The Malik Report
The Red Wings begin a particularly nasty stretch of 3 games in 4 nights (amidst a 4-games-in-6-nights scrape) against the Calgary Flames this evening (7:30 PM on FSD Plus/Sportsnet West/TVA Sports/97.1 FM);
If Wednesday's 2-1 OT win over the Rangers was the classic, "First Game Back From a West Coast Swing Trap Game," this is most certainly the, "The Flames Actually Sit 8th in the West/3rd in the Pacific, Don't Overlook Them Trap Game."
With the Wings seemingly destined to battle for home-ice advantage in an almost inevitable first-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the 36-15-and-11 Wings' 83 points are pretty damn solid, but Calgary has a 35-25-and-4 record and 74 points, too, and they defeated the Boston Bruins (Sunday's opponent) 4-3 in a shootout on Thursday.
The Flames have won 3 of their past 4 games, and Thursday's win involved a 34-save performance from best-on-the-road goaltender Kari Ramo, a rally from a 2-1 deficit and an 8-round shootout punctuated by a "Forsberg" (it's a Kent Nilsson move, dammit) from David Schlemko.
Hell, let's just go with the highlights first for once:
The last weeks NCAA regular season play + Major Junior hockey teams going down the stretch + AHL and ECHL regular seasons having a little under 20 games left = the weekends are incredibly busy for both the Red Wings' prospects and those who follow them, but the week is a bit up and down. As such, this entry contains two games and three "if you missed it" stories:
First, in playoff hockey, in the KHL, Alexander Kadeikin remains sidelined with an unspecified injury, but his team, SKA St. Petersburg, is on to the second round of the KHL playoffs, having dispatched Torpedo Nizhny Novogrod 2-0 on Thursday, taking the first round playoff series 4 games to 1;
The SHL playoffs are a little strange as they're going to have to wait and find out which team is the lowest of the 7-to-10th place-team group to qualify for playoff play-in hockey via one-off Wild Card games; the 11th and 12th teams in the league have to play for their SHL lives against the winners of the Allsvenskan (the Swedish version of the AHL) in relegation play;
This is one of those, "Line 'em up and sell papers/prepare for the clicks to flow" stories, which is fine in Ottawa, but it's enlightening in Southeastern Michigan for a different reason: earlier this evening, Daniel Alfredsson received the key to the city of Ottawa, and the day yielded a very perhaps properly rare glimpse into the post-hockey life of Birmingham, MI's most unassuming resident.
On Thursday morning, Alfredsson told the CBC Ottawa that he's just enjoying helping his four sons in school and coaching his oldest boys' Little Caesars team, and he reiterated said story to the Ottawa Citizen's Ken Warren...
"This is not going to sell a lot of papers, but it has been drastically different than being an NHL player, but it has been fun,” Alfredsson said, with a laugh, Thursday as he was back in Ottawa to receive the key to the city.
(So yes, I peeked ahead and decided to be cheeky. It will sell papers.)
Alfredsson says he is humbled and proud of the honour, which he believes is as much about lending his voice to discussions about mental illness and for his charity work as it is about his abilities as a hockey player. The off-ice contributions also made him feel more in tune with the community.
“I understand the recognition I get in this city,” he said. “I’m very proud to be getting that recognition. It’s something I want to share with everyone.”
Alfredsson told Warren that he's at peace with his playing career being over...
Amidst and among all the praise for the Red Wings' trade deadline moves, both the Oakland Press's Pat Caputo, the Detroit Free Press's Evil Drew Sharp and Fox Sports Detroit's Keith Gave have penned "Spirit of the Thing" columns discussing the Red Wings' playoff-readiness, and this evening's article from Gave offers an intriguing take as to why the Wings are en route to their 24th consecutive playoff appearance from Ken Holland.
Holland tells Gave that managerial consistency is one of the biggest keys to the team's on and off-ice success:
"Consistency has a lot to do with it," Holland said, noting that the first hire Mike and Marian Ilitch made when they bought the team in 1982 was Devellano -- who remains with the team as senior vice president.
Among Devellano's first wave of hires was a journeyman goalie drafted in the 12th round (188th overall) in 1975, but Ken Holland would never make it to the NHL. He was wrapping up his playing career in Detroit's farm system when Devellano offered him a scouting gig, and he wore out cars covering junior hockey in Western Canada. That was in 1985 -- 30 years ago.
When Neil Smith, then Devellano's assistant in Detroit, left in 1989 to run the New York Rangers, Holland was elevated to assistant GM. Smith stole Detroit's top European scout, Christer Rockstrom, and the Wings replace him with Hakan Andersson, who remains with the club.
"Hakan's been with us 25 years. (Goaltending coach) Jim Bedard is in his 17th year with us. Jim Nill was with us almost 20 years. Babs (coach Mike Babcock) is in his 10th year with us," Holland says, rattling off names of others who deserve much credit for the organization's remarkable run that seems to truly baffle -- and impress -- others around the NHL.
Gave continues, quoting Mike Milbury and TSN's Jonas Siegel regarding the Wings' status as a model franchise.
As someone who's been able to witness the management group at work, I can sure as heck tell you that the fact that the Wings work as a team from the ownership on down to management and the players is indeed the reason that the "prospect pipeline" has become so incredibly reliable, if not self-sustaining.
Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard appeared on Detroit Sports 105.1 FM's Matt Dery show today, and he discussed the state of his groin, last night's win against the Rangers, the social media "bubble" he lives in and his status among the NHL's best goalies (and he is not devoid of self-confidence). The full interview's available after the jump:
Post-practice news: Ericsson iffy for Friday; Babcock challenges 3rd line; on Larkin/Mantha & trades
Updated 6x at 6:24 PM: The Red Wings practiced with their lines intact save one Jonathan Ericsson's absence on Thursday, and MLive's Ansar Khan reports that Ericsson's status won't be known until tomorrow as he's "questionable" with an unspecified injury:
Ericsson didn't practice Thursday. General manager Ken Holland said he is "banged up" and they'll see how he feels Friday before determining his status.
If Ericsson can't play, Jakub Kindl will be inserted into the lineup. Kindl practiced alongside Niklas Kronwall, Ericsson's regular partner, on Thursday.
Ericsson finished Wednesday's 2-1 overtime victory against the New York Rangers, logging 22:29 in ice time, his most minutes since Jan. 20.
The Wings' practice news cycle was particularly quiet, but the Free Press's Helene St. James reports that coach Babcock wasn't pleased with the play of the Nyquist-Sheahan-Weiss line during last night's 2-1 OT win over the Rangers:
Updated 4x at 2:21 PM: The Red Wings took to the ice at Joe Louis Arena hoping to build upon last night's 2-1 OT win over the Rangers and prepare for tomorrow's game against the Calgary Flames (who tangle with the Boston Bruins this evening), and MLive's Ansar Khan initially reported "no changes" as it were:
Wings on ice for practice. Helm still not skating, Marchenko continues to skate.
But this is not good news:
Ericsson not skating today. He is banged up. Ken Holland said they'll see how he feels tomorrow regarding his status for the game.
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose confirmed the initial report...
This entry is most definitely a set of disparate parts, mostly involving the Red Wings' 2-1 OT win over the New York Rangers and the trade deadline.
In the lattery category, ESPN's Craig Custance "reset" the Eastern Conference playoff race in an Insider-only entry, and here's what he had to say about the post-deadline Wings:
2. Detroit Red Wings There might be a little more urgency to win for Detroit than for any other team in the East. There’s the uncertainty surrounding coach Mike Babcock, the league’s best coach. And if Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk enter the playoffs healthy, this might be the best chance to win a Stanley Cup with those two stars as their careers hit the twilight.
Vyacheslav Fetisov appeared on The Daily Show last night, discussing the Gabe Polsky documentayr Red Army, and his on-TV interview was subdued in nature, at least by Fetisov standards. The 11:52 "extended interview" is much more interesting, and as the Detroit Free Press's Steve Schrader notes, Fetisov gave Detroit quite the "shout out" while discussing the Russian 5:
"It was like put fish back to the water," Fetisov said, referring to Scotty Bowman assembling the Russian Five with him, Igor Larionov, Sergei Fedorov, Slava Kozlov and Vladimir Konstantinov.
"And support of the people in Detroit, their team and Russian Five, it was incredible," Fetisov said. "You never forget this when we win the first Cup. I never see this, 20,000 happiest people in the world, just to celebrate with us the first Stanley Cup in 42 years.
"And then 1.5 million people in the parade. And then the sign, 'I Gonna Name All My Children Viacheslav.' "
Schrader continues, and I poked around and found the interview before reading Schrader's article, so I didn't "lift" it.
Update: Mile High Hockey's Sandie Gauthier spoke to Polsky in an "extended interview" as well...
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock hopes his newest additions, forward Erik Cole and defenseman Marek Zidlicky, don't get the wrong idea about their new team after their first game Wednesday.
The Red Wings were sluggish, not completely unexpected coming off six consecutive road games. They didn't skate well, they struggled in their own zone and were turnover-prone.
"I thought we looked like we'd been on a long road trip and got back and were wearing snowshoes," Babcock said....
"I hope they don't think we play like this, because we don't," Babcock said. "I've never seen anything quite like it. You almost expect it, but you're hoping you'll get through it and you're going to play better.
"We'll play way better as the week goes on now once we get skating again tomorrow. Those guys I think are confident pros. I think Cole can really help (Henrik) Zetterberg and (Justin) Abdelkader once they've played together and get to know each other and get a feel for one other and get some rhythm."
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.