The Malik Report
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.”
The Detroit Red Wings and Phoenix Coyotes face off for Game 1 of their first-round playoff series tonight (7 PM EDT, FSD/FS Arizona/Versus/CBC/WXYT) in what I can only politely describe as a downright “weird” set of diametrically opposed positions.
As soon as the Red Wings started taking their equipment off after Sunday’s regular season finale against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Wings began to repeatedly state that they respect the heck out of the Coyotes, that they simply won’t take a team that the Wings’ players would argue doesn’t get enough respect lightly in any way, shape, or form, and the Wings have insisted that they’re well aware of the fact that the Coyotes are out for revenge, all while quietly suggesting that the mistakes made and glaring weaknesses exposed in their seven-game series against Phoenix a year ago were exploited by the Sharks in the second round, and that the Wings simply cannot expect to play the same way against Phoenix that they did last year if they plan on earning a hard-fought series win.
Edit/update: All the Coyotes’ reports and multimedia from today are available in the practice update thread, as is an interview with a bit of a jerk named Tyson Nash: Red Wings forward Mike Modano initially stated that he planned on retiring if the Red Wings made the Stanley Cup finals, win or lose, but the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff believes that Modano’s comments on Tuesday afternoon indicate that he’s going to retire regardless of how far the Wings’ playoff run goes:
“This is my one last chance at it, so I’m kind of excited about the opportunity,” Modano said of the upcoming playoffs. “I just hope to make the most of it when I’m called upon.”
Asked if he was definitely talking retirement, Modano nodded.
“I think it is time,” he said. “That’s kind of the way I look at it. The last little while, I’ve thought long and hard about it. I’m just going to try to put everything I have into this, and then that’s going to be it for me.”
Duff also spoke to Niklas Kronwall, who he notes will probably return on Wednesday, and he reveals that, in a perfect world, Henrik Zetterberg would miss at least another week, if not two, with what is probably a sprained MCL:
According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, the NHL’s Hockey Operations department had a little chat with every team to clarify the league’s points of emphasis in terms of rule enforcement:
The NHL’s hockey operations department issued many of the same reminders in its pre-playoff conference call on Monday with NHL coaches and general managers. The league once again stressed teams stay away from each other in the pre-game warmup, and warned all late-game message-sending will be disciplined.
Although there wasn’t a specific discussion on elbow-related incidents or elbowing penalties during the conference call, the trend of seven consecutive sanctions for elbows to the head in the regular season is a hot-button topic for some team executives. Are all elbows to the head suspendable in the playoffs? Should there be more tolerance or leniency in the playoffs, and if so, will this encourage players to embellish after getting hit?
In the final game of the regular season for Chicago and Detroit, Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader leveled Blackhawks defenceman Brent Seabrook with an elbow to the face in the third period. No penalty was called on the play, even though, because of the NHL’s hard-line on headshots, some suggested the possibility of suspension or at least a fine should have been applied. It wasn’t.
After thirteen practice updates, I’m allowed to post a new Red Wings off-day thread, and we’ll kick it off by focusing on NHL.com’s Brian Hedger’s column. Hedger spoke to Niklas Kronwall (good to go?) and Chris Osgood (a ways away) about their recoveries from injuries, Jimmy Howard about the fact that he’s finally feeling comfortable in his own skin (there are a couple of stories about Howard in the practice update), and, mostly, Hedger took due note of the fact that the Red Wings hope to make Joe Louis Arena an imposing destination for their opponents after what can best be described as a frustrating second half of the regular season:
“You want to have your home rink be a place where opponents don’t really want to come,” center Valtteri Filppula said after Tuesday’s practice. “That’s been the case for a long time (here), and the last little bit we haven’t played as well at home as we’ve wanted. That’s definitely something we hope to get changed now that we’re in the playoffs.”
Overall this season, Detroit went 21-14-6 at home—which isn’t exactly bad, but isn’t the kind of home-ice domination fans here want to see. They also went 8-10-2 over the last 20 games at Joe Louis Arena. The struggles weren’t just caused by just one thing, either. The Red Wings have suffered from poor starts and lethargic play at times, as well as carelessness with the puck in their own zone. In a couple of games, it led to some disappointing and embarrassing results—including a 10-3 rout at the hands of the St. Louis Blues on March 30 and a 4-2 loss to the rival Chicago Blackhawks on April 8 in which the Wings were down 3-0 after the first period and 4-0 in the second. More of the same mistakes on Wednesday night against the Coyotes could be even more costly.
Whether it’s the Wings’ press corps, playoff-predicting pundits or what I’ll politely call the “Johnny come latelies” who are writing about hockey because it’s the playoffs, you’ve probably noticed that they’re extensively quoting comments made by Eddie Olczyk, Don Cherry, Pierre Mcguire Keith Jones, who held a conference call with the media on Monday. For the record, and so you know where all this blather’s coming from—and it’s kind of scary how so many reporters are treating the gents’ insistence that the Phoenix Coyotes will knock off the Red Wings like it’s Gospel—here’s a transcript of the conference call:
Most recently updated at 4:38 PM with Paul MacLean on WDFN: According to both the Detroit Red Wings’ Twitter account and the Associated Press’s Larry Lage, the Red Wings returned to practice today to prepare for their first-round series against the Phoenix Coyotes minus one Henrik Zetterberg, who’s still hampered by a sprained left knee:
Red Wings leading scorer Henrik Zetterberg says he’s out for least Game 1 against the Phoenix Coyotes. Zetterberg arrived at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday morning with a brace on his left knee and got a ride to the dressing room on the back of a cart.
Third-seeded Detroit opens the playoffs Wednesday night at home against sixth-seeded Phoenix.
Zetterberg says he doesn’t know if he’ll play in Game 2 on Saturday. He was injured last Wednesday when he was checked by Bryan Allen in the 3-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Here are some quips and quotes from the Wings’ Twitter account:
Updated at 7:39 with Griffins talk: The Detroit Red Wings head back to work today knowing that the Phoenix Coyotes are both out for revenge and that their first-round opponent simply aren’t intimidated by Detroit after pushing the Wings to seven games when the teams last met, and the Coyotes’ players certainly confirmed that line of thinking on Monday, as PhoenixCoyotes.com’s Anthony Perez found when he spoke to defenseman Keith Yandle about the Wings’ nonexistent home-ice advantage:
“When you play in Detroit you get a little more psyched up than an ordinary game because of who they are, (and) what players they have,” Yandle said. “You want to prove that you can play with those guys.”
“Hopefully everyone still has a little bit of the bitter taste in their mouth of losing to them in Game 7,” Yandle said. “Maybe playing Detroit, a team that we’re familiar with in the playoffs and we play them a bunch during the season, maybe it might be a thing where we’re able to pump ourselves up a little bit more, use a little bit from last year for this year.”
Updated 5x with St. James at 4:19: TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that the Wings have placed Derek Meech on re-entry waivers: Detroit Red Wings vice-president Jimmy Devellano and GM Ken Holland spoke to the PostMedia News’s Dave Gross about the fact that, at least this spring, much of the playoff talk in the Western Conference involves the Vancouver Canucks as the favorite to win the Stanley Cup, and Detroit as something of a playoff afterthought, suggesting that there’s nothing wrong with not having to face the kind of pressure to succeed that’s been placed squarely on the Canucks’ shoulders:
“We’ve been a first seed on a number of occasions and in two or three occasions, the eight seed upset us. Edmonton did it to us, San Jose did it to us, and it can happen again. Doesn’t happen often, but it can happen,” said Devellano, Detroit’s senior vice-president and a management veteran of 44 NHL seasons.
If the Canucks are to run the table - as expected by most prognosticators - they’ll have to plow through clubs like the Wings. Teams that are battle-tested, experienced and prepared. The Wings have won four Cups since 1997 and have made the playoffs 20 straight seasons. Words of advice from Detroit general manager Ken Holland?
“You need depth on defence. You need depth up front and you need balance. You need scoring up and down your lineup,” said Holland. “There’s some nights when your best players don’t score, and for us, obviously, 1997, ‘98 and ‘02, you think about the (Kirk) Maltby/(Kris) Draper/(Darren) McCarty line, not only did they chip in the odd goal, but could play against the other team’s best line. They all could kill penalties. They could eat up some minutes and they could take minutes off our best players.”
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.