|Simona de Silverstro wasn't very pleased with Damien Brunner's Game 4 OT winner against her friend Jonas Hiller and the Anaheim Ducks. (Photo courtesy of simonadesilvestro.com)|
DETROIT – It’s been a big month for Damien Brunner, who definitely has felt the national pride for Swiss sports recently.
Obviously, reaching the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs is huge for the first-year NHL forward, who is tied for the team lead with four goals. It was also big news that the Swiss national team was good enough to reach the gold medal game at last week’s World Championship in Stockholm.
Sweden prevailed on its home ice, defeating Switzerland, 5-1, on Sunday.
Asked what would be bigger in Switzerland, bringing home the World Championship or the Stanley Cup, Brunner said, “Probably for Switzerland, it's bigger to win the World Championships because not a lot of people know that much about the NHL.”
Someone Brunner doesn’t know is Swiss IndyCar driver Simona de Silverstro, who is a rabid Anaheim Ducks fan.
The 24-year-old De Silverstro was on Detroit’s Belle Isle Monday to run hot laps in preparation of the Detroit Grand Prix on June 2. She’s a huge hockey fan, and apparently pretty good friends with a certain Swiss goalie on the Anaheim Ducks.
It was only fitting that she wasn’t pleased that the Ducks lost the seven-game series to the Red Wings, and even more that Brunner’s overtime-winner in Game 4 prevented Anaheim from grabbing a 3-1 lead in the series.
“Tell them that I am mad at them,” said de Silverstro, who is from Trun, Switzerland, about 94 miles southwest of Brunner’s home in Zurich. “I was for Anaheim, Jonas Hiller is my friend, so I was pulling for them.”
De Silverstro, who has been racing in the U.S. since 2006, is off to a strong start this year with three top 10 finishes at St. Petersburg, Fla. (sixth); at Sao Paulo, Brazil (eighth); and at Long Beach, Calif. (ninth).
Perhaps Brunner will find it in his heart to cheer for De Silverstro at next month’s Detroit race, if for nothing else, national pride.
|Niklas Kronwall's younger brother, Staffan (8), used to play in the NHL. He has played the last two seasons in the KHL, and helped Sweden win the World Championship on Sunday. (Photo by Getty Images)|
The Wings’ defensive partners had brothers on the Swedish team that posted a 5-1 win in Stockholm, becoming the first home team to win gold since 1986. It is the Scandinavian nation's ninth gold medal at the World Championship.
“Yeah, that’s pretty special,” Ericsson said, following the Red Wings’ morning skate on Monday. “Of course it’s special to have your brother play and I know Kronner feels the same way. It’s pretty cool that we’re pretty close and to have our brothers win together.”
Ericsson’s older brother, Jimmie, had a goal in seven tournament games, while Kronwall’s younger brother, Staffan, collected one assist with a plus-3 rating as the team captain in 10 games.
“It’s pretty cool. I hadn’t really thought about it that way,” Niklas Kronwall said. “Obviously both of us are really proud today. I think all Swedes are, really.”
During the post-game celebration, the Swedish players donned gold hockey helmets, akin the metallic lids made famous by the University of Notre Dame football team.
“That’s what we do in the Swedish (SEL) championship. They come out right away like we do with the Stanley Cup hats,” Ericsson said. “They have the golden helmets, but I don’t think I’ve seen it in the World Championship before. I don’t know where that came from.”
But for Jimmie Ericsson, a 33-year-old forward, it was the second time gold helmet in two months. He helped Skellefteå win the Swedish Elite League championship in April.
Asked if the four brothers might celebrate their hockey success with a round of golf this summer, Jonathan said, “I don’t play golf and I don’t think my brother plays golf. We all went for a fishing trip once, but Kronner, Nik, he can’t fish. He’s awful at that.”
Kronwall seemed flabbergasted by his partner’s assessment of his casting ability.
“Really?” Kronwall said. “The last time I fished with him I caught the biggest one. So I’ll just leave it at that.”
|Henrik Zetterberg said Friday that it's time to make Johan Franzen "a little grumpy" in order to get him to play better in this series against Chicago. (Photo by Dave Reginek)|
DETROIT – Seems like it might be time to kick the Mule.
“He could be pretty mean but I think he's playing the best hockey when he's a little grumpy,” Zetterberg said. “I think maybe it's up to us to get him a little bit grumpy before the games.”
Maybe becoming a father for the second time has made the Mule a little less crotchety. Franzen's wife Cecilia gave birth to the couples' second son last Monday.
In eight playoff games this spring, Franzen has three goals – all on the power play in the first series against Anaheim. He also has a team-worst minus-7 rating.
Through his career, Franzen has always been a dynamic playoff performer, collecting 41 goals and 35 assists in 96 games.
He was befitting of his nickname after Friday’s practice turning a little ornery when asked about the Game 1 loss the Blackhawks and what the Red Wings can do differently in Game 2 on Saturday afternoon at the United Center.
“That game is over. We don’t have to worry about that one anymore. We can focus on trying to make this one a little better,” Franzen said. “We need to handle the puck better. Come up with the puck and go from there so we can create some offense. We didn’t really have the puck at all last game. We need to do a better job of helping the D out.”
Asked about those who aren’t giving the Red Wings much of a chance to knock-off the Presidents’ Trophy winning ’Hawks, the Mule gave a perverse answer.
“Let them think that,” he snapped. “That’s awesome. Who cares.”
On a serious note, Franzen would like to see the Red Wings score the first goal on Saturday.
“It makes it a lot easier,” he said. “You open the other team up, because they’ve got to for it. Usually it means you’re going to get more chances.”
|Cory Emmerton is back in the lineup for tonight's Game 1 against Chicago. He sat out Sunday's series clinching win at Anaheim. (Photo by Dave Reginek)|
CHICAGO – Mikael Samuelsson has suffered a setback in his recovery from a strained pectoral muscle. He will be replaced in tonight’s Game 1 lineup against the Chicago Blackhawks by center Cory Emmerton, who was a healthy scratch in the Red Wings’ Game 7 victory at Anaheim.
Until last Sunday, Emmerton had played in every regular-season and playoff game for the Wings this season. He will open the Western Conference semifinals series as fourth-line center between wingers Patrick Eaves and Todd Bertuzzi.
Emmerton had no points and was a minus-4 in the series against the Ducks, where he also struggled in the face-off circle, winning just 37.8 percent of his draws.
Coach Mike Babcock alluded this morning that he would like to see Emmerton maintain a high compete level in this next series.
“You have to look at the guy across from you, you have to fight for your piece of the ice, and you have to do it on every shift,” Babcock said. “If you do that you get to stay in the lineup each and every night and never ever have to worry on off days. Just relax on off days because you know you’re in.”
Emmerton said he hopes that he doesn’t have to be a spectator again this spring.
“You don’t want to watch ever. I got to watch and it wasn’t a lot of fun,” he said. “I’ll do my best to not get in that situation again.
“Everything’s a learning lesson as you go along in your career. You do what you can do move forward and keep getting better.”
As for Samuelsson, tonight will be the 47th game this season that he’s sat out due to an injury.
“I played Sunday and know it’s Wednesday and the next game’s not till Saturday so we’ll see what happens,” he said.
When asked if he’s beyond frustrated with the injuries that continue to plague him, Samuelsson said, “Yeah you can say that.”
SOG: 36 | +/-: 7
On Monday, team doctors gave the Red Wings’ defenseman two options: Continue wearing the cumbersome cage or switch to a more manageable half visor.
Quincey choice to don the visor, which he had on for the first time when the Red Wings practiced at Honda Center as they prepared for Tuesday’s Game 1 of the Western Conference quarterfinals against the Anaheim Ducks.
“The biggest difference is that I could see better,” he said.
Quincey missed nine games after he was injured during the third period in Edmonton on March 15. He didn’t require surgery, but when he returned to the lineup he had to wear the full face cage, similar to those worn by most college players in the United States.
While Quincey didn’t have an ultimatum, he said that he would prefer to play without a cage or any type of shield.
“I’d probably go no visor,” he said. “It just goes back before the incident in my mind. I feel like I play better without a visor on and I can see the ice better. There are no restrictions visually, so that’s how I would base my decision.”
Still, getting rid of the cage was very liberating to Quincey, even though he was struck above the shoulders by a puck in Saturday’s season-finale win over the Stars.
“It definitely felt different without the cage on,” he said. “I got a puck in the face again the other night in Dallas. It hit me in the cage, so you’re grateful when that happens. Hopefully the pucks to the face will stop.
“It does happen, but hopefully it’ll never be as hard as the one that broke it. The pucks that pop up aren’t as bad as the wrist shot straight to the grill.”
|Drew Miller sports a cast on his right hand, which was fractured last Saturday in Vancouver. (Photo by Bill Roose/Detroit Red Wings)|
DETROIT – Relieved that his broken hand doesn’t need surgery, Drew Miller is still frustrated with the season-ending injury that occurred in last Saturday’s 2-1 shootout loss at Vancouver.
“You can’t go back and change it now,” he said. “You just got to be positive and believe in the guys in here and everyone’s going to do as much as they can to get into the playoffs.”
Miller is expected to miss at least four weeks after he fractured the fourth metacarpal bone in his right hand when he was struck by an Alex Edler wrist shot in the first period at Rogers Arena on Saturday.
“I felt it right away, but at the same time I’ve been hit in the hand before and you feel it and kind of shake it off,” said Miller, who has four goals and four assists in 44 games. “I felt it more when I went into the corner and I tried to hit the puck off of his stick. I felt it move a lot more than it should.”
The fourth metacarpal bone is located at the base of the ring finger.
Before his injury, Miller was one of five players to appear in every game this season for the Red Wings, joining defenseman Niklas Kronwall and forwards Justin Abdelkader, Daniel Cleary and Cory Emmerton.
With three games remaining, the Red Wings are seeking to extend their 21-season playoff streak. Miller hopes they can get to the postseason and beyond the second round.
“Really not much more you can do,” he said. “Pound your calcium, your vitamin D, do the bone stimulator as much as I can. Let it rest for a bit and get back on the ice and skate. Do as much as I can to be ready for the end of the second round, somewhere around there. … I want to be back as fast as I can.”
|Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle paid tribute to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings with an inscription on his left skate on Monday night. (Photo by Getty Images)|
DETROIT – As details emerged about the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people and wounded scores of others, coach Mike Babcock was sickened by what he saw in images on TV and the Internet.
“It’s hard to believe that this could be caused by human beings because you wouldn’t think no human would be involved in something like this,” the Red Wings coach said. “The reality of the situation is, the great part about living in the free part of the world is that it’s free so people do things that sometimes you would rather not happen.”
Like everyone who works in the athletic world terrorist attacks isn’t far from Babcock’s mind as high-profile sporting events have long been discussed as tantalizing targets for foreign and domestic terrorists who wish to achieve a particular political aim.
While Monday’s twin blasts produced the worst terrorist attack on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001, Babcock said he feels safe at work in NHL venues.
“NHL security does what they can,” Babcock said. “Things can go wrong. It’s part of living in the free part of the world. There are going to be things that go wrong, but in saying all that, you can’t let people get in the way of what you love to do.”
On Tuesday, security was also tightened at sports venues across the U.S., though most events were held as planned. The exceptions were in Boston, where Monday’s NHL game between the Bruins and Ottawa Senators was postponed, and Tuesday's NBA game between the Celtics and Indiana Pacers was cancelled.
The Red Wings will be in Vancouver later this week to play the Canucks on Saturday night at Rogers Arena where security will undoubtedly be on heightened alert as the city prepares to host 48,000 runners Sunday morning in the second largest 10K race in the world.
“I remember when my wife ran her first marathon,” Babcock said. “The jubilation at the end there in L.A. was unbelievable. You’re there for a family event and then you hear an eight-year old boy lost his life.
“Our thoughts and our prayers go out to those families that were involved. It’s a sickening, sickening thing. In saying that I assume they’re really going to heighten security right now. You’d like to think things like this would never happen again, but you and I know that won’t be the case. It’s sad.”.
|Michigan native and Red Wings fan Buzz Brainard can be heard every weekday "On The Highway" on SiriusXM. (Photo by Bill Roose/Detroit Red Wings)|
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – What do baseball, country music and kids television programming have in common with the Red Wings?
The answer: Buzz Brainard, the metamorphic voice of everything from computer chips to the Walt Disney Empire, who grew-up in Michigan idolizing the Red Wings. Though, by his own admission he may have attended just a couple of games as a young boy, this Nashville transplant hasn’t forgotten his hometown sports roots.
“It was really tough growing up in Flint because we weren’t really able to go to games,” Brainard said. “I was a Wings’ fan. I was a Lions’ fan. I was a Tigers’ fan. But I didn’t get to see a lot. It was more about the mystery of it. We didn’t have a lot of money so it wasn’t like we traveled to Detroit. Occasionally we’d go to a Wings game or a Tigers game, but it was enough to build in my head that it was cool to follow it. … To be able to go occasionally made the whole thing crazy big.”
Red Wings’ fans likely don’t know the man behind the voice who moved from Michigan in the early 80s to pursue an acting career. However, some may recognize Brainard as the host of “This Week in Baseball”, while music aficionados hear him weekdays on “The Highway” the road to new country on Sirius XM, and kids of all ages acquaint him to being the benevolent voice of The Disney Channel.
Born and raised in Clio, a northern Flint suburb, Brainard studied theatre and communications at Central Michigan University. But a semester before he was scheduled to graduate a job offer came in from Lansing’s BoarsHead Theater. He accepted the acting role and never looked back on a career that has since taken him from New York to Los Angeles, and Nashville where he now lives.
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“I had some success at (acting) and that took me to New York and I was doing TV commercials, a couple of small roles in movies, things like that,” Brainard said. “Then somehow got into the voice-over end of it because my television commercial agent had a voice-over department, and I asked, ‘What’s that?’
“They gave me a shot at it. I got lucky and then realized that I could go away for three days, shoot a TV commercial, and make a certain amount of money. Or I could make almost that same amount of money by doing the voice-over in an hour.”
Work’s never been difficult to get for the 50-year-old Brainard. His voice has been associated with countless corporations and products from Home Depot to Coca-Cola and Intel, the chip-making company that builds essential technologies for the world's computing devices. He was also the smart aleck commentator on the TV show "Maximum Exposure", narrated "Breed All About It" for Animal Planet, and was the promotional voice for the wildly popular TV series ‘Friends’ in syndication.
“There’s just so much out there that you can do,” Brainard said. “It’s a great job that over the years has gotten more difficult because more people started finding out about it. But it’s like the mafia because when I started once you got in you became a made man and then you were able to get work from that.”
From an illustrious man-cave of a sound studio that he had built in his Franklin, Tenn., home, Brainard still cuts voice tracks there for Disney and other clients. But his radio show is done in the SiriusXM studios, which overlook the main entrance to Bridgestone Arena, where hockey is almost as big a Carrie Underwood in this country music capital.
“I’ve been loyal to the cities that I’ve moved to,” said Brainard, who often speaks of his love of the Wings and Tigers on his national radio show. “When I was in Los Angeles I was able to adopt the Dodgers because they’re a National League team, so I didn’t feel bad about that. But nobody can take the place of the Red Wings. Everyone goes nuts for the Preds in this town, which is phenomenal. But it’s completely different if the Wings are in town.
“Working here at SiriusXM you can look out at where everyone comes in, and when the Wings are here it’s just a sea of red. … There are a lot of transplants in this town, but Red Wings’ fans come out of the woodwork and it’s nuts. It makes me very proud.”
SOG: 30 | +/-: 8
“Just a great place for me to train,” he said. “You're at altitude all the time. I'm big into outdoor sports. The best thing about it is it's sunny every day, you can't beat that.”
But tonight will mark the first time that the veteran defenseman has played an NHL game in Denver since he was traded to Detroit by the Avalanche as part of a three-team deal on Feb. 21, 2012.
“The hardest thing about the trade was (leaving) the guys in the dressing room,” he said. “They have a great group of guys there, my closest friends. Good to see them. I make my home in Denver, so I'll have a lot of friends there outside of hockey. It'll be good to see them again. I had a lot of good memories there, making the playoffs, so it's good to go back there.”
Quincey received a lot of ticket requests for tonight’s game, which, he said, is compounded by it being a Friday night game and the fact that the Colorado Rockies are also playing their first baseball game of the new season in Denver.
“It's Opening Day, big day in Denver,” Quincey said. “People going to the Rockies game will then go to the Wings game. … Hopefully I get enough tickets for all the people.”
Tonight will also be Quincey’s return to the Red Wings’ lineup since being struck on the right side of the head by a puck in Edmonton on March 15. A X-ray later showed that he had several small facial fractures that didn’t need surgery to repair. However, as a precaution he must wear a full face-cage because he still is experience from numbness in his face.
“Don't feel teeth, gums, lips,” said Quincey as he pointed to the right side of his face. “That's just the one issue, but it doesn't affect me on the ice. I'm eating softer foods, not the hard stuff. Good for the diet.
“Hopefully by playoff time I won't have to worry about it and can take this cage off.”
SOG: 100 | +/-: -7
Brunner, who has 11 goals and 11 assists this season, has an undisclosed lower body injury that first started bothering him a couple of weeks ago. He did not practice with the Red Wings Wednesday in Detroit, and he tried to participate in today’s morning skate, but only lasted about 15 minutes before he headed back to the locker room.
“I tried,” Brunner said. “I thought it's going to be better, but obviously it felt not that good. I hope it's going to be better tomorrow.”
Immediately after tonight’s game, the Red Wings will fly to Denver where they will face the Colorado Avalanche for the second time in five days.
The Wings will again be without veteran forward Mikael Samulesson, who suffered a new injury in Sunday’s 7-1 loss to the Blackhawks at Joe Louis Arena. The new injury is to the upper body, but Samuelsson was hesitant to say exactly. He missed 12 games early in the season after re-aggravating a groin injury that he suffered during the team’s mini-training camp in mid-January. He then sat-out 19 games after sustaining a non-dislocated fracture of the left index finger.
“I'm falling apart,” said Samuelsson, half joking. “Not lucky at all. I bruised my pec (pectoral) muscle. (Michal) Roszival got stuck in the boards with his stick so I went to hit it, or poke-check it. Since he got stuck, it pulled me back.”
Like Brunner, Samuelsson too, believes that he is day to day.
Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose