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Setting Up Wings/Capitals

from Kevin Weekes at NHL.com,

The Capitals (11-4-1) visit the Red Wings (9-8-1) at Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN). Here's my breakdown of the game:
Red Wings

Pluses: Whether it's been Jimmy Howard or Petr Mrazek in net, Detroit has been comfortable with either guy and knows that each gives them a chance to win every night. It's also helped them a lot to be able to integrate a lot of younger players. For a lot of the younger players getting an opportunity, it makes a big difference when you have the goalies behind you that they have.

For a team like Detroit that's in a transition year with Blashill coming in, Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, Dylan Larkin, etc., have been excellent. Larkin plays at warp speed. On one stride, it seems he is gaining 4-5 feet and he is hovering on the ice. He's really explosive like he is shot out of a cannon. He is mature beyond his years. For him to be able to make the transition to Detroit this year is a testament to their scouting staff and to him as a kid and a player as far as how far he is in his development arc. I think him and fellow rookies Max Domi, Artemi Panarin and Nikolaj Ehlers are must-see TV. Larkin leads the team plus-minus (plus-12). That shows his play away from the puck has been excellent. He's not sneaking up on the League, he's coming up with fanfare, so he can't really hide.

A huge plus is Pavel Datsyuk is back after missing the first six weeks of the season because of ankle surgery. He has the ability to be a game breaker on both sides of the puck, which I think is going to help their defensive game too.

Minuses: The challenge for the Red Wings is to get their 'D' to move up more in the rush and attack in the offensive zone. They have Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson and Mike Green, but they don't have all the pieces that they need on defense yet. I think it's still an Achilles heel for them.

read on for a look at the Capitals...

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On Datsyuk’s positive effects

Tonight's game between the Red Wings and Capitals is an "NBC Rivalry Night" game (it's an 8 PM EST start), and as such, it's getting special attention from NHL.com. John Kreiser penned a "Tale of the Tape," Dan Rosen offered a set of comments from around the hockey world regarding Alex Ovechkin and his quest to become the top Russian-born goal-scorer in NHL history, and Rosen also examined Red Wings candidates who will "receive a boost" from Pavel Datsyuk's return to Detroit's lineup. For Example:


In a word, why: Possession

Explain: Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill smartly put the speedy and skilled Larkin on a line with Datsyuk for the game against Ottawa. This has some staying power because Larkin is rapidly developing into one of the Red Wings' best forwards when it comes to keeping the puck in the offensive zone and generating scoring chances. Datsyuk is among the best in the world at that.

Against the Senators, Datsyuk was a plus-8 in 5-on-5 shot attempts (SAT); Larkin was a plus-7, according to war-on-ice.com. They have the ability together to make opposing forwards play on their heels and force opposing defensemen to turn. They won't easily give up the puck once they gain the offensive zone either. And Larkin can benefit from Datsyuk's vision and hands, provided he keeps his stick on the ice and is always ready for the pass. At 19 years old, he's already smart enough to know where to go on the ice to take advantage of Datsyuk's vision. He's also quick enough that he should draw defenders to him, providing Datsyuk with more room in the offensive zone. Datsyuk can already stickhandle in the penalty box if he had to; added space makes him even more dangerous.

Rosen continues, discussing Datsyuk's positive effects upon Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit's defense and Jeff Blashill's match-ups.

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Early overnight report: Red Wings-Capitals set-up—here we go again

The Red Wings will battle the Washington Capitals for the second time in 8 days Wednesday night on NBCSN's "Rivalry Night" (8 PM EST on NBCSN/TVA Sports/97.1 FM), and the Wings face a unique set of challenges tomorrow evening.

The 9-8-and-1 Red Wings face an 11-4-and-1 Capitals team that hasn't played since last Friday's 3-2 OT loss to Calgary, while Detroit will be playing their 4th game in 6 nights...

And as you probably know by now, Alex Ovechkin remains tied with Sergei Fedorov with 483 goals, and after firing 15 unsuccessful shots at Petr Mrazek in last week's 1-0 Wings win, you can bet that Ovechkin wil want to snap Fedorov's record this time around.

The Capitals addressed their desire to beat the Red Wings and the lessons learned from last week's game in conversations with WashingtonCapitals.com's Mike Vogel:

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Prospect news: Pearson named to U.S. select team; Griffins play 3 games this week

Of prospect-related note:

Update: Evgeny Svechnikov didn't register a point in Team Russia's 3-2 win over the QMJHL at the Subway Super Series.

In the KHL, Alexander Kadeikin played 4:43 in SKA St. Petersburg's 3-1 loss to Avangard Omsk;

In the Finnish Liiga, Julius Vahatalo played 4:30 in TPS Turku's 3-1 win over Ilves;

In the USHL, from OurSportsCentral:

Chase Pearson Named to U.S. Select Junior Team

Youngstown Phantoms YOUNGSTOWN, OH - Youngstown Phantoms Assistant Captain Chase Pearson has been named to the United States Junior Select Team that will compete in the 2015 World Junior A Challenge December 13-19 in Cobourg and Whitby, Ontario, Canada. The U.S. has won six of the last seven tournaments (2008-2010, 2012-14).

"Obviously whenever you get a chance to represent your country, you're going to be happy to go do it. When I got the call I was really excited," Pearson said.

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Evening news: On the Wings-Caps match-up, Mike Green, Kindl, Helm and power rankings

Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

The Wings are very wary of facing Alex Ovechkin tomorrow, given that Ovechkin fired 15 shots on Petr Mrazek last week, and Mike Green told MLive's Ansar Khan that there isn't necessarily an easy way of shutting Ovechkin down:

"Even playing with him I don't know what other teams did or said; they tried everything and he would still have chances," Green said. "We talked about it before the game and he still ended up getting 15 shots."

Ovechkin has nine goals and 17 points in 15 career games against the Red Wings.

"I think he plays such a unique game. He finds the openings. He thinks the game a little differently," Green said. "Maybe that creates all those chances because he's maybe a little bit out of position, which for him is in position. He gets a lot of opportunities for sure. We've just got to try to eliminate his time with the puck and eliminate (his center Nicklas) Backstrom that's going to give it to him. He's the key behind that."

That being said, as the Free Press's Helene St. James notes, the Wings want to focus on themselves more than their oppponent, and that means helping Green continue to acclimate to the Wings' lineup:

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Praise for Dylan Larkin from the UAE

This article comes from Rob McKenzie of the United Arab Emirates-based The National:

Dylan Larkin is magnetic. The Detroit Red Wings rookie is a star in the making. At 19, he has the speed of a youngster but also a veteran’s feel for the game. His typical play is to skate up the wing, find a seam in the defence, then when the defence reacts he finds a new seam or passes to an open teammate.

This is a lot harder than it sounds. For most players, that would be a formula for turning over the puck or getting mashed by a defenceman.

But Larkin is hard to hit. He always seems to be at a bit of an angle, never quite erect, and so never in position for an opponent to check him properly. His is an elusive game.

Typical Larkin play, from Friday’s game against the San Jose Sharks: Larkin corrals the puck at his own face-off circle. He zips up the left wing, “and away he goes, Speedy Gonzales!”, gushes the TV announcer Mickey Redmond, himself a Red Wings alumnus.

At centre ice Larkin, in full flight, angles to the right. By the time he is at the San Jose blue line he is in the midst of three Sharks – Brent Burns, Paul Martin, Joe Thornton – all of them wanting to pounce on him.

But before they can do it he dishes a pass to an uncovered Tomas Tatar on the right wing. Tatar has plenty of time to wire a wrister home for the goal.


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Red Wings send Jurco to Grand Rapids for conditioning

The Red Wings made a wise decision given that Tomas Jurco isn't playing:

The Griffins play 6 times over the next two weeks, so Jurco will finally get some game action.

Here's the press release:

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Afternoon news: On Larkin and the ‘philosophical shift’; Wings-Sens, power rankings and Caps stuff

ESPN's Tal Pinchevsky discusses NHL rookies making an impact only a year or two removed from their draft seasons, and he uses Dylan Larkin as the #1 example of the "philosophical shift" that teams are making from insisting that prospects mature in the AHL before entering the NHL to simply letting the best players skate where they belong:

Perhaps no team better demonstrates this sudden philosophical shift than the Detroit Red Wings. Owners of a league-best 24 consecutive playoff appearances, the Red Wings have become a picture of consistency by being extra cautious when it comes to promoting prospects. But they did an about-face this season when they added 19-year-old Dylan Larkin to their roster.

The Michigan native and 15th overall pick in the 2014 draft didn't just defy the franchise's golden rule. He defied expectations, scoring seven points in his first nine games and inspiring Detroit to keep him aboard for more than nine games, which financially requires the Wings to keep him all season. The last teenager to spend a season with the Red Wings was Jiri Fischer in 1999-00. Fischer is now the Wings' director of player development.

Teams are forced to burn the first season of a player's entry-level contract once they play their 10th game of the season. So the decision to keep Larkin isn't one the Red Wings took lightly, and it's one other competitive teams are making.

Pinchevsky continues...


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Khan: Green getting comfortable with Wings, joining the rush

MLive's Ansar Khan spoke with Mike Green regarding his comfort level with the Wings as it applies to flexing Green's offensive muscles:

[A]fter returning from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for six games, Green seems to be finding his comfort level offensively, with four assists in five games, including two in a 4-3 overtime victory at Ottawa.

"It's good to kind of get back to feeling like you can jump up in the play," Green said. "They encourage that here, which is good. I'm finding that when I see holes I'm able to jump and feel confident that the forwards actually support you. I have all the confidence to do that."

Coach Jeff Blashill said Green is still trying to get his game to the 'A' level after missing some time, including part of camp and preseason.

"When he's on the attack he's great," Blashill said. "He and I talked this morning just about being on the attack all the time and gapping and skating forwards; he's a great forward skater. Let's utilize that. I thought he did a real good job."


"Especially when you're joining a new team you want to help out, contribute, but sometimes it takes a little time to sort of get the feel, the flow, how the team plays," Green said. "I feel like we're really coming along here."


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Wings Get Their Shots On Net

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

It was a clash between the team ranked last in the NHL in shots per game (the Red Wings) and the club that allows the most shots (the Senators). The Red Wings did what they have talked about doing all season but haven't accomplished – get pucks on net.

"I think that's been coming for a while in terms of our shot attempts," coach Jeff Blashill said. "We talked lots about it as a team. We got to do a better job of getting them through quicker, so they don't get blocked. We got to do a better job of getting them on net. I thought we did that tonight."

Said forward Riley Sheahan: "I think we did a good job of what we wanted to do and that was get some pucks to the net and emphasize shooting when you don't have the best angle and try to create a scramble in front."

Sheahan scored his goal during a scramble in front of goaltender Craig Andersson. It put his team ahead 3-1 at 16:24 of the second period.

But Dylan Larkin set the tone on this night by scoring from an almost impossible angle at 9:12 of the first period, when he banked in a shot off Anderson.

"He's so dynamic, that kid, how he can skate and handle the puck and see," defenseman Mike Green said. "Most guys would have kept wheeling (around) the net there. He was almost behind the net and sees that hole. He planned that. It wasn't an accident. That just goes to show what kind of player he is."


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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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