The Malik Report
The Red Wings' prospects are mostly engaged in playoff hockey at present, and one player stole the show on Saturday--early:
In the SHL, Axel Holmstrom scored two goals (click the link for the highlights) in Skelleftea AIK's 5-2, second-round-opening win over Mattias Backman and Linkopings HC. Holmstrom scored the 3-1 and 4-1 goals in only 13:01 in ice time, while the former Wings prospect Backman finished at -2 in 16:47.
As DRW Prospects on Twitter noted, Holmstrom's having a fantastic playoff run, especially given that he plays as Skelleftea's 3rd or 4th line center:
In the KHL, I get to be honest: because Alexander Kadeikin isn't playing, I'm rooting for Sergei Fedorov's team, CSKA Moscow, in the "Army Derby," and CSKA took a 2-0 series lead in via a 3-2 overtime win on Saturday.
Sportsnet's Damien Cox and Elliotte Friedman spoke about Connor McDavid vs. Jack Eichel, the World Championships and other topics such as NCAA free agents during their "Headlines" segment, but Damien Cox spent a decent chunk of time suggesting that the Red Wings have a bona-fide goaltending controversy and a goalie with a very large contract (4 more years at a $5.
3229 million cap hit) in Jimmy Howard, and it was strange to hear that out loud...
Update: Here's Sportsnet's annotation of Cox's remarks:
The Red Wings boarded an early-evening flight to Long Island feeling a lot better about themselves thanks to Saturday's 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, but the Islanders will be coming off a 3-2 loss to Anaheim when the teams tangle tomorrow afternoon (5 PM EDT on FSD Plus), so things aren't going to get any easier for Detroit when Petr Mrazek taps the goalposts and prepares for the opening faceoff.
Regarding Saturday's game, the Lightning were incredibly upset at the Red Wings. They felt that Justin Abdelkader, who was involved in plays in which Jason Garrison and Cedric Paquette were injured, should have been penalized for his efforts, though the NHL referred everyone to this...
The Red Wings hadn't won a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning since November 30, 2011, but today's game against Tampa Bay was supposed to be one of those must-win games that the Wings needed to both snap their seven-game winless streak against the Bolts and to keep the Ottawa Senators (who are visiting Toronto tonight at 7) and Boston Bruins (who defeated the Rangers 4-2 in a 1 PM matinee, closing to within 3 points of Detroit) at least 5 points in arrears of the Wings' third and final Atlantic Division playoff spot.
For the Lightning, this was supposed to be a pretty "easy win," a game that would sew up a playoff spot while continuing their dominance over Detroit while sending a message that--perhaps to paraphrase some of the Bolts' beat writers--the Bolts wouldn't have to consider the Wings much more than a speedbunp along the way toward a long, deep spring playoff run.
via Ansar Khan tweets,
Babcock said he's not sure yet if Datsyuk will play. He'll find out either before or after the warmups.
If Datsyuk can't go, Cleary will be in the lineup. Babcock said he hadn't decided who'd be second line center if Datsyuk is out.
No changes on defense. Kindl is healthy scratch.
The Detroit Red Wings begin a stretch of 4 incredibly important games in 6 nights against the Tampa Bay Lightning this afternoon (2 PM on FSD/Sun Sports/97.1 FM), and while this game isn't necessarily as possibly playoff-trajectory-changing as Tuesday's 4-pointer against the Senators or Thursday's 4-pointer against the Bruins (both teams remain 5 points behind Detroit)--and unless the Lightning lose their last 7 games, and the Wings win their last 9 (see also: Wings have 2 games in hand on Tampa), Detroit's not likely to close the 9-point gulf separating its 90 points and Tampa Bay's 99...
But it would be nice if the Wings, who are now in a fight to earn the visitor's spot in an opening-round battle against either the Lightning or Canadiens (who have 100 points), haven't defeated the Lightning this season (last Friday's 3-1 loss was the Wings' 3rd loss of the season to Tampa and the Wings' 7th loss in their last 8 games vs. Tampa Bay), so it would be nice if the Wings skate into the playoffs having proven that they can defeat the Lightning at least once over what amount to three seasons' worth of losses-and-a-win-in-November-2011.
The Lightning are obviously in a different place than Detroit; they've won 4 of their past 5 games and 8 of 12 March outings (see also: Detroit, 3-7-1), and their 3-2 loss to Nashville on Thursday produced headlines like Bolts falls to Nashville, can’t seal playoff spot instead of, "Our goalie can't stop more shots than the other goalie this March...again..."
The Red Wings have exactly one NCAA-playing prospect still playing as of this evening: David Pope and the University of Nebraska-Omaha will battle Harvard at the NCAA East Regional in Hartford, CT on Saturday (at 7:30 PM on ESPN3), and that's...
That's it now. Ben Marshall and the University of Minnesota dropped a 4-1 decision to Minnesota-Duluth on Friday, ending Marshall's NCAA career and casting his future in some real doubt as Marshall's senior season yielded 2 goals, 9 assists and 11 points in 38 games played (and those stats are indicative of his four-year career's worth of being an offensive defenseman who didn't necessarily produce points).
Almost a week after it happened--as a Red Wings fan--I still don't give a flying *#$%@& about the hubbub surrounding Justin Abdelkader's broken-stick-shoves-it-in goal save exactly one problem: agendas of the article-writers and Wing-fan-provokers aside, by the letter of the law, the goal was in fact illegal, and it should provide an opportunity for the NHL to explore ways to get the call right by reviewing it.
Sportsnet's John Shannon figured that he could leverage some of his connections to survey general managers regarding plays like this applying to the proposed "coach's challenge," and he received some positive feedback:
On Friday, ESPN's Pierre LeBrun reported that a tweak to the Hockey Hall of Fame's bylaws made Chris Pronger eligible for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame this year, and LeBrun's Tweeted out a note about the bylaw tweak that might make Nicklas Lidstrom's induction this November that much more Red and White:
3 Stanley Cups, 2 Sekle Trophies, a Hart Trophy, a Lester B. Pearson Award, 483 goals, 1179 points, 176 playoff points....That's Hall of Fame stuff.
Updated 7x at 3:52 PM: The Red Wings' Friday practice did not bring good news: the beat writers reported that Pavel Datsyuk is "questionable" for tomorrow's game, that Erik Cole will probably miss both of this weekend's games and that Riley Sheahan will be, to quote coach Mike Babcock, "out for a bit" with an "upper-body injury" (the playoffs are near = no more injury clarity).
Given the magnitude of tomorrow's showdown with a possible playoff opponent in Tampa Bay, the Wings' horrible historical record on Long Island, and the essential-must-win natures of next Tuesday's battle with Ottawa and next Thursday's tangle with Boston, the Wings don't need to have an entire line of offensively-minded forwards out (the 4-non-roster-emergency call-up cap = Cleary draws in) while also battling defensive issues and shaky goaltending by both the would-be starter and the would-be back-up.
Jimmy Howard made some slightly strange comments after practice, telling the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness that his issues with tracking the puck--which is an absoultely essential, fundamentally important skill for goalies--involve "little things" as opposed to being something minor that he needs to "tweak"...
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.