The Malik Report
Updated 10x at 7:36 PM: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the Phoenix Coyotes tonight (9 PM EST, FSD/FS Arizona Plus/WXYT), I’m going to skip the usual, “Wait until one team’s morning skate is over to post game-day stories” protocol because ESPN has chosen tonight’s game as its “Game of the Week,” and in the process (ESPN’s pundits may break the game down afterward) thereof, Craig Custance penned a lovely article about Jimmy Howard’s maturation into an All-Star-caliber goaltender. Custance’s article merits both must-read and, “Hell, you might want to bookmark it or print it and read it again later” status as he reveals the reasons that the Wings drafted Howard, his former coaches’ views on someone who was anything other than a “natural” athlete and the two reasons why Howard has finally calmed down and stopped skittering around the crease like a “spider monkey”
With the Lions’ season over, the Pistons an afterthought and the Tigers still months away from playing, Hockeytown is starting to act like it. Distracted sports fans in the city looking to Joe Louis Arena for entertainment are now discovering that their team is every bit as dangerous as previous versions. Only the Red Wings are doing it in a dramatically different fashion. They’re winning because of goaltending and a team defense that has consistently been among the top in the league.
Howard leads the NHL in wins, is sixth among starting goalies with a 2.04 goals-against average and ranks 10th overall with a .924 save percentage. According to Elias, his current streak of 15 straight home wins is tied for the second-longest streak since the 1943-44 season. And, he already has five shutouts, equaling a career high.
“He doesn’t have off-nights. He just hasn’t had off-nights,” said Red Wings backup goalie Ty Conklin. “There’s times when we win games 5-1 and he’s legitimately the first star of the game because of the way he plays early in games. He’s been fantastic.”
Here’s another excellent snippet…
For someone who claims to not care about the All-Star Game, ESPN’s Scott Burnside joined the Ottawa Citizen’s Ken Warren by launching into a scathing criticism of the NHL’s decision to allow Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom and Anaheim Ducks forward Teemu Selanne to skip the All-Star weekend…
I applauded commissioner Gary Bettman’s strong stance at the 2009 All-Star Game in Montreal, when Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom declined to show up for the proceedings after they’d been selected to participate. Bettman had previously told his GMs that he didn’t want guys pulling the plug after they’d been chosen and that if players were bowing out using the injury card, they wouldn’t be able to play in the first game back after the All-Star break. So, in effect, Lidstrom and Datsyuk were suspended for a game after the ’09 break. The Wings hated it and it was a tough call given the long years of dedicated service Lidstrom had put in on behalf of the Wings and the league.
The Detroit Red Wings face off against the Phoenix Coyotes tonight (9 PM EST, 7 PM Arizona time, FSD/FS Arizona Plus/WXYT) in a theoretically advantageous position. With four games left over their seven pre-All-Star break days remaining, the Wings enjoyed a day away from the rink on Wednesday, probably spending their time golfing, swimming or sleeping prior to watching their opponent drop a 6-2 decision to the Anaheim Ducks—the Yotes’ fourth loss over their past five games and their sixth in eight January games—before flying back to Arizona to meet a rested Wings team.
As the Wings spent Wednesday away from the all-but-confirmed confirmation of a Red Wings-hosted Winter Classic, which even Jimmy Devellano can talk about as long as he doesn’t stare directly at Michigan Stadium, spent the day away from news of literally attractive charitable partnerships, the first real update as to how Gordie Howe’s getting along that we’ve heard in a year and even Pavel Datsyuk’s own translated comments to a media outlet an alphabet away from Glendale, the Wings will have to run a veritable media gauntlet today, and that can be…dangerous for a team that is easily distracted.
As reports continue to pile up like ten thousand tons of iron ore pellets in front of steel mills on Zug Island, all suggesting that the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will play a Winter Classic to be held at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, on January 1st,
2013 (bonus: the Vancouver Sun’s Cam Cole already hates it; welcome to the next 12 months’ worth of long treatises breaking down Brian Burke’s hangnails)...
The Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell spoke to Red Wings VP Jimmy Devellano about the high likelihood that the Wings will announce such an engagement after (per MLive’s Ansar Khan and the Free Press’s Helene St. James) the Wings return from a West Coast swing and kick off a six-game home stand on Feburary 8th, and for an event that nobody’s allowed to admit is happening, Devellano was very forthright about its top secret details:
Red Wings senior vice-president Jimmy Devellano wouldn’t confirm the reports, but didn’t throw cold water on them either. He said if the game is played at Michigan Stadium, the Wings against the Leafs is the only option.
“That would make sense if you were trying to sell 115,000 tickets to anything,” Devellano said. “It so happens we’re right on the Canadian border. In Ontario and Windsor, the Maple Leafs are a religion. There’d be no other team to draw that much interest outside of Toronto for a game like this.”
Devellano tells Waddell that the Wings knew they’d be hosting one sooner or later…
Updated 8x at 8 PM: I tend to trust MLive’s Ansar Khan about these things, but in case you weren’t almost totally completely certain that Khan’s report about the Red Wings hosting a Winter Classic, at Michigan Stadium, against the Toronto Maple Leafs, in 2013 is all but a done deal, TSN, Sportsnet and the Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran want you to know their side of the story—the Maple Leafs are probably going to play some team at a very big stadium in Michigan, giving the [sarcasm] underexposed and overlooked Maple Leafs the recognition they so badly need [/sarcasm], the Detroit News is tossing off the predictable “no comments” and assurances that Michigan-based colleges will take part in some sort of outing at Comerica Park as an olive branch to the Ilitches…
John Dellapina, NHL vice-president of communications, refused comment on Wednesday.
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon told The Detroit News this week that discussions were ongoing between U-M and the NHL about hosting the game at Michigan Stadium.
Michigan Tech AD Suzanne Sanregret also told The Detroit News that school officials would be meeting with Olympia Entertainment Group soon to discuss the possibility of moving the GLI from Joe Louis Arena to Comerica Park. Michigan Tech is the host school for the GLI.
“We know the concept is out there,” Sanregret said of moving the GLI to Comerica Park. “We’re always looking to find new, exciting ways to promote the GLI. We’ll be analyzing it to see if it’s a possibility. We’ll know more in another couple of weeks.”
And the Free Press’s Helene St. James confirms that the deal is done and will be formally announced when the Wings return from their West Coast Swing at the beginning of February (which is quite convenient as the Wings will be back at the Joe three days after the Superbowl):
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…
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.