The Malik Report
If we are to believe Fox Sports Detroit's Mickey Redmond (and there is no reason not to), the Red Wings will play their last game on Joe Louis Arena's current ice surface tonight against the New York Islanders (7:30 PM EST, FSD Plus/MSG Plus/AM 1270).
Between the fact that the Wings' post-Christmas break games will involve two road affairs (on Saturday the 28th in Florida and on Monday the 30th in Nashville), the Winter Classic, and then a 5-game road trip that begins on January 4th and ends on January 16th (with the Wings' first January home game taking place on the 18th against Los Angeles), it makes logical sense to take the ice out to make way for the pre-New Year's and early-year concerts and events taking place at the Joe, including the auto show car reveals and media previews scheduled to be held at the Joe during the 2nd week of January.
Tonight, the Wings will attempt to carve into their crappy 6-9-6 home record while building upon last Thursday's 3-2 OT win over Calgary and Saturday's 11-game-shootout-losing-streak-snapping 4-3 shootout win over the Ample Fleas...I mean Maple Leafs...And as Paul noted on Sunday, the Wings have a pleasant CBA problem on their hands as they may or may not be able to activate Gustav Nyquist because the NHL's holiday roster freeze only allows teams to make roster swaps to accommodate activating players off the LTIR.
In case you were wondering... via the NHL CBA (page 102),
For all Players on an NHL Active Roster, Injured Reserve, or Players with Non-Roster and Injured Non-Roster status as of 11:59 p.m. local time on December 19, a roster freeze shall apply through 12:01 a.m. local time December 28, with respect to Waivers, Trades and Loans; provided, however, that Players may be Recalled to NHL Clubs during this period and, provided further, that if a Player is placed on Regular Waivers prior to the roster freeze period and is claimed during such roster freeze period, the roster freeze period shall not apply and the Player shall immediately report to the claiming Club. However, during the roster freeze period a Club can make any Player transactions necessary for the Club to come into compliance with Article 50 as a result of a Player being removed from the Bona-Fide Long-Term Injury/Illness Exception.
Now I am no CBA specialist and I know Nyquist was not on LTIR, so I am not sure how this will play out.
If I have any advice for those of you who are attending the Winter Classic in person, at least if you're not attending on foot, it's this: plan an extra half hour to hour to find a decent place to park and/or to get to the "rink."
With much of campus on holiday break and many of the open-ground parking lots closed due to the fact that it's winter, it's going to be a pain in the ass to find somewhere within a mile of Michigan Stadium to park, and the Free Press's George Sipple posted an extensive and very necessary article for both U of M fans who attend every "football Saturday" and first-time visitors to Ann Arbor:
Parking within a half-mile of the stadium is expected to cost $50 to $60, according to NHL officials.
There is expected to be more congestion for the event than a normal U-M home football game, with 107,000 people expected to attend, so fans are being encouraged to arrive early for the 1 p.m. game. Many fans are coming from Canada and might not be familiar with the parking options around Michigan Stadium or how to navigate the local roads.
I went to sleep around 6 AM on Saturday, got up at 10:30, had an hour nap and "powered through" both the family Christmas party and a Wings-Leafs wrap-up, so I figured that staying up until 6:40 AM to watch the second episode of 24/7 myself would be worth it (because, obviously, nobody ever posts it bootleged on YouTube).
I heard that Red Wings coach Mike Babcock had tossed the cameras out of the room--which was about a 35 on a one-to-ten scale of probability of occurring--but, in Babcock's words, I wanted to "see it" for myself.
Here's what I thought as I viewed the episode (and cue the spoiler alert), with the more MSM-ish blogger and media's takes included.
Wings fans have a pair of excerpts from Darren McCarty's memoir, My Last Fight: The True Story of a Hockey Rock Star as the Free Press posted McCarty's tale about killing time almost resulting in Steve Yzerman falling to his demise from a Phoenix hotel room due to a wrestling match and his vivid recounting of the Brawl in Hockeytown (which the Hockey News also printed on Friday) to USA Today's Kevin Allen, who co-wrote the book.
Today, the Free Press offers an excerpt from Mark Howe's memoir (co-written by Jay Greenberg), titled, Gordie Howe's Son: A Hall of Fame Life Lived in the Shadow of Mr. Hockey.
It's really a fantastic, wide-reaching introduction to the current director of Detroit's pro scouting's life as a very middle-class son growing up with an ever-present but lightweight shadow cast upon Mark and his brothers Marty and Murray.
While attending my family's Christmas party, I saw enough of the Red Wings' rally from a 3-1 deficit and rally from a 4-3 deficit to tell you that the Wings earned the right to fly back to the ice bowl that is Southeastern Michigan having defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 in a shootout, earning their first shootout win in 12 tries (and taking a 3-point lead over the Leafs in the jam-packed Atlantic Division).
Coming home to watch the second period revealed the incessant five-man "fly-bys" of pucks dumped into the Wings' defensive zone and retrieved by the opposition, the mediocre-at-best neutral zone play, the team's strange willingness to both "cheat" away from their own defensive zone's corners and into the offensive zone's corners instead of waiting another ten feet before committing to pucks not yet having arrived at their destinations--i.e. quite a bit of impatience, from both the Sheahans, Jurcos, returning DeKeysers and the overloaded Kronwalls and Datsyuks, as well as Jonas Gustavsson's sometimes fantastic and sometimes inconsistent goaltending (turns out that even the Monster needs a mental break, preferrably as soon as possible, as in Monday against the Isles).
The big picture made sense, and the fact that the Wings' win was preceded by a sometimes equally sloppy 3-2 win over Calgary on Thursday seemed to fit the circumstances.
The Grand Rapids Griffins wrapped up the pre-Christmas break portion of their schedule on a losing note, losing 3-2 to the Chicago Wolves--and they did so in frustrating fashion, rallying from a 2-0 deficit only to surrender the game-winning goal with 2:09 left in regulation.
The Griffins' website recounts the game's details...
Wings win 5-4 on a Pavel Datsyuk shootout goal.
Enjoy all the goals from the game below.
except the shootout winner, which I will add when available.
Crazy game and most important thing right now, 2 points!
via Ansar Khan of Mlive,
Update on Detroit Red Wings center Stephen Weiss:
General manager Ken Holland said Weiss has opted to undergo surgery for a sports hernia. The date for the procedure hasn't been set, but Holland said Weiss should return just after the Olympic break (Feb. 9-25).
The Red Wings-Maple Leafs game-day update post continues to roll on ahead of tonight's game (7 PM EST start, FSD/CBC/NHL Network with the usual Center Ice and GameCenter Live blackouts/97.1 FM) between Detroit and Toronto, but the following article from the National Post's Eric Koreen spoke with Red Wings coach and Team Canada Olympic coach Mike Babcock about his supposedly split allegiances, and Babcock made one point abundantly clear:
“I understand who pays me,” Babcock said on Saturday morning. “I don’t have any problem figuring that out at all.”
That would be the Detroit Red Wings, who employ Babcock as their head coach. The Red Wings play in Toronto against the Maple Leafs on Saturday night, which meant that the coach was subjected to a lot of queries about Sochi. The Canadian management staff, led by Steve Yzerman, is poised to announce the roster on Jan. 7.
Babcock said he allows himself to think about the Canadian team on his drive to and from the Joe Louis Arena. Also, in preparing for the Red Wings’ opposition, he has to game plan for the best players in the game — some of those players are candidates for the Canadian team, while others will represent Canada’s competition.
Update: The CBC's Tim Wharnsby penned a similar article:
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.