The Malik Report
Of Red Wings-related note this evening:
1. In addition to addressing Darren Helm and Danny DeKeyser's respective statuses, the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness asked Wings coach Jeff Blashill to weigh in on the relative lack of scoring from Wings' non-Zetterberg-Abdelkader-or-Larkin-containing lines:
The Wings are still looking for the right combination on their second and third lines.
“I think chemistry is a thing that gets developed over time,” Blashill said. “So (Brad) Richards is new to the team. It’s going to take some time to develop some chemistry, just like the power play with Richards and Green.
“I’ve mixed around the lines a little bit, so I’ve haven’t given them lots of chances to have the chemistry either, so we’ll keep playing with that a little bit,” Blashill added. “But I thought (Riley) Sheahan was really good (Tuesday) as a whole, and I thought that line had some chances as well. The other thing I had a hard match with (Luke) Glendening on (Tyler) Johnson and when you do that the other lines get a little bit shorter for ice time. I wouldn’t do that every night. I’ll do that in certain specific situations.”
And regarding Helm and DeKeyser...
Dan Rosen of NHL.com answered some questions from the fans...
Is Dylan Larkin a dark-horse rookie of the year candidate?
Every rookie not named Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel is a dark-horse candidate for the Calder Trophy. Those two will dominate the discussion all season. However, Larkin is proving to be the real deal, and the Red Wings have the makings of a special line with Larkin, Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader. Larkin obviously showed he can be effective at center too. He played well in between Teemu Pulkkinen and Tomas Tatar when they were put together in the third period against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. Pulkkinen scored twice and the Red Wings rallied for a 4-3 win.
I still haven't seen Larkin in person, which is the best way to get a gauge of a player's true effectiveness, but everything I've seen from watching the Red Wings, highlights of Larkin, and from reading about him and talking to some people, there's no doubt he is a player who could and maybe should be in the discussion with McDavid and Eichel all season. Another in that category that I now have seen in person is Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers, who is impressive and clearly has an excellent shot, as demonstrated by the goal he scored on Henrik Lundqvist on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
Updated 3x at 2:45 PM: The Red Wings issued a bit of mixed injury news during and after Wednesday's practice: Henrik Zetterberg and Mike Green took "maintenance days," Johan Franzen remained "unwell," but we were told that Danny DeKeyser and Darren Helm may return to the Wings as soon as Saturday's game vs. Montreal.
MLive's Ansar Khan spoke with DeKeyser regarding his rapid recovery from sprained ligaments in his left foot:
USA Today's Kevin Allen offers, "Five reasons the Detroit Red Wings have started fast after Mike Babcock." Among them:
1. Captain Henrik Zetterberg: At the end of last season, Detroit fans were wondering whether Zetterberg’s chronic back issues had robbed him of his offensive effectiveness. He looked worn down in the playoffs.
This season, he is refreshed enough to be leading the NHL in scoring with seven points in three games. He’s carrying the flag like he did when he was a younger man.
“Hank is our leader,” said Red Wings winger Gustav Nyquist. “It’s great to see him healthy. It think his body feels as good as it has in a long time.”
2. The goalkeepers: Detroit goaltenders own a 1.33 goals-against average and .957 save percentage in the first three games.
Jimmy Howard has played two of the three, and his save percentage is .977. His performance has been noteworthy because the expectation was that Petr Mrazek was ready to be the team’s No. 1. Mrazek was the playoff goalie last season after Howard struggled late in the season.
“Obviously, confidence is always a big deal and he didn’t finish in the way he wanted to finish,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “But I also remember the first half of the year he was very good and was picked to be an All-Star. I think he is back to that form.”
From the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner:
Todd Nelson makes his home debut as coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday against San Antonio at Van Andel Arena on the same night Colton has his home opener in his second season of juniors with the Oklahoma Blazers of the Western States Hockey League.
It will be a fitting day for the father and son. They have shared far fewer times together than most, but the hockey connection also carries a tight bond as the years go by.
"It was tough and I feel bad for him because of all the places we moved," Nelson said of his son, who bounced across the country and overseas with his younger sister, Kyleigh, and mom, Josette.
Growing up, Colton reaped the benefits of skating with the teams his father coached, picking up tips and pointers from veterans. But there were also the moves. Colton listed them:
Pennsylvania, Michigan, New York, back to Michigan, Illinois, Georgia, Oklahoma City, Utah, back to Illinois and back to Oklahoma City. Plus there was time in Germany. He went to three different high schools.
Updated 4x at 12:59 PM--Helm and DeKeyser might return on Saturday: Of Red Wings practice-related note:
First, an FYI:
The Red Wings took to the ice around noon to begin preparing for Friday and Saturday's games against Carolina and Montreal, and MLive's Ansar Khan reported that Johan Franzen didn't join them:
Wings on ice for practice. Franzen not skating, after feeling ill yesterday.
Nor did Zetterberg or Green:
Zetterberg and Green not skating. No word yet on why. Zetterberg might be taking maintenance day.
from Brendan Savage of Mlive,
At age 35, Zetterberg is unlikely to produce those kinds of numbers and he knows that as well as anyone.
"It's early, three games," Zetterberg said. "I had a pretty good start last year then I hit the wall in January. A lot of things can happen but obviously it's a pretty good start. I just got to wake up tomorrow and feel good."
Fair enough but it's also an encouraging sign for the Red Wings to see Zetterberg starting the season with multi-point games in victories over Toronto, Carolina and Tampa Bay.
His seven points lead the NHL, his five assists are tied for the top spot and he's got a plus-5 rating.
"He's playing really well," said Justin Abdelkader. "He had a great summer as far as training. He came into camp ready to go, kind of with a chip on his shoulder. Maybe the new coaching change brought a breath of fresh air for him.
"I think our whole line is doing a lot of good things. (Dylan) Larkin is skating well, had good chances. (Zetterberg is) our leader and it's good to see him doing so good."
added 7:54am, Extended game highlights are below...
Of prospect related note:
And the Grand Rapids Griffins posted their weekly release ahead of their home opener on Friday:
The Detroit Red Wings' 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning looked like a playoff game--sometimes with the same gritty, "greasy" ugliness thereof--and the Lightning agreed with that assessment, as they told the Tampa Tribune's Erik Erlendsson:
“That was deja vu, playoff game all over again,’’ Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said. “There was not a lot of room out there, both teams were under 25 shots (on goal). They picked the corners, we didn’t.’’
That corner picking shot came courtesy of Gustav Nyquist, who found a tiny seam over the shoulder of Ben Bishop late in the second period for a power play goal that opened the scoring with 2:08 left in the second period. From that point on, it felt like Tampa Bay was going to have a tough go trying to get back in the game and when Henrik Zetterberg scored at 8:52 of the third - which came after the Lightning came up empty on two power play chances - a chance to start the season with a fourth consecutive victory went out the door.
There were no late game heroics like Game 4 of the playoffs last season when Tyler Johnson sparked a late rally to even up the series with an overtime victory.
“Tonight was a tough test for us, they play a really tight game and there wasn’t much space out there,’’ Johnson said. “It kind of reminded me of the playoffs in that sense.’’
Rematches can be overrated, and it's hard to say whether the Red Wings could take any solace in defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning during the regular season after being eliminated from the playoffs in a bitter seven-game first-round series--that kind of revenge takes until April to truly earn.
That being said, the Red Wings' 3-1 win--in all its gloriously ugly nature--felt pretty damn good, from Nyquist's 2nd-period, playoff-game-un-tying snipe to the goalpost that Ondrej Palat hit in the game's final seconds, with a little luck and a little lucky goodness separating Detroit from what could'a been and maybe should'a been overtime had Detroit not played so damn well defensively (mostly), from Mike Green of all people (and we need to get his Stealth CNT collection going, folks) on out to the Glendenings, Ferraros, Jurcos and Larkins.
This was the kind of game where Nyquist and Zetterberg carried the day, but Kyle Quincey got two points, and Jeff Blashill's ever-slightly-more aggressive structure seemed to give the Wings just enough of an edge to out-compete an incredibly-talented Lightning team.
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