Today was kind of an odd feeling day for me, one of those days where it simultaneously feels like nothing of significance is really going on, but also at the same time there’s a lot of information to digest and process. Let’s jump right into some of the interesting news.
- Niklas Kronwall wasn’t on the ice again today and Jeff Blashill said it’s because he was having “a little bit of back spasm today”. He says he’s not at all concerned about it and doesn’t know for sure if Kronwall will be on the ice during at all during training camp.
- Henrik Zetterberg practiced this morning with the “A” Team, but did no scrimmage and I wasn’t able to find out why.
- Cole Fraser, the Wings 5th round pick last spring, was sent home already due to an injury. Nobody I spoke with could tell me for sure, but I believe it’s an injury sustained in his fight with Mike McKee in the Prospect Tournament.
- Givani Smith played in only half of the scrimmage today and I’m guessing it’s because of some sort of injury or soreness.
- Eric Tangradi was injured in the scrimmage yesterday and wasn’t on the ice today. It happened on a harmless friendly check into the boards, but something happened and Tangradi went down to the ice holding his left knee in pain before being helped off the ice. During the scrimmage today, I witnessed him playing rock paper scissors with a young boy who specifically asked to see him. It was another one of those “human being” moments that made me smile.
There were plenty of other players walking around the rink wearing bags of ice or supports/braces as well.
Justin Abdelkader had a giant bag of ice taped to his left ankle after the scrimmage, while Jonathan Ericsson sported a fashionable bag of ice around his right elbow. Nothing serious looking, but I was feeling so out of fashion that I almost got a bag of ice to sport on my wrist just so I could fit in.
Dennis Cholowski was moved from the “A” team to the “B” team today and I could only speculate as to why. Was it a “demotion” based on his performance? I wrote yesterday that he was in over his head with the A team and all the NHL regulars. Perhaps Blashill though he’d be better suited to practice with players closer to being his peers. Then when he came out for his interview, he was wearing a soft shoulder sling/brace and I wondered if an injury could be part of why the coaches didn’t want him to push himself against the NHLers. Ultimately we didn’t get an answer, so the speculation is all we have for now. With Cholowsky on the “B” team, Brian Lashoff took his place on the “A” team. It’s meaningless in training camp, but still, how many of you facepalmed when you read that? Cholowski says he doesn’t know for sure yet it he’ll be playing with Prince George in the WHL, or if he’ll be in Grand Rapids. That decision is up to the Wings and he’s focused on making the best case he can to be playing in GR this upcoming season.
Michael Rasmussen moved up from the “C” squad to the “B” squad today and Blashill says it’s absolutely merit based.
“Rasmussen moved up because he had a really good day before.” Jeff Blashill said. “He’s got a real good skill package and I thought his effort level was really good... He scored a big time goal two days ago in practice, I know he’s still getting that hand going and he hasn’t been able to do much with it so I think that scoring touch will continue to come. He skates really really well for a big guy and his skating’s only getting better. I’ve heard some question marks about his skating and I think that’s nonsense. His skating will only get better, he’s got a great stride, he makes plays in tight areas, I like him a lot.”
“there’s no reason why guys can’t move up and down from team to team as they have good days”,
So the teams are somewhat flexible and guys can be moved “up” or “down” the teams as their performance dictates.
There was a lot of goalie talk today and we got to talk to Jared Coreau, Jimmy Howard, and Petr Mrazek and then talk about all three of them with Jeff Blashill. Honestly, there wasn’t much new news so I’ll just give you a quick summary and you can listen to the full interviews at your leisure.
Jared Coreau changed his diet this summer after watching “What the Health” on Netflix. Yes really. He said he’s on a pescatarian diet in an attempt to lose some weight and keep his energy level up late in games. So far he’s experiencing results and says he feels better, has lost some weight, his energy level is more consistent, and his endurance is better. This is an important time for Coreau because he’s no longer waiver exempt. So he either has to play well enough in camp and the pre-season to supplant Howard or Mrazek, or be put on waivers at the beginning of the season and possible be picked up by another NHL team. While the chances of that aren’t very high, that’s Coreau’s goal and what he’s striving for
Petr Mrazek was asked plenty of questions about what he did in the offseason to prepare for a better year this year, and what he thought of being left unprotected in the expansion draft. He responded using words, and still didn’t really say much of value. He said he made a few tweaks to his offseason workout routine, had a lot of daily video coaching and review, worked hard, and remains confident in himself and his abilities. Mrazek is very good at speaking without really answering a question… or at least without answering with substance. He’s got the “hockey answers” down.
Jimmy Howard worked on his lower body strength and conditioning over the summer. He was of course asked about the expansion draft and his reaction was inspiring.
“I got the phone call on Henry's third birthday [June 18th] and I thought it was a phone call saying ‘you're going to be exposed’. Being protected, it was pretty cool. It meant a lot. I've been with this organization for so long. Detroit is home for us, for my family. My boys were born there and have grown up there. It's home."
When Jimmy Howard talks about how much he loves being a Red Wing, his emotion and passion comes through. So when he talked about how much it meant to him that the Wings protected him, and felt it was a vote of confidence, I absolutely believe it meant a lot to him.
“Detroit’s home, it’s where I want to be, it’s where my family wants to be, and we don’t want to be anywhere else”
Jeff Blashill praised Howard’s dedication and perseverance and had only good things to say about him.
"He's a great example of when you face adversity,” Jeff Blashill said of Howard, “how do you react, and he faced adversity leading into last year. He had choices to make last summer, and like I said about our team, he dug in and fought like hell. He did change his game a little bit a summer ago, some technique things and it paid off with a great year. I think that's a great thing.”
This was Tatar’s first scrimmage since his shoulder surgery and he says it felt good. His injury wasn’t a traumatic event, but rather a shooting nerve pain he experienced primarily when he was shooting the puck. He experienced the issue for a while and decided this summer was a good time to have the surgery to correct it.
Speaking of the scrimmage, it was the “A” team vs the “C” team and mercifully the teams were mixed together so it wasn’t a slaughter. Tomas Tatar and Riley Sheahan scored the only goals in regulation that resulted in a tied game. There was a 3 man shootout, with Corbin Boes Pat Nagle in net, and Tomas Tatar was the lone shootout scorer.
Here’s his shootout goal aginst Pat Nagle
After the scrimmage, Riley Sheahan stayed out on the ice to skate with a young fan. It was an “awww” moment.
Luke Witkowski also gave an interview that I didn’t find fascinating enough to transcribe, but you can listen to it if your’e interested.
Anthony Mantha’s increase size and strength have me all kinds of excited for his season. He looks leaner, bigger, stronger, and doesn’t appear to have lost any speed. I can’t wait to see him in action this season and I think he’s going to do great things.
Nick Jensen has stood out for all the right reasons. I’ve been pulling my hair out for a years now wondering why more attention wasn’t paid to him and why it took so long for him to be called up to Detroit. As good as he already was, he’s come into camp looking like he’s trained hard all summer long and it taking nothing for granted.
Joe Hicketts is more polished, composed, confident, and mature than ever. While he’s not going to make the Red Wings this year, he’s certainly a standout in the “B” group and his game has matured enormously after one season in Grand Rapids. Even in the scrimmage with and against some of the NHLers, Hicketts looked comfortable and competent. He’s been so good in camp that I feel I’d be doing him an injustice if I didn’t mention it.
Evgeny Svechnikov has also made a very good impression so far. He has a great work ethic, bring energy and intensity to the ice and pair that with his exceptional shot and the fact that he’s learned when to do thing himself and when to use his linemates, and Svechnikov is poised to have a very big year. While I think he’ll benefit most from another half year or so in Grand Rapids, he’s coming for you NHL, ready or not!
We have one more day of practices on Sunday, before the Red and White game on Monday, then the pre-season begins!