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The Malik Report

The overnight report: Red WIngs-Penguins set-up, take 3: Wings need to snap winless streak vs. Pens

With talk of "magic numbers" in tow, the Red Wings will battle the Pittsburgh Penguins this afternoon (2 PM EDT on FSD/ROOT/Sportsnet/97.1 FM), and this is going to be a particularly difficult game for the Wings.

Coming off a helter-skelter 4-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, the Penguins are coming off a 3-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Thursday, but that game snapped a 6-game winning streak, and Sidney Crosby is on an scoring tear.

The Wings have also lost both meetings against the Penguins thus far, losing 4-2 at the Joe on New Year's Eve and dropping an ugly 5-2 decision in Pittsburgh on February 18th. Thus far, the Penguins have owned the Wings, and Detroit needs to reverse that trend in what is incredibly close to a must-win game for both teams.

The Red Wings sit just outside the final Wild Card spot with 85 points, and while Pittsburgh has a game in hand on the Wings, it only has 88 points, so its grip on the Metropolitian Division's final playoff spot is tenuous.

PittsburghPenguins.com's CJ Harvey's practice report serves as our introduction to the Penguins' situation (and, according to the Penguins, Sidney Crosby will play in his 700th game today):

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Prospect news: Hicketts’ playoffs open on high note; Walleye win North Division

Of prospect-related note:

In playoff action, in the QMJHL, Evgeny Svechnikov had an assist, finished at +1, took 4 shots and won 13 of 26 faceoffs in the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles' 3-1 loss to the Chicoutimi Sangueneens. Cape Breton trails their first-round series 1-0;

Adam Marsh didn't play in the Saint John Sea Dogs' 4-1 win over the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. Saint John leads the first-round series 1-0;

In the WHL, Joe Hicketts had a goal and 2 assists, finishing at +3 in the Victoria Royals' 5-3 win over Spokane. Hicketts was named the game's first star, and the Royals lead the first-round series 1-0;

And Dominic Turgeon didn't register a point in the Portland Winterhawks' 3-0 loss to Everett. Everett leads the first-round series 1-0.

(If you're interested, Yahoo Sports' Scott Sepich broke down the WHL's Western Conference playoff match-ups)

In regular-season play, the Toledo Walleye's 6-3 win over the Fort Wayne Komets, back-stopped by Jake Paterson's 21 saves, allowed the Walleye to capture the North Division title:

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And The Magic Number Is?

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

No team in NHL history with 97 or more points has missed the playoffs.

If that holds true this season, the Detroit Red Wings could extend their postseason streak by gaining 12 of a possible 16 points in their final eight games.

The Red Wings (85 points) are in a tight race with Philadelphia (85), Boston (86), the New York Islanders (87) and Pittsburgh (88), who they meet Saturday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena (2 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit).

The Bruins finished with 96 points in 2014-15, the most-ever for a club that missed the postseason.

The Red Wings can't count on help from other teams. They control their own fate.

"We're not getting much help," defenseman Kyle Quincey said. "We've all been saying that it's in our hands. We know if we win, not all the games, but most of them coming down the stretch, we should be OK. So if we win six out of eight we should be fine."


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Articles from practice: Keeping the pedal to the metal; on a ‘magic number’ and beware the Penguins

The Red Wings practiced at the University Liggett School on Friday minus Niklas Kronwall, but the Wings believe that #55 will be ready to play tomorrow against the Pittsburgh Penguins. According to MLive's Ansar Khan, the focus of Friday's practice involved a simple message: don't repeat Friday's near-collapse against the Canadiens:

"I think we let off the gas a little bit," defenseman Kyle Quincey said. "It's a very good league and when you let off a little bit, they kind of make you pay. I was proud how we grinded it out and we got the job done. But it wasn't pretty."

The Red Wings pulled out a 4-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens at Joe Louis Arena in a game much closer than it had to be, after Detroit led 4-0 through two periods.

"I think it is human nature when we have a 4-0 lead to try to kind of sit back and protect that lead when at the end of the day you have to keep going for that fifth goal to protect the lead," Quincey said. "As soon as you sit back – and they have very good players – they take advantage."

The Canadiens scored in rapid-fire fashion, getting three goals in 7:03 within the first eight minutes of the period.

"Especially the first two really stunned us," Henrik Zetterberg said. "We got a little bit on our heels, but the last 10 minutes we got to playing like we did in the first two periods."

Khan continues with comments from Jeff Blashill and a duly-noted stat--Niklas Kronwall's -6 over his past 3 games.

The Windsor Star's Bob Duff changes gears by discussing the Wings' power play...

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The Saarijarvi ‘barometer’

Interesting stuff from the Free Press's George Sipple:

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Wallner: Eric Tangradi’s happy about remaining a Griffin for two more years

The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner spoke with Griffins forward Eric Tangradi regarding his decision to re-sign with the Wings for 2 more years:

"I've had a career where I've been traveling around the last few years and haven't really felt like I was an important piece of an organization," said Tangradi, 27. "So to get that and that length of a couple years shows that they believe in me. It was something I couldn't turn down. How this city in Grand Rapids and the Detroit organization is run, it's someplace I wanted to be a part of, somewhere my wife wanted to be, so it was a no-brainer for us. It's definitely nice to have an organization that believes in you."

The two-way contract calls for an NHL salary of $650,000 and AHL salary of $300,000.

[Griffins coach Todd] Nelson considers Tangradi a key component to the team. Not only does he offer leadership with his personality, he provide much-needed presence on the ice.

"He brings a heavier game for us up front," Nelson said. "Nice skillset where he can score goals and provide offense along with an element of grit and passion and complements the rest of the team. It's a good fit. You take him out and we're not very big."

Wallner continues...

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Roose: Mantha’s grandfather, mother weigh in Anthony’s success

From DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose:

Andre Pronovost’s fondest Motor City hockey memory occurred nearly 60 years ago. That is until Thursday when his grandson scored his first career goal as an NHL rookie.

Anthony Mantha’s first goal – on the power play at 17:27 of the second period – gave the Red Wings a four-goal cushion against Montreal, the club that his grandfather won four consecutive Stanley Cups with, from 1957 to 1960.

Mantha’s goal eventually stood as the game winner after the Canadiens made a third-period surge that fell short in the Wings’ 4-3 victory at Joe Louis Arena.

Tears welled in Pronovost’s eyes as he tried to capture his grandson’s on-ice goal celebration on a mobile device from his seat in Section 115.

“Every time when he had good years like in juniors when he scored all those goals and last year in Grand Rapids when I’m there he gets points,” Pronovost said, “and I can get emotional every time.”


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Griffins coach Todd Nelson discusses Anthony Mantha’s call-up, first goal

Grand Rapids Griffins coach Todd Nelson has played a large role in Anthony Mantha's development, and Nelson spoke with the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner regarding Mantha's first NHL goal:

"You know, you feel proud when you see a kid go up there and get his first goal like that," Griffins coach Todd Nelson said Friday. "Mo earned that call up. It wasn't one of those where, 'Oh, we'll see how he does a couple games.'"

Nelson also weighed in regarding Mantha's call-up in general and his potential going forward:

"You watch him out there, he adds size to them and you definitely notice it when he's on the ice," Nelson said. "He's not overly physical but his size, his reach, he helps their forward group."

It was unfair, Nelson said, to reap so high of expectations so early on Mantha.

"Everybody develops differently," he said "It took him some time and some growing pains, but that gave him a chance to mature and that's what the American Hockey League is all about – develop players into men as professionals.

"He's a great story. He had a tough year last year and this year he played himself into a spot in Detroit."

Wallner continues...

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Practice Tweets: Kronwall is absent for ‘maintenance’

Updated at 1:26 PM: Kronwall "took a maintenance day":

The Red Wings were unable to practice at Joe Louis Arena the morning after their 4-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens due to a comedy show, so the Wings headed to the University Liggett School for their Friday skate (ahead of tomorrow's 2 PM-start game against the Penguins), as the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa noted:

DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose confirmed...

The #RedWings are on the ice for a Good Friday practice in Grosse Pointe Woods. @ University… http://instagram.com/p/BDYceC1Go7S/


Some of the #RedWings watching one-on-one drills at practice today. #lgrw @ University Liggett… http://instagram.com/p/BDYgSp9Go18/

This is not necessarily a surprise after a -3 performance, per MLive's Ansar Khan (let's just say that Kronwall's knee at less than 100%)...

#RedWings on ice for practice. Niklas Kronwall only player not skating. No word yet on his status for tomorrow.

Khan continued...

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‘Two Things’: Larkin’s advanced stats and a ‘driving’ interview with Ouellet

Two items of Red Wings-related note popped up just before noon:

1. MLive's Tom Mitsos examines Dylan Larkin's rookie pro season via advanced stats:

It doesn't take an in-depth look at advanced analytics to see Dylan Larkin is having a good rookie season for the Detroit Red Wings.

The 19-year-old has 21 goals and 22 assists in 71 games, just one season after being named Big Ten Freshman of the Year at Michigan (15 goals, 32 assists). He also had a quick stint in Grand Rapids during the AHL playoffs, where he had three goals and two assists in six games with the Griffins.

The goals, assists and points are well-documented, but what about the rest of his game?

Let's take a look at some of Larkin's five on five stats and where they rank on the Red Wings. All stats are taken from Corsica.hockey and War-on-ice and include the 23 players who have played at least 200 minutes at five on five for the Red Wings.

Mitsos continues...

2. And Red Wings prospect Xavier Ouellet gave an intriguing interview to the Grand Rapids Griffins' YouTube channel while driving around downtown GR:

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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.


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