The Malik Report
The Red Wings' back-to-back game against the Chicago Blackhawks felt like one big trap going in. Facing a Hawks team that's coming off a bad loss to Boston, that dominates at home and has a goaltender with a .942 Sunday save percentage...Going into the game, the Wings appeared to be set up to fail, and to find its grip on a Wild Card spot more tenuous after a set of back-to-back losses.
When news hit that Pavel Datsyuk would be out with an illness, things got worse. Sure, Dylan Larkin was reunited with Henrik Zetterberg on the Wings' #1 line, and Teemu Pulkkinen drew in with Richards and "Double A," but Datsyuk's defensive dominance can't be replaced.
The game played out like we expected, which was very disappointing--mostly because Detroit had a fantastic 2nd period and 1st half of the 3rd period, but still lost 4-1 to the Hawks, with Petr Mrazek having been pulled after giving up 2 goals on 5 shots and the Wings surrendering 2 late goals to put the game away.
For the vast majority of the game, the Wings were down 2-1, and they got fine scoring chances and 3 key power plays, but they couldn't or wouldn't penetrate the Hawks' slot or obstruct Corey Crawford's sightlines, and the team's inability to penetrate the Hawks' slot, especially on special teams, doomed the Wings.
Now they go on to Columbus, and as the 2nd Wild Card spot-team, they've got to start winning regularly in a hurry.
From DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji...
And MLive's Ansar Khan:
The Free Press's Helene St. James reports that Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill made a declarative statement regarding his goaltending during his pre-Hawks game media availability. Blashill confirmed that he views Petr Mrazek as the team's #1 goaltender:
"I made the decision [to start Mrazek] right after the last game," Blashill said, referring to Wednesday's 5-2 loss to Chicago in Detroit. "Petr has earned the no. 1 spot."
That's as vocally definitive as Blashill has been on the goaltending situation since he began the season rotating Mrazek and Jimmy Howard. It's been clear since December, though, that Mrazek is No. 1, as his starts piled up while Howard struggled in his few appearances.
Howard is coming off two excellent starts (at the New York Rangers and at Dallas) and likely won't have to sit long.
"I believe you need two guys ready," Blashill said. "I think Jimmy has played great the last number of games and that gives me great confidence to put him in the next chance that we feel is the right time."
Of Red Wings-related note this afternoon:
1. Here's the Wings' Game Day Preview video:
2. The Wings also posted Jeff Blashill's pre-game media availability:
From the Hockey News's Ken Campbell:
Whoever it was that named the town of Waterford, Mich., could clearly take a hint.
The hamlet where Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine’s family settled when they moved from St. Louis is 35 square miles and home to 34 lakes, which means you can’t walk a mile without getting your feet wet. There’s Cass Lake, Clam Lake, Huntoon Lake, Little Silver Lake, Upper Silver Lake, Pleasant Lake, Loon Lake, Lotus Lake, Schoolhouse Lake and Wormer Lake, among others. There’s also Our Lady of the Lakes Church, Christ of the Lakes Catholic Church, Williams Lake Church of the Nazarene, Great Lakes Baptist Church and Wellspring Bible Church. The town’s nature center alone has 11 ponds on it. And just in case you needed to be clubbed over the head, the Charter Township of Waterford has trademarked the term “Lakeland Paradise.” The serial number is 76611742. You can check that.
It turns out Dylan Larkin could take a hint, too. He didn’t grow up on one of the hundreds of ponds that run off those lakes in Waterford, but it was just a short walk down the street and a few backyard shortcuts to a pond that ran off Oakland Lake. It was there Larkin laboriously planted the seeds that have germinated into one of the best, and most unlikely, rookie campaigns in the NHL this season. Sure, he’d play shinny with his older brother and cousins and the kids in the neighborhood, but what has him in the NHL at the age of 19 and in the conversation for the Calder Trophy is what Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill calls “unbelievable inner drive.” Long before the others would get there and long after they left, Larkin would be out on the pond by himself, working on his skills and finding his inner Zen. “Just me and a puck and a net,” Larkin said. “That was my childhood. Up here (in the NHL), you want to put up points and win, but there it’s just about hockey.”
Campbell continues with a superb Hockey News Magazine feature on Larkin
via Ansar Khan tweets,
Blashill confirms Mrazek starting for #RedWings at Chicago.
Blashill said other lineup decisions will be made after warmups.
added 3:20pm, Khan tweets,
Blashill: “Petr’s earned the No. 1 spot but I believe you need two guys ready. I think Jimmy’s played great the last number of games. ...
Blashill (cont.): ... It gives me great confidence to put (Howard) in the next chance we feel is the right time.”
Red Berenson has been coaching at the University of Michigan since I was 6 years old.
I'm 38 years old now, and Berenson, who is 76, has been the head coach of the University of Michigan's hockey program since 1984, and as the Free Press's George Sipple wrote a fantastic profile of Big Red:
Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson returned to his alma mater in 1984 to revitalize a once-proud program. He admits he has stayed on longer than he ever anticipated.
Berenson, 76, is in the final year of his contact. Multiple times, he has given a slight smile when asked about his future and acknowledged he can’t coach forever — without revealing his plans.
“You like the game, and you like the kids,” Berenson told the Free Press. “I believe in what we’re doing. I like the fact that they’re going to school. It’s nice to see the guys live their dream that go on to play in the NHL. That’s a great thing for our program.”
Just as important to Berenson are the players who go on to do something meaningful besides hockey because of the education they received.
The Wolverines host Penn State on Friday and Saturday in their final home series. Rumors of Berenson’s retirement have been greatly exaggerated for years. He might return for a 33rd season. But it’s possible this could be the last chance to see him behind the bench at Yost Ice Arena.
“I’m going to get to the end of this probably sooner than later,” Berenson said. “Yeah, I never thought when I came back to Michigan I’d be here this long.”
Sipple continues at extended length, speaking with Scotty Bowman, Ron Mason, Brendan Morrison, Luke Glendening, Dylan Larkin, Jason Botterill and Bill Beagan about Berenson's evolution, methodology, ethics and legacy.
Of prospect-related note:
In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins received a goal and an assist from Louis-Marc Aubry, an assist from Daniel Cleary and a stellar 36-save performance from Tom McCollum as Grand Rapids defeated the Charlotte Checkers 2-1. The Griffins' website filed a recap:
The Detroit Red Wings begin perhaps the busiest portion of their season with a Sunday afternoon game against the Chicago Blachawks (5 PM EST on FSD/CSN Chicago/the NHL Network U.S./Sportsnet 360/97.1 FM):
Detroit will begin a stretch in which it plays 8 times in 14 nights, 12 times in 21 days and a total of 14 times over a 24-day period spanning the balance of the month...
And the Wings begin things by playing the back half of a back-to-back against a Chicago team that has lost 2 of their past 9 home meetings to Detroit.
Chicago hasn't played since a 4-2 loss to Boston on Thursday; Detroit hasn't played since Wednesday's 5-2 loss to these same Blackhawks, and while the Wings remain in the NHL's first Wild Card spot, they trail the Boston Bruins by 4 points, the Tampa Bay Lightning by 5 points and the Florida Panthers by 8 points.
The Blackhawks won't have Marian Hossa or Marcus Kruger in the lineup, but they're both otherwise healthy and overflowing with new acquisitions who are adjusting to their new team, as noted by the Chicago Daily Herald's John Dietz:
This isn't Red Wings-related, but it's about a member of the Red Wings' extended family, and it's worth your time. The Dallas News's Brad Townsend profiled Bekki Nill, the wife of Stars GM Jim Nill, and the story of her daily life:
In the nearly three years since she came to North Texas, Bekki Nill has seen two of her kids graduate from college, one get engaged and her husband's career flourish.
And she became a grandmother!
"Amazing things," she said.
Blessings, truly, and somewhat newsworthy because Bekki's husband is Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill, architect of one of this NHL season's most improved teams.
But more so because Bekki, 55, is nearing the fifth anniversary of being diagnosed with incurable cancer and told she had two months to live.
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.