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The Malik Report

Red Wings-Lightning series preview digest

I can only blame this mess on having one optic nerve that's larger than the other (which apparently OK; it just took a while to figure out why my eyeglass prescription suddenly changed), and the first real grocery shopping run that the mom and I were able to do in two months (for reasons beyond our control).

Long story short, Tuesday was "Playoff Preview Day" (and evening, and night), and the local and national media provided so many Red Wings-Lightning previews that our blog software wasn't able to accommodate both the game set-up and a digest of all of the Wings-Bolts previews out there.

What follows is a survey thereof, and I apologize that it's not all in one neat digest, but it still took me two-and-a-half hours to put this together and another hour to put the game summary together, so I hope you enjoy what follows. Some notebooks are sprinkled in as necessary.

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Prospect news: Ehn, Frolunda advance to SHL final; Svechnikov scores; Hicketts returns

Of prospect-related note:

In the SHL, Christoffer Ehn played 14:04, winning 18% of his draws in the Frolunda Indians' 8-2 win over Lulea HC. Frolunda advances to the SHL Final in 6 games;

In the QMJHL, Evgeny Svechnikov scored a goal on 2 shots, finishing at +1 and winning 8 of 10 faceoffs as the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles defeated the Saint John Sea Dogs 4-1. Saint John tied the second-round series at 2 games apiece;

And in the WHL, Joe Hicketts returned to the Victoria Royals' lineup with an assist and 4 penalty minutes, but his Royals lost 3-2 to the Kelowna Rockets. Victoria leads their second-round series 2 games to 1.

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The overnight report: Red Wings-Lightning Game 1 set-up

The Detroit Red Wings face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the teams' Eastern Conference quarterfinal this evening (7 PM EDT start on FSD/FS Florida/NBCSN/CBC/TVA Sports/97.1 FM); the Red Wings are hoping that reuniting the Eurotwins gives the Lightning a new wrinkle to chew upon as Tampa Bay bets upon Tyler Johnson's return to strengthen their lineup.

The Lightning were happy to see Johnson, a Wing-killer, return to practicing with the team, as the Tampa Tribune's Erik Erlendsson noted:

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Wings post 3-part series of videos chronicling the team’s 2015-16 campaign

The Red Wings kicked off the playoffs by posting a 3-part series of videos chronicling the team's 2015-16 season. It's 17-and-a-half minutes of must-watch viewing, starting with, "The Journey to the Joe"...

Continuing with, "Road Warriors"...

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Just Do It Detroit

Ansar Khan of Mlive,

The Detroit Red Wings endured a season-long struggle just to stay afloat.

They had trouble scoring. Their power play was in shambles until the final weeks. Their defense was mistake-prone. Both goaltenders slumped badly at different times. Too many players regressed.

They lost games they should have won down the stretch and needed help on the final day to extend their playoff streak to 25 seasons.

They made it back, and they're not satisfied just being here, after getting eliminated in the first round in three of the past four seasons....

"We have a good team," Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "We believe in ourselves. I thought we had a good process this year, but we know the first round is probably the toughest.

"We have a good enough team to do some damage and we're looking forward to doing it."

read on

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On Sheahan and Andersson

From the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...

It’s been a different looking Riley Sheahan the last several weeks. Sheahan has used his big body and touch around the net to be an effective net-front presence for the Red Wings, while also using his skating ability to forecheck and play a robust, end-to-end game. And now, with the playoffs beginning Wednesday, it’s important Sheahan maintain this level of play.

“There are times when, over the course of the season, he didn’t have that jump,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Over the last month, he’s been skating well, and when he skates well he gets a lot more involved, he’s on the forecheck, and he gets stick on puck and wins puck battles. He has a little extra jump in his step.”

Sheahan’s ability to create havoc around the crease could be a crucial tipping point in this series against Tampa Bay. Game 1 is Wednesday at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports Detroit.

Lightning goalie Ben Bishop is 6-foot-7 and covers much of the net and can see over opposing players. Whatever the Red Wings can do to disrupt Bishop’s vision or concentration will be important.

“I don’t think he really likes chaos in front of him,” Sheahan said. “He’s a big guy, he can see over a lot of people. It would be huge to get pucks there and create havoc and score some dirty goals. Being in front of the net will be huge for us.”

Kulfan continues, and, from the Free Press's Helene St. James:

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Jeff Blashill After Practice Today

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill reunited the team catalysts on a line with Justin Abdelkader Tuesday during practice at the Brandon Ice Forum, in preparation for Wednesday's playoff opener against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena (7 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit).

"We'll make decisions tomorrow on the finality of the lineup, but that's how we practiced today," Blashill said.

Datsyuk and Zetterberg have played on separate lines this season. They gave the team a spark when reunited for a stretch in early February, but it didn't last long.

"We'd still like to get two percent better; I think we're on a quest to continue to try to improve as a hockey team," Blashill said. "We grinded our way into the playoffs but we'd still like to continue to be better and sometimes those two together, the spark that they provide, not only each other but our team, can be real positive thing, so we'll see."

On Andersson

"When we looked back at film of previous playoffs and even last year he showed up in a lot of good clips against Tampa," Blashill said. "Andersson has been around. You do remember the playoffs series against Anaheim and Chicago a couple of years ago, he's a third-line center. He's got playoff experience. He knows how to play the game.


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Lightning and Red Wings practice Tweets: Johnson a ‘game-day decision’; Eurotwins reunited

The Tampa Bay Lightning preceded the Red Wings onto the ice at the Lightning practice facility in Brandon, Florida on Tuesday, and NHL.com's Nicholas J. Cotsonika took note of an important addition to the Lightning lineup:

Tyler Johnson is on the ice.

The Tampa Bay Times' Joe Smith confirmed...

Tyler Johnson on ice for #TBLightning skate


Johnson skating with Kucherov and Killorn #tblightning

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Checking in with Mitch Callahan

Fox 17's Mitch Fick checked in on Mitch Callahan's health after three years' worth of operations (jaw, ACL and jaw again):


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Morning news: More Datsyuk talk, Wings-Bolts series previews and Samuelssen on the streak

Of disparate Red Wings-realted note this morning:

1. The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness took note of the Wings' reactions to Pavel Datsyuk's comments after yesterday's practice:

“I think for a few of us here we know the chances of going all the way are getting less and less,” Zetterberg said. “When you’ve been in the league for 10 years you know your time is running out. It’s not just him. You never know when you’ll get this chance again so we’re going to take advantage of this.”

“Let’s go play hockey, let’s do it together,” Niklas Kronwall said. “If this is his final last run let’s make it a good one.”

“In the end, there isn’t a guy in this room that doesn’t know Pavel is extraordinarily committed to winning this series,” Blashill said. “We live in the day-to-day world. I said this from the beginning of the year, you better enjoy moments in life and every day in the NHL and let’s enjoy this great opportunity ahead of us.”

2. MLive posted a 20-image photo gallery breaking down the Wings-Lightning match-up and a column in which MLive's Ansar Khan discusses the depleted Lightning roster:

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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.


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