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The Malik Report

Niklas Kronwall, Ryane Clowe and warm Red Wings-Sharks fuzzies

Between Douglas Murray telling Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom that he planned on getting into a fight with Justin Abdelkader on Friday to pay back a few “elbows in the face” and Ryane Clowe doing that exact thing on Friday while insisting that he’d preferred to have gotten a few licks in on Niklas Kronwall, the San Jose Sharks haven’t exactly been discreet about the fact that the Wings are grating on their nerves. Clowe explained his logic in making his post-Game 5 statement to the Mercury News’s Mark Emmons:

Saturday, Clowe elaborated a little bit. Clowe said he would like a little payback for that devastating check Kronwall put on Dany Heatley in Game 3.

“It was about that hit on Heater,” Clowe said of his comment. “I always stick up for my teammates.”

Heatley said he appreciates the sentiment.

“He’s a guy who stands up for teammates,” Heatley said. “And he’s smart about it. He knows what time of year it is and isn’t going to take any dumb penalties. But he’s done that all year long for us. It’s part of the reason why he’s such a great team guy.”

Sharks coach Todd McLellan told MLive’s Ansar Khan that he fully endorses Clowe’s, ahem, tactics:

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Kerry Fraser confirms the existence of the make-up call

The man’s got a book to sell and is getting more than his fair share of publicity for spending most of his time defending officials’ “discretionary” calls on TSN this spring, but former referee Kerry Fraser’s also been willing to peel back a few “fibs” about referees, admitting that referees both make mistakes (don’t tell the NHL that!) and that yes, they do engage in the occasional “make-up call”:

Publicly, every referee will say, “I don’t do make-up calls.” Let me tell you that it has and does happen on occasion. I’ve done it and I will tell when and why. First let me attempt to explain some of the unrealistic expectations that are placed on the referees without appearing defensive or accusatory.

Expectations and duties of the referee include:

- apply a consistent standard of enforcement of the playing rules as handed down by the Board of Governors/Rules Committee
- provide safety under the rules for participants & maintain the integrity of the game
- provide for an entertaining flow of the game.  (starts to get dicey here and extends below)

Another expectation that is ingrained in the official is to keep the game “FAIR”.  Combine “fair” to the bullet points and some unrealistic expectations; even contradictions arise.

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Red Wings-Sharks practice updates: Wings hope to refine technical aspects of their game

Updated 4x at 6:39 PM: The Detroit Red Wings flew to San Jose after Friday night’s elimination-staving 4-3 win over the Sharks, incurring a $2,500 fine for landing at San Jose International Airport far after its 10:30 PM local time curfew—Red Bird II didn’t touch down until 1:44 AM PDT, or 4:44 AM Eastern time—but the Wings still practiced today and spoke to the media bout tightening up their defensive play after surrendering a 3-goal lead, as Wings coach Mike Babcock told the Free Press’s Helene St. James:

“They’re a team that doesn’t appear to need as many chances to score,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “That’s what teams that score, do. I think they’ve got seven 20-goal scorers, and so the puck just seems to find a way in. And yet in saying that, I think for us, we gave them the first goal. And in my opinion we gave them the second goal. And then the third goal, how does Dany Heatley wind up in front of your net by himself? Those are freebies. We’ve just got to clean up on our own zone and be poised.”

Both Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen opted to stay off the ice. Datsyuk said he felt fine and Franzen isn’t practicing because he’s got a sore ankle, but Babcock said Franzen will play again Sunday and doesn’t anticipate making any lineup changes.

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A bit more about Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom’s future

Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom earned his fair share of praise for a two-goal performance in the Red Wings’ 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks on Friday, but the most intriguing talk about a player who was at least willing to admit to NHL.com’s Dave Lozo that he “feels good” at 41 years of age, some of the best came from the mouth of Wings GM Ken Holland, who had this to say to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun about Lidstrom’s leadership…

“He’s a special competitor. In an elimination game, he’s our best player and steps up and led the way tonight,” Wings GM Ken Holland told ESPN.com just outside his team’s dressing room.

Retire? Heck, this guy showed again Friday night why he can play a few more years—if he chooses to.

“There’s no doubt he has lots of hockey left in him. Lots of hockey this year, and I think lots of hockey beyond this year,” said Holland, who might have been crossing his fingers when he said that to us. I’ve been fortunate to be around a lot of players who other people looked at the birth certificate, players like Steve Yzerman, Igor Larionov, Dominik Hasek, Chris Chelios; Nick Lidstrom is right there at the head of the class,” added Holland. “Age is only a number. He’s just so great, so focused, so committed, so determined that the birth certificate is just a number.”

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Red Wings-Sharks Game 4 wrap-up: Nick Lidstrom’s team survives to fight another day

The Detroit Red Wings will end up paying a $2,500 fine (five octopuses’ worth of disorderly conduct tickets) to San Jose International Airport as the Wings chose to head west on Red Bird II despite long after the airport’s 10:30 PM curfew—the Wings landed in San Jose at 1:30 AM PDT—after defeating the San Jose Sharks 4-3 on Friday night, staving off elimination and reminding the ever-confident Sharks that the supposed speed bump along the Sharks’ way to a Stanley Cup championship isn’t ready to roll over and die just yet.

So the Sharks are putting tickets for Sunday night’s Game 5 on sale today at 10 AM PDT, and while the Sharks rallied from a 3-0 deficit and pushed the Wings very, very hard, Dan Boyle told the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch that it wasn’t that Nicklas Lidstrom stepped up and scored two goals, nor that the Wings’ crowd helped lift a team that looked to be on the ropes, or at least attempting to win in rope-a-dope fashion, to a much-needed, confidence-building win against a team that’s become a boogeyman. No, instead, the Sharks failed to complete their first playoff sweep because they came out flat, surrendering three goals:

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Red Wings-Sharks Game 4 quick take: the Captain and the crowd

A line from Wings coach Mike Babcock’s post-game presser stuck with me and stuck with me good, summarizing the Red Wings’ elimination-staving 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks on Friday. Here’s what Babcock said to a few members of the press corps about their broaching of the retirement question with Lidstrom:

“You guys did a real good job by talking to him about retirement yesterday, and answered that pretty good.”

Lidstrom scored two goals, the Wings got goals from depth players for the first time in this series, they earned their literal and figurative bounces, their penalty-kill was finally good in limited action and while the Wings stopped skating in the 2nd and appeared gassed at times in the 3rd…The crowd picked their Red Wings up. The crowd at Joe Louis Arena did nothing less than a masterful, Datsyukian job of injecting the Wings with the energy and belief they needed to finally eke out a one-goal victory over the Sharks via a workmanlike goal from Darren Helm, and perhaps Red Wings Nation imbued the Wings with enough self-belief to ensure that Friday night’s game wasn’t the last one at the Joe.

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USA Today’s Kevin Allen: Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom unlikely to retire

Updated at 6:05 PM: The Detroit Red Wings may or may not be playing in the final game in which Nicklas Lidstrom, Mike Modano, Kris Draper, and Chris Osgood are members of an NHL team’s roster tonight, but USA Today’s Kevin Allen does not believe that Lidstrom will retire, and he employs five reasons to bolster his claim:

1. Although Lidstrom and his wife, Annika, look forward to the time when they can move back to Sweden, they aren’t in a rush to leave Michigan. Both readily concede it will be very difficult to leave a place that has been their home for almost two decades.

2. The relationship between Lidstrom and the Red Wings is probably as close to perfect as you could get. Lidstrom says he enjoys what he terms “fireside chats” with Red Wings general manager Ken Holland at the end of the season about the direction the team is heading. Essentially, the way contract negotiations between Lidstrom and the Red Wings work is Holland explains the Red Wings’ salary cap situation, and they ask Lidstrom what number he can live with. The Red Wings don’t play hardball with their captain. There’s a mutual respect. They understand his importance, and he knows his value.

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Belated Red Wings-Sharks game-day updates: No lineup changes for Detroit

Updated 5x with Chris Chelios on WDFN at 6:09 PM: As the Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks prepare to face off tonight (7 PM EDT, Versus/TSN/WXYT), MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that the Wings have chosen to stick with the lineup which Mike Babcock employed on Wednesday, which means that Mike Modano might spend the final game of his career as a healthy scratch:

“Lineup’s on the board every morning,’’ Modano said. “So you just take a peek at it on the way to having a coffee.’‘

Forward Johan Franzen (left ankle) and defenseman Brian Rafalski (knee) did not skate this morning but both will play. Coach Mike Babcock said there will be no lineup changes. So Drew Miller will be scratched for the second game in a row. Modano is coming to grips with the fact that he likely has played his final game.

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Red Wings-Sharks Game 4 set-up: Against highly improbable odds

The Detroit Red Wings face off against the San Jose Sharks tonight (7 PM EDT, Versus only [not joined in progress, the whole game]/TSN/WXYT) facing stark odds, and, if they lose, uncertain futures for more than just Nicklas Lidstrom, Kris Draper, Mike Modano and Chris Osgood. The Wings could be swept for the first time since 2003 and lose to the same team in consecutive seasons since the 1999-2000 season, when the Wings couldn’t solve the Colorado Avalanche, and had to regroup, change the team’s dynamic and build toward their 2002 Stanley Cup championship.

The Wings have already been written off by more than a few members of the media as a now-second-rate team and nothing more than broom fodder over the past few days, and put simply, if they lose tonight, they’ll get the weekend off…before posing for a team picture on Monday, cleaning out their lockers and facing a summer that’s far too long for a team which is expected to at least make the Western Conference Finals every year.

The Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness paints a grim statistical picture regarding the Wings’ ability to pull off what would be nothing less than a miraculous comeback, though the Wings’ players insisted that they have only concerned themselves with winning Friday’s game:

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Future watch: Red Wings’ Lidstrom, Modano, Osgood, Draper unsure of futures

The Red Wings’ 3-0 series deficit against the San Jose Sharks means the obvious for at least three Red Wings (if not four). As Nicklas Lidstrom told DetroitRedWings.com’s Jeff Sanford on Thursday, he will engage in the usual conference with his family after the season to determine whether he wants to play for at least one more season, but Mike Modano’s not totally sure whether he’s going to retire, either, and he’s not the only one.

The emergence of Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader and Patrick Eaves as dependable performers has started to push Kris Draper into riding a bike instead of sitting on the bench during the regular season, and Chris Osgood wasn’t able to return from what turned out to be extensive surgery to repair a sports hernia and his groin muscles in January—with enough setbacks taking place that the Wings tried to sign Evgeni Nabokov to help buy the team time as a goaltender who’s had significant groin injuries in each and every one of his post-lockout seasons with the Wings—and with Ruslan Salei nearly losing his job to Jakub Kindl, his future’s anything but certain, too.

The following stories intertwine somewhat, so there’s going to be repetition here and there, but we’re obviously going to start with Lidstrom, who told the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness that he’s not going to tip his hat should the Wings’ playoff run end:

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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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