The Malik Report
The Russians and Finns have something of a contentious relationship, having actually gone to war against each other at one point (Finland was also once part of the Russian empire), and it is expected that today's quarterfinal between the nations' hockey teams (7:30 AM EST, CBC/NBCSN), and Yahoo Sports' Dmitry Chesnokov reports that the counries' bitter hockey rivalry will be front and center this morning...
Russia will need a solid performance against Finland on Wednesday, the team that has given them so much trouble on the international stage. The Finns are a bogey team for the Russians, beating them four out of six times the two teams have faced each other in the Olympics. Three of those wins were shutouts for Finland. This will be the real test for the Russian defense, because giving up even one goal could mean the end of the Olympic dream.
“This will be war.” Alex Ovechkin said about the upcoming game. “We’re are ready for this war.”
But this is a Red Wings blog, so why is this story here? Well, it appears that a certain Pavel Datsyuk is still a chessmaster both on ice and during media availabilities. He's chosen not to e particularly forthcoming during these Olympics, and Chesnokov reports that Datysuk's still deflecting questions like Tomas Holmstrom tipped pucks:
This is going to be a very busy and a very long day for me and possibly for you if you're interested in both watching the Olympic quarterfinals and reading about the Red Wings non-Olympians' return to Joe Louis Arena's ice.
This morning, we've got a slate of four quarterfinal games taking place, and the Red Wings have either player or coaching representatives on four of the eight teams playing...
And this afternoon, we're going to find out how Stephen Weiss, Johan Franzen and several other Wings are doing, though the absences of Jimmy Howard, Jonas Gustavsson and Petr Mrazek (two Olympic "third stringers" and someone playing for Grand Rapids) make me wonder who the Wings will be shooting at:
Amongst this morning's Red Wings prospect-related news:
The Grand Rapids Griffins skated in a sled hockey game to raise money for their "Sled Wings" and the Griffins Youth Foundation, and a good time was apparently had by all...
I guess it was too much to hope for. Tomas Tatar played an another fantastic game alongside Marian Hossa and the surprising straw who stirred the drink on Slovakia's top line in Michal Handzus, Tomas Jurco played his heart out yet again...
But the Slovaks dug a 4-goals-to-zip deficit for themselves, and they couldn't quite dig themselves out of it, losing 5-3 to the Czech Republic.
Slovakia rallied to 4-3 and pulled Jan Laco, but Andrej Meszaros taking a dumb penalty yielded a 5-on-5 instead of a 6-on-5, and Tomas Plekanec had no trouble stuffing the puck into an empty net and punching the Czechs' ticket for a quarterfinal battle with the U.S. tomorrow at noon (12 PM on USA and TSN2).
As I'm writing this, Latvia's pulled a gigantic upset and will battle Canada on Wednesday (12 PM EST on USA Network and CBC), and Tomas Tatar's Slovaks almost pulled off a comeback from a 4-0 deficit, but they couldn't quite make it happen, losing 5-3, and as such, the Czechs will advance to battle the Americans on Wednesday (12 PM on MSNBC).
Pavel Datsyuk and Russia will battle the Finns on Wednesday at 7:30 AM (NBCSN), and Datsyuk's Swedish Wings teammates will tangle with Slovenia a little earlier on Wednesday (3 AM EST on NBCSN).
After Tuesday's practice, Sweden's captain spoke with NHL.com's Corey Masisak regarding the team's faith in Henrik Lunqvist, and Niklas Kronwall believes that the Swedes will be just fine because they know they can rely on their starting goaltender...
"It's huge, there's no doubt about that," Kronwall said. "To be able to go far and deep in these tournaments, you need the best goalie. So far he's been unbelievable for us. I think other teams the guys are pretty comfortable with whoever is in net because that's how the good the goalies are these days. We're fortunate to have the best goalie in the world."
And while I'm not going to translate it, Gabriel Landeskog admitted to Expressen's Magnus Nystrom that he did ask Daniel Alfredsson about the Swedes' quarterfinal collapse against Belarus in 2002, and Alfredsson suggested that the Swedes can't play being terrified of losing--they've got to just go out and give their best effort. That's certainly going to be true against the upset-happy Slovenes.
Detroit, MI... Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader and defenseman Danny DeKeyser are set to appear individually at six Meijer locations throughout the Metro Detroit area, signing autographs and interacting with the fans of Hockeytown. DeKeyser, a Clay Township, Mich., native and former Western Michigan Bronco, will kick off the campaign on Friday, Feb. 21 in Auburn Hills (800 Brown Rd.). Abdelkader, a Muskegon, Mich., native and former Michigan State Spartan, will follow suit with an appearance the next day on Saturday, Feb. 22 in Utica (15055 Hall Rd.). Abdelkader and DeKeyser will each make two additional stops throughout the months of February and March in Warren, Royal Oak, Detroit and Taylor. The complete season-long schedule can be found below:
I wasn't quite sure how to handle this story from a Red Wings perspective, so I'll turn it over to DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose:
The newly-formed Russian Hockey Hall of Fame used Monday’s off day in the Olympic hockey tournament to unveil the first 146 inductees, including four with ties to the Red Wings’ organization.
Although the museum is more than a year from being completed in Moscow, the hall’s committee used the Sochi Olympics to create interest in the inaugural class that features former Red Wings center Igor Larionov and defensemen Viacheslav Fetisov, Sergei Bautin and Dmitri Mironov.
All but Bautin were members of Stanley Cup-winning Wings’ teams.
The weird part? Roose continues, and notes the following:
There are a few obvious omissions to the first class of great Russian players, like the remaining members of the Wings’ Russian Five – Sergei Fedorov (three Stanley Cup titles), Vyacheslav Kozlov (two Stanley Cup titles) and Vladimir Konstantinov (one Stanley Cup title).
In post-Soviet Russia, fame haul you?
Updated 3x at 12:55 PM PM: The Russians and captain Pavel Datsyuk booked a trip to the Wednesday's quarterfinal against Finland (on Wednesday, on NBCSN, at 7:30 AM EST) via 4-0 victory, but it was anything but a laugher. The Russians didn't register their second goal until 37:11 of time had elapsed, and both prior to and after that point, they mostly played perimeter hockey and seemed all too content to attempt to pass the puck into the back of the net.
Datsyuk looked much, much more like himself, registering 3 assists on Alexander Radulov's bulldog-to-the-net goals, empty-netter included (shades of Justin Abdelkader? Make the ONE guy who goes to the net look like a superstar? Well, maybe, to some extent, though Radulov is a bit more talented, and a way bigger jerk), and making this dangle and deke move, as noted by Pete Blackburn on Twitter:
Red Wings overnight report: on Wings’ Olympians, injury issues, Callahan, Ouellet and prospect stuff
As I'm writing this, Gary Bettman, Donald Fehr and Rene Fasel have already given their, "Will the NHL participate in the 2018 Olympics" bluster presser, Slovenia is en route to a quarterfinal match-up with Sweden on Wednesday (at 3 AM EST), the Russians have inducted 146 former players and coaches into their Hockey Hall of Fame, and the teams that aren't skating in today's qualification round playoff games (as MLive's Brendan Savage noted, Norway will play Pavel Datsyuk's Russians at 7:30 AM on the CBC and NBCSN and Slovakia will battle the Czech Republic at 12 PM on NBCSN) are practicing or have already completed their practices.
The Free Press's Helene St. James reported that Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg won't return to Detroit until Thursday while allowing Ken Holland to weigh in on the sticky wicket that is Zetterberg (herniated disc in his back) and Pavel Datsyuk (Knee? Groin? Fallopian tube bruise?) skating in the Olympics.
Going into today's qualification games and tomorrow's quarterfinals, Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner took note of the Red Wings Olympic participants' performances thus far (and I'm going to skip Canada as Mike Babcock and Ken Holland do not play, and won't post the stats or the lack thereof of Jonas Gustavsson or Jimmy Howard, who haven't played a minute in these games)...
As an FYI, the Grand Rapids Griffins are skating in their annual "Sled Wings" game to raise funds for sledge hockey and the Griffins foundation this evening:
The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner provides a few more details regarding tonight's event:
About The Malik Report
The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.