The Malik Report
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
Howard has appeared in 329 NHL games - none in Philadelphia. It's the only place he hasn't played, and he's looking forward to helping the team try to end a nine-game losing streak in the City of Brotherly Love.
"I'm excited. I can't wait to get out there," Howard said.
The Red Wings haven't won in Philadelphia since Games 1 and 2 of the 1997 Stanley Cup finals. They've been outscored 37-15 in dropping nine consecutive regular season games there. The game starts at 1 p.m. at Wells Fargo Center.
"Well we haven't won there in forever, so we're due," coach Mike Babcock said. "We got to play good and we need a win. Forget all those things, let's go over there and have a nice meal today and let's get ready to play tomorrow and play hard."
The Red Wings haven't won a regular season game in Philly since Jan. 25, 1997 (4-1).
"We definitely know about (the drought), but it's not something we think about, that's for sure," Howard said.
read on including updates on the injured Detroit players...
via Ansar Khan tweets,
Wings filing onto ice for practice. Franzen was skating a little bit but left as soon as rest of team got on.
Looks like Helm will stick around for the whole practice. Working on the PK. Jurco left midway through practice.
more as it becomes available...
added 11:33am, via Khan,
added 11:59am, via Khan,
Howard starting tomorrow in Philly. His first start ever in Philly. It's the only NHL rink he hasn't played in.
added 12:03pm, via Khan,
Helm said he's not ready to return tomorrow. Will skate in the morning in Philly. Didn't rule out Sunday in Pittsburgh.
added 12:14pm, Khan again...
Babcock said Jurco, who didn't make it through whole practice, isn't playing tomorrow. Hadn't decided if Cleary or Weiss will replace him.
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
"We're not finding a way to win enough games right now," Babcock said. "And we don't look in sync, or fluid, if that makes any sense to you. Any time that's the case, you're not executing as a group, and when you don't execute as a group, you don't look fast."
While the Wings lost for the third time in four games, the Bruins beat Tampa Bay in a shootout, leaving the Boston just five points behind third-place Detroit in the Atlantic Division.
Captain Henrik Zetterberg said he doesn't think the Wings lack urgency, but they do lack something. "It's not like we're going out and trying to lose games," he said. "We try to do the right things out there. Your season won't be perfect all the time. We're in one of those periods where it doesn't really go our way. We've just got to get stronger from it, get through it.
"I'd rather be us than be Boston right now."
Below, watch Mike Babcock post-game...
The Columbus Blue Jackets came to Detroit flu-ridden and hoping to spoil some of the Wings' forward momentum--if there was any after Tuesday's win over Edmonton--and Columbus did just that, defeating Detroit 3-1 and extending the Red Wings' March Funk.
For whatever baffling reason, the Red Wings didn't seem to bring any sort of effort, intensity, determination or focus to the rink, and when the Wings had eight power plays, they were about as urgent as Cheech and Chong mid-drag. They didn't make Sergei Bobrovsky's night difficult, and Jonathan Ericsson getting walked around like he was nothing on the Cam Atkinson goal that made it 3-1 and decided the game pretty much told the night of a muddy, mucky, gucky game in which the Wings were afraid to get their skates and gloves dirty.
As a result, Detroit sits only 5 points ahead of a Boston Bruins team that comes into town in April quite possibly contending for the 3rd and final playoff spot in the Atlantic and the Wings possibly slip-sliding their way down to Wild Card territory, and that's scary.
Red Wings executive Kris Draper spoke with Detroit Sports 105.1 FM's M.L. Elrick and Darren McCarty this afternoon, and while Draper addressed the trade deadline in detail and discussed the Wings' prospects developing in Grand Rapids as they applied to said deadline, as well as the Wings' strong West Coast Swing, it was particularly interesting to hear McCarty and Draper speak as friends.
Draper has gotten his "manager's voice" down, and it was nice to hear him let us peek behind the curtain, if only for a moment or two:
from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo,
Anthony Mantha scored 50 goals in 67 games in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2012-13. Then he scored 57 goals in 57 games in the QMJHL last season. The 6-foot-4, 214-pound forward had a chance to make the Red Wings’ roster this season at age 20. But he suffered a broken leg at a prospect tournament in August and ended up in the AHL.
“All that expectation, and then you jump into the American League when it’s going full go and you’re not full go,” Blashill said. “That’s a tough thing.”
Mantha has 13 goals in 49 games this season. “It’s a process,” Blashill said. “What I’ve found with the young guys is, they come in expecting to have tons of success, and when they don’t have the amount they had maybe in junior, a lot of times it’s the first time they’ve struggled. They’re going to lose that confidence at times and you have to make sure they keep it up. I still see lots of positives there. It’s just going to take some time.”
The Wings are famously patient with their prospects, and you know they’ll be patient with Mantha.
more NHL hockey topics...
As the AHL's website notes, the Grand Rapids Griffins are on a mighty roll, and Griffinshockey.com's Alan Cross tells the tale of a team that hopes to stretch its unbeaten streak to SEVENTEEN games when it battles the Charlotte Checkers this evening:
The Grand Rapids Griffins have played incredible hockey in the past month and a half.
Under the charge of third-year head coach Jeff Blashill, the Griffins struggled in the first half of the season to produce consistent results. While the team wasn’t performing terribly, it certainly wasn’t performing to the standards that fans have come to expect from the Blashill era of hockey in Grand Rapids.
Through 39 games, just one past the midway point of the season, the Griffins owned a 19-16-3-1 record (0.538), ranking them fourth in the Midwest Division and tying for eighth in the Western Conference. The Rockford IceHogs led the Midwest 12 points ahead of Grand Rapids, while the Oklahoma City Barons sat atop the conference with a 19-point lead on the team.
Then, something clicked.
On Jan. 23, the Utica Comets paid their first-ever visit to Van Andel Arena in the midst of a four-game losing streak for Grand Rapids. In a seemingly normal victory, the Griffins defeated the North Division leaders 5-1 to snap their skid.
Unbeknownst to anyone, that night’s victory over the Comets would kick off Grand Rapids’ meteoric rise to the top of the standings, in which a 17-1-3-0 performance in their next 21 games currently sees the Griffins in first in the Western Conference. The only regulation loss in that span came in the form of a 4-0 shutout by the Milwaukee Admirals on Jan. 31.
The points rolled in from there. Upon defeating the Charlotte Checkers 3-2 on Tuesday, the Griffins tied a franchise record for the longest point streak with 16 straight games (13-0-3-0). The feat was first achieved during the team’s second AHL season, from Oct. 25-Nov. 30, 2002 (11-0-3-2 = W-L-T-OTL).
The light switch was turned on at the right time for the Griffins, who were previously headed toward a toe-to-toe battle for playoff positioning in the second half of the season. So what sparked the change for the team?
Updated 3x at 4:37 PM: The Red Wings "took an optional" ahead of tonight's game vs. the "flu-like illness"-suffering Blue Jackets (7:30 PM EDT on FSD/FS Ohio/97.1 FM), so we actually found out more about the Blue Jackets' lineup from their Game Day blog than the Wings' lines...
Updated 7x at 12:09 PM: The Red Wings will host a Columbus Blue Jackets team that has a case of "flu-like illness" making its way through the locker room and very little chance of making the playoffs but a whole lot of team pride whenever they face the Wings this evening (7:30 PM EDT on FSD/FS Ohio; per the game notes, Dave Jackson and Frederick L'Ecuyer will referee tonight's game).
This affair falls into the, "If It's Not a Divisional Showdown, It's a Trap Game" category, especially given that Sergei Bobrovsky's a bit pissed off about his team's fate.
The Wings took to the ice at Joe Louis Arena with an important player in tow but not likely to play tonight, as the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa noted:
@DetroitRedWings on ice, morning skate. Columbus tonight.
Helm going at it pretty good, here. Said to be a possibility for the weekend.
And MLive's Ansar Khan confirmed...
Optional morning skate today. Helm, already ruled out tonight, is on the ice.
As did DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose:
from Bill Roose of the Red Wings website,
For Marchenko, who has been skating since early last week, Wednesday was the first time he’s felt near 100 percent.
“It’s good, I can shoot, I can do slap shots no problem,” he said. “It was like my first real practice where I was shooting. I can do everything.”
With seven other defensemen currently up with the team, there doesn’t seem to be a reason to rush Marchenko back too soon.
“Trainer said I need to practice more, because this was like my first full practice,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes next practice, see how it feels tomorrow.
“They’ll decide. I’m just doing my best to be ready for the games. They tell me what to do and I’m doing this.”
much more on the Wings..
Meanwhile tomorrow's opponent, the Columbus Blue Jackets have been hit with the flu bug...
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
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.