The Malik Report
I’m never sure whether to take these “studies” at face value. The IIHF’s Andrew Podnieks and Szymon Szemberg claim that the number of European players participating in the NHL has declined for yet another season, because as they publis their report/statistical analysis, there’s an implicit dig being levied at the NHL for completely draining the Czech and Slovak republics of any hope of a developmental system, which was the charge levied at the NHL by the IIHF at the “World Hockey Summit”:
The number of Europeans in the NHL in 2010-11 continued the steady decline and is now the lowest in eleven years. The only country which goes against the trend is Sweden. There were a whopping 63 Swedes in the NHL this season, the highest number ever for the blue and yellow. In all, there were 978 players who played at least one game in the National Hockey League during the 2010-2011 regular season. Of that number, 224 were Europeans, a 22.9 percentage share.
As well, there were only 36 of 139 players in the league this year from Europe who played their first NHL games (25.9 per cent). Most disturbing is that some of hockey’s traditional centres were so poorly represented. For instance, of the 139 first-game players only two were from the Czech Republic and Finland, and only one from Slovakia. There were just six Russians, and again Sweden led the way with 16 newcomers to the NHL, almost triple second place Russia.
The Detroit Red Wings will probably start their second-round series against the San Jose Sharks on Friday, but before the Wings probably went to bed early and popped up for the overtime period of Tuesday night’s Canucks-Blackhawks game, they talked to the Wings’ press corps about both potential second-round opponents.
The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan, who reports that the Wings were told to pack for a Wednesday flight just in case, notes that the Wings have all sorts of respect for the opponent which they hope to gain a measure of revenge against, especially given that the Wings didn’t do very well against San Jose during the regular season:
Updated 3x at 1:59 AM: The Detroit Red Wings will head to San Jose to play against the Sharks in the second round of the playoffs.
We’ll find out shortly whether the NHL is nuts and wants them to fly to San Jose today for a Thursday night start, or whether they’ll give the Wings a break and let them start the series on Friday.
A Calgary colleague watching tonight’s games says that CBC is reporting it’s a 99 percent certainty that Vancouver-Nashville series will open Thursday night, giving the Hockey Night in Canada crew it’s preferred Saturday night start without back-to-backs. And that makes Sharks-Detroit that same 99 percent certainty to open at HP Pavilion on Friday night with Sunday the logical time for Game 2.
The NHL won’t be announcing anything until tomorrow and nothing from the Sharks until that happens. Still, there’s an early heads-up. But nothing set in granite and nobody should be booking any flights just yet.
Updated at 10:57 PM with a written story from WDIV: I had planned on getting a little pre-doubleheader nap and was watching WDIV Local 4’s evening news when I shook myself up with a start, because WDIV reported that a second Red Wings fan had his day in court after throwing an octopus, and as it turns out, the new City of Detroit rule against throwing octopi, c.i. 38-5-4, is not like a traffic ticket for going 10 over the speed limit, the kind of civil infraction where you can just pay your fine and go on your way.
The City of Detroit’s $500 fine comes with a disorderly conduct charge on the side. In other words, it’s a misdemeanor, and if you throw an octopus at Joe Louis Arena, the Detroit Police won’t look the other way just because you’re a Red Wings fan, nor will they look the other way if you, as the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa suggested, show good taste in the timing of your octopus throw.
You will be charged with a misdemeanor, you’re going to be tried in court, and you will face possibly paying court costs, community service, and possibly even jail time if you tick off the judge who sentences you for a charge that’s hard to disprove. Just as importantly, you’re all but certain to be not only removed from the game you’re attending, but also booked (and possibly even have a mugshot taken) at the main police department branch on Beaubien Street.
Updated 2x at 5:52 with video and stuff: After today’s crop of practice updates popped up, Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji’s posted a mid-afternoon column which includes a Chris Osgood update (coach Mike Babcock says he’s too rusty to back up Jimmy Howard) and a dissection/analysis of the Wings’ possible goaltending opponents, but as the Wings have both a 10 AM practice on Wednesday and may end up having to hustle home to pack up for a cross-continental trip…
Wakiji’s main focus involves the fact that most of the Wings’ players don’t plan on watching tonight’s Canucks-Hawks game, which will determine whether the Wings end up playing the Sharks (if the Canucks win) or Predators (if the Canucks lose). The Wings ended up sounding like they were ten years old, with the exception of coach Babcock:
“I stayed up late and watched the games (Monday) night,” Babcock said. “The one thing about it, like I said (Monday) is after you watch them, you can’t sleep anyways.”
“I don’t know if I’ll be able to,” Niklas Kronwall said. “It’ll be tough not to, I think. It’s a big game, especially with the comeback that Chicago’s had so far. It’ll be definitely interesting.”
“We’ll see if I can stay up,” [Nicklas] Lidstrom said. “I’ll start watching it anyways. I’m afraid they (his four sons) will, even though they have school tomorrow. They might sneak up and watch it.”
Updated 4x at 3:10 PM with more video and pictures: Red Wings forward Johan Franzen’s ankle sprain is apparently a little more severe than the Wings had hoped, but MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that Franzen did skate again today…But it’s entirely possible that, should the Wings’ second-round series start on Thursday, Franzen will be touch-and-go:
“He’ll play if he’s ready and if he’s not ready he won’t play. It’s just that simple,’’ [Wings coach Mike] Babcock said. “But it’s my anticipation that he’ll be ready. Now, I’ve been wrong before, but the Mule’s going to play.’‘
Franzen, who hurt the ankle in Game 2 vs. Phoenix, when he sustained facial injuries on the hit by Shane Doan, said he’s feeling “better and better.’‘
“It’s not hurting, that’s for sure,’’ Franzen said. “Skated a little bit yesterday, a little today. Hopefully go a little harder tomorrow.’‘
The Detroit Red Wings now have two possibilities in terms of playoff opponents, and the possibilities probably have the team double-booking hotels in San Jose while making arrangements to help Nashville come to town on Thursday or Friday (it’s a toss-up at this point), depending on who wins tonight’s Canucks-Blackhawks tilt. If the Canucks win, the Wings will play San Jose, and if they lose, the Wings will play Nashville, and while it’s as much a matter of picking one’s poison as anything else at this point, RedWingsCentral’s Sarah Lindenau took a look at the Wings’ opponents in terms of both strengths and weaknesses which the Wings may exploit on her Left Wing Lock blog:
Thanks to the San Jose Sharks’ win over Los Angeles on Monday, the Detroit Red Wings will find out their playoff opponent at the conclusion of the Canucks-Blackhawks game on Tuesday night, with the Wings either traveling to San Jose to face the Sharks (if Vancouver wins) or hosting the Predators (if the Blackhawks advance), with an even chance of Game 1 starting on Thursday or Friday.
Which team would you prefer the Wings facing off against?
As the practice update and Nicklas Lidstrom as Norris Trophy Finalist posts fell off the front page, here’s a new post combining the two topics, with the main focuses involving Lidstrom and the fact that the Wings are both enjoying their rest and feel quite happy watching potential playoff opponents wear each other down.
Regarding Lidstrom’s Norris candidacy, the Red Wings’ captain told the Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell that he’s proud of his eleventh nomination and attempt to win his seventh Norris Trophy, just as he’s pleased to be nominated for the Lady Byng Trophy as the league’s most gentlemanly forward, but his goal for this season didn’t involve earning individual awards via a 62-point performance:
“I never set out the goal of being nominated or trying to win the Norris,” Lidstrom said. “I’ve always looked at it as being a bonus. Last season, I could’ve played better and could’ve contributed more offensively.”
The only thing Lidstrom was unhappy about was finishing as a minus player (minus-two) for the first time in his career.
“It’s something I wasn’t very happy about,” Lidstrom said.
Updated 3x at 2:43 PM with Lidstrom’s teammates talking about the captain’s prowess: As Paul already posted, Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom was nominated for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman, but the probability of Lidstrom capturing his seventh Norris is about 50-50 at this point, and it may come down to adding up second and third-place votes instead of winning on first-place votes outright. An informal survey of the professional hockey writers’ association over the past few weeks seems to indicate that over half of the voters will go with the other finalists, Zdeno Chara or Shea Weber, and the other third to 40% are going with Lidstrom.
ESPN’s Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun have given Lidstrom a now-rare double endorsement...
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.