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Red Wings-Panthers game-day articles: Wings hope to snap 2-game losing streak against Panthers

Updated 6x at 1:44 PM: The Red Wings held an optional morning skate ahead of tonight's game against the Panthers (7:30 PM EST on FSD/FS Florida/97.1 FM), and the biggest health update involved Ken Kal's return to the broadcast booth.

The Florida Panthers' morning skate wrapped up around 12:15 PM, and WXYZ's Brad Galli reports that Jaromir Jagr wasn't in the mood to talk:

Jaromir Jagr turned down interview requests today. "Gotta go work out to make my last game here a good one," is all he said.

...

To hockey fans not understanding my last tweet: Jagr was talking about Joe Louis Arena. The building is closing after this season.

The Free Press's Helene St. James was first out of the chute with a morning skate report:

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Red Wings-Panthers morning skate Tweets and articles: Wings take an optional; Tatar good to go

The Detroit Red Wings face the Florida Panthers this evening (7:30 PM EST on FSD/FS Florida/97.1. FM) hoping to snap a 2-game losing streak against Florida this season. The Panthers' "final regular-season game at the Joe" will get some talk this morning, but it's the health of Tomas Tatar and Niklas Kronwall, who took "maintenance days" on Wednesday, that will be of more immediate concern.

MLive's Brendan Savage penned a superb Wings-Panthers set-up...

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Wakiji, Kulfan: Ken Kal to return to the booth this evening

Good news from the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...

Optional skate this morning....but Ken Kal back today to do the play-by-play

And DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji:

Welcome back, @KenKalDRW! Back on the mic tonight for #RedWings-#FlaPanthers.

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A bit more about Mark Howe’s Lester Patrick Trophy-awarding ceremony

Mark Howe was awarded the Lester Patrick Trophy for his contributions to hockey in the United States on Wednesday, and PhiladelphiaFlyers.com's Jay Greenberg wrote an article about Howe's honor:

"I was there in 1967, 12 years old, when my Dad was presented the award (as its second recipient) in New York," he said. "That makes it even that much more special; to have my name on an award that has his name, too.

"This was something I never thought about it until I got the call from Commissioner (Gary) Bettman," said Mark. "It was wonderful news; a tremendous honor.

He says he does not look at himself as a pioneer. Certainly the family was. Dad was an iconic figure that put the game on the American map. Mom, Colleen did more than just mother two NHL players, Mark and Marty; she birthed the idea that Americans could compete in the sport with Canadians.

Greenberg continues...

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NHL ‘counts down’ to the Centennial Classic

From the NHL:

COUNTDOWN TO THE 2017 SCOTIABANK NHL CENTENNIAL CLASSIC™

Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs to Renew Their Rivalry Outdoors on New Year’s Day


Celebration Highlights Include ‘EPIX Presents Road To the NHL Outdoor Classics,’ the Rink Build, Alumni Game, The PreGame and More

TORONTO/NEW YORK (Dec. 1, 2016) – With just one month until the 2017 Scotiabank NHL Centennial Classic™, the countdown to the much-anticipated Original Six™ rivalry game between the Detroit Red Wings® and Toronto Maple Leafs® on Sunday, Jan. 1 at Exhibition Stadium (170 Princes’ Boulevard, Toronto) has begun. The outdoor game will be broadcast live nationally on Sportsnet and TVA Sports in Canada and on NBC in the U.S. at 3 p.m. ET.

The game will launch the NHL’s year-long Centennial celebrations that will feature a variety of ceremonies, recognitions, observances and special events highlighting 100 years of NHL® hockey and also will recognize a number of milestone anniversaries for member Clubs, including the Maple Leafs and Red Wings. As part of the outdoor game celebration, fans of all ages are invited to join the League and its partners at The PreGame, the 2017 Scotiabank NHL Centennial Classic’s™ free fan festival.

Events and activities leading up to the 2017 Scotiabank NHL Centennial Classic™ include:

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Prospect news: Callahan scores 2 goals in Griffins shootout loss; Elfstrom bags an assist

Of prospect-related note: in the AHL, despite a pair of goals from Mitch Callahan, the Grand Rapids Griffins lost 3-2 to the Cleveland Monsters in a shootout. The Griffins' website posted a recap:

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The overnight report: Red Wings-Panthers set-up

The Detroit Red Wings host the Florida Panthers this evening (7:30 PM EST on FSD/FS Florida/97.1 FM) hoping to earn their first win in 3 meetings with the Panthers.

The Wings have lost and lost pretty badly to the Panthers two times already, dropping a 4-1 decision in Florida and 5-2 in Detroit, but things are different for the Panthers coming into tonight's game, so the Panthers' statuses as possessing an 11-10-and-2 record and having lost 3 of their past 4 games don't necessarily apply to tonight's affair.

Coach Gerard Gallant was fired on Sunday night, and a mandatory day off yielded coach Tom Rowe's first day as head coach cosisting of a "work day" that took the form of a 2-1 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday.

As such, the Panthers engaged in their first practice under Rowe on Wednesday, as the Miami Herald's George Richards noted:

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Mark Howe recalls Flyers days as he receives Lester Patrick Trophy

Mark Howe was honored with the Lester Patrick Trophy for his contributions to hockey in the U.S. on Wednesday night, and the Philadelphia Inquirer's Ed Barkowitz took note of Howe's achievement with a story and a Flyers-heavy emphasis...

Howe received the Lester Patrick Award Wednesday night for his lifetime of service, which included a stint on the 1972 U.S. Olympic team that surprisingly won a silver medal in Japan. It's an achievement that's often lost in the shadows of the gold medal teams of 1960 and 1980.

Howe, who was 16, remains the youngest player ever to win an Olympic hockey medal.

"When we got him to come to the Flyers (in 1982), talk about an immediate impact," said former teammate Paul Holmgren. "All of the sudden we had a franchise defenseman. He's Gordie's son, but he forged his own career."

...

Howe walked out of the room after chatting with reporters. He and his brother Marty were proudly wearing red No. 9 pins on their lapels in honor of their father, who passed away in June.

"I was there in 1967 when my dad won the award when it was presented in New York," Mark Howe said, recalling that chilly night. "That makes it even that much more special - to have my name on an award that his name is on."

As did NHL.com's Adam Kimelman:

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Evening news: On Mrazek’s dominance, Zetterberg’s determination and the Wings’ balanced lines

Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

1. As MLive's Ansar Khan notes, the Red Wings have received significantly improved goaltending from Petr Mrazek:

Mrazek has been solid in his past two starts (1.45 goals-against average, .949 save percentage), a 2-1 overtime loss to Montreal and a 3-1 victory over Dallas. He took over for the injured Jimmy Howard (groin, out at least another week) during the first period of Friday's 5-4 OT victory at New Jersey.

This followed a rough stretch in which Mrazek went 0-3-1, allowing four goals in each game. Mrazek was the main reason the Red Wings beat the Stars.

"I think when he's playing his best hockey the puck sticks to him well," coach Jeff Blashill said. "I also thought he had a high, high compete level around the net, where it seemed like there was no way the puck was going in unless it was a back-door or some kind of rebound play. I've been with him enough to know those nights where it just feels like there's no way the puck's going in and that's what it felt like last night when I was on the bench. He certainly looked like he was on top of his game."

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Wings Showing Improved Compete Level

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

“We’ve had, for the most part, a real good compete level,” coach Jeff Blashill said today. “And you have no chance of winning if you don’t have a real good compete level. We’ve continued to not give up lots of chances, not giving easy opportunities up.

“We’re making progress in our forecheck game, which will, hopefully, give us some more O-zone time.”

One of the most encouraging developments from Tuesday's 3-1 victory over Dallas and Saturday’s 2-1 overtime loss to Montreal was that Mrazek looked like he has regained his form after four straight starts in which he surrendered four goals.

“When he is playing his best hockey, the puck sticks to him well,” Blashill said. “He also had a high, high compete level around the net, where he just seemed like there was no way the puck was going in unless it was a backdoor play. He certainly looked like he was on top of his game.”

During the past four games, the Wings have gotten offense from every line, reflecting combinations that are clicking even as two of the fastest forwards, Andreas Athanasiou and Darren Helm, are injured. Anthony Mantha has looked at home with Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Tatar. Same with Frans Nielsen with Justin Abdelkader and Luke Glendening.

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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.

 

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