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Jimmy Howard To The Rescue?

from Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News,

Of all the dips and detours for the Red Wings this season, this could be the strangest yet. They’ve circled and searched, circled and searched, and might end up returning to the beginning.

Jimmy Howard was back in net Monday night, perhaps getting (and giving) a bump in confidence. The opponent wasn’t big but the game certainly was. And with the season teetering and Gordie Howe in the house, the Wings tightened up, got sketchy at the end as they often do, and beat the Sabres 3-2.

No big deal, huh? Buffalo is one of the worst teams in the league, right? Well, someone still was required to do something, or it’d be time to send the 24-year playoff streak to the history books. Howard was solid and particularly clutch in the final minute, when the Sabres — who scored twice in the final three minutes  — were swarming dangerously.


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A Needed Win

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

A stressful, scrambling final three minutes didn't undo 57 minutes of good hockey Monday for the Detroit Red Wings.

It was a game the Red Wings couldn't afford to lose, and they held on for a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres at Joe Louis Arena.

"When the team pulls their goalie there's going to be some stressful moments for sure," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "Obviously, when you're up 3-0 you don't want to give one up right away, but I'll focus on the entirety of the 60 minutes and I thought overall it was good."

The Red Wings were far superior for most of the game. They were strong defensively, moving the puck out of their zone quickly and efficiently and spending much of the night in the offensive zone.

"Overall, I thought it was a good game," Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "We came out and played well, better from the start. We had good urgency and that was the main focus tonight.

"Not sure if they're really a forechecking team, but once they forechecked I thought we solved the problem a lot better than we did the other game and it makes it easier when you're not spending as much time in your own end."


Watch the extended game highlights below...

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3 videos of Mr. Hockey’s visit to the Joe

From NHL.com and the Red Wings, here are 3 videos of Gordie Howe's visit to Joe Louis Arena for Monday night's Wings-Sabres game:

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Red Wings-Sabres quick take: spoiler’s role reversed

The Red Wings plain old needed to not get their asses kicked by the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night, hopefully turning the tables on a classic "spoiler" team by not falling into the same traps that have doomed the Wings too regularly over the past month.

The Red Wings scared the pants out of every Wings fan via a terrible final 3 minutes of the hockey game, but Detroit built up a 3-0 lead and nursed it to a 3-2 victory over the Sabres. It was ugly at times, Detroit faltered under the intensity of the Sabres' final push, and their absolutely superb effort was nearly undone by that stumble, but Detroit earned its two points, and it will need them as the Flyers defeated the Jets in OT.

Bottom line, Detroit earned its two points, and they were very necessary.

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Red Wings fans wish Gordie Howe a Happy Birthday

From Sportsnet:

Gordie in the locker room:

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Khan: Chelios not quite able to become a full-time assistant coach

From MLive's Ansar Khan:

Chris Chelios loves being on the ice, working with players, but he's not prepared to commit full-time, due to family circumstances.

So Chelios won't be a candidate to replace Tony Granato as a full-time assistant coach for the Detroit Red Wings. Granato is expected to be announced this week as the new head coach at Wisconsin, though he will remain a Red Wings assistant through the end of the season.

"I'm fortunate enough that (coach Jeff Blashill) and Tony and those guys allow me the flexibility to go see my parents," Chelios, 54, said. "That's the only issue. If it wasn't for my parents' (health) I'd love to take on a full-time job. But at this point they're not doing well and the more I'm around the more it helps them."


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On Double A’s ice time

From the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa:

Andreas Athanasiou is plainly an offensive catalyst, and the Red Wings need more goals in the playoff drive. But the Wings are giving up too many goals, too, and Athanasiou’s defensive performance has caused Jeff Blashill to keep him on the bench at times.

The 21-year-old is averaging 9:21 time on ice through 30 games, but it varies.

In the last five games, beginning March 17 against the Blue Jackets, he has played 10:01, 6:28, 13:35, 8:24 and 12:16.

More time on ice is likely to mean more scoring, and Athanasiou says he is confident his defensive performance will improve.

“I’m confident in my D-zone,” Athanasiou said recently. “Very rarely will I let someone beat me back to the net. In Grand Rapids, I think I really showed Blash he can have confidence in me in the D-zone.”

Krupa's notebook continues...

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Gordie Howe At The Joe Tonight

from Dana Wakiji of DetroitRedWings.com,

The Wings will welcome Hall of Famer Gordie Howe to Monday night's game.

Howe celebrates his 88th birthday this Thursday.

"We’re pretty lucky around here," Blashill said. "Ted Lindsay was in here last week. To have Gordie Howe come in here means a ton. This organization has unreal history and he’s as big a piece of that as anybody. So to have him here tonight will be a great thing. I think it’s great for the Howe family that he’s able to come here and he’s really doing a good job, health-wise."

Even the Sabres are excited about seeing the Red Wings legend.

"I've been in this building a large number of times and I can count every time I know that Gordie Howe was in the building," Bylsma said. "I know he's going to be here tonight, it's his 88th birthday, I think on Thursday and we've had five or six guys talk about it in our dressing room that Gordie Howe's going to be here tonight, hoping to see him, hoping to get a picture. He just has that special about him, you look at the wall here and see a whole string of Hart trophies. He's not a hockey player I saw other than in highlights but he's got to be one of the greats of our game. In '14 he was in here, I got a picture with him, got him to sign it. It's in my basement on the wall."

more on the Wings...

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The View From Buffalo

from John Vogl of the Buffalo News,

The Sabres are looking for late-season challenges, things that will teach them and give them team-building experiences. They’ve got one Monday.

The Detroit Red Wings are ninth in the Eastern Conference, one position shy of a wild-card spot. Detroit has made the postseason for 24 straight years, so they’ll certainly be focused on beating the Sabres in Joe Louis Arena (7:30 p.m., NBCSN).

“Every game’s probably their most important one,” Buffalo center Jack Eichel said. “We’ve got to match their intensity. We’re playing for a lot of self-pride here at this point and building toward the future. Every game is a step for us to try and get better.”...

The Red Wings’ 24-year playoff streak is the longest in the NHL. Pittsburgh is second at only nine seasons.

“We want to play in the postseason,” Detroit forward Henrik Zetterberg said. “When we do that obviously the streak continues. In here, our main focus is not the streak. It’s to be able to play in the playoffs. That’s the message we’re trying to get through.”


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“The Best Chance To Win” Tonight

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Tonight's game against the Buffalo Sabres at Joe Louis Arena is about as close to a must-win situation as the Detroit Red Wings have faced this season.

And they're turning to the goaltender who has some experience in these scenarios over the past few years, as Jimmy Howard gets the start.

"I've been in the situation, and the fact that you've come out on top gives you confidence that you can do it again," Howard said.

"Just play the way I know I'm capable of playing. If can do that, then I just give the guys a chance."

Howard has played better than Petr Mrazek since mid-February, going 3-2-1, with a 2.80 goals-against average and .911 save percentage. Mrazek, since Feb. 12, has gone 6-6-2, with a 3.30 GAA and .888 save percentage.

"Every game we try to go with the group that we think gives us the best chance to win that night and we decided that tonight we're going to go with Jimmy," coach Jeff Blashill said.


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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.


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