The Malik Report
From NBC Sports:
THREE TEAMS, TWO SPOTS – FLYERS, RED WINGS AND BRUINS FIGHT FOR NHL POSTSEASON BERTHS TONIGHT AND TOMORROW ON NBCSN
Red Wings Host Flyers Tonight on Wednesday Night Rivalry at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN; Bruins Host Red Wings Tomorrow Night at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN
Flyers Host Penguins on NHL Game of the Week Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC, Visit Islanders on Sunday Night Hockey on NBCSN at 7 p.m. ET
Bruins, Flyers and Red Wings Tied with 91 Points and Two Playoff Spots Remaining
Former Flyers Head Coach Craig Berube Joins NHL Live as Guest Analyst Tomorrow Night
STAMFORD, Conn. – April 6, 2016 – The NHL “Push For The Playoffs” comes down to the wire this week on NBC and NBCSN as the Philadelphia Flyers, Detroit Red Wings, and Boston Bruins – who are all tied with 91 points – will battle for the final two remaining spots in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
NBCSN’s Wednesday Night Rivalry will have huge implications on the playoff picture, when Pavel Datsyuk and the Red Wings host Claude Giroux and the Flyers tonight at 8 p.m. ET. Detroit then travels to Boston to face Patrice Bergeron and the Bruins tomorrow night at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN in a crucial Atlantic Division showdown.
From the Grand Rapids Griffins:
RUSSO NAMED TO 2015-16 AHL ALL-ROOKIE TEAM
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Grand Rapids Griffins defenseman Robbie Russo on Wednesday was named to the 2015-16 AHL All-Rookie Team, as voted by coaches, players and media in each of the league’s 30 member cities.
In his first pro campaign after a stellar four-year collegiate career at Notre Dame, Russo has tallied five goals and 34 assists (5-34—39) in 65 games for Grand Rapids, while posting a league-leading plus-47 rating that is tied for the highest mark by an AHL player since 1993.
Chris Osgood appeared on Sportsnet's HockeyCentral at Noon radio show, discussing the Red Wings' playoff status, a supposed "goaltending controversy" in Detroit and Pavel Datsyuk's future (edit: the Datsyuk part isn't in this interview...I'll keep hunting for the audio):
From the Boston Herald's Stephen Harris:
More important than anything the Bruins did in practice today is what happens tonight in Detroit, where the Red Wings host the Philadelphia Flyers. The B’s desperately need to see the Wings lose to the hot Flyers in regulation.
If that happens, the B’s will have the opportunity tomorrow night at the Garden vs. Detroit to hop back into the No. 3 playoff in the Atlantic Division.
If Detroit wins tonight, it will arrive in Boston with a three-point lead over the Bruins. And even assuming a B’s win, the Game 82 results Saturday for the two teams will decide the playoff spot.
“You guys (the media) are using all these negative words: It’s frustration and disappointment and all that stuff,” said B’s captain Zdeno Chara. “It’s easy to be looking at it that way. But for us, we are extremely motivated. Yeah, we didn’t get the extra point that we wanted (in Tuesday’s shootout loss to Carolina), but we’ve got to make the best out of the situation that we are in.
“Obviously it’s a huge game tomorrow night. We can’t be worried about anybody else, just ourselves. Go out and get a big win tomorrow night.”
Updated 8x at 3:34 PM: The Detroit Red Wings hope to snap the Philadelphia Flyers' stunning 6-and-0 record on "NBCSN Rivalry Night" tonight on...NBCSN's Rivalry Night game between the Wings and Flyers (8 PM EDT start on NBCSN/TVA Sports/97.1 FM).
The morning skate revealed that Jimmy Howard will start for Detroit opposite Steve Mason, Anthony Mantha may sit in Tomas Jurco's stead, and on the Flyers' side of the ice, defenseman Andrew MacDonald is now a "game-time decision."
Aside from Mantha swapping out for Jurco on the fourth line, the Wings should dress the following lineup, per MLive's Ansar Khan:
Updated 5x at 11:53 AM: The Detroit Red Wings begin an incredibly pivotal 20-something stretch of hockey games with tonight's tilt against the Philadelphia Flyers (8 PM EDT on NBCSN/TVA Sports/97.1 FM), a game which kicks off a back-to-back slate against Philly and Boston that will most likely determine the Wings' playoff fate.
Among today's pre-morning skate Tweets:
The Free Press's Brian Manzullo examined the "Magic Numbers" by which the Pistons and Red Wings can make the playoffs:
The magic number to clinch the postseason is 4 points. That means the Red Wings can clinch a playoff spot through a combination of 4 points won by the Wings and lost by the Boston Bruins.
The Red Wings (91 points) are in a 3-way tie with Boston and the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference, with two spots up for grabs, including the No. 3 automatic playoff berth in the Atlantic Division vs. Boston. And they've got three games remaining: Tonight vs. Philadelphia, Thursday at Boston and Saturday at the New York Rangers.
The NHL's playoff seeding system is a little trickier than the NBA's, but it's actually kind of simple for the Wings: Get a regulation win Thursday in Boston and they're in, because that's 2 points won by the Wings and 2 points lost by the Bruins. The Bruins have just one other game remaining to match the Red Wings' 93 points in such a scenario and Detroit would own the tiebreaker over Boston due to ROW (regulation & overtime wins).
Most other scenarios beyond that get a little muddier, due to overtime/shootout losses and the Wild Card, which is still in play for the Wings. But here are two more that are simple: Win at least two games and the Red Wings are in. Get one win and two OT/SO losses and they're in. Lose all three in regulation and they're out.
Of Red Wings-related note this morning:
1. NHL.com posted three articles related to tonight's "Rivalry Night" game between the Flyers and Wings, including a profile of Flyers goalie Steve Mason, an article in which Paul Harris discusses the Wings' final three regular season games...
The New York Times' Joanne C. Gerstner spoke with several Red Wings regarding the team's playoff streak, including Dylan Larkin, Justin Abdelkader, and a surprising commenter in Pavel Datsyuk:
“Doing this is not easy; I think we have made it look that way at times over the years — but it is not easy, ” Datsyuk, 37, said. “Being in the playoffs is getting much harder and harder, and you must work hard every game to win. You cannot just say you will be in the playoffs, because so many things have to happen right. The last few years, it is definitely getting harder. I see that.”
Datsyuk held out his right hand flat and continued: “It is now like this in hockey, everybody is so even. Everybody is good. You cannot just assume you are in the playoffs. And we are not here to just be in the playoffs. That is not the right way to think. We are here to be in the playoffs and win the Stanley Cup.”
The Red Wings begin the most crucial part of the 2015-16 season against the Philadelphia Flyers this evening (8 PM EDT start on NBCSN/TVA Sports/97.1 FM), and the Flyers come into town on nothing less than a steamroller's pace.
Philadelphia's 6-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday was the team's first loss in 4 games, and according to CSN Philly's Jeff Neiburg, the Flyers are 16-6-and-4 since their last pair of back-to-back losses on February 7th and 9th. The Flyers haven't lost twice in a row since their dominant run began.
What matters to you and me is a picture larger than Philadelphia's (the Philadelphia Inquirer's Sam Carchidi explains the Flyers' playoff situation in extensive detail), and as necessary as the Flyers are to defeat, they've got 1 game in hand on Detroit and 2 games in hand on the Boston Bruins.
The race is truly between the 40-28-and-11 Red Wings (91 points, 38 ROW, 79 games played) and 41-30-and-9 Bruins (91 points, 37 ROW, 80 games played), though the 39-26-and-13 Flyers (91 points, 36 ROW, 78 games played) still fare into the equation
The Bruins lost 2-1 to the Hurricanes in a shootout on Tuesday, denying the Bruins a Regulation-or-Overtime-Win, so the Atlantic Division and Wild Card standings look like this:
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.