Red Wings Send Newbury to Griffins, Recall Ritola

The Detroit Red Wings assigned forward Kris Newbury to the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins, the team announced on Monday.

This leaves the Red Wings with only eleven healthy forwards. Mattias Ritola will be called up from Grand Rapids to fill the open position.

“We’ve lost two in a row, and we liked what we saw from Ritola in training camp this year,” general manager Ken Holland said. “Newbury gave us a good little push there, but you know, we are going to try something else… Shake it up a little.”

Red Wings Wrap Up North American Exhibitions, Set Lineup for Sweden

The Detroit Red Wings finished off their North American exhibition schedule Sunday night with a 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in a game that saw both teams rest many of their star players.

Detroit was without Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Chris Osgood, Dan Cleary, Valtteri Filppula, Brad Stuart, Todd Bertuzzi and Niklas Kronwall. Pittsburgh sat Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar.

Pascal Dupuis scored the lone goal for the Penguins while Johan Franzen, Pavel Datsyuk, Jason Williams and Ville Leino all scored for Detroit. Jimmy Howard stopped 25 shots on the night, including a Jordan Staal penalty shot.

After the game the Red Wings made their final preseason roster cuts. Johan Ryno, Mattias Ritola, Andy Delmore, Francis Pare, Logan Pyett, Jakub Kindl and Evan McGrath were all assigned to the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins. Brad May was released from his pro tryout but he is expected to join the Griffins. Earlier in the day the Wings had assigned Jeremy Williams, Doug Janik, Thomas McCollum, Kris Newbery and Jan Mursak to the Griffins.

The Red Wings now head to Sweden, where they will open up the regular season with a pair of games against the St. Louis Blues at Stockholm’s Globe Arena.

On Wednesday Detroit will play their final exhibition game of the season in Karlstad against Farjestads BK.

Zetterberg Out Against Rangers

The New York Rangers visit Joe Louis Arena tonight as the Red Wings host their second exhibition matchup of the season.

Detroit will be playing using their “White Team” lineup, with Chris Osgood and Thomas McCollum splitting time in goal.

Henrik Zetterberg, who was expected to lead the White Team, will miss the game while resting a groin injury that flared up before training camp. He will be kept out of the next two games.

The lines announced before Zetterberg was removed from the lineup were as follows:

Todd Bertuzzi-Henrik Zetterberg-Dan Cleary
Ville LeinoValtteri FilppulaJason Williams
Johan Ryno-Justin AbdelkaderKirk Maltby
Mattias RitolaCory EmmertonJan Mursak

Niklas KronwallDoug Janik
Brett LebdaBrad Stuart
Derek MeechJakub Kindl

Chris Osgood
Thomas McCollum

The game will be televised in New York on MSG. It will not be on TV or radio in Detroit.

Red Wings Kick Off Preseason Schedule Tonight

The Red Wings kick off their preseason schedule tonight, hosting the Philadelphia Flyers less than 24 hours after wrapping up training camp with the Red and White Game Monday night in Traverse City.

Detroit will use two rosters to start the exhibition schedule. The Red team featuring Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen and Nicklas Lidstrom will get the nod tonight. The White team with Henrik Zetterberg, Dan Cleary and Niklas Kronwall will play on Friday against the New York Rangers.

It looks like there will be no live media coverage of tonight’s game. It will not be televised in Detroit or Philadelphia and it looks like radio coverage is out as well.

Tonight’s Red team lineup is as follows:

Johan Franzen-Pavel Datsyuk-Tomas Holmstrom
Kris DraperJustin AbdelkaderPatrick Eaves
Mattias RitolaKris NewburyJan Mursak
Johan Ryno-Cory EmmertonJeremy Williams

Nicklas Lidstrom-Jakub Kindl
Derek MeechBrian Rafalski
Jonathan Ericsson-Andy Delmore

Jimmy Howard
Daniel Larsson

A note… If you see images from tonight’s game and wonder what’s wrong with the Wings’ jerseys, the answer is nothing. Every preseason the Wings use sweaters with names straight across the shoulders rather than the arched names they use during the regular season. Every season people forget about that and think a big change has been made.

A Real Hockey Game this Weekend: Grand Rapids vs. Quad City

I made it out to my first Grand Rapids Griffins game last night, making sure that the only hockey game I watch this weekend will be one with some meaning. I won’t pretend to know what’s happening with the Griffins this season but here are a few thoughts on the game against the Quad City Flames…

Grand Rapids played a lot like Detroit has this season. Seemingly little effort through the first 40 minutes only to turn it on for the third period and get the late win (this one in a shootout).

The game was very sloppy even compared to a bad Wings game. Former Wing Garret Stafford (now with the Dallas organization but assigned to Grand Rapids for a second year) had a horrible time holding the puck in at the point.

I have to wonder how much the ice conditions were affected by the extra intermission activities that you see in lower-tier leagues. The 17-minute intermission and two zambonis are supposed to be used to get the ice set for as long as possible before the start of the next period but when you use that time for other things you’re going to get bad ice.

The Griffins played a solid game defensively, they allowed a lot of shots but most of them were low-quality chances. Even the one goal against barely snuck through Daniel Larsson.

Larsson proved why he’s an AHL All-Star, stopping 34 shots and all three chances he faced in the shooutout.

Mattias Ritola has been labeled as “lazy” in the past and there were a few shifts last night where it showed. In the third period there was a chance for him to go to the front of the net but he stayed back in the corner, meaning he was out of position. He scored in the shootout, though, for a little bit of redemption. He also had an apparent goal in the second period that turned out to have gone off the post.

Ville Leino was the best skater on the ice. It looks like he might be having trouble in traffic but he was moving the puck well and getting to where he needed to be. He scored the Griffins’ only regulation goal by being in the right spot to put home a rebound chance on a power play. His shootout goal was beautiful.

Aaron Downey looked out of place for most of the game but it seemed like he was ready to drop the gloves with Kris Chucko. Chucko was running people and getting his elbows up all night. A third period elbow by Chucko that went ignored combined with a bad missed interference call on Quad City goalie Matt Keetley convinced me that AHL refs can be just as bad as NHL ones.

Malik also has some notes on the game.

My photos from the game have been posted to the multimedia section.

Sweater Numbers, Round Two

I just caught that RWC updated their camp roster again, this time with new player numbers.

Stephen Johnston has #71, not the #52 previously reported, so it looks like Jonathan Ericsson will be keeping that number. Free-agent tryout Kyle Deck has the #2 that appeared on Ericsson’s truck in the Stanley Cup parade.

Justin Abdelkader keeps the #8 that he inherited from Matt Ellis last season and Mattias Ritola keeps #42.

So far it doesn’t look like anyone expected to be on the Detroit roster at the start of the season will be changing. I had expected Darren Helm to switch to the open #15 but that’s been given to try-out Martin Ondrej.

Red Wings Fall to Wild in Preseason Home Opener

The Detroit Red Wings played their first home game of the 2007 exhibition season Thursday night, dropping a 3-2 decision to the visiting Minnesota Wild.

Dominik Hasek started the game in the Detroit net, surrendering power play goals to Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Brent Burns on 13 shots against before Jimmy Howard took over in the Detroit crease.

Mark Hartigan got the Red Wings on the board, banging in the rebound after a shot from Matt Ellis rang off the post.

Minnesota picked up another power play goal when Brian Rolston was left all alone to pick up a pass at the back door, whipping a shot past Howard.

Mattias Ritola added Detroit’s second goal, puting a quick shot from the left circle off of a Minnesota defender and over the shoulder of Harding.

Harding finished the night with 28 saves on 30 shots. Howard made seven saves on the eight shots he faced.

The Red Wings will hit the ice again tomorrow when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins before visiting Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Defense-first for Wings in NHL Draft

The Detroit Red Wings selected Czech Jakub Kindl with their first-round pick in Saturday’s NHL Entry Draft. At 19th overall, the defenseman for the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers was Detroit’s highest draft pick since they selected Martin Lapointe with the 10th overall pick in 1991.

Kindl was highly-touted last fall when he came to the OHL but his stock dropped when he had a bad first season in North America.

They shifted from a European defenseman to a local forward for their second pick, selecting Justin Abdelkader of Muskegon, Michigan, with the 42nd overall choice. A graduate of Mona Shores High School, the 18-year old played with Cedar Rapids of the USHL last season and will join Michigan State University this fall.

The Wings went back to Europe for their next two picks, selecting Christofer Lofberg of the SEL’s Djurgarden in the third round and fellow Swede Mattias Ritola of Leksand in the fourth.

The Red Wings rounded out their selections with forward Darren Helm of Winnipeg; big Swedish forward Johan Ryno; defenceman Jeff May of Richmond, British Columbia; Finnish forward Juho Mielonen; and defenseman Bretton Stamler of Calgary.