The Malik Report
"You're our Nashville, baby." That certainly summarizes the way the Red Wings play against the Nashville Predators, with all of the classic goal-line giveaways, rampant and contagious stand-and-watch-itis and, "Four players stand and watch one guy score" shit that the Wings used to commit in the Music City.
It's bad enough that when you see Florida on the schedule, you know that either the Wings are going to give away the game or some sort of controversial non-goal call will bite them in the ass.
And now for your once-weekly in-game Gordie Howe health update, from the Free Press's Helene St. James:
Son Mark Howe told the Free Press on Friday that, "he's getting better. He's on the upswing."
Gordie Howe, 86, suffers from dementia and has endured a series of strokes since summer. He suffered a serious one in October, and family feared he was going through another serious stroke Dec. 1, when he was unresponsive for 30 minutes. He was rushed to hospital, where tests revealed he was dehydrated.
Gordie Howe since has been released from hospital and is back at the home of his daughter, Cathy, at her family's house in Lubbock, Texas.
The Plymouth Whalers are assumed to be moving to Chatham, Ontario based upon Peter Karmanos' comments to ESPN's Craig Custance earlier this week, but the Whalers released the following statement this evening:
TOO EARLY TO SPECULATE ON PLYMOUTH WHALERS’ RELOCATION
Plymouth, MI - With Compuware Arena and the USA Hockey Foundation currently in discussions that could result in the Foundation acquiring the facility, there has been speculation regarding the future home of the Plymouth Whalers.
“The arena transaction is still in its early stages and therefore it is too soon to speculate if the Whalers will be relocating in the future or about any potential relocation cities,” said Mike Vellucci, Plymouth Whalers Governor. “Currently we are in the stage of simply identifying available and viable markets should we need to relocate the Whalers in the future”. “As part of the process, we intend to explore all options and work with the Ontario Hockey League, which will be required to approve any potential relocation.”
“Make no mistake, (Plymouth Whalers owner) Peter Karmanos, who for the last 30 years has been one of junior hockey’s strongest supporters, remains committed to the Whalers’ organization.”
That's not exactly a, "We're staying," as Yahoo Sports Buzzing the Net's Neate Sager notes:
I am certainly growing ever-so-slightly weary of this topic, but I would be remiss if I left it along. Both TSN's Darren Dreger and Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman have suggested that Red Wings coach Mike Babcock's contract negotiations are playing out in no small part under the auspices that the coach feels a responsibility to "raise the bar" for each and every NHL coach's salary...
But Friedman begins his "30 Thoughts" by stating that those in the know had never believed that a contract extension was "imminent"...
A few different sources expressed surprise before Babcock threw cold water on the story, saying, as far as they knew nothing had changed in the negotiations. Detroit’s still got a long-term deal on the table, worth upwards of $3M per year, which would make him the highest-paid coach in the sport. (Joel Quenneville and Claude Julien are among those who have contracts carrying them into that salary threshold, but not for every season in their deals.)
And he adds this to the mix:
You also wonder if the coverage of his future makes him think, “Do I need to put up with this on a daily basis?” He is better than anyone at keeping his focus on what really matters, plowing over distractions faster than a Toronto condominium developer over a park bench. But you can tell he can’t stand this.
Fox Sports Detroit's Keith Gave pondered whether "the Ken Holland rule" should be implemented at the NHL level to reduce the number of shootouts which take place, though Gave suggests that the Wings' 1-and-4 shootout record is of course completely coincidental:
According to the "Holland Rule," any game that extends into OT is played 4-on-4 for the first three minutes. At the first whistle thereafter, teams switch to 3-3 for the final four minutes -- or until a goal is scored. Then it goes to a shootout. The Wings first introduced the concept at their summer "prospects tournament" in Traverse City.
It's actually 4 on 4 for the first four minutes, and then 3 on 3 for three more minutes.
"It was fantastic," said Kris Draper, a special assistant to Holland, "the amount of ice that opens up for the greatest players this game has, giving high-end athletes a chance to do their thing. Especially with the longer changes (benches being farther from their offensive zones). Somebody gets a little tired, opens more ice and creates even more scoring chances."
The NHL says the shootout was created largely for fans, most of whom come to games wanting to see an outcome more satisfying than a tie. But if a trivial skills competition can create some excitement for fans, wait until they see 3-on-3 play, Draper said.
"In Traverse City, whichever rink you were at, Rink A or Rink B, when you heard there was an OT going on in the other one, everybody got up and moved over. It created a pretty good buzz. "
It's doing the same thing throughout the AHL and, more importantly, ending more games with teams playing against one another rather than top players trading penalty shots. Through nearly two months of the season, about four out of five overtime games were decided before going to the penalty shots, compared to just over a third the year before.
The AHL gives attending media a handout praising the effectiveness of the 4-minutes-of-4-on-4 + 3-of-3-on-3 set-up, too.
Gave continues, and I can certainly tell you that the prospect tournament sold me on the concept...
Featuring Mike Babcock, Xavier Ouellet, Luke Glendening, and Niklas Kronwall.
Watch below... and Ken Kal does a great job with these segments in my opinion.
added 3:43pm, Bill Roose of the Wings's site with his preview,
SHOOT IT, PAV: Pavel Datsyuk continues his torrid assault on NHL goaltenders this season. Through 18 games, the Red Wings’ top-line center leads the league with an astonishing 25.5 shooting percentage, potting 12 goals on 47 shots.
Since returning from a groin injury on Nov. 26, Datsyuk – who was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week on Monday – has scored seven goals on 22 shots, which is a lethal 31.8 percent.
It’s interesting to note, however, that Nashville’s Mike Ribeiro, who is currently second in the league at 25 percent (8-for-32), is the only player in the past 18 years to finish a single season with a shooting accuracy higher than 24 percent.
Then a center with the Dallas Stars, Ribeiro capped the 2007-08 campaign with a 25.2 shooting percentage.
Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika penned an article about the Red Wings' season thus far, duly noting the biggest reason why the WIngs struggled last year--injuries--before coming to these conclusions about this year's team:
The Wings wondered about their scoring entering the season. Well, they rank fourth in goals per game at 3.03. They’re also seventh in goals against at 2.34. They’re a solid possession team at even strength and have top-10 special teams units. Howard, healthy again himself, has rebounded in goal. He has a .918 save percentage.
Babcock deserves credit. He’s the best coach in the NHL, and he has the Wings organized. Another reason they have improved this season: they have been more aggressive pushing the puck up ice. That’s why there is so much consternation about his contract situation. But he has the horses – to survive when injuries are awful, to thrive when injuries are limited.
I noted the following earlier this morning...
And, per SlapShotgoal:
Well, good on the Windsor Star's Bob Duff for writing this:
I got it wrong. Not completely wrong, but wrong nonetheless.
Thursday, I wrote that the announcement of a new contract between coach Mike Babcock and the Detroit Red Wings was imminent. That, I have since learned, is not correct.
In our business, we hold players and coaches accountable for their mistakes. This was my mistake and I hold myself accountable.
Working around the Red Wings organization for 25 years, I don’t believe that they tell me everything they know, but I do know this – there is no one within the organization who would deliberately mislead a reporter.
When Babcock says a deal is not imminent, I take his word for it.
I will stand behind the rest of the column, though. I firmly believe Babcock will be the coach of this team next year and for many years to come. It will happen because he wants it to happen and the Wings want it to happen. They will find common ground.
Update: And TSN's Darren Dreger goes with the, "Babcock can help coaches by cashing in" route:
Updated 8x at 3:30 PM: The Tweetapalooza has ended, and ahead of tonight's game against the Florida Panthers (7:30 PM EST on FSD/FS Florida/97.1 FM) and tomorrow's game against Toronto (7 PM on HNIC/FSD/NHL Network U.S./97.1 FM), the "morning skate news" from the Wings, Panthers and Leafs (Friedman and Dreger talking about Babcock's contract not included) = Ouellet in for DeKeyser for Detroit (Abdelkader practiced, DeKeyser did not, both are battling shoulder, I mean upper-body injuries), Ekblad probably in for Panthers, Reimer likely to start for Toronto on Saturday.
In text and video form (with a couple of Tweets thrown in): The Miami Herald's George Richards confirmed that Windsorite Aaron Ekblad will play tonight...
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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.