What happened to Wings?
Pavel Datsyuk cannot return to the Detroit Red Wings’ lineup soon enough after the perennial contenders were blasted on back-to-back nights in southern California, losing to the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks by a combined score of 9-2. Without Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom, Jonathan Ericsson and Jakub Kindl, the Red Wings are a shell of the team that rattled off a record 23-game home win streak this year, having lost five of six heading into Saturday’s date with the San Jose Sharks. Lidstrom’s absence is most acutely felt. He is out with a bone bruise in the lower leg that’s in exactly the wrong place – just where he would tie his skates tight. Lidstrom has missed seven games in a row and counting, the longest consecutive stretch he’s spent on the sidelines in a 20-year, Hall-of-Fame career. And he’s getting anxious, too, apologetically noting the other night that sitting in the press box was not his idea of a good time. Right now, the Red Wings’ defence corps consists of Niklas Kronwall, Ian White, Brad Stuart, Kyle Quincey, Doug Janik and Brendan Smith, and they’re not getting it done. “Obviously, we’re not going anywhere with the way we’re playing right now,” Kronwall said. “But at the same time, we feel like we have a good group in here. We just have to stay positive and keep believing in ourselves. I think we all feel that we are a good hockey team and that when we do the things we want to do, when we play the way we want to, we’re a hell of a hockey team. That’s what our mindset has to be – everybody looking forward. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We’re not going anywhere that way.”
Kurri recruits for Finland
Hall of Famer (and former Edmonton Oilers star) Jari Kurri is touring NHL cities again this spring, recruiting for Finland’s world championship team. It matters a little more this season because Finland is playing host to the tournament for the first time in nine years, and the last time it was there, the Finns lost in the championship to Sweden after blowing a big early lead. Kurri is careful not to identify the players he’ll want to recruit while they are still technically in the playoff race, but he will try hard to coax a couple of Ducks, Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu, to play as soon as Anaheim is officially eliminated. Minnesota’s Mikko Koivu, still out of the Wild lineup, will be a candidate as well. The world championship starts late this year, so technically, teams will be able to add players eliminated as late as the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Asked if he developed his management chops by watching Glen Sather operate, Kurri laughed and said: “I don’t have that kind of money to spend.” Kurri also believes the 41-year-old Selanne should return for one more season because he is skating as well now as he did a decade ago, and that, according to Kurri, is not how life is supposed to work. “It should be the other way around – the older you get, the slower you get.”