The Malik Report
The Grand Rapids Griffins have wrapped up their "Between the Benches" chronicling of the team's march to the Western Conference Final, and the sum total of videos comes to 12 episodes and 85 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage, with the series taking a little more importance given that the insights into the Griffins' locker room preparation and their coach's techniques now apply to the Detroit Red Wings:
The Free Press's Helene St. James offers the following regarding Brendan Smith, Kyle Quincey and Jakub Kindl's likelihood of earning significant ice time on the Red Wings' third defensive pair:
Speaking earlier this month, Blashill sounded as if he would offer Smith a shot at power-play time, something Babcock didn’t do. Blashill’s assessment is based partly on having coached Smith in Grand Rapids.
“I think Brendan’s best offensive ability is roaming around below the tops of the circles,” Blashill said. “If he’s a weak-side guy on a power play, going to the net lots, he can retreat pucks because he’s quick and he’s strong and he’s competitive. He’s got good offensive instincts once he gets below tops of circles. I know at (the university of) Wisconsin he was on his off-side hitting one-timers.
“So those are all things we’ll explore as we go into camp, and I think the positive things for us is you’d rather have more guys that can do it than not enough, and we have more guys than we did.”
At 26, Smith has played 196 games in Detroit, being a full-timer since 2013. He showed off his offensive instincts best in 2013-14, when he had 19 points in 71 games. But he showed holes in his defensive game — dropping to a minus-7 defensive rating after his first five games.
His decision-making is a work in progress — he was benched three games after handling the puck while on Detroit’s bench — but he can skate and shoot. If he cuts down on risky plays, Smith might just find a backer in Blashill.
I had a bad feeling that there was something in the foreign-language press that was going to occupy a good chunk of my free time tonight, and a snippet from Sovetsky Sport proved me right: Pavel Datsyuk engaged in a very lengthy interview with Kazan's Business Online's Ruslan Vasilyev and Marsele Magizov, and here's a very rough translation thereof:
From the Grand Rapids Griffins:
GRIFFINS BRING BACK HIRSCHFELD, SIGN ZOMBO AND DOCKEN
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins on Thursday re-signed forward Alden Hirschfeld to a one-year contract and also signed forward Dominic Zombo and defenseman Derek Docken to one-year contracts.
Hirschfeld, 27, spent a majority of the 2014-15 season with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye, where he ranked sixth on the team in scoring with 44 points (11-33—44) in 58 games, along with 21 penalty minutes and a plus-15 rating. He also made seven appearances with Toledo during the 2015 Kelly Cup Playoffs, tallying one goal and four PIM while helping the Walleye advance to the Eastern Conference Finals versus the South Carolina Stingrays.
ESPN's Craig Custance penned an Insider-only entry discussing five teams that should "dominate" 3-on-3 overtime, and he picked the Blackhawks, Penguins, Lightning, Kings and the Red Wings:
5. Detroit Red Wings, Shootout record: 4-10
The Red Wings are another team that has struggled in the shootout over the course of the last few seasons and it was their GM Ken Holland who led the campaign to minimize the shootout.
Now, with the addition of defenseman Mike Green, the Red Wings will be exceedingly dangerous in overtime and they have a coach in Jeff Blashill who is one of the few in the league with experience coaching 3-on-3 from his time in Grand Rapids.
The ideal split of talent in Detroit would be a top unit of Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Tatar and Mike Green. When Datsyuk and Tatar played together last season at even strength, they controlled 60.4 percent of the shot attempts. Put them with Green and it’ll be fun to watch. That would leave a second unit of Henrik Zetterberg, Gustav Nyquist and Niklas Kronwall, not flashy but a solid group that should be better than most second units.
Let’s say Detroit wins half the shootout games it lost last season, putting them at 105 points -- no longer a playoff bubble team, but instead a team pushing for an Atlantic division title. That’s exactly the kind of impact this rule change could end up having on the standings.
Custance continues, discussing the other teams at significant length...
You might want to read this missive from Winging It in Motown's Kyle McIlmurray...It speaks to the way that many of us feel about our Detroit Red WIngs:
Updated 2x at 11:44 AM: You take what you can get in the middle of July, so:
1. ESPN is asking fans to weigh in regarding their favorite NHL teams for ESPN's annual "Ultimate Franchise Rankings," so this is your chance to discuss the Red Wings' pluses and minuses with an international audience likely to read your aggregate comments;
2. And Michigan's High School Sports Scene's John Raffel spoke with Big Rapids High School hockey coach Tim Blashill regarding his brother, Jeff, and Jeff's readiness to coach the Red Wings:
Prior to the announcement that Jeff would be the new coach, he played in a golf tournament fund-raiser for high school hockey boosters. “He had a really good time,” Tim said. “I know our parents and team appreciated him being there. It was fun, and he enjoyed it. My dad came down [from Sault Ste. Marie]. It was fun to get together.”
But Tim Blashill said his brother realizes the challenges that confront him as a coach in the NHL. “One of the best attributes for Jeff is he's always thinking ahead and trying to prepare himself, so there's a lot going through his mind,” Tim said. “The first step was to get the job officially, have the press conference and go from there. He's always thinking about the future. He's always thinking about the next step.”
Tim Blashill learned plenty from his brother as a coach. “No. 1, he's ultra-prepared. Whatever he's done coaching-wise, he's dialed in and ready to go. He knows well in advance what he wants to accomplish. He has a way of communicating that to his players. That's one thing his players like about him. He communicates that way. Players like the way he communicates.”
Update: Make it "Three Things": Tomas Nosek spoke to ISport's Martin Svec [edit: and the initial iterview comes from Dynamo Pardubice's website, in video form /end edit] and here's a very rough translation of what he had to say:
Among the items of Red Wings-related note this afternoon:
1. NHL.com's Dan Rosen answered a Wings-related question in his Over the Boards mailbag:
With the Red Wings crease about as crowded as a mosh pit at a metal concert, who comes out as the clear cut No. 1? -- @purdstheword22
Love this question. I am of the belief that Petr Mrazek will eventually emerge as the No. 1 for the Red Wings, especially considering his experience with coach Jeff Blashill at the American Hockey League level. Mrazek has the potential to be something really special for the Red Wings. He showed glimpses of what he can be in the playoffs last season.
Of course, that leaves the question about Jimmy Howard, who is signed for four more seasons with a salary-cap charge of $5.29 million, according to war-on-ice.com. If Mrazek is going to be the guy, it's hard to imagine the Red Wings carrying Howard and that cap charge much longer than this season. I think at some point Howard will be traded to a team that needs a goalie. It's possible the Red Wings might have to retain some of the cap charge to make it happen.
Howard is a quality goalie, but I have an inclination that Mrazek is the future in Detroit.
2. Over at Winging It in Motown...
3. And MLive's Brendan Savage profiled Wings development camp try-out Travis Walsh.
From the Free Press's Helene St. James:
The Wings are nearly done signing players for the Detroit group, with only forwards Tomas Jurco and Teemu Pulkkinen still without contracts. There's no rush, seeing as both are restricted free agents and neither filed for arbitration, but negotiations are underway.
There's also still the Daniel Cleary situation to resolve. When he was brought back, at former coach Mike Babcock's insistence, in 2013, it was with the understanding that the Wings would make good on some -- not all -- of the money that Cleary left on the table when he didn't accept the Philadelphia Flyers' offer ($8.25 million over three years). The Wings might end up re-signing Cleary for one last year, but even if that happens, general manager Ken Holland has told Cleary that he won't make the Detroit squad. If Cleary gets the same $1.5-million contract he had last season, the Wings would get $925,000 in cap relief by sending Cleary to the minors.
Finnish is an incredibly difficult language to translate, so it would figure that today, Iltahleti's Tomi Salomaa conducted a two-part interview with Teemu Pulkkinen. Here's what I can glean from rough translations of the first and second articles:
First, Pulkkinen tells Salomaa that he believes he'll sign a new contract with the Wings in a "couple of weeks," and that he's expecting to sign a 1-year, 1-way contract to hopefully prove that he belongs in the NHL on a full-time basis;
And second, Pulkkinen displays his workout routine, which includes six sets of high step-climbing in the morning and an evening workout, and Pulkkinen says that his previous reputation for not being in shape back in 2012 isn't accurate any more, and that he's doing his best to come to Detroit in the best shape possible because "it would be stupid" to show up in anything but excellent shape;
He also states that there's a different emphasis in the U.S. regarding "being good at something" as opposed to always having something to improve upon in terms of hockey skills, so there's more positive reinforcement in the U.S...
And he's still engaging in other sports despite the fact that the Wings' workout prescription is on the wall of his apartment.
That's what I can get out of the Finnish via translation; if anyone's willing to lend a hand, it would be greatly appreciated.
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.