The Malik Report
I've been ill, doing what I could blog-wise. That's no secret, but the last couple of weeks were trade deadline-y and then antidepressant rebound-y. I'm hoping that The Malik Report gets back to comfortably abnormal this week, starting with today's practice at 11.
The most interesting things I read today came from Paul's blog and ESPN's Pierre LeBrun, as well as DetroitRedWings.com's Craig Peterson. First, I read Peterson's "A Look Ahead in Hockeytown," I looked at the standings prior to Tampa Bay's 4-2 win over Montreal, and thought, "Yup, by the end of the week, we might know where the Wings will stand in the Atlantic." Right now, the division looks like this:
So the Wings are currently worried about the fact that the Boston Bruins are only 5 points behind Detroit with a game in hand, but the Wings at least have 2 more wins and 2 more Regulation-or-OT-Wins (ROWs) than the B's, who come to Joe Louis Arena for one final "four-point game" on April 2nd.
This is not the most exciting story you'll read this month, but it will matter if you want your favorite team to re-sign favorite player X who happens to be a restricted or unrestricted free agent this summer (for this blog's usual readers, players such as Gustav Nyquist, Brendan Smith, Joakim Andersson, Tomas Jurco, Teemu Pulkkinen and a bunch of prospects fall into the "restricted" category, and Daniel Cleary, Jonas Gustavsson, Erik Cole and Marek Zidlicky will be unrestricted free agents).
If you are not already aware of the situation, the salary cap may not rise this summer because the combination of a declining Canadian dollar's value vs. the U.S. buck and an NHLPA membership tired of eating escrow withholdings of anywhere from 10-20% of their paycheck (with some but not all of that money returned) = the NHLPA may not vote to exercise its right to increase the cap by 5%.
A flat cap of $68 million is obviously going to be a slight pain in the ass for teams looking to re-sign players or sign free agents this summer as so very many of the league's teams nuzzle the salary cap these days
According to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman and Damien Cox, the NHL has discovered that it may be able to raise the "upper limit" even if the NHLPA does not wish to do so:
from Alessandro Seren Rosso of The Hockey Writers,
In this translated interview, originally appearing on Russian portal sports.ru, Red Wings defenseman Alexey Marchenko talked current season, playing with Pavel Datsyuk, crossing the ocean, and becoming an NHL player.
- Someone says that playing in the NHL is simplier than playing in the AHL. Do you agree?
– It’s simplier, but both leagues have their difficulties. In the NHL the game is smarter and faster. You have less time to take a decision, you need to play the puck faster, and so on. But your team mates are tactically more prepared. They know where to go, and this is a huge advantage. But the AHL is a good league too. There you can get used to the more physical game, because every time you play under pressure. They teach you to play faster, and in the NHL you have to play even faster.
- They say that Datsyuk is always the first player to approach Russian rookies in Detroit, giving his phone number and telling to call whenever is needed.
– It’s like that. He always calls you to invite you to dinner or simply for a greet. We are always together in away trips. Once we get back, he usually sends me a text asking to hang out together. During the games he always talks to me, he says what I’m doing right and what I’m doing wrong. He’s not one of the guys who tells you that if something went wrong it doesn’t matter and that you’re doing great anyway. He can tell you that you played bad. But if he tells you that you played well, then you really played well.
from the Big Ten,
The Big Ten Conference announced the hockey All-Big Ten teams and individual award winners on Monday as selected by the conference's coaches and a media panel. Michigan State's Jake Hildebrand was named Big Ten Player and Goaltender of the Year. For the second consecutive season, Minnesota's Mike Reilly was tabbed the Defensive Player of the Year, which is awarded to a defenseman or forward, while Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky was selected as the Coach of the Year. Michigan's Dylan Larkin collected Freshman of the Year laurels, while teammate Zach Hyman was named the Big Ten Scoring Champion after leading all players in points during conference play....
Larkin helped guide a Michigan offense that led the Big Ten in scoring in conference play en route to Freshman of the Year accolades. The unanimous selection ranked in the top 10 of numerous conference categories, including second with 32 points, tied for second with 21 assists, tied for fourth with 11 goals and third with 10 power-play points. His 32 points were 16 more than any other freshman in conference contests.
Hyman was tabbed the Big Ten Scoring Champion after pacing all players with 33 points in conference play. Hyman tallied 12 goals and 21 assists in 20 Big Ten contests. The award was added prior to the 2014-15 season.
Hyman, Larkin, Hildebrand and Reilly were joined on the All-Big Ten first team by Michigan's Zach Werenski and Penn State's Casey Bailey. Hyman, Hildebrand and Reilly were each unanimous first-team selections.
Amongst this afternoon's Red Wings-related news:
The Free Press's Helene St. James addressed the elephant in the room:
The Detroit Red Wings don't play again until the end of the week, when they then will do so twice in 48 hours. In such situations, the vast majority of the time a team uses one goaltender one night and another the next. So there we have it: Odds are Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek will each play again very soon. But in what order?
That's the intrigue rendered after weekend games that saw Howard in net during the 7-2 loss Saturday at Philadelphia and Mrazek in net during the 5-1 victory Sunday at Pittsburgh.
Coach Mike Babcock deferred when asked who'd start Thursday at Florida, saying he wanted to think it over. The Wings took Monday off, but resume practice Tuesday as they prep for a hectic final few weeks.
Babcock made it very clear he didn't fault Howard for the Philly disaster. Babcock also made it clear how highly he thinks of Mrazek's mental toughness, saying after Sunday's game that, "he just thinks that he's going to win and has that capability. We needed a win and we didn't help Howie out (Saturday) and we helped Pete out early and Pete was good."
Marek Zidlicky – The veteran, and newly-acquired, Red Wings defenceman paced the attack with a goal and two assists in Sunday’s 5-1 win at Pittsburgh. Since coming over from New Jersey, Zidlicky has seven points (3 G, 4 A) in seven games, with five of those points coming on the power play. While the ice has been tilted in his favour, with 75.0% offensive zone starts in Detroit, Zidlicky has put up strong possession numbers (59.9 SAT%, +6.3% Rel. SAT%) in seven games with the Wings.
And MLive's Ansar Khan...
from Aaron McMann of Mlive,
With an aging Perani Arena serving as the background for a city clamoring for better days, ownership behind Flint's new Ontario Hockey League team extended the first olive branch.
In a swiftly-called news conference Monday, one that was tentatively scheduled for later in the week, IMS Hockey Corp. unveiled "Flint Firebirds" as the name for the hockey team that will call Flint home beginning in the fall.
A firebird, team officials say, represents freedom, oftentimes the result of a difficult journey, and offers significance to residents of Flint and Genesee County.
continued with a picture of their logo...
Here is Mike Babcock...
Petr Mrazek is below along with Teemu Pulkkinen...
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
The Red Wings, looking like a team on the verge of unraveling, needed a big-time performance from their goalie on Sunday. Mrazek delivered by making 43 saves in a 5-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center.
"He's just good," Babcock said. "He relishes these opportunities. He just thinks he's going to win. He has that capability. We needed a win and we didn't help (Jimmy Howard) out last night (in a 7-2 loss at Philadelphia). We helped Pete out better and Pete was good."
Mrazek embraced the role as slump-stopper for a team that had gone 2-4-0 in March and didn't play particularly well in the two wins.
"If you feel pressure it's no good," Mrazek said. "You have to just stay positive all the time. You have frustrating times in games when you can't score and everything is going in. You just battle hard and come back."
According to Crain's Detroit Business's Bill Shea, construction on the Red Wings' follow-on rink should begin within the next couple of weeks:
Heavy machinery has been placed at the site of the new Detroit Red Wings arena in anticipation of major construction beginning in the next few weeks. A specific start date for earth-moving hasn't been disclosed by Olympia Development of Michigan, the real estate arm of team owners Mike and Marian Ilitch's business holdings.
The $535 million multiuse arena and events center is scheduled to open in summer 2017.
"We have moved heavy equipment on-site to prepare for the start of construction on the new (arena) in the next several weeks and to comply with local frost laws," Doug Kuiper, vice president of corporate communications for Ilitch Holdings Inc., said in a statement.
Frost laws restrict weight limits on roads and highways during the spring, when the thaw can weaken the ground underneath the pavement — meaning heavy equipment must be moved while the ground still is frozen.
Update: The Detroit News's Louis Aguilar notes that there's a sticky wicket in the works, too:
from Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News,
"This was a big win for us after the way we've played lately," captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "It was a good start and we scored some goals.
"After the last game we had a players-only meeting and we just said enough is enough; we have to go out and play and enjoy playing. It seemed everyone was a little afraid out there and not embracing it. But today, we did a lot better."...
Goaltender Petr Mrazek stopped 42 shots to earn the victory. David Perron was the lone Penguin to score, midway in the third period.
"He's good and he relishes these opportunities," said coach Mike Babcock of Mrazek. "He thinks he's going to win and he has the capability. We needed a win and we didn't help Howie (Jimmy Howard) last night, but we helped Pete early, and Pete was good....
"We didn't focus on them, we focused on us," Zetterberg said. "We've had enough issues lately. We just wanted to come out and have a good start and go from there and that's what we did."
Overcoming some adversity at this point in the schedule isn't entirely a bad thing.
"Everybody goes through some adversity. We were real dialed in and we had great leadership (Sunday)," Babcock said. "For you to win and fight through adversity, you need good leadership and Zetterberg, (Niklas) Kronwall and (Pavel) Datsyuk are as good as it comes.
"We just needed to bounce back."
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.