The Malik Report
The 18-13-and-7 Red Wings hope to kick off their 6-game road trip on a winning note today against the 15-19-and-4 Buffalo Sabres (1 PM EST on FSD/MSG B/Bell TV/97.1 FM), and while the Wings tend not to perform well before 7:30 PM local time--or at least I tend to believe that--anything that involves shaking up the players' routines and possibly altering their performance sounds good given that the Wings are in the middle of a 3-game losing streak and a stretch in which they've gone 3-5-and-3.
As you probably know by now, Detroit's coming off a 4-2 loss to Pittsburgh on Thursday, while the Sabres lost 2-1 to the New York Islanders on Thursday, and the Sabres are also winless in 3 games and 2-4-and-1 since their 2-1 win over the Wings on December 14th.
Buffalo remains without goaltender Robin Lehner (so Linus Ullmark is likely to start opposite Petr Mrazek), but as the Sabres are 1-0-and-1 against the Wings, they're looking forward to building upon that 2-1 win, as they told the Buffalo News's John Vogl...
The Sabres are 1-0-1 against the Red Wings, with the third period providing the difference in each game. In the first meeting, Detroit scored a power-play goal with 6:29 left to tie the game before winning, 5-4, in a shootout. In the second game, the Sabres scored twice in the final 4:14 to pick up a 2-1 win.
“We gave up one in the first game and we got one in the second game,” Bylsma said. “I’d like it to just be a clean win.”
I'm not much of a celebrity news guy, but this is cool. This is real, and from Tomas Tatar's Instagram account, per WXYZ's Brad Galli:
Updated4x at 4:38 PM: The Red Wings held a relatively long practice in Taylor today, ahead of a very early flight to Buffalo, and it was revealed that Petr Mrazek will start against the Sabres, while Tomas Jurco appears to be iffy for Saturday's 1 PM matinee.
MLive's Ansar Khan also posted a very good-to-hear post-practice Tweet:
Blashill said Quincey (ankle) and Miller (broken jaw) getting closer. Not ready for tomorrow, not sure if they'll be ready for Mon. at NJ.
Khan was first out of the chute with a practice report...
The Red Wings hit the ice ahead of Saturday afternoon's matinee in Buffalo, hoping to find a way to shake their 3-game losing streak, and the Free Press's Helene St. James reported that there won't be any call-ups from Grand Rapids, which
is a little iffy given the course of Jurco's practice activities Ken Holland confirmed to the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness:
No call ups, Tomas Jurco on the ice as Red Wings practice today.
DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji confirmed...
"I don't think we've been consistent throughout everything, five-on-five, special teams, the whole thing overall, offensively, defensively," forward Brad Richards said. "So we came out of the (Christmas) break with a good, solid win in Nashville and for whatever reason we've been up and down in different areas since."
Richards called the season a marathon.
"It's not the first time it's ever happened to a team. We've got good people in here; we're going to chew on this.
"We've got two games on the road to get right back on track (Saturday at Buffalo, Monday at New Jersey). No one's happy. We're going to get back to work. We're very confident that we can turn this into a blip on the radar, but we've got to learn from it."
Khan continues, and the Wings are 3-5-and-3 over their last 11 games.
Of prospect-related note:
In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins wrapped up 2015 in fine form, defeating the Milwaukee Admirals 3-0. Eric Tangradi had a goal and a fight, Anthony Mantha had an assist and Jared Coreau pitched a 23-save shutout. The Griffins' website posted a recap...
The Red Wings were plain old embarrassed on home ice Thursday evening, dropping a 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Wings lost for the 3rd straight game, the 4th time in the last 5 games and--in some way, shape or form--the 8th time over the last 11 games, in which Detroit has a 3-5-and-3 record overall.
Heading into a 6-game road trip, which begins on Saturday in Buffalo and continues on Monday in New Jersey (which has defeated Detroit twice already this season), Detroit needs to find a way to shake itself out of the doldrums and shake up an under-performing roster while hampered by salary cap and 23-man restrictions (a roster that appears to desperately be missing Drew Miller's penalty-killing, by the way), because what happened on Thursday is simply unacceptable.
The Penguins would argue otherwise, and they felt that the 2-0 deficit they rallied from on Thursday night wasn't damning, but instead, it was something they simply had to respond to--and respond they did, as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's James Hawkins noted:
The Red Wings faced a struggling Pittsburgh Penguins a little early on New Year's Eve, hoping to get the jump on the struggling Penguins and snap a 2-game losing streak.
The Red Wings didn't jump on anything, especially after taking a 2-0 lead on the Penguins, and in all honesty, the Wings embarrassed themselves when they stopped engaging the Penguins and spent the rest of the game watching the Penguins score 5 times...
Including a baffling goal by Patric Hornqvist where he shoved Mrazek into the net, but the Wings coach's challenge wasn't successful because the "call on the ice" was a goal. It didn't make any sense, but neither did the Wings' absolutely inept performance thereafter.
Detroit just collapsed for the vast majority of the 2nd and 3rd periods, trying to eke out a 2-2 tie, and some terrible defensive breakdowns a little under halfway through the third--combined by some less-than-perfect goaltending by Mrazek--yielded a sudden 2-goal deficit and a lack of confidence so stark that the game was over as soon as Malkin found the back of the net at 8:22.
The Wings have lost 3 straight, and SOMEthing has to change in a damn hurry, because Detroit's road trip begins with an afternoon matinee in Buffalo on Saturday and a Monday tilt against a team that's won 2 straight over the Wings in New Jersey. Whatever Blashill can do to shake up the team, he's got to do now.
Afternoon news: Zatkoff vs. Mrazek; a game-day preview video and talk of Nyquist and Tatar’s scoring
Of Red Wings-related note this afternoon:
1. The Pittsburgh Penguins announced their starting goaltender opposite Petr Mrazek this evening:
2. The Red Wings posted their game-day preview video:
3. MLive's Brendan Savage filed a game-day article...
At the World Junior Championships in Helsinki, Finland:
IIHF.com's Risto Pakarinen reports that Vili Saarijarvi had to leave Finland's 5-4 win over the Czech Republic due to a bout of the stomach flu;
The Quarterfinal match-ups look like this, per IIHF.com, and all times listed are GMT + 2 (or 8 hours ahead of Eastern Standard TIme)
Quarter-Finals (2 Jan.):
14:00 Russia vs. Denmark, Hartwall Arena (7 AM EST)
16:00 Sweden vs. Slovakia, Helsinki Ice Hall (9 AM EST)
18:00 Finland vs. Canada, Hartwall Arena (11 AM EST)
20:00 USA vs. Czech Republic, Helsinki Ice Hall (1 PM EST)
Semi-Finals (4 Jan.):
Winner SWE/SVK vs. Winner FIN/CAN
Winner RUS/DEN vs. Winner USA/CZE
The semi-finals are played at Hartwall Arena at 16:00 and 20:00 respectively.
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.