The Malik Report
Updated 7x at 2:31 PM: There were no surprises at the Red WIngs or Lightning's morning skates ahead of tonight's Game 1 (7 PM EDT on FSD/FS Florida/NBCSN/CBC/TVA Sports/97.1 FM).
It appears that Tyler Johnson will play for the Bolts, as the Tampa Bay Times' Joe Smith noted...
The Detroit Red Wings face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning this evening (7 PM EDT on FSD/FS Florida/NBCSN/CBC/TVA Sports/97.1 FM) for Game 1 of the teams' first-round series.
The Lightning hit the ice first at Amalie Arena, or some of them did, per the Tampa Bay Times' Joe Smith...
Sounds like an optional skate for #tblightning
Tyler Johnson on ice for #TBLightning optional skate. Will be game time decision
Fourteen players on ice for skate. Vasilevskiy the only goalie. #TBLightning
NHL.com's Nicholas J. Cotsonika penned an article in which Pavel Datsyuk's Tampa Bay opponents weigh in on the Magic Man's dominance:
"His edges are ridiculous," Boyle said. "His strength on his skates is off the charts. He makes it look like he's going that way and he goes the other way. … His legs and his upper body are completely independent, and then you have his hands, the third part."
Roman Josi is on [his highlight reel]. The Nashville Predators defenseman once held the puck behind the net. He thought he could use his body as a shield as Datsyuk approached from behind. Nope. Datsyuk put his stick to the left of Josi's body, then the right. He lifted Josi's stick, stole the puck and stuffed it into the net before goaltender Pekke Rinne could recover. Rinne had been looking the other way.
"Whenever I'm going into the corner or along the boards going in for a puck and he's on me, you have to be pretty smart with that, because he's very dangerous at lifting your stick or tying your stick up and getting the puck," Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison said. "He doesn't stop. He's deadly with his stick."
Logan Couture is on it. Datsyuk once held the puck in the corner to the right of the San Jose Sharks net facing the opposing center. He put the puck between Couture's stick and his feet, then yanked it back and stepped into the circle. Couture was so discombobulated, he fell on his butt.
Ken Holland joins Prime Time Sports to discuss the Detroit Red Wings making the playoffs for a 25th straight season, the coaching of Jeff Blashill and Pavel Datsyuk.
I can only blame this mess on having one optic nerve that's larger than the other (which apparently OK; it just took a while to figure out why my eyeglass prescription suddenly changed), and the first real grocery shopping run that the mom and I were able to do in two months (for reasons beyond our control).
Long story short, Tuesday was "Playoff Preview Day" (and evening, and night), and the local and national media provided so many Red Wings-Lightning previews that our blog software wasn't able to accommodate both the game set-up and a digest of all of the Wings-Bolts previews out there.
What follows is a survey thereof, and I apologize that it's not all in one neat digest, but it still took me two-and-a-half hours to put this together and another hour to put the game summary together, so I hope you enjoy what follows. Some notebooks are sprinkled in as necessary.
Of prospect-related note:
In the SHL, Christoffer Ehn played 14:04, winning 18% of his draws in the Frolunda Indians' 8-2 win over Lulea HC. Frolunda advances to the SHL Final in 6 games;
In the QMJHL, Evgeny Svechnikov scored a goal on 2 shots, finishing at +1 and winning 8 of 10 faceoffs as the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles defeated the Saint John Sea Dogs 4-1. Saint John tied the second-round series at 2 games apiece;
And in the WHL, Joe Hicketts returned to the Victoria Royals' lineup with an assist and 4 penalty minutes, but his Royals lost 3-2 to the Kelowna Rockets. Victoria leads their second-round series 2 games to 1.
The Detroit Red Wings face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the teams' Eastern Conference quarterfinal this evening (7 PM EDT start on FSD/FS Florida/NBCSN/CBC/TVA Sports/97.1 FM); the Red Wings are hoping that reuniting the Eurotwins gives the Lightning a new wrinkle to chew upon as Tampa Bay bets upon Tyler Johnson's return to strengthen their lineup.
The Lightning were happy to see Johnson, a Wing-killer, return to practicing with the team, as the Tampa Tribune's Erik Erlendsson noted:
The Red Wings kicked off the playoffs by posting a 3-part series of videos chronicling the team's 2015-16 season. It's 17-and-a-half minutes of must-watch viewing, starting with, "The Journey to the Joe"...
Continuing with, "Road Warriors"...
Ansar Khan of Mlive,
The Detroit Red Wings endured a season-long struggle just to stay afloat.
They had trouble scoring. Their power play was in shambles until the final weeks. Their defense was mistake-prone. Both goaltenders slumped badly at different times. Too many players regressed.
They lost games they should have won down the stretch and needed help on the final day to extend their playoff streak to 25 seasons.
They made it back, and they're not satisfied just being here, after getting eliminated in the first round in three of the past four seasons....
"We have a good team," Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "We believe in ourselves. I thought we had a good process this year, but we know the first round is probably the toughest.
"We have a good enough team to do some damage and we're looking forward to doing it."
From the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...
It’s been a different looking Riley Sheahan the last several weeks. Sheahan has used his big body and touch around the net to be an effective net-front presence for the Red Wings, while also using his skating ability to forecheck and play a robust, end-to-end game. And now, with the playoffs beginning Wednesday, it’s important Sheahan maintain this level of play.
“There are times when, over the course of the season, he didn’t have that jump,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Over the last month, he’s been skating well, and when he skates well he gets a lot more involved, he’s on the forecheck, and he gets stick on puck and wins puck battles. He has a little extra jump in his step.”
Sheahan’s ability to create havoc around the crease could be a crucial tipping point in this series against Tampa Bay. Game 1 is Wednesday at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports Detroit.
Lightning goalie Ben Bishop is 6-foot-7 and covers much of the net and can see over opposing players. Whatever the Red Wings can do to disrupt Bishop’s vision or concentration will be important.
“I don’t think he really likes chaos in front of him,” Sheahan said. “He’s a big guy, he can see over a lot of people. It would be huge to get pucks there and create havoc and score some dirty goals. Being in front of the net will be huge for us.”
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.