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TMR evening lines: Blashill on the Wings’ defense and some Wings-Hawks talk

In lieu of saving these for the overnight report, I'm going with two "evening lines." Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said this when asked about possibly playing Brendan Smith over Alexey Marchenko on Sunday, as noted by the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness...

“I don’t think it’s a matter of what he needs to do better, as I said when he came out I didn’t think it was a matter of what he did wrong,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “I’ve got seven, in my opinion, NHL defensemen and I can only play six of them. We’re splitting hairs a little bit on who goes in and who goes out."

Blashill commented on the long lay-off between games (3 days) as the team attempts to split its home-and-home series with the Blachawks...

"We’re just trying to do what we can to win a game on Sunday,” Blashill said. “I don’t like to see guys sit too long, but sometimes you can’t avoid that. We have to do everything we can to get points. We’re putting the six in that in our estimation gives us the best chance to win Sunday and we’ll re-evaluate it after every game and go from there.”

And both Blashill and Larkin spoke with DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji regarding the adjustments that the Wings will be making:

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Galli on Dylan Larkin and the charitable donut

Via RedWingsFeed, Dylan Larkin sold donuts to benefit the Red Wings Foundation at Tim Horton's this morning, and WXYZ's Brad Galli chronicled Larkin's morning shift:

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Wings-Avs Stadium Series game’s TV ratings weren’t very good

From Sports Video Group's Jason Dachman:

NHL’s Outdoor Game Ratings Slide Continues in Denver

For the second week in a row, the NHL scored its smallest outdoor game audience on broadcast television. Saturday’s Red Wings/Avalanche NHL Stadium Series game scored a 1.0 final rating and 1.7 million viewers on NBC, up 25% in ratings and 21% in viewership from an indoor Rangers/Flyers game last year (0.8, 1.4M) but down 38% and 39%, respectively, from Penguins/Blackhawks in the Stadium Series two years ago (1.6, 2.8M). The Red Wings’ win ranks as the lowest rated and least-watched NHL outdoor game on broadcast television (12 telecasts dating back to 2008).

The previous lows were set six days earlier by Blackhawks/Wild (1.1, 1.9M). While the Stadium Series game itself struggled, NBC Sports Group’s Hockey Day In America tripleheader was up 21%, averaging more than 1.2 million viewers across NBC and NBCSN compared to last year’s 992,000.


Wednesday’s Blackhawks/Red Wings game on NBCSN averaged 848,000 viewers for the rivalry game, marking the network’s most-watched regular-season outing since 2013 (not counting opening night games). That was up 42% over the average Wednesday Night Rivalry viewership for the first quarter of 2015. Chicago led all local markets with a 5.4 rating for the Blackhawks’ win, with Detroit scoring a 3.0.

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Kerry Fraser’s upset at another Wings hit

Jonathan Ericsson's hit on Andrew Desjardins during Wednesday night's game wasn't pretty--it probably should have been penalized as boarding--and the fact that Desjardins got an extra roughing minor for attempting to fight Ericsson was a little baffling...

But it appears that TSN's Kerry Fraser is "seeing red" in calling out Ericsson:

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Articles from practice: Smith may return; Larkin discusses offensive drought

Updated 2x at 4:20 PM: The Red Wings practiced at the University Liggett School on Friday due to a conflict with the Horizon Basketball League, and at said practice, Brendan Smith appeared to have drawn back into the lineup.

The Free Press's George Sipple spoke with coach Jeff Blashill and Smith regarding #2's probability of playing in Chicago on Sunday:

"We looked at it today with him back in,” Blashill said of Smith. “I just reserve the right to look at it in practice and decide what we’re going to do tomorrow and then what we’ll do Sunday.”

Blashill said the scratches are not a matter of anything Smith has done wrong.

“I’ve got seven, in my opinion, NHL defensemen that I can only play six of ’em,” Blashill said. “We’re splitting hairs on who goes in, who goes out. I think, as a D-corps, we need to make sure that we get the puck out of our end, not by throwing it away. Preferably by going tape-to-tape. ... We can’t turn pucks over, and he’s certainly included in that. When (Smith) is playing his best, he’s managing the puck well and he’s getting involved in the play, both on the rush and in the O-zone.”

Smith suggested to Sipple that he can do just that...

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Griffins sign Joel Chouinard

From the Grand Rapids Griffins, via RedWingsFeed:


The Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday signed defenseman Joel Chouinard to a standard player’s contract.

Since joining the Griffins on a professional tryout on Feb. 11, Chouinard has accumulated three points (1-2—3) and a plus-three rating in seven games. He scored the game-winning goal in his Griffins debut, a 4-3 win at Iowa on Feb. 13.

In 38 games for the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye, Chouinard accumulated 25 points (6-19—25) – still the most for any defenseman on the team – while also tallying 30 PIM. Chouinard also appeared in one game for the Chicago Wolves this season, a 4-3 victory at Grand Rapids on Jan. 17.

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Practice Tweets: Smith draws back in; Larkin promotes the charitable donut

Updated 4x at 12:55 PM: The Red Wings skated at the University Liggett School on Friday as Joe Louis Arena has a basketball floor on its ice surface, per MLive's Ansar Khan...

#RedWings defense pairs:
Looks like Smith be back in for Marchenko. Not official.


#RedWings lines same:


Pulkkinen paired with Marchenko on D during 5 on 5 drills, so it looks they'll be scratched.

The Free Press's George Sipple...

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Prospect news: Holmstrom scores for Skelleftea; Marsh keeps shooting

Of prospect-related note:

In the SHL, Axel Holmstrom scored the 2-0 goal, won 50% of his faceoffs and played 13:05 in Skelleftea AIK's 3-0 win over Djurgardens IF. You can watch Holmstrom's goal here or here, and that's Holmstrom's 8th goal and 23rd point in 46 games played;

Christoffer Ehn finished at -1 in 4:34 of ice time as the Frolunda Indians lost 2-0 to Linkpopings HC;

In the QMJHL, Adam Marsh had 3 shots, lost a faceoff and had a hit in the Saint John Sea Dogs' 4-1 win over Drummondville.

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Early overnight report: Waiting on ‘the rematch’

Our friends from Chicago had one job on Thursday, and they screwed up, losing 4-2 to the Boston Bruins. As a result, the Bruins have pulled 3 points ahead of the Red Wings for the final Atlantic Division playoff spot.

Now that the Hawks' back-to-back slate is over, the the currently Wild Card-occupying Wings and the West's best team will both have 2 days to prepare for Sunday's rematch.

The Free Press's Helene St. James duly noted that the Wings plan on "playing smarter" against the Hawks, first executing better on special teams, and then trading fewer chances to avoid getting caught up in the Hawks' speed game:

Special teams often win or lose a game for a team, and the Wings can’t quite seem to get theirs to function at the same time. Their power play, encouragingly, has converted in the past two games after going 0-for-17 the previous six. The penalty kill had excelled six straight games before getting beaten twice by Chicago. The penalty kill has been the more reliable of special teams throughout the season, whereas the power play has been been a thorn for months.

The overriding reaction from the Wings after they lost to the defending Stanley Cup champions was a mandate not to give up as many rushes Sunday.

“We have to play smarter game there, don’t give them many chances,” goaltender Petr Mrazek said.

St. James also points out that Petr Mrazek has to step up, which we've already discussed, and she duly notes that the Wings might want to score the first goal as well:

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TMR afternoon line: Blashill believes in the Wings’ current roster

USA Today's Karen Shilton took note of Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill's comments about the Wings' inactivity at the trade deadline, and I thought Blashill stood his ground pretty damn well:

“We’ve been a playoff team almost the whole season,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Anybody that thinks it’s easy can come and sit with us every night. This is a hard league, everybody’s about the same. I said the other day and I know this — we’re a good enough to team to win.”

The Red Wings are 32-21-11, fourth in the Atlantic Division and occupying the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. But only five points separate them from the division-leading Florida Panthers. They are aiming to reach the playoffs for the 25th season in a row.

Blashill doesn’t see the advantage in being hasty, even with the standings tight.

“I think people get excited about what they don’t have,” he said. “A lot of times people think the grass is greener. A lot of times the unknown is more exciting. I like the known. I like what we have as a team.”

Shilton continues...

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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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