The Malik Report
The Detroit Red Wings neither started nor finished particularly strongly during what was sometimes less than an aesthetically-pleasing 2-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche, but the Wings' company line after the game involved two points of emphasis:
1. They weren't thrilled with the fact that Jimmy Howard had to stop 36 shots, including 16 in the third period, nor were they thrilled with their power play or overall effort;
2. But the Wings now sit in sixth place in the Western Conference with 26 points, six points ahead of an Avs team that could've pulled to within two points of them, 5 points above Thursday's opponent, the Edmonton Oilers, who dropped a 4-3 shootout decision to Columbus on Tuesday evening (Sportsnet's Mark Spector reports that the Avs were "snowed in" thanks to the blizzard blanketing Illinois, Indiana and Ohio), only one point behind the 3rd-place Vancouver Canucks, and 8 points ahead of the 15th-place Blue Jackets, who the Wings will play on Saturday and Sunday.
Okay, so the Wings didn't say all of that, but they tipped their hats to Jimmy Howard and Johan Franzen, they acknowledged that the West is very tight, and they promised to play better next time.
As for the Avs, they told the Denver Post's Mike Chambers that giving the Wings a run for their money felt like progress made, at least to some extent...
And now, for something not necessarily Red Wings-related:
Goalies are strange creatures, and I can confirm as much because I'm one of 'em. Before my back and a lack of health insurance sidelined me, I was happy to volunteer to fling myself in front of any and every sort of projectile that could be flung in my direction off the blades of hockey sticks, and it definitely takes someone slightly off-kilter to happily embrace such a fundamentally futile--and often painful--pursuit.
That being said, the viciousness and readily-admitted dirty play that took this goal-scorer-turned-checking forward back into the crease was replaced with focus and a certian sense of gallows humor, so I never became one of those super-intense, overly-competitive goalies that twitch and bark at you when you interrupt their superstitions, nor do I buy into certain somewhat superstitious maxims of the goaltending profession.
One of the biggest, "I don't know if it's true, but it works" maxims of goaltending is that wearing white or light-colored equipment makes you look "bigger," or tricks shooters into shooting pucks into you instead of shooting pucks past brightly-colored equipment. I liked losing black pucks and even orange street hockey balls in my black pads and blocker, and I wore a radioactive-lime green jersey...
But many goalies, and most NHL goalies, believe that white equipment yields better performance, and the Toronto Star's Andrew Livingstone reports that this annoys the hell out of equipment manufacturers...
The Windsor Star's Bob Duff has taken note of Red Wings fans' fury about the fact that Tomas Tatar isn't playing alongside Pavel Datsyuk, that Gustav Nyquist is plying his trade in Grand Rapids and that the Wings haven't taken some of their prized prospects and converted them into veteran additions, and he penned a must-read response framed within a recap of the Wings' 2-1 victory over the Avs earlier this evening:
Sure, they could go for it right now, recall Nyquist, trade a first-round pick and top prospect Calle Jarnkrok to Calgary for Jarome Iginla, but that would that truly be prudent?
In a few years’ time, when Datsyuk is gone and Zetterberg is in decline, the Wings envision Nyquist and Jarnkrok as their new dynamic duo, just as the aforementioned twosome stepped in for Steve Yzerman and Sergei Fedorov. The plan is to allow Nyquist to enjoy a dominant AHL season and let him start fresh in an 82-game season as one of the club’s top six forwards.
“He got called up and got sent down (earlier this season),” Detroit director of player development Jiri Fischer explained. “It’s not easy for a young player to stay 100 per cent unaffected by being called up and being sent down all the time.”
Updated w/ post-game clips, videos, and stats at 10:58 PM: Grr. The Detroit Red Wings' 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche was good to see--it was a relief, frankly, given that the Wings need to take as many of the 8 games they're playing over 2 weeks, and were off to an 0-and-1 start--it was great to see Johan Franzen score on a breakaway set up by Damien Brunner, awesome to see Niklas Kronwall rip a shot wide (gasp, with Abdelkader, Datsyuk and Cleary together, even after Mike Babcock gave Tomas Tatar a few shifts with #13), and it was great to see the Wings be able to turn and burn with the Avs in the 1st and 2nd periods...
But the Wings kind of fell apart after playing, "ONLY KRONWALL CAN SHOOT" on their 5-on-3, en route to blowing 2:57 of power play time (their only power plays of the game), and the Avs roared back after the Chuck Kobasew's boarding penalty on Brendan Smith (thankfully okay) expired, ripping 16 third-period shots on Jimmy Howard.
Wowzers, from the NHL and NBC Sports:
SUNDAY’S NHL COVERAGE SCORES RECORD RATINGS FOR NBC AND NBC SPORTS NETWORK
Blackhawks-Red Wings Earns 1.6 Overnight, Best Ever for Single-Game Regular-Season Coverage on NBC, Excluding Winter Classics
Canadiens-Bruins Draws 813,000 Viewers, Best Ever for Sunday Night Regular-Season Game on NBC Sports Network
Boston & Chicago Set Local Ratings Records
NEW YORK – March 5, 2013 – Sunday’s NHL coverage of two competitive games, which featured the Chicago Blackhawks victory over the Detroit Red Wings on NBC, and the Montreal Canadiens win versus the Boston Bruins on NBC Sports Network, resulted in the former setting a regular-season overnight ratings record for single-game coverage, excluding Winter Classics, and the latter posting a viewership record for Sunday night telecasts. The records continue a trend for the 2013 NHL season, as NBC Sports Group’s NHL coverage has set numerous ratings and viewership marks this season.
NBC’s coverage of the Chicago Blackhawks dramatic 2-1 shootout victory against the Detroit Red Wings (12:30-3:15 p.m. ET) resulted in a 1.6 overnight rating, the best-ever for a single regular-season game (excluding Winter Classics) and up 60% vs. last year’s same-weekend coverage (1.0, Bos-NYR). The Blackhawks extended their season-starting point streak to 22 straight games with the win. Final ratings and viewership will be available later this week.
Locally, the Chicago market delivered a 9.7 rating, the market’s best-ever for a NHL regular-season game on NBC, with the exception of the 2009 Winter Classic, which was played at Wrigley Field -- also between the Blackhawks and Red Wings -- and drew an 11.8 rating in Chicago.
Well this is interesting. ESPN's Pierre LeBrun spoke to Red Wings GM Ken Holland, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman and Flyers gM Paul Holmgren about their take on the possibility of big trades going down at the deadline, as well as a slate of possible need for their respective teams. Holland told LeBrun that, at present, it doesn't appear that anyone wants to make a move...
"The standings dictate how much movement there is, separation or lack there of," Red Wings GM Ken Holland told ESPN.com Tuesday. "You look at the West, from third to 11th this morning, there’s just three points separating those teams."
Detroit is one of those clubs in that cluster. And like so many teams around the league, the slate of games leading up to the April 3 trade deadline will play a major factor on what transpires.
"Ultimately, the next two to three weeks will determine certainly my thinking for the Detroit Red Wings," said Holland.
And he suggests that there are strong arguments for and against making deadline moves...
And, via SI's Al Muir, file this story by the Calgary Sun's Eric Francis under, "Who knew?": Newly reacquired Calgary Flames forward Brian McGrattan battles alcoholism, and he helped former Nashville Predators teammate and now Red Wings forward Jordin Tootoo get sober:
Somewhere in the midst of his four years of sobriety, Brian McGrattan reached a point where helping himself simply wasn’t enough. He wanted to help others, too.
The first beneficiary was Jordin Tootoo, who leaned heavily on McGrattan in Nashville where the two Predators teammates drew strength from one another as part of a friendship/mentorship that endures today. But the Calgary Flames winger wanted to take his passion for helping others turn their lives around to another level. So, he approached the NHL.
“I had a meeting with the (league’s substance abuse program’s) doctors in October and asked if I could give them a hand,” McGrattan said of one of many bold steps he’s taken since he had the realization that his life was spinning out of control because of addiction. I’ve been talking to Alcoholics Anonymous groups, and I go back to my treatment centre I went to and talk to the people there to tell them my story. I feel it comes to me pretty naturally. I spoke to my parents about it in the summer, and post-hockey it’s one of my biggest interests. As the years have gone on, I’ve been more vocal about it, and I feel the more I can give back and help, the more I can save lives.”
Francis' story continues, and Francis reports that McGrattan and Tootoo, who's now playing for and starting to thrive with the Red Wings, remain friends:
Updated 13x at 2:55 PM: No changes for Detroit, Avs won't have Hedjuk and Giguere's starting: The Detroit Red Wings will face off against the Colorado Avalanche tonight (7:30 PM, FSD/Altitude/97.1 FM, and it's Breast Cancer Awareness Night at the Joe) hoping to rebound from a 2-1 OT loss to Chicago on Sunday while scrambling for points in a tightly-packed Western Conference.
While the Avs are perceived to be in a less playoff-ready "rebuilding" mode than the Wings' rebuild-in-progress, the Red Wings' Game Day Blog notes that Detroit's taking the threat that a team sitting all of 4 points behind the Wings presents very seriously, and the Wings do indeed view this second of three straight home games as a must-win affair:
"The one thing about a team in our situation, every night's a real contest, we understand that totally.”- Mike Babcock
The Red Wings will face Colorado for the first time this season tonight when the Avalanche pay visit to the The Joe, a place filled with years of history between the two teams. The Avs enter the week at No. 13 in the Western Conference standings, but still only four points behind the Red Wings, who currently sit in the final playoff spot with 24 points.
“They’re fast, they’re extremely quick up front." said Jimmy Howard. "You just have to find a way every single night to get points.” The light-scoring Avs started slow this season. And despite a 5-4-3 record in February, the owners of the third worst goal-differential (-10) in the West are 1-1-3 in their last five games.
Regarding tonight's charitable activities, from 97.1 the Ticket's Ken Kal...
The Detroit Red Wings will continue their stretch of 8 games played over the course of 14 nights by welcoming the Colorado Avalanche to the Joe tonight (7:30 PM EST, FSD/Altitude/97.1 FM), and the on Breast Cancer Awareness night (click for the Wings' press release regarding tonight's in-rink activities and their request that fans wear pink to the game), the Wings may very well be hoping that the Avs are coming into town in a charitable mood.
The Wings have posted a 3-5-and-2 record over their past 10 games, including Sunday's 2-1 shootout loss to Chicago, and that places the Wings in 9th place in a ridiculously tightly-packed Western Conference, with the same 24 points as 4 other teams...And within a group of 12 teams separated by all of 6 points between the top (Vancouver at 26 points) and bottom teams (Calgary, Colorado and Edmonton at 20).
The Wings haven't been scoring many goals of late--they've been giving up 1 and 2-goal leads instead--and the team needs to make hay while the sun shines, especially given that the team will play 7 of its last 9 games of the month on the road.
Enter the Avs, who come into town having dropped a 2-1 OT decision to the Columbus on Sunday, possessing a 1-3-and-1 record of late (with three of their four losses coming in OT or a shootout), and an 8-8-and-4 record that isn't all that different from the Wings' 10-8-and-4 record, minus two games in hand, anyway.
A pair of Red Wings stories popped up after the practice post that simply shouldn't "wait" for the overnight report, because their content gives us an insight into the Wings' mentality heading into a very busy slate of games (7 over the next 14 days), starting with tomorrow night's tilt against Colorado.
The Wings' players and coach told WXYZ's Brad Galli that they're resigned to the concept that this season will be something of an identity-finding grind...
"We're not as good a team as we wanna be, but we're making significant strides," head coach Mike Babcock said.
12 teams are separated by just six points, and a shortened schedule makes every game that much more important. Looking at the Red Wings play the last two weeks, they have taken steps towards being the team fans are used to seeing the past two decades.
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.