The Malik Report
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
The Detroit Red Wings are 2-0 with victories over Toronto and Carolina, but tougher tests await them this week with Tampa Bay and Montreal, clubs that finished ahead of them in the Atlantic Division in 2014-15.
Here are five things to watch this week:
1. Roster move looming with Helm's return
Darren Helm (concussion, separated shoulder) got in a couple of full practices last week and said he's close to returning. If he's not ready this week he should be back by next week.
Unless the Red Wings have another injury, they'll need to trim a player to open a roster spot for Helm.
The most likely candidate is center Joakim Andersson, a healthy scratch the first two games. He would need to go on waivers before being assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Another option is to send down Alexey Marchenko, who is waiver-exempt. But that would leave them with six defensemen and they're not likely to travel anywhere without a D-man in reserve.
Of prospect-related note:
Catching up (sorry), on Saturday, in the KHL, Alexander Kadeikin didn't play in SKA St. Petersburg's 3-0 loss to Lokomotiv;
In the SHL, Axel Holmstrom had an assist in 16:12 as Skelleftea AIK defeated Linkopings HC 3-2 in a shootout;
On Sunday, in the Swedish J20 league, Joren Van Pottelberghe stopped 16 of 17 shots in Linkopings HC's 5-1 win over Malmo;
And I don't know where Hampus Melen is playing at this time, but DRW Prospects does:
In both English and Swedish, Henrik Zetterberg's been the most outspoken Wing in terms of explaining that the leadership group both knew what was going on with Mike Babcock's "job search" and knew most surely that the Red Wings could use a new voice, and after a summer spent training harder, Zetterberg's been the most energetic forward not named Larkin or Abdelkader on the Wings' roster.
That's not a surprise to the man himself, as he told the Free Press's Helene St. James...
"It's been a good start," he said. "But I have been playing with some young, fresh guys too, so that keeps me younger."
Zetterberg is intent on having a better season than his last one, which saw him lead the team in scoring with 66 points in 77 games - but with just three goals after Jan. 27.
"Last year I had a good start," he said, "and then I was nowhere to be found in the end. But I had a good summer this year, I was able to do a lot workout-wise and not spend so much time rehabbing my back as the year before. So hopefully that will translate to a steadier season."
And the Red Wings' new coach has suggested that Zetterberg's been a huge reason why Jeff Blashill's transition from the Griffins to the Red Wings' bench has been so seamless:
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
Dylan Larkin has flourished on the wing for five periods and looked good at center for another period.
The 19-year-old rookie continues to earn the trust of Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill.
After playing right wing on a line with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader for most of the first two games, Larkin was moved to center with Tomas Tatar and Teemu Pulkkinen during the third period of Saturday's 4-3 victory at Carolina.
"I think that's an important part as a player, especially as a young player to be able to play different positions," Blashill said. "We didn't move him to center because he was struggling. On the wing I actually thought he was doing a pretty good job. I actually thought Z's line was the one line that was going, but we thought we had to get some other combinations going so we could get more one through four (lines) action.
"The thing that I like about Larks is that he can do both at a young age and that's important."
continue for more on Larkin and other Detroit topics...
from Dave Hodge of TSN,
Especially because his first victory as an NHL head coach wasn't just any victory, thumbs up to Jeff Blashill of the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit's 4-0 shutout over Mike Babcock's Toronto Maple Leafs was all about Babcock's return to Joe Louis Arena, never mind that he had done that already during the exhibition schedule.
One game story I read didn't even mention Blashill, and another included him in the "notes" section. Surely Blashill would have preferred to make his head coaching debut against any of 28 other teams. His team could win against the Leafs, and did so easily. But he couldn't win. He could only help Babcock lose. Blashill moved on to what could be called normalcy last night when the Red Wings visited Carolina, and there behind the Hurricanes' bench was another former Babcock assistant, Bill Peters. Blashill's record improved to 2-0 as the Red Wings won 4-3, thanks to 43 saves by Petr Mrazek. The Wings were probably the most impressive NHL team during the pre-season, for whatever that means. Let's say it can serve as more support for the idea that Detroit is doing just fine with its new coach.
read on for a thumbs down to the Buffalo Sabres...
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
Blashill shuffled his lines a bit, players responded and the Detroit Red Wings rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena to improve to 2-0.
"We knew we played last night and if we stayed in the game as long as we could we would get a little legs and a little bit of energy," Henrik Zetterberg said. "Blash and the coaching staff made a pretty good move there switching the lines around. It gave us a little extra boost and we got results right away."
Rookie Dylan Larkin was moved from top line winger to center on a unit with Teemu Pulkkinen and Tomas Tatar. Pulkkinen scored a pair goals in a span of 1:57 in the third period to give the Red Wings a 3-2 lead.
"The first two periods obviously we weren't skating well enough, weren't playing to the capabilities that we think we're able to," Blashill said. "Petr (Mrazek) held us in for those two periods, we killed two many penalties.
"But then in the third period I thought we really started skating. We juggled the lines. I don't know if that really had an impact or not but in the end our guys started playing a lot better and as a result we carried the third."
Watch extended game highlights below...
The Grand Rapids Griffins' trip to California may have been a productive one from a team-building standpoint, but it didn't help the team's point total a lick. The Griffins dropped a 1-0 decision to the Bakersfield Condors on Friday, and on Saturday, the Griffins lost a 4-2 decision to the San Diego Gulls. The Griffins' website posted a game recap:
The Red Wings- 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes was weird, man. Detroit was out-shot 47-19, and if you believe the scoresheet, out-attempted 89-35. Detroit was out-played for the vast majority of two periods, but it was Cam Ward who crumbled under a 3rd period workload that was far too difficult for him to handle; the Red Wings had little to no spark from any line not including Zetterberg, Abdelkader and Larkin, so Jeff Blashill astutely swapped out Larkin and Brad Richards to the tune of generating two goals...
Unlike a Mike Babcock team, in the first of 16 sets of back-to-back games, the Red WIngs' forwards and defensemen had the green light to go all the damn way offensively during the third period, unlike a "flat" Babcock team, the Red Wings found that extra gear...
And perhaps, "Like a Jeff Blashill" team, the Wings got not only clutch goaltending from Petr Mrazek but also clutch offense when they needed it most to steal two points from the Hurricanes and return to Metro Detroit both exhausted from their first set of back-to-backs and boasting an ugly but well-deserved 2-0 record.
It helps when you've got a captain that can do this (many thanks to AWood40)...
Back-to-backs. The Red Wings have 16 sets of them this season, playing almost every Friday and Saturday until American Thanksgiving, and back-to-backs tend to test teams' character and resolve.
The Wings kicked off their back-to-back-heavy schedule with a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night, and the win was anything but pretty--save the goals the Wings scored and the saves Petr Mrazek made en route to a 44-save performance, anyway.
Detroit looked exhausted and was out-skated, out-worked and out-hustled for the vast majority of the game, and when the Wings finally went down by a goal, Jeff Blashill's decision to place Tomas Tatar, Teemu Pulkkinen and Dylan Larkin together = 2 goals in 1:57 and a hard-fought victory that was made possible by Justin Abdelkader's "insurance" goal.
Updated 5x at 1:55 PM: The Red Wings take on the Carolina Hurricanes tonight (7 PM on FSD/FS Carolinas/97.1 FM), and there were no surprises from the morning skate. Cam Ward will oppose Petr Mrazek, and CarolinaHurricanes.com's Michael Smith reports that the Canes will employ the following lineup...
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