The Malik Report
The Detroit Red Wings' consecutive wins over Nashville and Vancouver this past weekend broke an 0-3-and-2 slump--with the Wings' 8-3 trouncing--and comeback win--over the Canucks serving as something of an exclamation point...
But Hockeytown's approval is fleeting these days, and there was a sense online, anyway, that as much fun as the Wings had watching the Wings rally from a 3-2 1st period deficit, the Wings' wins have essentially allowed them to claw back into the thick of things in the Western Conference, where they sit in 5th place, but 5 points out of 12th place, and the prevailing theory seems to be that if the Wings don't build upon their superb weekend, both Detroit and its jittery fans could be back in a whole lot of trouble very soon.
Thankfully, the Wings don't have to worry about that sort of thing--they're too busy playing, and won't skate today but will board Red Bird II to fly out to Los Angeles, where they'll play the Kings on Wednesday and then head to San Jose to play the Sharks on Thursday, all before heading home to play the unbeaten-in-regulation Blackhawks on Sunday, March 3rd.
Consider this issue 1B to the 1A that is realignment in terms of the kinds of stories that get hockey fans and hockey scribes talking. The Globe and Mail's David Shoalts reports that many NHL executives and several GM's are actually interested in discussing the nuts and bolts of a "challenge flag" three years after Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon unsuccessfully lobbied for in 2010.
When the NHL's general managers meet on March 21st--and Shoalts says that they're meeting in Toronto instead of Palm Beach this time around--a general manager who's particularly interested but has yet to make specific comments about the Wings' possible move to the East told Shoalts that he'll seriously consider the concept of a "challenge flag," but only under certain circumstances:
“I’m more open than I was when Dale Tallon brought it up,” Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland said Sunday. “The big thing in our game is goals, so we have to try to make sure goals are right, that we’re not scoring goals on offsides or maybe goalie interference.”
Tallon, who made his proposal shortly after his team lost a game to the Toronto Maple Leafs when forward Colton Orr knocked down Panthers’ goaltender Scott Clemmensen and put the puck in off his skate, saw his argument boosted last week by Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene. He was offside by a metre when he scored to help the Avalanche beat the Nashville Predators.
According to Aftonbladet's Stefan Holm and Johannes Hagglund, HV71 Jonkoping coach Ulf Dahlen asked former Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom whether he'd be interested in making an abbreviated comeback in the Swedish Eliteserien. HV71's assistant coach, Thomas Ljungbergh, made a sales pitch to Lidstrom after HV suffered a slate of injuries to their best defensemen, but Lidstrom turned them down, just as he (theoretically) turned down the Wings when they asked him if he'd be willing to return for the 2013 season.
What follows is roughly translated from Swedish:
"He's the best defenseman. Every team would want him. Had we'd gotten him, we would have been thrilled, but he said he didn't have the hunger," said Ljungbergh.
For Lidstrom, it was never realistic to consider a comeback.
"I miss the driving force [necessary to play], and said that it's going really well in terms of what I'm doing now," he said.
Nicklas Lidstrom's going to be a World Championship ambassador, and is coaching one of the boys' teams for Vasteras IK, where his son Samuel plays. He's also been busy with building a house that will be ready in a few weeks.
Updated w/ stats and videos at 8:40 PM: On Saturday afternoon, Red Wings fans were nervous...Or at least I was. The Wings were heading into a Saturday night tilt against Nashville in a must-must-win situation, having gone 0-3-and-2 over their past five games.
Saturday night, the Wings smoked Nashville 4-0, and we all felt a little better.
After the first period of today's game against Vancouver, Wings fans were pissed...Or at least I was. Jimmy Howard, who wasn't supposed to start but did because Jonas Gustavsson's groin is wonky again, hadn't had the best outing, and gave up a 3rd goal on a wraparound that was just awful, but he'd received absolutely no help from defensemen who'd simply stood around and watched the Sedins work their magic, and at the other end of the ice, the Wings had more missed attempts than shots, and Damien Brunner and Henrik Zetterberg were still afflicated with passitonitis.
I don't know what was said or imbibed between periods 1 and 2, but my Gord, was it the right thing to say and/or spike the Gatorade with. The Wings scored SIX consecutive goals, defeating Vancouver 8-3, despite refereeing that was bizarrely inconsistent (and blew off one good Wings goal and one illegal one), with the Wings killing off 2 Canucks power plays and going 3-for-5 on their own PP's...
Red Wings-Canucks game-day updates: Gustavsson’s out and other injury news; Bieksa out for Vancouver
Updated 3x at 4:19 PM: The Detroit Red Wings will face off against the Vancouver Canucks this afternoon (5 PM, FSD/Sportsnet West/97.1 FM) minus their designated starter for the day. As Paul noted, the Wings recalled Tom McCollum and will start Jimmy Howard instead of Jonas Gustavsson due to a "sore groin," though Wings GM Ken Holland told the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness that the team's decision involves an abundance of caution...
“Howard’s playing,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “Gus has a tender groin and we don’t want to take any risks.”
Holland said they were thinking about starting Gustavsson against the Canucks after Howard played Saturday night against the Nashville Predators. Howard stopped all 33 shots he faced against the Predators.
“Howard feels good and he’s comfortable going in,” Holland said. “We think Gus will be fine, but you never know.”
Paul here for George who had a late night...
At the beginning of February, I looked at this weekend and figured that today's game between the Red Wings and Vancouver Canucks (5 PM EST, FSD/Sportsnet Pacific/97.1 FM) as something of a "bonus win." Today's game marks the Wings' 3rd in 4 nights, their 4th in 6 nights, their 5th over the last 8 nights and their 7th over approximately a week-and-a-half's worth of time.
So I thought that today's game would pretty much be a guaranteed loss, coming off to back-to-backs and what's really been a month's worth of "mini series" games against St. Louis, Columbus and Nashville. In theory, anyway, the Wings that were starting to find their footing in February were going to be too tired and perhaps a little too fat and happy (so to speak) to take this game as seriously as I thought they'd need to.
The Wings' 0-3-and-2 record before last night's 4-0 victory over Nashville changes that presumptive equation on its head, and makes a team that is doubtlessly a little tired and more banged-up than I think any of us could've expected at game #19 out of 48 face a must-win situation this afternoon, with the 8-7-and-3 Wings rather desperately needing to earn two points against a 10-3-and-4 Canucks team that flew to Detroit and watched Saturday night's affair after having defeated Nashville 1-0 on Friday night.
The Detroit Red Wings' 4-0 victory over the Nashville Predators may or may not have been a command performance, but the Red Wings were able to rely on Jimmy Howard's superb netminding while finding their "legs," and while Drew Miller's 1-0 goal gave the Wings some tentative poise, Tomas Tatar's 2-0 goal 2:58 into the 2nd period seemed to put the Wings on track to break their 0-3-and-2 streak.
The Wings face an immediate challenge-and-a-half in the team that bested Nashville (1-0) on Friday, facing the Vancouver Canucks this afternoon (5 PM EST, FSD/Sportsnet Pacific/97.1 FM), but a very relieved Wings roster and back-up goaltender Jonas Gustavsson will at least face the powerhouse Canucks with something of a monkey off their backs.
On Saturday, the Wings accomplished the task with heavy doses of Brian Lashoff (24:14 played, leading the team) and Ian White (23:12) instead of Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson, and the Wings accomplished the task while receiving something that's been elusive all season long in strong secondary scoring and plain old strong performances by the team's "bottom six" forwards.
The Detroit Red Wings almost always get into late-February slumps, but in a 48-game season, the Wings' 0-3-and-2 slump had the team more than simply "taking on water."
Here's hoping that tonight's game is the start of the customary late February/early March surge, because the Wings vaciliated from rope-a-dope-and-rely-on-Jimmy Howard hockey to playing absolutely dominant puck possession hockey (and back, regrettably) during a 4-0 win over the Nashville Predators.
Howard was wonderful at the start and at the end, and in the middle, the Red Wings, led by significant ice time from the Eaves-Andersson-Tatar line the Miller-Emmerton-Tootoo line and a superb new defensive pair in Lashoff-White, managed to fight themselves for a while (out-shot 12-9 in the 1st and 2nd periods) and eventually out-battle a Nashville Predators team slightly tired by tomorrow night's opponent, the Vancouver Canucks. [edit/update: and Wings coach Mike Babcock decided to reward Howard with a night off, with Jonas Gustavsson starting tomorrow vs. Vancouver]
Hotstove and Friedman report that the NHL’s new realingment plan would put the Red Wings in the East
George here...I was watching the Red Wings-Predators game when Paul informed me that the Satellite Hotstove crew on Hockey Night in Canada discussed realignment, and Elliotte Friedman, the Red Wings would find themselves in the Eastern Conference!
According to Friedman, the NHL's run the following four "conferences" by every NHl team, and will present the following plan to the GM's shortly--and we will post the video of the Hotstove discussion when it's available (Paul will, I'm watching the game)...
Division A: Detroit, Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto
Division B: Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington;
Division C: Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, Winnipeg;
Division D: Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Jose.
This is all preliminary stuff, but that's apparently the NHL's plan...And the imbalanced conferences will probably include a "wild card" playoff play-in.
added 10:13pm, Watch the video of the Hotstove discussion.
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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.