The Malik Report
Prospect news: Vahatalo takes a regular role with TPS Turku; Hicketts talked up at Canada’s WJC camp
Of prospect-related note:
In the Finnish Liiga, Julius Vahatalo went 50% on faceoffs in 15:02 of ice time as TPS Turku defeated "Sport" 4-2;
In the SHL, Axel Holmstrom took 2 shots, finished at +1, won 66% of his faceoffs and played 12:10 in Skelleftea AIK's 2-0 win over Linkopings HC;
Christoffer Ehn sat on the bench as the 13th forward in the Frolunda Indians' 5-0 win over Vaxjo;
In the USHL, Chase Pearson didn't play in the Youngstown Phantoms' 5-4 OT loss to Chicago;
Pat Holway took 3 shots in the Dubuque Fighting Saints' 3-2 OT win over the Madison Capitols;
The Detroit Red Wings had a prime opportunity to take a bite out of the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. The Habs were without Carey Price, mired in a 3-game losing streak and coming to Detroit on the back half of a back-to-back slate, having played the grinding Bruins on Wednesday...
But the Red Wings also possessed a 7-game losing streak against the Canadiens, and as the Wings kicked off a back-to-back slate of their own, tonight's game felt like walking into a trap.
Detroit was far from perfect, blowing a 2-1 lead and going 1-for-6 on the power play, but Detroit played hard when it counted, played fast when it counted, received some spectacular goaltending, some clutch defense when the Canadiens were given breakaway after breakaway in the 2nd period, and Detroit's heart-and-soul players, Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader, delivered clutch goals en route to a 3-2 win over Montreal.
Detroit has now earned a point in 12 games (8-0-and-4), Detroit is now 4 points behind Montreal with a game in hand, Detroit snapped a 7-game winless streak vs. Montreal, and despite having played very, very thoroughly mediocrely for so much of Thursday night's game, Detroit goes into New Jersey for "Star Wars Night" prepared to play the spoiler.
Of Red Wings-related note this evening:
1. Here's the Red Wings' game-day preview video:
2. Fox 2 also posted a game-day video in which Jeff Blashill discusses the match-up against Montreal:
DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji spoke with both Tomas Jurco and coach Jeff Blashill regarding Jurco's place on the team, and Blashill issued a particularly intriguing statement regarding his plans for the 22-year-old forward:
"I think patience for everybody involved, patience for us, patience for him, I think him and I talk lots about the mental toughness that is needed to overcome adversity and the adversity of not playing and getting the opportunities he wants," Blashill said. "He was really young when he came to play for me. A lot of his peers had played that year of junior but because of his age he had to leave junior, so we’re very aware of that. We want to have patience with him. We think there’d a lot to his package. With that said he also has to, every time he gets a chance, grab the spot and grab those opportunities and he did that the other right by scoring."
Jurco was rewarded for going to the net, which remains the plan.
"That’s what they want from me, so like I said, that’s what I’m trying to do it a little more than I used to and I’m happy it worked last game," Jurco said.
Le Journal de Montreal's Jean-Francois Chaumont wrote a superb French-language article about Dylan Larkin's poise, and here's a rough translation thereof:
Two members of the Red Wings organization gave extended interviews on Thursday afternoon.
First, Red Wings assistant coach Chris Chelios spoke with TSN 690's Chris Nilan about the Red Wings-Canadiens match-up, the Wings' transition away from Mike Babcock, Dylan Larkin's learning curve and Chelios's role as an assistant coach:
Updated 8x at 3:19 PM: The Red Wings' morning skate ahead of tonight's game against Montreal (7:30 PM on FSD/CITY/RDS/97.1 FM) revealed very little in the way of personnel surprises. Petr Mrazek will start opposite Dustin Tokarski and the Wings will make no lineup changes.
Our friends from Montreal held a very, very optional morning sate and Canadiens announcer John Bartlett summarizes its substance:
In plain old Google-translated French, La Presse's Richard Labbe confirms that the Canadiens neither held a full morning skate nor spoke with the media...
Via RedWingsFeed, ESPN's Craig Custance penned an Insider-only entry discussing "The Real Hockeytown," and according to Custance, if NHL factors are taken into consideration, Boston and Chicago rank ahead of Detroit--which is baffling given the youth participation and hockey programs that call Metro Detroit and Michigan home:
Updated 6x at 12:04 PM: The Detroit Red Wings hope to snap a 7-game winless streak against the Montreal Canadiens this evening (7:30 PM EST on FSD/CITY/RDS/97.1 FM) while pushing their own points streak to 12 games.
The Wings hit the ice at Joe Louis Arena for the morning skate just before 10:30 AM, per MLive's Ansar Khan...
#RedWings on ice for morning skate. Mrazek in starter's net.
#RedWings lines unchanged:
Defense pairs the same:
Fox 2 sports...
Of Grand Rapids Griffins-related note:
1. Per TSN's Bardown blog, the Griffins chose their fan-designed alternate jersey:
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.