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Prospect news: Vahatalo, Holmstrom advance in CHL; Hicketts tags helper, Griffins add weekly release

Of prospect-related note:

In the Champions Hockey League, Julius Vahatalo and TPS Turku qualified for quarterfinal action via a 4-3 win over Storhamar Hamar, and Vahatalo finished at a +2 with 2 shots;

And Axel Holmstrom had an assist in Skelleftea AIK's 5-2 win over the Eisbaren Berlin;

In the WHL, Joe Hicketts had an assist in the Victoria Royals' 3-1 win over Swift Current;

And the Grand Rapids Griffins posted their weekly release:

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Red Wings-Lightning quick take: Howard, Larkin, poise all in play as Wings defeat the Bolts

When a pair of teams hoping to grab hold of forward momentum after long losing streaks meet, only one team is going to emerge with consistency within their grasp. The Red Wings entered their game with the Tampa Bay Lightning having lost 5 of 7, and the Lightning entered the game having just snapped a 4-game winless streak.

In the end, the Red Wings took 1-0 and 2-0 leads, received a stellar goaltending performance, goalposts included, from Jimmy Howard, and when the Lightning attempted to give it to the Red Wings, well, this play exemplified Detroit's poise:

The Bolts worked Detroit over a bit, especially in the third period, and Detroit held on to a 2-1 lead instead of continuing to press offensively, but that's OK: the Wings won 3-2 and have now won 2 in a row--which is a hugely significant accomplishement given that they're battling the Bolts in the Atlantic Division. Thus far, in "head to head" match-ups, Detroit is 2-and-0 against Tampa, and the Wings earned their win through hard work, smart play and smarter checking than Tampa could deliver to Detroit.

Mostly, Jimmy Howard was really good in the 3rd, stopping 13 shots (he got help from the goalpost and 2 crossbars) and the Wings snapped a 1-1 tie when Dylan Larkin scored on what might be a controversial play (see below), and the Wings held the line when Tampa Bay did its best to attack.

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Evening news: Wings-Lightning game-day talk; on ‘split’ goaltending assignments and team momentum

Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

1. Here's the Red Wings' game-day video...

2. And Steven Stamkos speaking with the Lightning's website:

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If You Have Dylan Larkin In A Fantasy League, Trade Him

At least according to Rick Roos at Sportsnet,

It was an amazing first NHL month for Larkin; but after a three-game stretch that saw him average 19:33 of ice time per game, he’s dropped to only an average of 16:12 in his five most recent contests through the weekend. And things should go from bad to worse after the return of previous buy low Pavel Datsyuk.

The reality is only two 19-year-old rookie forwards (Anze Kopitar and Patrick Kane) posted more than 55 points since 1993-94, and Larkin won’t be the third. The good news is he plays for a high profile team and received abundant fantasy and media attention during his early run, which means trading him in a one-year league for 55 point value shouldn’t be difficult.

more advice on other players...

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The NHL On The Henrik Zetterberg Hit

from Frank Seravalli of TSN,

Regardless of the reason, the NHL did not somehow “miss” Zetterberg’s hit on Jean-Gabriel Pageau in the final minutes of Friday night’s game at Joe Louis Arena.

NHL vice-president of player safety and hockey operations Damian Echevarrieta said Tuesday the league felt Zetterberg’s elbow did not rise to the level of supplementary discipline.

“That doesn’t mean that we thought it was a clean hit,” Echevarrieta said. “We never said it was a clean hit. Not to throw the referees that night under the bus, but should it have been a penalty? Yeah, probably. Whether it’s a two-minute or a five-minute (major), I don’t know.”

In video replays, referee Gord Dwyer appeared to be looking in the direction of Zetterberg as he skated toward Pageau. There was one minute and 26 seconds remaining in a one-goal game. Zetterberg led into Pageau with his left arm extended, contact was made and then Pageau’s head snapped back.

The issue the Department of Player Safety had with the play was that the video was inconclusive. Each arena has its different quirks as far as camera positioning and areas of the ice which have less coverage than others – the Joe is no different.

more and you can watch a gif of the hit there too...

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The unlikely story of the Red Wings drafting Nicklas Lidstrom

From the Canadian Press's Stephen Whyno:

Christer Rockstrom tried to remember how it happened. The Swedish scout has seen a lot of players and watched a lot of games in the past 27 years.

One stands out. Hidden in plain sight, Nicklas Lidstrom was the find of a lifetime.

Rockstrom discovered Lidstrom back in 1988, seeing enough in the defenceman's limited ice time to convince the Detroit Red Wings to draft him. That third-round pick turned into a 20-year career with seven Norris Trophies, four Stanley Cups that will be celebrated Monday as Lidstrom goes into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

"Nicklas makes a lot of people look smart," Rockstrom said by phone from his home in Sweden. "Coaches, GMs, scouts, everybody in the organization looks smarter with Nicklas on the team. But we were not as smart. We didn't know exactly what he was going to be. But we knew enough that he was worth taking a chance on."

Fortunately for the Red Wings, no other NHL team knew what they knew. Rockstrom had friends playing on Vasteras IK in the Swedish Elite League who knew how good Lidstrom was.

The 18-year-old wasn't physical, perhaps played a little soft but was too good for juniors. His senior-level coach didn't consider him a top-six defenceman, so he sat on the bench and only got a few shifts here and there.

"That was the reason why he wasn't seen, I guess," Rockstrom said. "One reason he was flying under the radar was because he wasn't playing much and he was difficult to see."

Whyno continues his story as to how Lidstrom ended up being drafted by the Red Wings...

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Red Wings-Lightning game-day articles: Red Wings hope to sustain momentum against an ‘even’ opponent

Updated 6x at 2:37 PM: The Red Wings will make no lineup changes and will start Jimmy Howard tonight vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 PM EST on FSD/Sun Sports/97.1 FM), and MLive's Ansar Khan both listed the Wings' lines and spoke to the Wings regarding their keys to success vs. Tampa:

The only lineup change is in goal, where Jimmy Howard will start. He made 20 saves in a 3-1 win over the Lightning at Joe Louis Arena on Oct. 13.

"The biggest key is probably playing in their zone," Howard said. "Their forwards are so deadly. They got four lines that can go. Pretty much just make them play in their own end."

Tampa Bay (6-5-2), coming off a 4-3 win Sunday at Carolina, also hasn't won back-to-back games since its season-opening three-game winning streak.

"Obviously, both teams know each other, both teams play really similar," Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader said. "A lot of times there's not much that separates each team, there's not many chances either way, so we just got to be prepared to play a patient game."

Khan continues...

Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper gave his post-morning skate remarks after the Wings were done skating, and he delivered a zinger to Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji regarding Jeff Blashill's joke that Victor Hedman would be a "better player if he had a better coach":

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Red Wings-Lightning morning skate Tweets: Howard likely starter, no lineup changes

Updated 3x at 11:56 AM: The Red Wings welcome the Tampa Bay Lightning to Joe Louis Arena this evening (7:30 PM on FSD/ Sun Sports/97.1 FM), and both teams are hoping to sustain momentum generated from wins that snapped 4-game winless streaks, with Detroit having defeated Ottawa on Saturday and Tampa Bay having taken out the Hurricanes on Sunday.

The Red Wings hit the ice first at Joe Louis Arena, as DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose...

Based on morning skate it looks like Jimmy Howard will get the #RedWings starting assignment vs. @TBLightning tonight.

And MLive's Ansar Khan noted:

Wings on ice for morning skate. Howard in net usually occupied by the starter.

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‘Three Things’: Praise for Henrik Zetterberg; Daniel Cleary discusses life as a Griffin

Of Red Wings-related note this morning:

1. NHL.com's Paul Harris penned an article discussing the fact that Henrik Zetterberg's next goal will be his 300th:

"When I came here as an assistant, I had the opportunity to see him day to day, to see [Pavel Datsyuk] day-to-day, to see [Lidstrom] day-to-day," coach Jeff Blashill told the Red Wings website. "It was an eye-opener when I came here as an assistant. Well, not an eye-opener, I shouldn't say that. What it was was a reaffirmation of why some guys are great. They're great because of the approach that they put in every single day. That's why he is what he is. That's why he's one of the best players in the world, has been for a long time and he continues to be because of the approach that he has every single day."

...

"He's really strong on the puck. I mean, I don't think there's anybody in the NHL as strong as him," Red Wings left wing Tomas Tatar said. "I would like to play a similar game that [Zetterberg] does, be strong on the puck and make plays. He's a great example and I love to have him in the locker room."

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The overnight report Red Wings-Lightning set-up

Neither the Red Wings nor the Tampa Bay Lightning have had particularly good times since the Wings' 3-1 win over Tampa Bay way back on October 12th. Tonight, the teams tangle for the final time in Detroit this season (7:30 PM EST on FSD/Sun Sports/97.1 FM) and the last time until February.

Tampa Bay may sit atop the Wings and in second place in the Atlantic Division standings, but they do so with a 6-5-and-2 record, and win number 6, a 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday, snapped a 4-game losing streak. As you know by now, the Red Wings' 5-3 win over Ottawa on Saturday snapped a streak in which the Wings lost 5 of 6 games.

In Tampa Bay's case, Sunday's win came in the back half of a back-to-back set of games, and the Tampa Tribune's Erik Erlendsson reports that the Lightning changed up their lines, breaking up the "Triplets Line" to shake up the team's offense:

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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.

 

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