The Malik Report
If I was to give the Red Wings an x-factor edge in terms of managing to surprise and perhaps damage the Blackhawks (if we are to believe the Chicago Tribune's Steve Rosenbloom, the Wings have no idea how good the "new" Patrick Kane is) when the second-round series begins tonight (8 PM, NBCSN/CBC/97.1 FM), I'd suggest that the Hawks can only partially account for the strength of the Wings' youth movement, and a very specific line in particular, as DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose noted:
The Wings’ kids weren’t rattled in the first round series. In fact, they were quite the opposite. The young guys were efficient throughout the series, especially third-line forwards [Damien] Brunner and Gustav Nyquist, who each scored big overtime goals to beat the Ducks. Another big contributor was third-line center Joakim Andersson, who won more than 59 percent of his face-offs in the defensive zone, including 10-of-11 in the first two games of the series.
The hands-on nature of what the Wings’ youth movement is currently experiencing, and will continue to experience in the upcoming Chicago series are all valuable lessons in becoming NHL players.
I'm just "getting my feet wet" after a full three weeks on the shelf with the norovirus, so I don't know whether you'd like me to dig up every Red Wings-Blackhawks series preview out there, but MLive's Brendan Savage did an excellent job of finding and compiling over 30 series predictions, and as you might expect, the vast majority of the "experts"--Savage included--don't give the Wings a chance in hell of defeating the Hawks:
Virtually everybody likes the Blackhawks, who were 4-0 against the Red Wings en route to the NHL's regular-season championship with a 36-7-5 record.
Of the 33 predictions MLive.com dug up, only three picks went in favor of the Red Wings, who posted a 24-16-8 regular-season record before upsetting the second-seed Anaheim Ducks in the first round of the playoffs.
The other 30 prognosticators picked the Blackhawks and one went so far as to predict a Chicago sweep.
Continued, and I don't need to tell you that the rest of the interweb feels the same way, but if you're interested in rooting for the underdogs in a fashionable way, here's some free advertising:
The Detroit Red Wings spent the vast majority of "off days" during their seven-game series against the Anaheim Ducks in the air, making cross-continental trips, but the combination of plain old strange scheduling (the Wings and Hawks play tonight at 8 PM, on NBCSN and the CBC, though Fox Sports Detroit will air a post-game show; after that, the teams don't play again until Saturday, and after the series shifts to Detroit on Monday the 20th, the teams won't play again until Thursday the 23rd) and the fact that it takes somewhere between 35-45 minutes to fly from O'Hare to Metro Airport means that the teams will engage in something of a "commuter" series, as the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan noted:
Practicing, sleeping in your own bed and resting between games. Sounds like the regular season, doesn't it? But in this playoff series, the Red Wings and Blackhawks actually have the luxury to do all those things.
"It's going to be nice," Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg said.
In what has become an almost-annual tradition, the NHL just announced that Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk's been named a finalist for the Selke Trophy as the league's best defensive forward--and Datsyuk's made history by being named a finalist for six straight years, the most in Selke Trophy history!
ERGERON, DATSYUK AND TOEWS NAMED SELKE TROPHY FINALISTS
NEW YORK (May 15, 2013) -- Centers Patrice Bergeron of the BostonBruins, Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks are the three finalists for the 2012-13 Frank J. Selke Trophy, which is awarded "to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game," the National Hockey League announced today.
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association submitted ballots for the Selke Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced during the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, with more detail on format to be released at a later date.
The Grand rapids Griffins sent out a press release last night stating that the Wings were swapping their third goaltenders, but the press release also marked an absolutely stunning achievement in terms of the Wings' player development model:
RED WINGS SWAP McCOLLUM FOR PEARCE; GRIFFINS SIGN JENSEN
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday assigned goaltender Tom McCollum to the Grand Rapids Griffins and recalled goaltender Jordan Pearce from the Griffins. Additionally, Grand Rapids signed defenseman Nick Jensen to an amateur tryout.
Six and a half minutes of Coach Q.
Khan had tweeted earlier of Samuelsson leaving practice early, as did Jimmy Howard.
added 3:07pm, The Wings discuss the round 2 schedule...
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
The Detroit Red Wings advanced in the Stanley Cup playoffs. And Pavel Datsyuk has been making his way through the EA Sports bracket, reaching the quarterfinals for the second consecutive year in the voting for the NHL game's latest cover athlete.
This story may have slipped through some radar screens, but the Globe and Mail's Eric Duhatschek penned a really remarkable article about Henrik Zetterberg's leadership while comparing the Wings' undersized but ultra-competitive captain to Doug Gilmour, and Duhatschek's comparison struck one of Zetterberg's teammates, Mikael Samuelsson, as completely accurate:
There was unique pressure on Zetterberg this year because he was replacing the venerable Nicklas Lidstrom as the Red Wings’ long-time captain, but according to Samuelsson, that wasn’t how Zetterberg approached it at all.
“I think he sees it with joy,” said Samuelsson. “Let me see if I can find the right word. It was like a big honour for him. I don’t think he’s changed that much from the type of guy he was, or in his role in the locker room, even if he’s the captain. A great guy stepped down in Lidstrom and (Zetterberg) is still the same guy – and that’s how it should be, I think. The guys have more respect for that – you don’t have to change a whole lot just because you’re the captain. I just take the hat off to him. It’s not like he is super fast or has a super good shot. But he’s a hell of a player, just the way he protects the puck.”
My take on the Red Wings-Blackhawks series is pretty simple: by making the playoffs and having pulled off something of an upset against both the Ducks and the Wings' own relative youth, inexperience and mistake-prone tendencies, the team's at least met fans' expectations, if not exceeded them, by defeating the NHL's second-best team...
At this point, whatever the Wings can do to dent the playoff run of a team that's been widely hailed as on course for an inevitable Stanley Cup Final meeting against the Pittsburgh Penguins, well, given the Wings' awful regular season record against the Hawks over the past 2-3 seasons, and given the on-paper depth advantage the Hawks possess over the Wings, we're in "bonus hockey" territory.
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.