The Malik Report
The Detroit Red Wings chose to skip practice on Monday and fly out West to Calgary, where they’ll begin a four-game slate of West Coast games against the Calgary Flames tonight (9 PM EST, FSD Plus/Sportsnet West/WXYT). The Wings won’t have much time to pause and enjoy the Flames’ tribute to Brad McCrimmon because, as the Wings duly pointed out to their press corps, the team’s road record remains a game below .500 (13-and-14) with hard tilts against the playoff-desperate Flames, the powerhouse Canucks, a nothing-to-lose Oilers team and a grudge match on Monday in Phoenix on the agenda prior to a long home stand.
If you take a look at the Western Conference standings, the Wings might not be able to match the 9th-place Flames’ burning desire to sneak back into the playoff pack, but the Wings are only two points ahead of the Blues and three ahead of the Blackhawks and Predators in the Central Division, and that includes a really remarkable 9-and-3 record over the course of January’s tightly-packed games, eggs laid in Long Island and Montreal last Wednesday included. In other words, the Wings simply don’t have the wiggle room to continue wobbling on the road, and the fact that the Wings dropped an ugly 4-3 decision to a team that tends to run ‘em into the boards just before Christmas doesn’t help the Wings’ cause.
Amidst the hoopla and hyp of the NHL’s All-Star weekend died, the NHL’s Board of Governors met in Ottawa this past weekend, and Sportsnet’s John Shannon reports that the NHL and the Red Wings will probably announce their 2013 Winter Classic plans by February 7th (the Wings return from Phoenix on the 6th and host the Oilers on February 8th, so I’m guessing the 7th, at Comerica Park), which would give the league just enough time to allow Superbowl talk to fade before making the announcement we’re all expecting:
1. The Winter Classic in Detroit will be announced in the next 10 days. The 2013 version will go well beyond the Red Wings and the Maple Leafs. Oh sure there will be an Alumni game, but don’t be surprised if the AHL, NCAA and the OHL have roles in the event, with as many as five games within a few days of New Year’s Day. As we have mentioned here before, much of the year-end celebration will occur in downtown Detroit at Comerica Park, owned by the Illitch’s, with the big Original Six tilt in Ann Arbor.
Continued with discussion about the Coyotes, Devils and Blues’ ownership situations…
Updated with some trade talk at 7:14 PM: The Detroit Red Wings didn’t arrive in Calgary until about 5:30 EST, but somewhere between ye olde catch-up post and my doctor handing me a prescription for Amoxicillin, the Wings’ press corps caught up to the team at Metro Airport, and the Wings talked about the fact that they’d like to stop signing Tenacious D’s “The Road” when talking about how “[expletive]ing tough” it is to win away from Joe Louis Arena given that the Wings will tangle with Calgary (Tuesday), Vancouver (Thursday), Edmonton (Saturday) and Phoenix (next Tuesday) before heading home for six straight games and 18 of their last 28…
But coach Mike Babcock dropped something of a bombshell, too, by telling the Flint Journal’s Brendan Savage that he might “rest” Jimmy Howard given that #35 had a busy weekend:
“That’s real good question,” Babcock said when asked if Howard would play. “I don’t have the answer for you or I’d tell you.”
And Howard’s preference?
“Whatever Babs says I’ll go with,” Howard said.
The good news is that Nicklas Lidstrom is feeling much better after taking off last Wednesday’s shellacking in Montreal…
This is very, very cool, per the Flames’ website
Prior to their game against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night, the Calgary Flames will pay tribute to former Flames defenceman Brad McCrimmon.
McCrimmon was one of the 43 victims on board the Russian plane carrying the Kontinental Hockey League team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl that crashed on Sept. 7, 2010.
During warm-ups, Flames players will don jerseys sporting McCrimmon’s number four and name on the back. Their respective numbers will be displayed on the arms of the jersey. The jerseys will be autographed and auctioned off after the game with the proceeds going to the Flames Foundation for Life.
A custom tribute logo - 4 Brad - has been created and will be present on all materials connected with the tribute. Stickers with the logo will be on Flames players helmets tomorrow night.
Love For Lokotmotiv bracelets will also be for sale at FanAttic.
Continued, and I believe the Flyers might do something similar when they retire Mark Howe’s #2 when the Wings come to town in February…
Somewhere between watching the Blues game last Monday and sleeping through the Canadiens game (thankfully) due to a nasty sinus infection on Wednesday night, the man in charge offered a smart suggestion to someone who’s headed to the doctor for antibiotics today, and it translated to, “Stay down.” So I did, but it’s time to get back to work today, and as it turns out, the Red Wings are doing things a little differently, per the team’s Twitter account:
The team is en route to Calgary this afternoon. Game vs. the Flames tomorrow night.
The Wings usually practice at the Joe after the All-Star break, but given that they’re about to board Red Bird II to head to Calgary (Tuesday at 9 PM), Vancouver (Thursday at 10 PM), and then Edmonton (Saturday at 10 PM) and Phoenix next Tuesday (likely after some sort of Superbowl viewing party), something tells me that Paul Boyer and the team’s equipment staff suggested that a team that won’t stop playing on an every-other-night basis till Valentine’s Day(!) might be better served by not stuffing wet equipment into the cargo hold of an MD-81 for a four-hour flight to somewhere…That’s actually warmer than the place they’re leaving from.
Updated 3x at 2:25 AM with Brad Stuart talking on NBC: The Detroit Red Wings didn’t come out ready to play against the St. Louis Blues, but they finished the game like a team that understood what it was up against—a viciously physical team that was going to make a statement by beating up and beating on Detroit—defeating St. Louis 3-1.
It was a fitting result against a team that, and I mean this with all the deftness and delicacy of someone who’s spent the day hacking, coughing and feverish, plays chicken [expletive] hockey. The Blues are most definitely an incredibly talented and gritty team which merits respect, but they also play like any Hitchcockian team: they don’t want the puck. The Blues will very happily allow its opponent to possess the puck and skate int o the wall of bodies they amass at center ice, and more importantly, not having the puck means you have the opportunity to dole out “punishing” checks on your opponents.
Red Wings defenseman Brad Stuart hit Alex Piterangelo cleanly, but St. Louis Blues forward Chris Stewart would have none of it. The fight sparked the Wings, and Stewart’s 2-5-and-10 for instigating allowed the Wings to tie the game:
The Detroit Red Wings received a welcome break from hockey after their 3-2 shootout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, but on Monday, the Wings get back to work wrapping up their 11-games-in-19-nights stretch with a home game against St. Louis on Monday (7:30 PM EST/FSD Plus/WXYT) and a road game against the Canadiens on Wednesday.
The Canadiens, who sit in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, open practice/skills competition on Sunday, but any of their nagging injury concerns aren’t pressing as the Candiens won’t play until they host the Wings, having defeated Toronto 3-1 on Saturday night.
Very, very belatedly: good news on two fronts regarding Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg’s accidental hit on Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Nikita Nikitin. The hit was very similar to the ones that broke the ankles of former Wing Jason Williams and current Wings forward Jan Mursak, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline reports that Nikitin will be okay...
GM Scott Howson told The Dispatch today that Nikitin will not play in the final two games before the NHL’s All-Star Game break, and will be evaluated again after the break. But it does not appear to be a significant injury.
This is very good news for the Blue Jackets and Nikitin, obviously, and more than a little surprising. Nikitin slammed feet-first into the end boards after toppling backward at high speed just above the goal line. All of his weight was absorbed by his left leg, his left ankle crumpling badly before a thunderous boom.
And more importantly for Red Wings fans, Paul asked TSN’s Darren Dreger whether Zetterberg would receive a call from Brendan Shanahan, and Paul received a no on that front, with the 5-minute major and game misconduct having been assessed to Zetterberg serving as more than enough punishment under the NHL’s policy of more heavily policing hits near the end boards. MLive’s Ansar Khan confirms..
Updated w/ Nikitin’s knee sprain at 10:46 AM: The Red Wings are making it hard for fans who might suggest that winning by any means necessary cuts the mustard during this 11-games-in-19-nights stretch to keep their promises. The Red Wings’ particularly ugly 3-2 shootout victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday allowed the Wings to extend their home-ice winning streak to 16 games, and the victory means that at least until Sunday afternoon, the Wings are the top team in the Central Division, Western Conference and the NHL standings, respectively, and if the Wings manage to take out the Blues on Monday, they’ll finally gain some separation from at least one of their closest pursuers…
But it’s hard to believe that the Wings can keep on keepin’ on against the Blues, never mind their All-Star break-interrupted road trip to Montreal, Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton and Phoenix if they keep going to the overtime and shootout wells like they have of late. Of the Wings’ 8 January wins, six have come via play extending past regulation time, and the Wings have had to go to a skills competition to beat their last three opponents.
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.