to clear waivers, having done so earlier in the week.

2012 Red Wings Number Changes

It’s looking like some of the jersey numbers we saw at the Red Wings’ summer development camp weren’t as meaningless as was originally suggested.

Rather than wearing the #25 assigned to him last season, Brian Lashoff wore the #23 vacated by Brad Stuart.  Additionally, Martin Frk wore the #48 that Cory Emmerton wore last campaign.

Today, Bill Roose Tweeted that Emmerton would be switching to #25.  This means, of course, that #48 is available for Frk to keep and that Lashoff’s switch would be required.

Assuming the development camp numbers are all accurate, the following changes have taken place:

Louis-Marc Aubry – from #53 to #32
Mitch Callahan – from #65 to #42
Willie Coetzee – from #70 to #45
Landon Ferraro – from #57 to #41
Gleason Fournier – from #67 to #46
Richard Nedomlel – from #73 to #3
Xavier Ouellet – from #61 to #54
Alan Quine – from #74 to #59
Marek Tvrdon – from #71 to #60

Additionally, Trevor Parkes switched from #60 to #37, which is now taken by Mikael Samuelsson.  Ryan Sproul went from #62 to #22, which now belongs to Jordin Tootoo.

If the Red Wings have a training camp this season, we’ll see if any of the development camp numbers stick around.

On the Misguided Idea of Playing the Kids

In the aftermath of free agents Ryan Suter and Zach Parise having spurned an offer from the Red Wings to sign with the Minnesota Wild (and shortly thereafter, supposed Wings’ Plan B Matt Carle signing with Steve Yzerman‘s Tampa Bay Lightning), we’re hearing a lot about how Detroit should rebuild from within rather than signing free agents to replace their summer losses.

Red Wings’ GM Ken Holland himself has pushed that line of thinking.  I’ve already touched on his line of “There’s also got to be an opportunity for some of our kids and the guys we’ve just signed to play.”

That’s an idea that’s been espoused for some time by many fans.  With the constant idea that the Wings are too old and slow, there’s always a call to “just play the kids” and we’re seeing that again now.

There’s a problem with that idea this time around, though.

I’m not against playing the kids.  I want to see what Gustav Nyquist could do in a top-six role and I want to know whether or not Tomas Tatar is ready.  With Detroit’s current lineup, though, Nyquist and Tatar are going to start the season in Grand Rapids.

There are simply too many forwards on the Wings’ roster right now.  Up front is not where the kids will be given a chance.

Unless injuries happen, we’re not going to see Riley Sheahan ir Joakim Andersson.

It’s Detroit’s blueline that has holes.  Decimated by the loss of Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart, the Wings’ defense is where there’s room for someone to step up and take a bigger role.  The problem?  The Wings have no defensive prospects to do that.

Brendan Smith will make the full-time jump to the big club next year but that was virtually a given at the end of last season.  Aside from him, there are no NHL-ready defensemen in the Red Wings’ system.

Gleason Fournier?  Spent most of last year (his first in the pros) in the ECHL.  Ryan Sproul?  Has yet to play a pro game.  Same for Xavier Ouellet.  Adam Almqvist has played all of three AHL games.  Max Nicastro will make his pro debut this season.  Travis Ehrhardt is an unrestricted free agent on his way out of the organization, as is Logan Pyett.  Brian Lashoff is entering his third pro season but I’ve heard exactly no one say he’s ready.

So there are no kids for the Wings to rely on here.  It’s a bigger role for Smith or Kyle Quincey or Jonathan Ericsson or Jakub Kindl.  Or all of them.  As of right now, two of those four will be in the Red Wings’ top four.

A trade could always happen that shakes things up.  As things are right now, however, “just play the kids” is not a solution to the Wings’ problems.

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 Announce Lineups for Opening Preseason Games

Per Ansar Khan, the Red Wings have revealed their rosters for the first two games of the 2011 exhibition season.

The Red Wings will visit the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night with the following lines:

Jiri HudlerPavel DatsyukDanny Cleary
Fabian BrunnstromCory EmmertonPatrick Eaves
Drew MillerRyan JohnsonJan Mursak
Tomas TatarChris ConnerTomas Holmstrom

Niklas KronwallBrad Stuart
Brendan SmithMike Commodore
Garnet ExelbyLogan Pyett

Jimmy Howard
Joey MacDonald

On Thursday Detroit will be in London, Ontario, to play the Philadelphia Flyers. Their lineup for that game will be as follows:

Valtteri FilppulaHenrik ZetterbergJohan Franzen
Justin AbdelkaderDarren HelmTodd Bertuzzi
Gustav NyquistJoakim AnderssonWillie Coetzee
Tomas JurcoBrent RaedekeFrancis Pare

Nicklas LidstromIan White
Jonathan EricssonJakub Kindl
Brian LashoffDoug Janik

Ty Conklin
Jordan Pearce

No lineup has been announced for the Wings’ preseason home opener on Friday, where Detroit will host the Flyers.

New Red Wings Numbers

I’m getting to this a little late, but yesterday Bill Roose tweeted the sweater numbers for the newest Red Wings.

This marks the second year in a row that I didn’t get my number predictions out before the actual news was released. I feel a little bad as a jersey number geek but at least this way I don’t have to deal with the fact that I would have been wrong.

The biggest news is that Mike Commodore will wear #22, not the punny #64 that had been suggested. I’m not one of the people who thought him wearing #64 would have been the end of the world but I do think it brought extra distraction, so I like him going with his usual number.

What I think is the biggest surprise is that Ian White will wear #18. White had previously worn #7, #3 and #9 in his NHL career, and with #3 available in Detroit I thought he’d go with that. As fans, it’s another sign that we’ll have to come to terms with some important numbers being made available for future use.

As Malik points out, Brendan Shanahan‘s #14 and Chris Chelios‘ #24 have already been handed out so Maltby’s number being available is just a fact of life. It’s probably only a matter of time until #33 and #30 are worn again. Brian Lashoff has already worn #25 in camp.

Speaking of #24, I expect Logan Pyett to take it this year, with the #22 he wore at camp last year now belonging to Commodore.

With White not taking #3, it goes to Garnet Exelby, who is likely to spend the entire season in Grand Rapids anyway. Griffins-bound forward Chris Connor with take the #41 abandoned by Ilari Filppula. I’d expected him to go with #15.

Rounding out the new acquisitions, Ty Conklin will return to the #29 he wore in his first stint with the Wings.

No number changes for current Red Wings were mentioned. I don’t expect any this year but I always wonder about Justin Abdelkader switching to the #89 he wore at Mona Shores. I heard a rumor he was set to switch a couple years ago and don’t know what happened to change that.