The Malik Report
From the Grand Rapids Griffins:
CORKS, PUCKS AND BREWS SET FOR FEB. 21
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins and Easterseals Michigan are teaming up for the sixth annual Corks, Pucks and Brews, a wine and beer tasting fundraiser to be held on Tuesday, Feb. 21 from 6:30-9 p.m. at the Goei Center.
Griffins players will serve over 100 varieties of wine and craft beer samples to guests at the event, highlighted by live music, hors d’oeuvres and silent and live auctions. Items up for bid include two Chicago Cubs VIP packages consisting of 4 suite tickets, food and parking for an upcoming game; an autographed Jimmy Howard jersey; Griffins packages; a golf experience featuring a round at the Jewel Golf Course in Mackinac Island; casino packages; beauty packages; product baskets; wine and beer tours; gift cards and more.
Henrik Zetterberg and Frans Nielsen spoke with the Free Press's George Sipple regarding playing through an incredibly frustrating 2016-17 campaign:
Zetterberg, the team captain, acknowledged that this has been a tough season.
“Not just for me,” Zetterberg said. “It’s hard to go through this, but you do it as a team, and you try to get better every day.”
Forward Frans Nielsen agreed. He signed a six-year, $31.5-million deal to join the Wings this season and expected to make the playoffs.
“No one is feeling good about it right now,” Nielsen said. “We’re absolutely not where we want to be and think we should be, with the talent that’s in that room.”
Nielsen said the Wings have to play with pride the rest of the season. He thinks the Wings have “three potential superstars” in Andreas Athanasiou, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha.
“Within the next couple years, we might have three of the best players in the league in those three,” Nielsen said. “We’ve got some great, great young players to build this team around.”
Quick update: MLive's Ansar Khan also weighs in:
Updated at 4:43 PM: The Detroit Red Wings practiced at the University Liggett School ahead of back-to-back matinee games against Washington (at the Joe) and Pittsburgh (in the Steel City), with the Wings icing some familiar lines, with Vanek, Nielsen and Athanasiou reunited and Anthony Mantha back on his familiar spot on Henrik Zetterberg's wing.
After practice, Dylan Larkin spoke with the Free Press's George Sipple about what's become one hell of a sophomore slump...
Larkin has 12 goals and seven assists for 19 points this season. He has a minus-18 rating in 55 games heading into Saturday's game against the Washington Capitals (2 p.m., FSD, NHL Network).
“Right now, we have 25 games left,” Larkin said. “Especially for a player like myself, where things this year haven’t gone the way I would have liked them to, every day is a tryout. Every day, I’m trying to earn extra ice time, earn more trust. Earn things doing it the right way and working hard.”
“You look at opportunities and you look at bounces, even, as crazy as it sounds,” Larkin said. “You look at shots on goal, in the past few months, (it) hasn’t been there for myself. It’s a stat that’s black and white, in the face. To score goals, to get assists off rebounds, to create offense, you have to put the puck on net.”
Larkin averaged 2.8 shots per game and a 10.4 shooting percentage last season. He is averaging 2.4 shots per game this season, with a 9.2 shooting percentage.
Sipple continues, and in the multimedia department, MLive's Brendan Savage spoke with Henrik Zetterberg regarding "taking advantage" of the Capitals as they come off their "Bye Week":
Of Red Wings-related note from ESPN's Craig Custance's Friday Insider column: Thomas Vanek apparently wants to stay in Detroit, and the Wings want to re-sign Vanek, but they don't want to give Vanek a no-move clause before the expansion draft. The result? Vanek will probably be traded and may or may not circle back to the Wings during the off-season:
“I’ve had some good conversations with Ken [Holland],” said Vanek’s agent Steve Bartlett on Thursday. “They’ve been very complimentary towards Vanek and vice versa. Certainly there’s some good will both directions.”
With the Red Wings playoff hopes all but squashed, it doesn’t make much sense for them to sign him right now. And the reality is, it makes no sense for Vanek to sign with Detroit at this point either, because doing so may just lead to him being exposed in the expansion draft. A contract with Detroit could end up being a contract with Las Vegas.
“It is complicated,” Bartlett said. “It’s not every year we have an expansion draft. From our standpoint, we’re not necessarily sure he would be a protected player. Maybe we sign and think we’re in Detroit and all of a sudden we’re in Vegas. Everyone has their own vested interest. We are certainly open to playing in Detroit next year.”
Bartlett has had two or three conversations in the last month with the Red Wings, but there’s no reason to do a deal now. It would take a "no-movement clause" to assure Vanek he wouldn’t be going anywhere, and then that adds another forward for the Red Wings to protect. That wouldn’t make a lot of sense from an asset management point of view.
Custance continues, suggesting that Vanek's situation is representative of may unrestricted free agents-to-be who want to re-sign with their current teams...
And he doesn't believe that the Wings are going to send a 1st-rounder to St. Louis for Shattenkirk given that the Wings will probably draft pretty high in the draft this summer...He doesn't believe that the Wings will get more than a 2nd-rounder for Vanek, either.
The Red Wings practiced at the University Liggett School today, preparing for Saturday's game against Washington (2 PM EST) and Sunday's game against Pittsburgh (3 PM EST).
The team's goaltenders preceded the players onto the ice, as noted by the Free Press's George Sipple:
Henrik Zetterberg, 36, has 877 career points. What will be his final career point total? @DetroitRedWings
MLive's Ansar Khan confirmed the Wings' presence at McCann Arena...
The Detroit News's Daniel Howes wrote a superb profile of the man in charge of the Ilitch empire, one Chris Ilitch:
The new top guy at Ilitch Holdings Inc. isn’t new.
The youngest son of Mike and Marian Ilitch holds a University of Michigan business degree, but the education of Christopher Ilitch, 51, spans the nearly 30 years he’s worked alongside his parents inside the pizza and entertainment empire they built. Along the way, Chris, CEO of the family company since 2004, learned a few things.
Think big. Be prepared and thorough. Be creative yet humble. Treat people well even as you demand accountability and, yes, performance — be it in the batters box at Comerica Park or the latest quarterly sales report from Little Caesar Enterprises Inc., the multinational pizza company founded in 1959. And do things right.
The Red Wings' YouTube Channel posted 34 videos spotlighting "Joe Moments," and as I'm a big believer that the Red Wings need to honor their non-HOF'ers and grinders with some sort of "Ring of Honor," a team Hall of Fame, or a set of "honored numbers" for players like Holmstrom, Draper, etc., I'll go with the "birth of the Grind Line" as my "Joe Moment":
This is pretty cool given that Alden Hirschfeld is from Sylvania, Ohio:
The Toledo Walleye announced today that forward Alden Hirschfeld will serve as team captain for the remainder of the 2017 season.
Hirschfeld replaces Jared Nightingale who has signed a standard player contract with the Chicago Wolves. Nightingale first joined the Wolves in December and then again in January. He has played in eight games with one assist.
“Alden is a true leader on and off the ice,” says Head Coach Dan Watson. “Wearing the C is the natural progression of his leadership role and overall commitment to the team."
This is Hirschfeld’s fourth season with the Walleye. The 29-year-old Sylvania native has skated in 41 games this season and has tallied 38 points (18G/20A), 21 penalty minutes with a +9 plus/minus rating.
The Walleye play three on the road this weekend with the first stop in Wichita. The team returns to the Huntington Center the weekend of February 24, with Saturday celebrating Toledo’s Hockey Heritage and the 2017 Toledo Hockey Hall of Fame class.
from Neil Greenberg of the Washington Post,
It’s all going wrong for the Detroit Red Wings this season.
With a 22-25-10 record, the one-time gold standard for hockey excellence languishes at the bottom of the Eastern conference, nine points out of the final wild-card spot with seven teams ahead of them. According to Hockey-Reference.com’s playoff simulator, the Red Wings have just a 1.2 percent chance of reaching the playoffs, making it more likely than not we will see an end to the third-longest playoff streak in NHL history (25 years)....
The lack of talent has also eroded the hallmark of Hockey Town: Detroit’s relentless puck possession.
In 2007-08, the year they won their first Stanley Cup in the salary-cap era, they put a league-leading 58.5 percent of even-strength shot attempts in their favor, after adjusting for score effects. They led the league again the following season (57.5 percent) and made the Cup final. This season they are putting just 47.8 percent of shot attempts in their favor, seventh-worst in the NHL..
Perhaps as the younger players on the roster mature, Detroit will return to the upper echelons of the league, but the early results are not encouraging. Eleven skaters 25 years old or younger have played at least one game for the Red Wings this season, but only three of them — forwards Andreas Athanasiou, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha — have scored double-digit goals. Six of those youngsters haven’t scored at all.
But having the fifth-worst offense (2.4 goals per game) isn’t the team’s only problem — the left side of its defensive pairings is subpar. Danny DeKeyser, Brendan Smith and Niklas Kronwall all have below-average game scores, an all-in-one metric used more in baseball and basketball that gives a rough measure of a player’s productivity for a single game.
from Brendan Savage of Mlive,
The last time we checked the NHL Power Rankings, the Detroit Red Wings were sinking fast.
Today, they're on the verge of being fully submerged.
The Red Wings have dropped to No. 27 for the second time this season and two media outlets - CSN Mid-Atlantic and The Hockey News - have them one spot from the bottom.
Keep in mind The Hockey News is the same publication that had the Red Wings ranked No. 11 just a few weeks ago.
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