The Malik Report
Updated 11x at 2:47 PM: As the Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks prepare to face off tonight (8 PM EDT, FSD/CSN Bay Area/Versus/TSN/WXYT), big news emerged regarding the absence of a particular Shark, as noted by the Detroit News’s John Niyo:
Ryane Clowe out for Sharks. Didn’t make trip. Talk of flu-like symptoms, but have to think its result of Kronwall hit in Gm 5?
Johan Franzen also skipped the Wings’ morning skate, as noted by the Red Wings social media coordinator Jake Duhaime, which means that Mike Modano’s in (more after the jump):
The Detroit Red Wings face off against the San Jose Sharks tonight (8 PM EDT, FSD or CSN Bay Area locally/Versus or TSN nationally/WXYT) still facing elimination and still hoping, at best, to force a seventh and deciding game in San Jose on Thursday, but the Wings still have nothing to lose but the series, and as such, Wings coach Mike Babcock and GM Ken Holland made a near-staggering set of proclamations when they stepped off of Red Bird II on Monday, as noted by the CBC’s series blogger:
“Oh, we’re getting on it,” Babcock said, looking toward the plane.
[Pavel] Datsyuk was also looking forward to adding to his frequent flier miles. “Why not?” he said. “I have good seats.”
Detroit GM Ken Holland felt it was that confident attitude which has got the Wings back in the series, when all seemed lost just a few days ago.
“When we were down 3-0, nobody wanted to go home,” Holland said. “We plan to be flying back for Game 7.”
Oh boy. The Hockey News’s Ken Campbell takes a story about the Phoenix Coyotes’ likely status as residents of the desert for at least another year and stretches it as far as one can possibly stretch via an earth-to-moon-distance logical leap:
A team moving from the Eastern Conference to the Western Conference will, in turn, pave the way for the Detroit Red Wings to move to the East where they belong. That will not only be a boon for them in terms of start times for their televised road games and travel costs and logistics, but it will also move an aging roster into a conference where it will have a much greater chance for success. It’s hard for these eyes to believe that there’s a single team left in the playoffs in the East that is better than the Red Wings.
Who knows? It might even be the tipping point in defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom coming back to Detroit. If the Red Wings can offer him reduced travel and an enhanced chance to get to the Stanley Cup final, that could be enough of a carrot to have the Norris Trophy finalist come back for another season.
1. No. The Red Wings aren’t going to the East. They’re the West’s “anchor tenant.” They sell out opposing teams’ buildings, and as we all know, Columbus and Nashville would probably get first dibs should the Thrashers move West (which isn’t a sure thing by any stretch of the imagination) for that reason.
2. If Lidstrom chooses to return, he’ll do so because he wants to.
3. Please stop trying to insist that the Wings can’t compete in the West, or insinuate that if you attend Tuesday’s Wings-Sharks game you’re attending a contender’s funeral, and are doing so because the food’s decent.
I blame this all on Charlie Sheen. It’s as if we’re all personally upset that we have to worry about Fukushima, or Bin Laden, bigotry in hockey or even Jeremy Roenick having a hissy fit about a former teammate—in the words of Chris Chelios, when Roenick insisted that Chelios and Wings coach Mike Babcock couldn’t stand each other during the 2008 Western Conference Finals against Chicago, “J.R.‘s being J.R.”—and we’ve really gotten to the point of the season where the players are weary, the media’s jet-lagged, over-worked full of frayed nerves and running out of ideas for the stories they’re required to pump out on an all-too-immediate basis (some of the questions in post-game press conferences are jaw-droppingly doofy these days, but I can’t blame ‘em), and it seems like before speaking, we all might as well count to ten because there isn’t a slight too simple not to be blown up like ice shavings in Jimmy Howard’s face.
Today’s hockey snipe-fest that you may not have known about came after Team Canada defeated Sweden 3-2 at the World Championships. Canadian captain Rick Nash may or may not have left his feet to hit Mikael Backlund, and when Swedish journalist and kinda-sorta-blowhard Leif Boork tried to get into a rhetorical fight with Canadian coach Ken Hitchcock after the game, what serves for fireworks these days ensued, as noted by the Canadian Press’s Chris Johnston:
Updated 8x at 11:22 PM: Red Bird II landed at Metro Airport at 3:30 PM EDT, and the Red Wings exited the plane, spoke to the media and headed home to prepare for Game 6, and the news regarding Johan Franzen, via Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji, isn’t exactly a surprise:
Johan Franzen was only talking to someone on his cell phone, not to the media, as he left the private hangar at Metro Airport. Franzen’s status remains up in the air after he was unable to play in the third period Sunday night after tweaking his injured left ankle.
“I don’t know, I’m not going to worry about that much,” Babcock said. “We’ll see what happens. If he’s not ready to go, we’ll put (Mike) Modano in.”
That decision may not be made until the pre-game skate tomorrow, but if Modano has to play, Nicklas Lidstrom told Wakiji that the Wings are fully confident that Modano can bring significant offense to the table:
Both the Detroit Red Wings (who wil land at Metro Airport around 3:30 PM EDT) and the San Jose Sharks (who the Mercury News’s Mark Emmons reports have just left San Jose) are spending today in the air, traveling back to Detroit to prepare for Game 6 on Tuesday—and the game will start at 8 PM and will be aired on Fox Sports Detroit, CSN Bay Area, TSN and Versus—so today’s Wings and Sharks updates are mostly rhetoric-based, especially given that the beat writers are making cross-continental trips as well.
Let’s go through ‘em on a mostly bullet-pointed basis, starting with the Sharks’ hubbub:
The Detroit Red Wings basically did everything a team fighting for its playoff life shouldn’t on Sunday night, surrendering the game’s first goal, 2-0 and 3-1 leads and three consecutive power plays to the San Jose Sharks, all while allowing Jimmy Howard to be peppered by an average of 14 shots per period, but Howard did his best to bail his teammates out for the first two periods, and his teammates backed him up in the third period, scoring three consecutive goals and staving off elimination via a 4-3 win over the Sharks.
Despite the fact that Pavel Datsyuk saved his sore wrist from further aggravation by skipping faceoffs, and the fact that Johan Franzen barely played in the second period and sat out the third after Joe Thornton corkscrewed Franzen along the boards, using a classic “can opener” to, in Mike Babcock’s words, “tweak” Franzen’s ankle, and despite the fact that the Wings were out-shot, out-hustled and almost out-classed at times during the first and second periods…Pride took over in the 3rd, and so did the Red Wings. Datsyuk ended up registering 3 assists, Niklas Kronwall had a goal and an assist, Jonathan Ericsson made up for a gaffe which resulted in Logan Couture’s 3-1 goal by putting a puck past Niemi under three minutes later, Tomas Holmstrom’s ability to distract the Sharks’ defenders led to Ericsson and Danny Cleary’s goals, and he tipped in the third as the Wings may have been out-shot, but were neither out-hit nor out-competed.
The series shifts back to Detroit on Thursday, and while the Wings have made things “interesting,” the Sharks do remain in command of the series, and as such, coach Todd McLellan suggested to the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch that his team incurred a temporary setback...
Hello, San Jose. Your team had a 2-0 and 3-1 leads, out-shot the Wings 42-22, and oh look, the Red Wings defeated your Sharks 4-3 on grit, heart, will and determination. As the announcers and Twitterverse piled it on and Johan Franzen (ankle) sat on the bench due to his sore ankle, the Wings just pushed, pushed, pushed and succeeded. Howard proved that he’s no playoff fluke, Cleary, Datsyuk, Holmstrom, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi, Kronwall—who Kronwalled and is clearly in the heads of more than a few Sharks, as is Abdelkader—did his thing, Lidstrom led, even Jonathan Ericsson found the back of the net and the Wings decided that they’d like to continue playing hockey, and so we will.
The Wings didn’t even play nearly their best game by any stretch of the imagination—the Sharks truly dominated at times—but the Wings prevailed because they wanted it more.
In the words of Mike Babcock, now it will get tighter and tighter, or as Kris Draper so succinctly put it, Game 6 is, “Where it gets interesting.”
Update: Kronwalled? Oh yes.
The Globe and Mail’s Alan Maki reports that Tampa Bay Lightning assistant coach Wayne Fleming, who recently underwent brain surgery to remove a malignant tumor, and his cause was assisted greatly by Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, whose familiarity with pediatric brain cancer via the Jeffrey Thomas Hayden foundation yielded a possibly life-extending tip:
“Wayne’s gotten some great help,” said Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach Dave King, another Fleming friend. “Mr. Vinik [Jeff Vinik, the Lightning owner] met with Wayne and his wife Carolyn and said the team would do whatever was needed. They provided a private plane [to get Fleming to California]. Steve Yzerman has been terrific; the Tampa players, too. And it was Mike Babcock’s contacts that got him to the right people in California.”
When Babcock first heard in early April that Fleming had been diagnosed with a brain tumour, he called to offer support and assistance. Fleming had been complaining about feeling “unclear” mentally. A Computerized axial tomography (CT) scan ordered by the Lightning physicians revealed a sizable mass. A biopsy determined the growth to be malignant.
The Red Wings will be making a roster move ahead of tonight’s game against the San Jose Sharks, but the Free Press’s Helene St. James reports that it’s not Pavel Datsyuk or Johan Franzen who will be sitting out—instead, it’s Jiri Hudler:
The Red Wings are making a lineup change as they seek to avoid being eliminated by the Sharks in Game 5 tonight, inserting Drew Miller into the lineup and pulling Jiri Hudler.
Both Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen are ailing but expected to play. Franzen has struggled all series, nearly immobilized by a sprained ankle suffered in Game 2 of the first round. Datsyuk is dealing with a sore wrist, which forced him to miss Saturday’s practice, the Free Press has learned.
Miller, 27, is a speedy role player capable of contributing with a goal, as he did in Game 3 of the first round. He played the first two games of the San Jose series, but was then pulled from the lineup. Hudler has no points against the Sharks, and was a defensive liability in Game 4, when his failure to check Dan Boyle led to Boyle scoring.
Update: the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan is a bit confused:
Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen will apparently play, as expected. One change could be Drew Miller being inserted for Jiri Hudler.
It really shows how far Mike Modano has fallen in the depth chart if that is the case.
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.