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Red Wings-Lightning Game 3 set-up: Win a game + Albom on Yzerman and Sharp on the rebuild-on-the-fly

The Detroit Red Wings face a must-win situation in Game 3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning this evening (7 PM EDT on FSD/CNBC/CBC/TVA Sports/97.1 FM), at least if the Wings don't want to be staring a 3-games-to-none deficit in the face.

The storylines going into tonight's game are relatively simple as neither team held a full skate on Saturday, with the Wings choosing to address Friday's brawl after an optional practice and the Lightning discussing their desire to "keep an even keel" against the Wings as the series shifts to Joe Louis Arena.

The Lightning did receive bad news in the injury department as J.T. Brown will miss the remainder of the series after blocking a shot with his "upper-body," as the Tampa Tribune's Ira Kaufman noted...

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Grand Rapids Griffins to open playoffs against Milwaukee Admirals

From the Grand Rapids Griffins:

GRIFFINS TO OPEN PLAYOFFS AGAINST ADMIRALS

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins will begin the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs by facing the Milwaukee Admirals in the best-of-five Central Division Semifinals.

The fourth-seeded Griffins and division champion Admirals will stage Games 1 and 2 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Friday, April 22 and Saturday, April 23 before the series turns to Van Andel Arena for Game 3 on Tuesday, April 26 and, if necessary, Game 4 on Wednesday, April 27. The complete schedule is as follows:

2016 Calder Cup Playoffs - Central Division Semifinals - Best-of-Five

  • Game 1  Fri., April 22  GRIFFINS at Milwaukee Admirals  8 p.m.
  • Game 2  Sat., April 23  GRIFFINS at Milwaukee Admirals  8 p.m.
  • Game 3  Tue., April 26  Milwaukee Admirals at GRIFFINS  7 p.m.
  • *Game 4  Wed., April 27  Milwaukee Admirals at GRIFFINS  7 p.m.
  • *Game 5  Sat., April 30  GRIFFINS at Milwaukee Admirals  8 p.m.

* If necessary
All times Eastern and subject to change
All games on ESPN 96.1 FM and AHLLive.com

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Duff discusses the Red Wings’ scoring problems

My biggest concern regarding the Red Wings involves their inability to out-score their mistakes, and the Windsor Star's Bob Duff (via RedWingsFeed) duly notes that the Red Wings' top scorers and secondary scorers alike can't find a way to dent the back of the net, and haven't been able to do so all year long.

It's gotten so bad that I'm wondering if the Wings still miss Johan Franzen, and whether the team's biggest need this summer is in fact to add another big body that can go to the front of the net and score 20 goals. I know it sounds strange to suggest that the Wings were constructed to accommodate a healthy Johan Franzen, but that's what I believe.

Anyway...

Detroit’s 209 regular-season goals are lowest total among the 16 playoff teams. Rookie Dylan Larkin’s team-leading 23 goals — the smallest number to lead the Wings in goals in a non-lockout year since Adam Brown scored 20 times in 1945-46 — is the lowest total to lead an NHL team into the post season since Shane Doan topped the 2010-11 Phoenix Coyotes with 20 goals.

If case you’ve forgotten, those Coyotes were hastily swept aside in the opening round of the playoffs that spring by the Red Wings.

A power play that produced a NHL-leading 69 goals during the 2014-15 campaign masked the reality that during five-on-five play, Detroit simply could not compete, finishing 25th in the league with 133 goals in that scenario.

...

The Wings find themselves in a dilemma. Their young scorers haven’t proven they are ready for prime time, while too many of their old reliable scorers appear to be past their prime.

If the former group doesn’t instantly mature, or the latter group unearths the fountain of youth, the Wings will soon find themselves watching other teams competing for Lord Stanley’s mug.

Duff continues at length...

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Teeing up the Griffins’ final regular season game

The Grand Rapids Griffins play their final regular-season game tonight, and ahead of the game vs. Bakersfield, Griffins announcer  Bob Kaser wrapped up the regular season and teed up the playoffs in today's Game Day Preview video:

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Articles from practice: Red Wings discuss better execution vs. Bolts; Lightning wary of comeback

The day after the Red Wings' 5-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Bolts chose not to practice, speaking with the media in Tampa Bay before flying to Detroit.

Tthe Red Wings held an optional practice at Joe Louis Arena, and after said practice, Andreas Athanasiou, coach Jeff Blashill and Justin Abdelkader spoke with the media, addressing their need to improve their execution at both ends of the ice.

The Wings told MLive's Brendan Savage that they plan on "taking care of home ice" while slowing down the Lightning's Triplets line...

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WiiM: Is Joakim Andersson going to Sweden?

I heard some rumblings about this this morning, and Winging It in Motown's Kyle McIlmurray states that Visat Sport's Alexander Malmkvist is reporting that Joakim Andersson would be joining Orebo HK for the 2016-17 season. The rumor actually comes from Expressen's Henrik Leman, and it's his "information" that we either believe or don't believe.

I'd wait and see on this one.

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Practice Tweets: Bolts don’t practice, Wings ‘take an optional’

Updated 3x at 1:52 PM: The Detroit Red Wings hit the ice at Joe Louis Arena just before 1 PM, attempting to regroup after last night's 5-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, but they didn't have to share the ice with the Bolts on Saturday, as the Tampa Tribune's Erik Erlendsson noted:

This cheery little stat popped up...

And TSN's Jamie McLennan weighed in on Jimmy Howard's play:

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Petr Mrazek And Brendan Smith For Game 3?

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Petr Mrazek, in all likelihood, will start Game 3. Jimmy Howard, playing behind a shaky defense, has a 3.59 goals-against average and .891 save percentage in two games.

Mrazek, who lost the starting job late in the season due to bad outings, hasn't started since March 26, when he was pulled after allowing four goals in a span of 14:51 during the second period of a 7-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was the fourth time in a span of 13 starts that he has been replaced.

But the Red Wings need a spark of some sort. Mrazek nearly lifted them to a first-round upset of the Lightning last year, when he posted a pair of shutouts in the seven-game series loss.

Chances are defenseman Brendan Smith, a healthy scratch the past nine games, will play as well. He might replace Alexey Marchenko. The same thing happened last year, when Smith sat the first two games and then replaced Marchenko.

more

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Too Many Goals Against, Not Enough Goals Scored

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

"They're getting too many easy goals," Detroit's Niklas Kronwall said. "They're a good team, no doubt, but we have to be better."

The Red Wings haven't been able to build off the momentum from scoring. After Dylan Larkin tied it at 1-1 with his first career playoff goal at 3:30 of the second period, Bryan Boyle scored off a rush at 6:46.

"We need concentrate or maybe a little more emotion when we score and want to just keep going and score (again)," Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk said. "Maybe this costs us a little bit."

The Red Wings failed to convert on three power-play opportunities in the final eight minutes of the second period. They didn't have Datsyuk, who was in the room for dental work, after losing a tooth on hit from Victor Hedman.

"Our focus more play better, more details and just keep pushing every shift," Datsyuk said. "We needed more shots and more screen, like to really score more and more on the power play."

Said Zetterberg: "We were in the box too much again. and even though we got one on the PP, we need to be better there. Otherwise, it's a tight game again."

How much more of a difference can the power play make if you can get it going in this series?

"I let you know when we start," Datsyuk said.

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TMR morning line: results-oriented Wings aren’t cutting it

From NHL.com's Nicholas J. Cotsonika's analysis of the Red Wings-Bolts series:

The Red Wings have made too many mistakes. It is one thing for Larkin, 19, making his NHL playoff debut, to step up when he should have stayed back on a play in Game 1, watching the Lightning chip the puck off the boards past him and score on a 3-on-2. But turnovers by veterans Darren Helm and Jonathan Ericsson led to the winning goals in the first two games, and those are just the biggest examples.

"They're getting too many easy goals," Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "They're a good team. No doubt. But we have to be better."

The Red Wings haven't capitalized on enough of their opportunities either. Zetterberg has no goals in 13 games, one in 26. Pavel Datsyuk has no goals in 12 games. Gustav Nyquist has one in 19. Tomas Tatar has one in 12.

Blashill reunited Datsyuk and Zetterberg on a line in Game 1, looking for a spark. He tinkered with his lines in Game 2, trying different right wings with his two veteran leaders. Blashill is already getting second-guessed for not playing speedy rookie Andreas Athanasiou more and for sending Anthony Mantha back to the minors, even though each is inexperienced and might have made even more mistakes.

If the Red Wings lose this series, the second-guessing is going to get worse. The Lightning have an excuse playing without Stamkos and Stralman. The Red Wings have no excuse and a city used to success.

It's about the result. More than anything else, the result.

Continued

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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.

 

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