The Malik Report
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
Here are five things to watch this week
1. Florida sliding out of playoff contention
The New York Rangers, Washington and Boston have distanced themselves from Florida in recent weeks. The Panthers (20-14-10) are winless in four (0-3-1) and are seven points behind the Capitals and Bruins for the final wild card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Panthers have won both meetings this season from the Red Wings (4-3 and 3-2 in a shootout, both at Joe Louis Arena). Florida is 5-2-0 vs. Detroit since the start of last season, winning three times in a shootout.
Florida has difficulty scoring, with only two players in double figures in goals - Nick Bjugstad (15) and Jimmy Hayes (13).
2. Division lead on the line in Tampa Bay?
Thursday's game at Tampa Bay could be for the Atlantic Division lead, at least temporarily.
Tampa Bay (30-14-4) has won three in a row and is 10-3-0 in its past 13, but leads the Red Wings by only one point.
The Red Wings' situation in goal isn't particularly complicated over the short haul. According to Fox Sports Detroit's Keith Gave, Jimmy Howard (groin) and Jonas Gustavsson (shoulder) are at least a week or two out, so Petr Mrazek and Tom McCollum will continue to take the reins for the next week or two...
"With Gustavsson, the plan right now is for him to practice Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and then we'll sit down on Thursday and have a conversation about what to do," [Red Wings GM Ken] Holland said, acknowledging that if Gustavsson is cleared to play there's a good chance he'll get a game or two with Grand Rapids before returning to the Detroit roster.
"With Howard, we're hoping he's to a point where he could do some off-ice work with our trainers," Holland said. "He just had five days off for the All-Star break. If he didn't go to Florida, he'd be looking at 9-10 days by himself. I would think he'd come with us so we can slowly start ramping him up."
And as such, Jared Coreau and Pat Nagle will tend the net in Grand Rapids. That works for now, as Gave notes...
The Red Wings posted an "opener" of a behind-the-scenes set of videos that will chronicle their Western Canadian road trip on Friday...
Yesterday, they posted a behind-the-scenes clip of the team's visit to Vancouver...
The AHL is holding its All-Star skills competition tonight at 8 PM EST and its All-Star Game tomorrow at 7 PM. The AHL will stream both events online, and Fox Sports Detroit (click for all the AHL ASG's TV options) will air the ASG live and tape delay the skills competition to 10 PM on Monday night.
Teemu Pulkkinen's the Grand Rapids Griffins' lone representative due to Xavier Ouellet nursing a sore wrist, but Pulkkinen will start for the Western Conference on Monday, and even after spending a week and a half in Detroit, he sits 2nd in AHL scoring with 21 goals, 22 assists and 43 points registered over the course of only 36 games played.
His sojourn with the Wings ended with Mike Babcock promising to send video to Jeff Blashill to ensure that Pulkkinen graduates to the NHL on a full-time basis having remedied his few deficiencies, and Pulkkinen telling Fox Sports Detroit's Keith Gave that he knows he has room for improvement, and tonight and tomorrow's activities represent the end of a particularly grueling schedule for Pulkkinen, as the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner noted:
My involuntary hiatus has continued due to a medication change, but I've been thinking about the Wings as much as I usually think about the Wings--most of the time--and the more I look at TSN's Darren Dreger's list of trade deadline targets, the Myerses and Yandles, Petrys and Michaleks included, and the Greens, Sekeras, and Zidlickys...
And then I weigh the cost of adding said players against the Red Wings' current stable of on-the-roster Xavier Ouellet, then Alexey Marchenko, Nick Jensen and Ryan Sproul in Grand Rapids, the steps forward that Danny DeKeyser, Brendan Smith and even Kyle Quincey have made in Detroit...
The game will be played at Coors Field on Saturday, February 27, 2016 in prime time.
added 1:24pm, Colorado Avalanche relese below...
The Red Wings posted the first part of what will be a 4-part video series chronicling the team's Western Canadian road trip, and I hope this video is a harbinger of more things to come:
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
There also were questions about the goaltending situation and prospects with the Grand Rapids Griffins:
Q: Seems everyone still wants to have a top-four defenseman who shoots right but I can't see it happening because the asking prices are high on what appears to be a shallow market. Can't see the Wings paying a lot for a rental. I still think they trade (Jakub) Kindl, a roster player such as (Joakim) Andersson and a pick for a good forward. This makes room for (Xavier) Ouellet on the D. He's your D upgrade. I've been hearing the Wings checked in on Arizona's Antoine Vermette and Colorado's Ryan O'Reilly. Are either possible options for the Wings? If they opt to trade for a forward and make room for Ouellet, who else might they target?
A: You're right in that the Red Wings aren't going to pay a lot for a rental. In fact, I don't think they'll pay a lot even for a player who's locked up for several years. As I've said in recent weeks, don't expect the Red Wings to part with a top prospect, any of their good, young roster players or a first-round pick for that right-handed shooting defenseman.
There's no urgency to make such a move. If the Red Wings acquire a defenseman by the March 2 trade deadline I think it'll be third-pair, depth guy.
I don't think there's any need to acquire a forward. And trading Kindl, Andersson and a pick wouldn't get them a top-six forward anyway. I don't believe Vermette or O'Reilly are realistic trade possibilities for the Red Wings.
The 23-man roster limit is lifted at the trade deadline, so they wouldn't need to make room for Ouellet.
Via RedWingsFeed, the Free Press's Helene St. James reports that it's probably too late for the NHL to recruit a Red Wings player to represent the team at the All-Star Game:
As it stood this morning, the Wings were not going to have any representatives at this weekend's NHL All-Star Game in Columbus. The one Wing selected, goaltender Jimmy Howard, had to pull out because of injury, leaving only the possibility of an injury to a selected skater as a way for Wings player to go. Pittsburgh Penguins All-Star Evgeni Malkin came up injured Wednesday night, creating an opening -- but don't expect a Wing to cover for him.
The NHL inquired last week whether Henrik Zetterberg or Pavel Datsyuk were interested and was soundly rebuffed. Gustav Nyquist would have been a natural choice, with his 19 goals and 17 assists and his flair for puck dangling that is perfect for the skills competition that is the All-Star Game. He, however, left Wednesday morning for Mexico.
Tomas Tatar, who leads the Wings with 21 goals, would have been another option, but he also headed south Wednesday.
St. James continues, and I'm sure that Tatar or Nyquist wouldn't have minded going to the ASG if they weren't already on vacation.
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
"What I like about him is the tenacity to get the puck back, his ability to play hard. He loves to score," Babcock said. "Tats is in a journey, doing a real good job. We'd like him to turn into a top-six forward that can play all night every night against the best people."
Teammates have also taken notice of his impressive abilities. He's much stronger than many would think for a 5-foot-10, 185-pound guy -- that much is evident during battle drills or when he absorbs and reverses a hit during a game. Center Riley Sheahan said Tatar is a hound on the puck, too. Even when he loses it, he's usually only three strides away from getting it back.
"I guess 'resiliency' would be a good word for it," Sheahan told ESPN.com.
Resilience is something Tatar and other Red Wings prospects have had to have in ample reserve, what with the tiebreak always going to veterans in Babcock's lineup decisions and a roster that must feel near impossible to crack.
Tatar posted three straight 20-plus-goal seasons in the AHL before he got his first extended stay in Detroit.
"And look at what happens in Edmonton," one visiting broadcaster remarked recently. "Ryan Nugent-Hopkins gets a seven-year extension after scoring four goals [in 2013]."
Contracts, and roster spots, are earned in Detroit. Tatar knew that as he was honing his game in the minors with the Griffins, but it didn't make the road ahead any less daunting for the Slovakia native.
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.