The Malik Report
Via RedWingsFeed, ESPN's Craig Custance examines the differences between Mike Babcock's systems of play and Jeff Blashill's systems--as well as the new coach's approach to fostering relationships with his players:
An NHL scout who has seen the Red Wings on multiple occasions under Blashill has only seen changes in recent games, where defensemen have been more aggressive in attempts to maintain possession in the offensive zone.
“They’re activating their D more the last couple games,” he said.
That observation checked out with Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith.
“It’s different than Babs’ style,” Smith said. “It’s that new style, with a little bit more skating, more activation on the D side. It’s been a work in progress and it’s continued to get better. ... The first thing is familiarity and getting used to the system, we all like it. We just have to get better with it.”
Along the way, the Red Wings have looked like a team in transition at times, caught in between two systems. It’s not just the defense activating, it’s a team that is evolving its philosophy through the neutral zone. There’s an effort to get the puck through the neutral zone with more speed, to be more of a north/south team and cut down on some of the elaborate routes to get there.
Prashanth Iyer at the Red Wings blog Winging it in Motown also did a fascinating, exhaustive, examination of the defensive zone breakouts under Blashill.
Custance continues in the Insider-only entry...
In the past, the Detroit Red Wings found long-term success in partial thanks to a scouting department that unearthed gems like Sergei Fedorov, Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk past the draft’s first round. That trend has continued in recent years. Tomas Tatar, a second-round pick in 2009, burst onto the scene in 2014-15 with a 29-goal season while Gustav Nyquist, a fourth-round pick in 2008, posted consecutive seasons of 28 and 27 goals.
It has been this ability to find new and fresh talent that has kept the Red Wings’ playoff streak alive and helped them to stave off the ugly rebuilding process that many franchises have gone through. The 2015-16 season should see a few new faces make contributions, though it may still be a year or two before the Red Wings see some of their bigger prospects become full-time players.
Left wing has a quality mix of size and talent across the board as well as a high-end prospect that could serve the Red Wings top-six well for years. Evgeny Svechnikov is the big name of the group, a 6’2 power forward with the hands to become a serious goal-scoring threat in the NHL. He had a standout season with Cape Breton in 2014-15, his first in North America. Svechnikov is the kind of big, physical body that teams across the league clamor for, and the Red Wings hope to make him a key contributor for years to come.
Keeping with the power forward theme, the Red Wings have a quartet of prospects that all fit that mold in one way or another. Andreas Athanasiou has the highest upside, a scoring machine in junior who has shown that he can continue to light the lamp at the professional level. He plays with enough edge that he should be able to at least get a long look in Detroit, if not become an effective third-line winger with elite speed.
Updated 3x at 11:55 AM: Green close, no starter named until Friday, Quincey may have surgery.
The Red Wings got back to work after a day off on Wednesday, practicing at the Taylor Sportsplex this morning, as the Free Press's George Sipple noted:
#Wings practice at Taylor Sportsplex http://vine.co/v/eL1EETVO9t1
MLive's Ansar Khan also reported in...
Same lines for #redwings at practice:
Datsyuk working in on top line. Jurco working in with bottom six. Richards (back) not skating.
Defense the same:
Green alternating with Marchenko.
Quincey (ankle) not skating.
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose reported in as well...
"We're a 1-5 team and we don't compete (in Toronto)," [Griffins coach Todd] Nelson said as a statement, not a question. "I think, I'm hoping, that's rock bottom. We have to get ourselves out of this. We've done some soul searching and the guys have responded well this week."
Said veteran defenseman Nathan Paetsch: "We just have to get back to basics, play a little simpler and a little harder and we'll have success. I think we've really taken the right approach this week and you'll see something Friday."
To this point of the season, however, the effort hasn't been enough to win, Paetsch said.
"I don't think we've worked hard enough in games and I don't think we've executed well enough," he said. "Sometimes you are thinking too hard rather than playing hard. Then you get a few losses ... and the schedule has been such where you wait a week, wait another week. It's dwelling on the losses."
From ESPN's Joe McDonald:
"He's one of the best I ever had," said Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman. "He was a great player. Sergei could do it all. He was one of the players you would want on the ice in the last minute."
Bowman compared Fedorov's ability to that of Hall of Famers Dit Clapper and Red Kelly."When he first came up, he was noted for unusually strong defensive play for a European player," Bowman said. "He didn't show the offense right away. He was such a great skater. He was an amazing player. He had a heck of a shot, too. He was a wonderful player to have on a team. He could do it all."
The Red Wings' defensive core was riddled with injuries one season, so Bowman decided to put Fedorov back on defense."He was the best defenseman in the league for a six-week period," Bowman said.
Continued, with comments from Wayne Gretzky and Chris Chelios...
According to the Free Press's Malowe Alter and MLive's Brendan Savage, the odds-makers still view Dylan Larkin as a Calder Trophy long shot. The Free Press's Helene St. James duly notes that Larkin is slowly but surely learning the NHL game as he goes...
The Detroit Red Wings took Wednesday off because they don't play until Friday at Toronto. A two-game winning streak has been spun for the first time since opening week, with Larkin netting the game-winning goal in each game. He has four goals and five assists in 12 games, and a best-among-rookies plus-10 rating.
"He has done a very good job. That is undeniable," coach Jeff Blashill said after Tuesday night's 2-1 victory over Atlantic Division rival Tampa Bay. "His impact on games has been very good. Does he have to get better at stuff? Absolutely. Our job as coaches is to continue to hold him accountable as he is having success, just like we hold everybody else accountable, and we will do that."
One reason Blashill moved Larkin from center back to wing was Larkin's struggles on face-offs. Blashill also said Larkin needs to get better at management of games and realizing when to forego a potential scoring chance if there is a greater chance of a giving up a scoring chance against.
The bottom line is, mistakes or weaknesses are forgiven as the points pile up. At 19, Larkin is tied for second on the team in goals and scoring. His most recent goal was a short wrist shot goaltender Ben Bishop undoubtedly rued, but one that didn't surprise teammate Jimmy Howard.
Luke Fox of Sportsnet ranked the NHL goaltending today, he has the Wings at #16...
The NHL's murkiest goalie time-share situation. Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek are still battling for the crease, posting comparable (and decent!) numbers in six starts apiece.
from Brendan Savage of Mlive,
MLive: When did you realize how fast you were? As a kid or when did that kind of come to life?
Helm: I knew I was pretty quick growing up as a kid. I didn't know how much that would transfer as I got older. Then when I got to junior, I started realizing that some of these guys I was playing with were drafted and would be playing in the NHL and that I was as fast or faster than them and that's when it hit me that this would be a big part of my hockey game. I wanted to embrace it and keep it up and get faster if I could.
MLive: Were you a fast runner as a kid or are you a fast runner now or is it just something on the ice?
Helm: I'm pretty quick. I did a little bit of track in junior high and high school. Nothing competitive but in a small town or city or whatever you want to call it I was one of the quicker kids.
From MLive's Ansar Khan:
he Detroit Red Wings and Justin Abdelkader have made significant progress in contract talks.
The club and Abdelkader are putting "the finishing touches" on a long-term deal that might be completed within the next couple of weeks, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told M-Live.
The contract is expected to be longer than four years. It is unclear how much it will be worth but is likely to average more than $4 million per season.
Getting the big, gritty forward with a scoring touch signed before the off-season was a top priority for the Red Wings. Abdelkader, 28, could become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, but the Muskegon native and Michigan State product wants to remain a Red Wing for many more years.
Evening news: Pondering Larkin’s Calder candidacy and discussing the Wings’ split goaltending duties
The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan posits an intriguing theory...
Suddenly, it’s fair to wonder. Dylan Larkin is a strong candidate to win the Calder Trophy (rookie of the year). A fine start and Tuesday’s injury that knocked No. 1 pick Connor McDavid (broken clavicle) out for two to three months opens the door for Larkin.
Larkin, who added another early-season highlight Tuesday with his second consecutive winning goal, has nine points (four goals) in 12 games and ranks second in the NHL with a plus-10 rating.
Still, Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill knows there’s plenty to work on.
“He’s done a very good job, that’s undeniable,” Blashill said. “Does he have to get better at stuff? Absolutely. Was there lots of stuff over the first two periods (Tuesday) I thought he has to continue to improve at? One hundred percent. Our job as coaches is to make sure we continue to hold him accountable as he is having success just like we hold anybody else accountable, and we will do that. He’ll continue to improve because he wants to improve.”
And the Windsor Star's Bob Duff discussed the Red Wings' split goaltending situation:
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