The Malik Report
Hello, San Jose. Your team had a 2-0 and 3-1 leads, out-shot the Wings 42-22, and oh look, the Red Wings defeated your Sharks 4-3 on grit, heart, will and determination. As the announcers and Twitterverse piled it on and Johan Franzen (ankle) sat on the bench due to his sore ankle, the Wings just pushed, pushed, pushed and succeeded. Howard proved that he’s no playoff fluke, Cleary, Datsyuk, Holmstrom, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi, Kronwall—who Kronwalled and is clearly in the heads of more than a few Sharks, as is Abdelkader—did his thing, Lidstrom led, even Jonathan Ericsson found the back of the net and the Wings decided that they’d like to continue playing hockey, and so we will.
The Wings didn’t even play nearly their best game by any stretch of the imagination—the Sharks truly dominated at times—but the Wings prevailed because they wanted it more.
In the words of Mike Babcock, now it will get tighter and tighter, or as Kris Draper so succinctly put it, Game 6 is, “Where it gets interesting.”
Update: Kronwalled? Oh yes.
The Globe and Mail’s Alan Maki reports that Tampa Bay Lightning assistant coach Wayne Fleming, who recently underwent brain surgery to remove a malignant tumor, and his cause was assisted greatly by Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, whose familiarity with pediatric brain cancer via the Jeffrey Thomas Hayden foundation yielded a possibly life-extending tip:
“Wayne’s gotten some great help,” said Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach Dave King, another Fleming friend. “Mr. Vinik [Jeff Vinik, the Lightning owner] met with Wayne and his wife Carolyn and said the team would do whatever was needed. They provided a private plane [to get Fleming to California]. Steve Yzerman has been terrific; the Tampa players, too. And it was Mike Babcock’s contacts that got him to the right people in California.”
When Babcock first heard in early April that Fleming had been diagnosed with a brain tumour, he called to offer support and assistance. Fleming had been complaining about feeling “unclear” mentally. A Computerized axial tomography (CT) scan ordered by the Lightning physicians revealed a sizable mass. A biopsy determined the growth to be malignant.
The Red Wings will be making a roster move ahead of tonight’s game against the San Jose Sharks, but the Free Press’s Helene St. James reports that it’s not Pavel Datsyuk or Johan Franzen who will be sitting out—instead, it’s Jiri Hudler:
The Red Wings are making a lineup change as they seek to avoid being eliminated by the Sharks in Game 5 tonight, inserting Drew Miller into the lineup and pulling Jiri Hudler.
Both Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen are ailing but expected to play. Franzen has struggled all series, nearly immobilized by a sprained ankle suffered in Game 2 of the first round. Datsyuk is dealing with a sore wrist, which forced him to miss Saturday’s practice, the Free Press has learned.
Miller, 27, is a speedy role player capable of contributing with a goal, as he did in Game 3 of the first round. He played the first two games of the San Jose series, but was then pulled from the lineup. Hudler has no points against the Sharks, and was a defensive liability in Game 4, when his failure to check Dan Boyle led to Boyle scoring.
Update: the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan is a bit confused:
Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen will apparently play, as expected. One change could be Drew Miller being inserted for Jiri Hudler.
It really shows how far Mike Modano has fallen in the depth chart if that is the case.
Updated 7x at 6:23 with refs’ assignments and announcers [Versus won’t inflict CSN Bay Area on us]: MLive’s Ansar Khan says that, per Wings GM Ken Holland, both Datsyuk and Franzen will play tonight, as does the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan, and ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that the Wings did not speak with the media this morning, thus the confusion: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the San Jose Sharks tonight (8 PM EDT, Versus/TSN/WXYT): the Free Press’s Helene St. James reports that both Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen may not play tonight:
The Red Wings may be without forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen as they try to avoid being eliminated by the Sharks in Game 5 tonight. Both will be game-time decisions following warm-ups.
Franzen has struggled all series, nearly immobilized by a sprained ankle suffered in Game 2 of the first round. Datsyuk is dealing with a sore wrist, which forced him to miss Saturday’s practice, the Free Press has learned.
Coach Mike Babcock said he’s told both Mike Modano and Drew Miller to be on stand-by in case either or both are needed.
[edit/update: again, MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that, per Ken Holland, Datsyuk and Franzen will play in tonight’s game]
St. James says that the Wings are well aware of the fact that they’re facing both an uphill battle and a very hostile environment tonight:
The Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks face off tonight (8 PM EDT, Versus/TSN/WXYT) with the same stakes on the line as Friday.
The Wings felt that they had to make enough adjustments after their 4-3 win on Friday night that they paid a $2,500 fine to San Jose International Airport to land there at 1:55 AM local time and 4:55 AM on their players’ body clocks, and then engaged in a full practice to tweak their game’s technical aspects on Saturday, and they did so because in Detroit’s eyes, there’s nothing like embracing a few cliches, taking solace in the fact that they’ve gotten under the Sharks’ skin and continuing the fight against the Sharks for the simple sake of extending their season.
The Sharks, on the other hand, spent less time on the ice and more time in the video room as coach Todd McLellan chose “show and not tell” his players that they lacked a killer instinct on Friday night, as he told the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch:
Between Douglas Murray telling Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom that he planned on getting into a fight with Justin Abdelkader on Friday to pay back a few “elbows in the face” and Ryane Clowe doing that exact thing on Friday while insisting that he’d preferred to have gotten a few licks in on Niklas Kronwall, the San Jose Sharks haven’t exactly been discreet about the fact that the Wings are grating on their nerves. Clowe explained his logic in making his post-Game 5 statement to the Mercury News’s Mark Emmons:
Saturday, Clowe elaborated a little bit. Clowe said he would like a little payback for that devastating check Kronwall put on Dany Heatley in Game 3.
“It was about that hit on Heater,” Clowe said of his comment. “I always stick up for my teammates.”
Heatley said he appreciates the sentiment.
“He’s a guy who stands up for teammates,” Heatley said. “And he’s smart about it. He knows what time of year it is and isn’t going to take any dumb penalties. But he’s done that all year long for us. It’s part of the reason why he’s such a great team guy.”
Sharks coach Todd McLellan told MLive’s Ansar Khan that he fully endorses Clowe’s, ahem, tactics:
The man’s got a book to sell and is getting more than his fair share of publicity for spending most of his time defending officials’ “discretionary” calls on TSN this spring, but former referee Kerry Fraser’s also been willing to peel back a few “fibs” about referees, admitting that referees both make mistakes (don’t tell the NHL that!) and that yes, they do engage in the occasional “make-up call”:
Publicly, every referee will say, “I don’t do make-up calls.” Let me tell you that it has and does happen on occasion. I’ve done it and I will tell when and why. First let me attempt to explain some of the unrealistic expectations that are placed on the referees without appearing defensive or accusatory.
Expectations and duties of the referee include:
- apply a consistent standard of enforcement of the playing rules as handed down by the Board of Governors/Rules Committee
- provide safety under the rules for participants & maintain the integrity of the game
- provide for an entertaining flow of the game. (starts to get dicey here and extends below)
Another expectation that is ingrained in the official is to keep the game “FAIR”. Combine “fair” to the bullet points and some unrealistic expectations; even contradictions arise.
Updated 4x at 6:39 PM: The Detroit Red Wings flew to San Jose after Friday night’s elimination-staving 4-3 win over the Sharks, incurring a $2,500 fine for landing at San Jose International Airport far after its 10:30 PM local time curfew—Red Bird II didn’t touch down until 1:44 AM PDT, or 4:44 AM Eastern time—but the Wings still practiced today and spoke to the media bout tightening up their defensive play after surrendering a 3-goal lead, as Wings coach Mike Babcock told the Free Press’s Helene St. James:
“They’re a team that doesn’t appear to need as many chances to score,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “That’s what teams that score, do. I think they’ve got seven 20-goal scorers, and so the puck just seems to find a way in. And yet in saying that, I think for us, we gave them the first goal. And in my opinion we gave them the second goal. And then the third goal, how does Dany Heatley wind up in front of your net by himself? Those are freebies. We’ve just got to clean up on our own zone and be poised.”
Both Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen opted to stay off the ice. Datsyuk said he felt fine and Franzen isn’t practicing because he’s got a sore ankle, but Babcock said Franzen will play again Sunday and doesn’t anticipate making any lineup changes.
Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom earned his fair share of praise for a two-goal performance in the Red Wings’ 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks on Friday, but the most intriguing talk about a player who was at least willing to admit to NHL.com’s Dave Lozo that he “feels good” at 41 years of age, some of the best came from the mouth of Wings GM Ken Holland, who had this to say to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun about Lidstrom’s leadership…
“He’s a special competitor. In an elimination game, he’s our best player and steps up and led the way tonight,” Wings GM Ken Holland told ESPN.com just outside his team’s dressing room.
Retire? Heck, this guy showed again Friday night why he can play a few more years—if he chooses to.
“There’s no doubt he has lots of hockey left in him. Lots of hockey this year, and I think lots of hockey beyond this year,” said Holland, who might have been crossing his fingers when he said that to us. I’ve been fortunate to be around a lot of players who other people looked at the birth certificate, players like Steve Yzerman, Igor Larionov, Dominik Hasek, Chris Chelios; Nick Lidstrom is right there at the head of the class,” added Holland. “Age is only a number. He’s just so great, so focused, so committed, so determined that the birth certificate is just a number.”
The Detroit Red Wings will end up paying a $2,500 fine (five octopuses’ worth of disorderly conduct tickets) to San Jose International Airport as the Wings chose to head west on Red Bird II despite long after the airport’s 10:30 PM curfew—the Wings landed in San Jose at 1:30 AM PDT—after defeating the San Jose Sharks 4-3 on Friday night, staving off elimination and reminding the ever-confident Sharks that the supposed speed bump along the Sharks’ way to a Stanley Cup championship isn’t ready to roll over and die just yet.
So the Sharks are putting tickets for Sunday night’s Game 5 on sale today at 10 AM PDT, and while the Sharks rallied from a 3-0 deficit and pushed the Wings very, very hard, Dan Boyle told the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch that it wasn’t that Nicklas Lidstrom stepped up and scored two goals, nor that the Wings’ crowd helped lift a team that looked to be on the ropes, or at least attempting to win in rope-a-dope fashion, to a much-needed, confidence-building win against a team that’s become a boogeyman. No, instead, the Sharks failed to complete their first playoff sweep because they came out flat, surrendering three goals:
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