Red Wings Announce 2015 Exhibition Schedule

The Detroit Red Wings announced the schedule for their 2015 preseason exhibition games on Tuesday.

As per usual, they will play eight games, four at home and four on the road. The 2015 schedule will match the 2014 one, with Detroit playing home and road games against the Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, and Toronto Maple Leafs.

October 2 will mark former Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock‘s return to Joe Louis Arena behind the bench of the Maple Leafs.

The full preseason schedule is as follows:

Date Opponent Location Time
September 22, 2015 Chicago Blackhawks Away 8:30 PM
September 23, 2015 Chicago Blackhawks Home 7:30 PM
September 24, 2015 Pittsburgh Penguins Home 7:30 PM
September 26, 2015 Boston Bruins Home 7:00 PM
September 28, 2015 Boston Bruins Away 7:00 PM
September 30, 2015 Pittsburgh Penguins Away 7:00 PM
October 2, 2015 Toronto Maple Leafs Home 7:30 PM
October 3, 2015 Toronto Maple Leafs Away 7:00 PM

Babcock Bolts: Former Red Wings Head Coach Signs with Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs have hired Mike Babcock as their head coach.

Babcock had spent the last ten years as the head coach of the Detroit Red Wings and was highly sought after with his contract expiring this summer. Multiple teams had asked the Red Wings for permission to talk to Babcock about their coaching vacancies, with Babcock reportedly having narrowed it down to a return to Detroit or the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.

On Wednesday a bidding war erupted between the Sabres and the Maple Leafs. One by one, the Sabres, Red Wings, St. Louis Blues, and San Jose Sharks confirmed that they were out of the running, with only the Maple Leafs remaining.

The Maple Leafs announced Babcock’s hiring shortly after, with a press conference scheduled for 11:00 AM on Thursday.

Babcock’s deal with Toronto is reportedly worth $50 million over eight seasons, the largest contract for a coach in NHL history.

In ten seasons with the Red Wings, Babcock coached the team to a 458-223-105 record. His teams were 67-56 in the postseason. Babcock lead Detroit to a Stanley Cup Championship in 2008, another Finals appearance in 2009, and regular season championships in 2006 and 2008.

Detroit general manager Ken Holland is expected to address the media about Babcock’s departure on Wednesday afternoon.

Mike Babcock and the Diving Save

By all accounts, Mike Babcock will coach either the Detroit Red Wings or the Buffalo Sabres next season. The Sabres appear to be offering more money, the Red Wings offer stability and a ready-made roster. His decision is set to be made by Wednesday.

The Red Wings have previously stated that they would not be outbid for Babcock’s services. I don’t actually believe that but I’ll roll with it for a minute.

Babcock has said he’ll check in with Detroit general manager Ken Holland before deciding. There is an opportunity there for Holland, a chance to make one last pitch, if necessary, but it’s an opportunity he should not take.

One of my favorite writers, Rands, has a piece on The Diving Save. The idea is that there are people who, when they tell you that they’re leaving, you have to do everything you can do to stop.

People leave for lots of reasons. Compensation is a big one. Control is another. How interested they are in the work they’d be doing. The list goes on. From that list they make a decision.

If Mike Babcock calls Ken Holland in the morning and says he’s leaving for Buffalo, Holland will have one chance to tell him why he’s wrong and should stay.

And Holland shouldn’t do it.

If Mike Babcock decides that he’s done with Detroit, he would only be staying because Holland was able to change his mind. Holland should remember Rands’ warning about a successful Diving Save.

Last worry: you need to remember that this person who recently decided to stay also recently decided to leave. They completely imagined and started acting in a world where they were leaving the company. We humans are fond of structure, habit, and familiarity, and this recently-saved person picked a new company full of strangers and opaque opportunity. This human had to make a brave leap to make this choice, and just because they chose to stay for now doesn’t mean they’ll remain.

Red Wings Fall to Lightning, Series Even at 1-1

The Detroit Red Wings dropped a 5-1 decision to the Tampa Bay Lighting in Game Two of their Atlantic Division Semifinal matchup on Saturday.

The defense and goaltending that led Detroit to a win in Game One wasn’t there to save them in Game Two, leading to the series now tied at a game apiece.

Tyler Johnson opened the game’s scoring just 3:05 in on a Tampa Bay power play. Johnson picked up the rebound of a shot off the goal post in the circle to Detroit netminder Petr Mrazek‘s left and snapped it back into the net.

It was 2-0 at 7:56 of the second period when Alex Killorn beat Mrazek thanks to a fortunate bounce. Ryan Callahan attempted to pass the puck from the left wing through the high slot but Red Wings defender Alexey Marchenko got in the way. The puck bounced off Marchenko and fluttered right to Killorn, wide open at the edge of the crease. His initial shot went into the side of the net but he collected the puck and lifted it over a sprawling Mrazek.

Andrej Sustr was left wide open in the slot to take a pass from former Red Wing Valtteri Filppula and snap a shot past Mrazek with 5:12 left in the middle period for a 3-0 lead.

Johnson’s second of the afternoon made it 4-0 with 38 seconds left. Johnson broke in on Mrazek all alone after Nikita Kucherov knocked down Danny DeKeyser to turn a two-on-one into a breakaway, with Johnson faking out Mrazek in close.

Tomas Tatar scored Detroit’s only goal of the game at 5:49 of the third period, deflecting a Kyle Quincey shot past Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop from a low angle.

Filppula rounded out the game’s scoring with a power play with with 4:34 remaining. Racing down the left wing, Filppula fired a shot on Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard – who replaced Mrazek to start the third period – and snapped his own rebound into the back of the net.

Tampa Bay scored two power play goals on four chances after going scoreless on seven tries in Game One. Detroit didn’t score on any of their four attempts with the extra skater.

Mrazek finished with 14 saves on 18 shots in two period of play while Howard stopped 11 of the 12 chances he faced and Bishop stopped 23 of 24 shots.

Game Three will be on Thursday in Detroit.

Detroit head coach Mike Babcock announced after the game that Mrazek will start Game Three and that injured forward Justin Abdelkader is expected to return.

Red Wings Make Blueline Roster Moves

The Detroit Red Wings announced three roster moves at defense on Friday.

Blueliner Alexey Marchenko has been called up from the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League. In 42 games with Grand Rapids this season he has two goals and 15 asssists for 17 points. He made his NHL debut with Detroit last season, taking two penalty minutes.

To make room for Marchenko, Xavier Ouellet was returned to the Griffins. Ouellet appeared in 21 games for the Red Wings this season, scoring two goals an adding an assist as an injury call-up.

The swap is intended to give the Red Wings an opportunity to see what Marchenko can do at the NHL level.

“X played really good the last couple of games, but we made this decision a while ago because we wanted to have a look at Marchy and see what he could bring,” Detroit head coach Mike Babcock said.

Additionally, the Red Wings placed defenseman Brian Lashoff on waivers. Lashoff has been the team’s seventh defenseman even when Ouellet has been in the lineup, appearing in only eleven games thus far this season.

Lashoff’s waiving could be a precursor to goalie Jonas Gustavsson returning from injury. Gustavsson is expected to begin a conditioning stint in Grand Rapids as early as Saturday and the team would need to clear a roster spot to bring him off Injured Reserve.

Thoughts on Xavier Ouellet’s Roster Spot

Danny DeKeyser returns to the Red Wings’ lineup on Tuesday, meaning that the Detroit blueline is back to 100% healthy. Despite that, call-up Xavier Ouellet remains on the roster, as forward Stephen Weiss has been placed on injured reserve to keep a spot available.

It’s undeniable at this point that Detroit head coach Mike Babcock thinks Ouellet is one of the top six defensemen available to him right now. Both Jakub Kindl and Brian Lashoff will sit against Columbus while Ouellet remains in. Whatever order you place Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, DeKeyser, Kyle Quincey, and Brendan Smith in, Ouellet is Detroit’s number six defenseman while Kindl is seventh and Lashoff is eighth.

Reportedly, Babcock wanted Ouellet up with the Red Wings to start the season but Detroit general manager Ken Holland couldn’t make it happen, as there were no takers on the trade market for Kindl.

When Weiss returns, assuming another player isn’t on IR by then, will Ouellet be sent back to Grand Rapids? One would think so, as that’s what happened to start the season, under the label of “asset management” (you don’t want to lose anyone for nothing).

That said, with the Wings fighting for the top spot in the conference, do you dump one of your top six defensemen in the minors? Or do you risk losing a player who isn’t playing anyway (Kindl or Lashoff) on waivers? Worst-case scenario in the latter option is losing a player you’re not playing anyway, though that’s a hit to organizational depth. If he clears, you keep the player but don’t get the salary cap relief, though Detroit isn’t against the cap right now so it doesn’t hurt them as much as it would have in seasons past.

I’m very curious as to how it’ll play out.

Pregame: Red Wings @ Hurricanes – 12/7

Less than twenty-four hours after a come-from-behind win over the New York Rangers in Detroit on Saturday, the Red Wings are on the road today, visiting the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes feature some familiar faces for Detroit, as former assistant coach Bill Peters is their head coach now and waiver claimee Andrej Nestrasil is still in the Carolina lineup (wearing #15 rather than the #49 he had with the Red Wings).

The Wings will be going with a different lineup in Raleigh than they used against the Rangers, as Petr Mrazek gets the start in goal. Daniel Cleary and Brian Lashoff will also rotate in but Mike Babcock said he wouldn’t decide who they would replace until game time.

Stupid stat of the day: Cleary will make his first appearance since switching back to #11. Since 2000 the Wings have scored at least five goals (and won) in games where one of their players switches back to a number they had previously worn for the club.

Game time is 5:00 PM on FSD+.

Red Wings Rally Past Rangers, 3-2

The Detroit Red Wings trailed 2-0 after the first period on Saturday night but scored two quick goals in the second and another in the third to complete a come-from-behind win over the New York Rangers.

It was Detroit’s first win over the Rangers in six tries and was head coach Mike Babcock‘s 500th career victory.

Riley Sheahan started the Red Wings’ comeback with 5:46 remaining in the middle frame. Johan Franzen gained the New York zone but had nowhere to go, dropping the puck off to Stephen Weiss as he was pushed into the left wing boards. Weiss moved it on to Sheahan in the slot, who spun to backhand a chance past Rangers’ netminder Cam Talbot to make it 2-1.

Just 1:01 later it was tied up, as Luke Glendening banged a loose puck in the crease behind Talbot after chances by Drew Miller and Joakim Andersson.

Darren Helm put the Red Wings out front at 7:40 of the third period, catching up to a deflected pass by Tomas Tatar in the left faceoff circle and snapping a shot over Talbot’s shoulder for a 3-2 lead.

The Wings preserved the lead through 5:24 of shorthanded time caused by three consecutive, overlapping penalties. The Rangers had a five-on-three for 2:36 of that time and Drew Miller was without a stick for part of that.

Kevin Klein had opened the game’s scoring at 9:31 of the first period, shoveling a backhander past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard from right in front.

With 5:48 left in the opening frame, Derick Brassard sprung Rick Nash on a breakaway, with Nash beating Howard stick-side to put the Rangers up by a pair.

Howard finished the night with 27 saves on 29 shots against. Talbot made 31 saves on 34 shots.

Neither team scored a power play goal. The Rangers had seven tries with the extra attacker to Detroit’s three.

The Red Wings are back in action on Sunday as they visit the Carolina Hurricanes.

Detroit remained without forward Justin Abdelkader (shoulder). Daniel Cleary and Brian Lashoff were healthy scratches.

Pregame: Bruins @ Red Wings – 10/15

For the second time in the first three games of the season, the Boston Bruins are back at Joe Louis Arena for a matchup with the Red Wings.

Detroit is coming off a controversial loss to the Anaheim Ducks last Saturday, with Ryan Getzlaf having scored the game winning goal in the closing seconds after hooking Niklas Kronwall to steal the puck from him.

The Bruins are a disappointing 1-3, having lost their last three games after opening the season with a win. They’ll get center David Krejci back from injury tonight, though.

The Red Wings are still without Pavel Datsyuk and will skate with the same lineup they used in their first two games. The big change is that Gustav Nyquist and Justin Abdelkader will start the game having swapped spots, a move head coach Mike Babcock has made in-game in the first two games. Nyquist will skate with Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen while Abdelkader joins Darren Helm and Andrej Nestrasil.

Jimmy Howard gets the start in net for Detroit while Boston will go with Tuukka Rask.

Stupid stat of the day: The Red Wings haven’t beaten an Original Six opponent on October 15 since a 5-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1988.

Game time is 8:00 PM on NBCSN.

On Red Wings Veterans Earning a Roster Spot

Okay, this is old news by now but I was thinking tonight about the idea that Daniel Cleary will supposedly have to earn his roster spot and decided to look into some history around that kind of decision.

I think it’s safe to say you don’t give a guy a $2.5 million contract with the intent of dumping him in the minors. Cleary is going to be on the opening night roster, barring injury. So Ken Holland and Mike Babcock (and Cleary himself) saying he has to earn it… Just talk.

But lets say it wasn’t. Lets say the Wings were bringing back Cleary but that Tomas Jurco had just as much of a chance to make the final roster. Would that be as groundbreaking as it seems?

It turns out, yes.

In the Ken Holland era, no veteran has ever been waived at the start of the season in favor of a younger player who could be sent to the minors without passing through waivers.

Okay, yeah Cory Emmerton lost his roster spot to Joakim Andersson last fall but Andersson was out of waiver options. Patrick Eaves and Jordin Tootoo and Mikael Samuelsson were all sent to Grand Rapids but not at the start of the season.

Derek Meech was waived and sent to GR in 2010 but not in favor of a player who wouldn’t have to pass through waivers.

Kyle Quincey was lost off waivers in 2008 but that was so the team could keep Meech and Chris Chelios.

Before that, we go back to the waiver draft era. Chris Osgood was lost in 2001 when Dominik Hasek was signed to replace him. Brent Gilchrist was lost and then re-acquired in 1998. In 1997, Tim Taylor was lost but because he was out of options, not because someone beat him out.

Not that it’s a surprise but history shows that veterans haven’t needed to earn a roster spot since Holland took over the team.