The Malik Report
The Red Wings are in uncharted territory, needing everything but a miracle to make the playoffs as the team looks at its final 7 games needing to win 5 or 6 thereof, and as both a pundit and fan...
I don't give a crap how campy this sounds. Saturday's loss broke my heart. The Wings' 7-2 loss to the Penguins was arguably the worst loss of the season, and it was the second time in 3 games that the Wings absolutely fell apart on ice.
On a day that the Red Wings needed help in the form of losses from the Bruins (who won), Islanders (who won) and Flyers (who are losing as I write this), Detroit got no help, and the team's lack of structure and poise seems to disturb the players and coach as much as it does you and me.
At this point, if the Wings worry about anything more than coming out against Buffalo on Monday and Montreal on Tuesday playing competitive hockey, they're in trouble.
The Free Press's Jeff Seidel expresses the frustration that many Wings fans feel this morning...
The Pittsburgh Penguins were spanking the Wings on Saturday afternoon — on the way to a ridiculous 7-2 victory — and Wings coach Jeff Blashill called time-out.
The players circled around him at the bench, and he became as animated as he has been all season. His face turned red, as he yelled and pointed at the scoreboard in embarrassment and then he pointed at the ice in frustration. The players declined to talk about his message, but if I had to guess what he said, it’s the same things that Wings fans were thinking:
“Are you freakin’ kidding me?”
“This is disgusting!”
“You look like you just gave up, rolled over and died!”
For a team that was fighting for its playoff life, trying to eke into the playoffs for the 25th straight season, needing every game and every point, this was pure humiliation.
To be clear, the Wings’ playoff streak didn’t end on Saturday. Not officially.
But with just seven games to play, the Wings’ margin for error has shrunk to a razor-thin line.
The Red Wings find themselves in dangerous territory after their 7-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. With 7 games remaining, the Wings need rather desperately to earn 7-10 points to make the playoff cut--that's winning 4 or 5 games, minimum--and given the Wings' 6-2 loss to Tampa and now this embarassment, it's very difficult to imagine Detroit playing their games against Buffalo, Montreal, Minnesota, Toronto, Philadelphia, Boston and New York with consistency and poise.
Still, you either believe or you don't, and the Red Wings are going to play like they believe no matter what the outcome. That's their job. It's not necessarily our job to believe them, and I understand that many of you are furious with the Wings for having let us down...
I don't believe in telling you "how to fan" per se, but I most certainly will be cheering the Wings on until that final day against the Rangers, and regardless of what happens, I'm going to remain a proud Wings fan.
That being said, I am very angry and very upset and very sad this evening, and I feel all of those emotions about the team that I care for so very deeply. I believe that this Wings team can still pull off the highly improbable and make the playoffs, but I'm not sure that they believe right now.
CBS Sports' Adam Gretz summarized the biggest problem with the Wings' play over their past dozen or so games--defense:
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill took almost half an hour to meet with the media after today's Wings loss, and when he met with said media corps, he was terse but blunt:
I thought this hit was clean as both Chris Kunitz and Pavel Datsyuk were attempting to hit each other in the shoulder, but one never knows what the Department of Player Safety may think. Datsyuk got 2 minutes for "interference" on this play:
The Red Wings really, really needed to win today's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, to both gain some ground on the Philadelphia Flyers (who play in Phoenix tonight) and to climb to within 1 point of the Penguins in the race for a Wild Card spot. With Sidney Crosby on fire and the Penguins having won 6 of their past 7 games, Detroit was in for a rough ride.
Detroit didn't know how rough the ride would be. The Red Wings lost 7-2, with terrible efforts from everybody on the ice, and the Penguins were all too happy to pour it on, adding insult to injury. Now the Wings have to regroup and absolutely, absolutely must win Monday's game vs. Buffalo and Tuesday's game vs. Montreal, and I don't know how they're gonna do it.
I can only hope, as a Wings fan, and maybe pray.
From Puck Daddy's Josh Cooper, Red Wings GM Ken Holland weighed in on the Wings' tenuous grip on a playoff position:
“This group of players wants to make the playoffs, they want to make some playoff noise and have an opportunity to play in the playoffs,” Holland said. “I don’t think they want to make the playoffs (to make it) 25 years in a row (for the Red Wings). I think they want to make the playoffs because they want to play in the playoffs.”
Really scratching and clawing into the playoffs may be Detroit’s new normal as their once-dominant veterans age.
In 2012-13 the Red Wings used a four-game winning streak at the end of the regular season to squeeze into the playoffs by one point ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets. In 2013-14 they finished the year three points ahead of the Washington Capitals for the last Wild Card spot. That team saw forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg hurt for much of the year.
“Certainly we’ve been in this position before,” Holland said. “Two of the last three years I would say.”
Holland said he wasn’t ready to discuss evaluations about the team – simply because the team’s season could be far from over. The Red Wings have been in the playoffs enough times that an entire course of a year can be changed with a deep run.
“They want their chance to play somebody in the first-round of the playoffs and see if they can win the series and see how far they can go and how far they can go in the playoffs,” Holland said. “I don’t think we’re going to go down there with any rallying speeches. We’re going to play our way into the playoffs if we’re good enough. And if we’re not good enough we’re not going to play our way into the playoffs.”
Of Red Wings-related note this afternoon:
1. Here's the Wings' Game-Day Preview video:
2. Of note from DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose...
from Brendan Savage of Mlive,
Blashill is aware of his team's spot in the standings but it's not something he spends a lot of time worrying about.
"My main focus is on what we control," he said. "The No. 1 thing we have to do is win hockey games. If we don't win hockey games, we don't deserve to get in. That's No. 1. Would I like help in the standings? Yes. But those are things that are out of our control.
"I'm not going to lie and say I haven't peeked at the standings but our focus is on the one thing we can control and that's playing great hockey and winning hockey games."
Petr Mrazek will start in goal for the Red Wings (37-26-11) as they try to win the final meeting of the season with the Penguins, who won the first two games between the teams.
Defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who didn't practice Friday and has been sidelined with injuries to both knees this season, is expected to play, according to Blashill. But Blashill said the lineup won't be determined until after warmups.
Via RedWingsFeed, the Hockey Writers' Michael Pityk conducted an intriguing interview with Red Wings director of pro scouting Mark Howe, asking Howe about the ins and outs of the pro scouting business. Howe gives an expansive explanation of the job of a pro scout and his job as the director of pro scouting, and in my opinion, this is nothing less than fascinating reading:
Michael Pityk (MP): The first question I have for you is a lot of people don’t really know or understand how a hockey team works on the back end. Would you be able to describe you role as director of pro scouting and what some of your responsibilities might be?
Mark Howe (MH): Well a pro scout is by definition a scout that goes out and watches players that are professionals that a signed under professional contracts. Therefore they’d be playing in the National Hockey League, the East Coast Hockey League, the American Hockey League, basically anyone who is not playing amateur hockey. Although the pro scouts will at times go and watch some amateur players to give a little of their feedback on a team.
I know the way a lot of teams work, because between the NHL and the AHL there’s 60 teams, it’s awfully difficult to get a really good read on all the players if you’re trying to cover all of those teams every year. Normally, as in the case in Detroit, we have five pro scouts and every scout is assigned certain teams and you’re responsible for knowing the individual players on that team and their American league affiliates.
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.