The Malik Report
Updated 12x with Datsyuk stuff and Coyotes talk at 4:04 PM: Per the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff, the Red Wings held an optional skate today, but Duff reports good news on the Henrik Zetterberg front:
Babcock on Zetterberg: “He skated today.” Chance for Game 2? “There’s always a chance. I keep telling you he’s day-to-day.” #detphx
The Red Wings’ Twitter account confirms…
Babcock: It is one game and there is obviously another game here in a couple of days.
Zetterberg skated today, when asked his status for Saturday, Mike Babcock said he was ‘day to day’.
Wouldn’t read anything into the Zetterberg status. Babs has said he would be ‘day to day’ after missing the two CHI games last week.
The Sporting News’s Craig Custance confirms…
The AHL chose to chop 4 games off its 80-ame regular season schedule and eliminate four-game-in-five-night slates during Wednesday’s Board of Governors meetings, and TSN’s Darren Dreger says that the NHL will at least examine several of the AHL’s proposals to see whether they could be tweaked to help the NHL while keeping the NHL’s 82-game schedule intact:
Some NHL teams have pushed for a similar schedule reduction since the lockout, going as far as to propose the NHL drop from 82 to 72 games (although those who still favour a change say they would be happy to trim the schedule from 82 to 76).
The NHL acknowledges there have been discussions on this topic, but sees nothing imminent when it comes to a change.
Because of an obvious loss in revenue, NHL owners are unlikely to support playing fewer games. But with player safety a key issue in today’s game and the millions of dollars lost annually across the league to injuries, the team executives who contend less is more will be closely monitoring the impact the AHL’s schedule reduction may have on its players. As one star NHL player told The Dreger Report, “Money wise we need an 82 game schedule, but body wise, 60 would be better.”
Continued, and given the ridiculous number of injuries occurring on an every-season basis these days, I think the AHL’s suggestion to extend its regular season by a week and reduce back-to-back grinds are both ideas worth examining.
TSN’s Scott Cullen analyzed the line match-ups from Wednesday night’s win:
Johan Franzen continued playoff dominance, scoring a goal and an assist, which is rather standard for a player who entered this year’s playoffs with 59 points in 51 games over the last three postseasons.
The Coyotes attempted to match up defencemen Ed Jovanovski and Adrian Aucoin and the top line of Shane Doan, Eric Belanger and Ray Whitney against the Red Wings’ top line, but it wasn’t especially successful. In addition to Franzen’s two points, Pavel Datsyuk socred a goal and recorded a game-high eight shots on goal while Holmstrom added an assist.
Not too surprisingly, my game recap is so long (surprise!) that KK’s blogging software is eating up my Red Wings notes and overnight report, so I’m posting them in a separate entry for the moment. We’ll start with an intriguing one-on-one interview with Pavel Datsyuk from NHL.com’s Brian Hedger…
Q: Your goal really seemed to get things going in the right direction. Can you take us back through it?
PD: It’s juist like our plan before the game … just throw everything at net and try to jam. I had the chance to jam and I just used it and thanked my guy.”
Q: It started to feel like after killing off all those Phoenix power plays, you guys were bound to score and swing the momentum. Did it feel that way to you guys?
PD: Yeah, and there was lots of pressure and lots of fans chanting for us at the beginning of the game and I felt a little bit nervous. After we killed (the) penalties, we feel confidence and just kept (coming) wave after wave and I was happy we scored. We kind of controlled the whole game at the end of the game.
The Phoenix Coyotes couldn’t have been faulted for thinking that they had the Detroit Red Wings exactly where they wanted ‘em at the 8:22 mark of the first period, when Nicklas Lidstrom joined Patrick Eaves in the penalty box and the Coyotes, who’d scored an early, sneaky goal via Kyle Turris and were peppering Jimmy Howard as the Wings kept going to the penalty box, began a 1:31 slate of 5-on-3 power play time.
Instead of opening what looked like a near-impossible-to-breach 2-goal lead against a Red Wings team that was still shaking off playoff rust, however, the Coyotes found themselves nearly completely shut down by the Wings’ penalty-killers—who ended up having to kill 9:07 of Coyotes PP time as the Wings were steadily sent to the box as an example of what Wings coach Mike Babcock said was an NHL-mandated crackdown on stick fouls—and Jimmy Howard, who stopped 10 of the 28 shots he’d face in the first period. The Wings rallied after killing three more penalties, with Pavel Datsyuk cracking Ilya Bryzgalov en route to a 4-2 win, but the Coyotes very readily admitted that the game pivoted on the Wings’ 5-on-3 kill, as NHL.com’s Brian Hedger noted:
The Detroit Red Wings’ 4-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 1 of their first-round series was almost a little too familiar to Wings fans who’ve stuck with Detroit through its regular-season ups and downs.
The Wings got into penalty trouble early, gave up the game’s first goal and looked like they’d been both backed onto their heels and were hoping to somehow rally from yet another 2-0 or 3-0 deficit in the third period, with the built-in excuse for sloppy play that they’d been afflicted by yet another injury-induced absence in Henrik Zetterberg…
But after Jimmy Howard and the Wings’ PK’ers steadied the ship, the Wings went into the locker room, regrouped, got back down to basic attention-to-detail plays and the kind of focused work ethic that exemplifies playoff hockey—the kind of hockey where the Wings slowly but surely gain possession and control of the puck, possession and control of territory, support each other, start crashing and banging any opponent that insists it can back the Wings off by hitting ‘em into next week, a fantastic effort and fight by Todd Bertuzzi included…
Updated 4x at 6:20 with an intriguing quip from Jimmy: As the game-day post has fallen off the front page, here are some substantial “time-filling” articles that merit mentioning prior to tonight’s faceoff between the Detroit Red Wings and Phoenix Coyotes (FSD/Versus/CBC/WXYT), starting with an article from WXYZ’s Don Shane which attempts to put Wings’ fans’ April, May and June expectations Into perspective:
Today just feels different around town. The atmosphere, the anticipation, the excitement of the NHL playoffs is in the air throughout the city and all of metropolitan Detroit.
Trust me it’s in the Red Wings locker room as well. The players know, and the fans realize there is regular season hockey, then there’s playoff hockey. It’s two different games, two different beasts, two levels of intensity and we have all felt that experience around here for the last 20 years.
As reported by the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema, the NHL’s chief developmental arm, the American Hockey League, chose to make several very significant alterations to its scheduling procedures during its Board of Governors meeting on Wednesday:
Under the new play, the following modifications will take place:
—The regular-season schedule will be reduced from 80 games to 76;
—The playing calendar will be extended by one week;
—All sequences in which teams play four games in five nights will be eliminated;
—The first round of the Calder Cup playoffs will be reduced to a best-of-five series.
[Griffins GM Bob] McNamara said the changes had been discussed since the Griffins first joined the AHL in 2001, and the moves will be good for both players and fans.
“With the four games in five nights, those games were hard on the players with travel and sometimes the quality of those games were not very good,” McNamara said. “I think it will be good for the fans from that standpoint.”
As reported this morning, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock made the difficult decision to scratch Mike Modano, who has yet to regain his pre-wrist-injury form, for tonight’s game against Phoenix (7 PM EDT, FSD/FS Arizona/Versus/CBC/WXYT). Modano spoke to ESPN Dallas’s Richard Durrett about his decision to retire after the Red Wings’ playoff run ends. I don’t want to sound overly harsh hear, but while Modano’s heart is in the right place, it sounds like he’s never really been able to find his “legs” after starting the season two steps behind the Wings in terms of physical conditioning:
“I’m excited about the playoffs,” Modano said. “I think it’s going to be my last one. I’m definitely trying to get as prepared and as excited as I can possibly be knowing it’s my last real run at something. It’s my last chance.”
The Wings start their playoff run Wednesday at home against the Phoenix Coyotes, but Modano, who turns 41 in June, won’t be on the ice. Reports said Wednesday that he’s a healthy scratch. The forward’s play has been inconsistent since he returned in February from a wrist injury that kept him out for half the season. That’s one reason he’s decided it’s time to step away from the game.
Updated 10x at 2:59 with Pang speculation, Modano and Franzen talk and WXYT video: Surprising news as the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the Phoenix Coyotes tonight (7 PM, FSD/FS Arizona/versus/CBC/WXYT): the Free Press’s Helene St. James reports that Wings coach Mike Babcock has chosen to sit Mike Modano as a healthy scratch:
Modano, of Westland, was brought in by the Wings last summer specifically to make them more competitive in the playoffs, but his season was hampered severely by a devastating wrist injury. Since returning in late February, Modano’s play has been up and down, and now he’ll be on the sidelines until needed.
“It’s tough,” he said. “I just need to continue to do what I’m doing and you wait for the call, and then hopefully you take advantage of it.”
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.