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The Malik Report

On the evolution of Jimmy Howard

NHL.com's Kevin Woodley wrote an excellent article discussing the evolution of Jimmy Howard's game over the past year, and the "steps forward" that Howard has taken by revising his playing style:

When Howard, who not long ago was in the conversation as one of the most aggressive goalies in the NHL, took a step back and examined his game, he decided to also take a step (or two) back into his crease. Three months after buying into those changes and six weeks into the season, Howard is reaping the benefits, including a 1.76 goals-against average, sixth best in the League, and a .943 save percentage, which is fifth in the League. .

"It was just me saying, 'OK if I want to continue to play, not only in Detroit but in the National Hockey League, then I need to change,'" Howard said. "I wanted to play again, to be out there every night in the crease, so I took a look in the mirror and said, 'This game is evolving; it's getting really, really fast, so I need to change and put myself in better spots to not only make one save, but make a second and a third if necessary,' and one thing was just being a little bit less aggressive in the net."

Woodley continues, and NHL.com's Kevin Weekes mentioned Howard's lack of goal support in his "Friday Four":

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The overnight report: Red Wings-Devils set-up

The Detroit Red Wings hope to build upon Wednesday's 2-1 shootout win over Buffalo as they face the New Jersey Devils Friday evening (7:30 PM on FSD Plus/MSG+/97.1 FM), and the 9-10-and-1 Wings have quite the task on their hands in taming the 10-6-and-3 Devils.

New Jersey's coming off a 5-4 shootout win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, a win in which Mike Cammalleri celebrated his return to the lineup with a 4-point night that helped the Devils snap a 4-game losing streak. New Jersey has yet to lose in regulation over the course of 8 home games, too.

The Bergen Record's Andrew Gross issues a "state of the Devils" heading into tonight's game:

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Prospect news: Marsh, Sambrook register assists; Ehn’s ice time goes up

Of prospect-related note:

In the SHL, Axel Holmstrom's Skelleftea AIK won 4-1 over Leksands IF;

Christoffer Ehn took 3 shots and won 61% of his faceoffs in 16:38 played as his Frolunda Indians won 4-2 over Rogle;

In the Finnish Liiga, Julius Vahatalo played 12:28 in TPS Turku's 5-2 win over KooKoo;

In the QMJHL, Adam Marsh had an assist in the Val-d'Or Foreurs' 6-2 loss to Rimouski;

And in the OHL, Jordan Sambrook had an assist and finished at +2 in the Erie Otters' 5-2 win over Sudbury.

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Krupa discusses the Red Wings’ status as playoff outliers

The average estimate states that 78% of NHL teams that are in a playoff spot by American Thanksgiving make the playoffs. As such, teams that are out of the playoff pack, all 14 of them, have on average a 22% chance of making the playoffs.

The Detroit Red Wings find themselves in the latter half of the NHL standings at present, sitting 4 points in arrears of the Wild Card spot-holding Ottawa Senators. It's going to take a hell of a push throught December, January, February, March and April for the Red Wings to assuage the damage done to the team's record over the course of October and especially November.

The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa duly notes that the Wings are not only 4 points out of a playoff spot, but sit in 7th place in the 8-team Atlantic Division, which means that the Wings must clamber over three or four other teams to steal a playoff spot.

Krupa spoke with Red Wings GM Ken Holland whlie writing a "Spirit of the Thing" column wondering whether the Red Wings have the personnel necessary to make a Penguins-like latter-part-of-the-season push:

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Evening news: On Thomas Vanek, praise and panning and Tweets of note

Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

1. MLive's Ansar Khan penned an article regarding Thomas Vanek's strong performance against the Buffalo Sabres...

An inspired Vanek helped the Detroit Red Wings snap a four-game losing streak with a 2-1 shootout victory over the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Vanek made a nice pass to set up Gustav Nyquist's goal in the second period and then executed a familiar move to score the shootout winner.

"We're struggling to score and we needed this win," Vanek said. "It doesn't matter which way (it happened), we needed a win. But we need two more this weekend to kind of get back on track."

The Red Wings visit New Jersey Friday (7:30 Fox Sports Detroit Plus) and host Montreal Saturday (7 p.m., FSD)

The Red Wings went 3-7-1 in Vanek's absence, averaging only 1.55 goals per game. The one-time prolific scorer with the Sabres had gotten off to a good start with four goals and eight points in seven games.

Khan continues, and the Free Press's Helene St. James also wrote an article about Vanek:

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Gobble Gobble!

"American Thanksgiving" is here, and I'm thankful for my family, my friends, my health and readers like you this morning.

I hope those of you who celebrate are safe as you travel to your destinations, I hope you're safe at the table ("The Obvious Plant" on Facebook has some good, funny Thanksgiving survival tips), and I am hoping that the Red Wings manage to make good on their 22% chance of making the playoffs.

Mostly, I'm grateful for your readership. Thank you for putting up with the ups and downs.

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Jimmy Howard With Another ‘Save’ Last Night

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

"Just coming in here after, in the room, feeling you know, like a lot of weight was lifted off your shoulders," Howard said. "It feels good going into Thanksgiving."

Howard has a 1.76 goals-against average and .943 save percentage. The reason he is only 5-5-0 is his club has supported him with just 14 goals in his 10 starts (1.4 per game).

"He just looks calm in there, he looks real repeatable," coach Jeff Blashill said. "It doesn't look like anything that he can't keep doing, so it's great for him. He's put the work in to make himself better and prepared and ready to jump through the window of opportunity, which he's done time and time again."

Howard has started seven of the past eight games in taking over the starting job from Petr Mrazek. Chances are, Howard will start in New Jersey Friday and Mrazek at home the next night against Montreal.


Extended game highlights are below...

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The overnight report: Red Wings-Sabres wrap-up—shootout win spells ‘relief’

The Red Wings' 2-1 shootout victory over the Buffalo Sabres was anything but an artistic triumph, with both teams playing some ugly, sloppy hockey at times (okay, most of the time), but there were enough moments of beauty for the Wings to escape with 2 points, snapping a 4-game losing streak in the process.

Thomas Vanek rounded back into form, registering an assist and a shootout-winning goal, and Jimmy Howard was excellent, stopping 32 of 33 shots and 2 of 3 shootout shooters.

The Sabres were pretty peeved with the way luck went in their loss, as BuffaloSabres.com's Jourdan LaBarber noted:

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Prospect news: Jurco scores in Griffins’ loss; Walleye rally; Kadeikin gets in a fight

Of prospect-related note:

In the AHL, Tomas Jurco let his play do the talking, scoring a goal on 6 shots as the Grand Rapids Griffins lost 3-1 to the Milwaukee Admirals. The Griffins' website posted a recap:

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Red Wings-Sabres quick take: shootout steal

The Red Wings attempted to snap a 4-game losing streak against the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday evening.

The Wings won in a shootout, 2-1--thanks to Thomas Vanek and Jimmy Howard--snapping their losing streak and earning a very, very necessary two points.

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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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