The Malik Report
from Justin Bourne of The Score,
I believe that teams have the most success when their best players are in their prime producing years, and in the case of true superstars (think Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews), that’s a lot younger than most people think. Incidentally, that’s why I say seasonist, not just ageist - true stars who've been in the league for four seasons at 22 are different from 24-year-old rookies.
All this brings me to the Detroit Red Wings. Watching them this post-season, I can’t help but feel like they have a terrific roster with messed up ages. If their young guys were older and their old guys younger, they might be Cup contenders. But as it goes in hockey, timing is everything, and this year it isn’t on their side....
I’m looking strictly at forwards because I believe scoring goals is the hardest thing to do in the playoffs when everyone doubles down on defensive responsibility, and it’s part of the reason the Red Wings won’t be able to upset Boston.
Here’s the Red Wings group:
Ages 24 & under - on the come-up
Five young players who’ve all seen consistent ice in the post-season. Not the youngest, but as inexperienced as you can get.
The Sault Star's Peter Ruicci penned a catching-up article profiling former Soo Greyhounds defenseman, Red Wings prospect and Grand Rapids Griffins blueliner Ryan Sproul, and instead of chopping it up, I'll suggest you take it from here:
Showing up at the arena two hours prior to the afternoon start, Sproul saw his name posted among those in the lineup. He was about to live the NHL experience.
“I was just trying to turn my nerves into energy,” recalled Sproul, who starred for the 2012-2013 Greyhounds, eventually being named the Canadian Hockey League's top defenceman.
With Danny DeKeyser and Niklas Kronwall held out in order to rest up for the playoffs, and with Jonathan Ericsson sidelined with an injured finger, Sproul played alongside Ouellet on the Wings third defensive pair. Wearing jersey No. 48, Sproul, an outstanding skater with a lethal shot, didn't look out of place during a game that was broadcast nationally in the United States on NBC.
“I was pretty much pinching myself,” admitted Sproul, a six-foot-four, 205-pounder, who played three seasons for the Hounds. “This is my dream. This is where I want to be.”
Red Wings-Bruins Game 4 wrap-up and overnight report: the next generation’s learning painful lessons
The Boston Bruins flew back to Massachusetts after their 3-2 OT win over the Detroit Red Wings in Game 3, likely assuming--like their self-sanctimonious media corps, the rest of the hockey world, and, regrettably, Wings fans who fear that they've witnessed the last Fox Sports Detroit broadcast of the 2012-2013 season, the last home game at Joe Louis Arena in its next-to-last season and the last Wings game of the year--that the Bruins will have an easy time of mopping up the Wings in NBC's Saturday matinee before moving on to battle Montreal in the second round.
Do I agree with their assessment?
I'm not sure whether I do or whether I don't. I know that the Red Wings will practice at noon today at the Joe, that the team will fly to Boston after having said all the right things about rallying from a 3-games-to-1 deficit one shift at a time, and regardless of who starts in the net, I know that Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall will do the best to lead their team.
Henrik Zetterberg came back. Pavel Datsyuk worked his ass off. But the Detroit Red Wings blew a 2-0 lead to the Boston Bruins, were out-shot 12-3 in OT, and this happened:
Faceoff loss by Glendening, Bruins go D to D, Krejci to Hamilton, Hamilton shoots...And the puck goes off Glendening's stick near the blueline, Iginla tips the puck, and it goes off Danny DeKeyser's skate...And past Jonas Gustavsson at 13:32 of Ot.
NO CHANCE FOR Gustavsson, who started in Jimmy Howard (flu's) stead.
3-2 Boston in OT, Bruins up 3-1, last game of the season very possibly on Saturday at 3 PM on NBC.
The game-day post is packed to the gills with news regarding Red Wings captain's Henrik Zetterberg's highly likely return to the Wings' lineup in Game 4 against the Boston Bruins this evening (again, 8 PM start, not 7:30, on FSD/NESN/NBCSN/TSN and 97.1 FM), and the post contains oodles of video and other place-setting storylines as well...
But you may recall hearing that Henrik Zetterberg returned to North America from the 2014 Olympics on the same NHL-chartered plane as the Slovak Olympic team, and that Zdeno Chara ended up carrying Zetterberg's suitcase.
The Canadian Press's Stephen Whyno spoke with Chara and Bruins forward/Team Sweden Loui Eriksson about Zetterberg's fateful exit and then departure from Sochi due to a back injury which required a "discectomy," 2 months' worth of recovery, and is now hopefully ending with something of a classic, "Sports team captain returns from major injury during playoffs, rallies team from deficit" storyline:
The Grand Rapids Griffins spent yesterday traveling from GR to Abbotsford, BC as they'll begin their 5-game first-round playoff series against the Abbotsford Heat on Friday and Saturday. The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner wrote a fantastic, comprehensive article (and this excerpt is just part of it) which sets up the series by asking both last year's Calder Cup Champs and this year's new faces how they plan on defending their title.
Wallner duly pointed out that several of the Griffins' biggest early-season contributors are in Detroit now, and he did note that Anthony Mantha may eventually join the cause if Mantha's Val-d'Or Foreurs continue to get ran over by the QMJHL's defending champion Halifax Mooseheads:
“I think you draw upon all of your experiences,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “One of those is the emotional roller coaster than we went through a year ago. I don’t know if that’s an advantage, because, no matter the experience or how you’ve been playing, it’s how you execute on Friday that matters the most.”
The most consistent – and regularly available – player has been Teemu Pulkkinen, who led the Griffins with 31 goals and 59 points during the regular season. A year ago, the right winger from Finland got into 14 playoff games before the arrival of the Detroit players put him on the bench.
Jordin Tootoo still a fan favorite, ‘good guy’ in Grand Rapids, as illustrated in stick-giveaway vid
I tend to post the Grand Rapids Griffins' videos as a matter of course, so I stuck this little ditty in the Griffins-Abbotsford Heat 1st round preview post, and since that time, Jordin Tootoo's kind gesture's "gone viral":
Updated 19x at 2:25 PM:
If we believe what the Hockey News's Ken Campbell is reporting, Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg may end up skating in Game 4 between the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings this evening (8 PM EDT on FSD and NESN locally, NBCSN and TSN nationally and 97.1 FM; again, I still believe that "the other guys" have to carry the team), and the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness and MLive's Ansar Khan report that Zetterberg's skating with the regulars--though the rest of the lineup is in flux:
I love this little piece of art from the Detroit News's David Guralnick, too:
from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News,
With the Detroit Red Wings trailing 2-1 in their first-round series against the Boston Bruins, they’ll go into tonight’s Game 4 with their captain and one of their best players in the lineup for the first time in two months.
A source close to the Red Wings said Henrik Zetterberg has been cleared to play tonight, after missing the last 30 games (including playoffs) and all but one game of the Olympics with a back injury. The source said Zetterberg will likely play only “limited minutes,” somewhere in the range of 10 to 12, but even that will be a massive upgrade for a Red Wings team that is reeling with injuries and has been outscored by the Bruins 7-1 in the past two games.
Ahead of tonight's slightly-late-starting Game 4 between the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins (8 PM EDT on FSD and NESN locally, and NBCSN and TSN nationally, as well as 97.1 FM), the tenor of the series has started to shift.
While the Bruins' press kept reminding us again and again on Wednesday that the Wings' 3-0 loss in Game 3 signals a series heading toward a 5-game conclusion, the voices of the Bruins' media who chose to stay home (I'm starting to wonder whether they'd argue that they simply chose to save on airfare for the second round) have been supplanted by those of the people who will probably be following whichever team advances to play Montreal next week.
National writers, new newspaper or online outlets and head correspondents showed up on Tuesday stuck around for Wednesday's practice. Today, they're preaching the same chorus: wouldn't it be a great story if Henrik Zetterberg returned from his back surgery to rally the struggling 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.