The Malik Report
from Brendan Savage of Mlive,
Not much has come easy for the Detroit Red Wings this season.
• Who can forget the six losses in seven games after they opened the season with three straight victories?
• Or goaltender Jimmy Howard's nearly three-month battle to simply win a game?
• And the Red Wings' problems scoring goals – especially on the power play – that have been an issue virtually all season?
All are still fresh in the minds of everyone who follows the Red Wings closely.
So perhaps it was fitting that the Red Wings opened perhaps their most important homestand of the campaign with a game that mirrored their season....
Two years ago, they didn't secure a playoff berth until game No. 80 and the previous season – when the players were locked out until January – they won their final four games to squeak into the postseason.
So the pressure they'll face in their final eight games is nothing new to many Red Wings.
"They're all playoff games so me," said defenseman Brendan Smith, who had two assists. "I mean, we were in this two years ago where we pretty much had to win eight or nine of the 10 (remaining games) and so we've seen it.
"I actually think we're in a better position than we were then, so we know it's up to us and I've talked other people about it. It's in our hands, so the better we play, the more points we can get, we'll secure a playoff spot."
more on last night's game...
Watch the extended game highlights below...
The Red Wings' 4-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday was nothing less than bizarre at points, with the Wings looking like they were going to roll over the Habs during 1st and 2nd periods that the Wings dominated, building up a 4-0 lead, and the Canadiens seeming like the perfect spoilers as the Habs rallied with 3 3rd-period goals to make things...
Interesting. Very, very, very interesting. Interesting enough that Anthony Mantha's 4-0 marker served as the game-winner, and "interesting" enough to draw on the frayed nerves of every Wings fan.
Detroit was able to hold on and to hold off the Canadiens to earn a huge two points, pulling to within a single point of the Bruins, but the Philadelphia Flyers' 4-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche means that the Wings are still out of the playoff picture for the present moment.
At this point, it might be safer for the Wings to aim for the Bruins, over whom the Wings hold a game in hand, than the Wings should hope to hold off the Flyers, who seem to be on a mission from God to make the playoffs.
The Canadiens, who were out-shot 21-5 in the 2nd period, understood that it was the second frame that let them down, as they told the Montreal Gazette's Pat Hickey:
Of prospect-related note:
In the KHL, Alexander Kadeikin played all of 1:30 in SKA St. Petersburg's 3-2 loss to CSKA Moscow. CSKA leads the Western Conference Final 2-0;
In the SHL, Christoffer Ehn had a shot in 14:32 of ice time as the Frolunda Indians defeated Djugardens IF 5-1, advancing to the SHL semifinal via a 4 games-to-1 margin;
And in the Finnish Liiga, Julius Vahatalo finished at +1 in 9:56 of ice time as TPS Turku defeated Karpat Oulu 2-1, knotting the teams' first-round series at 2 games apiece.
Update: In the BCHL, Chase Perry stopped 27 of 30 shots as the Wenatchee Wild lost 3-2 to the Chilliwack Chiefs in OT, dropping their second-round series in 5 games. Perry is headed to RPI next.
There's little to be said in terms of setting up tonight's game and its relative importance to the Red Wings. Detroit rather desperately needed to get back on a winning track as it began a 3-game home stand and a set of 4 games over the course of 6 nights, and the Canadiens rather desperately wanted to play the spoiler's role.
The Canadiens nearly succeeded thanks to a rally from a 4-0 deficit, but the Red Wings prevailed, winning 4-3.
This was a terrifying game to watch at times, nothing less than a game with playoff intensity and playoff wackiness, but Riley Sheahan showed up in a big way, scoring 2 goals, Anthony Mantha scored his first goal, of all people, Luke Glendening got a classically mucky goal and Detroit fired 40 shots and 70 attempts on Ben Scrivens, who nearly stole the game from Petr Mrazek (who was the recipient of unfortunate puck luck on 2 of the 3 goals he surrendered) and the Wings.
The crowd was intense, the Habs served notice that they won't be trifled with next Tuesday, and the Wings, by hook or by crook, got the 2 points they needed to pull within 1 point of the Bruins and--for the moment--pull past Philly and back into the playoff picture.
Now all that has to happen is that the Avs need to beat Philly, and all will be well in the hockey world. For a day or two.
Right now this might be the game-winner:
AWood40 posted an extended clip:
The Montreal Canadiens' broadcasters were infuriated by this hit by Brendan Smith on Stefan Matteau, but the Detroit broadcast insisted that it was clean, if borderline:
Of Red Wings-related note this evening:
1. The Free Press's Helene St. James duly notes that the trio of Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan and Henrik Zetterberg have not been lighting it up of late:
It's not every day you get to sit ice level for your favorite hockey team’s morning skate, but that's exactly what Reese Cordes got to do Thursday morning.
"He knew what his wish was but he didn’t know it was coming true today," explained his mother, Holly.
She knew how excited her son would be to get behind the scenes at Joe Louis Arena.
"I had goosebumps when I told people about the experience. Especially yesterday when it was getting closer," said Holly.
Reese is battling a life-threatening seizure disorder.
The Grand Rapids Griffins allowed their own players to design the jersey the team will be wearing for "Superhero Night" this Saturday, and the Griffins' players displayed vastly disparate levels of artistic aplomb before choosing a mostly-white jersey in their team vote:
The Canadiens' media corps descended upon Anthony Mantha as #39 will be making his home-ice debut againt his hometown team this evening, and Mantha answered questions in both French and English, speaking with La Presse's Marc Antoine Godin (roughly translated)...
"It will be a great moment for me and also for my family. It was important for them to come to my first home game, and especially since it's against Montreal. I had to limit myself to 15 tickets because the game's already sold out!"
In the other locker room, Michael McCarron, who grew up in Michigan, was able to do so in advance and has 40 relatives and friends coming to see him play his first game in Detroit.
Among those who will be on hand to support Mantha are his grandfather Andre Pronovost, who played for the Canadiens and Red Wings.
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.