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The overnight report: ‘local takes’ on the Wings-Bolts series and sesaon highlights

The Red Wings will battle the Tampa Bay Lightning in a first-round rematch starting on Wednesday, and three Wings beat writers penned three very different examinations of the series to come.

The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa spotlighted the Lightning-Wings match-up while duly noting that the Lightning will be without Anton Stralman and Steven Stamkos, if not Ryan Callahan (the Tampa Bay Times and Tampa Tribune reported that Tyler Johnson is "day-to-day" as of Sunday) before issuing a "Spirt of the Thing" take on the series at hand:

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Here’s the Red Wings-Lightning first round schedule

From the NHL:

Date        TIME (ET)        #2 Tampa Bay vs. #3 Detroit        Networks               
Wednesday, April 13        7 p.m.                Detroit at Tampa Bay                NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Friday, April 15                7 p.m.                Detroit at Tampa Bay                CNBC, CBC, TVA Sports
Sunday, April 17                7 p.m.                Tampa Bay at Detroit                CNBC, CBC, TVA Sports
Tuesday, April 19        7 p.m.                Tampa Bay at Detroit                NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
*Thursday, April 21        TBD                Detroit at Tampa Bay                 TBD
*Sunday, April 24        TBD                Tampa Bay at Detroit                TBD
*Tuesday, April 26        TBD                Detroit at Tampa Bay                TBD

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More Datsyuk discussion: Never say never?

Pavel Datsyuk's agent kept the door open ever-so-slightly to a return to the Red Wings in afternoon discussions with the Wings' media corps, as noted by the Windsor Star's Bob Duff...

“Never say never,” Millstein said. “Anything is possible.”

Datsyuk and Millstein will sit down with the Red Wings’ brain trust when the season concludes. A year ago, he went into a similar meeting with going to back to Russia on his mind and ended up returning to honor the second year of a three-year deal he signed with the Wings in 2014 that annual pays Datsyuk $7.5 million.

“Out of the respect for (Red Wings owners) the Ilitch family, for (Detroit general manager) Ken Holland, Pavel is going to have a meeting as expected,” Millstein said. “While Pavel made his wishes public, there still has to be a conversation with the team as well. They had this meeting that took place a year ago as well. Up until he sits down with them, it’s not a done deal.”

MLive's Ansar Khan...

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On Mantha being sent back to Grand Rapids

The Red Wings chose to send Anthony Mantha back to the Grand Rapids Griffins, and while I'm not thrilled with the move by any means, Red Wings GM Ken Holland issued a simple explanation as to why the team chose to send Mantha back to the AHL, as noted by the Windsor Star's Bob Duff...

The Wings don’t see the logic in keeping Mantha with the big club to play on the fourth line or sit in the press box, and quite frankly, Mantha wasn’t able to deliver the goods in his first stint as an NHLer.

The Wings prefer to have veteran Joakim Andersson as an extra forward, someone who can win faceoffs and kill penalties, two areas where Mantha can’t help the team.

“He's not playing to start the series,” Holland said of Mantha. “We want to get him playing. We just felt, he's 21, he's a young player, he's got to go play. If we need him at least he'll be playing (in Grand Rapids). Mantha is best served and we're best served if he's playing. Andersson is a pro, has been around pro hockey six or seven years. He's been playing. (Tomas) Jurco is available.”

And the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa:

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Do You Think Pavel Datsyuk’s Image Will Be Tarnished?


Some interesting back and forth in Campbell's recent Twitter timeline.

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A Look At The Tampa/Detroit Series

from Craig Custance of ESPN,

Series MVP

Tampa: Here's the big edge for the Lightning and it's a notable one: Bishop was outstanding this season. Only Brian Elliott had a better save percentage than Bishop's .926 among goalies who played at least 40 games. Bishop will be a Vezina finalist and had a .922 save percentage against the Red Wings in the first round last season, including a shutout in Game 7. Howard won big games down the stretch but finished with a save percentage of .906 this season. If the Lightning advance, it's because Bishop had a big series and outplayed the Red Wings goalies.

Detroit: There's a temptation to put Larkin in this spot since he's going to come in flying with this being his first postseason, but this series could be the farewell to the NHL for Datsyuk. So much of the focus will be on him, and the Red Wings will need a little more magic from Datsyuk to advance. He had three goals against the Lightning in the first round last year and Detroit will need at least that again this year. According to his agent, Dan Milstein, he enters this playoff series healthy and motivated. "Health is definitely not a problem. He's super-excited. He's extremely concentrated," Milstein said. "He wants to win ... he owes it to the team and most importantly, he owes it to the fans."

Bottom line

Two weeks ago, this would have been an easy one. The Lightning are a Stanley Cup-caliber team and the Red Wings are a team in transition. But factoring in the Lightning's health issues and the Red Wings' emotional aspiration to make one more run for Datsyuk, the pendulum swings enough in Detroit's direction to make this a close series. Tampa has home ice advantage and an sizable edge in goal, though. Lightning in 7.

more for the breakdown...

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Wings Won’t Comment About Pavel Datsyuk Retirement Talk Until After The Playoffs

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Joakim Andersson Staying With The Wings While Anthony Mantha Heads To Grand Rapids


added 1:22pm, Detroit press release is below....

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Morning news: On Bolts injuries, cynicism, Blash and a Kevin Allen interview

Of Red Wings-related note this morning:

1. In the "scouting the enemy" department, according to the Tampa Bay Times' Joe Smith, the Lightning's loss of Tyler Johnson to a shove from Greg Pateryn complicates things for an already banged-up Bolts team:

The Lightning (46-31-5) can ill afford to lose another key player. It played Saturday without top defenseman Victor Hedman (upper body), wing Ryan Callahan (lower body) and second-leading scorer Nikita Kucherov (lower body). Then there's leading scorer and captain Steven Stamkos (blood clot) and defenseman Anton Stralman (fractured left leg).

Though Hedman and Kucherov are expected to be ready for the playoffs' start, there's no guarantee Callahan will be, and Stamkos and Stralman won't be ready until later rounds, Stamkos possibly not at all.

2. MLive has posted a slideshow discussing the Wings-Bolts series, and Brendan Savage wants to know which team you think will win this rematch;

3. The Oakland Press's Pat Caputo wrote what he readily admits is a heavily cynical take on the Wings making the playoffs for the 25th consecutive season (if you're absolutely furious that the Wings made the playoffs because it doesn't fit your dissent with the team's player personnel decisions, I'd suggest that you follow a non-playoff team, because part of being a sports fan is never getting all of what you want with a team's player personnel decisions, or all of the coach and GM's moves; the relationship is never perfect, and if you can't get over that, find another hobby):

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Talking about the Red Wings’ lineup without Pavel Datsyuk

Crisis management rules, a.k.a. "When the shit hits the fan checklist":

1. Are you dead?

2. If you are not dead, assess your situation;

3. If you are not dead, determine the best course of action;

4. Once you determine the best course of action, get a mop.

So this morning, we're going to play a little, "Let's pretend that the Wings are out of the playoffs this morning, Pavel Datsyuk is leaving, and you are the GM, who must address the team's roster issues."

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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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