The Malik Report
Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated takes a look at the Western Conference playoff race and writes this about the Wings...
The possibility of their 21-year playoff streak ending became a statistical probability after that loss to Calgary on Wednesday, but the schedule could be the difference-maker for Detroit. With five to go, the Wings face two road games — Saturday in Vancouver and the season finale in Dallas — and have Phoenix, Los Angeles and Nashville coming to the Joe. That’s a finish that puts the team’s fate in its own hands.
But can these Wings be trusted? They’ve struggled this season not so much because of the loss of Nick Lidstrom, but because too many young players have been asked to fill roles they’re just not ready to handle. Is there any reason to think they’ll suddenly answer the call now?
Detroit needs to go at least 3-1-1 over these games, with one of the regulation wins coming against the Stars. Dallas holds the tie-breaker, so that one is imperative. The odds are against them, but it says here the team’s veteran stars step up and get the job done.
Bertuzzi talked to the Detroit Free Press today after practice in Vancouver and hopes to return soon. He will speak with doctors when the Wings return from Vancouver and maybe, just maybe, return on Monday against Phoenix or Wednesday against LA, both are home games.
Also, Samuelsson did not practice with the Wings and no mention of Darren Helm in all the reports I read.
As Wings coach Mike Babcock might say, the Red Wings (20-16-and-7, 47 points, 18 Regulation-or-OT Wins, 5 games left) sit in 10th place in the Western Conference standings because the Dallas Stars defeated the Vancouver Canucks 5-1 on Thursday (Dallas is 22-18-and-3, has 20 ROW's and the same 47 points and 5 games remaining as the Wings, so they're in 9th place now, and the Wings play in Dallas during the regular-season finale), the Columbus Blue Jackets at least remain within reach thanks to a 2-1 loss to LA but remain ahead of the Wings (21-16-and-7, 16 ROWs, 49 points, 4 games remaining, yay), and the Phoenix Coyotes inched closer to the Wings via a 2-1 shootout loss to St. Louis (18-7-and-8, 15 ROWs, 44 points, 4 games remaining, including Monday vs. Detroit), "And that's the facts."
If I may take off my pretend professional blogger's hat and speak as a fan, the facts *#$%@& suck donkey balls.
The Wings really do need to win 3--or preferably 4--of the team's remaining 5 games, starting with a big ol' Hockey Night in Canada game against Vancouver on Saturday (10 PM EDT, FSD/NHL Network U.S./CBC), to make the playoffs.
We'd heard this from the CBC's Elliotte Friedman, but it's great to have a Wings beat writer confirm it: According to MLive's Ansar Khan, Red Wings GM Ken Holland has indeed "touched base" with Pavel Datsyuk's agent, Gary Greenstin, and while the Wings can't formally re-sign Datsyuk (whose situation is "complicated" given that, after the 1 year remaining on his $6.7 million contract, the Chief says he's not keen on playing in the East or playing with the personnel he's playing with, and the Chief's source is bedrock-solid; I'm going with the, "His daughter's enrolled in primary school in Yekaterinburg, which is usually a sign that a player's planning on 'going home' after his career is over, and family tends to win" angle)...
But given that the franchise's lack of meaningful off-season or in-season acquisitions has the fan base (myself included) frustrated as all *#$%@& get out, it's wonderful to hear that the one contract Ken Holland is willing to hammer out as long as the Wings are playing hockey involves fighting to keep Datsyuk in Detroit:
I haven't slept since a pre-game nap prior to the Red Wings' rather wretched 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames last night for reasons mostly not involving the game, but given that I came home from a 100-mile round trip of ferrying the mom to an appointment with 60+ "You've Received a Comment" notifications, I'm just going to guess that more than a few of you are still mightily pissed off about the Wings' struggles, and that you're not thrilled with my, "Last night's loss is on the players" take on the defeat.
Regardless of who is or isn't held responsible for in-game situations and who is held culpable for making or not making the personnel tweaks available and/or necessary to provide the coaching staff and players with the best possible opportunity to win, the Wings face an incredibly stiff task ahead.
A Red Wings prospect and a current Wings player received and were nominated for significant awards, respectively, this afternoon:
Soo Greyhounds defenseman and Red Wings prospect Ryan Sproul, who's turning pro with the Grand Rapids Griffins, was named the OHL's defenseman of the year. From the Ontario Hockey League...
The Ontario Hockey League today announced that Ryan Sproul of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds is the 2012-13 recipient of the Max Kaminsky Trophy awarded annually to the OHL’s Most Outstanding Defenceman of the Year.
Sproul led all OHL defencemen in scoring with 66 points in just 50 games tying teammate Colin Miller for the league-lead in goals among blueliners with 20 while adding 46 assists. He becomes just the third member of the Greyhounds to win Defenceman of the Year honours following current Los Angeles King Jake Muzzin (2009-10), and Columbus Blue Jackets Associate Coach Craig Hartsburg (1976-77).
"This is the greatest accomplishment of my life to date,” Sproul said. “I am extremely honoured to be given this award and I have to thank the Greyhound organization for everything they have done for me over the last 3 years."
Some irony here, from the Grand Rapids Griffins' PR department:
GRIFFINS PLAYOFF TICKETS ON SALE FRIDAY
All Home Playoff Games to Feature $2 Beers and $2 Hot Dogs
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Tickets for the Grand Rapids Griffins’ first home game of the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs will go on sale to the public on Friday, April 19 at 10 a.m.
The date and opponent for “Game A” will be announced no later than this Sunday night, as the Griffins’ playoff seeding will be determined by results of the final weekend of the AHL’s regular season. Currently the third seed in the Western Conference, Grand Rapids is two points away from clinching the Midwest Division title and has an outside shot at the No. 2 seed with three games left on its schedule, beginning with its regular season home finale against the Peoria Rivermen on Friday at 7 p.m.
The Detroit Red Wings are in trouble, and the only people that can help the Wings are the players who don red and white jerseys every night.
After dropping a 3-2 decision to the Calgary Flames--the Wings' third straight loss against Calgary--the 20-16-and-7 Wings (having played 43 games and possessing 18 Regulation-or-OT Wins) have 47 points and sit in 9th place in the Western Conference, 2 points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets (21 wins, 16 ROWs, 44 games played, and Columbus defeated Anaheim 3-2 in OT on Wednesday evening), 2 points ahead of the Dallas Stars (21 wins, 19 ROWs, 42 games played, and Dallas hosts Vancouver on Thursday) and 4 points ahead of the Phoenix Coyotes (18 wins, 15 ROWs, 42 games played, and if the Coyotes lose to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, St. Louis would jump from 50 to 52 points, and would essentially be out of reach).
Again, long story short, especially if the Blues defeat the Coyotes this evening, there are 4 teams battling for 1 playoff spot, and the Wings do not own that playoff spot at present.
The Detroit Red Wings packed their equipment bags and boarded Red Bird III to fly further West an off-day in Vancouver after dropping an 3-1 decision against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night, and their loss, combined with Columbus defeating Anaheim 3-2 in overtime, leaves the Wings in a particularly difficult position in the Western Conference standings--in 9th place, behind the Blue Jackets (though the Wings have a game in hand and more ROWs than Columbus), and in more danger with Dallas (2 points behind Detroit) hosting the Wings' next opponent, the Vancouver Canucks, on Thursday...
But you already know that. How the Wings managed to drop three straight games to the Flames, with the latter two games involving the Wings surrendering own-goals of the heinous variety--tonight, with Jonathan Ericsson helping Steve Begin tap a puck through Howard's legs, and then Kyle Quincey peeling away from the net and Damien Brunner changing on a power play, Howard expressing his frustration and allowing Begin to score...
Updated 15x at 4:49 PM: You can empty the cliche bag regarding the necessity of the Detroit Red Wings earning points against the Calgary Flames this evening (9:30 PM EDT, FSD Plus/TSN/97.1 FM), but nobody's been talking about the degree of difficulty that the Wings actually find themselves facing this evening.
The Wings and their workhorse goaltender have to find a way to upstage what will be the first of two Miikka Kiprusoff "farewell" events, and the fact of the matter is that the Flames' pair of 5-2 wins over the Wings in February and March did not hinge upon the play of Jarome Iginla, but instead, Curtis Glencross, as the AP's game preview noted:
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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.