The Malik Report
Wow. From a hockey fan perspective, never mind a Red Wings fan's perspective, Sunday's Slovakia-Russia game was absolutely fascinating and absolutely enthralling.
Russia ended up winning 1-0 in a shootout (Tomas Tatar did not score on his attempt but he sure made a gorgeous move), but Slovak goalie Jan Laco and company were just astonishingly good defensively, and a team that had lost to both the U.S. and Slovenia made the unstoppable Russians look human.
Pavel Datsyuk looks mostly like himself save attempting to pivot when starting from a stop, and he deked and dangled and tried to key offense despite what was a slightly-less-than-Datsyukian 19:47 of 65-minute ice time, going 16-and-9 on faceoffs; Tomas Tatar made a Datsyukian steal off of Datsyuk very late in regulation, and he was quite solid offensively and superb defensively, taking a shot in 16:28 of ice time on the top line with Hossa and Handzus; Tomas Jurco was much less noticeable but still played a solid 14:18 and occasionally made a slick move.
Here's Tatar's shootout attempt from Pete Blackburn on Twitter:
Amongst this morning's relatively brief slate of Red Wings-related stories:
Ahead of today's Slovakia-Russia game (7:30 AM EST, USA Network; the Americans are battling Slovenia on NBCSN), I've been searching for the best way to explain the reasons that we have yet to witness the veil lifted from Pavel Datsyuk's status as an incredibly private person, even after HBO's 24/7 cameras followed the team for a full month.
Here's my explanation:
Scoring 100 points in the QMJHL is most certainly not equivalent to scoring 100 points in the NHL today, but the QMJHL isn't quite the wild and woolly place where players could sneeze and crack the centrury mark. Today's "Q" reminds me of the NHL in the mid-90's, right before the New Jersey Devils' trap clogged up offenses--when it was normal to see the league's best half-dozen players score 100, 110 or 120 points, but it was still quite special.
As such, Anthony Mantha's status as having registered a goal and an assist in his Val-d'Or Foreurs' 5-2 win over Shawinigan, giving Mantha 49 goals, 51 assists and 100 points registered over the course of 46 games played, isn't world-beating, but it's damn impressive, especially given that Mantha missed the better part of a month of the QMJHL's 68-game season playing at the World Junior Championships.
Amongst oodles of Tweets stating that most of the Olympic contenders are going with their "alternate" goalies today--Team Canada's starting Carey Price and scratching Martin St. Louis when they battle Finland at 12 PM on USA Network, Team USA's starting Ryan Miller against Slovenia at 7:30 AM (with Jimmy Howard actually backing Miller up) on NBCSN, and Russia's starting Semyon Varlamov against Slovakia at 7:30 AM on USA Network--I woke up at an unholy hour to find this bit of Red Wings-related news from the Free Press's Helene St. James:
Again, cortisone is banned by World Anti-Doping Agency standards (which the IIHF and Olympics adhere to) as it is technically a steroidal medication, and it's not an exaggeration to suggest that Zetterberg was probably living off of cortisone and other anti-inflammatory medications like Naproxen.
Today is the last day of Olympic preliminary round play. The teams get Monday off and will play qualifying and quarterfinal games on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively; the semifinals take place on Friday the 21st, the Bronze Medal game will take place on Saturday the 22nd, and the Gold Medal game will take place on Sunday the 23rd. The NHL schedule resumes on February 25th.
Update: St. James penned an article about the situation:
It wasn't pretty, but the Henrik Zetterberg-less (and Johan Franzen-less and Henrik Sedin-less) Swedish Olympic team managed to out-work Latvia, if only by a slim margin, and take a 5-3 decision in Sweden's last preliminary round game. Sweden scored 3 of its 4 goals on the power play.
Daniel Alfredsson had a goal and an assist for Sweden, finishing at a -1 with 1 shot in 18:24 of ice time; Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson were solid in front of Henrik Lundqvist, with the Swedish captain (Kronwall) finishing at -1 in 21:26 of ice time and "Jonte" finishing at -1 in 16:14 of ice time; Gustav Nyquist was dressed as the 13th forward, regrettably, so he only played 5:27, but Jonathan's brother Jimmie had a spirited effort, scoring a goal, instigating physical play and going 4-and-2 on faceoffs in 11:17 of ice time.
The Swedes really played down to the perceived level of the Lativans--you know, like the Wings "play down" when they play the Panthers, for example--and as such, they nearly got their butts handed to them, but they won and kept their goal differential at an acceptable number, so the unbeaten Swedes (3-and-0) should end up winning Group C and earning a quarterfinal bye.
MLive's Brendan Savage took note of Alfredsson's exploits...
Your Google-translated Swedish "Aww" of the day, via RedWingsFeed: Henrik Zetterberg told Expressen's Henrik Sjoberg that he still believes the Tre Kronor will be fine without him, and Pavel Datsyuk had to say the following to Sjoberg about his Red Wings teammate and friend:
Pavel Datsyuk tried calling Henrik Zetterberg after back injury that stops the Swedish captain in the Olympics.
"I got no answer, but he might have changed the phone when he's over here now," says the Russian superstar.
For SportExpressen.se he talks about the emotions following the news about Zetterberg.
"I feel sorry for him, he must be healthy but not just for the season but for his future life," says Datsyuk.
ESPN's Pierre LeBrun's Team Canada off-day notebook has a pair of Red Wings-related items of note, including this from Red Wings coach Mike Babcock regarding Henrik Zetterberg...
"I spoke or texted with Z yesterday," said Babcock. "You know obviously he's disappointed. I mean what an opportunity to be captain at the Olympic Games and represent your country. As good a player as he is, he's a better man and a better leader. So they're going to miss him.
"In saying that, Z has had back troubles over a number of years, and he manages it very, very well. At this point, it became where he couldn't manage it. He's intelligent about that, he's got a long career in front of him. So he'll get back [to Detroit], get looked after and get back to playing hockey -- what he loves to do as fast as he can."
And this from Team Canada GM and former Wing Steve Yzerman regarding the fact that he played on a severely-damaged knee at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002, prior to the Wings' Cup run and an osteotomy that may have given him another two or three years but also robbed him of the ability to run (seriously):
Updated 6x at 3:11 PM: You may not have liked the result of today's USA-Russia game--3-2 to the Americans via an insane shootout decision--but if you're a Red Wings fan, you had to be enthused by the remarkable play of Russian captain Pavel Datsyuk.
Pavel looks ot have regained
100% the majority of his mobility, his balance, strength and poise, and in perhaps the highest-stakes preliminary round game of recent Olympic memory, he dazzled en route to 2 goals and an absolutely dominant performance against the Americans. Datsyuk keyed the power play, was strong on the penalty-kill, won one-on-one battles for the puck, was incredibly strong on his stick, made fantastic plays and scored two huge goals--though the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa reports that he wasn't thrilled with 'em:
Updated 2x at 11:04 AM: As I posted on KK's main site, Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco may have been the only Slovak players to show up in Slovenia's huge 3-1 upset of the Slovaks this morning. Jurco scored the shutout-spoiling goal and led Slovakia with 5 shots in 14:04 played; Tatar played on the power play and penalty-kill, and while he took an ill-advised penalty, he also had 3 shots and finished at -1 in 14:43 of ice time.
The Free Press's Helene St. James spoke with the pair after the shocking loss, and they were understandably upset after dropping the game:
"I'm really disappointed," Tatar said. "We are going to get way harder enemy after preliminary round."
The Slovaks will finish among the bottom eight of the 12 teams at the Olympics, and will have to play for the chance to advance into the quarterfinals. Slovakia wasn't expected to grab one of the four byes into the quarterfinals, but to end up as one of the lowest seeds after not even being able to beat Slovenia was upsetting. Team captain Zdeno Chara didn't want to speak long to reporters, merely describing the game as "disappointing."
I'm writing this as the Slovaks and Slovenians tangle on NBCSN in the 3 AM EST-"Matinee Game" (Tomas Jurco and Tomas Tatar should do quite well; Jimmy Howard's Americans and Pavel Datsyuk's Russians battle at 7:30 EST on the CBC and NBCSN; Sergei Fedorov had an intriguing take on the toughness of Russian hockey fans in an interview with the New York Times; and Niklas Kronwall's Swedes will battle Latvia at 12 PM on USA Network)--and add a, "Hmm" here...
While I am enjoying the non-Red Wings-injury-related part of the Olympics, I can sure as hell tell you that this entry's going to be a little scatterbrained given that I'm a night owl who's spent the last three days flipping my sleep schedule upside down, and man, I don't know how you uber-morning people do this.
This is a "Something old, something new, something borrowed, etc. etc." entry. We've talked quite a bit about Henrik Zetterberg's status and Niklas Kronwall's new-found status as Sweden's captain, Kronwall's comment to IIHF.com's Andy Potts regarding Zetterberg's day-to-day status in Detroit...Is still scary:
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.