The Malik Report
Quickie Red Wings prospect news: Mantha shut out as Val-d’Or loses; Wheaton, Tvrdon, Rockets advance
Three Red Wings prospects took part in playoff action on Wednesday night, and they experienced mixed results.
In the QMJHL, Anthony Mantha was held off the scoresheet and finished at -2 as his Val-d'Or Foreurs dropped a 3-2 decision to the Drummondville Voltigeurs. Drummondville's win ties the teams' second-round series at 2 games apiece. Mantha still has 7 goals, 4 assists and 11 points registered over the course of 8 playoff games played;
In the WHL, things went better for Mitchell Wheaton, Marek Tvrdon and the Kelowna Rockets. Tvrdon had a goal and an assist as Kelowna defeated the Seattle Thunderbirds 5-2, sweeping Seattle and advancing to the WHL's Western Conference Finals, where the Rockets will probably play the Portland Winterhawks. Tvrdon has 5 goals and 6 assists for 11 points in 9 playoff games played, and Wheaton, who finished at +1, has 4 assists in 9 playoff games played.
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings clinched a spot in the 2014 Stanley Cup® Playoffs for the 23rd straight season by taking a point in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night. The Red Wings currently sit in the second Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference standings with 91 points (38-27-15) and two games remaining in the regular season.
Detroit’s streak of 23-straight playoff appearances (1990-91 – present) is the longest active streak in all of North American major professional sports and is the fifth longest of its kind in NHL history. Among NHL teams, the next closest active playoff streak is 10 seasons, currently held by the San Jose Sharks.
Despite a franchise-record 406 man-games lost due to injury this season, the Red Wings push for a 23rd straight playoff appearance has featured the team in the midst of a 9-4-2 run in its last 15 games. Wednesday’s shootout defeat comes only one night after head coach Mike Babcock collected his 414th victory in Detroit, making him the all-time winningest coach in franchise history.
The only goal that mattered tonight...
George just lost his internet connection so you have me with a very brief game recap.
No more goals, saves, etc., just knowing the Wings are once again in the Stanley Cup playoffs should be the topic tonight.
George will get back to work as soon as his cable company fixes the outage.
From the Red Wings' PR department:
RED WINGS HOST ‘FAN APPRECIATION NIGHT’ ON FRIDAY
... Every Fan in Attendance Has a Chance to Win an On-Ice Photo with a Red Wings Player + Autographed Stick ...
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings will thank the fans of Hockeytown by hosting its annual ‘Fan Appreciation Night’ on Friday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m. when the Red Wings take on the Carolina Hurricanes in the final regular season home game of the 2013-14 campaign.
Fans in attendance at Joe Louis Arena for Friday’s game, along with those tuning in to the exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports Detroit and following the Red Wings social media channels (Facebook, Twitter), will be eligible to win hundreds of exciting giveaways, prizes and unique Red Wings experiences. In addition, fans who subscribe to the team’s text alerts (Text “WINGS” to 21732) are also eligible to win prizes.
SI's Sarah Kwak gave Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar quite the set of compliments today:
With old, reliable names out of the lineup, new ones began to emerge. Before this season, Nyquist and 23-year-old left-winger Tomas Tatar had nine goals in 67 games between them. Now they lead the Red Wings with 28 and 19 goals, respectively, and are being called the team's next generation of stars.
It might be too early to hand the keys to the franchise to this dynamic duo, but there are reasons to believe that they're more than a flash in the proverbial pan. Their profiles have skyrocketed, but not altogether surprisingly. Both Nyquist and Tatar were perhaps overripe by the time they stuck with the Wings. As is the case with most Detroit prospects, breaking into the lineup is often the hardest part. Since signing in March 2011, Nyquist, a fourth-rounder in 2008, was sent down to the minors 11 times. Tatar has made nine such trips since he was drafted 60th overall in 2009.
Such is the plight of playing for a deep, talented, and well-managed organization. When success is as longstanding and commonplace as it has been at the Joe, there isn't much room for learning on the job. Particularly up front, rookies come in as veterans. So to go with his impressive speed, Nyquist has developed a hockey IQ that is already "off the charts," in the words of Detroit coach Mike Babcock. And Tatar has shown no quit in his play as he continues to make those around him better.
And she continues...
The AHL found a unique way to announce that Red Wings prospects and/or Grand Rapids Griffins forward Teemu Pulkkinen and defenseman Ryan Sproul has made the league's All-Rookie Team:
Updated 3x at 2:38 PM: The Detroit Red Wings hope to earn two points, if not send something of an, "We're not going to be easy pickings" message, when they tangle with the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight (8 PM EDT on NBCSN, TSN2 and 97.1 FM). If anything, the biggest message will be two points, however, because the Columbus Blue Jackets will be spotted a 1-0 lead in their Rich Peverley make-up game against Dallas.
Very optional for the #RedWings this morning with Howard, Gustavsson, Bertuzzi and Andersson on the ice here at Consol Energy Center.
Roose then revealed the starting goaltenders...
Red Wings-Penguins set-up and morning report: the only ‘message’ Wings need to send is a 2-point one
Update: Oh joy:
The Red Wings were relatively satisfied with their slightly ugly 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday, but the Wings will need to take their games to another level if Mike Babcock's ship is to take 2 points from the Pittsburgh Penguins this evening (8 PM EDT on NBCSN/TSN2/97.1 FM), especially given the wild-and-woolly way in which the Wings took a 5-4 OT decision from Pittsburgh on March 20th.
Tonight's "NBC Rivalry Night" game may precede a rekindling of the teams' playoff rivalry a week from now, and the Peguins, who are as flummoxed by the NHL's new playoff format as the rest of us, have split their past 4 games but have won 4 of 6, including a 3-2 shootout win over Colorado last Sunday--a win in which the Penguins sat a bunch of slightly-injured players.
As the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Chris Adamski notes, the Penguins are dealing with a number of injuries, but none more significant than Evgeni Malkin's "foot injury":
The Red Wings didn't paint a work of art in winning a rather homely 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres last night, but the Wings' 3-2 win last Friday wasn't pretty, either, and given that a) those damn Blue Jackets both won in overtime vs. Phoenix, b) those damn Blue Jackets start tonight's Rich Peverley Make-Up Game with a 1-0 lead over Dallas, and c) given that the Red Wings have a big game against the Penguins tonight (8 PM EDT on NBCSN/TSN2/97.1 FM), sometimes you've got to bank away points any way possible, and the Wings have earned a necessary 4 of 4 points and 2 regulation wins over Buffalo.
The Eastern Conference Wild Card standings are still bunched-up at the top, but Detroit and Columbus have separated themselves from the rest of the pack:
The Sabres tossed off several slew-foots, Mike Weber boarded Gustav Nyquist, and the game was less than friendly, but WGR 550's Paul Hamilton felt that it was at least one Red Wing who played dirtily early on, with Darren Helm running goaltender Jeff Hackett too aggressively until #43 was called for goaltender interference:
The Red Wings' prospects mostly had a good day/evening Tuesday, but we may be engaging in another, "Will he or won't he come over?" situation regarding one player:
In Sweden's SHL, Linkopings HC lost a 7-3 decision to Skelleftea AIK, losing the series 4 games to 1, and Skelleftea now advances to the SHL final to defend last year's title.
Mattias Backman finished at +2 with a shot and 2 assists 23:45 of ice time, and the defenseman was on loan to LHC, so he may do what Mattias Janmark did last night in heading to North America to finish out the year with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
In North America, in Major Junior Hockey:
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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.