The Malik Report
The Pittsburgh Penguins didn't practice ahead of tomorrow night's "Rivalry Night" game against the Red Wings (8 PM EST on NBCSN), and the Wings engaged in a "no changes" skate before hauling tail to catch a 2:40 PM flight to Pennsylvania.
As such, the post-practice Tweets and practice reports slowly trickled in, with the Red Wings issuing the first player-and-coach remarks...
"It's exciting hockey, it's fun to win, so it's a good little stretch for us right now. We have to just continue playing our game." - Miller
"Howie will be ready to go for Saturday. I thought he was excellent at practice here today, that's a positive sign." - Coach Babcock
Per Mike Babock; Petr Mrazek will start in goal tomorrow in Pittsburgh, Jimmy Howard will dress as the back up. #RedWings
Ken Kal noting the following...
Updated 2x at 1:19 PM: With the pre-practice stuff out of the way (again, the Penguins didn't practice today), the Red Wings didn't emulate the Penguins' "off day" decision and hit the ice at Joe Louis Arena around 12 PM, as noted by the Wings...
And MLive's Ansar Khan:
Same lines at practice:
Cleary rotating in
Defense pairs the same:
Kindl rotating in
In the statistical department, from DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose...
The Red Wings play in a "Rivalry Night" game against the PIttsburgh Penguins tomorrow night (8 PM EST on NBCSN), but we're not going to find anything out about a Penguins team that hasn't played since a 5-0 drubbing in Vancouver this past Saturday.
There were hints from the Penguins' optional skate on Tuesday that Blake Comeau (pain the ass that he is) and Christian Ehrhoff might return on Wednesday, but the 2nd-in-the-Metropolitan Division Pens aren't practicing today:
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
I was going to ask you about the joy you get out of coaching this group. Is this just a fun group to coach with young guys and veterans that seem to be mixing quite well together?
"Well we've got a good group, a really good group. We've got the big three, the leadership group, in [Pavel] Datsyuk, [Henrik] Zetterberg and [Niklas] Kronwall. Dan Cleary is part of that just with what he does with our young guys, mentoring our young people. We've got a lot of demands on our young people to get better and we are getting better. We think we've created real good depth up front, real good depth on the back end, and real good depth in goal. There is competition for jobs, which leads to accountability and making each other better. That's excellent. All in all I like our group."
It could have gone sideways when Howard went down, but it gave Mrazek a chance and he's produced, so for you now has Howard's injury gone from a concern to a blessing in disguise, similar in a way to last season with all the injuries and discovering the young players?
"Well I'm with you there. I think what happened last year, when we got everybody hurt it was easy for the general manager to understand what we had. It's not thinking about what you have, it's knowing what you have, so when the offseason comes [and] you're making decisions on contracts you know what these guys can do. I think that's happened this year. Xavier Ouellet is in the minors; he thinks he should be on our team. [Teemu] Pulkkinen is in the minors; he thinks he should be on our team. Mrazek is supposed to be our third goalie; he just went 9-1. I like the depth of our group and the push we have."
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
Pros: He has good offensive ability and moves the puck well. He can quarterback the power play and has a tremendous point shot. He also kills penalties.
Cons: Not particularly strong defensively; second on the team in giveaways. Not a great skater. Not overly physical for a big man.
The bottom line: The Red Wings have liked Franson since he was in Nashville. He would slide right into their top four, and even though their power play is flourishing (first in the NHL), it wouldn't hurt having a right-handed shot.
But they won't overpay for a rental. With several teams looking for defensive help at the deadline and right-handed shooters at a premium, the Leafs should be able to get at least a second-round pick as well as a good prospect or young roster player.
Maybe Toronto, being out of the playoff picture, wouldn't have an issue trading within the Atlantic Division and dealing with an old rival. But would the Maple Leafs want to help a team whose coach (Mike Babcock) they covet, a coach they inquired about last summer and one they undoubtedly will make a pitch for if he's available after the season? The Leafs might feel they have a better shot at landing Babcock if the Red Wings lose in the first round of the playoffs.
The Red Wings' early-morning practice and appearance at a Detroit Economic Club luncheon ended up yielding a surprisingly blunt "State of the Team" from coach Mike Babcock, and while this entry's going to be a little rambly and/or wandering, Babcock's comments are worth the journey.
Babcock had this to say about the Wings' special teams while attending the DEC luncheon, as noted by CBS Detroit's Ashley Dunkak...
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland and head coach Mike Babcock also spoke Monday. The team has won nine of its last 10 games and is tied for second place in the Eastern Conference with 71 points. Special teams has been a strength for the Red Wings this season, with their power play ranking first in the NHL and their penalty kill ranking ninth.
“You’ve got to give a lot of credit to our players, they’ve done a real good job,” Babcock said. “Our coaching staff, we have a brand new coaching staff except for Jimmy Bedard, they’ve done an excellent, excellent job. Tony Granato has come in here and really helped our penalty kill. We got off to a great start … won games off our penalty kill.
“It took us longer on the power play,” Babcock continued. “Jim Hiller came in and really gave us some ideas to improve, and we’ve adjusted what he was using to our group, and our group’s bought in, and we have a dangerous, dangerous, dangerous power play night in and night out. We seem to be on the attack for two straight minutes, which is real positive.”
With the coach receiving quite the comment from Justin Abdelkader...
16-second videos don't usually constitute entries, but in the case of the Grand Rapids Griffins' "Purple Game" against San Antonio on Friday, in which the Griffins will raise funds for the Van Andel Institute's cancer programs and Parkinson's disease research, both through ticket sales and by auctioning off special purple jerseys, you're damn right I'm promoting this:
Six Red Wings prospects played games today, but that's all they did, so this entry will actually be a little "spartan":
In the SHL, Mattias Janmark registered 2 assists and finished at +2 in 20:13 played, and Christoffer Ehn won 100% of his faceoffs in 4:23 played in the Frounda Indians' 5-0 win over HV71. You can watch highlights from the game by clicking on the recap link;
In Russia, in the KHL, Alexander Kadeikin remains sidelined with an injury, and SKA St. Petersburg lost 5-1 to the Ak Bars Kazan;
From Broadway World:
WEDNESDAY NIGHT RIVALRY Continues this Week on NBCSN
NBC and NBCSN will combine to present seven hockey games in seven days this week, highlighted by the NHL Game of the Week on NBC on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET, featuring Sidney Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins and Patrick Kane's Chicago Blackhawks, as well as aWednesday Night Rivalry showdown at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN between the Penguins and Pavel Datsyuk'sDetroit Red Wings.
Following Wednesday Night Rivalry, NBCSN presents the Wednesday Nightcap at 10:30 p.m. ET, as Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals visit Joe Pavelski and the San Jose Sharks. This week's coverage beginstonight at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, when the Blackhawks host Oliver Ekman-Larsson and the Arizona Coyotes. NBCSN rounds out the week's coverage on Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. ET, as Zemgus Girgensons and the Buffalo Sabres host Claude Giroux and the Philadelphia Flyers.
Updated 2x at 3:14 PM: It turns out that the Red Wings' very early Monday practice (the team rarely practices before 11 AM, but they were skating at 10:20) had everything to do with player-coach-GM-and-owner appearances at a Detroit Economic Club luncheon, and had I known the event was taking place, I would've bought a sportcoat and headed to my least favorite social situation--a fancy luncheon and/or dinner--to hear the players, coach, GM and owner offer answers to questions in a semi-relaxed environment.
The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa "live-tweeted" the event via some paraphrasing, and I always enjoy reading the off-the-cuff remarks as they can be particularly revelatory:
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