The Malik Report
Updated 4x at 12:03 PM: The Detroit Red Wings hope to rebound from a pair of shootout losses, including Friday's 3-2 loss to Florida, when they battle the Toronto Maple Leafs this evening (7 PM on FSD/the NHL Network U.S. with the usual Center Ice/GCL blackout/CBC/TVA Sports/97.1 FM).
The Wings of course dropped a 2-1 decision to Toronto on Wednesday, and whoever wins today's game will win the 5-game season series (yep, this is the last of the 5 regular season games between the team this season...regular season...)
As I wait for the Leafs to take the ice at the Air Canada Centre, I can at least tell you that Dan O'Rourke and Dean Morton will referee tonight's game, with Scott Driscoll and Mark Shewchyk working the lines;
as MLive's Michael Nizolek notes, Jimmy Howard won't start tonight's game (Petr Mrazek will start; Brian Lashoff replaces Jakub Kindl, and Daniel Cleary will sub for Stephen Weiss), but #35 will certainly be stewing in his own juices on the bench after dropping yet another shootout loss:
The Detroit Red Wings head into tonight's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs (7 PM on FSD/CBC/the NHL Network U.S./TVA Sports/97.1 FM) having dropped slightly behind Toronto's 7-2-and-1 record over their past 10 games thanks to the Wings' pair of shootout losses yielding a 7-1-and-2 record.
The first loss came against the Maple Leafs on Wednesday, with the Leafs winning 2-1, and as Toronto rested on Thursday and Friday, the Wings dropped a 3-2 shootout decision to Florida before hopping a charter flight to Hogtown.*
We already know that James Reimer will most likely start opposite Petr Mrazek; after Friday's game, Wings coach Mike Babcock stated that Brian Lashoff would replace Jakub Kindl and that Daniel Cleary would replace the slightly-injured Stephen Weiss for a Wings team that's already missing Danny DeKeyser and Justin Abdelkader due to shoulder injuries.
Ironically enough, Sportsnet posted the only clip I could find of Jonathan Huberdeau's hit on Weiss, which hurt Weiss' left shoulder:
Prospect news: Griffins’ late rally stuns Barons; Turgeon registers 3 points; 2 ‘prospect showdowns’
The Grand Rapids Griffins came into a tough "home and home" series against the pain-in-the-ass-to-play Oklahoma City Barons on a 2-game losing streak, and the Griffins dropped a 2-0 lead to said Barons...Before scoring 2 3rd-period goals en route to a 5-2 victory on Friday night.
The Grand Rapids Griffins' website posted a game recap....
The Red Wings' team plane is undergoing maintenance--kind of like its shootout game--so the Wings had to hop a charter flight to Toronto for tonight's game against the Maple Leafs (7 PM EST on FSD/CBC/NHL Network U.S./TVA Sports/97.1 FM) hoping to do better than the Wings did during Wednesday's 2-1 shootout loss to a Leafs team that must have pretty gleefully watched Detroit drop Friday's 3-2 shootout decision to Florida from homes across Leaf Land.
The Wings still technically sit tied for the Northeast Division and Eastern Conference leads in terms of points, but a 7-1-and-1 record of late has yielded an 0-2-and-2 record of late that has the Wings sitting at 17-6-and-7 to the Tampa Bay Lightning's 19-8-and-3 record--or if this isn't too early for you, to put it more bluntly, Tampa Bay has 18 Regulation-Or-Overtime Wins to Detroit's 16 ROWs.
Petr Mrazek will start tonight, Daniel Cleary will replace the injured Stephen Weiss (shoulder), and Brian Lashoff will be replacing Jakub Kindl, whose combination of inept play and decision to take a pair of minor penalties in the 3rd period earned him a spot in the press box.
The Red Wings play the Panthers two more times this season, on January 27th and March 19th, and they play both games in Sunrise. That's probably a good thing for the Sun-Sentinel's Harvey Fialkov, given the way he led off his recap:
The Free Press's Helene St. James had initially heard that Stephen Weiss had suffered a separated shoulder during the Red Wings' 3-2 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers, but Ken Holland clarified the situation to both St. James and MLive's Ansar Khan (sort of, anyway):
Weiss was injured late in the second period of Friday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers, when he was checked into the boards by Sean Bergenheim.
General manager Ken Holland said Weiss was still making the trip to Toronto, however, and listed him as questionable for the game.
"See how he feels in the morning," Holland said.
Weiss has 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 10 games since returning from a pulled groin.
"Obviously, we need him," forward Gustav Nyquist said. "He's been great ever since he got back. It's great to see him on the ice again. He helps our team out a lot. Hopefully it's not too bad."
"You're our Nashville, baby." That certainly summarizes the way the Red Wings play against the Nashville Predators, with all of the classic goal-line giveaways, rampant and contagious stand-and-watch-itis and, "Four players stand and watch one guy score" shit that the Wings used to commit in the Music City.
It's bad enough that when you see Florida on the schedule, you know that either the Wings are going to give away the game or some sort of controversial non-goal call will bite them in the ass.
And now for your once-weekly in-game Gordie Howe health update, from the Free Press's Helene St. James:
Son Mark Howe told the Free Press on Friday that, "he's getting better. He's on the upswing."
Gordie Howe, 86, suffers from dementia and has endured a series of strokes since summer. He suffered a serious one in October, and family feared he was going through another serious stroke Dec. 1, when he was unresponsive for 30 minutes. He was rushed to hospital, where tests revealed he was dehydrated.
Gordie Howe since has been released from hospital and is back at the home of his daughter, Cathy, at her family's house in Lubbock, Texas.
The Plymouth Whalers are assumed to be moving to Chatham, Ontario based upon Peter Karmanos' comments to ESPN's Craig Custance earlier this week, but the Whalers released the following statement this evening:
TOO EARLY TO SPECULATE ON PLYMOUTH WHALERS’ RELOCATION
Plymouth, MI - With Compuware Arena and the USA Hockey Foundation currently in discussions that could result in the Foundation acquiring the facility, there has been speculation regarding the future home of the Plymouth Whalers.
“The arena transaction is still in its early stages and therefore it is too soon to speculate if the Whalers will be relocating in the future or about any potential relocation cities,” said Mike Vellucci, Plymouth Whalers Governor. “Currently we are in the stage of simply identifying available and viable markets should we need to relocate the Whalers in the future”. “As part of the process, we intend to explore all options and work with the Ontario Hockey League, which will be required to approve any potential relocation.”
“Make no mistake, (Plymouth Whalers owner) Peter Karmanos, who for the last 30 years has been one of junior hockey’s strongest supporters, remains committed to the Whalers’ organization.”
That's not exactly a, "We're staying," as Yahoo Sports Buzzing the Net's Neate Sager notes:
I am certainly growing ever-so-slightly weary of this topic, but I would be remiss if I left it along. Both TSN's Darren Dreger and Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman have suggested that Red Wings coach Mike Babcock's contract negotiations are playing out in no small part under the auspices that the coach feels a responsibility to "raise the bar" for each and every NHL coach's salary...
But Friedman begins his "30 Thoughts" by stating that those in the know had never believed that a contract extension was "imminent"...
A few different sources expressed surprise before Babcock threw cold water on the story, saying, as far as they knew nothing had changed in the negotiations. Detroit’s still got a long-term deal on the table, worth upwards of $3M per year, which would make him the highest-paid coach in the sport. (Joel Quenneville and Claude Julien are among those who have contracts carrying them into that salary threshold, but not for every season in their deals.)
And he adds this to the mix:
You also wonder if the coverage of his future makes him think, “Do I need to put up with this on a daily basis?” He is better than anyone at keeping his focus on what really matters, plowing over distractions faster than a Toronto condominium developer over a park bench. But you can tell he can’t stand this.
Fox Sports Detroit's Keith Gave pondered whether "the Ken Holland rule" should be implemented at the NHL level to reduce the number of shootouts which take place, though Gave suggests that the Wings' 1-and-4 shootout record is of course completely coincidental:
According to the "Holland Rule," any game that extends into OT is played 4-on-4 for the first three minutes. At the first whistle thereafter, teams switch to 3-3 for the final four minutes -- or until a goal is scored. Then it goes to a shootout. The Wings first introduced the concept at their summer "prospects tournament" in Traverse City.
It's actually 4 on 4 for the first four minutes, and then 3 on 3 for three more minutes.
"It was fantastic," said Kris Draper, a special assistant to Holland, "the amount of ice that opens up for the greatest players this game has, giving high-end athletes a chance to do their thing. Especially with the longer changes (benches being farther from their offensive zones). Somebody gets a little tired, opens more ice and creates even more scoring chances."
The NHL says the shootout was created largely for fans, most of whom come to games wanting to see an outcome more satisfying than a tie. But if a trivial skills competition can create some excitement for fans, wait until they see 3-on-3 play, Draper said.
"In Traverse City, whichever rink you were at, Rink A or Rink B, when you heard there was an OT going on in the other one, everybody got up and moved over. It created a pretty good buzz. "
It's doing the same thing throughout the AHL and, more importantly, ending more games with teams playing against one another rather than top players trading penalty shots. Through nearly two months of the season, about four out of five overtime games were decided before going to the penalty shots, compared to just over a third the year before.
The AHL gives attending media a handout praising the effectiveness of the 4-minutes-of-4-on-4 + 3-of-3-on-3 set-up, too.
Gave continues, and I can certainly tell you that the prospect tournament sold me on the concept...
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