The Malik Report
Win and you go into the playoffs feeling good about yourself. Win--or at least get a point--and you avoid the Rangers. At least get a point and you don't have to say that the Ottawa Senators' late-season run eclipsed you.
There were more than enough reasons for the Red Wings to defeat the Carolina Hurricanes, even though they were resting Niklas Kronwall, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, and essentially trying to send a message to Brendan Smith (regardless of whether he received it).
Message received to the youngsters who were given exactly one game to strut their stuff. Landon Ferraro had a fantastic game in scoring his first NHL marker among a strong effort, the Wings' "kids" did their best to iron out the ugly parts of what was quite honestly a mucky-grindy-gucky game, and Petr Mrazek was nothing less than spectacular in pitching a 35-save shutout to backstop Detroit to a 2-0 win over the Canes.
Updated at 4:38 PM: The Red Wings face the Carolina Hurricanes this evening (7 PM EDT on FSD/FS Carolinas/City TV/97.1 FM) with Petr Mrazek in the net and Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Niklas Kronwall and Brendan Smith "resting."
Regarding the former point, Wings coach Mike Babcock explained his rationale to the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...
“When you’re a big time goalie you don’t talk about bounce back games, the bad goals, you talk about how many saves the guy makes,” Babcock said. “It’s all part of the business. It’s a hard position, you have to have the mental toughness to keep playing and believing in yourself. You have to find your game and keep the dips short. We all go through cycles but you have to keep them (dips) short as you can.”
Not getting the start surprised Howard.
“Obviously you want to play every game, but it’s his decision,” Howard said. “It was a good day of work (in practice), work with (goaltending coach) Jimmy (Bedard) and it’s all that matters.”
Howard found out about Babcock’s decision to start Mrazek Friday evening.
“A little bit,” said Howard, when asked whether he was surprised. “But like I said, it’s his decision.”
And the Free Press's Helene St. James...
Updated 3x at 12:10 PM: No Kronwall, Smith, Datsyuk or Zetterberg tonight; Mrazek starts: The Detroit Red Wings face the Carolina Hurricanes this evening with "something to play for" in 3rd place in the Atlantic Division (7:30 PM on FSD/FS Carolinas/City TV/97.1 FM), but the Free Press's Helene St. James reported that the Wings would probably substitute a now-healthy Tomas Jurco for Pavel Datsyuk, and somebody is going to sit so that Alexey Marchenko can get a game in this evening, so the Wings won't be icing a full lineup tonight.
The Hurricanes preceded the Wings onto the ice at PNC Arena, and the News & Observer's Chip Alexander reported the starting netminder's status...
Ward in north crease, should start Canes' finale against Wings.
While CarolinaHurricanes.com's Michael Smith posted the Canes' lines:
#Canes forward lines:
E. Staal-J. Staal-Semin
Same defensive pairs for the #Canes, too.
Jordan extra, Riss skating
As the morning skate continues, here's what the Wings' beat writers had to say yesterday and this morning, on a source-by-source basis:
Two Red Wings prospects took part in playoff action on Friday, and two of the Wings' developmental affiliates played games on Friday night, so:
In playoff action, in the WHL, Mitchell Wheaton had an assist as the Kelowna Rockets kept Victoria's Joe Hicketts off the scoresheet and Kelowna defeated Victoria 5-0 in the first game of the teams' second-round series;
And Dominic Turgeon scored a goal but his Portland Winterhawks lost 5-3 to the Everett Silvertips in the first game of those teams' second-round series.
In regular-season action, in the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins opened their road series in San Antonio with a 2-0 loss. The Grand Rapids Griffins' website posted a recap and a Flickr photo gallery...
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings today recalled defenseman Alexey Marchenko from the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins.
Marchenko, 23, has split his second season in North America between the Red Wings and Griffins, skating in 12 NHL games for Detroit and 51 AHL games for Grand Rapids. During his time with the Red Wings, he has logged two points (1-1-2), including his first NHL goal on Feb. 28 at Nashville, while averaging 14:55 of ice time. The Moscow, Russia, native has also topped his AHL point totals from his first season in Grand Rapids in 2013-14, registering 20 points (3-17-20) and tying for third on the team and 10th in the league with a plus-22 rating. In 100 AHL games over the past two seasons, Marchenko has picked up 38 points (6-32-38), a plus-33 rating and 40 penalty minutes.
from Jordan Heath-Rawlings of Sportsnet,
On April 1, 1990, the NHL’s regular season ended without the Detroit Red Wings having qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
It hasn’t done that again since.
For a little context, the last time the Red Wings missed the playoffs...
...67,678 fans watched the Ultimate Warrior beat Hulk Hogan to win the World Championship belt in WrestleMania VI, held at Toronto's SkyDome.
...Ken Griffey Jr. was about to start his second season in the major leagues. Sandy Alomar Jr. was about to begin his AL-rookie-of-the-year campaign. They retired five and eight years ago, respectively.
...Jack Nicklaus appeared on the PGA's Senior Tour for the very first time. And he won the tournament.
The Red Wings' 4-3 OT loss to the Montreal Canadiens was very disappointing, but the X matters, and the little "X" next to the Red Wings' name in the standings means that they've clinched their 24th consecutive playoff berth:
The Red Wings backed into their 24th consecutive playoff appearance via Thursday's 4-3 OT loss to the Montreal Canadiens, but I'm still steamed about the overtime loss part of the equation as I write this recap, and I wouldn't simply be asking Mike Babcock for another beer with which to ponder the status of the Red Wings' pair of not-quite-good-enough-to-grab-the-starters'-spot goaltenders.
I didn't like a whole bunch about the Wings' performance, including the ways in which the lanes to Jimmy Howard's net opened up, the way that Jonathan Ericsson and Marek Zidlicky stood around and watched Jeff Petry score the 2-1 goal, I didn't like the fact that Riley Sheahan continues to be a 25%-or-thereabouts faceoff percentage owner against stiff opposition, I expected a lot more out of the power play and I am absolutely disgusted by both Brendan Smith's "bench minor" for touching the puck and the fact that the Wings argued it
We're used to Mike Babcock being his blunt self, so this set of comments that Babcock made to the Wings' press corps after Detroit's 4-3 OT loss to Montreal isn't a big deal given the last month's worth of blunt and honest assessments of Petr Mrazek and Jimmy Howard's play (and no, right now, Detroit doesn't necessarily have a starter, but it is what it is)...
But Sportsnet's Evan Pealsee reminds us what it would be like if a certain coach coached several hundred miles up the 401--every single syllable of his sentences would be dissected like this is being dissected:
After another shaky night by the Detroit netminders — this time by Jimmy Howard — Babcock was asked whether he needed more stability between the pipes.
“No question,” Babcock said to reporters. “I’m going to have a beer and I’m going to think about (who starts Saturday.)”
It seems the biggest issue troubling the 51-year-old is all the soft goals that Howard and Petr Mrázek are letting in lately.
“They can’t go in, period,” Babcock said. “It’s the National Hockey League. They can’t go in.”
Babcock's got more to be worried about than just his goaltending, but sure, why not?
Honestly, this is part of his job, but these are not stunning comments here.
From the Red Wings:
RED WINGS SECURE 24TH STRAIGHT PLAYOFF APPEARANCE
... Tickets to Detroit’s First Two Postseason Home Games Now Available; Round 1 Home Game 3 On Sale Thursday, April 16 …
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings clinched a spot in the 2015 Stanley Cup® Playoffs for the 24th straight season by earning a point against the Montreal Canadians in a 4-3 overtime defeat on Thursday night at the Bell Centre in conjunction with Boston’s 4-2 loss at Florida. The Red Wings currently sit in third place within the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference with 98 points (42-25-14) and one game remaining on the regular-season schedule.
Detroit’s streak of 24-straight playoff appearances (1990-91 – present) is the longest active streak in all of North American major professional sports and is tied for the fourth longest of its kind in NHL history. In comparison, the longest active playoff streaks in the three additional major professional sports leagues are 18 years for the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, six years for the NFL’s Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots and four years for MLB’s Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals.
The permutations were many and the reward was simple: "Win and you're in." If the Red Wings didn't win against the Montreal Canadiens, snapping a 5-game losing streak, their playoff fate got complicated amongst "ands," "ifs" and "ors," but if they managed to break the Bell Centre hex, they'd have no more math or magic numbers to worry about.
Regrettably, the Detroit Red Wings gave up some distressing goals and a disastrous, disastrous penalty from Brendan Smith--who appears to have punched his card out of Detroit--en route to a 4-3 OT loss to the Canadiens, but Detroit clinched a 24th consecutive playoff spot via the Boston Bruins' 4-2 loss to Florida.
I wish the Wings could have skated in feet first instead of ass first, but in is in. In is still in via the sixth straight loss to Montreal, in is still in via a poor set of goals given up by Jimmy Howard on the Smith penalty and the tipped-in OT winner, Brendan Smith may want to sell his condo and/or house, but in is in.
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.