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The Malik Report

The overnight report: Red Wings-Lightning Game 2 set-up

The Detroit Red Wings hope to earn a road split as they battle the Tampa Bay Lightning Friday evening (7 PM EDT start on FSD/FS Florida/CNBC/CBC/TVA Sports/97.1 FM), and there's a definite theme going on in the Red Wings' slumping offensive players looking to solve Tampa's stifling defense, and for Tampa Bay, keeping the good offensive times rolling as Detroit hopes to clamp down.

Neither team really thought that the nastiness after the whistles was anything other than "playoff hockey," but it will be interesting to find out whether the officiating crew gets instructions to clamp down on what was at times a long skirmish interrupted by spates of skating, shooting, checking and scoring.

For the Lightning, the good times are indeed rolling, and Jonathan Drouin's redemptive story is front and center, as noted by the Tampa Bay Times' Joe Smith...

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Videos- Henrik Zetterberg And Gustav Nyquist After The Optional Practice Today


added 3:49pm, Blashill added below too...

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Will Brendan Smith Play Tomorrow?

via Helens St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

Coach Jeff Blashill said he "believes" everyone is available for Game 2, but that he'd know more Friday, when the Red Wings will try to even their first-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

One of the healthy scratches has been defenseman Brendan Smith, who is one of the few Wings who jumps into frays to defend teammates.

Smith can be guilty of risky decisions, but his competitiveness is never in question. Asked about his possible insertion, Blashill said he'd announce lineup decisions Friday. Smith last played March 26. He and Mike Green had good chemistry earlier in the season, though it does pair two risk-takers together.

As for the physicality of Game 1, which featured scrums including one that saw rookie Dylan Larkin entangled with 6-foot-5 Braydon Coburn, Blashill said, "Brendan brings a toughness that can be an element in those situations. I'm not worried about guys pushing each other back and forth. That doesn't do much. In fact, I thought the refs did a great job of policing that.

"What we need to do is make sure that we're taking hits to make plays, that we're making it hard on them."

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It’s An Optional Day

Ansar Khan tweets,

Blashill said he believes everyone who played last night is available for Game 2 but will know more tomorrow.

Henrik Zetterberg said his hand is fine after being slashed last night and Blashill said he is expected to play tomorrow.


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Grand Rapids Griffins playoff tickets go on sale Saturday

From the Grand Rapids Griffins:


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Tickets for the Grand Rapids Griffins’ first two home games during the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs will go on sale to the public this Saturday, April 16 at 10 a.m.

Grand Rapids’ opponent and dates for the best-of-five Central Division Semifinals will be announced no later than Saturday night, when the Griffins complete their 20th regular season by hosting the Bakersfield Condors for the first time ever. Game time is 7 p.m.

Currently sitting in third place in the Central Division, the Griffins could finish anywhere from second to fourth and face any of three opponents – the Lake Erie Monsters, Milwaukee Admirals or Rockford IceHogs – in the opening round. Milwaukee (101 points) has already clinched the division title, while Lake Erie (93), Grand Rapids (90) and Rockford (90) are separated by only three points with a pair of games remaining for each team and the Griffins owning the tiebreaker over both rivals.

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Sharp: It’s Howard’s crease

From the Free Press's Drew Sharp:

Blaming the goalie has become the reflex when doubt circles a team’s Stanley Cup playoff chances. Yes, goaltending is part of any series win. But don’t ignore the chronic defensive passivity in front of him. Don’t ignore the lack of scoring from young veterans such as Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar.

Howard deserves the Game 2 start Friday.

Singling him out would let others off the hook, and that’s not the message first-year head coach Jeff Blashill should send approaching a critical game. That would suggest panic. That would suggest desperation. And that would tell Tampa Bay that the Red Wings already think the series is over, after just one game.

“It was a hard-fought game with a lot of back and forth,” Howard said following the Wings’ 3-2 loss Wednesday night. “That’s playoff hockey. That’s how it’s going to be. You’ve got to stick around and keep it close.”

Howard wasn’t spectacular. He was solid. He must elevate his play going forward, but that makes him no different than at least a half-dozen others. Considering the overall mediocrity of the Wings’ goaltending situation, there is no panacea sitting on the bench. Petr Mrazek might still be the goalie who finishes this series against the Lightning, but his late-season struggles make him an extension of the same question: Can the Wings come remotely close to matching up against the Lightning’s potential Vezina Trophy finalist, Ben Bishop?


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Up on the roof (with Al the Octopus)

At Joe Louis Arena, WXYZ posted some raw video of workers placing Al the Octopus on Joe Louis Arena's roof in preparation for Games 3 and 4 of the Red WIngs-Lightning series:

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Can The Wings Pick Up Their Physical Play?

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

"This is turning into a great rivalry between both teams," Detroit's Justin Abdelkader said. "It's a lot of fun. This is what you want to be a part of."

Abdelkader was in the middle of several scums, as you'd expect from one of the club's few physical players. One of his three penalties was for roughing.

"Throughout the course of the playoffs you want to make sure you're finishing checks, you're playing hard, because everyone has bumps and bruises this time of year and playing through different things," Abdelkader said. "When you get a chance to finish your checks, try not to run too much out of position but play hard and that's what I tried doing."

Jonathan Drouin drew a cross-checking penalty on Dylan Larkin at 6:34 of the second period. Minutes later, Larkin was cross-checked in the back by Alex Killorn, triggering a small meele. Braydon Coburn knocked down Larkin and soon Danny DeKeyser and Mike Richards came to the rookie's defense.

"I didn't see Killorn coming and then he hit me pretty good," Larkin said. "Then of course to get stuck with the big guy (Coburn), so you know, I didn't really know what was going on when I got up but just think it's part of the game now and we have to be there to answer the bell."


added 7:53am, Below, watch the Sportsnet crew discuss the play of Drouin.

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Wings announce playoff promotions

The Red Wings issued this press release after the Wings-Bolts game began, so I'm catching up with a little PR fun:

Red Wings celebrate 25 straight seasons of qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs
“Playoff Central” website, viewing parties, social media campaigns, Beard-A-Thon, decor throughout The Joe and much more highlight celebration of longest active playoff streak in professional sports

DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings announced today the details surrounding the celebration of the 25th consecutive season that the team has qualified for the Stanley Cup® Playoffs. The Red Wings streak of 25-straight playoff appearances (1990-91 – present) is the longest active streak in all of North American major professional sports and is tied for the third longest of its kind in NHL history.

With social media campaigns, viewing parties, contests and exclusive merchandise, Red Wings fans can connect and be a part of the celebration as the team embarks on its historic 25th straight playoff run with the goal of claiming the organization’s 12th Stanley Cup® Championship.

“We’re excited to announce the details associated with the celebration of this amazing playoff streak,” said Tom Wilson, President and CEO of Olympia Entertainment. “The social and digital elements of this campaign will allow Red Wings fans from around the globe to connect with each other and create a community to interact and cheer on the team.”


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Red Wings-Lightning Game 1 wrap-up: Wings need to find consistent form to defeat the Bolts

The Detroit Red Wings earned a 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the teams' first-round series by being just a little bit "less good" than the Lightning, who bit down hard on the Wings after their disallowed goal at 6:55 of the 3rd and never let go, scoring the gamer on an Alex Killorn deflection and preventing the Wings from tying the game by making half-a-dozen key defensive plays as the Wings attempted to best Ben Bishop.

Detroit will have to find a more disciplined way to answer Tampa Bay's physicality, too; while Justin Abdelkader and the Red Wings certainly answered every attempt the Bolts made to physically intimidate them, the Wings simply can't be taking penalties due to physical play, and if the Wings do, they've got to be taking Lightning players to the penalty box with them.

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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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