The Malik Report
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
The Detroit Red Wings couldn't get the job done themselves on Saturday, needing some help to reach the playoffs.
But they're not apologizing for it. All that matters to them is that they qualified for the 25th consecutive season.
Minutes after his team's 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill walked into the dressing and gave the players the news – the Ottawa Senators beat the Boston Bruins 6-1, enabling Detroit to clinch third place in the Atlantic Division, setting up a first-round matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"Once we found out we were in, my biggest message to them was to congratulate them, remind them that we earned our way into the playoffs and let's get ready to beat Tampa," Blashill said.
from Gregg Krupa of the Detroit News,
So the Wings' 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers didn't matter; Boston's 6-1 loss to the Senators clinched Detroit a 25th consecutive playoff year.
The Red Wings faced the biggest must-win situation of the season against the New York Rangers on Saturday, and the Red Wings were unable to take care of business despite out-playing the Rangers by a wide margin, losing 3-2.
Detroit backs into the playoffs because Boston lost 6-1 to Ottawa, and it's disappointing, because Detroit played fantastic hockey over the final 2 periods against the Rangers. Regrettably, Antti Raanta was stellar against 33 Wings shots and 59 Wings attempts.
So Detroit backs into a likely match-up against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
It might actually help the Red Wings to finish a little lower in the standings in a transition season to get that elusive high pick. In the past five drafts, Detroit’s first picks were: 19th, 15th, 20th, 49th, 35th.
During the Red Wings time at the top of the NHL, it was often said they were a smart organization because they took their time with their prospects; forced them to learn the pro game in the AHL. A quick peak back, though, offers another possibility; with future Hall of Famers like Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov, Brendan Shanahan, Brett Hull, Igor Larionov, Larry Murphy, Luc Robitaille, Slava Fetisov, Dominik Hasek and Chris Chelios playing ahead of them, the prospects simply couldn’t crack the lineup.
When players like Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader, Jonathan Ericsson and Kyle Quincey finally established themselves as full-time NHL players, they were good, but not great.
For years the Red Wings have received well-earned pats on the back for their ability to snag great players later in the draft. The list goes on and on and on: Zetterberg 210th in 1999; Datsyuk 171st in 1998; Ericsson 291st in 2002; Helm 132nd in 2005; Quincey 132nd in 2003; Gustav Nyquist 121st in 2008; Valtteri Filppula 95th in 2002; Jimmy Howard 64th in 2003; and Tomas Tatar 60th in 2009.
Red Wings GM Ken Holland and his scouting staff are to be congratulated.
But unless their prospects are going to take giant leaps forward in the next few years as Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall continue to fade, a change of direction might be the best bet.
Brophy continues, and I don't think he understands how Ken Holland operates...And he undervalues the Wings' prospects significantly.
From the Grand Rapids Press's Steve Kaminski:
The Grand Rapids Griffins can look up, down and all around the Central Division standings for challenges as they head into the final week of regular-season play.
If the Griffins want to find their biggest challenge of all, though, all they have to do is look into the mirror.
That's what goaltender Tom McCollum said after recording 21 saves in Grand Rapids' 4-3 victory over Chicago Friday night at Van Andel Arena.
"I think our biggest challenge right now is ourselves," McCollum said. "Sometimes, we've had a few questionable performances here and there, but I think as long as we keep ourselves focused and play well, we will do great things."
The Griffins (44-25-1-1) are one of four Central Division teams that have clinched a playoff berth, and the scramble is on to earn home-ice advantage through the first round of the playoffs. That will go to the top two teams, and the Griffins are currently second with five games to go, but the race remains close.
Grand Rapids, which has 90 points, trails front-running Milwaukee by five points. Friday's win gave the Griffins a one-point lead over Lake Erie and a two-point margin over fourth-place Rockford.
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill spoke with the media ahead of today's Wings-Rangers game, and the Wings posted a clip of Blashill's pre-game availability:
Of Red Wings-related note this morning:
1. Here's the Wings' Game Day Preview video:
2. Among the New York Journal News's Rick Carpinello's game-day notes:
Of prospect-related note:
In playoff action, in the SHL, Christoffer Ehn played 12:22 in the Frolunda Indians' 2-1 loss to Lulea Hockey on Friday. Lulea tied the SHL semifinal at 2 games apiece;
In regular-season play, in the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins dropped a 3-1 lead to the Chicago Wolves but rallied for a 4-3 win on a goal from Mark Zengerle.
Eric Tangradi, Mitch Callahan and Colin Campbell also scored for Grand Rapids, Nick Jensen had 2 assists and Tom McCollum stopped 21 shots for Grand Rapids. The Griffins' website filed a recap...
The Detroit Red Wings face the New Yrok Rangers Saturday with the playoffs on the line (12:30 PM EDT start on FSD/MSG/97.1 FM), and while the Red Wings can still make the playoffs if they lose Saturday's game, it behooves Detroit to win to get in.
The Wings are coming off a 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins on Thursday, and will be starting Jimmy Howard;
The Rangers, who are coming off a 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday, are starting Antti Raanta, and sitting Mats Zuccarello, Marcus Kruger, Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh, but the Rangers are doing so hoping for a healthy lineup in their first-round match-up with either the Penguins or Panthers, as Newsday's Steve Zipay noted:
Good stuff from the Red Wings:
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.