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The overnight report: On inconsistency, Vanek and Mantha and alumni on alumni games

As the Red Wings return to practice today, they will be searching for the simple equation that has escaped their hockey-playing efforts thus far: consistency of play from game to game.

The Wings' beat writers hammered home the "inconsistency is the problem" message during Sunday's off day because the players suggested as much after Saturday's loss to San Jose, as noted by the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness...

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Prospect news: Nastasiuk, Paterson contribute to Walleye OT win

Of prospect-related note: In the ECHL, Nolan Zajac had the OT winner and an assist, Shane Berschbach had 2 assists, Wings prospect Zach Nastasiuk scored a goal and Jake Paterson stopped 21 shots as the Toledo Walleye defeated the Fort Wayne Komets 4-3 in OT.

The Walleye's website filed a recap:

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The Wings At The Halfway Point

Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News breaks down the Red Wings at midseason:

Three surprises

Anthony Mantha: Mantha is here to stay. Given an opportunity to prove he’s NHL ready, Mantha has already reached double digits in goals and is playing with much more confidence than he did during a brief stay last season. His potential is vast.

Thomas Vanek: Few really knew what to expect from this free-agent signing. Vanek was considered a wild card, and thus far, he’s played and produced beyond expectations. When the puck is on Vanek’s stick, good things usually happen.

Three reasons to be pessimistic

Continued power-play struggles: The way the power play has looked most evenings, with no presence at the net, too much passing, difficulty entering the zone, it has all added up to a unit that just doesn’t seem to be getting any better.

Too much inexperience: For all the grizzled veterans who’ve been through so many stretch runs and playoff series, there are a lot of players the Red Wings are counting on these days who have precious little NHL experience. Will they be able to handle the pressure as the importance of these games mount?

more in each of the above topics plus other ones too...

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‘Three Things’: Regarding the Wings’ defensive issues, Terry Sawchuk and Robbie Russo on GR

Of Red Wings-related note this morning:

1. MLive's Ansar Khan penned a late-breaking recap of last night's 6-3 Wings oss to San Jose, and Khan duly noted that the Wings were actually happy with their offensive production, but disappointed in their inability to stifle the Sharks' offense-from-the-point:

"I think we created a lot out there, scoring chances," Nielsen said. "We were feeling pretty good after the second period. Even being down by two, we felt we were creating enough chances to get back in the game. But tough start and then it's really hard to come back."

Pavelski scored his second goal of the game at 10:31 of the third. It was sandwiched between goals from Anthony Mantha (4:43) and Andreas Athanasiou (13:46). Along with Thomas Vanek, they are scoring most of the team's goals lately, as Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Riley Sheahan continue to struggle finding the net.

"We started running around. We started being impatient," Mantha said. "When we do have the puck, we don't quite make the smart plays. We just try to get it out of our zone and it comes back against us."

...

"I thought the difference in the game was when they got the puck up top they were able to get it through and have tips and we didn't do a good enough job on our box-outs and getting sticks and things like that," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "I thought we had opportunities to get it through and didn't do a good enough job of it. I just think from one O-zone to the next, ours to theirs, they did a better job of getting pucks through and getting tips."

Khan continues...

2. NHL.com re-posted Bob Duff's profile of Terry Sawchuk, who was named one of the NHL's 100 best players on January 1st:

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The overnight report: Red Wings-Sharks wrap-up and something of a ramble

The Red Wings never gave up against the Sharks despite ultimately losing 6-3 to San Jose, and at this point in the season--with the Wings in absolutely desperate need to get some of their injured veterans back, and a week involving meetings with the Blackhawks, Stars and Penguins in the offing--learning can be seen as progress, if not some cold comfort.

I'm leaning toward progress, because the steepness of the Wings' uphill climb to salvage their season continues to get steeper and steeper toward a near-vertical angle as the games go by. 

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Prospect news: Griffins defeat Rockford; Tyson Spink scores a hat trick for Walleye; Marsh scores 2

Of prospect-related note: In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins received 2 goals and an assist from Ben Street, a goal and 2 assists from Tomas Nosek and a 28-save performance from Cal Heeter as Grand Rapids won 6-1 over the Rockford IceHogs.

The Griffins' website filed a recap:

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Red Wings-Sharks quick take: Wings can’t take away the Sharks’ patented point shot plays

The Detroit Red Wings attempted to wrap up the California portion of their 7-game road trip on a high note, taking on the slumping-at-home San Jose Sharks on Saturday evening.

The Wings regrettably caught the Sharks on a bad night--San Jose was determined to out-detail the Wings as they wished to avoid a 4th straight home loss--and the Red Wings were merely OK at best over the course of a 6-3 loss.

To the good, Anthony Mantha scored another goal, Thomas Vanek and Andreas Athanasiou had a goal and an assist apiece, and Petr Mrazek stopped the majority of the 20 very difficult shots he faced in relief of Jared Coreau, but the Wings just never took away the Sharks' patented force-a-turnover-down-low-and loop-it-back-to-the-point-for-a-shot play, and the Sharks spent all night working that play to the tune of half-a-dozen goals on the Wings.

This was a hard lesson learned for a team that is missing Mike Green and Justin Abdelkader badly, and with a brutal schedule to come--the Wings are at Chicago, in Dallas and then home to Pittsburgh this upcoming week--the Wings need some of their injured players to come back and aid the cause.

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Evening news: On Vanek and Nielsen, injury updates, Jensen and Coreau

Of game-time Red Wings-related note:

1. Thomas Vanek and Frans Nielsen get along particularly well, and they make things happen on the ice, too. As the Wings' beat writers found on Saturday, one may lead to the other, as noted by the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...

One of the most skilled [players] Nielsen has played with is Thomas Vanek, his current linemate on the Red Wings and formerly with the Islanders.

“Just with his raw talent, he’s right up there with the best guys I’ve played with,” Nielsen said of Vanek who, like Nielsen, signed July 1 as unrestricted free agents. “With his passing ability, ability to find lanes, and he goes hard to the net and spends a lot of time in there. If you don’t have a play, you know you can throw it in there (toward the net) and he’ll be around the net, and he’s really skilled in close. He’s up there with the best I’ve played with.”

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Wings-Sharks game will air on FSD as well as FSD Plus & here’s the Game-Day Preview video

The Red Wings-Sharks game will now air on Fox Sports Detroit as well as FSD Plus:

Here's the Wings' Game-Day Preview video:

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Khan asks Blashill about Riley Sheahan’s presence in the Wings’ lineup

As the Red Wings prepare to face the San Jose Sharks, MLive's Ansar Khan asked Wings coach Jeff Blashill a hard question: why is Riley Sheahan still in the lineup given his incredible lack of production? Blashill answered Khan as follows:

"We make decisions to maybe healthy scratch somebody based on process," Blashill said. "That's defensive process, that's battle level, that's compete level, that's effort level. Just because the puck hasn't gone in for him this year, it's unfortunate, but I think his game lately has been good, to be honest with you. He's doing lots of things that help us."

Sheahan has no goals, six assists and a minus-14 rating in 38 games. The only game he missed, Dec. 29 at Ottawa, was due to an injury.

When Sheahan is playing well, like he was the final 20 games of the 2015-16 season, he's utilizing his 6-foot-3, 226-pound frame to drive to the net and create scoring opportunities and he's responsible defensively.

"I sat there for 20 minutes and had a session about getting to the net and being harder at the net and getting pucks to the net," Blashill said. "It's hard to take one of your few guys that's really a natural net presence guy out of the lineup when that's what you're looking for more of. Wouldn't make any sense.

"I think Riley has done lots of good stuff. It's well-documented that he hasn't scored. While I want him to score, I want his process to be great and I think his process has been very good lots of nights."

Khan continues, and he posted a video of Blashill answering the question:

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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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