The Malik Report
The Red Wings plain old desperately needed to defeat the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday. With the Wings' margin for error at perhaps 1 to 2 losses, and games against playoff-desperate Minnesota and the equally spoiler-happy Leafs in hte offing, blowing Tuesday's game would make Detroit's road to the playoffs all that much more difficult.
Blowing Tuesday's game--in no small part thanks to Petr Mrazek's struggles in the net, and in no small part thanks to a 3rd period's worth of exhaustion--yields an incredibly difficult climb as the Wings play 5 more hard games against Minnesota, Toronto, Philadelphia, Boston and New York, with 4 of 5 in back-to-back situations.
The Wings rallied and took a 3-2 lead because their power play was damn good and because Pavel Datsyuk (2 assists), Mike Green (1 goal), Zetterberg, Marchenko, Kronwall (for once), Mantha, Nyquist (for once), Sheahan and a cast of characters great and small tried to will and work their way to a hard-fought win, but when you start the game down 2-0, and you're playing 4-in-6...
Your margin for error is razor-thin, and Detroit could not out-score its mistakes. They did an admirable job, but they didn't get at least a necessary point out of an essential game.
Alexei Emelin hit Dylan Larkin and took a 5-minute major for what was clearly an attempt-to-injure hit:
Bad news from the Portland Winterhawks:
The Portland Winterhawks have announced that captain Dominic Turgeon underwent surgery on his right shoulder today in Detroit, and will miss the remainder of the playoffs.
Turgeon had been experiencing discomfort in his shoulder earlier this month, and an examination led to a recommendation by the Detroit Red Wings of surgery. Both the medical staffs for the Winterhawks and Red Wings cleared him to continue playing, but the Red Wings advised he undergo the surgery now in order to be healthy in time for the start of their 2016-17 training camp.
“We’re disappointed to lose Dominic at this crucial point of the season. He’s been a great player during his time with the Winterhawks, and done an exemplary job as captain this season,” said Portland Winterhawks General Manager & Head Coach Jamie Kompon. “However, we now have to focus on the task at hand as we continue our first round playoff series with the Everett Silvertips.”
Turgeon led the Hawks with 70 points (36 goals, 34 assists) in 72 games this season, and was named co-MVP of the team, along with goaltender Adin Hill. He was drafted in the third round of the 2014 NHL Draft, 63rd overall, by the Red Wings.
The CBC Montreal's Andie Bennett believes that the Montreal Canadiens are playing their "last meaningful game" of the 2015-16 campaign, and according to Bennett, the game comes with a spoiler's tag attached:
With six games left in the regular season, the Habs only card left to play is that of the spoilers.
The role begins tonight with a rematch against a Red Wings team they almost came back on last Thursday when they scored three goals in the third period yet had to settle for a 4-3 loss.
The Wings are battling with the Flyers for the final wildcard spot in the east and the Canadiens can make that challenge more difficult by handing them a loss on home ice tonight.
Detroit is on the tail end of a back-to-back where they had to fight to hang onto the two points in Buffalo. The team is near the bottom of the standings in offensive output.
In short, now is the time. The remaining games are against Florida teams securely in playoff position and a Hurricanes team that likely can't close the gap.
Tonight is the last "meaningful" game on the Habs schedule. Hello sweetie.
Red Wings GM Ken Holland and assistant coach Chris Chelios appeared on Montreal's TSN 690 this morning and early afternoon, with Ken Holland speaking for 18 minutes on The Montreal Forum with Tony Marinaro and Chelios speaking with his old teammate Chris Nilan.
Holland reiterates a lot of this year's discussion as to whether Jeff Blashill's done a solid job succeeding Mike Babcock, and Chelios describes both the playoff push and the nature of his job.
Here are the interviews:
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins on Tuesday signed forward Kyle Criscuolo (krihs-COO-loh) to an amateur tryout for the remainder of the 2015-16 season and to a standard player’s contract for 2016-17.
from Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette at Hockey Inside/Out,
The matchup: While the Canadiens have been eliminated from playoff contention, they could still have an effect on the Eastern Conference standings. The Red Wings need a win to keep alive their hopes of continuing a playoff streak that dates to 1990. Detroit is tied in points (87) with eighth-place Philadelphia, but the Flyers have a game in hand. The Red Wings are also one point behind the Boston Bruins in the fight for third place in the Atlantic Division. This is the fourth and final meeting between these teams this season. The Canadiens won at home 4-1 on Oct. 17, while the Red Wings won twice in Detroit, 3-2 on Dec. 10 and 4-3 last Thursday. Masterton Trophy nominee Mike Condon will start in nets for the Canadiens, while Jacob De La Rose takes Stefan Matteau’s spot in the lineup.
Special-teams failure: It would be easy to attribute the Canadiens’ recent failure on the power play — 1-for-21 in the past eight games — to the absence of P.K. Subban during that stretch. But the power play has been dreadful for the past two years and ranks 27th in the NHL with a success rate of 16.2 per cent. Subban is probably missed more on the penalty-kill, which has allowed seven goals in the last 24 opportunities and has dropped to eighth overall.
from Brendan Savage of Mlive,
If Blashill announces any changes to the lineup tonight, I will add it to this post.
from Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News,
Of all the dips and detours for the Red Wings this season, this could be the strangest yet. They’ve circled and searched, circled and searched, and might end up returning to the beginning.
Jimmy Howard was back in net Monday night, perhaps getting (and giving) a bump in confidence. The opponent wasn’t big but the game certainly was. And with the season teetering and Gordie Howe in the house, the Wings tightened up, got sketchy at the end as they often do, and beat the Sabres 3-2.
No big deal, huh? Buffalo is one of the worst teams in the league, right? Well, someone still was required to do something, or it’d be time to send the 24-year playoff streak to the history books. Howard was solid and particularly clutch in the final minute, when the Sabres — who scored twice in the final three minutes — were swarming dangerously.
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
A stressful, scrambling final three minutes didn't undo 57 minutes of good hockey Monday for the Detroit Red Wings.
It was a game the Red Wings couldn't afford to lose, and they held on for a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres at Joe Louis Arena.
"When the team pulls their goalie there's going to be some stressful moments for sure," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "Obviously, when you're up 3-0 you don't want to give one up right away, but I'll focus on the entirety of the 60 minutes and I thought overall it was good."
The Red Wings were far superior for most of the game. They were strong defensively, moving the puck out of their zone quickly and efficiently and spending much of the night in the offensive zone.
"Overall, I thought it was a good game," Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "We came out and played well, better from the start. We had good urgency and that was the main focus tonight.
"Not sure if they're really a forechecking team, but once they forechecked I thought we solved the problem a lot better than we did the other game and it makes it easier when you're not spending as much time in your own end."
Watch the extended game highlights below...
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.