The Malik Report
Of Red Wings-related note this evening:
1. The Free Press's Helene St. James duly notes that the trio of Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan and Henrik Zetterberg have not been lighting it up of late:
It's not every day you get to sit ice level for your favorite hockey team’s morning skate, but that's exactly what Reese Cordes got to do Thursday morning.
"He knew what his wish was but he didn’t know it was coming true today," explained his mother, Holly.
She knew how excited her son would be to get behind the scenes at Joe Louis Arena.
"I had goosebumps when I told people about the experience. Especially yesterday when it was getting closer," said Holly.
Reese is battling a life-threatening seizure disorder.
The Grand Rapids Griffins allowed their own players to design the jersey the team will be wearing for "Superhero Night" this Saturday, and the Griffins' players displayed vastly disparate levels of artistic aplomb before choosing a mostly-white jersey in their team vote:
The Canadiens' media corps descended upon Anthony Mantha as #39 will be making his home-ice debut againt his hometown team this evening, and Mantha answered questions in both French and English, speaking with La Presse's Marc Antoine Godin (roughly translated)...
"It will be a great moment for me and also for my family. It was important for them to come to my first home game, and especially since it's against Montreal. I had to limit myself to 15 tickets because the game's already sold out!"
In the other locker room, Michael McCarron, who grew up in Michigan, was able to do so in advance and has 40 relatives and friends coming to see him play his first game in Detroit.
Among those who will be on hand to support Mantha are his grandfather Andre Pronovost, who played for the Canadiens and Red Wings.
Red Wings-Canadiens game-day articles: 1-2-3-let’s-have-fun? plus ‘Wings for Wishes,’ game-day video
Updated 7x at 2:39 PM: The Canadiens' morning skate is still wrapping up ahead of tonight's game against the hometown Red Wings (7:30 PM EDT on FSD/Sportsnet East/RDS/NHL Network U.S./97.1 FM).
There's already post-Wings-morning skate news (no lineup changes unless Blashill changes his mind during warm-ups + Mrazek starts) from the Free Press's Helene St. James, who reports that the Red Wings hope to "have fun" with a schedule in which they still need to win 6 or 7 of the nine games remaining to make the playoff cut...
"We've just got to go game-by-game and have fun with it," forward Riley Sheahan said. "We know we have the skill. It's exciting and an intense environment It's kind of hard to just look at the standings and compare yourself to other teams, because there are so many teams that are in the race."
The Wings have got to take advantage of being at home, where they also host Pittsburgh on Saturday and Buffalo on Monday. On Tuesday, they play at Montreal (a team out of the playoff running), then come home and host Minnesota. After that, there's a trip to Toronto (which sits at the bottom of the NHL standings) and then, on April 6, there is a huge home showdown against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Wings finish the season with games at Boston and the New York Rangers.
Updated 4x at 11:28 AM: The Detroit Red Wings face a near must-win situation as they face the Montreal Canadiens this evening (7:30 PM EDT on FSD/NHL Network U.S./Sportsnet East/RDS/97.1 FM), and the Red Wings got down to the business of preparing for tonight's game just after 10:30 AM, per the Wings...
From the Oakland Press's Pat Caputo:
If the Red Wings don’t make the playoffs, much of the fallout will come down on first-year coach Jeff Blashill. You will undoubtedly hear Blashill, “couldn’t get the team to rally down the stretch like Mike Babcock did” from fans and media. But it’s difficult to see where Blashill could do more. He has shifted his lines and defensive pairings. He has tried to maneuver his goalies so the most effective one is on the ice.
It could just be the Red Wings’ talent has been overrated. That older players are aging, the former young guns are misfiring under the pressure of the expected and the current young guns are suffering growing pains.
It’s been awhile since Holland has made an impactful trade. Too long.
Hockey is perhaps the most unpredictable of the four major team sports. A bottom seed has a legitimate shot to win it all. Maybe this is just typical hockey drama - and the Red Wings will ultimately prove everything is OK.
There are nine games remaining. If the Red Wings get into the playoffs, anything can happen. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t reason to sound an alarm because, frankly, this doesn’t look good.
From NHL.com's Dave Stubbs:
Modere "Mud" Bruneteau scores at 16:30 of the sixth overtime, 116:30 into extra time, to give the visiting Detroit Red Wings a 1-0 win against the Montreal Maroons.
It remains to this day the longest game in NHL history, the equivalent of nearly three full games. It begins March 24 and ends at 2:25 a.m. the following morning in Game 1 of the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Semifinals.
Red Wings goalie Normie Smith, who loses 12 pounds of body weight during the game, makes 89 saves. Only Bruneteau's shot, the 67th for Detroit, gets past Maroons goaltender Lorne Chabot.
During intermissions players sip tea and coffee laced with brandy, then lie on their backs with their legs up on benches to improve circulation. The two referees, Ag Smith and Bill Stewart (the latter the grandfather of future NHL official Paul Stewart), stop taking their skates off, afraid they won't be able to lace up their boots over surely swollen feet.
Red Wings prospect and Victoria Royals defenseman Joe Hicketts was named to the WHL's First All-Star Team, he was named the WHL's Western Conference's best defenseman and was named the Western Conference's MVP yesterday.
The Victoria Times-Colonist's Cleve Dheensaw spoke with Royals GM Cam Hope and Hicketts himself about the honors:
“[Hicketts] took a group of young guys and pushed them to the top of the standings,” Hope said. “You can’t measure what Joe does for our organization. He’s one of those special guys.”
The Detroit Red Wings-signed Hicketts deflected the accolades back to his teammates, but reflected on what is also a significant personal achievement.
“It’s a huge honour to be mentioned among the great names that have come through the WHL,” said the undersized but mobile blue-liner. “It’s encouraging to see all the hard work has paid off. But I got a lot of help from my teammates. It’s never just one person.”
Meanwhile, Hicketts was the lone unanimous selection for the Western Conference first-all star team, which also included Ethan Bear of the Seattle Thunderbirds as the other defenceman, Hart in goal, Tyson Baillie of the Kelowna Rockets, Mathew Barzal of the Thunderbirds and Park Bowles of the Tri City Americans as the forwards.
NHL.com's Rob Vollman "handicapped" the Flyers and Red Wings' battle for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference, and Vollman employed advanced metrics to spotlight the Flyers' power play and the Red Wings' defensive play:
Detroit's advantage: Defensive play
The fact Detroit is the superior possession-oriented team isn't clear using shot-based metrics. The Red Wings are No. 11 in the NHL with a shot-attempt percentage of 51.8 (meaning they take 51.8 percent of all shot attempts in their games), while the Flyers rank No. 16 at 50.0 percent.
When considering zone time, in the form of the percentage of faceoffs each team starts in the offensive zone relative to the defensive zone, the Red Wings' advantage becomes clear. They have a 54.0 zone start percentage, which ranks No. 2 in the NHL behind the Los Angeles Kings (55.5 percent); the Flyers are No. 20 at 49.4 percent.
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.