The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/17/12 at 12:52 AM ET
As the World Championship’s Quarterfinals begin bright and early at 6 AM EDT with Canada and Slovakia kicking off the day’s festivities (on TSN and the NBC Sports Network), and my migraines haven’t gone away, I’m gonna tuck in early while warning you that the headaches mean that you might not see as much translated Swedish, Russian, Finnish, etc. as usual (sorry), and also warning fans who aren’t used to what has now become a two-week grind in Helsinki and Stockholm to prepare…
To witness hockey that will resemble the shot-blocking, trap-happy stuff we’ve been watching NHL teams play as opposed to what has essentially looked like successful Red Wings playoff hockey when the top teams have tangled. The Quarterfinals in particular tend to involve low-scoring, chippy and sometimes shootout-decided hockey for a very simple reason:
With inordinate amounts of pressure on the eight teams involved—eight teams who will be facing cries of “fiasco!” and “disgrace!” from their respective countries’ press corps if they do not prevail today—Wings prospect Tomas Tatar can summarize the problem with single-game elimination hockey, and perhaps his team’s hopes of upsetting Canada today, succinctly, as the Edmonton Sun’s Terry Jones noted:
“I think the quarterfinal is 50-50,” said Tomas Tatar.
This part, however, is obviously bluster:
“I think we will play a really good game. I think Canada will be afraid of us and respect our hockey,” added the Grand Rapids Griffin.
As noted in the Worlds catch-up post, here’s the schedule for today’s festivities and the rest of the tournament, per the IIHF’s website and NBC Sports’ broadcast schedule as of today, Wednesday, May 16th:
Thursday, May 17th:
• 6 AM EDT: Canada (Kyle Quincey) vs. Slovakia (Tomas Tatar; TSN/NBC Sports Network)
• 8:45 AM EDT: Norway vs. Russia (Pavel Datsyuk; on the NBC Sports Network)
• 11:30 AM EDT: USA vs. Finland (Jimmy Howard and Justin Abdelkader vs. Valtteri Filppula; NBC Sports network);
• 2:15 PM EDT: Sweden vs. Czech Republic (Johan Franzen, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Calle Jarnkrok, Jonathan Ericsson vs Petr Mrazek; NBC Sports Network)
Saturday, May 19th:
• 7:30 AM EDT: Canada-Slovakia winner vs. Sweden-Czech Republic winner;
• 11:30 AM EDT: Norway-Russia winner vs. USA-Finland winner.
NBC Sports will televise one of the above-mentioned games at, according to their schedule, 9 PM EDT.
Sunday, May 20th:
• 9 AM EDT: Bronze Medal Game: Semifinal 1 loser vs. Semifinal 2 loser
• 1:30 PM EDT: Gold Medal Game: Semifinal 1 winner vs. Semifinal 2 winner.
NBC Sports will televise the Gold Medal game on tape delay, at 9 PM EDT
If you do not have access to NBC Sports or TSN, or want to watch games at work or otherwise, I must strongly, strongly, strongly warn you that almost any site that has a stream of the game is also likely to be rife with spyware, so you must, must, must be using antivirus software and ad-blocking and script-blocking software to head to such websites—even if you are using a Mac—but I have found that (add in the http:// and www on your own) justin.tv has some solid streams, firstrowsports.eu has been useful, and while it is rife with spyware, livetv.ru/en/ has been very good, and I have also been told that there is a website called youtubeunblocker.org might help you break through any blocks the IIHF’s YouTube streams are utilizing. But you didn’t hear any of this from me.
The honest-to-Gordie Howe truth about these games is simple: even with Jonathan Ericsson rejoining the Swedes’ lineup to take on a Czech team that’s mostly made up of KHL’ers and Czech Extraliga players, and even with Pavel Datsyuk now centering Alex Semin and Alexander Ovechkin instead of Nikolai Kulemin and Yevgeni Kuznetsov, we’re talking about single-game elimination hockey, with ten minutes of OT and then shootouts until the Gold Medal game, where there’s a 20-minute OT…
And in this kind of format, the “best team” doesn’t always prevail. In theory, especially with Kari Lehtonen sidelined for Finland, we should see the U.S. beat Finland, Canada defeat Slovakia, Sweden prevail against the Czechs and Russia hand Norway its ass on a platter, but this isn’t the NHL, where you’ve got to play consistently better than your opponent over the course of multiple games and potentially multiple overtimes to prevail.
You just need to win one game, if not nurse one game to a shootout, and in those types of games, it really is a toss-up.
Between the migraines and the advice of both my boss and my parent to not tempt fate and knock myself out for a few days, I’m going to refrain from offering as many full translations over the next few days, even given the gravity of today, Saturday and Sunday’s games, as 18 and 20-hour days just…Well, when you’re a one-man show, it’s not too bright to try to provide blanket coverage in half a dozen languages. From here on out, expect more summations and blurbs as opposed to full-article translations, though I’ll do my best to cover the really good stuff in as much detail as time allows.
Sorry for the disclaimer, but you know how I am—TMI on TMR is the way I roll.
In terms of Wings news in English, if you missed it, yes, Sergei Fedorov did choose to accept CSKA Moscow’s invite to become their general manager, I did post a “Worlds catch-up post,” news about this summer’s prospect camp and potential training camp/prospect tournament issues, the Semin scuttlebutt and just about everything else going on that’s related to the Wings, including the whole liquor license for the Big House thing…
And here is an incredibly brief survey of foreign-language news, with the links going to Google translations of articles whenever possible (Aftonbladet is weird as the .ab articles don’t plug into translators, so you have to basically copy and paste text to get the translation):
In Slovak...Erm…Terry Jones may have snagged the only Tatar comment. Miroslav Satan, Michal Handzus, Zdeno Chara and coach Vladmir Vujtek have had their say, but that’s about it. And I like the fact that Hokej.sk has kept adding pictures to its gallery of Finnish cheerleaders, but that’s just me. I’m no fan of the concept that cheerleaders are necessary to watch hockey, but they’re actually much more prevalent in Europe than they are here (go figure).
With just under 10 minutes left, Stepanek came out so that 20-year-old phenom Petr Mrazek could see his first action ever at the IIHF World Championship. Mrazek was named Best Goalie and a tournament all-star in January at the World Juniors in Alberta, Canada, where the Czech U20 team came fifth.
Mrazek stopped 2 shots.
In Finnish...Filppula told Ilta Sanomat’s Marko Lempinen that between two days’ worth of rest and a big win over the Kazakhs, the Finns should be OK against the Americans, and Filppula told Iltahleti’s Pekka Jalonen that watching video’s helped the Finns figure out how to rebound from their Round Robin loss to the Americans.
In Russian...Yes indeedy, Sport-Express’s Mikhail Zislis and Andrei Kuznetsov confrim that Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin and Pavel Datsyuk will play on the same line, which “coach Bill” confirmed to ITAR-TASS’s Oleg Koloshev;
• And Sport-Express reports that Sergei Fedorov has appointed Valeri Bragin CSKA Moscow’s head coach…
And in Swedish, first and foremost, yes, as MLive’s Ansar Khan noted, the Wings will sign Teemu Pulkkinen, Tomas Jurco and one Calle Jarnkrok, and yes, as Arbetarbladet’s Erik Ilerhag notes, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told Expressen’s Tomas Pettersson that Calle Jarnkrok will remain with Brynas IF because he’s about 12 pounds too light…
Which Ken Holland confirmed. Holland also told Pettersson that the Wings are waiting to hear what Nicklas Lidstrom’s plans are for the upcoming season, and he told Pettersson that in order for Tomas Holmstrom to continue playing, he’d have to accept a fourth-line role and a haircut from his salary (though Babcock, of course, thinks that the pair are a “package deal”);
• For the record, Czech forward and Edmonton Oilers sniper Ales Hemsky spoke to both Aftonbladet, nyheter24‘s Olle Liljebad and Expressen about his wariness of Niklas Kronwall’s rear end-first checks…
The Latvians told Henrik Sjoberg that the hit was clean;
• According to Sportal.se, Daniel Alfredsson is now playing alongside Patric Hornqvist and Nicklas Backstrom, which means that Calle Jarnkrok and Jakob Silfverberg have been demoted to teh fourth line;
• And, ironically, Dick Axelsson’s agent, Lars Cederstrom, told Hockeyligan.se’s Peter Karlberg that there are Swedish Eliteserien teams that are interested in Axelsson’s services, though Cederstrom does not anticipate his client signing anywhere soon.
And in English...
• USA Today’s Kevin Allen penned a USA-Finland preview;
• As the Globe and Mail’s Eric Duhatschek notes, Los Angeles Kings forward Anze Kopitar may be from a country that isn’t a hockey power in Slovenia, but he’s not the only Slovenian in the NHL:
“Well, there was another guy in Detroit that played this year [Jan Mursak], so the pyramid’s building,” Kopitar said. “I wouldn’t say it’s very tall, but we’ll get there eventually.
• Also in the developmental hockey vein, the Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell reports that Ontario Hockey Association president Brent Ladds, who’s retiring after 32 years as the head of Ontario’s senior and junior hockey programs, once made an equipment tweak due to a meeting with a famous Wing…
Among the other safety initiatives the OHA stepped out on the limb to promote were the banning of fighting in the ’80s, the introduction of penalties for head checks, improving net design and certification programs for coaches and referees. Ladds recalls meeting Gordie Howe at the OHL All-Star game in Kingston in 1981 shortly after his son Mark Howe had suffered a horrific injury when he slid into a the net and was injured by the puck deflector.
“We were studying a way to introduce the magnets that secured the goal in place and Gordie said we should consider changing those deflectors as well,” Ladds said. We changed both things. It’s been pretty gratifying being part of these safety initiatives.”
• In free agent talk, the Hockey News’s Lyle Richardson doesn’t necessarily buy the concept that New Jersey Devils playoff success = the team having the money to re-sign Zach Parise, and you may be familiar with some of the names from Adam Proteau’s top 10 free agent list:
9. Brad Stuart: Half this list is comprised of defensemen and Stuart is one of the more experienced veteran blueliners available. The 32-year-old has been a solid member of the Red Wings since 2008, but his family is based in California and it’s expected he’ll look to sign with one of three teams in that state before any other franchise.
6. Jiri Hudler: The Czech center could be wooed by the Kontinental League this summer, but he’s coming off his best goal-production season in the NHL (with 25) and will get a healthy raise from his $2.9-million cap hit in 2011-12 in North America or elsewhere.
2. Zach Parise: Undoubtedly the top young forward available, Parise is going to face serious pressure from Devils GM Lou Lamoriello to stay with the organization. However, the franchise faces significant financial issues this summer that could lead to a bankruptcy announcement, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility they won’t be able to compete with other teams for the 27-year-old, who has scored at least 31 goals in each of his past five full seasons.
1. Ryan Suter: The Nashville blueliner’s combination of size, smarts and grit has 29 other teams drooling in anticipation of him hitting the open market. New Predators ownership investors have given the team’s GM David Poile more confidence he can re-sign the 27-year-old, but big-market franchises such as Philadelphia and Detroit can offer him the type of front-loaded contract Nashville likely can’t match. Regardless, if Suter doesn’t nearly double his $3.5 million salary, most hockey observers will be shocked.
And finally, just as I was wrapping this up, the Oakland Press’s Pat Caputo chose to come along and play captain obvious:
It’s widely been speculated Parise will leave New Jersey because the team’s financial structure appears to be falling apart. Yet, the Devils have reached the Final Four. They still have a shot at winning the Stanley Cup. Should they manage to do that, the chances of Parise returning will rise.
Also, Parise is from Minnesota. His father, J.P., was one of the most recognizable players for the old North Stars. Parise was born in Minneapolis. He played his youth hockey Minnesota. He played his college hockey not far from Minnesota — at North Dakota. Parise was recently married and bought a house — in Minnesota.
As desperate as the Red Wings are to add a goal scorer, the Minnesota Wild are as desperate to add a marquee player. The Wild have been incredibly bland since their inception. They wouldn’t be if they signed Parise, who was also one of the top players for the surprisingly successful United States squad during the 2010 Olympics. It shouldn’t be presumed the Red Wings are the front-runners for Parise.
Suter is a very good player, but one Ryan Suter is not going to equal the loss of Lidstrom and Brad Stuart. It’s imperative Lidstrom return. The Red Wings just aren’t the same team without him. Their slide became epidemic when Lidstrom left the lineup because of a foot injury.
It’s been widely stated the Red Wings have not benefited from the parity that reigns currently in the NHL. That is not true. While a hard salary cap has evened out the ice in the NHL, and there are occurrences such as Phoenix and Los Angeles coming out of the blue and meeting in the Western Conference finals, it also means the Red Wings aren’t that far away, either.
The mistake people made assessing the Red Wings is believing they simply weren’t good enough when every team in the Western Conference playoff field was good enough. The Red Wings could be dominant again, but it’s not a given it will be as easy as signing the two biggest premier free agents on the market.
I could have told you that, but what do I know?
See you at six.
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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.