Atlantic Division Standings, Red Wings Stats (thru 12-29-13)

Monday a.m. 12/30/13

Atlantic Division GP W L OL PTS
Boston Bruins 39 26 11 2 54
Tampa Bay Lightning 39 23 12 4 50
Montreal Canadiens 40 23 14 3 49
Toronto Maple Leafs 41 20 16 5 45
Detroit Red Wings 40 18 13 9 45
Ottawa Senators 41 16 18 7 39
Florida Panthers 40 15 20 5 35
Buffalo Sabres 39 11 24 4 26

Red Wings Stats (thru 40 games)

Player Pos GP G A PTS PIM
Pavel Datsyuk C 33 14 17 31 6
Henrik Zetterberg LW 29 12 19 31 8
Daniel Alfredsson RW 35 10 19 29 6
Niklas Kronwall D 38 4 22 26 26
Johan Franzen C 30 9 13 22 22
Tomas Tatar LW 32 7 8 15 6
Justin Abdelkader LW 35 3 10 13 12
Joakim Andersson C 40 6 6 12 8
Jakub Kindl D 38 1 10 11 10
Darren Helm C 15 7 3 10 2
Todd Bertuzzi RW 34 6 4 10 24
Danny DeKeyser D 25 2 8 10 12
Gustav Nyquist RW 15 5 4 9 2
Drew Miller LW 40 4 4 8 13
Jonathan Ericsson D 29 1 7 8 24
Brendan Smith D 30 1 6 7 38
Dan Cleary RW 39 3 3 6 20
Kyle Quincey D 40 1 5 6 47
Stephen Weiss C 26 2 2 4 12
Tomas Jurco RW 6 2 1 3 2
Mikael Samuelsson RW 21 1 2 3 6
Cory Emmerton C 9 0 2 2 4
Brian Lashoff D 36 0 2 2 18
Riley Sheahan C 4 0 2 2 0
Adam Almqvist D 2 1 0 1 0
Luke Glendening C 16 0 1 1 4
Jordin Tootoo RW 10 0 1 1 5
Patrick Eaves RW 9 0 0 0 2
Jonas Gustavsson G 17 0 0 0 0
Jimmy Howard G 21 0 0 0 2
Petr Mrazek G 4 0 0 0 0
Xavier Ouellet D 3 0 0 0 0
Player GP W L T/O GA SV% GAA SO
Jonas Gustavsson 17 11 3 2 39 0.914 2.39 0
Jimmy Howard 21 6 8 7 55 0.91 2.65 2
Petr Mrazek 4 1 2 0 7 0.91 1.9 1
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Game 40: Red Wings-Florida Enotes

The Red Wings tried wearing their road whites at home on Monday night, but that didn’t fool the hockey gods.

Apparently, those white sweaters only hold their magic away from Detroit.

The Red Wings scored another win on the road tonight, in Florida. There hasn’t been a better traveling show on skates since the Ice Capades.

The Red Wings beat back the Panthers, 4-3, and Jonas Gustavsson made sure of it.

The Detroit goalie repelled one great Panthers scoring chance after another, particularly in the third period when Florida tried gamely to come back from a two-goal deficit for the second time in the contest.

Gustavsson was especially brilliant in the final minute, after Florida pulled goalie Scott Clemmensen. Why Gustavsson wasn’t named one of the game’s three stars is a mystery and a criminal act.

Henrik Zetterberg (welcome back, Z), Gustav Nyquist (eventual game-winner), Daniel Alfredsson and Brendan Smith scored for Detroit (18-13-9). It was the Red Wings’ 12th win away from home this season.

Detroit let the Panthers back into the game in the second period after taking a 2-0 lead in the first 20 minutes on power play goals from Zetterberg and Alfredsson. Florida tied it, 2-2, heading into the third period.

But Smith got the Red Wings the lead back, just 42 seconds into the third stanza. Nyquist added a goal just 38 seconds later to regain the two-goal cushion. Sean Bergenheim’s wrist shot through traffic beat Gustavsson at 4:27 to make for a hectic and frantic 15:33 for the Red Wings.

BOX SCORE

BOTTOM LINE: The night and day records and numbers for the Red Wings at home and on the road is surely one of the NHL’s weirdest storylines this season.

THE WINGED WHEELER SAYS: Gustavsson, whose play of late has tapered from his hot start, turned in a remarkable performance. He also got great support from his defensemen, especially Smith, who functioned as a second goalie during some crazy scrambles in front of the net. It was also great to see Zetterberg return from his back injury. His goal, a wicked wrister over Clemmensen’s shoulder, signaled that there was little if any rust after missing about three weeks or so.

Happy Birthday, Mick!

Mickey Redmond

Former Red Wing Mickey Redmond turns 66 today.

To that, the Winged Wheeler says, “Keep ‘er goin’!”

Redmond was the first Red Wing to score 50 goals in a season, and he did it twice in a row (1973 and ’74). I was in attendance when Mick did it in 1974, as he blasted a slap shot past New York Rangers ‘ Ed Giacomin on March 23. The Olympia Stadium crowd went nuts. It was a highlight in yet another down year for the Red Wings of the 1970s. I remember that Redmond scored a hat trick the game before, allowing me to see no. 50 in person.

But a bad back curtailed what could have been one of the greatest goal scoring careers in Red Wings history.

Redmond’s last game was in January 1976, and he was all of 28 years old. The back wouldn’t let him continue.

He tried a comeback in 1979, but after a few days of skating in training camp, the pain was too much and Redmond had to call it quits for good. His broadcasting career began just weeks later.

Ironically, it was Ned Harkness—the man who killed half a decade of Red Wings hockey—who brought Redmond to Detroit.

Frank Mahovlich, one of the many unhappy players in Detroit when Harkness was coach and then GM, was dealt to the Montreal Canadiens in a trade that netted the Red Wings Redmond, winger Bill Collins and center Guy Charron. The trade was made on January 13, 1971.

Redmond, just 23 at the time, was a player with a high ceiling who was simply squeezed out of Montreal because of too much talent up front. Canadiens GM Sam Pollock had admired Mahovlich from afar when the right winger played for Toronto and Detroit. That’s one reason why Pollock was willing to surrender three players for the Big M.

Redmond blossomed in Detroit, and if it hadn’t been for his chronic bad back, who knows how many goals he could have scored as a Red Wing. As it was, Redmond fired 177 pucks past enemy goalies in 317 games in Detroit.

The cruel part of Redmond’s back trouble was that, for the most part, he had been a very durable player. In his first three full seasons as a Red Wing, Redmond missed just two games. But the back issues started flaring up in the 1974-75 season  and never went way. Redmond played in just 66 games over his final two seasons in the NHL.

But Redmond will be skating in next week’s alumni game leading up to the 2014 Winter Classic. He has done so many times for the Red Wings Alumni.

Bingo-bango!

Mark Howe: Chasing Another Cup, But In a Suit

Mark Howe recently came out with a book, “Gordie Howe’s Son: A Hall of Fame Life in the Shadow of Mr. Hockey,” and it recalls a piece I wrote about Mark in late-May, 2009:

Mark Howe’s Playoffs Spent Spying, Legally

Mark Howe was no stranger to May hockey as a player.

Today, Howe is very familiar with it as well, but instead of lacing up skates he’s filing reports. Instead of making the breakout pass from his own zone, he’s racing to catch the next plane at the airport.

If it wasn’t for those darned Edmonton Oilers and New Jersey Devils, there’d be two Howes with their names engraved on the Stanley Cup, as players.

Howe, the most talented hockey player among Gordie’s kids, went to the Stanley Cup Finals three times, in skates. This year, he hopes to make it five times in Armani.

Mark came up empty as a player–losing twice with the Philadelphia Flyers to the Oilers (1985, 1987) and once to the New Jersey Devils, as a member of the Red Wings (1995).

Nowadays, Mark Howe is the Director of Pro Scouting for the Red Wings. Which means, especially at this time of the year, his job is to coordinate scouting of possible Red Wings opponents.

Fancy words for, he has to criss-cross the country, watching hockey games.

While the Red Wings were dispatching the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round, Howe and his staff, which includes former Red Wing Pat Verbeek, were spreading themselves out, not knowing exactly who Detroit would face in Round Two.

As the Anaheim Ducks emerged as a possible opponent, thanks to jumping out to a 3-1 series lead over San Jose, Howe focused on the Ducks. He ended up attending all six of the Ducks’ playoff games in California.

While the Wings played the Ducks, Howe took in the Blackhawks-Canucks series.

Now he’s checking out the Hurricanes and the Penguins. And filing reports.

Legalized spying. That’s what scouting is, basically.

But there comes a time, if your team advances far enough, when there’s no more scouting to be done. Just watching and hoping.

During last year’s Cup Finals, I trudged down to the Red Wings’ dressing room after Game One. With no more scouting to be done, Howe and Verbeek had joined coach Mike Babcock and his staff in the coaches’ room, adjacent to the lockerroom.

Babcock, despite a shutout win, was still wound up.

“They’re gonna give them a bunch of power plays, you can bet on it!” the coach barked as Howe and company looked on. A few choice words tumbled out of Babcock’s mouth as well.

During the game, I kept an eye on the Red Wings’ suite, filled with hockey intelligence.

Gordie Howe, no less. Scotty Bowman, no less. Kenny Holland, no less. Jimmy Devellano, no less. Steve Yzerman, no less.

And Mark Howe. No less.

They sat, scrunched together, in suits and ties, their work done, but not their worrying.

The stuffed shirts, as I called them, could only look on. Like expectant fathers.

Howe and Yzerman, of course, could relate to what was going on below them, on the Joe Louis Arena ice surface.

I was pulling so hard for the Red Wings to win the Cup in ’95, which was 40 years exactly since their last one.

I knew it was Mark Howe’s last season as a player. What a way for him to go out, I thought–to win the Cup, 40 years after his dad last won it for the Red Wings. And just a couple weeks after his 40th birthday.

Mark was born just weeks after dad Gordie’s Wings won the ’55 Cup.

Game One was played that year, appropriately, on Father’s Day weekend.

But the Devils would have none of sentiment and nostalgia.

They swept the Red Wings, using a suffocating trap.

Mark retired, Cup-less.


Mark Howe in the 1995 Finals

But then he went to work in the Red Wings’ scouting department, and his name got engraved on the Cup, after all.

Four times, in fact.

It’s not the same, of course. It never is the same. Ask any former player. There’s nothing like winning the Cup, in uniform, in skates, and parading the chalice around the rink.

Your name can be engraved, but if it wasn’t because of toil, tears, and sweat on the ice, it’s just not the same.

Not that it doesn’t mean something, of course.

The Red Wings signed Mark Howe in the summer of 1992. Finally, at age 37, he was coming home to play NHL hockey in Detroit.

He had played junior hockey in town, as a member of the Junior Red Wings, but when it came time to turn pro, Mark was not Red Wings property.

The Houston Aeros, of the World Hockey Association, owned Mark and brother Marty’s rights.

Then old man Gordie joined them, in 1973.

Mark and the clan could have come back several years later, after mom Colleen (who passed away earlier this year) tried to broker a deal that would bring the Howes back to Detroit after their exile to the WHA.

The Norris family, who owned the team at the time, would have none of it. For whatever reason.

It’s almost over now for Mark Howe–the miles in the sky, the reporting, the advanced work needed to prepare Babcock and his staff for the next opponent.

If the Red Wings escape the Blackhawks in the conference finals, Howe will end up back in the team management suite for the Finals, another stuffed shirt.

The work done. The worrying, not so much.

Christmas Day Games Once an Olympia Tradition

Everyone knows of the Red Wings’ tradition of playing home games on New Year’s Eve. But for many years, starting in the mid-1950s and running through 1967, the team played on Christmas Day, and usually at Olympia Stadium.

It wasn’t a very popular tradition among the players and their families.

In fact, several wives petitioned owner Bruce Norris that they were tired of losing their husbands on a day normally reserved for family.

Finally, Norris gave in and the Red Wings haven’t played on Christmas Day since 1968, and that was in Pittsburgh.

Today, the NHL now has a moratorium on activity around Christmas. No games, no practices between December 24 and December 26. The Red Wings played on December 23 this year, and don’t have a game until December 28.

This contrasts sharply with the NBA, which uses Christmas Day like the NFL uses Thanksgiving, showcasing games all day on television.

I applaud the NHL for keeping Christmas as a “hands off” holiday—no games or practices.

But for 14 years, from 1955-1968, the Red Wings played on Christmas Day, and all but a few of those games were played in Detroit. But thanks to a determined group of women, that “tradition” was abruptly ended.

Never underestimate the power of hockey moms (and wives)!

Spotlight on the Opponent: Matt Carkner

What: NY Islanders at Detroit
When: Monday, December 23, 7:30pm (TV: FSD+)

Matt Carkner

If there’s anything Matt Carkner is familiar with, it’s an NHL penalty box.

Carkner, 33, is a defenseman for the New York Islanders by trade, but his hobbies include fighting and being whistled off the ice.

For his 212-game NHL career, Carkner has accumulated 484 penalty minutes, well over two per game.

Carkner is a late bloomer of sorts. He had a couple cups of coffee with San Jose and Ottawa, but didn’t make it full-time in the league until the 2009-10 season, at age 29.

Carkner was drafted way back in 1999, at age 18, by the Montreal Canadiens as the 58th overall pick of the NHL Entry Draft, but he never signed with the Habs. His first pro contract was signed in 2001, with the Sharks. Carkner made his NHL debut by playing in one game for San Jose in the 2005-06 season.

If you Google or YouTube Carkner, you’ll find lots of fight videos, mainly because Carkner fights a lot. His is sort of a dying breed—the pure enforcer whose mere presence on the ice could lead to a scrap.

This season, Carkner has played in 28 games, has all of three points, but has been whistled for 77 minutes in penalties. Typical Carkner “production.”

Carkner has been more of a career minor leaguer than an NHLer (he’s played in 527 minor league games, almost three times as many as in the NHL), but part of that has been due to injury. Carkner has battled through two serious knee injuries and a significant wrist injury along the way. The Islanders are his fourth NHL organization—five if you count the Canadiens.

Carkner wears no. 7 for the Isles.