Red Wings-Sharks game-day updates: Wings wary of Sharks’ urgency; on Svechnikov and Bertuzzi

The Detroit Red Wings face the San Jose Sharks this evening (10:30 PM EDT on FSD/NBCS Bay Area/97.1 FM), and the morning skate revealed what you would expect: no lineup changes for the Red Wings, and Jimmy Howard starting opposite Martin Jones.

After the morning skate,’s Dana Wakiji spoke with Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill regarding the Wings-Sharks match-up…

When the Wings defeated the San Jose Sharks in a 2-1 shootout at Little Caesars Arena Jan. 31, the Sharks did not have Evander Kane, whom they acquired from the Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 26.

“He’s obviously a real element of speed,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “And I think if you asked these guys, they’ve got a real good team. Joe Pavelski’s been one of my favorite players since he’s been in the league and going back to Waterloo when he was with the Blackhawks. Obviously, Joe Thornton’s been an elite player.

“But they don’t have tons and tons of speed. They’ve got really good hockey players, but he gives the element of speed to the team. I know they’ve talked about playing a north game more. To do that, it sure helps to have somebody who can get behind your D the way Evander can.”

For the season, Kane has 21 goals among 45 points in 66 games.

In the five games he’s played with the Sharks, Kane has one goal and four assists. In 17 career games against the Wings, Kane has five goals and four assists.

Wakiji also spoke with the Wings about limiting Brent Burns’ shots on goal:

The last time the Wings faced the Sharks, defenseman Brent Burns had nine shots on goal. None of those nine shots got past goaltender Petr Mrazek but it shows how prolific the big defenseman can be. Burns is tied with Pavelski for the team lead in points with 53.

“He shoots from everywhere,” DeKeyser said. “Every time he gets the puck up top he’s putting it on the net or looking for high tips or stuff like that. Our wingers got to do a good job of getting out there and then if it gets by them the D got to try to step in front of a few.”

Wakiji continues, speaking with Blashill about a power play tweak…

The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan filed an article regarding Evgeni Svechnikov’s ice time

“Part of it for me is we hadn’t practiced really all week leading up to those games,” Blashill said. “Grand Rapids had a combination of days off. Hopefully he feels more comfortable now where he’s ready to be able to excel and gain some more minutes.”

There’s also the delicate balance of the Red Wings attempting to win games and putting their best lineup on the ice, and Svechnikov taking someone else’s minutes.

“I’m asking our guys to compete like crazy, work their tails off, and I’m going to put the guys out there that will help us win the hockey game,” Blashill said “Certainly we want to get a good look at Svech, but he’s got to make sure he’s good enough that he’s outplaying somebody so that I’m putting the guys out there to win a hockey game.”

Svechnikov figures whatever playing time he gets right now, it’s a learning experience, first and foremost.

“No matter if it’s five minutes, nine minutes, I try to focus on those five minutes and give everything I can,” Svechnikov said. “It doesn’t matter. I’ll just give everything I can every shift. That’s the only way I’ll get another chance.”

Svechnikov understands that are a lot of things he has to do to show he is ready to be a regular NHL player.

“I want to be a 200-foot player,” Svechnikov said. “I want to shoot the puck and be around the puck, be on the right side of the puck and don’t make any turnovers. This is a game, and it’s (turnovers) going to happen, but right now, I don’t want to make any mistakes. I just want to go out and play my game. I have the skill and talent, and I want to make plays.”’s Eric Gilmore filed a Wings-Sharks preview

The Game: The San Jose Sharks will try to strengthen their hold on second place in the Pacific Division when they play the Detroit Red Wings in the finale of a six-game homestand at SAP Center on Monday. The Sharks lead the Anaheim Ducks by one point, the Los Angeles Kings by two and the Calgary Flames by three.

Goaltender Martin Jones will make his eighth straight start for San Jose, which is 3-2-0 in its past five games. Jones is 7-4-1 with a 1.92 goals-against average, a .937 save percentage and one shutout in his past 12 starts.

The Red Wings have lost six straight games (0-5-1), one shy of their longest streak this season (0-3-4, Nov. 19-Dec. 2). They trail the Columbus Blue Jackets by 14 points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. Jimmy Howard, 0-4-1 in his past five starts with 15 goals allowed, will start for Detroit.

Players to watch: Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader has four points (one goal, three assists) in his past five games.

Sharks forward Joe Pavelski has seven points (three goals, four assists) in his past five games.

They said it: “Ultimately I think he’s part of the solution here. I think he can be a big piece of the solution, so hopefully he gets great experience here right now.” — Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill on rookie forward Tyler Bertuzzi

“We’re in a position where we can control our own destiny. We don’t need to worry about scoreboard watching or what other teams are doing. As long as we take care of our business we can be in a spot that we want to be in.” — Sharks forward Evander Kane

Among the Mercury News’s Paul Gackle’s notes

No scoreboard watching: DeBoer admitted that it’s tough to resist the temptation to scoreboard watch at this time of year. It isn’t a habit he wants his team getting caught up in, though.

With two points separating the Sharks (81 points), the Anaheim Ducks (80 points) and the Los Angeles Kings (79 points), the Pacific Division standings could look wildly different after Monday’s action.

A Sharks loss combined with Ducks and Kings wins over the St. Louis Blues and Vancouver Canucks would bump DeBoer’s team from second place in the Pacific Division into the Western Conference’s second wild card spot.

“You try not to (scoreboard watch). I’m not going to lie to you, you do,” DeBoer said. “You really try not to because we just have to take care of our business. We have no control over that stuff, and really, those scores, we shouldn’t waste any energy on it, positive or negative, because we’ve got enough to concentrate on. We’re trying to stay in the moment, take care of our business and trust that the standings will take care of themselves.”

Evander Kane, who’s hoping to get his first taste of playoff action this spring, isn’t checking scores on his phone during intermissions.

“Absolutely not. No, no, no, I’m focused on the game,” he said.

Kane wasn’t even aware of the Ducks and Kings’ opponents Monday after the Sharks morning skate.

“Who they playing,” Kane asked. “Obviously, we’re aware that it’s a mess in the west, if that rhymes. You’ve got to embrace it, you’ve got to enjoy it. It means so much more, you’re just that much more amped up.”

And if you missed it:

Here’s coach Pete DeBoer’s pre-game media availability:

The Free Press’s Helene St. James has yet to file her notebook, but it appears that she’s going to write about Tyler Bertuzzi based upon the already-filed video:

Aha, here is her notebook:

Last Friday, Columbus saw Bertuzzi play 18 minutes, 51 seconds, a season high. He was one of the team’s better players in the game, even if it has yet to translate into scoring.

“He hasn’t had the production and the production needs to come certainly when you’re on that line, but he’s kept tons of plays alive with his work ethic and his stick,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “He’s a net-front presence guy but he’s got lots of poise with the puck as well, so he can make lots of little plays. He keeps getting those chances, he’s got good enough hands he’ll finish them for sure. He’s shown that in the past.

“Tyler’s a hockey player. Some guys get wowed by making fancy plays and some guys and some guys just do whatever it takes to score a goal and create a chance and that’s what Tyler does. He’s not fancy, he doesn’t look for the harder play, at all — he looks for the simplest play.”

A Bertuzzi shot hit a goal post early in the Columbus game, and he’s hit a few of those lately, leaving him with two goals and 13 assists in 34 games. Monday morning saw assistant coach John Torchetti tell Bertuzzi not to let it affect him, to just keep shooting. Part of it is Bertuzzi still acclimating to the NHL.

“Sometimes I think I have to shoot it right away and maybe I have an extra second to take an extra step and get a better shot,” Bertuzzi said. “That’s the learning part. We’ve been generating a lot of chances. We get pretty good looks every game, so hopefully it will start going in the net.”

Playing with Zetterberg is good for Bertuzzi’s growth, as it was for Dylan Larkin in his rookie year, and as it has been for Anthony Mantha.

“Every game you can learn something from him — his work ethic all the way until he gets to the bench,” Bertuzzi said. “It’s awesome to play with him, and I think it’s going to help my career.  Going into draws he’s always talking about what we are going to do and where I should be. He makes it pretty black-and-white for me, and that makes it easier for me to just go out and play.”

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.