The Malik Report
The Detroit Red Wings sit in fifth place in the Western Conference standings as the team will practice today at Joe Louis Arena, ahead of tonight's Toast of Hockeytown, thanks to a back-to-back wins over Edmonton and Vancouver, assuaging their crappy performance against Calgary last Wednesday.
The packed nature of the Western Conference standings probably means that the 14-10-and-5 (with 12 regulation or OT wins) Wings will be out of the playoff pack by the time the Wings and Minnesota Wild tangle in an NBC "Rivalry Night" game on Wednesday, and today, we can expect to find out whether Kyle Quincey will require surgery for his broken cheekbone and whether the NHL will name Pavel Datsyuk one of its Stars of the Week after scoring a goal and adding three assists over the course of a dominant pair of weekend performances.
The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson dedicated the bulk of his "Hockey World" column and blog entries to the Red Wings this week, engaging in a fascinating interview with Wings GM Ken Holland about the possibility that Detroit might not make the playoffs for the 22nd straight season, and they talk about the Wings' unrestricted free agents-to-be, too.
Matheson believes that the Wings might be better served long-term by missing the playoff cut and taking a chance in an NHL draft lottery that will now give each and every one of the 14 non-playoff teams a chance (albeit a weighted one) at the 1st overall draft pick, but that's not the way the Wings operate:
The Red Wings received Sunday off after wrapping up their three-games-in-four nights trip through Western Canada with an overtime win over Edmonton and a big win over Vancouver, and the team will get some time to rest their bumps and bruises as they won't play again until they host the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday.
Before spending all night flying back to Detroit, MLive's Ansar Khan reports that Wings coach Mike Babcock gave his team downright effusive praise for their efforts over the weekend, though Babcock was still baffled by the team's "disturbing" loss to the Calgary Flames this past Wednesday:
The Red Wings-Canucks wrap-up simply took so much bandwidth and blog-width that this overnight report's going to be a little lean, but that's on purpose, and I hope the extra click's worth your time.
The Free Press's Helene St. James' Sunday story about Henrik Zetterberg's transition from one of the Wings' leaders to the team's captain is more than worth your time, and if I could quote all of it, I would, but I'll leave her downright fascinating conversation with Oilers captain and off-season Wing pal Shawn Horcoff to you, and will go with what Zetterberg has to say about learning on the job from soneone who is learning a very different job as Ken Holland's other, other right-hand man:
"I feel comfortable being the captain," Zetterberg said, "but I think I went to a good school -- the Nick Lidstrom, Steve Yzerman and the Kris Draper school. You just try to see what they did, and see how they handled different situations, and then some stuff you take, and some stuff you don't."
Draper, an alternate captain under Yzerman and Lidstrom and one of the most respected players in the room, is the guy Zetterberg has leaned on the most for advice. Yzerman is busy running the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Lidstrom is back in Sweden, enjoying life as a retiree. Zetterberg and Draper often have little chats around Joe Louis Arena, where Draper now works in the front office, or around Birmingham, where they're nearly neighbors. "I know he's always there for me," Zetterberg said.
The Detroit Red Wings took an all-night flight to Detroit after going 2-for-3 on their Western Canadian road trip thanks to a 3-2 OT win over Edmonton on Thursday and a sometimes wild and wacky 5-2 win over Vancouver on Saturday night.
As such, the Wings will hit the tarmac at Metro Airport after 6 AM EDT finding themselves in fifth place in the Western Conference with 33 points, 1 behind the St. Louis Blues (unless Chicago implodes, the highest the Wings can finish this year is fourth) and a point ahead of the Canucks.
But the Wings don't play again until Wednesday (they get today off; tomorrow's the Toast of Hockeytown, they'll probably practice both tomorrow and Tuesday, and they welcome the Minnesota Wild to town before heading West for four games and eight frickin' days), and by then, they're likely to be out of the playoff mix given that the cut-off is 30 points, and given that the 14-10-and-5 Wings have one less win than Los Angeles, which sits in sixth place.
The Detroit Red Wings' 5-2 victory against the Vancouver Canucks started with a stunned Jimmy Howard wondering how his team parted like the red sea with a red light glowing behind him, and it concluded with Howard gloving a final-second puck like he was picking cherries.
In the middle, Howard was heroic, Pavel Datsyuk seems to like playing for Detroit, Henrik Zetterberg and the Wings' power play got off the "schneid" and Justin Abdelkader somewhat surprisingly proved the old Tomas Holmstrom axiom that, "If you stand close enough to a stick, you can use an oar for a stick and you'll still score"--all while playing on a left foot that was cut down to the bone in last night's win over Edmonton.
At some points, it was ugly as hell, at some points, it was terrifying--see a 16-6 Canucks shot advantage in the 1st, a Jannik Hansen penalty shot that hit the goalpost over Howard's glove and 4 third-period penalties--but the Wings prevailed over themselves and the Canucks, and it was just wonderful to see.
Ahead of tonight's game between the Red Wings and Canucks (10 PM EDT, FSD Plus/CBC/NHL Network U.S./WXYT AM) a trio of stories have popped up that don't quite fit as part of the game-day update thread.
The Vancouver Province's Ed Willes had a conversation with Wings coach Mike Babcock and GM Ken Holland during the morning skate, discussing Detroit's precarious place in the Western Conference standings, and both Babcock and Holland delivered blunt assessments of the Wings' status during this 48-games-in-99-nights demolition derby:
Updated 9x at 5:05 PM: The Red Wings will hope to build off of their 3-2 OT win over Edmonton when they face the Vancouver Canucks tonight (10 PM EDT, FSD Plus/CBC/NHL Network U.S./WXYT AM, and Danny Cleary will appear on the CBC's After Hours), but the Free Press's Helene St. James and MLive's Ansar Khan report that they will do so without the services of Kyle Quincey:
Via RedWingsFeed, Red Wings forward Danny Cleary will put in some overtime work after tonight's Wings-Canucks game:
The Detroit Red Wings flew to Vancouver to complete their Western Canadian road swing minus Kyle Quincey, who will probably miss some time due to what is likely a bruised or chipped cheekbone, but plus two points thanks to an absolutely fantastic third period and overtime's worth of hockey, allowing the Wings to secure a 3-2 OT victory and all but literally steal 2 points from the Edmonton Oilers.
Tonight, the Wings will face a Vancouver Canucks team (10 PM EDT, FSD Plus/CBC/NHL Network U.S./WXYT AM) whose 13-7-and-6 record is good for all of a one-point lead over the 13-10-and-5 Wings in the Western Conference standings, but they're going to face a Canucks team that's on a very different trajectory of late.
While the Wings have won one of their past four games, the Canucks have won two straight, including a 7-4 win over Nashville on Thursday and a 2-1 shootout win over those dastardly Blue Jackets this past Tuesday, and have secured points in 5 of the 7 games they've played this month (3-2-and-2), rebounding significantly from...The 8-3 trouncing the Wings gave the Canucks on February 24th.
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.