The Malik Report
from Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times,
The Lightning enter tonight's showdown with the Red Wings trailing by just one point atop the Atlantic Division.
But coach Jon Cooper made the pecking order pretty clear.
"People can say what they want, we're playing the best team in the league, the Eastern Conference right here," Cooper said. "I think everything goes through them. They're the real deal. This is a game to see where your'e at. That's how good I think these guys are."
But Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was pretty complimentary on Tampa Bay, too.
"Elite, elite skill," Babcock said. "They've built up a ton of young kids. They have a real special group. They have a real opportunity for a long run here it looks like."
While the Red Wings have a much richer history, having made the playoffs 23 straight seasons, Cooper said the organizations "mirror" each other more recently in terms of how they've been built, as well as their styles. Their minor league teams each won the Calder Cup in back-to-back years, with several of the players in the game tonight.
via Ansar Khan tweets,
Sheahan wearing gray non-contact jersey as Wings file onto ice for skate. Not sure why. We'll see after the skate.
Helm also wearing gray jersey.
More news as it becomes available.
added 11:41am, via Khan tweet,
Cleary rotating in.
added 11:44am, Khan tweet,
Defense is the same:
Lashoff/Kindl healthy scratches.
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
The Detroit Red Wings' move to the Eastern Conference in 2013 rekindled historic rivalries with Toronto, Montreal and Boston.
The Red Wings share no history with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who've been around for only 22 seasons. But this matchup has the potential to develop into good rivalry.
Tampa Bay is a talented, young team that appears well-positioned to be good for many years. The Red Wings believe they have enough young talent to help them remain competitive for the foreseeable future....
"I think once you start playing them in the playoffs, that's when the rivalry starts," Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "When you go six or seven games against them, that's when you really start playing against them tough. That's when you get the anger. It gets a little more heated."
In one sense, these teams have met in the playoffs - in the 2013 Calder Cup final, when the Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit's AHL affiliate, defeated the Syracuse Crunch, Tampa Bay's top farm club.
read on with comments from both Jon Copper and Mike Babcock...
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
... the Detroit Red Wings continue to find ways to win, even when they're not operating at peak efficiency, which has been the case the past three games, victories over Buffalo (6-4), Minnesota (5-4 in a shootout) and Florida (5-4), clubs not currently in a playoff position.
That's too loose defensively for coach Mike Babcock's liking. The Red Wings face a much greater challenge Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit).
"Not enough details to my liking," Babcock said following practice Wednesday at Amalie Arena. "We got to improve our penalty kill, get on our toes. We got to shoot the puck more. We're going to have a real challenge tomorrow, no question about it, just the skill level and talent (on Tampa Bay).
"The other thing I like is Riley Sheahan is really becoming a player. That's important for us. I think we're getting better as a team; we have to continue to get better. We got to be much more mistake-free and tighter defensively and with our execution than we have been in this last little bit."
read on with more Detroit tidbits...
via Ansar Khan tweets,
Cleary rotating in
No changes on defense:
Khan also noted earlier all four goalies were on the ice earlier.
added 2:10pm, via Khan,
Gustavsson looks close to returning. When he's cleared he'll go to Grand Rapids for a game or two of conditioning.
added 2:53pm, via Helene St. James tweet,
Babcock said Jurco ready to play Thursday, Kindl too but Babcock sticking with Ouellet on back end
Nick Kypreos and Doug MacLean discuss the chance of Mike Babcock leaving Detroit, thinking it’s more and more likely that he re-signs with the Red Wings at the end of the season.
I agree with Babcock's view on the World Cup replacing the Olympics (he doesn't say it is), which he is totally against.
The Red Wings will battle another "Beast of the East" in the Tampa Bay Lightning tomorrow night (7:30 PM EST on FSD/97.1 FM), and the Wings will do so looking down at the Bolts via a one-point lead in the Atlantic Division, and possessing a game in hand on a team that dropped a 4-2 decision to Carolina on Tuesday.
All of that being said, the Wings are very wary of the Lightning, as Wings coach Mike Babcock told DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose:
“They got huge talent. They’re good on the back, good up front,” Babcock said, of the Lightning. “They got real good depth, they got a guy named (Tyler) Johnson who’s a star in the league. They got excellent talent base. They got a young team, a big goaltender (Ben Bishop). We’ve had some good games with them over the last couple of years and they’ve come out on top more than we’ve come out on top. We got Florida first and we’re going to focus on that but look forward to playing them both.”
Some of the Bolts' "back end" will be absent--Matt Carle and Radko Gudas are injured--but after Tuesday's 5-4 win over the Panthers, Justin Abdelkader told Fox Sports Detroit's Keith Gave that the Wings are aware that Thursday's affair is more than a "four-point game":
The Red Wings earned their 6th straight win and climbed to the top of the Atlantic Division via a 5-4 win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night, and the Wings hold a game-in-hand advantage over Thursday's opponent, the Tampa Bay Lightning (who lost 4-2 to Carolina)...But Red Bird III's 43-minute trip from Miami to Tampa may have felt like an Escape From Miami.
Detroit's win wasn't exactly a clinic on winning hockey games, but the 28-11-and-9 Wings' 65 points in 48 games played not only give them a slim lead over the 30-15-and-4 Lightning's 64 in 49 and the 30-13-and-3 Canadiens' 63; the Panthers have only played in 45 games, but they now sit a full 15 points behind Detroit, Boston's 8 points behind the Wings, and Toronto and Ottawa sit a full 17 in arrears.
Edit: Wrong blog, sorry.
Via Pro Hockey Talk's Dhiren Mahibian, this is just an awful feeling, and teammates have to deal with it: Ryan Suter chipped the puck around the boards trying to get the puck out of trouble, and he ended up taking out his friend Zach Parise's front tooth:
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