The Malik Report
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
Here are five things to watch this week:
PK needs to be better
It's no coincidence that the Red Wings' penalty kill has suffered since Drew Miller was sidelined on Dec. 3 with a broken jaw. They ranked seventh in the NHL at 83.7 percent when Miller, their top penalty-killing forward, was injured.
Since then, they've dropped to 14th at 81.2 percent, having allowed five power-play goals on 15 chances.
Marchenko solidifies spot
Rookie Alexey Marchenko appears to have locked down a spot in the lineup, having appeared in all 23 games since he was recalled from the Grand Rapids Griffins on Oct. 24, following Kyle Quincey's injury.
The Red Wings like Marchenko's steady hand. He doesn't shy away from a hit to make a play. He makes good decisions with the puck.
Jakub Kindl has been a healthy scratch the past six games.
The Detroit Red Wings take on the Buffalo Sabres this evening (7:30 PM EST on FSD Plus/MSG B/Bell/97.1 FM) hoping to continue their 8-0-and-5 points streak against a Sabres team that's been a streak-buster.
The Sabres defeated the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 on OT on Saturday, snapping the Kings' 6-game winning streak and ending a 3-game Sabres losing streak.
With Ryan O'Reilly and Jamie McGinn on 7 and 8-game point streaks, respectively, the Sabres are eying the Red Wings as a fine target with which to make a second consecutive "statement" game, as they told the Buffalo News's John Vogl:
The Red Wings posted a "There's More to the Story" video chronicling Pavel Datsyuk's youth, background and career with the Red Wings, and this is five minutes of fantastic storytelling--told by Datsyuk himself--capped off with two minutes of gratuitous highlights:
The Grand Rapids Griffins pushed their winning streak to 11 games via a 4-3 win over the Iowa Wild. Grand Rapids, playing without Andreas Athanasiou (lower-body injury), rallied from a 3-0 deficit, tied the game with 48 seconds left in regulation, and won on a Xavier Ouellet goal in overtime.
Martin Frk registered a goal and an assist, Anthony Mantha had 2 assists and Jared Coreau stopped 29 of 32 shots for the Griffins, whose website posted a game recap:
Updated 3x at 1:11 PM: The Red Wings hit the ice at 11 AM to prepare for Monday's game against the Buffalo Sabres, as reported by MLive's Ansar Khan...
After a day off, #RedWings back on practice ice preparing for Monday's game vs. Sabres. All 19 healthy skaters and both goalies practicing.
#RedWings same lines in practice:
Same defense pairs:
This news is a little nuanced, but important: Crain's Detroit Business's Bill Shea and Robert Snell report that Mike Ilitch has both refinanced Comerica Park's remaining debt and has established a trust to back the bonds sold to finance the Red Wings' follow-on rink:
On the hockey front, Ilitch pledged assets held in a trust to back $200 million in bonds sold to finance part of the $627 million arena's construction, according to a financing statements filed in Michigan and Delaware.
In the deal with Detroit's Downtown Development Authority, which will own the hockey arena, one of his trusts ultimately backstops $11.5 million in annual bond debt repayments.
The primary source of the bond repayments will be the revenue generated by the arena's operations — Red Wings games and other events.
Revenue already is trickling in ahead of the 20,000-seat arena's debut for the 2017-18 hockey season. The arena's 52 corporate suites and all but three of the 22 mini-suites have been sold, the Ilitch organization said in November. Corporate suites lease for more than $300,000 a year and the leases are for seven to 10 years, which is at least $109 million in revenue.
Trust assets would be used for repayment only if the arena weren't generating $11.5 million in revenue, an unlikely scenario, barring a cataclysmic event.
There is one scenario that could disrupt arena revenue: labor trouble.
(I.e. a lockout), and Shea and Snell continue...
Harris speaks with Wings coach Jeff Blashill and Larkin himself about #71's rookie year, and even Larkin admits that his performance has surprised him:
"Yeah, I am [surprised],” he said. “Last summer I worked as hard as I could to try and put myself in a position to make it hard on them in training camp. I worked hard, and I had a pretty good camp. When I originally got this opportunity they said it was going to be 10 games and they’d see how it went. But I was able to take advantage of it.
“I’m having a blast and every game is awesome. I’m just hoping I can stay hot and have some more fun.
“With guys like Hank (Zetterberg) and Pav (Datsyuk) and Kronner (Niklas Kronwell), and the coaching staff, these guys have so much experience. It’s hard not to walk around with open ears and try to learn as much as you can.
“I think that learning comes from passion. I want to be one of the best and I want to win. You do that by learning. But with the guys we have in this room, it’s hard not to learn a lot.”
The Free Press's attempting to make their Sunday edition a print and online destination again, and their sports section is no exception.
This is a good thing for Michiganders looking for intriguing "Sunday long reads," and this morning, the Free Press's Shawn Windsor delivers a superb "long read" while profiling Dylan Larkin as a hometown hero in the making:
He came from nowhere fast, a blur ripping across the ice, from the edge of the right face-off circle to a spot behind the net. Once there, Dylan Larkin swiped the puck from a defenseman, then squirted out toward the left corner. What happened next? A spin, a no-look centering pass, a goal. But really, what we're talking about here isn't a way to catalog a scoring chance. We're talking about something more kinetic. We're talking about the movement of the most electric hockey player to come out of this region in years. Here was a sequence built on speed, anticipation, photographic memory, touch and vision. He is that good already. The team knows it. His teammates know it. You know it. At least judging by the decibel spikes when the announcer mentions his name. And judging by the number of "Larkin" jerseys popping up on the backs of fans standing in their seats.
Larkin's popularity has risen so unexpectedly and so rapidly that during last week's game against the Arizona Coyotes his jersey was sold out.
"I hear we're having trouble keeping up," said Ken Holland, the team's general manager, who drafted Larkin with the No. 15 pick in June 2014.
The team can't make his jersey fast enough, partly because he's young — Larkin is 19, the first teenager on the Wings' roster since Jiri Hudler in 2003 — and partly because he grew up in Waterford and played at Michigan. Which is to say … he's one of us, which makes for a better story.
Of prospect-related note:
In the AHL, Anthony Mantha made a statement in his return to the Grand Rapids Griffins' lineup after being a healthy scratch last Saturday.
Mantha scored a goal and registered 2 assists, Eric Tangradi had a goal and an assist, Andreas Athanasiou had a goal and Jared Coreau stopped 38 of 39 shots as the Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the Rockford IceHogs 4-1, yielding the Griffins' 10th win in a row. The Griffins' website posted a recap:
There are two themes in tonight's overnight report: goaltending and a discussion of the Wings' overtime record.
Thus far, the Red Wings' coaching staff has stuck to a near-perfect rotation of the team's goaltenders, and as of yet, the coaching staff feels no need to go away from that rotation, as Jeff Blashill told the Free Press's Helene St. James...
"I'm 100% comfortable with putting both guys in position to feel confident, which I think they have been," Blashill said after Friday's 3-2 shoot-out loss at New Jersey, in which Howard made 35 saves.
Howard has not made consecutive starts since one stint in mid-October. Mrazek has done so four times, the most recent time at the start of December.
Their stats reveal why Blashill is comfortable with the plan. Howard has started 14 games, going 7-4-3 with a 2.29 goals-against average and .921 save percentage. Mrazek has started 16 games (and played in 17, as he subbed into Nov. 8 Dallas game when Howard had an injury scare), going 9-4-3 with a 2.38 GAA and .924 save percentage.
"They haven't done much looking over their shoulders," Blashill said. "There's been enough competition to spur good play, but with that said, I do think they are in confident situations."
And MLive's Brendan Savage:
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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.