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Red Wings-Sharks series and Game 1 set-up: which team’s more highly evolved?

If you missed any of yesterday’s late-breaking practice updates and are preparing to watch the first game of the Detroit Red Wings’ second-round series against the San Jose Sharks tonight (10 PM EDT, FSD/CSN Bay Area/Versus/TSN/WXYT), you might find yourself a little bit confused.

With the “experts” nearly split as to which team will prevail over what seems to be a long and drawn-out series in the making, there’s no doubt that the Red Wings will need to shake off whatever rust nine days’ worth of rest has deposited upon them by attempting to ratchet up their penalty-killing while surviving the first ten-to-twenty minutes of hockey at the raucous Shark Tank tonight, but whether the Wings’ and Sharks’ players will tangle in a series of two evenly-matched teams who will win or lose based upon which team does a better job of sustaining possession and control of the puck in the offensive zone, executing on their chances and working for an edge in special teams play, or whether we’re simply looking at a series where one of the teams hasn’t changed at all, but the other one has grown stronger, and that stronger team will prevail…

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Red Wings GM Ken Holland learned from ‘being rushed’

Red Wings GM Ken Holland’s brief career as NHL goaltender tells you almost all you need to know about his managerial style: Holland was an undersized but highly intelligent and hard-working back-up goaltender who believes that his initial call-up from the AHL came far, far too early in his development. His first NHL game, played as a goaltender for the Hartford Whalers, shattered his confidence in himself, as he tells the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle:

“I remember that first intermission, sitting in Madison Square Garden, thinking that I’d finally made the NHL and that’s where I belonged,” Holland recalled. “Then I can remember the second intermission, sitting in the locker room, thinking, ‘I’m never going to see the NHL ever again.’ ” Holland was so convinced he wouldn’t get another chance to play, he set his mind on enjoying every second of the third period, even on the wrong end of a 7-3 blowout. When a shot broke the glass behind him, “I thought ‘this is going to add 10 more minutes,’ ” he said, chuckling. “Everyone gets their time in the sun, their little moment, and this was mine.”

So, not surprisingly, Holland believes that the Wings’ decision to, as a rule, ask their prospects to take part in a one-to-three-year internship with the Grand Rapids Griffins, ripening, if not over-ripening, before being slowly worked into the Wings’ lineup isn’t just smart—it’s essential:

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Already? Red Wings prospect tournament dates finalized

The Detroit Red Wings will be holding training camp in Traverse City, MI next September 17th-20th, and RedWingsCentral’s Sarah Lindenau, writing on her Left Wing Lock blog, reports that the Wings and Centre Ice Arena have firmed up dates for the prospect tournament as well:

The 2011 NHL Prospects tournament has been finalized and can be viewed here. This years tournament will run from September 10th through September 14th. Tickets to all games can be purchased on site and are $10 for the day.

The tournament has had nearly 300 players make the NHL including 2011 Calder trophy nominee Jeff Skinner. This year’s tournament will feature teams from Detroit, Buffalo, Carolina, Columbus, Dallas, Minnesota, New York, and St. Louis. The Tampa Bay Lightning were originally slated to return to the tournament but dropped out and were replaced by newcomer Buffalo. Stay tuned to the Left Wing Lock for details as they become available.

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Red Wings-Sharks practice updates: Datsyuk, Zetterberg may play together on Friday

Updated 7x at 10:26 PM: Amongst today’s pre-Red Wings and Sharks practice updates, we start with a few comments from Red Wings GM Ken Holland, who appeared on Puck Daddy Radio today to talk about the Wings-Sharks series and the octopus-tossing tradition in Detroit, via Greg Wyshynski’s Twitter account:

Ken Holland on octopus tossing: “When anthem is sung in DET, and at the end there’s octopi on the ice, I don’t really see problem.” #PDRadio
...
Ken Holland tells us Steve Yzerman was on his GM of the Year ballot. (I know - stunned!) #PDRadio #redwings

• This is particularly important given MLive’s Jonathan Oosting’s recap of the fact that 25-year-old Charlie Graves is the second Wings fan to be both fined $500 and face a “disorderly conduct” misdemeanor for throwing an octopus onto Joe Louis Arena’s ice—and Graves reported that it was the Wings’ ushers who turned him in to the Detroit Police department;

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Happy birthday, The Perfect Human: Red Wings’ Nicklas Lidstrom turns 41

The Detroit Red Wings’ captain turns 41 today, and in light of this fact, Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner profiled “The Perfect Human,” who at least sounds like he’s got a season or two left in his legs, family willing…

“I have no control whatsoever over this one (laughs), but I don’t feel my age,” he said. “I still feel younger. I think it helps being part of a team, especially where some of the guys—actually all of the guys—are younger than me. That helps me, that’s the mindset for me. I don’t feel my age, but I’m not going to be like a Chelios (play until he’s near 50), but I’m trying to stay in shape like Chelli did.”

But over the course of Steve Yzerman’s tenure with the Red Wings as a player an executive, Regner duly notes that Yzerman believed the team wasn’t built around #19—it was the concept of a puck-moving defense anchored by #5 that Ken Holland and Jim Nill chose to use as their blueprint for success, and that’s the truth, plain and simple:

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Red Wings, Sharks size each other up, series previews and Datsyuk Selke talk

After the Detroit Red Wings took part in a late-morning practice at Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday, the equipment truck headed to Metro Airport and was closely followed by the players, who took a five-hour flight which didn’t land in San Jose until nearly midnight Detroit time, and on Thursday, the Wings will hit the ice today—on Nicklas Lidstrom’s 41st birthday—in San Jose to prepare for Friday night’s series opener (click for the TV schedule: FSD won’t carry games 4 or 5).

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Red Wings-Sharks schedule, TV details released

Per DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose, the NHL has released its schedule for the Red Wings-Sharks series, and the Wings have firmed up the TV details as well:

Game 1 Fri., Apr. 29 10 p.m. at HP Pavilion on Versus/TSN/FSD
Game 2 Sun., May 1 3 p.m. at HP Pavilion on NBC/TSN
Game 3 Wed., May 4 8 p.m. at Joe Louis Arena on Versus/TSN/FSD
Game 4 Fri., May 6 7 p.m. at Joe Louis Arena on Versus/TSN only (no FSD)
Game 5* Sun., May 8 8 p.m. at HP Pavilion on Versus/TSN only (no FSD)
Game 6* Tue., May 10 TBD at Joe Louis Arena on Versus/TSN/FSD
Game 7* Thu., May 12 TBD at HP Pavilion on Versus/TSN/FSD

Fox Sports Detroit’s confirms that the fourth and fifth games are Versus exclusives in the U.S., and all Fox Sports Detroit telecasts will be broadcast in HD.

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From Sports Illustrated: all about Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk

As noted by the Red Wings’ website, Pavel Datsyuk was named a finalist for the Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward, and Sports Illustrated’s Brian Cazenueve profiled the Wings forward in nothing less than a frame-worthy article:

THE RED WINGS discovered Datsyuk as a teenager quite by accident in 1997, when their chief European scout Hakan Andersson went to Moscow to watch someone else. Instead he saw the 19-year-old Datsyuk, then about 5’7” and 150 pounds—he goes 5’11”, 194 now—but with magic hands and hockey sense beyond his years. Andersson convinced Holland to take the wispy sprite with the 171st pick in the 1998 entry draft. Datsyuk was certain his Dynamo club teammates were kidding when they told him he’d been drafted into the NHL. “They showed me the newspaper two days later,” Datsyuk says, “And I thought, ‘O.K., printing mistake.’”

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Red Wings practice updates: the second round will start on Friday

Updated 8x at 3:43 PM Brodie Brazil reports that Versus might claim “exclusivity” rights for Game 1; Franzen and Salei are good to go for Friday: Per the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness, the Selke Trophy finalist and SI-profiled forward Pavel Datsyuk and the Detroit Red Wings have one big piece of the playoff puzzle answered ahead of their cross-continental flight to San Jose:

The Wings and Sharks will start their Western Conference semifinal series Friday night at the HP Pavilion.

Game 2 will be Sunday.

Game 3 and 4 will be in Detroit next Wednesday and Friday.

MLive’s Ansar Khan confirms:

Game 1: Friday night at San Jose.
Game 2: Sunday at San Jose, 3 p.m. (presumably on NBC)
Game 3: Wednesday, May 4 at Detroit
Game 4: Friday, May 6 at Detroit

As does the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan.

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IIHF says European participation in NHL continues to decline

I’m never sure whether to take these “studies” at face value. The IIHF’s Andrew Podnieks and Szymon Szemberg claim that the number of European players participating in the NHL has declined for yet another season, because as they publis their report/statistical analysis, there’s an implicit dig being levied at the NHL for completely draining the Czech and Slovak republics of any hope of a developmental system, which was the charge levied at the NHL by the IIHF at the “World Hockey Summit”:

The number of Europeans in the NHL in 2010-11 continued the steady decline and is now the lowest in eleven years. The only country which goes against the trend is Sweden. There were a whopping 63 Swedes in the NHL this season, the highest number ever for the blue and yellow. In all, there were 978 players who played at least one game in the National Hockey League during the 2010-2011 regular season. Of that number, 224 were Europeans, a 22.9 percentage share.

As well, there were only 36 of 139 players in the league this year from Europe who played their first NHL games (25.9 per cent). Most disturbing is that some of hockey’s traditional centres were so poorly represented. For instance, of the 139 first-game players only two were from the Czech Republic and Finland, and only one from Slovakia. There were just six Russians, and again Sweden led the way with 16 newcomers to the NHL, almost triple second place Russia.

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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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