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Kulfan: Wings’ win streak has blemishes

The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan duly notes that the Red Wings will readily admit that their winning streak hasn't involved completely exemplary hockey, especially in the case of Thursday's shootout win over St. Louis:

“We’re getting closer and closer to that loss,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “We’re getting a little overconfident, turning pucks over too much, and right now our goalies are saving us. They can’t do that all the time. We had a good stretch of four games where we played real solid. But now it’s easy to use that a little bit and get a little too confident. We have to get back to work.”

Goaltender Petr Mrazek was sensational Thursday, particularly early as the Red Wings were turning pucks over and playing rather sloppily for a team on a five-game win streak.

Mrazek and Jimmy Howard have been superb in the early going, and each has been largely responsible for a victory during the win streak (Howard’s was the 3-1 win against the New York Rangers).

“I don’t think we’ve been perfect but we found ways and when we didn’t play well, the goalies have stepped up,” said forward Frans Nielsen, whose shorthanded goal tied the game in regulation time Thursday. “We are still working. There’s still a lot of place for improvement. We just have to keep working on it.”

Kulfan's notebook continues...

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Walleye’s Matt Caito ‘grew up with hockey’ in Southern California

From the Toledo Walleye's Fish Tales blog:

Palm trees and sunny skies were the norm for Matt Caito growing up in Southern California, but so too were his dreams of becoming a professional hockey player.

“When you think of California, you definitely don’t think of hockey. You think of the beaches and the warm weather,” says Caito. “My friends were playing baseball, football and basketball. The closest rink was about 30 miniutes away. My mom is from Maine and my dad is from the Boston area, so they grew up with hockey and got me hooked on it as well.”

Caito was born in 1993 in Coto de Caza, California, at a time when Wayne Gretzky had been traded to the LA Kings, and hockey was taking off in “non-traditional” hockey markets such as SoCal.      

One of Caito’s favorite players growing up was Paul Kariya, who was the first superstar for the then Anaheim Mighty Ducks. “I still remember being at the playoff game when he got hit by Scott Stevens and came back to score a goal. I’ve always been a fan of him because of his work ethic and attention to detail. I still have a Paul Kariya jersey hanging up in my room, always will.”

Caito says he’s not surprised to see so many pro players coming out of the new hockey hot spots. “Now, guys are coming out of places like California and Arizona. It’s great hockey out there now.”


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Afternoon news: On the Wings’ goaltending, Nielsen, Ott, stats and Givani Smith

Updated with a Griffins game-day preview: Of Red Wings-related note this afternoon:

1. The Free Press's Helene St. James duly notes that the Red Wings are benefitting from excellent goaltending of late...

They take a six-game winning streak into another set of back-to-back games this weekend, a roll  earned not the least on the backs of Petr Mrazek and Jimmy Howard. Eight games into the season, Mrazek is at 4-2 with a .925 save percentage and 2.48 goals-against average, his only losses dating to the first two games of the season. Howard is 2-0 with a .984 save percentage and .50 goals-against average.

Friday ended up being a day off, but early Indications are Howard will start Saturday when the Wings host Boston, and Mrazek Sunday when the Wings host Florida. Howard singlehandedly carried teammates to victory earlier this month at Madison Square Garden, and shut out San Jose last weekend in the second game of a back-to-back. Mrazek most recently held teammates in the game Thursday at St. Louis until Frans Nielsen scored, and then made seven saves on eight shootout shots faced.

“The goaltending saves us,” Henrik Zetterberg said after the 2-1 victory over the Blues. “It doesn’t matter who we put in net, both are playing really well.”

St. James continues, and she discusses Frans Nielsen's slow but steady acclimation to his new team:

Continue Reading »

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FSD: Meet Grandma Larkin

Via RedWingsFeed, Fox Sports Detroit posted a clip of Dylan Larkin's grandmother being interviewed by Trevor Thompson during the Wings' 4-2 win over Carolina, in which Larkin scored 2 goals of the 3 his grandma requested:

Grandma Larkin came down from Toronto to see Dylan play, and the pair had lunch prior to Tuesday's game.

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WWJ: Pistons exec Arn Tellum, Wings exec Tom Wilson confirm Pistons negotiations to move downtown

From WWJ Newsradio 950:

Key executives are finally responding to the persistent rumors about a Detroit Pistons move from Auburn Hills to downtown Detroit.

Arn Tellum, vice chairman of Palace Sports and Entertainment, says they’re “deep in discussions” with Olympia Entertainment about moving into Little Caesars Arena alongside the Detroit Red Wings.

“We’re deep in discussions and hopeful,” he told WWJ City Beat Reporter Vickie Thomas on Friday. “It’s all positive, it’s all positive…I think it would be fantastic for the city if we can accomplish this. I think it would electrify this city.”

Olympia Entertainment President and CEO Tom Wilson echoed that optimism.

“The beautiful thing right now is the story, with or without another team, is just the resurrection of this city — how it’s coming back and the speed with which it’s coming back and how much people are embracing this around the country,” Wilson said.

“And so this would just be another piece to the puzzle, so we’re optimistic, but we’re gonna wait and see how it all plays out…let’s just cross our fingers.”


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Pulkkinen waived again

In the alumni department...

And regarding tomorrow night's Bruins-Wings game, Tuukka Rask is coming with the Bruins to Detroit...

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‘The Cauldron’s’ Miccoli makes one last trip to the Joe

From Sports Illustrated's Mike Miccoli:

The Red Wings scored three quick goals in the first period, including two that defenseman Mike Green fired from the point past Ottawa Senators’ starter Andrew Hammond. The home team was clearly feeding off of the energy from the sold-out 20,017 in attendance. After the game, Blashill would say that with the pomp and circumstance of opening night, the atmosphere felt more like a playoff game, but it never got that close in score.

The Senators did add a goal in the second period, but couldn’t contain the Red Wings in the third. With less than six minutes left in the game, Green scored on a wrist shot from the point for his first career hat trick. It was then where everything started to make sense at The Joe — the hokey, cliched, tacky things that make a hockey rink feel so damn familiar.

The press box is literally on top of the last row of the balcony, so when everyone is standing up, cheering, they’re right there with you. When Green scored his third of the night, the red goal sirens cornered on the scoreboard went off as if a kid just sank a skeeball in the 100 hole. It was just a moment where you thought that, yeah, everyone is really into this. They’re actually watching this hockey game. They care about this old, smelly building and are going to be bummed when it goes away. It was both exciting to see, but sad to think that the new arena with its big, fancy scoreboard, is going to create a different type of personification of Detroit.

Miccoli continues with his take on the Joe, the Little Caesars Arena and the city of Detroit from an outsider's perspective...

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Custance: Ken Holland’s sticking with the Wings’ present 2 goalie system

In his Friday Insider article, ESPN's Craig Custance spoke with Ken Holland regarding the Wings' netminding platoon of Petr Mrazek and Jimmy Howard. Holland sounds like a GM who's going to keep both goaltenders for the foreseeable future:

“I haven’t really had any calls on anybody on anything right now,” Holland said. “It’s early in the year. We’re all trying to see what we’ve got.”

In saying that, Holland followed up with the explanation that he sees the two goalies in Detroit as part of the plan for success and not a surplus. He didn’t sound like a guy who wanted to mess with it too much.

“We were hoping, believing, the 1-2 punch we had in goal was going to be a strength. In the early going, it has been,” Holland said. “Touch wood, we’ve got both guys healthy. I think Jimmy is coming in understanding that Petr Mrazek is the No. 1 goaltender. He’s the backup. I think you have to practice different. You have a different mental outlook. ... He’s going to play this weekend. In sports, every night is new.”

To his credit, Howard’s goaltending has evolved at age 32. He’s not as aggressive as he was early in his career, and when asked for the reason for his early success this season, he responded with one word.

“Quiet,” he said, a reference to how he now plays. “That’s the big thing. Try not to be as aggressive as in the past. This game, it seems like it’s moving at an all-time fast pace.”

Custance continues, and he answers a question about the Wings' success using PDO and Corsi--which, as you might imagine, don't look very "sustainable" right now given that the Wings have an astonishingly good team save and shooting percentage, and their possession numbers are poor because they're being out-shot.

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Petr Mrazek’s Outstanding Game In Shootout Win Over St. Louis

from Brendan Savage of Mlive,

Petr Mrazek is quickly turning Scottrade Center into a personal showplace.

In five NHL seasons, Mrazek has played four games in the building and he has yet to taste defeat after backstopping Thursday's 2-1 shootout victory over the St. Louis Blues.

He made his NHL debut in a 5-1 victory in 2013, recorded his third career shutout in 2014 and then nipped the Blues 3-2 in overtime two seasons ago.

So is it safe to say the Scottrade Center has become a special building for Mrazek?

"I wouldn't say it's special," he said. "My first (game was here), my 100th today. I'm happy both the games were wins."

Fair enough but it should also be pointed out that the latest victory over the Blues was also career win No. 50 for the 24-year-old netminder, who was playing his 100th NHL game.


Watch the extended game highlights below...

Continue Reading »

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Prospect news: Ehn, Hronek register assists; Elfstrom hits the SHL

Of prospect-related note:

In the SHL, Axel Holmstrom (ACL) remains absent from Skelleftea AIK's lineup, but the SAIK keeps winning. Skelleftea defeated Linkopings HC 4-1 on Thursday;

Christoffer Ehn registered an assist in 11:21 as the Frolunda Indians lost 2-1 to Karlskrona HK;

Per Red Wings Prospects on Twitter, Mattias Elfstrom has played for Malmo IF's Junior-20 team for the vast majority of the 15-16 season, but he played 5:12 in the Malmo Redhawks' 3-0 loss to Vaxjo on Thursday;

In the OHL, Jordan Sambrook missed the Erie Otters' 5-2 victory over Barrie;

And Filip Hronek registered an assist and 6 shots in the Saginaw Spirit's 5-3 loss to Niagara.

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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.


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