Griffins Jersey Number Updates

I’ve already looked at the Red Wings’ jersey number changes this season but now that the Griffins have released their camp roster, I can do the same for them.

None of last-season’s full-time Griffins are changing their numbers for the coming year but all of the players who joined the team late in the season have been assigned different numbers than those they wore during Grand Rapids’ Calder Cup run.

Defenseman Ryan Sproul gives up the #2 he had been wearing (having inherited it from Cody Lampl and Carlo Colaiacovo) to Joe Hartman, switching to the #7 vacated by Brendan Smith‘s ascension to the Detroit roster full-time. Fellow blueliner Xavier Ouellet switches from #37 to #16 while Richard Nedomlel goes from #41 to #45, a rare case of a Griffin wearing a high number.

With Ouellet taking #16, Marek Tvrdon drops to the #13 previously assigned to Gustav Nyquist, who seems poised to make the jump to the Red Wings.

Teemu Pulkkinen switches from #26 to the #6 that was briefly assigned to Andreas Athanasiou, with #26 going to free-agent signing David McIntyre. Calle Jarnkrok drops from the #25 he shared with Mike Knuble last year (and was originally assigned to Damien Brunner) to the #12 vacated by Brent Raedeke‘s departure. Kevin Lynch picks up the #25 from Jarnkrok.

Newcomer Alden Hirschfeld takes Francis Pare‘s old #9. Similarly, Martin Frk picks up Tomas Tatar‘s #27, Dane Walters gets Brian Lashoff‘s #32, Travis Novak will wear Jan Mursak‘s #39 and Alexey Marchenko gets the #3 that was shared by Erik Spady, Mark Mitera and Brett Skinner.

Goalie Jared Coreau gets his usual #31, meaning that he joins Landon Ferraro (#29) and Petr Mrazek (#34) as the only Griffins assigned the same number in Grand Rapids as they are in Detroit.

Joakim Andersson‘s old #18, Chad Billins‘ #14 and Danny DeKeyser‘s #55 were not assigned for camp.

Mursak Clears Waivers

Detroit Red Wings forward Jan Mursak cleared waivers at noon on Saturday. He will be assigned to the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins.

Mursak, 25, has appeared in only two games this season for the Red Wings. During the season opener against the St. Louis Blues he suffered a shoulder injury that kept him out of the lineup until Thursday’s loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

In 46 career NHL games Mursak has two goals and two assists.

Mursak spent three full seasons with the Griffins prior to his promotion to the Red Wings, plus an additional six games in a conditioning stint last season. In 190 total AHL games, he has 39 goals and 48 assists for 87 total points.

Mursak was originally selected by the Red Wings in the sixth round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, 182nd overall.

Blue Jackets’ Rally Extends Wings’ Losing Streak to Five Games

Vinny Prospal of the Columbus Blue Jackets scored with 24.7 seconds remaining in regulation on Thursday night, giving Columbus a come-from-behind win over the Detroit Red Wings and extending Detroit’s losing streak to five games.

In the waning moments of the game, Prospal joined Derek Dorsett and James Wisniewski on a three-on-two into the Detroit zone. Dorsett sent the puck to Wisniewski at the top of the left faceoff circle while Prospal went to the front of the net. Rather than shooting, Wisniewski passed to Prospal, who shoveled a spinning backhander past Red Wings’ goalie Jimmy Howard.

The goal capped a comeback from down 2-0 less than three minutes in.

R.J. Umberger got Columbus on the board with a power play goal at 4:23 of the first period. Jack Johnson’s shot from the blue line was knocked down at the top of the crease by Cam Atkinson. Umberger gathered up the loose puck and flipped it past Howard to make it 2-1.

After a scoreless second period, Dorsett tied things up at 5:03 of the third. Off a giveaway in the corner to the right of Howard, Derrick Brassard carried the puck out into the slot and put a shot on net. Dorsett got the rebound and put it around Howard.

Damien Brunner had opened the game’s scoring just 18 seconds into the game. Brunner picked off an attempted pass behind the Columbus net and wrapped around, eventually knocking in his own rebound.

At 2:40 of the period, Brian Lashoff collected the rebound of his own blocked shot and put it back on net, with it deflecting off of Valtteri Filppula on the way and beating Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to make it 2-0.

Bobrovsky finished the night with 28 saves on 30 shots. Howard stopped 21 of 24 shots.

Umberger’s goal was the only one on the power play on the night. Columbus had three tries with the extra attacker while Detroit had four.

The Red Wings are back in action on Saturday when they host the Nashville Predators.

Blue Jackets forward Artem Anisimov had to be carried off the ice on a stretcher early in the second period after a collision with Detroit’s Kyle Quincey and Ian White. Quincey left the game with an apparent leg injury on the same play… Jan Mursak played his first game since the season opener, returning from a shoulder injury.

Pregame: Blue Jackets @ Red Wings – 2/21

The Red Wings look to snap their four-game losing streak tonight as they host a Columbus Blue Jackets team that has lost three straight.

Detroit will have goalie Jimmy Howard back in net to start. He left Tuesday’s game in Nashville with blurred vision, but tests at the DMC yesterday cleared him for play.

The Wings will also have forward Jan Mursak back in the lineup. Mursak, who hasn’t played since suffering a shoulder injury during the season opener in St. Louis, will swap in for Patrick Eaves Additionally, Kent Huskins will swap back in for Jakub Kindl.

Random stat of the day: Detroit is 14-13-8 all-time on February 21. They’re currently riding a two-game losing streak on the date.

Game time is 7:30 with TV by FSD.

Tootoo Scores in Nashville Return but Wings Fall to Predators in OT

Detroit forward Jordin Tootoo scored his first goal with his new team in his first visit to his original team on Tuesday night but it wasn’t enough to get the Red Wings a win, as they dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to the Nashville Predators.

Tootoo had played for eight seasons with the Predators before joining the Red Wings as a free agent last summer.

With 8:27 left in the third period and the Red Wings down by one and skating on a delayed penalty, Henrik Zetterberg gained the Nashville zone and gave the puck to Tootoo in the right faceoff circle. Tootoo attempted a crossing pass back to Zetterberg, with the puck deflecting off defenseman Kevin Klein‘s skate and bouncing in behind Predators netminder Pekka Rinne to tie the game, 2-2.

Roman Josi put Nashville back out front with 7:06 left in the period, throwing a shot on net from the top of the left circle. It deflected off Joakim Andersson in front of Detroit goalie Jonas Gustavsson and bounced past him

Pavel Datsyuk tied things back up just 36 seconds later on an end-to-end effort. Datsyuk gained the Predators zone and skated through three defenders, then around another to put a shot through Rinne to make it 3-3.

Shea Weber gave Nashville the win 44 seconds into overtime. The Predators gained the Detroit zone three-on-three but Niklas Kronwall‘s hit on Sergei Kostitsyn collected Zetterberg as well, leaving Colin Wilson open for a shot from the slot that bounced off the back boards to an open Shea Weber to put in from the side of the net past a diving Gustavsson.

Gustavsson finished the night with 16 saves on 18 shots after Jimmy Howard left the game midway through the first with what the team called an upper-body injury.

Rinne stopped 26 of 29 shots in earning the win.

The Predators had opened the scoring with a power play goal at 5:01 of the first period. Wilson skated the puck to the bottom of the right faceoff circle and sent a pass through the top of the crease to Craig Smith on far side. Smith threw it into the open side of the net for a power play goal.

Scott Hannan‘s shot from the point was deflected in front by Gabriel Bourque and past Howard to make it 2-0 with 9:19 left in the period.

Howard would leave the game 41 seconds later, having stopped five of seven shots.

The Red Wings got on the board while shorthanded with 4:59 left in the first. Datsyuk stole the puck from Jonathon Blom behind the net and sent a pass to Daniel Cleary all alone in the slot. Cleary snapped a shot past Rinne to pull the Wings within a goal.

Detroit allowed one goal and scored one goal on six Nashville power play tries. They were scoreless on their own two power plays but Tootoo’s goal did come on a delayed call.

The Red Wings are next in action on Thursday when they return home to host the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Mikael Samuelsson did not play after injuring his hand during the morning skate. Patrick Eaves took his spot in the lineup… In addition to Howard, both Niklas Kronwall and Cory Emmerton missed time in the game with injuries. Both were able to return… Though he was cleared to play, Jan Mursak was not in the lineup.

On Andersson’s Call-Up and Playing the Kids

Last summer I wrote a bit about the myth of “playing the kids” as it pertains to the Red Wings lineup. I said at the time that defense, where Detroit’s prospect pool is shallow, is where the most opportunity for a young player to step in. Without injuries to the forward corp, there simply wouldn’t be room for players like Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Joakim Andersson or Riley Sheahan.

Well, injuries have happened. With Tatar already up (and Nyquist having been given a shot in the third game of the season), Andersson has gotten the call after it was revealed that Todd Bertuzzi would miss (at least) this weekend’s games with a bad back. The kids, it would seem, are getting their shot.

So why does this sit wrong with me?

Lets start by jumping back to Nyquist’s call-up on January 22. With Mikael Samuellson out of the lineup, a top-six forward spot opened up. The Red Wings had previously said that was exactly the type of opportunity that would be given to Nyquist and Tatar, as they’re skill players who are better served on Grand Rapids’ top line than Detroit’s bottom two lines. Nyquist got the call in this case, practiced on the second line with Valtteri Filppula and Johan Franzen, and began the game there. After two periods of what would be a 2-1 loss, though, head coach Mike Babcock juggled the lines and dropped Nyquist to the third line with Justin Abdelkader and Drew Miller, Daniel Cleary having been bumped up to the second line. The next day, Nyquist was back in Grand Rapids, his shot in the Detroit top six having lasted forty minutes.

Bertuzzi, who had been expected to start the season on the third line, returned from the flu to take over the open spot in the top six in the Wings’ next game, with Cleary back down with Abdelkader and the also-returning Darren Helm. He held onto it until Tatar was called up for the February 5 game against Calgary. Like Nyquist before him, Tatar practiced on the second line (now consisting of Filppula and Pavel Datsyuk) and started the game there. Unlike Nyquist, Tatar lasted only 20 minutes in the top six before he and Bertuzzi swapped places. Also unlike Nyquist, Tatar got to stick around for a second game (and soon, a third), which he played entirely on the third line.

My problem is the disconnect between what we’ve been told about the team’s strategy and what we’ve actually seen. Mike Babcock and Ken Holland tell us that Nyquist and Tatar are ready for the NHL but that their games are suited for top-line play, so they’ll stay in the AHL until the opportunity arises. When said opportunity presents itself, they’re given less than a game to take advantage of it.

Some will say that they just need to take advantage of whatever opportunity they’re given. To a certain extent, that’s true. If these guys are scorers, however, you’re limiting their potential by having them play a bottom-six role. Nyquist or Tatar while centered by Datsyuk will be a vastly different player than while centered by Abdelkader, much as Datsyuk himself would be more limited on a line with Abdelkader and Miller rather than one with Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen.

Now Bertuzzi is out of the lineup and Andersson gets the call. It’s early so we don’t know how Andersson fits into the Wings’ plans for tomorrow against Edmonton. If Tatar is back on the second line and Andersson slots in on the third line, I’ll actually have no problem with the move. My issue, though, is that Cleary practiced on the second line today, seemingly indicating that he’ll be bumped up and Tatar will remain on the third line.

For eight games there has been a hole on the second line, an opportunity that is seemingly made for Nyquist or Tatar. Combined, the pair has had one game to take advantage of that opportunity. That rubs me the wrong way.

For the record, I don’t believe that roster space is the reason not to have had Nyquist or Tatar up the entire time, as the team had no problem making Patrick Eaves a healthy scratch on Thursday against the Blues.

Talking to one of my co-workers the other day, he brought up an interesting point. Why do we talk in terms of a top six and a bottom six? If Nyquist and Tatar and Andersson are all so good and so ready, bring them up as a unit and think of it as a top nine and bottom three.

Yeah, it’s difficult because the Wings are absolutely overloaded at forward, especially “bottom six” forwards, so it’s not going to happen. It is interesting to think about, though, because it shows how much our thinking about the forward units has changed in the last ten years. Some of that is the salary cap but when did it become that both the third and fourth lines had to be checking lines?

Looking ahead to next season, this logjam at forward won’t get any better. Lets say next year will be the year that Nyquist and Tatar finally jump to the top six in Detroit. Barring a trade or a buyout and assuming everyone is healthy, the only way there’s even the roster space for that to happen is if Filppula and Damien Brunner don’t return next year.

Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen and Samuelsson are all under contract for next year. Filppula and Brunner are unrestricted free agents.

If you want to enable the top nine / bottom three idea next year, that’s not much easier. Of the current bottom six, only Cleary, Miller, and the currently-injured Jan Mursak are free agents.

Counting only from the 15 forwards who started the season with the Red Wings (in other words, excluding Nyquist, Tatar and Andersson), ten are already under contract for next year. There will only be room for opportunity if the team opts to let people walk.

Mrazek Leads Wings to 5-1 Win over Blues in Debut

Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek carried the Red Wings to a 5-1 win over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night, allowing the fewest number of goals by a Red Wings rookie in his debut game since Kevin Hodson blanked the Chicago Blackhawks on January 6, 1996.

Mrazek stopped 26 St. Louis shots in the effort. He was only beaten when Alex Steen found Alex Pietrangelo wide open in the left faceoff circle on a Blues’ power play with 4:15 left in the second. Mrazek couldn’t get over to cover the open side of the net in time and Pietrangelo lifted a shot in to cut Detroit’s lead to 2-1.

The Red Wings had opened the scoring 5:14 into the game, when Daniel Cleary scored his first goal of the year by following up his own rebound and knocking the puck past Brian Elliot from the top of the crease. It was the first goal of the season by one of the Wings’ bottom six forwards.

Contributions from Detroit’s secondary scoring continued with 8:10 left in the period, as Jakub Kindl‘s shot from above the top of the right faceoff circle deflected off of St. Louis’ Kevin Shattenkirk and past Elliot to make it 2-0.

After Pietrangelo’s goal, Cory Emmerton got the Red Wings back in control with 2:27 left in the second. Emmerton corralled the puck at the edge of the crease off a pass from Jordin Tootoo and shoveled it past Elliot.

Damien Brunner added one more goal before the end of the period to make it 4-1 with 56 seconds remaining. Henrik Zetterberg won a faceoff in the Blues’ zone back to Jonathan Ericsson, who’s shot from the point was blocked but knocked out to Brunner in the slot for a wrister in behind Elliot.

Valtteri Filppula rounded out the scoring with 6:25 left in the third and the teams skating four-on-four. The Blues couldn’t hold in a pass at the Detroit blue line and the puck came out to the neutral zone, where Filppula raced past Andy McDonald and Wade Redden to break in all alone on Elliot and flip a shot past him.

Elliot finished the night with 24 saves on 29 shots against.

Detroit failed to score on their lone power play chance of the night. They killed off two of three St. Louis power plays.

The Red Wings return to Joe Louis Arena on Saturday to host the Edmonton Oilers.

Kent Huskins and Patrick Eaves were healthy scratches for the Red Wings… Jonas Gustavsson, Darren Helm, Jan Mursak, Mikael Samuelsson, Carlo Colaiacovo, Brendan Smith and Joey MacDonald all remain out with injuries.

Filppula Scores Twice as Red Wings Rebound to Down Stars

Valtteri Filppula scored twice to lead the Detroit Red Wings back from a 1-0 deficit Tuesday night and earn a 4-1 win over the visiting Dallas Stars.

Filppula got the Red Wings on the board with 6:46 left in the second period. Pavel Datsyuk stole the puck behind the Dallas net and sent a pass out to Filppula all alone in the slot for a shot past Dallas netminder Kari Lehtonen to tie the game, 1-1.

A Henrik Zetterberg goal with Detroit on a two-man advantage with 24 seconds left gave the team their first lead of the game, beating Lehtonen with a rocket shot from the top of the left faceoff circle.

Damien Brunner added his third career goal at 6:15 of the third period, deflecting a Johan Franzen shot out of the air and past Lehtonen.

Filppula closed out the scoring just 23 seconds later. Datsyuk drew three defenders in as he drove through the slot, then passed off to Filppula in the slot for a wrister past Lehtonen to make it 4-1.

Loui Eriksson had opened the game’s scoring at 10:22 of the middle period, knocking the rebound of a Cody Eakin chance past Jimmy Howard on a two-on-one.

Howard finished the night with 25 saves on 26 shots to get the win. Lehtonen stopped 21 of the 25 shots he faced in 55:15 of playing time before making way for Richard Bachman, who stopped two shots to close out the game.

Detroit went one-for-six on the power play while Dallas was scoreless on five tries with the extra attacker.

The Red Wings look to make it a streak on Friday when they host the St. Louis Blues.

Brian Lashoff was the healthy scratch on defense for the Red Wings, with Jakub Kindl sliding back into the lineup. Carlo Colaiacovo and Ian White remain on injured reserve… Darren Helm, Mikael Samuelsson (IR), and Jan Mursak (IR) were out up front… Tom McCollum once again backed up Jimmy Howard with Jonas Gustavsson still nursing a sore groin.

Red Wings Fall to Blackhawks in Overtime

The Detroit Red Wings rallied to force overtime in Chicago on Sunday night but fell to the Blackhawks, 2-1, on defenseman Nick Leddy‘s tally in the extra period.

Leddy was left alone on the left side of the ice as the Blackhawks gained the Detroit zone and took a pass from Viktor Stalberg. Damien Brunner got back to cover Leddy just as he let a shot go, which deflected off Brunner’s outstretched stick and past Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard to give the ‘Hawks the win at 2:45 of the overtime period.

The Red Wings reached overtime on a Johan Franzen goal at 4:30 of the third period. Franzen jumped up to knock home the rebound of a Damien Brunner chance to tie the game 1-1.

Chicago had opened the scoring early with a Duncan Keith blast from the left faceoff circle just 2:24 into the game, beating Howard high on the stick side on the first power play of the night.

Howard finished the night with 25 saves on 27 shots. Crawford stopped 29 of Detroit’s 30 chances.

Keith’s goal was the lone power play marker of the night. The Blackhawks had three tries with the extra attacker while the Red Wings had six.

With the win, the Blackhawks moved to 6-0 to start the season for the first time in franchise history.

Detroit is back in action on Tuesday when they host the Dallas Stars for the second time in a week.

The Red Wings got defenseman Jonathan Ericsson back from injury, forcing Jakub Kindl out of the lineup as a healthy scratch… Patrick Eaves was back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch on Friday against Minnesota, replacing Darren Helm, whose back injury flared up again and was unable to go. Helm will have an MRI on Monday… Remaining out of the lineup were the injured Jan Mursak, Mikael Samuelsson, Carlo Colaiacovo, Ian White and Jonas Gustavsson… With Gustavsson out, Howard was backed up again by Tom McCollum.

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