The Malik Report
Grumpliy updated 2x at 9:53 AM: If you only watched the Minnesota Wild out-shoot the Red Wings 11-6 in the first period of what turned out to be an ugly but livable-withable 5-3 Red Wings victory, or watched the Wings take two of their eight(!) penalties within the first ten minutes of said first period, you would have been forgiven for assuming that the Wings were on their way to yet another predictable 2013 season defeat--in which they were out-shot, out-chanced, out-penalized and plain old out-played.
That had indeed been the case over the course of the team's first three games, with a team that didn't look anything like itself registering exactly one shootout win while chasing the puck and chasing play. But somewhere during Friday night's game, a Wings team strengthened by the returns of Darren Helm (back) and Todd Bertuzzi (flu) seemed to straighten up and fly right when it remembered a Red Wings axiom: regardless of the personnel that the team may or may not have in its lineup, when the Detroit Red Wings possess the puck and skate up the ice with speed, they dictate the pace of play, and tend to out-score their opponents.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Michael Russo offers a story that's more than just cold comfort for Red Wings fans who still feel jilted by Zach Parise and Ryan Suter's collective decision to spurn offers from the Red Wings to play for the Minnesota Wild.
According to Russo, a certain Swiss Wing who scored a goal in Detroit's 5-3 win over Minnesota on Friday was more or less set up on a platter to sign with the Wild by his agent, Neil Sheehy, but instead, Damien Brunner decided to wait a year before hopping from the Swiss National A League to the NHL, and the Wings are reaping the rewards of Brunner's deicsion:
Two years ago, Brunner had a high ankle sprain and traveled to Minnesota to see a doctor with whom his agent Neil Sheehy set up an appointment. Blair Mackasey, the Wild's director of pro scouting, was a big fan, so the Wild invited Brunner to St. Paul for a meeting. General Manager Chuck Fletcher was willing to sign Brunner right on the spot.
"They said they had been following me for a year and I met with Chuck, but it was just too early for me back then," Brunner said. "I wanted to have a strong year in Switzerland and prove I was ready. It was great to meet with them. It was a good switch for my head, like realizing that there's an NHL team interested and it makes you think about it a little more. It made me work harder and made me more focused on that goal to make the NHL."
The Detroit Red Wings played like two different teams--or was it three or four?--en route to a slightly sloppy but particularly satisfying 5-3 win over the Minnesota Wild on Friday. I'll write more about the game I described as, "Dating a fat girl who 'tries harder'" on Twitter in a minute, but I'd like to hear what you thought about what may or may not be an identity-finding effort by a team that seems to have learned that its personnel matter a little less than playing the puck possession system no matter what...Though Helm and Bertuzzi sure helped a helluva lot.
My more general take: The Wings were out-shot 11-6 in the first period, if we are to believe the statisticians at the Joe, they blocked a ridiculous 24 shots (9 in the first period alone!), and displayed a serious case of, "Stand around and watch-itis" over the first 20 minutes or so. They also took 9 frickin' penalties, and, after scoring 2 goals in 47 seconds, quickly surrendered that lead...
I've been out of the loop for a couple of days, first due to my illness flaring up on Monday night and then due to a familial issue, but it's been suggested that I offer my opinions on Wings-related issues a little more regularly, so here are a few "radon" thoughts...
- Now that Tomas Holmstrom's retired, I sure as hell hope that the Wings hire him to coach their power play. Holmstrom did two things particularly well, and the first may have been more important than the second:
a) Holmstrom had an uncanny ability to out-race and out-compete his opponents to rebounds or shots fired wide of the net, almost inevitably getting his stick or skates into a battle for the puck and coming out on top, retrieving the puck and shoveling it to a waiting teammate along the half boards or on the point;
Updated at 5:40 PM: As noted in the game-day update post, we're going to hear a significant amount of chatter regarding Ryan Suter and Zach Parise playing at Joe Louis Arena after having spurned the Red Wings' offers to come to Detroit this past summer, and while I don't really hold a grudge against Parise, and am...Mildly annoyed...at Suter, I didn't think that Wings fans would boo either player. The Detroit News's Terry Foster thinks differently, and he's endorsing a hearty booing of the pair every time that they touch the puck:
It will be interesting to see if Detroit continues to play the long standing role of jilted lover when the Red Wings play host to the Minnesota Wild tonight at Joe Louis Arena.
This will be the first time former free agent stars Zach Parise and Ryan Suter come to town since turning down Red Wings money to play together in Parise's old hometown of Minneapolis. They were two free agents the Red Wings were hot after and expectations were for them to come here and become the spark that eased the franchise into the post Nick Lidstrom era.
Parise is a power forward in the stratosphere of former Wing Brendan Shanahan and Suter is the blue liner Red Wings fans have long coveted. Although Suter is off to a shaky start, the Wings certainly could have used him during that season-opening 6-0 loss to St. Louis that still is hard to swallow.
They are the difference from the Wings remaining Stanley Cup contenders and being playoff pretenders.
Updated 5x at 6:52 PM: The Red Wings and Wild face off tonight at 7:30 (on FSD Plus and
97.1 FM 1270 AM--also, this game will be on the NHL Network, so Center Ice and GameCenter Live users without the NHL Network, you're kinda screwed), and MLive's Ansar Khan is reporting that the Wings will get Darren Helm (back), Todd Bertuzzi (groin) and Jakub Kindl (groin) back from injuries, but Jonathan Ericsson (back), Jonas Gustavsson (groin), Jan Mursak (shoulder), Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) and Mikael Samuelsson (groin) remain sidelined. Here are the lines for tonight's game, per Khan:
from Chuck Pleiness of Red Wings Front,
Kindl will be paired on the second power play unit with Brendan Smith.
For Kindl it may be his last chance to make this team has a regular.
“That’s another good thing about injures, other people get opportunities,” Babcock said. “If you grab hold of it you get to play a long, long time. Everybody comes in has nobody and then does something.
“You have to grab hold of it,” Babcock continued. “Kuba is getting to the point in his career, this is eight years now when you drafted him, you have to grab hold of it. If not you’re not part of it.”
more on the Wings from their morning skate...
He's headed to Philadelphia to take a physical tomorrow and if he passes, the Flyers will sign him. The Flyers hope Knuble will help after Hartnell broke his foot.
I don't think Knuble had a chance with the Wings this season, but if he was a defenseman, that would have been another story.
added 1:05pm, from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
Quick update following Detroit Red Wings practice Thursday at Joe Louis Arena, in preparation for Friday's home game vs. Minnesota:
Coach Mike Babcock has split up Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, in an effort to boost the sputtering offense (four goals in three games).
from Michale Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
Maybe, the team that parity forgot has finally been sucked into the cycle. The Red Wings have not had a top-10 draft pick since 1991. It has been five years since they won the Cup, four years since they made it to the Finals, three years since they made it past the second round. That fits into a picture that shows seven different teams winning the Cup in the past seven years since the salary cap was instituted in 2005.
Detroit fans have been spoiled, like few others, for 20 years. They might be getting some comeuppance this season, but their team should not be dismissed. The Red Wings remain one of the best-run organizations on the planet, and they still have Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. They can make the playoffs. Or, if they miss, surely they will win the draft lottery.
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.