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Winning = Wings’ morale improving, they’re defending ‘the streak’ one game at a time

DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji spoke with Mike Green, Thomas Vanek and Jimmy Howard regarding the Wings' winning weekend and its effects on team morale:

In all honesty, the Wings' success this past weekend in beating Washington and Pittsburgh, didn't 'shock the Hockey World,' but it did provide the Wings with a confidence boost, which was needed as Detroit goes down the home stretch of their schedule.

"It's huge," defenseman Mike Green said. "More importantly, we're really playing good hockey. If we can continue that after the break here and finishing with the game tomorrow night, we'll go on a run, we'll create some points and we'll put ourselves in a good position. Right now we're playing good and we need to continue."

After Tuesday, the Wings will have their five-day break and return to action February 28 at Vancouver.

"I think there's a sense of confidence that's risen in the last little bit," Green said. "I think really details and guys are really competing. I think one of the biggest things in sitting out the last two games was our forecheck and staying above guys. We're a really playing a patient game and it's cause for some chaos and confusion in the other team's zone and we've gotten a lot of chances. If we continue that we'll be good."

Forward Thomas Vanek echoed Green, but he knows that two games is not the elixir that magically catapults the Wings squarely into the playoffs.

"It certainly feels good," Vanek said. "Like I said before, the big picture is not pretty so I think the message is just play game-by-game. This group has a lot of character, so that's good, so there's nothing to worry about on that side. We're going to come out and play hard and try and win games."

And as for the playoff streak?

"It does mean a lot to all of us in here," Howard said. "We've seen the guys before us, the efforts that they put into to make this organization what it is today. A lot of hard work and hours away from the rink too. It does mean a lot but at the same time I think everyone isn't like, 'The streak, streak!' Right now it's just going out there playing one game at a time and giving ourselves a chance."

Wakiji continues...

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U.S. National Team Development Program to honor military on March 3rd

From USA Hockey:

VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System to Hold "Welcome Home Celebration" at USA Hockey Arena

Awareness event held at USA Hockey Arena during NTDP game is free for Service Members and Veterans

PLYMOUTH, Mich. - The Veteran Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System will hold its annual "Welcome Home Celebration" event at USA Hockey Arena on Friday, March 3. The event is for active military members, Veterans and their families and is part of USA Hockey's Stars and Stripes Weekend.

All service members and Veterans who RSVP by Friday, Feb. 24, will receive free tickets to the U.S. National Under-18 Team's game against the Waterloo Blackhawks of the United States Hockey League.

The event is held annually to promote awareness of the VA Healthcare information and community resources that are available to Veterans and their families. More than 20 VA resources and services will be represented at the event.

"VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System Transition & Care Management program is excited to be hosting our annual welcome home event with USA hockey," said transition and care management program manager Deb Hinson. "We are looking forward to a fun filled evening celebrating our recently returning combat Veterans, military service members, Veterans of all eras, and their unsung heroes who have supported them along the way, their families & friends. We wanted to focus our attention this year not only to celebrate our Veterans but to also celebrate their families who support them daily in countless ways."

The free game tickets, parking, food and beverages being offered to military families are courtesy of local community sponsors.

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Khan speaks with Steve Yzerman about lifting the Cup in 1997

MLive's Ansar Khan spoke with Steve Yzerman as a part of a series of articles discussing "Joe Louis Arena Memories," and this one is a doozy:

"To finally win it in '97 after what we went through in getting close made it pretty special and even more special with this team.""It was pretty exciting each year that we went," Yzerman said recently. "We had pretty good teams getting into the early '90s and really good teams in '93, '94 and '95 and '96, as we were close, made the yearning and desire to win stronger.

The Red Wings eliminated St. Louis, Anaheim and Colorado on the way to the finals during Yzerman's 14th season.

"The first game or two of each series, we all looked around and said, 'We could beat this team, we think we're a better team than our opponent,' " Yzerman said. "Going into Colorado in the semifinals, we lost Game 1. We played a great game, but there was a sense by a lot of people outside our locker room of, 'Here we go again, they're not going to get over Colorado.'

"We felt we played great, we're just going to keep doing our thing here, and we were able to win that series. Going into the final against the Flyers, the perception was the bigger, stronger Flyers were just going to be too much for us to handle and by the end of Game 1 we felt we could compete with these guys and just keep doing what we're doing and we'd come out on top."

Khan continues...

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Articles from practice: Green getting healthy; Howard slowly progressing

The Red Wings took an optional practice ahead of tomorrow's game against the New York Islanders, and Mike Green declared himself good to go after battling a stomach flu, as the Free Press's George Sipple noted:

“I feel great,” Green said. “Ready to go for tomorrow. We came out strong in both games. I thought I might have to work my way in the lineup. Hopefully, I get the call tomorrow.”

After Tuesday, the Red Wings will be on a bye for the rest of the week.

“We’re really playing good hockey here,” Green said. “Hopefully, we can continue that after the break here. ... Right now, we’re playing good and need to continue.”

Green said one thing he noticed while watching the past two games was the Wings' forecheck.

“It’s caused some chaos and confusion in the other team’s zone," Green said. "We’ve gotten a lot of chances. If we continue, we’ll be good.”

Jimmy Howard has experienced a setback in his attempts to recover from a knee injury, as DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji reported...

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Practice Tweets: Wings ‘taking an optional’ after winning weekend

The Red Wings chose to "take an optional" as the Wings are in the middle of a stretch of 3 games played over the course of 3 nights, as noted by DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji...

#RedWings Howard and Coreau taking turns in one net. Mrazek just working off-ice today.

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Impressive Weekend For The Wings

from Scott Burnside of ESPN,

Let's be honest. The Detroit Red Wings are cooked. They are tied for 14th in the Eastern Conference and have an ugly minus-26 goal differential. But over a 30-hour period this weekend, they reminded me of the glory of the winged wheel as they knocked off the NHL's best team, the Washington Capitals, in a shootout on Saturday afternoon and then completed their David-versus-Goliath weekend by whipping the Pittsburgh Penguins on the road 5-2, ending a nine-game points streak by the Penguins.Goalie Petr Mrazek was terrific in both games.

The math says the Wings have very little chance of extending their magnificent playoff streak -- they have 23 games remaining and seven teams to climbs over -- but if anything, the weekend's stellar work against top-notch competition was a reminder that maybe the future isn't so far away from this storied club.

Craig Custande and Joe McDonald with their weekend observations...

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Steve Ott’s Weekend

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Steve Ott's best game as a Detroit Red Wing came against the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Ott had a goal and an assist in Sunday's 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena.

Ott played a key role on the penalty kill, which went 4-for-4, including two big kills in the third period. He provided a physical presence, as he usually does, with a game-high six hits. He won 3-of-4 faceoffs.

You could say he had a weekend Gordie Howe Hat Trick, after his fight with Brooks Orpik during the third period of Saturday's 3-2 shootout victory over the Washington Capitals at Joe Louis Arena. Ott took a beating in that bout, but he showed once again his willingness to step up for teammates.

"He was excellent on the weekend," coach Jeff Blashill said. "Even when he's not playing he brings tons. He has a way as a player to help with a veteran group to hold people accountable. I thought his physicality on the weekend was great. I thought his defensive play and his play on the PK was great. I thought he did an excellent job just his five-on-five play and then he's just got a great way about him in the locker room. He's a great asset to our hockey team."

continued

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Prospect news: Walleye win in Missouri; Larsson stops 20

In the prospect department:

In the ECHL, Dane Walters had a goal and 2 assists, Mike Borkowski had a goal and an assist and Jeff Lerg stopped 25 shots as the Toledo Walleye defeated the Missouri Mavericks 4-1. The Walleye's website posted a recap:

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The overnight report: Red Wings wrap-up: Wings are building…if only for pride’s sake

The Detroit Red Wings' 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins may or may not have anything to do with an incredibly unlikely playoff run, but it certainly felt good for Red Wings fans to see Detroit beat both Washington and Pittsburgh this weekend, and the way in which the Wings snapped a 5-game winless streak did wonders for the mood in Detroit's locker room.

I don't know if the Wings are going to be able to make a dramatic, nearly vertical uphill playoff push--I doubt it, honestly--but at this point, as a fan as much as anything, I'm hoping that they finish the season playing their best, and I'm hoping that the team gives the younger players winning lessons to learn from as the next generation prepares to take over next season (Lordy, let that be the plan...).

Whatever happens, especially at the deadline (see: selling), I hope that the team stays positive, win, lose or learn (hopefully lots of learning, no matter what), and as long as the Wings try their best, this non-"tanking is best" fan will be satisfied with whatever the outcome is for a team most probably headed to the World Championships after the regular season is over.

[edit: see: AWood40's annotated highlight clip below:

/end edit]

Hope in the room is--at its heart, and perhaps most importantly--a relief for a weary fan base right now, and while it may be "false hope," at this point, having anything to believe in, even some pride in trying to finish out the season strong.

Just as fittingly, the Wings' win on Sunday gave Pittsburgh fits. It certainly pissed off the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ron Cook, who lamented the Penguins' loss to the "Lowly Wings"...

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Red Wings-Penguins quick take: good feeling

The Detroit Red Wings attempted to take out a Pittsburgh Penguins team with a 24-3-3 home record this season, with Detroit aiming for an unlikely win on a day in which Sidney Crosby would be honored for reaching 1,000 points.

The Wings won 5-2, defeating the Penguins and Capitals on back-to-back outings, and it felt really good to see the Wings be able to go toe-to-toe with the league's best, even if the wins are inconsequential over the long haul.

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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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