The Malik Report
Updated 2x at 2:34 PM: After taking Saturday off for some much-needed rest and recuperation--both mentally and physically speaking--the Red Wings' prospects took part in a brief but spirited game-day skate ahead of tonight's game against the St. Louis Blues (7 PM at Centre Ice Arena)--and while the Wings' staff is convinced that "they're in" to the championship game, those who know the rules (i.e. @Lindy72 and those who run the tournament) suggest that the Wings must beat St. Louis OR score at least two goals if the Wings lose and Dallas wins (Dallas and Minnesota play today at 3 PM) to win the Howe division and play in the championship game at 7:30 PM on Monday.
The Wings are starting Jake Paterson against the Blues this evening, and it looks like Phillipe Hudon will take Jordan Maletta's spot on the fourth line, and Richard Nedomlel may or may not sit this one out given that try-out Richard Plutnar skated some shifts alongside Max Nicastro.
Today is "Bryan Rufenach Day" at Centre Ice Arena, so take note:
I haven't had the opportunity to speak with Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill as he's busy watching his team and I'm busy covering the one you sent me up to watch, but the Traverse City Record-Eagle's James Cook managed to snag an interview with Nill, and the former Red Wings assistant GM is very happy in his new position:
"It's been great," Nill said. "We've got a great staff down there, some great, young kids. I'm just anxious to get the season going. It's a big change. It's all change. I'm coming from a great organization. I've been lucky I've been in an organization that has done it right all these years — and I've learned from that. That's what I'm trying to create in Dallas. I've got a lot of work to do. And if I can have a quarter of the success they've had here, I'll be happy."
As stated earlier this morning, after one final "informal" practice on Monday, the Red Wings' players and prospects (who play the St. Louis Blues tonight at 7 PM here in Traverse City; it's Bryan Rufenach day at Centre Ice Arena, too) will embark upon an incredibly busy schedule over the balance of September, all leading up to the Wings' season-opener on October 2nd.
The Free Press's Helene St. James penned a column sounding positive tones regarding the Wings' chances of making more than a two-round playoff push, and Niklas Kronwall certainly believes that last year's playoff-qualifying late-season flourish and the team's fourteen games' worth of playoff experience proved that the post-Lidstrom Wings are still a competitive team:
The hockey blogger's rules for a "slow day" involve, "Don't look around too much, or you'll find more than enough to keep you busy." I should have listened to that rule, because I ended up finding a decent crop of Wings-related and plain old interesting stuff, and spent three hours doing so.
Saturday marked the second anniversary of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl tragedy, and as Lokomotiv's owned by JSC Russian Railways, the owner/operator of the Russian railroads, the company spared no expense to build a memorial to the 37 players and coaches lost two years ago.
I dared to take a "nap day" after spending a pair of sixteen-to-eighteen-hour affairs at the Red Wings' prospect camp, and it at least appears that the Red Wings players as well as their prospects decided to take Saturday off, too.
For the latter group, there's a slate of two games in two nights coming, and if the prospects don't build upon their win over Dallas by defeating St. Louis tomorrow night at 7 PM, things get complicated for the Howe division-leading Wings:
Steve Ott of the Buffalo Sabres thinks so in a story from Dan Rosen of NHL.com on division and conference realignment.
But are they still considered a powerhouse or does their legacy allow the use of that word to continue?
I instead would use the words "legitimate Stanley Cup contender" or "consistently the best team over the last 20 years".
As noted in the "initial thoughts and audio" post, the Red Wings prospects' 4-2 victory over the Dallas Stars didn't secure the team a berth in the prospect tournament final, but it was as close to a giant-slaying as you could get.
The "new" crop of Red Wings prospects has been built purposefully to possess size and some snarl, but compared to the Stars' prospects, they looked downright small, and the Radek Faksas, Andrei Nicushkins, Alex Chiassons and Patrik Nemeths were supposed to have their way against a team with all of three non-rookie AHL'ers in Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco and Max Nicastro and two European pros in Teemu Pulkkinen and Calle Jarnkrok..
For those of you who are in Traverse City this weekend, take note: there are no games scheduled for Centre Ice Arena today, Saturday the 7th, and the Red Wings will not be practicing at 12 PM.
They chose to take the day off after defeating Dallas 4-2. Wings prospects assistant coach (and Grand Rapids Griffins assistant coach) Jim Paek stated that the coaches are well aware of the fact that the prospect tournament players are going to be taking part in a second stretch of two games in two nights, and that they've got six straight days of training camp work ahead of them, so they're trying to conserve the players both mentally and physically.
The Detroit Red Wings' prospects defeated the Dallas Stars' prospects 4-2 on Friday night, holding on by the slimmest of margins as Dallas's NHL-ready and AHL-heavy roster pushed incredibly hard at the end, but Martin Frk, Riley Sheahan and Teemu Pulkkinen scored excellent goals--with Pulkkinen unloading his "holy slapper" one-timer--and Jared Coreau stopped 17 of 19 shots and received superb support from teammates committed to the Jeff Blashill-Mike Babcock defensive system that is, "Third forward, whoever the hell you are, get back and help your defenseman!"
The last goal was awarded to Andreas Athansiou as he was pulled down en route to scoring an empty-netter!
There is very literally a debate as to whether the Wings, who will not practice on Saturday, are "through to the final" because the St. Louis Blues' 3-2 OT win over Minnesota may or may not count for two points to the Wings' 3 for a pair of regulation wins, thus yielding a Howe Division title and a "bye" to play the Lindsay Division winner in Monday's championship, or whether Sunday's 7 PM game against St. Louis will tell the tale as to who would play the winner of the division led by the Buffalo Sabres.
The Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindenau explains how things are going to do down:
While Daniel Cleary stole the show at today's informal Red Wings practice, MLive's Ansar Khan also spoke with someone who's hoping to stick with the Wings in one Todd Bertuzzi, who believes that he's ready to return to action after missing the vast majority of the 2013 season with back issues:
“I felt the best I did last year coming into training camp and that didn’t work out so well,'' Bertuzzi said. “We’ll see. I’m happy where I’m at right now. I feel strong. I’m skating better right now. I haven’t had any issues in the morning or at night, so that’s a plus for me.''
Bertuzzi experienced health issues for three weeks in the off-season before taking three weeks off to recover. He started his rehab again, started skating and has felt great ever since.
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.