The Malik Report
The overnight report: Red Wings-Panthers set-up; Southeastern Florida, land of Wild Card desperation
Red Wings fans may be a bit worried about the Boston Bruins sneaking up on a Wings team that's 3-and-4 this month heading into a pair of games against the Florida Panthers this evening (7:30 PM EDT on FSD/FS Florida/NHL Network U.S./97.1 FM) and Tampa Bay on Friday, but the Wings' status as sitting only 5 points ahead of the Bruins (with two games in hand on Boston) for the 3rd and final Atlantic Division playoff spot = not even "worrisome straits" when compared to the Panthers' status (even though Florida's won 3 of their past 5 games).
Florida sits 2nd behind Ottawa with 76 points, 31 wins and 24 Regulation-or-OT-Wins in 70 games played, so the Panthers have all of 12 games left to leapfrog the 79-point Senators, to try to catch up to the Bruins' 83 points, 36 wins and 33 ROWs and/or find themselves within striking distance of the Washington Capitals' 86 points, 38 wins and 34 ROWs.
The Red Wings' 2 wins in their last 6 games still = 87 points, 38 wins and 35 ROWs for a team that has 2 games in hand on Florida, 2 games in hand on Boston, 3 games in hand on Washington and 3 games in hand on the 91-point, 43-win, 41-ROW Tampa Bay Lightning, who the Wings are essentially chasing for home ice in a 2nd-vs-3rd-in-the-Atlantic 1st round match-up.
Even without Pavel Datsyuk in their lineup for tonight or tomorrow's games, Detroit's bound to right its ship and get back to a winning clip over the final 14 games of the regular season; if the Panthers don't win the vast majority of their final 12 games and "get help," they're toast.
Prospect news: Holmstrom’s Skelleftea, Kadeikin’s SKA advance to semifinals; OHL coaches poll pluses
Two Red Wings prospects advanced to playoff semifinals in European hockey leagues on Wednesday, and several other players took part in late-regular-season Major Junior games:
In Sweden's SHL, Axel Holmstrom scored the game's first goal goal and played 14:19 in Skelleftea AIK's series-sweeping 6-2 win over Brynas IF (click on the link for highlights). Skelleftea will move on to the SHL's semifinals;
And in the KHL, Alexander Kadeikin remains sidelined, but SKA St. Petersburg defeated Dynamo Moscow 3-2 in OT to take their first-round series 4 games to 1. SKA is on a collision course with Sergei Fedorov's CSKA Moscow.
Niklas Kronwall sits in 5th place on the Red Wings in scoring with 8 goals, 31 assists and 39 points in 68 games played, and Kronwall's on pace for his 3rd straight 40+-point season and his 9th straight season with over 30 points. In today's NHL, that's #1 defenseman scoring territory, but Red Wings fans insist that Kronwall isn't really a #1 defenseman by anything but default.
As the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa suggests, the man who served as the Wings' de-facto captain when both Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk were sidelined last season may very well remain tremendously underrated because his personality is so very understated--though he is most certainly the face you're going to see when the Wings lose, staring into space and saying, "We weren't good enough." Heck, that might be part of the problem:
Updated 2x at 7:59 PM: The Red Wings flew to the land of a possibly healthy Roberto Luongo for back-to-back tilts against the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning minus Pavel Datsyuk's services on Wednesday afternoon, and as you know by now, the personnel crunch on defense = Alexey Marchenko is heading back to Grand Rapids.
In a sort of "if you missed it" vein, the Windsor Star's Bob Duff covered Datsyuk's status...
Center Pavel Datsyuk, whose 23-35-58 totals place him second only to captain Henrik Zetterberg (59 points) on the team, is out with an undisclosed injury.
“Nope. Not making the trip,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said Wednesday after Datsyuk missed practice for a second straight day. “He’s got a lower-body ache.”
Babcock indicated the earliest that Datsyuk might play again would be Sunday afternoon’s home date against the St. Louis Blues.
The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan offered an intriguing bit of info via a post-practice Tweet...
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings today assigned defenseman Alexey Marchenko to the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins.
Marchenko, 23, has skated in 12 games with the Red Wings this season, totaling two points (1-1-2), including his first NHL goal on Feb. 28 at Nashville. The Moscow, Russia, native has also appeared in 41 games for Grand Rapids this season, contributing 17 points (2-15-17) and a plus-15 rating which ranked first on the club at the time of his recall. Marchenko, who made his NHL debut for Detroit during the 2013-14 campaign, is in his second season in North America, totaling 35 points (5-30-35) and a plus-26 rating in 91 games with the Griffins since 2013-14. Prior to signing with the Red Wings, the former seventh-round pick (205th overall) of Detroit in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft spent parts of four seasons with CSKA Moscow in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League from 2009-13, picking up 11 points (4-7-11) in 82 games.
Nine months after the Red Wings selected him in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft with the 15th pick, Larkin is proving Detroit's good faith worthwhile. He grabbed attention for his breakout performance in the 2015 World Juniors in January, tallying a team-high seven points, and has now taken over the Big Ten as the 2015 Freshman of the Year.
"Dylan Larkin has been outstanding," said Michigan coach Red Berenson. "He's right there (with the best freshmen I've coached). You look back at Brendan Morrison and all the rookie of the years we've had over the years and Dylan's right there with any of them. He really is. Whether it's his skating, his scoring, his puck touches, his work ethic, he's a special player."Larkin, 18, isn't in any rush to make a jump to the AHL or NHL. Likewise, his parents, Berenson, and members of the Wings organization remain patient.
"I'm happy where I am right now and I'm happy about how this season is going," Larkin said. "I haven't had that talk. I think it will be when I feel ready and if coach (Berenson) and the Red Wings think I'm ready as well. I'm not looking to go as soon as possible. I think it will have to be the right time and when it's a good fit for me."Asked about the future, Larkin said he's focused on the Big Ten tournament, which kicks off Thursday when the Wolverines take on Wisconsin at Joe Louis Arena.
Hicks continues, and at this point, Larkin is probably best-served by playing another year or two at Michigan before making the jump to the AHL. He and Anthony Mantha are likely to be contributing to the Red Wings' roster shortly after the Wings' follow-on rink opens for the 2017-18 season, if not sooner.
2015 NHL PROSPECT TOURNAMENT RETURNS TO TRAVERSE CITY
… Blackhawks Added to Eight-Team Pool for Annual Tournament at Centre ICE Arena …
DETROIT – Detroit Red Wings Executive Vice President and General Manager Ken Holland today announced that the Red Wings will host their annual NHL Prospect Tournament at Centre ICE Arena in Traverse City, Mich., from Sept. 11-15, 2015. The Chicago Blackhawks have been added to the eight-team tournament this fall, joining the Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues and Red Wings.
This marks the 17th season that Traverse City will host the tournament, boasting nearly 500 players who have skated in at least one NHL game. Twenty-four players who participated in the tournament in September 2014 have made at least one appearance in the NHL this season, while 16 prospects from the Red Wings’ last three tournament rosters have played in at least one NHL game, including current roster players Joakim Andersson, Tomas Jurco, Alexey Marchenko, Petr Mrazek, Gustav Nyquist, Teemu Pulkkinen, Riley Sheahan and Brendan Smith. The Columbus Blue Jackets were tournament champions in 2014, winning the title for the third time in their history.
The tournament divides the eight-team field into two four-team divisions. Teams will play each team in their division during the round robin before a crossover on the final day of the tournament, capped off with the first-place finishers in each division meeting for the championship on Tuesday, Sept. 15. A complete tournament schedule and rosters for each team will be released at a later date.
So yesterday evening, Fox Sports Detroit's Keith Gave suggested that Red Wings coach Mike Babcock might find the allure of coaching for a higher profile team and/or earning a whole lot more money for both himself and the sake of "setting the bar" higher for NHL coaches than what the Wings might be willing to offer. Today, Gave wonders which coach might replace Babcock if he bolts (which I don't believe he'll do to begin with). The simplest and easiest replacement is already in the organization:
As sand in the hour-glass empties and Mike Babcock's contract as coach of the Red Wings expires, speculation about his future is growing. But what of the Wings' future if he decides to take more money than Detroit is willing to offer him? What then? Who will replace the best coach in the NHL behind the Wings' bench?
Babcock himself offered more than a hint when he was asked about the work Jeff Blashill was doing in Grand Rapids, coaching Detroit's top farm club.
"He's done a real nice job for us," said Babcock, who found Blashill and brought him into the organization as an assistant four years ago. "He's developed a lot of nice players, and I'm sure he's going to get an opportunity in the National Hockey League some day."
Some day could come sooner rather than later if Babcock bolts. The Wings say privately they think there's an 80 percent chance that he stays in Detroit with a new contract as the league's highest-paid coach. Others around the league, however, figure it's 50-50 at best, arguing that he Babcock won't be able to resist the temptation of a lot more money from a team like Toronto, not to mention how his rising stock would skyrocket if he managed to win there.
But as much as the Wings like to boast that they have the best coach in the NHL and in the American Hockey League, would they really turn over the keys to the coaching kingdom in Detroit to someone whose NHL credentials include one season behind the bench as an assistant?
Would they entrust the job to someone of such limited experience with the window of opportunity closing in the Datsyuk-Zetterberg era?
Yes, yes they would, without hesitation, but Gave continues and discusses the possibility of, say, Tony Granato or Todd McLellan becoming the next head coach assuming that Babcock leaves, and Gave also receives strong Blashill endorsements from GM Ken Holland...
Updated 6x at 1:20 PM: The Red Wings took to the ice at Joe Louis Arena ahead of tomorrow and Friday's tilts against Florida (who lost a 3-2 decision to Montreal on Tuesday) and Tampa Bay (who won't have played since Monday's 4-2 win over those same Canadiens), respectively, and the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness' first Tweet = rut roh material:
The lone forward missing from practice is Pavel Datsyuk. Waiting word on if it's an injury or just extended time off....
Riley Sheahan up in Red. Waiting for the team to skate lines.
Ditto for MLive's Ansar Khan...
Datsyuk not skating today, after taking day off yesterday with a few others. No word yet on reason or his status for tomorrow.
So we waited...For AN HOUR...As the winners of the Panthers' emergency goalie contest took the ice in Fort Lauderdale...
Both WWJ and WXYZ are reporting that the District Detroit project and Olympia Development of Michigan is about to hold a set of six job fairs to recruit people interested in either working on the arena project and/or engaging in job training programs to eventually work on the rink and economic development projects:
Detroiters in search of a job may be able to score one in the highly anticipated new Red Wings arena district.
As construction on the arena is expected to begin soon, six job fairs are being held for Detroiters within the next 60 days.
One of them starts Wednesday. It will be held at Wayne County Community College Eastern District campus on Detroit's east side.
The fairs will help fill spots at the arena and the surrounding sports and entertainment district. Those who attend the fairs will be able to register with Detroit Employment Solutions for construction jobs, learn about training and financial aid programs, get assistance with GED preparation and testing, and connect with community resources that can offer help with childcare and legal assistance.
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.