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Tomas Jurco no longer bored in Chicago, on or off the ice

Tomas Jurco was incredibly frustrated in Detroit, so it's not surprising that he's spoken with the Chicago Tribune's Chris Hine in less-than-flattering terms about the activities Metro Detroit offers its residents, or the creativity with which the Red Wings play, but...It's a little aggravating:

Tomas Jurco hasn't been in Chicago for long, but the first few weeks in the city living near the Magnificent Mile were already a significant upgrade from his old digs in Detroit.

"There's so much stuff to do," Jurco said. "In Detroit, we were so bored, my girlfriend and I, we didn't know what to do. ... There wasn't much to do. Here there's so much stuff to do."

Jurco has been acclimating to his new home since the Hawks traded for him Feb. 24. And the winger has had six games to acclimate to his new teammates and a new style of play. The transition hasn't been as simple as curing his boredom.

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Articles from practice: Wings prepare for Rangers with renewed poise; on Mantha and Mrazek

The Red Wings held practice at Joe Louis Arena ahead of tomorrow's game against Antti Raanta and the New York Rangers, and the Free Press's Helene St. James set the stage for Sunday's game:

They enter Sunday’s game against the Henrik Lundqvist-less New York Rangers buoyed by a fine performance Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

One area showing consistency is goaltending, with Jimmy Howard returning to spell Petr Mrazek and Howard delivering his first NHL victory since getting injured in December. Mrazek confirmed he’ll get the Rangers start. After a turbulent first half, he put up a .923 save percentage in February.

“It is nice to have those numbers back, but I look at the performance, how I play, and most important are the wins,” Mrazek said Saturday. “If we win 6-5 or 1-0, it doesn’t matter, it is all about the wins.”

As they cling to dimming chances of making the playoffs, stellar goaltending is needed, but so are more performances like the one against Chicago, when the Wings managed the puck so much better than the previous three games.

“We did a really good job in a lot of areas,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Because of our pressure both in tracking and in the neutral zone, it gave us a little more time to break the puck out. Every game we come out and try to play our very best, and we haven't won enough of them. We’ve had a lot of games where we’ve been right there. We haven't made enough critical plays at critical moments.”

Anthony Mantha remained out of the lineup based upon practice lines, and MLive's Ansar Khan covered that subject...

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Next Saturday, the Avs will say goodbye to The Joe

The Denver Post's Terry Frei penned a fine reminiscing of Joe Louis Arena as part of his weekly notebook:

Neither the Avalanche nor the Red Wings will make the 2016-17 NHL playoffs.

Yes, times have changed.

By now, few of the players on the two rosters have a feel for what the Avalanche-Red Wings rivalry meant to the game in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when one or the other won the Stanley Cup five times in a span of seven seasons — and the rivalry so often was extraordinarily acrimonious. That’s a nice way of saying that while somewhere beneath all that hatred, there was respect, it could get ugly.

Another page will turn next Saturday, when the Avalanche makes its final appearance ever in Joe Louis Arena, the site of many of the great games and, yes, much of the fireworks.

The most notorious always will be the March 26, 1997 game when Darren McCarty, the Red Wings’ helmeted avenger, went after Claude Lemieux and all heck broke loose … and even goalies Patrick Roy and Mike Vernon ended up fighting at center ice. A little later, Avalanche forward Mike Keane stood as his locker stall later and labeled the Red Wings gutless for waiting for a home game in the series to seek retribution for Lemieux’s hit on Kris Draper in Game 6 of the 1996 Western Conference finals.

But focusing on that game — or the over-the-top events in later meetings — probably does a disservice to what the sharp-edged rivalry meant to the NHL. A reminder came last year, when the Avalanche-Red Wings alumni game the night before the Stadium Series regular-season matchup seemed to be more eagerly anticipated.

Frei continues, and his article's worth your time...

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Shinzawa on the Wings

I'm swiping part of the Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa's hockey notes today:

It is not Henrik Zetterberg’s fault the Red Wings’ 25-year postseason streak will end. The 36-year-old is playing with tempo, strength, and skill. Through 65 games, Zetterberg paced the team with 53 points (14 goals and 39 assists), most recently playing with Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist while logging 19:28 of ice time per outing. It’s hard to see Zetterberg keeping up his pace through 2021, the final season of his 12-year, back-diving, $73 million deal. But based on current play, Zetterberg’s long-term outlook is better than those of Justin Abdelkader and Danny DeKeyser. The 30-year-old Abdelkader, parked on five goals through 47 games, is in the first season of a seven-year, $29.75 million extension. It is already looking like an unmovable contract. DeKeyser is three years younger, but the defenseman’s deal, which expires in 2022, is a $5 million annual investment in a player who spends too much time chasing the puck. DeKeyser peaked in 2014-15, when he produced two goals and 29 assists in 80 games. This year, DeKeyser owns a 3-5—8 line in 65 games.

Shinzawa continues, and:

1. I can only guess that we won't see Zetterberg fulfill his contract;

2. Abdelkader is getting better after spending most of the year with the "A" on his sweater weighing a thousand pounds, finally showing some physicality and a nose for the net;

3. I am praying to the hockey gods that Danny DeKeyser's lost season is an aberration and not the start of a trend.

All of that being said, if the supporting cast around Zetterberg had shown up in October, November and December, we wouldn't be talking about the draft lottery right now.

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Practice Tweets: Mantha still an ‘extra forward’; Mrazek will start Sunday

Updated 5x at 1:33 PM: The Red Wings took to the ice at Joe Louis Arena just before noon on Saturday, preparing for Sunday's game against the New York Rangers (7 PM EDT on NBCSN/97.1 FM), as noted by MLive's Ansar Khan...

#RedWings Mantha again skating as extra forward. Blashill probably won't reveal whether he's back in tomorrow.


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Morning news: On Howard’s return; Wings Alums play today in Brighton; Tweets of note

Of Red Wings-related note this morning:

1. MLive's Brendan Savage discusses Jimmy Howard's performance during last night's 4-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks...

"A little jumpy at first," is how Howard assessed his performance. "I think it was the nerves. But I was able to settle down. As soon as I had some pucks stick to me the last minute of the first period, I felt more and more at home out there.

"Even though we got down there early by a goal, I think everyone stuck to the game plan and just kept pushing forward out there. It was a fun game to be a part of.

"I'm just excited to be out there with the guys and competing again. It was frustrating not being able to do anything and just sitting on the sidelines but it was a lot of fun for me personally just to be back out there and competing with the guys."

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Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) celebrates beating the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 with Mike Green (25) after an NHL hockey game Friday, March 10, 2017, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Brendan Savage | bsavage@mlive.com
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Brendan Savage | bsavage@mlive.com By Brendan Savage | bsavage@mlive.com
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on March 11, 2017 at 6:06 AM

DETROIT - Where has this team been all season?

That was a question many Detroit Red Wings fans were undoubtedly asking after Friday's 4-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks at Joe Louis Arena.

The Red Wings were coming off their worst game of a disappointing season - a blowout loss Wednesday in Boston - before responding with one of their best performances to date while ending a four-game skid.

So what was the difference?

Well, a lot of it had to do with Jimmy Howard.

Tomas Tatar, Jimmy Howard lead Red Wings past Blackhawks

Tomas Tatar, Jimmy Howard lead Red Wings past Blackhawks

Tatar had two goals and an assist. Howard made his first NHL appearance since Dec. 20.

Howard didn't do it alone, of course. The Red Wings' top line also had a big night against one of the NHL's top teams. But Howard was there when the Red Wings needed him.

The veteran goaltender was making his first appearance for the Red Wings since spraining his right MCL Dec. 20 in Tampa. He allowed a goal on Chicago's first shot - a dandy from the left faceoff circle by Artemi Panarin - before turning aside 24 of the next 25 that came his way.

"It was great to see him back," said captain Henrik Zetterberg. "We missed him for sure. He's been working hard, had a really good rehab here. He went down to Grand Rapids and played two good games and now he's ready to play.

"He got his work here in the rehab and it showed here tonight."

Howard's outing took some of the focus - at least temporarily - off the big news of the day, Anthony Mantha being a healthy scratch for the Red Wings.

The only goal Howard allowed other than Panarin's less the five minutes into the game was by Trevor van Riemsdyk with 44.3 seconds left in the second period.

Van Riemsdyk beat Howard with a slap shot from the right point but Howard appeared to be screened by teammate Robbie Russo and Chicago's Ryan Hartman.

As it turned out, van Riemsdyk's goal was meaningless because the Red Wings still had a 3-2 lead heading to the third period and Tomas Tatar's second goal of the game provided some breathing room with 4:29 left.

"A little jumpy at first," is how Howard assessed his performance. "I think it was the nerves. But I was able to settle down. As soon as I had some pucks stick to me the last minute of the first period, I felt more and more at home out there.

"Even though we got down there early by a goal, I think everyone stuck to the game plan and just kept pushing forward out there. It was a fun game to be a part of.

"I'm just excited to be out there with the guys and competing again. It was frustrating not being able to do anything and just sitting on the sidelines but it was a lot of fun for me personally just to be back out there and competing with the guys."

The win gave Howard a 6-7-1 record in 18 appearances but wins and losses aren't an accurate indication of how he was playing before the injury.

His goals-against average is 1.96 and his save percentage is .934, the same as they were before he beat the Blackhawks. Both of those numbers were leading the NHL at one point this season.

Savage continues...

2. The Windsor Star's Bob Duff spoke with Howard regarding a, "What If"...

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The overnight report: Red Wings-Blackhawks wrap-up—a rare bright spot

The Detroit Red Wings' 4-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks isn't going to matter very much in the standings, nor the draft lottery, for that matter, but in terms of pride, closing out the Joe Louis Arena chapter of the teams' rivalry with a win was incredibly satisfying.

Hopefully that will be the case for the majority of the Wings' final 9 games at the Joe as well, because this team has to live for something over its final 15 games, and in the cases of players like Tomas Tatar (2 goals and an assist), Gustav Nyquist (3 assists) and Jimmy Howard (24 saves), there are jobs to be won or lost based upon their play "down the stretch."

Now the Blackhawks were sitting their second defensive pair in Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya, and the Blackhawks did argue that they played less than their best hockey, as they told the Chicago Sun-Times' Mark Lazerus--who duly noted that the Blackhawks were "in between" games against Anaheim and Minnesota, teams they're tangling with for Western Conference supremacy--but a win is a win for this year's edition of the Red Wings.

Anyway, here's what the Hawks had to say to Lazerus about their effort against "a poor team":

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Red Wings-Blackhawks quick take: a rare, satisfying win

The Deroit Red Wings faced the Chicago Blackhawks for the final time at Joe Louis Arena on Friday, and the Red Wings hoped to snap a 4-game losing streak while battling the juggernauts of the Western Conference.

The Red Wings got "backup'ed" by Chicago in that the Hawks sat both Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya on defense, so the Wings did not get the full-strength Chicago Blackhawks...

And the Wings surrendered the first goal against again...

But this time around, the Red Wings' pride shone through, and it is still there. Detroit battled back and ended up defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 in the teams' final game at Joe Louis Arena, giving fans something to celebrate in a season when there hasn't been much of anything to celebrate.

Jimmy Howard stopped 24 shots in his return, Henrik Zetterberg had 2 assists, Gustav Nyquist had 3 assists, Tomas Tatar had 2 goals and an assist and the Wings just delivered the kind of performance we were hoping for in October. Take that for what you will.

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Mark, Marty Howe weigh in on new Gordie Howe statue at the Hockey Hall of Fame

From NHL.com's Dave McCarthy:

Mark Howe and Marty Howe say their father, Gordie Howe, was known as a fierce, sometimes intimidating player on the ice, but one of the kindest, most welcoming people away from the rink. That's what makes the statue of Gordie Howe that was unveiled Friday at the entrance to the Hockey Hall of Fame all the more appropriate.

"To be able to do something of this magnitude, what better way to celebrate Mr. Hockey than to have him standing at our door saying hello to all our guests?" Hockey Hall of Fame chairman Lanny McDonald said. "The statue is about 8 1/2 feet tall, and for a lot of players who ever played against Gordie, that's kind of how big they thought he was and how he played."

The unveiling of the statue honoring Howe, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972 and who died June 10, 2016, at age 88, headlined the opening of the NHL Centennial Exhibit at the Hall, which is dedicated to the 100 Greatest NHL Players presented by Molson Canadian.

Mark and Marty Howe learned about the Hall's intention to erect a statue of their father about three weeks ago and were eager to attend the ceremony.

"To take part in something like this and see the statue, it's a wonderful, wonderful thing," said Mark Howe, who was inducted into the Hall in 2011. "For dad to be honored this way, he would never say this, but he deserves it. The Hall has done a wonderful thing."


Sportsnet posted a short video of Mark and Marty at the unveiling as well:

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Evening news: A Game-Day Preview video; Krupa, Cotsonika on Mantha; Crawford starts vs. Wings

Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

1. Here's the Wings' Game-Day Preview, starring 7-and-a-half-year-old Hunter Peiser:

2. The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa weighed in on Anthony Mantha's benching...

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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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