The Malik Report
The Detroit Red Wings face off against a Vancouver Canucks team (10 PM EST, FSD/TSN/WXYT) which is, in theory, anyway, a sort of “mirror image” of the team the Canucks trail by one point in the Western Conference standings. Both teams are on a roll—the Wings’ middling 3-2 win over Edmonton on Monday was their second straight, as was Vancouver’s 4-0 win over Minnesota—having won seven of their last ten game; both teams have won seven of their past ten games. Moreover, if you believe what you read, the teams preach the same kind of high-flying, up-tempo puck possession hockey that should make tonight’s game a match of near mirror-image skill versus skill, as the Vancouver Sun’s Elliott Pap suggests...
Detroit has 21 wins, 43 points and 107 goals scored. Vancouver has 20 wins, 42 points and 110 goals scored. Both teams’ top offensive players are European. Both teams’ top offensive defencemen are Swedish. Since Nov. 19, the Red Wings are 12-3-0. Since Nov. 20, the Canucks are 11-2-1. So there isn’t much to choose between them, which makes Wednesday’s game a rather appealing one.
“You’ve got two teams that, in our mind, play the right way,” Canuck head coach Alain Vigneault said Tuesday. “Detroit plays a high-paced game and they like to play fast. There are a lot of components to our game that are probably similar to theirs.”
Updated 2x with some very late-breaking stuff at 10:13 PM: Very briefly, for the moment, anyway, the Red Wings plan on returning to their dominant ways against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday, as noted by the Free Press’s Helene St. James...
Wings just got done practicing here in Vancouver. No changes to lineup for tomorrow against Canucks. Wings say it’s good “measuring game”
Zetterberg on the Sedins: “They’ve been playing with each other for basically their whole lives, so they’ve got pretty good chemistry.”
And MLive’s Ansar Khan:
Update which supersedes all others for now: According to NHL.com’s Dave Lozo, Jimmy Howard leads All-Star write-in votes with approximately 144,000, but that still places him 5th among goaltenders. Nicklas Lidstrom has a better chance of leapfogging Kris Letang than Howard does of gaining any real ground in the ASG voting race.
Updated 3x at 1:17 PM: As we wait for some mid-afternoon (Eastern Time) updates from the Red Wings’ practice in Vancouver, the Edmonton Journal’s David Stapls gives us one more take on the Wings’ 3-2 win over Edmonton on Monday night via a rather elegant analysis of one of the Wings’ biggest systemic tweaks—-a layered screening of opposing teams’ goaltenders:
The Red Wings play a cagey game, with a masisve emphasis on making the most out of what the pro game will give you. It employs a screen-and-shoot attacking style, particularly a brilliant and highly-effective double-screen, the play that led to the winning goal against the Oilers.
What is the Detroit Double Screen? On [the Wings’ game-winner], the puck goes out to the point, most often to a d-man like Nicklas Lidstrom. Lidstrom waits or moves to find a shooting lane. At the same time, one Detroit forward, usually Tomas Holmstrom or Daniel Cleary, stakes out a position right in front of the opposition goalie.
A second forward, usually a smaller skill player, moves out to the high slot, positioning himself in between the shooter, Lidstrom, and the net. Lidstrom then fires, with either the high slot screen man or low slot screen man having a chance to deflect the puck on goal.
The Detroit Red Wings didn’t exactly play an elegant hockey game in defeating the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 on Monday night, but the Wings managed to work just hard enough and play just well enough to bag two points before boarding a late evening flight to Vancouver, mostly because the Wings’ depth players delivered by doing the kinds of things that last year’s team didn’t when the team was less than in full flight—this year’s Wings continue to work the puck down low, find their way to the faceoff dots to take lateral or diagonal passes, tip pucks, and usually go to the net in numbers, providing both tips and screens which drive opposing teams’ defenses and goaltenders nuts.
So while the Wings weren’t necessarily happy with their up-and-down game, they earn bonus points because, to use a highly technical term, they frustrated the hell out of and plain old pissed off the Oilers, as noted by the Edmonton Sun’s Robert Tychkowski:
The Detroit Red Wings were neither perfect, nor did they deliver a particularly aesthetically pleasing game in their 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night, but for a team with a (now) 8-and-8 road record, style points just don’t count right now.
While out-shooting the Oilers badly at times, the Wings dominated in terms of puck possession and in terms of time in the opposition’s zone, but they just didn’t play particularly dangerous hockey when compared to Edmonton’s ability to cause havoc, scrambling and panic in the Wings’ end. That resulted in an uncharacteristically squeaky goal by Ryan Jones early in the second, countering Danny Cleary’s first-period marker, and after the Wings went ahead on a slick Hudler tip, the air went out of the Wings’ balloon in a hurry as they gave up a game-tying goal with half a second left in the second period, thanks in no small part due to a missed offside call…
The Red Wings wish fans a happy and safe holiday season on Red Wings TV, and, very casually, Johan Franzen steals the show:
Somewhere down the line, something tells me that Johan Franzen will open, “Al Sobotka’s Feed the Mule Cafe”...
Updated right before game—9:25 PM—time with some very, very, very late-breaking stories: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the Edmonton Oilers tonight (9:30 PM EST, FSD/Sportsnet West/WXYT), the Wings are just wrapping up their morning skate in Edmonton, and given the workload to come in three games over the next four nights, no news is good news, per MLive’s Ansar Khan...
Everyone at the skate. Same lines 93-13-44, 51-40-26, 11-43-20, 48-8-96. 5-18, 55-52, 4-23
Fox Sports Detroit’s John Keating fired off a pair of Twitter updates from the Wings’ morning skate as well…
The Detroit Red Wings embark on a stretch of their schedule which the players, coaches and training staff likely circled on their calendars with symbols like multiple exclamation points (!!!), question marks (???) or plain old WTF—which stands for, “Why Three Flights?” of course—tonight in Alberta as the Wings face the plucky Oilers (9:30 PM EST, FSD/Sportsnet West/WXYT) before flying to Vancouver on Tuesday for a mid-week meeting with the Canucks, and then the Wings head right back to Alberta for a Thursday tilt with the Flames before heading home, exhausted, for a three-day Christmas break.
Boasting a middling 7-8-and-0 road record, the Wings will toss off all the usual cliches about conserving their energy, trying to “focus on taking it one shift at a time” and insisting that they won’t take the re-tooling Flames, deep Canucks or tonight’s opponent, the young, fast and physical Oilers, as anything less than three opportunities to gain ground in a tightly-packed Western Conference while banishing a few lingering myths about the team’s age, supposed lack of toughness and goaltending (Ty Conklin’s bound to get a start here), but Wings fans will be breaking out the Visine and hoping that they’re humming, “Two out of three ain’t bad” instead of “The Road” early on Friday morning.
I had to watch this one from my family’s Christmas party (it was lovely) with the volume off for over half the game, but I felt that the Wings’ 8-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings finished at such a lopsided score for a simple reason: around seven minutes into the second period, when the Wings would have been very happy to cruise along with a 4-1 lead, still shaking the loosey-goosey defensive play which plagued the Wings through the third period of their loss to Nashville ever-so-slowly out of their games, engaging in some self-induced stretches of stupor thanks to the caliber of their opponent and their opponent’s competition level.
Then the Kings tried to stir things up. They went after Jimmy Howard, who took a penalty at the 7:26 mark, and they kept going after Howard after the penalty-kill, and even after Jarret Stoll scored a goal by very obviously picking Niklas Kronwall off far behind the play and then utilizing said pick to beat Kronwall back to the front of the net to score a rebound goal. Kevin Westgarth and Brad Richardson tried their best to stir things up against a team that was more or less contentedly asleep of what was then a 4-2 affair.
Update #5 @ 4:30 PM: How awkward. The LA Times’ Helene Elliott reports that this is John Stevens’ last game behind the Kings’ bench: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the Los Angeles Kings tonight (7 PM EST, FSD/FS West/WXYT), MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that the Wings have also chosen to conserve their players’ energy given that the team has to play four games (endure four tie zone changes) over the course of the next six nights:
Optional skate for Wings today. Same lineup expected: 93-13-44, 51-40-26, 11-43-20, 48-8-96; 5-18, 55-23, 52-4; 35
The Windsor Star’s Bob Duff listed the limited participants and added tons of quips and quotes from Wings coach Mike Babcock via his Twitter account...
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.