The Malik Report
While the Red Wings are preparing to battle the Chicago Blackhawks tonight, the Wings' AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, are preparing to host the Oklahoma City Barons in the first two games of the AHL's Western Conference Finals, which willt ake place at Van Andel Arena on Friday and Saturday night.
As the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan notes, the Wings players who spent the first half of their 2012-2013 season in Grand Rapids before joining the parent club for its 2013 campaign aren't surprised by the Griffins' post-season success...
"They have a good team, and the older guys are making a difference," said Andersson, noting veterans such as Jeff Hoggan, Nathan Paetsch and Brennan Evans. "In the American League there are so many young guys and teams, you need good leadership."
The Griffins open the conference finals against Oklahoma City on Friday at Van Andel Arena.
"I still talk to a lot of guys down there, I keep track of them for sure," said Nyquist, who was the team's leading scorer (60 points) while playing 58 games in Grand Rapids. "Guys have taken on bigger roles and the veterans have done a great job."
Updated 5x at 4:46 PM, and Babs' game-day presser is below: As Paul's already noted, the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks exchanged the usual "all is well" sentiments as they prepared to face off in Game 4 of their second-round series tonight (8 PM EDT, NBCSN/CBC/97.1 FM, with a post-game show to air on FSD), and coach Babcock was in fine form during his game-day presser...
The NHL Network also filed a game-day report which includes comments from Babcock, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall and Justin Abdelkader...
from Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times,
Toews was indeed smiling, and most of the Hawks seemed to be in a rather good mood after an unusually focused morning skate at Joe Louis Arena. If the pressure's mounting, they weren't showing it.
"Our group's been fine. We're definitely disappointed, we haven't been in this position all year. We've quietly gone about our business and [they've] gotten our attention over the last couple of games. The focus has got to be in the right place. We want to play our best game of the year tonight, and we're going to need it."
After a disastrous Game 2, the Hawks felt they played a strong game in Game 3, particularly in the third period. The way they see it, if a break or two had gone their way, they'd be the team up 2-1 in the series. Of course, they're not. And the fact that one of their better efforts wasn't good enough to beat the surging Red Wings might not have damaged the Hawks' confidence, but it certainly boosted Detroit's.
"It shows that we have a lot of confidence and we're playing close to our best hockey right now, and that's what we want to keep doing," said defenseman Brendan Smith. "I think we've still got to work on a few things. I don't think we've played a full 60 minutes and that's something we're going to need to do tonight, because we all know Chicago's going to come out blazing. It's such an important game. Seems like every game gets more important -- it's unbelievable how that works. They're going to up their ante and we're going to have to do the same."
from Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun,
There is something vaguely unfair about the Detroit Red Wings.
The lineup they iced for Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series against Chicago on Monday had 15 players who were either their own draft picks or who were Red Wings property before anyone else got them.
That's 15 out of 20, and if forward Darren Helm and defenceman Danny DeKeyser were healthy, the number would be higher.
This, despite having not had a top-10 pick in the draft since 1991 (Marty Lapointe), and only two inside the top 20 in the 22 seasons since then - in each of which, by the way, the Red Wings have made the playoffs.
Oh, and just to rub it in a little, the Wings' system includes the NCAA college defence-men of the year in the CCHA (DeKeyser) and WCHA (Nick Jensen), the top defenceman in the Canadian Hockey League (Ryan Sproule) and one of the QMJHL's two or three best rearguards, Xavier Ouellet.
The Detroit Red Wings face off against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight (8 PM EDT, NBCSN/CBC/97.1 FM, and FSD will air a post-game show; tonight is also the "Fill a Boot" night fundraiser to help the family of Dearborn firefighter Brian Wohlke) knowing that "things will move pretty fast" from here on out. Starting with Game 4 this evening, this series will switch to the familiar play-every-other-day format, with Games 5, 6 and 7 scheduled to take place on Saturday (8 PM, NBC), next Monday and Wednesday...
So the two-day breaks' worth of bluster will soon be behind us (there were two practice posts, an evening multimedia post, injury updates and multiple discussions of the Wings' rebuilding-on-the-fly status for a reason; for the record, it's going to get up to 60 today with scattered showers, but the low for tonight's forecasted at 37 degrees, so the ice should be much better at the Joe, too), but Wednesday's practice chatter did end in something of a flourish from Chicago, where the Hawks still insist that they must play "angry," and where Joel Quenneville's decided to jump-start his power play and his team's scoring by adding Bryan Bickell as a net-front presence and prescribing more Andrew Shaw to get in Jimmy Howard's grill, respectively.
The Hawks didn't absolutely insist that the series will head to Chicago tied 2-2, but they came pretty close while speaking with Comcast Sportsnet Chicago's Tracey Myers...
Over the course of the both the Red Wings-Ducks and Red Wings-Blackhawks series, Ken Holland and Mike Babcock's roles on Detroit's "rebuilding on the fly" season (which, as the Oakland Press's Pat Caputo noted this afternoon, does not involve tanking to be bad enough for long enough to stockpile high draft picks like the Blackhawks did), and with the Grand Rapids Griffins advancing to the AHL's Western Conference Finals, Martin Frk dazzling at the Memorial Cup and the team adding to its stockpile of drafted prospects by bringing over Calle Jarnkrok (temporarily), Teemu Pulkkinen (permanently) and signing Nick Jensen and Mattias Backman recently (and adding free agents like Damien Brunner and the rapidly-headling Danny DeKeyser hasn't hurt, either)...
The Wings' NHL and AHL rosters don't necessarily lack talent or depth, though they're certainly not the Blackhawks.
Now the story about Mike Babcock heading to Anaheim instead of succeeding Scotty Bowman isn't necessarily as gruff as Ken Holland told the AP's Larry Lage earlier today--Babcock was coaching the AHL's Cincinnati Mighty Ducks in the 2001-2002 season, and when Babcock approached Holland stating that he wanted to coach the Wings, Holland told Babcock that he simply couldn't hire a coach with no experience as opposed to stating that the team "doesn't hire interns"...
The Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association named Patrick Eaves their nominee for the Masterton Trophy, which recognizes perseverance and dedication to hockey, because Eaves successfully recovered from a concussion that consumed 13 months of his professional career.
I don't think that anyone, including the Red Wings, imagined that Eaves would have become so invaluable to the team's penalty-killing or provide such no-frills defensive play that he'd be bumping Todd Bertuzzi and Jordin Tootoo out of the team's playoff lineup, but he's doing just that, and WXYZ's Tom Leyden penned a story about and filed a video profile of Eaves earlier this evening:
Listen/watch five minutes with 'Gus'.
The Associated Press's Larry Lage examined the battle between the Chicago Blackhawks' and Detroit Red Wings' coaches, discussing Joel Quenneville's role in his Hawks' successes (despite being 0-and-5 against the Wings in the playoffs) and Mike Babcock's presence behind the Wings' bench, and in doing so, Lage related a story from Wings GM Ken Holland that you may not yet be aware of:
"He makes his team accountable,'' Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said.
With an iron fist?
"Yeah,'' Holland said. "He's the boss.''
Holland is Babcock's boss more than a decade after telling him that he wanted to lead the storied franchise on the ice while he was coaching a minor league team shared by Detroit and Anaheim. During the second intermission of a playoff game in 2002, Holland recalled Babcock telling him he wanted to be the next coach of the Red Wings.
"I don't hire interns,'' Holland said he told Babcock. "The next year, he knocked us out of the playoffs.'
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