The Malik Report
Very briefly: we’ve reached a point in the playoffs where last year’s Stanley Cup finalists, and this year’s President’s Trophy winner, in the Vancouver Canucks, the Cup champ from two years ago in the Chicago Blackhawks, the Cup champ from two seasons ago and prohibitive media Cup pick in the Pittsburgh Penguins, and of course the team I cover and cheer for in the Detroit Red Wings face 3-1 series deficits against their respective opponents, and as I’m writing this, the St. Louis Blues
are attempting to take
just took a 3-1 series lead on another contender in the San Jose Sharks.
While fans like you and me have been distracted somewhat by the level of gratuitous violence taking place this spring (and while “hit to make your opponent sore” becomes, “I’ve got to hit to hurt you and win my battle or I’m playing golf” in April, May and June, the level of disrespect between players is as silly as the inconsistency of the NHL’s disciplinary policy), the fact that Vancouver, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Detroit and maybe even San Jose could be cleaning out their lockers before the weekend’s over is nothing less than staggering. In the West, the 1-versus-8 and 2—versus-7 series look like they may very well go to the underdog, with the 3rd-place Coyotes and 4th-place Predators pulling off “upsets,” and that alone should give us pause.
Off-day stories continue to roll in via my ever-updated practice post, and I tend to prefer to keep everything on one place so as to not monopolize KK’s front page, but this story from 97.1 the Ticket’s Jamie Samuelssen merits an entry of its own.
Samuelssen has found that more than a few Red Wings fans are suggesting that the easiest way for the Wings’ organization to remedy their mediocre playoff showings of late involve either firing coach Mike Babcock—who will coach in Detroit until he no longer wishes to do so—or GM ken Holland, and while Samuelssen believes that Holland and the Wings front office’s recent draft record in particular merits criticizing, he doesn’t buy the concept that the answer to the Wings’ underwhelming springs since 2009 involves kicking Babcock or Holland to the curb:
The post-CCHA college hockey world threw the Great Lakes Invitational, which is held at Joe Louis Arena every December, into flux, and DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose reports that the newly-created Big 10 conference well replace it…On an every-other-year basis:
The Big Ten Conference announced that its inaugural men’s ice hockey season will conclude with a championship tournament in 2014 and will alternate between the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., and Joe Louis Arena.
St. Paul will host the league championship in 2014 and 2016, while Detroit will host the six-team tourney in 2015 and 2017.
The tournament will include all six teams – Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin – in a single-elimination format. Thursday’s quarterfinals will pit the No. 3 seed vs. the No. 6 seed and the No. 4 seed vs. the No. 5 seed.
Updated 8x with a Mike Modano interview at 6:52 PM: The Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators held dueling practices at their respective rinks (albeit with the Predators using their practice facility and the Wings, who face an incredibly steep uphill climb in attempting to force Game 6 and a delay in the commencement of our annuall Nicklas Lidstrom watch), at the same time, on Thursday, and MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that the Wings only made one change to their practice lineup:
Wings on ice for practice. Brendan Smith has joined team for practice rather than skate with Black Aces.
Wings skating with these lines: 51-40-26, 93-13-11, 20-8-44, 14-48-96; 5-18, 55-23, 27-52; 35, 29; extras 41, 39, 2, 4
Prior to today’s practice at Joe Louis Arena (MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that Brendan Smith is skating with the big club today), Red Wings coach Mike Babcock spoke to 97.1 the Ticket’s Stoney and Bill about his team’s chances of rallying from a 3-1 deficit against the Nashville Predators:
ith the Red Wings down 3-1 in their series with Nashville and their proverbial backs to the wall, Mike Babcock is not panicking. He still believes in his team and his message. The Red Wings coach joined the Stoney and Bill show Thursday morning and feels his team is not dead because of the way they are playing.
“If you’re down 3-1 in a series and you feel like you’re getting outplayed and you feel they’re better than you, it’s harder to sell,” he said.
He added he does not believe the critics who say they are not getting good scoring opportunities, saying, “We had tons of quality chances in that last game — quality, quality chances. Their goaltender made the saves.”
You can listen to the interview below:
Amongst this morning’s crop of Red Wings stories, which include an, “It’s not over yet!” from WDIV’s Katrina Hancock and a note about the Wings, “One game at a time” mindset from from MLive’s Brendan Savage,, something inevitable this way comes.
The National Post’s Michael Traikos believes that the Red Wings’ management cannot afford to wait to decide which player might have to fill the role of succeeding Nicklas Lidstrom, regardless of whether Lidstrom chooses to continue playing after this season…And Traikos suggests that, should the Wings not pull off a miraculous comeback against Nashville, Ken Holland might tip the scales toward his captain returning by, say, promising to add a Ryan Suter to the mix during an all-too-long off-season:
It is difficult to imagine anyone filling the skates of a seven-time Norris Trophy winner who has won four Stanley Cups and missed only 40 games during his 20-year career. But sooner or later, the Red Wings are going to have to contemplate life without Lidstrom or — at the very least — a day when his skills diminish to the point where he is just another defenceman.
“He’d probably tell you he doesn’t recover like he did when he was 20 or 25 or even 35,” Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said earlier this week. “But he’s still a pretty good player and important to us.”
The Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators may or may not be thanking the TV scheduling gods as NBC’s likely desire for a Sunday matinee (though Game 6’s starting time is “to be determined” literally as well as figuratively) as the teams received a something that rarely happens in the playoffs—a genuine “day off”—for both teams to rest the nagging injuries that just about every player is suffering from at this time of year, and for both teams to catch their breath after Tuesday’s 3-1 Wings loss.
Because the Wings have, in theory, anyway, out-played as well as out-shot the Predators by a significant margin thus far, Red Wings executive Kris Draper and GM Ken Holland took to the airwaves on Wednesday, preaching a party line which they essentially have to espouse given that Detroit’s season is on the line thanks to the team’s 3-1 deficit:
Updated at 11:13 PM: Maybe this summarizes the series as good as anything else: the Detroit Red Wings and the Nashville Predators chose to take advantage of the two-day break between Game 4 and Game 5 to rest and prepare for an all-important and possible elimination game on Friday, but while the Predators chose to speak to the media and announced that Thursday’s practice in Nashville will be open to the public as a reportedly jubilant crowd welcomed the would-be dragon-slayers back to Tennessee after Nashville’s 3-1 win...
Red Wings executives Kris Draper and GM Ken Holland made the media rounds representing a team that will hold a short practice in Detroit before flying to Nashville on Thursday, and the Wings announced that they’re holding a viewing party on Friday at the Hamlin Pub in Rochester Hills, sponsored by, appropriately enough, Absolut Vodka.
Updated with a belated Nicklas Lidstrom interview at 9:06 PM: In lieu of a belated off-day update (which is in the works), here’s a bit of a whopper to tide you over: Red Wings GM Ken Holland spoke to WBBL’s Huge Show on Wednesday afternoon, suggesting that the overbuilt Predators may lead the series by a 3-1 margin, but aren’t exactly dominating play in what remains a “really close series”:
I’m not sold on the, “It’s just parity” suggestion, and I don’t know if the “veteran team” can just keep on keepin’ on and assume that they can pull off yet another miraculous comeback…
But I will say this: in the cap era, the Red Wings are the definition of an elite team by cap standards in that they make the playoffs every season, they win over half their games, they usually make multiple-round playoff pushes and they present a winning, player-friendly atmosphere which attracts players to take less than market value salaries to join the Big Red Machine.
Updated 3x with a partial transcript of the interview from Sportsnet at 11:53 AM: Red Wings special assistant to GM Ken Holland (that’s his title) Kris Draper spoke to The Fan 590’s Greg Brady and Jim Lang this morning, splitting a nine-and-a-half-minute interview between discussing his steadfast belief that the Wings are not, as suggested by several pundits in the recap cycle, cooked geese, and then assessing the levels of violence and player disrespect taking place during this year’s playoffs in an incredibly, incredibly eloquent manner.
Draper’s just as baffled by the explicit intent-to-injure plays and blatant head-shots, illustrating some sort of fundamental lack of respect between players and disregard for the NHL’s ham-handed disciplinary procedures, as the rest of us are:
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.