The Malik Report
via the Detroit Free Press,
Well now we know why Jonas Gustavsson was replaced by Jimmy Howard for the 3rd period of the Red Wings' 5-3 loss to Boston on Sunday:
Quick take, Red Wings vs. Bruins: Wings drop 2 in regulation for 1st time, whiff in ‘statement game’
The Detroit Red Wings took 64 games to lose twice in a row in regulation time, and perhaps it's not that surprising that it was the hated Boston Bruins who found a way to make themselves at least remotely relevant in the Atlantic Division playoff race (Boston is now 7 points behind Detroit, though Detroit has a game in hand) and found a way to enusre that the Red Wings surrendered 5 goals for the second consecutive game, all en route to a game that may ensure that the B's sew up a Wild Card spot, defeating the Wings 5-3--and in the process, reminding a team that first gave up 40 shots for 2 consecutive games and then gave up 10 goals over their past 2 that the Wings remain a work in progress.
The Wings will be able to get back to work in a hurry as they host the Edmonton Oilers on Monday, but this was going to be a "statement game" for the Wings, and instead, it was a statement reminding us all that the Wings' defensive play of late has been anything but indicative of a team that's likely to face the Canadiens or Lightning during the 1st round of the playoffs.
Long story short, Detroit's given up far too many goals--and they haven't necessarily been the goalies' faults--and Detroit's 1-and-2 since the trade deadline, needing to rather desperately beat a Connor McDavid Lottery team that's adored playing the spoiler's role tomorrow to wrap up a stretch of 4 games in 6 nights at all of 2-and-2.
That kind of record isn't good enough for Detroit at any time of year, and the fact that the Wings look like they're skating "in quicksand" while their opponents crank their play up to playoff standards is particularly worrisome.
The Detroit Vipers presented a strange but pretty spiffy chapter in Metro Detroit hockey history, and one I remember quite well as a teenager growing up with NHL and IHL franchises in my figurative backyard right around the time that I could legally drive my beloved 1984 Mercury Grand Marquis around town.
At a time when the feud between Mike Ilitch and Bill Davidson was still quite strong--to the point that the Wayne Gretzky's 99 All-Stars Tour team that played at the Palace in 1995 did so without Sergei Fedorov, Steve Yzerman or Paul Coffey--Davidson and the Palace tried to establish a team that would serve as an "alternative to the Red Wings" for suburban Wings fans who wanted to watch more affordable hockey.
These days, if not for the Grand Rapids Griffins, Metro Detroit could probably support both the Red Wings and their AHL affiliate, but in the mid-90's, "Hockeytown" was very much so both a work in progress and something of a marketing slogan, and as such, the Vipers had some...adventurous times as the Palace crowds waxed and waned.
Things started with a flourish as the IHL team brought in Petr Sykora and Miroslav Satan during the first lockout season, and they nearly filled the barn with no NHL to watch for the first half of the 94-95 season.
The Red Wings face a slightly more difficult task than they'd anticipated in keeping the Boston Bruins in their rearview mirror during today's matinee affair (12:30 PM EDT--Spring Forward, oh joy!--on NBC/Sportsnet 360/97.1 FM).
Boston rallied from a 2-1 deficit with all of 14.1 seconds left in regulation and beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in OT on Saturday, and as such, the Bruins now sit 9 points behind the Wings, and Boston can draw to within 7 points of the Wings if they win today.
Given the 32-22-and-11 Bruins' 3 wins over their past 4 games and 4 over their past 6, 30 Regulation-or-Overtime-Wins--and given that these are the Bruins we're talking about--a Bruins team that's 7 points behind the 36-16-and-11 Wings and their 33 ROW's = time to start worrying about the Wings suddenly finding themselves battling for a Wild Card spot (with the Washington Capitals, the 1st Wild Card team, owning one fewer point than Detroit's 83) should Detroit stumble today.
However, winning today would push the Bruins to 11 points and 4 ROW's behind a Wings team that will still have a game in hand after today's affair = probably the margin necessary to shut the Bruins out of the Atlantic playoff race.
That's a very long-winded way of saying that this is a 4-point game and then some, and for a Wings team that gave up 40 shots in in 2 straight games and then gave up 5 goals against the Flames on Friday,
The Grand Rapids Griffins may have dropped their first game in ten on Friday night in Milwaukee, but the Griffins got back on the winning train in a hurry and stretched their unbeaten streak to 11 games, rallying from a 2-1 deficit to defeat the Rockford IceHogs 3-2 in OT.
The Griffins' website posited a recap:
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch's column merits posting both in KK Hockey and here at the Malik Report for a simple reason: He's got more info regarding a Dion Phaneuf trade that wasn't consummated at the trade deadline but may yet occur later this year:
Don't dismiss the talk about Maple Leafs' captain Dion Phaneuf being dealt to the Wings, there were serious discussions between the two teams. Those talks were so deep that even Leafs' president Brendan Shanahan may have been involved with his former team at one point with GM Dave Nonis to see if the deal could come to fruition. There were plenty of names thrown into the mix by the Leafs -- including asks for the likes of defenceman Jakub Kindl and Detroit prospect Anthony Mantha. The Wings would have insisted Toronto take back centre Stephen Weiss as part of any deal if Detroit was going to take a massive contract like Phaneuf's off the books. With talks going nowhere, the belief is Wings' GM Ken Holland felt it would be better for both sides if they revisited this trade in the off-season and that's why he made the deal for New Jersey blueline Marek Zidlicky.
The teams will most certainly revisit said trade...
"What usually happens is these trades get too big to do at the deadline," said a league executive. "It's OK for the Leafs because they're going nowhere this year and trying to rebuild. The Wings have something pretty good going."
Has to be tough for Phaneuf to swallow because at some point in all this he would have had to approve a move to Detroit. The Ducks and Kings both had interest as well so let's see what happens in the off-season.
Garrioch continues with non-Wings talk...
from Gregg Krupa of the Detroit News,
With a concert at Joe Louis Arena Saturday, the Red Wings partially dressed in their room, went out to their cars, and drove to a rink at the University Liggett School in Grosse Pointe Woods. Most wore hockey pants, socks and warm-ups.
Some carried their pads in the trunks of the cars.
At the rink, the skates went on and coach Mike Babcock drilled them.
"We're a team that needs to bounce back," Babcock said. "I felt our energy at practice was a little better than it has been in a bit.
"And we haven't had good energy this last little bit. So I'm hoping the energy's back."
After the exertions, for the players it was skates off, most of the pads, too, and then back in the cars. Many ran into a traffic jam on I-94, where a patching crew performed a different kind of repair.
Then it was undressing at The Joe, packing duffle bags for the trip to Boston and driving to the airport for the flight.
Babcock had a list of tasks of his own.
The Chicago Tribune's Michael Stainbrook penned an article about a Chicago "prep legend" from Mt. Carmel High School named Chris Chelios, and his profile of the Red Wings executive reminds us exactly why we shouldn't expect to see Chelios coaching a team on a full-time basis any time soon--he's too busy being Chris Chelios, though he certainly tries to give the Grand Rapids Griffins as much of a hand as he can:
Chelios hops over the boards at Van Andel Arena during a Griffins practice. He's slower on the ice, the result of 1,651 NHL games played over 26 seasons. Only four players have played in more. Only Gordie Howe played as many years.
"He's been there and done everything," Blashill, the Griffins coach, said. "He's reached the pinnacle as a Hall of Famer. When you've done that, you command an unreal amount of respect."
Chelios spends most Griffins games sitting in a suite and taking notes. He briefs the team during intermissions. But there's one player he won't include in any report. His son Jake is a Wolves defenseman. The Griffins and Wolves play in the same division and meet eight times per season.
Jake and his three siblings have Chicago ties. Their grandparents live in Westmont. Sisters Tara and Caley Chelios play lacrosse at Northwestern. Older brother Dean, Jake's former teammate at Michigan State, played in the ECHL for the Indy Fuel, a Hawks affiliate.
Chris travels from Detroit to Chicago frequently and catches as many Wolves games as he can. He went to watch Dean play in Indianapolis. He flew to California to see NU's lacrosse opener against USC.
"He's somebody who can't sit still," Jake said.
Stainbrook continues and discusses Chelios's plans to spend the summer in Malibu, and despite the fact that hockey does include summers off, Mike Babcock comes back to Detroit pretty dang regularly to plan for the next season, as does Chelios, so I can't imagine him giving up his coach-executive-restauranteur-businessman-dad-and-bon-vivant lifestyle any time soon.
Updated 3x at 3:45 PM: Mike Babcock isn't screwing around after the Wings experienced a setback against the Calgary Flames on Friday.
With a matinee against Boston in the offing tomorrow and a home tilt against Edmonton on Monday, as Paul noted, Babcock tweaked the second line to give Luke Glendening the opportunity to "grind" for Pavel Datsyuk, and after announcing that Jonas Gustavsson would start against Boston, the Wings recalled Teemu Pulkkinen from Grand Rapids, burning one of the Wings' four non-roster-emergency call-ups between the trade deadline and the end of the Griffins' playoff run.
The Boston Bruins are currently hosting the Philadelphia Flyers in a matinee affair, so the Wings conducted their practice an hour early and appear to have delayed their afternoon flight to Boston for a reason:
For what it's worth, Mickey Redmond happened to speak to Detroit Sports 105.1 FM's Drew Lane and Marc Ferrell yesterday, and while the wings bombed last night's game, Mickey's observations remain pertinent:
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