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The Malik Report

On Mantha’s slow(er) road to the NHL

If I were to chronicle Anthony Mantha's journal from the Val-d'Or Foreurs to the NHL, I'd suggest that we shouldn't have expected Mantha to make the NHL as fast as we did, and that some of the "disappointment" that Jimmy Devellano expressed regarding Mantha's rookie pro season just wasn't necessary.

Mantha came to the Red Wings in the 2013 draft as someone who slipped to the 18th spot as a raw, unpolished sniper who didn't play a complete or competitive game, but had loads of potential...

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That’s Philly for ya (kidding, kidding!)

While the Flyers were announcing that they would host USA Hockey's Top Prospects Game next season, Flyers GM president Paul Holmgren got a little...Flyer-y...


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On Mantha’s ‘terms’

The Red Wings are still wrappng up their post-morning skate media availabilities, but this Tweet from MLive's Ansar Khan set Wings Twitter on fire when it was posted a few minutes ago:

This Tweet helped explain things:

The Red Wings have played 69 games, so "long-term" might be a month. Why can the Wings keep Mantha up at the NHL level with Tomas Jurco and Teemu Pulkkinen sitting?

They can do so because the 23-man roster limit disappears after the trade deadline. However, teams are also only allowed to recall up to 4 players for a non-roster emergency (a situation in which they can dress less than 18 skaters or 2 goalies), and the Wings have already called up Mantha, and may call up a defenseman if needed, so it makes sense to have the Wings' call-ups stick around.

In Mantha's case, a little learning (Khan reports that Mantha will be playing on a line with Datsyuk and Tatar to start tonight, and will get net-front time on the PP as well) can't hurt, and keeping him around facilitates that learning process.

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Red Wings-Flyers morning skate Tweets and articles: Mantha w/ Datsyuk; Mason vs. Mrazek

The Detroit Red Wings play a game of significant importance tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers (7:30 PM EDT start on FSD in Michigan/CSN Philly or CSN Philly on NBCSN everywhere else/97.1 FM), and our friends from CBS Philadelphia remind us that, well, it's Philly that the Wings are playing:

On Tuesday night, the Flyers will host the Red Wings at 7:30 p.m in the team’s most critical game of the year. Here are eight reasons why we should be Flyer’d up for tonight’s game.

  • It’s a potentially post-season relevant sporting event in Philadelphia.
  • It’s the Red Wings. And they’re annoying.
  • They have made the playoffs for 24 straight years, the longest current streak of post-season appearances in North American pro sports.

The Toronto Star's Kevin McGran suggests that tonight's game is "one to watch"...

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Big Game Tonight

from the Philadelphia Flyers,

- Tonight’s game could leave the Flyers one point or five points back of a wild card spot to the Red Wings… Despite a loss on Saturday, the Flyers have earned points in their last four games (3-0-1), and 10 of their last 12 games (8-2-2)… The Flyers have recorded 17 goals in their last four games, while the defense has produced 21 points (5g-16a) in the last seven games… The Flyers have recorded a power-play goal in six of the eight contests, including their last three games… The Red Wings come into tonight having dropped four of their last six games, going 2-4-0… They also open up a four-game road swing tonight and haven’t had much success on the road lately, dropping eight of their last 10 road games to go 2-6-2 since the start of February… The Red Wings have had 58 percent of their games (40-of-69) decided by one goal, which is the most in the NHL and posting a 23-6-11 mark.

- This is the second of three meetings and first and only meeting at home against the Red Wings this season… The Flyers earned a 2-1 shootout win in Detroit on Jan. 19… The Flyers own a 10-game home winning streak over the Red Wings with their last loss coming on Jan. 25, 1997 - In that game, Rod Brind’Amour scored the only Flyers goal and current GM Ron Hextall was in net… The Flyers have outscored the Wings, 16-4 in their last three meetings in Philadelphia, and overall have outscored Detroit, 44-17 during the 10-game streak… Of those 10 games, the Flyers have scored four goals or more seven times.


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The Wings This Week

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Here are five things to watch this week:

Mantha's much-anticipated debut

What do the Red Wings have in Anthony Mantha? He was their mostly highly regarded prospect in years after tearing up the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, boasting a combination of size (6-5, 205) and pure scoring ability, the kind of player that usually doesn't fall to where Detroit drafts.

But his star dimmed considerably after a tough first pro season in Grand Rapids in 2014-15. It didn't help that he missed two months with a broken leg suffered in the prospects tournament.

He has steadily improved since then and on Monday earned a promotion. He'll make his long-awaited NHL debut Tuesday in Philadelphia. It's a pressure-packed game, but the Red Wings could use some size up front and need all the help they can get offensively. The Red Wings should maximize Mantha's abilities by playing him with skilled linemates.

Streak of futility in Philly

The City of Philadelphia has been an absolute nightmare for the Red Wings since their most recent victory there – in the 1997 Stanley Cup finals. Since then, the Red Wings have lost 10 consecutive games in Philly, getting outscored 44-17.

No better time than Tuesday to snap that streak (7:30, Fox Sports Detroit). The Red Wings are three points ahead of the Flyers in the race for the last wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, but Philadelphia has two games in hand.

read on

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Krupa: Mantha ever-improving

With the preponderance of Anthony Mantha articles today, there's no need to pile on for the sake of piling on, but the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa earns a topic of his own for a superb profile of an improving player, told by Grand Rapids Griffins coach Todd Nelson and Mr. Mantha himself:

“I’ve liked his season,” Nelson said. “I think early on we were working on consistency with him moving his feet throughout the game, skating well, hard on the forecheck, using his speed to drive wide on defenders.

“We wanted to see that, and we’d seen it in spurts in a game. We wanted to see it for a full game and we wanted to see it in games in succession. And I think he’s improved quite a bit.

“Now, we’re starting to see him pressure guys on the back-check, strip pucks and go the other way,” said Nelson, who coached 51 games for the Oilers last season before the Red Wings hired him to coach their AHL affiliate.

“I think he’s stronger down low in the corners than he was at the start of the year, where he’s hanging on to it and forcing teams to take the puck off him. And he’s doing a better job of protecting it.

“Before, he was a bit loose with the puck and exposed it, and the play would die with him. But now, he’s keeping plays alive. I like where he’s at right now.”

Krupa continues...

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The overnight report: Red Wings-Flyers set-up, take 2: big talk before the big game

The Red Wings face the Philadelphia Flyers this evening (7:30 PM on FSD in Michigan, CSN Philly or CSN Philly on NBCSN everywhere else/97.1 FM), and they'll do so with Anthony Mantha in tow as the teams battle for an incredibly important two points in a rink that the Wings haven't won in since 1997 (seriously).

The 34-24-and-11 Red Wings sit 3 points ahead of the 32-23-and-12 Flyers, but the Wings' 79-to-76-point lead and 2 more Regulation-or-Overtime-Win tiebreakers are deceptive because Philadelphia's played 67 games to Detroit's 69.

That's going to change in a hurry as the Flyers play 10 back-to-back games compared to Detroit's 6, but the Toronto Sun's Kevin McGran notes that the Flyers are on fire of late...

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Giroux vs. Datsyuk

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Mike Sielski spoke with Flyers captain Claude Giroux about the Flyers' attempt to unseat the Red Wings from their playoff spot--and in doing so, to knock off his idol, Pavel Datsyuk:

There is perhaps no player more respected around the NHL than Datsyuk - 37 years old now, a two-time Stanley Cup champion, a four-time winner of the Lady Byng Trophy as the league's most gentlemanly player, a three-time winner of the Selke Award as its best defensive forward, so gifted that he has averaged close to a point a game over his 14 seasons. He and the Red Wings come to Philadelphia for a rather important game on Tuesday night, leading the Flyers by three points for the Eastern Conference's final playoff berth, carrying with them a 24-year streak of reaching the postseason.

"We're the team trying to make that streak end," Giroux said after the Flyers practiced Monday, and he cut his comment with just the slightest dash of envy. The Flyers missed the postseason in two of the previous three seasons and were expected to miss it again this season, and Giroux would like to be for them what Datsyuk has been for the Red Wings: a franchise mainstay at the center of a long period of consistent excellence, a player whose value cannot be measured merely by his offensive production, a locker room's beating heart. Giroux has been here eight years already. He signed an eight-year contract extension in 2013. He has that chance.

"Anybody who spends his whole career in one place, it's something to be proud of, especially when it's in Philly," Giroux said. "I really feel at home here and obviously would love to play the rest of my career here."

Sielski's story is about Giroux, but it's nice to read Giroux discuss his attempts to master the Datsyukian deke, or to emulate Datsyuk's "compete level":

"It was just so hard to do," Giroux said. "It took me a while to get it. The things he does out there are pretty amazing. He plays the right way. When the third period comes, it looks like he finds another level, and he controls the game as only one player. It's fun to watch."

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Playoffs On The Line

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

The Detroit Red Wings are in desperation mode, as they were in each of the past three seasons, when their playoff fate wasn't determined until the final week of the season.

This time it feels different. It is more worrisome. The playoff streak –at 24 seasons – appears in greater jeopardy than ever before.

That's because of this team's season-long struggle to score. Their offensive ability inspires no confidence.

Even when they win it's a battle. More often than not it's by one goal, requiring comebacks, overtimes and shootouts. They have little margin for error.


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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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