The Malik Report
Three Red Wings prospects' teams took part in playoff games on Sunday, and two of them are moving on--one to a league championship, and the other to either the Toledo Walleye or Grand Rapids Griffins.
In Sweden's SHL, Axel Holmstrom scored the game-tying goal as Skelleftea AIK rallied from a 1-0 deficit to defeat Linkopings HC 3-1 (click for highlights) and advance to the SHL final. Holmstrom scored a goal on 3 shots and played 15:36;
In the KHL, Alexander Kadeikin is still injured, and SKA St. Petersburg is still kicking. SKA's 2-1 OT win over CSKA Moscow tied the "Army Derby" at 3 games apiece, and whoever wins Tuesday's seventh and deciding game will be playing for the Gargarin Cup;
And in the OHL, Jake Paterson wrapped up his junior career in inauspicious form, stopping 37 of 42 shots as his Kitchener Rangers were defeated 5-0 by the London Knights and eliminted from the OHL playoffs in 5 games. Paterson will either report to Toledo or Grand Rapids shortly.
The Red Wings faced a difficult task in battling the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon, and if I may be honest, this game scared the hell out of me. When you've got a team that's had trouble keeping pucks out of its net meeting one of the highest-scoring teams around, and a team that both scores and plays Barry Trotz's classic Predators Trap, no less, I thought, "Great, way to get screwed on the game-in-hand on Boston."
Hearing that Justin Abdelkader was out with an "upper-body injury" was equally worrisome, though it sounds--and I want to emphasize that I'm speculating here--that his hand-and-or-finger isn't broken enough from blocking that shot against Minny that the Wings can't tape it up and get him ready for a playoff game.
The problem, of course, is that today's game was a playoff game for both teams, and Detroit showed up late in the 1st and 3rd periods. As a result, the Capitals got some tip-in goals off Drew Miller that Petr Mrazek had no chance on, and for whatever reason--and that reason is beyond me--Detroit did not have the moxie or jam necessary to battle back until time was set against them and the Capitals were stacked in their zone, blocking shot after shot attempt.
This is almost a relief. The Windsor Star's Bob Duff reports that Justin Abdelkader is, uh, hurt, but not damaged in such a manner that he's been ruled out for today's game:
The Wings weren’t very revealing about Abdelkader’s status prior to Sunday’s game at Joe Louis Arena against the Washington Capitals.
“He’s got an upper body injury and he’s a good player,” said Detroit coach Mike Babcock, who was still awaiting word from team physicians as to whether Abdelkader woud be able to suit up. What I’ll do is I’ll wait until the docs decide and then I’ll decide. The doc that’s looking at him, he knows that the game’s at 5, but he’s on a different program than me. He wasn’t here when I was here. But if he gets here, we’ll have a look at him.”
Author of a career-high 23 goals this season, well in excess of his previous personal best of 10, Abdelkader has been especially hot down the stretch, scoring 10 goals in the last 17 games.
Day-to-day is better than week-to-week.
The Red Wings face the Washington Capitals this afternoon (5 PM EDT on FSD/CSN Washington/NHL Network U.S./Sportsnet/97.1 FM), and at present, we don't know the status of Justin Abdelkader, who last took a shift when he blocked a shot in overtime against Minnesota last night, and left the ice shaking his hand, as MLive's Ansar Khan and the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness noted. From Khan:
The team has yet to release any details or the extent of the injury.
Abdelkader was hit on the right hand by a shot from Marco Scandella 1:06 into overtime and didn't return to the game. He wasn't called upon during the eight-round shootout.
Abdelkader is fourth on the team with 23 goals and fifth in points with 44.
Khan also found a video of Abdelkader's final shift:
The short and to-the-point story after the Red Wings' 3-2 shootout win over the Minnesota reads like this:
Detroit is now tied in wins, Regulation-or-Overtime wins and points with Boston, which defeated Toronto 2-1 in a shootout on Saturday, but Detroit has a game in hand on Boston, and Detroit remains 3 points ahead of the Ottawa Senators, who defeated Sunday's opponent, the Washington Capitals, 4-3 in overtime on Saturday.
The larger divisional-wild card-and-conference picture looks like this:
Prospect news: Nastasiuk’s junior career concludes; Bertuzzi, Hicketts advance; Griffins/Walleye win
Four of the Wings' Major Junior-prospects took part in playoff games on Saturday, and for one, it was the end of the line:
In the OHL, Tyler Bertuzzi didn't register a point and took two penalties, but his Guelph Storm defeated a scoreless Zach Nastasiuk's Owen Sound Attack 2-1, and as a result, Guelph will advance to the 2nd round via a 5-game 1st round win over Owen Sound...
And one of Jeff Blashill's favorite prospects will be heading to Grand Rapids within the next three to five days, if he isn't heading to Grand Rapids to join the Griffins as a pro try-out already.
In the WHL, Dominic Turgeon didn't register a point but his Portland Winterhawks defeated the Seattle Thunderbirds 5-3, taking a 3-2 lead in their first-round series;
And Joe Hicketts didn't register a point and finished at -1, but his Victoria Royals defeated the Prince George Cougars 5-4 in OT, advancing to the 2nd round in 5 games.
In regular-season play, in the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the Toronto Marlies 7-2, and the game included an end-of-affair donnybrook in which Chris Bruton and Louis-Marc Aubry got into a donnybrook with Josh Leivo and Brad Ross.
Over the past five weeks, Red Wings Nation has been in a tizzy, and I wish I could say that I feel guilty for having not stepped in and said, "Don't worry fans, it's going to be all right, the Wings will make the playoffs, stop questioning EVERYTHING and whipping yourselves and each other with wet noodles of self-flagellation" for a simple reason: those of you for whom sports is an excuse to whip out the wet noodle were going to use it anyway.
The other thing, as I said on Twitter very late last night, is that I have an anxiety disorder, and I get being panicky, I get being scared, but the level of freakage outage among Wings fans is beyond my grasp, and my brain chemistry does freakage outage for a damn living. But it's a dangerous thing to criticize "how to be a fan," and that's not my job.
So I've tried to love my fellow Wings fan even if I did not understand them, and I hope you will understand that you need not fear as much as you're fearing right now because we are all along for the ride, but it's the Red Wings who are driving the roller coaster. They will determine where this ride goes and how it ends, and all we can do is cheer them on and be kind to ourselves and each other.
So the Red Wings headed to Minnesota hoping to reduce their "magic number" from 7 to 4--with a little help from the Capitals, who battled the Ottawa Senators on Saturday--and even I will shake my head and tell you that a team that can't get decent goaltening facing Devan *#$%@& Dubnyk was incredibly ironic.
The Wings won, gang. It was a batshit insane game, and a game that the refs appeared to want to hand to the Wild late, but Jimmy Howard was--get this--"money" in the shootout ,or at least enough money to get some help from his goalpost and some help from the WIld, the Wings' PK was MAJESTIC FUNK and Detroit FINALLY didn't flub the shootout, Detroit FINALLY didn't COMPLETELY flub a 1-goal lead, and DETROIT got an essential TWO points, NOT ONE, with Ottawa winnning and Boston and Toronto in a shootout.
Updated 4x at 3:10 PM: The Red Wings face a stiff challenge in their attempts to turn the S.S. Red Wing around as they face Devan Dubnyk and the Minnesota Wild this evening (7 PM EDT on FSD Plus/FS North/97.1 FM). The Wings also face a stiff task in competing against the Final Four, of course, but that's a different story...
Today's standings remain pretty much the same--and it should be noted that the Senators host tomorrow's opponent, the Washington Capitals, this evening, and the Boston Bruins host Toronto this evening
The Wild took to the ice before the Red Wings did...
via Dave Hodge of TSN,
Thumbs down to goaltending woes of the sort currently plaguing the Detroit Red Wings.
There couldn't be a worse time to wonder who should wear the big pads than just before playoff time, especially when the wrong decision could erase playoff hopes. However, the Red Wings' decision was made for them when Petr Mrazek fumbled Zach Trotman's harmless-looking shot and allowed Boston's winning goal late in Thursday's third period.
Detroit must sink or swim with Jimmy Howard, whose troubles have matched those of Mrazek, but who is supposed to be the Wings' playoff goalie. It comes down to that, to Howard's experience, and to the fact there is no alternative.
Not long ago, it was unthinkable, and perhaps still is, that Detroit could miss the playoffs. The schedule offers two remaining games against Carolina as the best hope for survival, but nothing is guaranteed if the goaltending is as bad as the Red Wings have received lately.
Mike Babcock's future might be up in the air, and now the team's, as well.
The Detroit Red Wings begin their quest to hit their "magic number" (any combination of 7 points gained by Detroit or lost by Ottawa = Wings make the damn playoffs) against the Minnesota Wild this evening (7 PM EDT on FSD Plus/FS North/City TV/97.1 FM), and while the Wings' situation looks like this going into the team's final 5 games...
The Wild's situation is very different. The Wild are 5 points behind the Blackhawks for 3rd in the Central Division with 5 games left, so at present, they're at the top of the Wild Card heap:
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.