The Malik Report
Red Wings-Coyotes wrap-up and overnight report: How I stopped worrying and learned to love the grind
As I count myself among the large group of jittery, picky and sometimes skittish group of people who deem themselves Red Wings fans, I can’t deny that I look at the standings this morning, see the Wings leading the league but owning the Central Division by all of one single point over the Blackhawks and Blues, and having to increasingly rely on overtime or shootouts to capture five of their past six wins thanks in no small part due to their horrific power play, which went 0-for-5 on Thursday (3-for-41 over the past 14 games), all but sentencing Detroit to a somewhat ugly 3-2 shootout victory over Phoenix, and I shake my head.
Too close, I think. Too sloppy. Lacking killer instinct or the ability to score when given golden opportunities to do so.
Then I remember that it’s January, that the Wings just played their 8th of 11 games played over the course of 19 nights, having concluded a 3-games-in-3-cities-in-4-nights stretch while all but playing games of playoff seeding-determining importance in [expletive deleted-ing] January, and I’m starting to believe that the Wings’ five-game winning streak is nothing to sneeze at, nor anything to “suck on.”
The Detroit Red Wings’ 3-2 shootout victory over the Phoenix Coyotes, I daresay, kinda played out the way I thought it would: the Wings were just sloppy enough—and their power play was bad enough, going a hideous 0-for-5 in 10 minutes of PP time—to give the Coyotes both the first goal and a game-tying goal directly after Gilbert Brule got out of the penalty box, and in between, the Wings dominated for about 45 minutes of play, but they could neither overcome their slow start or fade-away finish.
Thankfully, Todd Bertuzzi and Jimmy Howard starred in the shootout, because the Wings really, really, really should not have to be leading the West by having won so many shootouts (3 of their past 4 wins ) and overtime games (4 of their past 5 engagements), had their power play had anything other than its head stuck up its hockey pants…
But wins are wins at this time of year, and as the Wings rest up in Phoenix tonight before returning to Detroit on early Friday afternoon, they’ve won 5 straight, and temporarily lead the league because of their 31 overall wins (just ignore the playoff tie-breaking ROW stat for the moment).
I would prefer to steer you back to the game update thread to read about Nicklas Lidstrom’s take on being followed around by the NHL 36 crew’s cameras, the Grand Rapids Griffins’ trading away of fan favorite Greg Amadio, news about a Rliey Sheahan suspension and all of the rest of the Red Wings-related news related to tonight’s game between Detroit and Phoenix, but we’ve got some dueling banjos of significant editorial weight offering very contrary takes on the Red Wings-hosted Winter Classic.
The Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa believes that the NHL needs to help Detroit become the focal point of the festivities despite the main event being held in Ann Arbor, suggesting that it should coordinate between local business entities to build a secondary showplace of epic proportions at Comerica Park as a major olive branch to the “cash cow” that is the Western Conference-based Detroit Red Wings, as well the City of Detroit, for holding the Winter Classic 45 miles away from Comerica Park:
[University of Michigan athletic director David] Brandon gets his part of the deal done, with all appropriate resources from the NHL making it worthwhile for the University of Michigan and its athletics department, and perhaps even the city of Ann Arbor, given the fact that, currently, no alcohol is sold in Michigan Stadium.
And the Ilitches and [Olympia Entertainment executive Tom] Wilson, with a significant boost from the NHL and perhaps another local NHL owner, Peter Karmanos, along with Roger Penske, Dan Gilbert and the rebounding auto companies, would finance both a rink and a grand winter festival in Comerica Park for several weeks from just before Christmas through the North American International Auto Show.
Paul here while George is running some errands and I thought he would want me to post this.
Barry Melrose with praise for 3 Wings.
Updated 10x at 7:36 PM: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the Phoenix Coyotes tonight (9 PM EST, FSD/FS Arizona Plus/WXYT), I’m going to skip the usual, “Wait until one team’s morning skate is over to post game-day stories” protocol because ESPN has chosen tonight’s game as its “Game of the Week,” and in the process (ESPN’s pundits may break the game down afterward) thereof, Craig Custance penned a lovely article about Jimmy Howard’s maturation into an All-Star-caliber goaltender. Custance’s article merits both must-read and, “Hell, you might want to bookmark it or print it and read it again later” status as he reveals the reasons that the Wings drafted Howard, his former coaches’ views on someone who was anything other than a “natural” athlete and the two reasons why Howard has finally calmed down and stopped skittering around the crease like a “spider monkey”
With the Lions’ season over, the Pistons an afterthought and the Tigers still months away from playing, Hockeytown is starting to act like it. Distracted sports fans in the city looking to Joe Louis Arena for entertainment are now discovering that their team is every bit as dangerous as previous versions. Only the Red Wings are doing it in a dramatically different fashion. They’re winning because of goaltending and a team defense that has consistently been among the top in the league.
Howard leads the NHL in wins, is sixth among starting goalies with a 2.04 goals-against average and ranks 10th overall with a .924 save percentage. According to Elias, his current streak of 15 straight home wins is tied for the second-longest streak since the 1943-44 season. And, he already has five shutouts, equaling a career high.
“He doesn’t have off-nights. He just hasn’t had off-nights,” said Red Wings backup goalie Ty Conklin. “There’s times when we win games 5-1 and he’s legitimately the first star of the game because of the way he plays early in games. He’s been fantastic.”
Here’s another excellent snippet…
For someone who claims to not care about the All-Star Game, ESPN’s Scott Burnside joined the Ottawa Citizen’s Ken Warren by launching into a scathing criticism of the NHL’s decision to allow Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom and Anaheim Ducks forward Teemu Selanne to skip the All-Star weekend…
I applauded commissioner Gary Bettman’s strong stance at the 2009 All-Star Game in Montreal, when Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom declined to show up for the proceedings after they’d been selected to participate. Bettman had previously told his GMs that he didn’t want guys pulling the plug after they’d been chosen and that if players were bowing out using the injury card, they wouldn’t be able to play in the first game back after the All-Star break. So, in effect, Lidstrom and Datsyuk were suspended for a game after the ’09 break. The Wings hated it and it was a tough call given the long years of dedicated service Lidstrom had put in on behalf of the Wings and the league.
The Detroit Red Wings face off against the Phoenix Coyotes tonight (9 PM EST, 7 PM Arizona time, FSD/FS Arizona Plus/WXYT) in a theoretically advantageous position. With four games left over their seven pre-All-Star break days remaining, the Wings enjoyed a day away from the rink on Wednesday, probably spending their time golfing, swimming or sleeping prior to watching their opponent drop a 6-2 decision to the Anaheim Ducks—the Yotes’ fourth loss over their past five games and their sixth in eight January games—before flying back to Arizona to meet a rested Wings team.
As the Wings spent Wednesday away from the all-but-confirmed confirmation of a Red Wings-hosted Winter Classic, which even Jimmy Devellano can talk about as long as he doesn’t stare directly at Michigan Stadium, spent the day away from news of literally attractive charitable partnerships, the first real update as to how Gordie Howe’s getting along that we’ve heard in a year and even Pavel Datsyuk’s own translated comments to a media outlet an alphabet away from Glendale, the Wings will have to run a veritable media gauntlet today, and that can be…dangerous for a team that is easily distracted.
As reports continue to pile up like ten thousand tons of iron ore pellets in front of steel mills on Zug Island, all suggesting that the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will play a Winter Classic to be held at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, on January 1st,
2013 (bonus: the Vancouver Sun’s Cam Cole already hates it; welcome to the next 12 months’ worth of long treatises breaking down Brian Burke’s hangnails)...
The Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell spoke to Red Wings VP Jimmy Devellano about the high likelihood that the Wings will announce such an engagement after (per MLive’s Ansar Khan and the Free Press’s Helene St. James) the Wings return from a West Coast swing and kick off a six-game home stand on Feburary 8th, and for an event that nobody’s allowed to admit is happening, Devellano was very forthright about its top secret details:
Red Wings senior vice-president Jimmy Devellano wouldn’t confirm the reports, but didn’t throw cold water on them either. He said if the game is played at Michigan Stadium, the Wings against the Leafs is the only option.
“That would make sense if you were trying to sell 115,000 tickets to anything,” Devellano said. “It so happens we’re right on the Canadian border. In Ontario and Windsor, the Maple Leafs are a religion. There’d be no other team to draw that much interest outside of Toronto for a game like this.”
Devellano tells Waddell that the Wings knew they’d be hosting one sooner or later…
Updated 8x at 8 PM: I tend to trust MLive’s Ansar Khan about these things, but in case you weren’t almost totally completely certain that Khan’s report about the Red Wings hosting a Winter Classic, at Michigan Stadium, against the Toronto Maple Leafs, in 2013 is all but a done deal, TSN, Sportsnet and the Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran want you to know their side of the story—the Maple Leafs are probably going to play some team at a very big stadium in Michigan, giving the [sarcasm] underexposed and overlooked Maple Leafs the recognition they so badly need [/sarcasm], the Detroit News is tossing off the predictable “no comments” and assurances that Michigan-based colleges will take part in some sort of outing at Comerica Park as an olive branch to the Ilitches…
John Dellapina, NHL vice-president of communications, refused comment on Wednesday.
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon told The Detroit News this week that discussions were ongoing between U-M and the NHL about hosting the game at Michigan Stadium.
Michigan Tech AD Suzanne Sanregret also told The Detroit News that school officials would be meeting with Olympia Entertainment Group soon to discuss the possibility of moving the GLI from Joe Louis Arena to Comerica Park. Michigan Tech is the host school for the GLI.
“We know the concept is out there,” Sanregret said of moving the GLI to Comerica Park. “We’re always looking to find new, exciting ways to promote the GLI. We’ll be analyzing it to see if it’s a possibility. We’ll know more in another couple of weeks.”
And the Free Press’s Helene St. James confirms that the deal is done and will be formally announced when the Wings return from their West Coast Swing at the beginning of February (which is quite convenient as the Wings will be back at the Joe three days after the Superbowl):
As the Detroit Red Wings’ players tucked themselves into bed in Phoenix after yet another very late flight on Red Bird II, they could, at least fore a few hours, anyway, prepare for their day of rest and recuperation knowing that their 5-0 win over Buffalo on Monday and their gritty 3-2 shootout win over Dallas on Tuesday placed the team in rare territory:
This morning, the Red Wings sit atop the Western Conference with 30 wins and 61 points, and until this evening, anyway, they also sit in second place in the NHL, only a point behind the New York Rangers. Now the Wings may very well find themselves in fourth or fifth place in the West and the league by the time they face off against Phoenix on Thursday (9 PM EST, FSD/FS Arizona/WXYT), but as the Wings prepare to grind out the rest of their pre-Winter Classic announcement schedule with 4 games in 7 nights prior to the All-Star break and resume their schedule with four games in three Canadian provinces and a return to Phoenix over six nights…You take what you can get and celebrate your achievements when you’re able to do so, no matter how fleeting one’s status as the king of the hill might be.
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.