The Malik Report
Updated 5x at 12:17 PM: Abdelkader is out!
The Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning face off in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal tonight (7:30 PM EDT on FSD/FS Florida/CNBC/Sportsnet/RDS/97.1 FM), and the Lightning apparently chose to "take an optional" ahead of Game 1--with a healthy roster, as reported by TampaBayLightning.com's Bryan Burns:
Braydon Coburn, Alex Killorn, Jason Garrison and Andrej Sustr are all on the ice in regular jerseys for #TBLightning optional morning skate.
Sportsnet has aired a set of playoff-promoting videos discussing "Anything for Hockey's Ring Legends," and Mike Babcock discussed winning the Cup in 2008:
The Detroit Red Wings on Thursday reassigned left wing Tyler Bertuzzi from the Ontario Hockey League’s Guelph Storm to the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Bertuzzi, , served as an assistant captain for Guelph this season, finishing 10th in the OHL’s scoring race while leading the team with 98 points (43-55—98), 91 penalty minutes and a plus-26 rating in 68 games. On Tuesday night, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds defeated the Storm, 3-2, to complete their Western Conference semifinal sweep and eliminate Guelph from the OHL Playoffs. Bertuzzi tied for the team’s playoff scoring lead with six goals and two assists in nine contests.
In four seasons with the Storm from 2011-15, Bertuzzi has amassed 171 points (71-100—171), 325 PIM and a plus-35 rating. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound forward’s junior career was highlighted by Guelph capturing the J. Ross Robertson Cup as the OHL’s playoff champions last season, before eventually falling to the Edmonton Oil Kings in the 2014 Memorial Cup championship game. The Sudbury, Ont., native was Detroit’s third choice (58th overall) in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and was signed to a three-year, entry-level contract with the Wings on Oct. 17.
The Griffins will take on the Lake Erie Monsters at Quicken Loans Arena tonight, before returning to Van Andel Arena for back-to-back games against the Charlotte Checkers on Friday and Saturday to wrap up their regular season. All three games will begin at 7 p.m.
The stuff that "didn't fit in the overnight report" makes its return this morning, because the "overnight report" is so jam-packed with Red Wings-Lighting set-up stuff that I very literally ran out of room with which to operate.
So what didn't fit? To the good, a fantastic article by Fox Sports Detroit's Keith Gave, profiling one Hakan Andersson...
Karl Goran Hakan Pihl Andersson -- Hakan to family and friends back in Stockholm, Sweden -- won the job. And the Wings, whose lineup heading into Thursday night's playoff opener at Tampa Bay includes 13 Europeans drafted under his watch, haven't missed the postseason since. A 14th European, Marek Zidlicky, was originally drafted by the Rangers during Rockstrom's tenure as their chief European scout.
A lot of people deserve credit for this 24-year postseason run that the Wings and their fans are enjoying. But those who deserve the most recognition get the least -- the ones who beat the bushes, often battling icy roads along thousands of miles to see hundreds of games at tiny, sometimes remote rinks throughout Europe and North America. They include Detroit's 14-man amateur scouting staff.
The Detroit Red Wings battle the Tampa Bay Lightning as the first round gets underway this evening (7:30 PM on FSD/FS Florida/CNBC/Sportsnet/TVA Sports/97.1 FM), but it sure as hell feels like the entire lead-up to the series has involved two topics, with the first being the writing off of the Red Wings as any sort of playoff threat against the Mighty Bolts, and the second involving Steve Yzerman Versus Detroit.
I'm not going to revisit all of Wednesday's Yzerman chatter in this entry--there's just too much of it, and not all of it is relevant to tonight's game--but as I attempt to navigate the series previews and "overnight" Yzerman-related articles, I will suggest that Mike Babcock had it right when he pointed out that the Red Wings aren't playing Steve Yzerman tonight.
They're playing the team he built, with a decent amount of help from the previous administration, and as MLive's Peter J. Wallner notes, the fact that the Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the Syracuse Crunch in the 2014 Calder Cup Final means that these teams are more familiar with each other than you or I am familiar with the Lightning...
Of playoff-related prospect note:
In Sweden's SHL, Axel Holmstrom's SHL rookie record-setting assist--eclipsing a Sedin-held mark--in 12:47 of ice time didn't help Skelleftea AIK, which lost 4-2 to the Vaxjo Lakers, giving Vaxjo a 2-1 series lead;
In the WHL, Dominic Turgeon scored a goal in the Portland Winterhawks' 5-3 win over Everett, and Portland now leads their second-round series 2 games to 1;
And in the ECHL, the Toledo Walleye lost a 3-2 decision to the Wheeling Nailers in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. The Walleye's website posted a recap...
From the Red Wings:
RED WINGS BEARD-A-THON® ENCOURAGES fans to grow PLAYOFF beards for charity
… Proceeds to Benefit the Detroit Red Wings Foundation …
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings are inviting fans to join players in growing out their playoff beards as part of the annual Beard-A-Thon® to benefit the Detroit Red Wings Foundation, as the Red Wings embark on their historic 24th straight playoff appearance.
By joining the Red Wings Beard-A-Thon® team, fans can pledge to maintain a beard throughout the Red Wings playoff run. Participating fans are encouraged to share beard progress pictures online and have friends and family support the cause by donating throughout the playoffs. Fans who are unwilling or unable to grow a beard can still participate in Beard-A-Thon® by pledging to support a beard grower.
“Playoff beards are one of the great traditions in hockey,” said Josh Sanborn, manager of Ilitch Charities. “We’re excited to give our fans a fun way to support the team on its playoff run – all while raising money for a great cause in the Detroit Red Wings Foundation.”
Launched in 2009, Beard-A-Thon® has raised more than $3 million for participating NHL team charities by urging fans to grow playoff beards during their team’s Stanley Cup run. All donations to the Detroit Red Wings Beard-A-Thon® are tax-deductible.
For more information and to sign up for the Detroit Red Wings Beard-A-Thon®, visit http://www.DetroitRedWings.com/beardathon.
Updated 15x at 3:54 PM: The Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning practiced at the Bolts' practice facility in Brandon, FL today due to The Who's concert at Amalie Arena, and the "stacked" nature of the Bolts' 11 AM and Wings' 11:30 AM practices, interspersed with a rare media availability for Steve Yzerman around 11:45, yielded...Let's say staccato coverage of the Wings' skate.
We know that Braydon Coburn will most likely return to Tampa Bay's defense, and that Justin Abdelkader's murky status (the Free Press's Helene St. James reported that Abdelkader wore a gray no-contact jersey in practice) will determine whether coach Babcock chooses to play the Eurotwins on the same line...
And we also received our first "Playoff Babs" presser, as noted by the Tampa Bay Times' Joe Smith and TampaBayLightning.com's Bryan Burns:
While I waited for the beat writers to posit their daily articles, ESPN's Scott Burnside took a dig at the Wings while issuing "playoff power rankings"...
From the Red Wings...
RED WINGS OFFICIAL VIEWING PARTIES SET FOR ROAD PLAYOFF GAMES
... Ciccarelli’s Sports Bar to Host Game 1 on Thursday, Hockeytown Café for Game 2 on Saturday …
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings are proud to announce the continuation of the Red Wings Official Viewing Parties for the team’s first two games in Tampa Bay during the opening series of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Official Red Wings Viewing Parties give fans an opportunity to cheer on their team in an exciting environment with hundreds of their peers.
The fun gets underway on Thursday, April 16 at Ciccarelli’s Sports Bar in Shelby Township (46793 Hayes Rd.) as the Red Wings travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Lightning for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The party moves over to Hockeytown Café in Detroit (2301 Woodward Ave.) on Saturday, April 18 for Game 2 of the series. If necessary, the Viewing Party for Game 5 will be held at Rosie O’Grady’s in Ferndale (279 W. Nine Mile Rd.) and Hockeytown Café for Game 7.
Updated 6x at 1:02 PM: The Red Wings and Lightning officially began their playoff preparations for Thursday's series opener today in Tampa Bay, and the Lightning preceded the Wings onto the ice at the Bolts' practice facility in Brandon, Florida:
The Tampa Bay Times' Joe Smith took note of the Lightning's personnel...
Coburn on ice for #tblightning practice. Team will know better after today if he'll return tomorrow. Killorn out here too.
Sustr also out here, hoping to return tomorrow. Garrison skated on his own before practice.
Garrison out here in regular jersey. Making progress it looks like.
As did TampaBayLightning.com's Bryan Burns...
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.