The Malik Report
The injury-depleted Detroit Red Wings have slipped to fourth place in the Western Conference thanks to dropping three of their past four games, and coming off a 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on Saturday night, the Wings doubly re-set their body clocks—losing one hour when first returning from Nashville’s Central Time Zone, losing another thanks to “spring forward,” and three more via a Sunday evening flight to Los Angeles which deposited the team in California—for a three-game road swing which starts with a rematch against last Friday’s opponent in the revenge-minded Los Angeles Kings—at what would be the equivalent of 12:27 AM EST.
When the Wings’ players gather on the ice at the Kings’ practice facility later today, probably after Red Wings GM Ken Holland, who will spend Monday morning at the GM’s meetings, is on the golf course in Palm Beach, Gustav Nyquist will rejoin a cast of characters who haven’t even tried to skate since Friday in Todd Bertuzzi (groin), Pavel Datsyuk (knee) and Nicklas Lidstrom (bone bruise), and one who did in Jimmy Howard (groin).
Red Wings GM Ken Holland spoke to MLive’s Ansar Khan before flying to the hockey hotbed of Boca Raton, Florida to attend the NHL’s general managers’ meetings at the economically-priced The Breakers Resort (Don Cherry booked all the hotels in Saskatoon), and while the talk of reintroducing the red line, getting rid of the “trapezoid,” introducing “hybrid icing” and otherwise slowing down the game to “make it safer “(as I noted earlier today, it’s not as if the referees haven’t been told to totally ignore obstruction and interference or anything), and while perhaps the most self-critical and open-to-change fans in all of sports and the media types that border on change-because-we-have-to-engage in-self-loathing-of-the-game-we’re paid-to-cover-because-it-sucks-to go-to-games-for-free…
The Red Wings GM does not believe that there is a sufficient appetite for any changes to be made to the game’s rulebook or soon-to-be-renegotiated CBA to expect 20 of the 30 GM’s who will attend tomorrow’s meetings to agree on even implement the most subtle of tweaks, his and coach Mike Babcock’s disagreements about the red line’s reintroduction included:
The Tampa Bay Times’ Damian Cristodero reports that Mike Commodore is trying to do his best to salvage his opportunity to continue his NHL career with the Tampa Bay Lightning:
“I know I can still play,” said Commodore, 32, acquired at the February trade deadline. “Can I do everything I once could? Maybe not. But I’m not old. I feel like I still have something left in the tank.”
In six games with the Lightning he is plus-2 with an average 14:46 of ice time and turns on the penalty kill and late in games to protect leads. At 6 feet 4, 227 pounds, he adds a physical presence and has the bona fides from winning the 2006 Stanley Cup with Carolina.
“He keeps it simple and keeps his composure under pressure,” Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said. “He’s been a really good addition for us.”
I wrote this as a response to an article Paul posted, but I feel so passionatly pissed off about the issue that I’m gonna use my soapbox to say what I feel about the ridiculous levels of obstruction and otherwise uncalled infractions that the NHL has clearly told its referees to ignore in advance of a set of GM’s meetings on Monday and Tuesday where the gentlemen in charge of the game want to reintroduce the red line to supposedly reintroduce creativity, back the trap up twenty feet and prevent concussions:
It seems rather obvious to me that the NHL’s already tossed out a mandate to, “Slow down the game to make it safer” via allowing everything but horizontal stick fouls and the, “If he falls, it’s a call” penalties, but the refs are letting far more than the grabs, gropes, wrestling, football tackling and the kinds of moving and stationary picks that literally prevent players from getting to the puck or separate puck carriers from scoring chances by any means—we’re seeing just as much, if not more players lining their opponents up for vicious collisions via you-stop-him-I’ll-rail-him plays (see: Mike Green) and some absolutely ridiculous hacks and whacks to hands, wrists and ankles, dangerous trips, slew-foots, kneeing, butt-ending, boarding, etc., all of that crap is being let go to “protect” the players.
Updated 2 with a conversation with Ken Holland from the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness at 3 PM: Excellent Red Wings news from the Free Press’s Helene St. James: the Wings will at least have Jimmy Howard back between the pipes on Tuesday:
Wings send Nyquist and Pearce back to Grand Rapids, good indication Howard and Bertuzzi will return Tuesday at LA
Holland tells Free Press: Howard is ready to go Tuesday at LA, Nyquist will play tonight for GR, rejoin Wings Monday in LA in case needed.
No practice today for #RedWings. Lidstrom and Datsyuk still expected back during California trip
MLive’s Ansar Khan confirms, but reports that Todd Bertuzzi, Pavel Datsyuk, Jakub Kindl and Nicklas Lidstrom’s respective statuses remain somewhat uncertain:
The Detroit Red Wings flew back to Detroit on Saturday night for an abbreviated night of sleep in their own beds before embarking upon their last West Coast swing of the season starting Sunday night, and the Wings did so losing more than two hours in the exchange (due to heading back to the Eastern Time Zone and then losing another hour due to Daylight Savings Time): the Wings limped out of Nashville only four instead of eight points ahead of the Predators, and now trail the Blues by 4 points in the Central Division standings, thanks to a 3-2 loss to Nashville which represented a failed attempt to “lurk in the weeds,” as the Wings did in their comeback victory against the Kings on Friday night, against a far superior opponent.
So the Wings will head into Los Angeles for a rematch with said Kings on Tuesday, tangle with the spoiler-happy Ducks on Wednesday and then face what they can only hope is a potential first-round opponent in the San Jose Sharks next Saturday, because if the Red Wings don’t stop losing (Detroit’s lost 3 of its past 4 games), they’ll end up playing against the Predators in April, and may very well have to start the series in Nashville at this rate.
The Detroit Red Wings seemed to be far too content to try to use the same lurking-in-the-weeds game plan against the Nashville Predators which they successfully employed against the Kings on Friday, and in a four-point game against a team far superior to the floundering Kings, the Wings made a huge tactical error, and thanks to some terrible special teams play on Detroit’s part—giving up 2 power play goals against and going 0-for-4 on their own power play—Detroit dropped a 3-2 decision to a Predators team that is only 4 instead of a potential 8 points behind Detroit in the Central Division standings—and the Wings’ loss means that the Blues are now 4 points ahead of Detroit, too (Update: scary thought—if the Wings don’t re-take the division lead, they’re all but guaranteed to play the Predators in the 1st round!).
Two days after the eighth anniversary of the “Bertuzzzi-Moore” incident, Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi spoke to Sportsnet’s Christine Simpson in a sit-down interview, mostly talking about his renaissance and “reinvention” as a defensively-responsible forward with the team he hopes to win a Stanley Cup with in the Detroit Red Wings:
Wings coach Mike Babcock adds some intriguing comments to the mix in the 5:22 interview.
Updated 4x with game chatter and stats at 7:10 PM: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to build upon their 4-3 win against Los Angeles when they face off against the Nashville Predators tonight (8 PM EST, FSD/FS Tennessee/97.1 FM/yes, we “spring forward” tonight), it’s pretty easy to become apoplectic trying to follow the Red Wings’ injuries, and this quip from MLive’s Ansar Khan’s Twitter account has me hoping that the newly re-christened Red Bird III will take the Red Wings will take the team back to Detroit for one more night in the players’ own beds before they head out West, or at least that the team’s booked some first-class tickets to Los Angeles for Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Todd Bertuzzi and Jakub Kindl:
@KristiLeigh73 Howard might have, to face shots, but Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Bert, Kindl did not go to Nash. None of injured players back tonight
There is some good news: Red Wings’ Twitter account reports that Joakim Andersson’s been assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins, which, as MLive’s Brendan Savage points out, means that Justin Abdelkader’s healthy enough to give ‘er a go after battling the flu over the past few days.
Savage also reports good news regarding Jimmy Howard:
The Detroit Red Wings’ gritty 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings allowed the Wings to take a midnight flight to Nashville to battle the Predators this evening (8 PM EST, FSD/FS Tennessee/97.1 FM/Don’t forget we “spring forward” this weekend) at least having kept pace with the Blues (2 points ahead of Detroit) and Canucks (1 point ahead) in the Western Conference standings, and ensuring that, should the depleted Wings fall this evening, Nashville can only creep to within 4 points of Detroit in the Central Division race, not 2…
But in terms of preparing to go into tonight’s game and perhaps one or both of the Wings’ games in Los Angeles and Anaheim next Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, minus the vast majority of Justin Abdelkader (flu), Todd Bertuzzi (groin), Pavel Datsyuk (knee), Jonathan Ericsson (broken wrist), Jimmy Howard (groin), Nicklas Lidstrom (bone bruise in his ankle) and Jakub Kindl (“upper-body”), this Red Wings team whose roster includes seven actually-playing skaters/goalie and eight total warm bodies who didn’t start the season in Detroit, and six who started the year in Grand Rapids…
Friday night’s win was as crucial to the team “learning how to win as it is currently constructed” it was to breaking a two-game losing streak, if not more as the team slowly skates toward the playoffs now knowing that the Smiths, Janiks, Nyquists, Anderssons, Conners and MacDonalds of the world can get the job done—even if only in a fashion that is as aesthetically pleasing as nose hair until the Wings manage to, muck, grind, out-hustle, out-work and out-lurk-in-the-weeds their opponents to a positive result.
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.