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Evening news: Blues stuck with 5 D; a Ken Holland interview and game-day articles

Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

1. First and foremost, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Tom Timmerman:

2. Red Wings GM Ken Holland spoke with Detroit Sports 105.1 FM's Matt Dery and Drew Sharp on Wednesday afternoon, discussing the state of the Red Wings and also addressing Steven Stamkos trade rumors over the course of a 22-minute interview:

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McKenzie: Wings’ follow-on rink will be able to accommodate 90-foot-wide ice surface

I don't like to double-post things that Paul's already addressed as a rule, but this is particularly intriguing from a Red Wings perspective:

TSN's Bob McKenzie reports that Calgary Flames president Brian Burke wants to expand NHL rink surfaces from their current 200'x85' dimensions to 200'x90,' and McKenzie reveals that the Red Wings will build their follow-on rink with that capability:

"Brian and I are big proponents of the 90-foot-wide ice surface," said Jimmy Devellano, the longtime Red Wing senior vice-president. "I really believe it will help the NHL game with more flow, less congestion and maybe even a few less injuries.

"In Detroit, when we get our new rink, we'll have the capability to go to 90 feet,' Devellano added.

The Flames, of course, are trying to get a new building in Calgary - that's another story for another day - but should it ever happen, Burke said it will have 90-foot-wide potential.

Detroit and Calgary, it's a start.

"‎People like (Detroit GM) Kenny Holland more than they like me," Burke said, laughing. "If Kenny and the Wings are in favour of this, maybe others will be too, as more new arenas get built."

McKenzie continues...

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Justin Abdelkader discusses the fate of fighting in the NHL with Duff

In light of the Brian McGrattan fight in which McGrattan ended up smacking his face on the ice, the Windsor Star's Bob Duff asked Justin Abdelkader about the future of fighting in the NHL, and he received a nuanced response:

“I think there could be a place for fighting as far as just policing the guys,” Abdelkader said. “It’s the after the whistle stuff, the different things that can go on. At the same time, no one really needs to fight anymore. I just think you’re seeing less and less of it. Players are more skilled and focused on playing (well) on the ice than going out and fighting. You’re not seeing a fourth line that’s full of guys that are going to go out and fight.”

In Detroit’s most recent game, no Red Wing challenged Philadelphia’s Ryan White after he was assessed a match penalty for a head shot on Detroit’s Tomas Jurco and Wings’ coach Jeff Blashill accepted that development as a reality of the way the game is played today.

“The refs obviously called the five,” Blashill said. “We’ve got real good refs in this league. We’ve taken a lot of the fighting out of the game, so the refs have to police the game and they did that in that case.”

Considering that McGrattan was stretchered off the ice, and even though he was pronounced to be fine later in the evening, Abdelkader figures that as hockey people continue to learn more from science in terms of head injuries and their long-term impact, he wonders about the shelf life of scraps.

Duff and Abdelkader continue...

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Red Wings-Blues game-day articles: Wings go with ‘platoon’ defense, hope to get to the Blues’ net

Updated 8x at 2:52 PM: The Detroit Red Wings' "Rivalry Night" game against the St. Louis Blues (8 PM EST on NBCSN/Sportnset/TVA Sports/97.1 FM) has already yielded a multitude of game-related articles. Here are your post-morning skate summaries thereof:

The Blues' morning skate ended at 12:30, and the Blues' official Twitter account reports that Carl Gunnarsson will return to St. Louis' lineup this evening, but Colton Parayko may not play:

Hitchcock said Gunnarsson will return tonight: Parayko is sick and will be a game-time decision. #stlblues

Tom Timmerman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch confirms:

Parayko is sick. He'll be a game time decision. Jaskin is in but Hitch wouldn't say who's out. Reaves is still on ice

Dmitri Jaskin returning should mean that tough guy Ryan Reaves won't play against the enforcer-less Wings.

On the Red Wings' side of the ice, Free Press's Helene St. James focused on Alexey Marchenko and the Wings' goal of replacing Niklas Kronwall by committee in her game-day article:

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Custance weighs in on Petr Mrazek’s evolution

From ESPN's Craig Custance (Insider-only), via RedWingsFeed:

Analytics proponents prefer to withhold judgment on a goalie until they face around 3,000 shots at the NHL level, a benchmark Mrazek won’t reach until next season, considering he’s at 1,871 shots right now.

But Blashill has the advantage of seeing Mrazek up close now for a few years, since Mrazek joined Blashill’s AHL team in Grand Rapids in 2011-12. There, he saw all the things that give Detroit hope the young goalie could be great: athleticism, consistency, a competitive edge, confidence, puck-handling.

In today’s NHL, the best, most consistent goalies are ones with a quiet game, and Mrazek has worked to settle his down. He's become less reliant on using his athleticism to make saves. He fills the net better. His depth management in the crease is better.

“Now, he plays at the top of the crease, no more [overly aggressive positioning] where it’s diminishing returns,” Blashill said. “So he can get to a lot more rebounds.”

His puck-handling has always been a strength, as are his instincts for knowing when to pass the puck and where. That will only get better as he gets more reps in the NHL and the timing becomes second-nature with the Red Wings defensemen and Blashill’s system.

“His ability to put the puck in good places efficiently and quickly has given us a lot less time in our zone,” said Red Wings goalie coach Jim Bedard. “Petr is very efficient, especially on his backhand, reading the plays. For a goalie, you have to know when the puck gets shot into your zone, know if they’re changing, if they have one or two guys on the forecheck. You’ve got to be able to read it.”

Custance continues, and we'll...talk...about the rest of the story.

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Mitch Callahan returns to Grand Rapids Griffins’ lineup

Great and surprising news from Grand Rapids Griffins broadcaster Bob Kaser:

Update: Tom McCollum's returning as well:

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Red Wings-Blues morning skate Tweets and articles: defensive pairs sorted out; Smith on PP

The Red Wings will face off against the St. Louis Blues this evening (8 PM EST start on NBCSN/Sportsnet/TVA Sports/97.1 FM), and as Sportsnet's covering the game in Canada, they've posted a video "hyping" the game:

Because it's "Rivalry Night" on NBCSN, NHL.com's John Kreiser penned a brief game preview:

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Grand Rapids Griffins to hold annual ‘Great Skate’ this weekend

From the Grand Rapids Griffins, via RedWingsFeed:


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Grand Rapids Griffins players, sled dogs, ice sculptors, horse-drawn carriages, winter sport athletes, museums, other community partners and local celebrities will all be part of the 2016 Great Skate Winterfest, which will run for 34 consecutive hours this Saturday, Jan. 23 and Sunday, Jan. 24 at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids.

Everyone is invited to join this celebration of winter in our city and help the Griffins Youth Foundation provide opportunities for more than 350 deserving kids – many of whom are underprivileged, underserved, at-risk or have other special needs – to participate in the great sport of hockey at no cost.

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Vladimir Tarasenko On Pavel Datsyuk And The Wings Move Up In The Power Rankings

from Louie Korac at NHL.com,

So when the 24-year-old Tarasenko, who leads the Blues with 25 goals and 46 points, gets the chance to face the 37-year-old Datsyuk, who is in his 14th NHL season and has 304 goals and 891 points, he relishes each opportunity.

"Always when I play against Russian guys, it's kind of like important games and interesting," said Tarasenko, who played against another Russian star, Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins, on Monday. "We play Detroit twice now, and it's one of two chances to see how he plays, what his mind is."

How fired up does Tarasenko get when he's facing a fellow Russian? After Malkin scored late in the second period on Monday to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead, Tarasenko answered 1:18 later to tie the game and spark St. Louis to a 5-2 win.

"The battle of the Russians there," Blues center Paul Stastny said. "I think once Malkin had that nice goal, then Vladi got upset."

Tarasenko, who last summer signed the richest contract in Blues history (eight years, $60 million), was 5 years old in 1996, when Datsyuk's pro career began in Russia. But Tarasenko said it didn't take him long to understand the game and who Datsyuk was. "I think everybody knows in Russia he's one of the greatest players," Tarasenko said of Datsyuk. "His skill level is unbelievable. His mind is unbelievable."


from Brendan Savage of Mlive,

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The overnight report: Red Wings-Blues set-up

The Detroit Red Wings face the St. Louis Blues this evening (8 PM EST start on NBCSN/TVA Sports/Sportsnet/97.1 FM) hoping to turn around a moribund 11-8-and-5 home record, with the Wings mired in a 1-3-and-2 stretch at the Joe.

Despite having won 4 of their past 6 games and owning a 5-1-and-1 record in 2016, the Wings will kick off a stretch of 4 games played over the course of 6 pre-All-Star break nights skating uphill: the team announced on Tuesday that it's lost both Niklas Kronwall (for 4-6 weeks) and Drew Miller (for 4-6 months) due to knee surgeries, and as the Wings are struggling to generate offense, the team shook up its forward lines.

The Blues have won 4 of their past 5 games, including a 5-2 victory over Pittsburgh on Monday. While they're hobbled by some injuries, St. Louis rolled over the Penguins on Monday, rallying from a 2-1 deficit, as NHL.com's Louie Korac noted:

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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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