The Malik Report
"What a difference a couple of days make" might be the theme of this abbreviated 48-games-in-99-nights season, and the Red Wings have certainly learned as much. After dropping 5 straight games, the Wings have won five of their past seven games, including a 2-1 win over Colorado on Tuesday and Thursday night's 3-0 win over Edmonton.
With 24 games in the books, the Wings sit in 4th place in the Western Conference with 28 points, tied with the Vancouver Canucks, and all seems well...But even the 13th-place Oilers sit only 7 points behind the Wings, and Saturday's opponent, the 15th-place Columbus Blue Jackets, could make up a significant chunk of their 8-point deficit on the Wings by sweeping this weekend's back-to-back games (at 2 PM in Columbus on Saturday and 5 PM in Detroit on Sunday).
The Blue Jackets have won two striaght games, too, including a 2-1 overtime decision over Vancouver on Thursday (in which they lost Derek Dorsett for the season due to a collarbone injury), but that story's for...Later today? Oh, right, it's that 48-games-in-99-nights demolition derby, and the only thing that's certain is that teams have to move on from their wins and losses in a hurry, or they'll be losing their next game if they don't stay in the moment.
Updated at 7:11 AM: The last time the Red Wings and Oilers met, they turned and burned through a glorious dogfight's worth of high-octane hockey en route to a 2-1 Wings win.
On Thursday evening, the Wings played an Oilers team that looked like it was trying to run on diesel fuel instead, and with the two top lines struggling to score--go figure--the Wings worked hard and ground out a 2-0 win, perhaps playing a brand of hockey that looked more like a dog fight (with a space between the two words) instead of a dogfight.
I'm guessing that pleased Wings coach Mike Babcock, who battled through laryngitis during the game!
As Paul noted this afternoon, ESPN's Pierre LeBrun believes that Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall's having a Norris Trophy-caliber season, but Kronwall doesn't agree with that assessment per se. Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika's incredibly thorough Three Periods column concludes with the following:
The Wings’ Niklas Kronwall entered Thursday night second among defensemen in scoring with 18 points. But he scoffs at the idea he is a Norris candidate. “Stats only say so much, I think,” he said. “I know I need to be better.” He singled out one stat – his minus-3 – and said he needs to be more consistent in his own end and needs to make better decisions with the puck. “I have a few more levels to reach before I’m really satisfied,” he said.
Well, the long-form late-breaking game-day update post didn't go over so well, so let's try a short one: Red Wings prospect Ryan Sproul was named the OHL's defenisve player of the month for February. From the Ontario Hockey League:
OHL Defenceman of the Month – Ryan Sproul (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds): Ryan Sproul of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds claims Defenceman of the Month honours for the second time this season after leading all blueliners with 21 points in 11 games including five goals and 16 assists. He contributed points in nine of his 11 games played including six multi-point performances. He opened the month of February in style notching his first career five-point game with two goals and three assists claiming first star honours in the 6-5 victory over the Plymouth Whalers.
Sproul, a 20-year-old from Mississauga, ON, is playing in his third career season with the Greyhounds. Selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the second round of the 2011 NHL Draft, Sproul currently leads all OHL defencemen in scoring with 64 points including 19 goals and 45 assists despite playing in just 45 games so far this season.
Updated at 4:24 PM: The Detroit Red Wings and Edmonton Oilers will face off tonight at Joe Louis Arena (7:30 PM EST, FSD/Sportsnet West/97.1 FM), and while I was playing chaufeur and Paul was filling in:
MLive's Ansar Khan reported that the Wings would make no changes to their lineup;
ESPN's Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside suggested that Niklas Kronwall is having a Norris Trophy-contending season;
And Ian White all but demanded a trade.
The Edmonton Journal's Joanne Ireland provides us with a morning skate update which discusses both Wings and Oilers personnel machinations...
from Carlos Manorrez of the Detroit Free Press,
Ian White has not asked the Detroit Red Wings to trade him. But he has asked general manager Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock how he figures into the team’s plans.
White is scheduled to be a healthy scratch for the fifth straight game tonight, against the visiting Edmonton Oilers. He hasn’t played since he was minus-2 in 23 shifts against the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 24.
“No, we’re not there yet. We’re not there yet,” White said of trade talk after today's morning skate. “But I was just voicing this is game five, and you play so many games in such a fast period that it can get away from you pretty quick. You look, after the weekend, it’ll be seven straight games if you don’t play.
The defense certainly has played better since White was removed from the rotation, so is there any reason to change it now?
Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun hand out their midseason awards and LeBrun picks Niklas Kronwall for the Norris Trophy.
Kind of amazing when you have a list that doesn't include Shea Weber or Drew Doughty, but I think it's only a matter of time over the last half of the season that those guys will find their way into the conversation. Both players are playing much better since early-season struggles. For me, it came down to Kronwall and Letang for the midseason award. I chose the Red Wings veteran because, on a blue line that lost Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart and is trying to survive committee-style, Kronwall has had to do even more and has elevated his game in doing so. He is playing 24 minutes a game and is among the defenseman scoring leaders, and everyone knows about his physical play. I think he deserves the nod right now.
more awards given out...
George is running some errands and will be back sometime this afternoon, in the meantime, I am it.
I'll update this post as needed.
The Red Wings reach the halfway point of their 48-game 2013 season tonight when they host the Edmonton Oilers (7:30 PM, FSD/Sportsnet West/97.1 FM). For the Wings, game #24 on the schedule kicks off a slate of 3 games played over the course of 4 nights, and represents the last of a home-friendly first half schedule.
The Wings, who sit in 6th place in the West with 26 points, play 11 more times this month, tonight's game excluded, but only 3 of those games will take place at Joe Louis Arena. After trading a home-and-home series with Columbus on Saturday and Sunday, the Wings will head through Western Canada (with games in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver in another three-games-in-four-nights span) next week (the 13th, 15th and 16th, respectively), they'll come home for a game against Minnesota (on the 20th), and then the Wings will be gone for over a week spent on the West Coast (they play the Ducks in an "on the road and still on the road" series on March 22nd and 24th, head for Phoenix on Monday the 25th, and wrap up their 8-day trip in San Jose on the 27th) abefore wrapping up the month with a home game against Chicago (on the 31st).
The Wings are still rebounding from Sunday's loss against the unbeaten Blackhawks, and their 2-1 victory over Colorado was less than aesthetically pleasing, but we can hope to witness "better hockey" tonight:
Quite a few posts for an off-day, so I promise this is the last Red Wings one for a bit: Via RedWingsFeed yet again, Fox Sports Detroit unveiled a very cute and engaging feature last night called "Off the Boards," and FSD's Mickey York spent three and-a-half minutes speaking to Wings forward Daniel Cleary about his first name changes and being a Newfie...I mean Newfoundlander.
I hope FSD continues doing these features, because we very rarely "get to know" Wings players via relaxed-setting interviews. It's mostly post-practice and post-game scrums and the occasional sit-down interview for TV...and the Swedish papers. Other than that, their personalities remain obscured to some extent:
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.