The Malik Report
As the Detroit Red Wings’ players tucked themselves into bed in Phoenix after yet another very late flight on Red Bird II, they could, at least fore a few hours, anyway, prepare for their day of rest and recuperation knowing that their 5-0 win over Buffalo on Monday and their gritty 3-2 shootout win over Dallas on Tuesday placed the team in rare territory:
This morning, the Red Wings sit atop the Western Conference with 30 wins and 61 points, and until this evening, anyway, they also sit in second place in the NHL, only a point behind the New York Rangers. Now the Wings may very well find themselves in fourth or fifth place in the West and the league by the time they face off against Phoenix on Thursday (9 PM EST, FSD/FS Arizona/WXYT), but as the Wings prepare to grind out the rest of their pre-Winter Classic announcement schedule with 4 games in 7 nights prior to the All-Star break and resume their schedule with four games in three Canadian provinces and a return to Phoenix over six nights…You take what you can get and celebrate your achievements when you’re able to do so, no matter how fleeting one’s status as the king of the hill might be.
Yeah, the whole, “Winter Classic in Jeopardy” panic-fest? MLive’s Ansar Khan suggests that the NHL has officially come to terms with both the Red Wings’ ownership and the University of Michigan regarding holding a Winter Classic against the Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium next January 1st, with the announcement to be officially made when the Wings kick off their early February home-stand:
The NHL, the Detroit Red Wings and the University of Michigan have finalized a deal to hold next season’s Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium, a source told MLive.com. The long-rumored matchup between the Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will take place on Jan. 1, 2013. The Red Wings lobbied to have the game at Comerica Park, but the NHL couldn’t pass up an opportunity to hold this annual outdoor spectacle at “The Big House,” where it is expected to attract a record crowd in excess of 110,000.
To appease Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch, a rink will be constructed at Comerica Park. The home of the Detroit Tigers will host other events leading up to the Winter Classic, including the alumni game and possibly the Great Lakes Invitational.
The events will officially be announced at news conferences at Comerica Park and Michigan Stadium in early February, after the Red Wings return from a four-game trip to Western Canada and Phoenix Jan. 31-Feb. 6.
The NHL was unable to make this announcement next week and did not want to make the announcement during the All-Star break, Jan. 27-30, or when the Red Wings were on the road.
Continued, and here’s betting that Jimmy Devellano’s the “source.”
Neither the Detroit Red Wings nor the Dallas Stars played their sharpest games in , but that slight lack of energy benefited a Stars team which chose to employ a defensive slough-fest and attempts to hit anything that moved wearing red and white to their advantage, to the point that Tuesday night’s game was as much a rodeo as it was hockey.
With the Wings’ special teams continuing to struggle on the road (no goals on 3 attempts, 1 Stars goal given up on 2 power plays), it took the Wings a longtime to get going, but after nearly fifty minutes of sparse shots and no traffic on Richard Bachman, it was indeed a power play that changed the game’s tone, and this time around, the Wings played rope-a-dope hockey to near perfection.
I mentioned this sort of down the line on Monday: University of Michigan athletic director David Brandon spoke to the Free Press’s George Sipple after the Wolverines took part in the Frozen Diamond Faceoff on Saturday.
Brandon shared some understandable concerns with Sipple, saying that he’d be worried about competition for money/eyeballs given that U of M hopes that its football team is playing in a bowl game on New Year’s Day, mentioning that a Winter Classic on that day might not deliver the bang for the buck for Ann Arbor’s businesses or selling points for The U (that’s what students tend to call it) given that the campus will be empty for the Christmas/New Year’s semester break, and noting that Michigan Stadium would have to get a waiver from the State of Michigan to sell liquor at Michigan Stadium.
Reasonable comments, right? Of course not! The Toronto Sun’s Lance Hornby penned a column titled, “Maple Leafs-Red Wings Classic in Jeopardy?” on Tuesday evening (thanks to RedWingsFeed for the heads-up), and it delivers the commensurate amount of panic one would assume regarding anything involving the Maple Leafs that is less than 100% certain:
Updated 6x at 8:11 PM w/ 2 Ken Holland interviews: After not getting into Dallas until around 1:20 local time (and 2:20 AM EST), the Red Wings will probably prepare to faceoff against the Dallas Stars tonight by emulating Dallas’s optional morning skate around 1:30 PM EST, but MLive’s Ansar Khan provides a pre-morning skate personnel update from the Wings’ point of view….
Babcock said Mursak and Commodore are in tonight for Emmerton and Kindl. He said last night that Conklin is starting.
Richard Bachman starting in goal for Dallas.
Bachman is 6-2-0 career with 2.52 GAA and .918 sv pct. has never faced Wings.
Conklin is 2-3-1 with 2.66 GAA and .899 sv pct vs. Dallas.
Which the Free Press’s Helene St. James confirms…
The Detroit Red Wings took a very, very late flight to Dallas on Red Bird II after absolutely stomping on the Buffalo Sabres, defeating Buffalo 5-0 and establishing a record-setting 15-game home ice winning streak before jetting off to face the Stars tonight (:30 PM, FSD/FS Southwest/WXYT).
Usually, such an achievement would produce nothing less than elation from Red Wings fans, but there was almost a sense of…sympathy…for the struggling Sabres and goaltender Ryan Miller. Miller was left to his own devices by his defense a defense minus Christian Ehrhoff and Robyn Regehr), so there’s no reason to suggest that he did anything other than his absolute best despite giving up 5 goals in front of his friends, family and while playing against his brother Drew, but the Twitterverse exploded when the Sporting News’s Craig Custance posted a completely understandable utterance from Miller regarding his team’s future:
The Detroit Red Wings knew that they could do more than earn two points against the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night, but their 5-0 win over the Sabres involved trying to set up good work habits for a back-to-back slate which continues tomorrow in Dallas (8:30 PM EST, FSD) as much as it did with setting each other up for goal after goal against a defenseless Ryan Miller (with the emphasis on no defense in front of him).
Was there a blemish on the win? Sure. One. When the Red Wings did make history and win their 15th straight at home, they officially entered the record books in front of maybe half a rink’s full of spectators for whom traffic mattered more than being there for the actual, “Being part of history” part of the game.
Updated 11x at 6:27 PM: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the Buffalo Sabres tonight (7:30 PM, FSD/MSG B/WXYT), kicking off a slate of back-to-back games against Buffalo tonight and heading to Dallas tomorrow, no news is good news, especially given that the Wings took part in a rare Sunday practice for season ticket-holders on Sunday. MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that the next star of NHL 36 (what am I most looking forward to as cameras follow Nick over the next 36 hours? The conversations between Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom as they carpool to and from the Joe) and his teammates didn’t have to skate this morning if they didn’t want to do so…
Optional skate today for Wings, who’ll stick with same lineup vs. Sabres: 93-13-44, 51-40-26, 20-43-11, 48-8-96; 5-18, 55-23, 4-52, 35-29.
But Khan also provided a worrisome update about Patrick Eaves’ status:
Wings GM Ken Holland said nothing new to report on Patrick Eaves (broken jaw on Nov. 26). The club doesn’t know when he can start skating.
Updated with a quote from Lidstrom regarding cameras following him at 12:51 PM: Via the NHL and Paul, this is great news to wake up to:
NEW YORK (Jan. 16, 2012) – The National Hockey League (NHL) and NHL Original Productions today announced Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom as the next NHL player to be profiled in the all-access series NHL 36. The Red Wings icon, who has spent his entire career with the Detroit organization, is revered by teammates and management for his consistency, his preparation and his leadership.
NHL Original Productions cameras joined the Red Wings’ captain today and will follow him for 36 straight hours as Lidstrom prepares for and leads his team in back-to-back games: against the Buffalo Sabres at home tonight (7:30 p.m. ET, MSG-B, FS-D), followed by a trip to Dallas to take on the Stars tomorrow (8:30 p.m. ET, FS-D,FS-SW). Viewers will follow along as the seven-time Norris Trophy winner travels to and from the rink, takes part in team meetings and enjoys downtime in between.
The Detroit Red Wings begin perhaps the trickiest portion of their grinding January schedule by kicking off a back-to-back slate of games against banged-up teams in the Buffalo Sabres tonight (7:30 PM EST, FSD/MSG B—and if you have Time-Warner Cable in Buffalo, I’m sorry /WXYT) and in Dallas against the Stars tomorrow (8:30 PM EST, FSD/FS Southwest/WXYT) before heading to Phoenix for another grudge match against the Coyotes on Thursday and returning home to tangle with Columbus on Saturday.
Tonight’s challenge for the Red Wings involves both not letting up against an injury-plagued non-playoff team in the Sabres and attempting to establish a team record via a 15th straight win at Joe Louis Arena. To some extent, the Sabres, who sit in twelfth place in the Eastern Conference, have lost seven of their past ten games and have lost 8 straight on the road, represent the perfect opponent. The Sabres dropped a 4-2 decision to the Islanders on Saturday, and a team which is already playing without Christian Ehrhoff, Colin Stuart and Tyler Ennis suffered a few more blows on Long Island, as the Buffalo News’s John Vogl noted:
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.