Two Sabres things: Housley worried about Wings’ speed; Wilson settling in with Sabres

Of note regarding the Buffalo Sabres this afternoon:

1. BuffaloSabres.com’s Jourdon LaBarber reports that Sabres coach Phil Housley is wary of the Red Wings’ speed going into tonight’s game:

The Red Wings have lost three of their last four games and sit eight points removed from a wild card berth. Even so, the Sabres know their young core can present problems.

“Through the neutral zone, you have to make sure you get pucks deep because they’re going to try to force turnovers and use their quick strike, use their transition and speed against us,” Sabres coach Phil Housley said. “Any time we get through the neutral zone, [we need to] get it in deep, get on the forecheck and make them play defense.

“In saying that, even in the offensive zone, if they come up with the puck they’re taking off, they’re stretching the play, stretching the ice. We’re well aware of that. If we can control the gaps and not allow them their time and space, it’s going to be important tonight.”

Robin Lehner will be back in net for the Sabres after missing their game against Washington on Monday to rest a lower-body injury. Since joining the Sabres, Lehner is 3-2-1 with a .953 save percentage and a 1.65 goals-against average against the Red Wings.

LaBarber continues…

2. The Buffalo News’s John Vogl spoke with one-time Red Wings forward Scott Wilson regarding his status as a blossoming Buffalo Sabre:

 

Wilson entered Thursday’s game against Detroit as a regular on the score sheet. He had three goals and five points in the previous six games, solid numbers for a team in dire need of solid performers.

“Scott Wilson has done a terrific job since he’s been part of our team, not only the way he handles himself and the way he approaches the game, but the way he plays it,” coach Phil Housley said in Little Caesars Arena. “He does the right things. He finishes checks. He’s tough to play against, and he’s a really good addition to our team.”

He’s the type of addition who could stick around. Acquired from the Red Wings in December for a fifth-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, Wilson is showing he can handle scoring- and checking-line roles. The 25-year-old will be a restricted free agent this summer with a qualifying offer due of $726,000.

It’s easy to envision him becoming a complementary piece of the rebuild. He envisions it, too.
“Absolutely,” said Wilson, who spent parts of four seasons in the Penguins’ organization after being drafted by a front office that included Jason Botterill. “Being in Pitt, you kind of see what it takes. With Bottsy being there and everything, you obviously know what needs to be done. Being part of the rebuild is exciting being a little bit of a younger guy.”

Continue reading Two Sabres things: Housley worried about Wings’ speed; Wilson settling in with Sabres

Videos: A Game Day Preview and Game Day Housley

Here are the Red Wings’ Game Day Preview videos and the Sabres’ Game-Day clip of coach Phil Housley speaking with the media:

Update: Here’s the Sabres’ game-day preview video:

Griffins to hold ‘Bring Your Dog Game’ this Sunday

From Fox 17’s Lindsay Hoffman:

Hockey fans are invited to watch the Grand Rapids Griffins with man’s best friends all for a good cause at the fourth annual Bring Your Dog Game.

Owners can bring their dogs to the game by purchasing both a human ticket and a dog ticket, with all the dog ticket proceeds going to the Great Lakes Weimaraner Rescue.

While there are no more dog tickets available, there are still human tickets available for Sunday’s game for $5.

For more information, visit griffinshockey.com/doggame.

 

Red Wings weigh in on Team USA’s Olympic victory

The Red Wings’ locker room was abuzz with discussion of Team USA’s Olympic victory in women’s hockey last night, as noted by MLive’s Ansar Khan

Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill couldn’t stay up late Wednesday to watch the women’s hockey gold medal game at the Olympics but was delighted to learn of the result Thursday morning. The United States defeated Canada 3-2 in a shootout in South Korea.

“I want to congratulate (coach) Robb Stauber and the women on an unreal gold medal,” Blashill said. “I had a chance to watch them win the World Championship last year in Plymouth and it was awesome. Robb was a childhood idol of mine when he was a goalie at Minnesota and he was winning the Hobey Baker. Anytime we can beat Canada it’s a great thing.”

Blashill was impressed by Jocelyne Lamoureux’s dazzling move for the winning goal in the shootout.

“Oh my gosh! What guts to be able to pull that off in that moment. Unreal.,” Blashill said. “Nobody wants to see the game end in a shootout, I think everybody would like to see them play it out, but that’s the rules that they’re given, and the men lost that way and the women thankfully won that way.”

And the Wings’ players discussed Lamoureaux’s shootout winner with DetroitRedWings.com’s Dana Wakiji:

 “That is top-notch,” Howard said. “I’m pretty sure I would have been right there with the Canadian goalie. That’s pretty slick.”
Jared Coreau was asked what his chances would be in trying to stop that goal.
“I don’t know, I haven’t been too good in shootouts lately down in the AHL but before that I was on a 3-0 streak,” Coreau said. “It’s about 50-50 maybe. I think I would try a poke check, throw my pads one way and stick the other way and hope for the best.”
Gustav Nyquist has 13 shootout goals in 36 career attempts but none like Lamoureux-Davidson’s.
“By far that’s a better move than any move I have,” Nyquist said. “I don’t know what to say. It looks kind of a little bit like Double-A’s best move but just the opposite since he’s a lefty.”

Athanasiou gave his stamp of approval upon seeing video of the goal.

“She did a really good job selling that fake,” Athanasiou said. “That’s a move I like to do. I do that most of my breakaways. I think it’s just something when you’re coming down with speed, you want to get that goalie to bite on the fake. I think as long as you sell that backhand fake, she actually did a pretty sweet job of bringing it all the way across the ice to the other side of the net so it was a pretty goal.”

 

Red Wings-Sabres game-day updates: Ouellet wants to make it as a Wing; Green update; Wings weigh in on U.S. women’s win

Updated 5x at 2:17 PM with articles and video:

The Detroit Red Wings host the Buffalo Sabres this evening (7:30 PM EST on FSD/MSG B/97.1 FM), and the morning skate revealed that the Wings will play without Mike Green, and Xavier Ouellet will fill in on defense. Jimmy Howard will oppose Robin Lehner in goal.

After the skate, MLive’s Ansar Khan spoke with Ouellet about his desire to “stick” here in Detroit…

Khan touched upon Ouellet’s comments in his game-day notebook, and he also noted the following:

Green hopeful for weekend: Mike Green will miss his fourth game in a row due to a neck injury sustained last Thursday in Tampa Bay on a hit from Adam Erne midway through the third period. Blashill said Green, who’s expected to be traded by Monday, hasn’t been shut down. He is hopeful to return Saturday against Carolina.

“I thought there was a good chance Green could have been in the lineup today,” Blashill said. “As it turned out he wasn’t quite there. I expect him to play on the weekend, doesn’t mean he’s going to play for sure.”

Frk to sit again: Martin Frk will be a healthy scratch for the second time in three games, replaced by David Booth in the lineup. After scoring in back-to-back games, Frk has no points in the past five games and his ice time has dwindled.

“I think Marty has had moments of playing really good, moments of playing fine,” Blashill said. “He needs to make sure he’s playing really good so he’s not in that spot. That’s his job and my job is to make the decision on the lineup.”

Bertuzzi back on power play: Tyler Bertuzzi replaces Frk on the second power-play unit.

“I think ultimately Bert is going to be a real good power-play player,” Blashill said. “It’s more of a shoot it and get it back (mentality) … not with the big one-timer but more of a downhill approach that we’ve had success with, going back to the year before I got here, with Babs. Bert is a strong, heavy kind of guy in that slot area with good ability around the net, so I’m hoping he can at least pick up some loose-puck rebounds and find a way in the back of the net. Bert is a good enough player that he should be on the power play and we’re going to give him power play opportunity here.”

On the Sabres’ side of the ice, WGR 550 Tweeted out Buffalo’s probable lineup…

WGR 550’s Paul Hamilton posted the following…

And the Buffalo News’s John Vogl posted “5 things to know” about tonight’s game:

 

1. Not a marquee matchup

Buffalo is 0-2-1 in its last three games to drop to 17-32-11 overall. Detroit is 1-3 in its last four, sliding to 24-26-9.

While the Sabres are just one point ahead of last-place Arizona with a game in hand, the Red Wings still have slim playoff hopes. They’re eight points out of the final wild-card spot, but they have four teams ahead of them.

“We believe we still have lots of life in us, but we’ve got to go out and play that way,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said after the morning skate. “We’ve played some good teams. Buffalo is a good team. I don’t care what their record is.

“There are no teams anymore in this league that aren’t really good hockey teams. Some just don’t have good records.”

2. Lehner is back: Robin Lehner was scratched from the Sabres’ last game due to a hip injury, but he’ll start against the Red Wings.

Since joining the Sabres prior to the 2015-16 season, Lehner is 3-2-1 against Detroit with a .953 save percentage and 1.65 goals-against average.

Also of Red Wings-related note:

Update: Here’s DetroitRedWings.com’s Dana Wakiji’s game-day notebook:

It has been a challenging season for Red Wings defenseman Xavier Ouellet.

Ouellet has played in just 36 games total and only one of the last 11. He has four assists and is minus-2.

“Personally, it’s been rough,” Ouellet admitted after Thursday’s morning skate. “I think every athlete wants to play, wants to contribute. So yeah, it’s not fun to sit for a long period of time. So that’s been a little rough mentally but I guess it’s part of the game. I need to keep working on myself, which I did. I kept working hard in the gym and on the ice so I feel really good physically, now it’s just getting the timing back and feel good and feel better with the puck.”

Ouellet’s name has been mentioned in a few rumors as Monday’s trade deadline approaches but that doesn’t mean he is looking for a fresh start elsewhere.

“I want to play. I’m 24 years old, I think I need to play, personally,” Ouellet said. “I’m a Red Wing today and I want to be a Red Wing. I’ve worked really hard to be where I am here right now. So I’m looking for an opportunity, hopefully it’s here. I don’t know, it’s kind of hard to say.”

Continued

Update #2: Here’s NHL.com’s Dave Hogg’s game preview:

The Game; The Detroit Red Wings will be looking for a crucial home victory when they play the Buffalo Sabres at Little Caesars Arena on Thursday.

Detroit is 1-3-0 in its past four games and trails the Columbus Blue Jackets by eight points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

The Sabres is 0-2-1 in its past three games and 3-6-2 since the All-Star break. Buffalo has been held to two goals or fewer in six of its past 11. Goaltender Robin Lehner is expected to play after missing one game with an upper-body injury.

Players to watch: Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly has seven points (two goals, five assists) in his past five games, and is second on the team with 44 points (18 goals, 26 assists) in 59 games.

Red Wings center Dylan Larkin, Detroit’s leading scorer with 44 points (nine goals, 35 assists), hasn’t scored a power-play goal since a season-opening 4-2 win against the Minnesota Wild on Oct. 5.

They said it: “We know that we’ve got to get the puck through the neutral zone and dump it in deep. Detroit will be trying to force turnovers and use their speed in transition, and we have to prevent that. We have to take away all of their space.” — Sabres coach Phil Housley

“There can’t be anything like a trap game for this team. We’re fighting for our lives right now, and there aren’t bad teams in this league any more. We need to get these two points.” ­— Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill

Update #3: Here’s the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan’s game-day update:

Ouellet was a 2011 second-round draft pick whose potential was such that the Red Wings inserted into the lineup during 2013-14 playoffs against Boston. But that kind of confidence has waned in recent years.

He played a career-high 66 games last season, but heading into Thursday, Ouellet had only played in 36 games with four assists and a minus-2 plus-minus rating.

“I have to find my timing back,” Ouellet said. “I feel real good physically, so that’s a good positive. Now, it’s just getting the timing back and execute, get passes tape to tape, get pucks on net, being solid defensively.”

Coach Jeff Blashill wants to see Ouellet play with a higher level of confidence.

“It’s a difficult thing for athletes when they’re out for a while and to step back in and play with the kind of confidence you need to be successful,” Blashill said. “But that’s what he has to do. He has to play with confidence. He’s been a good player in the league going back a number of years. The last couple of times he’s played, he’s come in and not played with that type of confidence and swagger you have to play with to be successful.”

The Red Wings only dressed six defensemen against Buffalo, so Ouellet was going to get a regular shift and more ice time than he’s seen in more than a month.

“When he’s at his best, he’s doing a good job of passing the puck, being physical defensively and hard to play against, and playing with a shot-first mentality,” Blashill said. “Let’s get back to that.”

Update #4: The Free Press’s Helene St. James posted an article about Ouellet as well

Ouellet’s opportunity comes as Mike Green nurses a sore neck. Green hasn’t played since Feb. 15, but coach Jeff Blashill said Green could be ready by the weekend. Green is the Wings’ top trade asset, but injured players can still be traded so long as the new team is satisfied with the situation.

While Green has value because of his offensive touch, the Wings haven’t found any takers for Ouellet, who has a year left on a contract with a cap hit of $1.25 million. Ouellet’s lack of foot speed has left him a spare part.

“It’s a difficult thing for athletes when they’re out for a while to step back in and play with the kind of confidence that you have to play with to be successful,” Blashill said. “But, that’s what he has to do. He’s been a good player in this league at different times going back a number of years, The last couple times he’s played he’s come in and not played with that type of confidence and swagger that you have to play with to be successful. He has to find it within himself.

“When he’s at his best, he’s doing a good job passing the puck, he’s physical defensively, he’s hard to play against and he’s a shot-first mentality. He’s got to trust his feet and go out and play.”

Ouellet trained with a skating coach last summer.

“I need to keep working on my skating, that’s for sure,” he said. “But the big thing is timing — the more you play, you find your speed and you can angle the guys a little better. That goes with playing, but at the same time, I need to keep working on my skating every day.”

And St. James posted a video of Ouellet and Blashill’s game-day comments:

Update #5: From WGR 550’s Paul Hamilton:

Scott Wilson won two Stanley Cups in Pittsburgh, but the Penguins were always looking to add players, not sell. Despite that, Wilson doesn’t see much difference, “I think honestly it’s kind of the same. Every team at the deadline, there’s a few guys on each team that could be moved or other teams want, so it’s not really talked about as much as you think.”

The Sabres play Wilson’s old team Detroit. Pittsburgh traded him to Detroit on Oct. 21. He only played 17 games with the Red Wings before heading to Buffalo. Wilson had no points in 20 games with Detroit and Pittsburgh and he’s looking forward to playing in Detroit tonight, “Hockey is a business and at the end of the day, it doesn’t always go your way, but I’ve been feeling pretty good as of late, kind of finding myself a little bit so I’ll definitely have an extra step tonight.”

Wilson has three goals and two assists for five points in his last six games.

Mike Green status update: should return for the weekend

These Tweets were posted in the morning skate article, but if you missed them, the Wings’ beat writers updated the status of defenseman Mike Green:

 

Red Wings-Sabres morning skate Tweets and articles: Howard starts, Green out, and a Sabres game preview

Updated 3x at 11:37 AM: The Detroit Red Wings host the Buffalo Sabres this evening (7:30 PM EST on FSD/MSG B/97.1 FM) in a battle of “selling” teams.

The Wings hit the ice at Little Caesars Arena just after 10:30 AM for their morning skate, per MLive’s Ansar Khan:

Jimmy Howard in starter’s net at #RedWings morning skate. Face @BuffaloSabres tonight at @LCArena_Detroit

Mike Green (upper body injury) not skating today. Has missed three games. Likely to be traded by Monday’s deadline, so at this point might be best to just keep him out of lineup. #RedWings

#RedWings lines at skate: Nyquist-Zetterberg-Mantha Tatar-Larkin-Athanasiou Abdelkader-Nielsen-Helm Booth-Glendening-Frk (Bertuzzi working in)

#RedWings defense pairs: DeKeyser-Jensen Ericsson-Daley Kronwall-Ouellet Witkowski appears to a scratch tonight.

Bertuzzi working on second power play unit, so it looks like he’s in tonight and Frk out, replaced by Booth. #RedWings

DetroitRedWings.com’s Dana Wakiji delivered bad news regarding Mike Green…

Continue reading Red Wings-Sabres morning skate Tweets and articles: Howard starts, Green out, and a Sabres game preview

The Athletic’s Iyer on the Wings’ goaltending situation: Jimmy + ?

The Athletic’s Prasanth Iyer examined the Red Wings’ goaltending situation this morning. Iyer, like most fans, doesn’t have much faith in Jared Coreau as the Wings’ back-up, and he notes that the Wings’ six goaltending prospects aren’t going to be ready right away (see: Keith Petruzzelli, Filip Larsson, Kaden Fulcher, Joren van Pottelberghe, Matej Machovsky and Chase Perry)…

And after analyzing the free agent crop, Iyer comes to a smart conclusion as to the duration Jimmy Howard era: it will probably yield more Jimmy Howard and the best cheap back-up the Wings can get their hands on:

The most likely scenario is Detroit re-signing Howard, perhaps for $3 million a year for two years, as a bridge to the 2021 offseason. At that point, the Red Wings will know better what they have in van Pottelberghe, Larsson and Petruzzelli and can make a more informed decision about their long-term goaltending plans.

Unless a team has one of the truly elite goaltenders in the league, it’s unwise to commit a significant chunk of money to the position. The Red Wings have been handicapped by this over the past two years, with nearly $10 million committed to non-elite goaltenders. The Mrazek trade allows them to reset both their short- and long-term plans. As they enter the full-on rebuild, it’s important for them to learn from that past mistake as they identify goaltenders who can provide them serviceable numbers at a reasonable value.

Based on availability, the answer to “who’s the future goaltender of the Red Wings?” seems to be Jimmy Howard for now.

Iyer continues (paywall)…

 

Freep: Russian Five premiere tickets go on sale Friday

From the Detroit Free Press’s Inney Prakash:

Tickets for the world premiere of “The Russian Five” will go on sale 10 a.m. Friday.

The April 11 screening at the Fillmore Detroit will officially kick off the 2018 Freep Film Festival following a launch party featuring Kevin Smith the night before.

“The Russian Five,” directed by Port Huron native Joshua Riehl, uses new interviews and archival footage to recount the dramatic story of the five Russian hockey stars who helped propel the Detroit Red Wings to two Stanley Cup championships.

Tickets are $20 for general admission, which includes pop and popcorn, or $50 for VIP, which includes admission to a pre-film party with drinks and food (including Mexican, soul, Greek and coney stations). Doors open at 7 p.m., with the film starting at 8 p.m. The VIP party will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets can be bought at this link at the livenation website. They also can be purchased at the Fillmore Detroit box office (noon-5 p.m. Monday & Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Fridays).

Continued

Prospect round-up: Machovsky makes Griffins debut in loss to Chicago; Rasmussen 1+1, Cholowski 1A

In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins’ post-Jared Coreau era got off to a bumpy start. Tom McCollum stopped 16 of 19 shots and was replaced by Matej Machovsky with the Chicago Wolves leading 3-0.

The Griffins tried to rally twice, on goals from Eric Tangradi (3-1) and Ben Street (4-2), but the Griffins gave up an empty-netter and ultimately lost 5-2.

The loss snapped an 11-game point streak for Grand Rapids, as noted by the Griffins website’s recap:

Continue reading Prospect round-up: Machovsky makes Griffins debut in loss to Chicago; Rasmussen 1+1, Cholowski 1A