The Malik Report
The Red Wings faced a struggling Pittsburgh Penguins a little early on New Year's Eve, hoping to get the jump on the struggling Penguins and snap a 2-game losing streak.
The Red Wings didn't jump on anything, especially after taking a 2-0 lead on the Penguins, and in all honesty, the Wings embarrassed themselves when they stopped engaging the Penguins and spent the rest of the game watching the Penguins score 5 times...
Including a baffling goal by Patric Hornqvist where he shoved Mrazek into the net, but the Wings coach's challenge wasn't successful because the "call on the ice" was a goal. It didn't make any sense, but neither did the Wings' absolutely inept performance thereafter.
Detroit just collapsed for the vast majority of the 2nd and 3rd periods, trying to eke out a 2-2 tie, and some terrible defensive breakdowns a little under halfway through the third--combined by some less-than-perfect goaltending by Mrazek--yielded a sudden 2-goal deficit and a lack of confidence so stark that the game was over as soon as Malkin found the back of the net at 8:22.
The Wings have lost 3 straight, and SOMEthing has to change in a damn hurry, because Detroit's road trip begins with an afternoon matinee in Buffalo on Saturday and a Monday tilt against a team that's won 2 straight over the Wings in New Jersey. Whatever Blashill can do to shake up the team, he's got to do now.
Afternoon news: Zatkoff vs. Mrazek; a game-day preview video and talk of Nyquist and Tatar’s scoring
Of Red Wings-related note this afternoon:
1. The Pittsburgh Penguins announced their starting goaltender opposite Petr Mrazek this evening:
2. The Red Wings posted their game-day preview video:
3. MLive's Brendan Savage filed a game-day article...
At the World Junior Championships in Helsinki, Finland:
IIHF.com's Risto Pakarinen reports that Vili Saarijarvi had to leave Finland's 5-4 win over the Czech Republic due to a bout of the stomach flu;
The Quarterfinal match-ups look like this, per IIHF.com, and all times listed are GMT + 2 (or 8 hours ahead of Eastern Standard TIme)
Quarter-Finals (2 Jan.):
14:00 Russia vs. Denmark, Hartwall Arena (7 AM EST)
16:00 Sweden vs. Slovakia, Helsinki Ice Hall (9 AM EST)
18:00 Finland vs. Canada, Hartwall Arena (11 AM EST)
20:00 USA vs. Czech Republic, Helsinki Ice Hall (1 PM EST)
Semi-Finals (4 Jan.):
Winner SWE/SVK vs. Winner FIN/CAN
Winner RUS/DEN vs. Winner USA/CZE
The semi-finals are played at Hartwall Arena at 16:00 and 20:00 respectively.
Updated 5x at 1:38 PM: The Red WIngs take on the Pittsburgh Penguins this evening (6 PM EST start on FSD/Root/Sportsnet/97.1 FM), and the morning skate revealed that Jonathan Ericsson will return and that Petr Mrazek will start, presumably opposite Jeff Zatkoff.
The Free Press's Helene St. James reports that the Wings are still wary of the 17-15-and-4 Penguins, despite their underwhelming record:
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose dropped some trivia knowledge...
Tonight, the #RedWings will play on NYE for the 68th time in club history (35-23-8-1); the fourth time they'll host the @penguins (1-1-1).
Darren Helm plays in career game No. 400 tonight, becoming the 16th center in #RedWings history to reach the milestone, nine behind Hudler.
The #RedWings head into the last game of 2015 with a 41-28-12 record worth 94 points in the calendar year. They were 41-24-15 in 2014.
MLive's Ansar Khan covered the skate...
via Ansar Khan tweets,
RedWings on ice for morning skate. Mrazek in starter's net, not that there was any question as to who will start vs. Penguins.
Based on the skate it looks like Ericsson is ready to go after missing last four games and Kindl will be scratched.
Same lines for #RedWings:
Smith is paired with Marchenko. I didn't see how the top four were paired but probably Kronwall-DeKeyser and Ericsson-Green.
One change on power play has Zetterberg and Datsyuk together, along with Nyquist, Abdelkader (net front), Kronwall.
Second power play unit:
Tatar-Larkin-Sheahan (net front), Richards-Green
Top two defense pairs are:
added 9:47am, Khan...
Injured players: Quincey and Miller are also skating but not Pulkkinen.
The Detroit Red Wings play a slightly early New Year's Eve-starting game against the Pittsburgh Penguins this evening (6 PM EST on FSD/Root/Sportsnet/97.1 FM) hoping to shake the post-Christmas malaise that is a 2-game winless streak, and that won't be nearly as easy as you'd think.
The Penguins dropped a 3-2 shootout decision to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, but Pittsburgh's won...well, actually, they've won 2 of their past 4, and are 2-1-and-1 of late, but that's way more competitive than the Penguis have been for the vast majority of the regular season.
Pittsburgh believes that it's coming around--with Kris Letang back in the lineup, Marc-Andre Fleury "close" to returning and Sidney Crosby finding the scoresheet again--and the Pens plan on spoiling Wings' New Year's Eve party.
On Wednesday, the Penguins fired 41 shots on Jonathan Bernier but were only able to score 2 goals en route to the aforementioned 3-2 shootout loss to Toronto, and depending on your point of view, the Penguins either earned some redemption, as the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Jonathan Bombulie suggested...
Of Red Wings-related note this evening:
1. MLive's Ansar Khan examines the Wings' offensive struggles in the context of tomorrow's game against Pittsburgh (the Penguins play the Maple Leafs this evening):
The Red Wings (18-12-7) are getting ample shot opportunities (63 in the past two games combined) and power-play chances (1 for 8). They're not finishing.
They close out the calendar year Thursday against a team that has been struggling to score even more than they have and has been worse on the power play – the Pittsburgh Penguins. It's the Red Wings' traditional New Year's Eve game at Joe Louis Arena (6 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit).
The Red Wings, before Wednesday's games, ranked 20th in goals per game (2.51) and 21st in shots per game (28.8).
The Penguins (17-15-3), prior to their game Wednesday against Toronto, were 28th in both goals per game (2.23) and the power play (16.2 percent). That's surprising for a club with elite offensive talent like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel.
Crosby is experiencing his worst season, with seven goals and 24 points in 34 games. He never averaged less than a point a game in his first 10 NHL seasons.
2. The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness discussed Riley Sheahan's attempts to sort out the details of his game:
Wings at the WJC: Holmstrom/Ehn register assists in Sweden win; Saarijarvi has 3 assists for Finland
At the World Junior Championships in Helsinki, Finland:
Vili Saarijarvi had 3 assists (and 3 shots) in Finland's 8-3 win over Slovakia. The Finns' quarterfinal spot won't be determined until Thursday's games, including a Finland-Czech match-up, are played.
And with Switzerland in a must-win situation, the team turned to Joren Van Pottelberghe in the net against the Americans.
Regrettably, Van Pottelberghe was a man on an island, surrendering 5 goals to the U.S. onslaught in the first 16:50 of game time as Switzerland bowed out early, ultimately losing 10-1.
From the Red Wings:
At least Tomas Nosek's sticking around for now. The Griffins need Tangradi's scoring pop.
Update: The Grand Rapids Griffins' website's release quantifies Tangradi's AHL scoring prowess:
Signed to a one-year contract by Detroit in July, Tangradi leads Grand Rapids with 13 goals this season and is second in points (13-9—22). Tangradi has appeared in 24 games with the Griffins and his eight-game point streak from Nov. 27-Dec. 26 set a team best. He recorded his fourth career hat trick in a 4-1 victory over Lake Erie on Dec. 5.
Tangradi will be with the Griffins as they tangle with the Milwaukee Admirals tomorrow at Van Andel Arena. The Griffins' annual New Year's Eve game starts at 6 PM EST.
Update #2: Tangradi displayed a tremendous attitude:
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.