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Griffins’ Great Skate, NTDP’s Star Wars Night taking place this evening

There are a pair of non-Wings charitable events that are worth your time should you choose to forego the Wings-Canes game this evening:

1. The Grand Rapids Griffins are holding their annual Great Skate after tonight's game vs. Rockford, with the details thereof available here:

2. And, as noted by Michigan Hockey, the U.S. NTDP are holding their Star Wars Night at Plymouth's USA Hockey Arena this evening:

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Red Wings-Hurricanes morning skate Tweets: Ouellet in for Jensen, injury news; Great Skate reminder

The Detroit Red Wings face a team that lies in the way of the Wings' late-season push for a playoff spot in the Carolina Hurricanes this evening (7:00 PM on FSD/FS Carolinas/97.1 FM).

Detroit sits 5 points behind the Hurricanes in the Wild Card standings, and as the Wings wrap up their pre-All-Star Break schedule with 4 games to be played over the course of the next 6 nights, the Wings hope to make up ground on teams like Carolina by getting on a winning streak.

If you're interested in some light reading as the teams' respective morning skates progress, the Hurricanes' PR website posted 44 pages' worth of game notes, including a capsule preview of tonight's affair:

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Prospect news: Griffins beat Milwaukee; Walleye defeat KC; Holway scores, Fulcher stands tall

Of prospect-related note:

In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins got 2 goals from Eric Tangradi, a goal and an assist from Matthew Ford, two assists from Robbie Russo and 29 saves from Tom McCollum en route to a 5-2 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals. The Griffins' website posted a recap:

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Red Wings-Hurricanes set-up—Wings face a crucial game against Canes

The Detroit Red Wings will open their pre-All-Star Break crunch against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday evening (7:00 PM EST on FSD/FS Carolinas/97.1 FM), with the Hurricanes representing the first of 4 opponents that the Wings will play over the course of the next 6 nights.

The 18-19-7 Red Wings actually look up toward the 20-17-8 Hurricanes, who sit 5 points ahead of the Wings in the Wild Card standings, and if the Red Wings want to make an improbable second-half playoff game, winning this game would be particularly helpful.

The Hurricanes are coming out of their Bye Week, and they do so absent leading scorer Sebastian Aho, who suffered both a concussion and a lower-body injury during the Canes' last game, a 4-1 loss to the Calgary Flames last Sunday. 

If momentum transfers from week to week, the Hurricanes lost 4 of their last 5 games going into their Bye Week, but I'm doubting that the Canes will be carrying their record with them as they prepare for the second half of their regular season.

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The New Look Power Play

Updated 4x at 3:21 PM: from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

Much of practice was spent on special teams, which saw power play personnel redistributed. Zetterberg’s unit with Anthony Mantha and Niklas Kronwall had new looks in Andreas Athanasiou and Martin Frk. Dylan Larkin’s unit with Mike Green and Tyler Bertuzzi added Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar. The swaps give each unit speed (Larkin and Athanasiou) and a right-handed shot (Frk and Green)....

Blashill is hoping Athanasiou can help with zone entries.

“We wanted to make sure and give AA to that Zetterberg unit just to give them a little more speed and entry success,” Blashill said. “Zetterberg’s unit had a great, great run of getting in zone. It’s really only been the last couple weeks where they haven’t. But, it’s gone dry. So let’s see if we can help them there. And then with Frky there, he gives them a real shooting element on that power play.

“We’re hoping that they both can get some chemistry quick. That’s the hard part when you switch around, is you have to get chemistry quick, but you also get to a point where we’ve stayed patient with it, and we are not getting the results, so we have to look for other ways.” 


Update: MLive's Ansar Khan also filed a practice report:

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Detroit’s Practice Today

I will update if needed.

Update: Here's George, trying to report from crappy WiFi at the doctor's office:

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Galli, Woodriffe report in from the Toast of Hockeytown

The Red Wings held their Toast of Hockeytown last night to benefit the Detroit Red WIngs Foundation, and a couple videos from the event popped up over the course of the evening.

WXYZ's Brad Galli filed a report from Little Caesars Arena...

As did Fox 2's Woody Woodriffe...

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Questioning Two Long-Term Contracts

Ansar Khan of Mlive answers questions from the fans...

Q: How does (Holland) justify the large and long contracts he signed with (Justin) Abdelkader and (Darren) Helm? Both have been injured several seasons in a row. They have consistently under-performed offensively.

A: His justification simply is he believed they were worth it when he signed them.

Abdelkader received seven years at a $4.25 million cap hit in November 2015. He was coming off his best season (23 goals, 44 points) and they didn’t have many players like him (decent size and physical, with scoring ability). At the time, he seemed like he might be the next captain after Henrik Zetterberg retired.

Helm was signed for five years at a $3.85 million cap hit hours before hitting free agency in 2016. They didn’t want to lose his speed. He was coming off two fairly healthy and, by third-line standards, productive seasons (28 goals, 59 points combined). They valued his versatility (ability to play top-six or bottom-six, kill penalties and even play the power play).

I think the pressure to keep the playoff streak intact also played a role. They weren’t ready to start rebuilding and believed Abdelkader and Helm could help them extend the streak better than whatever replacements they brought in had they not signed them.

more Q & A including Holland's future with the Wings...

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Prospect news: Gallant scores; European, OHL round-up

Of prospect-related note:

In the KHL, Alexander Kadeikin took 3 shots in goal in 15:17 played but did not register a point in Lokomotiv Yaroslavl's 6-5 OT win over Severstal;

In the Finnish Liiga, Julius Vahatalo won 72% of his faceoffs in 11:23 played as Jukurit lost 2-1 in overtime to TPS Turku;

In the SHL, Christoffer Ehn finished at -1 with 1 shot, and a 50% faceoff record, in 12:48 played during the Frolunda Indians' 4-1 loss to Farjestads BK;

And in the OHL, Cole Fraser finished at -1 with 1 shot and Zach Gallant scored a goal on 2 shots, winning 5 of 18 faceoffs in the Peterborough Petes' 5-1 loss to Kingston;

Brady Gilmour finished at -1 with 2 shots and an 11-for-15 faceoff record, and Reilly Webb finished at -2 with 1 shot in the Saginaw Spirit's 6-2 loss to the Barrie Colts.

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Articles from practice, late version: Wings concerned with power play; the schedule is weird, man

The Detroit Red Wings held a brief practice prior to the Toast of Hockeytown on Thursday, and before the Wings hob-knobed with their fans, the Wings' beat writers report that the team attempted to address its struggling power play.

MLive's Ansar Khan wrote an article about the Wings' power play woes...

The power play has converted only 2-of-33 opportunities the past 10 games (6.1 percent). The penalty kill has allowed nine goals in 28 shorthanded opportunities over 12 games. (67.9 percent success rate).

"I said in the beginning of the year we need elite specialty teams and I thought for a portion of the year we had that and right now we don't," coach Jeff Blashill said. "If we want to win games before the All-Star break, we need elite specialty teams."

The Red Wings have four games before the break, starting Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes at Little Caesars Arena (7 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit).

Then the Wings play the Devils (away), Flyers (at Little Caesars Arena) and Blackhawks (at LCA)--and they play those 3 games over the course of only 4 nights--so the Red Wings are going to have to make some adjustments in a hurry.

Khan reports that Blashill plans on making some changes to the power play units, but more switching players from unit to unit as opposed to fielding new power play personnel:

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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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