The Malik Report
No. 16 — Detroit Red Wings
Despite the longest playoff streak in the league (now at 24 years and counting), the Red Wings have fallen out of the league’s top tier in recent years. They haven’t won a Cup since 2008, haven’t finished higher than third in their division since 2011, and haven’t won a playoff round since 2013. That’s hardly a disaster — plenty of teams would happily take Detroit’s last few years and call it a resounding success — but it’s not what a generation of fans has grown used to from the Wings.
It’s tempting to say the downward trend will continue. Pavel Datsyuk is 37, Henrik Zetterberg turns 35 on opening night, and Niklas Kronwall is 34. Mix in Johan Franzen (still battling back from a concussion) and free-agent acquisition Brad Richards, and the Wings look like an old team. And even with Mike Green on the blue line, they may not be remarkably better than the squad that made an early exit last year.
But, of course, these are the Red Wings, so reinforcements are on the way. The prospect cupboard is well-stocked, and they own one of the better young goalies in the league in Petr Mrazek. Mike Babcock’s departure made headlines, but Jeff Blashill’s fresh voice may be an improvement at this point. And it’s worth remembering that last year’s first-round exit was one game away from being a first-round upset of the powerhouse Lightning. For Ken Holland and an organization that knows plenty about winning, that should all add up to a team that can climb back into contention, if not to the very top tier.
Odds of a Cup in five years: 17 percent
Updated 10x at 1:48 PM: The Red Wings face the Pittsburgh Penguins this evening (7:30 PM on FSD and ROOT Sports), and the PIttsburgh Post-Gazette's Seth Rorabaugh reports that the Penguins will ice the following lineup...
From WXYZ's Brad Galli:
Pavel Datsyuk is hoping for a green light.
General manager Ken Holland said the injured Red Wings forward will see the doctor who performed the offseason surgery on Thursday.
Datsyuk has been out with an ankle injury, and the team has not made it clear when he'll return.
The Red Wings are hoping the doctor gives Datsyuk the go-ahead to skate at tomorrow's check-up, Holland told FSD during the team's preseason broadcast.
Kevin Allen previews Detroit's season...
Key question: How much will LW-C Johan Franzen contribute? He has been cleared to return after a concussion limited him to 33 games last season. Franzen, 35, had 22 points last season and has been a 30-goal scorer.
Forecast: With the talented Tampa Bay Lightning rightfully earning all of the attention, no one seems to have noticed that the Red Wings have developed into a threat to win the Stanley Cup. They will challenge the Lightning for the division title but end up in second.
from Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News,
Hockey returned to Joe Louis Arena Wednesday, but so did Mr. Hockey.
And considering this was a relatively meaningless exhibition game, word of Gordie Howe being in the building was much bigger news.
The Red Wings won the game, 4-1 over the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks (who essentially dressed their minor league team for the game).
Tomas Tatar had three goals and linemate Brad Richards made an impressive debut assisting on all three goals.
But it was news of Howe that brought smiles to many people.
from Jeff Seidel of the Detroit Free Press,
The puck drops just after 7:30pm ET from the Joe and the game can be viewed on NHLN,CSN-CH+ or FS-D. Radio broadcast with Ken Kal and Paul Woods here.
Feel free to add your comments as the game plays out.
Also George arrived home safely today and I suggested he wind down for a few days.
So if no recap late tonight, I will catch up in the morning.
Wings roster is below, Blackhawks is not but basically the 'B' team.
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
"He's got elite skill," coach Jeff Blashill said. "It's one thing to be an offensive defenseman and have good offensive skill, he's got elite offensive skill. The right shot has been talked about lots over the years. I think more importantly than the right shot is the skill set he brings. It's going to be fun to watch.
"We hope him and Danny DeKeyser can create good chemistry. We hope that they can go back and break pucks out and not spend a lot of time in the defensive zone. Both are very capable defenders. We expect them to defend when they're in those spots, we want to be out of the zone as fast as we can. We think those guys can do it."
The defensive ace DeKeyser was a natural fit to pair with Green.
"They both skate well; they both pass the puck extremely well," Blashill said. "They both got real good poise."
Blashill thinks as highly of DeKeyser as did former coach Mike Babcock.
"I think Danny is an elite player in the league. I think Danny is an underrated player nationally," Blashill said. "think he gets the respect he probably deserves. If he is put in situations where there's breakdowns he can make up for a lot of different players' mistakes. He has the ability to make a ton of defensive plays with his stick, breaking up two-on-ones, things like that. He's got great recoverability. I think Danny just ultimately is an elite player and I think putting him with Green puts two elite players together."
added 1:32pm, Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News on Jurco...
via Ansar Khan tweets,
Wings' lines for tonight's preseason game vs. Blackhawks at JLA, based on the skate:
Third and fourth lines are:
Mrazek starting in goal, Coreau backing up.
added 11:01am, St. James has it a bit different...
added 11:20am, Chicago lineup is also below...
from Steve Loung of Sportsnet,
Blashill tenure in Detroit begins with the team facing a number of questions. Pavel Datsyuk will likely miss the beginning of the season, and at age 37 with a history of injury issues, there’s a good chance he could go down again this season.
Fellow forward Johan Franzen will be turning 36 this season and his opening-night status remains up in the air as he tries to recover from a concussion he sustained back in Jan. 6.
And then there’s Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall. While these two will likely be ready to go when puck drops, they aren’t exactly spring chickens either.
It’s no secret that the Red Wings’ core is getting up there in age and that a decline in production is more than likely from its ageing stars. On the other hand, Detroit also has quite a bit of young talent that Blashill has coached before in Grand Rapids. This creates an interesting dynamic between the old guard and an exciting crop of youngsters.
Does Blashill, a rookie NHL coach, have the skills needed to control this diverse dressing room and lead Detroit back to the playoffs for a 25th straight season?
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.