The Malik Report
The Red Wings' prospects pause today, and have been given the day off by their coach as no matter how the prospect tournament unfolds, the team will be playing four games in 5 nights, and two days after the tournament ends (two days filled with physicals, team mugshots and charitable events), training camp begins.
[So if you're going to the HockeyFest at Joe Louis Arena, you're not going to be missing anything; I'll be missing what you'll see today instead]
Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill's tried to temper expectations and emphasize the process as the Wings have navigated their way through two rocky games, coming out on top of a bizarre but thrilling 6-5 OT win over St. Louis on Friday, and then strangely falling apart against the Blue Jackets, dropping a 5-3 decision on Saturday.
There's a reason I don't panic when I read these Tweets (and I'd like to try to speak to Babcock, but protocol is protocol):
Here's what I know, and here's what reassures me: The Red Wings' coach and the Red Wings' general manager have been among a crowded group of pro scouts, amateur scouts, developmental coaches and NHL assistants observing the Wings prospects' pair of games from Centre Ice Arena's one and only suite.
I don't usually post a placeholder entry, but the Red Wings' prospects blew another 2-goal lead on Saturday night, and it appears to have cost them the defense of the team's one and only tournament title.
The Wings dropped a 5-3 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets, and despite having played a far superior game to last night's 6-5 OT win over St. Louis, Oskar Dansk's spectacular goaltending for Columbus, very poor special teams play and three 3rd period goals against--registered in just over six minutes--means that the Blue Jackets have two regulation wins and 6 points, while the Wings' OT win and 2 points combined with Minnesota's 3-2 win over St. Louis this evening = the Howe Division will go to someone else this year.
ColumbusBlueJackets.com's Rob Mixer penned a game preview from the Blue Jackets' perspective:
Updated with game-day MSM stuff at 3:35 PM: Okay, again, the Red Wings' prospects are playing the Columbus Blue Jackets at the prospect tournament tonight at 7:30 PM, and the Wings hope to build upon last night's win over St. Louis before taking Sunday off to rest and recharge. Given that Columbus is coming off of a 6-4 win over Minnesota and that the Wings' OT win was only worth 2 points to Columbus' 3, Detroit needs to defeat Columbus to grab a commanding lead in the Howe Division standings.
Today's practice was short and sweet, and after practice, both teams posted their lines for tonight's affair:
Updated at 2:02 PM: The Red Wings' prospects took part in an incredibly intense but incredibly short practice at Centre Ice Arena today, preparing for tonight's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets (7:30 PM).
Based upon Rob Mixer's Tweets, Sonny Milano won't play for Columbus, but the Blue Jackets' lines, d-pairs and goaltender's assignments are pretty much set; for Detroit, Jake Paterson starts, and from Jeff Blashill's comments, Hayden Hodgson and Darby Llewellyn will play on Dominic Turgeon's wings, Ty Stanton will replace Mitch Wheaton alongside Marc McNulty, and Jake Paterson will start, but the lines the Wings employed in last night's win over St. Louis will otherwise remain the same;
And it's worth noting that the Wings won't be practicing on Sunday (the better for Wings fans in Southeastern Michigan to enjoy HockeyFest at the Joe without worrying about missing anything?)--the only day in which the prospect tournament holds no games--so that the players may be better-prepared for Monday and Tuesday's games and the main camp. Given that the Wings' prospects will have played 4 games in 5 nights as of Monday evening, energy management is absolutely essential.
Updated 2x at 11:23 AM: The Red Wings' prospects earned their "result" in last night's 6-5 OT win over the St. Louis Blues, and as this tournament'sboth incredibly compact and incredibly results-oriented, I will readily admit that my suggestions that Anthony Mantha and Ryan Sproul's games weren't necessarily up to snuff despite statistical dominance...
Sometimes that's short-tournament hockey for you. Teams' "best players" get the job done on the scoresheet even if their games weren't remarkably aesthetically-pleasing, and given that the Wings' players were on different chapters of the same book as opposed to "not on the same page" last night, the fact that they'll have today's practice and tonight's game against
Minnesota Columbus (7:30 PM start at Centre Ice Arena) to iron out the kinks with a 1-and-0 record and a chance to all but eliminate Minnesota from the Howe Division (the Wings earned only 2 points for an OT win, too, so they need to close the gap on Columbus), well, that's all you can ask for.
This morning, the Traverse City Record-Eagle's Dennis Chase focuses on the expectations Mantha and Sproul face, and as Griffins coach Jef Blashill tells Chase, #39 and #48 can take advantage of a huge opportunity to set themselves up for front-line roles in GR and early call-ups to Detroit:
The Red Wings' prospects began the defense of their one and only tournament title against the St. Louis Blues on Friday evening, attempting to apply the lessons learned from a very short Thursday practice and forty-five minutes' worth of morning skate systems-learning and line-meshing.
This year's team is very, very different and much younger than last year's roster, try-outs included. Ryan Sproul, Zach Nastasiuk and Martin Frk wore the "A's" on Friday, though it's evident that Sproul's more or less the acting captain, and the Wings' iced the following lineup against a very big, very heavy and very aggressive Blues team.
I've already told you that the Wings won a wild and woolly one, defeating St. Louis 6-5 in OT, (the tournament continues on Saturday as the Wings skate at 11:30 AM and rhen battle the Blue Jackets at 7:30 PM), and DetroitRedWings.com's Dan Mannes captured the Wings' skate onto the ice...
Per Josh Rimer:
The Red Wings' prospects opened their defense of their one and only tournament title with a win--and a win in one of the strangest games I've ever seen any Wings team play.
The Wings defeated St. Louis 6-5 in overtime, with Joe Hicketts scoring at the 5:10 mark of an AHL-style 7-minute OT, which was preceded by a dry scrape, included "long changes," and had no whistles...
And Hicketts' would-be unassisted goal (actually set up by Martin Frk and Tomas Nosek) allowed the Wings to prevail despite the fact that the team surrendered a 3-1 lead (Anthony Mantha scored 2 of the Wings' 3 early goals) as the Blues scored 3 times in 5:09 of 2nd period action...
The Wings then tied things up in the 3rd period, gave up a crappy 5-4 go-ahead goal with 4:35 left in the game, they had to kill off a dreadful penalty to Mattias Backman called with only 3:34 left in the game, and yet the Wings managed to tie things up as Tyler Bertuzzi found Ryan Sproul skating onto the ice as Jared Coreau exited it with 51 seconds remaining...
And OT yielded this:
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.