The Malik Report
The Toronto media hasn't been able to completely dominate the Mike Babcock conversation this week as the Wings both hosted Wednesday's game and host the Panthers prior to Saturday night's Wings-in-Toronto rematch, so the Detroit News's Bob Wojnowski wrote a helluva Babcock-contract essay this evening...
It's foolish to think this isn't about money, and also foolish to think it's only about money. When Babcock and Holland talked during the summer, the Wings were in flux, swept out of the playoffs in the first round after squeaking in to extend the franchise's streak to 23 seasons. Then they didn't land the free-agent defenseman they sought and didn't appreciably change the roster.
Holland is the master of crafty conservativeness, and it has made the Wings a model of stability. If he wasn't concerned about the team's direction before the season, maybe his coach was. I asked Babcock what he liked most about being here, and he didn't hesitate.
"I like the team, I like where I live, I like winning," Babcock, 51, said. "First and foremost, the thing that makes me the happiest in the world, outside my family, is winning. Hard to believe more than hunting or water-skiing, but it's the truth."
Paul noted what Nick Kypreos had to say about Pavel Datsyuk. He wasn't the only person talking about the Red Wings on The Fan 590 today.
Mike Babcock appeared on the Brady and Walker show to discuss the Wings' play (even with tonight's loss, the Wings remain atop the Eastern Conference)...
You could see it slipping away.
The Red Wings played a pretty damn solid game against the Maple Leafs, putting up 22 shots over the first 2 periods of play, getting a gorgeous goal from Gustav Nyquist late in the 2nd and firing 18 3rd-period shots on James Reimer, but as soon as Phil Kessel tied things up on a dim-and-dimmer set of pinches-and-not-cover plays by Jonathan Ericsson and Danny DeKeyser, it was Toronto's game.
Why did the Leafs dominate the shootout and win 2-1 in a game they trailed for 45 minutes? Well aside from the Wings having shootout-scoring problems and Jimmy Howard (who was superb otherwise) being his predictably beatable self, the Leafs built upon their confidence throughout the 3rd period and overtime, and the Wings...
Miss the *#$%@& out of Justin Abdelkader. The Wings' shots were either far too one-and-done or they were fired at or over Reimer or into Leaf shin pads--to the tune of another 32 blocked/wide shot attempts--because the Wings weren't planting their asses in front of Reimer's crease. At all. There was no jam in terms of making things ugly for Reimer or scoring muck-and-guck goals--instead, a Wings team that had won 3 straight games wanted to make things pretty, and we know what happens when the Wings get too cute.
So Toronto gets 2 points out of 3 in the opener of the back-to-backs, Toronto will rest while the Wings play the Florida Panthers on Friday, and the Wings will have to close out the season series on Saturday with a win on Hockey Night in Canada and/or "At the end of four days of lusting After Mike Babcock Night."
Here's the shootout...
That's Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet today on Pavel Datsyuk.
Kypreos and Doug MaClean talked some Wings today on Hockey Central at Noon and the conversation starts around the 7:08 mark.
Go here, then click the listen button for the December 10th podcast and it wasn't all negative talk either.
via the Detroit Red Wings,
Featuring - Ken Kal, Babcock, Weiss, Tatar, & Nyquist.
via the Toronto Maple Leafs,
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
"They're a team that lives off transition, they want to get the puck onto their forwards' sticks and make plays," Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard said. "It's just important for us to keep going the way we have been, rolling four lines, keeping them off our D and having (possession) in the offensive zone."
It figures to be another festive atmosphere, with many Leafs fans in attendance.
"It's always a great atmosphere, it's always a lot of fun with the 'Let's Go Red Wings' and the 'Go Leafs Go' chants," Howard said. "It always makes for like a playoff atmosphere."
Said Babcock: "I hear about it all the time afterwards, I don't really notice that stuff myself to be honest. It's exciting for the players. You want hockey to be important, so the more rivalries you have the better you are."
It's always an important game for Ontario natives like Kyle Quincey and Stephen Weiss.
"I was a huge Leafs fan growing up, so it's always fun getting a chance to play them," Quincey said. "Now being in their division, it's always a meaningful game. It's always an exciting game and it's always fun getting up for it."
per Khan tweet,
First power play:
Franzen-Datsyuk-Zetterberg, Jurco (net front), Kronwall
2nd power play:
Tatar. Weiss, Nyquist, Sheahan (net front), Kindl
Khan also mentioned lines are the same as yesterday too.
Other media reports state Abdelkader on the ice but still wearing the no-contact gray.
added 11:36am, via Khan,
Andersson and Kindl in for Cleary and Lashoff are the changes tonight from the previous game, in addition to Howard starting.
"They (the team's veterans) have been here through the good times and the slower times and now they see our team on the climb again," Babcock said. "This is the best team we've had here since '09, not necessarily point-wise, but direction-wise. We have more players that are hungry and going in the right direction than we have in a long time."
That's Mike Babcock via Ansar Khan of Mlive where you can read more on the Wings...
added 4:40pm, below, watch Babcock talking about the team via Helene St. James tweet.
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
These are fun times for the Detroit Red Wings. Their depth has carried them near the top of the NHL, and their next opponent guarantees a festive atmosphere at the Joe.
The Wings returned to work today, after using Monday to catch their collective breath following three games in four nights. Wednesday brings to town the Toronto Maple Leafs (8 p.m., NBCSN), which means that the stands will be full of fans of both teams. "It's always a lot of fun with the 'Go, Wings, go' and the 'Go, Leafs, go' chants," Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said. "It always makes for a playofflike atmosphere."
Howard is a big reason the Wings perch atop the Eastern Conference, having bounced back from a poor 2013-14 to start 13-5-4 with a 2.21 goals-against average and .917 save percentage. That has helped the Wings to a 17-6-5 record and a goal differential of 18.
via Chuck Pleiness tweets,
Justin Abdelkader on the ice for practice, Wearing a gray jersey, which means no contact for him. He's likely out Wednesday against Leafs.
Cleary appears to be the odd man out for Wednesday's game. He's the extra forward in Red.
Updates from practice will be added to this post as needed.
added 11:16am, via Khan tweet,
added 12:34pm, MSM reports Babcock says Abby not ready yet, progressing but will not play tomorrow.
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.