The Malik Report
Updated 3x at 11:57 AM: With the Grand Rapids Griffins-Toronto Marlies game taking place later today and the Alumni Showdowns taking place tomorrow, Winter Classic hype's taking over both Southeastern Michigan and Toronto, and the spectacle of a be-all-end-all Biggest Hockey Game Ever that will theoretically reignite the rivalry between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs is justified...
But the reality of the non-hype situation is that it turns out that both tonight's game between the Red Wings and Predators (8 PM EST, FSD/FS Tennessee/1270 AM) will matter quite a bit, and Wedneday's game will matter even more in terms of two points that both teams rather desperately need to earn in the standings.
The Maple Leafs' 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes last night gave the 20-16-and-5 Leafs 45 points earned over the course of 41 games--and while the Red Wings have won 3 of their past 4 games, including Saturday's 4-3 win over Florida, the 18-13-and-9 Wings have amassed 45 points over the course of 40 games, so they're technically sitting in 4th place in the Atlantic Division because they've got a game in hand, but would have to win both tonight's game and the Winter Classic itself to emerge from both teams' 42nd game of the season to come out on top.
- Don’t be surprised if the Detroit Red Wings re-sign Daniel Alfredsson for one more season, if he’s up for it. He’s almost a point-a-game player after just turning 41. He probably looks at Jaromir Jagr (who will be 42 during the Sochi Olympics) and says why not?
The staggering run of injuries to the Wings has been a boon for their drafted players like winger Thomas Jurco and centre Riley Sheahan, who have both looked good. The Wings also love farmhand defencemen Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul. Jurco and Ouellet are the closest to being regular NHLers. Detroit would love to deal winger Mikael Samuelsson but he has a $3 million contract. Nobody will take him because he’s always hurt. Would Detroit waive him for a roster spot? Probably, but they’d still be on the hook for all but $100,000 of his salary-cap hit because he signed after he was 35.
The Grand Rapids Griffins will battle the Toronto Marlies today at 5 PM (televised on FSD, Sportsnet and other local outlets) on Comerica Park's ice surface, with Luke Glendening and Trevor Parkes in tow (but Petr Mrazek not taking part due to Jonas Gustavsson's sore groin)
The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner noted that the Griffins' morning skate will be the only opportunity for the team to acclimate to the outdoor ice surface, but the Griffins do have four players with outdoor experience in Nathan Paetsch, Glendening (4 games' worth of outdoor experience), Teemu Pulkkinen (ditto) and Adam Almquist.
We're expecting partly sunny skies and teperatures in the high teens today and tonight, so the weather should be perfect for the Griffins, but Mother Nature has thrown a wrench into tomorrow's Alumni Showdowns (1 and 3:30 PM at Comerica Park) as we may experience some snow showers and gusty winds, and the Winter Classic itself may include the beginnings of 1-3 inches of snow!
Update: Via RedWingsFeed, the Free Press's George Sipple (who's taking part in a Freep.com chat at 10 AM today) spoke with Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill regarding his team's strengths and weaknesses:
This entry's going to be a little rambly, so I'm going to parse it out on a chronological basis.
If you're headed downtown tonight, tomorrow or on Tuesdya, the Red Wings want you to know that the Hockeytown Winter Festival's OHL games taking place presently, tomorrow's televised Griffins-Marlies game at 5 PM and Tuesday's Alumni Showdowns (they're scheduled to take place at 1 and 3:30 PM, but NBCSN has the 2nd game airing at 4) aren't the only hockey-related activities taking place at Comerica Park.
Outside the ballpark, the Coke Zero Fan Zone is free if you have a ticket to a game and $5 if you don't, and, as the Red Wings' official "Coke Zero Fan Guide" notes, there's a Hockey Hall of Fame exhibit that contains almost every NHL trophy--including the Stanley Cup on Monday and Tuesday--alums are signing autographs, and, as WXYZ notes, there's food, music, and much more "fun for all ages" all taking place in what is usually Comerica Park's parking lot:
According to the Free Press's Helene St. James, Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard's previous body of work in terms of NHL and International experience will give him the nod over Ben Bishop or Cory Schneider as Team USA's third Olympic goaltender--which would be welcome news for Red Wings fans taking in the Team USA roster announcement at the Winter Classic:
A person with knowledge of the selection process told the Free Press on Sunday that it looked good for Howard’s inclusion among the three goaltenders who would be tasked with leading Team USA to a gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia. The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the team before the announcement.
Howard was at August’s Olympic Orientation camp, where he was considered a shoo-in after a very successful 2013. His shine lessened in November, when he delivered very average goaltending. Then he suffered a sprained left knee during a practice three weeks ago, casting his selection further into the dark.
His stats aren't pretty, but...
Updated 4x at 7:03 PM: While I was posting this, MLive's Ansar Khan issued very good news regarding Darren Helm:
The Red Wings hope to build upon their 4-3 win over the Florida Panthers when they tangle with the Nashville Predators tomorrow, but, as Paul noted, Sunday's practice in Nashville did not reveal good news on the injury front.
The Free Press's Helene St. James Tweeted the following news...
I don't know how this didn't get posted, but it didn't, so here it is belatedly...
Between NHL.com's photo gallery and the Twitter feed of Getty Images' Dave Sanford, we're receiving more and more reminders that, amidst the Hockeytown Winter Festival's festivities downtown, the Winter Classic is nearly upon us, and the Red Wings want us to know that the festivities downtown have just begun...
But the Red Wings' players, coaches, and to some extent, their dads have to earn their way back to Metro Detroit, and with the Maple Leafs nudging Detroit in the standings, it was plain old time to get back to work for the Wings on Saturday.
Detroit's 4-3 win over the Florida Panthers on Saturday contained all the hallmarks of this herky-jerky season in a blown 2-goal lead and a too-tight finish, but it also included something the 18-13-and-9 Wings have lacked far too often this season in the form of two points.
Also, Gustavsson is not on the ice for practice in Nashville.
added 1:34pm, Ted Kulfan tweets,
Gustavsson is out with sore groin
update 2:35pm, Khan tweets,
Howard said he thinks he can play tomorrow but he felt soreness in the knee today and needs to talk to the doctor for final clearance.
Babcock said any potential lineup change up front depends on who's available and he's not sure if Helm is ready.
Warning: This entry includes "spoilers" and lots of cursing, and "Gilding the Lily" refers to the literal term in which lillies were covered with gold, irking some folks who think that lillies are beautiful enough on their own.
I've been pretty blunt about the fact that I have "issues" with HBO's 24/7: Red Wings-Maple Leafs, Road to the Winter Classic series over the course of two episodes' worth of attempting to share my "takes" on what's been presented to an international audience, and episode 3 didn't resolve any qualms or "beefs."
Without getting into too much detail before the "jump," I will give you a simple illustration of its breaking of the cardinal rule of storytelling, "Show, Don't Tell": It took HBO and Liev Schreiber 25 minutes to set up the Red Wings' 5-4 shootout win over Toronto last Saturday, but the program spent approximately 8 minutes (and the program is 55 minutes long) actually showing footage from said game and a wee bit of post-game stuff. They then moved on to talk about the teams' losses following said game, the Christmas holiday, and what would have been incredibly forced, "And now we're about to go outside" set-up scenes had the protagonists thereof not been so sincere.
The Red Wings prospect who accomplished the biggest feat may have done the least to aid his team's cause. After sitting out yesterday's semifinal game, Mike McKee played as a fourth-line forward (and a 6'5," 250-pound one at that) but didn't register a point as his Western Michigan University Broncos took the Great Lakes Invitational title at Comerica Park, defeating Michigan Tech 1-0 in overtime.
The Kalamazoo Gazette's David Drew, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose, the Detroit News's David Goricki (with photo gallery), Michigan Hockey's Stefan Kubus (ditto), the Detroit Free Press's George Sipple (gallery embedded in story) and Western Michigan University's website all posted recaps of the game.
As noted on Saturday afternoon, however, the "biggest prospect story" of the day involved someone probably losing his starting goaltender's job due to the his team's necessity for nothing less than perfection. Anthony Mantha had 2 assists and Jake Paterson stopped 24 of 28 shots as Team Canada's World Junior team lost 5-4 to the Czech Republic in a shootout, and the Canadian Press's Bill Beacon noted that Paterson's teammates' assistance in racking up that high score didn't matter--lose at the World Juniors, which rarely happens to Canada, and the goalie wears the horns:
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.