The Malik Report
from Jordan Heath-Rawlings of Sportsnet,
On April 1, 1990, the NHL’s regular season ended without the Detroit Red Wings having qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
It hasn’t done that again since.
For a little context, the last time the Red Wings missed the playoffs...
...67,678 fans watched the Ultimate Warrior beat Hulk Hogan to win the World Championship belt in WrestleMania VI, held at Toronto's SkyDome.
...Ken Griffey Jr. was about to start his second season in the major leagues. Sandy Alomar Jr. was about to begin his AL-rookie-of-the-year campaign. They retired five and eight years ago, respectively.
...Jack Nicklaus appeared on the PGA's Senior Tour for the very first time. And he won the tournament.
The Red Wings' 4-3 OT loss to the Montreal Canadiens was very disappointing, but the X matters, and the little "X" next to the Red Wings' name in the standings means that they've clinched their 24th consecutive playoff berth:
The Red Wings backed into their 24th consecutive playoff appearance via Thursday's 4-3 OT loss to the Montreal Canadiens, but I'm still steamed about the overtime loss part of the equation as I write this recap, and I wouldn't simply be asking Mike Babcock for another beer with which to ponder the status of the Red Wings' pair of not-quite-good-enough-to-grab-the-starters'-spot goaltenders.
I didn't like a whole bunch about the Wings' performance, including the ways in which the lanes to Jimmy Howard's net opened up, the way that Jonathan Ericsson and Marek Zidlicky stood around and watched Jeff Petry score the 2-1 goal, I didn't like the fact that Riley Sheahan continues to be a 25%-or-thereabouts faceoff percentage owner against stiff opposition, I expected a lot more out of the power play and I am absolutely disgusted by both Brendan Smith's "bench minor" for touching the puck and the fact that the Wings argued it
We're used to Mike Babcock being his blunt self, so this set of comments that Babcock made to the Wings' press corps after Detroit's 4-3 OT loss to Montreal isn't a big deal given the last month's worth of blunt and honest assessments of Petr Mrazek and Jimmy Howard's play (and no, right now, Detroit doesn't necessarily have a starter, but it is what it is)...
But Sportsnet's Evan Pealsee reminds us what it would be like if a certain coach coached several hundred miles up the 401--every single syllable of his sentences would be dissected like this is being dissected:
After another shaky night by the Detroit netminders — this time by Jimmy Howard — Babcock was asked whether he needed more stability between the pipes.
“No question,” Babcock said to reporters. “I’m going to have a beer and I’m going to think about (who starts Saturday.)”
It seems the biggest issue troubling the 51-year-old is all the soft goals that Howard and Petr Mrázek are letting in lately.
“They can’t go in, period,” Babcock said. “It’s the National Hockey League. They can’t go in.”
Babcock's got more to be worried about than just his goaltending, but sure, why not?
Honestly, this is part of his job, but these are not stunning comments here.
From the Red Wings:
RED WINGS SECURE 24TH STRAIGHT PLAYOFF APPEARANCE
... Tickets to Detroit’s First Two Postseason Home Games Now Available; Round 1 Home Game 3 On Sale Thursday, April 16 …
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings clinched a spot in the 2015 Stanley Cup® Playoffs for the 24th straight season by earning a point against the Montreal Canadians in a 4-3 overtime defeat on Thursday night at the Bell Centre in conjunction with Boston’s 4-2 loss at Florida. The Red Wings currently sit in third place within the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference with 98 points (42-25-14) and one game remaining on the regular-season schedule.
Detroit’s streak of 24-straight playoff appearances (1990-91 – present) is the longest active streak in all of North American major professional sports and is tied for the fourth longest of its kind in NHL history. In comparison, the longest active playoff streaks in the three additional major professional sports leagues are 18 years for the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, six years for the NFL’s Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots and four years for MLB’s Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals.
The permutations were many and the reward was simple: "Win and you're in." If the Red Wings didn't win against the Montreal Canadiens, snapping a 5-game losing streak, their playoff fate got complicated amongst "ands," "ifs" and "ors," but if they managed to break the Bell Centre hex, they'd have no more math or magic numbers to worry about.
Regrettably, the Detroit Red Wings gave up some distressing goals and a disastrous, disastrous penalty from Brendan Smith--who appears to have punched his card out of Detroit--en route to a 4-3 OT loss to the Canadiens, but Detroit clinched a 24th consecutive playoff spot via the Boston Bruins' 4-2 loss to Florida.
I wish the Wings could have skated in feet first instead of ass first, but in is in. In is still in via the sixth straight loss to Montreal, in is still in via a poor set of goals given up by Jimmy Howard on the Smith penalty and the tipped-in OT winner, Brendan Smith may want to sell his condo and/or house, but in is in.
Red Wings-Canadiens game-day post II: video/audio, on Nyquist/Tatar, Pulkkinen & clinching scenarios
The Red Wings will take on the Montreal Canadiens not too long from now, and as the Montreal Gazette's Dave Stubbs noted, the Wings' jerseys are placed a certain way in the locker room for a reason:
Ken Kal posited a game-day preview video...
And you'll have to tune into Kal on WXYZ AM 1270 as the Tigers game will be airing on 97.1 FM a little (lot) late...The TV situation may change as well :(
In terms of audio and articles that didn't quite make the game-day post, Kirk Maltby gave an intriguing interview to Detroit Sports 105.1 FM's Matt Dery regarding the state of the Wings and their late-season slide...
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Grand Rapids Griffins center Andy Miele and right wing Teemu Pulkkinen on Thursday were named to the 2014-15 American Hockey League First All-Star Team.
This marks the first time that two players from the Griffins have been named to the First All-Star Team since Grand Rapids’ inaugural AHL season of 2001-02, when John Gruden and goaltender Martin Prusek earned the honors.
Updated 2x at 2:38 PM: The Red Wings and Candiens' morning skates ahead of tonight's tilt (7:30 PM EDT on FSD/RDS/Sportsnet/City TV/97.1 FM) were relatively uneventful save the talk radio scuttlebutt.
It sounds like Teemu Pulkkinen's going to play on the Glendening line, that Landon Ferraro will play alongside Weiss and Andersson, and that Justin Abdelkader's still out tonight, but that's about it for the Wings; the Habs held an optional, and other than Brian Flynn playing in Torrey Mitchell's place, they won't be making any substantial lineup changes, either.
It is important that the Red Wings win tonight, as NHL.com noted...
* The Detroit Red Wings would clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Canadiens in any fashion OR if they get one point against the Canadiens AND either the Senators lose in any fashion or the Bruins lose in regulation OR if the Senators lose in regulation.
And Pro Hockey Talk's Jason Brough translated into English:
Updated 6x at 12:22 PM: The Red Wings face a deceptively simple task against the Montreal Canadiens this evening (7:30 PM EDT on FSD/RDS/Sportnset East/City TV/97.1 FM): snap a 5-game losing streak against the Canadiens, and the Wings are in the playoffs.
If the Wings lose and the Senators lose tonight, the Wings are in the playoffs, too, but if the Senators defeat the Rangers and the Wings lose, things get...complicated.
The Max Pacioretty-less Canadiens preceded the Red Wings onto the ice at the Habs' practice facility, but the Montreal Gazette's Dave Stubbs reports that not all of them skated...
Only an optional game-day skate for #Habs in Brossard this morning
And the Canadiens confirmed:
Entraînement optionnel pour les Canadiens ce matin. // Optional skate for the CH this morning in Brossard. #GoHabsGo
Stubbs also posted today's referee and linesmen's assignments...
Thanks to the Washington Capitals' 3-0 win over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday, the Eastern Conference's Atlantic Division and Wild Card standings look like this today:
If the Red Wings defeat the Montreal Canadiens (7:30 PM on FSD/Sportsnet East/RDS/CityTV/97.1 FM) this evening--and Detroit has not done so in some way, shape or form in seven games now--the Wings will be in the playoffs.
No magic numbers, no math, no more worrying about the Ottawa Senators (who play the Rangers tonight).
The Wings, who are without Erik Cole for the balance of the year, who are most likely without Johan Franzen for the balance of the year, probably without Justin Abdelkader until Saturday, and are without Tomas Jurco, simply need Jimmy Howard to stand on his head opposite Carey Price and the Max Pacioretty-less Montreal Canadiens to defeat 'em for the first time in 6 tries.
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.