The Malik Report
Updated 7x at 3:52 PM: The Red Wings and Islanders' morning skates ahead of tonight's tilt between the teams (7:30 PM EST on FSD/MSG Plus/97.1 FM) were very quiet affairs news-wise. Johan Franzen's back in the lineup for Detroit, Travis Hamonic and Johnny Boychuk will rejoin the Islanders' defense, and Jaroslav Halak will oppose Jimmy Howard as their respective teams' starting goalies.
The Wings are of course opening up a set of 3 home games in 5 nights (vs. the Isles tonight, the Avs on Sunday and the Sabres on Tuesday) amidst a 4-game winless streak (0-1-and-3) and amidst a schedule in which the team will have 1 more home game in 2014, New Year's Eve's game against New Jersey, before embarking on a road trip that lasts until January 17th, admist a crapton of January and February road games.
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose posited a pair of Tweets of team-vs-team-statistical note...
Updated 3x at 11:49 AM: The Red Wings face a stiff task in attempting to snapt their their 4-game losing streak (0-1-and-3) against the New York Islanders this evening (7:30 PM on FSD/MSG Plus/97.1 FM), and none of the Wings' 3 remaining games will be anything less than challenging.
The Avs will come to town Sunday (6 PM start) having battled the Buffalo Sabres the previous evening, and those surging Sabres wrap up the Wings' home-friendly schedule when they visit on Tuesday (7:30 PM).
After that, as the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa noted, the Wings play 3 more games in 2014, with only the New Year's Eve game against New Jersey taking place at home; then a 6-game road trip kicks off road-heavy January and February schedules.
Tonight's opponent will receive blueline reinforcements in the form of Johnny Boychuk and Travis Hamonic; Johan Franzen should return to the Wings' lineup after battling a set of ailments that most likely spurned his 10-game scoreless streak; according to NHL.com's game notes, Brad Watson and Francis Charron will referee tonight's game, with Trent Knorr and Mark Wheeler working the lines.
When the morning skate began, there were no surprises from MLive's Ansar Khan...
Ansar Khan of Mlive answered some questions, mostly regarding trade options.
I am bypassing the questions and listing Khan's response...
- ...The Red Wings inquired about Petry in the summer, but the price was too high (the Oilers wanted a center and asked for Darren Helm). The 6-foot-3, 198-pound Petry will be an unrestricted free agent in July, so the Oilers are certain to move him by the deadline.
I'm sure Holland will inquire again, but he's not likely to part with a lot for a rental.
Washington's Mike Green, another potential trade-deadline rental, is another possibility.
- It would cost a lot more than Ferraro and Callahan to get Petry. The Oilers and anyone else could have had Ferraro and Callahan for nothing when they were on waivers before the season, but they cleared....
- Ericsson is not going anywhere, and I highly doubt Quincey will be moved. Quincey has been much-maligned the past couple of seasons, but he's a top-four defenseman on this team, and they're not easy to find.
Ouellet is the only defense prospect they would feel comfortable putting in the lineup every game. Alexey Marchenko might be close, Nick Jensen and Ryan Sproul need more seasoning and Mattias Backman is having trouble cracking Grand Rapids' lineup.
The overnight report: Red Wings-Islanders set-up; talkin’ about the hard road and the Wings’ defense
The Detroit Red Wings hope to break a 4-game winless streak (0-1-and-3) as they kick off their 3-home-games-in-5-nights pre-Christmas break slate against the New York Islanders this evening (7:30 PM EST on FSD/MSG Plus/97.1 FM);
While the Islanders' come into town on a 2-game winning streak--having last played on Monday, when they defeated New Jersey 2-1 in a shootout, and the Hawks 3-2 last weekend--overall, the Islanders' schedule since November 5th is scary.
10 regulation-OT wins, 5 shootout wins and 5 regulation losses have the Isles tied with the Wings' 42 points, but the Isles' 21 wins (15 ROW's) are FOUR MORE than the Wings' 17 (16 ROW's), and unlike the Wings, they have exactly 0 shootout losses to Detroit's 6.
The Islanders will receive a pair of reinforcements on the blueline tonight, as Newsday's Arthur Staple reported...
The first holiday tournament that plays games that count (not the case for the World Junior Championships until "Boxing Day") got underway on Thursday, and the only Red Wings prospect taking part had a good game in what was a predictably Swedish win.
The Swedes rarely (if ever) open tournaments well, and they opened the Channel One Cup by digging a 3-goal deficit against the Czechs, but Expressen's Petter Ostman reports that coach Par Marts took a timeout, yelled at the team, and the Swedes responded--scoring 3 goals in 1:16.
They surrendered a 4-3 goal four minutes later, but tied the game in the 3rd, and Mattias Janmark scored the game-winning goal with just over 5 minutes remaining in what was eventually a 6-4 triumph.
I really am at the point where I'm hesitant to report every Gordie Howe health update, especially after yesterday's "friend of the family says this, distant relative says that" stuff, but the Free Press's Helene St. James has an impeccable source...
The benefit of being in a familiar environment again is helping Detroit Red Wings legend Gordie Howe regain some quality of life.
Howe now has enough strength to be somewhat mobile, a stark - and much welcome - late-December development after the month began with what his children feared was another serious stroke.
Son Mark Howe told the Free Press on Thursday that his father isn't so much able to walk, rather that "it's more of a shuffle, but he is making his way around under his own power."
And she continues...
Updated 5x at 3:53 PM: On Wednesday, Todd Bertuzzi began to pursue a post-hockey-playing career in coaching (though he's still hoping to get a call from some NHL team) taking in the practices of Tyler Bertuzzi'sGuelph Storm, and you and I discussed the Red Wings' shootout issues, Mike Babcock's future, the Mattias Backman issue and the consistency of a certain general manager's points of view.
Thursday, the Red Wings got back to work after taking Wednesday off, preparing for a 3-games-in-5-nights pre-Christmas, home-ice stretch against the Islanders (on Friday; the Isles are tied with the Wings' 41 points but have 4 more wins than the Wings do), Avalanche (on Sunday) and surging Sabres (on Tuesday).
There was good news from the beat writers in that Johan Franzen--whose bad play apparently coincided with a physical illness--skated and proclaimed himself good to go on Friday, and that Stephen Weiss skated hoping to return to the lineup on Sunday.
The Red Wings resumed practice after a necessary day off on Wednesday, and as the Wings hope to snap a 4-game winless streak during a 3-games-in-5-nights stretch (against the 21-win-possessing Islanders tomorrow, the Avs on Sunday and then Sabres on Tuesday), and there's good news of a sort at the Joe, per the Free Press's Helene St. James:
Amongst MLive's Ansar Khan's practice Tweets:
Franzen back on the ice at practice today. Weiss also skating.
Zetterberg was on the ice at the start of practice but has left early. Weiss took his place on that line with Nyquist and Abdelkader.
(Fear not, he returned)
Updated quite substantially at 2:57 AM on Thursday morning: Amongst this evening's Red Wings-related news stories:
I think it wasn't exactly hard to read the report that Gordie Howe would be well enough to make a public appearance in Saskatoon this February was...premature.
As Paul noted, MLive's Ansar Khan spoke with Mark Howe about Gordie's condition, and Khan received a more accurate forecast...
"He's back in the ballgame," son Mark told M-Live on Wednesday. "Where it will lead to we don't know, but he's miles ahead of where he was weeks ago. In the last week he's been getting stronger, better. We're pretty encouraged by it."
If the former Detroit Red Wings great continues to progress, there's a chance he might travel to his hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, on Feb. 6 for the Kinsmen Sports Celebrity Dinner in his honor. Wayne Gretzky is scheduled as the keynote speaker.
"A week ago I would have said there's no way in the world (Gordie could be there)," Mark Howe said. "If he continues to improve, we'll have to wait and see."
And Mark continued while speaking with Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji:
Now I get the Toronto rumors, but given that, as the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa suggested, a certain Mike Babcock very plainly "wants to win"--which is what everyone who's got a damn oar planted in the Mike Babcock To Where? Rumor Mill River has suggested--I'm going to be rude and simply suggest that the esteemed and estimable Edmonton Sun's Terry Jones is, for once in a blue moon, off his rocker:
[If] there’s a way for owner Daryl Katz and new Oilers organization umbrella boss Bob Nicholson to win some public confidence and ensure that the Oilers don’t face the prospect of not being sold out for their first season in their new downtown arena, hiring Mike Babcock would go a long way.
Think about it. There’s the belief that the Detroit Red Wings coach, who former Hockey Canada head Nicholson gave the opportunity to become two-time Olympic gold medal winner, is going to go right through the season without agreeing to a new contract.
There’s the further belief that Babcock not only wants to find out what his true value is as his current contract expires, but that he might also want to be the flag carrier to raise NHL coaching salaries, which don’t compare well to those of the NFL, NBA or major league baseball.
Also Babcock has been in Detroit for 10 seasons, reportedly making $2 million a season. There’s an expiry date on head coaches, even the great ones.
And with the embarrassment of having had the worst team in the NHL throughout his seven years as Oilers owner, and paying people like Ralph Krueger and Dallas Eakins a combined 4½ seasons not to coach, you have to believe Daryl Katz would consider telling Babcock to fill in his own amount and term into the blank spaces on an Oilers coaching contract.
Jones continues, discussing Nicholson's long association with Babcock, Babcock's Canadian collegiate ties to Alberta, the Oilers possibly landing Connor McDavid, etc. etc., but as much as I feel for both the long-suffering fans of the Edmonton Oilers and their long-suffering, passionte media...This is just dumb.
Quoting Krupa, quoting Babcock:
"Listen, besides my family, the thing maybe I like most is winning. So, that's the process, here. That's what we're trying to do, here. And if you think I'm working harder, here, because I'm in my last year of my contract, it makes no difference. I grind. That's what I do. I'm a professional grinder. I love winning. So, you know, we'll see what happens — we've got a game, tomorrow."
The one thing the Oilers don't have is a history of any sort of organizational competency in terms of the front office actually positioning the team in line to win pee-wee games. They make Toronto's corporate conglomerate look warm and fuzzy by comparison, and Ken Holland look like Stephen Hawking.
"Real talk." No *#$%@& way.
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.