Pregame: Sharks @ Red Wings – 10/21

The Red Wings host the NHL’s best team tonight minus their top defensive pairing. Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson are both out as the San Jose Sharks come to town.

Kronwall skated this morning and is expected to return on Wednesday against Ottawa, as he’s experiencing no ill effects from the mild concussion suffered in Colorado on Thursday.

Ericsson is out for personal reasons as his wife or girlfriend (depending on who’s reporting, though one would assume they’re the same woman) gave birth to a daughter this afternoon.

With both out, Brendan Smith remains in the Detroit lineup and will be joined by call-up Xavier Ouellet, who will make his NHL debut.

There are also changes up front, as Luke Glendening has been returned to the Grand Rapids Griffins. Justin Abdelkader is back with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, Stephen Weiss centers Daniel Cleary and Tomas Tatar, Johan Franzen centers Todd Bertuzzi and Daniel Alfredsson, and Joakim Andersson centers Drew Miller and Jordin Tootoo. Mikael Samuelsson will be the healthy scratch.

Stupid stat of the day: The Red Wings are a perfect 3-0 all-time against teams from California on October 21. With tonight’s game, they will have played each of the league’s California-based teams exactly once.

Game time is 7:30 on FSD.

Bertuzzi Boosts Power Play as Red Wings Roll Past Flyers, 5-2

The Detroit Red Wings shuffled their lines heading into Saturday’s matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers, a move that immediately paid off as their new-look power play scored three times en route to a 5-2 win.

The Red Wings had been held scoreless on the man-advantage over their first four games of the season.

Forward Todd Bertuzzi moved up from the third line to the first and took a spot on the first power play unit, from which he opened the game’s scoring at 7:13 of the first period. Niklas Kronwall chased a puck into the corner and knocked it loose to Daniel Alfredsson, who sent it to Bertuzzi behind the net. Bertuzzi reached around and tucked it in behind Philadelphia goalie Ray Emery for Detroit’s first power play goal of the year.

Kronwall took a cross-ice feed from Alfredsson to snap a shot from the right faceoff circle past Emery with 8:52 left in the second period to make it 2-0 with another power play tally.

Erik Gustafsson would get the Flyers on the board just 34 seconds later when his shot from the point skipped off the ice and knucked past Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard to make it 2-1.

Pavel Datsyuk scored Detroit’s third goal with the man-advantage at 3:08 of the third period, blindly backhanding a shot from the slot through a screen by Bertuzzi and by Emery to put the Red Wings up, 3-1.

Once again the Flyers responded quickly to cut the lead to a single goal, as Tye McGinn swatted the rebound of a Jakub Voracek chance past the sprawling Howard at 5:46 to make it 3-2.

Henrik Zetterberg scored an even-strength goal with 6:12 remaining, snapping a shot from the high slot past Emery off a feed from Datsyuk, who had kicked the puck from one skate to the other and then onto his stick to gain the Philadelphia zone and start the play.

Zetterberg would round out the scoring with an empty net goal in the game’s final minute.

The Red Wings finished the night three-for-seven on the power play. The Flyers went scoreless on four tries with the extra attacker.

Howard made 32 saves on 34 shots while Emery stopped 25 of the 29 shots he faced.

Prior to the game, the Red Wings signed 2013 first-round draft pick Anthony Mantha to a three-year entry-level deal. Mantha, the QMJHL’s leading scorer this season, will remain with the Val d’Or Foreurs for this season with his contract picking up next year at the earliest… Brendan Smith was a healthy scratch on defense as Brian Lashoff made his first appearance of the season. Mikael Samuelsson and Tomas Tatar were the odd-men out up front in favor of Jordin TootooLuke Glendening made his NHL debut for the Wings, having been called up on Friday after Cory Emmerton was sent down to the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Pregame: Flyers @ Red Wings – 10/12

The Red Wings host the Philadelphia Flyers in their “Pink the Rink” night in support of breast cancer awareness tonight. Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard will wear a special mask, pads, blocker and glove as part of the effort.

The Wings will also roll out a series of lineup changes, as the team looks to rebound from consecutive losses to the Boston Bruins and Phoenix Coyotes.

On defense, Brendan Smith will be a healthy scratch in favor of Brian Lashoff, who makes his first appearance of the season.

In goal, Petr Mrazek returns to the Grand Rapids Griffins, with Jonas Gustavsson healthy enough to back up Howard.

Cory Emmerton, having been waived at the start of the season, also heads to GR, with Luke Glendening called up to center the fourth line. Both Mikael Samuelsson and Tomas Tatar will be healthy scratches as Jordin Tootoo joins Glendening with Drew Miller.

Todd Bertuzzi takes Justin Abdelkader‘s spot on the top line while Abdelkader slides down to join the second line with Johan Franzen and Stephen Weiss. Daniel Alfredsson moves down to Bertuzzi’s spot with Joakim Andersson and Daniel Cleary.

Game time is 7:00 on FSD.

Pregame: Coyotes @ Red Wings – 10/10

After four days off, the Red Wings are back home tonight hosting the Phoenix Coyotes for (technically) the last time, barring a Stanley Cup Finals matchup. Next season the team will be the Arizona Coyotes as part of their new ownership group’s deal with the City of Glendale.

Tomas Tatar is back to being a healthy scratch, replaced by Mikael Samuelsson in the lineup, which means the Wings are back to the lineup that won the first two games of the season. Jimmy Howard gets the start in goal.

Jordin Tootoo is available but will also need to work his way into the lineup. Patrick Eaves is not yet ready but expects to be available by the eleventh game of the season, when he’s eligible to come off long-term injured reserve.

Game time is 7:30 PM on FSD.

Pregame: Sabres @ Red Wings – 10/2

The Red Wings kick off their first season in the Eastern Conference tonight, hosting new divisonal-rival Buffalo in the 2013-14 opener.

After spending most of the preseason banged up, Detroit is mostly healthy as the regular season begins. Darren Helm and Patrick Eaves are on long-term injured reserve and Jordin Tootoo and Jonas Gustavsson are on short-term IR but the top six forwards and all the defensemen are fine.

The Wings will skate with the following lines to start:

Henrik ZetterbergPavel DatsyukJustin Abdelkader
Johan FranzenStephen WeissDaniel Alfredsson
Daniel ClearyJoakim AnderssonTodd Bertuzzi
Drew MillerCory EmmertonMikael Samuelsson

Niklas KronwallJonathan Ericsson
Danny DeKeyserJakub Kindl
Kyle QuinceyBrendan Smith

Jimmy Howard will start in goal with Petr Mrazek serving as his backup.

The game will be the regular season Red Wings debuts for summer free-agent signings Alfredsson and Weiss. Everyone else in the lineup played at least one game for the Wings last season.

Game time is 8:00 PM on NBCSN.

Nyquist Demoted as Red Wings Set 23-Man Roster

The Detroit Red Wings set their initial 23-man roster on Monday, sending forward Gustav Nyquist to the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins as part of the effort.

In addition to demoting Nyquist, the team placed forwards Darren Helm and Patrick Eaves on long-term injured reserve. Forward Jordin Tootoo and goaltender Jonas Gustavsson went on short-term injured reserve.

Though he cleared waivers earlier in the day and Detroit general manager Ken Holland had said he would be assigned to Grand Rapids, center Cory Emmerton remained with the Red Wings. He can be demoted any time in the next month or before he plays ten games without needing to clear waivers again.

To take advantage of the salary cap benefits of Helm and Eaves going on LTIR, defenseman Xavier Ouellet was callled up from the Griffins. Goalie Jared Coreau was called up to replace Gustavsson.

Some of these moves are expected to be “paper moves” with additional roster manipulation coming before the Red Wings’ opener on Wednesday night. Specifically, Coreau may switch spots with Petr Mrazek and Ouellet may swap out for someone else.

Pregame: Red Wings @ Bruins – 9/19

The Red Wings visit the Boston Bruins tonight with most of their second line missing. Johan Franzen and Daniel Alfredsson are both out nursing injuries, so Tomas Tatar and Daniel Cleary will take their spots. The full lineup tonight is as follows:

Henrik ZetterbergPavel DatsyukJustin Abdelkader
Daniel Cleary – Stephen Weiss – Tomas Tatar
Gustav NyquistJoakim AnderssonMikael Samuelsson
David McIntyreLuke GlendeningJordin Tootoo

Niklas KronwallJonathan Ericsson
Danny DeKeyserJakub Kindl
Adam AlmquistBrian Lashoff

Jimmy Howard will start and play two periods. Tom McCollum will play the third. Game time is 7:00 PM on FSD.

Pregame: Red Wings @ Penguins – 9/16

The Red Wings’ exhibition schedule kicks off tonight in Pittsburgh against the new conference-rival Penguins.

As per usual, only half of the team tonight will be made up of players actually expected to play in Detroit this season, the other half will be prospects and Griffins. The Red Wings will roll with a split squad for most of the preseason, allowing them to more easily play on back-to-back nights (tomorrow they’re in Chicago) while evaluating players.

Tonight’s roster is expected to be as follows:

Henrik ZetterbergPavel DatsyukJustin Abdelkader
Daniel ClearyJoakim AnderssonMikael Samuelsson
Tomas Tatar – Luke Glendenning – Landon Ferraro
Anthony ManthaCalle JarnkrokJordin Tootoo

Danny DeKeyserJakub Kindl
Kyle QuinceyBrendan Smith
Brennan EvansAdam Almqvist

Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek will split time in goal.

Game time is 7:00 PM. The game will not be on TV or radio in the Detroit area but will be televised in Pittsburgh so a stream might be available somewhere.

On How to Get Daniel Alfredsson #11 and Other Jersey Numbers

I realize that most fans – most players, even – don’t care about sweater numbers a whole lot. I do, though, so I’ve been thinking about what hoops would need to be jumped through to get the Red Wings’ recent acquisitions assigned numbers that are familiar to them in Detroit.

Daniel Alfredsson is easy if Daniel Cleary ends up not returning, as his #11 suddenly becomes available. If Cleary does return, however, there are a couple options.

Alfredsson has always worn #11 professionally but he was forced to switch to #9 for the 1997 and 2004 All-Star Games and to #15 for the 1996 event. Of course, #9 isn’t going to be an option in Detroit but #15 could be. I’ve already advocated taking #15 from Riley Sheahan and assigning it to Anthony Mantha as it was his grandfather’s number, but Alfredsson will be done with it by the time Mantha might need it.

Alternately, we have a trio of switches that gets three players into “their” numbers. Cleary only wears #11 because it was what was assigned to him when he made the Detroit lineup as a tryout. The number he wore in juniors and at least once in the minors was #8. Justin Abdelkader currently wears #8 but, like Cleary, only because it was assigned to him. In fact, several years ago it was rumored that he requested to switch to the #89 he wore in high school but it never happened. So give Abdelkader his #89 and it opens up #8 for Cleary which opens up #11 for Alfredsson.

Do I expect it to go down that way? No, not really, I just like ways for players to have numbers that mean something to them rather than just randomly-assigned numbers.

Stephen Weiss is a little more of a problem. His #9 isn’t going to happen, nor is the #19 he wore during his rookie year. He wore both #12 and #14 with the Chicago Wolves but neither of those is available (Gustav Nyquist has said he has no intent to switch from #14 to the #89 he wore in college, which wouldn’t be possible if Abdelkader took it first anyway). Weiss wore #22 for Canada at the World Juniors but Jordin Tootoo won’t be giving that up (though he might end up being traded). Going the Mike Modano route and changing from #9 to #90 might not even be an option, as reportedly Tomas Tatar has requested to switch from #21 to #90.

I’ve got no answer for Weiss except maybe it’s time to find a new number. A bunch of numbers with #9 as one of the digits are open.

Speaking of people changing numbers, I haven’t seen anything confirming it but I fully expect Joakim Andersson to take the #18 abandoned by Ian White next season.

Red Wings Free Agency Recap: Day 1

The Red Wings made quite the splash as the NHL’s 2013 free agency period opened on Friday. Here’s the breakdown of what happened:

The big surprise to start the day was that longtime Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson would be spurning the Senators and joining the Red Wings for a (presumably) final run at the Stanley Cup. There’s a lot of drama around how he left the Sens but he arrives in Detroit on a $5.5 million deal. The base salary is only $3.5 million, so the final $2 million could apply to the Wings’ 2014-15 cap instead of the 2013-14 one. Alfredsson is penciled in to play the right wing on the second line as Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg will be reunited on the top line.

Centering Alfredsson will be new addition Stephen Weiss. Signed from the Florida Panthers on a five-year deal with a $4.9 million cap hit, Weiss replaces the departed Valtteri Filppula. Detroit won a bidding war with the St. Louis Blues for the onetime Plymouth Whaler. The $4.9 million is a steal compared to the $6 million it was rumored Weiss was asking for.

As mentioned, Weiss replaces Valtteri Filppula, who signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning shortly after the Weiss deal was announced. Filppula reportedly was looking for first-line center pay and a first-line center role. He’ll be the number two center in Tampa behind Steven Stamkos, making $5 million per season for the next five years.

Though not yet signed by anyone else Damien Brunner seems to be out in Detroit. Red Wings general manager says he expects Brunner to go “in a different direction” for his next deal. The rumor is that Brunner is asking for guaranteed top-six minutes, something he couldn’t get with Detroit after falling to the third line (but having success there) late last season. There has been little buzz on where he might end up.

It seemed like Daniel Cleary was on his way out of Detroit but there are still rumors that the door is open for his return. The Dallas Stars and Pittsburgh Penguins were vying for his services but both teams dropped out. The Anaheim Ducks were also reportedly interested at one point. The Red Wings have continued to be reported as “in” on Cleary, to the extent that at one point it was thought he’d be back in the Winged Wheel by the end of the day. As of right now, Cleary is still on the market.

Defenseman Ian White – who no one expected to return to Detroit – is also still on the market with no apparent suitors.

Grand Rapids
The first of two Griffins-centric came when former Ferris State defenseman Chad Billins signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Calgary Flames. Billins spent all of last season on an AHL-only deal with Grand Rapids and was rumored to be a Red Wings target for a deal similar to what he took with Calgary.

Former University of Michigan forward Luke Glendening did stick with the organization. After spending last year on an AHL-only deal with the Griffins, he signed a one-year, two-way deal with Detroit today. He’s expected to stick with the Griffins next season but will provide additional depth if the Red Wings need a call-up.

Additional Moves
In addition to being in on Cleary, the Wings are reportedly interested in former Dallas captain Brenden Morrow. This makes absolutely no sense, so I have no idea why the team would be interested.

Detroit still has four restricted free agents to sign. Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, Brendan Smith and Tom McCollum will be looking for deals but restricted free agents tend to sign after their teams are done with the unrestricted market, so it’s likely only a matter of time.

On top of those moves, the Wings will need to make at least one trade before the start of the season. After all of the RFAs are signed, the team will be maxed out at 50 player contracts and have 16 NHL forwards. If Cleary or Morrow were signed, there wouldn’t be room to sign all of the RFAs. Trade bait includes Cory Emmerton, Jordin Tootoo, Patrick Eaves, Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson. Samuelsson has a no-trade clause but could be convinced to waive it if the alternative was to be buried in the lineup. The Wings are reportedly in the market for a top-four defenseman on the trade block.

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