The Malik Report
The Detroit Red Wings chose to take an overnight flight back to Detroit after dropping a 3-2 decision to the San Jose Sharks in the seventh and deciding game of their second round series, and it’s the kind of loss that the Wings, and quite possibly their fans, will probably lose sleep over. The Wings surrendered the game’s first two gaols and lost two players to concussions in Danny Cleary and Todd Bertuzzi, and while the Wings tried to mount a furious comeback but couldn’t manage to tie the Sharks in no small part due to the fact that the shorthanded team went 0-for-4 on the power play, and via another classically “fluky bounce,” a third goal early in the third period. That goal, scored by Patrick Marleau, wound up being the game-winner, and, put simply…
Injuries, the law of averages, bad ice, bad bounces and giving a team four opportunities to knock you off added up to a handshake line and the status of a historical footnote for a team that never dreamed it would be defeated by the same opponent in back-to-back playoff meetings for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. The WIngs quite literally played in the tightest playoff series ever, according to the Elias Sports Bureau—six of seven games were decided by one goal and both teams scored a total of 16 goals—but the Wings will have to gather at Joe Louis Arena on either Saturday or Monday to clean out their lockers, engage in exit interviews and start to ponder the futures of Kris Draper, Mike Modano, Ruslan Salei, Chris Osgood, Drew Miller, Patrick Eaves, Jonathan Ericsson and of course Nicklas Lidstrom as the Wings’ management spends a long summer making tweaks to the roster, hoping for a better result a calendar year from now.
Updated with LeBrun at 2:06 AM:
The Red Wings appear to be staying in San Jose tonight based on Flightaware’s status of Red Bird II as still in California, and as that means the Wings will probably fly home in the morning
Make that the Detroit Red Wings are flying home from San Jose but won’t arrive at Metro Airport until nearly 6 AM, which means that they’ll either engage in their locker room clean-out on Saturday or Monday. After the Wings clean out their lockers and speak to the media one last time, they’ll continue to come down to the Joe for medical treatment (see: Johan Franzen, Danny Cleary, Todd Bertuzzi) and engage in exit interviews with the coaches and management, but after their interviews, most of the players who don’t have kids will head to their summer homes, and the ones who do have children will stick around until the school year ends.
The latter group includes Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who told the Associated Press that he’s not planning on doing anything less than the usual in taking his time and speaking to the Wings’ coaches, management and, most importantly, his family before deciding whether he’s going to continue playing:
“I’m going to take my time before making a decision,” Lidstrom said. “We’ll have our meetings and go from there. I’m going to take the whole year into account. I’ll take about as much time as last year. I’ll meet with the coaching staff. It’s been tough the last couple of years.”
Update: ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun weighs in:
Updated with the handshake line: The Detroit Red Wings simply ran out of time, dropping a 3-2 decision to the San Jose Sharks because the Wings’ power play came up empty, because the Wings made too many un-forced errors and because the Wings were plain old worn down and worn out by attempting to rally without Todd Bertuzzi or Danny Cleary—or the injured Johan Franzen, who the Wings missed so very much.
The Wings did their best, but on their fourth try, the Sharks knocked them off. Full credit to the Sharks, but I am damn proud of my Wings, historical footnote status or not, for rallying and pushing the Sharks as far as they did.
Now we face an off-season that’s come too early for Hockeytown’s liking and a summer full of questions about Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Osgood, Kris Draper, Patrick Eaves, Drew Miller, Mike Modano, Jonathan Ericsson and probably Jiri Hudler’s futures…
Thank you, Red Wings, thank you for all you gave us. We wish you could have given us a little more, but we’re still very proud of you.
Update: FSD reports that both Cleary and Bertuzzi suffered concussions.
Updated 4x at 8:22 PM FSD’s John Keating says that Franzen is out, Modano is out and Draper is in, and CSN bay Area reports that Clowe is in for the Sharks: After a day spent posting oodles of game-day updates, I find myself getting edgy and jittery an hour-and-a-half before puck drop, but unlike Paul, I think I’ll keep the eating to a minimum till after the Red Wings and Sharks tangle tonight (don’t forget that both Fox Sports Detroit and Versus will air one-hour pre-game shows leading up to the 9 PM faceoff, and the game will also air on CSN Bay Area, TSN and WXYT). All that either team could possibly have said either substantively or in the cliche department has been said, and aside from updating you on the statuses of Johan Franzen and Ryane Clowe (which I’ll post here), RedWingsFeed provides the perfect NHL-produced Game 7 teaser to tide us over until the game begins:
Updated 2x at 7:59 PM with a great Jimmy Howard story: Of rather random note for your pre-game reading enjoyment:
Yahoo Sports’ Justin Bourne pondered the difficulties of attempting to defend against Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk, suggesting that Datsyuk’s combination of tremendous strength, impeccable stickhandling and a limitless amount of creativity makes Datsyuk so inherently unpredictable that attempting to defeat #13 is almost always a losing proposition:
He changes the pace with a sharp fluidity, if that’s possible, and they seem to know — if we go at him because he’s stopped, he’s going to dish to a linemate flying into the zone and we’d be hosed. If we give him space, well, then we’ve just given Pavel Datsyuk time and space in the offensive zone, which is just about as petrifying a concept as watching Gretzky with it, the father of the jam-packed arsenal.
He’s one of the rare players in the league that nobody has a book on because of that seemingly endless creativity, his inability to get stuck in one mode which so many other forwards succumb to. It’s easy to get locked in — “I’m shooting here” — yet he seems to have no lock.
According to the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff, Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman is cheering on his former team from afar as the Red Wings attempt to rally from a 3-0 deficit against the San Jose Sharks:
“It’s very exciting,” said Yzerman, Detroit’s captain for two decades. “I’ve been watching and enjoying it. I appreciate how hard they work, how skilled they are. Being down 3-0 to a very good San Jose team, to battle back just to 3-3, there’s so little margin for error in those three games. It’s been tremendous hockey, it’s been great for our league.”
“Knowing the coaching staff, knowing the entire organization and the players, I’m very happy for them,” he said. “They’ve really competed hard. Every time somebody wants to write them off as it’s the end of an era, or they’re too old, that’s it, they just come back stronger than ever.”
Updated 9x at 7:13 PM: As the Detroit Red Wings and SanJose Sharks prepare to face off tonight (9 PM EDT, FSD preceded by a one-hour pre-game show/CSN Bay Area/Versus [edit: also preceded by a one-hour pre-game show]/TSN/WXYT), the Mercury News’s David Pollak reports that the Sharks are treating Ryane Clowe’s status like a state secret:
As promised, Ryane Clowe is on the ice right now at HP Pavilion.He’s skating and passing the puck with assistant coach Jay Woodcroft as the rest of the team — except for goalies, Jamie McGinn and Justin Braun — is not going to be out there this morning.
And after the skate...
However Ryane Clowe is feeling after his 20-minute skate this morning is his secret at the moment. Oh, the organization probably knows, but the team did not make Clowe available to the assembled media horde — and this time, there really is one, after his workout.
The Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks face off tonight in the seventh and deciding game of their second-round series (9 PM EDT, FSD with a one-hour pre-game show/CSN Bay Area/Versus/TSN/WXYT) set to participate in what the media types will insist is one of the greatest spectacles in all of sport (singular)—for someone without a rooting interest, anyway—but the stark reality of tonight’s game is simple:
It’s win or golf for both teams, with the reward consisting of a place in the record books and nothing more than the halfway mark on what it hopes will be a truly special playoff run, with the rested Vancouver Canucks lying in wait to pounce upon a theoretically mentally and physically exhausted victor, and the penalty for defeat consisting of a summer and following regular season’s worth of potentially crippling doubt, questions about your team’s heart, lost place among the pantheon of playoff contenders and status as nothing more than a historical footnote. The NHL won’t make a trite, “History Will be Made” commercial about the loser, the media won’t laud the heart and composure of the team that winds up on the losing side of the scoresheet tonight, and the loser’s players and paying fans will have a full year to wonder why their team couldn’t capture that one game that meant much more than history; instead, tonight’s game is about survival. Nothing more, and nothing less.
Updated with the obligatory “History Will be Made” commercial, and if it matters, there’s no Clowe in San Jose: While the Toronto Star’s Cathal Kelly ponders the “safety” of Detroit as a hockey city and Ray Ratto’s ever-so-slightly worried about the state of Sa Jose Sharks’ fans’ stats of mind, the Red Wings landed in San Jose around 1:20 PM local time and began to prepare for Game 7 with oodles of experience on their side.
Ken Holland believes in retaining and bringing in veteran players very specifically because they’re not only steadying influences upon and example-setting mentors for the team’s younger players, but also because, in the playoffs, age and experience are assets, not liabilities. The 35-plus crowd tends to possess the rare combination of desire to win like there’s no tomorrow (because there might not be an NHL tomorrow for them) steely calm when it comes to dealing with the ecstatic highs and staggering lows of playoff hockey.
NHL.com’s Brian Hedger reports that the Wings have over seventy Game 7’s worth of experience to their credit, but one of the Wings’ most senior partners believes that it’s hard to discount the fact that the team’s young core has played in its share of elimination games, too:
FOX Sports Detroit will re-air a condensed version Game 6 Thursday from 6-8 pm… here’s our programming lineup for Thursday night:
6:00 PM – Replay, Game 6 Red Wings vs. San Jose (2-hour version)
8:00 PM – Red Wings Live Pregame (one-hour edition)
9:00 PM – Game 7, Red Wings vs. San Jose
11:30 PM (or when game ends) – Red Wings Live Postgame
12:00 AM approx. – Replay, Game 7, Red Wings vs. San Jose (2-hour version)
For the record, the NHL just posted a press release hyping the action, too:
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.