The Malik Report
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
Here are five things to watch this week:
Injuries, especially on defense, raise concern
The Red Wings expect to learn more in the next day or two about the status of a trio of players injured during their Western Canada trip – defensemen Mike Green (apparent shoulder injury) and Kyle Quincey (concussion protocol) and center Brad Richards (back).
Rookie Dylan Larkin has performed splendidly on a line with Zetterberg and Abdelkader and has looked good the past two games, in Richards' absence, centering a line with Tomas Tatar and Teemu Pulkkinen.
If Green and Quincey remain out, Alexey Marchenko will continue gaining NHL experience.
Improving shots differential
They've played only eight games, so maybe it's too soon to be alarmed by their low shot totals (24.1 per game, last in the NHL) and bad shots differential (minus-9, worst in the league).
But it is disconcerting for a team that has prided itself on puck possession and it's not conducive to long-term success.
They have spent too much time chasing the puck, too much time in their own zone, where the problem starts due to their difficulty breaking out cleanly and with speed. Forwards probably need to do a better job of being in position to receive passes and get through the neutral zone with speed.
Once they're in the offensive zone, they've had too many one-and-dones, where they take a shot (which is sometimes blocked or fired wide) and they're unable to retrieve the puck and the play is going back the other way.
Of prospect-related note this evening:
In the Swedish J20 SuperElit league, Joren Van Pottelberghe stopped 22 of 24 shots as Linkopings HC defeated Malmo 3-2;
In the QMJHL, Adam Marsh didn't register a point on 3 shots as his Saint John Sea Dogs dropped a 4-3 OT decision to Moncton;
In the WHL, Dominic Turgeon scored 2 goals and added an assist in the Portland Winterhawks' 5-0 win over Brandon. Turgeon was named the game's second star;
And in the BCHL, Chase Perry sat out the Wenatchee Wild's 8-0 win over Surrey.
Of Red Wings-related note this evening:
MLive's Ansar Khan offers the reason why I'm not worried about the Red Wings despite the team's 4-3-and-1 record--the way that this team has responded to its own hiccups adjusting to Jeff Blashill's coaching/systems, players in different roles and the usual litany of injuries. The coach put things best after Detroit's 3-2 OT win over Vancouver:
"I think the big part of becoming a real good team is growing as a hockey team," Blashill said. "I think you learn from lots of things. You certainly better learn from adversity. We talked about two things being real keys to success and that's the inner drive and perseverance, showing up to work every day and persevering through tough times. We've had a little bit of both, a tough stretch here, and I thought we showed great perseverance in the third and found a way to win."
Now they must carry over their third-period effort into Tuesday's game against Carolina at Joe Louis Arena, when Jimmy Howard starts in net. Oddly, it will be their third meeting against the Hurricanes in nine games. The teams split, but Carolina played much better overall, with a cumulative 83-39 edge in shots on goal.
"Confidence is a big thing and I think winning can breed confidence," Blashill said. "How big it was, we'll help determine that by how we play on Tuesday. It's a relentless nature in sports where you've got to continue to be at your very best. We're going to have to follow this up with a great performance on Tuesday and then continue from there. But we were staring at one point out of six going into the third period (Saturday) and we were able to get three on the trip. It's not what we wanted, but it's certainly better than one."
The Globe and Mail's James Mirtle offers the reasons why I'm worried about the Wings, despite their responses to adversity, after 8 games, offering this take on an "honorable mention" added to "six NHL teams that could be doomed by slow starts to the 2015-16 season":
Thanks to awood40...
Updated at 2:07 PM: The Red Wings are returning to Metro Detroit today...
So news items are at a premium. The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan took note of some of the comments delivered toward Henrik Zetterberg after last night's 3-2 OT win over Vancouver...
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
The way they played for much of the past 4-5 games was unlike the Red Wings.
Players said those sentiments were expressed in what apparently was a heated dressing room during the second intermission in their final stop of a three-game Western Canada trip.
The fire was lit. The Red Wings were a much better team in the third period, scoring twice to tie the game, and then defeating the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 on Gustav Nyquist's goal at 3:50 of overtime.
The Red Wings (4-3-1), who were outskated, outplayed and outshot badly for 40 minutes, snapped a four-game winless streak and gained three of a possible six points on the trip.
"Had a talk in here about losing four in a row," Nyquist said. "We got to go out there and win some battles, that was the biggest thing. We skated hard, we out-battled them and won more pucks and wanted it more.
"Losing four in a row shouldn't happen for this team. It's not acceptable. How we played in the last four games, it's not how we play as a team. I think in the second (intermission) we really addressed that and guys really showed up in the third. This time it worked. Most nights it probably won't work to just play real hard in one period, we got to start on time. But this will give us energy for sure coming back home."
So Gustav Nyquist did this via a Petr Mrazek assist, and the Red Wings' 3-2 OT win over the Vancouver Canucks means 4-game losing streak over, all is well, right?
It's obviously not that simple, but there's a point where the process doesn't precede the product, and while the Red Wings played 23:50 of the 63:50 of play, I don't really believe there's a need to over-emphasize the obvious in suggesting that the Wings weren't the better team for two periods of their victory.
That part was obvious to everyone who watched the first two periods of the game. What happened from minutes 40:01 to Nyquist's goal are the ones that matter to both the Red Wings and the Canucks, and Vancouver's players spent some time discussing how much their effort over the first two periods meant to them after the game (hint: not a lot of anything).
Of prospect-related note:
In the ECHL, Jake Paterson stopped 38 of 39 shots and Marek Tvrdon scored a goal in the Toledo Walleye's 2-1 win over the Evansville IceMen on Saturday evening. The Walleye's website provides a recap:
When you're coming into the third game of a Western Canadian road swing hoping to salvage the trip with your first win, and you're entering the game minus Mike Green, Kyle Quincey and Brad Richards, all is not well, but the Wings just needed a win in Vancouver to at least take half of the points available to them on this trip.
Detroit got it done, despite a lackluster first 40 minutes of play, rallying from a 2-0 deficit to tie the Canucks 2-2 mostly on the strength of Petr Mrazek's play as much as the goals from Teemu Pulkkinen and Tomas Tatar, and so it was fitting that Petr Mrazek had the primary assist on Gustav Nyquist's OT game-winner as Detroit out-competed and out-hustled the Canucks to win 3-2 in OT.
This win could be HUGE given the magnitude of the turnaround and the juncture of the season.
Of Red Wings-related note this evening:
1. Here's the Red Wings' game-day preview video:
2. I'm going to come out and call the Hockey News's Jared Clinton's suggestion that the Red Wings will have a hard time making the playoffs as of game 7 what it is--click bait (via RedWingsFeed), especially given that it's based entirely upon shot differential:
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.