The Malik Report
from Brendan Savage of Mlive,
The Red Wings blue-line corps is putting the puck in the net with more regularity than it has all season.
Jonathan Ericsson's goal in Friday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Colorado Avalanche at Joe Louis Arena gave the Red Wings' defensemen five goals in the last five games and seven in the previous eight.
That's been a big boost from a group that struggled to put the puck in the net early in the season.
"When us defensemen contribute, that extra goal ... maybe is the difference at times," said Mike Green, who has been an offensive specialist throughout his 11-season NHL career. "I know when other teams' defensemen jump up into the play and shoot pucks it causes a lot of confusion.
"I noticed we've done it a little bit more and pucks are going into the net for D-men, which is nice to see."
During the aforementioned five games, the Red Wings have scored 16 goals – an average of 3.20 per game – while earning seven of a possible 10 points with a 3-1-1 record.
By comparison, the Washington Capitals lead the NHL with an average of 3.30 goals per game while the Dallas Stars are second at 3.24. An average of 3.20 would rank third in the NHL.
Getting the defenseman to become more offensive is something coach Jeff Blashill and his staff have been preaching.
The Detroit Red Wings did almost everything right against the Colorado Avalanche, out-shooting the Avs 45-21, out-attempting Colorado 87-35 and surrendering 2 goals...But the Wings couldn't solve Semyon Varlamov enough times to defeat the Avs in regulation or OT, and in the shootout, Detroit's tough luck continued and Colorado emerged with a 3-2 victory.
For the Red Wings, earning a point wasn't good enough, but it was good; for the Avs, earning 4 points in a set of back-to-back evenings was absolutely necessary for their playoff push.
Varlamov won the game for the Avalanche, but Petr Mrazek looked surprisingly human during the shootout because Nathan MacKinnon and Blake Comeau found holes in an otherwise sterling netminder, as the Denver Post's Terry Frei noted:
Of prospect-related note:
In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins opened their home-and-home series with the Iowa Wild with a setback, blowing a 1-0 lead and surrendering 4 straight goals en route to a 4-2 loss in which Tomas Nosek had a goal and an assist, Tom McCollum stopped 24 shots and the Griffins out-shot Iowa 37-28, but were less efficient in finding the back of the net.
The Griffins' website posted a recap:
The Red Wings prepared for tonight's game against the Colorado Avalanche with little to no excuse for not sustaining their home-ice winning streak against an Avalanche team coming off a back-to-back tilt against the Ottawa Senators, with Calvin Pickard in the net. In theory, the Avs should have been relatively easy pickings, and Detroit should have been able to win their 4th straight game with not too much trouble.
Things tend not to work out that way on the ice, and Semyon Varlamov was just ridiculously good--and the Avs were ridiculously opportunistic--as Colorado took a 3-2 shootout decision despite being out-shot 45-21 and out-attempted 87-35. Detroit did everything right but score one more goal, in regulation, OT and the shootout, and Mrazek was stellar when necessary, but the Avs just had an extra earned bounce again and again...
And losing sucks, especially when you watch your team deliver such an incredibly dominant performance, but the Wings got a point out of it. That's the key right now, to get a point out of every game possible with the standings so ridiculously tight.
Via RedWingsFeed, Kris Draper gave a 7:44 interview to Fox Sports Detroit regarding the Red Wings-Avalanche rivalry, and Draper is refreshingly blunt about the hatred between the two teams and the way the rivalry pushed both teams to be better:
Of Red Wings-related note this evening:
1. Here's the Wings' game-day preview video:
2. On the Avs' side of the ice, the Denver Post's Terry Frei reports that Colorado will start Semyon Varlamov, not Calvin Pickard, in the crease this evening:
With the Colorado Avalanche in town, it is getting people's appetites whetted for the Stadium Series outdoor game in Colorado in two weeks. Drawing perhaps even more attention than the Stadium Series game is the Alumni Game, which will be held the day before, on Friday, Feb. 26.
"It seems the closer it gets to the date, it's definitely exciting," said Kirk Maltby, a member of the Grind Line and a current pro scout for the Wings. "It's going to be fun to reminisce. I'm sure the pace of the game will be a little different and the physicality, but I expect it will get a little competitive as the game goes on, especially if it's close because at the end of the day, I don't think either team wants to lose."
The Wings' alumni have been practicing at Joe Louis Arena.
On Friday, with the Avalanche holding an optional skate because of their game Thursday night in Ottawa, current Avalanche coach and Patrick Roy and general manager Joe Sakic were on the ice in Detroit.
The Wings are scheduled to practice at Coors Field a few hours before the Alumni Game.
Some might stick around to watch.
"That will be a lot of fun," Danny DeKeyser said. "It’s good to see, you know, some of the names that are coming in to play in that game. I’m sure it will be a fun game to watch for anybody who is going to it."
Wakiji continues, speaking with Kris Draper, Jeff Blashill, Justin Abdelkader, Mike Green and Alexey Marchenko...
From the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:
Danny DeKeyser, who grew up in Metro Detroit, was just like every other Red Wings fan around here during the 1980s and 1990s. DeKeyser did not like the Colorado Avalanche. Hated the Avs.
“I wasn’t a big fan of them,” DeKeyser said Friday, when asked about the legendary Red Wings-Avalanche rivalry, ahead of Friday night’s Detroit-Colorado game at Joe Louis Arena. “Being a Red Wings fan, they had some good battles over the years, in the playoffs, and it was fun to watch. But being a Red Wings fan, I didn’t like (the Avalanche).”
It’s different now. The Red Wings and Avalanche are in different conferences, and they only meet twice in the regular season. But the videos are on YouTube, and most of the current Red Wings grew up following the rivalry.
It’s still special when the Red Wings and Avalanche play, even many years later after the bad blood was flowing.
“A lot of good battles,” DeKeyser said. “(Colorado goalie Patrick) Roy and (Mike) Vernon, some of those battles, and it was a lot of entertaining hockey, a lot of fun to watch.”
I've been answering more than a few questions regarding Jimmy Howard's trade status, and I've been blunt in my responses: I don't believe that the Red Wings are going to trade Howard before the draft, and I don't believe that the Wings can afford to trade Howard without getting a back-up goaltender in return, at least during the regular season. I've also tried to remind fans that Howard's $5.29 million cap hit comes with a full no-trade clause, so Howard gets to say where he might go.
ESPN's Craig Custance fielded a question about Howard as part of his Friday mailbag:
@CraigCustance asked you about DET moving Howard earlier in the season. Still think it won't happen? If not, where? #CustanceCorrespondence
— Joe Plaza (@jeplaza14) February 11, 2016
Here's Custance's answer:
Updated 4x at 3:14 PM: The Red Wings received good news from the morning skate ahead of tonight's game between the Wings and Colorado Avalanche: Detroit will welcome Mike Green back into the lineup, and Danny DeKeyser will play after suffering a bruised knee on Wednesday.
DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji Tweeted some comments from coach Jeff Blashill's morning skate remarks...
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.