The Malik Report
I've never seen Don Cherry so excited about Jimmy Howard's attention to stick tape detail...
Ahead of tonight's Game 6 between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks (8 PM EDT, NBCSN/CBC/97.1 FM, with a post-game show on FSD, and the game-day post is jam-packed with comments from both teams' players and coaches), the Wings' website posted a pair of game-day videos, first chronicling the team's battles against the Blackhawks thus far...
And here's Wings coach Mike Babcock's game-day presser, comments about Brendan Smith's maturation-in-progress included:
As noted in the game-day update thread, Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith didn't make the brightest comments about the liberties the Blackhawks have been taking while speaking to MLive's Ansar Khan after today's morning skate, but Smith has slowly but surely settled down in terms of his on-ice demeanor, playing more consistently and making fewer mistakes while skating alongside Kyle Quincey (though the pair remains something of an "adventure" on ice).
The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan found that Wings coach Mike Babcock has taken note of the fact that Smith's settled down, at least somewhat, and #2's poise has translated into more ice time...
Defenseman Brendan Smith is averaging 19 minutes of ice time during the playoffs, something that will only help in the future.
"Just the experience is an important thing," coach Mike Babcock said. "What I like about Smitty is he knows we think he's a good player, so when he makes mistakes, and you talk to him about it, it's not the end of the world.
"He's an ultra competitive guy and when he makes a mistake, he's usually trying to make a play rather than guys out there hiding and doesn't want the puck. He's not one of them. He's going to get better and better."
But Babcock also told NHL.com's Corey Masisak that he's not sure whether the 24-year-old will live up to his billing as Niklas Kronwall's supposed successor:
Well this is crappy news with a significant silver lining, per the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:
Losing Game 5 Saturday was bad enough, but forward Justin Abdelkader received more bad news afterward. His parents' house in Norton Shores, Mich., the house Abdelkader grew up in, suffered damage in an electrical fire Saturday night.
The damage was contained to the detached garage as Abdelkader's parents arrived home that evening to see smoke billowing out of the garage.
Had they arrived later, or had they gone down to Chicago to watch Game 5, which they had been thinking about, the entire incident could have been a lot worse.
"If no one had been home, it could have been burned down in five to six hours," said Abdelkader, who said four fire trucks arrived on the scene and tore down the side of the garage to get to the source of the fire."
I posted this in the Red Wings-Blackhawks game-day update post, but it merits its own entry: Red Wings GM Ken Holland spoke with The Fan 590 this morning, and in addition to addressing the Wings' youth movement as it pertains to attempting to win Game 6 against the Blackhawks tonight, Holland spoke at length about the reason why he stood pat at the trade deadline in terms of both "buying" and "selling" potential unrestricted freeagents, he discussed the changes and challenges that coach Mike Babcock's had to face during a rebuilding-on-the-fly season:
This story compliments both the Free Press's Helene St. James' interview with Holland and the CBC's Cassie Campbell's interview with Holland prior to Saturday night's game.
Updated 4x at 1:37 PM: Before Game 5, Chicago Blackhawks forward Jamal Mayers tried to "stir things up" while helping his fellow Blackhawks work on faceoff during warm-ups before Game 5 between the Blackhawks and Red Wings, but Mayers also made sure to shoot some pucks on Jimmy Howard from the Blackhawks' side of center ice (it's not that uncommon for a player to chip a puck into the opposition's empty net after goalies have left the ice as territory-marking, but it's frowned upon), and the NHL did not take too kindly to Mayers' breaching of playoff etiquette:
Update: Well of course Mayers isn't contrite at all. Chicago leadership at its best:
According to EA Sports, Martin Brodeur and Sergei Bobrovsky will battle for the honor of gracing EA's NHL 14 video game, with Brodeur having defeated Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk.
Now I'm a paranoid Wings fan who's got no faith in the NHL's inistence that their "captchas" prevent both ballot-stuffing and savvy computer programmer-types from scripting the votes, and I get that Martin Brodeur is one of the best goaltenders in NHL history...
But, seriously? Brodeur over the player who is as close to a real-life video game character as is humanly possible? Especially given that EA's "goalie AI" still has the last stand-up and/or "paddle down" goalie in the league playing as a butterfly netminder?
Fekh. I'm not bitter, no no, never bitter...Maybe pissed off...
Updated 13x at 2:57 PM: The Detroit Red Wings face a near-must-win situation as they hope to eliminate the Chicago Blackhawks tonight (8 PM EDT, NBCSN/CBC/97.1 FM, post-game on FSD) and avoid a winner-take-all Game 7 situation on Wednesday evening.
If we are to believe what the Blackhawks' players and coach claimed on Sunday afternoon, the Blackhawks may have "their backs against the wall," but they are in fact the underdogs that no one believes in, and as such, it's the Red Wings with everything to lose tonight.
I don't buy that bullshit for a minute, nor do I buy the concept that the Hawks have "all the momentum" going into tonight's game, but I'm also the one suggesting that the Wings bring their knives to a gunfight.
In any case, Sportsline's Brian Stubits offered an outside take on what's at stake this evening...
FYI for those of you enrolled in middle school, high school or college who are looking to spend Monday night at the Joe:
The Detroit Red Wings don't necessarily have to win Game 6 tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks (8 PM EDT, NBCSN/CBC/97.1 FM, post-game on Fox Sports Detroit), but between dropping Game 5 in rather dreadful fashion and the fact that the Wings taught the Anaheim Ducks a stiff lesson about the fact that a "winner-take-all Game 7" situation is dangerous (never mind the fact that it would take place on Wednesday, a day after the Sharks and Kings settle their series), this game is as close to a must-win for a team still in command of its series as a Game 6 can get...
In no small part because the Chicago Blackhawks insist that they've got all the momentum and none of the pressure on their shoulders going into tonight's game, and because I believe that the Hawks believe a statement issued by CBS Chicago's Adam Hoge after Game 5:
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.