The Malik Report
From the Toledo Blade's Mark Monroe:
Toledo (46-19-5) can clinch the conference title with a win over a desperate and streaking Kalamazoo team tonight in the regular-season home finale.
“I want us to go out and win the East, instead of backing in,” [coach Derek] Lalonde said. “We want to earn it.”
The Walleye host the [K-Wings], who are scratching and clawing to earn one of the final slots in the Eastern conference playoffs, at 8:15 at the Huntington Center.
Toledo controls its own fate. The Walleye have 97 points and are seeking a second straight conference championship, while the Stingrays (42-18-10) have 94. Both teams have two games remaining.
“I told the guys on Wednesday that I really hoped that South Carolina wins because I want us to go take the conference,” Lalonde said. “We can do that with winning one game this weekend. So I was excited when South Carolina won.”
Toledo closes the regular season with a home and home series against rival Kalamazoo. The Wings have won eight straight and are 9-1-0 in their last 10 games.
“Kalamazoo is playing as well as any team in the league,” Lalonde said.
Updated 8x at 3:13 PM: Raanta vs. Howard in the nets tomorrow.
There are 10 #RedWings skating in Jersey, including DeKeyser, Howard, Larkin, Athanasiou, Marchenko and Jurco, who all played last night.
Of Red Wings-related note this morning:
1. Sportsnet's Damien Cox weighs in on the Wings' "Race to 25," and he does so with some smarm...
It’s pretty clear this Detroit team isn’t the same squad that nearly knocked off Tampa Bay in the first round last year.
Rumours surround the future of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg hasn’t scored in 10 games and only has 13 goals on the season, and head coach Jeff Blashill is having trouble deciding which of his young players he wants to play and which goalie gives his team the best chance to win.
Howard seems likely to get the start against the Rangers. But that’s not even clear.
Other than the “race” for 30th place, this is about the only dramatic playoff chase the NHL has going in the final days of the 2015-16 season.
On Thursday, the Bruins looked the most deserving, with the Wings outclassed and the Flyers beaten at home by the awful Toronto Maple Leafs.
Still, it’s Detroit that controls its own fate. One more strong effort, and the 25-year-old chain will not be broken.
2. The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa also weighs in with a little more sympathy for the Bipolar Wings:
This must be in case Justin Abdelkader can't go tomorrow:
From the Red Wings:
DETROIT RED WINGS EXPERIENCE ANNOUNCES WALMART TOUR
... DRW Experience – Featuring Interactive Games, Alumni Signings & Great Prizes – to Visit Eight Walmart Locations Throughout Metro Detroit in April …
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings Experience, presented by Coke Zero, today announced its new Walmart Tour set to take place at eight Walmart locations throughout Metro Detroit in April. All stops on the Walmart Tour will run from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m., inside the designated Walmart locations.
The DRW Experience features interactive games designed to give Red Wings fans an opportunity to test their hockey skills, take part in photo opportunities and have the chance to win a number of great prizes, including autographed memorabilia, giveaway items and tickets to future Red Wings games. A Grand Prize winner will be selected at each location and will walk away with an autographed jersey of a current Red Wings player.
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
A poor start, defensive breakdowns, an ineffective power play and a goaltender getting pulled.
This could dominate the Detroit Red Wings' 2015-16 highlight film. But it wasn't something they needed to see given the chance to clinch a playoff spot on Thursday.
After doing so many things right during a three-game winning streak, the Red Wings reverted to some bad habits in a 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins Thursday at TD Center.
The Bruins scored twice in the first 2:44, forcing the Red Wings to fight an uphill battle, and struck for two goals in the first 45 seconds of the third period to break it open.
"It's tough anytime you're chasing a game, especially in a back-to-back situation," Detroit forward Luke Glendening said. "We fell behind and couldn't dig ourselves out of that hole.
"I think we were a little sloppy tonight in comparison to the past couple games. Just got to get back to that in this last game."
The Red Wings still "control their own fate" in terms of dictating their playoff fate, but they have to at least feel some wound to their pride after blowing their first and best chance to clinch a 25th consecutive playoff berth via their 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.
The Wings weren't just poor, they were awful against the Bruins, a night after playing perhaps their best game of the year against the Flyers, and while there are multiple routes to clinching a playoff spot, "nervous persons" like myself are a wee worried about the concept of the Wings easily sauntering to a regulation-or-OT (not shootout) win over the Rangers on Saturday.
Detroit's players put on a brave face after the loss, suggesting that they could only give credit to their opposition and move on to the next game stil controling their fate; the Bruins spoke with swagger after delivering a decisive victory, as the Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa noted:
Of prospect-related note:
In the SHL, Axel Holmstrom finished at -1 in 12:23 of ice time, winning 40% of his faceoffs in Skelleftea AIK's 2-1 loss to the Vaxjo Lakers. The SHL semifinal series is tied at 2-2;
In the QMJHL, Evgeny Svechnikov had an assist and finished at -1, taking 4 shots and winning a faceoff in the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles' 4-1 win over the Saint John Sea Dogs. The Screaming Eagles lead their 2nd round series 1-0;
And in the WHL, the Joe Hicketts-less Victoria Royals defeated the Kelowna Rockets 2-1, opening their 2nd-round series with a big win.
If you are a Red Wings fan and want to know how the Wings' playoff picture looks after Thursday's 5-2 loss to Boston, it works like this (with many thanks to Dave Hogg and Ryan Hana):
Here are the standings:
The Red Wings faced a pleasant problem on Thursday against the Boston Bruins: Win in any fashion, and you're in; lose, and it gets complicated.
I felt that this game represented a massive trap for the Wings to fall into against a Bruins team they've rarely beaten in Boston, on the back half of a back-to-back set...
And I was right. The Bruins just beat the shit out of the Wings, defeating them 5-1.
Now the Wings need to win in any fashion against the Rangers on Saturday, or it gets very complicated--and if the Wings lose, they can still miss the playoffs.
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.