The Malik Report
At the beginning of February, I looked at this weekend and figured that today's game between the Red Wings and Vancouver Canucks (5 PM EST, FSD/Sportsnet Pacific/97.1 FM) as something of a "bonus win." Today's game marks the Wings' 3rd in 4 nights, their 4th in 6 nights, their 5th over the last 8 nights and their 7th over approximately a week-and-a-half's worth of time.
So I thought that today's game would pretty much be a guaranteed loss, coming off to back-to-backs and what's really been a month's worth of "mini series" games against St. Louis, Columbus and Nashville. In theory, anyway, the Wings that were starting to find their footing in February were going to be too tired and perhaps a little too fat and happy (so to speak) to take this game as seriously as I thought they'd need to.
The Wings' 0-3-and-2 record before last night's 4-0 victory over Nashville changes that presumptive equation on its head, and makes a team that is doubtlessly a little tired and more banged-up than I think any of us could've expected at game #19 out of 48 face a must-win situation this afternoon, with the 8-7-and-3 Wings rather desperately needing to earn two points against a 10-3-and-4 Canucks team that flew to Detroit and watched Saturday night's affair after having defeated Nashville 1-0 on Friday night.
The Detroit Red Wings' 4-0 victory over the Nashville Predators may or may not have been a command performance, but the Red Wings were able to rely on Jimmy Howard's superb netminding while finding their "legs," and while Drew Miller's 1-0 goal gave the Wings some tentative poise, Tomas Tatar's 2-0 goal 2:58 into the 2nd period seemed to put the Wings on track to break their 0-3-and-2 streak.
The Wings face an immediate challenge-and-a-half in the team that bested Nashville (1-0) on Friday, facing the Vancouver Canucks this afternoon (5 PM EST, FSD/Sportsnet Pacific/97.1 FM), but a very relieved Wings roster and back-up goaltender Jonas Gustavsson will at least face the powerhouse Canucks with something of a monkey off their backs.
On Saturday, the Wings accomplished the task with heavy doses of Brian Lashoff (24:14 played, leading the team) and Ian White (23:12) instead of Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson, and the Wings accomplished the task while receiving something that's been elusive all season long in strong secondary scoring and plain old strong performances by the team's "bottom six" forwards.
The Detroit Red Wings almost always get into late-February slumps, but in a 48-game season, the Wings' 0-3-and-2 slump had the team more than simply "taking on water."
Here's hoping that tonight's game is the start of the customary late February/early March surge, because the Wings vaciliated from rope-a-dope-and-rely-on-Jimmy Howard hockey to playing absolutely dominant puck possession hockey (and back, regrettably) during a 4-0 win over the Nashville Predators.
Howard was wonderful at the start and at the end, and in the middle, the Red Wings, led by significant ice time from the Eaves-Andersson-Tatar line the Miller-Emmerton-Tootoo line and a superb new defensive pair in Lashoff-White, managed to fight themselves for a while (out-shot 12-9 in the 1st and 2nd periods) and eventually out-battle a Nashville Predators team slightly tired by tomorrow night's opponent, the Vancouver Canucks. [edit/update: and Wings coach Mike Babcock decided to reward Howard with a night off, with Jonas Gustavsson starting tomorrow vs. Vancouver]
Hotstove and Friedman report that the NHL’s new realingment plan would put the Red Wings in the East
George here...I was watching the Red Wings-Predators game when Paul informed me that the Satellite Hotstove crew on Hockey Night in Canada discussed realignment, and Elliotte Friedman, the Red Wings would find themselves in the Eastern Conference!
According to Friedman, the NHL's run the following four "conferences" by every NHl team, and will present the following plan to the GM's shortly--and we will post the video of the Hotstove discussion when it's available (Paul will, I'm watching the game)...
Division A: Detroit, Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto
Division B: Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington;
Division C: Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, Winnipeg;
Division D: Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Jose.
This is all preliminary stuff, but that's apparently the NHL's plan...And the imbalanced conferences will probably include a "wild card" playoff play-in.
added 10:13pm, Watch the video of the Hotstove discussion.
Updated 9x at 2:24 PM: The Detroit Red Wings begin a difficult slate of back-to-back games against the Nashville Predators tonight (7 Pm, FSD Plus/FS Tennessee/NHL Network/1270 AM), hoping to end their 5-game slide (0-3-and-2) against the team that swiped two points from the Wings on Tuesday, and MLive's Ansar Khan's offering no supririses from the morning skate...mostly...
The Detroit Red Wings will face off against the team that defeated them on Tuesday when they welcome the Nashville Predators to Joe Louis Arena tonight (7 PM EST, FSD Plus/FS Tennessee/NHL Network/AM 1270), beginning a back-to-back slate of games that would have been more tolerably approached had Detroit not come into the weekend on an 0-3-and-2 slide.
Tonight, the Wings will play a pissed-off Predators team that dropped a 1-0 decision to the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night, and has won only one of its last four games (with that win coming against Detroit, of course). The 8-5-and-5 Predators have quite the record against Detroit of late, as you probably already know...
And tomorrow, the Wings face the Canucks, who sit 3rd in the West with a 10-3-and-4 record, and have won two straight. The Canucks will be practicing in Nashville today before heading to Detroit for tomorrow's late afternoon-and-or-early-evening tilt (5 PM, FSD/Sportsnet West/97.1 FM).
As the Detroit News's Ted Kuflan notes, to some extent, this little two-games-in-two-nights stretch (the Wings will have also played 3 in 4 nights, 4 in 6 nights and 5 in 8 by the time the weekend's over) is the easy part of their upcoming schedule, and that's scary:
The Vancouver Sun's Elliott Pap spoke to Chicago Blackhawks legend Bobby Hull about his NHL career, his WHA career, the state of his Chicago Blackhawks and Hull's status as an honored guest of a birthday party held by one of his biggest rivals in the NHL and WHA.
On Friday, March 1st, the WHL's Vancouver Giants will celebrate the 85th birthday of Red Wings legend Gordie Howe, and Hull won't be alone on the guest list:
On March 1, the Vancouver Giants will throw an 85th birthday bash for minority owner Gordie Howe at Pacific Coliseum. Among the invited guests are Bobby and Dennis Hull, Johnny Bower, Marcel Dionne and Orland Kurtenbach.
Sun hockey reporter Elliott Pap caught up with The Golden Jet in Chicago Friday and the two chewed over a variety of topics, including Bobby’s relationship with Gordie — calls him ‘Gordon’ — his own career highlights, his one regret, the current edition of the Blackhawks and the state of the ’Hawks-Canucks rivalry.
Question: You played against Gordie for 14 years in the NHL and another six in the World Hockey Association before finishing your careers together in 1980 with the Hartford Whalers. What was your relationship with Gordie like?
Answer: I believe we had a mutual admiration society going. He knew that I was out there to play the game within the rules, to try to out-skate him, out-think him, out-pass him, out-shoot him and out-score him. And I felt the same way. Consistency is the mark of a true professional and Gordon was a true professional. He was consistent from the day he began playing in the league until he and I both retired from the same team in the same year. He was an amazing man to be able to play as long as he played and as well as he played.
Updated 5x at 4:15 PM: The day after the Detroit Red WIngs' 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, it's not exactly a stunner to hear the Free Press's Helene St. James state that the Wings chose to "take an optional" as the team's going to be playing 2 games over the course of 2 nights this weekend (against Nashville and Vancouver) and will be wrapping up slates of 3-in-4, 4-in-6 and 5-in-8 nights...All with the team sporting some truly poor statistical (and otherwise) performances during their 0-3-and-2 stretch....
That's a lot of games, so while the Wings' waiving of Jan Mursak seems a bit off, though he definitely needs to play, the Wings received some good news in the injury department, as. St. James reported:
The rationale for waiving Mursak is to allow him to play...Somewhere...Again, per St. James...
This speaks for itself, and it's honestly good news given how hard Red Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey went down in his collision with Artem Anisimov last night, from the Free Press's Helene St. James:
Updated at 12:32 PM: Slightly strange news from ESPN's Pierre LeBrun regarding Red Wings forward Jan Mursak:
I'm guessing that the Wings want Mursak to get playing time, but potentially losing a warm body given the injury parade of late seems strange.
Update: St. James reports that the Wings want Mursak to play...somewhere else...
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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.