The Malik Report
On the kind of morning where the party that went with the nuclear option regarding realignment offers far more rational, reasoned and sane explanations as to why the other side more or less posted a press release calling it a total doo-doo head for daring to ask for a thorough analysis of a very literally radical realignment (a certain grumpy Red Wings member of the Board of Governors included), the Detroit Red Wings and their fathers find themselves in the place where this kind of stuff is everyday parlance, playing a Toronto Maple Leafs team tonight (7 PM EST, FSD/CBC/NHL Network US [i.e. no Center Ice and/or GameCenter Live tonight]/WXYT) that is anything but a doormat anymore.
With the Chicago Blackhawks watching and waiting Sunday’s match-up after an ugly loss on Friday, the Red Wings, fathers in tow, have to keep their heads level and their focus on playing a smart and simple road game against a team which may aspire to play like Detroit, but in fact will tangle with the Wings—with the international spotlight and/or spin machine shining brightly down—while displaying both puck possession skill and a healthy amount of “truculence.”
On a slightly lighter note given that the NHL has all but declared war on the PA via their realignment press release (no hockey next October, folks? Ken Holland told the Free Press’s Helene St. James that he’s just as bummed out about this news as we are), given what Brian Burke had to say about the demise of the enforcer yesterday and Mike Babcock’s rebuttal thereof (which you can listen to via the off-day updates, or, more simply, at The Fan 590), something told me that we were going to get a Canuck-press-like, “No, the Maple Leafs aren’t a Burkeian team, in fact, Burke’s building them to be more like the Red Wings”...And here’s that suggestion from someone who sat through Burke’s lament, one Mike Brophy:
[W]hile Brian Burke rants about ‘rats’ ruining the game and bemoans the fact he had to send enforcer Colton Orr to the minors, the truth is the Leafs GM has done a nice job of following the Detroit model when constructing his team. And that will get the Maple Leafs back to the playoffs eventually.
The Red Wings opened the season with five straight wins, but then lost six in a row. However, as of late, the Wings have found the consistency in their game that has been their calling card since they went to the Stanley Cup final in 1994-95 and then won back-to-back Cups in 1996-97 and 1997-98.
Updated 5x at 4:25 PM: As the Red Wings prepared for Saturday’s game against the Maple Leafs (7 PM EST, FSD/CBC/WXYT) in Toronto on Friday, Wings coach Mike Babcock didn’t deliver encouraging news regarding the states of Tomas Holmstrom and Darren Helm’s respective groins while speaking to MLive’s Ansar Khan:
“They haven’t been made eligible to us at all, so I don’t know when they’re going to play, but they’re not going to play this weekend, probably,’’ coach Mike Babcock said after practice today at the MasterCard Centre. “I don’t know if they’ll play in Chicago, but I doubt it. If they’re not playing tomorrow, why would we play them the next day?’‘
Both players skated for the second day in a row Friday and both said they felt better and hoped to play Sunday.
“They feel I shouldn’t play back to back games coming off a groin injury,’’ Helm said. “I’m hoping (to play Sunday). It felt really good today.’‘
Updated with a Babcock interview at 9:50 AMThe Red Wings face something of a running of a gauntlet of difficult opponents and media maelstroms in their back-to-back games against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks this weekend, but Wings coach Mike Babcock chose this weekend as the team’s annual Fathers’ Trip to both shake off mid-season doldrums and ensure competitive performances against the Leafs, Hawks, and, on Tuesday, the New York Islanders. The Red Wings received a private guided tour of the Hockey Hall of Fame on Thursday evening, and the players all but gushed about the opportunity to impress their fathers, mentors and friends this weekend, as the Free Press’s George Sipple noted:
“[My dad]‘s excited, for sure,” Abdelkader said. “It’s awesome. They’ve been there for our whole career, pretty much, have done so much and been such an influence, so it’s great to bring them on a trip and see how the daily routine works.”
How about his mom? “My mom, she is lobbying for a mother’s trip, for sure,” he said.
Updated 3x at 12:34 AM on Friday: If you check out the Red Wings’ Twitter account this evening, you’ll find out why the team chose to fly to Toronto over two days prior to their match-up with the Maple Leafs on Saturday night: the Wings’ Fathers’ Trip is beginning with a little guided tour of the Hockey Hall of Fame prior to what will likely be a leisurely day of meetings, practicing and a team dinner in a location other than a simple hotel buffet room with the players’ fathers and mentors on Friday night. MLive’s Ansar Khan spoke to the Wings about the non-business portion of their road trip prior to the team’s departure:
“I think it’s good for the dads to get a chance to see that, and I think it will be good for us too to share that with our dads,’’ future Hall of Famer Nicklas Lidstrom said.
Said center Darren Helm of Lidstrom: “He’s got his own section, probably. He should have a lot of stuff there. We have a lot of history here. It’ll be interesting to see the history throughout the league.’‘
Welll isn’t this interesting in the Red Wings-related news category, via AnnArbor.com’s Pete Cunningham:
The next outdoor hockey game at Michigan Stadium may feature National Hockey League teams.
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon confirmed Thursday that he has been approached by the NHL about playing host for the Winter Classic, in what would be the league’s sixth annual New Year’s Day outdoor game.
“We have been approached by the NHL about utilizing our facility for the 2013 Winter Classic,” Brandon said in a statement. “There are a lot of complex circumstances that need to be ironed out before anything moves forward. We will have more to say if/when something materializes.”
The NHL has yet to announce which teams would play in next year’s Winter Classic, but the fact that Brandon has been approached suggests rumors about the Detroit Red Wings being eyed as potential participants to be true. The Red Wings played against the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2009 Winter Classic played at Wrigley Field.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has delayed his announcement of participants in the past. He didn’t name the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers as the 2012 participants until Sept. 25, 2011.
Updated 4x with a Helm/Holmstrom update at 2:14 PM: Well, Jimmy Howard (192,685 votes as a write-in, finishing sixth among goalies), Nicklas Lidstrom (476,979 votes, fourth among defensemen), Pavel Datsyuk (313,783, ninth among forwards) and Henrik Zetterberg (206,852 votes, 12th among forwards) didn’t make the All-Star Game’s starters’ cut, though it’s highly likely that Howard and Lidstrom will head to Ottawa via selections made by the NHL’s Hockey Operations Department later this month.
This morning/afternoon’s crop of Red Wings-related news begins on a good note, however, via MLive’s Ansar Khan:
Holmstrom and Helm are back at practice for Wings.
Wings practice lines: 93-13-44, 51-40-26, 20-8-11, 14-48-41; 5-18, 55-23, 52-22 (4); 35-29
Helm and Holmstrom, both nursing groin injuries, have left practice halfway through.
DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose confirms:
Red Wings prospect Petr Mrazek and the Czech World Junior team didn’t exactly finish where they’d hoped to at the World Junior Championships, but they ended the tournament on a winning note via a non-televised, 5-2 win over Slovakia (whose Tomas Jurco sat out due to a hip flexor injury) in the fifth place game. Mrazek stopped 29 shots. Mrazek put things bluntly while speaking to the Calgary Herald’s Bryce Forbes...
“If somebody would have told us before the tournament we would be fifth place, we will take it,” he said. “But it’s a little disappointing after the Russian game.”
And NHL.com’s Aaron Vickers:
2x at 3:30 PM: Gustav Nyquist was named to the AHL’s All-Star Game roster: Earlier this morning, the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema penned an article discussing Westland native Chris Conner’s attempts to regain his spot with the Red Wings after being assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins to earn regular playing time as he returns from a broken hand…
“You grow up playing the game, and obviously putting on that (Red Wings) jersey was a great experience,” Conner said after Griffins practice Tuesday morning at Van Andel Arena. “I definitely want more of it.”
There’s a good chance he won’t have to wait long to get his wish. Conner had been playing well with the Red Wings, providing tenacious speed and high energy, and likely will be recalled soon. After going scoreless in his first three games in Detroit, he had a goal and two assists in his past three games before the injury, playing with Danny Cleary and Darren Helm on the third line.
“It was awesome. I worked hard to get to that level and it was definitely exciting,” Conner said. “I embraced it, but obviously you want to keep going and now get back there and do the best you can.”
Red Wings-Stars wrap-up and overnight report: A little too ‘interesting’ (and Pulkkinen at WJC news)
The Red Wings took a late-night flight back to Detroit after their rather sloppy 5-4 win over the Dallas Stars, and they’re going to take a day off before preparing for the “Fathers’ Trip” weekend slate of back-to-back games against Toronto and Chicago. By the looks of the Wings’ fit and finish during Tuesday’s game, from Jimmy Howard on out, the Wings need a day or two to recharge their mental and physical batteries.
In a game which, as MLive’s Ansar Khan noted, featured no Wings power plays for the second time over the course of the past three games and one power play for Dallas, the line of Valtteri Filppula, Henrik Zetterberg and Jiri Hudler in particular were nothing less than spectacular, but despite Hudler’s 2-goal performance, Filppula’s goal and 2 assists and Zetterberg’s 3 assists, the line finished at a collective +1 because they were also on the ice for three of the Stars’ four goals, and that may tell the tale for the Wings of late:
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.