The Malik Report
TSN's Gary Lawless spoke with Red Wings GM Ken Holland about the Wings' playoff streak:
With 11 games to go, Detroit is in a fierce wild-card race, and sit just one point ahead of the suddenly hot Philadelphia Flyers.
“I don’t know how I’ll feel on the day after the regular season if we don’t qualify,” Wings GM Ken Holland told The Watercooler. “I’m hoping we’re about to play our best hockey and that we get in. You can’t focus on the streak. You have to be thinking about the next game and how we can win it. I don’t think the streak motivates our players or wears on our players. I’m not sure how much it means to the collective group.”
Holland has been with the Red Wings throughout the streak and while it means a lot to the franchise, he says the present takes precedence over the past.
“I want our team to get in so the players we have today can experience the playoffs. And once you’re in, you never know what can happen,” said Holland.
So what’s wrong with the Wings? How did they find themselves in this spot?
“We haven’t played consistently for long enough stretches. We were outshot 23-3 in the first period in Philadelphia the other night. Then we were really good in the second and third. But you’re not going to win in this league coming from behind all the time,” said Holland. “Our power play hasn’t been very good since around Christmas — one of the worst in the league. When the other team gets a power-play goal, then you have to beat them 2-0 in 5-on-5 to win. It’s too hard.”
The Red Wings are above the playoff line by points and regulation-or-OT wins over the Philadelphia Flyers, who have 2 games in hand again, after a 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night, and winning against a team that has (now) a 10-3-and-2 home record against you ain't bad...
But the Wings will have to head into Florida on Kevin Spacey night with a real possibility of Howard starting to one-up themselves, and Detroit still needs to win 7 or 8 of its final 11 games (given the way Philly and Pittsburgh are playing) to make the playoffs.
Thursday night's game was a lot better than what the Wings displayed against the Maple Leafs and especially the Flyers, but it was definitely a "work in progress" game, too. The Wings were up by 1 or 2 goals for the vast majority of the game, the second period was ugly and the third period was a grind.
As a result, the Wings' opponent--and their press corps--were severely underwhelmed with the game, as noted by the Columbus Dispatch's Aaron Portzline:
The Red Wings faced quite the task in battling the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday evening.
Columbus owned a 10-2-and-2 record against the Wings at home; Detroit was facing an uphill climb in attempting to finish the regular season winning 8 or 9 of their final 12 games--most likely the "magic numbers" necessary to fend off the Flyers' Wild Card push--having lost 5 of their 7 March games.
The Red Wings had their hiccups, but Detroit scored the game's first goal, the Wings built upon their lead, and while their power play stank on ice as per usual, their penalty-killing was superb and Jimmy Howard was absolutely stout in the Wings' net, helping the Wings earn a 3-1 victory that was only sullied by a last-minute Columbus goal.
Two items of prospect-related note:
1. Alexander Kadeikin sat on the bench as the 13th forward as his KHL team, SKA St. Petersburg, defeated Dynamo Moscow 4-1 to advance to a Western Conference Final rematch with Sergei Fedorov's CSKA Moscow team;
2. And the Griffins posted a video of Martin Frk breaking the shaft of a goalie's stick with a wicked wrister:
From MLive's Brendan Savage:
"Well, I talked to (coach Jeff Blashill) quite a few times," Mantha said Thursday before the Red Wings' game with the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. "He told that if I kept playing the way I was it could be (staying with the Red Wings) for the rest of the season. But it's not for sure yet, so I just need to prove to them that they need to keep me and that's how I need to focus and play my game."
Mantha played well in his first NHL game, Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
He had four shots on goal in 14:45 of ice time and hit the post in the third period when the Red Wings were trying to mount a comeback after a horrendous start saw them fall into a 2-0 first-period hole.
"I thought Anthony did a good job," said Blashill, who coached Mantha last season in Grand Rapids. "My biggest thing with him is if wins physical battles and stick battles he's going to be a really good player. And I thought he won physical battles and stick battles.
"Now, this is a relentless league so you gotta come back out tonight and do it again and then again and again and again. But I thought he did a real good job against Philly."
From the Washington Post's Neil Greenberg:
Hockeytown is in peril. The Detroit Red Wings are 34-25-11 with 79 points — eight points fewer than they had through 70 games last season — and one point behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the last wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, giving them a 36.6 percent chance at extending their playoff streak past 24 seasons in a row.
Part of the problem for Detroit is slow starts. The Wings have scored the fourth-fewest goals in the first period and have the sixth-lowest first-period goal differential (minus-10).
“We can’t give away goals,” coach Jeff Blashill said after the team’s loss to the Flyers on Tuesday. “We’ve got to make teams earn goals. We had real, real bad mistakes that were preventable. We’ve got to keep pucks out of net early and, when we get scored on, we can’t let the momentum get away from us. We haven’t done a good enough job of that.”
Defensive woes shouldn’t be a surprise. After being eliminated by the Nashville Predators during the 2012 playoffs, the Red Wings had to cope with the retirement of seven-time Norris trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom. A year earlier Brian Rafalski, a gifted offensive blueliner, decided to hang up his skates. In the span of two summers the Red Wings lost two of the best defensemen the NHL has ever seen.
Of Red Wings-related note this evening:
1. Here's the Wings' Game-Day Preview video. It's superb:
2. The Free Press's George Sipple spoke with the Wings' practice goalie for this morning, Bailey Seagraves:
From the Grand Rapids Griffins:
GRIFFINS TO COLLECT WATER FOR FLINT ON APRIL 13
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins, in partnership with Michigan Office Solutions (MOS) and Pepsi, will hold a Water for Flint collection drive at their game on Wednesday, April 13, asking fans to donate cases of water for our neighbors in need on the east side of the state.
Fans can donate water in any of four ways:
• Bring one or more cases to the Pepsi station on the Fulton Street plaza in front of Van Andel Arena from 5-7 p.m. on April 13. Please refer to the water donation guidelines listed here or detailed below;
• Purchase water from the Pepsi station at a cost of $5 per case;
• Make an online donation in any multiple of $5;
• Those not attending the April 13 game can also drop off water at the MOS corporate office (2859 Walkent Drive NW / M-F 9 a.m.-5 p.m.) now through April 12.
For every case that is donated or purchased in person on April 13, Pepsi will provide a coupon redeemable for a free Pepsi fountain drink at that night’s Griffins game against the Lake Erie Monsters.
The Griffins, MOS and Pepsi are together donating 648 cases (nine pallets) of water to the effort, with Griffins players and coaches contributing 50 of those cases. With each case containing two dozen 16.9-oz. bottles, the combined efforts of these three partners alone will provide more than 2,050 gallons of water for Flint.
All water will be loaded onto an MOS truck as it is donated on April 13 then given to Food Bank of Eastern Michigan for distribution to Flint residents.
from Bill Roose of the Wings' website,
With their playoff hopes hanging in the balance, tonight’s game – in a building that hasn’t been very kind in recent years to the Wings – is extremely important if they are to reach the postseason for a 25th consecutive season.
“They’ve been crucial now for a while,” Howard said of the games. “We’ve been down a little bit with our starts as of late but we have to find a way to start on time. That’s starting here tonight (and) from here on out.”
Scoring has been an issue all season for the Wings, however, they have gone the past five games, and 11 of the last 14, without scoring in the first period.
“All you can do is go out and play great hockey,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “That’s all you can do. Do we want to get the first goal? Absolutely. Would we like to get the second goal? Absolutely. But what you need to do is from the drop of the puck for 60 straight minutes is play great hockey.”
The Wings are 14-16-9 when scoring in the first period this season. But they’re 19-9-3 when they have scored in the opening period.
“It’s tough. It’s a tough league to come back against teams,” Justin Abdelkader said. “I think you see team’s records when they’re leading after the first, even the second period, it’s really good. So you try to get the lead, or at least try to play a strong game and a strong start to the game.
“Scoring is big but not allowing teams to get up a couple of goals on you is also big.”
more on the Wings...
Via WXYZ's Brad Galli, WXYZ posted some raw footage of the Red Wings' follow-on rink construction crew installing the first roof truss today:
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.