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The Malik Report

A Look At The Tampa/Detroit Series

from Craig Custance of ESPN,

Series MVP

Tampa: Here's the big edge for the Lightning and it's a notable one: Bishop was outstanding this season. Only Brian Elliott had a better save percentage than Bishop's .926 among goalies who played at least 40 games. Bishop will be a Vezina finalist and had a .922 save percentage against the Red Wings in the first round last season, including a shutout in Game 7. Howard won big games down the stretch but finished with a save percentage of .906 this season. If the Lightning advance, it's because Bishop had a big series and outplayed the Red Wings goalies.

Detroit: There's a temptation to put Larkin in this spot since he's going to come in flying with this being his first postseason, but this series could be the farewell to the NHL for Datsyuk. So much of the focus will be on him, and the Red Wings will need a little more magic from Datsyuk to advance. He had three goals against the Lightning in the first round last year and Detroit will need at least that again this year. According to his agent, Dan Milstein, he enters this playoff series healthy and motivated. "Health is definitely not a problem. He's super-excited. He's extremely concentrated," Milstein said. "He wants to win ... he owes it to the team and most importantly, he owes it to the fans."

Bottom line

Two weeks ago, this would have been an easy one. The Lightning are a Stanley Cup-caliber team and the Red Wings are a team in transition. But factoring in the Lightning's health issues and the Red Wings' emotional aspiration to make one more run for Datsyuk, the pendulum swings enough in Detroit's direction to make this a close series. Tampa has home ice advantage and an sizable edge in goal, though. Lightning in 7.

more for the breakdown...

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Wings Won’t Comment About Pavel Datsyuk Retirement Talk Until After The Playoffs

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Joakim Andersson Staying With The Wings While Anthony Mantha Heads To Grand Rapids


added 1:22pm, Detroit press release is below....

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Morning news: On Bolts injuries, cynicism, Blash and a Kevin Allen interview

Of Red Wings-related note this morning:

1. In the "scouting the enemy" department, according to the Tampa Bay Times' Joe Smith, the Lightning's loss of Tyler Johnson to a shove from Greg Pateryn complicates things for an already banged-up Bolts team:

The Lightning (46-31-5) can ill afford to lose another key player. It played Saturday without top defenseman Victor Hedman (upper body), wing Ryan Callahan (lower body) and second-leading scorer Nikita Kucherov (lower body). Then there's leading scorer and captain Steven Stamkos (blood clot) and defenseman Anton Stralman (fractured left leg).

Though Hedman and Kucherov are expected to be ready for the playoffs' start, there's no guarantee Callahan will be, and Stamkos and Stralman won't be ready until later rounds, Stamkos possibly not at all.

2. MLive has posted a slideshow discussing the Wings-Bolts series, and Brendan Savage wants to know which team you think will win this rematch;

3. The Oakland Press's Pat Caputo wrote what he readily admits is a heavily cynical take on the Wings making the playoffs for the 25th consecutive season (if you're absolutely furious that the Wings made the playoffs because it doesn't fit your dissent with the team's player personnel decisions, I'd suggest that you follow a non-playoff team, because part of being a sports fan is never getting all of what you want with a team's player personnel decisions, or all of the coach and GM's moves; the relationship is never perfect, and if you can't get over that, find another hobby):

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Talking about the Red Wings’ lineup without Pavel Datsyuk

Crisis management rules, a.k.a. "When the shit hits the fan checklist":

1. Are you dead?

2. If you are not dead, assess your situation;

3. If you are not dead, determine the best course of action;

4. Once you determine the best course of action, get a mop.

So this morning, we're going to play a little, "Let's pretend that the Wings are out of the playoffs this morning, Pavel Datsyuk is leaving, and you are the GM, who must address the team's roster issues."

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Custance: The convincing of Pavel Datsyuk to stay ain’t over

From ESPN's Craig Custance, regarding Pavel Datsyuk:

A source with the Red Wings confirmed with ESPN.com that this was a possibility the team anticipated but the Red Wings still hope to convince him to stay one more year after this season is concluded. The Red Wings are also open to a contract extension to keep him in Detroit beyond next season. If not, the Red Wings will explore all options to remove his contract from the books.

Datsyuk wants to return to Russia to be with his with his teenage daughter and hasn't ruled out playing in the KHL next season.

If Datsyuk follows through it's damaging on a number of fronts for the Red Wings. For one, Datsyuk remains one of their better players. But there's a financial aspect to it that hurts the team.

Datsyuk has one year remaining on his contract that comes with a salary cap charge of $7.5 million. Because it was signed after he was 35 years old, the Red Wings will be stuck with that cap hit next season while Datsyuk is in Russia.

Custance continues...


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On Datsyuk’s decision to go home

I feel a little nauseous this morning, or at least that's how I immediately felt when I read Mitch Albom's article about Pavel Datsyuk officially wanting to go home after this season.

I don't feel anger toward Datsyuk at all--I'm grateful for the time he's given to the Red Wings, and I'm grateful for the Magic Man's fourteen seasons with the Red Wings. I understand that he's missed a good chunk of his daughter Elizabeth's life, and that, as a result, he's going to be playing for the Ak Bars, for CSKA Moscow, maybe even for Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg because he wants to be closer to someone who means the world to him.

I don't feel anger toward Datsyuk regarding the concept of leaving the Wings high and dry with a $7.5 million cap hit to attempt to trade, as hard as that's going to be. If the Flyers can trade Chris Pronger's dead cap hit, even a GM as bumbling as Ken Holland has turned out to be over the past half-decade can legally find a team that wants to hit the cap floor by not paying Datsyuk.

And if there's smoke where there's fire, Larry Brooks' confirmation of the Hockey News's Ken Campbell's rumor about the Wings will be going hard after Steven Stamkos is at least intriguing...

But the Red Wings are going to be losing their most talented player by a wide margin if and when Pavel goes home (Good Lord, I hope the Ilitches and the Wings' management can make Pavel revisit his decision, as hard as that might be. Give him $10 million for another season to stay, give him the keys to the new rink and name it after him, whatever, move the earth and sun, do something, please).

But the Red Wings are going to be losing the smartest man in the locker room, a funny, self-effacing human being who's graced us with his presence for long enough that no one else should be allowed to wear #13 in Detroit again.

But it's Pav. It's the Magic Man. It hurts. And I will miss him terribly.

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Pavel Datsyuk Thinks He Is Done Playing In The NHL After This Season

from Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press,

Pavel Datsyuk wants to go home. His career has been here. His wealth has been here. His celebrity has been here.

But his heart is somewhere else. It’s in Russia — with his teenage daughter and his roots, both of which he wants replanted into his life.

“I’m thinking I go home after this season,” he said, in a long discussion at the Northville home of his agent and friend, Dan Milstein. “I may not be done with hockey, but — it is hard to say — I think I am done playing in NHL.”

While this may be a shock to fans, it cannot be to the Red Wings. The truth is, Datsyuk has been squirming to go home since 2012, the year he played in Russia during the NHL lockout.


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Prospect news: Holmstrom, Skelleftea win; Cape Breton loses; Griffins lose to Chicago; Walleye lose

Of prospect-related note:

In playoff action, in the SHL, Axel Holmstrom had an assist, 2 shots and won 54% of his faceoffs in 12:53 of ice time as Skelleftea AIK defeated the Vaxjo Lakers 5-3, taking a 3-2 lead in their SHL semifinal series;

In the QMJHL, Evgeny Svechnikov had an assist, 3 shots and won 5 of 11 faceoffs as his Cape Breton Screaming Eagles lost 4-3 in overtime to the Saint John Sea Dogs. The QMJHL semifinal series is tied at 1-1;

In the WHL, the Joe Hicketts-less Victoria Royals defeated the Kelowna Rockets 3-2, taking a 2-0 series lead;

In regular-season play, in the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins blew a 3-1 lead and lost 4-3 to the Chicago Wolves. Tyler Bertuzzi had a goal and an assist and Mark Zengerle had 2 assists, but Grand Rapids couldn't stifle the Wolves' power play.

The Griffins' website posted a recap:

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Kulfan, St. James talk Wings-Bolts

The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan and the Free Press's Helene St. James are already teeing up the Wings-Lightning first-round rematch. The Bolts are without Steven Stamkos, Anton Stralman and possibly Tyler Johnson, but the Wings aren't expecting an easy ride...

“They still have a lot of weapons, they have a lot of great players on that team,” goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “We have to be ready to go. This year, it seems like home ice advantage has been key going against each other. But we have to find a way to steal one in the playoffs.”

The teams split four games this season, each winning twice on their home ice.

The Red Wings made the playoffs for the 25th consecutive season and don’t care how it happened — getting in despite losing to the Rangers on Saturday.

Coach Jeff Blashill told his team about Ottawa defeating Boston right after the Red Wings came into the locker room, with the Senators’ win putting the Red Wings into the postseason.

“Once we found out we were in, my biggest message to them was to congratulate them, remind them we earned our way into the playoffs and let’s get ready to beat Tampa,” Blashill said.

Kulfan continues with his mini-series preview, and St. James picks it up from there:

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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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