The Malik Report
When the captain of the ship logged off last night (sorry for the non search engine-optimized first paragraphs, by the way), I said something about the realignment issue—DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose says that we can assume that the Red Wings will play in the “Central Conference” next season—that I’d like to proffer amidst the cornucopia of responses (and yes, we’ve got a Red Wings-Blues set-up to get to: the teams play tonight at 7:30 PM EST, and Versus and TSN2 will carry the game in addition to FSD and WXYT):
We’re gonna have to wait to see how this plays out over the course of a season or three before we can truly assess its pluses and minuses. At first blush, and from a totally subjective Wings fan’s perspective, this looks like a “big win” for Detroit as it means less travel, Original Six match-ups at the Joe every year and more road games in the Central Time Zone instead of Mountain and Pacific, but we don’t even know how the NHLPA will approve it, or quite frankly, whether fans will dig so many inter-“conference” playoff rounds (for the next five or ten years, the Wings have exactly six possible playoff opponents in the first and second rounds), the fact that teams which might have more points than those in other “conferences” won’t make the playoff cut, whether we Wings fans are going to miss those rivalries with the Sharks, Ducks and Avs when we’re reduced to home-and-homes with those teams down the line, or whether, over time, the format may seem as drearily divisional as the “eight games against your own division” schedule that came out of the lockout. We don’t know if we’re going to have a 2012-2013 season, either, or where Phoenix will play during that presumptive season, though that’s a story for later today.
Updated at 11:56 PM with Wings brass reaction: You know how I grumbled about the whole, “Nothing’s going to change with regards to realignment” thing on Sunday. Yeah, time for crow. According to half a billion sources—and, most importantly, Gary Bettman and the NHL—the NHL’s Board of Governors have indeed approved radical realignment for the 2012-2013 season (assuming we have one), with the Red Wings joining an eight-team “conference” alongside the Jets, Blackhawks, Blues, Blue Jackets, Predators, Stars and Wild.
That means tons and tons of games against those seven teams, battling against those seven teams for four playoff spots as the West will consist of the larger eight-team conferences, and intra-divisional playoffs and then re-seeding of the “conference” champions for the Semifinals and Finals.
Thoughts? It immediately strikes me that every road game the Wings will play against a team other than Columbus will be in the Central time zone, and that while there’s nothing wrong with a home-and-home series against every other team in the league—especially the Maple Leafs, Rangers, Canadiens and Bruins—I’m gonna miss those four-game sloughs against the Ducks and Sharks, as well as two games in Phoenix where the rink is red instead of “brick.” That and I’m gonna have to get my hate on for the Jets, which won’t be easy…But I’m blathering here. I want to know what you think.
Update: By my math, for the Red Wings, this will mean 44 games against the other “conferences’” teams and 36 against one’s “conference” opponents, breaking down as 5 games against 6 of your intra-conference opponents and 6 games against 1. Then it’s two rounds of playoff against “conference” foes.
Update: Per DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose:
Biggy update: The bus is going on tour!
With less than a month left in the NHL’s All-Star fan balloting, Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard, who was left off the ballot, is way down near the bottom of the “leader board,” but that hasn’t stopped WRIF 101.1 FM’s Meltdown from teaming up with the Wings to engineer a last-minute surge of fan support:
The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson, via a Q and A session with fans, suggests that Jimmy Howard has indeed arrived in the discussion of the league’s best goaltenders…
Updated 6x with some gory details at 8:42 PM: DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose offers at least decent news regarding Valtteri Filppula, who suffered a skate cut to the back of his left leg when he was accidentally slew-footed by Colorado Avalanche forward David Jones on Sunday:
#RedWings practicing at Scottrade Center. Valtteri Filppula (cut leg) is not on the ice. Not known if he’ll play Tue. @DetroitRedWings #NHL
Update: This is good news, per the Free Press’s Helene St. James:
Filppula stayed off ice as precaution today, but might play Tuesday. Needs skate that won’t rub cut above ankle.
Update #2: Per MLive’s Ansar Khan:
As Red Bird III gets underway flying the Red Wings from Denver to St. Louis sans an update on Valtteri Filppula’s status, and, according to Yahoo Sports’ Nicholas J. Cotsonika (via the Wings’ Twitter account), we wait for the Board of Governors to finish their golf games as their meetings aren’t even scheduled to start until 6:30 PM EST, we’re officially playing a professional waiting game in terms of finding out whether a Wing who’s finally fulfilling his massive potential will miss a short period of time or a long period of time, and whether, by tonight or tomorrow evening, anyway, the Wings might have a (proposed) new home.
So let’s pass some time talking about this morning’s crop of Red Wings news, starting with the dreaded (by me, anyway) realignment issue:
Sometimes teams do just enough to help their cause that they end up winning games they might otherwise lose, and sometimes they do the opposite, committing the precie amount of errors and inattentiveness to detail necessary to shoot themselves in both feet. On Sunday, the Detroit Red Wings played a plain old sloppy game, especially after losing Valtteri Filppula’s services in the middle of the first period, and between giving up 19 second period shots, a shorthanded goal and playing jumbled, clunkily-executed hockey, the Wings coughed up a 1-0 lead and a salvaged 2-2 tie in dropping a 4-2 decision to the Avalanche, ending a seven-game winning streak and remaning two points behind the Central Division-leading Chicago Blackhawks—and five points out of eleventh place—in the jam-packed Western Conference standings.
To employ a technical term, Valtteri Filppula appeared to suffer an innocuous injury to the back of his left leg when felled by an inadvertent slew-foot by Colorado Avalanche forward David Jones during the Wings’ 4-2 loss to the Avs on Sunday, but skate blade cuts have a way of turning nasty, which is why Wings coach Mike Babcock was worried about Filppula, as he told DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose:
Valtteri Filppula, who is off to the best start of his NHL career with 21 points and a plus-9 rating, was cut on the leg above the skate boot. The seriousness of the injury was not immediately known though coach Mike Babcock indicated that the Wings’ forward had been taken to a Denver hospital.
“Fil got a cut on his leg above his skate,” Babcock said. “We sent him to have it looked at. We don’t know if it’s serious or not serious.”
The Detroit Red Wings dropped a 4-2 decision to the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday night,, surrendering a 1-0 lead and a 2-2 tie’s worth of momentum mostly via self-inflicted wounds (Ryan Jones’ slew-foot on Valtteri Filppula, who left with a “lower-body” injury which Wings coach Mike Babcock informed Trevor Thompson involved a skate cut above his right ankle).
The Wings’ power play was at times ineffectual, and was at worst, a total mess, giving up a short-handed game-winner to T.J. Galiardi, and while Ty Conklin was sensational at times, stopping 17 of a 19-shot second period onslaught, he looked incredibly vulnerable on the goals he gave up. He didn’t receive much help, however, by a Wings team that was all too happy to cough up the puck when pressed physically in all three zones by the tenacious Avs, both committing too many turnovers and making too many unforced mistakes because the Wings’ players got bunched up, messed up, or caught standing around when a little more skating and a little more attention to detail would have allowed their puck carriers to at least have someone to pass to, if not some support when inevitable turnovers occurred.
Updated 4x with even more realignment stuff at 7:05 PM: The Detroit Red Wings face off against the Colorado Avalanche tonight (8 PM, not 9 PM, EST—sorry, I forgot to carry the one in the game set-up—FSD with Dave Strader doing play by play/Altitude/WXYT) with the easygoing Wings hoping to establish an eight-game winning streak against the plucky Avs with Ty Conklin between the pipes.
As Pro Hockey Talk’s Mike Halford suggests (via RedWingsFeed), the world’s a different place from the one in which Conklin last started a game on October 15th, and while I don’t think that the Wings will be too concerned if Conklin is anything less than dominant tonight, but I can’t help but feel that Wings fans might freak out if Conklin’s limited exposure continues to reflect his ability to back up Jimmy Howard in a poor light.
The Detroit Red Wings face off against the Colorado Avalanche tonight (
8 PM EST, FSD—not plus thanks to the NBA lockout/Altitude) facing a team that has played neither particularly well nor particularly poorly since the Wings defeated the Avs 5-2 about a month ago: the Avs have gone 5-and-5, but have won their past two games, including a 3-2 shootout win over St. Louis on Friday night; the Wings, of course, are coming off a 4-1 victory over Buffalo on Friday night, and they’re hoping that Ty Conklin can deliver the team’s eighth straight win.
Perspective from both teams’ camps seems to be a little lean this morning, as the Denver Post’s Adrian Dater spent this morning talking about the same realignment issue that’s bugging you and me, as well as the demise of the dedicated enforcer, so we’ll turn back to Dater’s recounting of Friday’s Avs win to gauge the Avs’ offensive firepower...
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.