The Malik Report
Last night, I plainly stated my belief that Mike Babcock's sharply-worded criticism of his team was not only necessary, but also long overdue. I'm getting incredibly tired of the, "Waive everyone, bring up ALL the Griffins" (the Wings have gotten pretty close there) "and fire Babcock, he's the problem!" talk.
The coaching staff consists of more than one man, and watching the Wings' Game-Day Preview after the Wings' loss reminded me that associate coach Tom Renney and assistant coach Bill Peters often share the ice with video coach Keith McKittrick and goalie coach Jim Bedard.
Just as the management is more than "Ken Holland"--Holland, assistant GM Jim Nill, capologist Ryan Martin, manager-in-training Kris Draper, Mark Howe's pro scouting staff (which includes Kirk Maltby), the team's amateur scouts, player mentors like Chris Chelios and Chris Osgood and director of player development Jiri Fischer--so there are more than two people coaching and managing this team.
The Detroit Red Wings flew to Edmonton after their 5-2 loss to the Calgary Flames, and after a third-period brain fart of epic proportions, and given that the Wings have gotten all of 1 point out of three games against the worst of the West in Columbus and Calgary, there was no reason to stick around.
The Wings will be out of the playoff pack in terms of the standings by the time they face Edmonton on Friday, and possibly Vancouver on Saturday, though I don't need to tell you that the team's remaining Western Canadian trip games are now must-win situations.
I thought that the Wings played awful hockey from their goaltender on out, with their defensemen consistently out of position and bunching up to one side of the ice, their top forwards looking downright scared and all-too-predictably rushed, and there was no puck support or positional support by any of the Wings' players in all three zones, but the third period's combination of turnovers, blown coverage and blown goals (the Sporting News's Sean Gentile posted a compilation of Jonas Gustavsson's after-goal faces) was bad enough.
The fact that the Wings out-shot Calgary 38 to 22 and had a total of 73 shot attempts (to 38 by Calgary, which is too high by Wings standards) but could only dent Mikka Kiprusoff twice, on top of all their mental mistakes...That's downright gross.
Normally I start recaps by offering the other side's take on the game, but Wings coach Mike Babcock finally dropped his "kinder and gentler" message in lieu of calling his team out, and the Calgary Herald's Kristen Odland captured some properly-aimed criticism directed at the horses who aren't getting the job done:
Via RedWingsFeed, MLive's Ansar Khan has postedan article that's made staying up late to cover the Red Wings' West Coast swing worth it, even after enduring that crappy-ass loss to Calgary. He's reporting that the Wings hammering out the details of a contract extension for Jimmy Howard...
A source told MLive.com that the sides are inching closer to agreeing on a deal that would more than double Howard's current $2.25 million salary to the $5 million-a-year range. It is expected to be for at least six or seven years.
Getting their workhorse goaltender signed was the Red Wings' top priority. Playing behind a defense that lost Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart in the offseason and has been riddled by injuries, Howard arguably has been the club's most valuable player. He is 10-7-4, with a 2.46 goals-against average and .914 save percentage.
Howard, who turns 29 on March 26, averaged 36 wins for three seasons after assuming the starting role in 2009-10, when he finished second in Calder Trophy balloting to Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers.
And he has news about Valtteri Filppula (asking quite a bit) and Damien Brunner (no comparables as of yet), too:
Red Wings-Flames quick take: inefficiency, bad positioning, bad performances = reinforcements needed
The Detroit Red Wings dropped a 5-2 decision to the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night, and I'd prefer to not discuss the goals as much as a stat that tells the whole story tonight:
That's right, the Wings attempted to score SEVENTY-THREE times--with 38 pucks hitting or beating Kiprusoff and another 35 going wide or hitting Flames players--but the team's skittish, jittery play in the offensive zone and its awful, just horrific defensive coverage, with players bunched together and failing to "gap up" or get in shooting or passing lanes in the offensive, neutral and defensive zones yielded no puck support, no player support and either empty nets or squeaky-weak goals on Jonas Gustavsson.
This story wouldn't fit into the Red Wings-Flames game-day update post, and that's probably a good thing. The Globe and Mail's Alan Maki suggests that the Red Wings have essentially fallen from grace and fallen back to the pack due to their personnel losses over the past couple of seasons and/or salary cap restrictions, and their coach and players don't necessarily disagree with that statement (although it downplays the fact that Darren Helm and Todd Bertuzzi's absences severely limit the team's depth up front):
As head coach Mike Babcock put it when talking about his group: “Would you like to have three unbelievable players on three lines? Sure. That’s the Red Wings of the 90s.”
The Red Wings of 2013 are not the glory unit of old; too many retirements and defections have seen to that. What they are is a good team whose consistency has been hampered by injuries to keynote contributors Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula, both of whom are only now working their way back into the lineup. Darren Helm is another player whose effectiveness has been missed and proof that Detroit is no longer as deep and skilled as it once was. Babcock explained that, to win, the Red Wings have to fashion as strong a defensive game as possible.
Updated 10x at 4:09 PM: The Detroit Red Wings begin their Western Canadian swing tonight against the Calgary Flames (9:30 PM EDT, FSD/TSN/WXYT AM), and the Flames have already completed their morning skate, and the Wings are skating now, but there's some "rut roh" news already, per the Free Press's Helene St. James:
Immediate update: Rut roh x2:
Ineresting stuff: via RedWingsFeed, Red Wings GM Ken Holland spoke to The Fan 960 this morning, discussing the Wings' status as a "goal-challenged," and prospect-heavy due-to-injuries team, Damien Brunner's signing, the Wings' move to the Eastern Conference (sort of) and Holland's local ties to Calgary:
Updated 2x at 2:07 PM: I just jammed it in there, but Puck Daddy suggests that you watch the Jurco video...
Today's crop of Red Wings prospect news is so substantial that it merits its own entry, and RedWingsCentral's Matthew Wuest kicks things off with an article about not-quite-ready-for-prime-time defenseman Adam Almquist. Griffins coach Jeff Blashill likes what he's seen from the undersized (maybe 5'9" and 160 pounds) but supremely talented defenseman thus far...
“He has outstanding poise with the puck and outstanding skill with the puck, so that’s allowed him to be a real good player 5-on-5 and he has a real good skill-set for the power play,” said Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill. “He can slide along the offensive blue line, show shot and pass, show shot and shoot, and he’s got a real good one-timer. His confidence has increased as the year’s gone on and that’s allowed him to be productive.”
MLive's Brendan Savage posted a story about Darren Helm's slow but finally steady recovery from a torn disc and/or ligament in his lower back. Helm's accompanying the Wings on their Western Canadian swing to take part in practices with the team:
"It'll be nice to be on the road," Helm said. "Get back on a plane, dinner, share some time with the guys. It was nice when I was in Columbus, got to skate with a few of the guys that were injured or not playing and it was nice being on the plane and just going out to dinner. It's been awhile and I miss it. It will be good for my body and mind. I've been so cut off this year. It has been hard not being part of the team. Guys have been good, keeping me a part of things, but it's not the same when you're not out on the ice. Just joking around, shooting the puck around after, having lots of fun after the actual practice."
As you already know, Helm's injury history has been nuts over the past year-and-a-half, but he's coming around now. His goal is to continue his slow but steady pace as he gets back into game shape:
The Detroit Red Wings begin the road-heaviest portion of their schedule tonight against the Calgary Flames tonight (9:30 PM EDT, FSD/TSN/AM 1270), and as the Wings hope to rebound from their crappy 0-and-2 weekend series against Columbus, and the Wings begin a slate of 3 games in 4 nights in Calgary, Edmonton and then Vancouver by facing off against a team whose status depends on whose story you believe.
Technically the Wings were just "winless" this past weekend just as, technically, the Wings have a 12-9-and-5 record over the course of 26 games played, good for 6th in the Western Conference. While even I resorted to some wailing and gnashing of teeth regarding the Wings' craptastic weekend, the team still believes that it's got what it takes to turn around its crappy road record and 0-for-36 road power play in a hurry, and it hopes that Valtteri Filppula's highly probable return and Gustav Nyquist's highly controversial recall will inject some badly-needed offense into the mix...
All while attempting to turn around a 3-5-and-2 road record while playing 7 of this month's remaining 9 games away from Joe Louis Arena.
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.