Jonathan Ericsson’s job is safe for some reason

Not pictured: the immediate turnover, subsequent flailing, and quitting on the play

I won’t pin Wednesday night’s disaster of a night (solely) on the defensive prowess of Jonathan Ericsson. In that respect, you’ll have to excuse the timing of a post like this. Truth be told, I had it in the hopper as soon as I read the Khan article that is about to be referenced.

Anyone that’s familiar with The Production Line, or has heard me on the podcast — dating back to The Obstructed View days — will know that I’ve never even tasted the Big Rig Kool-Aid. When Red Wings fans were moistening their panties during his playoff debut, I sat in the seats at the Joe scratching my head wondering what the hell everyone else was seeing that I wasn’t. And that was his peak.

In the years since, he’s only devolved — and he’s done so quickly. Yet, on Wednesday morning, MLive’s Ansar Khan delivered some quotes and some information that don’t seem to be in lockstep with what we’ve all noticed by now: Jonathan Ericsson is a completely and totally useless player for the Red Wings.

From said article:

Veteran Ruslan Salei and rookie Jakub Kindl are competing for the sixth spot on defense for the Detroit Red Wings with six games remaining in the regular season.

Well, that was unexpected. Ruslan Salei has missed a few practices — and a handful of games — to be with his wife as they welcomed the family’s third daughter. And, like everyone else that plays our game, I’m sure he’s a little banged up after seventy-whatever games. I chalked up his “healthy” scratches to that, and not a budding competition for the final blueline spot.

Ruslan Salei has more than earned his spot on the roster. And so has Jakub Kindl, if you ask me. The player that’s not included in this competition, and — hence — safe from rotation is Jonathan Ericsson.

I’m sorry, but I’m lost.

I get that Coach Babcock likes Ericsson’s size and we’re all waiting for him to “regain” that playoff form he had, but he is — by far, mind you — the biggest liability on the entire roster. He often loses sight of his assignments, and he flails at loose pucks before giving up and allowing his counterpart to walk right around him. I won’t get into the specifics and the hockey talk, but it’s bad. And it’s often.

If it’s about potential, the scales tip way in the favor of Jakub Kindl again. While Ericsson making the NHL at all after being such a late round pick is nothing short of exceptional, Kindl’s upside is lightyears ahead of Ericsson’s, having been a first round draft pick, etc etc and so on and so forth. Losing a potentially very good hockey player like Kindl, so that a moderate-at-best 5/6 defenseman like Ericsson can stay, would be a tragedy.

For his part, Ruslan Salei sounds pissed. And rightfully so:

I’ve been playing the whole year and now he feels like we have to fight for it, so I guess I have to fight for it.

Frankly, players should never stop fighting for their spots in the lineup. No one should get comfortable and just assume that a role is theirs. There should always be youngsters coming up that nip at the veteran’s heels. That’s called competition and it’s good for everyone — including the guys that lose the battle and spend more time in the Leino Lounge than they’d like.

If we’re talking about which two of the “bottom three” deserve to be in the lineup every single night, Ruslan Salei is the only one that’s a lock, especially if you’re not yet sold on Kindl (although, in that vein, what the hell’s the matter with you? Kid’s good). The Red Wings have always had a way of bringing their youngsters along slowly and if Kindl has to spend the majority of his rookie year upstairs, so be it.

The point of the diatribe is not that Kindl shouldn’t be in this battle. It’s that Jonathan Ericsson should be.

Ericsson will be an unrestricted free agent this summer — as will Ruslan Salei. If the current rotation is to be trusted, Ericsson would be re-signed before Salei. And that just don’t add up, Jim.

Photo Credit: Claus Andersen, Getty Images

Loss Candy :: We’ve Got Some Work to Do

Used to look good. Now looks like shit. Sound familiar?

Final (Hi Mr. P)

Blues 10 Wings 3

Thoughts

What is there really to say other than the Red Wings just don’t get it. They don’t come to play when the games still count. They don’t look like a team that’s capable of winning a Stanley Cup, let alone a single playoff series. They just don’t look good. Nobody came to play tonight and the result was a humiliating ass kicking that left fans everywhere shaking their heads and an already mentally shaky fourth string goaltender huddled in the corner of the locker room shaking uncontrollably and pleading for the safe confines of Van Andel and Grand Rapids. The best decision of  the night was some combination of Joey MacDonald and Mike Babcock deciding to spare the kid any further humiliation by sticking the newly-returned-to-Earth Joey Mac back in net for the third period. Second best decision of the night? FSD cancelling the Babcock interview after the second period.

Before I lose my shit, I will say this: This was a trap game from the outset whether it looked like it on paper or not. The Wings – comfortably in the playoffs – are looking to stay healthy, while the newly eliminated Blues are banged up and playing a group of younger guys who would love nothing more than to roll into Detroit, make a name for themselves, and lay the lumber on one of the league’s “premiere” teams. One would think Mike Babcock would have seen this one coming from a mile away and would have game-planned for such circumstances or at least tried to make his team aware of what was potentially around the corner. Instead, the Wings got double digits hung on them and looked like unconcerned jackasses the entire time. Fitting, then, that the Wings ran a promotion for playoff tickets at the end of the game with the tagline “Don’t Miss A Moment.” Hell yea, who would want to miss a moment of the shit the Wings put out on the ice and dared call “hockey” tonight??? Buy now, or you might miss a game where they give up 11 goals!

Who knows where this team goes from here. Most of us are wishfully thinking that they will rebound and get their assess in gear to finish out the season, but reality is a cruel mistress and it wouldn’t surprise me to see this group of “professionals” limp their sorry sacks into the playoffs as a 3 or 4 seed at this point. It’s a complete and total embarrassment to see a team play so lethargically, and the bleeding may not stop when Pavel Datsyuk gets back into the lineup. Up and down the roster, the effort just isn’t there (save for Darren Helm, apparently.) If I’m Mike Babcock, I’m sitting Ericsson’s sorry ass in favor of Salei and Kindl the rest of the way out (more from Petrella on this later), and Kris Draper doesn’t sit another game the rest of the regular season. Still, there’s no guarantee that any set of adjustments will spark guys like Valtteri Filppula and Johan Franzen into a meaningful contribution, which is a sad shame indeed.

Five games to go and no one can save the Wings from themselves but themselves. Awesome, eh?

Time to get to work, boys.

Loss Candy

Mar. 30 :: Midwest Swing

We still don't have a clue why the Cutlass blue...

WHAT’S POPPIN’ TONIGHT?
The Red Wings and Blues saddle up and put spurs on their Air Force One’s tonight at Joe Louis Arena. Puck drops at 7:30pm Eastern.

SAY NOW, CAN YOU HOES COME OUT TO PLAY NOW?
This is the sixth and final time these two teams will tangle this year. The Motown boys have had their way with the crew from the MI crooked letter, crooked letter, taking furr of the five matchups this year. The last time was a 5-3 win in the ‘Lou, witnessed by the H2H2 crew at The Detroit Pub.

WHO THAT IS? (BNN)
Kevin Shattenkirk in a landslide.

THEIR LAST GAMES
:: Detroit followed script and lost 3-2 to Chicago on Monday.
::The Lou fell to Minnesota last night in the skills competition, 3-2.

EXPECTED LINEUP
By special request, the TPL Glossary is ready to jailsex your eyes.
Cleary — Zetterberg — Hudler
Franzen— Filppula — Bertuzzi
Holmstrom — Modano — Abdelkader
Miller — Helm — Eaves

Lidstrom — Stuart
Kronwall — Ericsson
Kindl — Rafalski

Joey Mac
McCollum

OH GOOD, THERE ARE INJURIES
Jimmy Howard [Shoulder]
Chris Osgood [Who Knows]
Pavel Datsyuk [lower body]

HOLY SHIT, SCRATCHES?!?!
Ruslan Salei
Kris Draper

The TPL Name Game ”Three Stars”
Disch: Dan “All Money Ain’t Good Money but No Money Ain’t Good” Ellis
Petrella: Brett “I Got a Real Bad Habit, What I Want I Grab It, So Many Karats in the Ring, I’m Half Man, Half Rabbit” Lebda
Hollis: Pavel “You Can Tell By the Way I Walk I Ain’t From ‘Round Hurr” Datsyuk

BONUS!

Petrella: Todd “Where I Got Em You Can Spot ‘Em, On the Top and On the Bottom. Gotta Bill in my Mouf Like I’m Hilary Rodham” Bertuzzi
Hollis: Jiri “Quarter Rubber, Quarter Dick, Other Half In Yo’ Chick” Hudler

*Now it’s up to you! Think up your best names and throw them in the comments — the best one will be shared for all to enjoy on the TPL Facebook Page. The best of the best will be pitted against one another at season’s end, and the winner takes home a TPL Shirt of their choice.*

TIDBITS
:: With a win tonight, Detroit can officially eliminate the Blues from playoff contention, which would be a pleasant change from a team that has struggled to assert their dominance this season. Errbody’s watchin, time to pull the heat, Wings. UPDATE: Nerrmind. The Hawks have one more win than the Blues, so even if they tie in points, St. Louie is out.
:: The Blues find themselves a bit shorthanded tonight, with Barret Jackman and David Perron suffering from injuries and T.J. Oshie serving time in the Leino Lounge for hitting the snooze button one too many times earlier this week. No matter, Oshie still don’t curr, he ain’t cuttin’ his hurr.
:: It’s the Joey Mac show yet again tonight, as he’ll make his 15th appearance of the season between the pipes. So far, so good for the Mac Attack, who is rocking a 2.13 GAA and .928 save percentage. He did everything he could to keep the Wings in the game against Chicago, making 38 saves despite the eventual loss in extra time.
:: The slump looks to finally be over for Henrik Zetterberg, who has scored in consecutive games and has 5 goals in his last seven contests. Hank is also leading the way for the Wings against the Lou this season, with 8 points over the five game series. On the flip side, somebody should probably cover Patrik Berglund tonight, given that he’s posted 3 goals and 6 points against the Wings this year. WILD CARD: Drew Miller is back after being a healthy scratch. You know what that means…
:: PREDICTION — Wings 4, Blues 2. Too many bodies on the shelf for the Lou means Granny is saying “Ay-yi-yi” like Ricky Ricardo as the Wings get it done.

WHAT WE LEARNED AGAINST THE HAWKS
Brad Watson still has a special place in the hearts of Wings fans errwhurr.

MLX Preview

Good morning, Red Wings Nation!

I was recently reached out to by the folks at MLX, who asked me to give a pair of their skates a test run. Considering my background, it doesn’t take a whole lot of arm-twisting to get me on the ice again, and to try out new equipment. MLX has sent me a pair of skates to test, review, and keep — so in the coming weeks, you’ll see a product review of some mean skates.

Olympic speed skater David Cruikshank founded MLX just ten years ago, and built these skates to perform on sprints and tight corners — which were essentially the only two things that kept me in college hockey, so I’m beyond psyched to give the skates a twirl and see how they hold up compared to the three million other pairs of skates I’ve worn in the twenty years of competitive hockey I’m lucky to have played. With names like Mario Lemieux and Dustin Byfuglien attached to the brand, it’s hard to argue pedigree. With names like Jared Aulin and B.J. Crombeen, it’s easy to see that youth is being served.

The skates retail for $799 (but the website offers reduce prices), which is no small sum, but pro gear ain’t cheap and it usually only takes a few seconds to realize what sets it apart from the stuff your local pro shop has falling off the rack.

Keep your eyes peeled for the review, which will have photos and maybe even some video. It’s been just about ten years since I had my time trials in college, but I’m curious to see what my lap time is at 29 years old, and I plan on bringing three pairs of skates to see how MLX measures up to brands I’ve been wearing for decades. I’ve never had a pair of skates that I had to bake to ensure a good fit, so I’m beyond excited to make that happen in these new MLXs.

On Crime and Punishment: Todd Bertuzzi

The “image” of a person is a tricky thing to comprehend. For some, the world is a place where status and comparison to peers is the major driving force in decisions, actions and even general behavior towards others. Those folks are the ones who cherish their own image more than their own life to some extent. “Life isn’t worth living if people don’t notice me” is the mantra that comes to mind, and each and every one of us knows a person like that. Then there are those who don’t really care what the world thinks about them. They live life on their own terms; the opinion of the masses has no real bearing on how they act, what they say or who they offend. It’s their life, goddammit, and they just don’t have time to deal with the insecurities of the people around them.

Most of us fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum. We live our lives taking care of ourselves and those around us, but there’s always a wary eye cast in the direction of the world we interact with every day. Maybe we don’t need to be an early adopter when it comes to technology or fashion or music, but we definitely don’t want to be left by the wayside. So we lean on the resources around us and we go through the motions of learning about something we might not really care that much about, all in the name of keeping our image and reputation intact. If we’re lucky, we’ll never have to deal with a crisis of image; our fashion choice on a Tuesday morning probably won’t take our colleagues and friends to the brink of hatred and disgust, and that cream cheese smeared bagel won’t stir up too much commotion in the kitchen, except for the girl in accounting who is on a diet and would give everything to break her diet and take a bite of the goodness that we get to enjoy.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Much has already been made of Todd Bertuzzi’s hit on Ryan Johnson last night, and I’m not going to add anything remotely redeeming to this discussion when it comes to the violence and subsequent punishment of the offense last night. I’ve already made it clear that the hit was dirty – he left his feet and led with his back shoulder instead of facing up – and subsequently dangerous, and even though the league has already said there won’t be any additional punishment, I wouldn’t have been grabbing for my torch and pitchfork if the wheel of justice had landed on a different outcome. The league has been clear throughout this entire season that hits to the head are a major point of emphasis, and every single player knows this when they take the ice. I’d bet dollars to donuts that Bertuzzi wasn’t gunning for Johnson’s head and wasn’t trying to injure him, but intent goes out the window when a major issue like player safety and concussions come into play. The NHL, already smarting from the loss of one of the league’s premiere players to a headshot, offers little room for interpretation in these cases, and that usually means taking into consideration whether the player on the receiving end left the ice on his own two feet or on a stretcher. The league felt that time served was enough, and that’s where the actual judging of the incident will end. It doesn’t mean that the judging of Bertuzzi’s character is anywhere close to being over, though.

I’ve always firmly believed that one of the reasons Wings fans are so quick to pick up on cheap play or dirty hits is because we believe our team holds themselves to a higher standard when it comes to playing the game of hockey. I don’t disagree with that assertion, but I’ve often felt that the judgment that gets passed along is such a cavalier manner would come back to haunt us as a fanbase at some point, and we now stand dangerously upon that precipice after last night’s incident. When it comes to Todd Bertuzzi, there’s a clear line in the sand: you either love him or hate him. He’s either a misunderstood individual who had a momentary lapse of judgment a few years ago, or he’s the dirtiest sonofabitch to ever strap on skates and take the ice. Take your pick. If you’re a regular around these parts, you already know how I feel about the guy, and I’ll be the first to admit that my stomach seized up last night when I heard he had been tossed for a headshot.

That’s the deal, though, when it comes to Todd Bertuzzi. No matter how many games of clean, respectful hockey he puts under his belt, he’ll always be judged for the Moore incident. And just like we saw last night, as soon has his character is even called into question, the ignorant and opinionated will come crawling out of the woodwork to pass judgment on both player and fanbase. Sure, it’s relatively easy to pick on a loyal fanbase like Detroit’s. It’s easy to smell the nervousness when expectations aren’t being met on the ice and it’s easy to latch on to a built-in scapegoat like Bertuzzi when his skates come too close to crossing the line of good and bad. For me, at least, last night came way too close for comfort in dealing with one of the biggest fears I have as a Red Wings fan: What IF Todd crosses the line again? What IF he makes a terrible decision and tears down all of the faith I’ve had in him since he arrived in Detroit?

_____________________________________________________________________________________

There are plenty of images in play when it comes to situations like these. For Bertuzzi, his image is already tarnished and no amount of goodwill or gentlemanly behavior will ever remove the dark mark he currently bears. For the Wings as an organization, they knew they were taking a risk in bringing Bertuzzi to Detroit, and the thought of him betraying that trust in a moment of aggression would serve as a sign of disrespect for everything that Ken Holland and Co. have done for Todd, both personally and professionally. For me, it’s all about my image as a fan and ardent supporter of #44. I’ve stood behind him while others ridicule and I would hate for my faith to be shaken as all of those skeletons come crashing out of the closet. I find myself still firmly behind Bertuzzi, so don’t take this as me questioning my beliefs. But sometimes the fear of the worst case scenario can rattle you to the bones even more than if that scenario actually played out.

This incident is over and it’s time to move past it. But we all know that the potential for worse is always right around the corner, even if the player in question has no idea it’s coming. A late hit. An awkward angle. Anything can lead to the great inquisition that Todd Bertuzzi, the Red Wings and the entire fan base knows that so many people long for. While Todd’s image may never recover, there are still many who feel they have plenty on the line when it comes to his actions. Here’s hoping we never get to the point and that each of our foundations are secure.

DOUBLE Loss Candy! :: The Pain is Only Temporary

FINAL (Hi Mr. P!)

Hawks 3 Wings 2 (OT)

Thoughts

  • I’ll hold off on the Bertuzzi hit until later, as I think we’ve finally hit the situation that so many of us have been secretly worrying about ever since the hit on Steve Moore. I’ll preface the forthcoming article with this: From where this blogger sits, it was a dirty hit. Folks will argue intent, but intent doesn’t hold water in today’s NHL. Whether meant or not, elbow/shoulder contacted head, and if we as a fan base are going to pass judgment on the rest of the league’s offenders, then we have to hold our own team to the same standard.
  • The legend of Brad Watson continues to grow in Detroit, with questionable calls pockmarking the road all night long. Was it his fault the Wings lost? Probably not. Just like we said in the pre-game, this team just doesn’t seem to have the killer instinct that marks a championship team, and one can only hope that it will make itself evident when the playoffs finally roll around. Sure, the hooking call on Zetterberg pretty much put the nail in the coffin tonight, but this Wings team has a bad habit of cutting these games way too close and it’s time that they start making their own luck through skill and execution.
  • For all the doubt that has existed around Joey Mac this year, is it that crazy to think that maybe he becomes the backup to Jimmy Howard next season? I’m sure Chris Osgood has other thoughts, but the Oz is more distraction than anything at this point, and one begins to wonder if his head is really in a place where he can successfully accommodate an 82 game season anymore. Don’t take this as hate, but Joey Mac’s effort has been pretty much outstanding over the last month and the guy is winning me over. Is he my first choice for the backup role next year? Absolutely not. But he’s not the worst option while the Wings wait for McCollum to get his game to the NHL standard.

Enough talk. Let’s get to the loss candy, which is a double feature tonight since @Detroit4LyfeRob asked so nicely.

First, some ladies to help ease the pain of the gentlemen:

Josie Maran gets this party started, and boy that rock sure looks like its enjoying the festivities.

Next up is the lovely Jessica Lowndes, who knows how to look comfortable even on the hardest of stairs.

Now, let’s take care of our lovely female readership…

Looking…dapper…it’s Marco Dapper. Is that a Zetter-onesie he’s got on?

Finally, Tyler Batchel contemplates Jonathan Ericsson’s game…or lack thereof.

MacDonald and Toews courtesy of David Guralnick  and The Detroit News

Mar. 28 :: Yeah, well… You’re not from Chicago

Chicago Hockey: As Bad As Kevin Costner Acting

WHAT’S ALL THIS THEN?
The Red Wings and Blackhawks renew acquaintances tonight at Joe Louis Arena. Puck drops at 7:30pm Eastern.

NOW WHERE WERE WE?
This is the fourth time these two teams will meet this season, with two more contests to go before the season ends. Those clowns from the Windy City lead the season series 2-1, with the Hawks taking the previous two contests, both by the final score of 4-1.

BEST NAME NOMINEE
Viktor Stalberg sounds like a comic book villain, so he gets the nod tonight.

THEIR LAST GAMES
:: Detroit dropped Toronto by a final of 4-2 on Saturday night.
:: Corey Perry defeated the Blackhawks all by himself, 2-1, on Saturday. That’s what we in the business call a “four-point” game.

EXPECTED LINEUP
By special request, the TPL Glossary is ready to jailsex your eyes.
Cleary — Zetterberg — Hudler
Filppula — Modano — Holmstrom
Franzen — Abdelkader — Bertuzzi
Draper — Helm — Eaves

Lidstrom — Stuart
Kronwall — Ericsson
Salei — Rafalski

Joey Mac
McCollum

OH GOOD, THERE ARE INJURIES
Jimmy Howard [Shoulder]
Chris Osgood [Who Knows]
Pavel Datsyuk [lower body]

HOLY SHIT, SCRATCHES?!?!
Jakub Kindl
Drew Miller

The TPL Name Game ”Three Stars”
Disch: (The HORSECOP is out HORSECOPPING, so no quote from him today.)
Petrella: Jonathan “Don’t Waste My Time With That Bullshit” Ericsson
Hollis: Jiri “This Town Stinks Like A Whorehouse At Low Tide” Hudler
*Now it’s up to you! Think up your best names and throw them in the comments — the best one will be shared for all to enjoy on the TPL Facebook Page. The best of the best will be pitted against one another at season’s end, and the winner takes home a TPL Shirt of their choice.*

TIDBITS
:: Although Jimmy Howard’s injury should only keep him on the shelf for a few games, it might be fortuitous that it comes with the Blackhawks in town. Howard has been less than productive against Chicago, posting a 0-2-0 record alongside a 3.53 GAA and .889 save percentage.
:: While the Wings are all but a mortal lock to make the postseason, there’s still plenty at stake for the Winged Wheel tonight. With the Sharks dead-even in points, wins and losses, the Wings will look to exercise their game-in-hand tonight to put a pair of points between them and SanJo while ensuring that the 2 seed remains theirs at least for another day.
:: On the other side of the coin, the Blackhawks need every point they can get as they try and hang on to the 8th and final playoff seed in the West. The Flames and Stars are both nipping at their heels, so Chicago will be bringing it each and every night in order to have the chance to defend their championship.
:: “Protect this house”? Not so much for Detroit, who has lost three in a row to the Hawks at the Joe.
:: PREDICTION — Hawks 3, Red Wings 2. The Wings have shown a blatant disregard for putting the proverbial skate to the throat, and could do themselves a number of favors by bringing the thunder tonight. Alas, the Wings would likely rather avoid more injuries as opposed to going all out to embarrass a divisional opponent and put their playoff hopes on the line, which is why Chicago escapes the Joe tonight with another “W”.

WHAT WE LEARNED AGAINST THE LEAFS
Brett Lebda. Enough said.

Red Wings sign Gustav Nyquist

As was expected, the Detroit Red Wings have signed two-time Hobey Baker finalist Gustav Nyquist to a two-year, entry level contract. Financial terms of the deal have not yet been released, but I’m sure CapGeek will work some sort of voodoo magic to get them by the end of the day.

Nyquist will join the Grand Rapids on their trip to Texas this weekend, and figures to make his pro debut in a Griffins uniform somewhere over the next 48 hours, which is super exciting, I’m sure.

For the second year in a row, Nyquist is one of the ten finalists for the Hobey Baker, college hockey’s equivalent to the Hart Trophy. His University of Maine Black Bears did not earn a berth into the NCAA Tournament, and Nyquist has decided to forgo his senior season to turn pro. He is currently the 4th ranked prospect in the Red Wings system, per Hockey’s Future and 3rd per Red Wings Central.

The official release, per the Detroit Red Wings, and courtesy of public relations coordinator Rick Bowness:

Detroit, MIDetroit Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland today announced that 21-year-old forward Gustav Nyquist has been signed to a two-year entry-level contract. As per club policy, no further terms of the deal will be announced. Nyquist will join the Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL) immediately.

Originally selected by Detroit in the fourth round (121st overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Nyquist has spent the past three seasons with the University of Maine Black Bears (NCAA) where he has twice been named a Hockey East First Team All-Star. The 5’11”, 170 lb. center was also named to the conference’s All-Rookie Team in 2008-09 after a stellar freshman campaign with the Black Bears. Nyquist has been a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as the top collegiate player in the country each of the past two seasons (this year’s winner will be announced on April 8). In 113 career NCAA games, Nyquist has tallied 144 points (50G-94A) in addition to 68 penalty minutes.

Prior to enrolling at the University of Maine, Nyquist starred with his hometown Malmö Redhawks in Sweden’s premier junior league (SuperElit) where he registered 75 points (32G-43A) in 66 games played over the course of two seasons.

And from the Grand Rapids Griffins:

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday signed forward Gustav Nyquist(GUHS-tav NEW-kwihst) to an amateur tryout.

The 21-year-old Nyquist, the Detroit Red Wings’ third choice (121st overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, was recently named a Hobey Baker Award top-10 finalist for the second straight year following his junior season at the University of Maine.

Born in Halmstad, Sweden, Nyquist led the Black Bears and tied for second in Hockey East and seventh nationally with 51 points (18-33—51) in 36 games. Maine’s assistant captain was named to the Hockey East First Team for the second year in a row, as he became the first player since Steve Kariya (1996-99) to lead the Black Bears in scoring for three consecutive seasons.

In 2009-10, Nyquist was named to the Hobey Baker Hat Trick as one of the top three players in college hockey and chosen as a First Team All-American. He led the nation in scoring with 61 points (19-42—61) in 39 games while tying for first with 42 assists.

A Hockey East All-Rookie Team selection in 2008-09, Nyquist became the first freshman to lead Maine in scoring since Paul Kariya (1992-93), as he paced the team with 13 goals, 19 assists and 32 points.

Nyquist, an economics major, was nominated this season for the Dean Smith Award as Maine’s top-scholar athlete, and he has twice been named a Maine Scholar-Athlete Award winner and to the Hockey East Academic Honor Roll.

Nyquist becomes the third Hobey Baker finalist on Grand Rapids’ current roster, joining goalie David Brown (2007 Notre Dame) and defenseman Brendan Smith (2010 Wisconsin). He will be available to make his pro debut tonight when the Griffins visit the Texas Stars at 8:30 p.m. EDT.

Mar 23 :: Rubbin’, son, is racin’

...and then the volcano blasts...and then the human souls go into the aliens...and then the aliens give some of us power...

WHAT’S ALL THIS THEN?
The Red Wings and Canucks face off as the top two seeds in the Western Conference. Wednesday evening, 7:30pm Eastern.

NOW WHERE WERE WE?
This is the fourth and final game between the two top squads, with the Wings leading the season series 2-1. The most recent matchup was January 8th, and the Wings were 2-1 shootout winners. Neither hero from that game will be in tonight’s contest, with Johan Franzen (regulation goal scorer) and Jiri Hudler (shootout winner) ailing.

BEST NAME NOMINEE
Tanner Glass.

THEIR LAST GAMES
:: Detroit rallied, but fell short, losing 5-4 to the Penguins in a shootout on Monday.
:: Vancouver lost 3-1 to the Coyotes on Friday. Like all teams favored by the League, they’ve had eleven thousand days off to prepare for the Red Wings.

EXPECTED LINEUP
By special request, the TPL Glossary is ready to jailsex your eyes.
Cleary — Zetterberg — Holmstrom
Filppula — Modano — Abdelkader
Eaves — Helm — Miller
Draper — Mursak — Salei

Lidstrom — Ericsson
Kronwall — Stuart
Kindl — Rafalski

Howard
Osgood

OH GOOD, THERE ARE INJURIES
Jiri Hudler [H2N2 flu]
Johan Franzen [connecticazoink]
Pavel Datsyuk [lower body]
Todd Bertuzzi [sore back]

The TPL Name Game “Three Stars”
Disch: Hakan “Well I Know a Damn Race Driver When I See One” Andersson
Petrella: Chris “You and Rowdy Have the Same Sickness, It’s Called Denial and it’s Probably Going to Kill You Both” Osgood
Hollis: Jonathan “Well, Hell Yes Its Your Fault” Ericsson
Bonus Points: Dany “Let Me Out of the Car!” Heatley
*Now it’s up to you! Think up your best names and throw them in the comments — the best one will be shared for all to enjoy on the TPL Facebook Page. The best of the best will be pitted against one another at season’s end, and the winner takes home a TPL Shirt of their choice.*

TIDBITS
:: Another day, another injury, as Todd Bertuzzi joins Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, and Jiri Hudler on the shelf.
:: Following a game and a half of stellar play, Joey MacDonald was sent back to Grand Rapids so that Jan Mursak could be called up. The team will dress 11 forwards and 7 defensemen.
:: Chris Osgood thinks he’s well enough to dress as a backup after spending a week handcuffing the Red Wings roster.
:: Speaking of injuries, the Canucks have had a rough go — particularly on the blueline. They’re without Lee Sweatt, Alexander Edler, Andrew Alberts, Kevin Bieksa, Manny Malhotra, Aaron Rome, Tanner Glass, and Mikael “Hit the Pace Car” Samuelsson.
:: PREDICTION — Canucks 4, Red Wings 2. Sorry. I don’t like this one.

WHAT WE LEARNED AGAINST THE PENGUINS
Spotting a JV team four goals is usually enough.