The Malik Report
Updated 4x at 1:53 PM: The Red Wings take on the Boston Bruins this evening (7 PM EST on FSD/NESN/NHL Network U.S./97.1 FM), and the Free Press's Helene St. James issues the first report from the Red Wings' optional morning skate:
Petr Mrazek is in goal and Pavel Datsyuk is good to go for his second straight appearance of the season.
The Detroit Red Wings play the Boston Bruins at TD Garden (7 p.m., FSD). Given that the Wings played at home Friday, losing 3-2 to San Jose, Saturday's morning skate was highly optional.
Head coach Jeff Blashill told the Free Press there might be "one guy who is not ready to go" from Friday's lineup. He did confirm Datsyuk is OK to play after making his season debut Friday night (usually players get by on adrenaline for the first game back after a long layoff).
The guessing from here and Winging It in Motown is that Drew Miller might be injured as he barely played during the 3rd period last night.
The Bruins, who are 1-5-and-1 at home, don't plan on making things easy for the Red Wings...
Updated 2x at 11:52 AM: The Red Wings face a team under tremendous pressure to deliver at home in the Boston Bruins (7 PM EST start on FSD/NESN/NHL Network U.S./97.1 FM). Boston's gone 1-5-and-1 at home. Bruins president Cam Neely's the latest higher-up to discuss the team's disappointing record, speaking with CSNNE's Joe Haggerty:
“It’s frustrating . . . it’s disappointing. Nobody likes our home ice record,” said Neely to CSNNE.com. “You want to be a difficult team to play at home, just like you do on the road. We’re doing a much better job of being that team on the road right now. But we have an opportunity over the next four games to make up for some of that at home.”
That’s because the Bruins are in the middle of their longest homestand of the season with the Red Wings visiting on Saturday, and then the Sharks, Wild and Maple Leafs rounding out a pivotal stretch of games in Boston.
The Red Wings are frustrated, too, as they told MLive's Brendan Savage:
The Red Wings flew to Boston for Saturday night's game against the Bruins (7 PM EST on FSD/NESN/NHL Network U.S./97.1 FM) having dropped a 3-1 decision to the San Jose Sharks at Joe Louis Arena, and I can at least tell you that the Wings expressed exasperation about and frustration regarding having dropped to 8-7-and-1 thanks to Friday's loss.
There's a sense that the dam's about to break offensively for Detroit, but Jeff Blashill also readily admitted to the press that the Wings got "too cute" during the latter portion of Friday night's game. Despite out-shooting San Jose 28-14 and out-attempting the Sharks 53-27, the coach and players agreed that they didn't work hard enough to make the game hard on goaltender Martin Jones or the Sharks.
Things aren't going to get any easier in Boston. The Bruins have lost 6 of 7 at home and have dropped 4 of their 5 November games, so they're in a foul mood coming into a game that Jonas Gustavsson may very well start due to Tuukka Rask's middling play of late.
Regarding Friday night's game, the Sharks, who'd dropped 8 of their past 11, were absolutely delighted to score some "earned bounce" goals and then check the snot out of the Wings, as they told the Mercury News's Curtis Pashelka:
Of prospect-related note:
In theory, when you've got a team that's down, you pounce on them, and the Red Wings had every reason to pounce on the Sharks on Friday night. The Sharks had gone 3-and-8 over their past 11 heading into Friday night's tilt against the Wings, and getting Pavel Datsyuk in the lineup should have been all the impetus the Wings needed to take the Sharks out.
On Friday night, it was the Red Wings who were chomped upon, literally, figuratively and physically, as Detroit was out-competed over the course of a 3-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks. The Wings actually out-shot San Jose 28-14 and out-attempted San Jose 63-27, but Detroit wasn't generating quality scoring chances in the "hard areas" of the ice in the slot and near the goal crease, and the Sharks did a fantastic job of checking, trapping, tackling, clutching, grabbing and otherwise impeding the Wings in such a manner that Detroit was deterred from attacking the net directly--and as a result, the Wings were booed off their home ice.
Of Red Wings-related note this afternoon:
Among MLive's Brendan Savage's game-day article's points:
• The Red Wings have won four of their last five despite their offensive problems. They're coming off a 1-0 victory over the Washington Capitals, who own one of the best records in the NHL. The Red Wings have allowed just five goals in the aforementioned four victories. The one glitch in that stretch was a 4-1 loss to the Dallas Stars. Penalty killing has been a big key to Detroit's recent surge. The Red Wings have successfully killed 15 of 17 penalties during the last five games, a success rate of 88.2 percent. In the last 11 games, the Red Wings are 22-for-24 (91.7). That has their penalty killers tied for eighth in the NHL at 83.3 percent. San Jose's power play is the worst in the NHL at 11.4 percent.
DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji penned a notebook about Pavel Datsyuk's return, Riley Sheahan shifting to wing and more:
Have fun with this one. Ryan Lambert, an avid Wings-hater, pounced upon the Justin Abdelkader contract like a mosquito on an open cut. That's not to say that Lambert's all wrong by any stretch of the imagination, but whether his disdain for the team or disdain for a risky contract are in charge is difficult to distinguish:
So here's the thing with this deal: If it's entirely predicated on Abdelkader's chemistry (if we want to call it that) with Zetterberg, what happens when Zetterberg gets hurt, or loses a step, or retires? One or all of these scenarios are entirely plausible if not inevitable in the next seven-plus seasons. And when that happens, do you continue sticking a guy who will likely return to being roughly replacement level with your Nyquists and Tatars, or do you have a third-liner (at best) who costs $4.25 million? Oh and this contract, fortunately for all involved, has a no-trade clause built-in. It's full for the first four seasons, and then partial for the last three. Because of how many teams will be totally clamoring to trade for this contract.
Lambert continues, and he makes some good points, but he's also absolutely convinced that Abdelkader is going to suck donkey balls in terms of his performance, and that's a wee much for me.
Updated 7x at 1:56 PM: The Red Wings and San Jose Sharks' respective morning skates revealed the goaltending match-up--Jimmy Howard vs. Martin Jones--and the Wings' slightly revised lineup for Military Appreciation Night (7:30 PM EST start on FSD/CSN Bay Area/97.1 FM). If you missed it, MLive's Ansar Khan Tweeted out the Wings' lineup:
Andersson, Jurco extras.
Green replaces Kronwall on top PP unit with Nyquist-Zetterberg-Datsyuk, Abdelkader (net).
2nd: Pulkkinen-Larkin-Tatar, Sheahan, Kronwall
And Khan reported that the Ericsson-DeKeyser, Kindl-Marchenko and Kronwall-Green pairs will remain intact:
Blashill said same six on D as last game because he liked what he saw. So Smith is out.
The Mercury News's Curtis Pashelka reported that Martin Jones will start opposite Jimmy Howard this evening, and while the Sharks have lost 8 of their past 11 games, the NHL on Sirius XM Radio notes that the Wings' record against San Jose is anything but dominant:
Among ESPN's Craig Custance's Friday Insider column's topics:
So, the Justin Abdelkader contract seems to have riled a few people up. I noted on Twitter the gap between the value of a winger with size who can score held by general managers and those in the analytics community, and set off a bit of debate. Not just on Twitter, either. Immediately, the e-mails and texts started popping up on my phone.
One executive pointed out that the Red Wings have significant raises coming for good, young players like Riley Sheahan, Danny DeKeyser, Petr Mrazek and Teemu Pulkkinen. He didn’t like the term, calling it a “huge premium” and wondered what the rush was considering the 2016 UFA class is still not established.
A defender of the deal pointed out that people are getting too caught up in the seven-year term, that nobody expects these deals to provide value at the end. Going that long is about driving down the average annual value, and getting value in the shorter term, capitalizing on contributions out of the players in the first few years of the deal and then figuring out what to do with the contract down the road. By front-loading the deal, it’s possible Abdelkader is worth something closer to his actual salary in the second-half of the deal, and a team that isn’t a cap team or is trying to get to the floor will find value in it.
The value in it for the Red Wings is they know what they’re getting in Abdelkader both on and off the ice compared to an unknown they might have pursued in free agency. If he’s the top-six player they believe he is, the contract is reasonable. If he’s not, the criticism will only get louder.
Custance continues, and I thought an, "A deal of this magnitude depends completely upon the player's performance" analysis of said deal was rather obvious.
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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.