The Malik Report
Updated 11x at 2:27 PM: As Paul noted, the Wings skated a little earlier this morning at Joe Louis Arena, and the practice was routine until Mike Babcock made his post-practice comments to the media, as noted by MLive's Ansar Khan:
Howard thinks he's ready to play. Needs to be cleared by doctors in next day or two.
Babcock said Mrazek starting Wednesday. Howard is backing up. Howard might start Saturday
So they'll carry three goalies for now. Franzen being on IR creates the roster spot.
Babcock said he wants to stick with hot hand. Made it clear Howard is their No. 1 goalie.
The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan, the Free Press's Helene St. James, WXYZ's Brad Galli, Fox 2's Jennifer Hammond and DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose are all confirming, and I'll be adding some articles to this entry shortly (as well as more comments from Babcock).
Also, from DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose:
ESPN's "30 for 30" series aired Of Miracles and Men, a film chronicling the Miracle on Ice from the Soviet perspective, last night. Keith Olbermann spoke with the documentary's producer, Jonathan Hock, for about 7 minutes, and the interview sets the stage for those of you who weren't around at the time--again, from the Russian perspective. The film will re-air over the next couple of weeks, and again, Slava Fetisov made an intriguing protagonist:
added 3:06pm, Watch the full version of the feature below, one hour and forty three minutes long.
via Ansar Khan tweets,
Everyone skating today for Wings except Franzen (concussion), including all three goalies.
Mrazek and Howard have the nets before the stretch, while Gustavsson watches.
more updates as needed...
added 10:21am, via Khan tweet,
Gustavsson now rotates in for Mrazek.
added 10:34am, Khan again...
Cleary rotating in.
Defense pairs the same:
Kindl rotating in
Update #3: More Khan:
Howard thinks he's ready to play. Needs to be cleared by doctors in next day or two.
And the Free Press's Helene St. James confirms:
The Red Wings headed back home for at least a couple days' worth of saying goodbye to fathers/relatives/mentors after sweeping the Fathers' Trip, but the Wings will play a 3rd consecutive road game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday.
The "NBCSN Rivalry Night" game precedes the Wings' only two home games of the month of February, tilts against the Winnipeg Jets (on Saturday the 14th) and Montreal Canadiens (on Monday the 16th), and then...Things get difficult, because the Wings wrap up February with a 6-game road trip whose opponents include Chicago, Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose.
Neither you or I seem to believe that the Wings' 10-for-11-game winning streak of late has proved that a still-young-looking, sometimes slightly stumbly and still slightly injury-deprived team that's tied for 2nd in the Atlantic Division has established itself as the latest incarnation of the dominant Big Red Machine--yet.
Three Red Wings prospects took part in games on Sunday, but their performances "told stories" about their respective growth:
In the OHL, Jake Paterson stopped 41 of 42 shots as his Kitchener Rangers defeated the Soo Greyhounds 2-1, and that shot total was more reflective the kind of game Paterson's previous employer, the Saginaw Spirit, gave up on a regular basis.
Paterson's been facing far fewer shots (on average) with Kitchener than he was with a losing team that hoped Paterson would stop most of 35-45 shots a night to keep the game somewhat competitive, and Paterson hasn't exactly starred at prospect tournaments while facing a reduced shot load, but he's doing very, very well (9-3-and-1 with a 1.99 goals-against average and .936 save percentage) playing for a mostly defensively sound team;
Watching ESPN's 30 For 30 film on the Miracle on Ice this evening, and knowing that Red Army is coming to theatres soon, I hope that my comments about my hopes for a "Russian 5" documentary weren't off-putting because I didn't suggest that Slava Fetisov should be its protagonist.
There's a reason I suggested as much--Red Wings fans were very well aware of the fact that Fetisov was "Papa Bear," the "father figure" in the Russian 5, and we knew that Feitsov was the first player to freely break through the Iron Curtain, but...He was prickly to Western journalists.
Sometimes he gave interviews, and sometimes he clammed right up (usually blaming his English, which wasn't as nearly good 20 years ago as it is now), or didn't speak at all, so while Fetisov may have been the head of the Russian 5, the thoughtful, well-spoken Igor Larionov, "rock star" Sergei Fedorov and the witty, darky funny Vladimir Konstantinov were the most relatable and approachable members thereof.
added 1:04pm, from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
"It's good to skate with them because they're all skilled guys, fast guys, so it's like a different level than what I was playing," Marchenko said. "Maybe to adjust a little bit, playing better than I was playing (the first) game to be faster, because when you practice with better guys you're getting better."
"(Brendan Smith) and I played a couple (exhibition) games, so I kind of know what he's going to do. It was really good to play with him because then I knew where to move the puck."
The 6-foot-3 Marchenko, 23, has no points and a plus-1 rating in three games this season.
"Big, solid, really strong defensively," said veteran defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "Cool with the puck. He gets it, he doesn't just throw it away. He wants to make a play. Right-handed D, we haven't had that in a long time.
"He's played great for us."
Updaed at 7:27 AM: I'm going to take the "overnight report" or the lack thereof in a slightly different direction this morning.
As the Free Press offers tickets to the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame induction next Friday, in which a certain Sergei Fedorov will join the ranks of Michigan's greatest athletes, and the Hockey News's Ronnie Shuker and the Newark Star-Ledger's Rich Chere remind us that Slava Fetisov will play another starring Russian hockey player's role in ESPN's "30 for 30" movie about the Miracle on Ice from the Russian perspective, Of Miracles and Men, which airs tonight at 9 PM EST...
I'm going to be honest here: I'm fully expecting to be disappointed by Red Army if I'm able to take Gabe Polsky's documentary about the Soviet hockey machine in when it premiers at the Main Art Theatre on February 27th. The reason I don't expect the 79-minute documentary to sway me is simple:
I'm a Red Wings fan, and I know enough about how "the Russians" came over here, and in the Wings' case, became the Russian 5, and I know quite a bit about what happened after the Wings' Russians ended their hockey careers, and I'm sure that Polsky, in telling Fetisov's story, will gloss over what is the most important part for me--the two years and parts of three seasons when Fetisov, Fedorov, Igor Larionov, Slava Kozlov and Vladimir Konstantinov took the NHL by storm, bringing Anatoli Tarasov's fundamentals of hockey and Scotty Bowman's puck possession together in front of a captivated Rust Belt audience that never looked at hockey the same way again.
Updated 2x at 4:54 AM: The Red Wings hauled tail out of Phoenix on Saturday night, returning home to Detroit having taken the first 2 games of their 3-game road trip and both games of the "Fathers' Trip," defeating the Colorado Avalanche 3-0 on Thursday and the Arizona Coyotes 3-1 on Saturday.
The Wings' latest win, their 10th in the last 11 games, places the Wings in a tie with the Tampa Bay Lightning for 1st in the Atlantic Division and 1st in the Eastern Conference, and while the Wings have 2 fewer wins and 2 fewer Regulation-or-OT-Wins than the Lightning, the 31-12-and-9 Wings have played 52 games to the Lightning's 54.
The Wings' latest win, their 1,500th under Mike and Marian Ilitch's ownership, wasn't the prettiest victory, either, but it didn't have to be, and the fact that the Tatars, Sheahans, Helms, Marchenkos and Mrazeks stepped up during a quieter evening for the Datsyuks, Zetterbergs and Kronwalls was wonderful to see.
I'd be remiss if I didn't note that Wings coach Mike Babcock told both Fox Sports Detroit and the attending media that he wasn't quite sure what the Wings would do with Mrazek, and that the team would discuss their plans on the flight back to Detroit. That was at least...intriguing.
The Grand Rapids Griffins' players and coaches are currently taking part in the Great Skate, but they're not participating in the team's biggest charity event with gigantic smiles on their faces, because the Griffins split their 2-game series with the Rochester Americans, defeating the Amerks 5-4 in overtime on Friday, but dropping a 4-3 OT decision on Saturday.
The Griffins couldn't hold a 3-1 lead during Tom McCollum's return to the Griffins' crease, and while Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou scored goals, the Wings-depleted defense (see: no Xavier Ouellet or Alexey Marchenko) had a difficult outing, as the Griffins website's recap notes:
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