The Malik Report
from Damien Cox of the the Spin at the Toronto Star,
Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg have had to shoulder more of the burden than ever before. Detroit's dearth of high-end young talent after years of drafting either poorly or out of range of the best kids has finally began to impact its lineup. Injuries have hurt. Damien Brunner got hot and then he cooled. Jonas Gustavsson hasn't been the answer as a backup. Brad Stuart and Jiri Hudler are missed.
Johan Franzen has nine goals. Val Filpulla, theoretically in a contract drive, has fallen off the face of the earth offensively. Kids like Cory Emmerton, Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyqvist and Riley Sheahan haven't made an impact.
Detroit beat everyone to the punch on collegiate defencemen Danny DeKeyser, and now have to hope he'll have a greater impact than most NCAA free agents do. That's a card the Maple Leafs played frequently when they were desperate for talent - Tyler Bozak, Ben Scrivens, Brayden Irwin, Christian Hanson etc. - and its a hit-and-miss proposition.
The Wings aren't awful by any means, but they've lost more than they've won and have scored fewer than they've allowed.
The Detroit Red Wings' 3-0 win over the Nashville Predators broke a 2-game "winless" (read: shootout losing) streak and at least temporarily placed the Wings back into 8th place in the Western Conference. The Wings now have 20-15-and-7 Wings now have 47 points, two more than Dallas (Dallas still has a game in hand and 19 regulation-or-OT wins to the Wings' 18 ROWs) and Columbus (14 ROWs), and four more than Phoenix (15 ROWs). The Wings are also tied with the Minnesota Wild in terms of points, but as the Wild have played 41 games to the Wings' 42, they hold that tiebreaker (though they are tied in ROWs with 18)...
And, somewhat surprisingly, the Wings have now only given up 1 more goal than they've scored, in no small part because the Wings were able to regain a significant amount of confidence in their ability to actually play hockey after essentially losing three straight games (see 1-0 vs. St Louis a week ago, then 3-2 shootout losses to San Jose and Chicago) and dropping 4 of their previous 5 games (the Wings are still 2-1-and-2 over the past 5 and 3-2-and-2 for April) by beating up on an incredibly injury-depleted Nashville Predators team.
Those of you who watched Saint Cloud State University play in the Frozen Four, or in any college hockey game this season, probably noticed that a significant chunk of their roster sported shoulder-length hair under their helmets.
It turns out that the players, including Red Wings prospect Nick Jensen, were growing out their hair for Locks of Love, and on Sunday, the Saint Cloud Times' Ben Katzner reports that the players made their donations:
The Detroit Red Wings headed back to the Motor City to unpack and then re-pack for their trip to Calgary and Vancouver after...Actually earning a 1-0 lead instead of giving up the game's first goal (despite a lackluster first period), actually holding onto said lead, and actually winning a game in regulation, taking a 3-0 decision from the Nashville Predators on Sunday night.
At some times--hell, many times--in a rather ridiculously-called rope-and-grab game, the Wings played downright ugly hockey, playing with absolutely no confidence and, if I translated Darren Eliot's 1st period hockey jargon correctly: the Wings had no flow in the offensive zone whatsoever.
Updated 10x at 3:42 PM: The Detroit Red Wings find themselves in a must-win situation as they prepare to battle the Nashville Predators tonight (7:30 PM EDT, FSD/FS Tennessee/NBCSN/97.1 FM, and whatever the heck was messed up in the game set-up and overnight report post has been fixed), and it appears that the Wings will face a Predators team minus a particularly effective Wing-killer...
The Detroit Red Wings may have a sigificant chunk of players on their roster suffering from too-many-games-played fatigue, they are most certainly more "banged up" than they're letting the press know, and the Wings may have 13 days and 7 games left in their season, but if they keep splitting hairs, as they did via shootout losses to Chicago and San Jose, we'll be talking about the team's World Championship participants and locker room clean-out two weeks from this morning.
The Wings sit in 9th place in the Western Conference this morning, and they are facing a Nashville Predators team that's "playing for pride" and playing as a spoiler tonight (7:30 PM EDT, FSD/FS Tennessee/NBCSN/NHL Network Canada/97.1 FM).
Per the Los Angeles Times' Helene Elliott:
The Dallas Stars defeated San Jose 2-1, and I just watched the shootout--damned shootout--deliver a 3-2 win for Columbus over the Minnesota Wild, and the Blue Jackets are now tied with 9th-place Detroit, too.
The Red Wings and Blackhawks played their last game as Central Division rivals last night, and while the Hawks came out on top (as is usual these days), the New York Times' Ben Strauss suggests that the rivalry won't fade away simply because the Wings are highly likely to move to an Eastern-based conference next season, and Strauss spoke to several of the most prominent figures in Wings-Hawks history about said rivalry:
“It’s two great sports cities,” said Chris Chelios, who played parts of nine seasons with the Blackhawks and 10 with the Red Wings. “The fans love it, lots of fights, lots of excitement. It’s always special, and it will be missed.”
As usual, it did not take long for the home crowd to voice its feelings for the invaders from Detroit on Friday. Within seconds of the last note of the national anthem, chants rang out across the stadium. They were not of the PG variety. It was the 725th regular-season game between Chicago and Detroit, the most among opponents in the N.H.L. Fittingly, it was a thriller, with the Blackhawks needing five shots in a shootout to win, 3-2. Even in enemy territory, there were plenty of cheers for the Red Wings goals.
“As far back as I can remember, the Detroit fans loved to go to Chicago, and the Chicago fans loved to go to Detroit,” said the Hall of Famer Ted Lindsay, who played 13 seasons in the 1940s and ’50s with Detroit, then three with Chicago. “And back then our cars didn’t go very fast.”
Continued, and the article's more than worth your time.
Maybe this is just me, but after the Wings went 0-2-and-2 against the Chicago Blackhawks this season (including last night's disappointing 3-2 shootout loss), and given that Chicago's absolutely owned Joe Louis Arena over the past three seasons, I'd be quite happy if the Wings somehow managed to both make the playoffs and avoid a first-round match-up with Chicago.
The players feel a little differently about the possibility of Chicago and Detroit concluding their status as Central/Norris Division rivals via a playoff meeting, as noted both in the overnight report and by MLive's Brendan Savage:
Spotted this on Twitter at 5 AM: Red Wings forward Jordin Tootoo and the Team Tootoo fund are holding a special night to raise funds for and awareness about suicide prevention and mental illness in at-risk youth and everyone else--on April 22nd (of course), when the Wings host the Phoenix Coyotes--and Tootoo and Fox 2 are partnering up to help get the word out.
Tootoo spoke to Fox 2's Dan Miller about joining the Wings and his charity's message...
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.