The Malik Report
Updated 2x at 2:07 PM: The Detroit Red Wings begin their Western Canadian road swing in Edmonton this evening (9:30 PM EDT on FSD/Sportsnet One/97.1 FM), and while the Red Wings' record in Western Canada over the past few years has been nothing less than stellar, the Wings face a decent amount of pressure to up their record to 4-and-2 instead of dropping to 3-and-3 so very early in the season.
This isn't game-related, but it's a pretty neat factoid:
This, we already knew...
Of Red Wings-related note this morning:
1. ESPN is ranking the top 100 NHL players, and Niklas Kronwall was named to the first batch of rankings:
87. Niklas Kronwall, Detroit Red Wings
Age: 34 | Experience: 11 years
Position ranking: 18th among defensemen
2014 ranking: 16th among defensemen
2. MLive's Brendan Savage took note of the Red Wings' particularly good record in Western Canada:
From the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa:
Dylan Larkin’s path to the NHL was direct and short, and coaches and programs in Michigan provided a way.
Among the Red Wings scoring leaders with six points, five games into his first season, Larkin, 19, is also helping defy a general policy of the franchise, one that has served it well: Patient, sustained development of young talent in Grand Rapids and Toledo. Larkin is the first teenager in the Wings’ lineup since Jiri Hudler in the 2003-04 season.
Playing mostly on the top line with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader, his speed and skill are apparent. Larkin has been among the Wings’ better players in each game during their 3-2 start.
He is likely to have few, if any, bus trips with the Griffins to American Hockey League games.
Asked which of his previous coaches helped accomplish such a quick ascent to the NHL, he was quick and direct, as he stood in front of his dressing stall at Joe Louis Arena.
“There was quite a few,” said Larkin, who grew up in Waterford and whose father, Kevin, is a Toronto native who played collegiate soccer at Southern Indiana. “I played with my uncle Paul growing up, with the Lakeland Hawks, and it kind of grew my passion for the game. And I went over to Belle Tire, and played for Joe Smaza. He just kept telling me where I thought I could be. And I’d say another one was Doug Brown,” Larkin said, of the former Wings player. “I played with his son Christopher, and he was like a parent coach, and he taught me a lot about hockey. And he was a great guy.”
The Red Wings are kicking off a 3-game Western Canadian road swing tonight in Edmonton (9:30 PM EDT on FSD/Sportsnet 1/97.1 FM), and the McDavid vs. Larkin angle of the game's being played up by both the print media and Sportsnet:
The Wings are intrigued by seeing McDavid up close and personal, but Wings coach Jeff Blashill chose to view Larkin, McDavid, Eichel et. al. from a collective point of view while speaking with the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness:
Of prospect-related note:
In the Finnish Liiga, Julius Vahatalo scored a goal and won 50% of his faceoffs in 13:20 of ice time in TPS Turku's 4-2 win over Ilves;
In the SHL, Axel Holmstrom had an assist and won 50% of his faceoffs in 17:39 of ice time in Skelleftea AIK's 4-3 OT loss to Vaxjo;
Christoffer Ehn had an assist and won 50% of his faceoffs in 11:16 of ice time in the Frolunda Indians' 7-1 win over Linkopings HC;
In the QMJHL, Evgeny Svechnikov scored a goal on 4 shots, won 7 of 13 faceoffs and finished at -2 in the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles' 3-1 loss to Halifax;
And the Grand Rapids Griffins posted their weekly press release:
LeBrun: Gallagher goal review serves as a lesson in coach’s challenge/on-ice official rule shake-out
According to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun, the Brendan Gallagher goal in Montreal was actually deemed a non-goal on the ice, but overturned by the NHL's situation room in Toronto, and as a result...
I can only ascertain that Wings head coach Jeff Blashill didn’t ask for a coach's challenge because the refs told him it was a good goal and there wasn’t any point in further reviewing it.
Because the Detroit Red Wings certainly should have invoked a coach's challenge based on goalie interference -- and for the life of me I can’t imagine the goal would have stood based on the threshold established for goalie interference, as Mrazek had zero chance to make a save on that play.
Certainly the Wings have been in dialogue with the league in the past few days clearing up what happened.
According to an NHL referee who requested anonymity, NHL on-ice officials received a memo in the aftermath of all this from director of officiating Stephen Walkom reminding them that when it comes to goalie interference, calls on goals or no-goals should only be overturned either by the on-ice officials huddling on the ice and changing the call or by a coach's challenge. Read between the lines: Not from Hockey Ops in Toronto.
from Brendan Savage of Mlive,
One thing Blashill wasn't pleased with during the first five games was the power play.
So with that in mind, he devoted a good chunk of Tuesday's short practice at Taylor SportsPlex to special teams with an extra emphasis on the power play.
During a 3-2 start, the Red Wings have scored twice during 13 power-play opportunities for a 15.4-percent success rate. They're 1-for-12 since Justin Abdelkader scored on their first power play of the season in a 4-0 victory over Toronto.
"I think we need to be a little more dangerous," said Abdelakder, who leads the Red Wings with four goals. "Better zone time, execution off faceoffs, winning faceoffs, trying to keep the puck in their zone as much as possible. It can't be just one and done.
"We got the talent here to get it done. We just gotta go out and execute. I think we'll be fine. It's still early. It's one of those things where specialty teams are so important that your power play and penalty kill you see in these last games are going to be crucial."
from Peter J. Wallner of Mlive,
Daniel Cleary practiced for the first time with the Grand Rapids Griffins on Tuesday and said his goals are focused on the team and not to get back to the Detroit Red Wings or the NHL.
"My goal is to be a good teammate, a good leader and play well and help this team win," he said. "I'm not worried about anything else – getting called up or going back to Detroit. That doesn't even cross my mind."...
Anthony Mantha said he can also help the younger players.
"It's going to help us, for sure," Mantha said. "He has a lot of experience and can help us out in tough moments like right now and also when things are going our way. So, for him to be here is a good opportunity for us and I'm looking forward to it."
Update: WOOD TV8 posted a feature on Cleary:
Updated 3x at 2:13 PM: The Red Wings are flying out to Edmonton this afternoon, and their short practice preceding a 1:40 PM flight to Edmonton yielded special teams work and discussion of the team's ability to bond as they play a 3-game road swing in Western Canada (in Edmonton Wednesday, Calgary on Friday and Vancouver on Saturday), as the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa noted:
"I think it's a no-brainer; it's a positive anytime you get a chance to spend time as a team," said Blashill, who is launching his first trip to western Canada as coach of the Red Wings. We haven't had tons of that, obviously. It's been play, go overnight, and play."
A veteran of long flights and long trips as part of team that played for most of his career in the Western Conference, Henrik Zetterberg is now exposed to what is, this season, the least travel of any NHL franchise.
But the odd schedule also calls for back-to-back games on the first six of seven weekends of the season – seven of eight, counting the last weekend of the preseason.
Regardless, Zetterberg said, some time on the road right now is likely to benefit this team.
"It's a weekend, so we've got to go back-to-back, again," he said, with some sarcasm, and pausing for effect. "Early in the season, it's nice to go on the road like this. It's good for the team. ... Play some games and go for dinners and just kind of bond as a team. We don't play out there that often anymore, so it's fun to go out and play those games."
I will add to this post as needed while George is at an appointment. He should return in a few hours.
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.