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Red Wings-Penguins quick take: good feeling

The Detroit Red Wings attempted to take out a Pittsburgh Penguins team with a 24-3-3 home record this season, with Detroit aiming for an unlikely win on a day in which Sidney Crosby would be honored for reaching 1,000 points.

The Wings won 5-2, defeating the Penguins and Capitals on back-to-back outings, and it felt really good to see the Wings be able to go toe-to-toe with the league's best, even if the wins are inconsequential over the long haul.

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Praising the Wings’ ‘best player,’ Henrik Zetterberg

Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill praised the Wings' best player this season, Henrik Zetterberg, during his pre-game press conference, as noted by the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...

Last season, it sure looked like age and many years on the ice rink had caught up with Henrik Zetterberg. His production was down (last season’s 50 points was a drop of 16 from the previous season), and at age 36, Zetterberg wasn’t getting any younger.

Coach Jeff Blashill was prepared to take action, reducing Zetterberg’s ice time and workload.

“I was very prepared to diminish ice time if his play had diminished,” said Blashill before Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh. “But he’s demanded that I play him more and that’s just the way it’s been.”

Zetterberg has demanded that time while being arguably the Red Wings’ best player this season. He entered Sunday’s game with a team-leading 30 assists and 43 points (13 goals).

“He’s been our best player, night in and night out,” Blashill said. “There’s no question about it. When you talk about a 200-foot game, and playing winning hockey, there’s no doubt about it. I came into the year, I was going to watch and see if his play had diminished and his ice time would diminish. But his play has been the opposite. As we’ve gone through the season, he’s gotten more and more ice time. It just speaks to the level of player he is.”

And DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji:

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Red Wings-Penguins game-day updates: Green out, Zetterberg setting an example, Murray starts for Pit

Of Red Wings-related note this afternoon:

1. On Twitter, from the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...

Blashill says no Mike Green (ill) again today here in Pittsburgh

And the Free Press's Helene St. James...

Jeff Blashill: ROW (tiebreaker) shouldn't include OT any more with 3-on-3. 3-on-3 just as much of crapshoot. No more hockey than shootouts.

2. St. James filed a morning notebook...

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Red Wings-Capitals wrap-up: Wings unstoppable in the shootout(?)

Wings/Penguins is below too: The Red Wings kicked off a jam-packed weekend in fine fashion on Saturday afternoon, defeating the Washington Capitals 3-2 in a shootout, and the Red Wings will head to Pittsburgh to battle the Penguins on Sunday (3 PM EST on NBC/97.1 FM).

(As usual, AWood40 posted a 12-minute annotated highlight clip)

The Wings admittedly got a bit of a jump on the Capitals as Washington was coming out of its "bye week," and in a rather strange turn of events, Detroit continued its dominance in shootouts (7-and-0) against a Capitals team that can't buy a shootout win, as the Washington Post's Isabelle Khurshudyan noted:

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Prospect news: Griffins ‘pick six’ vs. San Antonio; Walleye beat Wichita; European prospects score

Of prospect-related note:

In the AHL, Matt Lorito scored 2 goals, Connor Allen had 3 assists and Eddie Pasquale pitched an 18-save shutout as the Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the San Antonio Rampage 6-0. The Griffins' website posted a recap:

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‘Two Things’: On Mrazek the elite goaltender(?) and the Wings’ status as sellers

Two items of Red Wings-related note piqued my interest this evening:

1. The Oakland Press's Pat Caputo suggests that the Red Wings' inconsistent goaltending is its biggest problem, and as a result, he wants to see more consistency from Petr Mrazek:

Just think of what impact – good and bad - Mrazek has had on the Red Wings during his relatively short career.

In 2015, he nearly led the clearly out-manned Red Wings to an upset of Tampa Bay in the opening round of the playoffs (Detroit lost in Game 7). Last season, through the early portion of February, the Red Wings were in solid position. It was mostly because Mrazek played extra extraordinarily well, emerging as a top candidate for the Vezina Trophy. However, he faltered as quickly as he rose.

His performance Saturday was a classic example. Mrazek played brilliantly for 55 minutes. He was the reason the Red Wings held a 2-1 lead over one of the NHL’s best teams, the Washington Capitals. Then he allowed a fat rebound on a relatively soft shot by T.J. Oshie - and it was tapped in by Daniel Winnik for the tying goal.

And the Red Wings still only have 13 regulation wins this season. But then Mrazek made up for it with brilliant play in overtime and the shootout, ultimately stoning the world’s greatest goal scorer, Alexander Overchkin, to secure a rare, for the Red Wings, two points.

Caputo continues, offering the following before wondering aloud whether Mrazek has the chops to become a Carey Price-level goaltender...

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TMR evening line: Brian Lawton on Zetterberg and Smith

From the NHL Network's Brian Lawton:

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Red Wings-Capitals quick take: squeaky shootout win

The Detroit Red Wings attempted to snap their 5-game winless streak against a white-hot Capitals team coming out of a "Bye Week." The Wings hoped to add to the 3-9-and-1 record of teams coming out of their week without hockey, while the Capitals simply hoped to continue refining their game ahead of a playoff push.

The Wings weren't able to pull away from Washington despite taking a 2-0 lead, eventually surrendering goals at even strength--and taking 3 3rd period power plays that really wore the team down--but the Wings survived OT and won its 7th straight shootout win, taking a 3-2 decision.

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Wings will play without Mike Green today

FYI:

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Barry Trotz on ‘The Joe’

The Washington Post's Isabelle Khurshudyan penned her pre-game notebook, and Capitals coach Barry Trotz gave a great quote about his memories of Joe Louis Arena, as well as the building's legacy:

Said Trotz: “To me, it was always about the tradition. When I was in Nashville, especially in the early years, you look across, and they were in they heydays. One time I remember looking across, and you’ve got Scotty Bowman on the bench and they have nine Hall of Fame guys on their bench, all at the same time. But the Joe has character. It has a lot of character. They’ve won a lot of games in that building. As a visitor, it was a tough place to come into. It’s sort of iconic. You don’t really call it Joe Louis Arena. It’s ‘The Joe.’ It’s probably time for ‘The Joe’ and for Detroit to get a new building.”

Khurshudyan continues...

Update: Here are a few more Capitals on the Joe, per WashingtonCapitals.com's Mike Vogel:

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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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