Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Capitals set-up and overnight: banged-up Wings must go fourth and salvage their season

As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the Washington Capitals tonight (7:30 PM EST, FSD/CSN Washington/97.1 FM), they face simple equations which add up to tremendous difficulty in attempting to salvage their season:

1. With 10 games remaining on their schedule and 3 weeks left in the regular season, the Red Wings can’t worry about catching the St. Louis Blues anymore: the Nashville Predators’ 3-1 victory over Anaheim gives the Predators 92 points, the same as the Red Wings, and with 10 games remaining on their schedule, one more regulation or overtime win (38 to Detroit’s 37), so the Predators currently have home-ice advantage in an almost inevitable first-round playoff series which will probably include Alexander Radulov in Nashville’s lineup;

2. The Red Wings have gone 0-3-and-1 in their last four games, 2-5-and-1 in March (having lost 7 of their past 8 games) and possess a 3-7-and-2 record since February 21st. As such, the Chicago Blackhawks, who defeated tonight’s opponent on Sunday evening, sit only 4 points back of Detroit and Nashville;

3. Darren Helm (knee: Charley horse? Sprain?) and Joey MacDonald (shooting pains in his leg) have appointments scheduled with an MRI machine at the Detroit Medical Center today, which are the reasons why the Red Wings recalled Gustav Nyquist from Grand Rapids and chose to retain Jordan Pearce for Monday’s game (the Wings cannot recall Ty Conklin without subjecting him to re-entry waivers until the regular season ends);  Johan Franzen (back spams) may or may not play tonight, and if his back spasms are persistent, the Wings will recall someone else from Grand Rapids. Helm is definitely going to miss at least a couple of games, MacDonald is concerned that he may have a slight disc herniation and the Wings’ medical staff won’t rush Franzen back if they believe he’s in danger of aggravating his injury;

4. On the long-term injury front, if Nicklas Lidstrom (bone bruise on his ankle) can lace up his skate and push off today, he will return on Wednesday or Friday, but regardless of when his bone bruise finally heals (and it’s on its own timeline), Lidstrom, who hasn’t skated since last Wednesday (as far as we know), will be, “When he can get his skate on plus two practices” away from returning; Jakub Kindl (strained oblique muscle) is at least a week from returning, and while Jonathan Ericsson told Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom that he’s optimistic that he can return from his broken wrist in two weeks or less, he’s realistically three weeks out, meaning that he won’t be back until the playoffs;

5. Of the Wings’ recent returnees, Jimmy Howard (groin) looks like he’s back in game form, and Pavel Datsyuk (knee) is nearly so, but Todd Bertuzzi (groin) is still regaining his “sea legs,” and Danny Cleary (chronic knee issues) plays well some nights but looks what he is—literally hobbled—during other games;

6. That adds up to 3 defensemen, 1 back-up goaltender and 1 or 2 forwards missing tonight’s game, or 5-6 total “regulars” out of the lineup, including the team’s best defenseman and captain, as well as 3 more players having either recently returned from injuries and 1 playing at far less than 100%;

7. And the Wings face an incredibly desperate opponent tonight in the Washington Capitals. The Capitals dropped a 5-2 decision to Chicago on Sunday night, and the Capitals’ 4-4-and-1 March record (they’d won four straight games before their consecutive losses to Winnipeg and Chicago) leaves them sitting in 8th place in the Eastern Conference, 2 points ahead of Winnipeg and Buffalo—with all 3 teams having 10 games remaining on their schedule—and 5 points behind the Southeast-leading Florida Panthers.

Add those seven points up and we find the Red Wings in tough as they at least hope to salvage home-ice advantage in the 1st round—while holding off the Blackhawks as well—knowing they’re going to go in banged-up in one way or another against a healthy Nashville team which will have added 3 trade deadline reinforcements, and the equation adds up to a particularly difficult week for a team which faces the desperate Capitals tonight, the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers on Wednesday and the playoff-desperate Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.

In terms of tonight’s opponent, the Capitals headed to Detroit with 2 injured players: Nicklas Backstrom has a concussion, and the team recalled Braden Holtby, may or may not start tonight opposite Jimmy Howard because Tomas Vokoun has a “lower-body injury.”

The Capitals’ 5-2 loss to Chicago involved a particularly flat first period and little to no support for goaltender Michal Neuvirth as the Associated Press’s recap notes:

The Blackhawks dominated the first period, and took a 2-0 lead while outshooting the Capitals 12-3. Chicago took its 12 shots before Washington got its first, by defenseman Mike Green with 3:58 left.
Knuble cut it to 2-1 just 2:22 into the second, firing in a shot from the left circle following a turnover by Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson. But [Patrick] Kane made it 3-1 at 7:57 after Washington’s John Carlson couldn’t handle the puck deep in his zone. Kane fired into an empty net after to cap a quick passing play with Andrew Brunette and Marian Hossa.
Shaw made it 4-1 with his second goal just under four minutes later. He skated out from behind the net to Neuvirth’s right, reached across the crease and slid in a shot.

Ovechkin beat Keith, Chicago’s top defenseman, with a slick move 1-on-1, then drove to the net and beat Crawford at with 5:32 left in the second to cut it to 4-2.

[Brian] Bickell fired in an empty-net goal with 1:47 left.

If you wish to watch Capitals coach Dale Hunter’s post-game presser, or comments from Ovechkin, Karl Alzner, Knuble and Troy Brouwer from the Capitals’ website, you may most certainly do so, but I’d like to stick to text.

The Washington Post’s Tarik El-Bashir spoke to the Capitals about their slow start…

Just how bad was the Capitals’ start? They did not record a shot on goal until 3 minutes 58 seconds remained in the first period. When Mike Green finally fired a shot on Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, the capacity crowd mocked the visitors with a Bronx cheer.

“We gave them a little bit too much respect, not coming out with much jam in our game,” said veteran Mike Knuble, whose second-period tally was his second goal in three games. “Look up at the scoreboard three-quarters of the way through the first period, you’re down 12-0 in shots. You can’t come out like that this time a year. That can’t be acceptable in our room.”

The Capitals remained in sole possession of eighth place in the East, clinging to a two-point lead over ninth-place Winnipeg. The Jets lost at home to Carolina, 4-3, on Sunday night. Washington, though, remained five points behind Southeast Division leading Florida, which has played one fewer game. Which made the Capitals’ sluggish first period all the more curious.

“We need to come out every single game playing desperate,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “We didn’t even have enough desperation in the third [period]. We’re usually a team that goes, goes, goes. Maybe we got a little too relaxed after we had a few wins there and saw ourselves in a nice spot in the playoffs.”

Alex Ovechkin, who tallied his 30th goal late in the second period, added: “We can’t play like that, especially in that kind of a moment.”

Coach Dale Hunter gave the Capitals a day off from practice on Saturday to recharge after a hard-fought loss in Winnipeg the night before. But the move backfired against a skilled Blackhawks’ team that, despite missing concussed captain Jonathan Toews, had gone 6-1-1 in its previous eight games.

Again, the Blackhawks are only 4 points behind the Wings.

Not surprisingly, Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw bragged to the Washington Times’ Stephen Whyno about “shutting Ovechkin down,” and Whyno took note of the fact that a team that’s chasing Washington helped the Caps remain in 8th place, at least temporarily:

A 4-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, clinched by a late goal from Chad LaRose, keeps the Jets two points back of the Caps for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. It was a huge missed opportunity for Winnipeg, who should have heeded the advice of Troy Brouwer after the Caps’ loss Sunday night.

“There’s a lot of situations going down the season where you’ve got to come into a game and and you need to have a good effort and you have to find ways to get points,” Brouwer said.

Falling so flat against the Blackhawks doesn’t leave a good taste for the Caps, even with the Jets choking away at least a point to Carolina. Monday’s game at the Red Wings is a quick chance to salvage something and take advantage of the Hurricanes’ comeback win.

“We just need to get back to what we were doing,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “We still had way too many turnovers in the neutral zone, those simple ones that we talk about. We were so happy that were gone for a few games. We’re getting back to it again.”

On the negative side, the Florida Panthers still lead the Southeast Division by five points. Oh, and the Hurricanes are quietly five points back of the Caps for eighth place.

Capitals coach Dale Hunter told Whyno that his defensemen weren’t up to snuff, while former Hawk and pest Troy Brouwer talked about the task at hand against Detroit:

“It was turnovers from our back end,” Hunter said. “Our defense was turning the puck over and making bad decisions with it.”

Bad decisions continued even after Knuble made it a game at 2-1 and Ovechkin pulled off a highlight-reel goal to at least make it interesting at 4-2. But Washington unraveled, letting Patrick Kane (a goal) and rookie Andrew Shaw (two goals and an assist) skate all over them.

“We didn’t have that determination,” Brouwer said. “We didn’t have enough push to come back, and we didn’t create very many chances in the third. As a result, we were hemmed in our zone the whole time and didn’t get opportunities.”

But it started a whole lot earlier than that. Green’s shot late in the first period drew Bronx cheers from the capacity crowd of 21,561 and, later, the understatement of the night from Knuble.

“To go that long without any shots is just not a great way to start a game,” Knuble said.

Especially with the Jets so close. Especially against Crawford, in the middle of a sorry sophomore slump (2.83 goals-against average, .902 save percentage). Especially when this was a game the Capitals needed to win staring at a date with the dangerous Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

“You learn from your mistakes and we’re playing a very skilled team again tomorrow night, and we can’t be flat off the beginning,” Brouwer said. “We can’t sit back, we can’t let them dictate the pace of the play. We’ve got to come out, finish our checks, make their skill players work and get around that net more. Because we didn’t do any of that tonight.”

The Washington Post’s El-Bashir took note of a pair of important statistics from Sunday’s game…

*The Capitals were crushed in the faceoff circle, winning only 35 percent. Keith Aucoin lost 10 of 12, while Marcus Johansson lost all six draws he took.

*The power play went 0 for 1, failing to register a single shot. It marked the sixth time in the past 11 games that the unit received one or fewer opportunities.

And he reports that the Capitals iced the following roster against Chicago:




NHL.com’s Davis Harper’s preview provides our pivot point between the Capitals’ and Red Wings’ perspectives:

Season Series: This is the second and final meeting of the season. Way back on Oct. 22, Washington pummeled Detroit at the Verizon Center, 7-1, behind two goals each from Mathieu Perreault and Mike Green.

Big Story: Two teams typically in the Stanley Cup conversation in late March are this year struggling to retain the title of playoff competitor. The Capitals, a team currently sitting just a game above Buffalo and Winnipeg in eighth place in the East, will look to snap a two-game losing streak when they face Detroit at Joe Louis Arena. The Red Wings are back home after a rough four-game road trip in which they went 0-3-1. Detroit has fallen to third in the ultra-competitive Central Division, and fifth overall in the West.
Red Wings [team scope]: As division rivals Nashville and St. Louis continue to rack up points, it seems as though Detroit is running out of gas at a critical time. Since beating Los Angeles at home on March 9, the Wings have lost four straight while being outscored, 15-6. Coming off a 4-0 shutout loss to Anaheim on Wednesday, Detroit entered San Jose looking for any sort of momentum. When San Jose jumped out to a 2-0 lead, that looked unlikely. But Pavel Datsyuk – making his return from a minor knee surgery that kept him out a month – scored late in the first, and Valtteri Filppula sent it into overtime with a late goal. Unfortunately, San Jose outshot the Wings 5-1 in overtime, and Martin Havlat finished past Jimmy Howard at 3:23 of the extra period to win it.
Who’s Hot: Ovechkin scored a beautiful individual goal on Sunday, and has three in his past three games for the Caps. His ability to produce will be vital to Washington’s playoff hopes. … Filppula has 13 points – 6 goals, 7 assists – in his last 10 games.

Injury Report: Washington starting goalie Tomas Vokoun missed Sunday’s game with a lower-body injury and is day-to-day. Nicklas Backstrom (concussion) is out indefinitely. … While Datsyuk is back, the Wings are still missing some key components. Darren Helm (lower body) and Joey MacDonald (back spasms) are doubtful for Monday’s game against Washington. Johan Franzen (back spams), Jakub Kindl (strained oblique), Jonathan Ericsson (broken left wrist) and Nicklas Lidstrom (bone bruise in right ankle) are out indefinitely.

Stat Pack: While both teams are in the top eight League-wide for wins when trailing after the first period, an early deficit has proved fatal in each team’s recent skid. Washington trailed early against both Winnipeg and Chicago, while Detroit trailed heading into the first intermission in each of its last four games.

Yeah, you read that right. 4 games with 1 or 2-goal deficits in the 1st period for Detroit.

The Red Wings are admittedly frustrated by their injury woes, as they stated after Saturday night’s game. The Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness took note of the most prominent comments about that long list of injuries—and noted that Darren Helm is simply hoping to return for the playoffs at this point:

“I’m a little bit concerned,” Helm said. “More than I want to be right now. It’s pretty close to the end of the season. I was hoping I’d be healthy and playing my best going into the playoffs. That obviously is not going to be the case.

“Hopefully, I’ll be healthy and ready to play the first game of the playoffs,” Helm continued. “Hopefully I’ll be ready before that. I don’t know how long it’s going to take. We’ll find out on Monday.”
“As soon as I jumped on [to test my knee during the TV timeout] I knew right away I couldn’t go,” Helm said. “I’ve had similar injuries, but this is more painful than other times.”

This could just be another blow to the Wings’ lineup, which just got Pavel Datsyuk back from arthroscopic knee surgery. The team is without Nicklas Lidstrom (ankle), Jonathan Ericsson (wrist), Jakub Kindl (oblique muscle), Johan Franzen (back spasms) and Joey MacDonald (back spasms).

“We need to get a break with some injuries here,” Wings coach Babcock said. “Get Mule and E and Nick back and we can be the kind of team we’re capable of being because we’re not as good right now. It’s gone on long enough, we need to get rolling.”

The Wings recalled Gustav Nyquist from Grand Rapids. Nyquist leads the Griffins with 58 points.

“That’s the way it works sometimes,” Henrik Zetterberg said of the team’s injuries. “First three-quarters of the season we were really healthy. We get injuries through the course of the year, hopefully everyone will be back for the playoffs.”

Given that the Wings essentially swapped Ty Conklin for the Griffins’ top two defensemen in Brendan Smith and Doug Janik, given that Jordan Pearce is up to sit on the bench and given that the player who set the Griffins’ rookie scoring record left the team before it embarks upon a four-game road trip which will have the Griffins play two games against the San Antonio Rampage on Tuesday and Thursday and two games against the Oklahoma City Barons on Saturday and Sunday, the Griffins, who sit 5 points out of a playoff spot, aren’t exactly happy with the Wings as they’re in “survival mode” as well…

But the Wings need to worry about themselves first and foremost as they attempt to at least finish fourth in the Western Conference, as Pleiness notes:

The Wings have 10 games left in the regular season, seven of which are at Joe Louis Arena.

“It’s going to be nice to get home to warm weather, even though we’ve been in California for a week,” Zetterberg said. “We look forward to it, it’s going to be a fun game against the (Washington) Capitals and then we go to the (Madison) Garden. It’s going to be a fun week.”

The Wings still have a bad memory from meeting Washington earlier this season, losing 7-1. Detroit was 5-0-0 at the time.

“They beat us like a rented Mule,” Babcock said. “I don’t know much about them right now. I haven’t looked at their two previous games. Right now it has nothing to do with our opponent, it has to do with how we’re playing.”

The Capitals, who played Chicago Sunday night, are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games and currently hold onto the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

“We’re not playing against (Alex) Ovechkin, we’re play against the Capitals,” Pavel Datsyuk said. “They’re fighting for playoffs and we need it points too. We played beginning of season and lost 7-1, so it’ll be nice if we come back.”

Jimmy Howard made sure to point out to the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa that getting Pavel Datsyuk back and feeling pretty healthy himself yielded rare gains for a team which, according to Krupa, is rooting for “God or nature” to help them out in the injury department:

Count the Red Wings as hopeful, but not certain. What they need to see is players beginning to return over the next several games in the hope they will be at their best for the playoffs. But, by and large, other than following doctors’ orders, restoring health is nothing they control.

“We need to continue to get guys coming back for us here and getting healthy,” said Jimmy Howard, who talked about feeling more comfortable in his return from a second injury in two months.

Pavel Datsyuk, who returned from an injury Saturday and had an immediate impact with a huge goal against the Sharks, said he hopes to be able to say the same, and soon.

“As Pav gets to play more and as I get to play more, we’ll start feeling like ourselves out there,” Howard said. “And we’ve been playing great at home, so we’ve got to take advantage of it.”

Datsyuk is back. But it will be interesting to see how long it takes to for him fully recover his phenomenal play after arthroscopic knee surgery.

Despite losing to the Sharks thanks to another familiar equation: “2-0 deficit + injuries + strange officiating for both teams = y we no win in SJ!” the Wings did feel that their effort in a predictably strange defeat (linky goes to my wrap-up) offered positive signs…

“I think as long as we get going in the right direction we’ll be fine,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said after Saturday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Sharks, the team’s seventh one-goal loss in the past 12 meetings. “If you don’t play hard, you’ve got lots of issues. I thought our competitive level was better. We’re a work in progress.”

And MLive’s Ansar Khan also found optimism in the Wings’ locker room on Saturday night…

The Red Wings have clinched a losing road record (16-20-2) for only the second time in 20 seasons – the Lidstrom Era. But they remain one of the best teams at home (28-4-2), where they will play seven of their remaining 10 games, starting Monday against the Washington Capitals. The Red Wings are winless in four (0-3-1), but played much better in a 3-2 overtime loss Saturday in San Jose than they did their previous two games, in Anaheim and Los Angeles.

Coach Mike Babcock called it a good step.

“Now we have to take another step,’’ Babcock said. “It’s not about anybody we’re playing, it’s about what we got to do to be better. As long as we keep going in the right direction, we’ll be fine.’‘
“We’ll continue to get guys back and as Pav starts to play more games and I get to play more games, we’ll start feeling more and more like ourselves out there,’’ goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “We’ve been playing great at home, so we have to take advantage of it.”

But again, they preached caution in terms of taking tonight’s opponent anything other than very seriously:

“We not play against Ovechkin, we play against Capitals,’’ Datsyuk said. “They’re in situation they’re fighting for playoffs and we need points, too. It’ll be fun. We played beginning of season and lost 7-1, so it’ll be nice if we come back.’‘

That blowout in Washington Oct. 22 was Detroit’s first loss after five wins. It was the Capitals’ seventh consecutive win to start the season, before a free-fall that cost coach Bruce Boudreau his job (replaced by Dale Hunter on Nov. 28) and has the team scrapping to get into the playoffs.

“They beat us like a rented Mule,’’ Babcock said. But, he added, “Right now it has nothing to do with our opponent, it has to do with how we’re playing.’‘

Saturday’s loss bookended a strange period of time for the Wings—twenty-seven days of losing hockey between February 19th’s home ice winning record-setting win over the Sharks and the St. Patrick’s Day overtime loss against the same team—and if you believe that “God or nature” might be sending the Wings a message regarding a short spring to come, well…

The ice at Joe Louis Arena might be a little goopy tonight because we have a dense fog advisory for this morning in Southeastern Michigan—it’s actually so foggy in South Lyon that fog’s visible all of 50 feet in away from my front door—and it’s supposed to hit 75 degrees downtown, with a 30% (i.e. pretty darn good) chance of thunderstorms on Monday afternoon, and we’re probably going to hit 80 degrees here in Metro Detroit on Tuesday before settling down to slightly less insane mid-March highs in the 60’s by Friday’s game against Carolina and the 50’s by next week at this time.

The weather in California was more Michigan-like than it’s been in our winter-less state, as the Free Press’s Helene St. James notes:

“It’s going to be nice to get home to warm weather, even though we’ve been in California for a week,” he said with a smile after the Wings had wrapped up their last major trip of the season Saturday night. They lost to San Jose, 3-2, in overtime, but came away encouraged that they had good structure and effort against the Sharks, especially considering they had to make do without captain Nicklas Lidstrom and Johan Franzen.

It was unseasonably cold, overcast and wet while in San Jose, and it didn’t escape players’ notice that it was 20 degrees warmer in Michigan. A sense of humor is tantamount all the more these days, as the Wings can’t go a practice or a game without someone getting hurt. Darren Helm became the latest afflicted, as an attempted hit on Dominic Moore on Saturday became a collision that left Helm limping and favoring his left leg. Franzen left Friday’s practice with back spasms. Goalie Joey MacDonald came away from Wednesday’s 4-0 loss in Anaheim with nerve pain shooting down one of his legs.

General manager Ken Holland said they would be re-evaluated today, as would Lidstrom, whose lack of progress from an ankle bone bruise dating back three weeks prompted the Wings to send him home for four days of rest. Defenseman Jakub Kindl soon could return from an upper body injury, and defenseman Jonathan Ericsson should be back from a wrist injury in April. Gustav Nyquist has been called up from the minors, as at the very least the Wings expect to be without Helm tonight.

At least Pavel Datsyuk returned against the Sharks after missing nearly a month because of knee surgery. Even in his first game back his presence was transformative. “He’s one of our leaders and an unbelievably skilled player,” defenseman Brad Stuart said. “It was nice to see him back.”

Datsyuk scored 23 seconds after the Sharks had taken a 2-0 lead, deflating them and inflating the Wings. “He looked like a player that’s been out for a long time,” coach Mike Babcock said, “and yet he can still do things like the goal, when they make it two, he makes it one right away, and that was a big deal for us. Just having him in the lineup gives us some swagger.”

With 10 games to go before the playoffs, the Wings are eager to get back to playing well. They have only one point the last four games, and want to get healthy and rolling.

Health might not cooperate, but the Wings need to get rolling again with Datsyuk’s addition providing a team “sorely” lacking in self-confidence some much-needed help in the scoring department, defensive play, a power play that’s now in the remarkable 0-for-31 over the Wings’ last 9 games, and per DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose 3-for-47 since Datsyuk got hurt.

The Wings, like their fans, are “day-to-day” in terms of injuries, their status in the standings, their self-confidence and sense of hope for engaging in more than a one-round-and-done playoff run, and while I’ve said too many bad things about the divine during seven years of Catholic school and dating and then breaking up with a Ukrainian Catholic church lady to dare ask God for assistance (I didn’t burst into flames during my the Catholic church-attendance portion of my friend Steve’s wedding, and that was a positive), so I will suggest that we have to take Krupa’s advice and hope that nature cooperates as the Red Wings do their best to retake control of their present and regular season/playoff future over the final stretch of the regular season.

Cross your fingers and toes regarding Lidstrom, Helm, MacDonald, Franzen, Ericsson and Kindl, folks, cross your fingers and toes that a power play can’t stink on ice forever, and cross your fingers about the Wings turning things around in short order while not worrying too much. There’s more than enough worry to already go around amongst the most optimistic of us, never mind our typically fatalistic majority, and my best advice for everyone, including those of us with anxiety disorders (like me), is to take things day-by-day and use our better judgment when it comes to self-medicating so that we don’t completely lose our marbles over the ups and downs that the next three weeks are sure to provide.

Part II: An annoying programming note: I absolutely hate to tell you this, but I received a last-minute, “Oh, sure, your doctor can see you for a serious-ass long appointment on Monday!” notice on Friday, and I’m going to be stuck going in for what is essentially a physical at 2 PM today. That means I’ll be out of the home office from at least 1:30-3:30 PM EDT, which sucks given the MRI’s that are scheduled for today. I’m gonna call the doc’s office and see whether I can change the appointment this morning, but I need to get it done sooner than later, so I’m just going to do the best I can to provide you with timely updates.

Part III: In the ECHL, something tells me that the Toledo Walleye’s charitable wine-tasting event on March 23rd will serve some sort of medicinal comfort to a team that’s waaaaayyyy out of the playoff hunt, because the Walleye concluded a slate of three games in three nights with a staggering 9-1 loss to the Kalamazoo K-Wings. Andrej Nestrasil achieved an incredible feat by going -1 on a night where the Walleye finished at an unbelievable -35, and Nick Oslund more or less hit the team average at -3.

The Walleye’s website and the Toledo Blade relay the carnage.


Part IV: Also of Red Wings-related note: They aren’t the Red Wings of junior hockey, but they’re pretty damn close, and if you want to watch some superb playoff action starting next Friday, the Plymouth Whalers will host the Guelph Storm in the first round of the OHL playoffs.

In terms of Red Wings prospects, Petr Mrazek’s Ottawa 67’s will play the Belleville Bulls, Xavier Ouellet’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada will make the QMJHL’s playoff cut, Marek Tvrdon’s Vancouver Giants will tangle with the Spokane Chiefs and Brooks Macek’s Calgary Hitmen will play the Brandon Wheat Kings, but those are the only major junior hockey-playing prospects that I know of who have post-season futures.

• Wings prospect Dick Axelsson also faces a career at the crossroads after Modo bowed out of its series with Skelleftea, losing 2-1 in their fifth and deciding first-round game. Axelsson was battling knee problems, and given his difficult tenure in the Eliteserien, it would be best for him to find another country to play in and perhaps to no longer get into Facebook and Twitter wars with his detractors;

• The Windsor Star’s Bob Duff reports that all went well during the last public skate and last day that ice existed at the Windsor Arena, where the Red Wings’ forbears, the Detroit Cougars, played their first season of NHL hockey;

• DetroitRedWings.com’s Zack Crawford’s “Dual Citizenship” series continues via an interview with former Red Wing and Maple Leaf Mark Kirton;

• And “We All Bleed Red” on YouTube posted parts one, two, three and four of Nicklas Lidstrom’s interview with Fox Sports Detroit’s Ken Daniels and Larry Murphy last Wednesday in Anaheim.


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Itrusteddrrahmani's avatar

P.S. Ovechkin did this last night against the Hawks….On Duncan Keith, no less.


Posted by Itrusteddrrahmani from Nyc by way of A2 on 03/19/12 at 08:48 AM ET

MNWing's avatar

6th place and a series with the pacific champion beats playing in the 4/5 matchup, either home or road.  Don’t be surprised if Hank needs to sit a couple days soon, or if Pav’s knee flares up, or Jimmah’s groin. Not saying they should tank it on purpose, but the more favorable matchup definately resides in the 3/6 series, even if they are on the road to start.

Posted by MNWing on 03/19/12 at 10:40 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Good morning, George and don’t apologize for your appointment.  Your health comes first!

You are right that all we - and the Wings - can do right now is take each game as it comes. 

Hey, maybe all the other teams will wear themselves out battling for playoff spots and the injured Wings will come back healthy and rested and ready for a long playoff run!

Anything, anything, can happen. 

There isn’t a Smiley “with rose-colored red and white glasses,” so I’ll go with this one.

cool smile


Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 03/19/12 at 10:47 AM ET


P.S. Ovechkin did this last night against the Hawks….On Duncan Keith, no less.

I’m pretty sure he’s done that before. Keith tried to play the puck instead of the body and didn’t move either leg until after Ovi was already past him. In other words, braindead defense by the #1 defenseman on a team that won 4-2. But in his defense, the Blackhawks were up 4-1 at that point and had every expectation to get another 2 in the third.
Interestingly enough, the Capitals were horrible on faceoffs and both goaltenders were below .900. Wideman was -3, Ovechkin only had 2 shots, and Semin couldn’t shoot.

Posted by bleep bloop on 03/19/12 at 10:48 AM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

Posted by bleep bloop on 03/19/12 at 08:48 AM ET

Ding. The only thing underrated about Duncan Keith is his elbows.

Posted by mrfluffy from the phone, calling Detroit, telling them it's on 03/19/12 at 12:22 PM ET

DocF's avatar

A couple of very depressing comments from the “sunny” south here.  I have not looked at the schedules as that affects the math, but from strictly a mathematical standpoint, the Wings can still miss the playoffs.  They need to win at least half the games to assure making the playoffs.  That is a bad situation, indeed.

Bone bruises.  (I wish I knew how to make an upside down exclamation.)  My orthopedic surgeon said they can be lingering issues for months and/or years.  That sucks and that could be career ending.  That more than sucks.

Joey MacDonald having disc issues is a major concern.  He has a history of back problems and missed almost a whole season a while back when he had to have surgery.  This set him back a bunch and more miseries could end his career.

I guess I am even more pessimistic than usual since the University of North Carolina point guard, Kendall Marshall is almost certainly out of Friday’s game with his fractured right wrist.  It is reported that he had a screw put in the break.

As the Geezenslaw Brothers used to say:  Gloom, despair, excessive misery.


Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 03/19/12 at 12:32 PM ET

cigar_nurse's avatar

You just keep your appointment George. We can catch up later. Your health comes first and bedsides, maybe the doc will discover something that can be treated easily and quickly.
A 3 vs 6 matchup does not sound so bad. We just need to put the injury bug behind us.

Posted by cigar_nurse from On LTIR for the Greenville Pylons on 03/19/12 at 12:43 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

The people who saw swrious deficiencies were laughed at and told we we ungreatful

And now I humbly ask for the lottery numbers, since you obviously saw injuries to half our team coming.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 03/19/12 at 01:16 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

You might want to rethink the 3-6 match up as being better than Nashville.  It might be the Sharks in the 3 spot and we have problems with the Sharks and there is the travel to the West Coast.  Dallas/Phoenix/Sharks/Kings all have 83 or 82 points in he Pacific Div.

Pick your poison!

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 03/19/12 at 01:31 PM ET

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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.

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