The Malik Report
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.
Updated 2x at 3:40 PM: The Red Wnigs took to the ice at the Blackhawks' practice facility around 2:30 PM EST, or 1:30 PM local time, as noted by DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji...
Ansar Khan of Mlive answered a few questions...
Q: Do you think Helm, (Luke) Glendening and (Riley) Sheahan continue to get too much ice time? (Gustav) Nyquist, (Tomas) Tatar and (Dylan) Larkin many times get three minutes less per game. (Andreas) Athanasiou, (Tomas) Jurco and (Teemu) Pulkkinen get half the time. Playing them because they have great defense is erroneous.
A: Ice times can be skewed on any given night depending on special teams – Nyquist, Tatar and Larkin don't kill penalties. Among the players you mentioned, Larkin leads in ice time (16:30). Sheahan is next at 15:27, because he plays both special teams, though his net-front power-play role went to Jurco recently.
Nyquist (15:08) and Tatar (14:31) should be playing more based on their scoring ability, but not on their performance this season. Still, it would be good to give them a slight bump since goals have been so hard to come by.
Out of all those players, I think Athanasiou needs more ice time than he's getting (9:00). Every time he's on the ice he seems capable of making something happen with his speed. It puts a lot of pressure on defenses.
more questions and answers...
Prospect news: Russo has 3 assists in Griffins’ win; Walleye defeat Florida; de Haas scores OT gamer
Of prospect-related note:
In the AHL, Robbie Russo had 3 assists, Jared Coreau pitched a 29-save shutout and the Grand Rapids Griffins got goals from 4 different players as the Griffins defeated Charlotte 4-0. The Griffins' website posted a recap:
In lieu of saving these for the overnight report, I'm going with two "evening lines." Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said this when asked about possibly playing Brendan Smith over Alexey Marchenko on Sunday, as noted by the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness...
“I don’t think it’s a matter of what he needs to do better, as I said when he came out I didn’t think it was a matter of what he did wrong,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “I’ve got seven, in my opinion, NHL defensemen and I can only play six of them. We’re splitting hairs a little bit on who goes in and who goes out."
Blashill commented on the long lay-off between games (3 days) as the team attempts to split its home-and-home series with the Blachawks...
"We’re just trying to do what we can to win a game on Sunday,” Blashill said. “I don’t like to see guys sit too long, but sometimes you can’t avoid that. We have to do everything we can to get points. We’re putting the six in that in our estimation gives us the best chance to win Sunday and we’ll re-evaluate it after every game and go from there.”
And both Blashill and Larkin spoke with DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji regarding the adjustments that the Wings will be making:
Via RedWingsFeed, Dylan Larkin sold donuts to benefit the Red Wings Foundation at Tim Horton's this morning, and WXYZ's Brad Galli chronicled Larkin's morning shift:
NHL’s Outdoor Game Ratings Slide Continues in Denver
For the second week in a row, the NHL scored its smallest outdoor game audience on broadcast television. Saturday’s Red Wings/Avalanche NHL Stadium Series game scored a 1.0 final rating and 1.7 million viewers on NBC, up 25% in ratings and 21% in viewership from an indoor Rangers/Flyers game last year (0.8, 1.4M) but down 38% and 39%, respectively, from Penguins/Blackhawks in the Stadium Series two years ago (1.6, 2.8M). The Red Wings’ win ranks as the lowest rated and least-watched NHL outdoor game on broadcast television (12 telecasts dating back to 2008).
The previous lows were set six days earlier by Blackhawks/Wild (1.1, 1.9M). While the Stadium Series game itself struggled, NBC Sports Group’s Hockey Day In America tripleheader was up 21%, averaging more than 1.2 million viewers across NBC and NBCSN compared to last year’s 992,000.
Wednesday’s Blackhawks/Red Wings game on NBCSN averaged 848,000 viewers for the rivalry game, marking the network’s most-watched regular-season outing since 2013 (not counting opening night games). That was up 42% over the average Wednesday Night Rivalry viewership for the first quarter of 2015. Chicago led all local markets with a 5.4 rating for the Blackhawks’ win, with Detroit scoring a 3.0.
Jonathan Ericsson's hit on Andrew Desjardins during Wednesday night's game wasn't pretty--it probably should have been penalized as boarding--and the fact that Desjardins got an extra roughing minor for attempting to fight Ericsson was a little baffling...
But it appears that TSN's Kerry Fraser is "seeing red" in calling out Ericsson:
Updated 2x at 4:20 PM: The Red Wings practiced at the University Liggett School on Friday due to a conflict with the Horizon Basketball League, and at said practice, Brendan Smith appeared to have drawn back into the lineup.
The Free Press's George Sipple spoke with coach Jeff Blashill and Smith regarding #2's probability of playing in Chicago on Sunday:
"We looked at it today with him back in,” Blashill said of Smith. “I just reserve the right to look at it in practice and decide what we’re going to do tomorrow and then what we’ll do Sunday.”
Blashill said the scratches are not a matter of anything Smith has done wrong.
“I’ve got seven, in my opinion, NHL defensemen that I can only play six of ’em,” Blashill said. “We’re splitting hairs on who goes in, who goes out. I think, as a D-corps, we need to make sure that we get the puck out of our end, not by throwing it away. Preferably by going tape-to-tape. ... We can’t turn pucks over, and he’s certainly included in that. When (Smith) is playing his best, he’s managing the puck well and he’s getting involved in the play, both on the rush and in the O-zone.”
Smith suggested to Sipple that he can do just that...
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.