The Malik Report
The Detroit Red Wings begin the second half of their 48-games-in-99-nights demolition derby with a pair of games against the Columbus Blue Jackets today (2 PM EST, FSD/FS Ohio/97.1 FM) and tomorrow (5 PM EDT--yeah, spring forward, bleh--FSD/FS Ohio/AM 1270), and the Wings spent Friday's post-practice media availability suggesting that, all things considered, they're happy with the way the 2013 season's gone thus far.
Heading into game 25, the Wings possess a 12-8-and-4 record--essentially, they're at .500--and their 28 points are good for 4th in the Western Conference, likely the highest spot they can possibly finish given the Chicago Blackhawks' first-half record.
For all the Wings' dominant play of late, Thursday's 3-0 win over Edmonton and Tuesday's 2-1 win over Colorado included, the Wings flew to Columbus separated from the 15th-place Blue Jackets by all of 8 points, and the 9th and 10th-place Phoenix Coyotes and Nashville Predators have 25 points.
Updated 12x at 5:05 PM: The Red Wings are back on the ice at Joe Louis Arena following their 3-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers last night, and MLive's Ansar Khan reports that all is...predictable, all ahead of the Wings' slate of back-to-back matinees against Blue Jackets (who've won 3 in a row, including a 2-1 OT win over Colorado, a 4-3 shootout win over Edmonton and a 2-1 OT win over Vancouver last night) Saturday at 2 PM at Nationwide Arena, and Sunday at 5 back at JLA (the Wings are scheduled to fly to Columbus just before 3 PM today):
Very interesting stuff: Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall spoke to ESPN's Craig Custance for an ESPN Insider blog entry, and the Red Wings' NHLPA player representative told Custance that the NHL provided the PA with multiple mock schedules which illustrated the travel teams would have to face, satisfying the players at least to the point that they chose to consent to the league's plan for two seasons:
"Compared to last year, they didn't have anything really mocked up. That was our concern. If [travel] is not going to get much worse, how much worse is it going to be? It was hard to make a call without seeing any numbers whatsoever," Kronwall said when we chatted following Detroit's win over Edmonton on Thursday night. "This time around we did get to see some numbers. It felt like the league wanted to work with the PA on a completely different level. It wasn't just, 'Here it is, take it or leave it."
And in very deliberate Donald Fehr-type fashion, the players took it, reviewed it and gave every player an opportunity to have their say through conference calls with player reps. Along the way, they found a counter-argument to the notion that the West has a playoff advantage.
"People were saying that well maybe in the East maybe you'll have a little bit easier schedule," Kronwall said. "That would make up for the advantage."
Kronwall also told Custance that the NHLPA hopes to convince the owners that shutting down the season and placing players at risk to take part in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi is worth their time, headaches involving the International Olympic Committee and the IIHF included:
From the Red Wings' PR department:
RED WINGS FOUNDATION, TIM HORTONS CAFE & BAKE SHOP BRING BACK ANNUAL WINGS DONUT
... Red Wings Defensemen Brendan Smith To Hold Daily Twitter Contest ...
Detroit, MI… The Detroit Red Wings Foundation and Tim Hortons Cafe & Bake Shop are pleased to announce the return of the “I Love the Red Wings” Donut, a specially-themed, heart-shaped donut decorated with red and white sprinkles. The Red Wings Donut will be available in all Michigan Tim Hortons Cafe & Bake Shop restaurants beginning Friday, March 8 through Sunday, March 17. Proceeds from the sale of the special donut will benefit The Detroit Red Wings Foundation
As part of this special fundraiser, Red Wings defensemen Brendan Smith will encourage fans to tweet a picture of themselves with the “I Love the Red Wings” donut to @TimHortonsUS, @DetroitRedWings and @bssmith7. All participants will be entered for a chance to win a $20 Tim Card, and Brendan will personally pick a winner each day of the fundraiser.
MLive's Ansar Khan clarified the Red Wings' decision to tell Joakim Andersson to "find a place" in Metro Detroit, and it doesn't necessarily mean that Andersson will stay with the Red Wings for the remainder of the season:
Winging it in Motown's Josh Howard promoted an event in which the Red Wings Alumni Association will play a group of amateurs representing the Well Church in Brighton, Michigan this Saturday at 6:30 PM (conveniently taking place after the Wings-Blue Jackets game, which starts at 2 PM), and the Daily Press & Argus's Tim Robinson spoke to one of the event's organizers about the game--and the fact that three NHL trophies will be in attendance as well:
"It's pretty lighthearted," said Scott DesAutel, one of the organizers, and players, in the event. "It'll be a lot of fun. It's almost like the Harlem Globetrotters."
In the past, notable Wings alumni have included Joe Kocur and Mickey Redmond, although neither is available this weekend. The game will be played in two 20-minute periods, with fans having the chance to get autographs from the alumni and have their pictures taken with the Calder, Norris and Lady Byng trophies and get a 4-by-6 inch photo printed to mark the occasion.
"Our motto is, 'It's much more than a hockey game,'" DesAutel said. "We try to stress that. We have 17 players on our team who enjoy playing hockey and coming together as a group, but we want to use our love for our community in a positive manner. We stress healing the people around us, and that's what the game is really about, more than just our going out there and playing."
Tickets are $10 and will be available at the door. A VIP dinner and auction after the game will be held at American Spirit Centre, on Grand River in Brighton. Tickets for the auction-dinner are $40 and are available online at www.thewellmi.com.
DesAutel's hoping to have a bigger piece of hardware visit the rink next year:
"What a difference a couple of days make" might be the theme of this abbreviated 48-games-in-99-nights season, and the Red Wings have certainly learned as much. After dropping 5 straight games, the Wings have won five of their past seven games, including a 2-1 win over Colorado on Tuesday and Thursday night's 3-0 win over Edmonton.
With 24 games in the books, the Wings sit in 4th place in the Western Conference with 28 points, tied with the Vancouver Canucks, and all seems well...But even the 13th-place Oilers sit only 7 points behind the Wings, and Saturday's opponent, the 15th-place Columbus Blue Jackets, could make up a significant chunk of their 8-point deficit on the Wings by sweeping this weekend's back-to-back games (at 2 PM in Columbus on Saturday and 5 PM in Detroit on Sunday).
The Blue Jackets have won two striaght games, too, including a 2-1 overtime decision over Vancouver on Thursday (in which they lost Derek Dorsett for the season due to a collarbone injury), but that story's for...Later today? Oh, right, it's that 48-games-in-99-nights demolition derby, and the only thing that's certain is that teams have to move on from their wins and losses in a hurry, or they'll be losing their next game if they don't stay in the moment.
Updated at 7:11 AM: The last time the Red Wings and Oilers met, they turned and burned through a glorious dogfight's worth of high-octane hockey en route to a 2-1 Wings win.
On Thursday evening, the Wings played an Oilers team that looked like it was trying to run on diesel fuel instead, and with the two top lines struggling to score--go figure--the Wings worked hard and ground out a 2-0 win, perhaps playing a brand of hockey that looked more like a dog fight (with a space between the two words) instead of a dogfight.
I'm guessing that pleased Wings coach Mike Babcock, who battled through laryngitis during the game!
As Paul noted this afternoon, ESPN's Pierre LeBrun believes that Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall's having a Norris Trophy-caliber season, but Kronwall doesn't agree with that assessment per se. Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika's incredibly thorough Three Periods column concludes with the following:
The Wings’ Niklas Kronwall entered Thursday night second among defensemen in scoring with 18 points. But he scoffs at the idea he is a Norris candidate. “Stats only say so much, I think,” he said. “I know I need to be better.” He singled out one stat – his minus-3 – and said he needs to be more consistent in his own end and needs to make better decisions with the puck. “I have a few more levels to reach before I’m really satisfied,” he said.
Well, the long-form late-breaking game-day update post didn't go over so well, so let's try a short one: Red Wings prospect Ryan Sproul was named the OHL's defenisve player of the month for February. From the Ontario Hockey League:
OHL Defenceman of the Month – Ryan Sproul (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds): Ryan Sproul of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds claims Defenceman of the Month honours for the second time this season after leading all blueliners with 21 points in 11 games including five goals and 16 assists. He contributed points in nine of his 11 games played including six multi-point performances. He opened the month of February in style notching his first career five-point game with two goals and three assists claiming first star honours in the 6-5 victory over the Plymouth Whalers.
Sproul, a 20-year-old from Mississauga, ON, is playing in his third career season with the Greyhounds. Selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the second round of the 2011 NHL Draft, Sproul currently leads all OHL defencemen in scoring with 64 points including 19 goals and 45 assists despite playing in just 45 games so far this season.
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.